Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Inside a Christmas Tree - Rolf's NYC

I love Christmas time. 

It's magic. 

If you love Christmas, you need to go to Rolf's now. 

My friend and I have been talking about going to Rolf's for years. 
So, thanks to her excellent planning skills, we were able to snag a table for dinner with a reservation made in October. 
That's right, October. 

Be warned, if you decide to risk coming sans reservation, the earlier you get there the better. The line is easily 40 people deep at all times. 

Holiday 'spirits' flow readily, naughty and nice are indistinguishable, mistletoe all around, what's not to love? 

 Rolf's keeps the decorations up well into the spring, so if you find yourself a little too frozen to wait out the line, I'll see you there in 2017 to explore with a little more elbow room.

P.S. Let's be honest Santa, I really did try this year... 
could my coal at least come a little, I don't know, sparkly? 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Turkey Day Detox

Stir-Fried Cauliflower

It's that time of year, the turkey's been gobbled, guests stuffed to capacity  have enjoyed the cornucopia of holiday goodies pre and post turkey-time naps.  Leftovers everywhere have gotten the "Ross Geller" special; heading full speed into my Christmas-crazy, tinsel time merry-mania... my full body transition into Buddy the Elf is almost complete, and now is exactly when I feel the need to lighten up my meals.
This usually means that my fridge is greener than my Christmas tree and my diet is predominantly vegetables.  So, when I had a craving for Chinese food instead of ordering fried rice I decided to make some cauliflower stir-fry with whatever I had on hand. 

1 tbsp Grapeseed Oil
1 Head small of Cauliflower, finely chopped (about 4 cups)
1 Maitake mushroom
1 medium sweet white onion chopped
1 cup of chopped celery and carrot
1 cup napa cabbage
2 eggs scrambled
2 tbsp soy sauce 
1 tsp fish sauce 
Salt & Pepper to taste 

[ Optional* a drizzle of chili oil or Sriracha right before you dig in]

Heat 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. 
Once the oil is hot add your finely chopped cauliflower to the pan and cook for a few minutes stirring until it develops a bit of color. 
Remove the cauliflower and reserve for later.

Lower the heat to medium-low, add chopped celery, carrots, and chopped white onions until the onions begin to look translucent. 

Chop your Napa cabbage and Maitake mushroom add to your pan. 

After about 2-3 minutes push your vegetables to the side and add your scrambled egg to the pan. Once the eggs are cooked add your cauliflower back into the pan with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 tsp of fish sauce. 

Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Turkey Day Tablescape

 Thanksgiving this year was a little smaller than normal... kidding, kinda.  
In order to give the table a dynamic look without over cluttering it, the decision was made to alternate china patterns, and keep any additional adornments fairly simple. 

Once the food was on the table- photos were definitely not top of mind. 

Even dogs take turkey naps
Home is where the hearth is... see what I did there ;-) 

I am exceptionally thankful to be surrounded by such amazing, brave, and loving family and friends. Knowing you has changed me for the better and I am proud to know each and every one of you.  


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Maple Pumpkin Pie with Rosemary Chestnut Crumble Topping

In keeping with the spirit of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, and wanting to make something for my Grandmother's birthday I decided to try to incorporate chestnuts, a traditional Italian ingredient that my grandmother loves, with pumpkin pie. The challenge was my Grandmother has a bit of a sweet tooth so I wanted to make sure that I balanced a sweet dessert with a savory element, hence the rosemary.  

 I tried foregoing a pie crust, not a great idea.
While I was happy with the flavor of the pie, the consistency was a little difficult to serve.
I see pie crusts in my future when I make this again. 

1 1/2 cans of Pumpkin 
2 large eggs 
1 cup of heavy cream
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon 
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. salt 
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 
1/4 tsp. nutmeg 

1 cup of chopped roasted chestnuts
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick of butter (melted) 
1 cup of  unseasoned Panko (gluten free or regular) crumbs 
2 tbsp. chopped Rosemary
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg 
1/8 tsp. salt

Take a small bowl, add 1/4 cup of the melted butter and the chopped rosemary, allow the butter to infuse for 5 minutes. 

Add the chopped chestnuts to a pan, with the rosemary infused butte. 

Cook over medium-low heat for 3-4 minutes stirring thoroughly.

Turn off the heat (be sure to remove the pan from the burner) add all the remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly, the topping should have a consistency similar to sand. 

Reserve for later. 

Preheat the oven to 350° F 

Mix the pie ingredients thoroughly making sure there are no lumps. 

Pour mixture into your baking dish/pie crust. 

Bake in the oven at 350° F for 60-70 minutes. 15 minutes before the pie is done cooking remove the pie from the oven and add the crumble topping. 

Let the pie cool thoroughly before serving. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Florida: Put the Lime in the Coconut

Last weekend I discovered the perfect recipe for an AMAZING trip to Florida: 

Dash of Sunshine
One Blushing Bride
One Grinning Groom
Dollop of Sea & Salt 
Turquoise blue waters and shell white sand
Little Lizards
Bars called Boston (even if they close ridiculously early)
Bikinis and Board Shorts
Smiles sprinkled all around

Netflix + Chocolate = Chill

My recent documentary binge has lead me to Netflix foodie heaven. If you haven't you need  to check out Chef's Table, Cooked, Somm, and Crafting a Nation. 

 "Chef's Table" hooked me within the first 20 seconds, needless to say, I powered through the six episodes in a way that only Dexter Morgan has been able to compel me to do before.

Each episode profiles a single chef [ Season 1: Massimo Bottura, Dan Barber, Francis Mallmann, Niki Nakayama, Ben Shewry, and Magnus Nilsson]. The show does a masterful job at making the viewer feel that they understand the chef, and their philosophy in a very personal way. Each of the chefs that were featured were so incredibly different from the others, each of them made a unique impression and at the conclusion of each episode I was forced to consider a different issue. Bottura challenged the norms that have been so often associated with Italian cuisine.  Barber posed the question of our own agency when it comes to our consumption of food and the responsibilities that poses. Mallmann in particular made an indelible impression on me. I've never seen a person so free, and so committed to the romanticism of their life. Mallmann says, and I'm paraphrasing here; "you don't grow on a secure path... growth requires work and risk.. in order to grow you need to be at the edge of uncertainty." Mallman emphasized the concomitant need for change and uncertainty in order to create growth. Nakayama presented with an incredible strength and showcased how important relationships are. Shrewry's narrative created a juxtaposition between the idea of success and what it actually takes and both he and Nilsson shared a sense of coming home at last. when they stopped trying to cook or force cuisine to be something other than it was supposed to be.  

I highly recommend it.

The final episode focuses on Magnus Nilsson and his restaurant Fäviken. Nilsson has created a restaurant with Fäviken that thrives on an intense Nordic authenticity using primarily local ingredients. 

The idea of seasonal cooking and the utilization of better produce was echoed by each of the chefs and has made me more conscientious about trying to source my produce as locally as possible.  
As Nilsson says, "a dish will never be better than your produce."

 I was excited to see Nilsson's name pop up in Saveur's Instagram feed along with the chocolate cake recipe listed here:

10 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for greasing
14 cup plain bread crumbs
1 cup sugar
7 tbsp. natural cocoa powder
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
2 large eggs
1 cup cake flour, sifted

Heat the oven to 400°.
Grease a 9-inch springform pan with butter and coat the bottom and sides with the bread crumbs, discarding any excess.

In a medium bowl, whisk the 10 tablespoons melted butter with the sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt until well combined.
Add the eggs one at a time and whisk until smooth.
Fold the flour into the batter until just combined, and then scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top.

Bake until the cake forms a thin skin on top but the batter is still loose in the center, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the pan to a rack, let cool completely, and then chill for 1 hour. Unmold the cake and serve.

I decided to make this cake to celebrate my brother's birthday, needless to say, the cake got rave reviews. The only additional feedback the boys had was that this cake should always be served with a glass of cold milk. 

 I also didn't have unseasoned breadcrumbs available so I used Panko bread crumbs which gave a pretty nice crunch. 

If I were to make this recipe again, with the same pan, I would double the recipe. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Fried Egg with Minutina, Japanese Turnips, & Jerusalem Artichoke

I had never heard of Minutina before I saw it at the market. i looked it up when I got home and found that it goes by other names, including Buckshorn Plantain, or herba stella. 

I decided that for my first time cooking with it I would try it quickly panfried with Jerusalem Artichokes and turnips. 

Minutina tasted a little sweeter than baby spinach and had a baby kale-like texture. If you cannot find minutina, you can replicate this recipe with kale, dandelion leaves,  or spinach. 

If you were to replicate the recipe with dandelion leaves, I would par-boil them first before beginning to sauté them.

After washing and patting dry, I cut my minutina into 1 inch pieces. 

I pan fried the jerusalem artichoke and turnip with paprika in olive oil. 

After the root vegetables have gained the crisp that I wanted, I added the minutina and sautéed for 1-2  minutes until the leaves became a vibrant  green. I then fried an egg and served that egg on top of my greens and root vegetables.