Monday, December 29, 2008

Blueberry Lemon Crumbles

Blueberry Lemon Crumbles

Sometimes I worry that I will never have "my" recipes--dishes I'm known for, something I make every time we have guests, a cake that appears for every family birthday. With so many cookbooks weighing down my shelves, I feel the need to constantly try new recipes, nevermind the gazillions of options on the internet.

Christmastime, however, seems to bring out the traditionalist in me. Perhaps its that my family has eaten cinnamon rolls every Christmas morning for as long as I can remember, or that J's family holiday celebration is not complete without a hickory nut cake, a recipe that comes from his great-great grandmother. So, when it comes to Christmas cookies, I turn to some of the same recipes year after year.

My absolute favorite are Cranberry Orange Drop Cookies, chock full of pistachios, fresh cranberries, walnuts and orange zest. However, these Blueberry Lemon Crumbles aren't far behind--they were the first to disappear at our annual holiday party, much to J's chagrin (he only got two).

The recipe can be found here. This year I replaced the blueberry jam/compote with some thawed frozen blueberries, which I macerated with a bit of sugar and lemon zest. Be careful regarding your dough to filling ratio, if you're too over-zealous with the blueberries, you risk a sticky mess.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cranberry-Citrus White Chocolate Biscotti

Cranberry-Citrus White Chocolate Biscotti

I was lucky enough to have a relatively light finals schedule this December, so instead of studying, I baked--and became the cookie fairy for all my friends at school. These citrusy, holiday-colored biscotti were a big hit in the library, as I defied our evil librarian and distributed them freely throughout the stacks.

Cranberry-Citrus White Chocolate Biscotti

The recipe is here, but I made a few tweaks. I used frozen cranberries instead of dried (its easy to chop them in a food processor) and included chunks of white chocolate instead of drizzling the chocolate over the top at the end. They're best with a cup of coffee in the morning, or as a pick-me-up while you're hitting the books.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Concord Grape Pie: A Dessert to Live For

Concord Grape Pie

Last Thursday, I saw Salman Rushdie speak on religion and tolerance, and he presented a bleak outlook on the world, full of pessimism. He took questions from the audience, and the last question was stark, "What, sir, do you live for?" Rushdie replied, "dinner." And we all left to eat ours.

As I ate some of this ridiculously amazing Concord Grape Pie later that evening, I thought of Rushdie's statement. Why do we always term fabulous desserts "to die for"? This my friends--it's a pie to live for--despite all the bad in the world, to know that you could have just one more bite of this pie sometime in the future--well that's a fine prospect indeed.

Concord grapes are as sweet as can be, with what I can only term "real" grape-y flavor. On the East Coast you can find them at your farmer's market this time of year. Their only downside? Seeds. Fellow foodblogger Kathy at Not Eating Out in New York lamented this fact when she shared her version of this pie. However, the recipe I used gets around this easily. You squeeze the grapes out of their skins (reserving the skins) and boil the insides, then push the insides through a mesh strainer. The skins, the now-seedless insides, some sugar, flour and a bit of lemon juice all get mixed up and baked in a pie crust with a brown-sugar streusel crust.

You can find the recipe here at Lisa's Kitchen. I will admit it--I cheated with a store bought pie crust, but the grapes are so magical, it's really not important. Be sure to let the pie cool completely before you dig in--that gives the filling time to set. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 01, 2008



The winter coat is officially out from the back of the closet, socks are in heavy rotation. While daydreaming through my Emerging Markets class the other day, snowflakes flurried out the 14th floor window. The heater in my apartment? Clanging away.

In other words, its time for soup, hearty and warm. The first one of the season was an Italian--Ribollita--studded with white beans, pancetta, and spinach. Served over toasted, garlicky, crusty bread, it was delicious and got better as the week went on--the perfect, reheatable dinner for a quick meal. I used this Giada De Laurentiis recipe at the Food Network site, which I found via Apartment Therapy's The Kitchen. It's a quick and easy version of ribollita, which was just fine with me.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Slipping Summer


Hello, denizens of Erin's Kitchen. J here. The sun's setting earlier in the evening, the breeze is carrying a hint of menace, so hanging onto the last shreds of summer is the correct response for northerners. Erin and I are doing our part by consuming the remains of our homemade vin d'orange.



A couple years ago, Erin picked up a book entitled Aperitif by Georgeanne Brennan, a book devoted to the virtues of the aperitif and containing several recipes for vins du maison. I decided it was time to put the book to use and kept a sharp lookout for bitter oranges this spring. One night I struck pay dirt and bought a couple dozen at Fairway.

Here's the basic recipe:

6 2/3 bottles of a dry rosé or white wine (e.g. Sauvignon Blanc); avoid anything too heavy, but don't abandon structure entirely
1/2 qt vodka
1 pound (2 cups) granulated sugar
2 vanilla beans (whole)
1 lemon, cut into pieces
peels from 6 bitter oranges (aka Seville oranges)

Combine everything in a clean crock or jar and cover. Store in a cool, dark place for a month, and give it a good shake every day for the first week to dissolve the sugar.

After aging, strain the wine through several layers of cheesecloth in a mesh sieve and discard all the solids. Sterilize some wine bottles in boiling water, ladle the vin d'orange into the bottles using a funnel, and cork. Store the bottles in a cool dark place for a couple months, then enjoy; the author warns they won't last the year. Serve chilled or with ice.


That's the idea anyway. I'm drawn to projects like this, but those who know me know all too well that my initial fire cools quickly. Fortunately, this is a wonderfully forgiving recipe. I had one jar sit around for 2 months before I bottled it one hectic night. A week later, the result was delicious, and has been since. The second crock remains in a cool, dark place, for bottling some night this week; I'm sure it will be fine.

Erin will tell you I can't make a recipe straight up, and she's right. I added a few whole star anise fruits into the concoction. It is a noticeable flavor in the wine, and I recommend similar tinkering wholeheartedly. The wine is sweet up front but with a bitter finish. In addition to the orange, there's a lot of vanilla, and the star anise helps temper that a bit. Next summer I might try adding cloves or cardamom. Since the rosé was fortified with the vodka, it has a proof similar to a port; but don't expect it to taste like a fine tawny or, on the other end of the spectrum, like a sweet ice wine. It's more like a Lillet with a Campari chaser.

We purchased 375mL bottles and corks over the internet as well as a simple corker thingy. The corks were definitely easier to push through if they'd soaked in the boiling water for a bit, and the smaller bottles have worked well for gifts -- not to mention that since they barely fit in our largest pot, we would not have been able to sterilize 750mL bottles.

Pickles & Pastrami

Me & My Pickle

Last weekend, J and I hit up New York's 8th Annual Pickle Day. We munched on all sorts of free samples of pickled goods--from melon to herring to cukes. The Pickle Guys were doling out free, whole new, sour or spicy pickles, and a Korean food stand featured kimchi stir fried rice and pancakes. Not completely stuffed with pickles, J and I completed our Lower East Side excursion with a delish pastrami at Katz's Deli. And, of course, more pickles.

Rick's Picks at Pickle Fest

A variety of Rick's Picks

Pickled Melon at Pickle Fest
Melon pickled with mustard


Pastrami at Katz's Deli, Lower East Side
Pastrami at Katz's Deli

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Tomato Time

Super Sweet Cherry Tomatoes

Here at Erin's Kitchen, I can't get enough late summer tomatoes. I knew I was over the edge when I paid a whopping $4 for one heirloom tomato--it was actually mealy and not particularly sweet, so that cooled my tomato fervor--or at least made me a more discerning farmer's market shopper.

Tomato & Corn Salad

It's hard to beat a simple salad of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, and I served Suzanne Goin's version at a dinner party last night--she studs hers with crisp, rustic croutons and tops it with an oregeno-scented vinaigrette. Another favorite is pictured above--tomato wedges tossed with salt, pepper, basil and plenty of fresh sweet corn.

Tomato Foccacia

More complicated tomato concoctions include this ridiculously amazing tomato focaccia, courtesy of The Wednesday Chef. I loved it so much, I made it two nights in a row and each time it disappeared within hours.

Mark Bittman's Tomato Jam

Finally, Mark Bittman's super-simple tomato jam provides a nice transition from summer to (gulp) fall. I'll smear some of this deep crimson, cinnamon and clove flavored concoction (with a hint of heat) on some crusty bread tomorrow and pack it in my lunch for the first day of school.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My Upper West Side Dining Guide

My summer internship in DC ended last week, and school doesn't start until after Labor Day. So I've spent my free time lazing about and creating the Upper West Side Dining Guide. It's designed as a resource for my fellow grad students, but useful for all. Go check it out!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

American Flatbread Bakery-Waitsfield, VT

Clam Flatbread

And just like that--it was August. How the summer flew, and I with it--from DC to NY to DC to NY to Iowa to Wisconsin to DC to NY to DC. Whew. Now I'm back in NY for good--after a much needed long weekend with J in the mountains of Vermont. A friend's parents were kind enough to lend us their cabin and we did nothing but read, cook, and wander the hills.

Garden at Flatbread

Our one meal out was at the lovely American Flatbread Bakery, which becomes a restaurant on Friday and Saturday nights. The set-up is simple: you put your name on the list, grab a beer and then grab a seat outside--round the campfire, in the grass, on the porch--as you wait for them to call your name. This was the only restaurant where I've ever been disappointed that our wait wasn't as long as promised--I could have sat in the cool summer evening sun, staring at the green trees for another hour. It was heaven.

Wood-fired Oven at Flatbread

There's one salad on offer, and a slew of flatbreads. We ordered the special--a clam flatbread topped with local cheese, oregano and pancetta. The dining room houses the wood-fired oven where the breads are baked, and the young guys manning the stove will show off by twirling their wooden paddles used for sliding the breads in and out. While you wait, you can attempt to read the history of bread & fire posted chronologically around the room, though the print is small. One flatbread easily feeds two; J and I finished ours, leaving no room for dessert.

If you're not planning a trip to Vermont any time soon, you can try to simulate the experience with a frozen American Flatbread--you can find them many Whole Foods or other natural food markets. Invite some friends over, sit in the backyard, drink some beer and try to forget that summer's almost over.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Peach Tart with Raspberry Jam

Peach Tart with Raspberry Jam
This tart is a variation of the Aprium-Pistachio Galette (Galette? Tart? Difference?) I made last summer. You cheat with puff pastry, and top with fruit. I spread the pastry with Quaker Valley Orchards red raspberry jam, then topped it with fresh sliced peaches. I sprinkled a tablespoon or two of sugar on the top, then baked in a 350 oven for about 30 minutes. The crust was somewhat problematic because of the jam--it got a bit soggy in the middle, and I actually cut the tart into squares and then baked it a bit more to crisp up the edges of the individual pieces. Next time I might try pre-baking the crust a bit before spreading the jam. Still--delicious, summery, and my officemates devoured it before 10 AM.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Return to Red Hook

Pupusa Truck, Red Hook, Brooklyn

Earlier this month, I was in New York for the weekend and some friends and I decided to sate our pupusa craving with a trip to the Red Hook Ball Fields in Brooklyn. Little did we know that our visit fell on the first weekend the new! improved! "healthy"! stands were open. After a lengthy battle with the city, less than half the vendors have returned this summer, ensconced in approved taco trucks, following all health code standards.

Pupusa at Red Hook, Brooklyn
Bean and cheese pupusa with cabbage slaw.

The food was just as good as it was when I first sampled it last summer--particularly the grilled corn, doused with lime, cheese and chili. However, as I explained to a NY1 reporter, the weekly gathering has lost some of its neighborhood, family picnic charm. You can see my brilliant interview here.

Though it may have been first weekend madness, I recommend arriving early. At 11:30 when we showed up, lines were short--by the time we left around 12:45, you'd have to wait awhile for your Latin food fix. One exception--the ceviche line was unreasonably short, considering the deliciousness of the refreshing dish. Maybe the $8 price seems unreasonable compared to $3 tacos, but a serving is packed with meaty shrimp and worth every penny.

On another note, Manhattanites have an additional option for arriving at the Ball Fields this summer--the new IKEA ferry. Over at Serious Eats they have a handy map and instructions, but be warned that on the trip back those with receipts from IKEA jump to the front of the line. However, a receipt for a bottle of water is just as good as one for an IKSANDEERVERDENHOVEEN heap of plywood, so you won't be stuck waiting all afternoon. And you'll get a beautiful view and lovely breeze--much better than the stinky subway on a summer afternoon.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Domo Arigato, Mr. Yogato

Mr. Yogato Message Board
The suggestion and message board at Mr. Yogato

What does a rocket scientist do when he leaves Cali for DC and misses frozen yogurt? Opens his own froyo joint of course. A froyo joint that has rules--all of which lead to a discount of some sort, whether it's 20% off when you allow the cashier to stamp "Mr. Yogato" on your forehead, to 10% off if you answer a trivia question correctly.

Free stuff for your Mr. Yogato Yogurt
Free stuff to put on your yogurt. Olive oil's (?!?!) one of the choices.

The tart yogurt and fruit toppings are direct descendants of the Pinkberry tradition, yet the warm, goofy atmosphere is as far from the antiseptic, corporate feel of the 'berry as it gets. Visiting Mr. Yogato feels like stumbling into a raucous neighborhood ice cream social, with free mango or mojito yogurt samples for all.

On Saturday after a sweaty hike around the Mall, looking at statutes of dead presidents, my friends and I stopped in to cool off. We managed to confirm our patriotic cred (and earn a 10% discount) by correctly answering the following: Name three of the four U.S. state capitals named after presidents. We may have gotten just a smidge of help, but just a smidge (our hint: 3rd president). My blueberry and banana covered tangy yogurt would've been worth it without the discount, but not "the funnest yogurt experience" I've ever had. (Personally, I'd prefer "most fun" but, hey, I'm not a rocket scientist).

Mr. Yogato
1515 17th Street NW (between P & Q)
Washington, DC 20036

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Two feasts for $5.58

$5.58 worth of groceries from Glebe Market

Are you a grad student working an unpaid summer internship? Determined to eat like a queen on a shoestring budget? Here's what you do: visit your nearest Hispanic market or bodega. Pick up an onion, green bell pepper, avocado, can of Goya black beans, and homemade corn tortillas. Contain your surprise when these ingredients (plus a few breakfast bananas) total $5.58 at the check out. Fortunately, you already have some crumbly cheese (feta works), garlic, and cilantro at home or you would've forked over at least $7 or $8.


Dice your onion and pepper, mince your garlic. Saute them all in olive oil. Meanwhile, drain and rinse your beans. When the onion/pepper mix is done--browned slightly, onions translucent--add the beans, salt, and pepper. Stir well. As the beans warm up, chop your avocado, your cilantro, and crumble some cheese. Turn the beans to low or off. Heat a smidge of olive oil in another pan until warm, then toss in a tortilla. Heat on one side until it puffs up and the bottom gets crispy. Flip. Repeat with a second tortilla. Put tortillas on plate, pile with 1/3-1/2 of the beans, top with avocado, cilantro and cheese. Save the leftovers for tomorrow's dinner, and toast your thrifty-ness with a glass of an $8-a-bottle pinot grigio.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Market Lunch Dilemma: Blue Bucks or the Brick?

The Brick from Market Lunch, Eastern Market

Though it's in new, temporary quarters thanks to the Eastern Market fire, the breakfast dilemma at the Capitol Hill institution Market Lunch remains the same: Blueberry buckwheat pancakes or the Brick? The huge, fluffy pancakes are a buttery delight--plus, you get to hear the cashier yell "Bluuuuue BUCKS" to the line cooks. However, the Brick is an unparalleled breakfast sandwich--a homemade biscuit houses your choice of meat (bacon, sausage or ham), cheese, eggs and the piece de resistance, fried potatoes.

Market Lunch Redux

Same Menu, Same Dilemma: Bluebucks or Brick?

On Saturday morning, the Market Lunch line is long, and the boys ahead of us were hungry enough to order both the pancakes and the Brick. J and I adhered to one Brick for each of us, he with sausage, me with bacon. It provided plenty of fuel for our walk back down the Mall (and then some).

Know before you go: Market Lunch doesn't do breakfast on Sunday, and stops serving breakfast items around noon on Saturdays.

Market Lunch (inside Eastern Market's temporary location)
7th Street & North Carolina Avenue, SE
Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Strawberry Banana Pudding Pie

Strawberry Banana Pudding Pie in the Making

So, a few months ago, I had of meeting Katie Lee Joel at a food charity event. I was about to ask her what it was like to be Billy Joel's daughter, but then the reporter next to me asked about her HUSBAND, Billy Joel. Oops. His daughter, Alexa Ray Joel, is a mere four years younger than her stepmother, so you can't blame me for being confused.

Anyway, at this event I enough to get a free copy of Joel's new cookbook, The Comfort Table. No disrespect to Mrs. Joel's Southern heritage, but this vanity project looks straight out of the Hamptons, not straight out of West Virginia, her home state. The one recipe that caught my eye was a banana pudding pie. I added strawberries, and nixed the extra layer of vanilla wafers in the pie itself. While the pudding was a bit runny, it was quite delicious, though I doubt the slim Katie has eaten too many slices of such a decadent dessert.

Banana Strawberry Vanilla Pudding Pie

45 vanilla wafers
3/4 stick butter, melted
1 batch of vanilla pudding (try Mark Bittman's recipe)
2 bananas, sliced
1/2 pint strawberries, sliced
3/4 c. cream
scant 1/4 c. sugar (or less, depending on your sweet tooth)

Preheat oven to 350. Pulse the vanilla wafers in your food processor until crumbly. Slowly add in the melted butter and pulse until well-mixed.

Press vanilla wafer crumbs into a greased pie pan. Bake for about 10-15 minutes. Cool.

When crust is cool, place a layer of bananas and strawberries in the crust. Top with a thick layer of the pudding. Place another layer of bananas and strawberries on top, then the rest of the pudding (you may have some extra). Place in the fridge to chill for at least two hours. Meanwhile, whip the cream with the sugar until you have stiff peaks. When ready to serve the pie, top with a layer of whipped cream.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Open-Faced Asparagus Spring Onion Sandwich

Open Faced Asparagus Sandwich

I tried to stay local through the winter, stopping at the Morningside Heights farmers' market on Thursday afternoons, but a girl can only eat so many apples. The pickings were slim December through March, and I rarely had the time to trek down to the larger New York market at Union Square.

Foggy Bottom Farmers' Market Bounty

I have no excuses now--summer's bounty has begun, and on Wednesday nights the Foggy Bottom market in DC is right in front of the Metro station I use to get home. The market is small, but covers all the bases. A couple veggie stands, a dairy/egg stand, a pork and beef guy, plus a bread gal. Last week in less than 10 minutes, I pulled together the ingredients for a full meal at the market, forcing my seatmates on the Metro to bathe in the smell of my fresh garlic the whole way home.

Open Faced Asparagus, Goat Cheese and Spring Onion Sandwich

Last week I caught the last of the asparagus, fat, crisp tips perfect for roasting. I drizzled them with olive oil and garlic, and tucked them in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes. As they cooked, I sauteed some sweet, purple spring onions and some baby summer squash. I toasted some walnut-whole wheat-cumin bread, spread it with fresh goat cheese, topped it with the onions and squash, then the tender asparagus spears. I finished the whole open faced delight with one non-local ingredient--lemon juice. Even in summer, the Mid-Atlantic can't quite catch up with California's riches.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

And Now From Our Nation's Capital

Friends--this summer Erin's Kitchen will come to you from Washington, DC, where I'll be working until mid-August. I lived in this sweltering city when I first graduated from college, and have fond memories of Saturday mornings at Eastern Market, cheap lunch at Ben's Chili Bowl, and my first-ever mussels at Bistro du Coin.

However, more often than not I'll be eating in--J must stay in New York for work, and paying two rents requires beans-and-rice-style belt-tightening. I'll still visit the Big Apple every other weekend, so you can expect reports from both the Union Square and Foggy Bottom farmers' markets on a regular basis. I've added some DC foodbloggers to my links on the left. If you have any favorites to recommend, please let me know!

Eat the Tail, Suck the Head

A Whole Mess of Crawfish
To eat your crawfish, you twist at the middle, breaking the head from the tail. Squeeze the head and suck out the fat, then peel the tail a bit, hold the end, twist and pull out the meat and eat. See? Simple.

The weather gods have been remarkably kind to J and I this week. Tuesday night we scored tickets to Hamlet in Central Park, and though the sky was black and wet just an hour before the show began, the rain stopped about 10 minutes into the show. Similarly, gray clouds and a depressing weather report nearly kept us off the bus to Crawfish Fest down in Sussex County New Jersey yesterday. However, J's Louisiana-bred friend Geoff was determined to get his crawfish fill and we decided to cross our fingers and go. Though the raindrops got bigger the closer we got to the festival, by the time the bus doors opened, the drops disappeared and we even got a bit of a sunburn as the day progressed.

It's hard to beat a day in the sun with friends, drinking beer, listening to live music, and eating spicy Cajun food. Though as we rolled into our apartment around 9 pm last night, J and I agreed we perhaps overdid it--in addition to a whole mess of crawfish, between the two of us we ate a crawfish sausage, crawfish bread, onion rings, beignets, mint chip ice cream, and the piece de resistance--a jalepeno stuffed honest-to-god alligator sausage on a stick. Hoo-boy.

Fortunately, it's a well known fact that just like iceberg lettuce, boiled crawfish are calorie neutral. You see, you burn as many calories snapping and peeling and sucking as you consume. So it's all good. But trust me, I never want to see another alligator sausage.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Green (Purple) Goddess Dressing

Sweet Peas and Chive Flowers
Sweetpeas on the left, chive flowers on the right

Wednesday morning I made it to the Union Square Greenmarket for the first time in ages. Though yesterday I pined for my California market, I will admit late May's bounty here in New York ain't bad. I stuffed my bag full of strawberries, rhubarb, asparagus, spring onions, radishes, baby romaine, and the chive flowers pictured above.

Baby Romaine, Radish and Green Goddess Salad

The radishes and baby romaine cried out for a creamy dressing, so I cracked open my trusty Joy of Cooking and found a Green Goddess dressing recipe that easily adapted to my ingredients at hand. I used the purple chive flowers instead of chives, and as the dressing sat on my salad, it's color shifted to a subtle lavender. The flowers have the same taste as their younger, greener stems you normally see in the store. The added benefit is the lovely bouquet gracing your table until you cut up and use all the flowers.

This delish dressing is my entry for Kalyn's fab Weekend Herb Blogging event, hosted by Wandering Chopsticks this week.

Green (Purple) Goddess Dressing
This makes more than enough for one large individual salad

scant 1/4 c. creme fraiche (for a low-fat version, sub fat-free plain yogurt)
splash of lemon juice
splash of champagne vinegar
approx. 1 tbsp. chopped parsley
approx. 1 tbsp. chopped chive flowers
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together. Voila--you have salad dressing.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Cherry "Jello"

Cherry "Jello"

As I've puttered around the apartment this week, I've listened to podcasts of Los Angeles-based chef Evan Kleiman's show, Good Food. Each episode begins with a "market report", highlighting what's in season at area farmers' markets. Right now, it sounds like LA is drowning in cherries, apricots, and the summer's first sweet corn, grown deep in the hottest part of the state. It's hard to keep my longing in check--what I wouldn't give for a freshly picked deep red Bing or yellowy Rainer.

Pitted Cherries

To assuage my desire, I snagged a bag of (expensive!!) Bings at a local market. They were good, but not great--a bit soft and not super-sweet. They worked well in this homemade Jello though. I followed Elise's recipe for a Strawberry-Rhubarb Terrine, cutting the ingredients in half, using cherries instead of strawberries/rhubarb, and agave syrup instead of white sugar. A perfect dessert for a sticky summer day. If you want to keep your food local, however, and you live on the East Coast, you can stick with Elise's original fruit choices--yesterday's Union Square greenmarket was bursting with early strawberries and rhubarb.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Kicking Off Summer with Celebration

Vanilla Cupcakes with Lime Curd and Cream Cheese Frosting

I spent the long weekend in Wisconsin with my family, celebrating my little sister's upcoming nuptials. She's getting hitched to a lovely boy at the end of July, then they're packing their bags for Honduras, where they'll teach for two years. To preview their Central American adventure, my Mom and I threw my sister a "tropical" bridal shower on Saturday.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Lime Curd inside

While I doubt she'll find many cupcakes in San Pedro Sula, I figured a lime curd filling was tropical enough to include these beauties for dessert. The recipe for these lime curd stuffed cupcakes with cream cheese frosting comes from the inimitable Cupcake Bakeshop, though the lime wedge decorations were my sister's inspiration. While we sent most of the leftovers away with our guests, we saved a few for breakfast the next day.

Black Bean and Banana Empanadas

For a savory and sweet treat, I also made these banana and black bean empanadas. These are simple thanks to the use of puff pastry. Nearly any filling could work--next time I may try sweet corn. You can make them ahead--place on a cookie sheet, cover with tinfoil, and store in the fridge.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ladies Who Brunch

Brunch: Blueberry Banana Bread and Fruit Salad

I'm cherishing every day of downtime between the end of the school year and the start of my summer internship. Novels, baking, blogging--oh my! Today, the ladies who helped me slog through a year of economics came over for brunch to celebrate our freedom. These gals remind me why I came to grad school--over a leisurely meal of asparagus frittata, fruit salad, and blueberry-banana bread, our conversation ranged from the politics of Venezuela and Russia, to the recent Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz to good old fashioned girly gossip.

Blueberry Banana Bread

A few moments ago I unwrapped the leftover blueberry bread for a quick snack--this stuff is addictive and actually somewhat healthy. A nearby market has been on berry-overload for the past week--hence the overflowing fruit salad, whose leftovers, as soon as I finish this post, will complete my late afternoon noshing.

Blueberry Banana Bread
adapted from Joy of Cooking

1 c. white flour
1/3 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
5 1/3 tbsp. butter, room temperature
2/3 c. pure cane sugar
2 large eggs
3 mashed very ripe bananas (2 if they're big)
1 pint blueberries

Brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a loaf pan.

If you want to make the crumbly topping, mix together approximately 1/4 c. oats, 1/4 c. brown sugar and enough butter to make it stick together (sorry! didn't measure when I did this!).

Whisk together flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. In a separate large bowl beat butter and sugar together for 2-3 minutes. Beat in the flour mixture into the butter-sugar stuff until blended. Gradually beat in the eggs. Then fold in bananas and blueberries.

Pour into loaf pan. Top with crumbly topping if you want. Bake for about 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let pan cool on a rack for about 10 minutes before taking bread out of the pan.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Beet, Potato and Prosciutto Salad

Beet, Potato and Prosciutto Salad

Over the past few weeks, I've become obsessed with mustard vinaigrette. During finals, I ate it drizzled over blanched green beans nearly every night (served next to a pathetic frozen veggie burger). Now that the semester has ended, I've got time for more than a quick bean boil, so last night I used it to dress a jumble of potatoes, beets, arugula and prosciutto.

My mustard of choice is the French Clovis brand--last week I finished up a jar of its tarragon mustard and have recently opened a jar flavored with Provence herbs. Its sharp, earthiness works equally well on a ham sandwich and in salad dressing. In NY, you can find Clovis at Fairway--$2.79 for 7 ounces.

Beet, Potato and Prosciutto Salad

1 bunch of beets, greens trimmed
6-7 medium white potatoes, cut into quarters
olive oil
1-2 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp. fresh dill, chopped
1 tsp. fresh tarragon, chopped
zest of one lemon
2-3 oz. proscuitto, cut into bite sized strips
1-2 large handfuls of arugula

Dressing ingredients:
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tbsp. mustard, preferably dijon or stone-ground
1 1/2 tbsp. champagne vinegar
olive oil
kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 400. Wrap the beets tightly in foil. Place in oven and roast 45-1 hour depending on size. Open foil carefully (beet juice likes to spray) and wait for the beets to cool. Carefully rub off their skins and cut into quarters. Set aside.

After you put the beets in the oven, prepare the potatoes. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme. Put in the oven and roast for about 30-40 minutes, until skins are crispy and potatoes are fork tender. Remove from oven and set aside.

Mix the tarragon, dill and lemon zest together. Set aside.

Prepare the vinaigrette. Place diced shallots, mustard and vinegar into a small bowl. Stir well. Slowly add olive oil, whisking as you add it, until the dressing is the consistency you'd like (approximately 5-6 tablespoons of olive oil). Add salt and pepper to taste.

Compose salad. On a large platter, scatter arugula. Drizzle a bit of the dressing on top. Place beets and potatoes on top of arugula. Sprinkle the prosciutto across the plate. Sprinkle the lemon zest mix across the plate. Finish with more of the dressing and a scattering of fresh ground pepper and fleur de sel.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Warm Weather (Finally) = Outdoor Beer & BBQ at Fette Sau and Spuyten Duyvil

Pork Butt, Pickles and Beer at Fette Sau

Oh my lord, during my years in LA I forgot the pure bliss of those first really warm, sunny spring days. All things considered, this past winter in New York has been mild, but I spent most of February and much of March cursing the day I left southern California. But last Friday, oh last Friday--her 75 degrees of delicious sunshine made up for all of the gray, damp days earlier this year.

Trays of BBQ & Beer at Fette Sau, Brooklyn

What better way to celebrate such weather than an evening al fresco? J and I joined our friend Geoff for a night in Brooklyn, first at the car repair shop turned BBQ joint that is Fette Sau. Belly up to the counter and order your meat by the pound, then swing by the bar to pick up a beer in a mason jar. Prices are reasonable and the meat is tenderly terrific. I recommend a hearty squirt of the spicy mustard, and a seat at the outdoor picnic tables.

Beware the Beer Taps, Fette Sau, Brooklyn
Beware the beer taps at Fette Sau.

J & G, Spuyten Duyvil
J & G at Spuyten Duyvil as we waited for a patio seat.

After stuffing ourselves silly as we soaked in the last of the sun, we headed across the street to Spuyten Duyvil, a beer bar I've written about previously. We bided our time at a table in the front window until a spot opened in the garden patio. Here you feel as though you're in a friend's back yard, but with much better beer than any of your friends would provide. We headed home early, and Saturday morning I was back in the florescent-lit computer lab, crunching stats data. But last Friday was just a preview--summer's around the corner and I'll be damned if I set foot in a computer lab between May 13 and August 31.

Fette Sau
354 Metropolitan Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11211
nr. Havemeyer St.

Spuyten Duyvil
359 Metroplitcan Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Across the street from Fette Sau