Monthly Archives: April 2013

Link Love

  • I’m really intrigued by Campari and Aperol since I’ve yet to try them both and I think when I do (which will have to be soon), I will make Molly Wizenberg’s Americano and her Pamplemousse (which happens to be my absolute favorite French word) ; ) I’m a sucker for a cocktail with fresh grapefruit juice
  • Also really intrigued by homemade bitters. We decided we want to make some so we can avoid paying $20 for an itty bitty bottle of them! So we ordered two adorable little glass dropper bottles (a cobalt for me and an amber for him). First up: Lavender bitters! Then Rhubarb!
  • Really impressed and amused by Allison Robicelli’s profanity riddled in defense of cupcakes tirade via Grubstreet’s article—and whether you think cupcakes are overrated or not, she makes some really valid points.
  • I want to sleep in a lighthouse!! 
  • Been on a crepe kick. Really wan to make these
  • This story both fills and breaks my heart. It’s so sweet and touching and I urge you to listen…
  • This makes me so happy and nostalgic for New York. I can’t put into words how excited I am to get back there in a few weeks. My three words would have to be: humanity, culture, connections. But it’s touch to contain all of my feelings and all of my love about this city in just three words. It’s so much bigger than that.
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Blondie’s New Friend

 

 

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I’m not going to lie. I’ve practically eaten my weight in asparagus this week. Asparagus and Brown Butter Banana Blondies. Good lord, help me—I can’t. stop. eating these things! It all began very innocently (as such temptations usually do). I was perusing the NYtimes dining section when a video caught my eye. Melissa Clark had posted a video and corresponding recipe for brown butter banana blondies with chocolate crust.

Now, ordinarily blondies don’t really interest me. I always found them to be kind of odd and blah…where is the chocolate? Is it confused? Doesn’t it just want to be a brownie? But once I saw that this recipe was for blondies with a chocolate crust, my eyes widened and my This is the blondie madeover. They’re like blondie’s boundary-pushing, sometimes scantily clad, edgy, brunette friend, who’s controversial presence commands whispers and stares.  Like the Megan Fox of desserts. She’s seemingly wholesome with her bananas but let’s be honest, she probably hooked up with blondie’s boyfriend behind her back and shoplifted some underwear from Victoria’s Secret.  Do not be mistaken, there’s nothing healthy or wholesome going on here. A chocolate wafer crust serves as the bottom layer and atop it, a thick blanket of melty, chewy sweet and saltiness. Blondies are all about the butter and this recipe uses plenty but it calls for BROWN BUTTER which shakes things up. Rum (or bourbon in this case) and the nutty brown butter mingle with the mashed banana, and a sprinkling of maldon (or fleur de sel again, in this case), and yield  a harmonious sweet and salty concoction.

These bars hit every trigger. Chocolate (to satisfy the blondie skeptics like myself), toasted walnuts for some crunch, banana (so you fool yourself into thinking you’re not too guilty) rum or bourbon (because c’mon, that’s just a brilliant idea), salt (to contrast the sweet) and brown butter (for a rich nuttiness that accentuates the banana). I took it a step further and drizzled the top with salted caramel. I just so happened to have some hanging around and I think it made the bars prettier. These are addicting. You’re going to need a lot of milk or maybe a little pour of bourbon. You might bring one to someone who will devour it in under two minutes. This will make you feel proud. You’ve been warned.

 

Brown Butter Banana Blondies  slightly adapted from Melissa Clark, via the New York Times

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan *I used the full 12 Tbs for the filling but think you could easily cut back to 8 Tbs)
  • chocolate wafer cookies (to make about 3 cups crumbs) *I use Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers (the whole box)
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt, plus a pinch
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 large eggs at room temp
  • 2 1/3 cups dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon or dark rum
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • fleur de sel, for sprinkling (optional)
  • salted caramel (for drizzling—also optional)

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment, and grease with butter. Melt 1 stick of butter in a saucepan over low heat or in microwave. Put the chocolate wafer cookies in the bowl of a food processor and process to make fine crumbs. Add the light brown sugar, melted butter and a pinch of salt. Process until the mixture is the consistency of damp sand. Dump the mixture into the pan and press it into an even layer. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the surface is firm.

Remove the pan and set aside. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 8 tablespoons butter, then let it cook until the foam subsides and butter turns a deep nut brown, about 5 minutes. Cool. In a large bowl, whisk together bananas, eggs, dark brown sugar and bourbon or rum. Whisk in brown butter. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and fine salt. Fold into batter along with the toasted walnuts. Pour the mixture over the prepared crust and spread evenly. Sprinkle top with fleur de sel salt if using.

Transfer pan to oven and bake until the top is firm and a toothpick inserted in the center emerges with a few crumbs attached (or clean) but not wet, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Drizzle with salted caramel if you so desire.  Cut into 24 bars. Try not to get too crazy.

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List Link Love

I like to make lists. I’m all about lists. When other people were drawing and doodling during class time lulls, I was making lists. “Favorite movies,” “hottest actors,” “places I most want to travel to,” “favorite desserts.” Classic. My class time days are long over but my list-making mania is not! The only difference is now my lists are in my i-phone. Every time I come on here to blog, I struggle to refrain from making lists. This is because this blog is more about writing and well, list-making is pretty simple and doesn’t have as much substance or depth. But I always find myself wanting to share new blogs I’ve been reading lately or new recipes I’ve discovered or just general inspiration. Speaking of inspiration, I was inspired by one of the food bloggers I follow—Tracy (from Shutterbean). Every Friday she posts an “I Love Lists” blog, with links to recipes she’s drooling over, funny youtube videos or interesting articles. I like this concept and while I can’t delegate a particular day of each week for this, I’d like to still do it once a week, be it Monday or Thursday.

So away we go!

List Link Love

  • These juvenile apology letters are snot-blowing, snort-inducing, cackle-coaxing hilarious
  • In the wake of Monday’s tragic events, I have been sad and angry and fearful for the future of this country and world but it’s things like this that restore a bit of faith in humanity for me…
  • This man’s story is particularly incredible…what he’s been through is inconceivable and I feel for this young man he helped save who was rooting on the sidelines for his girlfriend who was running in the marathon and today he has no legs.
  • The polls are open for SAVEUR magazine’s food blog awards! Have you voted yet?
  • really want to make these easy English muffins. Like now.
  • I just barreled through the first season of Friday Night Lights and can’t wait to start season two and continue to idolize Tami Taylor and her beautiful, luscious, perfect hair. And if her amazing performances on the show weren’t enough to make me love her…there’s this
  • How fun are these springy little straws?
  • I also really want to make this. With Mint Julep floats. Kentucky Derby anyone?
  • I recently discovered this blog (which I think is pure genius) and it’s like I jumped in somebody’s delorean and am six years old again, making book castles on the living room floor. I lost several of my children’s books during a big flood (Thanks Hurricane Fran) and this blog has urged me to try and recall and replenish my beloved kid book collection. So far, I’ve found Sammy the Seal, Tom and Jerry’s Party, The Little Red Hen, Country Mouse and City Mouse, Little Rabbit’s Loose Toothand this rare find, which brought back the biggest wave of nostalgia and luckily I did NOT have to pay $138 for it.

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I Love Paris in the Springtime

This weather has been so lovely…these past two weekends featured a bustling farmer’s market and a post-work belly-busting brunch, an open-air afternoon game of ping pong (with beer of course) and a Sunday feast followed by some backyard frisbee. And it marked the first time sleeping with the window open this year and let me just say, there is nothing like drifting off to sleep, breathing the intoxicating scent of fresh spring air.

And thank you dear Japanese Plum tree in our front yard for blooming (I had been waiting ever so impatiently because our neighbors across the street had theirs bloom a good week or so ago)! Spring and the arrival of April have me daydreaming about visiting Paris in April. I’ve been fortunate enough to have gotten to visit Paris twice but both times were in the summer and I think spring (particularly April) would be a dream. But I’m not complaining! I just think it would be very Audrey Hepburn. And I’m sure I’d be inclined to rent an adorable French bicyclette as my preferred means of transportation around the city. And wear flowery skirts and cardigans and leisurely stroll through gardens with an ice cream cone  and dance in the park with Fred Astaire (or maybe Joseph Gordon Levitt?) and then picnic with the quintessential basket of formage, baguette and vin. Okay maybe not but it’s a daydream so humor me ; ) These daydreams of Paris in the spring remind me of the last time I was in Paris (two summers ago), which is hard to wrap my brain around! I realize much to my embarrassment, I never blogged about my trip (quelle horreur)! I went with my mom in June and we ambitiously traveled to Paris, Aix en Provence, Apt (and surrounding Provencal villages) and to Switzerland—Bern, Lucern, Lausanne and Geneva—in just 10 days! It was a whirlwind trip but such a memorable one, especially in terms of our culinary encounters. So it may be coming two years too late but it would be remiss of me to not share it at all. So I will begin with Paris.

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In Paris, I had one of the most unique, innovative and memorable meals of my life. My mom and I dined at Spring—a modern and intimate restaurant outfitted in a cavernous grotto, in the 1st arrondissement— not far from The Louvre. We were lucky to get a reservation but I think the fact that we were in Paris during August (where the city is as vacant as it will ever get, since that is when Parisians flee the city in pursuit of their own vacation) worked in our favor. Funny enough, the exceptionally talented and young chef is actually American! Chicago native Daniel Rose is the mastermind behind this highly rated gem— worthy of every bit of praise it has received and I was fortunate enough to get to introduce myself and have a little chat with him after our meal.

We had an epic six-course meal that was nothing short of remarkable. It was this meal where I was first introduced to pigeon and sweetbreads and I found both to be surprisingly delightful, especially the pigeon, which was so tender and flavorful and reminded me a lot of duck breast.

We began with champagne of course and some fresh bread with seaweed butter. Seaweed butter! I’ve never tasted anything like it. We also had some bellota—a thinly sliced Spanish cured ham (much like Serrano ham) and also some pickled cucumbers and baby chanterelles.  (Please forgive the lack of quality in these photos—as is the case in most restaurants at night, the light was not ideal).

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Next, we had some stuffed red mullet fish with roasted fennel in a clarified buckwheat and fennel soup (that our waitress poured in front of us, creating a moat around the fish)—the dish was rich with umami and was my first time having mullet.

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Then came the sweetbreads! One of the highlights of our meal. They were prepared in a foamy green tomato emulsion and served with salad greens and a plum jam. They were the most savory, tender little gems and melted in our mouths.

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Then le pigeon came forth, with blanched, pickled onions and a creamy almond mousse, with kalamata olive jus. For the remainder of our trip, my mom and I joked every time we saw a pigeon on the street or in a park (which was a lot) and we’d say, “Ah hello Henri, we ate your cousin!”

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The pigeon was followed by the obligatory (and mammoth) cheese course which consisted of five different cheeses (and sadly I was unable to note the very French names of said cheeses, but we enjoyed them very much).

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For dessert, we received a generous melange, of chilled raspberries and peaches with fresh mint an cocoa nibs, in a peach syrup, a chocolate and salted caramel sorbet, mini coconut macaroons, chocolate-almond caramels and some blackberries and blueberries with a lemon-vanilla bean meringue.

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Needless to say we were left in a post-feast euphoria (which luckily lessened the blow of the bill). Spring is definitely a splurge but one well worth it, because like I said, it remains one of the most memorable and special meals I’ve ever had.

I’ll share more recounts of our European food diversions soon. In the meantime, I thought I’d share some of the tunes I’ve been listening to lately:

  • The King of Carrot Flowers—Neutral Milk Hotel
  • Green Mountain State—Corinna Rose & the Rusty Horse Band
  • Rave on Sad Songs—Jason Collett
  • Name in Stone—Dead Man’s Bones
  • I got the Blues—The Rolling Stones
  • Hymn for the Heartbreaker—Corinna Rose & the Rusty Horse Band
  • The Red Rose—Jill Andrews
  • Moonlight Mile—The Rolling Stones

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April 8, 2013 · 5:13 pm