Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Figs are back, Hooray!

Walking home from work the other day I spotted figs at the corner fruit stand....I was exstatic! I've been waiting since October for fig season to be here, and finally it's here! HOORAY! See I only became a fan of figs this past October when my mom bought a bunch for the Jewish holidays but I only actually tasted one during the holiday of Sukkot, which is the last of the holidays.
Once I decided I loved the taste of figs it was too late and there were gone for the season. So I've basically been dreaming of eating a fig for a long while can probably guess how excited I was to see them at the stand on the corner!
The ones the guy at the fruit stand was selling were kind of mushy, so I thought I'd skip buying them there and visit the supermarket to see if they had any...NOPE, they didn't. My next move was the World Wide Web. Freshdirect is a great resource for finding seasonal fruit and vegetables that are not always sold in your good old supermarket. I was so excited to order them, along with a bunch of other stuff!
I think I'll eat some for breakfast and the others I thought to make a brie and fig mac and cheese, just like the one they make at S'mac in the east village, NYC. But then I came across this recipe and it seemed better suited for me. The S'mac version recipe that I found online uses shitake mushrooms and rosemary and in my opinion those two ingredients just don't fit into the puzzle for me! Sorry S'mac! Anyway stay tuned for the results, meanwhile I'm enjoying my figs, plain and simple!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Aioli on Your Burger?

Roasted Red Pepper Aioli
6 garlic cloves
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups light mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste
1 15oz jar of roasted red peppers, drained
Finely chop garlic cloves in a food processor. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Then add the mayonnaise. Add salt and pepper to taste and blend until smooth. (This is your basic aioli.)
To make red pepper aioli, blend peppers and 1 cup basic aioli in processor until mixture is smooth. Can be made 1 day ahead, keep covered and refridgerated.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Spinach Artichoke Chicken Burgers

Spinach Artichoke Chicken Burgers
2 pounds ground white meat chicken
1 box frozen spinach, defrosted with the water squeezed out (use cheese cloth)
1 can artichokes in water, drained well
salt and pepper to taste
Place drained spinach and artichokes in a food processor and process until ingredients are chopped finely. Add chicken, salt, and pepper, and spinach artichoke mixture into a bowl until well combined. Make mixture into about 10-12 patties and grill on the BBQ! Serve on a toasted potato bun with caramalized onions and roasted red pepper aioli sauce, ENJOY!!
NOTE: To know if you have enough flavor (salt and pepper) in the burgers, make a mini tests burger on a pan and taste, adjust accordingly.
After cooking they looked like this...
Even the Dubie dog enjoyed!!

Monday, June 21, 2010


Back in May I posted a recipe for my momma's beets, but here's another way you can prepare this red (or yellow) sweet and healthy root vegetable.
Oven Roasted Beets
3 beets peeled and cut up into chunks
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Place beets on a sheet pan lined with tin foil and drizzle olive oil on top. Put on rubber gloves and mix the beets in with the olive oil so that it coats every beet. Sprinkle beets with salt and pepper and place in a 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes flip beets over to the other side and bake for another 30-35 minutes mixing every once in a while until they are fork tender.
Eat your roasted beets on this salad or this salad or eat alone! ENJOY!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

Hey Everyone, here's a culinary slideshow, well kinda, of the meal my family and two others consumed during the holiday that is Father's day! Enjoy!
The masterpiece that is my creation.
Romanian Kebabs (made by mom) and Store bought Sausages
My Spinach Artichoke Chicken Burgers
The table from one angle. Because of the sun it's hard to really see, but there's a potato salad of sorts on the bottom left and to the right of it some fried eggplant in a sauce. In the center of the table there's mom's homemade hummus.
The table from another angle. You can an arugula and fennel salad, which I obviously didn't eat.
Roasted Asparagus (that roasted a tad too long)
Caramelized Onions
Roasted Red Pepper Aioli
Farm Fresh Corn
Tehini with Parsley made by mom
My sister, yeah, the one I feed, who is now obsessed with my quinoa salad, here is the infamous sista!
Dessert: Farm Fresh Strawberries, Best Banana Cake Ever, and Blueberry Crumb Cake
My little cousin, and below is his dad, eating one of my cookies
Scary, I know!

Beet and Endive Salad

Going clockwise starting with the roasted sweet potato coins, beet and endive salad, and mushroom quinoa. Here's a closer look at the beet and endive salad. Roasted Beet and Endive Salad
2 Endives sliced
2 Roasted beets
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
For the Dressing
1 tablespoons dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
the juice of 1 lemon
Combine ingredients in a small bowl and pour over salad before serving!

I'm in Love

I'm in love with quinoa! Anything you put in it just makes it more amazing and adds to its nuttiness! It's easy to make, I've perfected the method. They key is to make sure the ratio of quinoa to water is 1:2 cups. Combine in a pot, bring to a boil, and lower to a simmer for about 10-15 minutes. If there's still some water left in the pot don't worry, just drain the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve. I also like to run cold water over the quinoa so the cooking doesn't continue.
The other night I had my friend over for dinner and I threw together a bunch of stuff to eat. One being sauteed mushrooms with garlic and white wine, and then last minute decided to combine it with the cooked quinoa. What a marvelous idea, it was so freaking good, both my friend and I can't wait to eat it again! Here's the recipe...
Sauteed Mushroom Quinoa (serves 2-3)
1 cup cooked quinoa, (red or white is fine, I used white this time)
1 package wild mushroom blend
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves of garlic chopped
a splash of white wine, whatever is open
salt and pepper to taste
1 handful of chopped parsley
Place olive oil, mushrooms, and garlic in a saute pan. Saute in medium hear for about 5 minutes. Pour a splash of white wine in the pan and stir the mushrooms around. Cook for another 10 minutes until mushrooms are tender. Let cool in the pan.
Place cooled cooked quinoa back into a pot and combine with the cooked mushrooms, and parsley. Heat up and serve as a side dish or vegetarian main dish. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

BBQ on Father's Day???

I've been pretty busy over the past week, hence no new posts....sorry! Please don't fret, this weekend is Father's Day and I plan to do a lot of preparing and cooking for the BBQ my parents are having in honor of the fathers.
Here's a sneak peek of some of the menu:
-Spinach Artichoke Chicken Burgers served on a potato bun with caramelized onions and roasted red pepper aioli
-Greek Style Quinoa Salad (I'll be sure to take a picture of it this time!)
-and some other stuff that I may or may not post
I might even bring some compost cookies for dessert since I have a whole bag of dough balls in my freezer that I shouldn't be eating.
Look out for the burger recipe and maybe a few others! Happy Father's Day!

Meatballs of all Varieties

The other night I went with a friend to the Lower East Side's newest hotspot, The Meatball Shop. What do you think they serve there??? You guessed it, meatballs, of all sorts. The menu is not super large but anyone can find something to eat there, even you vegetarians and pescetarians out there. There's the classic beef ball, pork balls, salmon balls, chicken balls, vegetarian balls, and today's special was something the bartender was coining "blue balls." Haha, basically it was a buffalo chicken meatball served with a blue cheese sauce. Of course, you all know that I don't eat blue cheese, so I had my friend order the blue ball slider with the sauce on the side. (See the photo below, sorry about the poor quality.)
The buffalo chicken slider was pretty good, not enough spice for me though. I ordered was the classic beef meatballs, it comes with 4 balls, ontop of rigatoni with a classic tomato sauce. You have a choice of sauce, classic tomato, mushroom sauce, parmesan cream sauce, or spicy meat sauce. I also ordered a side salad of arugula and apple slices mixed with the most delicious yet light dressing. I think I heard the bartender say it was a mustard vinaigrette of some sort. Whatever it was I could have continued to eat a few more bowls of it.
The prices are very reasonable too, which is always nice in these recession times. WE had a small carafe of wine that was $17. The meatball sliders were each $3. You can look at the menu online at their website. We didn't get dessert, but they have homemade ice cream sandwiches that looked amazing.
The place was packed, I sat at the bar, but the wait for 2 people at 6:30pm was about 30 minutes and then when we left at 8pm the wait was more than an hour. The place is small but cozy enough to want to go again and again, plus the meatballs were delish, the prices fair, and the people watching wasn't half bad either! Either way you look at it, it's a win-win, as far as I'm concerned. Although I'd highly suggest going on the early side of lunch/dinner time.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Clean out your pantry...Compost Cookies

Living in NYC there are so many bakeries, so many cookies, and so little time to try it all, so I thought I'd share a recipe of one of my favorite cookies from the Momofuku Milk Bar in NYC's East Village. The chef of the Milk Bar is Christina Tosi, and she makes and creates amazing baked goods that you basically can't get anywhere else, although they do ship in the US, so I guess I just told a lie. If you want to read about Tosi's history click here and here.

Anyways, the only thing closer to getting the real thing is to try and make the cookies on your own. The idea of the cookie is that you use up all your leftover potato chips, chocolate, pretzels, goldfish, crackers, various chocolate chips, etc. The infamous cookie is called.....drumroll please....THE COMPOST COOKIE! Get it??

I've been researching around the food blog arena and found that there were many reviews written after people tried making the cookies at home....mostly, they were disastrous. It also appeared on The Amateur Gourmet, if you read all the reader comments on this recipe you'll see what I mean by disastrous. Although, two batches later I think I have come up with a decent compost cookie recipe, however it's by no means comparable to the real thing!

Mistake Number 1: For those of you who are lazy and can't wait for the dough to chill completely in the fridge or freezer for at least 2 hours, but better overnight, then you will get cookies that spread like these did. That was my very first batch, I was so excited I didn't wait even an hour, as you can see that wasn't a good idea. Also not a good idea, to put so many cookies on one cookie sheet. Try about 10!Mistake Number 2: Not letting the cookies cool completely before putting them on a plate or taking them to your friend's birthday party in this container....and then covering it with foil, you end up with cookies that look like shit, literally! At least that's what all my friends were telling me. Most of them did find the cookies to be sort of addicting and they felt the more they ate the better they tasted...that also could have been all the beer we drank at the party! I'll never know.
By the way this was the first batch that I made and put in two tablespoons of coffee grounds in with the creamables, hence the dark brown color. If you are thinking to yourself, where will I get used, dry coffee grounds...go to your local starbucks and ask them for some, they'll look at you like you have 8 heads but will surely share their used grounds. In my next batch, as you'll soon see, I added half that amount at the very end along with the chips and pretzels.
I had so much extra cookie dough and not enough cookie sheets so I thought i'd try making mini cookie cupcakes. Well, as you can see that was a crumby disaster. Basically they puffed up out of the muffin tin and got all connected so when I tried taking them out of the pan they all broke. I didn't want to waste it so I placed all the cookie bits in a baggie and will keep them for making sundaes or perhaps a compost cookie milkshake?
Got any other ideas????? If so, post a comment!
Here are the cookies from the second batch. I only baked two of them as a trial. The top cookie has the coffee grounds in it and the bottom one has no coffee grounds at all! I baked them on a cold cookie sheet along with the frozen dough balls for about 15 minutes at 375 degrees. They came out good, chewy in the middle, but a little too thick for my liking.
I froze the rest of the dough balls on a cookie sheet and the put them in a baggie for future use. Keep them in the freezer. And when you want to bake them let them thaw out enough for you to be able to smoosh them down in the center a tad, I'm coining this as the smoosh down method. Hey there, I hope you are still reading this post, if you are I'm impressed! If I scared you from ever making this recipe or bored you at all, I'm sorry. But, I swear it's not as hard as it sounds! Here's the second batch, without coffee grounds, baked again, using the smoosh down method before baking. A preheated 400 degree oven and 14 minutes to be exact! I tested them on five 4 year old girls, they looooved them!

Here's my adapted recipe (Originally taken from when Christina Tosi appeared on Live with Regis and Kelly and posted this recipe.

Compost Cookies


2 sticks unsalted butter

3/4 cups light brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon corn syrup

Wet Ingredients

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Dry Ingredients

1 3/4 cups flour

1 1/2 cups of your favorite baking ingredients (chocoloate chips, rollos, raisenettes, butterscotch chips, white chips, etc.)

1 1/2 cups of your favorite snack foods (potato chips, goldfish, crackers, pretzels, etc.)

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1-2 teaspoons of dry, used coffee grounds or instant espresso powder (optional)


1) Preheat oven to 400º.

2) In your Kitchen Aid or a large mixing bowl, cream together the creamables.

3) In a small bowl, combine the wet ingredients and whisk together until smooth.

4) Add the combined wet ingredients to the creamables. Mix together until well incorporated.

5) In a large mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients. Using a spatula, fold together until evenly distributed.

6) Slowly add the dry ingredients to the combined creamables and wet ingredients. Mix until evenly combined.

7) Shape dough into balls–about 2 tablespoons each, I used an ice cream scooper.
(*YOU MUST Chill dough for at least 2 hrs or overnight. I put the dough balls in the freezer and then thawed them enough to do the smoosh down method on the center of ball before baking.)

8) Place dough balls, about 2 inches apart on a Silpat or parchment paper-lined cookie sheets.

9) Bake at 400º for 13-14 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let stand for 2 minutes. Then place cookies on wire racks to cool.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I can't get enough!

It's like a drug, I just can't get enough of it! All day yesterday I was thinking to myself that I couldn't wait to get home so I can make more quinoa I made a copycat version of a quinoa dish I get at this restuarant called Hummus Kitchen, on the Upper East Side. They call it the "Super-Healthy Salad." And they aren't lying either. I wouldn't call it quite a salad because there's no variety of lettuce in it.
It might be hard to tell what's in this salad based on my photo, sorry I'm not the photographer in the family. I probably should have used the white quinoa so it's a more pretty "salad" in the end, but since I had leftover red quinoa I used up what I had. If you want to go for the pretty effect I'd use white quinoa as opposed to the red variety. If you don't care about that sort of stuff, then GO BIG RED!
Super-Healthy Non-Salad
(serves about 4 as a side dish)
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dried apricots chopped
1 cup roasted sweet potato* (about 2 yams or sweet potatoes cubed)
1/2 cup walnuts or slivered almonds (I used a mixture)
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a pot bring 2 cups of water and 1 cup of the quinoa to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and then cover and cook for about 15-20 minutes. Pour cooked quinoa in a sieve and then rinse quinoa with cold water to cool off. Drain and place in serving bowl.
2. Add cranberries, chopped apricots, roasted sweet potatoes*, and walnuts to the bowl.
3. In a small bowl combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Pour dressing over salad just before serving.
*If you don't know how to roast a sweet potato read on to get step by step directions.

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Pour about 1/4 cup olive oil on the cubed potatoes and mix to coat then lay the sweet potatoes out in a single layer on a roasting tray. Roast for 30-40 minutes in oven or until tender.

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