Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Piece of Cake Story


This past weekend was the big 4-0 birthday for two of my friends and beforehand, I was enlisted by one of the party hosts to coordinate the dessert. Now, as many of you know, dessert (in particular making cakes), is not my strong point. As a reminder, here is what Conor’s 7th birthday cake looked like…

P1300029I mean, it did the job, but I wouldn’t call it a visual masterpiece. So I decided to delegate the making of the desserts (which also included two friends who baked over 100 cookies for chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches, and these miniature s’mores that went so fast I didn’t even get one), specifically the making of the birthday cake. Which leads to the favor…

Lately I’ve found myself embracing the barter economy more and more (this will be the topic of another post in the near future) and that includes trading favors and food for services from multi-talented friends. So for the cake, I reached out to my very gifted CSA farmer, Bennett Haynes of Ralston Farm, who is spending the winter season as a pastry chef apprentice at a swanky new restaurant called Jockey Hollow Bar and Kitchen. Luckily for Bennett, the pastry program at Jockey Hollow is being run by Andrea Lekberg, who owns and runs one of the loveliest little bakeries around, The Artist Baker. After sending out my dessert S.O.S, Andrea gamely agreed that the birthday cake could be Bennett’s pastry “homework” for the week. After sharing a few details (a garden theme for the decorating, since the birthday friends share a vegetable patch; no chocolate), Bennett got to work, and I eagerly awaited the cake.

IMG_4237Here’s Bennett delivering his homework, which ended up being a phenomenal 3-tiered buttermilk cake (using Ralston Farm eggs) with a citrus-cardamon jam filling and a rich frosting which everyone agreed was the best frosting they’d ever tasted. It tasted as good as it looks and combined the best of professional pastry making with the thoughtfulness of something homemade (and everyone was spared my janky, sparkly blue, single-tiered brownie thing). So thank you Bennett and Andrea! And may I suggest exchanging your skills in the kitchen (or elsewhere…get your mind out of the gutter!) for something wonderful sometime soon?

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Monday, January 26th, 2015

Another kind of chicken salad…

IMG_4106 So clearly I’ve got chicken on the brain lately, because I’m cooking and eating it for pretty much every meal. It’s a full on craving, and cravings are interesting, aren’t they? Why are there certain ingredients we just need in our bodies all of the sudden? I’ve had spates where all I wanted was turkey sandwiches; then another time it was an addition to smoked salmon for breakfast, lunch and dinner; and more recently citrus (fresh pink grapefruit in the morning, tangerines for snacks, cara cara and fennel salads…). I’m sure there’s some science behind these cravings—mineral or vitamin deficiencies perhaps (yes, I play a doctor on tv), but right now it’s all about poultry so why not share that craving with you?

My last post was about assembling a classic chicken salad sandwich using the wonderful organic birds my supermarket is now offering. Today I’m featuring a different kind of chicken salad: Using your leftovers to make a hearty lunch salad. Any roast chicken will do for this, but I’m in love with a recipe from My Paris Kitchen, a newish cookbook from the Paris-based food writer David Lebovitz. The recipe is for Poulet a la Moutarde, or Mustard Chicken, and it’s a classic French dish for braising chicken thighs or parts with wine and flavoring it with a combination of dijon mustard, bacon, thyme, creme fraiche…resulting in a tender and intoxicating bird.

For dinner we eat the warm chicken over buttered noodles and then any leftovers go over a salad, like the one pictured above: Baby spinach, feta, sliced radish (another ongoing craving), a vinaigrette of red wine vinegar-shallots-maple syrup, a nice hunk of bread, and of course the chicken. It’s so simple, so satisfying. I might make it again today.


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Friday, January 16th, 2015

Homemade Chicken Salad is What I Want Right Now

IMG_3790Lately I’ve been craving chicken salad at lunchtime—who knows why. Normally that would mean chopping up the odd and ends of a roast chicken from last night’s dinner, or if I was feeling more motivated, poaching some chicken breasts and then shredding them up. This was all fine and good but unfortunately cravings and ingredient availability don’t always go hand in hand. Until now… because lucky for me, my local mega-supermarket has begun selling organic rotisserie chickens (besides the zaftig Perdue beasts that used to be the only option). Is there a better cheat than a hot rotisserie chicken just waiting to be turned into innumerable dishes? I think not. If your market isn’t yet offering the organic kind, I recommend asking the manager–what do you have to lose?

I particularly love chopping up some of the warm chicken and tossing it with a combination of creme fraiche (or mayo), a big spoonful or whole grain mustard, perhaps some prepared horseradish, finely chopped tarragon and shallots, salt, and lots of freshly ground pepper to make my lunch salad.

IMG_3812I happened to be traveling past the main bakery for Balthazar Bakery, based in Englewood, NJ, last weekend, and picked up one of their hearty whole grain-rye loaves for just such a sandwich. If I’m using a thicker bread, perhaps toasted, then I prefer my chicken salad sandwiches open-faced, for the sandwich pictured above I did the following:

-Toasted the bread and then buttered one side of each slice.

-With a fork, smashed a half of ripe avocado on top of each buttered slice (normally half an avocado would do for 1 sandwich, particularly if you’re sharing, but these were small avocados). Sprinkled salt, pepper, and lime juice on top of the smashed avocado.

-Topped avocado with a heaping spoonful of the chicken salad. Add thinly sliced radish on top (because you need something crunchy to match the chicken and avocado) and season them with just a little salt and pepper.

-A side of cornichons is not mandatory but recommended.


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Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Thinking of You Paris

paris.yogurtI’m not sure what is an appropriate post to pay tribute today to the journalists who lost their lives or were injured in yesterday’s attack at Charlie Hebdo, but at the very least I wanted to express my thoughts of love and solidarity to France and all of the people who risk their lives sharing their knowledge, insight, and humor to make the world a better place. It is a terrible tragedy but one that will hopefully help us all come closer together to fight intolerance.

Above is a photo I took on a family trip to Paris a few years ago—it includes some of my favorite things from that magical city of truth and beauty and ideas.


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Monday, January 5th, 2015

A Few of My Favorite Things from 2014

IMG_0329Happy New Year! To wrap up the old before heading into the new, I wanted to post food highlights from my 2014. This is basically a random recap of all my favorite things—from a nacho recipe that was featured on Dr. Oz (see up top), to my new habit of doubling the greens (like bok choy, broccoli rabe, kale, spinach, and swiss chard) when adding them to pasta (see below)…




and being a guest on my favorite radio show—WNYC’s Leonard Lopate!



Here is the rest of my end-of-the-year photo round-up in no particular order, and a warning: DON’T READ WHILE HUNGRY…

photoNo visit to California is complete without getting a double cheeseburger, prepared “animal  style” from In & Out Burger (and HERE’s A LINK to their “secret” menu).

IMG_2243I formed a full on love affair with radishes and put them on everything!

P1290946I finally had the opportunity to eat transcendent sushi at Sasubune in Los Angeles (cross that one off the bucket list).

P1300016Discovering dry-marinating salmon with herbs, spices, and lemon zest before cooking.

P1300029Keeping up a tradition of homemade birthday cakes for Conor…no matter how they turn out.

P1300233Falling in love again with pink grapefruit and using it in everything from cocktails to salad dressings…let’s keep the Florida citrus farms alive and well!

photo 4Going to Buvette in NYC and eating breakfast at the bar as often as possible (also nicking their pens…see them in the ceramic holder??).


P1300283Experimenting with frozen puff pastry for quick dinners and easy party food.

P1300366Composed salads!

IMG_1050New favorite cake recipe: Coconut Berry from the cookbook Homemade Summer by Yvette van Boven…people flip for it EVERY SINGLE TIME.

P1050396Eggs. Just eggs.

IMG_1134If you haven’t already gotten a benriner (Japanese mandoline slicer) after reading KEEPERS then do it ASAP! It’s the BEST/cheapest kitchen gadget that will help you make things like this shredded raw beets salad:
IMG_2271and this quick-cucumber pickle…

IMG_1354Mango lassis in frosty Mason jars.

IMG_1359My friend Maya Kaimal’s addictive chickpea chips, specifically the spicy sweet chili variety. Also gluten-free!

IMG_1363Food & Wine selecting KEEPERS for their annual Best of the Best Cookbooks Edition (can you find us on the cover??)!

IMG_1673This for lunch: Leftover broccoli rabe smashed on toast with ricotta salata and a slice of prosciutto.

IMG_1883Grilling more steaks in summer…

IMG_2111And eating more fresh peas with lots of dill, butter, and salt and also on toast with creme fraiche...

IMG_2280Watching Belgium versus the US in the World Cup!

IMG_2360Ice Cream, ice cream, and more ice cream…


IMG_2497A scoop of fresh basil ice cream on top of a scoop of marscapone from The Bent Spoon in Princeton.

IMG_2486The first crisp of summer with an almond crumble crust.

IMG_2574158 Pickett Street Cafe in South Portland, Maine— still makes the best bagel sandwich I’ve ever had: An everything bagel topped with chile cream cheese, smoked salmon, cucumbers, capers, and onion.

IMG_3109Raspberry stands on the side of the road in Maine…




IMG_2697Eating my cousin Veronique’s crepes in Maine.

IMG_2788Non-pasturized, whole, organic, jersey cow milk from Maine.

IMG_2812Summer vegetable gratins.

IMG_2946Making giant Nicoise salads for summer cottage lunches with friends and family.

IMG_3019More pie-eating contests!


IMG_3322Watching my cousin Veronique eat steamers for the first time.

IMG_2672Sunsets in Maine.

IMG_3420Eating tater tots at Fenway Stadium during Conor’s first Red Sox game.

IMG_3533These gorgeous tomatoes from my CSA Ralston Farm (on toast with mayo and lots of flaky salt).

IMG_3584Did I mention more ice cream? This time from the wondrous Arethusa Dairy in Connecticut.


IMG_0083Putting all of these things in a bowl over grains: Roasted beets, chopped parsley, toasted cashews, leftover roast chicken, pomegranate seeds, and feta.

IMG_0041Remembering to go back-to-basics sometimes because shells and tomato sauce is divinely simple and good (KEEPERS Basic Tomato Sauce!).

IMG_4148Drinking out of bottles

IMG_4046Just this.

IMG_4011You can NEVER eat too many BLTs.

P1300567Late summer peppers for roasting and also making Alice Waters’ ratatouille…


IMG_3862Starting off a day in NYC with a stop at Doughnut Plant…
IMG_3363and also ordering one of their pretty green tea matcha lattes.

IMG_3850Jersey peaches.

IMG_3837Realizing that I should really make chilaquiles for breakfast more often.

IMG_4514A new puppy!

IMG_0141Always making TWO banana-chocolate chip breads.

IMG_0591The wonder of bee pollen…sprinkled here on post-yoga morning yogurt with honeycrisp apples and toasted walnuts.

IMG_0018Discovering Sunrise Biscuit Drive-Thru in Chapel Hill (seen here with country ham and egg).

IMG_0034And also eating this gorgeous plate of shrimp & grits at Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill.

P1050570Asian noodles (soba, somen, udon) with nuoc cham sauce and all my favorite things (radish, eggs, toasted nuts, arugula, etc.).

IMG_1943Roasting the carrots with their tops (when they look this good and fresh) and then eating them too.

IMG_2492The crunchy bits on salty pistachio soft serve ice cream at Momofuko Milkbar.

IMG_2696Drinking this delightful local fruit ale called Happy Accident while visiting Madison, WI.

IMG_2764And then on the way home having a layover at Chicago’s O’Hare and getting to eat this torta with a side of margarita at Rick Bayless’s restaurant.

IMG_2963Massaging kale to make this KEEPERS salad with pomegranate and toasted pumpkin seeds.

IMG_3245Making mervielleux pastry (coffee whipped cream, between layers of meringue, with shaved chocolate on top) for the first time at Christmas dinner and having it turn out like this:


IMG_3298And last but not least: Watching Conor drink hot chocolate.

THE END! Can’t wait to share more with you in the New Year!!

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