Deviled Eggs with Prosciutto

IMG_9629Happy New Year and apologies for the radio silence! There's really no excuse, but what with the flurry of the holidays and getting back into the swing of things with work and everything, it's felt like the last thing I want to do at night is sit in front of a computer. Otherwise, the new year is off to a good start–we're trying to eat healthier (at least for the month of January), so I can't say there have been a ton of exciting recipes here (lots of salads and variations on quinoa with vegetables and some protein). Have you made any resolutions? (Have you kept them?)IMG_9633I made these deviled eggs for a New Year's party, and I think they're my favorite variation on the recipe (basically, any combination of pork + eggs is genius in my book) but you could easily leave out the prosciutto for a vegetarian take. I could seriously eat a whole plate of these for dinner–but they make a great appetizer for any occasion. IMG_9634

Deviled Eggs with Prosciutto (adapted from Food & Wine)

12 large eggs

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon mayonnaise

4 cornichons, minced

3 tablespoons goat cheese, at room temperature

2 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons minced shallot or red onion

2 teaspoons snipped chives or scallions

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 ouncea thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into 1-inch pieces

In a large saucepan, cover the eggs with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and let the eggs stand in the hot water for 8 minutes. Transfer the eggs to an ice water bath until chilled, about 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, mix the mayonnaise, cornichons, goat cheese, mustard, shallot and 1 teaspoon of the chives. Peel the eggs and halve them lengthwise. Add the yolks to the bowl, mix until smooth and season with salt and pepper.

Set the egg whites on a serving platter. Scrape the egg yolk mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip and pipe the filling into the whites; alternatively, spoon in the filling with a teaspoon. Top each egg with a piece of prosciutto, sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon of chives and serve.

Entertaining: The Perfect Cheese Plate

mg_9276Though I sometimes love making complicated appetizers, when hosting a dinner or holiday party you can't ask for an easier (or more crowd-pleasing) option than a cheese plate. Of course, cheese plates are nothing new, but putting a little thought into it can take a mediocre plate of cheddar and turn it into an impressive spread.mg_9273 mg_9270

For starters, choose a variety of cheeses (the advised amount is about 2 oz of cheese per person–unless you're just planning on having cheese for dinner, in which case, it's at your discretion. Not that I've ever done that.) I like to go with something soft (such as Camembert or the very lovely Jasper Hill Harbison), something hard like Manchego or Comte, and something funky or blue like Époisses or this super creamy Gorgonzola Cremificato. If you want more than three types, you can branch out from there–just try to keep a balance between textures and how strong the flavors are. (Note that this is in no way sponsored by Murray's, I just find them to be an excellent resource when looking for cheese.)mg_9268

After that, I like to add a few varieties of pickles and jams (I usually go for pepper jelly), like mini cornichons and if you're feeling ambitious, watermelon rind pickles. Then just add toasted baguette slices and a couple of kinds of crackers, and serve with wine (obviously). Perfect for holiday entertaining or a fancy night in.

Happy 4th of July!

Hello from California! If you have been following along on Instagram, you probably know that I have been traveling around a bit and eating A LOT. Highlights include an incredible dinner at Animal in LA, amazing lunch from Sqirl, and of course, so many tacos (we may or may not have stopped in an old west-style town along highway 1 to eat leftover carnitas tacos. At 9 a.m.)

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We're heading up to Napa today to attend a friend's wedding, but I hope that whatever your Independence Day plans are, they include plenty of food being eaten outside, friends and family, and fireworks. Happy 4th of July!
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Mushroom-Gruyère Tart

Happy 2014! Knowing me, I'll continue to write 2013 for the next six months, then just as I'm getting used to the new date it will already be December. _MG_5507My apologies for the silence over the holidays  – I was in Minnesota for about 10 days (which felt so long! In the best way) and Ari came along to experience a real Minnesota Christmas (though he missed out on the lefse-making – photos coming soon). Being home is always wonderful, but this time was particularly lovely because in addition to all of the flurry of holiday parties, I was there for long enough to really relax and hang out with my family and friends. And of course, enjoy lots of good food. What did you do for the holidays?_MG_5509

I made this tart a few weeks ago to bring to my book club holiday party (yes, I'm in a book club. It's the best), and I think that it makes a great appetizer or main course served with salad. You could of course make the puff pastry by hand (or use a more traditional pastry crust), but I was in a bit of a rush, and honestly, the store-bought stuff works very well in a pinch. You might notice our little Christmas tree in the background – it's the first one I've ever had in my own apartment and I love it so much more than I thought I would. It may or may not still be sitting in the corner._MG_5515

Mushroom-Gruyère Tart

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

1 tablespoon butter

1 large shallot, thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped)

1 lb mushrooms, such as shiitake or baby bellas, thinly sliced

1/4 cup sour cream or crème fraîche

1 cup shredded gruyère cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out puff pastry on a lightly floured surface to about 12x14 inches. Place carefully on a baking sheet (covered with parchment paper, if desired) and prick all over with a fork. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot, mushrooms & thyme and cook until browned, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and mix in sour cream and gruyère.  Spread mixture over top of pastry shell, and bake until cheese is melted, about 7 minutes. Cut into slices and serve immediately.

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

_MG_5452I know, I know. No posts during the week of Thanksgiving, which is probably the single most important holiday for food bloggers – or, as I overheard a woman telling her mother in the grocery store last Wednesday night, "This is the Black Friday of grocery store shopping". But the fact is, I didn't make anything for Thanksgiving this year, and so I didn't have anything to share. We went to a friend's house, and brought pie (and it was store-bought! But only because it had a croissant (!) crust and was from the best bakery in Brooklyn.)_MG_5469 _MG_5459

If you're not on a post-Thanksgiving cleanse (and let's be honest, I'm not) then you should definitely make this cake. It was my birthday last weekend and, not being content with store-bought cake (blasphemy) I decided to try out a couple of new recipes. I combined this banana cake recipe (the two-layer recipe makes about 20 cupcakes + one mini cake) from Smitten Kitchen with the best cream cheese frosting recipe I have ever found (the secret: use cream cheese and mascarpone for icing that's not too sweet or tart). These would also make great cupcakes to bring to a party should you find yourself tired of Christmas cookies._MG_5472

Happy belated Thanksgiving to you all, and hope you're all enjoying this happiest of seasons.

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (Makes about 24 cupcakes, or one 2-layer cake)

Cake (modified from Smitten Kitchen):

3 1/2 cups cake flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 3/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature 1 cup  sugar 1 cup packed golden brown sugar 4 large eggs 2 cups mashed or pureed very ripe bananas (5 to 6 large) 6 tablespoons sour cream or (weight will vary) plain yogurt 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottoms of 2 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper, then coat the paper and sides of pans with butter and flour, or a nonstick spray OR line 2 12-cup muffin tins with muffin cups.

Whisk cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl and set aside. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until blended. Beat in eggs one at a time, then bananas, sour cream, and vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients in two additions just until combined. Divide batter among two pans; you’ll want approximately 5 cups of batter per pan.

Bake cake until tester inserted into center of each layer comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes. [Muffin cups should bake for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Please watch them carefully.] Cool each layer in its pan for 15 minutes before flipping out onto a rack to cool the rest of the way.

Frosting (modified from Food & Wine):

8 ounces mascarpone, at room temperature 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature 4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted 1 1/2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the mascarpone and cream cheese until smooth. Add the confectioners' sugar and beat until incorporated. Beat in the vanilla. Cover and refrigerate the frosting until it is firm enough to spread, about 1 hour.

Fall at Zara Home

How is it November already? Except for the fact that Halloween already happened and it's now about 45 degrees outside, I'm pretty certain that it should still be August. So while I try to distract myself from thoughts of Thanksgiving (plans TBD for the moment), I thought I would share a few of my favorite items from Zara Home's fall collection. I'm a huge fan of Zara Home – like H&M, they have a ton of very affordable options in many different styles, and inventory changes frequently so there's always something new. zara

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I am definitely wishing for some gold flatware to add a little holiday sparkle.

On a completely different note, I wanted to share with you all that Ari (who you may have read about here) just launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund his brand-new radio show and podcast, called Off Campus. The show consists of interviews with people from all different career paths and walks of life, talking about their first year out of college and how they got to where they are. They're trying to raise $12,500 by December 4th, so please take a minute to check it out if you're interested (Also you might see a cameo in the Kickstarter video of yours truly). To learn more about the radio show, click here, and to donate to the campaign, click here.

Happy Halloween!

_MG_5280For someone who wanted to be an actress for most of their life, I was never very good at Halloween (how things change, eh? Though I work down the street from Times Square, so that still counts, right?) Somehow, September would always fly by and then it would be October 30th and I never have a good costume and would just end up being a cowgirl or Carmen Sandiego or something. But this year, we decided to have a little pre-Halloween party, so I decided it was time to come up with a decent costume for once. (Spoiler: it was Medusa. Inexpensive and a little scary = my kind of costume)_MG_5261  

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I also surprised myself and ended up getting kind of into the Halloween theme, which ended up being pretty fun -- and I think between the dark n' stormy punch, ghost cake pops, and Sriracha deviled eggs, it was pretty successful. I also made cupcakes with my favorite cake recipe, but used this frosting technique to make spiderwebs. Just in case you were looking for a last-minute Halloween snack (and don't have enough candy) all of these are relatively quick to make._MG_5262

Happy Halloween, everyone!