Matcha Lattes

IMG_3639I'm going to be honest with you guys. I really wanted to like matcha, a super refined green tea powder that's supposed to have great health benefits (and has become pretty trendy recently). It has so many anti-oxidants! It's so much less acidic than coffee! It's such a pretty color green! IMG_3632I made these lattes one afternoon looking for a caffeine fix, and I just...didn't like it at all. Maybe I needed to add more sweetener? Maybe I need to try a different brand of tea?

IMG_3634In any case, I still wanted to post this recipe for a couple of reasons: one, to show that even food bloggers fail at recipes. And two, to see if there are any matcha aficionados out there who have suggestions (also, I'm kind of obsessed with those handle-less mugs.) I'll be sticking to cappuccinos to get my caffeine fix for now, but I'm always on the lookout for new things to try.IMG_3636

Matcha Lattes (adapted very slightly from Bon Appetit, serves 2)

1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk

teaspoons matcha powder

2-4 tablespoons agave syrup

Bring almond milk to a simmer in a small pot over medium-high heat. Once milk has been heated, foam with a milk frother if desired.
Place 1 teaspoon matcha powder each in two heatproof cups. Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup boiling water in each cup, then add 3/4 cup almond milk, tipping cup slightly to help create more foam. Whisk in agave syrup, adding more if desired.

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad

_MG_7459Brussels sprouts were one of those vegetables I stayed away from as a kid because someone told me they were gross, and once I finally tried them as a teenager, made me kick myself for missing out all those years. _MG_7469We eat them all the time in the winter, usually simply roasted with olive oil and salt and pepper until they are super crispy, but when I came across this salad from one of my favorite little restaurants in NYC, I knew I had to give it a try. I made do with what I had, but since you only need a few ingredients, the salad comes together in minutes and is a study in simplicity. It goes perfectly with roast chicken or short ribs, and makes a great alternative to traditional winter roasted vegetables. _MG_7465

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad (adapted from the New York Times)

24 brussels sprouts

½ cup raw walnut halves (I only had almonds, so I used that instead)

¼ cup fork-crumbled parmiggiano reggiano

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

Juice of 1/2 lemon, or more to taste

Kosher salt, to taste

Trim bottoms of brussels sprouts and discard any discolored or loose outer leaves. Using a mandoline, the slicing attachment on a food processor or a very sharp knife, shave sprouts into the thinnest of slices.

In a large bowl, combine shaved sprouts with the other ingredients, mixing roughly by hand so that the greens begin to wilt a little. Season to taste with salt and add a little more olive oil and lemon juice if necessary.

 

Meyer Lemon-Bay Leaf Pound Cake

_MG_6094 _MG_6085Sorry for the long absence, everyone. I was in Minnesota for a few days at the beginning of the month, and then I was feeling kind of stuck in the winter doldrums. Anyone else feeling like they need a tropical getaway right about now?_MG_6081

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Thankfully, this weekend was slightly warmer (almost 60 degrees in NYC!) and after seeing this lovely cake over on 101 Cookbooks, I was feeling inspired. If you've been reading this site for a while, you probably know that I love lemon desserts, and this cake was no exception. Not too sweet, with a hint of herbal flavor that adds depth and compliments the Meyer lemons very nicely. You could easily substitute oranges or regular lemons, depending on your personal preference and what you have on hand._MG_6083

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Meyer Lemon-Bay Leaf Pound Cake (adapted from 101 Cookbooks)

6 tablespoons / 3 ounces / 85 g unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature, plus 1 tablespoon butter, for piping

10 fresh or dried bay leaves 1 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup whole wheat flour 1 cup  granulated sugar 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt 3 large eggs, at room temperature 1/2 cup sour cream finely grated zest of 2 Meyer lemons (or regular lemons) 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Orange Glaze: 1 cup powdered sugar 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice 1 teaspoon orange liquor, such as Grand Mariner or Cointreau (optional)

Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and add 3 of the bay leaves. Let steep for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9-inch loaf pan. Dust with flour and tap out any excess. If possible, line the bottom with parchment paper. Dab one side of the remaining 7 bay leaves with a little bit of butter and place the leaves, evenly spaced, on the bottom of the prepared pan, buttered side down.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla until combined. If needed, barely rewarm the butter to liquify it and pluck out the bay leaves. Whisk the butter into the egg mixture.

With a spatula, gently stir the egg mixture into the dry mixture, just until the batter is smooth. Do not over mix. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, being careful not to disturb the leaves (alternately, top the cake with any remaining leaves). Put the remaining 1 tablespoon of softened butter into a plastic bag, snip off a corner, then draw a straight line of the butter down the center of the cake. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. It's better to slightly under bake, than over bake this cake.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the perimeter of the cake and then tip out onto a cooling rack, remove leaves, and let cool completely before glazing.

To make the glaze, combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and orange liquor (if using). Stir until smooth, then spread the glaze over the cooled cake, allowing it to drip down the sides and harden.

Makes one 9-inch cake.

Corn, Chicken & Butternut Squash Soup

_MG_5428Soup isn't the most glamorous of meals – not nearly as exciting as, say, foie gras, or steak, or even pizza. And yet, there is something so inherently comforting about a bowl of warm soup, filled with hearty vegetables and diced chicken, with a little honey-drizzled cornbread on the side for good measure. Soup like this makes me long for a fireplace, for a cabin somewhere in the woods with snow falling outside the window and no honking horns of the city. I can't promise that this soup will take you there, but it will make you warm on a cold night no matter where you are, and give you your daily serving of vegetables to boot. And sometimes, that's good enough._MG_5431

 

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Corn, Chicken & Butternut Squash Soup (adapted from Epicurious)

Word of warning: this recipe makes A LOT of soup. So be sure to have plenty of tupperware for leftovers, or make it for a lot of people (i.e. more than two)

2 tablespoon butter
2 medium onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup all purpose flour
9 cups low-salt chicken broth
4 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled seeded butternut squash (cut from one 1 3/4-pound squash)
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 16-ounce bags frozen corn kernels
1 cup milk
4 cups diced skinned roast chicken (2-3 chicken breasts)
2 cups chopped green onions
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onions and 1 cup bell peppers. Sauté until onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Add flour; stir 2 minutes. Mix in broth, then squash, potatoes, and thyme; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer uncovered until squash and potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes. Add corn, cream, and 1 cup bell peppers. Simmer until corn is tender, about 10 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Bring to simmer before continuing.) Add chicken, 1 cup green onions, and 1/2 cup cilantro; simmer 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle chowder into bowls; sprinkle with remaining 1 cup green onions and 2 tablespoons cilantro.

Braised Short Ribs and Polenta

_MG_4109I've been feeling in a bit of a food rut lately. Much as I love sesame noodles, Thai takeout, and Christmas cookies, I was getting kind of bored. Cooking has always been enjoyable for me, but recently I was feeling uninspired and sluggish, reluctant to post anything here because I didn't have anything good to post. Last weekend, however, I decided things needed to change. Freed from  the flurry of holiday parties and December business, January seemed like a good opportunity to start fresh and get back into cooking -- real cooking, not just throwing on some pasta when I get home from work like I'm tempted to do most nights. _MG_4084While it's still cold, I want to make more hearty soups, more winter salads, more creative and inexpensive meals. I want to make pickles and take more time to read and play games, and watch less TV (even though this is the supposed Golden Age of television -- and it's easy to believe with Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Mad Men -- I could go on). I want to enjoy my beautiful new-ish neighborhood more, and make the most of these winter daylight hours. _MG_4089Inadvertently, this has become a bit of a resolution post, and I was never a big one for resolutions. Any resolutions to exercise more or eat healthier usually don't seem to last very long, but these I think I can do. And so, I'll begin this year with a simple (but very impressive) recipe for the perfect winter comfort food: braised short ribs that melt in your mouth, and the creamiest polenta with just the right amount of salt. We enjoyed with a cabernet sauvignon, some candles, and a kale salad (have to try to be somewhat healthy at least), and A. told me it was his favorite one yet._MG_4100 _MG_4104

Braised Short Ribs (Adapted from the Bon Appétit Cookbook, serves 2-4)

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon ground black pepper 2 to 3 pounds meaty short ribs 2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped 1 medium carrot, peeled, chopped

6 oz button mushrooms, thinly sliced 3 large garlic cloves, minced 1 1/2 ounces prosciutto , finely chopped 1 cup dry red wine 2 cups chicken broth 1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon (1/4 stick) butter, room temperature 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs from crustless day-old French bread 1/8 cup (about) whole-grain Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix 1 teaspoon thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper in small bowl. Rub herb mixture all over short ribs. Heat oil in heavy large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add ribs to pot and cook until brown on all sides, about 10 minutes per batch. Transfer ribs to bowl.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, carrot, mushrooms,  garlic, and prosciutto to pot; sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add wine and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pot. Add broth, bay leaf, and remaining 1 teaspoon thyme to pot. Return ribs to pot, meat side down; bring to boil. Cover pot tightly; transfer to oven and bake until ribs are very tender, about 1 hour 45 minutes. Remove from oven. (Short ribs can be braised 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm slightly over medium heat before continuing.)

Preheat oven to 450°F. Transfer ribs to large roasting pan, bone side down. Remove 1/4 cup mushrooms from pot and finely chop. Place in medium bowl. Add butter and mix with fork to blend. Mix in breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper. Spread 1 teaspoon mustard over top of each rib. Spread breadcrumb mixture over top of each rib, pressing to adhere. Bake until topping is crisp and golden, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, spoon off any fat from top of sauce in pot and discard. Boil sauce until slightly thickened and reduced to generous 2 cups, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon polenta into bowls. Top with short ribs. Spoon sauce over and serve.

Creamiest Polenta (Adapted from Tyler's Ultimate)

2 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup milk

3/4 cup polenta or yellow cornmeal

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature

Salt and pepper, to taste

Bring milk and chicken stock to simmer over medium heat in a saucepan. Add polenta and slowly whisk in. Reduce heat to low, and continue to cook until fully absorbed, 15-20 minutes, whisking often to prevent lumps. Remove pan from heat and stir in butter, cheese, and salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Spaghetti & Meatballs

It would seem that fall has officially arrived. I am always reluctant to let go of summer, but something about the crisp air brings on wishes for apple cider doughnuts (of which I had some last weekend), warm soup, and sitting by a fire. Lately, I have had a particular craving for classic spaghetti and meatballs. Of course, growing up in my family, the classic meatballs were Swedish, not Italian (but just as delicious). However, having studied abroad in Italy, I came to love Italian food and culture -- and in fact, one of my uncles is convinced we are part Italian, so you never know. In any case, these meatballs make an excellent and hearty dinner, and even better leftovers for lunch the next day. I modified the recipe to make it slightly healthier by using mostly ground turkey instead of pork, but you could also use pork only. I also love how the ricotta makes the meatballs surprisingly light. Spaghetti and Meatballs (adapted from Food & Wine, serves 6-8)

1/2 pound sliced white bread, crusts removed and bread cut into 1/2-inch dice (4 cups) 1 pound lean ground turkey
1/2 pound lean ground pork 3 ounces thickly sliced pancetta or bacon, minced 3 large eggs, lightly beaten 2/3 cup ricotta cheese (5 ounces) 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley 1 teaspoon dried thyme 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, chopped 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper Kosher salt Two 28-ounce cans peeled Italian tomatoes, crushed Freshly ground pepper 2 tablespoons shredded basil 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
16 oz spaghetti or fettuccine (I used whole-wheat)
Preheat the oven to 400°. In a food processor, pulse the bread to coarse crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a large bowl and add the turkey, pork, pancetta, eggs, ricotta, parsley, thyme, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper and 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Mix well. Shape into 20 meatballs, using about 3-4 rounded tablespoons of the mixture for each. Transfer the meatballs to a medium roasting pan.
Roast the meatballs in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until firm and just beginning to brown. Meanwhile, puree the canned tomatoes in a food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds. Using a spatula, loosen the meatballs from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato sauce to the pan and season well with salt and pepper. Lower the oven temperature to 325° and cook uncovered for about 2 hours, or until the sauce is very thick and the meatballs are very tender; turn the meatballs once or twice during cooking.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add spaghetti or fettuccine and boil until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and add 1-2 tablespoons olive oil so the noodles don't stick.
To serve, place 3-4 oz. pasta in a bowl. Spoon sauce and 2 or 3 meatballs over pasta. Garnish with basil and Parmigiano Reggiano and serve hot.

Simple Winter Salad

As an effort to be slightly healthier, I have been trying to eat more salad lately (and something needs to counteract all of the artichoke dip) Since I quickly become bored of the same old goat cheese-dried cranberries-walnuts salads of winter, I came up with this one to spice things up and add some more interesting fruits and vegetables to my diet. I am a huge fan of citrus, and since it is in its prime season right now, what better way to use it than in a healthy (but of course delicious) salad?

Simple Winter Salad (serves 6)

8 oz mixed greens

2 large oranges, such as blood or valencia, peeled and cut into thin sections

1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced

1 red onion, thinly sliced

1/8 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon honey

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Parmesan cheese (optional)

 

Toss first four ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside. In a small glass or bottle, whisk vinegar, mustard, and honey until well mixed. Add olive oil in a slow stream, whisking constantly, until fully emulsified. Season with salt and pepper, and toss well with salad ingredients until well coated. Garnish with shaved parmesan cheese if desired.

 

$10 Mondays: Mushroom Crostini

For today's $10 post, I will be continuing the party-themed appetizers (more this week + cake!) You may have already noticed these mushroom crostini in pictures from my earlier party posts and wondered what they were. Well, to answer your questions, these make a great winter appetizer and with a simple green salad also make a cheap dinner. Even though NYC's temperatures may reach 70(!) degrees this week, the produce selection is still decidedly wintery, so these are a good option until more exciting tomatoes and zucchini are available. Mushroom Crostini (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

1/2 lb mushrooms (I used baby bellas)

2 tablespoons butter

2 shallots, minced

2 tablespoons dry white wine

1/4 cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper

1/2 baguette, cut into very thin slices

3 tablespoons butter, melted

Clean mushrooms well and chop into very small pieces.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until very soft, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add wine and reduce for 5 minutes more. Stir in cream and cook until most of the liquid has reduced 5-6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place baguette slices on a baking sheet and brush with melted butter. Bake until browned and crispy, about 10 minutes. Top each with a tablespoon of mushrooms.

Minnesota in February

As promised, I have uploaded my photos from my quick weekend trip to Minnesota. Now, many of you may not think that MN is the best place to visit, particularly in February, but I beg to differ. Of course, being from there I may be slightly prejudiced, but the Twin Cities have exploded in the last few years with a number of great restaurants, and shops, not to mention the second-most theaters and museums per capita after New York City. If you don't believe me, just check out the James Beard Award nominations for this year -- Twin Cities chefs all over the place! Anyways, this trip was too short to eat at many places, but we did fit in breakfast at Barbette, one of my old favorites, and the BEST chocolate cake you will ever eat from Café Latte (get the turtle cake and don't ask questions. Trust me.) Much of the weekend was spent seeing my youngest sister's play (she was amazing) and hanging out with my family, though a few bottles of wine may have been consumed. The best one was a Domaine d'Auphilac Montpeyroux from Languedoc, which we actually had for the first time on the Upper West Side at Bar Boulud. It was excellent with our impromptu cheese plate and homemade pizza.