Homemade Peanut Butter with Ginger and Maple

Homemade Peanut Butter with Ginger and Maple

Every time I am within a two-block radius of a kitchen supply store, I walk out with a glass jar. I think my glass jar addiction, if you will, is fueled by my idea that in a perfect world, my kitchen pantry would be filled with jars of homemade hummuses, vinaigrettes, sun dried tomatoes, and pickles. Instead, my jars gather dust on top of my refrigerator as I reach for another cup of applesauce at the grocery store. Last week, I finally removed one of the jars and filled it up with a homemade version of something I eat nearly every day: peanut butter.

First, let me say that I would have done this much sooner if I’d had any idea how easy nut butters are to make, as long as you have a food processor! While the base (oil and nuts) can be tailored to nearly any flavor, I opted for a flavor that would go with my daily oatmeal and includes a daily dose of super foods.

Ginger and Maple Peanut Butter with Super Foods
Makes 2 cups

One 16 oz. jar of dry roasted peanuts
A few spoonfuls of melted coconut oil, to preference
2 tablespoons of chia seeds
2 thumb-sized pieces of ginger, peeled and cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
3 tablespoons of maple syrup, more if desired
Salt, to taste

  1. Blend peanuts in a food processor until completely ground, roughly two minutes.
  2. Add one spoonful of coconut oil at a time, until the mixture becomes creamier and more peanut butter- like. (Be careful: While it seems logical that adding more oil makes the mixture creamier, too much oil can lead to oily, weird butter. If you prefer creamy peanut butter, blitz the peanuts in the food processor some more.)
  3. Add the chia seeds, ginger, cinnamon, and maple syrup then blend until fully-combined. Taste the mixture and add salt and more maple syrup if desired.
  4. Put into glass jar, add adorable label, high-five yourself every time you walk past it on the counter.

An Afternoon Snack: Butter Lettuce Salad + Love Toast

Butter Lettuce with Radishes, Tahini Toast, Vinaigrette

One of two things usually happens to me on Sundays: I either eat an enormous (boozy) brunch then have no appetite until the late afternoon, or I forget to eat breakfast altogether and don’t realize how hungry I am until two hours before dinner. For the days when I’m too hungry to wait till dinner, I’ll usually pull together something easy but healthy and satisfying, like a small salad and some toast for some extra substance.

This past Sunday, after a hard morning workout, I visited the grocery store and grabbed some small things that caught by eye: some crisp butter lettuce, amazingly red radishes, and some baby tomatoes, then came home and paired the sharp salad with some sweet tahini toast with jam, inspired by the Love Toast at Dimes.

Butter Lettuce Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

Butter Lettuce with Radishes, Tomatoes, and Dijon Vinaigrette
Serves 1

1/2 clove fresh garlic, peeled
1 pinch salt
1.5 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 teaspoon red wine vinegar, plus some to taste
1 tablespoon honey
5 tablespoon olive oil
Fresh ground pepper, to taste
1/2 head of butter lettuce
5 radishes, greens removed and cut into disks
10 golden baby tomatoes, cut lengthwise

  1. To make the Dijon vinaigrette: Place the garlic into a small food processor, then add the salt, Dijon, red wine vinegar, and honey, blend until combined. While keeping the food processor on, add one tablespoon of olive oil at a time to emulsify. Set aside. (You can also do this all by whisking the ingredients together in a bowl, but I find it much easier to do let the processor do the work.)
  2. Tear the butter lettuce into roughly bite-sized pieces and place in a bowl, then add the radishes and tomatoes.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad, to taste. (You will likely have some dressing leftover, which you can use to dip any leftover radishes into for a perfect snack).

Love Toast with Fruit, a.k.a. Tahini Toast with Jam and Mint
Serves 1

1 slice bread
3 tablespoon tahini
2 tablespoon boozy jam
1 tablespoon chopped mint
Raspberries (if in season)

  1. Toast the bread, then add tahini. Spread the jam over the tahini and add chopped mint on top. Add some fresh raspberries on top if in season.
  2. Shoo away your boyfriend when he comes over to steal a bite.

A French Fête: Frisée Salad + Shrimp with Shallots

Mimi Thorisson A Kitchen in France Cookbook Recipe

In middle school, I had listened to my Edith Piaf album enough times to have every lyric memorized — despite the fact that I didn’t speak French. (My rendition of the chorus to La Vie En Rose took several liberties, “Quand ilmepren dansesbra…”) This fascination with the French language, which manifested itself in Intensive French classes my senior year in college, has since made the jump to French food. Considering that the last four books I purchased have been French cookbooks, you could say I’m obsessed, actually.

This past Sunday, I dove head first into Mimi Thorisson’s A Kitchen in France and David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen to create a classic French feast. While I frequently look to Lebovitz’s traditional recipes for inspiration (and mouth-watering stories about sourcing crêpes in the Latin Quarter), I’ve shied away from Thorrisson’s time-intensive creations. I’ve often reached for her book off of the shelf, then hesitated after reading the name of an unpronounceable mushroom on the ingredient list or lengthy directions — it is not the stuff of weeknight meals. For this meal, I adapted Mimi’s Langoustines with Armagnac, subbing langoustines for shrimp and armagnac for more white wine, and paired it with a classic French frisée salad aux lardons.

Frisée Aux Lardons David Lebovitz


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Things I Read (and Loved) This Week

Books and laptop with flowers

Every week for my job, I read tons of articles about food — many of which deserve to be shared! Here are some of my favorite pieces of food writing from this past week.

  1. David Chang of Momofuku explains the timeline of the massive ramen boom in New York City — and why ramen isn’t what it used to be. [Lucky Peach]
  2. As a former vegan, I appreciated Mark Bittman’s take on the food that’s said to be one of the cruelest animal products. [New York Times]
  3. Bourdain Market is set to be the new Happiest Place on Earth, with an assortment of food stalls hand-picked by Anthony (No surprise, Xi’an Famous Foods is slated to the be first). [Eater]
  4. An incredibly helpful guide to the Geographical Indicators on food (Spoiler: Parmesan knock-offs are rarely from Italy). [Food52]
  5. A story about the mother of all peanut butters — and a man who loved it. [New York Times]

Not Your Grandma’s Deviled Eggs

Cornichon Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs get a bad rap. Ask someone, “Care for some deviled eggs?” and they’ll instantly recoil. But I’d like to stand forward and re-market Deviled Eggs as the tasty, mayonnaise-y underrated goodness that they are (Can I get a sponsorship?). While incredibly retro, I’m all for revitalizing the Tupperware Party favorite and reinstating it on the millennial table with these three delicious renditions of the incredible, edible (Deviled) Egg.

Basil Deviled Eggs

Yield: One dozen eggs (2 dozen halves)

You will need:

Curried Deviled Eggs
3 1/2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 teaspoon curry powder

Basil Pesto Deviled Eggs
1/2 cup fresh bass leaves thoroughly chopped
3 tbsp mayonnaise

Crème Fraîche Deviled Eggs
3 tbsp crème fraîche
2 tsp Dijon mustard
4 cornichons, minced (about 1 tbsp)

To make:

  1. Peel hard-boiled eggs and cut them lengthwise. Carefully remove yolks; place 4 yolks in each of three bowls. Set whites aside. Mash yolks with a fork.
  2. Add mayonnaise and additional flavors to one bowl; mix. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add mixture to bowl of yolks; mix.
  4. Fill reserved egg-white halves with each filling; serve.
  5. Repeat for each variation.

New Years Resolutions

New Years Resolutions

It’s no secret. When it comes down to it, January 1st is a completely arbitrary time to start with a clean slate. But each year provides a natural frame for our accomplishments (and failures). While I try to avoid resolutions that mention weight or money, now that we’re well into 2015, here are my resolutions for this new year.

  1. Make my career my priority and excel at my new job by saying “Yes” to every opportunity
  2. Reach out to new friends in New York at least once a month (even if it means making the trek into Brooklyn)
  3. Schedule Skype dates to catch up with old friends (because getting drinks once a year is far too little)
  4. Experiment with seasonal vegetables to make a new meal at least once a week
  5. Take my boyfriend out to drinks at least once a week – and truly listen to him (sans phone)
  6. Engage in more creative projects (including blogging, new forms of exercise, and exploring NYC)
  7. Learn more (because the most successful people are those who spend 2+ hours a day reading – and no, Buzzfeed doesn’t count)
  8. Use fewer electronics (while deactivating my Facebook may not be in my near future, we could all benefit from looking at people on the subway instead of looking at our Instagram feeds)
  9. Learn the ukulele (I’ve come to terms with the fact that guitar isn’t happening)

My Boyfriend’s Scones

Chocolate Chip Scones

My boyfriend and I have the perfect culinary partnership: I cook and he bakes (I’ve been told on multiple situations that my chocolate chip cookies bear an uncanny resemblance to E.T.). On a particularly difficult Saturday morning after a night out, my boyfriend made me the most delicious hangover cure in the world: fresh scones. Previous to that morning, I had never reached for scones, and had opted for their more-buttery cousin, croissants, but these scones corrected my mistake. They were buttery, savory, flaky, and dotted with chocolate chips, but not too sweet – perfect to dip into a cup of coffee (which was also at hand that Saturday). When my boyfriend made them for me again this past Sunday – which tasted even more delicious without a headache – I decided those New Years resolutions could wait another day…

Makes 12 triangle scones (His usual batch is a half-recipe).

You will need:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • chocolate chips or anything else you want to add
  • 1-2 tbs unsalted butter, melted for brushing
  • 1-2 tbs sugar, for dusting

For delicious scones:

  1. Preheat the over to 425 degrees
  2. In a medium bowl, stir the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together with a fork. Add the cold butter pieces and using a pastry blender (or your fingertips!), work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. (It’s ok if some larger bits of butter remain.)
  3. Pour in the buttermilk and vanilla and mix with the fork only until the ingredients are just moistened. You’ll have a soft dough with a rough look. If the dough is too dry, add small amount of butter milk. Add chocolate chips or whatever else you want (maybe try blueberries!). Gather the dough into a ball, pressing it gently so that it hold together. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it very briefly. Cut the dough in half.
  4. Press and shape each half of the dough into a circle about 7 inches across. Brush the dough with half of the melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Cut the dough into 6 triangles. Place the scones on an un-greased cookie sheet.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes (or more, to your taste) until tops and bottoms are golden. Transfer to a rack and cool slightly.

Review: Prune (East Village)

Sunday Brunch at Prune

I fell in love with Prune before I’d ever eaten there. Naming her restaurant after her childhood nickname, Chef Gabrielle Hamilton documented her experience opening Prune in her New York Times Bestseller, Blood, Bones, and Butter. By the time I had finally made dinner reservations, I already knew about Hamilton’s affinity for Negronis, her love of the simplicity found in radishes and butter (a favorite we share), and the attention to detail involved in cooking a hare. Like the menu that values “simple” delicious food, the restaurant itself is easily overlooked- so much so that after reading at length about the restaurant’s façade and 30-seat bistro dining room, I walked right past the distinctly purple awning and wide windows that look out on the sleepy residential street it’s nestled in. After a few 180˚s, I entered the dining room to be greeted by a blonde woman in a dress who showed me to my table.

(Spoiler Alert: I realized months later while attending a Taste Talks event that this blonde woman listening in on my know-it-all accounts of Gabrielle’s life, was the chef-author herself. Cue: me physically cringing for the next week with flashbacks of me rattling off Did-You-Knows about Gabrielle while she refilled my water glass).

Prune Carbonara

The menu, which recently underwent an enormous overhaul that coincided with the restaurants fifteenth anniversary and Hamilton’s first cookbook, featured a list of dishes inspired by the Italian countryside Hamilton loves: Duck breast with cipollini onions, dandelion greens, and agrodolce dressing, Escarole salad in the Ruman puntarelle style. I ordered a lamb dish with chickpeas, and a chicken broth with a poached egg. While the components of my meal were simple, the flavor of each dish was incredible. The broth in particular had a depth of flavor that I’ve never experienced from broth alone.

This past Sunday, I returned to stand outside of Prune at 9:30 AM, thirty minutes before doors opened with roughly forty other people layered in coats, hats, and mittens for brunch. While I love brunch, I’ve become distrustful of eating out for brunch after one too many botched Eggs Benedict and watered-down mimosas. Prune’s brunch was enough to earn my trust back instantly. Seated by the large front window, I felt like I was in an open-air French bistro despite the ice-cold pane of glass to my left.

Egg en Cocotte

As soon as the menu hit the table, my boyfriend and I went a little crazy and ordered all of the foods (many of our restaurant outings begin this way, but this was excusable for an anniversary brunch). Spaghetti a la Carbonara; fresh Ricotta with raspberries, figs, toasted pine nuts and honey served with Merveilles; Egg en Cocotte served with chicken, buttered white toasted and a mixed level vinaigrette. Drinks and sides all around!

While some of the foods were not perfect (the chickpea side wasn’t particularly interesting and the ricotta could have used some more honey), the meal was. From the slightly tart and salty center of the Merveilles to the friendly waiters, reasonably-priced food, and Beatles-heavy playlist, consider my dislike for brunch gone. Carbonara is often done too heavily, relying on a thick egg-cream sauce for its flavor. At Prune, however, the cream was traded for a significant dose of pepper and thorough coat of parmesan, allowing us to easily polish off a huge bowl of the lighter-than-expected dish. See you next Sunday, Prune.

2014 Best of New York

Buttermilk Channel Lamb Salad

Bear with me, but I’m about to make a huge claim: 2014 was my best food year ever (and maybe best year ever?). After graduating in May, then moving to New York City this summer, I made it my goal to try just about every restaurant I could get into – which was a lot. Eight months and countless bites (and pounds?) later, here are the restaurants and meals that have excited me the most this year:

The Best of the Best:

Favorite Overall Restaurant: Pok Pok Ny
Best New Restaurant: Cosmé
Best Cocktail BarEmployees Only
Best Beer Bar: The Cannibal
Best Brunch: Prune
Best Fancy Date Night: The NoMad
Best Easy Date Night: All’onda
Best Set Dinner for Two: Pig Out at Tuome
Best Cocktail: Hunny at Whiskey Soda Lounge
Best Bite: Uni with Truffle Salt at Sushi Nakazawa

Honorable Mentions:

Best Pop-Up Restaurant: Mission Chinese Pop-Up
Best Tasting Menu: wd~50
Most Unexpected Taste: Popcorn Parfait with Concord Grape Sauce at Contra
Best Ramen:Jin Ramen
Best Fried Chicken: Buttermilk Channel
Best Cocktail Name: Sippy Cup at The NoMad
Best Late Night Dessert: Salty Pimp at Big Gay Ice Cream
Best Ice Cream: Vietnamese Coffee at Morgenstern’s
Best Pastry: Blueberry and Cream Cookies at Momofuku Milk Bar
Best Piece of Food Writing: An American Ramen Master by Pete Wells