Brown Rice Bowl with Roasted Salmon

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Being a person that cooks a lot, is an avid restaurant searcher, farmer’s market groupie and all around food obsessed person, I get asked what my favorite food is A LOT. Which is the hardest question in the world to me. I have many answers (pork buns, ceviche, baguette and dark chocolate, fish tacos, meatloaf is up there, etc) but salmon has always been an easy one for me. I love it cooked every way. Fish and summer time just kind of go together because fish is light and easy. This is a great summer lunch or dinner but an equally great winter or fall lunch or dinner because it’s as light as it is filling.

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Best thing about making a grain bowl is its really versatile. You can add pretty much whatever you want on top. The first time I made this I had brown rice, black beans, corn, steamed onions, salmon, cilantro and simple guacamole. The next few times I left out the beans and corn (cause I’m lazy). Once I added a soft boiled egg (pictured above) because I didn’t have much salmon left. It became my favorite lunch. So much protein and you can add greens or swap a dressing for the simple guac. Basically I’ll give you an easy recipe and then you can make it yours BUT you have to keep the steamed onions, they make this.

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Brown Rice Bowl with Roasted Salmon

serves 2 (easily doubled)

  • 1 large yellow onion, cut in large rings then halved
  • A large piece of salmon about 6″ (can be bigger if you want extra)
  • 1 1/2 cups of medium grain brown rice
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • olive oil, kosher salt and pepper
  • lime juice
  • Simple Gucamole (recipe below)
  • 1 can black beans (optional)
  • 1/2 cup frozen or fresh corn (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add 3-4 cups water to a medium saucepan on high heat and bring to a boil. (I check on the rice and see if I need to add more water halfway through) Add rice and lower heat till simmering and cover with lid for about 20-30 minutes. When rice is done, fluff with fork, add a drizzle of olive oil, squeeze of lime, salt and pepper to taste. (Follow directions on your rice bag if you buy a different grain of rice all absorb differently)
  2. On a lined baking sheet, place the large salmon filet on one side. Pour about 1 tbsp olive oil on and massage into the top AND bottom of the filet. Add Salt and pepper to the filet as well.
  3. In a large piece of parchment, add the onions to the center. Add 2 tsp of olive oil and generous salt and a pinch of pepper. Mix it together. (Now we’re going to make a pocket). Fold over the parchment in half, onions still in center. Tightly roll in both sides then continue around rolling tightly until it is sealed (Picture above). Place the packet on the tray next to the salmon and place the tray in the oven. Roast for 30-40 minutes. This depends on how thick your salmon is. If you get a tail end, its thinner and might need only 20 minutes. Just cut into it to see if it’s done. The onions need 40 minutes so leave them in extra if the salmon is done first.
  4. To assemble, place rice in a deep bowl. Add, the steamed onions, and then the salmon along with some of its juices (from the parchment, best part!), top with cilantro and simple guacamole. Add hot sauce and pour yourself a large glass of something (ROŚE!), Enjoy 🙂

Optional for beans and corn: place a can of drained black beans, 1/2 cup defrosted or fresh corn in a saucepan with 1/2 tbsp olive oil, cilantro, 1 clove of minced garlic, cilantro sprigs, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp chili powder, salt, and pepper. Cook on medium low for about 10 minutes until warmed and starts to come together, add that to the bowl before the onions.

Simple Guacamole 

Serves 2

  • 1 medium or large ripe avocado
  • juice of 1 small lime of 1/2 large lime
  • tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 5 chopped cherry tomatoes
  • salt and pepper
  1. In a small bowl mash up the avocado with a fork until desired texture, add lime juice, cilantro, tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste.

 

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Simple White Peach Sorbet

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Summer is here! Like, really actually 80 degrees everyday, here. Every summer I have huge plans for myself. A big trip, picking berries every week, a garden finally, pickling, canning, basically a new fun activity every waking moment. But, usually my Summer’s are kind of disappointing. Granted, I’ve been living in a city off and on during summers for the past 6 years so half the time I’m no where near nature. But I’m not in a city this summer, no more smelly street garbage for me! And, I started a garden. So, the prospects are very high for a great summer. Ideal summer this year looks like: being near the ocean once a week (at least!), gardening and cooking my vegetables, one fun trip, swimming A LOT, farmers market every Sunday, pickling, canning and storing all my heart desires, planting flowers, making ice cream, custard and THIS SORBET (I just got an ice cream machine!), and most importantly having lots of dinner/lunch/afternoon snack/ cocktail parties! Wow, haha, maybe my most ambitious summer yet…..

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This week was the hottest yet, 95 degrees. After a long week of cool rainy days it was a nice surprise. I went to the market and got a big bag of fragrant ripe white peaches. Standing in the kitchen of my new house in the warm sun, listening to Otis Redding and biting a peach until juice runs down my face was pretty amazing. One of those moments in life where you stop and realize that this is a moment. It’s hard to recognize moments like that sometimes, I’m glad I felt it. Maybe one of the reasons a summer has never meet my expectations is I didn’t have an ice cream machine. Yup. I’m blaming that. Since I’ve never had one I became a fan of ice cream and sorbet recipes that didn’t require one. This is one of those recipes, it has only four ingredients and is so simple on a summer night. I did finally buy an ice cream machine this week so my life might change but honestly I will always favor an easy recipe that leaves more time to eat peaches in the sun.

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Simple White Peach Sorbet

  • 8 very ripe small/medium white peaches
  • 4 tablespoons of granulated sugar (you can add more if you want, see below)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup of water
  1. Peel and cut up peaches (discarding pit) and put on parchment lined tray. Freeze for at least an hour (or more) until firm.
  2. Mix the sugar into the water until roughly dissolved. Add the peaches, water and sugar mixture and lemon juice into a blender. Blend a high until smooth (if you taste it and want it to be sweeter you can dissolve a tablespoon or more into a small amount of water and add it in at this point).
  3. Pour mixture into a freezer safe container with a tight sealed lid. Freeze for a few hours or overnight. It has a beautiful texture. Keep up to 3-4 days.

Note: Might need to let it defrost a little bit or warm for a few seconds in the microwave before scooping out if you freeze overnight.

Enjoy!


Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tacos with Lime-Cilantro Rice

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I recently moved back to my hometown in Massachusetts. After a lot of going back and forth to make the “right decision” for myself. The main reason for the move was I was going to get to live in my grandfathers home. He passed away almost 2 years ago. I realized that the best thing that I could do for myself was live there. I would get to renovate, grow a food business (whatever that may be) and feel connected to him and my nonni who passed away 10 years before him. There’s a lot to do and I’m almost done taking down the 70’s wallpaper. What I didn’t expect was to feel so at ease in that house. It gets sun drenched in the day and sitting in the kitchen there fills my heart so much. It isn’t lost on me the importance of getting to cook in my nonni’s kitchen everyday. It just feels so meant to be.

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Getting this house also means my lifelong dream of a large Oprah scale vegetable garden was in my near future. I’m growing lots of vegetable inside my house and they’re almost ready to go outside. It’s going to be a good summer. But it isn’t quite here yet. So, enters these tacos. Perfect spring (or even fall or winter) tacos when everything isn’t in season yet. These are so easy and full of flavor. It’s a flavor combo I use a lot and I’ll put almost anything in a corn tortilla. Just as I’m typing this, I’m picturing dark chocolate and sea salt…….hmm. The rice I paired with them is a total staple in my fridge. I always make a lot and add fresh cilantro as I need. It’s perfectly cooked and crazy good. My friend Carly who is self proclaimed “kitchen challenged”, basically lives on avocados and challah bread. Well, she would come to my door in Brooklyn and beg for this rice. Now she makes it all the time by herself. I hope you make this and I can’t wait to share my garden recipes with you all summer.

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Sweet Potato & Black Bean Tacos

Serves 2

  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 small sweet potato or 1/2 a large
  • 4 medium corn tortillas (or whatever your favorite is)
  • 4 cilantro stems (extra cilantro leaves for garnish)
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/8 tsp cumin
  • 1-2 tsp lime juice
  • 4 tbsp sour cream
  • 4 tsp hot sauce
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • shredded Monterey Jack (optional)
  1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and pat dry sweet potato, then poke multiple holes in with fork. Place potato directly on top rack of oven. Line a small rimmed baking sheet with tin foil and place on bottom rack directly below potato to catch spills. Bake for 45- 1 hour until the inside is very soft but still holds some shape when diced. Peel off skin when cooled, will come off very easily.
  2. About 30 minutes into cooking potato start your black bean mixture. Dump full can of beans into the small saucepan on high heat (don’t drain liquid, add everything). Add cilantro stems, minced garlic, cumin and a pinch of kosher salt. Stir and bring beans to a boil. Once boiling, turn down to low heat and cook for about 15-20 minutes until beans and liquid have thickened (always can thin out with a little water if it’s getting too thick to stir). Take off heat, remove cilantro stems and add lime juice. Stir.
  3. Dice up sweet potato into small rough squares and add into beans. Stir until well incorporated (potato will start to lose its shape and blend in a little). Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Warm up corn tortillas in microwave for 20 seconds by placing a damp paper towel over them. They will be softer and more pliable. Add some of the bean mixture, 1 tsp hot sauce, 1 tbsp cheese (if you want), 1 tbsp sour cream, and cilantro leaves. Serve with a lime wedge, Enjoy!

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Cilantro-Lime Rice

Serves 4

  • 2 cups short grain brown rice
  • juice of half a large lime
  • 2-3 tbsp cilantro
  • 1/4 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • sprinkle of pepper
  1. Rinse your rice in cold water. In a large pot, Bring 15 cups of water to a boil (or just fill it with a LOT of water so the rice won’t absorb it all and stick, TRUST ME) with a lid over high heat. Add the rice and stir. Then, let it boil for 30 minutes without the lid. After 30, drain rice in a strainer. Return to the pot and let it steam with the cover on for 10 minutes.
  2. Once steamed, add butter, salt and pepper. Mix until melted, taste. Add cilantro and lime juice, stir. Taste and adjust how you want. Enjoy!

Pride of Pumpkin Cake with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

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Let’s start with the elephant in the room. We haven’t spoken in quite a while. I’m sorry. I’ve missed you. You’ll be happy to know I haven’t stopped cooking or eating though (Or talking about what I’ve been cooking or eating). I haven’t posted a recipe here for a year. I’ve moved twice in that time and I wanted to get comfortable and use my time to explore. I live in a quiet neighborhood in Brooklyn now. There’s a speciality Italian market next door, a gelato place two blocks away and a farmer’s market across the street every Sunday. It’s a good place. The cool fall air made me inspired again. Which is very funny since as I’m typing this it is an 82 degree October day here in Brooklyn.

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Something about me is that I love used book shopping. Nothing really beats the smell of old books. Same goes for old cookbooks. I love splatter stains and the yellowing pages of something that meant a lot to someone else. My grandmother had a lot of old recipes. She also had a lot of old recipe clippings from newspapers, magazines, and the backs of butter wrappers. I found one that made me excited. An old, barely legible recipe from the 60’s. A pumpkin cake. Sifted three times and full of spices. I made it and it came out perfect the first time.

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It makes two cakes. I decided to make a frosting that I thought would really compliment it. I actually don’t love frosting. I’m a whipped cream girl. However, I made a cream cheese frosting here. Which pairs really well with the pumpkin and it’s spiced and perfectly sweetened. When I took a bite I knew I had to share this. This is more of a PSA than a recipe because YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS CAKE. It is moist, creamy, sweet and spicy. Tastes like October air and is the perfect accompaniment to a viewing of Hocus Pocus. Okay, now off you go……to the store……I’ll be sitting here licking my plate till you’re done.

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Pride of Pumpkin Cake 

makes two 8-inch cakes

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. Baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. Allspice
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 full egg, 2 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and spices into a sifter over a medium bowl. Sift three times (You might need two bowls for this but sifting it three times really does matter).

2. In a larger bowl, cream butter and then gradually add both sugars. Once creamed together well, add eggs and both yolks, one at a time. Mixing it after each addition. Then, add flour mixture and buttermilk alternatively in small amounts, beating after each addition until smooth (like eggs above). Lastly add pumpkin and mix well.

3. Cut out a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the two 8-inch pans. Pour batter evenly into the two cake pans onto of the parchment. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting 

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 8oz cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. Allspice

1. Cream butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add the sugar, mix. Then add the vanilla and spices. Mix until combined.

To assemble: cakes must be completely cool. Cut off dome of both cakes if they aren’t level. Spread frosting on top of one generously. Flip the other cake over on top of frosting so the bottom is now the top. Frost generously out to the sides. (If you want to cover the sides I would double this frosting recipe. I don’t think it needs it though because the cake itself really needs to shine). Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 


I Left You For Food

imageI blame New York. We’re back together. But, I didn’t forget about you. I hope you didn’t forget about me. It’s like falling back in love with someone from your past. I always knew it was there. I romanticized our past together. Then, when you’re really back together it’s like you didn’t skip a beat. The best part is that we both changed. Now I’m getting to know the New York that happened while I was away. I’ve been eating out instead of cooking. Exploring instead of blogging. Our new courtship is winding down though and we’re starting to get comfortable again. So, I’m here. I’m back. I’m sorry.

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My new challenge is I have a new kitchen (large for NY standards, I’m not complaining!). It is an adjustment I am working on. I also have three roommates. I hate to hog the kitchen. So, learning people’s schedules and when to grocery shop is taking time to get used to. I wanted to talk to you again, dear reader. I don’t have a new recipe just yet. What I do have is some pictures from the eating I’ve been doing.

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I also have a few new recommendations of places I’ve come across. Places I can’t shut up about.

Via Della Pace (7th Street between 2nd and 3rd Ave)- cozy Italian place with exposed brick in the east village. Hard to pass by without wanting to go in. Cheap for the great quality of food. Try: the pasta carbonara (real way no cream sauce here)

Black Seed Bagels (on Elizabeth St. Between Spring and Kenmare)- wood fire oven roasted bagel joint. Recently opened in the East Village as well. The bagels are soft and chewy. I could eat them forever. Fresh toppings and herbs make sandwiches stand out. Try: lox and horseradish cream cheese)

Barney Greengrass (On Amsterdam between 86th and 87th St.)- famous Jewish deli on the Upper West Side. Hailed as “The sturgeon King”. The kind of place you only see in movies about NY. Cheap, delicious, quick, feels like home. Try: a fish salad plate with a bagel and toppings)

Elio’s (on 2nd between 84th and 85th St.)- Classic old school Italian restaurant. Upscale and hard to get into. Everyone calls the matre D by his first name. The food is divine and so fresh. The service is amazing. Everyone dining seems like an important person you should know. Cozy. I never wanted to leave. Call weeks ahead for a reservation. Try: a seasonal salad, the pastas, mussels, their green beans, and you have to get the bread pudding. Trust me.)

I also HAVE to throw in…

Big Gay Ice Cream (7th st. Between 1st and Avenue A)- this isn’t new to me but I just have to share it on this list. It’s simple great quality ice cream with inventive toppings and execusion. I go once a week. Don’t judge me. My friends live on the block, so I haveee to *wink*. You can’t go wrong with anything. Try: the salty pimp

When I find somewhere new I love, it becomes a religion. I love to talk about it. I love to share it with friends. I love to visit it so often they quietly mumble “wasn’t she already here this morning?!” Please enjoy my findings. Talk again soon.

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Ps. I missed you guys


Roasted Cherry Icebox Cake

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Icebox cake and I have a love story. We met in New York. We met on the Upper West Side. We met in a cafe from my favorite movie. Said cafe has a very long dessert case that will stop your heart. Usually, I walk around and figure out what catches my eye. But, not this time. On a cool autumn night, I dragged my roommate Amanda across town to get dessert with me. This was only my second time at this cafe and I couldn’t stop talking about it. It was as if the universe had captured my whole heart into one place (if you hadn’t guessed before, I am a romantic). On this night, with the help of my waitress, I decided on a slice of vanilla icebox cake. It arrived very tall and soft from the many layers of whipped cream. I took one bite and fell in love. I don’t know if it was with the cake or the moment. I was in love with it all.

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An icebox cake, for those who don’t know, is a “cake” made from chocolate wafers and whipped cream. It sits overnight in the refrigerator which is how it gets it’s name and it’s texture. The whipped cream moistens the wafers so they are soft. They are layered so high. One bite is heaven. I am a pie person. If there’s ever an option for cake I choose the other. But, this cake changed my life. It’s the birthday cake I always want and the treat I always wish was in my fridge. The version I made is with roasted cherries. I combined two summer classics. I made the whipped cream with the cherries and also topped the cake with them. My version is also not perfect. It is messy and made with love (that’s why it’s pink). No matter how it looks, it always tastes the same–unforgettable.

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The next time I went to my cafe after I tried the cake, they didn’t have it. This was almost three years ago now. Every time I’ve been back since, they don’t have it. I always ask, they always tell me no. I always tell them to bring it back, they always politely smile. It breaks my heart. However, it does give me the chance to try other things. No new proclamations of love yet, but there are contenders.

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Roasted Cherry Icebox Cake

Makes one 8-inch cake

  • 11/2 packages Nabisco Chocolate Wafers
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 1/2 cups sweet cherries
  • 1/2 teaspoon cherry extract
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 F. Put the cherries in a roasting dish or two and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. Roast in oven for 30 minutes until the cherries have released juices and are dark in color. Remove from oven, and wait until cool. Pit 2/3 of the cherries and blend them until smooth in a food processor/blender/etc. Reserve the rest for later.
  2. Add the cream, extract, and granulated sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer (with whisk attachment) and whip to soft peaks. Add the pureed cherries. Continue whipping until stiff peaks are achieved.
  3. On a large platter/plate, arrange 6 cookies in a circle with one in the center. Spread whipped cream gently over them. Repeat those steps until you run out. Top with whipped cream.
  4. Let sit in refrigerator overnight. Top with reserved cherries (remember to remove pits as you eat). Slice and enjoy.

Note: I don’t strain the pureed cherries because I like the look of small cherry bits in the whipped cream. If you don’t, I would strain after you blend so you have a smooth syrup.


A Summer Night Dinner (with friends)

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I never thought August would come. I find myself in a race. A race to spend time with as many people as I can before I move at the end of the month (!!!!). My favorite way to spend time with people is over food. I like throwing a dinner party because I get to plan something, be in charge of something, and very often try new recipes. Summer to me is a very low maintenance cooking season. Fresh produce is king and anything is praised when cold, in fact it’s preferred. Read More


Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Pancetta

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This is a dish my nonno would love. Would have loved. I’m still getting used to past tense and still deciding if I want to use it. One of the reasons I had a blogging hiatus, was because my nonno (grandfather) recently passed away. He was 91. People say “he had a long life”, which he did. They offer that in a way to make light of a hard situation, because I believe people always try to look for the good. Yes, he had a long life– but to me, it wasn’t long enough. Read More


Easy Rustic Crostini: Two Ways

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I believe in the power of things on top of bread to change any mood you’re in. I was born and bread a carb lover (my friend Dimitra will appreciate this pun). So, with that sentiment I’ve never understood not eating bread. I watch women and men everyday steer clear of the obvious god’s gift in front of them. Read More


Brown Butter Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

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This spring was the first time I really tried rhubarb. I had tasted it before, overpowered by strawberries in a pie or two. Never on its own. I am usually a person with two speeds; “not interested” or “utterly in love with”. Feeling pure love for food is not something new to me. But feeling pure love for rhubarb was, and boy is it great. Read More