Slab pie time again, guys. I just love them so much. Forgive me if you don’t have a reason to make a pie big enough for 20 or so people, although honestly I’m sure you can think of a reason or at least cut the pie into single serving sized pieces to last you for the rest of the winter. Keep them in the freezer, individually wrapped and waiting for you after a long day of work or a midnight snack after a night of enjoying some adult beverages. Think about it. I am a huge fan of the slab because they are easy to cut (no having to wiggle out the first piece awkwardly only to have it break on you), they look impressive and you don’t have to worry about making two pies or more. It’s the perfect holiday dessert, just make sure you have room to put it out with the rest of your spread! I also recommend saving your scraps of leftover pie crust so that you can throw some fun decorations on the top of your pie. Believe me, if I can do it, you can do it. I am not particularly crafty, as even my mother said when she saw the pie, but I somehow managed to cut out some swirly things and leaves to stick on top to give my pie some holiday cheer. I brought this particular slab pie into my office and it was a big hit, not only because it was tasty but because people are always amazed at the sheer size of the thing. All hail the slab. Long live the slab. Etc. Etc.
Fangirling the hell out at work yesterday while meeting ADAM SAVAGE! So exciting. Gahhhh!
While my favorite pumpkin pie has been well documented, I wanted to go with the same basic recipe this time around, only with the addition of some of my favorite things: bourbon and bitters. This time of year is when you put down the gin and tonics or spiked lemonades and pick up an old fashioned. It’s one of those drinks that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, just like pumpkin pie, so why not combine them? I wish I had added another teaspoon or so of bitters, but I love bitters so keep that in mind when you make this. The orange zest gives this pie an extra bit of pop, I think, but the most important ingredient, sweetened condensed milk, really makes this my favorite recipe. The filling is the right amount of sweet, perfectly thick and pumpkiny, with just cinnamon to bring it all together. I’m no fan of nutmeg or ginger or whatever else people like to gussy their pies up with. Just cinnamon for me, please. Enjoy this pumpkin pie alongside an old fashioned cocktail, maybe add some whipped cream if you’re feeling crazy, and enjoy the start of the holiday season!
Thanksgiving is a week from tomorrow! It’s the best holiday ever. You don’t have to worry about gift giving or argue with your relatives about religion or dodge creepy fake Santas in the subway. All you have to do is cook a bunch of delicious food and eat it until you feel like you should probably sit down and take a load off. There’s nothing better than that. We’re hosting Thanksgiving at our apartment again this year, with a whopping 19 people set to attend, if you can believe it. I’m determined to make it work, though. We’re going to be serving this meal buffet style, I’ll set up some folding tables and chairs, and we’ll be ready to feast. What’s on your Thanksgiving menu for 2014? At the Kramer house, we’re going Southern again this year. That means another big batch of fried chicken, hatch chile macaroni and cheese, biscuits and an ice box cake (probably this mocha one that I made a month or two ago). Oh, and of course, this cornbread stuffing. I try to do some sort of interesting stuffing each year. Last year I made my waffle and maple sausage stuffing, which involved making a big batch of waffles, then cubing then, toasting them, and tossing them together with sausage, maple syrup and some vegetables. I think everyone really loved it – I mean, who doesn’t love seeing little cubes of cut up waffle in anything, really? This year, though, I wanted to tackle my favorite kind of stuffing: cornbread. So, I did a test run, which I HIGHLY recommend everyone do this weekend if you’re trying something new. This is the best way to avoid tears on the big day. I remember crying over four failed pie crusts in a row one year. Just saying. This test run turned out pretty damn good, though, so I’m happy to share the recipe with you.
Pumpkins, baking mess, the ever-so-tempting cereal isle and shooting a Thanksgiving video at my apartment! Follow me on Instagram for more.
The problem that I generally have with cornbread stuffing is that it’s soggy. You can barely tell it’s cornbread, it’s more just like cornbread crumbs with whatever ingredients were tossed in with it. To avoid the mush factor, I went a little overboard with making the perfect cornbread. I didn’t have time to test out a bunch of different cornbread recipes to start with, so I went on a hope and a prayer with King Arthur Flour’s cornbread recipe. It’s actually the best cornbread recipe I’ve ever tried. I made muffins, because I figured they would both bake faster and be slightly drier than if I did a big sheet of it. After the muffins cooled a bit, I cut them into cubes and toasted them until they were nice and golden – perfect stuffing cubes. I like my cubes a bit bigger, because again, I’m trying to avoid having the cornbread fall apart into little, indistinguishable crumbs. While the cornbread cubes cooled a bit, I cooked some sausage, then some celery, shallots and garlic, then tossed everything together with some dried cherries, apple and toasted walnuts, followed by some chicken stock. Once the mixture reached the level of moistness that I wanted it to be at, I put it all in a huge 14×10-inch casserole dish, topped it all with some cubes of butter, and baked it until golden. To finish it off, I drizzled some honey over everything once it was out of the oven. I was really happy with the final product, but I brought it into the office to have my coworkers be the final judges. Everyone seemed to think it was just as tasty as I thought it was, so there you have it. This is the stuffing that I’ll be serving on Thanksgiving. What about you?
Well, winter is officially here. I checked the weather this morning, as I obsessively do each morning, and the photo they used today was of a blue thermometer. BLUE. Kramer usually hates when I turn the heat on, but even he woke up and immediately reached for it to turn it on. It’s so cold. I think it’s only supposed to last for a few days, then go back up to a more reasonable temperature, but I am not looking forward to stepping foot outside my apartment this morning. The cold started this weekend, but we did our best to stay inside. We saw our friend’s improv show on Friday night, but beforehand we ate well at Flinders Lane, where we had shrimp laksa, meat pie and pan-roasted scallops with nori. On Saturday, I did some cooking while Kramer did homework, then we met up with our friend Danny for dinner at Le Barricou, followed by drinks with friends at Burnside. On Sunday, Kramer continued with his homework while I made a pie and prepped some other things for a Thanksgiving shoot with Business Insider (more on that later), then we met up with our friends Morgan and Robyn for dinner at Ootoya, which is one of my favorite places. We had tofu salad with bonito and asparagus to share, then Kramer got a huge hot pot with spicy pork and I had a donburi bowl with all kinds of sashimi, alongside pickled vegetables, miso soup and egg custard. And a glass of sake, of course. After dinner, we saw Nightcrawler, which I loved. It was so creepy and weird.
The usual West coast pilgrimage to In-N-Out, hanging by my parent’s pool, wine tasting with mom and dad, and one of my mom’s scones for breakfast. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram!
Annnnnyway, more on my Phoenix trip, which I realize I hadn’t finished telling you about yet, but like I said, it’s been cold. That’s an excuse. Whatever. On Sunday, after the wedding, Kramer headed back to Phoenix to hang out with his family while my friend Andrea picked me up so that we could go to In-N-Out, then my dad could pick me up and take me to North Scottsdale, where he and my mom live. It was good to hang with Andrea one last time and stuff my face with the most delicious burger and milkshake in existence. My dad drove me home, where my mom, him and I proceeded to pop open a bottle of wine and enjoy being outside. It was definitely weird to not be wearing a jacket in November. We hung out, listened to some music and did a whole lot of nothing, which was perfect. Later on, my dad grilled some ribeyes and my mom roasted some vegetables, so my eating well in Phoenix obviously continued. In the morning, they convinced me to go to hot yoga with them, which I didn’t hate! After which, we came home and I immediately jumped in the pool, which wasn’t exactly warm, but the sun was out and I felt like I’d regret it if I didn’t get in the pool at least one more time. We met up with some of my parents’ friends for dinner later on, then came back home to hang out for a bit before I caught my redeye back to New York. Le sigh. I slept okay on the plane, then ran home and had a slice of pizza because that’s the only way you can say, “Hi honey, I’m home,” to New York.
I also made this apple pie when I got home, because it’s finally that time of year. I’ve seen Yossy Arefi make some straight up pie crust art on her website, Instagram and Food52, so that’s what inspired the pie I present to you today. It’s not nearly as beautiful as what she’s able to create, but I did my best. I cut out each leaf by hand, and to be honest, it’s wasn’t that much work. I even found it a little relaxing and therapeutic. All repetitive things can be that way at times, I think. Get creative if you can! But if that’s not your thing, a simple pie crust is just as delicious as a more artsy one. You could go the other way, and cut out shapes in your pies, too, like I did over the summer with my Blueberry & Blackberry Pie. The apple filling for this pie is simple, just like I like my apple pies to be. I won’t turn my nose up at an apple pie made with ginger or cardamom or toffee, believe me, but if I’m in charge, I will always pick a plain ol’ apple pie made with sugar, cinnamon and a little bit of lemon. That’s all you really need. In the past, I’d always diced my apples, so this time around I tried slicing them. I’m on the fence on what I prefer, but it really doesn’t matter which way you go about it, it’ll still be a deliciously classic apple pie. You need an apple pie this winter season. Your soul needs it! Don’t let spring come your way without baking at least one perfect apple pie. The smell of cinnamon and fresh apples will put you in the holiday spirit, even if you’re usually a little bit of a grinch, like me. Stay warm!
Kramer and I had an awesome time last week in Phoenix. We were there for his sister’s wedding, but we were able to squeeze in some quality time with friends and family, too. We got in late on Wednesday night, so Thursday was our first real day in town. Kramer and I woke up early, seeing as how New York is two hours ahead, and we took his dad’s convertible for a spin to get some coffee. Driving around with the top down in sunny, 75 degree weather was absolutely wonderful. We could have driven around all day. Even the girl at the coffee drive-thru commented on how happy we looked. After coffee, Kramer, his grandmother and I had breakfast at, you guessed it, a Jewish deli. I don’t know how that happened, but there’s something comforting about a classic L.E.O. (lox, eggs and onions) or a bagel with cream cheese. We went to Scott’s Generations and I thought it was pretty good. We picked up some groceries afterward, including plenty of deli meats and cheeses to eat later, because we are creatures of habit, then relaxed at Kramer’s dad’s house before meeting up with the bride and groom, Rachel and Eric, plus the rest of the family and some friends for their rehearsal dinner at The Windsor. After stuffing ourselves with shishito peppers, cheese fondue, roasted broccoli and reuben sandwiches, we parted ways and met up with our friends at The Whining Pig, followed by The Vig. The next day was basically our day off. We went to Hotel Palomar, where we’d be staying for two nights and the wedding would be taking place, and spent some time lounging by the pool and napping in our room. It was luxurious. Later that night, we had dinner with Kramer’s mom at The Blue Hound, which was in the hotel and I have to say, absolutely delicious. If you live in Phoenix, definitely go eat there! We feasted. We had roasted carrots with honeyed yogurt, fried green tomatoes with lump crab, tater tots, deviled eggs with ham and brioche, hamachi with ginger and pomegranate and Brussels sprouts hash with pork belly and a fried egg. We said our goodbyes after dinner and waddled out to meet some friends at The Duce, which was super weird and adorable, then made our way to our friend John’s house, where I got to play with four, count ‘em FOUR, dogs. I was in heaven.
Vacation reading, Kramer’s sister’s cat, proper Mexican food in Phoenix and room service. Obviously, I love Instagram.
The wedding itself was lovely, and I hope that Rachel will let me post some photos from the wedding once she gets them back from the photographer. I’ve read countless articles and stories from brides and photographers stating that guests taking millions of photos at weddings is pointless. The bride and groom of course hired professionals to do this, so it can be annoying to have guests glued to their phones in order to take sub-par, blurry photos. That’s not to say that you can’t, or shouldn’t, take some photos, but in general I tried to stay off my phone and let the obviously talented photo team do their thing. That, and my phone’s camera was acting up. Ha. Anyway, Rachel wore this amazing white tuxedo dress that I can’t even begin to explain, but hope to be able to show you all soon, and her hair was a blood red burgundy color – she was stunning. Eric was also there. Just kidding, Eric, you looked handsome as ever. These two did their thing with grace and seemingly no stress, although I know that they were putting on a great show. Weddings are a whirlwind and you struggle to remember every moment while simultaneously chatting up people you may not know, smiling for a million pictures and trying to walk in shoes you’d normally never wear. So hats off to you, Rachel – well done. The food at the wedding was equally phenomenal – pulled pork sliders, cheeseburger sliders, tons of charcuterie, grits, flatbread pizza and, of course, a beautiful red velvet cake. I loved that the food was simple, hearty and delicious. I don’t want to eat a big steak and go dance. I want to eat finger foods here and there while I show off my sweet moves on the dance floor – all while the booze flows freely, of course (which it did). So, again, thank you to Eric and Rachel for putting on an amazing party, and to both sets of parents for making it all happen, both by creating these two awesome people and by writing a few checks. Mission accomplished!
Can you believe I ate all of that food? There’s still more to come, because I went to my mom and dad’s house for a relaxing two days after the wedding, but there’s only so much I can write in one post, so that will come later. For now, allow me to share this almond flour quiche with you. When I need to cut back and eat right after an indulgent vacation like the above, I try to go low carb. Almond and coconut flours are perfect substitutes for regular all-purpose flour, and they have nowhere near the carbs. Kramer and I have made this quiche countless times. Not only is it gluten free, but it’s delicious and the perfect way to enjoy a meal, get full and not feel guilty. You can obviously fill this with whatever you want – make it vegetarian, add green veggies like kale or spinach, throw in some cherry tomatoes if it’s the right season, use bacon instead of sausage…whatever. There are countless options for making this quiche fit with your personal tastes. There’s no pre-baking required, either – just throw everything together, toss into the oven and get ready to chow down on a brunch favorite or a new dinner staple. If you’re cooking for one, make the whole thing, anyway. This quiche will both freeze well and keep in the refrigerator for a few days, so you’ve got breakfast, lunch and dinner all in one pan. You’re welcome!
I really hate cooking turkey. I used to, anyway. I mean, I still hate carving the thing. It’s too much pressure and I’m still not great at yet. I suppose if I practiced more, I’d get better at it, but it’s so daunting and also, how many times a year do you even cook a turkey? That’s right. One. One time a year. Plus, turkeys are expensive so I’m not really in the business of buying a few to practice my butchering skills on. I guess I could start small, but I’m already pretty good at carving a chicken. I just find that things get more slippery when you’re working on a 13 pound bird (or more). I also have trouble with leverage. Maybe my kitchen counters are too tall? I’m 5’5″ and I feel like I can’t never really get the right angle on the bird without having to stand on my tip-toes or something. Maybe next time I’ll get a sturdy step-stool to stand on. Aside from carving, brining is always a pain in my ass, too, but I have always felt the need to brine my bird or else risk having a dry turkey. Well, folks, have I got news for you! Brine no more and worry about carving no more. These two techniques that I’m about to share will give you a perfectly juicy bird that is nice and flat for easy carving. Allow me to crack an egg of knowledge.
Now with a step-by-step video!
I always spend too much time each Thanksgiving season trying to figure out the best way to brine my turkey. I’ve tried everything, from simple salt water to an apple juice concoction with cinnamon sticks and orange peel. I knew that the salt in the brine was breaking something or other down in the turkey, making it less prone to shriveling up and drying out, but what I didn’t know was that I was water logging my turkey. The turkey was juicy, sure, but it was all a farce. The thing was just full of water! So this time around, I did a plain old salt rub overnight, like a light cure. This made sure that my turkey had its fibers broken down enough to not dry out, but also didn’t weigh my turkey down with flavorless water or overpowering apple juice. The skin was wonderfully crispy, the bird was perfectly juicy, and I was one happy lady. Another reason for my happiness was the spatchcock, or butterfly, method that I used this year. Simply put, you just need to cut the backbone out of your turkey. It is not a technique for the squeamish, but it works like a charm. Once you flatten the bird and put it on your roasting tray, the turkey will cook evenly on its new flat surface, as well as allowing for a much faster cooking time – well under an hour and a half! This is the only way to cook a turkey, folks. Kramer and I were honestly amazed at how well this bird turned out. After years of sub-par turkey dinners, this one took the cake.
Anywho, I wanted to share this turkey recipe with you before I took a bit of a break over the next week. I’m headed to Phoenix for my sister-in-law’s wedding! Kramer and I couldn’t be more excited for her and her fiancé, Eric. It’s going to be 80 degrees and sunny, too, so I’ll be damned if I’m not planning on going swimming as much as possible. Have a great weekend and I’ll see you next week!
I hope that everyone had a fun Halloween! This is the first time Kramer and I had really been in town to celebrate on the actual day since we’ve lived in New York. The first two years, we were out of town, heading to Vegas as we typically did when we were living in Phoenix, then the following year we went to an early Halloween party – thankfully the event was held on the Friday before Halloween, because Hurricane Sandy reared its ugly head on the actual holiday. I can’t believe that was only two years ago. Time flies. Last year, we found ourselves in Mexico for a wedding – coincidentally, it was the same friends who had thrown their well times Halloween party the year before. So this year, we were excited to be local on the official holiday, despite my very legitimate fears that Halloween on a Friday night in New York could easily turn into a night of pure chaos. We went to a friend’s house party though, where we avoided all the riff-raff and had a really good time. It’s always fun to see how creative people get with their costumes. I went as Daria this year, and Kramer went as a particularly svelte lumberjack. My favorite costume that I saw, though, was a couple dressed as Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger from the movie Twins. It was inspired. Anyway, we stayed out way too late but had a great time without bearing witness to anything insane on the subway ride home – a successful Halloween, indeed.
On Saturday night, we were excited to go to an engagement party for our friends Matt and Amanda. Kramer and I got married young like a couple of dumb kids, so it’s fun for us to welcome other couples into our married world. Not that it’s much different than life before getting married, but it opens you up to a lot more options for stupid jokes, so that’s worth getting married for all on its own. The party was amazing, held in a beautiful apartment with delicious food. They served bacon on a stick, which Kramer and I ate way too much of, pigs in a blanket, which you don’t see enough of these days, crab cakes, cauliflower fritters, miniature chicken and waffles, truffled popcorn and more. There was also cake – salted chocolate caramel cake, to be specific, from Empire Cake. I devoured it. Kramer and I were also lucky enough to sample Polly McCall’s cooking – lentil salad with feta and lemon, mango chutney, tomatoes brown, Mediterranean spiced meatballs, Sriracha mayo and mint sauce. Everything was excellent and, to top it all off, there was more cake! This time it was passion fruit flavored. Again, I devoured it. And, again, we stayed out far too late, but it was awesome to celebrate with everyone and we really felt like we’ve known Matt and Amanda for forever, even if it’s only been four years. Congratulations to them, once again!
Me dressed as Daria for Halloween, Kramer dressed as a lumberjack, trying on a friend’s mask and amazing cookbooks that my friend Amanda’s mom, Polly, gave me over the weekend. Modern Modes in Meat Cookery!
After a weekend of eating candy, rich foods and cake, it’s time to get back to reality. May I suggest this stir-fried dish of chicken, broccoli and bok choy? The secret to this Chinese chicken is to “velvet coat” the chicken before cooking, then par-cook it in boiling water. The marinade is simple: cornstarch, vinegar, egg white and salt, but the result creates a sort of buffer between the heat source and the chicken, keeping it moist and tender without over or undercooking. The marinade, plus flash boiling the chicken quickly to make the final stages of cooking go quickly, It’s kind of amazing, and easy at that! I made this one night after work – I got home from the gym, got the marinade together, put a pot of water on to boil, then hopped in the shower while the chicken sat in the fridge. All I had to do then was prep the veggies and the sauce. Ten minutes or so later, dinner was on the table, with enough left over for lunch the next day. You can add some Sriracha or red pepper flakes if you like a bit of heat, like I do, or leave it as it is. You’ll never cook chicken the same way again after you give this velveting technique a try – it’s a game changer. Trust me.
I usually make these cookies once a year, but I think I got distracted last year. It’s already the end of October, if you can believe it. It will be November on Saturday. It’s madness. I figured that I’d get these cookies made straight away before the holidays tear me apart and leave me for dead. It’s always good to be prepared. I love these cookies. I have a soft, doughy spot in my heart for molasses. I know that some people find it to be too strong, but I don’t believe in such a thing. I love how robust it is, and how it will immediately put you into the spirit of the season. Even though I generally hate anything involving being forced into feeling cheerful and whatnot, these cookies will do the trick and I don’t hate them for it. After biting into one of these, chewy on the inside, crunchy on the outside from being rolled in sugar, I’m just going to sink into a deep pool of molasses and the holiday season take me over. It’s not all so bad – Thanksgiving is next, which is my favorite holiday of all, so there’s that to look forward to! I just hate all of the ruckus and running around and buying, buying, buying that comes with the season. I need to make a truce with all of the people that I love that we don’t need to get each other gifts. I live in a 650 square foot apartment and I have no more room for “stuff”. I already have a lightsaber, a True Detective painting and a KitchenAid mixer. What else could a girl ask for? Holiday anxiety aside, these cookies are awesome and you should make them.
I took these photos a few weeks ago when our friends Adrian and Kelly were visiting from Phoenix. We decided to visit Prospect Park on day, as Kramer and I love it and think it’s much more fun for wandering around than Central Park. It seems more peaceful to me. We started at Grand Army Plaza, grabbed a coffee from one of the food trucks, and just walked around for a few hours. The day couldn’t have been more beautiful – perfectly sunny, cool but not cold – so I was happy we got to show our friends the best that Brooklyn had to offer. We always seem to take guests to Prospect Park, from friends to parents, because it’s an amazing place to spend an afternoon. I’d like to take at least one more trip back before winter rears its ugly head. There’s nothing more beautiful than a park full of changing leaves, don’t you think? Especially if you get to the park in time to find a cozy, quiet spot to enjoy yourself without frisbees flying over your head or junior soccer leagues lobbing soccer balls all over the place. I’ll allow dogs, though. I’m always happy to dog watch in the park. Maybe with some of these cookies?
Kramer and I had a fantastic weekend. We were busy, but not too busy, so I feel like we did get out of the house and whatnot but I’m not exhausted this morning, which is sometimes a feeling I know all too well. On Friday night, we had dinner with our friends Emily and Wesley at Meadowsweet in Williamsburg – it was beyond good. We had scallops with mushrooms, a poached egg with more buttery, wild mushrooms, charred octopus, swordfish with cauliflower, a perfectly cooked pork chop with beans and bacon, and just the right amount of bloody steak with some kind of potato puree. Everything, from cocktails to bread and butter, was superb. After dinner, Kramer and I met up with our friend Danny and Justin, who plans to move to the city before the year’s end, for a night cap before heading home. Kramer and I finished off a bottle of wine and binged on The Mindy Project before calling it a night. We’ve been re-watching Mindy and it is just so unbelievably funny.
On Saturday, I salt brined a turkey for a future Thanksgiving post, then we made our way into the city to meet with a group of friends at the annual Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade. It was basically the best day of my life. There were dogs everywhere, and not only were they adorable, but they were dressed in costumes. You know, like they thought they were people. It was amazing and I could hardly contain my excitement. I turned into a 5 year old, essentially, squealing and freaking out at every puppy-filled turn. We stopped for a quick drink afterward, then headed to TriBeCa to see our friend Morgan screen his new web series, followed by, of course, celebratory drinks and pizza. On Sunday, Kramer and I stayed in, but I had a ton to do. I always forget how exhausting making and carving a turkey can be, but I’ve got a lovely post to share with you soon, plus lunch for the week! I also made a giant pan of cornbread stuffing which I will also share soon. It’s time to get ready for the big event, people! Thanksgiving is close at hand.
Since the year’s big eating season is upon us, if you’re like me, you try to go easy on the rich foods during the week so you can save your calories for the indulgent gatherings to come. I had read that cauliflower has the magical ability to turn into a rice-like substitute when pulsed in a food processor, but I am apparently an idiot because it took me this long to try it out. The result is insane. You really will not miss the actual rice in this fried rice dish. Kramer and I loved it. I hadn’t had fried rice in forever, because while I do love it, I’d rather save the carbs for a big hunk of bread with butter or a slice of pie. Now that I know it’s possible to pulse cauliflower into “rice”, I can’t wait to try out all of the other wonderful possibilities. I’ve read that you can use it in almost anything that you’d use rice in, from a raw tabbouleh salad to simple buttered cous-cous to rice to eat with stir-fried veggies or proteins. This fried rice is no different and is ready in under an hour, plus it keeps well all week, so you’ve got lunch ready to go! I dare you to make this, even if you’re a skeptic – it’ll change your outlook on what low-carb food can be.