Fried Mozzarella Toast

with spicy honey

This weekend, our more adventurous friends, Kim and Mike, suggested that we, along with our friends Matt and Amanda, join them on an excursion to the unknown territories of, you guessed it, New Jersey. Our mission: to go on a little hike. We went to Alpine, which I just looked up and learned is one of the richest towns in America, but hey, us regular folk can go hiking there, too, so thanks rich people for letting us stink up your town. We went through the Palisades, which was really cool because you have the Hudson on one side and the woods on the other side, as well as some old foundations and “ruins”, if you want to call them that, of mansions that used to exist along the cliffs. I don’t think I had been on a hike since I lived in Arizona, where hiking is totally different (see: trudging through the desert), and after this trip I’d definitely go again. After we got home, Kramer and I both napped, then we grabbed dinner with our friends Jeena and Jess before stopping by our friend Travis’ seance-themed birthday party. There was black rosé and everything – very fancy, indeed. Then, yesterday, after sleeping in, we went to our friends Russ and Sarah’s house in Park Slope to enjoy their gorgeous new roof patio, see their daughter, Esmé, and eat a grilled feast of sausages, broccoli salad, and caprese salad, along with plenty of spicy margaritas. We had quite the weekend, indeed, and now it’s Monday. S I G H. That’s okay, though. I’m ready to get back to it.

fried mozzarella toastLook at this group of healthy, active young people.

Speaking of getting back to it, just looks at this beautiful fried mozzarella toast. Over the next five days, I’m going to sharing five recipes with you, courtesy of Tabasco and i am a food blog. I, along with 10 other bloggers, were tasked with creating five recipes using only 10 ingredients (including Tabasco sauce, obviously). Those ingredients were ciabatta, mozzarella, eggs, chicken, honey, fennel, zucchini, rice, rigatoni, and, you guessed it, Tabasco. At first, I found this challenge a little daunting, but then I got into it and I had a lot of fun! I felt like I was on a TV show, being forced to get creative by limiting what was available for me to use. The Tabasco provided a surprising amount of flavor, so my initial fear of not having enough spices and whatnot to create something delicious was vanquished early on. I decided to go simple on this first dish. Fried toast has long been a dirty little secret of mine – they serve it at a few restaurants in New York, and it’s just the perfect thing to sop up a night of drinking or a great way to get energized for a long day of work ahead. The bread is wonderfully crunchy and crisp, and whatever you top it with it sure to make it even better. I went for gooey mozzarella this time, along with a good drizzle of sweet honey and spicy Tabasco. Kramer and I greedily ate almost all of what I fried up, then I had to stop myself from making more, because it was dangerously good. Come back every day this week to see what else I come up with during this challenge, and be sure to check out what others are making by going through #TABASCO10 on Twitter and Instagram!

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Really Easy Plum Cake

stone fruit summer

Summer is halfway over, people. More than halfway over, in fact. It’s been hot as hell in New York, so right now I’m kind of excited for September, when I’ll hopefully be able to bust out a jacket or two and not feel like I’m dying if I put on a pair of jeans, but I also know that New York is going to k-i-l-l me this winter and all of my friends who moved to LA are going to be posting pictures of themselves cooking a turkey on the beach or something while I’m shivering over a trash can fire in some back alley. That’s a pretty accurate description of New York winters. Everyone warms their hands over giant piles of trash. This is, of course, the opposite of what happens in the summer, where we use said trash piles to shield ourselves from the oppressive sun. Whatever happens this winter, we’ll always have sweet summer memories, right fellow kids? Rockaway Beach, Governors Island, day drinking on Sunday afternoons and eating all of the grilled and barbecued foods we could possibly handle. I’ll try to keep doing these things until my sleeves get longer and the days get shorter. I do it for you, ya’ know.

really easy plum cakePretty bar, pretty sushi from Salt + Charcoal, milk bread from the same place, and ice cold rosé.

The is the perfect end-of-summer, oh-god-when-will-I-see-another-plum kind of cake to make. You can really use any stone fruit here: peaches, nectarines, cherries, apricots…whatever floats your boat. In the fall, try making this cake with apples or pears, too – why not? The base is simple and perfect. It’s a light yellow cake, with a slightly crispy top, thanks to a quick sprinkle of granulated sugar before going into the oven. This is a satisfying cake to make because it’s super easy, completely unfussy, and the result is perfectly simple: just cake and fruit. This is the kind of thing you want to bring to your next picnic or barbecue, because people can cut off a slice and eat it happily with their hands. Be sure to save yourself a couple of slices for breakfast, though – it’s great with a big cup of coffee or tea, and the final bit of crust is sturdy enough to use to pick of any remaining crumbs, a cake-eating strategy you should all adopt to get the most out of any delicious baked good you may come across.

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Liège Waffles

made with pearl sugar

Do you know how good real Belgian waffles are? I hope you’ve had the chance to eat one at least once in your life. No, I’m not just talking about the big, size-of-your-face waffles you get at diners, though those are, indeed, delicious. I’m talking about Liège waffles, which are made with yeast and, best of all, pearl sugar, which are hard little pebbles of sugar that don’t melt as easily as regular granulated sugar, leaving perfect little caramelized pockets in each bite of waffle. It’s heavenly, really, and yeah, you’ve got to go to a specialty baking store or order it online to get it, but it’s worth the effort for an extra special treat. I have honestly have a small container of pearl sugar in my cupboard for over a year, waiting for the right time to make real Liège waffles. Well, today’s the day, folks. Kramer and I couldn’t stop eating these things. I had to throw the rest away because we were making ourselves sick on waffley goodness. There’s something irresistible about them. They don’t even need syrup, making them the perfect hand-held breakfast, if you can keep enough leftovers from Sunday brunch to actually make them into your breakfast-on-the-go the next morning, but really, I doubt that’ll happen. Spread a little Nutella or cookie butter on these things for the real Belgian experience, or maybe even some whipped cream if you’ve got it. If you’re a waffle or pancake lover, I implore you to get yourself some pearl sugar and give these bad boys a try. You’ll be hooked.

liege waffles

The reason I made these waffles was because I was invited by Google Photos to go to an event with Wafles & Dinges, a legendary food cart turned actual restaurant in NYC, and play some games with their photo app. As it would just so happen, this was perfect for me, because I am an Android user and I actually do use Google Photos on a daily basis. It makes searching for photos easy, so I can find that photo I took three weeks ago of my fried egg sandwich to post on my social media accounts, and it also has some great editing tools to make my photos pop. When I went to the event, they were having a contest to see who could find images of specific things the fastest on their phones with the app, which really made me see how it categorizes photos for you. For example, I was supposed to find a picture of a cat, and I was scrolling through my already sorted photos that Google identified for me, but of course, I had a whole folder labeled “dogs” but nothing with cats because as it would turn out, I had zero photos of cats on my phone. Dog person for life! But anyway, despite being cat-photo-free (sorry, Amanda), I got a free waffle which I took to Madison Square Park to eat and chill out for a few minutes on what turned out to be a beautiful summer day. While this post is sponsored by Google, I heartily endorse this photo app and, as an Android user, can truly say that I think it’s a good product. SO THERE. Dogs for life and Android for life. That’s me. Now go eat a waffle and thank me later.

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Heirloom Tomato Pie

with Parmesan cheese

Summer means tomatoes, right? They’re mealy and soft and not particularly flavorful for most of the year, but as soon as it gets hot outside, tomatoes are where it’s at. They come in all the colors of the rainbow, you can eat them when they’re green or when they’re a deep, ruby red, or really, anywhere in between. Enjoy them raw with a little salt, like my dad does, pureed into a flavorful sauce, baked or sun-dried until dehydrated and chewy, or in a pie, like this one. I was a little skeptical when I put this together, but I really, really, really wanted to make a savory pie that didn’t have a million ingredients. I wanted to make something simple and summery, something that could be eaten at brunch with eggs just as easily as it could be brought to a picnic and eaten chilled or room temperature alongside a myriad of other picnic-y foods. If you love the taste of juicy summer tomatoes, enhanced by a little time in the oven, sprinkled with rich Parmesan cheese and enveloped in a flaky, pastry crust, well, do I have the pie for you. I can only imagine that this pie would be improved with some chives or fresh basil, but of course I had neither of those things and just went without. Maybe even a spread of thick, creamy ricotta in the bottom of the pie would make it absolutely magical. But for now, you only need a few ingredients, a little butter and some time before you’ve got a savory summer pie good enough to write home about.

heirloom tomato piePiñas from Connolly’s in Rockaway, breakfast, dinner at MokuMoku and a peach pie.

Pie aside, Kramer and I have been just swamped, especially Kramer. Poor guy’s been at work until well past 8 or 9 PM every night, and by the time we both have time to sit down and eat dinner this week, it’s usually around 9:30 or 10 PM, we watch one or two episodes of TV together, then it’s time for bed so that we can wake up and do it all over again the next day. Isn’t summer supposed to be when things are a little slower? We still have one more vacation to look forward to before beach season is over, thankfully, and I think perhaps when everyone else realizes that it’s almost sweater weather, they’ll lighten up and take it easy on ol’ Kramer. We’ve got big Friday plans to hit up Maison Premiere, too, so that’ll help, and maybe we can squeeze another day in at the beach some time soon. I still have water in my ear from this past Saturday at the beach, but instead of being annoyed I’m just going to look at it as my not-so-friendly reminder that we need to spend as much time there as possible before the sun starts setting at 4 PM and we’re freezing our asses off on our way to work. Ah, yes, New York, she is a cruel mistress.

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Charred Coconut Chicken

blackened & crispy

I love a good char. Anything blackened calls to me. I’m forever picking the nearly burned-to-a-crisp bits of vegetables off of baking sheets after they’ve been roasted. Tiny, almost unrecognizable Brussels sprouts leaves? I’m there. Crispy, tiny little florets of roasted cauliflower? I’m your gal. I don’t know why these bits, that most people would probably just throw away, have got me under their spell, but they do. I love the flavor of char, I guess. Is that a flavor? I think it is. I’m pretty sure someone said that once on Mind of a Chef, so it must be true. Either way, blackened, crispy, charred, burned, whatever you want to call it, I’m a fan. So that’s why I made this charred coconut chicken. I marinated the chicken in an old standby: coconut milk + a random assortment of spices, let it sit overnight so maximum deliciousness, then threw everything in the oven at a high temperature and let the chicken get good and blackened. You need skin on your bird for this one, folks. Skinless chicken breast lovers, look elsewhere. You want the skin to lift off of the meat itself, forming a crispy little air pocket of magic. Each crispy bite is my version of heaven, and the char just makes it all the more wonderful. If you have access to a grill, then obviously that’s the way you want to go here, but I don’t, so I am left to recreate that wonderful grilled flavor on my own, in my Brooklyn kitchen, dreaming of summers past when I did have a grill and all was right in the world (aside from the fact that I was not yet living in New York). My not owning a grill is probably why I’ve developed such a taste for all things charred: you always want what you can’t have.

charred coconut chickenThe best things in the world: avocado toast, shakshuka, cookies and porchetta sandwiches.

Aside from pining over charcoal and grilled things, I’ve been busy as always. Work is hectic, but in a good way – I’m happy to be busy and I’m never sitting at work, looking at the clock and counting down the minutes. It’s more like, “Holy shit, it’s already 7?” That does mean that I’ve got less time for other things, but I’m learning to prioritize and manage my time better and while I’m not quite there yet, I think I will be soon. We’ve got big plans this weekend, too, which include Rockaway Beach (my north star) and tacos, so all is right in the world and I’m l-i-v-i-n’ until summer’s over. I hope that everyone has a frozen drink and sunshine filled weekend! And do yourself a favor – eat something charred.

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Chocolate Chess Pie with a Do-Si-Do Crust

peanut butter + milk chocolate

Apparently it’s Milk Chocolate Day today, and while I know that a lot of you, myself included sometimes, get annoyed at the seemingly endless list of nonsensical food holidays, I generally do not mind them for a number of reasons. Firstly, it allows me to dig through my recipe collection and find things that I may have otherwise never remembered that I cooked at one point or another. Secondly, it gives me a reason to post or cook or bake things that I would have not bothered with because I forgot about how awesome something like simple milk chocolate can be. So there. Milk chocolate gets kind of a bad rap, in my opinion. In this era of acai bowls and green juices and the darkest of dark chocolates, with all of its supposed health benefits and yada yada yada, creamy milk chocolate is thrown to the wayside in favor of something bittersweet or 70% cacao. I really like milk chocolate, though, and sorry to burst your bubble, but chocolate is chocolate and I don’t think having a square of dark versus a square of milk is going to improve or deplete your health one way or another. Milk chocolate is so pleasing and reminds me of being a kid and happily eating chalky Hershey’s candy bars without thinking twice about how the European or even Canadian stuff is just so much silkier. So, with that in mind, I present to you this chocolate chess pie, with, yes a Do-Si-Do crust, yet another overlooked pantry item. I think everyone’s favorite Girl Scout cookie is the Samoa, or maybe the Thin Mint, but Do-Si-Dos are the peanut butter sandwich variety and they are just perfect for making a crust with, like a Nutter Butter but more rare and therefore more exciting.

chocolate chess pie with a do-si-do crustThe flamingos out front of our July 4th Airbnb – I need to start going through my photos in a more timely manner.

If you don’t know what a chess pie is, it’s basically just a custard pie, but it’s always got a little bit of cornmeal in the filling for texture, so it’s a custard with some body, if you will. The chocolate variety, of course, has chocolate added in, and as previously mentioned, I went for milk chocolate this time. You are, of course, allowed to use whatever chocolate you prefer, but I promise you’ll love this with milk chocolate, especially if you follow me in adding a teaspoon of espresso powder to the mix – it really pumps up the jam, if you will. This is the perfect pie to make a day ahead of time, then pull out of the fridge or freezer during a barbecue or party and have friends go “oooo” and “ahhh” and “ohmygod a GIRL SCOUT COOKIE CRUST?!” because nothing gets Americans more excited than anything Girl Scout cookie related. This is the chocolate chess pie you want to eat, with a rich, creamy chocolatey filling, a crunchy, peanut buttery crust and hopefully, a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream to finish everything off. Enjoy Milk Chocolate Day with unabashed enthusiasm – I give you permission (you were waiting for it, I’m sure).

chocolate chess pie with a do-si-do crust

Oh, and yeah, I’ve included some photos from our July 4th weekend below. We stayed in an awesome house in Asbury Park on the Jersey Shore with a bunch of friends and had a great time. Of course, I’m late in going through the photos, but they’re here now so get off my back! The photos really just serve as a reminder that summer is HALF WAY OVER and I’m only a couple of months away from freezing my face off in yet another New York winter. I’ve really got to get more beach time in before that happens.


Spiced Cabbage & Carrot Salad

with mint and cilantro

My cold has come back around full circle and I now have a weird sore throat and fever combination, so that’s awesome. We took it pretty easy this weekend, but I suppose it wasn’t easy enough. Friday night we had dinner with our friends Morgan and Robyn who are moving to LA soon. We went to Sputen Duyvil and had some charcuterie and wine, then headed next door to St. Anselm, where we split a 50-ounce axe handle rib eye, burrata and tomatoes, long beans, roasted scallions, and pan fried mashed potatoes. And more wine. Needless to say, we were stuffed. We headed to Good Co for one more drink, then called it a night on account of being too full to move. On Saturday, Kramer and I woke up and did a few chores, I ran a few errands, then we met up with Morgan and Robyn, as well as our friend Matt, for an early sushi dinner at Bozu followed by drinks and skeeball at Full Circle Bar. We parted ways with Matt, then headed to The Knitting Factory to see Andrew Jackson Jihad, which was awesome. They were a local band when we were growing up in Phoenix and now they tour nationally and internationally – we’ve been able to see them play in Brooklyn a few times now and it’s always fun seeing small bands from home actually make it. On Sunday, that’s when I woke up and really started feeling like death. Kramer ended up going out to see some friends, but I stayed home, ate popsicles because my throat hurt and watched The Godfather: Part 2 because that’s how you sick day with the Kramers. This morning, I still have a low grade fever and my throat is still killing me, so I’m working from home and not leaving the couch.

spiced cabbage carrot saladDelivery sushi, heirloom tomatoes, nachos and pie crust making.

All of that aside, let’s talk about this cabbage salad. I had made chicken thighs a few weeks ago and wanted something to go with it. I had all of these ingredients in my fridge so I thought, let’s do some kind of a warm, highly spiced salad. The carrots and cabbage are nice and crunchy, but not too much so, since they were cooked down a bit in the pan with some olive oil, champagne vinegar and lime juice, then everything is tossed together with cumin, chili powder, paprika, ginger and a pinch of cinnamon, as well as fresh herbs like cilantro and mint. This is perfect for a picnic or barbecue, as it’s great warm, room temperature or chilled, depending upon your preference. It’s also good for weekday lunches, as it makes a big batch and keeps well for up to five days. I just liked having something different for lunch other than the usual green, leafy salad, and the aromatics used here were satisfying and almost helped me feel full a little longer than usual. You can use any vegetable in place of the carrots, really – sweet potatoes would probably work well, too, though they’d need to be cooked a bit longer, or maybe zucchini, which would, of course, need less cooking time. Play around with it and customize this salad to fit what you’ve got laying around. It’ll be delicious any way you make it.

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Happy Goth Pops

berries + glitter

It’s Popsicle Week, guys. It’s maybe the most wonderful time of the year, or at the very least, the most wonderful time of the summer. Billy from Wit & Vinegar is the genius behind the whole thing, and we thank Based Billy for this gift he has bestowed upon us. It’s super fun to see what everyone comes up with each year, and this time around I got to make a Pinterest board for work with everyone’s awesome pops on it, so be sure to check that out, too. I wish I had more time to make a second set of pops this year, but I have been S-W-A-M-P-E-D and there are not enough hours in the day. Oh well. You’ll have to survive on the pops from 2014, which were these Almond Butter Popsicles, or the pops from 2013, which were these Vietnamese Coffee Pops, or just these Cherry Cheesecake Paletas that I made for fun. I’ve got to remember to get more use out of my popsicle molds before summer is over again. Thankfully, all the geniuses in the blogosphere have given me tons of ideas and I’ll certainly come up with a few things after perusing the over 65 (!) recipes that were posted this year. Billy, you’ve basically got an army of popsicle warriors now – congrats.

happy goth popsBreakfast, Fette Sau, whiskey and breakfast again i.e. The Circle of [My] Life.

For some reason, I could not shake the idea of ~Happy Goth Pops~ from my head. After the jump, you’ll see what I’m talking about specifically, but I thought it’d be really funny to make popsicles that happy goth ravers would want to eat. I don’t know why. Don’t try to understand it. But here we are, with these moody, dark berry popsicles covered in sparkly, edible glitter and a drizzle of white chocolate. I had a leftover can of cream of coconut from a shoot at work, so I blended that deliciousness up with juicy summer berries to make a popsicle that under-the-bridge raver goths would love. The edible glitter really takes these home, and if you don’t have any, just do yourself a favor and go to any specialty baking shop and get some. It’s so fun. Sure, your apartment may be covered in a fine dusting of sparkles for a few days after you play with it, but that’s no matter. You’re just making your living space more fun and festive. You can really use any berries in this, because cream of coconut is delicious and goes well with just about any fruit, but I hope you’ll get a little dark with me and make some happy goth pops for yourself. Next thing you know, you’ll be waving glow sticks around and wearing bondage pants. You’re welcome.

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