Almond Butter Popsicles

with yogurt and honey

This week has flown by but I’m still so excited that it’s Friday! I’ve been really looking forward to the weekend. On Saturday, we’re making our first trip of the year to Governor’s Island. I’ve been dreaming of laying in one of those bright red hammocks, sipping on a glass of ice cold rosé and soaking up the sun for days now. Last year we had so much fun exploring the island, and this year they’ve fixed it up real nice so there’s even more to do. Tons of art, good food and more await, so Saturday can’t get here soon enough. Then, on Sunday, I’m doing a cooking demo at the Fancy Food Show in Manhattan! Dominque Ansel will be there, too, so I’m in good company. Do you think I can get him to make me one of those fancy frozen hot chocolates? I probably won’t even see him. But maybe! I’ll keep hope alive. I’m going to be making a really delicious Korean tofu salad, which I will be posting right here (shocking) in the next few days, so check back for that. I tested the recipe out last weekend and I thought it was perfect for summer, so I’m proud to be able to share it with a wider audience and practice the art of not accidentally slicing my finger off in front of a crowd of people. Wish me luck.

Almond Butter PopsiclesThe amazing windows at Fishs Eddy and margaritas.

Now for the most important note of all: it’s Popsicle Week! I made Vietnamese Coffee Pops last year (and funny enough, I go to link to that post and where are we but Governor’s Island), which was my first foray into the world of popsicles. Of course, I lost my popsicle tray from last year, so after tearing apart my kitchen, I gave in and just bought a new mold. I like this mold better, anyway. I’m so over that last mold. I wanted to make a popsicle that I could enjoy without feeling too guilty for eating what is essentially ice cream on a school night, so I present these almond butter pops. The ingredients are simple: just almond butter, Greek yogurt, almond milk and honey. You don’t have to top them with dark chocolate and crushed pistachios, but I do highly recommend it. Not only does it give the popsicles some awesome texture, but don’t they look pretty? I couldn’t have been happier with these. Given how healthy they are, I wouldn’t blame you for having one for breakfast. It’s Friday – live a little!

Almond Butter Popsicles

I hope that you go out and get yourself a popsicle mold before the summer’s out. You’ll be hooked by popsicle-mania before you know it. If you need a little inspiration, visit Wit & Vinegar to see what all of the other bloggers came up with. Mariah commands it. I’m particularly drawn to these Chocolate Stouts Creamsicles (drool) and these Strawberry Bourbon Smash popsicles. What’s better than combining frozen treats with alcohol? I’ll tell you: nothing.

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Cubano Style Cheeseburgers

with ham, pickles & mustard

I’ve been incredibly productive this week. I’ve surprised even myself. Way to go, me. Keep up the good work. I will, thank you. Summer may be hot, but all the extra light definitely gives me some energy. Things at work have been moving at a manageable pace, which is a refreshing change from the mania of the past few months (although I fully understand that nothing gold can stay), and I’ve been doing plenty of freelance work to keep myself occupied when I get home. Perhaps I occasionally overcommit myself, but that’s fine. I’d rather be too busy than bored, even if it feels like my head is sometimes spinning. Anyway, with the extra light and all, I have more time to shoot photos for the blerg, which lets me play catch-up if I procrastinate over the weekend. I can already tell I’m going to miss this when it’s winter again.

Cuban Style BurgersFarmer’s market cherries, my friend Lily’s dog Remy, bar cat and Kramer with a fancy new haircut.

While things have been good on that front, I did officially become an old woman on Tuesday night. No, it’s not menopause. Close, though. I called the police to report a noise disturbance. Who have I become? Whatever, I’m enjoying becoming old and grumpy. It suits me. Anyway, our upstairs neighbors have always kind of sucked. They have a private roof area and something about that area turns people into monsters. They’ve always been loud and obnoxious, but on Tuesday night they were having a party. On a Tuesday! Who are these people? They were screaming and jumping and playing music so loud that I thought it was coming from a park a few blocks away until I realized it was just an echo from two floors above us. Around 11pm, I finally called 311 to report them. I don’t know if it actually did anything, but it sure did make me feel better. Plus, I got a nifty little email from the NY police department stating that I made a complaint. I should probably frame it.

Cuban Style Burgers

I had never tried a Cubano sandwich before I moved to New York, but they are delightful. Buttery bread pressed with ham, cheese, pickles and spicy mustard? Yes, please. When Vlasic asked me to make this Cuban style burger for their Farmers Garden program, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it myself. After you’ve almost finished cooking your burgers, just add a slice of ham and Swiss cheese to the top, let it get nice and melty, then add it to your bun along with some grainy mustard and plenty of pickles. It’s just the thing to have on a hot summer day, and is an excellent way to mix things up during your regular hot dogs and hamburgers barbecue. If you haven’t yet, make sure that you enter Vlasic’s Savor Simplicity sweepstakes, where you can win a $1,500 summer entertaining package! If you throw as many summer BBQs as I do, then you know what an awesome party that can ya’!

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S’mores Pop-Tart Slab Pie

bigger is better

This slab pie is truly a masterpiece and I’m not afraid to say it. I made it for Kramer’s birthday barbecue last month. We were laying in bed one night, having our usual 10 minute conversation before rolling over and trying to go to sleep, when I asked what dessert he wanted for his birthday. We started thinking out loud (I think out loud to Kramer with most recipes – he is my Nielsen box). Something chocolate? Something peanut butter? He suggested something with s’mores. S’mores cake? S’mores cookies? How about a giant s’mores pie? A giant s’mores Pop-Tart! That was it. I had to make it. A s’mores Pop-Tart would be enough to feed a crowd while still being interesting and impressive. I had made a slab pie last year and people really enjoyed it. I love slab pies (like this Triple Berry Slab Pie) because you have the option of just cutting yourself a square and eating it with your hands. What better way to make a giant Pop-Tart, since they are meant to eaten with your hands, anyway?

Smores Pop Tart Slab PieMargaritas, cookies that I made, cookies from City Bakery and a cocktail at Dear Irving.

I used my usual pie crust for this, as it’s never failed me before. I think that I even did an all butter crust this time around, although I really don’t recommend it. I know that a lot of people say that all butter crusts are the best, but maybe they’ve never worked with a half shortening, half butter crust. It rolls out like a dream and the shortening helps the crust hold up much better in summer baking conditions, as it has a higher melting point. Between that, and being sure to chill the dough for a minimum of 3 hours (this is key for any good pie crust), it’s what I consider to be the best. This crust has seen me through many a recipe and I’ll never abandon it. After the crust, though, I had to made my own chocolate filling (easy – thanks to A Cozy Kitchen) and my own marshmallow (scary). If you follow the blog, you’ll know that my Homemade Marshmallow Fluff fears were unwarranted – the recipe from Chow was flawless. After that, it was just a matter of slapping everything together and baking for about an hour. This giant Pop-Tart turned out beautifully. A buttery crust, a rich chocolate interior and plenty of creamy marshmallow goodness is the perfect way to make a crowd of people smile with nostalgia. I know it seems like a bit of work, but you can make everything separately and then build the pie on another day. It’s worth it!

BdayBBQ-1
Destroyed!

It’s funny that I’m posting the pie today, because we had another barbecue over the weekend (sadly, sans pie, but with lots of giant chocolate chip cookies). We did another clam bake, which went swimmingly last year so we decided to go for broke and try it again. I think that this year’s was even better than last year’s. We had mountains of clams, shrimp, sausage, corn and potatoes, alongside plenty of homemade bread. That was Saturday. On Friday, Kramer and I each had drinks with separate friends, then met up back home, ordered Vietnamese food and got to bed early, in preparation for the next day’s events. On Sunday, we slept in a bit, then I made some roasted pork and more cookies for another friend’s barbecue, although this time Kramer and I were not in charge of food, so we were able to sit back, relax and watch another couple man the grill. There was brisket and grilled wings, so I was happy. We walked home after the barbecue, then stopped by a bar for a few drinks and to watch the US play in the World Cup. Kramer and I treated ourselves to some ice cream that night (we deserve it!) and got to bed early enough to wake up rested and ready to go on Monday morning. It was a fun, food-filled weekend, indeed.

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Homemade Marshmallow Fluff

aka marshmallow crème

One of the most popular recipes on The Crepes of Wrath are these S’more Cookie Bars, and as a result, people often ask me how to make marshmallow fluff at home. My answer is usually that I don’t know – I generally don’t like to recommend recipes that I’ve never tried out for myself, but I wanted to give the people what they asked for. Additionally, I was making a s’mores slab pie (recipe to come next week), and I needed a decent amount of fluff. I finally found myself in the position that many of my readers have found themselves in: I couldn’t find fluff! I checked countless stores and bodegas, but it was nowhere to be found. I’d purchased it in New York before, but I suspect that we are on the cusp of a great fluff shortage. Anyway, I thought, “Screw it! We’ll do it live!” and I quickly looked up this recipe from Chow on my phone while I was at the last bodega I could bring myself to visit. I had everything at home except corn syrup, so I grabbed a bottle of that and was on my way. I will admit, I am a little wary of recipes that call for candy thermometers. Years ago, I was making caramel, and, well, you know what happened – I burned the hell out of my hand. I dripped some hot syrup on the floor, so my stupid human reaction was to try to put my hand under the utensil that was dripping to help with the mess, but of course the syrup immediately fused to my palm and I dropped everything while running to the sink for some cold water, making an even bigger mess in the process. C’est la vie. There’s no better time than the present for giving it the old college try once more, is there? I pumped myself up to do battle with another candy thermometer and set to work.

Homemade Marshmallow FluffOur stop at Steve Heller’s Fabulous Furniture last weekend.

This recipe ended up being absolutely dreamy. At first, I wasn’t sure that I was doing it right, which is a familiar feeling to me, as I experience it every time I try something new. The recipe states that you must boil your syrup until it reaches 240 degrees F. At first, the heat was too high, and my syrup nearly boiled over. I removed the pot from the heat for a moment, reduced the flame, stirred, and kept going. After avoiding a bubbling cauldron of corn syrup and sugar, I felt like the mixture was stuck at 220 degrees F. I almost decided to just leave it at that, because I was afraid that the syrup was going to turn into a hard ball and I’d have to go out to the store for more corn syrup and start over, but I kept stirring, powered through, and finally the thing came to 240 degrees F. That was the only hard part. After that, I whisked my eggs whites to soft peaks and slowly drizzled in the syrup. Magically, I watched the eggs and sugar turn into my beloved marshmallow fluff, right before my very eyes. I couldn’t believe it. When it had finished whisking, I held up a big wooden spoon to Kramer, who was sitting on the couch, completely oblivious to my incredible kitchen achievements, and shouted, “FLUFF!” He responded, “Good job, honey!” and went back to whatever it was he was doing. Good job, indeed. It is insane how proud I was of myself for making fluff. I guess it’s just because I love it so much. It’s so soft, gooey and creamy, and spreads perfectly over whatever you’re using it in. I’m still trying to be good, so the temptation to spread this over a thick slice of bread with peanut butter and banana weighed heavily over my head, but thankfully I had no bread in the house. I saved myself from myself. I ended up using the fluff to bake with, and it worked really well there, too – I was worried it might melt or break down as it heated up in the oven, but it held up perfectly. I brought the leftovers to a barbecue to spread on graham crackers, alongside chocolate, and there’s no surprise that it was a big hit. I honestly don’t think I’ll ever buy fluff again because this recipe is so easy and so amazingly delicious.

Homemade Marshmallow Fluff

So, what are you up to this weekend other than reading about my fluff triumphs? I’ve got a pretty packed weekend lined up. Tonight, I’ve got plans to have drinks with a friend at Dear Irving, then I plan to go home and get some bread dough started. I know – is it possible to get crazier than that? Saturday, we’re having another barbecue at our friend Emily’s apartment, hence the bread. We’re doing a clambake again, since last year’s went so swimmingly. I also plan to make Hawaiian bread and cookies. Again, big dreams. Then Sunday, another friend is having a barbecue and I want to try to bring over some pulled pork made with Mina harissa. I haven’t done this before, so I hope it turns out well! Who wouldn’t want a little Moroccan pulled pork? Wish me luck and I hope you guys have an awesome weekend, too!

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Lobster Rolls

the best of summer

Who doesn’t love a lobster roll? I don’t think I even knew that they existed before I moved to New York, but I think that the gospel of the lobstah has spread throughout the land by now. I’m sure that every city has at least one lobster roll food truck. New York probably has about a dozen, and everyone has an opinion on who makes the best. Personally, I prefer Luke’s Lobster. Not only do they make delicious lobster rolls, but their shrimp rolls are a favorite of mine, too. Luke’s has a lunch package where you get an ice cold root beer, a lobster roll, a bag of salt and vinegar chips, and a big, crunchy pickle. I tried to recreate something similar at home, and thankfully I am flush with Vlasic dill pickles with which to garnish my roll. I’m still working with Vlasic to create fun summer recipes, and you can get in on the action by entering to win a $1500 summer entertaining package with their Savor Simplicity sweepstakes. Don’t be a dummy – enter now! Anyway, I’m still trying to be “good” (ugh), but the lifestyle change has done us well and Kramer and I both feel much better than when we initially started in April. Having said that, I did have a bite of the lobster roll and it was completely worth it. The buttery brioche roll, the sweet lobster meat, and the tangy dressing all play together beautifully and go perfectly with the cold crunch of a good dill pickle.

Lobster Rolls

Cooking a whole lobster is a daunting task and one that I wasn’t really quite ready to tackle on a Monday night when I threw these rolls together. Honesty is the best policy, right? I decided I’d just pick up tails and claws and forgo the whole “screaming lobster” or whatever they say happens when you boil live lobsters at home. I want to learn how to cook a whole lobster, but after a long day of work, I can’t handle any of that nonsense. Who wants to teach me? Anyway, I took the easy way out and the rolls were still fantastic. If you can’t find the signature split-top rolls, not to worry! I bought some nice brioche hot dog buns, then simply sliced off some of the sides to make them look just like the ones you get at Luke’s or wherever you satiate your lobster roll cravings. Don’t all thank me at once.

Lobster Rolls

I wanted to share some photos from our most recent trip to the Catskills, as described in my last post. Isn’t it beautiful? The greens are so green that it almost hurts your eyes, and the air is so clean that Tom and I felt like we had a headache. We got over that, obviously, but it’s so weird to be out in the middle of nowhere, with no cars or trains or crazy people yelling on the street below. It’s wonderful and also a little creepy. You truly do go a little deaf from the silence, but it’s definitely a treat. When we’ve gone up there, it’s a bit of a shock to realize that there’s no bodega run to go on, no laundry to run to the laundry mat, and no party to go to that night. There’s just beautiful views, good wine and great company. I hope we get to go up again – it feels like a reset from city life and I absolutely love it.

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How To Make Tartar Sauce

three ways

We had an incredibly relaxing weekend upstate in the Catskills. We were able to go up with our friends Valerie and Tom, and the four of us just hung out, ate good food, played games and slept well (or at least I did – I suppose I can’t speak for anyone else). It was much cooler up in the mountains, which I especially appreciated seeing as how we are on the cusp of New York’s infamously hot and humid summer. It was refreshing to put a hoodie and a jacket on. There was even occasion to get a fire going in the fireplace. I am not one to want to tend to a fire. I scare easily and am skittish. My nearly seven months pregnant friend Valerie, though, happily kept the fire going. She’s always been more of a bad ass lady than me. While Val kept the flames high, Kramer wanted to go out and chop wood. Of course, he could only find pre-chopped wood left by our amazing hosts. He gave it the old college try anyway, though. The drive up was smoother than the last drive, for the most part. It certainly wasn’t shorter (I don’t think you’ll ever have a short drive out of the city on a summer Friday), but we at least mostly knew where we were going. It was pitch black by the time we got close to the house, though, and Kramer did a great job driving despite my hand wringing in the seat next to him. We unpacked a bit, heated up some wings , made a simple salad of tomatoes and avocado, then opened a bottle or two and just talked for a few hours before hitting the hay.

how to make tartar sauceIced coffee upstate, and a post-upstate margarita.

The next morning, we made a big breakfast, as is required by any Catskill getaway. We had bacon, eggs, brioche, mushrooms and avocado alongside good coffee from Grady’s. We decided to walk it off a bit by exploring the area. At first we said we’d be going on a hike, but the grass and woods were too wet and muddy to venture through, so we stuck to the roadside. We saw chickens, goats, horses and cows, all while joking about what good adventurers we were being. After our walk, we consumed massive amounts of charcuterie, bread and fruit, watched a bit of the World Cup, and played Settlers of Catan. We also maybe took a nap. Who’s to say? Dinner was another feast: sausages, burgers, summer vegetable salad and more avocado, followed by a hilarious game of charades. You really had to be there. We worked our way through a bottle of nice tequila, Kramer and Tom played Stratego, and we all got a good night’s rest before another giant breakfast on Sunday, this time featuring sausages and French toast. The drive back home was beautiful – it was sunny and warm, and we even stopped at Steve’s Fabulous Furniture for some shopping and admiring. Once home, Kramer and I unpacked, chilled out on the couch for a bit, then went over to Tradesman to read a little bit and have a margarita. We were in the mood, so we ordered Mexican for dinner – there’s nothing better than guacamole to end the weekend, with horchata for dessert.

how to make tartar sauce

When I think of summer, I think of seafood. It’s light and refreshing, and it pairs well with almost everything. I also love tartar sauce, because it adds flavor and richness to your average shrimp cocktail or crab cake. Vlasic Farmer’s Garden asked me to whip up a classic tartar sauce recipe for them, as well as a few variations. There’s the Tuscan version, which has an Italian twist, or the South-of-the-Border option, for a smokey chipotle option. My favorite, though, was the Thai variety, which has lime juice and chile sauce. I opted for a simple dish of shrimp cooked with salt and pepper to dip in the tartar sauces, since they all have their own unique flavor and I didn’t want to bother doing something fancy with the shrimp only to have it overwhelm what I was creating the shrimp for in the first place. These sauces don’t make a half bad aioli, either – dip your fries in them or spread one of them on a turkey sandwich. If you try out this recipe, please let me know and also don’t miss your chance to win $1,500 from Vlasic! That’s free money, people.

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Roasted Salmon with Creamy Greens

a 30 minute meal

This dish is hands down one of the best things that I’ve made in 2014 – I’m not exaggerating. Kramer and I devoured each delicious bite, and my only regret was that I didn’t double the recipe so that we might go back for seconds. It’s deceptively simple, but tastes like something you would get in an expensive restaurant. The fish is not fussed over, and the sauce is delightfully rich and creamy, without being overly heavy. I originally saw this recipe on Food52, but I adapted it to fit with what I had in the refrigerator. Strangely enough, I didn’t have sorrel or chervil on hand, but I did have ramps (which shows you that I made this a few weeks ago) and some scallions, so I worked with those. The result was fork licking good. The salmon is roasted until just a bit crisp on the edges, and while it’s under the broiler, you just have to bring together a four-ingredient sauce, add some salt and pepper, pour the sauce over the salmon, and you’re done. I’ve got big plans to make this the next time I have someone over for dinner. The colors are lovely and the flavors hit every taste bud perfectly – you’ll be smiling with every mouthful, that I can assure you. If you don’t have ramps, which you probably don’t during this time of year, I encourage you to get creative! Arugula and spinach are easy choices, and mostly available all year long, so go ahead and throw those into the pan. Just remember to use a tender green – something like kale or Swiss chard won’t work here, because they are a bit tougher and take longer to cook. Add in some garlic if you so desire, or up the amount of red pepper flakes for a kick. This is a great base recipe for adding your own twist to, and seeing as how it’s so easy to make, I’m sure it’ll be added to your recipe repertoire to be made over and over again.

Roasted Salmon with Creamy GreensHanging out at the beach, a glass of rosé and a dreamy brownstone.

Let’s see then, what have I been up to this week? Not too much, honestly, which is nice. We went out on Wednesday night to our favorite haunt, Burnside, but other than that, it’s been relatively quiet on the home front. We’ve been catching up on Orange is the New Black (I think we’re on episode eight, now), cooking at home and trying to go the gym a bit after majorly slacking last week. Today, though, we’re heading up to the Catskills again with our friends Tom and Val, and I couldn’t be more excited. The drive will hopefully go by much quicker with some good company in the car with us, and maybe Kramer will be more open to my podcast and stand-up comedy choices when I have people to lure over to my side.

Roasted Salmon with Creamy Greens

It’s been so muggy and gross in the city this week, so the idea of fresh air, cooler temperatures and green as far as the eye can see is incredibly appealing. I’ve got a fridge full of charcuterie, cheeses, thick cut bacon and wine ready to be consumed and a fully charged camera battery, so get out of my way! The only caveat is that we won’t be able to go see 22 Jump Street this weekend since we’ll be away, but maybe we’ll have the energy after our restful respite upstate to go and see it on Sunday night. We’re bringing Settlers of Catan, of course, and a deck of cards, but what other games should we bring? Kramer says that he wants to “beat” Tom and Val in a couples game – I said that all of those games are boring and lame. You know, for lame-os. I suppose that I’m open to suggestions, though. Any thoughts? Either way, I hope that everyone has a fantastic weekend! See ya’ next week.

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Pickle Caprese Salad Kebabs

with balsamic vinegar

We had another great beach weekend! Isn’t it always a great weekend if you spend it at the beach? Friday night, we took it easy and had a lovely dinner close to home at Le Barricou. We had briny oysters, good wine and I devoured one of the best, most buttery, pieces of skate that I’ve ever tasted. Kramer and I watched an episode of Orange is the New Black before deciding we were too sleepy to keep watching and went to bed. Saturday, we woke up early and got packed for the beach. Our first stop, as always, was Rockaway Taco, where we stocked up on tacos and snacks like Japanese peanuts and chile pepitas. We spent the day with friends laying in the sun, running into the freezing ocean, tossing around a frisbee or football, and sipping on a frozen sangria or banana smoothie. Perfection, don’t you think? We packed things up and got home around 7, where we celebrated a great day with a slice of pizza and a beer, because I deserved a treat (according to me). We grabbed a few negronis as a nitecap, watched one more episode of OITNB and slept hard until the next morning.

Pickle Cabrese Salad KebabsRockaway Tacos, Kramer and Matt enjoying the ocean, Kramer casually reading the Observer and post-beach negronis.

Sunday was spent doing a little freelance work and tidying up – sand follows you everywhere. After our work was done, we met up with some friends at Nitehawk to see a screening of the original Jurassic Park. It was just as good as it’s always been, of course. It was funny to hear people gasping at the screen as though they were seeing it for the very first time. We walked around Williamsburg for a bit afterwards, picked up some Fathers Day gifts and photography equipment, then came home to relax for a bit. I prepped lunches for the week, Kramer took a little cat nap, then I joined him briefly before meeting up at Harefield Road for drinks and a rousing game of Settlers of Catan. We can’t get enough of that game.

Pickle Cabrese Salad Kebabs

We’re back with more recipes from Vlasic Farmers Garden! I’ve been cooking up a storm for their Savory Simplicity program all season, and seeing as how I’ve been known to snack on pickles alone, it couldn’t be a more perfect match. This is my kind of summer recipe – no cooking involved. Just skewer some kosher dill pickles alongside classic caprese salad ingredients: basil, mozzarella and tomatoes. With the addition of torn romaine leaves for substance and a zesty pickle for extra crunch, these are the perfect appetizer to put out at your next barbecue or summer gathering, especially because you don’t need a plate to enjoy them. Just pick them up and be on your way. You can make a fancy vinaigrette, if you like, to spice these up, but I think that a nice balsamic vinegar is all you need.

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