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!


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


Caramelized Ramps

with browned butter

If you hurry, you can still pick up a bunch of ramps or two before it’s too hot for them to poke through the ground. Everyone loses their minds around ramp season, and I feel like it gets started earlier and earlier each year. I will admit, I do love them. They’re tiny, delicate leeks that have the most beautiful, earthy green leaves. Unlike a regular leek, you can eat the whole thing, so they’re perfect for preparing simply, without much fuss. The best way to eat them, in my opinion, is with over-easy eggs so that you can swirl the ramps around in the runny yolks. A creamy egg is an excellent match for each oniony, garlicky bite of caramelized ramps. Don’t get me wrong – they’re not overly pungent. They’re just right, in my opinion. The leaves, as previously mentioned, are especially good, because they cook down and wilt almost like basil does, but they have a much more prominent flavor that I adore. The only annoying thing about ramps is cleaning them. It takes a little bit of effort. Not too much, but definitely more than I put into cleaning over vegetables. You have to fill a big bowl with cold water, dunk them in there, swish them around, then pull them out and either dunk them again in a new bowl of clean water or rinse them under the faucet before patting them dry. After that, you’ve got to chop off the hairy bit at the end and pull off any extra skins or strings before you can cook with them. If you’ve got an extra 10 minutes to spare, though, I promise you’ll find it’s no trouble at all to take an extra step or two if at the end of it all you get these caramelized ramps in a rich browned butter sauce. Believe me, you’ll have a hard time not picking them out of the pan with your fingers and eating them all while standing in the kitchen.

Caramelized RampsSarah’s cat, Lily, me laughing at something forgettable, sandwich from The Meat Hook Sandwich Shop, and drinks at Featherweight.

Last night, I went out with my friend Emily to a play. I rarely ever go, because I always want to see plays that are prohibitively expensive. Emily is smarter than me, though, and doesn’t only look at Broadway shows when seeking out her weekly dose of culture. Doubly, she doesn’t only look to downtown or Brooklyn for plays, which is to say that I completely avoid the upper East and West sides, because they are far away and scary to me. I love to steal Roger Sterling’s line by saying that “I get a nosebleed above 60th,” but every once in a while I do find myself up there. Last night, we started off with dinner and drinks at Jacob’s Pickles, which was awesome. They pickle everything there and for $11, we got more pickled vegetables than anyone would ever be able to eat. There were beets, carrots, green beans and some good old fashioned dill pickles. I also sipped on a bourbon cocktail made with muddled citrus, to prepare myself for the arts, of course. After that, we were of course running a bit behind, so we power walked (I’m too cool to run) over to the theater to see American Hero, which was both very funny and incredibly sad. I need to make an effort to go see more stuff like this in the city – there’s so much of it and I’m not taking advantage of any of it!

Caramelized Ramps

This weekend is shaping up to be glorious and I can’t wait. The sun is out this morning, it’s a little breezy and in the 70s, and I’m ready, world! Tonight I’m getting a cocktail with a friend, then dinner with more friends, followed by a (planned) early night before hitting Rockaway Beach again tomorrow with the usual motley crew in tow. If we have the energy after the beach, we’ll go see O’Death at The Wick. That’s a big if, I imagine, but you never know. On Sunday, we’re doing maybe one of the most awesome things ever: seeing Jurassic Park for brunch at Nitehawk. I’m beyond excited. I remember my dad took my brother and me to see it when it originally came out over 20 (!) years ago, so it’ll be great to see it on the big screen again. If you live in Brooklyn or the surrounding area, you should definitely come check it out, too!


Picante Pickle Tapenade

with olives & basil

This is the last recipe in my most recent partnership with Vlasic, but there’s more to come! Don’t despair. This was an interesting recipe for me to try. What do you guys use tapenade for? To be quite honest, I don’t use it on or in everything, but I usually buy it as a treat when I’m in some specialty grocery store. This is a great, summery alternative to the more pungent, olive-heavy varieties that we all know and love. As a dip, it’s perfect for pickle lovers. There’s the classic addition of olives, but then pureed in with them are kosher dill pickles, fresh basil leaves, and my favorite: an anchovy. Do not fear the humble anchovy! It adds a big punch of flavor, as well as salt, and most people don’t even realize that they are in tons of different foods, most prominently pizza sauce or marinara. You can get anchovy fillets, or even pureed anchovy in a tube. I think the latter for keeping in the fridge and using in whatever I feel like adding something extra to. Think of it as Italian fish sauce, if that helps. Either way, you can use this tapenade in a variety of ways – with pita chips, crusty bread, added to salad dressing, or as a spread for burgers and sandwiches. It ends up being good with grilled sausage too, and I know this from experience. Don’t forget to check out more recipes from Vlasic on their website and also using #farmtojar on Twitter and Instagram. You can still enter to win a summer entertaining package!

Picante Pickle TapenadeKramer basking in the sun, me basking with some rosé, tacos from Cafe El Presidente and dreaming of the beach.

As previously mentioned, I really want to go to the beach again this weekend, so Monday and Tuesday I did what everyone does before they go to the beach: start exercising for a short period of time and expect immediate results. My legs are sore and I can feel my abs. Why don’t I look like I’m carved out of solid rock yet? I worked out for TWO DAYS in a row! Doesn’t that count for something? Shouldn’t I see something? What is my life? I did a spin class on Monday, which is the class I loathe the most. I had that you don’t go anywhere, I guess. It’s really boring and I always hate the music. But I haven’t done any cardio in weeks, so I figured it was time for some punishment. And punishment it was. The room was incredibly hot and the teacher decided that it’d be a great idea to play Limp Bizkit’s “Rolling” to start out the class. As soon as that started I immediately regretted my decision. As a result, I did yoga on Tuesday. Today I feel broken but I think I might do yoga again because I can’t bare to sit on those tiny bicycle seats again. My body is not made for them and I’m fine with that.

Picante Pickle Tapenade (more…)

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