Our final pop-up event of the summer was a failure. To be more precise, it was a giant, epic, “this isn’t even over yet and I already know I’m going to cry about this for days” no-good, terrible disaster. Our booth was placed in a god-awful location. At the last minute, management decided to call the whole thing a “cash-free event.” For three days, hordes of cashless concert goers dug deep in their high-waist denim shorts for credit cards (no food, it turned out, for those unfortunate few who stuffed a mere twenty dollar bill in their bra straps), and then sauntered over to the food area, a destination that consisted of a good dozen or so food vendors that, by some unfortunate chance, we were not in. Rather, our designated location left us up on a hill, both out of potential customers’ way and also out of their minds. Cricket. Cricket. Then, when we thought things could not get any worse, early Sunday afternoon the sky tore apart, bursts of lightening illuminated the swirls of black clouds and, just like that, the whole thing was cancelled.
On Monday, Labor Day, Jay and I spent a solid half hour hovering above our kitchen island, just staring at the bloated box, wondering what in the hell we were supposed to do with twenty-five pounds of tomatoes anyway. Since we already had dozens of trays of unsold meat taking up space in the store’s fridges, we didn’t have space for them at the shop. Plus, although he never directly said so, I think Jay felt like they were unlucky in some way and didn’t want them anywhere near his cash register or his knives.
For the next few days, I began to think of the tomatoes as an enemy of sorts. Every time I meandered into our kitchen to whip up my morning smoothie or to sneak in a late night snack, there it was: a box literally overflowing with jewel-colored reminders of our failures. Neat.
By Tuesday night, I moved the box from our island to a long white bench on the far end of our kitchen. Out of sight, out of mind. But they still caught my eye. By Wednesday, I moved the box again, this time to a spot beneath our kitchen table that I almost never stop to consider (evident, by the way, by the pile of crumbs I discovered there; apparently, our vacuum also never pauses to consider this spot). On Thursday, I was completely annoyed and moved them into the laundry room, figuring that at least they could hide out behind a closed door until I had the heart to do something with them. But on Monday (four whole days after their last move), while attempting to casually toss a load of bath towels in the wash, there they were, like sad little seeded children, completely neglected by moi. And then -- because, you know, fruits and vegetables have human emotions -- I finally began to feel badly about ignoring them.
This is indeed an incredibly easy, back-to-the-basics kind of recipe that I so admire for its blatant simplicity and its admiration and celebration of ripe, seasonal produce (perhaps almost too ripe in my case, which is what you get when you smuggle produce into your laundry room, I guess). The recipe, if you can call it that, requires just a few ingredients: plump tomatoes (good quality canned tomatoes also work well during the winter months), a bit of sugar to help bring out the fruits' natural sweetness, a few garlic cloves, a pinch of coarse salt and a small handful of torn basil leaves as well as a good glug of olive oil right at the end. The final product is a simple, flavorful everyday tomato sauce that tastes, well, exactly like tomatoes are meant to taste (which, I think, in our world of prepackaged, preservative packed everything, is sort of saying a lot). Typically, I find the recipe goes pretty quick in our house (figure one night of pasta, followed by another night of pizza and the sauce is gone); however, should you find yourself with an excessive amount of tomatoes, the recipe can easily be doubled (or tripled…or quadrupled) and then frozen for several months.
Simple Tomato Sauce
It is the last weekend of summer and I just got around to making my first crisp. Terrible form on my part, all around. The summer here was mild, accented by warm, sun-drenched afternoons and cool, often breezy nights. As a result, our local fruit was near perfect. The wild blackberries and raspberries were bursting with sugar and packed a satisfying tart-punch. The peaches have been swollen with sweet juice, hidden behind a perfect veil of yellow and red ombre skin. I've been stockpiling fruit every week during my farmers' market trips, and assembling proud, colorful displays of overflowing wooden bowls on our kitchen island, which we dipped into throughout each day. It's been a little bit of a food lover's version of heaven over here.
With fruit so perfect, crisps seem like the obvious choice. Crisps are champions of ripe fruit, supporters of all seed-bearing rounds that fall from trees. Plus, as every half-decent baker knows, they are impossibly simple to make, mimicking the easy going nature of the season. And yet, here we are. But how?
Maybe the reason is because we've done next to zilch in the entertaining department this summer. Usually, even when we're impossibly busy, summer is a time when we open our door (and our kitchen) to many friends and family to host what feels like an endless revolving door of barbecues, low-key summer dinner parties, and late night booze-fests accented by cured meats and bubbling, fresh-from-the-oven summery sweets.
This summer was a decidedly lazy one. I can't remember a single time that we hosted dinner, instead opting to check into some neighborhood haunts for indulgent, on-the-fly lunch dates, and passing up opportunities to invite friends to our place to enjoy our outdoor space for quiet nights home alone together with a stack of food and travel magazines and a cold bottle of rosé (which I now aptly refer to exclusively as "summer water," in case you were wondering).
A few nights ago, close friends opened their door to us for an end-of-the-season crab boil. Since Jay and I just recently returned from Charleston (more on that trip and the magic that is Pappy Van Winkle bourbon in another post), our fridge is looking a little sad. Luckily, hidden at the back of the bottom shelf were a few leftover nectarines from our road trip cooler, a pint of blueberries that somehow miraculously survived our absence and a depressing, singular stick of butter tucked beside a shriveled nub of forgotten ginger root.
I modeled this crisp after a recipe post on Food52, which offered a sort of guide for making the perfect crisp. This time around, I added a generous splash of booze and some brown sugar to the fruit before baking, and then allowed it to macerate for a bit, which produced a final crisp made from incredibly soft, bourbon-kissed fruit. When it came time to make the actual crumble, Jay hovered beside me to "encourage" me to properly incorporate the butter and the dry ingredients in such a way to create a perfect, airy, crumbly topper. Although it physically pains me to admit when he is right, he had a few good pointers. In the past, I've often worked the butter into the dry ingredients so much that it has turned almost grainy, kind of like the consistency of clumpy sand. However, it turns out that it is much better to squeeze the ingredients in your palm (as opposed to sort of breaking up the butter into tiny, pea-sized balls) and then breaking the mixture into larger clumps. Also, although crisps are typically celebrated as the lazy man's dessert, it seems I've been too lazy with mine, often breaking apart the butter, giving those pea-sized rounds a good mix in the dry ingredients and calling it a day. This time, I spent a good five or six full minutes squeezing those ingredients, which ultimately (once again, this part pains me) means Jay wins this round: his advice did in fact lead to a much better dessert.
I'll be back in a few days with a recap on our end-of-summer pop-ups, life at the shop, and a boatload of early autumn recipes (as well as those weekly roundups I promised a while back…don't judge). Until then…
Blueberry, Nectarine & Bourbon Crisp
- 1 pint fresh blueberries
- 2-3 ripe, large nectarines (or other stone fruit) sliced into wedges
- 1/4 cup good bourbon
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup cold butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the fruit, the bourbon and the brown sugar until the fruit is well-coated. Set aside and allow to macerate for at least ten minutes.
In another medium-sized bowl, add the butter, flour, sugar, oats and cinnamon. Squeeze all ingredients through your palms until the mixture is well-incorporated and breaks apart into large pieces (see details in the above post).
Add the fruit and any liquid to the bottom of a cake pan. Add the crumble mixture to the top of the fruit. Do not press the crumble down; instead, generously pile it on top of the fruit until all the fruit is totally covered. Bake for 40 minutes or until the crumble mixture is a nice, golden brown. Carefully remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.
Did you hear that? That was the sound of all the champagne bottles I’m popping. Okay, maybe not, though it certainly feels like I should.
Last week, for the first time in our three years as business owners, we were robbed. When Jay called to tell me that someone -- likely a current or former employee based on our current investigation -- snuck into the shop overnight, stripped our cash register and stole whatever was left behind in the petty cash drawer, I was furious, insulted and hurt. During our tenure at our shop, we've always done our best to make it not only a comfortable space for our customers, but also a comfortable space for our staff. We pay livable wages. We offer free food during shifts. We allow our employees to express their individual personalities by wearing whatever street clothes make them feel best. When our company takes part in big events, such as summer concerts and festivals, we hand out hundreds of dollars worth of free tickets so that our crew can enjoy a few fun nights out with their friends. We permit cell phone use and smoke breaks and rarely get pissed if someone shows up to a shift fifteen minutes late or needs a last minute day off. We dole out advances when our employees are faced with difficult times. We provide cash bonuses at the close of crazy pop-up markets or seasons as a thank you for a job well-done. We use mistakes as teachable moments and allow our crew's input about cool new menu ideas. We usually just laugh when our twenty-two year old counter workers show up still reeking of last night's booze. Overall, I think our philosophy is and always has been this: We get it. We've been there. We might own this place, but we're still humans too (albeit mildly dysfunctional ones from time to time).
Immediately following this unfortunate "sticky fingers" incident, Jay made phone calls to several of our friends who also own small NYC restaurants, pop-ups, food wholesale businesses and the like. It turned out we weren't the only ones who ever dealt with a greedy employee. In fact, the majority of people we spoke with admitted that they discovered employees skimming a bit of extra cash off the top of the stack within their first year of operation. Sad news, though I think it made us feel slightly better that we weren't the only foolish shop owners who have ever been "had."
Now that we are just a week shy of our shop's one year anniversary, we've learned a lot. For one, we've learned how hard it really is to be the boss. As our business grows, we can't be physically present in the shop nearly as much as we were present at the start of things. If our business is going to grow, then as owners we need to step away from the shop to take part in meetings, to spend time scouting out new markets and new spots for additional locations and doing a whole lot of not-fun business stuff that far exceeds whipping up new condiments in our kitchen. In our absence, we need to trust that the staff we've trained will prepare our recipes just so, that they will show up when they're supposed to show up and that they will complete all their daily tasks before they leave. We also need to trust that they won't rob us during the times when we need to step away.
In addition to stepping away from the shop for meetings and all that fancy business stuff, we've also periodically stepped away from the shop this summer to have, well, a life. Trust me, it's been a pretty hard thing to do. I imagine it is what a young mother feels like the first time she leaves her child in the hands of another caretaker. Terrifying, yet necessary for one's own mental health.
At the start of this summer, when our employee roster grew to fifteen, we knew we needed to begin to occasionally step away. Although during most of the year, weekends at the shop can be kind of insane, New York City tends to clear out on summer weekends, and so we figured we'd take baby steps and use these quiet periods as times for us to begin to step away. For the past month, we've been heading to the shop on Saturday mornings to drop off food and make sure things are running smoothly, then scooting down to the Lower East Side for lunch (I really ought to tell you more about our recent lunch at Momofuku, but more on that in another post), briefly popping our heads back into the shop to take care of any minor disasters (they always -- ALWAYS -- pop up) and then leaving to enjoy the rest of our weekend, our full confidence left in our staff.
On Sundays, we've been waking up early and spending a good hour or so foraging for wild berries near our home. Once we collect one or two quart containers filled with wild blackberries, raspberries and wineberries, we head to our favorite farmers' market and buy all our produce and bread for the week. Then we come home, lounge around on the couches, bake a little treat using the fresh berries, prepare a proper Sunday supper and then sit outside to eat and drink in the warm night breeze. It's been kind of a dream...
Although I've enjoyed all our Sundays spent together, I'm wondering if perhaps some of our temporary seasonal staff members (i.e.: those staff members who, in reality, we've only known a few weeks and who therefore do not know us or our business practices very well) misinterpreted our time away. Maybe they thought we were crappy business owners for not sweating it out in our kitchen twenty-four hours a day. Maybe they thought we were stupid and didn't pay attention to our sales. If only they knew that, even on those days spent outside of the shop, we are never really away. In between all those peaceful moments, we're constantly touching base with our managers, calling different purveyors, our fingers constantly tapping our cell phone screens so we can access the many apps that keep us up-to-date with shop sales, deliveries, catering concerns, payroll, schedules, invoices and spreadsheets.
These Peach & Raspberry muffins are one such treat I've made on a recent quiet weekend. The recipe calls for a generous amount of fruit, meaning that every bite of these muffins includes a taste of sweet, ripe peaches and tart berries, as well as a satisfying cinnamon and honey crumble. Plus, instead of oil, this recipe relies on Greek yogurt, which turns out an incredibly moist muffin that seems completely acceptable for breakfast. Likewise, I've also discovered that is it one hundred percent acceptable to face a half dozen of them while testing out infrared security cameras (say "cheese"!).
Although it is already August, a few weeks worth of summer Sundays still remain, as do several weeks worth of high summer produce. I hope you get to enjoy it all.
Okay, so we weren't exactly out of town. Rather, we headed out early Friday morning to pack up all our food and equipment at the shop and then zipped it over to Randall's Island, where we were scheduled to serve as food vendors at Phish's three-day show.
I've fallen in love a bit with both Governor's and Randall's Islands this summer -- two tiny specks of land that float just off the coast of Manhattan. Although they're both just a five-minute ferry ride from the city (and are still technically a part of the city), they feel like a reprieve. There is a ton of green space (almost all green space, come to think of it), sweeping views of the East River and the city's skyline just across the water, and perhaps the best part: with the exception of food vendors and emergency vehicles, cars are not permitted on either island. Umm…bliss.
Last summer, our lives were preoccupied with goals and to-do lists. Exactly one year ago this week, we were one month away from opening our sandwich shop, and we were surviving on too many iced coffees and take-out salads from a bad chain restaurant up the street. No matter how much of our renovation to-do list we tackled every day, by the time we finally made it to our bed we both felt like we'd accomplished nothing at all. There was so much to do -- ALWAYS -- and no time to slow down and enjoy the simple things that you are supposed to enjoy throughout the summer season.
My goal for this season was to do the exact opposite of what I did last summer. That is to say, my goal has been to avoid having a to-do list or annoying reminder messages constantly popping-up on my phone. I just want to enjoy the simplicity of the season: the beauty of a long, quiet morning spent outside reading a book, the pleasure of a guilt-free afternoon at the beach, an afternoon browsing the farmers' market and then stockpiling the freezer with homemade sorbets and popsicles just because…
So I've been doing a lot of that recently, which you already know if you follow me on Instagram (I can't help it…there is no end to my beach pics!). I think that in business, as in all areas of life, it is really important to allow yourself permission to step away now and again. Back in the spring, during a particularly stressful period, Jay and I spent some time talking about just this. We were out to dinner at our favorite Afghan restaurant, and despite the amazing rose-scented rice, candied orange peels and pistachio encrusted meats in front of us, we found ourselves going on and on (and on) about the shop. One of us, I don't remember which, put an end to the conversation and basically said, "This is insane. We're out for a nice dinner, the shop is okay, and we're still here droning on about it and worrying about it when it is totally fine. We need to mentally step away."
I've permitted myself a similar sense of "mental check out" for this summer. Originally, I had big plans to pump out a ton of freelance work, to get a head start on a bunch of new projects for the shop, and to do about a million and a half things around our apartment. However, instead, I've decided to put it all on hold until after Labor Day. I've given myself permission to spend the fleeting summer season reading books and drinking wine in the daytime and spending as many days as possible in the sun without allowing myself to feel an ounce of guilt. And I have to say, it's been pretty great.
Last week, I woke up on a Saturday morning and realized I had nothing -- glorious NOTHING -- to do. Ahh. Ma. Zing. Rather than call up friends or family and lock myself into time slots and plans, I decided to spend the day alone. I walked downtown to pick up a coffee and sat on a bench to leisurely drink it beneath the morning sun (such a rare treat). I popped by the farmers' market, had a long talk with the woman working at my favorite stand, and then filled my tote bag with an absurd amount of new potatoes and garlic scapes. And then I headed home to an empty house to do whatever I wanted for the rest of the afternoon.
Potato salad is not the type of thing one makes for oneself. That is, typically, one makes potato salad for an event, a gathering, perhaps a summer picnic or a casual dinner with friends. And yet, my tote full of new potatoes looked so lovely that I simply could not resist. I'm not a fan of mayo-based potato salads (or really, mayo-based anything); however, I love the tangy flavor of a mustard-based salad. If you maintain a summer herb garden, this is a great recipe to help you clear out some of your overgrown stash, since you can toss nearly any combination of fresh herbs into the mix -- it's pretty hard to go wrong in fact. This time around, I mixed in a heaping handful of Thai basil leaves, which added a sweet, mildly licorice flavor that worked wonderfully with the subtle garlic notes from the sautéed scapes. You can absolutely make this recipe sans lentils; however, the added protein made me feel a bit more like I was eating a proper lunch and less like I was a girl…alone…eating a giant bowl of potato salad for one.
Herby French Potato Salad w/ Thai Basil & Garlic Scapes
- 1/2 pound new potatoes
- 1/2 pound red potatoes
- 2/3 cup olive oil, plus one tablespoon
- 1 bunch garlic scapes, roughly chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon whole grain mustard
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup basil, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup Thai basil, roughly chopped
- 4-5 thyme stems, leaves removed and lightly chopped
- 1/2 cup cooked brown lentils
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Add the potatoes to a large pot of boiling salted water and cook for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic scapes and sauté for about 5-8 minutes, or until the scapes are tender and gently charred. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside. Drain the potatoes and allow them to cool to the point where they are still very warm but you can comfortably handle them. Slice the potatoes into quarters and add to a medium-sized bowl. Pour the stock into the bowl and gently toss.
In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, salt and the remaining oil in order to make an emulsion. Pour the vinaigrette over the potatoes and gently toss. Add the onion, basil, Thai basil, thyme and lentils. Add the cooled garlic scapes and any remaining oil from the pan. Add the freshly cracked black pepper. Gently mix all ingredients to incorporate.
I spent this morning pruning our garden, something I should have done two weeks ago but just got around to today. Even though I've neglected it, miraculously, it has continued to thrive. Our arugula has transformed into a wild bush accented by delicate pastel flowers. Our basil plants are a gorgeous, healthy green -- a true accomplishment since most years mine tend to yellow by mid-summer. Our Thai basil plants are nearly a foot high, and are total garden show-offs, what with all those deep, high-reaching plum-colored flowers and tie-dyed looking leaves.
At the time that I began this tradition, I was still high on wedding bliss, so the idea felt very poetic: I would literally plant some roots all along the perimeter of our home, which I would then tend to over the years and which would physically nourish us each summer season.
Though I haven't had luck with everything, both my peppermint and my lemon balm plants have found the beauty in my original gesture, and have returned each season as bigger, bushier versions of their former selves. Because of this, I force way too much mint onto our plates throughout the season. It makes a guest appearance in everything, from salads and spring rolls to creative pestos and galettes and once (in a brutally failed attempt) into a simmering pot of otherwise perfectly decent tomato sauce (I've made up for that minor disaster by becoming a bit of a self-proclaimed master of homemade Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream).
P.S.: if you're so inclined, please feel free to drop by Eat Boutique -- I recently wrote a two-part series for them about owning a small food business titled "Owning a NYC Food Business is Grand, and Other Lies Pinterest Told Me."
Simple Iced Mint & Green Tea
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves, thoroughly rinsed
- 6 cups near boiling water
- 2 green tea bags
- 2 tablespoons honey
In a small bowl, muddle the mint leaves to release their oils. In a medium-sized pot, add the muddled leaves and the near boiling water. When the leaves are submerged in the water, carefully muddle them for another minute or so, being careful not to splash the hot water. Steep for 8 minutes. Add the tea bags to the mixture and steep for an additional 2 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a medium-sized pitcher with ice cubes and set aside. At the end of the 2 minutes, promptly remove the tea bags to avoid a bitter flavor. Using a fine mesh sieve to ensure that no leaves end up in the tea, pour the liquid into the pitcher. Add the honey and stir. Allow the tea to cool to room temperature before serving. When kept covered and refrigerated, the tea will keep well for about 3-4 days.
Tomorrow is Jay's birthday. He'll be thirty two. Thirty feels like a big deal in the birthday department, as does thirty five, though thirty two just sort of comfortably hovers between these two milestones. Thirty two feels like an age when we're still close enough to our twenties to occasionally make ill decisions, yet close enough to mid-life that we know we need to keep them far and few between.
Although Jay and I are both suckers for traditions and holidays and the like, neither of us are big birthday people. You know the type. Those people who spend multiple weekends celebrating their birthdays with a million groups of friends, the type who purchase special outfits to wear on their special day and who expect a million gifts in celebration of the fact that they've made it another year. Around here, birthdays usually begin with a card and a thoughtfully written note. At some point during the day, we'll share a special meal and a few rounds of drinks. Some years there will be gifts; others there will not (there is really no rhyme or reason to this decision to tell you the truth…). The only real constant is that, every year, each of our birthdays always includes a special dessert.
Although I might not be able to tell you every gift Jay has ever purchased me for my birthday (or vice versa), I feel strongly that I could tell you every dessert we've shared on one another's special days. We still reminisce about Jay's twenty fifth birthday -- the first we spent together -- when we walked through Times Square late one humid June night after attending a comedy show and rushed the first Mister Softee truck we could find, vanilla and chocolate swirls dripping down our hands as we stood on a curb and devoured them. I guess the tradition started there and hasn't really stopped since.
Last year, we opened the shop on my thirty first birthday. Although Jay and I keep birthdays simple, we always do something to recognize them so that the day does not simply pass us by. But last year, it was the very first time in my life when I honestly forgot my own birthday. For the days leading up to it, we were so painfully overwhelmed with last minute tasks and to-do lists to get our doors open on time that the thought of a birthday was quite literally the furthest thing from either of our minds.
The night before we opened was one of the longest nights of my life. At 11:30 p.m., we realized we did not have the right hardware to install one of our dining counters, none of the custom made table tops were connected to their bases, boxes of trash were still all over the dining area, our electricity was inexplicably not working on one whole side of the shop and our large menu sign was still in the back of my mother's car in New Jersey. At exactly 12:01 a.m., the first official minute of my birthday, I was in the back of the kitchen running a shop-vac across every surface and periodically pausing to rub a copper scrubber across the tile floor. It was very glamourous.
I don't know what made Jay look at the clock at that precise moment, but for whatever reason he did. Before I even realized he left the shop, he was back inside of it and standing at our recently painted service counter, a defeated look spread across his face. "I'm so sorry," he said. "With everything going on, I just completely forgot. This was the best I could do on such short notice." In front of him rest a double chocolate muffin and a pint of Haagen Dazs ice cream purchased from the bodega next door, each dessert adorned with a thin pastel birthday candle. I turned off the shop-vac and moved toward the service counter in silence. "It's my birthday, isn't it?" I asked, stunned that I had completely forgotten the date. We both had a lot to wish for at that moment, though when I blew out the two candles I was so physically tired I think I simply wished for sleep. When the candles were extinguished, we devoured the ice cream and the muffin, which ended up being the only things we ate until nearly twenty-four hours later, after we closed the doors to the shop at the end of her very first day.
This year, we both have a bit more clarity. Though we don't have anything special planned for tomorrow -- likely just work, a quiet dinner and then maybe a few drinks with family or friends -- what we do have, as always, is dessert. Jay's favorite summer dessert is fruity sorbet. We've experimented making sorbets a lot together over the years, though we rarely follow a recipe. Usually, we just blend some fruit, a bit of citrus, and a splash of whatever alcohol we happen to have on hand. However, this Strawberry Preserves Sorbet has completely made me rethink the way we make sorbet at home. The recipe is simple -- blend berries, ginger, and water, then freeze -- though the addition of fruit preserves (as opposed to sugar) creates a smooth and creamy sorbet packed with serious berry flavor. To accompany it, I've also made a small batch of super thin, incredibly crispy ginger and oat cookies, which are surprisingly easy to make (and no mixer required!). While I plan to nestle them into giant scoops of sorbet, they'd also serve as perfect vehicles for simple, strawberry sorbet sandwiches. I hope you'll like them, and I hope the birthday boy will too. Here's to another year!
Strawberry Preserves Sorbet & Oat Ginger Crisps
from Food 52 and Green Kitchen Stories, respectively
Strawberry Preserves Sorbet
- 4 cups strawberries, rinsed and hulled
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup strawberry preserves
- 1/4 cup apricot preserves
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
- 1 heaping teaspoon fresh grated ginger
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 cup ice cubes
Add the berries, the salt and the preserves to a blender or a food processor. Puree until smooth. Add the lemon juice, the lemon zest, the ginger and the water and blend until all ingredients are incorporated. Add the ice cubes and blend until the ice is broken up and no large pieces remain in the puree. Add the puree to an ice cream maker and mix for 2-3 hours, or until the sorbet becomes thick and creamy.
Oat Ginger Crisps
- 4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons almond milk
- 2/3 cup rolled oats
- 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together all ingredients in a medium sized bowl (you can use an electric mixer, though I prefer to use a wooden spoon for this recipe). When mixed, it will look like you have very little dough -- do not worry. This is right.
Shape the dough into small rounds (you should end up with 10-12 rounds total) and drop onto a baking sheet. Using your fingers, flatten out the rounds until they become very thin. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are a nice, golden brown (the centers will still be soft, though this is okay, as they will continue to crisp up as they cool down). Store in an airtight container for 1-2 days.
adapted from Saveur
- 1 1/2 cups tap water, heated to 115 degrees
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 3 1/4 cups flour
- 2 tablespoons coarse salt, plus 1 1/2 teaspoon
- canola oil (for greasing bowl)
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Shape the dough into an 8"x6" rectangle. Fold the 8" side toward the middle of the rectangle, then fold the shorter sides toward the center. Return the dough, seam side down, to the greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and return to oven until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
Remove the bowl from the oven. Place a clean cast iron skillet on the bottom rack of the oven. Position another rack above the skillet and place a baking stone on it. Heat oven to 475 degrees.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and cut into three equal pieces. Shape each piece into a 14" rope. Flour a sheet of parchment paper and place on a baking sheet. Place the dough ropes, evenly spaced, onto the floured paper. Lift and gently crease the paper in between each rope in order to form pleats. Place two tightly rolled kitchen towels under the long edges of the paper in order to create support for the loaves. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to sit until the dough doubles in size, about 50 minutes.
Remove the plastic wrap and the towels and flatten the creases on the parchment paper in order to space out the loaves. Using a sharp paring knife, slash the top of each baguette at 30-degree angles in four spots, being cautious to slash (and not tear) the dough. Add a light egg wash to the top of each baguette and generously sprinkle the remaining "everything" seasoning on the top of each loaf. Slide the parchment paper (with the dough still evenly spaced on top of it) onto the baking stone. Place the ice cubes in the skillet and close the oven door in order to allow steam to immediately form. Very carefully (to avoid steam burns) open the oven door approximately every 10 minutes in order to add more ice cubes (there should always be steam in the oven to avoid the loaves burning). Bake for a total of 30 minutes.
- 1 large bunch of radishes
- 1 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
Thoroughly rinse the radishes and their leaves. Remove the leaves and store them for later use. Trim the ends from the radishes and set aside.
Add all remaining ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, tightly pack the trimmed radishes into a glass jar and set aside (depending on the size of the radishes, you may need to use two glass jars). Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the brine to cool slightly, about one to two minutes. Pour the brine into the glass jar, being sure to cover the radishes completely. Allow the brine to cool to room temperature. Seal the jar with a tight fitting lid. When kept covered and chilled, the pickled radishes will keep well for 1-2 weeks.
- 1 large beet, stalks and leaves removed
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1/3 cup prepared horseradish
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line the bottom of a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the beet in the center of the foil and coat it with olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt, being sure to cover all sides. Wrap the foil around the beet, creating a loose pouch that covers it entirely.
Bake for 45 minutes -1 hour, or until a knife easily slides through the beet. Carefully unwrap the foil in order to let steam escape, but do not remove the beet or any liquid from the foil. Allow the beet to cool completely.
Carefully peel the skin from the cooled beet (it should easily slide right off with a paring knife). Cut the beet into one-inch cubes. Add the cubes and any remaining liquid into the bowl of a food processor and puree, about 1-2 minutes total, being sure to periodically scrape the sides of the bowl (note: if the beet does not easily puree, add 1-2 tablespoons of the sour cream into the food processor and continue to blend).
Add the beet puree, the horseradish, the mayonnaise and the sour cream into a mixing bowl and gently fold until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Add the remaining salt and the freshly cracked black pepper. When stored in an airtight container and kept refrigerated, the crème will keep well for about one week.
from Not Without salt
- 2 large bunches scallions
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
Wash and trim the scallions and cut into thirds. Add the sliced scallions to a large bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Give the scallions a gentle mix and allow to stand for 10 minutes.
In a separate bowl, mix together the garlic, the sugar, the ginger, the red pepper flakes, the sesame oil, the sesame seeds, the fish sauce, and the vinegar. Pour the mixture over the scallions and toss well to coat.
At this point, you have two options. If you'd like, you can eat the mixture right away. Think of this more like a "quick pickle" as opposed to a true kimchi (though the taste is still very good!). If you'd like to ferment, lay a plate over the bowl of scallions and leave it covered in a warm, but not hot, place (about 70 degrees) for 24 hours. Regardless of which method you prefer, the mixture will keep well for 3-4 weeks when stored in an airtight jar and kept refrigerated.
Last spring was such a god-awful, confusing time for us. We were knee deep in negotiations for our new brick and mortar space, we were still months away from the mere prospect of opening our doors, we were in-between pop-up market seasons, our coffee table was constantly covered with miscellaneous stacks of paperwork (for what, who even knows?), our home kitchen was a perpetual disaster as we tested and retested about a million and a half recipes, and we suddenly found ourselves plummeting into a world of attorneys, accountants and long, sleepless nights. Full disclosure: I think the chef and I were both starting to get to that terrible point you hear past business owners talk about. We were seriously beginning to wonder if we'd ever be able to make the whole thing really pan out.
This week, I had a total flashback. As I hovered over our kitchen island while testing out some new spring recipes, I caught a glimpse of the chef seated on our sofa, a mess of paperwork scattered before him, a look of concern spread across his face. The scene felt so familiar that it was difficult to dismiss that old anxious feeling in my chest. Only this time around, the root of all that paper clutter and all our stress could not be more different than it was this same time last spring.
The truth is, our business is growing in ways that we never, ever would have been able to imagine just one year back. In a few weeks, our pop-up market season begins all over again. Only this year will be the first year that we are operating both the shop and the markets in tandem. Plus, this season we are adding a handful of new markets to our roster, several more than we've ever taken on in the past. It's both daunting, and yet so unbelievably thrilling. I really cannot wait to tell you about all these new upcoming projects, which I promise to do within the coming weeks. Truly, I am a terrible secret keeper, so we will see if I can actually make it that long...
Since starting this site, I've received emails from multiple readers essentially asking me this: how have you guys actually made this work? Like I said, I'm horrible at keeping secrets, and if I had an answer, I swear I would let you know. But the truth is, I really just don't. I wish that I had a perfect formula to share, something tangible to help you along your way. But I'm really not sure such a thing exists (and if it does, I certainly have not seen it just yet!). But here is what I can tell you. In business, as in life, there will be hard times. There will be days when you do not want to leave your bed, and days when you will be convinced that everyone around you thinks you are a fool for taking such risks. But no matter how many mistakes you make along the way, if you believe in your vision -- like, really seriously in your heart of hearts live and breath that vision -- then you must keep pushing forward and reminding yourself that you are one day closer to making it work. Like the seasons, not even the worst of times can last forever; eventually, the cold days will disappear, the landscape will once again begin to bloom, and the world will suddenly seem more beautiful and more inviting than you ever thought it could.
This Smokey Carrot Hummus embodies my personal principles of a perfect spring recipe: it relies on fresh produce, it is the most striking and vibrant color, and it takes all of a few minutes to make. This way, you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time reading a good book on your front stoop. By definition, this is really less of a hummus and more of a crafty dip. However, regardless of what you call it, it is an ideal antidote to a long, gray winter. The carrots, which will sweeten just a touch when cooked, generously absorb the mildly smokey flavor of ground coriander, which makes this hummus fresh enough to serve on any spring afternoon but special enough to serve beside a crisp platter of fresh crudités at your first soiree of the season. I hope spring finds you well friends...
inspired by Real Simple
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 cup water
freshly cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped scallion
2 tablespoons fresh crumbled goat cheese
In a large saucepan, heat the coriander and the oil over medium heat, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots and the water. Season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes, being sure to stir frequently. Add the carrots and any remaining oil to a food processor and puree until the carrots reach a smooth, hummus-like texture. Transfer to a small serving bowl and garnish with the cilantro, the scallion and the goat cheese.
My plan was for the chef to circle the block and for me to jump out and grab some food. The chef's plan was to offer me a list of tips and directions for when I arrived inside the shop. "Seriously," I responded, somewhat taken aback. "I've flown to foreign countries by myself. I'm pretty sure I can handle ordering a few bagels."
Oh. My. God. Despite the fact that the shop closed in less than a half hour, a true mass of people flooded the narrow entryway. The vast history of the place, which has been in operation for over a hundred years, was evident from the moment I stepped beneath the facade's glowing neon sign and onto the small white vintage tiles that lined the floor. Behind a long glass deli counter stood a line of employees who wore crisp white lab coats with the sort of confidence that suggested their ensembles were meant more for function then for the sort of nostalgic irony you find in some newer establishments. Behind them, a series of shelves were neatly stacked with a metallic rainbow of small tins filled with caviares and cured fish. And though it pains me to admit it, this time around, the 'ol husband was indeed right. I did need directions, as I found myself completely (and happily) overwhelmed -- enamored, really -- from the moment I grabbed my paper number and joined the mass that was meant to resemble some form of a line. When my number was called, I was too busy staring through the glass case as the staff artfully hand sliced the smoked fish with a slender knife, gently folding each nearly transparent piece onto a delicate smear of cream cheese. Luckily, an anxious customer nudged my shoulder. "You'd better get up there," he said, eyeing his own number, which was the next to be called. In a bit of a daze, I approached the counter, repeating the chef's words by way of instinct, and then continued to watch as paper thin slices of salmon were artfully arranged atop a smooth layer of cream cheese, a sprinkling of capers, and a perfectly palm-sized bagel that dutifully served the purpose of allowing all the smoked goodness piled on top of it to really shine.
The second lesson I learned was that I've been doing bagels all wrong. For years, I've turned my nose up at puny bagels, certain that they would never fill the great void that is my appetite. However, I now consider myself a convert to a smaller class.
It turns out that making homemade bagels is impossibly easy and, well, fairly difficult to screw up. The dough, which is kissed with just a bit of honey, will need one evening to rise, though the in-between steps are perfectly simple (mix ingredients, knead for a few minutes, form bagels, and that's about it). Though you can certainly twist up bagels that are any size you like, I was happy with mine, which (pre-baking) were about the size of my palm. Plus, unlike most larger bagels that, when piled high with cream cheese, leave me feeling fairly meh the rest of the day, these proved to be the perfect vehicle for assembling sandwiches that didn't force me to clock out for the remainder of the afternoon. After poaching the bagels in a simmering bath, you can decorate them by sprinkling on nearly any topping you can dream up (though going topping-free still makes for a pretty legitimate bagel as well). When you remove the baked bagels from the oven, you'll find a golden exterior that is firm enough to inform you that, yes, this is a bagel that you're eating for crying out loud and not a loaf of bread, but an interior that is chewy enough for you to easily bite right through. While many recipes in our house tend to come and go, it became pretty evident pretty quickly that these bagels will be an institution of sorts in our home kitchen, a recipe that, despite the new cookbooks, the new influences and the new trends, will likely be sticking around for at least a handful of years.
Until next time...
adapted from Food 52
For the dough:
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons warm water (about 112 degrees)
extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon baking soda
For the toppings:
Pretty much anything goes here. This time around I used salt, dried & crushed rosemary, cinnamon sugar and poppy seeds. Rather than measure out the topping ingredients, I recommend just sprinkling them on until you feel satisfied.
Mix the flour, 2 teaspoons of the salt, the yeast, the honey and the water in a large bowl until the mixture forms into a sticky dough (it is best to do this by hand). Allow the dough to rest, uncovered, for about 8-10 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for about 5-6 minutes and then shape into a ball. Place the dough into a well-oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place the bowl in a cool oven for about 1 hour. Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly grease the parchment paper and set aside.
Remove the dough from the oven. Cut the dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, and then roll each ball into an 8-10-inch log. Form each dough log into a circular shape. Be sure to tightly squeeze the dough ends together (they should overlap by about an inch). Repeat for all of the bagels. Lightly oil the bagels on all sides, place them on the greased parchment paper, and tightly cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap. Store the baking sheet in the fridge overnight, or for at least 8 hours.
The next day, remove the baking sheet from the fridge. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Fill a large pot about halfway with water. Bring the water to a boil. When the water boils, add the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and the baking soda to the water. Lower the heat to a simmer. Drop the bagels, a few at a time, into the simmering water (just be sure they have enough room to bob around). Allow the bagels to poach for two minutes and then gently flip the bagels and allow them to poach for an additional two minutes on the other side. Remove the bagels from the water and place them back on the greased parchment paper on the baking sheet. Repeat for all bagels.
Once all the bagels have been poached, apply a light egg wash to the top of each bagel and then generously sprinkle each bagel with whatever toppings you like. Place the baking sheet into the hot oven. Drop the oven temperature to 450 degrees. Bake for 8 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet and bake for another 8-10 minutes, or until the bagels are a nice golden color. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the bagels to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
Since the Saveur piece went live, I've been thrilled to see so many new readers from all over the place stopping by to visit me here (hello new friends!). I'm so thrilled that you're here and, as a way of welcoming you, I'd like to offer you this pretty amazing loaf cake. I'm proclaiming it as my new favorite "everyday" cake (yes, there is such a thing). While this cake is likely not fancy enough for, say, a birthday, it is just right for the sort of casual, everyday entertaining that I just adore. You know, the type of afternoon when you have zero plans, and then suddenly you do have plans in the form of three friends who will stop by in an hour. Or when a family member (or three) pops over for a casual, mid-week meal. This cake's simple batter, which you will be able to prepare in all of ten minutes, is made with a good serving of butter, two types of citrus zest and a generous scoop of lemon marmalade, which helps the final golden cake to retain a good deal of moistness and adds just the right amount of bitterness to each bite. While you could certainly stop there, serving the warm, buttery cake just as is, the real show stopper comes in the form of the glistening marmalade-based glaze, which you will pour across the cake and watch, with a deep sense of joy and hunger, as some is instantly absorbed into the hot cake and the rest slowly trickles down its sides. A word of caution: eventually, the marmalade glaze will harden into a sort of sugary casement. For that reason, I recommend preparing the cake shortly before serving, as opposed to the day before.
So there you have it my new friends. A great big welcome. A great big thanks. And a great big serving of cake. Thank you for visiting. Feel free to leave a note in the comments section below. I hope our paths will cross again soon!
Orange & Lemon Marmalade Cake
adapted from the New York Times
2/3 cup lemon marmalade, divided
13 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-inch loaf pan and set aside.
Roughly chop any large chunks of lemon peel in the marmalade. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat 12 tablespoons of the butter, the sugar, the lemon zest and the orange zest until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Beat in 1/3 cup marmalade and the orange juice.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the mixed dry ingredients to the wet mixture until just combined.
Scrape the batter into the greased pan. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes.
Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and set it right-side up on a drying rack. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the remaining 1/3 cup marmalade over low heat. When the marmalade is melted (but not burning) whisk in the confectioners' sugar and the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Pour the glaze over the top of the cake, allowing some of it to drizzle down the sides. Allow the cake to cool completely before serving.
I'm not a fan of pretty things. Not in the traditional sense, at least. I like women with gaps between their front teeth, and cutting boards that look a little bit beat up. I prefer wild growth as opposed to a neatly trimmed hedge. When it comes to food, I'm no different. I tend to shy away from recipes that require precise, scalloped edges, instead leaning toward foods that are a tad more rustic, even if that means those foods don't always look picture perfect on my plate.
Funny then that one of the first things that bothered me about our storefront back when we first spotted it early last spring was that it didn't look, well, pretty upon first glance. The exterior paint was badly scratched. The blank space above the windows and door was stained from the previous tenant's large neon sign. It was obvious that the facade would be in need of some serious TLC.
from New York Times magazine
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for garnishing
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3-4 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
Sift the flour, salt and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Add the water, eggs, 1/4 cup olive oil, and 2-3 tablespoons of thyme to the mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula, combine all the ingredients until the dough is formed (you can add a bit more water or oil if needed).
Divide the dough in half. On a countertop lightly dusted with flour, roll out one half of the dough to about 1/8-inch and place on one of the baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining half of the dough.
Bake for about 25 minutes. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and brush the warm crackers with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle them with the remaining thyme and sea salt. Once cooled, break the sheets of crackers apart by hand.