Monday, October 7, 2013

The Very BEST Apple Crisp

Autumn is my favorite time of year! And after a busy September filled with beautiful weddings and an amazing vacation spent in Tuscany, Italy, to celebrate our second anniversary, the Mr. and I are just now embracing the change of seasons in New York.

Friday evening, I stopped at Whole Foods on my way home from work to pick up a few things for dinner. As I entered, the produce section was overflowing with apples and my craving for apple crisp set in immediately.

I had come across this recipe, on another blog I occasionally read, so decided to try it out. The combination of brown butter, vanilla bean and bourbon intrigued me... Which I now realize, are the secret ingredients! As the dessert baked, the sweet smell of the fruit and spices perfumed our entire apartment.

I hardly got the finished crisp completely out of the oven before both the Mr. and I took a spoonful. Our real serving was topped with a heaping scoop of ice cream, of course.

I have to laugh now because we ate this treat so fast, I didn't even have time to snap a picture. Hence the reason for not including any in this post. I guess this really is 'The Best Apple Crisp You'll Ever Have'!


*Image via Pinterest

Monday, August 5, 2013

Grilled Shishito Peppers

This weekend was all about enjoying time outside and relaxing. We’ve had a stretch of gorgeous, sunny days in the city, so it’s been fun to enjoy our rooftop, walk along the river, and finally embrace New York’s newest mode of public transportation, the Citi Bike!

On Saturday morning, before our bike ride, the Mr. and I strolled through the farmers market and picked up some local Shishito peppers for dinner. These small, mild, Japanese green peppers have slowly been appearing on restaurant menus all over the city and have recently become our favorite appetizer / side dish.

They’re extremely easy to prepare and taste exceptionally good in the summertime with a sprinkling of olive oil, sea salt and a wedge of lime.

Blistered Shishito Peppers
½ pound fresh Shishito peppers, rinsed and patted dry
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
½  Teaspoon Sesame Oil
Sea Salt
Optional: Sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds and a wedge of lime

Heat a grill pan to medium-high heat.

Toss the Shishito peppers, olive oil, sesame oil and sea salt in a large bowl and mix to thoroughly combine. Carefully place the peppers on the grill pan in a single layer and cook until the skin of the peppers appear charred/blistered (approximately 3-5 minutes). Toss the peppers and cook for another minute or two, until evenly charred/blistered on all sides. 
Remove from the grill pan and season with additional salt to taste. Serve immediately. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Buckeye State Ice Cream

Wedding celebrations were in full swing this weekend, as one of my dear friends from college got married. We attended undergrad at Miami University in Ohio, and are among just a handful of classmates currently living in New York City. Therefore, the evening's festivities turned into quite the reunion of classmates and sorority sisters I hadn't seen for some time!

As a tribute to our days spent in Oxford, I wanted to share a beloved ice cream from the Buckeye State! Jeni's Splendid is my absolute favorite ice cream. Scoop shops are located only in Ohio, but fortunately, pints of her frozen treats are available nationwide at fine grocery stores. There is even a cookbook, so ice cream lovers can make the signature flavors at home.

The Buckeye State Ice Cream is a combination of rich, peanut butter and dark chocolate. It's abundantly decadent, but not too sweet... Enjoy!

The Buckeye State Ice Cream
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted natural peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (less if using saltier peanut butter)
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons honey
4 ounces chocolate (55% to 70% cocoa), chopped

Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese, peanut butter, and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, corn syrup, and honey in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.  
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes. 
Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister and begin to spin the ice cream. 
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a double broiler. Remove from the heat and let cool until tepid but still fluid. When the ice cream is thick and creamy and almost finished, drizzle the melted chocolate slowly through the opening in the top of the ice cream machine and allow it to solidify and break up in the ice cream for about 2 minutes. 
Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Holiday Staycation

Sometimes, nothing beats a "staycation", especially on a holiday weekend in New York. Crowds vanish, the city is quiet, and while hard to believe, it's pretty easy to find a same-day dinner reservation.

To take full advantage, I invited my Mom and sister to visit from Minnesota and Vermont, over the 4th of July. We had a wonderful weekend filled with lots of walking, shopping and eating!

Because it rained almost every day in June, the flowers are certainly in full bloom. The photo on the left is from our rooftop, where we had a prime view of the fireworks show. And on the right, gorgeous purple hydrangeas we spotted on a walk through Chelsea. 

It seems that most of my favorite restaurants in the city have 10 tables, or less. Mom and I enjoyed a lovely lunch of Nectarine and Snap Pea Salad with Avocado Toast at Smith & Mills, while we waited for Annie to arrive. 

The High Line is a public park, built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan's West Side. It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues. Despite the extreme heat, we walked up and down the High Line, stopping for lunch at Terroir on the Porch, of course! 

After a very busy afternoon, we were certainly ready for a relaxing dinner. It must have been our lucky day because we were seated at one of dell'anima's coveted outdoor tables. We celebrated and kicked off the evening with a glass of Franciacorta... Cheers!

Our dinner was amazing - And, we shared several courses, as they do in Italy!

Roasted Beets with Pistachio, Candied Fennel, Pecorino Romano

Bucatini Alla Arrabbiata with Calabrian Chilies, Tomoato, Parmesan Breadcrumbs

Tajarin Alla Carbonara with Speck, Egg, Ramps and Pecorino

Pollo Al Diavolo with Broccoli Rabe and Chilies

Roasted Cauliflower with Capers and Lemons

And for dessert, we surprised Annie with a homemade Coconut Cake - She turns 25 at the end of July. Nothing wrong with celebrating "Birthday Month", right!

Thanks for such a fun few days, Mom and Annie! 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day

Wishing everyone a very happy 4th of July! 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Happy Canada Day

About a week ago, tremendous flooding hit Calgary and the surrounding area. Damage done to homes, businesses and the city's infrastructure is extensive, and many people are still evacuated or without power. While everyone we know is safe and sound, my thoughts and prayers go out to all Calgarians! 

In light of these recent circumstances, and as a way to pay tribute to Canada Day, I thought I'd share what I love most about the Stampede City. Happy Canada Day to my family and friends up north! 

1. Situated in the heart of Banff National Park, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited! 

2. The white cowboy hat symbolizes the spirit of Calgary. Upon arrival at the airport, you will surely be welcomed by volunteers wearing the recognizable cap. 

3. For an authentic, lively, dining experience downtown, Mercato is highly recommended. The Bistecca alla Florentina is amazing (and made with Alberta beef, of course).  

4. While known for the coffee, I prefer the Timbits (bite-size donut holes in every flavor).

5. For true relaxation, the Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Banff Springs can't be beat. The pulsating waterfalls and mineral pools are simply rejuvenating. 

6. Watching the Calgary Flames at the Saddledome is SO much fun. I've certainly become a true hockey fan! 

7. During the Calgary Stampede, cowboy boots are a must. The best can be found at Alberta Boot.

8. Pure Canadian Maple Syrup on pancakes is a given... Delish! 

9. During the winter months (which is a significant portion of the year), skiing at Sunshine Village shouldn't be missed. The views from the mountain peaks are breathtaking!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Homemade Almond Milk

Non-dairy milks, such as soy, rice, coconut, hemp, oat and almond are growing in popularity.

These plant-based alternatives are easier for the body to digest, compared to cow’s milk, as they don’t contain lactose. And, some even have added health benefits. For example, almond milk, is high in Vitamin E, Magnesium and Potassium.

While you can purchase milk substitutes at nearly any grocery store, I prefer to make my own. The end result is smooth, silky and just a touch sweet.

1 Cup Raw Almonds
3 Cups Filtered Water
¼ Teaspoon Coconut Oil
¼ Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

Blender (Vitamix)
Nut Milk Bag (or cheesecloth)

Place the raw almonds in a small bowl and cover with filtered water. Soak the almonds for at least 6 hours, or overnight. The longer the almonds soak, the creamier the milk. When done soaking, drain and rinse the almonds under cold water. Add the almonds to the blender, along with 3 cups filtered water. Blend on high speed for 2 minutes. Turn off the blender, add ¼ teaspoon coconut oil and ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Pulse just to combine.

Over a large bowl, pour the contents into the nut milk bag. Twist the bag tightly, and gently press all the milk from the almond meal (the almond meal will be dry and remain inside the bag).

Store the almond milk in a tightly sealed container for up to 3 days. But believe me, it won’t last that long! I love to mix this milk into fruit smoothies and it’s delicious with Cold Brew Coffee.