Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Shaved Fennel Salad with Arugula

Reading cookbooks is one of my favorite pastimes. There's just something about the chef's notes, beautiful pictures and different ingredient combinations that fascinates me.

Most of my browsing is done online, or, if I have a few minutes to spare, I enjoy flipping through the new hardcovers at Barnes & Nobles. Rarely, however, do I purchase a cookbook without first trying a recipe or two.

Most recently, I've had my eye on Heidi Swanson's release of "super natural every day". Up until this weekend, I had never actually tried one of Heidi's dishes; everything just looked, and sounded, so appealing.

On Saturday night, the Mr. and I decided to make a butternut squash risotto for dinner. To counter the richness of the rice dish, I also wanted to serve a lighter side, something other than mixed greens (which are always good, but I'm kind of bored with these days). I had found a recipe for a Shaved Fennel Salad with Arugula on Heidi's blog, 101 Cookbooks.

The recipe was very easy to make, and the contrasting flavors were delicious together! I highly recommend you give it a try. While I did adapt this version slightly from the original, it will surely be my "go to".

Shaved Fennel and Arugula Salad
1 medium-large zucchini, sliced into paper thin coins
2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed and shaved paper-thin
2/3 cup loosely chopped fresh Italian Parsley
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper 
4 or 5 generous handfuls arugula
Honey, if needed
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Combine the zucchini, fennel and Italian parsley in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice, olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside and marinate for 20 minutes, or up to an hour.
When you are ready to serve the salad, put the arugula in a large bowl. Scoop all of the zucchini and fennel onto the arugula, and pour most of the lemon juice dressing on top of that. Toss gently but thoroughly. Taste and adjust with more of the dressing, olive oil, lemon juice, or salt if needed. If the lemons were particularly tart, you may need to counter the pucker-factor by adding a tiny drizzle of honey into the salad at this point. Let your taste buds guide you. Serve topped with pine nuts and feta.
Serves 4 to 6.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Lillet Blanc and Grapefruit

Vacation week has finally arrived and I couldn't be more excited! The Mr. and I are headed to Scottsdale, AZ, for several days of golfing, hiking and poolside relaxation at this beautiful hotel. We're pretty sure we'll be the only guests without grey hair, but are completely comfortable with that scenario. See, when you live in one of the biggest cities in the world, the only escape for true rejuvenation must be far away from densely populated ares (and filled with gorgeous spas)!

We don't leave until Wednesday, but this past weekend kicked-off our upcoming adventure to the Southwest. Some friends invited us to dinner on Friday night at Tacombi... We enjoyed life-changing tacos, seriously, go there!

And, later in the weekend, the Mr. and I played mixologist. We didn't want a margarita, but still wanted something citrus and refreshing. After a few different combinations, we perfected the Lillet Blanc and Grapefruit cocktail. This drink is very light and not too sweet; great on it's own or would be nice with a first-course at dinner.

In a cocktail shaker, mix 1 oz. Grey Goose vodka, 1 1/2 oz. Lillet Blanc and 2 1/2 oz. fresh squeezed grapefruit juice with ice. After a few shakes, strain the liquid into a martini glass and serve with a twist of orange. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tribeca's Hidden Gems

Today's weather left nothing to be desired: wind and rain, followed by even stronger wind and rain. In fact, it was pouring so hard when I left the office this evening, there was nothing better to do than to go for a run at the gym and hope for it to pass.

One hour later, on my walk home, it was the calm after the storm. The streets were quiet and the sun was setting over SoHo and Tribeca. The tiny, winding streets of downtown felt very calm.

These are the moments that remind me how much I love New York. Especially our neighborhood and its many hidden gems. For the best of Tribeca, please enjoy:

Best Coffee Ever: Kaffe 1668
Pretty Bicycles: Adeline Adeline
Clothing Boutique for "Vacation Days": Calypso St. Barth
It's Time for a Cocktail: Smith and Mills
Rustic Italian, Yes Please: Locande Verde
A Modern, Farm to Table French Dinner: Marc Forgione
Burgers and Milkshakes: Shake Shack

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Kale Salad

Kale is one of my absolute favorite vegetables! And, it just so happens to be in stylish abundance at many trendy New York restaurants. A few weeks ago, I tasted chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's rendition of Kale Salad at ABC Kitchen. Also known as: the most delicious small plate of greens I've ever enjoyed! While some of the ingredients may seem surprising, the end result is a perfect combination of bright flavors.  

  • 4 tablespoons fresh juice and 1 tablespoon zest from 2 to 3 lemons
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced (about 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1 anchovy filet, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano, grated on a microplane grater (about 2 cups)
  • 3/4 cup neutral oil (such as safflower or canola)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups finely cubed sourdough bread
  • 12 ounces kale leaves, large stems removed, sliced into thin ribbons
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, sliced into thin ribbons
  • 1 serrano chili, thinly sliced

Combine lemon juice and zest, vinegar, garlic, anchovy, mustard, egg yolk, chili flakes, and cheese in the bowl of a food processor. Process until homogenous, about 10 seconds. With processor running, slowly drizzle neutral oil through feed tube, stopping the processor to scrape down sides as necessary until a smooth emulsion is formed, about 20 seconds.

Transfer to a medium bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup olive oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Heat remaining two tablespoons olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add bread cubes and cook, tossing and stirring constantly until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt and pepper.

To serve, combine kale and mint in a large bowl with about 1/2 cup dressing (more or less as desired). Toss to coat well and let sit around 3 minutes. Transfer to a large serving bowl and top with croutons and sliced chilies. Serve immediately. Yields 4 servings. 


Kale Salad + Gorgeous Anniversary Roses = A Very Much Improved Working Lunch! 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Our First Anniversary

In honor of this special day, let's look back on a beautiful passage read during our wedding ceremony: The Blessing of the Hands.

“These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever. These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future. These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other. These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind. These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow, and, as in today, tears of joy. These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children, the hands that will help you to hold your family as one. These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it. And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.”

To our family and friends on our first anniversary, thank you for all your love and best wishes over the past weekend. It's been an amazing year and we feel so blessed... Cheers to many more! 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Let There be Light

I've always loved contrast. Especially mixing old with new, traditional with contemporary, and combining a variety of elements to achieve the "perfectly imperfect" look.

Recently, I've found myself drawn to exposed light bulbs. They're classic, minimal and unfinished. But, seem to add an understated elegance to every room, effortlessly. Here are a few of my favorites!

1. Talk about adding a statement to any space. I'm in love with this gorgeous, gold chandelier.

2. This wall lamp would add nice, scholarly light to an office, den or reading nook.  

3. Assorted bulbs, hung at different lengths, warms up the raw, natural look of this Urban Chandy chandelier.

4. A simple lamp design from Norway. I've always loved Scandinavian style!

5. Look no further than ABC Kitchen, for dream-like dining and decor!

*Images via Restoration Hardware, ABC Carpet and Home, Pinterest, Urban Chandy, Pinterest, ABC Kitchen.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering 9/11

{Tonight, the Tribute in Light shines brightly, in remembrance}

Oatmeal Cookies with Coconut and White Chocolate

Growing up, my favorite cookies were always Oatmeal Chocolate Chip. There's just something about the chewy texture, mixed with the sweetness of good chocolate and a hint of spice that always makes me smile.

Last week, I had a craving for a treat (which was ultimately cookie dough, I realized), so I decided to bake. As, there was an abundance of oatmeal in our pantry and leftover unsweetened coconut from a recent thai curry I made, I decided to tweak my Mom's recipe a little bit. The result was a deliciously sweet, yet salty, crisp cookie that seemed somewhat fitting for the end of summer, early autumn weather.

For a little extra complexity, I sprinkled a touch of French course salt, known as Fleur de Sel, over the rounds of dough prior to baking. It made all the difference!

Oatmeal Cookies with Coconut and White Chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (very important)
1 cup packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 extra large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup flour
2 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups finely shredded unsweetened coconut
12 oz. white chocolate chips, good quality

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Beat together butter and sugars in a bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until just blended. Then beat in vanilla, baking soda, and salt. Add flour, in thirds, mixing between each addition at low speed until just blended. Stir in oats, coconut, and white chocolate.

Arrange 1/4-cup mounds of cookie dough about 3 inches apart on 2 large baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Then gently pat down each mound to about 1/2 inch thick. Bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position and rotating pans halfway through baking, until golden, 15 to 18 minutes total.

Cool cookies on sheets 1 minute, then transfer with a spatula to racks to cool completely.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Weekend Notes

The last weekend of summer, and the many new beginnings associated with September, always make the Labor Day holiday a little bittersweet. It's hard to embrace saying goodbye to the long, balmy days of August.

As a coping mechanism, almost everyone I knew had some sort of vacation/city-escape plan in place. But, not us.

It's taken a few years to realize this, but the best days in the city are often the ones where everyone's away! The Mr. and I have outsmarted the system... Our vacation is planned for early-October!

So, we filled our three-day "stay-cation" with a few of our favorite things:

Saturday morning breakfast of Wild Blueberry Doughnuts and Iced Coffees from our favorite neighborhood Bakery.

Spin class with friends at Soul Cycle's flagship studio is nothing short of energizing!

A late-lunch of perfect, Maine-style Lobster Rolls, direct from the best: Luke's!

We hoped to golf HERE, but it looked like rain.

So, we embarked on a TV marathon: Breaking Bad and The Tudors.

And, we planned our next vacation! Who know's where we're going? Can't wait!