Monday, October 17, 2011


So I know I've been a little MIA for the last 8 months, but between fashion week and summer, I just couldn't dedicate the time to sitting inside typing. However, with fall here and winter fast approaching, I'm pretty sure I'm going to have no qualms staying inside for an hour or two. I almost don't know where I should begin posting! I'm thinking I'll start with my June trip to Madrid. I was there for a few days and had one day completely free! I arrived in the morning and spent the whole day wandering around the city in a hot jet-lag mess. I discovered the Prado Museum after a few hours and fell in love with the endless paintings. Well, apparently, looking at art really works up an appetite, because once I left I was starving! All around the museum were touristy looking cafes. I was determined to find a great meal that was reasonably priced and locally popular. After a small unguided search, I found a hole-in-the-wall cafe that was completely packed with locals in their 40s+. Me being me, I somehow ended up sharing a table with a local woman. Between my broken Spanish and her under-basic English, we shared a lovely meal of gazpacho, seared whitefish and rice, with a fresh fruit salad dessert. Believe it or not, this all cost a measly 7 euro! The rest of the day I walked aimlessly through the city, finding beautiful monument after beautiful monument. At last, I discovered the mecca of all foodies in Madrid:

Mercado de San Miguel

This place is just fantastic! Picture all the best specialty stores in New York thrown under one roof. It's like a food festival but every day and late into the night as Spaniards usually have tapas or dinner around 10 or later. If I remember correctly, I went back for dinner and got a few olive bites and some marinated squid. For dessert I had my favorite: my first fresh figs of summer! I had been dreaming about them ever since the days of sunshine began. I truly loved my time in Madrid. P.S. Sorry the pics are just from my phone!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Coq au Vin

So to kick off my Julia Child recipes, I made her Coq au Vin for my family. As always however, I changed a little something here and there. You can find the original recipe here: Coq au Vin

My substitutions were skinless chicken breasts for whole cut-up chicken.
Turkey bacon for regular (I did not pre-boil it either).
I used brandy instead of cognac.
I used frozen pearl onions.
I used less oil and no butter in any part of the recipe.
I used a cornstarch slurry instead of butter and flour to thicken the sauce.
I sliced the meat off the bone and then put it back in the sauce at the end.

FIRE!!! So exciting haha

Served with garlic beans. 

These substitutions resulted in a delicious French dinner that I will definitely be making again soon!

Classic Chocolate Eclairs

Another Christmas gift I received was the 1950’s edition Betty Crocker cookbook. My grandma gave her original edition to my mom. Unfortunately, it is falling apart. The new cookbook is exactly the same as the original, except its hinges work. One of my grandma’s favorite recipes from it was the cream puffs. So, naturally the first recipe I made was a variation on that: chocolate éclairs. I made them for my Mother Agent’s Christmas package.  I made them mini and they were so cute!
1cup water
1/2cup butter or margarine
1cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
  1. Heat oven to 400ºF. In 2 1/2-quart saucepan, heat water and butter to rolling boil. Stir in flour; reduce heat to low. Stir vigorously over low heat about 1 minute or until mixture forms a ball; remove from heat. Beat in eggs, all at once; continue beating until smooth.
  2. On ungreased cookie sheet, pipe dough 4x1in about 3 inches apart. Bake 15 to 25 minutes or until puffed and golden. Cool away from draft, about 30 minutes.
  3. Make one of the fillings (directions below). Fill puffs with filling. And ice with chocolate. Cover; refrigerate until serving. Store covered in refrigerator.
3 tablespoons shortening
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

How to make Glossy Chocolate Frosting

Melt shortening and chocolate in saucepan over low heat.
Stir in remaining ingredients; beat until smooth.
Place pan of frosting in bowl of ice and water; continue beating until of spreading consistency.

Custard Filling
-Mix in sauce pan: 1/2 c sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 6 tbsp AP flour. 
-Stir in 2 c milk or cream. Cook on low heat, stirring until it boils. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir a bit into...
-4 egg yolks beaten. Blend into hot mixture in saucepan and put back on heat. Bring to boiling point. Cool and blend in 1 tsp vanilla.

Christmas Eve

Basement "Restaurant"

Where's the beef?


Bûche de Noël 
This year, we had Christmas Eve dinner at my house. We had gnocchi, grilled flank steak, roasted garlic kale, and salad. I got the recipe for the kale at  Cooking Kale. The only change I made was that I added more garlic, less oil, and substituted balsamic for the other vinegar. My mom marinated and grilled the flank steak in balsamic, herbs, onion, garlic, and soy sauce. Surprisingly, the kale was a hit! My 18 relatives and I ate in my basement. Somehow, we all fit in thanks to my mom's "restaurant" table. For dessert, my aunt made Bûche de Noël. It was AMAZING! Bonus: I got Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking for Christmas!!!


The second I came home, I got straight to work making gnocchi with my mom. This is our family recipe, but to be honest, most of it is approximate. My mom makes the dough adding some of this and that until the consistency is right. We toss the finished product in a meat sauce made of diced tomatoes, sauce, garlic, herbs, onion, a little sugar, and different sauteed Italian sausages and meatballs.

5-6 large russet potatoes
4 eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bag of flour
1.5 sticks butter
boil peeled potatoes and then mash with the butter (use a stand mixer)
add eggs one at a time
add olive oil
add flour until dough is just a little sticky (don't add too much because you use more when making the shape)
roll out the dough into logs about the thickness of a finger
cut dough in 1in chunks and roll off a fork
put on a flour dusted sheet tray and put in the freezer until hard
transfer to ziploc bags to store or boil in salted water with a drizzle of oil a little after they float to the top. Test one!

Family Traditions

Every year my family and I make way too many cookies for the amount of people eating them! It’s one of my favorite parts of the holidays. I love seeing the table decorated with platters of beautiful cookies stacked a foot high. There are a few that we ALWAYS make and then a few that we add differently each year. Usually we make chocolate chip, Italian seed, pecan snowballs, butter pressed cookies, snickerdoodles, and a healthier gingerbread cookie. This year, for my grandma, I made the Italian seed cookies two ways. I made half the batch the normal almond-vanilla, but I made the other half flavored with her favorite: anise! To make my normal chocolate chip a bit more festive, I tinted some white chocolate and drizzled it on top with a fork. The snickerdoodles and pecan snowballs are from my mom's cookbook: The Great Big Cookie Book. The base of the sesame seed cookies are from a local Italian chef's book called Rosalie Serving Italian.

Pecan Puffs (we call them snowballs)
-1/2 c unsalted butter
-2 tbsp sugar
-pinch of salt
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 c pecans
-1 c AP flour
-confectioners sugar for dusting
1. Preheat oven to 300 
2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add salt and vanilla.
3. Grind nuts in food processor and add both flour and nuts to the butter. 
4. Roll the dough into marble sized balls in palms of hands. 
5. Bake in oven for 45 minutes.
6. While puffs are still hot, roll in confectioners sugar.

-1/2 c butter
-1/2 c sugar
-1 tsp vanilla
-2 eggs
-1/4 c milk
-3 1/2 c AP flour
-1 tsp baking soda
-(for coating) 5 tbsp sugar and 2 tsp ground cinnamon
1. Beat butter until fluffy, add sugar and vanilla and beat a few minutes more. Beat in eggs and then milk.
2. Sift flour and baking soda over butter and stir to blend. Refrigerate for 15 minutes and then preheat oven to 375. 
3. Roll the dough into balls and roll in cinnamon sugar. Place 2 in apart on baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Italian Sesame Cookies
-1.5 cups four
-pinch of salt
-1 1/4 tsp baking powder
-1/4 c butter
-1 egg and 1 yolk
-1 tsp anise, (or use 1/2 each of vanilla and almond)
2 cups sesame seeds
1. Preheat oven to 350. Mix dry ingredients. 
2. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Gradually add the flour to the wet. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Roll into logs and then cut into little 1.5 in pieces. 
3. Dunk into the milk and roll into the seeds. Place the little logs onto the baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes.
Gingerbread Cookie
These cookies are great for making in advance (up to 4 days!). They are deliciously soft or nice and chewy depending on how long you cook them. For chewy cookies, cook 1-2 minutes more than for soft cookies. You can ice these cookies with a simple piped powdered sugar and milk icing.
1/3c molasses
¼ c pure stevia extract
¼ c brown sugar
½ cup applesauce (cooked down to ¼ cup for richer cookies or just use ¼ c applesauce)
2 egg whites
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
½ tsp nutmeg or cloves
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp black pepper
2.5 c whole-wheat flour

Mix on medium speed the sweeteners and applesauce for 5 minutes. Add the egg whites and beat for 2 minutes. Sift the rest of the ingredients together and gradually beat into the wet.  Mix for 1 more minute and scrape down the sides to mix thoroughly. Dump unto the middle of a piece of parchment and place another piece of parchment on top. Flatten and roll to about 1/4 – ½ in thick. Chill for a half hour. When set cut with floured cookie cutters. Place onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees. You can also make these slice and bake. Instead of rolling and flattening out, roll into a log and chill for an hour. Slice ½ in thick and bake. Bake cookies for 8-12 minutes depending on size and thickness of cookie.