Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a, er...wrong super hero...

I thought I would share with you a photo of our little Lola dressed up as batgirl (ahem, grrrl) for Halloween this year. There is an annual parade at Washington Square Park every year where all the dogs don their favorite costumes (sheah right, it's really us nutso owners!) and strut their stuff. There are many other photos to share, perhaps I'll post them in the days to come.

This superdog is on the lookout for new seasonal recipes. In fact, inspired by the colors of the season we are sharing with you our favorite new concoction, sweet potato chips.

Crunchy, sweet, salty and smokey. These sweet potato chips take a nod from their fry cousins and are sliced thinner and in circles to ensure maximum surface area for the smoky cumin to rest and guarantees a slight crisp on both sides.

There's no trick to this recipe and I guarantee it becomes a beloved treat in no time!

Happy Halloween, happy seasonal eating, and don't forget to save a 3 musketeers for me!

*Thanks to super hubby for the creative title, and the most delicious roasted chicken in the world last night for dinner.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The little kitchen that could: Daring Bakers, take one!

If you had told me a year ago that I would be writing a blog I would have looked at you like you had 17 heads and then asked you for a definition of a blog...

And again, if you had added that I might be using my oven to make sweet things as part of a baking club I would have really thought you had fallen off your rocker.

Well my friend, the times they are a changin'.

This month I had my first foray as a daring baker. What is a daring baker, you ask? Is this merely a ploy to get out of grading papers and writing up research? (How dare you!)

Pumpkin Bostini Goodness

The daring bakers is a lovely group of folks started by one of my favorite blog friends Lis of La Mia Cucina and her adorable parter in crime Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice. These lovely ladies became friends through the pages (that's web pages to you) and guided each other through their first daring bake off, pretzels, waaaay back when. And the rest, as they say, is history.

So now, once a month the group gets together to make one (seemingly complex) recipe at the same time. I never knew I could look forward to a virtual bake-off and I am!

The recipe this month is a take on Boston Cream Pie and calls for homemade custard(don't ask me how many eggs, just eat it!), a slice of orange chiffon cake, and a drizzle of chocolate glaze.

Well, we aren't supposed to *change* the recipe, but I cannot entirely follow the rules so.... mine became a pumpkin chiffon cake with salted pumpkin seeds. A puree of pumpkin was made from fresh farmers' markets pumpkins and the seeds were toasted and salty, super delicious with the creamy sweet custard.

In this final picture you can see I even used a pumpkin cookie cutter for the chiffon cake. Or maybe you can't? Either way, this recipe was over the top and such fun to make. Stay tuned for next months endeavor!

For the recipe, click here!

...And I almost forgot! Please check out the rest of the gorgeous takes on this classic dessert at the daring bakers blogroll :)
Happy salivating!

Friday, October 26, 2007

A new twist on an old favorite

It has been a while since I last posted, and for that I apologize. It seems as if the title of this post would have been appropriate if it were instead called "The Perfect Storm." Maybe I'll repost under that heading a bit later.

Meanwhile, I wanted to share with you a weekend favorite at our house before the weekend gets started. My hope is that maybe someone will want to make this yummy breakfast this weekend and with a proper heads up, you will have time to stop at the (farmers'??) market on the way home and be prepared for tomorrow's breakfast.

This may not be the prettiest of photos, but this breakfast was a knock your socks off kind of creation. (And not the way the Yanks feel about their arch nemesis.)

Huevos Rancheros a la Port-ment

First, some clarification:
Port=us. Huevos rancheros=just plain happiness on a plate, or if you want to get technical it means ranch eggs. And we live in an apartment, thus port-ment. Capesh?

Now we often stumble into a place like chat'n'chew where they plate their huevos on a bed of nacho chips, or sometimes we are all fancy-like and visit the culinary genius Flay at Mesa Grill where they have all sorts of renditions of this goody.

However, in our house, we can make it however we please...which means we can use the spicy fresh chorizo from the farmers market fried up with some onions, garlic and a fresh heirloom tomato, make the eggs with dill, squash and garlic, and then pile it all on a thick slice of grain bread to scoop up all the liquid from it's upstairs neighbors. Grate some fresh smoked gouda on top and you are in business. A pile of goodness, if you ask me!

So there's a fun weekend breakfast for you. I hope someone enjoys it, because we sure do!

In other news, we are going on a field trip (i.e., a gaggle of my favorite friends are using this as an excuse not to write up much overdo research) to see Emeril today and although he isn't my favorite chef I am excited to see a BAM! in person. If I happen to snap a photo with my phone I'll post it for anyone who is interested.

Otherwise, happy Friday and in honor of our southern breakfast...ya'll come back now, ya hear?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Candy Corn Inspired


When I stopped into the local Walgreens a few weeks ago I was greeted with an onslaught of Halloween treats. Whereas usually I would seize this excuse to stock up on mini-snickers and three musketeers to freeze and eat slovenly over the next month--the stockpile in my freezer reminded me that there really was no vacancy!

Alas! What's a girl to do? Improvise I suppose.

And so as I payed for my greeting card or toilet paper, or whatever it was that I was buying, those little devilish candy corn winked at me and I knew what I must do.

(Caveat: I actually don't like candy corn. I think it's like eating sweetened lipstick. And no, I have never tried eating lipstick, much less the sweetened variety!)

And so here you have it. Another recipe for my beloved bakers edge pan and a great seasonal treat. It's a pumpkin tart like bottom with a chewy brownie like middle and gooey toasted marshmallows on top. Sounds terrible, right? Well as good as it was the first day, it was even better the next.

Stay tuned for the recipe. In the mean time go enjoy this lovely day for me please...the weather is be-au-ti-ful and the farmer's market is bustling with all kinds of goodness!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Colors the way mother nature intended them to be

Write presentation for my students, check.
Grade responses and create rubrics, check.
Finish midterms, check.
Finalize paper for psychometric theory, check.
Write up research...check, kind of.
Post about something fun we have made/eaten as of late to remind my mom that I am, in fact, getting some sort of nourishment while I work 12 hours a day, OOPS!

It is rather easy to get bogged down with life, but it is more important (in my humble opinion, of course) to remember to take time to enjoy a meal with those you love, namely the darling hubby.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup*
(I like mine with a ripe cherry tomato for a contrasting sweet, fresh burst of flavor)

Last week a near perfect butternut squash jumped into my hands while I strolled the farmers market, only to be neglected on our kitchen table for the coming week. Thankfully they stay fresh, unlike the countless tomatoes I have had to turn into sauce after certain neglect.

(Hubsband is more old fashioned. i.e., if it ain't broke, don't fix it!)

Last weekend was it's time to shine as we created a thick and creamy butternut squash soup. It was originally going to be used in a fun gnocchi recipe that we will share later in the season, but this soup was really outstanding. If you don't trust me, ask my sister in law who nearly swooned after trying some. And the best part? It's so very simple.

*Follow the bold title for the recipe =)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Farmers Market Finds

It's still life at the farmers market! I couldn't wait to share with you the myriad of fall colors...including PURPLE that have made their appearance as of late.

We were lucky to walk away with some beautiful burgundy dahlia's and brussels sprouts still on the stalk (bottom left). Not to be left out, there were sugar pumpkins, purple cauliflower, broccoli, yellow squash, fresh herbs (dill, basil, and rosemary to be exact), and a beautiful selection of peppers:

Now tell me this isn't the epitome of hot:

What about this spice mecca:

How many peppers would you pick?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Drumroll please...

A long, long time ago....

Once upon a time, before fairy tales started with similar beginnings, there lived a family in the foot hills of the Carpathian mountain range.

There was the industrious father, Alexander, the loving housewife, Anna, and eight beautiful children: Olga, Michael, Arnold, Bela, Herman, Margaret, Louis and George. And while they lived amidst a modest group, the father was a successful entrepreneur and a good provider for the family.

Growing up their children knew the meaning of a dollar(or maybe it was a crony), the importance of being a decent citizen, and the value of family. This family knew of the outside world, even visited the big city Budapest on occasion. But they were much happier at home, in their tiny little enclave called (don't laugh, it's the truth) Butyan (yes, it is pronounced butt shine, and no, I kid you not!).

The days were long and lazy, although the children worked hard keeping the house and milking the cows. The oldest boy was a local scholar and was the first in his family to get a degree in teaching and begin honing his skills at the local school. The girls were quickly becoming great cooks in their mothers footsteps, and the boys often helped in the kitchen when they had finished their studies.

The entire family had a solid work ethic that transcended any clock that they might consult. And at the end of a week there was nothing more special that sitting down for the Sabbath meal, relaxing among family and enjoying the fruits of their labor.

Friday dinner was always a special one. Anna and her daughters would create feasts of stuffed cabbage, cholent, and the family favorite chicken paprikash. Her dumplings were the talk of the town and the pride of her family.

It was on these peaceful Friday nights the Kleins believed that all was well with the world. For a while at least.

Anna became ill and the oldest daughter Olga was called on to take care of the family while her mother was on bed rest. Business remained steady for Alexander but the daily talk around town was of imminent danger from the west, Germany.

I could write on and on for hours, detailing the way Olga might have sewn buttons from rose colored silk brought home from her fathers business trip, or the way she might have come to perfect the most delicious Cacoash. But the truth is, we will never know.

In 1944, Olga along with the rest of her family (except her mother who had since passed) were boarded onto a train and taken to the place that would disband her family forever. She was first sent to Bergen Belsen and finally to Auschwitz. Michael, Bela, Herman and her dear father Alexander were taken from her, no one knows exactly how or when they passed. But she never forgot where she came from and the magical dinners that used to pull her family together once a week.

Years later a blessed woman emerged from an international travesty stronger and more brave than anyone could imagine. Bedridden and frail, Olga cheated death and recovered in Sweden. Luck wouldn't begin to describe the fate that brought her back in touch with her brother and led to her subsequent move to the United States.

Olga brought many things with her on that trip to the United States in her little suitcase on that rocky boat. She brought courage enough to last a lifetime, passion enough to burn a hundred fires, love and gratitude for her family that would stand the test of time, and she brought culinary skill beyond belief.

I know this story because she is my Olga, she is my grandmother, and it is because of her that I love to cook. She has healed with her soup, cured with her kugels and given us comfort with her paprikash. She is my secret treasure, revealed to you...the world. And it is for her that I will forever bless the food that is set in front of me, and the loved ones that I am blessed to share it with.

And there you have it. The tool whose real name will remain unknown has been used through the years, passed down through our family, now living in our tiny apartment in the middle of New York City, and is responsible for the most delicious, authentic and heartwarming dumplings that have ever graced a chicken paprikash.

So congratulations all! Most of you guessed it correct. One lucky winner may find something else gracing their inbox, but anyone who guessed dumplings (in whatever language) was correct and is the lucky recipient of the most delicious chicken paprikash known to man.

Happy eating!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

100 posts and a prize to boot!

What the @#$%?

We aren't the kind of family whose long history in this country comes with a multitude of heirlooms passed down from generation to generation. In fact, when my grandmother came to the U.S. it was after recovering from the Holocaust which means she was lucky to have survived with her life, personal belongings were the last thing on her mind.

This is a bittersweet point to me. While I prize my pink star sapphire ring that was once my mothers 16th birthday gift, there is nothing that was once worn by my great grandmother that reminds me of where I come from.

What we do have in our family is a legacy of interesting Eastern European recipes. And the interesting tool above is part and parcel of our rich history. One of the few pieces of our families past, this kitchen accessory was brought from the old country (most likely Hungary) by my grandfather and used for many years to create one of his (our) signature dishes.

In honor of my 100th post, I wanted to give something back to those of you who have encouraged me along the way. It's nothing huge, a trifle really!

Your task is to name that funky tool, and tell me what it's used for. Now it's not really fair for family members to answer this so, please, let the other kids try first ;)

(**please leave your email in the comments part, no one but me sees. and who knows? you may end up with a little treat in the mail, a secret ingredient from the old country!)

The person who guesses the correct use and/or gives it the funkiest name, wins the top secret recipe for which this tool was made. Because really, can we let this poor tool that has been used and abused for so many years continue to live without a proper name?

Easy enough? Good.

This is my way to thank you for sticking around and to encourage you lurkers to speak up! I may have some other goodies looking for a new home that may arise during this contest so check back. In the meantime....guess away!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bakers edge, bakers edge, bake me a dish!

The days of fall are officially upon us. Instead of waking up and tossing on sandals, it is boots and closed toe shoes for us here in NYC. And with this, my favorite season, come all sorts of good things. Football games take over lazy Saturday afternoons. Leaves begin their magical transformation, turning central park into a jewel toned shop window for all her visitors. The lights for the holidays are not yet out, but there is something magical lurking in the air....

The smell of hot cider simmering with cinnamon and nutmeg wafts through the farmers markets. Vendors put away their vibrant greens and introduce to us their deep yellows, oranges, and reds.

And so I came to invent a new fall treat, the apple identity crisis. Appropriately named due to my inability to decide whether it would be part tart or part crumble. Et voila! It is both:

A chewy yet crisp tart bottom, then a layer of fresh sliced opalescent apples tossed in brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, then topped with a crumble of oats, brown sugar, flour and a bit of cold butter.

Who's having seconds?

Monday, October 8, 2007

Nothing but Noodular Perfection

If you've been riding along with us on our little culinary journey you might recall a certain obsession that was recently quenched with the acquisition of some new kitchen gear. You know the one...the culprit of the worlds most delicious brownies?

Well my friends, I'm here to share more success from our tiny kitchen and the result of this new acquisition. Behold! The perfect piece of lasagna:

No sunken center or too gummy edges, just plain noodle-y goodness all around. And straight from the pan this bad boy was perfectly browned on top and along all the edges (from the gobs of cheese of course!) and maintained its shape like a pro to boot!

So there you have it, yet another reason to invest in your kitchen. Besides, the results are more than worth the investment!

p.s. we're coming up on our 100th post and are so excited to celebrate. stay tuned for a fun contest to celebrate this milestone and the realization that i can, in fact, blabber for 100 days!

Why we love weekends with the family...

This weekend found us traveling north to spend time with darling hubby's family. Two birthdays in one weekend meant a lot of running around. But our mom (mom-in-law for me!) always makes us feel relaxed and at home.

We were greeted first thing in the morning by this delicious homemade bread/cake/amazingness. It's called zapikanka(please forgive me while I totally slaughter that Russian word.) All you need to know is that it's a dense cake like treat filled with sweetened cranberries and baked with ricotta cheese.

Add in the fact that we were able to eat it on the back deck overlooking a small forest of jewel toned trees and it's pretty magical. In fact, I just call it yum.

Oh, and we met our new nephew (and Lola's cousin) Beans. Yes, I think he is Beans with an S and gets extra points for cuteness with that added consonant. He is just about the cutest little thing ever with his brindled coat and his big beagle ears. What a darling boy!

Our big girl was able to go hiking in the woods and then proceeded to find the nearest lake where she decided to get as dirty.....

...and as happy as I've seen her in a while! The shaking off of lake water on mom's legs wasn't my favorite thing. But seeing how happy it made her certainly made it all worth it for us!

All and all it was a pretty tiring day for this little guy and us! We ate and drank and then ate some more.... (photo below is of the absolutely delish salad made with fresh sheeps milk feta, basil, pink ping pong tomatoes, and kerby cukes tossed with some good olive oil, balsamic, kosher salt and black pepper)

And when it was time to go home we all wondered where the weekend went!

Except for little Beans. He was too busy getting ready for another day :)

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Warming up to fall.

Wilted spinach salad with caramelized red onions, pink ping pong tomatoes, and chevre

This salad was introduced to us about a year ago by my adorable sister-in-law and her brilliant chef of a boyfriend. We were at Thanksgiving dinner and I remember smelling the onions slowly caramelizing in their pan as we began appetizers. Fairly familiar with my mother-in-law's culinary repertoire I was curious to see what new creations were cooking up in her kitchen. And being the nosy daughter-in-law I stuck my nose in the kitchen to see what was cooking :) Shocker, right?

To tell you about the magic of this introduction is pointless... let's just say it has quickly made it into our culinary repertoire on a regular basis.

Anyway, the caramelized onions are gently poured over a base of spinach (in this case the baby variety) that has been lightly salted and peppered and speckled with pink ping pongs. The big finale is the crumbling --okay so it's more like force cut pieces-- of chevre cheese (that's just goat cheese rolled in herbs). The salad is then tossed together and viola! you have a hearty main dish, a delicious and savory starter....or a great fall lunch.

I can't wait to make this salad more often as the weather turns, with the addition of other seasonal goodies like seared butternut squash, roasted carrots, or just some good ole bacon!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Roof with a view, part 2

When I finally get home in time to enjoy the lingering daylight (if only from my roof), it sure is nice to have views like these:

With the sun setting to our west you might almost call the view of Jersey in the distance idyllic...almost

Looking south down Broadway we have an unobstructed view of this famed street as it makes its way to the end of the city. If you look close enough you can see where the water (i.e. hudson meets east river) ends and Brooklyn begins.

Perhaps my favorite underdog, the Con Ed building stands proud amidst her shorter neighbors. Our own little empire state, this buildings colors change much like our friends below but with more variety! Often we are blessed with a 5 color night...

The undisputed landmark of the city. Looking north we are graced with the former Met Life building basking in the glory of her hero, the Empire State Building.

And just a little friendly reminder to all that while I may not have an hour to sit and mess around in the kitchen I can still take 10 minutes to put together a healthy, home made lunch. (sliced yellow peppers, kerby cukes, grape tomatoes, and a half sandwich of turkey on whole wheat.)

Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Who eats local? We do, we do!

Seared Atlantic Yellowfin Tuna with Roasted Sweet Potato Fries

Alright, I know what you are saying, wasn't I just complaining that I was coming home at 10 p.m. and here I am cooking dinner darn near midnight?

Well before you begin to really think twice about my sanity, I will tell you that after many times watching me prepare this meal, hubby stepped in, prepared this meal, and really 'kicked it up a notch.' ( I hate myself a little bit for writing that but I couldn't think of a better way to tell you that he really did an incredible job!)

If you have never experienced the flavor of fresh caught fish I urge you to get off your computer immediately and head to the local fish monger (even if this means at a whole foods) and buy yourself whatever was brought in that morning. I pinky promise you will not believe the difference. This entirely local meal (except the spices, I admit!) needed very few adornments to be truly sensational. (Click on the title above for the secrets, ahem, recipes for both!)

Any other local eaters out there? Give a shout out and share your favorite local eats....

Happy eating!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Roof with a view.

Just like this photo of the ESB, I've been a bit cockeyed lately! School, work, and life in general has consumed my time/energy and I just wanted to say hello and promise to be back very Friday when my life calms down a bit and I can get home before 10 p.m. to actually use our tiny kitchen.

Until then, please peruse the other more interesting posts :)

(And yes, this was taken from our roof!)