Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Salads

This is a new favorite salad of mine. It combines all the fresh veggies of summer along with cheese and crusty olive oil coated bread. Yum!
Panzanella Salad
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • Fresh mozzarella, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed. You can also coat your bread in olive oil and place it on the grill which gives it a great taste!
For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.
In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Rock Lobster

This weekend I finally felt like it was officially summer. I spent time at my home in Rhode Island where I relaxed at the beach and cooked up some delicious summery meals. New England summers are all about fresh fish, colorful berries and green leafy veggies, so what better way to enjoy the warm weather then with some tasty New England Lobster Rolls.
Lobster Rolls
1 pound fully cooked lobster meat or 2 (3 1/2 pound) live lobster
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup good mayonnaise
1/2 tablespoon fresh tarragon
1/2 tablespoon dill
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
New England-style hot dog buns (these are slit on the top and the best for lobster rolls)
2 to 3 tablespoons butter, melted
Pickles and potato chips
1. Place live lobsters in a large pot of boiling water. Cook about 5 minutes per pound.
2. Once lobsters are cooked remove from boiling water and place in a bowl in the fridge until cooled, about 25 minutes.
3. After the lobsters have cooled use a cleaver to crack and remove the meat from the claws, knuckles and tails. This is a bit of a messy, juicy process so wear an apron!
4. Cut the meat into 1/2-inch dice and place in a large bowl. Add the mayonnaise, celery, dill, tarragon, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Mix well and chill for about 30 minutes.
5. Heat a grill or broiler to high and toast buns until browned. Remove from heat and brush with melted butter. Pile on your lobster meat and serve with pickles and potato chips. Eat immediately and enjoy!

Yield: about 5 lobster rolls

Friday, June 22, 2012

Berrries and Cream

I made this cake recently and it was a huge hit! It is so light and airy which makes for a perfect warm weather dessert. There are few things better then strawberries and whipped cream and combined with cake it hits the spot. This would also be delicious  (and perfect 4th of July treat) with blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.

Chiffon Cake with Strawberries and Cream

For the Cake
2 1/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup safflower oil (I used canola oil)
7 large egg yolks plus 9 large egg whites
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Filling
2 pounds strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered (about 5 cups), plus more for serving
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch of salt
2 cups cold heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for sprinkling

To Make the Cake:
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk together flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, the baking powder, and salt. Whisk together oil, egg yolks, and milk in a large bowl. Whisk flour mixture into egg-yolk mixture.

2. Beat egg whites with a mixer on high speed until frothy. Add cream of tartar and vanilla seeds or extract, and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 3/4 cup granulated sugar, beating until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 5 minutes. Whisk one-third of the egg-white mixture into batter. Gently but thoroughly fold in remaining egg-white mixture with a rubber spatula.

3. Transfer batter to tube pan. Bake until top of cake springs back when touched, 52 to 55 minutes. Let cool upside down (over a bottle or on tube-pan feet) 1 hour.

To Make the Filling:
1. While cake is baking and cooling, combine strawberries, granulated sugar, lemon juice, and salt, and let sit, stirring occasionally, 1 hour. Just before assembling, beat cream and confectioners' sugar until medium peaks form.
To Assemble:
1. Carefully slide a knife around edges of tube and side of pan; release cake. Cut cake horizontally into 3 layers with a serrated knife*. Transfer bottom layer to a cake plate or platter. Spread with half the berries, and drizzle with juices. Spread half the whipped cream over berries, then top with middle cake layer. Repeat.
3. Refrigerate cake 1 hour. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar, and serve with berries.

*Note: I only cut the cake in half because trying to do 3 layers seemed a bit too risky.

Yield: serves 12
Recipe via Martha Stewart Living

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Summer Feelings

Summer definitely has a different feeling in the post college/school years and I am yearning for that feeling of school getting out and have three months of freedom and adventure. This Vogue Paris spread definitely gives me the summer vibe.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Fresh Fruit

This past weekend I started off summer right by spending the afternoon at a farmer’s market where I picked up some fresh veggies and beautiful looking rhubarb. I have never worked with rhubarb before (just eaten it) but it was quite simple and I love the sweet tart flavor. Nothing reminds me of summer more than desserts filled with ripe, juicy fruits and a good berry crisp is usually my go to summer dessert. However after making this galette this might be my new summer staple. Although I think this would be just as wonderful just with rhubarb, I had some leftover strawberries and raspberries in my fridge so I threw those in as well.

Rhubarb Galette


To Make Dough:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup coarse cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup heavy cream or buttermilk

To Make Filling:
1/4 cup cornstarch
4 cups 1/2″-thick slices rhubarb, approximately 6 stalks
Raspberries, strawberries or other berries
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, beaten
Turbinado sugar

To Make Dough:
1. To make the dough, combine flour, sugar, cornmeal, and salt in a processor; pulse 2-3 times. Add butter and pulse 4-5 times, or until mixture resembles coarse meal. With the processor running, slowing pour the heavy cream through the chute, processing until the dough forms a ball. Remove the dough ball and adhere any remaining pieces of dough to it, then wrap in plastic wrap or parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before rolling out.

To Make Filling:
1. Dissolve cornstarch in 3 tablespoons water in a small bowl; set aside. Combine rhubarb, raspberries (or other fruit), and sugar in a large heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until sugar dissolves and juices are released, about 4 minutes.

2. Stir in cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil (rhubarb will not be tender and slices will still be intact). Transfer to a bowl. Chill until cool, about 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 400°F Roll out dough on floured wax paper to 12″ round; brush with beaten egg. Place wax paper with rolled out dough on a cookie sheet.
4. Mound filling in center of crust; gently spread out, leaving 1 1/2″ border. Gently fold edges of dough over filling, I used the wax paper to help me fold it over. Brush border with egg; sprinkle with sugar.
5. Bake for 30-40 minutes until crust starts to brown.
Yield: 4 servings

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Take Me Away

It’s been a long week and I would love to escape to a tropical island right about now!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Best B.L.T.

After tackling the task of making mayo (see here) I definitely became a bit obsessed. I craved that creamy tart mayo every day and wanted to spread it on everything! I also started thinking about all the delicious mayo creations I could experiment with. I have quite a list of mayonnaise flavors I would like to try including bacon infused mayo and black truffle mayo, but this basil mayo is certainly a new favorite. I tried to recreate one of my favorite sandwiches from a local café and I must say my sandwich was even better and I owe it all to the mayo!

BLT with Basil Mayonnaise
For the mayonnaise:
1 egg
1 teaspoon garlic powder
5 large basil leaves, chopped
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Pinch of kosher salt and fresh black pepper
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup olive oil (not extra-virgin), or another 1/2 cup of canola
For the sandwich:
6 slices bacon
Good, hearty bread like sourdough or ciabatta rolls
1 large tomato, sliced into 1/4-inch
1/2 small head of romaine lettuce
1. Combine the egg, lemon juice, basil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a food processor or blender and purée for 15 seconds. While the processor is running, slowly steam in the oils.

2. When all of the oil has been added, turn off the machine and scrape down the sides and cover. Process again until the mixture becomes thick. Remove the mayonnaise to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Use within 24 hours.
3. In a large nonstick frying pan, place the slices of cold bacon. Turn heat to low, and cook, turning once, for 6-7 minutes or until the bacon is browned but not too crisp. Remove bacon to a paper-towel-covered plate to drain.
4. Slice the bread, and toast on a griddle or under the broiler until light brown.
5. Slather the inside of the bread, top and bottom, with the basil mayonnaise; I was pretty generous with my spreading. Assemble the sandwich with a layer of lettuce, one fat slice of tomato, and 2 pieces of bacon. Cut in half with a serrated knife, and serve.
Makes 2 sandwiches (plus some leftover mayo)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Double Stuffed

Whoever came up with the idea of putting a cookie inside a cookie deserves a medal. I have done the Oreo inside a chocolate chip cookie thing before but this Oreo cookie creation is a whole other ball game. I could have eaten a whole batch of these they were so delicious and they would be even more perfect with some vanilla ice cream!
Cookies & Cream Cookies
1  1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons, 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 Oreo sandwich cookies, broken into small pieces
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
2. In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. 
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until light in color and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. On low speed gradually add flour mixture, beating until combined. With a rubber spatula fold in the Oreo pieces. 

4. Drop 1 1/2-tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the edges just begin to brown. Place baking sheets on wire racks and let cool for 5 minutes before removing cookies to racks to cool completely.
Yield: about 20 cookies

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Cheesy Goodness

What is better than ooey gooey melted cheese for a mouthwatering little snack? This ‘dip’ is basically a pizza without the crust meaning you can dip whatever your heart desires. This is such a simple treat and definitely satisfied my cravings and warmed me up on a rainy afternoon!

Hot Caprese Dip
10 ounces fresh mozzarella, chopped into cubes
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and juiced
3 tablespoons freshly chopped basil
Dash of garlic powder

1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Seed the tomatoes and squeeze as much juice as you can out of them. If the tomatoes are too juicy the dip will be a bit watery at the bottom.
3. In a small oven-proof dish, mix chopped cheese, tomatoes and basil to combine. Sprinkle the top with a bit of garlic powder.

4. Bake for 15 minutes and then turn on your broiler so cheese becomes bubbly and golden on top. Be careful when broiling as it’s easy to burn!
5. I served this with club crackers but any cracker or crusty bread would be delicious!
6. Eat immediately!
serves 2-4

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

CFDA Awards 2012

Last night the Council of the Fashion Designers of America honored fashion designers at their annual awards ceremony. I got the honor of working at this event two years ago during an internship and gawked at the amazing fashions and sky high models gracing the red carpet. Here are some of my favorite looks from the night.

Selita Ebanks in Herve Leger, Zoe Saldana, in Prabal Gurung, Mandy Moore, in Lela Rose, Rachel Zoe, in Rachel Zoe, Joan Smalls in Michael Kors, Doutzen Kroes in Sophie Theallet

Kate Bosworth, in Altuzarra, Sophia Bush, in David Meister, Hilary Rhoda, in Rebecca Minkoff, Lily Collins, in Marchesa, Candice Swanepoel in Valentino


Monday, June 4, 2012

Making Mayo

Mayonnaise is one of those things that just adds the extra touch to a sandwich, marinade or dip. I had been a bit wary of making mayonnaise in the past but a recent sandwich experience made me change my mind and I assure you, once you swap your store bought mayo with homemade mayo your life will be changed! The key to this tasty condiment is definitely the oil. Extra virgin olive oil gives it too much flavor so stick with more neutral oils like grapeseed or vegetable oil. There were a variety of recipes that I searched through, some calling for a whole egg and others for just an egg yolk, some with lemon and others with vinegar. I will certainly continue to experiment with other versions as I am hooked on homemade mayo!
1 large egg
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
8 turns fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 olive oil
Combine the egg, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a food processor or blender and puree for 15 seconds. While the processor is running, slowly stream in the olive oil.

When all of the oil has been added, turn off the machine and scrape down the sides and cover. Process again until the mixture becomes a thick mayonnaise. Remove the mayonnaise to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Use within 24 hours.

Yield: 1 cup

Friday, June 1, 2012

Yum, Hummus

Hummus is definitely a go to dip, perfect for an afternoon snack or a party. Not only is it guilt free, it is also so easy to make at home and much better then store bought hummus. There are tons of varieties you can test out, but for now I just stuck with a classic garlic hummus. This healthy dip goes perfectly with some freshly made pita chips!

Classic Hummus Recipe
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 Tbsp. tahini (sesame paste)
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. cumin
pinch of salt and pepper (to taste)
1/4 cup water (or the leftover chickpea juice from the can)
optional toppings: more olive oil, chopped fresh Italian-leaf parsley, paprika (or smoked paprika), and/or toasted pine nuts

Add first seven ingredients (chickpeas thru salt/pepper) to a food processor, and blend until smooth.  Add in the water (or chickpea juice) and continue blending until it reaches your desired consistency.
Garnish with optional toppings, and serve or refrigerate.

Whole Wheat Pita Chips
4 whole wheat pitas
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt or kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Using a knife or scissors, cut the pita into various triangles. After they are cut peel the two layers apart so the pita is thin. Spread pita triangles out on foil lined cookie sheets and brush each triangle lightly with olive oil. Don’t use too much oil or they will get soggy. Just give them a light brushing. Sprinkle with salt and bake them in the oven for 7 to 10 minutes or until crunchy.

Time to eat!