homemade ricotta gnocchi

This was my first time making gnocchi from scratch. It's something I've been meaning to try for a while, and I was inspired to finally do it today after I watched Michael Symon's cooking show ("How to cook like an Iron Chef") on the Cooking Channel.

Turns out making gnocchi is incredibly easy. And if you've ever thought that gnocchi is dense, then you haven't had homemade.
Light, fluffy deliciousness.

Click here for the recipe.

I'm not a big eggplant fan, so I skipped that part of the recipe. Instead, I sautéed some sliced shallots and diced red bell pepper, and added that to the gnocchi in butter & lemon sauce. Then wilted in some spinach during the last couple minutes.


homemade cinnamon swirl bread

You're getting verrrry sleeeeepy...
Cinnamon bread French toast... yum!


brussels sprout gratin

I happen to think that the brussels sprout is delightful on its own, just simply roasted with a little olive oil, salt & pepper. Or sautéed with a little garlic and served with a squeeze of lemon juice. 

But sometimes even the best of intentions get smothered in creamy sauce and oozing cheese. Don't fight it.

I started out with this recipe (halved), and made these adjustments:
-for the milk, I used 2 parts skim, 1 part heavy cream
-added a pinch of nutmeg to the sauce
-used a mixture of swiss & fontina cheeses
-switched to the broiler for the last few minutes, to brown the cheese


buttermilk waffle

with homemade cranberry sauce and bits of candied ginger.


candied walnuts

Sweet & spicy! Amazing on their own, but also fantastic in salad (greens with scallions, apples, goat cheese, and walnuts). I bet they'd also be great on ice cream, or as a garnish on an iced cupcake.


fried green tomatoes

My method:
-Slice a green tomato (basically, an unripe tomato) into 1/4" slices
-Season both sides with salt & pepper
-Sprinkle lightly with flour, and dip in egg wash 
(a beaten egg with just a little water added)
-Dredge in panko breadcrumbs, seasoned with salt
-Heat a pan with enough oil to generously coat the bottom
-When the oil is nice & hot, add the tomato slices, and cook until both sides are nicely browned, but before the tomatoes start to break down (the unripe tomatoes are pretty firm, so they should hold up well)


beet & apple tart

Recipe from Everyday Food magazine: Take a piece of frozen puff pastry dough (thawed), and prick all over with a fork. Sprinkle a little bit of grated cheddar, then layer with alternating paper-thin slices of apple & beet. Top with more grated cheddar, fresh thyme leaves, salt & pepper. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 400 for about 15 minutes.


white bean-stuffed portobello

Recipe from Everyday Food magazine: 

-place portobello stem-side down on a rimmed baking sheet, brush with a mixture of olive oil & lemon juice, and season with salt & pepper. Put in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.

-while the portobello is baking, heat 1 TBSP olive oil in a pot and add a minced garlic clove. Before it starts to brown, add a can of cannellini beans (rinsed), 1/4 cup water, 1 tsp thyme leaves, salt & pepper. Simmer until liquid is almost gone.

-when the portobello comes out of the oven, drain any juices from the pan, flip it over and top with white beans. For the topping, mix breadcrumbs (I used panko) with just enough olive oil to bind them together a little. Mix in some more thyme leaves and crumbled feta. Bake for another 5 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are browned.


more minneapolis goodies

Aside from the treats at the fair, here are a few more of the delicious things I ate on a recent trip to visit my dear friend Kim in Minneapolis...

Great start to the day: an apricot vanilla scone at Lucia's—one of the best scones I've ever eaten. Moist, filled with giant chunks of apricot, with a light sugary crust on top.

Sometimes the best meal is a bunch of sides, like this one at Brasa:
slow-roasted pulled pork:
cheesy grits:
jalapeño creamed spinach:
sweet plantains:
yucca fries:

A starter to another delicious meal—this nice plate of meats, pâtés and dried fruit:


food porn turns 2!

In honor of food porn's second birthday, I give you some pictures from my recent trip to the Minnesota State Fair.

And because I like to mark this occasion with something bacony, 
I present the most extreme bacon dish I have eaten to date: 
chicken-fried bacon. Slightly horrifying, yet surprisingly delicious.

A Minnesota fair staple: deep fried cheese curds. It's like a cheese curd and a mozzarella stick had a baby together. A beautiful, delicious baby.


bedtime treat

When I want a sweet treat before bedtime, I usually crave something warm with cinnamon & sugar. So tonight, I made this little impromptu experiment, which hit the spot perfectly. Take a piece of (thawed) frozen puff pastry dough, cut it into 1" slices, sprinkle sugar & cinnamon on it, twist, and bake at 400 for 10 minutes (until they're light golden brown).


trio of homemade pizzas

ricotta, asparagus, lemon zest, prosciutto & fontina:

sautéed mushrooms, olives, prosciutto & fontina:



zucchini spice bread

I love to make zucchini bread in the summer. This batch was made from the GIANT zucchini that my colleague Bob brought me from his garden.

This is the sight that greeted me when I came into work (I put the dollar bill there for scale):
This behemoth measured 12" long, and 4" in diameter. I got 2 batches of zucchini bread out of it, and still had a chunk left.

I've brought this zucchini bread in to work a few times, and have had many people ask me for the recipe.  Click here to get it, from Everyday Food magazine.


basil frozen custard

One of my favorite frozen treats of all time: the basil frozen custard from Shake Shack. In addition to their standard vanilla, they have a special flavor of the day—a weekly schedule which changes each month. I can't tell you how delighted I was to find that basil made a comeback as August's Thursday flavor. My coworkers can attest, as they all heard my loud gasp of joy upon checking this month's schedule. They can also tell you that I haven't stopped talking about this basil frozen custard since the last time Shake Shack offered it... which was 2 years ago.

Time to clean out the freezer... I have a feeling it's going to get filled with pint containers :-)


israeli couscous with veggies

Heat 1 TBSP olive oil in a pot on medium heat, add 1 cup israeli couscous, and toast lightly for about 4 minutes. Add 1-1/2 cups water, season with salt, bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer (covered) until water is absorbed. While couscous is cooking, sauté vegetables (here, I've used cremini mushrooms, corn, and roasted red peppers). When vegetables are done cooking, add in some fresh basil, then combine with the couscous. To finish, season with salt & pepper, and the juice of a lime.



Two of my new favorite things to make with ricotta cheese...

Slice a loaf of ciabatta bread into 1/4" slices. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with coarse salt, and stick in the oven to get warm & toasty. Just a little bit crisp around the edges (the idea is to get warm, soft bread—not toast). Season some ricotta with salt & pepper, and spread it onto the warm bread. Top with a kiss of honey.

And, I just discovered this deceptively easy—and incredibly delicious—dessert recipe in the latest issue of Real Simple magazine. It uses only 3 ingredients: 2 (15oz) containers of ricotta, 1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips, and chocolate wafer cookies. And there is no baking.

Whip the ricotta with an electric mixer, to get it smooth & airy. Add the melted & cooled chocolate chips and combine thoroughly. Layer the ricotta mixture in a loaf pan, alternating with layers of overlapping cookies. Let chill overnight (for at least 12 hours), and you will end up with a fluffy, cheesecake-esque dessert.


breakfast triathlon

Each year for the past 3 years, my guy Tony has participated in the NYC Triathlon. And each year, I go to watch. Being a triathlon spectator is a lot of fun, but it includes long stretches of time when the object of your spectating is out of sight. During this stretch of time, I have begun my own tradition of going out for a nice big diner breakfast. This year, I was joined by Julia for the second year in a row, in what we have come to consider our "Breakfast Triathlon" (this year at EJ's Luncheonette on Amsterdam & 81st).

I give you the Lumberjack Breakfast: pancakes, bacon and sausage, eggs, and home fries (I guess that's more than 3 items, but whatever).

I've eaten a lot of diner breakfasts in my life, but I'd have to rank this as one of the very best. Every single thing on the plate was cooked perfectly.

And before you start thinking that I'm cruel for waving this decadent meal under the nose of someone who missed it because he was out completing a grueling athletic endeavor, I will say in my defense that I did buy him a beer and giant cheeseburger with fries afterward, at what has become our favorite post-race Irish bar (P.D. O'Hurley's on 72nd & Amsterdam).

Of course, I also treated myself to kind of a ridiculous "snack" as well... a plate of "disco fries" (fries with mozzarella cheese melted on top, and a side of gravy).

When I requested it (this not being a standard menu item, but one that any respectable Irish bar has the ingredients for), the bartender gave me a look of bemused disgust, the likes of which I've never gotten. If only he knew what I'd eaten a few short hours earlier... but this triathlon spectating is hard work!

This post is in honor of Tony: awesome and dedicated triathlete. 
Well done, you :-)


quesos flameados

This is one of my favorite dishes at one of my new favorite Mexican restaurants in NYC called Crema. It's this amazing little skillet of melted cheese, with delicious things hiding underneath (chorizo, chicken, etc), served with a bundle of small, warm tortillas and guacamole. I've sampled a bunch of different dishes at Crema, and everything has been top-notch. Wonderful flavors, and gorgeous presentation as well.

111 W 17th St. (between 6th & 7th Aves)


fudge marble cookies

These are awesome... light, cakey, and delicious!


sage & walnut pasta

Dinner #2 from my stash of herbs from Bob's garden: sage & walnut pasta, with a white wine & brown butter sauce.

On medium heat, I reduced some white wine until it was nearly evaporated, then added about 2 TBSP butter (then turned heat to low). When the butter melted, I added some chopped walnuts and a minced garlic clove. After a couple minutes, I added some sage (cut into thin strips). When it "looked done," I tossed the pasta in to coat. Served with some shaved parmesan.