RECIPES AND MORE FROM AN URBAN KITCHEN

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fall Roast


I've always held a very special place in my heart for London. It was the first European city I ever set foot in way back when, and since then, I've returned again and again, falling a bit more in love with it each and every time. There are, after all, so many things to love: the moodiness of the seemingly perpetual grey skies, followed by the sharp surge of gladness that comes with an unexpected cerulean-sky-streaming-sunlight day; the parks that either sprawl in every which way with ramshackle rolling green lawns and trees, or tidy up nicely in uniform English gardens; the friendly pubs with floors covered in soft, threadbare rugs and filled with the sounds of cozy conversation; the pies and curries and roasts; the obsessive tea-drinking. It all adds up to a whole that soothes me into a happy little state of mind that the chaos of NYC can never quite manage.

I'm lucky enough to get there several times a year for work, and at least a couple of times in the fall. It's the best season for lots of reasons, one of which is the weekend tradition of roasts that feels just right for the crisp, cool days of October when I start to slide readily into my easy autumn uniform of jeans and Ralph Lauren cashmere cable knits, occasionally topped off with an old, favorite, hunter green Barbour jacket lined in plaid. Preppy for fall, bohemian and free-wheeling for summer--doesn't it just feel right?

The Sunday roast is really one of the best things in life, in my opinion, and a comforting tradition that everyone could benefit from adopting/stealing. Here's the latest version to come out of my little Brooklyn kitchen, taken from the beautiful, new Fat Radish cookbook. It's composed of a perfectly roasted bird with leeks, and a bubbling, crisp serving of cauliflower cheese, which is something you should make immediately if you've never had it. It's like mac and cheese minus the carbs, but no less delicious. In other words, it's something of a miracle.



Roast Chicken with Leeks
Serves 8
Ingredients:
8 large leeks, cut in half crosswise, thoroughly washed
Extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt
2 (3-4 pound) organic chickens, trussed
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh rosemary

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the leeks in a large roasting dish, drizzle them with 1/4 cup of olive oil, and sprinkle generously with salt. Rub everything around with your hands. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and roast until the leeks are beginning to soften, about 15 minutes.

Uncover the dish and then place the chickens on top of the leeks. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil over each chicken, sprinkle aggressively with salt and the rosemary, and rub it in with your hands. Pour 1/4 cup of water into the baking dish, and place it in the oven. Roast until the leeks are well browned and the chickens are cooked through, about an hour. Remove the chickens and leeks from the oven and let them rest at least 10 minutes before carving and serving.


Cauliflower Cheese
Serves 8
Ingredients:
2 heads cauliflower (2 1/4 lbs in total), broken into small florets
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
2 cups coarsely grated cheddar or fontina cheese
A few drops of your favorite hot sauce
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Preheat the broiler.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the cauliflower. Cook until just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the cauliflower, shaking it in the colander a few times to really get all the excess water out. Place the cauliflower in a 9"x13" baking dish and set it aside.

Meanwhile, place the butter in a saucepan set over medium heat. Once it melts, stir in the flour and cook until the mixture turns barely light brown and smells nutty, 5 minutes. While whisking, slowly pour in the milk. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat, and cook until a thick sauce forms, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the cheese until melted, and season the sauce to taste with hot sauce, salt, and pepper.

Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese over the top of the dish. Place the dish under the broiler and cook until the cheese is melted and browned and the sauce is bubbling, about 5 minutes depending on the strength of your broiler. Serve hot.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Oscar de la Renta's Tomato Salad


A few years ago, I was thinking of writing a cookbook filled with the most cherished home recipes from a collection of my favorite designers. In the process of building a book proposal, I emailed a few of those designers, asking for their recipes to see what sorts of things I would end up with. Mr. de la Renta quickly sent over this beautiful recipe for a tomato salad from his kitchen in Punta Cana. It arrived in my inbox typed out exactly as you see it above, and I took to my kitchen to test it out. As was the case with everything he designed, it was perfect. 

I've made it every summer since then, and though the book never came to fruition, this special recipe gained a permanent place in my home, and has become part of many treasured warm-weather memories. I've never published it, although I've thought of doing so many times. I'm glad for that now, because today seems fitting. 

I am so saddened to hear of the passing of Mr. de la Renta, who was, and will continue to be, an absolute legend in my eyes.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Gwyneth's Chocolate and Almond Cupcakes with Healthy Buttercream



If you've got an insistent sweet tooth like mine, but also try to be conscious of excessive refined sugar intake, this recipe's for you. Not a drop of dairy is used in the entire affair, it's low in gluten, and there's zero refined sugar. Sounds like a recipe for cardboard cupcakes, no? Trust me, it's not. I'm not going to pretend that these taste exactly like their sugar and dairy-laden counterparts, but that's not the point here. They've got a deliciousness that's all their own, minus the unhealthy bits. Perfect for those times when you want to have something sweet, while still being kind to that fab body of yours. xo

Chocolate + Almond Cupcakes
Ingredients:
1/4 cup roasted almond butter
2 cups white spelt flour
1 cup high-quality cocoa powder
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
A pinch of fine sea salt
1/2 cup Vegenaise or vegetable oil
1 1/4 cup good-quality maple syrup, divided
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
1/2 cup soy milk or rice milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt together in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the Vegenaise of oil, the syrups, the coffee, the soy milk, and the vanilla. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ones, being careful not to overbeat (that's how you end up with a tough cupcake!).

Combine 1/4 cup roasted almond butter and 1/4 cup of the maple syrup and set the mixture aside. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Fill each muffin cup halfway with the brownie batter. Evenly divide the almond butter-maple syrup mixture among the muffin cups and top with the remaining batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Let cool completely. Decorate with the Healthy Buttercream (recipe below) and a scattering of edible flowers if that's your thing.

Healthy Buttercream
Ingredients:
2 cups Spectrum organic shortening
1 cup tapioca starch
1 cup agave nectar (or grade A light maple syrup)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:
Place all the ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until light and fluffy. The frosting can be refrigerated for up to a month, but bring it back to room temperature and rewhip it before using.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Kings of Summer


I flew into NYC last night in a haze of sweet summer memories, feeling completely angsty about getting back into the office in less than 24 hours. It was a good summer filled with beaches, new cities, crystal clear blue water, mountains, and totally reckless consumption of chocolate, cheese, and red meat. If I've ever had a better August, I certainly can't recall it.

Alas, it's back to reality, but it turns out that's not such a bad thing either. I've missed my Brooklyn apartment on the river and my fig trees, my light-filled office and my amazing employees, my friends and my yoga teachers, the energy and the discipline of New York. I think it's shaping up to be an amazing fall, and I can't wait to see what the new season has in store.

But before I let go completely, here's a last look back at some of my favorite iPhone snaps from the last couple of weeks. In no particular order, they're from Barcelona, Zurich, and Amsterdam. Hope everyone's "back to school" transition is going ever so smoothly today. xo


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fall Uniform


After living in nothing but breezy floral dresses, tiny bikinis, my ripped denim Acne jacket, and flatform Marni sandals this summer, I'm finally feeling ready for a slightly more sophisticated dress code. Think perfect, dark basics with a classic, luxe watch and simple gold jewelry. And a crazy pink faux fur to go over it all, of course. Can't grow up too much. xo

*A faux fur to make you feel better about the end of summer by Shrimps
*Perfect black loafers by Newbark
*I've been eyeing this M2Malletier bag for ages. Time to bite the bullet.
*A classic Herm├ęs watch--can't go wrong.
*Beautiful, well-made basics are necessary and Protagonist seems to get it right
*Faded black skinnies to throw on everyday.
*Just a piece or two of cool gold jewelry keeps it tasteful. Love this cage ring by Gabriela Artigas.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Wanderers


August has been a complete whirlwind of European adventures, and one of the best months to date. We've spent long, warm, sunny days in Norway (both Stavanger and Oslo), France (Cannes, Monaco, and Antibes), and right here in beautiful Switzerland, doing some hiking, lake-lounging, and wandering through the magical forests and wide open fields that seem to be everywhere. It's hard to believe there's just over a week left of summer, which is extra motivation to soak in and really appreciate every precious second. I'll be back in NYC by Labor Day, but not before a couple of jaunts to Barcelona and Amsterdam to cap off this hectic, perfect season.

Here are some favorite iPhone snaps from the month. They're in this order, if anyone's curious: Monaco, Antibes (at the Hotel du Cap Eden Roc), Bern, Stavanger, Oslo, Zurich, and Mount Pilatus. xo

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Summer Pasta Salad


Some of my most favorite summer memories revolve around pasta salad. Pasta salad is to summer what turkey is to fall. Or something like that. I've been working from Zurich, Switzerland for the last couple of weeks, where the sun is shining and "lake life" is something that people here do on the reg. Lake Zurich is right in the middle of the city and it features icy cold, crystal clear water paired with many a grassy knoll to spread a blanket out on to while away whole morning and afternoons, and sometimes evenings too. It's not uncommon to see very serious-looking businessmen and women come meandering by after work, strip down, and jump right into the water. It's a good life out here.

With a body of water as good as that, one really needs a good pasta salad recipe, since one can rarely be persuaded to move one's ass once firmly planted lakeside. So, I went to the market, picked up a batch of the freshest, ripest summer tomatoes on the block and tinkered around in the kitchen until I came up with this beauty of a salad. It includes a lot of my most-loved ingredients including the aforementioned tomatoes, Lucques olives, soft goat cheese, and loads of herbs. I made a nice, big batch, most of which is sitting in separate tupperware containers in the fridge as I type, waiting for tomorrow, when I'll tote one of those babies with me to the lake to nibble on all day long. Doesn't get much better. xo

Summer Pasta Salad
Ingredients:
12 oz. of your favorite small pasta (i.e. penne, orecchiette, et al.)
3 cloves garlic, skin on
12 oz. (or a bit more!) cherry tomatoes, a mix of colors
6 oz. crumbled goat cheese (feta or any soft goat cheese)
1 handful of your favorite olives, pitted
2 tablespoons fresh chives
1 handful fresh basil
4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Throw in the pasta and cloves of garlic, boil until al dente, drain and run under cold water to cool. Put the pasta into a large bowl, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and toss to keep from sticking. Put the garlic to one side to use for the dressing.

Chop the tomatoes, olives, chives, and basil into pieces about half the size of the pasta and add to the bowl along with the goat cheese and mix all together. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins and mash into a paste with the back of a wooden spoon. Place into a small bowl and add the vinegar, oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle this over the salad and mix well.