Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Green Beans with Garlic Bread Crumbs and Tomatoes

When it comes to summer food, it's all about buying the best in-season ingredients and preparing them as simply as possible to really let them shine. My repeat visits to the farmers' market last week rewarded me with a handful of sweet green beans and the usual haul of heirloom tomatoes, and they looked so good, I wanted to swallow them whole as soon as I got home, preferably together. Fortunately I showed restraint for enough time to whip together this perfect little side dish to eat alongside a batch of freshly fried chicken. Yum.

Green Beans with Garlic Bread Crumbs and Tomatoes
From Cooking in the Moment, by Andrea Reusing
1/2 small loaf of country white bread
1 medium ripe tomato, cored and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons oilive oil
1 pound green beans, trimmed
Freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Remove the crust from the bread, tear the bread into 2- to 3-inch chunks, and scatter them on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes until the outside is firm and crusty but not browned and the inside is still soft. Let the bread cool.

Meanwhile, toss the chopped tomatoes with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon of the oil and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Tear the cooled bread into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces. Measure out 1 cup and reserve the rest for another use. Put the bread crumbs in a small skillet and toast over medium-high heat for 4 to 6 minutes, until golden. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Blanch the green beans in the boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes, until just tender. Drain and transfer to a warm serving dish. Add the tomatoes and toss, seasoning with a little salt and pepper.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the same small skillet over medium heat, and add the garlic. Saute just until it begins to turn golden and is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Quickly add the bread crumbs and toss to combine. Sprinkle over the beans.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

We've Got Stadium Love

After the big hurricane weekend, the weather has dropped pretty significantly, giving us a little preview of fall in the mornings. By the time the afternoons roll around, though, it feels just like it should in August--beautiful and hot. And it makes me determined to savor the last licks of summer. This goal includes wearing shorts as often as possible, and these bright purple ones by J. Brand have become a favorite of mine. They're super soft, comfortable, and they fall in just the right place on your hips. If you haven't picked up a pair, there's still time before Labor Day, our last hurrah.

I'm wearing a gifted Jessica Simpson tank, gifted J. Brand shorts, Prada bag, Ray-Ban sunglasses. All photos by Mark Iantosca. xo

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ma's Banana Bread

I love getting a peek into what stylish people are making in their kitchens--fashion people are typically meticulous, gracious hosts, and that includes the food and drinks they serve at dinners and parties. So when I heard that the girls from Of a Kind had put together a little cookbook filled with recipes from all the designers they work with on their awesome site, I was very excited to get an advance look at it and experiment with the recipes.

I made Corinne Grassini's (of Society for Rational Dress) banana bread, a recipe her mother would frequently make her while she was growing up, and it was excellent--soft and moist and dead simple, just like a homemade loaf should be. I loved that the bread emerges from the oven with a substantial crust, crunchy and sugary, and then gives way to a bread that is lighter and a bit airier than the dark brown variety of banana bread you see around a lot. I made a few additions and tweaks, as I'm always apt to do (including the addition of buttermilk, which only had a few more days in my fridge before I would have had to chuck it), but the recipe here is hers at it's (delicious) core.

You can receive the entire cookbook yourself by signing up for the Of a Kind newsletter HERE. xo

Ma's Banana Bread
Adapted from Of a Kind Cookbook
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
3 medium bananas, mashed
4 tablespoons buttermilk
Pinch of kosher salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Combine all wet ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and stir to combine. Butter a 9-inch loaf pan. Pour in the mix. Bake about 1 hour, until golden brown.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Turkey Chili

In Honolulu, where I grew up, there's a chain of restaurants called Zippy's that my friends and I frequented quite often. High-brow it wasn't, but it was a few notches above fast food and a lot of them were open 24/7, which came in handy for those late night meals to soak up the alcohol you weren't supposed to be drinking (sorry, mom!). They were known around the island for having the best beef chili served with a side of sticky white rice, which was my order of choice. It was so popular that they started shipping it everywhere in frozen packets, mainly, I suspect, for all the college students that had landed in the "mainland" and missed their chili fix like I did.

Even to this day, chili is one of my favorite comfort foods, and this recipe for a healthier version, made with turkey, is one of the best I've made. It comes from Alice's Tea Cup, a charming restaurant in Manhattan and is said to have a "cult following" among their clientele. Make a big batch of it this weekend--it's perfect hurricane food. The leftovers will taste even better after a day or two. xo

Turkey Chili
Adapted from Alice's Tea Cup
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 pounds ground turkey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup finely chopped carrots (about 2 medium carrots)
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion (about 1 small onion)
1/2 cup finely chopped celery (about 1 large stalk celery)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
4 cups unseasoned tomato sauce (I used organic Muir Glen brand)
1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes (from one 14-ounce can)
1 15.5-ounce can black beans
1 15.5-ounce can navy beans
1 15.5-ounce can kidney beans
2 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground turkey and saute until it is lightly browned but not burned, about 5-7 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, and set the turkey aside.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large soup pot or Dutch oven, and saute the carrots, onions, celery, and garlic until softened, about 8-10 minutes (be careful not to burn them).

Add the tomato sauce and chopped tomatoes, bring to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Add all the beans to the pot and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add the turkey and cook for 20 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for another 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


The secret to good guacamole, in my humble opinion, is keeping it simple. To me, guacamole is just an especially delicious showcase for really good avocados, and therefore, should be free of as many unnecessary bells and whistles as possible. That means, keep the chunks of tomato out of there (and everyone here knows about my summer love affair with tomatoes). I love my guac relatively unadorned save for a bit of excellent sea salt, onion, cilantro and lime. And of course, some hot, crunchy chips. All photos by Mark Iantosca. xo

2 ripe avocados
2 tablespoons white onion, minced
3 tablespoons cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1 lime
Maldon sea salt

Cut each avocado in half, remove and reserve the pits and score the flesh inside of the shells. Scoop the avocado into a mixing bowl and mash gently with a fork—you don’t want it to be completely smooth. Stir in the onion and cilantro. Cut the lime in half and squeeze in enough juice to taste. Season the guacamole with salt, and either serve immediately or stick the pits in to keep it from browning (remove the pits before serving).

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pasta with Anchovies and Arugula

Happy Monday, guys. Hope everyone's weekends were wonderful. I stayed in the city and had a fun, relaxing few days filled with lots of cooking, good food (including the divine chicken soup at Fred's, the restaurant on the 9th floor of Barneys), friends, a bit of shopping, and one screening of The Help, which I loved. In between all that, I made spaghetti. Not exactly surprising, I know. But trust me, you should really try this one out. It takes about 15 minutes to make, and it's packed to the brim with healthy dark arugula, which kind of negates the whole "carb" thing, in my opinion. Also, it's got melted anchovies, which gives it a kick of umami, and some seriously delicious, crunchy bread crumbs going for it. It's a new favorite of mine. The recipe below serves 4. xo

Pasta with Anchovies and Arugula
Adapted from the New York Times, by Mark Bittman
Sea salt
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and slivered
8 anchovy fillets, or more to taste, with some of their oil
1/2 teaspoon or more crushed red pepper flakes
6 cups baby arugula
1/2 pound spaghetti or other long pasta
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly toasted bread crumbs (optional)

Bring a large pot of water to boil and salt it heavily.

Put the oil in a deep skillet, and turn heat to medium low. A minute later, add the garlic, and then the anchovies and red pepper flakes. When the garlic sizzles and the anchovies break up, turn the heat to its lowest setting.

Cook the pasta until it is tender but not mushy. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid, and drain. Add pasta to skillet, along with enough reserved cooking water to make a sauce. Off the heat, combine the pasta with the greens. Sprinkle with toasted bread crumbs if desired. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss, taste and adjust the seasoning and serve.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Summer Ratatouille

I'm sure everyone knows this classic French veggie dish through a certain little animated movie about a particularly charming rat with a penchant for fine food. But how many of you have actually tried to make it? It's not hard, I can promise you that. The literal translation of the word "ratatouille" is something along the lines of "to mix" and that's pretty much all the recipe consists of. I've played around with several variations, but this super simple, streamlined version is my favorite so far. It's a perfect summer dish, composed of all the best, in-season vegetables cropping up this time of year, including a couple of sweet, heirloom tomatoes. I like my ratatouille a bit soft and stew-like, but if you prefer yours firmer, just reduce the simmering time a bit. Also, make sure to save some to eat the next day--a lot of ratatouille loyalists insist that it's always better a day after it's made. The recipe below will make a nice dinner for 4. xo

Summer Ratatouille
1 large or 2 medium eggplant
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium zucchini, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley or basil leaves, for garnish (optional)

Trim the eggplant and cut it into 1-inch cubes. If the eggplant is large, soft or especially seedy, sprinkle the cubes with salt, put in a colander and let sit for 30 to 60 minutes. Rinse, drain and pat dry.

Put the oil in large skillet and turn heat to medium. When hot, add the eggplant, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, about 15 minutes.

Add the zucchini and onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and keep cooking until the tomatoes begin to break down, another few minutes. Turn the heat to low, partially cover the skillet and simmer for about 10 minutes to thicken. Remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary, garnish with the herb if desired, and serve immediately, at room temperature, or chilled the next day. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Beauty Shop: Chanel Sublimage Eye Cream

I've never been a consistent user of eye cream. Call it laziness, but when it's late at night after a full day of work, dinners, dates, events, and all the other fun stuff that comes with living in a city like Manhattan, the last thing I'm thinking about is applying yet another cream to my face before collapsing into bed. Sometimes it's all I can manage to get my face washed and my teeth brushed.

It wasn't until this little jar of Chanel eye cream came into my life that I started making that extra little effort more often than not. There's something about the heavy, elegant jar and the smooth, cool cream inside that makes the ritual seem like a luxury to be savored, instead of a chore. Not to mention the fact that my eyes look especially luminous on the mornings after I've applied it. The Chanel Research team uses a customized agent they've developed called Planifolia-PFA to target fine lines and reduce puffiness, and it really seems to work. You can buy it HERE. xo

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pecan Butterballs (or Mexican Wedding Cookies)

I first had a version of these cookies during a frosty NYC Christmas when I went to a friend's mother's Upper East Side home for the holiday. They were a family of unbelievably good bakers and cooks, so I eagerly accepted every invitation they proffered me. That year, I was greeted at the door with a plate of these little, round cookies that melted in my mouth immediately upon contact. I'd never really had anything quite like them--delicate, shattering wisps of butter, punctuated with bits of crunchy pecans, and topped with a sheer dusting of white powdered sugar. They dissolved into air like magic as soon as I bit into them, and I was smitten. I promptly asked for the recipe but was given an elusive "just a little bit of that and a little bit of this" answer, and so I resorted to Googling "Mexican Wedding Cookies," the name of them being the only solid bit of information I was able to glean.

Four years later, I'm still playing around with the various recipes I've discovered (some called Pecan Butterballs, some Mexican Wedding Cookies), trying to perfect the cookies. I've come pretty darn close with this version. xo

Pecan Butterballs (or Mexican Wedding Cookies)
1 stick unsalted butter
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, plus extra for dusting
1⁄2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup finely ground pecans
Pinch of fine salt 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter until fluffy. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Beat for 1–2 minutes. Gradually beat in flour. Stir in nuts.

Shape dough into 1" balls, using about 1 tablespoon of dough for each. Place 1" apart on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 20 minutes, turning sheet so that cookies bake lightly and evenly. When they're nearly cool, roll in confectioners' sugar. Use any extra sugar for dusting over the cookies.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Portrait d'une Femme Affiche d'une Fille

The past couple of days have given us New Yorkers a nice little preview of the fall weather that is just around the corner. It's been a bit grey, a little rainy, and hovering right around 80 degrees--perfect weather for the chunky Isabel Marant sweater I haven't been able to wear since May. I can't quite believe how quickly summer has flown by. Before we know it, we'll be diving right into fashion week and all the insanity that comes with it. But before that happens, I've still got some summer moments to check off my list--one more long, hazy Montauk weekend, several warm al fresco meals, perfecting my fish taco recipe, and finally finishing my book proposal. What are the things on your summer bucket list?

I'm wearing an Isabel Marant sweater, Isabel Marant shorts, Alexander Wang bag. All pictures by Mark Iantosca. xo

Monday, August 15, 2011

Summer Spaghetti with Sweet Market Tomatoes

It seems like every other meal I make involves pasta these days, but with the abundance of in-season, ripe, juicy tomatoes at the market, I can't help buying pounds of the beautifully ugly, perfectly misshapen things every time I see them on a market table. And what goes better with tomatoes than spaghetti? Nothing that I've tasted, I can tell you that much. Tomato season is only happening for another month or so, and this time of year usually induces a certain tomato frenzy in me. And if you think this is bad, just wait 'til late September when, in a sudden panic, I buy as many sweet tomatoes as I can carry home and spend hours making indecent amounts of sauce to freeze for the winter.

This weekend, when I saw containers full of tiny yellow, orange, and red cherry tomatoes, piled together at the farmers' market like miniature sunsets, I had to pick them up and add them to my haul immediately. And then, of course, I made spaghetti that night, keeping the recipe as simple and clean as possible, so that the tomatoes' flavor was fully showcased. It's easy as can be--just a bit of garlic, olive oil, and the tomatoes, stirred together in a hot pan until the skins burst a bit. You can add some toasted bread crumbs and perhaps some red chili flakes for heat, but I think this 5-ingredient recipe is pretty perfect as is. xo

Summer Spaghetti with Sweet Market Tomatoes
Kosher salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 pint sweet cherry tomatoes, multi-colored
10 fresh basil leaves, finely shredded
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound spaghetti

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt.

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic slices and cook for 3 minutes, or until softened and slightly browned. Add the tomatoes and basil and cook over medium-high heat until the tomatoes are just beginning to burst. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in the boiling water according to package directions until it is al dente. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the tomatoes. Toss over high heat for 1 minute, then divide evenly among 4 pasta bowls, sprinkle some extra basil on top, and serve immediately.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Classic Chopped Salad

Chopped salads are such a classic West Coast thing. Having grown up in San Francisco and Hawaii, I consumed my fair share of them through the years, and when I'm craving a meal that requires no stove or oven time, it's my go-to. The ingredients change with whatever happens to be languishing away in my fridge on any given day, but this particular combo is especially good. It's definitely not the same in the winter months (when you shouldn't be consuming those tasteless, out-of-season tomatoes, anyway), so I've been making myself plates of this more and more often as August winds down. It's basically a conglomeration of a bunch of my very favorite ingredients--avocados, cheese, bacon, summer could you go wrong? xo

Classic Chopped Salad
Adapted from My Father's Daughter, by Gwyneth Paltrow
6 strips bacon
3 heads greenleaf lettuce, roughly chopped
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
Handful of organic cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1/2 cup Standby Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Cook the bacon in a frying pan until crispy. Drain on paper towels and dice the crispy meat. Lay the lettuce down on a big platter. Scatter the bacon, avocado, tomato, and Gorgonzola over the lettuce in a mix or in rows, whatever you feel like. Dress with the vinaigrette and toss.

Standby Vinaigrette:
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons real Vermont maple syrup
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together the mustard, maple syrup, and vinegar. Slowly whisk in the oils, and season with salt and pepper.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Beauty Shop: Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes Eyeliner

This stuff is the secret of make-up artists and beauty insiders everywhere. The texture is so smooth, it glides right onto your eyelid without pulling, and then stays right where you want it until it's time to take it off. When Make Up For Ever says "waterproof" they are not messing with you. Which, incidentally, comes in handy right around August when the humidity here skyrockets. Plus, the color really packs a punch--I tend to stick to the traditional black pictured above, but they come in all sorts of fun options (think turquoise, dark plum, shimmery slate grey, etc.) to play with. It's a staple. You can buy it HERE. xo

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Braised Pork Chops with Tomatoes, Anchovies, and Rosemary

I am forever on the lookout for a good pork chop recipe. My mother made them a lot while I was growing up, and now they're a form of comfort food for me. Indulgent, definitely. But worth the occasional calorie splurge, especially when you're working with a recipe as easy and delicious as this one. The quick, savory braise is just enough to infuse the meat with the always-amazing combo of tomatoes and melting anchovies, and get it to a perfectly cooked, tender state. Yum. The recipe below will make dinner for two. xo

Braised Pork Chops with Tomatoes, Anchovies, and Rosemary
From A Good Appetite, by Melissa Clark
2 (1 1/2-inch-thick) bone-in pork loin chops (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, additional for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, additional for seasoning
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
3 large rosemary sprigs
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds plum tomatoes (preferably a mix of red and yellow), roughly chopped
6 anchovy fillets
Polenta, noodles, or rice, for serving (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Rinse the pork chops and pat dry with a paper towel. Season generously with salt and pepper. In a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat, place 1 tablespoon of oil. Sear the chops until well-browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Add the remaining tablespoon oil to the skillet and saute the onion and rosemary until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Add the tomatoes, anchovies, and remaining salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to break down, about 8 minutes.

Add the pork chops to the skillet, spooning the sauce over the chops. Cover the skillet and transfer to the oven to bake, about 15 minutes. Allow the chops to rest for 5 minutes in the pan, then serve with polenta, noodles, or rice, if desired, to soak up the sauce.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Corn Chowder

By the time August rolls around, it just feels wrong not to have sweet summer corn integrated into as many meals as possible. The season for it is rapidly winding down to a close, and before we know it, we'll be waiting eagerly for the chance to indulge again, so take part while you can, friends. One of my absolute favorite ways to prepare corn is simmering it in a failproof combo of cream and bacon and potatoes until it transforms into a sumptuous, silky chowder with just the right amount of heft. This recipe is about as simple as it gets, and incredibly delicious. Make it a priority to whip it up before month's end--it's the perfect way to celebrate summer's dwindling days. Recipe down below. All pictures by Mark Iantosca. xo

Corn Chowder
4 to 6 ears of fresh corn
1/2 cup bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup half and half or heavy cream
1/2 cup chopped parsley (optional)

Shuck corn, and use a paring knife to strip kernels into a bowl. Put cobs in a pot with 4 cups water; bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer while you continue.

Put bacon in a saucepan, and turn heat to medium-high. Cook over medium heat until it renders some of it's fat, about 4 minutes. Add onion and potatoes, along with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens, about 5 minutes.

After corncobs have cooked at least 10 minutes, strain liquid into onion-potato mixture; bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. When potatoes are tender, add corn kernels and milk, and heat through. Taste, and adjust seasonings. Garnish with the parsley, and serve.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Spaghetti alla Vongole

When I was in college, I often went home with a sorority sister of mine, who lived close to campus. Her Italian mother served a white clam sauce with linguine that was off-the-wall good. She made a quick and easy version that involved bottled clam juice and canned clams, and although I've since moved onto my own favorite clam sauce recipes (which, incidentally, all involve fresh clams), I still sometimes crave that exact dish, which really, required nothing more than some heating time on the stove.

Last night, I treated myself to a relaxing evening with a new favorite recipe for spaghetti alla vongole that is as easy as it is good. In fact, it was almost as easy as the heat-and-serve method my old friend's mother preferred. After cleaning my apartment from top to bottom, I kicked off my shoes, put on some music, opened a bottle of white wine, dunked my batch of clams into some cold water for cleaning, and got my pasta water started on the stove. It was a pretty perfect way to spend a summer Sunday. Try it for yourself and see. The below recipe serves 3 or 4.

Spaghetti alla Vongole
Adapted from My Father's Daughter, by Gwyneth Paltrow
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
Pinch of red chile flakes
Pinch of fennel seeds
6 olive oil-packed Spanish anchovies
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 cup dry white wine, like Sauvignon Blanc
2 lbs small fresh clams or cockles, cleaned and scrubbed
6 large, fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
3/4 lb spaghetti (I used DeCecco)

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over low heat. Add the garlic, chile flakes, and fennel seeds and cook for just about a minute, or until warmed and beginning to soften. Add the anchovies and stir them until they melt into the oil, about a minute. Crush the tomatoes gently by hand, just until their skins burst, and add them to the pan. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, crushing with the back of your spoon, until the tomatoes begin to break down. Add the wine, turn the heat up, and boil for a minute. Add the clams, cover the pan, and cook until the clams open, about a minute or two. Uncover the pan and discard any clams that didn't open. Lower the heat to simmer to let the sauce reduce until it's thick enough to just coat a spoon (you want it to really stick to the pasta). Turn off the heat and add the basil.

Meanwhile, cook your spaghetti until perfectly al dente. Add it to the pan with the sauce and stir to coat it.

To serve, divide the pasta into bowls, spooning the clams, sauce, and all the yummy bits on top of each portion.

Friday, August 5, 2011

In the Market: Fall Classics

This fall, I'm looking forward to all the polished, luxe pieces that have been popping up on my radar--fine wool scarves, big cashmere sweaters, and perfectly tailored coats, all in rich, muted colors. Add some classic pieces of investment jewelry like Cartier's love bracelet and an Hermes watch to take the look even further uptown. xo

Some of my favorite pieces:

1. Etoile Isabel Marant Horton sweater, $300, at
2.  Carven double-breasted wool-blend jacket, $895, at 
3. Acne Track leather ankle boots, $660, at
4. Bobbi Brown limited edition bronze tortoise shell eye palette, $60, at 
5. Burberry cashmere scarf, $425, at
6. Hermes Cape Cod watch, $2,525, at 
7. Cartier yellow gold love bracelet $5,575, at
8. Proenza Schouler PS11 canvas tote, $1,350, at 
9. Smythson Food for Thought journal, $80, at
10. Serge Lutens lipstick in Mise a Mort, $55, at

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Grocery List: Cholula Hot Sauce

Hot sauce is one of those things that is omnipresent in my kitchen. Growing up with a Korean mother who happened to be a prolific (and excellent) cook, my taste buds have been trained to withstand and love wildly spicy foods (hello, homemade kimchee). That penchant for heat has stayed with me and I find myself reaching for the nearest bottle of hot sauce more often than you'd expect. I even sprinkled a bit on popcorn once, during an especially weird craving. And you know what? It was good.

My go-to sauce is Cholula, made with a mix of piquin and arbol peppers and then combined with their signature mix of seasonings and pepper pastes. It's level of spice falls neatly in a delicious middle ground--it's got a good amount of kick but won't burn your tongue off--and the flavors are complex and interesting. My fish tacos see a generous amount of this stuff, as does just about any corn recipe I attempt. It's a kitchen must. xo

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Scalloped Potatoes

While I was in Miami last weekend, I spent the majority of my waking hours laying around by the pool with my nose buried in Ruth Reichl's memoir of being the NY Times restaurant critic, Garlic and Sapphires. I finished it in two days flat, and when I was done, I felt a little wistful, as though a part of me regretted having gone through it so quickly. Needless to say, I loved it. The way Reichl describes food is second to none--she makes you feel as if you're right there with her taking the same bite of handmade soba, or foie gras and strawberries, or as in the dish I've made here, the creamy, peppery scalloped potatoes she includes in a special dinner for her family.

I tested this recipe last night, tweaking it a bit to make it my own, in preparation for a little steak dinner a deux I'm whipping up later this evening. They turned out absolutely delicious--rich, buttery, lush with soaked up milk, and satisfyingly crisp at the edges. They're just the thing to have as an accompaniment to any meat dish--roasted lamb, a pork shoulder, or a perfectly dry-aged rib-eye steak, as I'm making tonight. xo

Scalloped Potatoes
1 clove garlic, sliced in half
3 tablespoons butter, plus a pat extra for buttering your gratin dish
4 large yellow potatoes, peeled (make sure to get the waxy skinned ones--russets fall apart too easily)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (Gruyere works well here too)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Rub a 9 x 12-inch gratin dish all over with both halves of the garlic clove. Grease the dish with the pat of butter. Slice the potatoes as thinly as you can and arrange them in a layer, overlapping the edges slightly like shingles. Sprinkle the potatoes generously with salt and freshly ground pepper, and a third of the cheese. Repeat this process with your remaining potato slices. Depending on how thinly sliced your potatoes are, you should end up with approximately three layers, with a third of the cheese between each layer. Reserve the last third of your cheese for later.

Carefully pour the milk over the potatoes. It should come up to the bottom of the top layer of potatoes; add more if this is not enough. Dot the top of the gratin with the three tablespoons of butter and bake it for about an hour and 15 minutes, taking it out of the oven every 30 minutes to press the top layer down gently with a spatula to keep it moist. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the gratin for the last 15 minutes of baking. The gratin is done when the potatoes are soft and the top is golden brown. Let the dish sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I Want to Get From Here to There

I scooped up this Rag & Bone knit in the early days of spring (must've been around April)--the fuzzy, slightly weird fabric reminded me a little of a bathmat and I inexplicably loved it at first sight. Back then, I never thought I'd say this but I am officially done with spring/summer shopping--done with the surf trend (until next year, that is), done with maxi dresses, done with all of it. I'm spring-fashioned out. And now, with absolutely no downtime, I've smoothly transitioned into my fall wishlist, which includes: just about every piece in Isabel Marant's collection (no surprise there), some Pierre Hardy suede lace-up booties, a perfect black coat, lots of big, cozy sweaters a la Gwyneth Paltrow in A Perfect Murder (90s Gwyneth never steers you wrong in terms of style inspiration), a few new Equipment button-downs, and some soft cashmere scarves to throw on every day. What's on your fall shopping lists?

I'm wearing a Rag & Bone knit top, Aristocrat jeans, Chanel bag, and moveslightly bracelets. All photos by Mark Iantosca. xo