Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Lamb Chops with Rosemary Potatoes

It's officially turning into snowing/sleeting/freezing-raining season in New York lately. And when that happens, all I really want to do is get home, light some candles, throw on a comfy old college hoodie, put on some music, and cook a super simple, hearty dinner, preferably composed of some sort of meat and potatoes combo. Also, preferably to be eaten while firmly ensconced on my couch, watching an episode of Revenge, or some other such guilty pleasure. Perfect for these cold November nights. xo

Lamb Chops with Rosemary Potatoes
From Canal House Cooks Everyday
5 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 lbs lamb chops (shoulder or rib)
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
3 large sprigs fresh rosemary

Put the potatoes in a large pot of salted cold water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the potatoes until they are barely tender, 5-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Season the lamb chops well with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. When it's hot, add the olive oil, then put the lamb chops in the skillet. Cook in batches, if necessary, to brown the chops (crowding the skillet will braise them instead). Cook until well browned, about 5 minutes, then flip and cook for about 3 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer the chops to a plate and keep warm in a very low oven, if you like.

Add the garlic and rosemary to the sizzling oil in the skillet, reduce the heat a bit if the garlic is browning too quickly, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the potatoes in one layer, season with salt and pepper, and cook undisturbed until they have developed a nice crust, about 5 minutes. Continue to cook, turning only occasionally, until the potatoes are tender and golden brown on all sides, 10-15 minutes. Serve the chops with the potatoes, garnished with more fresh rosemary, if you like.

Serves 4

Monday, November 26, 2012

Food for Thought

I've been thinking about gratitude a lot lately (for obvious reasons) and what a huge role it plays in happiness. I was taking a class last week at Yoga Vida with Heather, one of my favorite teachers, and she mentioned that it can be said that "gratitude is rooted in our incompleteness."  It comes rushing in when we soften into the reality that we cannot be everything and do everything on our own. We need friends. We need family. We need co-workers. We need people to love us. But it can be super scary to admit that kind of vulnerability, so most of us (especially us Type A New Yorkers) just go around trying to do everything on our own.

I was reading a study published by The University of California, Berkley, and it came up with a multitude of definitions for gratitude from a variety of sources, including the following:

1. The object of gratitude is other-directed—persons, as well as to impersonal (nature) or nonhuman sources (e.g., God, animals, the cosmos; Solomon, 1977; Teigen, 1997).

2. Although a variety of life experiences can elicit feelings of gratitude, prototypically gratitude stems from the perception of a positive personal outcome, not necessarily deserved or earned, that is due to the actions of another person.” (Bertocci & Millard, 1963, p. 389).

3. “ estimate of gain coupled with the judgment that someone else is responsible for that gain."

4. As an emotion, gratitude is an attribution-dependent state (Weiner, 1985) that results from a two-step cognitive process: (a) recognizing that one has obtained a positive outcome, and (b) recognizing that there is an external source for this positive outcome.

Seems all the definitions agree on one thing: gratitude is centered around external sources (i.e. other people). Also? The study developed a lot of fascinating, scientific findings, but I'll break it down for you: a grateful person is a happier person. Sounds like good enough reason to me to start letting more people in, focusing on what we have instead of what we've lost, and being happier for it. xo

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust

As promised, here is a new favorite recipe for a pumpkin cheesecake tart. Except the word "tart" always reminds me of fruit desserts, which this is most certainly not, so I'm just calling it a pumpkin cheesecake. Also, the cheesecake part and the pumpkin part are supposed to be prettily marbled together, which didn't quite work out for me. But, I swear up and down that marbling or not, this cake (not tart) is something pretty darn remarkable. So instead of lugging out your tired old pie dish on Thursday, I would suggest you branch out a bit and give this little gem a try. The ingredient list may look long, but most of it is stuff you probably already have laying around your kitchen, and the actual assembly as easy as, well, pie. Har.

Happy baking. xo

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust
From The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by Deb Perelman
4 ounces gingersnap cookies (about 16 cookies), coarsely broken
3 ounces graham crackers (five and a half 2 1/2-by-4 7/8-inch graham-cracker sheets)
4 tablespoons salted butter, melted

Cheesecake batter:
4 ounces cream cheese, well softened
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk

Pumpkin batter:
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Few fresh gratings of nutmeg
1 cup heavy cream

Make crust: Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Finely grind the gingersnaps and graham crackers in a food processor (yielding 1 1/2 cups). Add the melted butter, and process until the cookie-crumb mixture is moistened. Press the mixture firmly into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Place pan on rimmed baking sheet.

Make cheesecake batter: Mix together the ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.

Make pumpkin batter: Beat the egg and the egg white lightly in a large bowl. Whisk in the pumpkin, sugars, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Gradually whisk in the cream.

Assemble tart: Pour the pumpkin batter into gingersnap-graham crust. Dollop the cheesecake batter over pumpkin batter, then marble the two together decoratively with a knife. Try not to pierce the bottom crust as you do. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes, or until a knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool the tart completely on a rack, or in the fridge if you like it cold. Serve immediately and refrigerate any leftovers.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Simple Chestnut Stuffing

In honor of one of my favorite days of the whole, entire year, I'll be posting my best recipes for the two Thanksgiving dishes that really matter--stuffing and pumpkin cheesecake. Because, come on, turkey's just not that exciting, and why eat pumpkin pie when you can have pumpkin cheesecake?

Here's a super simple, herb-laden stuffing dotted generously with chunks of creamy French chestnuts. It's got just the right ratio of crisp edges and soft, moist center (something that a stuffing baked inside a turkey just can't get right--it's all about the casserole, tradition be damned). Use a good, crusty, white peasant bread for this and make sure to let it dry out for a day before diving in, and you (and your stuffing) will be golden (and crunchy and chewy and delicious). Happy Thanksgiving prep week. xo

Simple Chestnut Stuffing
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter plus more for baking dish
1 pound good-quality day-old white bread, torn into 1-inch pieces (about 10 cups)
2 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 1/2 cups 1/4-inch slices celery
1 jar whole, peeled chestnuts, broken up into smaller pieces
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Butter a 13x9x2-inch baking dish and set aside. Scatter bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, until dried out, about 1 hour. Let cool; transfer to a very large bowl.

Meanwhile, melt 3/4 cup butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add onions, celery, and chestnuts. Stir often until just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add to bowl with bread; stir in herbs, salt, and pepper. Drizzle in 1 1/4 cups broth and toss gently. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk 1 1/4 cups broth and eggs in a small bowl. Add to bread mixture; fold gently until thoroughly combined. Transfer to prepared dish, cover with foil, and bake for about 40 minutes.

Uncover stuffing and bake, until set and top is browned and crisp, 40-45 minutes longer.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Buttered Popcorn Cookies

Fall brings many things that I like, not least of which is cookbook season. For some reason, all the good cookbooks get released sometime around October. Is it because people are hunkering down in their homes and getting in more kitchen time as the temps do their annual deep dive? Not sure, not sure. But regardless, as soon as November hit, I signed onto Amazon and clickety-clicked my way into owning upwards of five new tomes full of new recipes. File under: things that make me abnormally happy.

One of these books was the long-awaited Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by Deb Perelman, based on the author's ridiculously popular (for good reason) blog. Perelman guides you through her excellent, incredibly detailed recipes, chatting with you as though you were a friend in her kitchen. This ensures (1) a highly entertaining read and (2) great results every time. When I came across this recipe for Buttered Popcorn Cookies, I went straight into the kitchen to give it a go. Popcorn and cookies are two of my most favorite things in the world, so it's not exactly surprising that I loved the two together. And I'm pretty sure you will too. xo

Buttered Popcorn Cookies
From The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by Deb Perelman
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or canola oil
1/3 cup popcorn kernels
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

To make the popcorn: Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan until hot. Add the kernels, and cover, shaking the pan to make sure all the kernels are in contact with the bottom of the pan.  As soon as you hear the first few kernels pop, shimmy the pan until all of the kernels pop (5 minutes or so).  Remove from heat, add melted butter and salt, and transfer to bowl.

Dough: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugars, egg and vanilla until smooth. Whisk flour and baking soda together.  Stir flour mixture into butter-sugar mixture, until combined.  Fold in popcorn, making sure to get dough well distributed.  It’s okay if the popcorn breaks as you’re mixing, and don’t worry if it seems like there's too much popcorn for the amount of dough.  It all works out in the end. 

Bake: Roll dough into mounds the size of a golf ball or slightly bigger.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, making sure to leave a 2 inch gap between cookies.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.  Let cool for a minute or so on the baking sheet before transferring to a rack to finish cooling.

Makes about 24 cookies

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The New Potato

The New Potato featured me on their site today! Click on over HERE to read more. xo

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Food for Thought

A little less than a year ago, I took my first yoga class. I was in Hawaii over winter break and thought it would be a good way to break up my sloth-like vacation routine of eat/beach/read/eat/shop/eat/repeat. At the time, I didn't really have a fixed workout routine, other than going on long, meandering runs a few times a week, which was getting old pretty fast. And so, I wandered into the yoga studio straight off the beach, sun-soaked, a little groggy, swimsuit full of sand, and dubious about what I was about to get myself into. Fast forward almost a year later, and here I am, making sure I get to class at least 4 or 5 times a week, and mastering poses I never thought I'd be capable of, like headstand and crow. I'm more centered, calmer, and over time, my body has grown leaner, stronger, and more toned. I sit up straight. I remember to breathe. I smile at strangers (sometimes). It's been a seriously life-changing practice.

A lot of what I love about going to class, though, isn't necessarily about the movement or asana practice. It's about all the wisdom that comes out of it. Yoga puts a big emphasis on the mind-body connection, so almost every class is devoted to an idea or a thought. These thoughts are called sutras in yoga terms and they've been around for ages. There's something very grounding about practicing something so ancient. And since it's become such a big part of my life, I thought I'd share some of that wisdom with you now and again.

One of the central messages I get over and over again is about the power your mind has over everything in your life. When you choose to look at something in a slightly different light, there can be very significant effects. When you change your mind about something, everything around you shifts. It's like a domino effect. See it differently and it will BE different. I love that.

P.S. I practice at an amazing studio called Yoga Vida. Check it out if the mood ever strikes. xo

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sweet and Sour Potted Meatballs

Happy Friday, dear readers. This has been a complete doozy of a week in my world. Catching up on everything work-wise after the hurricane meant that I was pretty much in a state of constant emailing and to-do-list-making for every waking minute. Not to mention the dozens of meetings and interviews (yes, CA Creative is hiring!) we've had to fit in. Oh, and then there was the ArtWalk benefit that I was on the committee for that happened to fall right in the middle of the NYC snowstorm. Picture me in open-toed shoes and a gorgeous Fendi cocktail dress, that the press office was sweet enough to send me, tip-toeing (and cursing) my way through banks of snow and puddles of water. Nevertheless, it ended up being a completely lovely, successful event that was impressively well-attended considering the weather. 

That said, I am exhausted. I haven't been home during a weekend since early October (Key West wedding, LA work trip, hurricane), and I've never been more excited to curl up with a stack of books, several cups of steaming tea, and do absolutely nothing for 48 straight hours. I'm also planning on cooking lots of comforting food like these Sweet and Sour Potted Meatballs from the most recent issue of Saveur. It's going to be awesome. Wishing all of you peaceful, relaxing weekends as well. xo

Sweet and Sour Potted Meatballs
From Saveur magazine, November 2012
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, minced
1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
¼ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 lb. ground beef chuck
2 eggs, beaten
⅓ cup long-grain white rice, parboiled for 3 minutes
1 cup bread crumbs
1 medium yellow onion, grated on the coarse side of a box grater
2¼ teaspoons. kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Prepare the sauce: In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil, then sauté the minced onion over medium heat until tender and golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, and rinse out the can with ½ cup water to loosen any sauce that remains, adding that liquid to the pan. Stir in the sour salt or lemon juice and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer, uncovered, over medium heat. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Make the meatballs: Put the ground meat in a large bowl and push it to one side. Add the eggs, rice, bread crumbs, onion, salt, and pepper to the other side of the bowl and combine with a large fork. Work in the meat, handful by handful, until everything is thoroughly blended. Return the sauce to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Using a ½-cup measuring cup, shape meatballs measuring about 2½" and drop them gently into the sauce. You should have 10 to 12. Cover and simmer slowly for 30 minutes, gently rotating and pushing the meatballs around halfway through the cooking so that they are thoroughly coated in sauce after about 15 minutes. Correct seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve very hot.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Relocating to Brooklyn

Mast Brothers Chocolate (111 North 3rd Street)

Since I relocated to a friend's Brooklyn apartment this week, I've been doing a lot of exploring. My office is currently still out of power, so all of us have been working from our various homes and/or friends' couches. The positive thing in all this is that I have a totally new appreciation for Williamsburg. Here are some of my favorite discoveries of my week as a Brooklyn refugee.

The Blue Stove (415 Graham Avenue): best pies ever

Catbird (219 Bedford Avenue): one of my favorite jewelry stores

Beer Street (413 Graham Avenue): lots of great beers and these amazing caramels

Kula Yoga Project (85 North 3rd Street): a friendly Brooklynite led me here after breakfast at Marlow & Sons when I was desperate for a yoga class

Finally got to check out Gwynnett Street (312 Graham Avenue). They name their dishes poetic things like Autumn Roots and cook with tobacco oil and ash. So, so good.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

I want to say thank you to everyone who has so sweetly and thoughtfully reached out to me to make sure I'm okay in Hurricane Sandy's aftermath. I'm still a bit in shock about the whole thing. Never, in my wildest imaginings, did I ever think it would be this bad. I don't think anyone did.

My Financial District apartment lost power really early on during the hurricane, so I hung out reading by candlelight until I was sleepy enough to go to bed. I assumed that when I woke up, the power would be back on and things would be on their way back to normal. Not so much. The next morning, everything was still down, both my iPhone and my Blackberry were dead with no way to charge them, and there was no food or anything open anywhere around me. I ventured out, phone and charger in hand, hoping to find somewhere that had a generator. Finally, after about an hour, I stumbled upon a little motel with two outlets that were working with a line of people behind them waiting to charge. After waiting another hour, I finally plugged in only to find that I wasn't getting service anywhere. With no way to get in touch with any of my friends, I had no choice but to pack a bag and try to hail a cab uptown to see if there was availability in any hotels. I was in the midst of throwing stuff into an overnight bag when a friend in Brooklyn finally got through to me. By that time, I was very hungry, cold, exhausted, and just trying to stay calm. I've been in Brooklyn ever since, crashing at a friend's apartment, and I've never felt more grateful for having good friends in my life.

I took a drive through Manhattan last night and it was one of the eeriest experiences of my life. My prayers go out to everyone affected. I made a donation to the Red Cross here today. Hope everyone is doing well and being safe. xo