Category Archives: Recipes

Top o’ the Muffin to Ya!

Happy Monday, friends! It is FINALLY cool enough to bake again. HALLELUJAH. To start your week off right (and more importantly, my week) I’m giving you the moistest, most insanely delicious zucchini muffin recipe I have ever encountered. If you eat one of these seconds after it comes out of the oven (please don’t judge me?) you’ll think it’s not cooked. But let it cool, loves. Take it slow. You will be so glad you did.

On the menu:
Zucchini chocolate chip muffins

3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup canola oil (you can also use vegetable oil)
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups zucchini, coarsely grated
1 apple, coarsely grated
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, milk, lemon juice, and vanilla. Combine dry and liquid ingredients just until incorporated*. Fold in the zucchini, apple, and chocolate chips.

In a greased muffin tin (or use muffin liners), fill cups almost the top of the tin (7/8 full). Bake for 22 – 26 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

*Note: after you’ve combined the dry and liquid ingredients (before adding the zucchini, apple, and chips) the mixture will be very dry. Do not be discouraged, or tempted to add more oil! There’s enough moisture in the fruit you’re about to add to make it a recognizable batter.

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Baked

I had big plans to cook up a storm in my parents’ kitchen this weekend. Instead I picked on veggies and hummus and watched an obscene amount of terrible television. Trust me, it was as indulgent and glorious as it sounds.

Sunday morning I got ambitious and made a Paula-Deen inspired French toast casserole. I’ve always wondered how restaurants make perfect French toast: eggy all the way through, but never soggy. I have to believe this is the method.

On the menu:
Summer fruit French toast casserole

1 small loaf of Italian bread, cubed
6 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp maple syrup (REAL maple syrup! Step away from the Aunt Jemima)
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup ripe peach, sliced
2 Tbsp cinnamon sugar
2 Tbsp butter

Note: you can use any ripe summer fruit you have on hand, I just happened to have blueberries and peaches

Place cubed bread in a well-buttered baking dish. Whisk together eggs, milk, syrup, and salt together until well mixed. Pour egg mixture over the bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 6 hours.

The next morning: preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle fruit over the top of the soaked bread. Break cold butter into small pieces and add to the top of the casserole. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top of the fruit and butter. Bake for 40-45 minutes (until bread on top seems firm, not soggy).

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It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye…

One of the most depressing things about living in New York is the closing of your favorite restaurants. This summer brought about the death of two of my most favorite Italian spots: Carmine’s Italian Seafood in the Financial District, and La Focaccia in the West Village. If I had to name my top ten favorite restaurants in New York City, those would have been numbers 1 and 2. And now… well. I’ll spare you the tear-stained details.

In honor of the closing of La Focaccia I bring you a recipe for the dessert I always ordered there: strawberries with zabaglione. The perfect cap to a meal of penne vodka and gnocchi, zabaglione can be served over any fruit or cake, it’s thick and creamy like custard, and is easy as all get up to make.

On the menu:
Strawberries with zabaglione

1 quart strawberries, washed and quartered
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup Marsala wine
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a small, metal bowl whisk together the yolks, sugar, wine, and vanilla. Place the metal bowl over a saucepan half full with bowling water; make sure the bowl does NOT touch the water! While constantly whisking, cook yolk mixture over the simmering water for around 10 minutes, until the mixture is light yellow and fluffy*. Serve warm over strawberries.

*Note: taste the mixture before you remove it from the heat. If it’s not to your liking, add a bit more sugar.

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Say Cheese!

Summer always ignites my love of fresh fruit, and life in general ignites my love of cheese. So allow me to plant an idea for a delicious little snack/meal/appetizer that I’ve been feasting on lately like it’s my job.

Step 1:
Slice and toast a baguette, and slather with ricotta cheese.

Step 2:
Spread on some honey, hunny.

Step 3:
Slice up a ripe plum and place on top.

Step 4:
Sprinkle on some cinnamon, sugar.

Eat! Enjoy! Be happy.

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Ketchup, Mayo, and Mustard, Oh My!

One of the classrooms at The Brooklyn Kitchen

This post is a big ole ad (even though they sure as heck are not paying me) for The Brooklyn Kitchen. They have endless classes on everything from brewing your own beer at home and cake decorating to pickling and bread baking, and all for around $50 a pop. They are informative, taught by experienced and knowledgeable chefs, and located super close to the Lorimer stop off the L train in Brooklyn.

Why aren’t you leaping off your couch to go take a class right now?

On Monday night I went out to The Brooklyn Kitchen and took the class on condiments. I am now full of information on how to craft my own mayonnaise, ketchup, BBQ sauce, mustard, citrus vinaigrette, and green goddess dressing.

Jealous?

While chef Brendan McDermott, who taught the class, stressed that recipes are the devil (my words, not his) and that home cooks should use their palates to craft truly special condiments, I’m going to share with you a couple recipes so you can start the condiments journey on your own.

You. Are. Welcome.

Greens with citrus vinaigrette (on lettuce), green goddess, and mustard

Spicy Mustard

3 Tbsp ground mustard seeds
3 Tbsp cheap beer (you heard me)
Healthy pinch of salt
2 tsp olive oil

Add the beer to the mustard and mix well. Add the salt and olive oil. Taste. If it’s too spicy for your liking, add a little more oil. If you’re a glutton for punishment, add more mustard powder.

That’s IT. Can you believe this? Don’t you want to slather this on everything in your cupboard and declare yourself Queen of Condiments?! No…? Just me…?

On to mayo!

French fries with (counterclockwise from top) ketchup, BBQ sauce, curry ketchup, and mustard

Mayonnaise

3 egg yolks
3 cups oil (canola, grapeseed, or olive)
1 Tbsp lemon zest (or zest from half a lemon)
1/4 cup lemon juice (or juice from one lemon)
2 tsp homemade mustard
Healthy pinch of salt (or 2 to taste)
2 Tbsp warm water

In a blender, on low speed, blend together egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and mustard. Add salt. Add warm water. While the blender is running, add the oil VERY slowly, in as thin and slow a stream as your hand can muster. You absolutely have to add the oil as slow as possible so the mixture stays emulsified.¬†Once the oil is added, you have mayonnaise! Let the mixture sit out at room temperature for about an hour before refrigerating so the mixture doesn’t separate in the cold.

Mayonnaise is an amazing base for so many things; ranch dressing, green goddess dressing, flavored mayo like chipotle and sriracha, and can be used to beef up cakes and baked goods. Seriously, this is the stuff.

All this and more at The Brooklyn Kitchen! Check it out.

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Pop Goes the Weekend

Happy Monday, friends! I saw 60s in the forecast for this week so I could not be happier. In addition to these normal summer temperatures I have two exciting culinary happenings in the cards this week. Monday morning is easier to swallow when your Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursdays are looking up.

In lieu of dinner Sunday night, I made popcorn. I know what you’re thinking. “Popcorn is not a meal, Lauren.” But don’t worry, I had a glass of wine, too.

On the menu:
Parmesan pepper popcorn

1/4 cup popcorn*
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Pop the corn in an air popper. Melt butter over low heat. Add cheese to butter just until coated with butter. Pour half the butter/cheese mixture over popped corn, and sprinkle half the red pepper flakes over top. Toss popcorn. Pour the remaining butter/cheese over the popcorn and sprinkle the rest of the red pepper. Sprinkle salt and pepper over top. Toss well.

*If you don’t have an air popper, you can still make oil-free pop corn at home. Put the kernels in a paper bag and pop them in the microwave for about 2 minutes. Voila.

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It’s Greek to Me

The heat has been making headlines all over the place here in New York City, and as I mentioned before, it makes me want to stay far out of the kitchen (i.e. the only room in the apartment without a fan or AC unit). But I’m hungry, people. And I miss cooking. I miss it a lot.

So tonight I recreated one of my favorite, most basic dishes from Aladdin’s Natural Eatery in lovely Rochester, NY with very minimal prep and stove time. It’s a twist on traditional souvlaki but it was delicious and gave me enough leftovers for two extra meals. TAKE THAT OPPRESSIVE HEAT! I’m still eating. Can’t nobody hold me down.

On the menu:
Steak souvlaki salad
Serves 3

1 lb flank steak
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp canola oil
4 oz feta cheese
1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp dry white wine
4 cups mixed greens (I used a bag of ready-made salad)

Dressing:

1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
1 tsp honey
1 tsp lemon juice

Heat canola oil in a large skillet over high heat, until you can see slight heat ripples in the oil. Season steak liberally on each side with plenty of salt and pepper. Don’t be shy now! Seriously. Coat it. Sear steak for 2 minutes on each side. Lower heat to medium and cook steak for 5 minutes on each side. Remove from heat. Let rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing into bite size pieces.

In the same skillet you cooked the steak in, add the wine and turn heat to low/medium. Scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen the brown bits. Add onions and coat in the wine sauce. Let cook for around 6-8 minutes, or until onions have softened and the wine has cooked down.

Plate salad, place steak on top of lettuce, and crumble feta cheese over top. Lay onions on top. Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing and pour on top of the salad. Serve immediately.

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