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Monthly Archives: June 2012

mint is everywhere lately, it seems. from kitchens to cakes, mixed drinks to nailpolish. here are some of my current minty cravings. 

a summer spent lounging in inner tubes. preferably in chic pigtails like this lil lady. Image

this is more evergreen than mint – but don’t you want to be here, listening to the water pass you by, feeling teeny tiny fish tickle your feet? take me here.

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mint chocolate chip ice cream is on my list of must-makes for this summer. last summer, i conquered coffee. this year, i’m mastering mint. 

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i’m not sure what this is, or how you make it, but i want some. talk about minty fresh. 

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is there anything better than mint and chocolate together? no. i think not. 

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a classier, updated version of essie’s turks and caicos. slightly turquoise, slightly mint, totally chic. get on my nails, scotch. 

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beets are one of those things i used to wrinkle my nose at. kind of the way kids feel about things like cabbage and brussel sprouts. you know, like this, “ewwwww. you expect me to eat that? GUH-ROSS, MOM!” i think i’ve mentioned before that as a youngin’, i wasn’t much for adventurous eating. things with odd textures, odd colors, and odd tastes just weren’t for me. this list included, at one time or another, mushrooms, onions, and red meat – as well as the aforementioned brussel sprouts, cabbage and beets.

let me tell you a funny story. the summer before i entered my freshman year of high school, my family, along with one of my oldest and bestest friends, kim, spent two weeks in france. we did a week in an apartment in paris that was full of crinkly wallpaper and aged herringbone wood floors and the kind of crown moulding that makes me cry with joy. of course, as a teenager, i didn’t appreciate the architectural details of the space; i had yet to develop a taste for interior design.

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this isn’t where we stayed. this is designer erin fetherston’s paris apartment – but it reminds me of the one we rented.

i also had yet to develop an adventurous taste for food, or really, a taste for food at all. my parents, who have always been amateur foodies themselves, love a good french delicacy – but me, at fourteen? not so much. escargot? you think just ’cause you’re dressing those babies up in a nice name i’m going to want to eat snails? AS IF. duck? no thanks. i don’t really like eating things that i’ve seen waddling around the pond in my hometown’s college campus. i wrinkled my nose so much in paris, it’s a wonder it didn’t get stuck like that.

since i didn’t want to eat any of the fancy food served in parisian restaurants, i subsisted on a lot of bread and cheese during that trip – you know, stuff i could pronounce, without funky textures or weird names. but one day, strolling through a french farmer’s market, we came across the most delectably beautiful stand of fresh strawberries. you can’t imagine the glee i felt – something i could (and would) eat! i picked up a pint right then and there, and continued to peruse the market, biting off the heads of one juicy strawberry after another, sticking the tops in the lid of my plastic container.

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the barrel into which my strawberries went tumbling looked like this, except bigger.

as would be the fate of a picky fourteen year old, a few paces later, i managed to accidentally spill my entire pint of strawberries, bitten off heads and all, into a giant vat of fresh paprika. i should tell you right now that i don’t speak a word of french, and at fourteen, i was beyond awkward, totally shy, and had trouble stringing sentences together in english, let alone in another language. my parents did the dirty work of apologizing profusely, while i attempted to pick my strawberries out of the bin (my hand was immediately swatted away – clearly in hoping to remedy the situation, i just made it worse). there are few times in my adult life that have rivaled this experience in terms of embarrassment factor. suffice it to say, we didn’t return to that part of the market ever again.

the moral of the story? it would do me well to be a bit more adventurous in my eating. which is why i’m proud of this recipe, in which i took one of my formerly despised foods and transplanted into a food i love: pasta.

i’m pretty happy with the result, which was creamy and delicious and also, HOT PINK. i mean, what’s not to love about hot pink pasta? NOTHING, if you ask me. basically, i got these ENORMOUS beets at the farmer’s market on saturday, and in lieu of taking the traditional route and putting them into a salad, i decided i’d turn that salad into a pasta.

beets’ sweetness is extremely well complimented by the creaminess of goat cheese, and whatdya know, i’d picked up some fresh garlic and black pepper infused chevre at the market as well! so i roasted my beets, then tossed them with goat cheese, a little pasta water, some fresh italian parsley, and lemon juice. and you know what? hot pink pasta is YUMMY. Image

so, let’s go forth and make it, shall we?

The Recipe

1 oversized beet (seriously, mine was enormous) or a few small beets

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1 box of fusili or penne

3/4 cup goat cheese (if you can find herbed or flavored, go for it)

2 tbsp fresh italian parsley, diced and sliced

to make, roast your beet(s) in a 425 degree oven. you’ll want to drizzle them with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then wrap them in aluminum foil. then, place them on a baking sheet or in a pan (i stuck mine in a glass bread pan) and stick ’em in there. cook for anywhere from 25 minutes to an hour. mine took a while because they were so huge, but smaller ones will take closer to the 25 minute mark. they’re done when you can easily piece the skin with a fork.

once your beets have cooked, remove them from the oven, and let them cool a bit. you need to peel the skins off, and you don’t want to burn yourself doing so. while you’re waiting for them to cool, put your pasta water on to boil, and zest and juice your lemon. set both the juice and zest aside. now, chop up your parsley. regular parsley would be fine here, but italian parsley is best. mint would also be delish!

once your water boils, dump your pasta in and add a bit of olive oil into the pot. stir and set your timer according to the directions on the box. now, peel your beets and chop them up into chunks. a bit bigger than bite size is perfect.

when your pasta finishes cooking, drain and reserve a bit of pasta water. put the pasta back into the pot, and add your goat cheese, beets and lemon juice. stir until the cheese has melted into a creamy sauce. if you need, add some water or white wine to thin the sauce out a bit more. dole pasta out into bowls and top with parsley and lemon zest.

there you go, folks. hot pink beetalicious pasta!

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if you’ve ever spent a drunken night in new york city’s east village, chances are you’ve ended the evening at one of two places: pommes frites, or ray’s candy store. both are east village/new york institutions, purveyors of all things greasy and good. at both places, you order a large serving of fries and choose from a bevy of sauces, from chipotle mayo to sesame peanut to honey mustard and beyond. there’s some deliriously beautiful about standing in line at ray’s or pomme frites, your legs jittery from dancing, your hair caked to your neck with dried sweat, the scent of your deodorant creeping up to your nose, your head and your heart giddy with the fact that you live here in this beautiful crazy city and you’re out there soaking it up with every cell of your being. of course, there’s also something deliriously beautiful about stuffing your slightly tipsy face with fries and assorted sauces, of plopping yourself down on the nearest bench or stoop or one of pomme frites’ picnic-esque tables and sitting in silence as you eat, only the sounds of teeth coming down on crispy fries to keep you company. 

i’m partial to ray’s, because it’s an institution that’s been around forever, because it’s simple and sweet and a hole in the wall, and i love me a hole in the wall – but to be sure, pomme frites has more sauce options. but you know what? i can also make my own french fries, in my tiny but cozy kitchen, with the oil splattering the tiles on the back of my oven and dotting the floor with grease. and then i can make some of the amazing sauces (many of which are the same as the ones you can get at pomme frites) that i found over on saveur. YUM A LICIOUS. 

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as my friend bruce so kindly pointed out last week, i’ve been really into all things asian lately (when it comes to food, at least). this is sort of funny, because asian food used to be the one food i didn’t dare cook at home. i assumed the sauces were so complicated that i’d inevitably mess them up, that sesame chicken was better left to the folks at my local chinese restaurant. but then i made orange sesame chicken at home, and it looked just like it did in the restaurant, but tasted even better because i’d made it myself. i was so proud in that moment, sprinkling my toasted sesame seeds atop chicken that was practically perfect in every way (and loaded with calories, i’m sure – but let’s forget about that for a moment). 

making sesame chicken gave me the much needed confidence to attempt other takeout at home classics – like this recipe for sesame shrimp and broccoli, which i stumbled upon whilst doing my daily perusal of pinterest. the sauce isn’t perfect (in fact, i think next time i make this, i may use my original orange sesame chicken sauce instead of this one) – but it was fast, easy, and pretty darn good the next day when i ate it at my desk for lunch. Image

i only happened to have teeny tiny baby shrimp on hand at home, but i’d recommend you make this recipe with bigger shrimp for a bit more bite. also, i ended up having a ton of extra sauce, which is currently sitting in my fridge waiting for something new to smother. i’m thinking tofu might work.

The Recipe (found at I want a nap)

  • 1 ½ cup water
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

to make, set a pot of water on to boil for your white rice (if you don’t have any made already). generally, the ratio for rice is 2 to 1, ie, 2 cups of water for 1 cup of rice. while it boils, chop up a head of broccoli and lightly toast some sesame seeds (about 2 teaspoons worth) in a skillet. keep an eye on them, these babies burn quickly! your water should be boiling by now – add your rice and turn the heat down to low. cook, covered, for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is fluffy.

next, make the sauce. mix 1 1/4 cup water, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, bouillon cube, 2 tablespoons of sesame oil and 2 minced garlic cloves in a medium sauce pan. whisk to combine. in a small bowl, mix the corn starch and remaining 1/4 cup water, then stir cornstarch mixture into the saucepan mixture. whisk until smooth.

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cornstarch is a thickening agent, and one i’m learning is used in a lot of chinese dishes. sometimes, it’ll be added to the dough of a frying recipe (giving those crunchy bits on the outside that we’re all used to eating at our favorite restaurants), sometimes, it’ll be used to thicken up the sauce. in this case, it’s the latter. mixing it with water ensures that it enables an equal level of thickening power; if you were to just dump the cornstarch (which looks similar to confectioners sugar) straight in, you’d just get little lumps of starch that you wouldn’t be able to mix out. 

heat your sauce on medium heat, stirring often, until it thickens. this should be about seven minutes. remove from heat and set aside. check on your rice. it should be about halfway done by now.

now it’s time for the goodies. heat sesame oil and olive oil in a skillet. once it’s hot (test by throwing a drop of cold water on the oil – if it reacts, you’re good to go!), add your broccoli and saute for a few minutes, stirring frequently to make sure the broccoli is equally cooked on all sides. now, add your shrimp, as well as the remaining diced garlic. saute until cooked through and pink, about 3-4 minutes. 

remove shrimp and broccoli from heat and toss with the sauce – don’t pour it all on, because you’ll likely have extra! your rice should be done by now, so spoon a bit of it into a big bowl (like the one pictured above) and top with the shrimp and broccoli mixture. sprinkle a few sesame seeds on top, et voila! a delicious takeout meal at home, in about 20 minutes. 

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for most new yorkers, a big, spacious, airy kitchen is the stuff dreams are made of. unless you’re carrie bradshaw and you use your oven for storage. but any amateur foodie in gotham will tell you they’d love some more cabinet space, more counter space, a place to store pots and pans. i’m quite lucky to have (by new york sizing) a relatively large kitchen. but i’d take any of these babies over mine any day.

a cute galley kitchen – NYC done right.

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minty green cabinets. swoon.Image

this tile. the drum light. need i say more?Image

all white cabinets. someday!

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wide open spaces.Image

the kind of pantry i can get behind. Image

going out dancing with your friends ’till the wee hours of the morning is a wonderful thing. as is bringing your own bottles of cheap wine to a rooftop party and proceeding to down them alongside multiple cranberry vodkas. but you know what’s not so wonderful?

waking up the next morning with a pounding head and sunlight streaming through your curtains. and a cat that’s repeatedly pawing your head wanting to be fed. in my dreams, my hangovers are aided/abated by the beautifully hot guy sleeping next to me, reminding me that my bad choices (drinking too much) are okay because they lead to good choices (bringing home a hottie). in reality, what happens is that i stumble home to my apartment after throwing my cabbie a $10, heat up some leftover pasta and sit in my bed watching house hunters until i’ve drank a full two cups of water and consumed everything in my bowl. the next morning, all i wake up to is a dirty bowl and my hungry cat.

i’m still waiting for the morning i wake up with the hottie in tow and can cook both of us a spectacular breakfast that makes him fall madly in love with me. but in the meantime, i’m just cooking for myself – which is by no means a reason to skimp on the details.

it’s my personal belief that hangovers are remedied by one thing and one thing only: grease. maybe that grease comes in the form of bacon, maybe it’s in your fried eggs, maybe it’s in your homefries, maybe it’s in all three. that, combined with a little hair of the dog (if you can stomach it) and some coffee, and you should be good to go. since i don’t want to pay to go out to breakfast every time i’m hungover, i’ve developed a pretty delicious and grease-filled recipe for homefries that has worked pretty darn well as a homemade hangover remedy. remember in this post, when i told you i was obsessed with homefries? well, i am. and it turns out, i make a pretty mean batch myself.

so, tomorrow morning, when your head is throbbing, and you’re regretting those drunk texts you sent last night  and you feel like you might barf if you have to put on clothes, pop a few aspirin and whip these babies up. then throw on some john mayer or damien rice in the background. something about a guy crooning with a soothing guitar makes all your worries melt away, if you ask me.

Homemade Hangover Remedy: Homefries

1/2 cup chopped yellow onions

1/2 cup chopped mushrooms

2 cloves fresh garlic, diced

2 tsp fresh herbs of your choice (i used thyme and a little bit of basil)

2-4 tsp of smoked paprika (add this to taste – i like a lot of paprika in mine)

1 tsp garlic powder

3 medium sized potatoes, cute into bite sized pieces

3 tbs butter, maybe a few more to taste

to make, chop all your chop-able ingredients and set them aside. you want to have things ready to throw in as you go. heat a large skillet with your butter and maybe a tiny bit of canola oil. you want to get that grease in there – it’s what’s going to soak up all the alcohol in your tummy. once the pan is warmed and the butter is melted, add your mushrooms, onions, and garlic and turn head down to medium. you want to cook these babies until soft. also, if you’ve got some green pepper on hand (i don’t usually buy peppers, but if you do), dice it up and toss about 1/4 cup of it in there as well.

once your onions and shrooms are softened, throw your potatoes in there as well. season with paprika and garlic powder, and smell. if you can’t smell the paprika, add more. you want to smell something strong, fragrant, and paprika garlic-y. if you can’t smell it yet, you need more spices. also add salt and pepper to taste. a few grinds of pepper should do, as well as about a tsp or two of salt. now add your fresh spices, and toss. cover your skillet and cook for ten minutes or so, covered. the cover will help cook the potatoes quickly by keeping the heat and steam inside the pan.

after ten minutes, stir again, and consider adding more seasoning if need be. the measurements above are estimates – you might want more, depending on how flavorful you like your homefries. remove the top and add a bit more butter. remember, grease is the word. cook a few more minutes, uncovered, to really cement the flavors in there. your homefries should be soft on the inside, and crunchy on the outside, much like a great cookie.

if you want to add more garlic, or more onions, or any of the above, go for it. homefries are great, because you’re really just throwing a bunch of stuff into a pan and hoping for the best. these came out delicious, hence my sharing them with you, but feel free to add or subtract as you see fit.

now, serve them up with some fruit salad (bananas are also good for hangovers) and some fried eggs.

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if you’re one of those people who’s still buying the bulk of your produce at your local grocery store, you are missing out. you need to hit up your local farmer’s market, STAT. remember my yearning for a garden? how jealous i was of that guy’s incredible rooftop planters? well, it should come as no surprise to you that i’m really into the farmer’s market. to me, there’s really no better saturday than one spent perusing the stands of the union square greenmarket, a basket full of fresh fruits and veggies and herbs. preferably, this day also includes some really great homefries (recipe coming up!) and a bloody mary or two, the latter of which contributes to my slight swaying as i walk through the square and stop to smell the flowers. no, i really do that. i’m really bad with the whole drunk shopping thing. note to self: do not drink three bloody marys at brunch and then go to tj maxx “just to look.” you will not just look. you will buy – tons of things you do not need.

shopping at the farmer’s market after brunch, however, is no biggie d. because the worst thing that can happen is that you’ll come home with a big bag of maple sugar candy or some root veggies that you’ve never tried before – and neither of those things are really that terrible. everyone loves maple sugar candy, and root veggies are great – just throw ’em in a pan with some fresh rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper and cook at 425 for a hot second (20 mins).

it’s really quite funny that i’ve come to be so enamored with farmer’s markets, mostly because as a child, i DESPISED gardening. in fact, i despised any and all chores that involved being outdoors and getting dirty. i was the kid who said things like, “can’t you give me an indoor job?!” “I can clean!” “does the dishwasher need emptying?” it’s not even that i’m a priss, really, it’s more that i’m OCD clean and can’t stand getting dirt all over my clothes and body. i hate having grime under my nails, and i’m not that into sweating. but you know what? somehow, moving to new york has made me really appreciate nature. now, it’s not like i want to go all earthy crunchy on you and go hiking and camping and eating trail mix. no thanks, not for me. but i savor the thought of green space, of grass that flattens softly when you step on it, of the smell of freshly dug up dirt, of carrots sprouting their little green heads and of those fresh from the garden snap peas that offer the perfect sweet crunch when you pop one into your mouth. i want a garden, you guys! i want to pluck fresh thyme for my risotto and fresh basil for my pasta dishes. i want to step outside and pop teeny juicy cherry tomatoes into my mouth like candy. and since i can’t do any of those things without a garden, i seek solace in the farmer’s market.

of course, there’s plenty to be said about supporting local farmers and organic produce and all that jazz – but that’s a schpiel you’ve probably heard before. but seriously – get thee to the farmer’s market near you. it’s better for you. it’s better for the world. and it’s nice to support the underdog. justin bieber says so, and he’s god – so you should obey.

anywho, last weekend, i was walking through the farmer’s market that my lovely “suburbia in NYC” apartment complex offers on sunday afternoons, and my friends and i came across a woman who was selling gluten-free rye bread. it looked sort of like a rock – a really, really flat rock – but surprise, when she piled some butter and cheddar and sliced cucumbers on it, it turned into a really delicious rock! okay, so it wasn’t a rock. it was bread. it just looked a little rock-like, what with its flat and brownish gray nature. no offense, gluten-free rye, but i’ll take some yeast any day. while the bread wasn’t anything remarkable, the sandwich acoutrements got me thinking: what a classy lil’ sandwich! wouldn’t this guy be perfect for lunch?

so i went out and i bought some cheddar and some cucumbers (and i usually am not a huge fan of cukes – hate all those seeds!) and paired them with sliced peppercorn turkey breast and some avocado to give the sandwich a bit more heft and protein power. i put mine on whole wheat sourdough, and it was DELISH. and so pretty and fancy pants looking, hence the title. man, open-faced sandwiches make you look like a CLASSY gal.

there’s no real recipe for this baby. just choose your bread, thinly slice some avocado, cheddar and cukes, and assemble. put a layer of avocado on first (you could also mash it up and spread it like buttah if you wanted to), then top with turkey, cheese and finally, cucumbers. now eat, and enjoy your twenty minutes of looking like the coolest, classiest, most creative office lunch-eater around.