I wish the story behind the recipe for this Lazy Cheesy Turkey Shepherd’s Pie was something interesting and compelling. Wouldn’t it be cool if it were a recipe that I never got from my estranged grandma, but was found by my mother in her old high school yearbook that she hadn’t looked at for 50 years? Only that wouldn’t have happened because she never got her yearbook since she graduated early in January instead of June. You’d think she still would have received one…
What if Lazy Cheesy Turkey Shepherd’s Pie were a recipe from a compilation cookbook by the Junior League of Copake Lake, where we summered as kids near The Berkshires? It does sound like a recipe that would show up in one of those kinds of cookbooks from the 70’s. Sadly, Copake Lake was a bungalow colony for blue collar workers from the city. It was probably not fancy enough for a bowling league, much less the junior league.
It would be cool if Lazy Cheesy Turkey Shepherd’s Pie was a recipe that some great stage actor from the glamorous days of Broadway that his mom made him growing. He insisted on eating it before going on stage every night because he has terrible stage fright and this comforting dish settled his nerves. Now that would be a good food story!
Do you remember the time I got a little over-excited about a dessert for Easter after seeing and tasting the Merveilleux at the Aux Merveilleux de Fred shop on 8th Avenue? Yes, that was just this past weekend. Let us not count the hours it took me to come up with and make an assortment of five completely different flavors of Merveilleux. Suffice it to say it was a lot and it is out of my system… for now.
Merveilleux are light, gluten free pastries made of meringue discs sandwiched and smothered with Bavarian cream and rolled in a coating of chocolate, meringue, nuts, etc. Apparently, according to one my less-than-mature male friends, mine looked like boobies. Boobie cakes. I think that may give them even more appeal. Merveilleux translates from French into Marvelous or Wonderful. I call them “Wonderfuls” because they are.
I was going to keep Easter dessert simple and make a strawberry rhubarb pavlova—that’s simple for me. But, I just happened to walk by the Aux Merveilleux de Fred bakery and I was transfixed by the woman in the window who was making them. I think she put a spell on me and I ditched the pavlova.
Fred’s Merveilleux resembled Easter eggs, so I decided to make them. I took a video of the enchantress in the window. I grabbed a mini “Amarena” Merveilleux, that’s a fancy name for cherry. Truthfully, I thought it was just OK. The cherry flavor was too subtle for me. As much as I adore French pastries, I think, at times, the flavorings can be a little too tame. I like flavors to be bold. I want the flavor to be sassy. I want the flavor to walk right up and kiss me on the mouth!
For my first attempt, I believe “kissability” was reached. I made five flavors: chocolate filling rolled in chocolate shavings; caramel filling rolled in cinnamon almond dacquoise crumbs; matcha filling rolled in grated matcha white chocolate; raspberry filling rolled in raspberry white chocolate shards and lemon filling rolled with toasted coconut. I used the same meringue for all the discs because making varying flavors of meringue would have been NUTS!
An eyeglass store is not the first place you’d think you’d find cooking inspiration. At the Warby Parker stores, you can buy books from small presses, in addition to eyeglasses, but I didn’t notice any cookbooks. This recipe for Sriracha Honey Lime Glaze for my Cooked The Sh*t Wings was inspired by an event at the store on Washington Street. It was for a book that 826NYC and Edible Schoolyard helped produce, filled with stories by New York school kids called “Chicken Makes the Ice Cream Taste Better”.
The stories from the book are all about food and a line up of New York City chefs including Ivan Orkin (Ivan Ramen), Alissa Wagner (Dimes) and Brooks Headley (Del Posto) read a selection of them. There’s more about the book below.
At the event, they served cold fried chicken, crudités, ice cream sandwiches from Farmacy ( FOOD REGRET: I forget to try these), and beer from Folksbier Brewery (FOOD SCORE: I’m not a real beer drinker, but I liked their Pilsner-esque beer). The cold breaded chicken - I was not in love with this appetizer concept, seemed like leftovers—was served with condiments, like mustard, but what stood out was the honey sriracha sauce. So simple, just mix sriracha and honey. It was tasty too. I had to go and make some. Mine is slightly little less simple, but pretty easy.
C-R-U-N-C-H!!! has to be one of the most satisfying sensations in your mouth. It’s like a mouth party! I’m obsessed with crunchy food. Who doesn’t love fried crunchy foods like FRIED CHICKEN and EGG ROLLS? Just today I heard about Fluffernutter spring rolls! WHAT?!?!?!?!!!
The issue is flour based desserts are heavy. If I’m going to eat cake, cookies or pie, I want to eat it on its own, between meals or for afternoon tea, so I can truly appreciate it.
I’m always looking for ways to make gluten free desserts that never had gluten in them in the first place. I prefer serving light desserts because I tend to cook a lot of filling food for dinner. I want my guests to walk, not crawl, home after dinner. If you want to add a satisfying crunch that’s on the lighter side and makes any friends who are gluten intolerant or just staying away from wheat, use millet puffs.
I was asked to participate in a Get Baked Google Hangout Online show about pies because I’ve co-produced the event Pie Party Potluck LIVE for the past few years! My theory is it’s best to talk about pie when you’re eating pie so I had to make pie. What to make? I settled on Apple Cherry Ginger hand pies because they bring the CUTE and smart.
The hangout was scheduled on the day after Pi Day. I’m so glad that day is dedicated to making and eating pie amongst my circle of friends, instead of “Pi” because I was never a fan of math.
Pi is sorta related to pie. Pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. The diameter of a circle is measured through the center of the circle. If you cut straight through the center of a round pie, you get a half a pie to eat.
The circumference of a circle is the distance around the circle. You could find out the circumference if you took a tape measure and measured around your round pie or if you broke off the crust of a round pie and lined it up and measured that. Pi is a constant number, meaning that for all circles of any size, Pi will be the same. Pi will always be the same for any circular pie. Don’t ask me to explain any further because it makes my head hurt.
People who love to cook and cook well don’t get invited to home-cooked dinners very often, unless it’s by other people who love to cook. I’ve had many of my friends tell me that they’d never invite me to dinner. I’ve told them not to worry about me. Don’t be intimidated. They laugh, uncomfortably and make reservations.
So I make it my business to have a lot of friends who love to cook. Whether you love to cook or not, if you love eating, it’s a true gift to be invited to dinner. For a while (cough, cough read: “years”), my friend Kian of the blog, Red Cook: Adventures from a Chinese Home Kitchen, had been saying he was going to invite us to a real Chinese banquet.
Do you ever want to just smash something? I’ve been releasing my aggression by smashing ice this winter. Unfortunately, my aggression is also caused by the same ICE!
Due to the inclement weather, ice formations have been building up in my backyard and causing flooding inside my house. There is nothing quite like the shock of walking in iced water, that you didn’t see in your basement, in your socks. It makes me so ANGRY. After I change into dry socks and heavy boots, I grab my hatchet, my ice chipper and go outside and smash the ice. “TAKE THAT YOU EVIL ICE”, I scream.
Growing up in New York City, my first dining out experience was going to Chinatown with my family. My mom always said it was the only place she knew where we would not embarrass her. In those days, we always started dinner with egg rolls and moved on to one brother wanting snails with black bean sauce, the other brother wanting chicken egg foo young and nothing else and my insisting I must have lobster Cantonese.
In the dark days of my Boreum Hill, Brooklyn neighborhood, good restaurants or really any restaurants were practically nonexistent.
Yes, what is now Smith street’s “restaurant row” was a ghost town, unless you count the odd Latino greasy spoon or the bulletproof glass Chinese take-out joints.
Please drink for a good cause. If I told you there was a line of wines that you can buy to help support no-kill shelters like the North Shore Animal League you might think that’s a nice gimmick to sell some crappy wine. However, Château La Paws from Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines is actually a quite drinkable selection of reasonably priced wines. I went to the launch the other night where I cuddled puppies and met Effie, the only dog from the 12 dogs that were photographed for the wine labels for the Château La Paws line that has yet to be adopted. She is a sweetie and deserves a forever home.
We had some onions when I was a kid. Growing up in New York City, my idea of the perfect hot dog has mustard, sauerkraut, and hot dog onions… New York hot dog onions. They were probably my favorite part of a good old New York dirty “dawg”. Of the many, many issues I have with hot dogs from a New York cart, these days, one of the main ones is the onions have deteriorated from a thick sauce of brick-colored, sweated down, sweet and savory onions to a watery, vaguely rusty colored, flavorless, boiled up mess. They are pretty nasty. I used to be able to find good onions on a hot dog from Mendy’s in the food court at Grand Central station. It was my dirty little secret to sneak down and scarf down a dog when I was in the hood. The last time I went there, the onions were different and they too had gone to the blah side. I started to write Mendy’s a letter to let them know how disappointed I was.
I made a recipe for NYC Style Smoked Paprika Hot Dog Onions that not only brings back memories from my Big Apple childhood, but surpasses them with the addition of smoked paprika. We were lucky to have plain paprika on our spice rack when I was a kid. It had one purpose, sprinkling on deviled eggs to make them look fancy.
Oh, the glitz and the glamor! The Oscars are coming up this weekend and you’d think I’d be making something as fabulous as this Beet Cured Salmon Gravlax for my viewing party, but I’m not. But you can and you should.
This time of year in Melbourne, Australia, it’s the middle of summer. One of the very distinct smells of an Aussie summer is mangoes. If you’re in Little Saigon, in the inner Melbourne suburb of Richmond, in January, the markets are filled with stacks of boxed mangoes and mountains of loose mangoes. The tantalizing scent of the mangoes seems to whisper to passers-by, like a prostitute in a doorway, “Pssst… pssst… pssst… you… yeah, you. Do you want some of this? You know you want this…
Here, in New York, I have never smelled mangoes like them. Even in the midst of our Big Apple summer, when my fruit and veggie store has mangoes, I grab them, SNIFF furiously and NOTHING. I once visited a mango farm in Australia, in Queensland which was like being in mango heaven. Apparently, 92% of the mangoes grown in Australia are consumed there, which is great for them, but sad for me.
Another thing I miss from Little Saigon is Vietnamese Lemongrass Beef Rolls.
Endive Salad with Apples, Blue Cheese and Candied Hazelnuts
The words “winter salad” don’t stir up the same emotions or lack of emotion as the words “summer soup”. I get as excited about summer soup as a flat line on a heart monitor. The patient died from boredom. I like my potatoes in potato salad in the summer, not in Vichyssoise. I’ll have my fruit in its own skin or on top of a Pavlova in the summer, thank you. Please don’t throw my smoothie into a bowl with a dollop of crème fraiche—not that I order many smoothies either. Give me my peas right off the vine, zipped from their shells, still warm from the sun. As far as I’m concerned, cold pea soup belongs in the Exorcist.
It’s not that I haven’t tried to love summer soup, I have. It’s often the amuse bouche at upscale restaurants in the summer, so I’ve tried many of them. They are not awful, but they leave me cold, except for gazpacho, but definitely not pureed. I’ll take mine straight up with chunks is my motto.
When life gives you lemons make lemonade or divine Coconut Lemon Curd Shortbread Cookies.
Life has been giving me lemons every morning for months. I get up and the first thing I have is twelve ounces of warm water with a half a lemon and one teaspoon of honey. [Cue my mom’s voice.] “It’s good for you”, followed with a litany of reasons why “THEY,” say I should drink it. I’m not going into that here because Google.
I don’t like it. I hated it when it was just lemon and water. Lately, it’s semi-improved by the addition of raw, local honey (“THEY” said the honey was good too). It certainly had not grown on me.
I hate “THEM”. Why can’t “THEY” just mind their own business?
But I do it. It’s like a penance for the delicious food, I eat the other 98% of the time.
It’s during that span of time I make things like coconut shortbread topped with tangy lemon curd and toasted coconut.
But the health plot thickened. As it happens my dry, winter feet looked like they were shedding coconut fragments. I know, GROSS!!! (Isn’t this a food blog?). When I asked on Facebook how to soothe and moisten them, many of my friends suggested I use coconut oil and one said to take it internally (RECIPE FOR DRY WINTER FEET below).
There’s something about a toffee. I think it’s the dame of the candy world. Sexy, snappy and buttery with a nice, little bite. I could see a gorgeous gal named Toffee rushing into a third rate detective’s office in a 1950’s B movie, breathless and scared saying, “You gotta help me.” He melts at the sight of her and does her bidding.
When you make Salted Chocolate Cappuccino Buttercrunch Toffee you will not need help eating it. People will offer and if you’re nice you may give them a little. I hide mine.
The original version of this recipe was given to me by my dear friend Kathy Blake, a professional cook and food writer, who blogs at The Experimental Gourmet, when another recipe I was using for toffee failed twice. This is her mom’s recipe. Mine is a little different, but they are both delish.