The words “empty cream puff shells” almost sound sad and lonely, but not when they’re the centerpiece of a Make Your Own Profiterole Bar! They become catalysts for excitement and “profiterole-abilities” when paired with ice cream and whipped cream for filling and chocolate sauce, raspberry sauce, and caramel sauce for drizzling and all sorts of sprinkles, nuts, candies, etc. for dazzling.
On Memorial Day, we put up a Make Your Own Profiterole Bar for dessert and the guests at Lora’s BBQ were pretty damned excited.
I was excited because I was in the house of the Disco Dust Queen, Lora Wiley, who writes the dessert blog Diary Of A Mad Hausfrau and is famous for not only making endless combos of macarons (be sure to check out her Macaron Monday posts), but making fun, shiny, colorful desserts, pastries and cookies.
You must exercise caution when opening her “toppings” cupboard. You could be temporarily blinded by the glints and sparkles from her arsenal of sanding sugars, dragees, sugar pearls, luster dusts, edible glitters, pearlescent sprinkles and more. She likes pretty, shiny things and she also collects lots of props so I was thrilled we could have fun gussying up and styling the Make Your Own Profiterole Bar too.
We managed to control ourselves by only putting out five kinds of sprinklings for the Make Your Own Profiterole Bar along with:
You have to make chocolate bark at your cafe a friend said before I opened Divalicious Chocolate Cafe, on the edge of Chinatown, in the neighborhood of NOLITA. I said, “Sure”, but I had no idea what she was talking about.
I envisioned a chocolate confection that resembled bark from a tree. It seemed fascinating and complex. How is it made? Did you have to pump air into the chocolate? How does that even happen? Perhaps it would look like a Cadbury Flake bar since it resembles layers of peeling. A Flake bar would be challenging to make without a machine. I seemed hard in my imagination.
Later, when I found out that chocolate bark was just thin sheets of chocolate with dried fruits, nuts, cookies, etc on top, I realized I’d really overthought this. I wondered “Is bark too easy to make and sell at my chocolate cafe?” Absolutely not. It turned out to be a hit and my Salted & Toasted Black and White Sesame Chocolate Bark was best-seller.
I always had at least eight varieties of bark on hand at the cafe. When one of my oldest friends, Marcel would visit the cafe, he always bought the sesame one. I only make bark on special occasions even though you could make it anytime since it’s so easy to make. The downside would be having to eat all that bark. Some of you will not see the downside of that, but I know bark only leads to more bark. When Marcel’s birthday came around last week, I whipped him up a batch.
Monday, I was back at Santina, a restaurant in the meat packing district that I’d been to this past February. I’ve been obsessed with one of their dishes, the cecina, since my first visit. It’s rare that I visit the same restaurant twice in a short time since I have restaurant ADHD. I want to eat at pretty, shiny new restaurants all the time. But I’ve my cecina obsession trumps my ADHD and I had a good blogger friend in from DC who wanted to try it. It hits many marks. It’s unusual. It’s easy to make. It’s gluten free. It’s vegan. It’s cheap to make. It’s fun to eat. It can be eaten alone or with a myriad of toppings or even a salad on top.
Cecina is a chickpea flour bread, that’s made in Italy and in the south of France where it’s called socca. At Santina, they make it in the form of a crepe or pancake instead of the traditional baked flatbread that I saw recipes for online.
I made it as a crepe because it’s more fun and dramatic. It’s super simple, made from chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt and pepper, but you need to make the batter ahead of time so it can rest for about four hours before you make them.
This morning, I was looking to give the gift of chutneys and relishes, I canned last fall, to a neighbor who did me a favor. I whipped up a list of sixteen ways to eat it because people always ask, “How do I eat it?”. The true answer is any way that you like it.
When I went to see what I had from last year, it turned out that I have quite a bit left over. Looks like I’m going to have to find people to give it to. If you see me, ask if I might have a jar in my purse. If I do, it’s yours.
If you don’t have any on hand, make Divalicious Ruby Sun Splash Relish: It’s an easy-to-make tomato relish with curry and oranges. I use canned tomatoes so you can make it any time of the year. I served it in my show “Say Cheese: a tongue-titillating tasting of artisan cheeses, wines and the songs they inspire”. It was almost more popular than the cheese platter.
One of my favorite snacks is crackers topped with avocado, Dijon mustard, mashed sardines and Divalicious Ruby Sun Splash Relish. I know, it sounds a little weird, but it’s a “mouthgasm”.
“Pssst… Your tart was the best thing on the table.” Normally, I wouldn’t be bragging that someone whispered this to me about the Roasted Asparagus, Mushroom, Bacon & Cheese Tart I made for a New York Women’s Culinary Alliance potluck last week. But the person to who said it was the former owner of one of the finest bakeries in New York City [THANK YOU!] Plus, I’d almost thrown the tart in the composter earlier that day.
I was a having an “it’s my circus and my monkeys” day. I was running amok, trying to multi-task my way through a day that was stacked against me, by me. I stupidly left the black pepper tart shell I was testing in the convection oven, when I should have removed it, while I ran upstairs for the umpteenth time scrambling to get the apartment ready for my overseas guests. I got distracted by the duvet cover—I hate that thing!
When I came back down and pulled the tart out, it was not only a wee bit on the brown side, not burnt, but definitely too tanned to be called golden, it was shattered. It had hairline fractures as it if were a windshield that had been dinged by a stray pebble.
On Saturday, the plan was to remake the spicy calamari salad, I’d made the previous Sunday because the original would not have given the guy in the heartburn. It lacked kick. I’d also served it cold the first time. I decided it would be better warmer on the temperature side and the Scoville scale side.
Call me crazy, but when the fish market sign says their hours are Friday 7:00-7:30, I expect them to be open at 7:15. It’s particularly annoying when I made the point of going to the fish market while power walking, to check their hours. I was lulled into a false sense of security by their sign only to have the place shuttered at 7:15.
Was it a big deal? [Cue the sound of the privileged people whining] Absolutely not, in a world where much more horrible things happen to much nicer people every second of every day. This definitely gets filed under the First World Problems: Uppity Brooklyn Neighborhood edition.
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.