IMG_1145
Post

sunday dinner: baked mac & cheese with brussels sprouts and bacon.

1 comment

Let’s talk about the word ‘umami’. It’s a good word. Rolls off the tongue with ease, sounds vaguely foreign (it is, it’s Japanese) and you’ve likely heard it before but aren’t sure what it actually means.

Umami can be roughly translated as ‘pleasant savory taste’ and since 1985, it has been classified as the fifth of five basic tastes (along with sweet, sour, bitter and salty — thanks Wikipedia). It’s that salty, earthy, meaty taste that doesn’t quite fit into any of the other categories.

It’s also the BEST. I heart umami hard.

Why? Because it’s just so gosh darn satisfying. It lights up your taste buds like a Christmas tree and makes you audibly ‘YUM’. It also makes you naturally salivate more, which is a signal to your brain that you find what you’re eating quite delicious (if we’re getting really technical). Basically, five stars for umami all around.

And the best way to capture that umami-ness? Mac & Cheese. Even better? Add bacon and brussels sprouts (say whaaat?!). This rich, cozy casserole is packed with flavor of the umami variety and it’s sure to satisfy, especially on cold nights like the ones we’ve been having here in NYC (winter is coming, ho hum).

IMG_1131

You ready? OK, let’s do this.

Baked Mac & Cheese with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon

1 pound of cooked pasta (macaroni or fusilli work nicely)
5-6 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces
1 shallot, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ pound brussels sprouts, stems removed and sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 ½ cups whole milk
¾ cup half & half
6 ounces gruyere cheese, freshly grated
6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated
2 ounces parmesan cheese, freshly grated
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons regular fine breadcrumbs
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Kitchen equipment: large pot, cast iron skillet, heavy-bottomed saucepan, cheese grater

First things first, preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat a large pot of salted water on the stove until boiling, then cook the pasta per the package instructions. Drain and set aside.

Next, heat a large, oven-safe skillet (cast iron is best) over medium-low heat and add the bacon and cook until the fat is just rendered. Rendered, you say? What, pray tell, is that? It is a fancy way of saying cook the bacon until the fatty part starts to melt and you’re left with mostly just the meaty part. Should only take a few minutes. Once properly rendered, remove ¼ of the bacon and set aside on a paper towel lined plate. Cook the remaining bacon to your preferred stage of doneness (anywhere between chewy and aggressively crispy). Add the shallot and garlic to the bacon and cook 1-2 minutes until translucent and fragrant. Add the brussels sprouts, stirring well to coat. Cook them until soft, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.

IMG_1133

Side note: you can totally abandon the bacon and make this dish veg — it’s just as good meat free. Instead of using the bacon fat to cook the shallots/garlic/brussels, sub in a few tablespoons of olive oil and you’re all set.

IMG_1141

And now we make the cheese sauce. CHEESE SAUCE. Best phrase ever, no?

IMG_1136

To start, heat your heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until hot, then add the butter. Melt until sizzling and frothy, then add the flour and whisk constantly until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. This creates the roux (so many fancy words!) that is the foundation of any good creamy sauce — it will thicken the sauce and add a lovely nutty flavor. Once the roux is ready to go, take your pan off the stove and pour in the milk and the half & half. Place your pan back on the stove and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Add in all but one ounce of the gruyere, cheddar and parmesan, stirring until the cheese is melted. Add the nutmeg and cayenne and season with salt and pepper. Once the cheese is melted, add the cooked pasta and stir to incorporate. Pour the pasta and sauce over the brussels sprouts in the skillet and toss well to combine. Sprinkle the leftover cheese on top, then add the panko and breadcrumbs. Finally, add the reserved bacon you set aside earlier on top of the breadcrumbs.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top is golden and bubbly.

IMG_1168

This is fantastic straight from the oven or at room temperature or warmed up later the same night or warmed up the next day or eaten with your hands cold over the sink for breakfast (too far?). Fine. Let’s just say it’s good all the time.

Get down with your cheesy, brussel-y, bacon-y self and you’ll see. Umami forever. Enjoy!

IMG_1102
Post

sunday dinner: pan sautéed chicken breasts with creamy mushrooms & shallots.

Leave a reply

We turned a new leaf in New York today. Daylight Savings Time is no longer and it was “aggressively crisp” out of doors (read: it was cold as balls). The wind whipped this way and that, and while the sun shone bright, its warmth was felt by few. I hate to say that winter is right around the corner, but today was the first day that made that feel like a reality.

When it comes to dinner, this weather brings in me a desire for something rich, something heartwarming. I want something along the lines of Thanksgiving dinner but without the three days of prep (Thanksgiving, my very favorite day of the year, is a few short weeks away, and I. AM. PUMPED).

This chicken dish is the perfect answer to my cravings; it’s deliciously full of rich, umami flavor but comes together quickly and easily. Also, BUTTER. Live it. Love it.

Side note: if you double the mushroom/shallot recipe, it’s a killer Thanksgiving side dish. Or any day side dish. YUM.

But I digress.

You ready? OK, let’s do this.

Pan Sautéed Chicken Breasts with Creamy Mushrooms & Shallots

You will need:

2 chicken breasts
4 tablespoons butter
1 large shallot, thinly sliced into rings
12 oz assorted mushrooms, sliced (such as baby portabellas, shitake, or oyster)
½ cup white wine (or chicken stock)
½ cup heavy cream
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
All purpose flour
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Grab your chicken breasts and place them between two pieces of plastic wrap on your cutting board. Pound the breasts to thin them out slightly using a meat tenderizer or a heavy-bottomed glass. Next, remove the plastic wrap and season your breasts with salt and pepper on both sides. Put a handful or two of flour in a large plastic bag or on a plate, and dredge the chicken in the flour, thoroughly coating both sides.

Heat a sauté pan on medium-high heat and add a few tablespoons of oil. When the oil is hot, add the chicken breasts, shaking off any excess flour before adding to the pan, and cook until brown, about 4 minutes per side. Remove from pan and set aside.

IMG_1088

Next, add two of the tablespoons of butter to the same pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften, 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and thyme to the pan with the rest of the butter and season with salt and pepper. Sauté mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until cooked down and soft (add more butter along the way if pan gets too dry).

IMG_1096

 

IMG_1094

Remove the pan from the heat and add the wine or chicken stock to deglaze. Return the pan to the stove and cook down until the alcohol evaporates. Remove the pan from the stove again and add the cream. Return it to the stove, turn the heat down to medium-low and add the chicken back to the pan. Simmer until the mushrooms are tender and the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, stirring occasionally, about 3-4 minutes. Serve immediately.

IMG_1121

I paired my chicken with these babies, one of my very favorite sides EVAH (I worship at the altar of Ina Garten).

IMG_1125

Add your favorite glass of wine and you’re all set with a cozy meal that is rich and earthy and delicious — one that tastes much more complex than the actual execution of the dish.

IMG_1116

I went crazy and made myself a little apple galette for dessert…but that’s a recipe for another day.

IMG_0993
Post

sunday dinner: pork chops with onions & apples and spice roasted squash.

Leave a reply

I woke up this morning to the first truly Fall day. The air was crisp and chilly, the sun was bright, the breezes were a-blowin’ and I had a deep, intimate desire to wear flannel. And so I did.

I also had a deep, intimate desire to cook something Fall-ish. Fall-esque. All Fall, all the time. I wanted to put all that crisp and chilly and bright and breezy and flannel-y on a plate. And so I did.

In my family, there were a few ingredients that started to show up regularly as the leaves began to turn — Apples. Onions. Squash. Spices like thyme and bay leaves. And wouldn’t you know it? They all go beautifully together and they all go beautifully with pork, my very favorite protein.

The following recipe will produce a simple, flavorful, and dare I say, elegant, interpretation of the best of Fall’s offerings. It’s hearty and delicious, and save for some extended stove time for the onions and apples, it’s easy to pull off even for the novice cook.

You ready? OK, let’s do this.

Pork Chops with Caramelized Onions & Apples

You will need:

1 pork chop per person, about ¾ - 1 inch thick
2 tablespoons butter
2 large red onions, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 apples (fuji, honey crisp or gala are great), cut into ¼ inch matchsticks
2 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup apple cider (you can also use white wine, beer, or chicken stock)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Spice Roasted Squash

1 acorn or carnival squash, cut into 1-inch thick wedges (this will serve up to 4 people, double the recipe if you are serving a bigger crowd)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Kitchen tools: cast iron skillet or sauté pan, baking sheet, kitchen tongs, kitchen timer

Most of the prep for this dish is remarkably easy and comes together very quickly. The onions and apples will take the most time, so let’s start there.

IMG_0997

IMG_1000

After you’ve sliced your onions and apples, heat a skillet or sauté pan on medium heat until hot. Add the butter and stir until melted. Next, add the onions and apples, the thyme, and the bay leaves, and season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan with a lid half way and set a timer for 35 minutes. Don’t fully walk away from the stove — you’ll need to stir your onion/apple mixture every few minutes to ensure they don’t burn, but it’s a pretty low maintenance gig.

While your onions and apples are cooking, you can get to prepping your squash.

IMG_1009

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Slice your squash in half (this will take a good chef’s knife and some muscle, so don’t be shy) and using a sharp-edged spoon, scoop out the seeds and inner flesh. You could save the squash innards and probably find a million recipes on pinterest for ‘delicious roasted squash seeds!’ but ain’t nobody got time for that…says the girl who hand braided the lattice on this pie.

Anyhoo, toss the innards unless you’re going to make Pinterest magic, and slice the squash into wedges that are about 1-inch thick. Throw ‘em in a big bowl and add the olive oil, brown sugar, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Using your trusty kitchen tongs (I could seriously write an ode to mine; they are hands down my favorite kitchen utensil) toss the squash wedges with the oil and spices until thoroughly coated on all sides. If you don’t have tongs, you can use two forks or spoons, but I wouldn’t use your hands given the addition of the cayenne.

IMG_1017

Spread your squash evenly on a baking sheet, and when your oven is ready, cook for 30 minutes, turning once at the halfway point.

IMG_1019

They are done when the squash is golden brown and you can easily pierce them with a fork. Remove from the oven and set aside, covering with a large piece of tin foil to keep warm.

IMG_1032

By now, your onions and apples should have hit the 30 minute mark and should be cooked down by quite a bit. You’ll probably need to cook them an additional 10 minutes until they are further reduced and starting to brown. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaves.

At this point, add the balsamic vinegar and stir to incorporate, making sure to scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring often, until the balsamic is reduced and the onions/apples are a rich purply-brown color. Turn off the stove and remove from the heat; set aside to cool slightly.

IMG_1023

We’re in the home stretch now and all we need to do is cook the pork. Remove your pork chops from the refrigerator and set out on a plate for a few minutes, seasoning generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Wipe out the sauté pan you used to cook the onions and apples and heat a tablespoon of olive oil on high heat until the oil shimmers.

Add the pork and cook for three minutes, then flip and cook an additional three minutes (the easiest way to do this is to set a timer and DON’T TOUCH your pork during this time, it’s the best way to get a good sear). Add the cider to the pan with the pork and a few big spoonfuls of the onion/apple mixture. Cook pork for an additional five minutes, then flip and cook for another two minutes.

Remove pork from the pan to a serving platter and pour the pan sauce over the top. Top with more of the onion/apple mixture, and dish up the squash along side. Serve immediately.

It will be as if Fall exploded in your kitchen. This meal is spicy and tangy and rich and earthy and positively cozy. Enjoy it with your favorite red wine or craft beer and savor what is simply the best of Fall on a plate. You can wear some flannel too, if you’d like. You know I did.

IMG_1036

IMG_0951
Post

sunday dinner: pork chile verde with potatoes.

Leave a reply

When I was a kid, I’m pretty sure my father’s list of priorities for raising a daughter were the following:

1. Raise me a in a loving, supportive home filled with laughter.
2. Teach me to value intelligence, self-sufficiency and hard work.
3. Build a deep love of spicy food as early in my life as possible.

Food with flavor and spice was always a mainstay in my house growing up, and spicy food (‘food that’ll make your hair sweat,’ as my father describes it) was on the menu regularly. It didn’t take much for me to love it quickly, further proving I am my father’s daughter, and I maintain a love of it to this very day. It’s like, if food doesn’t smack you across the face with flavor every once in awhile, why even bother?

When I think about some of my favorite spicy dishes, pork chile verde is right at the top of the list. It’s that perfect blend of spicy and sweet and tart; the layers of flavor just bowl me over. Stewing the pork and chilies together for a few hours produces a rich concoction that pairs beautifully with rice or tortillas or both. It’ll leave you a little tingly, as if you’ve received a big ol’ warm, stew-y hug.

You ready? OK, let’s do this.

Pork Chile Verde with Potatoes

You will need:

3 – 3½ pounds pork butt or shoulder, excess fat removed, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 large poblano peppers
4 serrano peppers
1 pound tomatillos, husks and stems removed
5-6 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano (or ¾ teaspoon Italian oregano)
2 bay leaves
1 stick cinnamon
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2½ – 3 cups chicken stock

3 medium yukon gold potatoes

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Serve with:

avocado salsa (chopped avocados mixed with salt/pepper, lime juice and chopped cilantro)
cooked white rice
warmed flour tortillas

Kitchen utensils: baking sheet, heavy duty aluminum foil, tongs, large heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven

You’ll have to do a bit of prep work before you get to stewin’, so let’s do it. Move one of your oven racks to the top position, turn your oven on to the broiler setting and let it get nice and hot. Take your baking sheet and cover it with one sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil. Lay your chilies out on the baking sheet, spaced evenly so they’re not touching.

IMG_0946

When the oven is hot, put the baking sheet on the top rack and let your peppers cook for five minutes, then using your tongs, turn the chills over and cook for an additional five minutes. The chilies will start to blister and turn black, but they should not char or burn, so make sure you’re watching them closely. Once fully roasted (this should only take about 10-15 minutes total), remove from oven and place in a paper or plastic bag, closing tightly. Leave the chilies in the bag to cool; they will steam in their own heat which will make it easy to remove the skin. When cool, remove the skins and most of the seeds (the more seeds you leave, the spicier it will be), roughly chop the chilies, and set aside.

Next, score your tomatillos (cut an X on the top of each) and place on the same baking sheet as the chilies. Put back in the hot oven and cook for three minutes, then flip using your tongs, and cook another 3-5 minutes until charred. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Once cool, roughly chop and place in a bowl with any leftover juices.

IMG_0958

Next, you need to prep your pork. Grab your pork butt (heh, heh) and a sharp chef’s knife and slice your pork against the grain in about 1-inch thick slices. Trim the excess fat from each slice, then cut each slice into small chunks, about 1-inch square. You want to cut your meat in as uniform pieces as possible, as this will ensure that your meat cooks evenly. Pat your pork pieces with a dry paper towel and season with salt and pepper and set aside.

The last bit of prep work is to chop your onion and garlic, setting aside until you need them.

Now, take your big pot or dutch oven, add a few tablespoons of canola oil, and heat over high heat until the oil shimmers. Working in batches, brown your pork in the pot making sure not to add too much at one time. Don’t crowd your meat, people! This is bad news bears — if you dump the pork in all at once, the water in the meat will steam it, which will get in the way of you achieving a beautiful brown sear that takes flavor up about 78 notches. If you add fewer pieces of meat to the pot at a time, it has room to brown nicely, which you’ll thank me for later. As each batch finishes, use your tongs to transfer to a bowl and set aside. Just a warning, as the pork browns it will splatter, so be careful not to burn yourself. Using longer tongs is a great way to tend to your pork without getting within oil splatter territory.

Once all of the meat is cooked, in the same pot, turn the heat down to medium and add the onions. Cook about five to seven minutes until translucent and fragrant (is there anything better than the smell of onions cooking? I think not.) Next, add the garlic, cumin, oregano, bay leaves and cinnamon stick and stir to incorporate. Add the cider vinegar and deglaze the pot, scraping up all the brown bits on the bottom that are packed with flavor.

IMG_0962

Add the pork back to the pot, then add the chicken stock and the honey. Turn the heat back to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for about two hours until pork is tender. Check in on the pot every once in awhile during this time and give it a stir to ensure that it doesn’t burn and that everything cooks evenly.

Chop your potatoes and add them to the stew at the two-hour mark. If the stew is looking a little thick, you can add a bit more chicken stock (about a 1/2 cup). Stir to incorporate, making sure the potatoes are covered by the stew. Cook an additional 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.

IMG_0971

If you’re serving with rice, now’s a great time to cook it; same goes for prepping the avocado salsa.

Once everything is ready to go, warm some tortillas in damp paper towels in the microwave for 45 seconds. Add rice to each bowl and spoon stew over the top. Add a spoonful of avocado salsa and you’re good to go.

This stew is hearty and flavorful and will pack a good amount of heat. It also gets better with time — the few days after I make this, it usually shows up in many a leftover meal — you can make tacos or burritos, serve it with eggs for breakfast, or serve just as is, maybe with some corn bread. It’s all good, and it’s sure to make your hair sweat in the best possible way.

IMG_0976

IMG_0867
Post

sunday dessert: concord grape pie.

1 comment

Confession: I ate a grape from the farmers market this week.

And truth be told, it sent me into a tailspin. I’d been living a lie. My entire life, wasting my time eating store-bought grapes with their tough skins and their chalky aftertaste and their mild, some might say, boring flavor. How did I not know that grapes should be better than that? That they should be sweet and tart and juicy and a little slimy, but such a good kind of slimy that you don’t want to stop eating them ever!

It only took one tiny from-the-farm grape to change my life.

Which of course set me on a mission to discover what I could do with these gorgeous creatures. And I discovered that you can do quite a bit with them, actually. I also discovered that now, right now, is the height of the grape season (grapes have seasons?) in the northeast, so these are the best of the best.

IMG_0876

And what do you do with the best of the best? Well, you bake a pie, naturally. Apparently this is also a thing in New York. The Concord Grape Pie Queen, Miss Irene Bouchard, lives about 300 miles northwest of New York City in the town of Naples, and she’s been baking grape pies since the dawn of time (or the early ‘70s, but I’m going for high drama today). I’m not sure how she got that title or why, but I like to think she relishes it, baking pies in her purple house, wearing her purple dresses, living that purple life. You know.

The recipe below is adapted from her original recipe via Saveur magazine, using my own crust recipe since I love it so very much.

Are you ready? OK, let’s do this.

Concord Grape Pie

For the Crust

3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, chilled
½ cup shortening, chilled
½ cup ice water

For the Filling

2 pounds concord grapes
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca

Let’s focus on the filling first. Your grapes have seeds in them, which would not be delicious in a pie, so you need to remove the seeds from the grapes before you make the pie filling. You’ll be performing ‘grape surgery’ of sorts, which sounds very strange, but I promise it’s incredibly straightforward and easy. Grab two medium-large bowls and your grapes (which should be washed clean and dry at this point) and set yourself up at the kitchen table. Take a grape between your thumb and forefinger and squeeze lightly. The green inside of the grape should loosen easily from the skin; plop it into one of the bowls and throw the skin in the other bowl. Grab another grape, squeeze out the insides into one bowl, throw the skin in the other bowl. You get the idea. Keep doing this until you’ve separated all of your grapes, discarding any that are overly soft or brown. In the end you should have one bowl full of green insides and one bowl full of skins, like zees:

IMG_0882

Set the bowl of grape skins aside and grab your bowl of grape insides. Empty the grape insides into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The grape pulp will start to bubble and foam a bit, and you will start to see the seeds separate from the pulp.

When the grape pulp is fully cooked, pour it into a fine mesh strainer over the bowl of grape skins, and taking a large spoon or spatula, push the pulp through the strainer into the bowl with the skins. You’ll be left with a strainer full of seeds, which you can discard.

Stir the grape skins and strained pulp to combine, add the tapioca and the sugar, and stir again. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and stick in the refrigerator to cool.

Now to the crust! you know how I feel about homemade pastry crust (in that I AM A BELIEVER), and you’ve heard me say it before that the key to a beautiful flaky crust is keep your wet ingredients (butter, shortening, water) as cold as possible throughout the process.

Grab a large bowl and add the flour, sugar and salt and stir to combine. Add your chilled shortening and butter, and using a pastry cutter or two forks (but NOT your hands), mix the butter/shortening into the dry ingredients until you get something resembling coarse meal. You should still have pea-sized bits of butter; that’s where the magic happens. Add the ice water and mix until the dough just starts to come together. Split the dough in two, one ball slightly larger than the other, wrap each in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours.

During my rest time, I watched two episodes of ER, which I haven’t watched since it was originally on TV twenty years ago and, boy, am I hooked. Carol Hathaway and Doug Ross forever, y’all.

OK, back to baking, she says reluctantly. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

When your dough and filling are properly chilled, take one of the balls of dough out of the refrigerator and remove the plastic wrap. Lightly flour your counter top and your rolling pin, then using smooth motions in one direction, roll your dough out to a 12-inch circle. Roll the dough up on your rolling pin and transport to your pie dish; unroll and situate so it is centered over the dish. You will have some dough hanging over the edge, but don’t worry, we’ll deal with that later. Take your filling out and remove the plastic wrap, pouring your filling evenly into the pie crust.

IMG_0884

Now, take your second ball of dough, and as you did with the first, roll it out to a 12-inch circle. You can do a couple of different things at this point: you could do a simple top crust, a lattice crust (which I chose), or you could get all Martha Stewart fancy on it and make some artwork with your dough.

For a simple crust: cut a 1-inch hole in the center of your dough and lay the dough over the pie.

For a lattice crust: cut your dough into 1-inch strips, ten strips in total. Lay five strips vertically on top of the pie in equal intervals, then pull back the second and fourth strip. Lay one strip horizontally over the three remaining strips on the side of the pie closest to you. Replace the second and fourth strips and pull back the first, third, and fifth strips to the strip you just put down. Lay down a second strip horizontally, then replace the first, third and fifth strips. Alternate pulling the second/fourth and first/third/fifth strips until all of the remaining strips are placed on the pie. This video helps if the above is confusing.

For a fancy-schmancy crust: use cookie cutters of your choosing to make pretty shapes from the second piece of dough and transfer to a baking sheet. Refrigerate. When the pie comes out of the oven, adjust the temperature to 450 degrees and bake dough shapes for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove and cool. When pie is cool and ready to be served, place shapes on top in a decorative fashion.

Trim the edges of your pie dough with a knife so it’s just beyond the edge of your pie dish. Folding over the trimmed edge, crimp the dough with your fingers all the way around your pie.

IMG_0898

Place on the middle rack of your oven, and bake for twenty minutes. Then, reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 45-50 minutes until crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

Remove from oven and cool.

IMG_0905

This pie packs a wallop of flavor and is best accompanied by a scoop of vanilla ice cream or some freshly whipped cream. It’s grapes like you’ve never tasted them before — fresh, bright, tart and sweet at the same time. You’ll never go back to store-bought grapes again. I know I surely won’t.

IMG_0858
Post

sunday (breakfast for) dinner: breakfast pizza, of sorts.

Leave a reply

Sometimes I like to mix it up. Turn things on their heads. Take a risk or two.

And when that comes to food, sometimes that means eating non-dinnery things for dinner. The horror! No, the delicious. I’ve always been a savory breakfast person — there’s just something about eggs and bacon and potatoes that gets me — and when you combine all three together, well that’s just magic. And, just my luck, they also make a fantastic dinner; just as hearty as more traditional options, cozy and satisfying to boot.

If you take it one step further and pop those wonderful ingredients on top of a pizza? Well, that’s just dreamy. Enhanced by the fresh flavors of basil and avocado, you’ve got yourself a treat that’s tasty morning, noon and night.

You ready? Let’s do this.

Breakfast Pizza with Bacon, Potatoes, Roasted Tomatoes & Avocado

You will need:

1 package ready made crescent roll dough
4 strips thick-cut bacon
1 cup frozen hash browns, thawed
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
5 eggs
¼ cup milk
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 avocado, chopped
1 lime, halved
4-5 basil leaves, chopped

Kitchen tools: 1 cast iron pan

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

First things first, fry your bacon. Heat your cast iron pan over medium-high heat until hot, then add the bacon and cook until desired doneness (I’m a chewy bacon girl myself, but if you’re a crispy bacon person, this is your show so go for it). Once cooked, remove bacon from the pan to a paper towel-lined plate. When cool, chop into bite-sized pieces and set aside.

Pour off most of the bacon grease (DO NOT pour down the drain; it’s best to pour into a small bowl or glass to cool, then throw in the trash once cooled and solidified), then using a paper towel spread the remaining grease around the pan. This will ensure that your pizza doesn’t stick once baked.

Then, in a medium bowl, crack the eggs and whisk in the milk and half the grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Next, remove your crescent roll dough from the package, unroll, and spread the dough around the pan. Since the dough is square and the pan is round, you will have some excess corners to deal with; you can stretch these and pull them around the sides to create a thicker outer crust.

IMG_0838Once the dough is situated, sprinkle the hash browns over the dough, followed by the bacon, then the tomatoes.

IMG_0842

Pour the egg mixture over the pizza, being careful to keep it inside the dough. Top the egg mixture with the rest of the grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

IMG_0847

Bake on the middle rack of your oven for 30-35 minutes until the crust is golden brown, the cheese is bubbling slightly, and the egg mixture is solid in the center. Remove from the oven to cool slightly. While cooling, chop the avocado and squeeze the lime juice over the top to prevent browning. Chop the basil and sprinkle over the top of the pizza.

IMG_0854

To serve, cut pizza into wedges with a sharp knife. Spoon the avocado over the top of the pizza and dig in. Salty, cheesy, herby, creamy. Whether for breakfast, brunch, or dinner — this one’s a delicious winner.

IMG_0802-2
Post

where to eat (& hang) in nyc: gotham west market.

4 comments

The sell I got was, “Let’s meet around noon on Monday. We should really go to Gotham West Market because it’s great and you’ll love it…”

“…but it’s kind of a trek to get there.” Okaaaaaaay.

Never one to shy away from a bit of an adventure, I hopped on the subway in Brooklyn, rode into Manhattan, and full disclosure, got off at Union Square and took a cab the rest of the way to the corner of 45th St & 11th Ave. Listen, I don’t mind a good hike in the big city, but walking three avenue blocks from the nearest subway stop is pushing it on one of the only days all summer that was above 90 degrees.

IMG_0796

When I arrived at my destination, however, I could tell immediately that the journey was worth it. The Gotham West Market space is airy and bright, with an industrial vibe that is cool but not ‘too cool’, if you know what I mean. It’s what a cafeteria for adults should be — a little schmancy, full of great food in a fun atmosphere, and enough variety in seating that everyone feels like they’re sitting at the cool kids’ table. There are great nooks to tuck into, whether to break out your laptop and get down to work or to catch up with friends over a bowl of killer ramen (I did both).

IMG_0809

The vendors range in offerings from tacos (Choza Taqueria) to coffee (Blue Bottle) to ice cream (Jeni’s! YUM) to the aforementioned ramen (Ivan Ramen), and while I didn’t sample from every vendor, all of them seemed to bring their A game when it comes to design and to the quality of food and drink.

It also looks like there will be opportunities for new vendors to join the party throughout the year (for example, according to GWM’s website, Jeni’s Ice Cream is a ’2014 Summer pop-up’). More variety means more reasons to return, something I plan to do often.

Capture

For me, this is the ideal place for several reasons. First, if I want to grab lunch and hang by myself while I get a little work done, it’s great. In the three hours I was there, it was never too raucous (although it was during the day on a weekday, so not sure what it’s like around dinnertime), so it works well as a creative environment where you can still concentrate.

Second, it’s a great option when you have guests in town, as it’s a unique, ‘New York experience’ that’s not a straight up tourist destination. With the variety of offerings, everyone can have what they want without too much coordination or fuss.

And third, and I wish I had thought about this before, it’s actually a great starting or ending point for a nice little bike ride along the Hudson (this one was my friend Jaime’s idea, and she seemed to highly enjoy it, even in the heat of the day). Grab a Citibike downtown and ride up the Westside Highway to grab lunch (there’s a Citibike station at 46th & 11th) or head to the market first then work off that ramen with a post-meal ride. Or do both. Go crazy with it.

IMG_0812

However you arrive at Gotham West Market, and for whatever reason you’re there, you’re in for a treat. With food halls popping up all over NYC (next stop, Berg’n), it’s sure to be a popular spot, and GWM has great legs to stand on. I’m excited to see what’s to come for this unique (and delicious) Hell’s Kitchen gem.

IMG_0816