Tag Archives: Dessert

‘Tis the Season Party Recipe Roundup

'Tis the season!

‘Tis the season!

Everyone can use a little help when it comes to holiday entertaining. Easy, but memorable recipes that deserve a place at any party we may be throwing with our nearest and dearest friends and family. Here are a few ideas to help get you through the nibbles and dribbles.

GREAT HOST GIFTS {with the most!}

Cinnamon Sugar & Dark Cocoa Almonds
Homemade Spicy Carrot Kimchi! & Apple Chutney!
Homemade Spicy Pickled Carrots
Union Square Bar Roasted Rosemary Nuts

DRINKS {cheers!}

Autumn Manhattan {Herby Garnished Classic a la Tippling Bros.}
Fireside Sparks {Champagne Cocktail a la Tippling Bros.}
Smokey Margarita {a la Tippling Bros.}

Spritzy Sunday Morning Citrus Cocktail {non-alcoholic}

SNACK’EMS {makes happy hour happier}

Cinnamon Sugar & Dark Cocoa Almonds
Flaky Cheese Straws, As Easy As Being Barefoot

Homemade Ricotta and Melted Leeks
Inside-Out Scotch Eggs w/ Ground Lamb, Harissa Yolk & Panko Gremolata
Mini Wild Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie w/ Scotch! {bottom of post}
Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus
Union Square Bar Roasted Rosemary Nuts
Za’atar-Pecorino Toasted Crostini

SEASONAL SIDES

Bursting Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta-Orange Reduction
Crispy Cayenne Roasted Potatoes
Mini Wild Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie w/ Scotch! {bottom of post}

Roasted Cauliflower with Gremolata Breadcrumbs
Community Grains Lazy Sunday Red Flint Polenta Integrale
Farro Salad with Steamed Kale and Roasted Pinenuts

SEASONAL SWEETS {life is short, eat it first}

Honey-Vanilla Pound Cake
Julia Child’s Chocolate Mousse
Millionaire’s Shortbread Worth a Billion Bucks
Perfect Pear Cranberry Pie
Violet’s Lemon Cheesecake 

 

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recipe goodness :: grandma dilaura’s lemon madeleines

 

Grandma's Lemon Madeleines

Grandma’s Madeleines

Santa called, he wants a new kind of cookie this year. Yes, we all love sugar cutouts and peanut butter cookies with chocolate kisses —  don’t get me wrong, I love the tradition of knowing those festive favorites will be stacked high on the Christmas table too. But this year everything old is new again, so I’m rethinking the cookie plate.

These lemony Madeleines weren’t necessarily a Christmas tradition in our house, but they were ceremoniously revealed after many Sunday dinners at Grandma’s. After a heaping bowl of gnocchi or a big Sunday roast, she’d shuffle over to her cookie tins {which were never empty} and arrange these delicate little shell-shaped cookies {which might as well be referred to as mini cakes for their delicate sponge} on a plate to await the blessing of decorative powdered sugar. They were divine. Pretty, perfect little pillows of lemony goodness. These will always remind me of my grandma and have become a new tradition in my own kitchen — parting gifts for dinner guests or just comforting treats to accompany a steaming cup of weekend coffee. And so for something that evokes those cherished memories, it seems only fitting that they join the joyous Christmas cookie tray. Enjoy!

Madeleine Tray

Madeleine Tray

Grandma DiLaura Lemon Madeleines

Makes 36 Large or 48 Mini | 350°

3/4 Cup Butter, melted and slightly cooled, plus more for brushing pans
3 Large Eggs
2/3 Cup Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
1.25 Cups Cake or All-Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
Zest of 1 Lemon
1/3 Cup Shredded Coconut (optional)

  1. In a large bowl, mixer on high, beat eggs until light.
  2. Gradually add vanilla and sugar and continue beating until volume has increased about 4x and is pale and fluffy. Add melted butter.
  3. Sift dry ingredients together and fold with spatula into mixture.
  4. Fold lemon zest and/or coconut.
  5. Brush Madeleine molds with melted butter and scoop mixture into each shell filling about halfway —  careful not to overfill as they will rise like a cake.
  6. Bake 8-10 minutes for Large Madeleines and 6-8 minutes for Mini Madeleine trays until cake is firm to the touch and light gold in color.
  7. Remove from trays and let cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.
  8. Right before serving sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Mini Madeleines

Mini Madeleines

Other Grandma Favorites:
Secret DiLaura Family Frittata with Sweet Italian Sausage
Grandma’s Italian Wedding Chicken Soup
Homemade Gnocchi and Sauce: Channeling My Italian Grandmother
Violet’s Lemon Cheesecake

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Last Minute Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup

Looking for a little last minute Thanksgiving Feast inspiration?

While You Wait for the Bird
Autumn Manhattan {Herby Garnished Classic a la Tippling Bros.}
Fireside Sparks {Champagne Cocktail a la Tippling Bros.}
Homemade Ricotta and Melted Leeks
Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus
Za’atar-Pecorino Toasted Crostini

spiced sweet potato hummus

spiced sweet potato hummus

The Pilgrims Ate Soup
Best Butternut Squash and Green Apple Soup
Wild Child Broccoflower and Celery Root Soup

The Best Butternut Squash Soup

Sides Tom Will Love
Bursting Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta-Orange Reduction
Crispy Cayenne Roasted Potatoes
Roasted Cauliflower with Gremolata Breadcrumbs
Farro Salad with Steamed Kale and Roasted Pinenuts
Italian Sausage & Chard Stuffin’ Muffins
Flaky Cheese Straws, As Easy As Being Barefoot

Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta-Orange Reduction

Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta-Orange Reduction

The Grand Finale
Perfect Pear Cranberry Pie

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Graeter’s Great ‘Scream — Midwest Team Takes On NYC

Graeter's 'Scream

Selection of Graeter’s ‘Scream

Graeter’s Ice Cream is not entirely new to me. My sister-in-law in grew up in Cincinnati, home to this fourth-generation family-owned churner, and has been speaking the praises of Graeter’s for years.  But until recently native fans had to rely on mail order if they  hoped to find their favorite treat outside of the midwest and I could only sample their scoops on return trips home to Michigan. Good news for NYers {and me}: last week I received an email announcing these infamous midwest-made pints are taking on the NYC artisanal food scene and will be available in all D’Agostino stores.

This announcement also offered to ship a few fan favs my way for a taste test. I, of course, didn’t want to be rude and decline such a thoughtful offer. And so arrived four frozen flavs — Chocolate, Chocolate Chip, Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip, Mint Chocolate Chip and the Ohio State-inspired Buckeye Blitz {chocolate-peanut butter ice cream chock full of peanut butter cookie dough}.

Graeter's Famous Massive Chocolate Chips

Graeter’s Famous Massive Chocolate Chips

The verdict of the taste test? As a Notre Dame alum, you’ll never hear me speaking the praises of the Ohio State Buckeyes, but in this non-football face-off, the Buckeye Blitz outperformed the rest of the competition in my book. You’ll never hear me turn down anything with peanut butter. The good news is the win was not a landslide — every single pint exceeded expectations. What really set these scoops apart was not some off the wall flavor combination like bacon and bourbon {which seems to be what all the new fangled ice cream kids are making these days}, but the simple quality of good ingredients. It only takes one bite of their massive — and I mean MASSIVE — chocolate chunks to know exactly what I mean. They aren’t hard, break-your-teeth, frozen bits of pseudo-chocolate — they’re soft, gooey, pieces of fudgey heaven. And this is coming from a girl who is not a chocolate addict.

It’s nice to see hometown heros moving to the big city. And while I’ve lived here for over 10 years, and have some favorite frozen finds, I am 100% cheering for this new line-up — the sampling won’t end after these pints are empty.

More ‘Scream Teams:
SF Best: Bi-Rite Ice Cream Done Right
I Scream, You Scream For MilkMade Handcrafted Ice Cream
Victory Garden: A Victorious Frozen Yogurt Twist
Goat Town’s Non-*Goat* ‘Scream

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recipe goodness :: honey-vanilla pound cake with red bud flowers

honey vanilla pound cake with red bud flowers

After my foraging tour with Leda Meredith, I came back with a handful of edible pink red bud flowers just asking to be made into a sweet dessert. With a little inspiration from Ina Garten’s Back to Basics, her honey vanilla pound cake sounded like the perfect vehicle for my foraged find. This is one of the best pound cakes I’ve ever had — I’ll credit the honey for that. Add this one to the rotation.

Honey Vanilla Pound Cake with Red Bud Flowers
Makes one 8-inch loaf | Slightly adapted from Barefoot Contessa’s Back to Basics

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 cups sifted cake flower
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup fresh edible flowers {optional}

  1. Allow butter to sit at room temperature for about 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease the bottom of an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper, then grease and flour the pan.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 to 4 minutes, until light.
  4. Meanwhile, put the eggs, honey, vanilla, and lemon zest in a glass measuring cup but do not combine.
  5. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the egg mixture, one egg at a time, scraping down the bowl and allowing each egg to become incorporated before adding the next egg.
  6. Sift together the flower, salt and baking powder. With the mixer on low speed, add it slowly to the batter until just combined.
  7. Finish mixing the batter with a rubber spatula and fold in flowers {if adding}. Pour into the prepared pan. Smooth the top.
  8. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Cool for 15 minutes, turn out onto a baking rack and cool completely.
  10. Top with fresh flowers {optional}.

Getting Wild in the Kitchen:
Violet-Radish Spring Salad with Secret Lemon-Garlic Dressing
Wild pokeweed {or Aspargus} and field garlic breakfast tart
   

Homemade Spicy Carrot Kimchi! & Apple Chutney!

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recipe goodness :: mastering the art of julia child’s chocolate mousse #JC100

Julia Child's Chocolate Mousse Bowls

This is the first recipe I’m sharing from the 100 days of Julia Child celebration.

In the words of Juuuuulia:
among all the recipes for chocolate mousse, this one is the best.

With two sous chefs by my side {thank you KMR and SKW} we masterfully whipped up this mousse in record speed — one on chocolate duty, one on egg creaming duty and the other on dish duty {a lot of bowls got egg on their face with all the separating, creaming, melting, folding that takes place}. While the mousse took a bit of symphonic precision in bringing together several separate movements in perfect timing, we found this recipe to be relatively easy to master as long as you prepare and measure out your ingredients into prep bowls before beginning. The only other recommendation I would make is to test this recipe with less sugar {or bittersweet chocolate instead of semi-sweet}. I have a savory tooth in general, but the crowd concurred that this meal-ender was a little too sweet — chalk that up to the French way of cooking.

Julia Child’s Chocolate Mousse 

Makes 6 small dessert bowls {or 12 if you want to limit your sweet intake}

4 egg yolks separated, whites reserved
3/4 cups sugar {I recommend trying to cut out 1/4 cup}
1/4 cup orange liqueur

6 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate {or try bittersweet}
4 tablespoons, room temp strong coffee
6 ounces unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely zested or chopped orange peel {optional}

4 egg whites
pinch of sugar

1/2 pint heaving whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
fresh in-season berries

  1. Measure everything into prep bowls before beginning to make this multi-step process seamless {especially if you don’t have sous chefs!}
  2. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together until mixture is thick, pale yellow, and falls back upon itself forming a slowly dissolving ribbon. Beat in the orange liqueur.
  3. Then set mixing bowl over the not­ quite simmering water and continue beating for 3 to 4 minutes until the mixture is foamy and too hot for your finger.
  4. Then beat over a cold water pot for 3 to 4 minutes until the mixture is cool and again forms the ribbon. It will have the consistency of mayonnaise.
  5. Melt chocolate with coffee in a separate bowl over hot water. Remove from heat and beat in the butter a bit at a time, to make a smooth cream.
Steps 2-5: Melt and Creaming

Steps 2-5: Melt and Creaming

  1. Beat the chocolate into the egg yolks and sugar, then beat in the optionaì orange peel.
chocolate + butter

chocolate + butter

  1. Beat the egg whites and salt in a separate bowl until soft peaks are formed; sprinkle on the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed.
  2. Stir one fourth of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the rest.
  3. Turn into serving dish, dessert cups, or petits pots. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

whip and fold

  1. When ready to serve beat whipping cream and vanilla until thick enough to hold a peak. Serve in a separate bowl. Serve with fresh seasonal berries.
Julia Child's Chocolate Mousse

Julia Child’s Chocolate Mousse

Excerpted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. Copyright © 1961 by Alfred A. Knopf. Reprinted with permission from the publisher Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

Channeling My Inner Juuuuulia:
Do This!: Celebrate Julia Child’s 100th Birthday 

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recipe goodness: millionaire’s shortbread worth a billion bucks

Millionaire's Shortbread: Perfect Bite-Sized Treat

One of my favorite places to find recipe inspiration is on food52 — a site created by two friends, Merrill Stubbs and Amanda Hesser, who wanted a place to showcase the best of home cooks. In looking for a winning holiday dessert that could easily be devoured in one bite while balancing a glass of bubbly, I came across Merrill’s recipe for Millionaire’s Shortbread. If you’re money hungry this dessert will sweeten the deal. It’s made with very few simple ingredients, can be made at least a day ahead of time and is worth its weight in gold when these little bites fly off the silver platter into your guests’ hands.

Millionaire’s Shortbread 

Serves 16-32 | Courtesy of Merrill Stubbs

Shortbread:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter at room temperature

For the caramel and chocolate:
1¼ cups sugar
¼ cup water
5 tablespoons heavy cream
5 tablespoons salted butter, cubed
1 tablespoon crème fraiche

½ cup heavy cream
4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
Maldon, grey or smoked sea salt

  1. Put a rack in the center of the oven and heat it to 350 degrees. Sift the flour and salt into a medium bowl and whisk in the sugar.
  2. Cut the butter into chunks and add it to the flour, stirring with a fork to make a soft dough. Gently pat the dough into a 9-inch square baking pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until it is golden and no longer looks at all wet. Set aside to cool while you make the caramel and chocolate topping.
  3. To make the caramel: Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, swirling occasionally until the sugar has melted but without stirring. Simmer for about 10 minutes, swirling the pot every once and a while, until the sugar turns a dark amber color. Do not let it get too dark, or it will taste burnt.
  4. As soon as the sugar reaches the right color, remove it from the heat and carefully add the cream, whisking all the time (the mixture will bubble up as you do this, so use an oven mitt or a long-handled whisk). Whisk in the butter gradually and then the crème fraiche. Set aside to cool for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. When the caramel is cool enough to touch, pour it evenly over the shortbread, tipping the pan gently and tapping it on the counter to get rid of any bubbles. Put in the fridge to firm up a little.
  6. To make the chocolate: When the caramel has firmed up a bit, bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Off the heat, immediately whisk in the chocolate until smooth and shiny. Let the mixture cool for about 5 minutes, and then pour over the caramel, again tilting the pan and tapping it against the counter to smooth it out. Let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes, until the chocolate starts to firm up a little.
  7. To finish, Sprinkle the top with coarse salt and refrigerate until firm enough to cut into squares, at least 3 hours.
  8. When ready to serve, cut into 4×4 squares or cut each square in half diagonally to double the number of servings. These bites are so rich, I prefer to serve them this way and let the party come back for more.

Other Bite-Sized Party Pleasers:
Inside-Out Scotch Eggs w/ Ground Lamb, Harissa Yolk & Panko Gremolata
Cinnamon Sugar & Dark Cocoa Almonds
Mini Wild Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie w/ Scotch!
Union Square Bar Roasted Rosemary Nuts
Flaky Cheese Straws, As Easy As Being Barefoot 

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Recipe Inspiration: Take the Labor Out of Labor Day Grilling

Woo-wee, this summer has flown by. In the same way I love to start BBQ season off with a bang on Memorial Day, I think a proper summer send-off is essential come Labor Day. Here are a few last minute favorites if you’re looking to make the most of the long weekend, your Weber and cocktail shaker.

DRINKS {start the party out right}

Alton Brown’s Bourbon Mint Julep
Bottle of Baron {Refreshing “Island Cocktail” a la Tippling Bros.}

Fresh Lime-Margarita Marinated Watermelon
Kickin’ Ancho Chili Fresh Citrus Margarita
Pink Fizzy Lemonade Cocktails Beat the Heat

Stand-Out Spanish Sangria
Summer Strawberry Chilled Chamomile Tea {non-alc or a mixer!}

SNACK’EMS {your guests eat, while the grill heats}

Avocado & Tropical Fruit Salsa {also good as an entree side}
Creole Roasted Fresh Corn-Tomato Salsa
Fresh Lime-Margarita Marinated Watermelon{double duty bites}

SALADS {beautiful and delicious}

Lime-Kissed Peach and Corn Summer Salad
Orzo, Spinach & Feta Summer Salad
Spinach, Strawberry & Halloumi Salad
Tomato, Basil & Feta Salad
The Ultimate Summer Slaw

PIZZA & BREADS {d’oh! why didn’t i try this yet}

Creative Crowd-Pleasing BBQ’d Pizzas {this is what I’ll be serving! So FUN}
Flaky Cheese Straws, As Easy As Being Barefoot
Red Chili-Lime Cornbread Muffins

FOR THE GRILL {that’s what it’s all about}

Bison, a Better Burger Worth Biting Into
Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken
Pistachio-Encrusted Spring Lamb w/ Pickled Red Onions & Cumin Yogurt Sauce
Whole-Grain Mustard & Rosemary Pork Chops
Grilled Thyme-Cumin Vegetable Kabobs

DESSERT {life is short, eat it first}

Alton Brown’s Bourbon Banana’s Foster w/ Bourbon Ice Cream
Banana Puddin’ Chocolate Cups
 {bottom of post}
Violet’s Lemon Cheesecake with BBQ’d Summer Berries{bottom of post}

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Goat Town’s Non-*Goat* ‘Scream

Goat Town Treat-Trailer

After reading my previous Victory Garden post, if I told you I was now going to write about Goat Town’s ice cream, you’re probably going to assume I’m on a serious frozen goat’s milk bender. But alas, do not let the name fool you — Goat Town’s ‘scream is your traditional cow’s milk churn, though their flavors are anything but traditional. And THAT is why it is worthy of a few good licks and a write-up.

Imagine a scorching hot day in the East Village — sun is beating down, trash is rotting on the sidewalk and you are strategically crossing to the far shaded-side of the street because you’re afraid your arm hair may spontaneously combust otherwise. You’re dripping in sweat, dreaming of a thirst-quenching treat that will provide a moment of sweet cooling relief. And then — you turn the corner and come upon a cute little trailer that is the frozen mobile home to five stellar handmade ice cream selections, courtesy of Goat Town.

Well now, it would not have taken much for me to sample a scoop on this particular day. But upon reviewing the chalkboard listing each unique flavor – Salted Caramel Pretzel, Drunken Chunky Monkey, Peanut Butter Wolf, Espresso Hershey’s Swirl, Cookie Monster and Mango Sorbet — I knew this fortuitous frozen find could not be passed up.

Goat Town Chunky Monkey + Peanut Butter Wolf

Having just had Salted Caramel Pretzel at Victory Garden, and knowing I would lose one scoop to super-sonic meltage, I opted for sampling two other interesting flavors. The Drunken Chunky Monkey, a happy marriage of bourbon, bananas and walnuts, was well-suited for its Peanut Butter Wolf companion. I don’t think I have to do much convincing via the written word for any of you to agree all those flavors just belong together. Enough said. Lick. Drip. Crunch. Gone.

The Skim: If you happen to be wandering the streets of the East Village in search of cone-worthy treat, look no further than Goat Town’s ice cream treat-trailer — of course, they have also sold me on a swift return to check out their farm-to-table focused dining menu as well.

Map: 511 East 5th Street {Between Avenue A&B)

I Scream, You Scream:
SF Best: Bi-Rite Ice Cream Done Right
recipe goodness :: Alton Brown Does Bourbon in the Morning
Under the Bridge, Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory Treat
I Scream, You Scream For MilkMade Handcrafted Ice Cream
Victory Garden: A Victorious Frozen Yogurt Twist {Actual Goat’s Milk ‘Scream}

 

 

 

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Recipe Inspiration: Happy 4th of July!

Well we all know how I feel about BBQs — any excuse to play with food and fire is a good time to me. It’s easy to throw a few burgers on the grill and crack a few cold ones, but there is no reason you can’t jazz up a 4th of July BBQ and still keep it easy and relaxed. Here are a few of my favorite recipes — I hope this inspires some BBQ fireworks.

DRINKS {start the party out right}

Alton Brown’s Bourbon Mint Julep
Bottle of Baron {Refreshing “Island Cocktail” a la Tippling Bros.}

Fresh Lime-Margarita Marinated Watermelon
Kickin’ Ancho Chili Fresh Citrus Margarita
Pink Fizzy Lemonade Cocktails Beat the Heat

Stand-Out Spanish Sangria
Summer Strawberry Chilled Chamomile Tea {non-alc or a mixer!}

SNACK’EMS {your guests eat, while the grill heats}

Avocado & Tropical Fruit Salsa {also good as an entree side}
Creole Roasted Fresh Corn-Tomato Salsa
Fresh Lime-Margarita Marinated Watermelon{double duty bites}

SALADS {beautiful and delicious}

Orzo, Spinach & Feta Summer Salad
Spinach, Strawberry & Halloumi Salad
Tomato, Basil & Feta Salad
The Ultimate Summer Slaw

PIZZA & BREADS {d’oh! why didn’t i try this yet}

Creative Crowd-Pleasing BBQ’d Pizzas {this is what I’ll be serving! So FUN}
Flaky Cheese Straws, As Easy As Being Barefoot
Red Chili-Lime Cornbread Muffins

FOR THE GRILL {that’s what it’s all about}

Bison, a Better Burger Worth Biting Into
Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken
Pistachio-Encrusted Spring Lamb w/ Pickled Red Onions & Cumin Yogurt Sauce
Whole-Grain Mustard & Rosemary Pork Chops
Grilled Thyme-Cumin Vegetable Kabobs

DESSERT {life is short, eat it first}

Alton Brown’s Bourbon Banana’s Foster w/ Bourbon Ice Cream
Banana Puddin’ Chocolate Cups
 {bottom of post}
Violet’s Lemon Cheesecake with BBQ’d Summer Berries{bottom of post}

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Wheat Don’t Need You Delivers a Triple Thrill Gluten-Free Treat

Wheat Don't Need You Triple Thrill Gluten Free Goodness

A good friend was recently diagnosed with celiac disease, which means she has an allergy to gluten. No more pizza, no more pasta, no more double chocolate cake. Tragic! or so you would think. She has certainly had to make changes to her diet, but as the awareness of such allergies has increased, so has the store shelf space, introducing new products that cater to gluten-free diets.

So when I was approached by a cleverly named gluten free bakery,Wheat Don’t Need You, to try a new product called the Triple Thrill I requested a few treats to share and evaluate with the gluten-free expert. I was curious how it would meet her “I miss good dessert” standards and mine. I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the package to find a bar cookie that I wanted to bite into immediately. Covered in creamy caramel, rich chocolate and pecans, the cookie is rolled in lightly toasted gluten-free oats. Apparently truly gluten-free oats are hard to come by due to cross-contamination from wheat, rye or barley at processing plants, so the addition of these certified oats received high praise at our gluten conscious table. But from someone who doesn’t have to be concerned with whether or not my food has gluten in it, I too enjoyed the Triple Thrill. I’m more of a savory person, so I loved the addition of the oats and pecans. And in my book anything with ooey gooey caramel is a winner. My only request, a few sprinkles of sea salt would have really put this bar over the top to counterbalance the sweetness and provide a quadruple thrill. Love to get a crunch of that unexpectedly delightful salt crystal on something sweet — but that’s just me. If you know someone who has a gluten allergy, give these treats a try and see if you can’t taste the difference. The Wheat Don’t Need You operation is small right now, but sometimes the best things come out of small kitchens.

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SF Best: Bi-Rite Ice Cream Done Right

Bi-Rite Creamery

If people are standing in line for ice cream when it’s 40 degrees outside, you know it must be good. And when I visited Bi-Rite it was 40 degrees outside. But with the mercury shooting well into the 60s on this fine February Friday in NYC, I thought there was no better thing to write about than ice cream. The encouraging words that “the line moves quickly” made me feel only slightly better about our decision to join a long queue of eager scoopers streaming out of the Bi-Rite Creamery and half way down the block behind a red rope. A red rope for ice cream? If it didn’t feel special already, this touch certainly added to the depiction that this was not just any ‘ole ‘scream stand.

After perusing the list of clever creams – roasted banana, chocolate coconut, Ricanelas {cinnamon with snickerdoodles}, I thought I knew my order and was prepared to swiftly answer back when I finally made it to the front of the line. But upon introduction as “a newbie,” the expert behind the counter even more swiftly spun to snatch a silver spoon, upon which he presented his favorite concoction – a trio of blood orange olive oil {literally olive oil, not olive oil flavored ice cream}, hot fudge and honey lavender ice cream. An inordinate heavenly bite that at once confirmed Bi-Rite’s exceptional rank in the nobility of frozen treasured treats.

The skillful scooper quickly handed me three more spoons, each with a single flavor for more sampling which undoubtedly drove me into deeper confusion about what to order.  But in an effort to contribute to “the line moving quickly” I placed my bets and married the roasted banana with the salted caramel {banana’s foster anyone?} and left feeling I probably couldn’t go wrong with any duo and most definitely will wait behind the red rope again.

The Skim: Vanilla may be the most popular ice cream flavor in America, but who wants to do what everyone else is doing? Treat your taste buds to any of Bi-Rite’s craft ice cream creations or go out on a limb and pick a popsicle (how about pineapple with mint}.

Map3692 18th Street
Reservations: Yeah right!
Phone: 415.626.5600

More Scoop Please:
Send Your Valentine an Ice Cream Gram from Milkmade
Under the Bridge, Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory Treat
I Scream, You Scream For MilkMade Handcrafted Ice Cream

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8.ate@eight Cupid Just in Time with Valentine’s Day Gift and Dinner Ideas

♥ Text Me ♥ Recipe 4 Love ♥ Table 4 Two ♥ Be Mine ♥ Cool Cat

You’ve found that special someone who likes long walks on the beach too, but you’re late to the game planning Valentine’s Day? Never fear, if you’re in need of some good inspiration to show your love, here a list of a few of my favorite ideas — whether you’re looking for a romantic night in, a unique meal out or a gift of food that is the way to your love’s heart.

♥ Labor of  Love With Your Own Hands ♥

Cocktail Kick-Off: Fireside Sparks {Champagne Cocktail a la Tippling Bros.}
When In Doubt, Roast a Chicken: Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken
Spice it Up: Crispy Cayenne Roasted Potatoes
Bourbon and Flames to Heat Things Up: Alton Brown’s Bourbon Banana’s Foster
Bedtime Snack: Cinnamon Sugar & Dark Cocoa Almonds
Breakfast in Bed:
How To Cook The Perfect Sunny Side-Up Egg w/ Herbed Buttermilk Biscuits

More 8.ate@eight Recipes HERE

♥ Wine & Dine ♥

10s Across the Board: The Art of Eating {and Drinking} Well @ L’Artusi
An Aphrodisiac’s Evening: Lovin’ Me Some Oysters @Mermaid Oyster Bar
Interactive Eating: Love, Love Shabu Shabu: Fun to Say and Eat
Butt. ‘Nough Said: Momofuku That Pork Butt is Good!
Slurping is Sexy: NYC Ramen Wars: Ippudo vs. momofuku noodle bar
Smoked Meat is Sexier: 18 Meat Dishes for Men & BBQ Heaven @Fette Sau
Cozy and Romantic: August in April
Single and Looking for Love: Wilfie & Nell: Not Your Grandpa’s Watering Hole

More 8.ate@eight Favor8 Restaurants HERE

♥ Gifts A Dozen Times Better Than Roses ♥

Ice Cream Gram: Send Your Valentine an Ice Cream Gram from Milkmade
A Gift to Warm the Soul: Blue Bottle Coffee Brews One Brilliant Cup at a Time
Artisanal Meats, Cheeses & Chocolates! Artisanal Specialty Foods Digested
Cheese & Wine Classes: Do This!: Artisanal Premium Cheese & Wine Classes

♥ Text Me ♥ Recipe 4 Love ♥ Table 4 Two ♥ Be Mine ♥ Cool Cat

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Send Your Valentine an Ice Cream Gram from Milkmade

Valentine’s Grams are back! Make someone’s day this V-Day by surprising them with a pint or two (or three or FOUR), of our seasonal ice cream delivered right to their home or office. So much better than red roses!

Each Valentine Gram includes a handcrafted pint of one of Milkmade’s seasonal flavors and a personalized handwritten card. Grams are $15 each with a $5 per location delivery fee. Orders must be placed by Thursday, February 10th and Grams will be delivered on Monday, February 14th to any home or office in Manhattan or Brooklyn.

How to Order:
First, select from Milkmade’s seasonal flavors.

Milkmade's V-Day Flavors

Then, choose your delivery preference.
Milkmade’s delivery zone includes offices and home residences in ALL Manhattan and Brooklyn zipcodes (well, within reason). Delivery is scheduled for Monday, February 14. Delivery options include between 10am and 2pm, between 2pm and 6pm, or between 6pm and 9pm. Please note that someone MUST be home to receive the delivery (or they can leave it with front desks with freezers) because delivery does not include a cold pack.

Orders may also be picked up at Milkmade’s East Village “headquarters” on Sunday, February 13 between 6pm and 10pm. The delivery fee will (obviously) not be charged for pick-up orders.

Grams are limited. To place an order, please click here.

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Home for the Holidays, Having Italian to Write Home About @Bucci

Bucci

There are a handful of places I love to visit when I go home to Grosse Pointe to visit my parents — one of them is Bucci, an unexpectedly good Italian bistro worthy of a New York City corner, but nestled between a barber shop and a physical therapy storefront in suburban Michigan.

Bucci, the childhood nickname of Chef and owner, Bujar Mamuslari, was established in 1999 and has been packing seats with its open kitchen concept ever since. The extensive Italian menu was inspired by Bujar’s travels throughout Italy during a summer culinary school internship. Hitching a ride from town to town, Bujar was welcomed into the kitchens (and generations of nonna’s family secrets) in homes spanning the knickers to the heal of Italy’s boot.

Sitting at Bucci’s kitchen bar this evening, we had a front row seat to witness how all those countryside learnings inspired Bujar’s own stateside venture. There was so much going on at once, it was hard to keep track of it all. As our waitress chatted with us, she uncorked our wine and shouted out our calamari order to the chef, who with a nod, relayed to the line cook to toss the squid and peppers onto a sizzling pan, all while throwing the makings of, what I counted to be, 30 take-out orders into pots and pans for expedited boiling and saucing. Down the line, the third cook was expertly lining up each of the take-out containers, filling, stacking and double checking each order before moving them aside for pick-up. All of this was over in a matter of minutes and the three behind the counter were back on point, preparing dishes for the dining room. Easy entertainment while we sipped our wine and tore at our fresh Italian bread.

Back in suburbia, entrees still come with a soup or salad (why doesn’t anyone do this in NYC?) It’s not just a small, wilted pile of mixed greens drenched in house dressing. No, at Bucci you can have any salad off the menu as a side to your entree. I went for the spinach salad with crumbled blue cheese, walnuts and dried cherries, all tossed in a lovely bright lemon dressing.

For my entree, the Veal Pizzaiola topped with fresh tomatoes, herbs, olives capers and parmigiana reggiano was calling my name. The meal itself, was a thing of beauty, but what added to the artful presentation of Italian flavors was a crafty little plate painting drawn using oils and vinegar in the shape of a flower.

Veal Pizzaiola

Generally with Christmas around the corner I would have saved room and passed on dessert, but there was mention of a homemade hazelnut semi-freddo, enrobed in a warm chocolate sauce — one order, 3 spoons please! Just as no dish before it, the dessert did not disappoint.

Hazelnut Semi-freddo

 

The Skim: Next time you find yourself in the Detroit area and looking for a hearty meal reminiscent of a trip to Italy, pay a visit to Bucci. Everything from the fresh, warm bread to anything on the actual menu will have you thinking your Italian grandmother is in the kitchen. And whether you’re chatting with Bucci, his wife or any of the friendly staff you will feel as though you have been welcomed into someone’s house for a home-cooked meal.

Map: 20217 Mack Avenue, Grosse Pointe Woods, MI
Reservations: Taken!
Phone: 313.882.1044

More From the Motor City:
Best Breakfast: The Chocolate Gallery Cafe
Detroit’s Slows Bar-B-Q is Quickly Becoming a Motor City Beacon
Going Back to the Old Country @ New Yasmeen Bakery

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recipe goodness :: perfect pear cranberry pie

Last year I spent Thanksgiving with my sister-in-law’s family and we were all asked to come with a recipe to prepare. So in typical foodie fashion I found a recipe that would be reminiscent of Thanksgiving, but would also step outside the middle-of-the-road boundaries of the seasonal standards. What I found was this Alton Brown recipe for a Pear Cranberry Pie. It was a risk making a pie that had to compete with fan favorites like pumpkin and apple, but knowing that Alton would have perfected every layer from crust to filling, I was hopeful this dessert would delight. And I was right. So this year, the Pear Cranberry Pie made an appearance at our table again and will probably continue to do so. It may be past Thanksgiving, but this pie is a great addition to any holiday party, so if you’re looking for an inspirational addition to your Christmas, Hanukkah or New Year’s  celebration, I can guarantee this one will be enjoyed by many.

Pear Cranberry Pie
Courtesy of Alton Brown

Makes 1 Pie | Pre Time: 1 Hour | Cook Time: 40-50 Mins. | 425° F

Crust:
6 oz unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-in pieces
2 oz vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-in pieces
5-7 TBS cranberry juice
12 oz all-purpose flour (~2 3/4 cups)
1 tsp salt
1 TBS granulated sugar

Filling:
3-3 1/2 lbs pears {mix of Bartlett, Bosc and/or Anjou}
1/2 cup sugar, divided
6 oz dried cranberries
3 TBS tapioca flour
2 TBS cranberry jam
1 TBS cranberry juice
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg

Crust:

Place the butter, shortening and cranberry juice into the fridge for 1 hour.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, salt and sugar by pulsing 3-4 times. Add the butter and pulse 5-6 times until the texture looks mealy. Add the shortening and pulse another 3-4 times until incorporated.

Remove the lid of the food processor and sprinkle in 5 tablespoons of the cranberry juice. Replace the lid and pulse 5 times. Add more cranberry juice as needed, and pulse again until the mixture holds together when squeezed. Weigh the dough and divide in half. Shape each half into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.

Filling:
Peel and core the pears. Slice into 1/4 to 1/2-in thick wedges. Toss all the pears with 1/4 cup of the sugar, place in a colander set over a large bowl and allow to drain for 1 1/2 hours.

Transfer the drained liquid into a small saucepan, place over medium heat and reduce to 2 tablespoons. Set aside to cool. Toss the pears with the remaining sugar, tapioca flour, jam, cranberry juice, lemon juice, salt and nutmeg.

Preheat oven to 425°

Remove 1 disk from the refrigerator. Place the dough onto a lightly floured piece of waxed paper. Lightly sprinkle the top of the doug with flour and roll out into a 12-inch circle. Place into a 9 1/2 to 10-in pie pan that is 2 inches deep. Gently press the dough into the sides of the pan, crimping and trimming the edges as necessary. Place the pears into the unbaked pie shell in concentric circles starting around the edges, working towards the center and forming a slight mound in the center of the pie. Sprinkle the cranberries a little at a time as you go.

Pour over any liquid that remains in the bowl. Roll out the second pie dough as the first. Cut several slits or designs into the center of the pie crust to allow for steam to release when backing. Place this dough over the pears, pressing together the edges of the dough around the rim of the pie. Brush the top crust with the reduced juice everywhere except around the edge of the pie. Trim excess dough.

Gently cover the edges of the pie crust with foil to protect from burning. Place the pie on a half sheet pan and bake on the lower rack of the oven for 20 mins. Remove foil and continue to cook for an additional 20-30 minutes until crust is a golden brown and pears are cooked through but not mushy. Remove to a rack and cool a minimum of 4 hours or until room temperature.

More Inspiration From Alton:
Alton Brown’s Bourbon Banana’s Foster w/ Bourbon Ice Cream

Alton Brown’s Bourbon Mint Julep

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recipe goodness :: cinnamon sugar & dark cocoa almonds

In need of an easy holiday gift to give a neighbor or something to fill the holiday party bowls other than candy? This recipe can be thrown together in a matter of minutes and is a great gourmet treat that anyone will love!

Cinnamon Sugar Almonds

1 egg white
2  cups unsalted raw almonds
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 TBS ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. kosher salt

Preheat oven to 275°. Line a large baking sheet with foil, and coat foil with oil spray.

Whip egg white in a large bowl until very frothy.

Add almonds to bowl and stir until completely soaked in egg white, about 2 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add cinnamon-sugar mixture to almonds and stir until the dry ingredients are completely incorporated and evenly coat the almonds. {No dry powder should remain in bottom of bowl}.

Pour almonds onto prepared baking sheet and use a spatula, spoon or your hands to spread out in a single layer.

Bake for 25 minutes on middle rack.

Using a spatula, flip the almonds over in small batches {it’s not necessary to flip over every last nut ; just make sure you turn most of them}.  Spread them in a single layer and bake for 15 minutes more.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes. Break the almonds apart with your hands.  Store the cooled almonds in an airtight container.

Dark Cocoa Almonds

1 egg white
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups unsalted raw almonds, {skins on}
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp chili powder {optional for a spicy kick}

Preheat oven to 275°. Line a large baking sheet with foil, and coat foil with oil spray.

In large bowl, combine egg white and vanilla and whip until very frothy.

Add almonds to bowl and stir until completely soaked in egg white, about 2 minutes.

In small bowl, stir together sugar, cocoa powder and salt until mixed.  Add cocoa mixture to almonds and stir until dry ingredients are completely incorporated and evenly coat almonds. {No dry powder should remain in bottom of bowl}.

Pour almonds onto prepared baking sheet and use a spatula, spoon or your hands to spread out in a single layer.

Bake for 25 minutes on middle rack.

Using a spatula, flip the almonds over in small batches {it’s not necessary to flip over every last nut ; just make sure you turn most of them}.  Spread them in a single layer and bake for 15 minutes more.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes. Break the almonds apart with your hands.  Store the cooled almonds in an airtight container.

Cinnamon Sugar Coated Almonds

More Snack ‘Ems:
Avocado & Tropical Fruit Salsa
Creole Roasted Fresh Corn-Tomato Salsa
Rosemary, Truffle and Parmesan Chips or Fries

Courtesy of Joy Bauer

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Giveaway! Season’s Greetings Ghirardelli-Style

Ghirardelli Limited Edition Prize

The tree is up at Rockefeller Center, a certain coffee chain’s red cups are in everyone’s chilly hands and Ghirardelli’s Limited Edition Peppermint Bark has hit shelves — Christmas season is officially here!  I come from a family of chocolate lovers — my aunt and uncle own a restaurant in Michigan called the Chocolate Gallery Cafe {they often bake their award-winning desserts with Ghirardelli chocolate}, my sister-in-law works for Ghirardelli and my mom, well, she just loves to fill the candy bowls with it. One of the favorite flavors in our family is the Peppermint Bark — with a creamy milk chocolate bottom layer topped in white chocolate and flakes of crunchy peppermint, it’s chocolate that tastes like Christmas! But this treat is only available in November and December and I’m in the sharing spirit, so I’m giving one lucky winner a hefty supply of Limited Edition Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark! Use it as a gift this holiday season or keep it for yourself {it’s ok!}, but either way, enjoy the 8.ate@eight Ghirardelli holiday love.

How To Win:

  1. Leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite chocolate dessert is and why {recipes encouraged!}.
  2. For two additional entries: a) follow 8.ate@eight on twitter and b) tweet about the contest with a link to this post {be sure to reference @8ateATeight in your tweet so I can track}
  3. For two more additional entries: a) follow 8.ate@eight on Facebook and b) post a link to this contest on FB {be sure to leave a comment on my FB page that you’ve done so}

This contest will start today and end on December 3rd, 2010 at 6pm EST. Winners will be chosen at random using Randomizer.org and will be announced the next day, only people with United States shipping addresses are eligible. Winner will be emailed and will have 48 hours to respond with their mailing address or an alternate winner will be chosen.

Ghirardelli Peppermint Squares

‘Tis the Season!

Good Luck,
Christina

Need Some Chocolate Decadence?
Do This!: Vote for The Chocolate Gallery Cafe for Best Dessert

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Outstanding Upper Ouest Side Dining

Ouest

My parents were recently in town and I took that opportunity to finally visit a great upper west side restaurant that has been on my “list” of places to try for waaaaay too long. I can’t explain why it took me 7 years to eat at Ouest — I’ve heard nothing but good things and it’s only 5 blocks away from my apartment. But there you have it, 7 years came and went and I finally walked through the doors leading to a small, intimate dark-wood bar, a short hall of cozy red leather booths and a hidden, unexpectedly spacious dining room in the back. Despite the soaring ceilings and a second level platform where more diners overlook the main room, Ouest provides a warm and sophisticated environment with oversized mirrors and almost circus tent-like chandeliers creating a red glow over the round red leather seating.

The atmosphere was not the only thing that did not disappoint. I was craving greens, so I started with an appetizer that doesn’t sound like anything spectacular, but just like the unexpected, hidden dining room, this dish was one more surprise worth noting. The Mixed Seasonal Greens with Herbed Red Wine-Parmesan Vinaigrette comes out as a beautifully stacked sculpture of curly, crunchy leaves, lightly dressed in the most wonderfully simple, but flavorful vinaigrette. Nothing fancy — no croutons or crumbled cheese to get in the way of the fresh greens and its companion dressing. Note to diners — the salad was large enough that it could easily be shared between two, even three people.

Ouest Mixed Seasonal Greens with Herbed Red Wine-Parmesan Vinaigrette

For my entree I got the Pan Seared Diver Scallops with Fennel-Mint Risotto and Autumn Mushrooms. And yes, this too tasted just as fantastic as it sounds. The perfectly cooked seared scallops sat atop a bed of creamy risotto that was slightly sweet from the roasted fennel, fresh and herby from the mint, and earthy from the bits of mushroom. I was reluctant to share a bite, but that also probably made room for dessert!

Pan Seared Scallops with Fennel-Mint Risotto and Autumn Mushrooms

This is when I can’t refrain from dessert. Every course has been so noteworthy, I don’t want the meal to end. And I convince myself that dessert cannot be missed or the entire dining experience will be hopelessly incomplete. And I was right. The Peanut Butter-Chocolate “Bombe” with Spanish Peanuts & Warm Chocolate Sauce was as tasty as it was beautiful. Nothing goes better with chocolate than peanut butter, as was confirmed in each bite. I would say the sauce could have been warmer, but I was already won over by the entire meal and was willing to let it slide.

Ouest Peanut Butter-Chocolate Bombe

The Skim: Pricing falls on the higher end, but if you’re looking for a special occasion outting or have a few dollars you’re willing to trade for a memorable meal, I would highly suggest a trip to the upper Ouest side. Everything from the warm ambiance, to precise service and a stellar menu makes for a meal worth going north of 14th street for.

Map: 2315 Broadway {@84th Street}
Reservations: Taken!
Phone: 212-580-8700

What Else Can I Find on the UWS?
Barney Greengrass: Long Live the Sturgeon King
Community Food & Juice: Fresh & Fantastic Fare
5 & Dime: 10 oz. at Five Napkin Burger, that is

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Do This!: Vote for The Chocolate Gallery Cafe for Best Dessert

You may remember back in July when The Chocolate Gallery Cafe was up for Best Breakfast in Detroit.

Do This!: Vote for The Chocolate Gallery Cafe for Best Breakfast

I wrote about it. You voted. They won!

And now this sweet little cafe, my Aunt and Uncle’s gem, has been nominated for Best Dessert in Detroit by AOL’s City’s Best and I’m asking you to vote again. Just because you haven’t eaten there {why haven’t you?} or don’t live in Detroit, doesn’t mean you can’t cast a vote and support their family run business from afar. They have been nominated for and won countless local and national awards, which speaks volumes for the love and passion they pour into their family run business. This year, The Chocolate Gallery Cafe has been nominated again for AOL’s City’s Best Dessert award, so read on, drool over the pictures of their food, vote and then tell any friends or family you know in Michigan to stop by for a sweet bite they are sure to enjoy! {Also makes for a crowd-pleasing treat to bring to holiday parties}

Here’s a cyber taste:

The Chocolate Gallery Cafe opened its doors over 16 years ago, but got its start even earlier when a love for chocolate and hours of experiments in a home kitchen resulted in the recipe for their famous award-winning Chocolate Buckingham Torte. So rich it has royalty in its name. The award-winning Chocolate Buckingham Torte is layered to perfection, with a chewy brownie bottom, creamy chocolate mousse center all topped off with crunchy English toffee and whipped cream florets that provide the ideal contrast to its other rich layers. The answer to every chocolate lover’s quest for the perfect dessert, this torte is the jewel of my Aunt Cathy and Uncle Chuck’s boutique cafe.

Chocolate Buckingham Torte

Chocolate Flourless Decadence Torte

Hopefully you live close enough that a visit to The Chocolate Gallery Cafe can be a reality, but if not, for now you can support this sweet cafe with a click of a button and a vote to win Best Dessert in DetroitThe Chocolate Gallery Cafe is also available for Full Service Catering, Chocolate Fountain Rentals and custom sweet treats, including Truffles and Molded Chocolates.

Map: 3672 Chicago Road, Warren, Michigan
Reservations: Not Taken (Open Thurs-Sun 8am-2pm)
Phone: 586.979.1140
Photos: John Martin Photography

Want Something For Your Effort?

Giveaway! Season’s Greetings Ghirardelli-Style

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Do This!: Eataly is Big Box Batali

 

Eataly Grocery: Jams, Honeys, Coffee, Chocolate...and More!

We may not have a Wal-Mart or SuperTarget in NYC, but we do have Eataly, a new take on Molto Mario that brings both imported and locally sourced artisanal Italian products to Manhattanites {and the droves of tourists lined up around the corner} in a very big way. Housed inside the old Toy Building, Eataly is grocery marketplace, coffee bar, food court, culinary classroom and a headache all under one roof. Don’t get me wrong, I love Eataly and everything it’s about, but if you thought making your way through the aisles of Fairway was bad, then prepare yourself for patience-testing as you navigate through awe-struck photogs, non-english speaking patrons and hour-long waiting periods for a table. I’ve been to Eataly twice since it opened and the best advice I can share: plan to cook Eataly-bought ingredients at home, or be willing to eat during the early bird special. I did both, so here’s the experience relived.

Walk in and bypass the Lavazza coffee bar, which will inevitably have a long line because it is right by the front door. Not far past that long line you will discover another very slick walk-up coffee bar with a large and shiny imported coffee machine that not only looks cool, but makes a mean cup of Giuseppe.

Walk Up Coffee Bar

What goes better with un cafe than beautifully decadent desserts?

Italian Pastries and Sweets

Puglian Style Mozzarella!

But after you’ve sampled a taste of Italy, make your way to my favorite part of the store, the salumi and formaggi section. Here, the best of Italian food craft is married with locally-sourced ingredients, to bring you fresh cuts of meat and cheeses, including handmade mozzarella, literally made before your very eyes. If you chat with Sal for a bit, he might even share some warm mozz right from the pot!

Sal, Your New Cheese Friend

Grab some fresh produce, which I thought all looked very nice and was reasonably priced. If you’re not one who wields a knife with ease, then pay a visit to the brilliant vegetable butcher, who will wash, clean and prep your veg in any way you would like. Why oh why has no one done this before?!?

Eataly's Fresh Produce

Vegetable Butcher -- Your Other New Friend

As if this isn’t impressive enough, as you walk deeper into the brightly lit concrete walls of this Italian megastore, you soon stumble upon another brilliant display of fresh pasta — cut, twirled and presented in a myriad of ways to make cooking fresh pasta at home, not only easy, but exciting. And if you want to really go over the top with your squid ink tagliatelle, then you can also buy white truffles at $3,400 / lb, or the more affordable black truffle for $420 / lb {what a steal!}

Eataly Fresh Pasta Counter

Want to stock up on some dried pasta for those cold winter nights? Eataly has at least 6 rows of pasta in various shapes and sizes.

Pasta di gragnano

Of course if you’re willing to wait, or eat lunch at 11:30 like we did, I highly recommend snagging a seat at one of the ristorantes to taste what all this Italian Artisanal goodness is really about. We opted for the pizza-pasta section, because it was hard not too after all the amazing s’ghetti we walked by. The meal did not disappoint. Neapolitan style pizza, simple spaghetti al pomodoro and the best dish of all, fusilli al ragu with a blend of veal, pork and beef bolognese. DE-LISH.

Wood Burning Pizza Ovens

Spaghetti al Pomodoro

Fusilli al Ragu

The Skim: Patience is a necessity when making an Eataly excursion, but you will be rewarded in every bite — whether you stop for a quick coffee fix, to stock up on the makings of your own homemade feast or successfully snag a seat for an in-store bite. Grocery must: At $3.80 for a ball of fresh mozzarella, it’s not only creamy goodness, but a steal! Menu must: Fusilli al Ragu is molto molto buono!

Map: 200 Fifth Ave {@5th Ave}

The Real Deal Italiano:
Del Posto Presents Murray’s Cheese & Salumi Wine Party @NYCWFF
The Art of Eating {and Drinking} Well @ L’Artusi
Aria Sings a Harmonious West Village Wine Bar
Travel Bite: Puglia on a Plate

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Brooklyn Fare Fares Well, Earning 2 Michelin Stars

A year ago I went to Brooklyn Fare with 7 other close friends to dig into an evening of fine dining and free flowing wine, while seated at a superbly intimate and unique, but casual, chef’s table in the kitchen of Brooklyn Grocery. So I am extremely excited to hear and spread the word that the Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare Grocery was just awarded 2 Michelin stars — one of only 10 restaurants in New York and the only restaurant in Brooklyn.

Michelin Guide director Jean-Luc Naret said the eatery was one of the best 300 restaurants in the world.

In honor of their honor, I thought I would recap the memorable meal. A picture is worth 1,000 words with this post! For a fixed price {wine is BYO}, we watched our meal being prepared table side, chatted with chef, Cesar Ramirez, and left happy, satiated foodies. Reliving this meal through photos makes me want to go back tomorrow! As you can see, what was supposed to be a 5-course tasting menu, actually turned into 13 — hence why we had to call the local wine store to restock our supply {come prepared}!
The evening started out with a shot of Lemon Verbena Foam

Starting out with a shot of Lemon Verbena Foam


And A Bite Sized Parmesan Macaroon

Followed by a fried ball of liquid foie gras. WHAT! Amazing liquid gold in a bite.

And then Crispy Crab Balls {not pictured}, leading to Fresh Oysters w/ Sea Water Gelatin Film

Fresh Oysters w/ Sea Water Film


On to more foamy goodness — Parmesan Foam, Shaved Lemon Zest and a generous heap of Truffles

Parmesan Foam, Shaved Lemon Zest and Truffles



And a lighter Hamachi Crudo w/ Soy and Lime

Hamachi w/ Soy and Lime


Finished Product


The beginnings of Crab and avocado wrapped in bibb lettuce, topped with button mushrooms and shaved porcini — An amazingly rich, but light; fresh, but earthy contrast of flavors.

Laying the Avocado Foundation


And then the Crab Roll


Crab and avocado wrapped in bibb lettuce, topped with button mushrooms and shaved porcini


Our taste buds were doing jumping jacks, but this was nothing compared to the next dish: Egg, truffle foam and fried italian black rice. You can only imagine how well this combination of both consistencies and flavors played together. I quickly started to lose track of which course we were on or if these dishes were even on the listed menu — it was one tantalizing bite after another. With a lot of wine to wash it down!

Egg, truffle foam and fried italian black rice. A-mazing.


And just when the rich flavors start to make your head spin in glee, Chef Ramirez lightens things back up with a Fish stew with lobster, frog legs, octopus, cod cheeks, topped with lobster foam.

Fish stew with lobster, frog legs, octopus, cod cheeks, topped with lobster foam


And a most interesting John Dory with Veal Jus – redefining surf & turf?

John Dory with Veal Jus


And to finish off the savory menu, a highly seasonal and highly delightful, Milk fed pork, baby leeks, shaved apple stack topped with melted powdered caramel.

Milk fed pork, baby leeks, shaved apple stack topped with melted powdered caramel.


Of course, the evening also ended with something sweet, colorful and fantastically fun to eat. Poached plum, topped with ricotta, 26-year aged balsamic, muscato gelee and plum marshmallows.

Poached plum, topped with ricotta, 26-year aged balsamic, muscato gelee and plum marshmallows.


I could not begin to describe the complexity and brilliance of this meal with words, so hopefully the photos are enough to make your mouth sing. I’m guessing the wait list is longer than a line at Whole Foods on a Saturday afternoon, so get your friends, set a date many months from now and get involved. When you make your reservation be sure to ask for the recommended local wine store that will help pair wines with the meal the day prior {just plan for more courses than revealed and don’t be shy about sharing with Chef Ramirez and his team}.

Map200 Schermerhorn
Reservations: Required!
Contact: Heidi at 718-243-0050 or email kitchen@brooklynfare.com

More Brooklyn Fare:
Mission Dolores {Accomplished}: Great New Brooklyn Beer Garden
NYC Best: Source Your Spices and Specialty Foods @ Sahadi’s
Crop to Cup Creating Quality Community Coffee

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Under the Bridge, Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory Treat

Ice Cream Under the Bridge

It’s September, summer’s over, but the mercury is shooting to 90 this week in NYC. Not that you ever really need an excuse for ice cream, but isn’t that reason enough to head on over to The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, located in a landmark fireboat house on the Fulton Ferry Pier? What’s so special about this ice cream you ask? Aside from the fact you can enjoy sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline from right below the historic Brooklyn Bridge, The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory is known for using nothing but the finest and purest ingredients to create 8 simple flavors: vanilla, chocolate, vanilla chocolate chunk, chocolate chocolate chunk, strawberry, peaches & cream, butter pecan and coffee. You don’t need 31 flavors to find a cone you will crave here and it’s the perfect destination for a walk or bike ride across the landmark bridge, offering everything from a refreshing treat to a refreshing view after a long week in the hustle of city living.

Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory Float

Map: Old Fulton Street, Brooklyn

Want More Scoop?
NYC Best: Summer Sausage & Other Seriously Good Eats @ Summerstage
I Scream, You Scream For MilkMade Handcrafted Ice Cream
Why Buy the Cow, When You Can Get the Milkshake for Free?
Momofuku That Pork Butt is Good!

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I Scream, You Scream For MilkMade Handcrafted Ice Cream

MilkMade Homemade Black Currant and Gingersnap Ice Cream

It all started with a purchase of an ice cream maker, a small East Village kitchen and two friends trying to churn out their love for ice cream with their own two hands for kicks. Using nothing but premium, local ingredients sourced from farmers at the NYC greenmarket and a touch of inspiration from seasonal flavors and dining experiences, Diana Hardeman and Michelle Truong, quickly went from being just roommates with a taste for scoops of ‘scream to business partners and co-founders of MilkMade. Once these two milk maids started sharing some of their handcrafted treats with friends, it wasn’t long before many were clamoring for more creamy creations. A shared scoop became a request for a pint became a featured dessert at dinner parties and then suddenly they were getting coverage in local publications and a new business was born. I sat down with Diana last week and she shared not only some scrumptious ‘scream, but the ups and downs of being a small artisan food purveyor in NYC. Here’s the scoop:

First things first, the ice cream goodness. After a long and hot bike ride down to the East Village, this was a welcomed treat for a girl whose body temperature had risen a couple of degrees. Each month MilkMade creates two featured flavors from which their ‘scream subscribers get to choose. For August the churned choices are Black Currant with Chunks of Homemade Gingersnap Cookies or Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie. Black Currant with Gingersnap — two flavors I have never used in my own kitchen, let alone thought of as a perfect match, but let me tell you it was a prized pairing. The fresh tartness of the currants, mellowed out by the creaminess of the ice cream is smooth and delicious on its own, but then you get a crispy chunk of the cookie with the ginger spice and you think, something about this just works — it’s refreshing, it’s rich and it’s something I’ve never tasted before!

So how do you try some for yourself? Well you used to be able to sample at the Greenpoint Food Market, but due to a string of bureaucratic city health regulations, the market was forced to close until all its vendors could find a certified kitchen to operate from along with a range of permits and certificates — all of which can be prohibitively expensive for start-up artisanal food purveyors who barely break even while selling at the market. Lucky for us, MilkMade also has a membership-based subscription option, where those fortunate enough to get off the wait-list can get a pint hand-delivered to their door each month. The ice cream is so fresh, the ingredients are bought, churned and delivered to you within a 2-3 day window. The cost of this unique experience? $50 for 3 pints of ice cream. {!!!}. Expensive, yes, but when you consider the costs I referenced at the beginning of this ‘graph, the fact that this premium treat is hand made in small batches with high quality ingredients from farms such as Ronnybrook Dairy Farm and Knoll Crest, and hand delivered to you by the founders themselves — well, you can’t buy that kind of quality and experience in the freezer section.

Of course for those of you who are lucky enough to grab a seat at a future 8.ate@eight Supper Club, you may just get a sampling of this special treat, but in the meantime, give a gift to yourself or a well-deserving friend and sign-up to put something more exciting in your freezer than a late-night frozen pizza or bag of peas.

Screaming for More?
Why Buy the Cow, When You Can Get the Milkshake for Free?
Greenmarket: Put Smarter, Cheaper & More Scrumptious Food on Your Table
Michael Pollan Agreed With Me, $8 Eggs Are A Good Idea

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Do This!: Vote for The Chocolate Gallery Cafe for Best Breakfast


Full disclaimer, The Chocolate Gallery Cafe is my Aunt Cathy and Uncle Chuck’s restaurant. But just because I’m related to them doesn’t mean they haven’t been turning out some of the best breakfast and desserts that people have been enjoying for years. And just because you haven’t eaten there {why haven’t you?} or don’t live in Detroit, doesn’t mean you can’t cast a vote and support their family run business from afar. They have been nominated for and won countless local and national awards, which speaks volumes for the love and passion they pour into their family run business. This year, The Chocolate Gallery Cafe has been nominated again for Detroit’s WDIV Best Breakfast award, so read on, drool over the pictures of their food, vote and then tell any friends or family you know in Michigan to stop by for a meal they are sure to enjoy!

The Chocolate Gallery Cafe opened its doors over 16 years ago, but got its start even earlier when a love for chocolate and hours of experiments in a home kitchen resulted in the recipe for their famous award-winning Chocolate Buckingham Torte. So rich it has royalty in its name. The award-winning Chocolate Buckingham Torte is layered to perfection, with a chewy brownie bottom, creamy chocolate mousse center all topped off with crunchy English toffee and whipped cream florets that provide the ideal contrast to its other rich layers. The answer to every chocolate lover’s quest for the perfect dessert, this torte is the jewel of my Aunt Cathy and Uncle Chuck’s boutique cafe.

Chocolate Buckingham Torte

Chocolate Flourless Decadence Torte

With many food fans clamoring for their desserts and a catering business taking off, The Chocolate Gallery decided to settle on a home and open a quaint cafe in Warren, Michigan, where their talents could be showcased and enjoyed on a regular basis — breakfast, lunch or dessert!

And thank goodness, because have you ever had something as delicious as Strawberry Stuffed French Toast? Made from thick cut french bread, stuffed with cream cheese and fresh strawberries, heated to crispy perfection and topped off with a warm homemade strawberry puree — 100% deliciousness!

Strawberry Stuffed French Toast

Not extravagant enough for you? Like the line between breakfast and dessert to be crossed? Not surprising that The Chocolate Gallery Cafe does too! And so was born The Very Berry Stuffed French Toast, topped with a drizzle of premium chocolate and homemade whipped cream.

Very Berry Stuffed French Toast

More of a traditionalist? How about the Fresh Blueberry Pancakes to satisfy your morning sweet tooth? Light and fluffy, they are the perfect breakfast bed for those sweet Michigan blueberries to burst with warmth on.

Fresh Blueberry Pancakes

A Menu Must: And for those of us that are just plain ‘ole egg lovers, The Eggs Benedict is out of this world. Topped with homemade hollandaise sauce and served with a side of cafe potatoes, this savory selection wins my vote.

Eggs Benedict

Hungry yet? Dreaming of breakfast or a sweet treat? Hopefully you live close enough that a visit to The Chocolate Gallery Cafe can be a reality, but if not, for now you can support this sweet cafe with a click of a button and a vote to win Best Breakfast in DetroitThe Chocolate Gallery Cafe is also available for Full Service Catering, Chocolate Fountain Rentals and custom sweet treats, including Truffles and Molded Chocolates.

Map: 3672 Chicago Road, Warren, Michigan
Reservations: Not Taken (Open Thurs-Sun 8am-2pm)
Phone: 586.979.1140
Photos: John Martin Photography


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