bake this now: brown butter chocolate chip cookies!

Every year I find a cookbook that warms my heart. The recipes are imperfectly perfect, the prose written with such care that you could feel their affection rise above the page. Years ago I collected Martha Stewart cookbooks like trading cards — I was obsessed with precision and technique. And while Martha’s books are the gold standard for any baker, they read cold, restrained, dispassionate. You don’t feel connected to the baker whose chocolate accidently splatters the walls. You don’t feel empathetic to incidents of flour covering your entire frame.

My first adult attempt at baking was a cheesecake sweetened with confectioner’s sugar instead of cane sugar because sugar is sugar, right? ABSOLUTELY NOT. My tasteless mistake was a colossal flop when it hit the office. I’ve since learned that when it comes to baking, chemistry is important.

This year I’ve discovered my newfound crush — Joy the Baker’s Joy the Baker Cookbook: 100 Simple and Comforting Recipes. A celebration of butter and sugar, the recipes practically COMMAND one to make them. Joy is tender and kind and her book is imbued with very personal memories that carry over into the kitchen, and you can’t help but be swept into her delicious, confectionary world. When I initially purchased this book, the cashier at Barnes and Nobles tapped the cover and said, I’m a trained pastry chef and her apple crisp WORKS. You won’t be disappointed. And I wasn’t. From black pepper and bacon waffles to avocado and cream cheese loaves to unctuous rivers of chocolate, the recipes are earthy, unexpected and a cinch to make.

Take these brown butter chocolate chip cookies. Not only is this cookie chewy, there’s something smoky about it, rich and enveloping — all as a result of the caramelized butter and molasses. The simple cookie gets the volume turned up, and I had to nearly toss these in the freezer to prevent me from gorging on the lot.

Bake, enjoy! Love, live, eat!

INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker’s Joy the Baker Cookbook: 100 Simple and Comforting Recipes
2 sticks of butter (1 cup), softened
1 scant cup of cane sugar
1 tsp of molasses
1 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
2 1/4 cups of flour
1 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of salt
1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup of toasted walnuts or pecans (optional)

In a silver bottomed medium skillet, brown 1 stick of butter on medium heat. Basically, you melt the butter and swirl it around. You’ll hear some crackling–that’s the water leaving. When this stops and the butter starts to turn a chestnut-y brownish color, turn off the heat and remove the butter from the pan or else you’ll burn it! Let it cool.

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the other stick of butter and white sugar together until light and fluffy, 3-5 min. Then add in the vanilla and molasses until fully incorporated.
Then added in the cooled brown butter and the brown sugar. Cream together until fluffy (2 min).

Add in the egg +egg yolk and mix for another minute or so.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the salt, baking soda, and flour. Then add this into the stand mixer with the rest of the ingredients and mix on low until just combined (don’t over do it!).

With a spatula, fold in the chocolate chips and nuts. Cover and let it rest in the fridge for 30 min while the oven preheats.

Preheat the oven at 375 degrees, with the rack in the middle of the oven.

Form small tablespoon sized balls of dough and bake them for 10-12 minutes. Mine started to brown at the top after 10 minutes so I took them out. They were perfectly chewy!


cookie recipes sweet recipes

love. life. eat.: coconut challah french toast nutella sandwiches!

Today is one of those days worth photographing. From surviving my first cycling class and discovering that I love spin (where have you been all my life?!), to toasting a recently-engaged friend on the hunt for a wedding dress, to indulging in delicious eats in Prospect Park to readying myself for a decadent floor picnic, I couldn’t help but crave something sweet and perfect.

Amidst the litany of yoga studios and real estate agent offices, I found an old-world shop that serves up exotic spices, wrapped cheeses and loaves of challah bread. It was then that I conceived of a French toast recipe with the volume turned up. Lately I’ve been kind of obsessed with coconut oil — I’ve been using it as a moisturizer and deep conditioning treatment for my hair — so I’ve been thinking of new and interesting ways I can incorporate coconut into my repertoire. Married with a tub of nutella hidden in the back of my larder, I knew this French toast just HAD TO HAPPEN.

And OH MY SWEET LORD was it GOOD. Divine, actually. Breakfast worth preaching to. The sweet flakes literally melt into the challah and the nutella is pretty over the top, but it’s worth the indulgence.

4-6 slices of challah bread
1/4 cup skim milk
1 large egg
1/2 tsp coconut extract
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 tbsp unsalted butter
Nutella for spreading

How simple can this get? Mix all of your ingredients in wide bowl. Melt 1 tbsp of butter in a large, non-stick skillet. Lightly dip (don’t drench, or you’ll get eggy, soggy French toast) the challah into the batter and fry on the pan for approximately one minute. Switch sides and cook until golden.

Remove two slices of the French toast and slather one side with nutella to make a sticky, delectable sandwich. Continue until you can’t help but dive your fork into the yielding, soft toast. Add maple syrup, honey or confectioner’s sugar to top it all off.

Serve hot.


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make this now: fresh fettucini with walnut pesto

Call me crazy, but I’m currently geeking out over my latest rental — the Canon 5D Mark II camera. After spending twenty minutes getting used to the litany of buttons, and another ten adjusting my settings, I was determined to shoot something before evening fell.

People often ask me why I write about food on this small postage stamp of online real estate. Why I fixate on taking hundreds of photos over the course of a weekend before the frenzy of the work-week begins? Why I take such care in selecting the right images, obsess over finding the most scrumptious recipes and commit to only posting when it matters?

I do this because I’m passionate about food — its preparation, its presentation and its taste — and I want you to experience, in a pure, visceral way, the level of my devotion. My desire is to visually inspire you with the wonderful things I savor and make, and my hope is that you’ll fall unabashedly in love with food.

But back to the pasta! So simple, so seemingly decadent — this walnut pesto is peppery, nutty, savory and undeniably perfect when married with a fresh noodle. My dinner took 15 minutes to make and possibly 30 to photograph, but I hope you are inspired by these snaps to kick up your heels and dive into a bowl of food.

INGREDIENTS 2-3 servings
3/4 lb fresh fettucini
1 cup basil leaves
1/2 cup whole walnuts
1/4 cup pecorino romano cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves young (wild) garlic
1/4 tsp black ground pepper
1/8 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 cup hot pasta water

Bring a medium-sized pot to a bowl. Add in the fresh fettucini and stir so the pasta doesn’t clump together. You’ll want to work fast since fresh pasta only takes a few minutes (3-4) to cook.

In a food processor, blitz the basil leaves and garlic until they are a rough chop. Add in the nuts and blitz. Add in the olive oil and cheese and blitz until you reach the consistency of a smooth paste. Add in the salt and pepper.

In a large serving bowl, pour in the mixture. Drain the pasta save for a 1/4 cup of liquid, and toss the pasta, pesto and water until all of the noodles are lightly dressed. Sprinkle with pecorino cheese and fresh basil leaves and serve delicious and hot!


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healthy eats: black rice salad with mango

I spent last weekend with women on the verge, dear friends who see the past behind them as if it were a battle they had conquered, and then what lie before them — darkness shrouding a vast terrain — and they wondered if now was the time for them to charge forward. To leave the comfortable uncomfortable behind for something bigger and more beautiful than they had ever imagined. It’s a sweet thing to witness this fever, this anxiety, this fervor, and having been inspired by their passion and light, I found myself confessing my future plans that — shock, oh shock — involve food.

I won’t say anything on this space, but the shoreline is clear and specific and I’m patient in my need to work to that place, to now want to rush to it. Because right now is not my time, and that’s okay.

Today, after a grueling workout, where I damn near collapsed on my medicine ball, I was thinking about a virtuous lunch. Typically, I feast on scrambled eggs and buttered whole wheat toast (YUM!), but today I was besotted with a black rice salad with mango, featured in Bon Appetit‘s June issue. And can I just say I’m glad I embarked on this miniature adventure because lunch was incredible, downright biblical.

Black rice, otherwise known as “Forbidden Rice,” in the Chinese culture, is high in cancer-preventing antioxidants, and has a rich, nutty flavor. I marveled as it transformed the cooking liquid to a psychedelic blackberry hue, and married with the sweet fruit and the astringent limes, this salad is fresh, light, wholesome and unbelievably filling.

I tinkered with the recipe a little bit to suit my liking, but I invite you to pair this with a salmon or a piece of steak (DROOLING).

INGREDIENTS: Adapted from Bon Appetit’s June 2012 issue, serves 6-8 as a side; 4-6 as a main salad
2 oranges
1/4 cup (or more) fresh lime juice
2 tbsp safflower oil
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 cups black rice
2 just-ripe mangos, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2″ dice
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, rough chop
6 ramp leaves, thinly sliced

Remove peel and white pith from the oranges. Working over a medium bowl to catch juices and using a sharp knife, cut between membranes to release orange segments into a bowl. Squeeze membranes over bowl to release any juices. Strain juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl; reserve orange segments.

Add 1/4 cup lime juice, oil, and fish sauce to bowl with orange juice; whisk to blend. Set dressing aside.

Bring rice and 2 3/4 cup water to a boil in a large saucepan. Season lightly with salt. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer to all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let stand, covered, for 15 minutes.

Spread out rice on a rimmed baking sheet (I just a large cookie sheet), drizzle with dressing, and season lightly with salt; let cool.

Place mangoes and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add rice and toss gently to combine. Serve!


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healthy eats: fettucini with roasted broccoli rabe + sautéed kale


After a week that was exhilarating, exhausting, wonderful and frenetic, come the weekend all I want to do is rest, eat delicious food and spend hours with good friends. Today I hit the farmer’s market with vigor, determined to make a simple dish with the healthiest of ingredients. Inspired by Milk + Mode’s recent Spaghetti + Roasted Broccoli Rabe dish, amplified by my obsession with kale, and tempered with my need for a little comfort, I decided to fix a meal that would leave me satisfied.

Spring and autumn are my most revered seasons. I love the markets stocked with earthy greens, blistering-red radishes and rows upon rows of fragrant blooms. I spent an hour in the Union Square Market, buying hyacinths, talking about ramps and snagging heritage sausage. Nothing pleases me more than chatting up proprietors, thinking of new ways to invent simple dishes, and taking photos of all the brilliant bounty.

And I would soon discover the JOY that is young garlic? The cloves are juicy, yielding and unbelievably flavorful. Unlike the garlic you’ll find in most supermarkets, wild garlic is a bit tricky to peel as it isn’t as dry, so you’ll need to exercise patience. But believe me when I say that it’s worth it. Married with the charred florets from the broccoli rabe, the heat from the red pepper flakes and the bitterness of the kale, your dinner will be a symphony of rich, satisfying flavor. I’ll be candid and say that I DO LIKE BROCCOLI. While my distaste is not on the level of the CRUEL MUSHROOM (although I’m realizing the shapes are fairly similar, which is now giving me immense vertigo), I was initially hesitant to try broccoli rabe. But trust me, roasted rabe is nothing like its heartier cousin. Nutty, crisp and a perfect match for kale, I was shocked by how much I LOVED THIS DISH.


INGREDIENTS: Recipe inspired by Milk + Mode, with modifications
1 (1-lb) bunch broccoli rabe, hollow stems discarded and leaves and remaining stems cut into 2-inch pieces
3 cups of Lacinato kale (or any flat leaf kale, rather than the curly kind), chopped
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, separated
1 pound fettucini
1 head young (spring) garlic, cloves separated, peeled, and sliced thinly
1/2 tsp dried hot red-pepper flakes (to taste)
1/4 tsp crushed black pepper, separated
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/4-1/12 cup grated pecorino romano cheese

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Toss broccoli rabe with 3 tablespoons olive oil, and salt and 1/8 tsp pepper to taste. Spread out the broccoli rabe on a roasting pan in a single layer, spacing out the pieces as much as possible. Roast for until soft and wilty in some places, and golden brown and charred in others, about 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions in a big pot of boiling, salted water. Drain in a colander and transfer to a large serving bowl.

Heat remaining olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over moderate heat. Add garlic, 1/8 tsp pepper and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is pale golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Toss in the kale and sauté for one minute. Pour over pasta and toss to combine. Add your roasted broccoli rabe and mix thoroughly. Garnish with flowers and cheese if desired. Serve hot.



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chocolate bundt cake

Today came with a rush of beautiful, white lights. Over the course of two conversations, the lights take form — as they’re wont to do — and I’m enveloped by the energy, the pure creativity emanating from two women who are seriously on the verge. Something is brewing, plans are taking shape, and one of my dearest friends told me that she has found her vision. When she said this, it put me to thinking of Lily Briscoe in Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, and I couldn’t help but marvel over the allusion, of an artist finding her place, her subject, her passion, and meanwhile I’m there to simply revel in it.

All lines draw back to two words whose meaning will reveal itself over the course of the coming months: food collaborative.

For now, I invite you to feast on a devilish chocolate bundt cake, drowning in a river of chocolate that evokes Vesuvius.

INGREDIENTS: Adapted from Joy the Baker: 101 Simple and Comforting Recipes, with modifications
For the Cake:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 1/4 cups hot brewed coffee
1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups low-fat sour cream
1 cup plus 2 tbsp safflower oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Glaze:
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature
4 tbsp brewed coffee, cooled

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan and set aside.

To make the cake: in a small bowl, whisk together the coffee and cocoa powder until smooth and no lumps remain. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and sugar. Set aside. The original recipe called for baking soda, however, I nixed it because I often find that cakes have a “fudgy” flavor without it. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until smooth, and beat in the sour cream and oil, carefully whisking until all ingredients are incorporated and the batter is smooth.

Add the egg mixture all at once to the flour mixture and whisk until all ingredients have been incorporated and no flour bits remain. Then you can whisk in the coffee mixture until the batter is loose and smooth.

Pour batter into a prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Let the cake cool completely in the pan (20 minutes) and then invert onto a cooling rack. The cake must be COMPLETELY COOL (be patient, my friends) before you add the icing. Otherwise, you’ll just get melted chocolate. Not a crime, I assure you, but you won’t achieve the desired glaze effect.

To make the icing: Chop the chocolate into small pieces, put them in a heatproof bowl (or a double boiler), along with the butter, and set the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. Be sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the boiling water. Remove the bowl from the heat when all of the chocolate bits have melted.

Allow the mixture to cool slightly. Add the sour cream and whisk to combine. Lastly, add the coffee and whisk to create a glossy glaze.

Pour the glaze over the Bundt cake, covering it completely. Leave at room temperature until ready to serve.


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