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Learn how to cook beef with me on Craftsy.com!

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Well hello! I was in Denver this past November filming an 8-part beef intensive cooking class Craftsy headquarters! In this class, I’ll show you how to make meatballs, your own house-blend beef mix for burgers, stellar hack-mole short ribs, French grandma-style pot roast, Romanian skirt steak, a Southeast Asian hanger steak salad, Flintstonian t-bones and a porterhouse (with homemade steak sauce!), and a centerpiece stunner, prime rib roast!

Use this link for a $10 discount! The cool thing about Craftsy is that if you ask questions, I can answer you right back. So it’s like having me right by your side in your home kitchen. There are also loads of other cool classes to check out on Craftsy–like Artisan Bread in Minutes with Zoë Francois, The Art of Stir Frying with Grace Young, Indian Curries with Raghavan Iyer, and Martha Holmberg’s sensational Homestyle Pan Sauces class. Sign up and learn something new today!

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10 Tips for Fresh Ginger

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Check out the spring issue of Ladies Home Journal for lots of great ways to use fresh ginger! Rubbed, pressed, grated, smashed, infused, and pulsed…so many ways with this wonderfully vibrant root. It completely transforms a dish or a drink.

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Winter Shortcakes in this month’s Fine Cooking

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Fine Cooking editor Jennifer Armentrout called my shortcakes “one of the best things I’ve tasted in the test kitchen all year.” Wow, high praise indeed…thanks Jen! Last spring, I baked up a storm, trying to figure out the most decadent and plush shortcake bases for my winter shortcakes story featured in the February/March edition of Fine Cooking. I found the secret to extreme tenderness and nearly obscene richness by using hard-boiled egg yolks in the shortcake dough (thanks for the idea James Beard!) in combo with sour cream. YOWZA.

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While Jennifer’s favorite was the roasted pear with gorgonzola dolce and honey (photo above), mine was hands-down the apple and oat shortcake only available online as a special bonus. Check it out–there is rye flour in the shortcake blend which adds a really beautiful flavor. Especially with a good peaty scotch on the side…cheers!

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New Book Alert!

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Look what I just got! An advance copy of the cookbook I collaborated on with Melissa d’ArabianSupermarket Healthy. This is the second book I helped Melissa write–I am so proud to call her a colleague and friend. She is one smart, focused, and inspiring woman. Published by Clarkson Potter, December 2014.

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Cooking with Diego Rivera in Mexico

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In June, 2014, I traveled to San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico to cook with Diego Lopez Rivera, the grandson of the legendary artist, Digeo Rivera. In addition to eating killer chilaquiles and bonding over mezcal, we talked about what it’s like to live within the shadow of one of the 20th century’s most formidable muralists and political activists, Diego Rivera. Published in Saveur, November 2014.

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The Milkshake that Never Was: Also Known as the Concrete

This weekend I had ambitions, and one of them was to make a milkshake with my kids. I let the boys thumb through my very dear friend’s book (coming out in paperback–congrats Ried!) to pick a milkshake that we’d make together. Their first choice was a cold-buttered rum shake that while sounded perfectly fantastic to me, would most definitely raise the eyebrows of every friend and parent to whom Julian would relay the experience of how his mother let him drink a rum-fueled shake (the babysitter still looks at me funny ever since she caught Julian drinking from the bourbon bottle–that he filled with sweet mint tea; he has been reading too much Tintin, yes).  So I scrapped that option. And then Julian turned to a chocolate-covered-pretzel concrete, a mixture of soft frozen custard and chocolate covered pretzels that sounded like pure bliss in a bowl.

We had unexpected company, we missed a birthday party we were supposed to go to, we kept the kids up until past 11pm Saturday night simply because we were having too much fun with friends and good wine to break up the party. And I kept thinking that we’d make the milkshake later, tomorrow, in the morning. We’ll have ice cream for breakfast, for lunch or instead of dinner–we’d make it and I’d take photos of the boys with ice cream dripping off their faces, we’d make a mess and love every second of it. They’d love me and I’d love them and no one would care that there was ice cream splattered across the room or that I just fed my children chocolate and dairy fat as a meal.

And it just didn’t happen.

So on Sunday night long after the kids were tucked in, I went to the kitchen, flipped open Adam’s book, and made the concrete on my own. It took like eight seconds as the recipe is two ingredients long: frozen custard and chopped chocolate-covered pretzels. All it takes is a bowl, a spoon, and the lightest bit of effort to stir. Unlike my empty milkshake promise to the boys, the recipe held true to form, it delivered a bowl of salty-crunchy-cold-and-creamy deliciousness.

I sat on the sofa watching my guilty pleasure vampire soap opera and ate pretzel concrete. I kind of failed–I mean, I didn’t make the concrete with the boys like I told them I would. I didn’t make it with the exact ingredients called for (frozen custard, where are you in Brooklyn?). But I can’t remember the last time that failure tasted so damn good.

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Julian’s Chocolate Chip-Ricotta Breakfast Bread (or, how my kid got me to cook with him)

The date: Last Sunday, April Fool’s Day.

The time: Too early.

The place: My Brooklyn kitchen.

It was a rare Sunday morning, meaning my two kids, my husband and I all slept past seven in the morning. I should say three of us, actually, as it was the sound of the fourth person in the house, my six year-old, that woke us all. We laid in bed, my husband and I listening for a minute, unable to understand what the noises were. Clang, twang, clang. “Julian, what are you doing down there?” My husband called out to my son, who was presumably three floors down from us in our Brooklyn brownstone.

“I’m making breakfast!” He yelled up.

We exchanged looks of pure panic and like man on fire, my husband catapulted himself from bed and raced downstairs. Just in time, too, as Julian had begun to saw through a mango with a bread knife.

We shared an uneasy laugh, scolding Julian for using a knife without a grown-up present, and also just relieved not to have to rush him to the ER on a Sunday morning for severing a digit.

“Do you want to make something together?” I asked Julian.

While this might sound ordinary, it was actually a big moment in our kitchen. Because Julian never, ever wants to help me cook. People always think that because I cook for a living, my children must love to help me out in the kitchen. Which couldn’t be further from the truth. They like the idea of helping in the kitchen, but when it comes to the actual measuring and mise-en-place, they loose interest faster than it takes for the oven to preheat.

So when, that April Fool’s morning, Julian said he actually wanted to cook with me, I jumped.

Before I had kids, I always envisioned this bucolic ideal of cooking with my children: a kid on a step stool, me in an apron, us whisking and sifting together, decorating holiday cookies and making morning pancakes. Laughter, joy, smiles, good times. But what do you do when reality and disinterest dash the dream? I’ve learned to accept that my kids just don’t like to help in the kitchen (and when I say kids, I actually mean just my older son, since the little guy is still a little too small to really help, though he is a master at stirring dry ingredients with a wooden spoon so slowly you wonder if it would be quicker to just stir them with chopsticks). It bothered me for a while, and when friends and others said to my son “Oh, you must love to cook with your mommy in the kitchen!” I learned to give a half smile and say sheepishly “we’re working on it” while ruffling Julian’s hair.

When it comes to kids and food, persistence is key: getting them to try new foods, new restaurants, new flavors. And as it turns out, persistence pays off with preening a kitchen helper, too. So when Julian said he wanted to cook together, I beamed with pride.

We decided on a breakfast loaf. Julian insisted on chocolate chips and to temper their sweetness, I decided on orange zest and ricotta. The resulting loaf was fantastic, with the crumb being moist and hearty, and the flavor not too sweet, making the bits of chocolate dotting a slice all the more rewarding.

Julian helped with the whisking, with the ingredient prep, and even with the cleaning up. Rhys, my two-year-old, was in charge of adding the chocolate chips (and we all know how that goes, one for me, one for the cake, three for me, one for the cake).

The loaf came out of the oven golden and perfect. And Julian refused to eat it. REFUSED!

I didn’t understand it, but I accepted it. And I ate the cake. And Rhys ate the cake. And Matt ate the cake. And Julian did not. And the next day, when there was a sad and lonely slice or two remaining, Julian tried the cake. And he loved it. He ate it with gusto and with the pleasure that comes from consuming something you created. It occurred to me that just as you can’t force someone to eat something they don’t want, you can’t force someone to cook. They have to want to cook, want to learn. And while the cooking bug might not bite Julian often, when it does, I’ll be ready and happy to lend a hand.

Julian’s Chocolate Chip-Ricotta Bread

Makes one 9-inch by 5-inch loaf

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter at room temperature or nonstick pan spray
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/3 cup canola or grapeseed oil
  • 3/4 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan with butter.
  2. Whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Use your fingers to rub the sugar with the orange zest  in a large bowl until fragrant. Add the eggs, ricotta, and almond extract. Whisk in the canola oil and lastly the yogurt. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir the dry ingredients into the sugar mixture until nearly combined, then add the chocolate chips and stir until mostly mixed in. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
  4. Bake until the center of the cake resists light pressure and a cake tester comes out with only a crumb or two attached, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely before running a paring knife around the edges of the load and turning it out onto a plate. Slice and serve.

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