Monday, April 23, 2012

Too Many Ingredients .COM

I’ve gone legit and had a makeover to celebrate.
See the new look and continue to read Too Many Ingredients at the new .com and find fresh bites on a dedicated facebook page too.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Blackened Catfish

I’ve been looking for flavorful ways to eat simply yet create memorable dishes. In my search I flipped back through some of my binders of magazine pages and recipe cards I've squirreled away over the years. I have fond memories of using this spice rub on chicken, tossing it on the grill and enjoying a fruit filled vodka concoction while prepping a refreshing salad of greens and vine ripened tomatoes from Papa-in-laws garden.
This recipe is a bold, spicy and easy to throw together addition to any building collection of go-to meals. Consider doubling or tripling the rub ingredients to have extra rub already mixed for a quick, flavorful addition to shrimp, chicken or steak.
This time I chose to bake the catfish in the oven but you could broil, or grill the fish as well. 

Blackened Catfish
Serves 4

Spice Rub-
• 1 Tablespoons Paprika
• 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
• 2 teaspoons Dried Oregano
• 1 teaspoon Salt
• 1 teaspoon Black Pepper

• 4 6-ounce Catfish Fillets
• 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1.    Preheat oven to 450°F.
2.    Combine all the spices in a small bowl.
3.    Drizzle catfish fillets with olive oil.
4.    Generously sprinkle spice rub over catfish. Using your hands, rub the spices over both sides of the fillet and place in a baking dish.
5.    Cook in preheated oven 8-10 minutes, until fish is cook through and flaky.
6.    Serve immediately.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

With Whimsy & Spice

If you are not already familiar with Etsy, the online marketplace for all things handmade and vintage, these little treats just may entice you to explore the array of offerings. Through my own experience as a seller on Etsy I was introduced to the delectably displayed sweets of Whimsy & Spice, a Brooklyn based bakery run by the husband and wife team of Chef Mark Sopchak and Artist Jenna Park.
With a curiosity and sense of adventure, Mark plays with combining flavors and creating crave-able treats that will have you coming back for more. And Jenna designs gift-able packaging that would impress any recipient worthy of your generosity.
Let me recommend their Brooklyn Market Cookie, packed full of rich chocolate and white chocolate chips, dried cherries, macadamia nuts, oats and crunchy cocoa nibs–it’s the best combination of a chocolate chip and spiced oatmeal cookie I’ve had in a long time.
Want to taste and try but can’t decide, that’s okay, order the Whimsy and Spice Herbs and Spices Cookie Gift Box. It includes half packs of their Honey Lavender and Chocolate Orange Cardamom shortbread cookies, 1/2 dozen Rose & Black Pepper Thumbprints, a half pack of their new Cardamom marshmallows, and 1/2 dozen of their Coconut White Chocolate 5 Spice cookies.

Find Whimsy and Spice on Etsy, Facebook, and Twitter
Find Accessories for the Home from Whimsy and Spice at Sweet Fine Day

Friday, April 13, 2012

Cooking with Class

Well, I did it. I’m done. It’s over. I’m out.
My classmates and I shut it down with a sigh of relief after our final exam on March 31st and graduated from the French Culinary Institute on April 3rd with degrees in Classic Culinary Art. Comments from the chef’s and proctors of our final are full of praise for a smooth, calm, catastrophe-free night in the kitchens.

Throughout the nine month, three night a week program we were exposed to classic techniques for traditional dishes such as Bœuf Bourguignon, Pot au Feu, Consommé, Pots de Crème and many other delights.
We were presented with half of a pig and guided in the butchering and preparation for a Charcuterie buffet.
We were taught by chef instructors from The International Culinary Center, which was recently awarded the title of “Vocational Cooking School of the Year” by the International Association of Culinary Professionals…not a bad reference to have on our resumes.
Chef Nick told us in one of our first couple of classes that we would become very close as classmates and build strong friendships along the way. I’m not sure how many of us believed it, but I think we all do now.
Cheers to all my partners, teammates and kitchen crooners….we did it.
We’re done. It’s over. We’re out.

*Some photos were taken by friends, family and classmates.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

On the Menu

This week rounds out my final classes at The French Culinary Institute. Throughout the program we were taught techniques and recipes that were traditional to French Cuisine then brought to the kitchens of L’Ecole to demonstrate those techniques in contemporary interpretations.

Along the way we were assigned an elaborate menu project that included a short research essay on an ingredient featured in one of the recipes we created for a four-course dinner party. With a harvest theme in mind I chose a meal filled with farm fresh fruit and vegetables to satiate and garner a perfect grade.

A taste from my menu project…
“Having lived the last seven years on a 37-acre farm just outside of Paso Robles, California, I acquired a love for fresh picked fruit and savored the local landscape of almonds, olives and vineyards. Planning a dinner party with seasonal ingredients allows for the freshest choices of a recent harvest from local sources (if not homegrown), which gives you more flavorful food while considering sustainability and locavorism. Sampling a variety of apples and root vegetables throughout the meal brings me back to fall gatherings of comforting warm aromas with rich satisfying flavors. Shopping the green markets is as close to the farm as I have gotten since moving to New York City, with the world renowned apples of Hudson Valley nearby, I have been exploring the medley it provides.
     There are over 7,000 varieties of apples available worldwide with at least 200 grown in the Hudson Valley. While the apple may be the oldest of fruits, starting in the Garden of Eden, it was brought to the United States by the Pilgrims in 1620 and first exported to the West Indies from Long Island, New York in 1741. Apple seeds were spread throughout the country by the now infamous Johnny Appleseed as well as others to lead to successful cultivation and commercialization providing the state of Washington to be the countries top-producing.
     Apples are available year round from various sources and storage options but best in quality starting in the fall and lasting until March, with some of the rarer varieties availability being very limited to their seasonal peak. It’s a versatile ingredient considering the wide array of flavors from one variety to the next, from sweet to tart, it can work well in savory dishes as well as desserts. In addition to it’s adaptability in a recipe, an apple can provide numerous health benefits, including but not limited to–the fight against heart disease, reduced risk of some cancers, provide defenses to asthma and diabetes. Aside from the cranberry, apples have the highest level of antioxidant activity of the usually consumed fruits.”
From my menu, a refreshing salad that is tart and crisp.
Harvest Fruit and Greens with Toasted Walnuts 
Yield: 8 Servings
• ½ cup walnuts
• 6 Tablespoons Pear White Wine Vinegar
• ½ teaspoon Whole Grain German Mustard
• 175mL (6oz) Extra-virgin Olive Oil
• Coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
• 2 Pink Lady Apples
• Juice of 1 Lemon
• 4 Clementine, peeled and suprêmes removed
• 142g (5oz) Baby Spinach, and or any mixed baby greens

Toast walnuts-
1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Spread the walnuts out in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
2. Toast walnuts in oven for about 5 minutes. Toss and continue baking, checking often until lightly colored and aromatic. Remove from the pan and allow to cool on double layer of paper towel.
1. In a small mixing bowl whisk together vinegar and mustard. Continue whisking while slowly pouring in the olive oil until well emulsified.
2. Add salt and pepper to taste, set aside.
1. Core and slice apples into julienne, toss lightly with lemon juice to prevent oxidizing.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine clementine suprêmes, apple julienne and baby greens.
Toss gently to mix.
3. Lightly drizzle vinaigrette along inside of bowl (careful not to overdress) and toss salad to coat.
4. Portion salad on chilled plates and sprinkle with toasted walnuts.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Nosh & 'Tail at Brass Monkey

I recently spent an alluring 60° afternoon strolling The Highline and stopping off at Brass Monkey for a nosh & ‘tail on the roof deck.
With pub grub on the menu and an offering of over 75 beers it was a spot I’d be coming back to. Whether grabbing a table with a view of The Hudson or hanging out inside where the rooms are relaxing with a feeling of “if these walls could talk…” Brass Monkey delivered in comfort and casual indulgence.
I satisfied a craving with the Stella Artois battered Fish + Chips, a classic union of a perfectly flaky fillet along with crisp and flavorful fries. While Mark, my consonant dining companion, ordered his go-to of Steak + Frites. Unfortunately, this particular hanger steak was resistant to chewing so he traded it in for a captivating burger that was presented swiftly and consumed just as quick.

Brass Monkey • 55 Little West 12th Street, NYC • 212-675-6686

Monday, February 27, 2012

Berries for the Brain

Every now and again my Mother will mention a fruit or some other food that she heard was so good for you, and that she bought some so she would be sure to get the benefits the food is known to possess. The funny thing is that usually it’s something she knows she doesn’t like but she is willing to force herself to eat it because it’s SOOOO good for her... blueberries are one of those foods.

All those wonderfully smart scientists who conduct their thorough tests and give us the nutritional breakdown of the foods we eat have provided enough praise for the little blue berry that it tops most nutritionists lists for “you, really should be eating these”. Known for their polyphenols to fend off memory deterioration as we age as well as many other benefits from compounds like anthocyanin that are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory are just a few reasons why there should be one of those tiny cartons of berries in every shopping basket you take to the cashier.

I’ll admit that I am a fan of the super-berries and love throwing a few into a morning bowl of oatmeal or afternoon yogurt snack and they are sure to find their way into my baking that I happily share with my Mother–which to her dismay she likes even though it’s popping with blueberries.

Blueberry Poppy-Seed Coffee Cake
  • 1 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter, cold and cut into pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon Poppy Seeds
  • 3/4 cup low-fat Buttermilk
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon Lemon Zest
  • 1 cup fresh Blueberries

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in large bowl. Cut in butter, using a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in poppy seeds.
  3. Combine buttermilk, egg, vanilla and lemon zest in small bowl until blended.
  4. Stir buttermilk mixture into flour mixture just until blended.
  5. Spread half of the batter into prepared pan; top with blueberries.
  6. Drop remaining batter in 8 dollops onto blueberries, leaving some berries uncovered. Bake about 35 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Cool 15 minutes in pan on wire rack. Remove coffeecake from pan. Remove paper from bottom of cake. Serve warm.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Snow Day

I have been waiting for winter to hit the city after just getting a day of icy fluff in late January. I strolled through the southern tip of Central Park on the still day after the storm and captured a few of the picturesque views.

Last weekend I gave in to the tempting ice rink at Bryant Park for my first ever glide across the frozen water. With only one week left to visit Citi Pond (closing February 26th) I seized the opportunity to enjoy the classic rock while circling with the crowd.

After skating, another opportunity was seized at Celsius, the indoor/outdoor restaurant and lounge overlooking the pond, indulging in a Polar Bear Cosmo - a fruit filled concoction of Absolute Apeach, Soho Lychee Liqueur, cranberry juice and lemon.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Hearts and Flowers

I have had a crazy-busy few months...besides the usual holiday madness I was interning as an editorial assistant at Food Arts magazine, helping cookbook author Judith Choate develop content for her next project (more about that later), all around attending my classes at The French Culinary Institute which moved me into the kitchen for L’Ecole and required an elaborate menu writing assignment. So, unfortunately, devoting any time to my personal projects simply slipped away...

I’m sending hearts and flowers to all my friends and family who haven’t heard from me while I’ve been buckled down and otherwise occupied.

Citrus Shortbread

Makes about 60 2-inch cut cookies
  • 16 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened  
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar  
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced  
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced  
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract  
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted; plus more for dusting while rolling the dough  
  • ¼ teaspoon salt  
  • 1 egg, beaten

  1. Preheat oven to 300° F.  
  2. Cream the butter and confectioners’ sugar in a mixer until fluffy.  
  3. Add the orange and lime zest and juice along with the vanilla, flour and salt; blend until just combined. 
  4. Divide dough into thirds, shape into flat rounds about 4 inches wide. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.  
  5. Working with one portion of dough at a time-roll the dough between two sheets of parchment lightly sprinkled with flour to ¼-inch thickness. Cut out hearts, flowers, puppies, stars, or any shape you want.
  6. Place cut cookies on parchment paper lined baking sheet about 1-inch apart. 
  7. Lightly brush the top of each cookie with the beaten egg.  
  8. Bake for 9-13 minutes in pre-heated oven, turning pan halfway through to encourage even browning.

*All ovens vary, so watch the first sheet of cookies carefully to determine the proper cooking time for your oven.