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.