For years, it seems, Ray has been asking me to make a French silk pie, and every single time I’ve balked. It just never appealed to me. I’m not a fan of most whipped frostings and most whipped mousses — unless they’re drenched with flavor. Flipping through Cindy Mushet’s The Art and Soul of Baking a few weeks ago, though, I stumbled upon a chocolate silk pie that sounded leagues more sophisticated than anything I ever imagined French silk pie to be — it looked, in essence, like a chocolate truffle pie. It sounded decadent, dense, and rich — and quite a bit less cool-whippy than I always thought it traditionally was. And, to make it even more enticing, the crust was to be made from Oreos. Now this was the sort of silk pie I could get behind. This would be his birthday surprise. Continue reading →
On a kind of whim, the fella and I decided late last week to book a trip to Asbury Park. Just a three-day getaway before summer gets away from us in the heady and hectic drifts of wedding planning and prep. We had wanted to go for the weekend, but our favorite bed and breakfast, the Asbury Park Inn, booked up before we had solidified our plans — as of course it would on a summer weekend. Thankfully, though, there was a room open for a Sunday to Tuesday visit. Perfect: the summer solstice was meant to be celebrated on the beach. But, of course, each day we were there, we didn’t get our feet on the sand until late. Each morning we spent lazing on the porch on Asbury Ave, drinking cups of rich Asbury Roastery coffee, chatting with Kate and holding/playing with her beautiful, happy, always-smiling baby girl Lucy, and slowly making sure we got through as many of Kate’s delicious treats as we could fit in our bellies before we shamelessly exposed them on the beach.
Do you remember when life was simple and all you needed for a delicious, well-earned, just-baked dessert was a Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie? Cream the butter and sugars, add the eggs and vanilla, add the flour mixture in three portions, stir in chocolate chips, bake at 375 degrees. In our quest for always better, always different, always new, I wonder if we’ve sort of lost sight of the basics. I’ve seen gorgeous recipes for dishes and desserts with 4,000 ingredients that you never thought to put together. I, myself, proudly brown my butter and whisk it with sugar and eggs in four different stages, because, yes, I really, really like these cookies. These are the ones I want in my life every single damn day. And last week, I finally replenished my tahini supply and made these lovely Salted Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies from Danielle Oron’s book Modern Israeli Cooking, reprinted earlier this year in the New York Times. Like the brown butter chocolate chip cookies, they straddle the classic and the different, yet are still entirely simple to make — you even cream the butter and sugar, like the olden days! Continue reading →
Cucumbers: is there anything they can’t do? When I was young, both my mother and my grandfather used to make a simple cucumber salad to pair with summer meals: cukes and red onions, lightly pickled in a sweetened vinegar solution. Crisp and refreshing, I was always over the moon whenever it was placed before me — they were cucumbers, after all. So I was overjoyed when I found the familiar slices in large glass bowls at several hotel breakfast buffets when I visited Israel years later, as a young adult. There, they were paired with bright red bell peppers, a beautiful and perfect addition to an already perfect side. I made this salad religiously for months after I returned stateside, and then, for no discernible reason, forgot about it for months — maybe occasionally years — at a time. With the heat of summer already upon us but no fresh kirby cucumbers available for raw consumption or true quick pickling, this oldie-but goodie is in order. Continue reading →
Of all the amazing things about Astoria’s food scene, the one thing it seems to be lacking is ice cream. In Jersey City, there was an ice cream shop literally around the corner from my apartment. I have fond memories of lightly stepping down the steps of my stoop into the barely cool summer night air with my roommate, in our pajamas, for a cone of amazingly intense, creamy chocolate peanut butter or cookies and mint minutes before the family-owned Torico closed for the evening. Astoria is dotted with frozen yogurts-on-the-wall, but good ice cream or gelato is, as yet, impossible to come by. A new gelato place opened down the block from me over the winter, and a friend and I finally tried it last week on one of the first insanely hot days of the season, with high yet guarded hopes. While it was charming for its bare decor and nearly silent European proprietor, the gelato was just sad. Gelato is supposed to be dense, creamy, and packed with flavor. This was the opposite: some whipped concoction that was instead packed with sugar to mask its lack of flavor. The strawberry, after two bites, had an almost artificial taste. I was reminded, again, that if good ice cream were to be had in this town, it would have to be made in my kitchen.
This balsamic roasted strawberry gelato has everything I want in an ice cream: it is impossibly creamy without being weighted down by the fat of a typical American ice cream. Its flavor is completely unmasked by the higher milk-to-cream ratio, intensified by slow-roasting strawberries with balsamic vinegar and maple syrup. It’s sweet, but not too sweet. The strawberry, instead, takes center stage. Pure but ramped up on balsamic-induced steroids. Continue reading →