Monthly Archives: February 2014

Homemade Focaccia Bread {filled with mozzarella, parmesan, arugula & basil}

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Nothing beats the smell of freshly baked bread. The store-bought variety never even comes close, and you miss out on filling your kitchen with warm, cozy, doughy smells. Fortunately, making your own bread at home requires very little in the way of special skills. Time is the only requisite for baking your own bread at home, but if you’re puttering around the house for an afternoon, it’s hardly an imposition to make this recipe. The results are well worth the wait. This recipe doubles down on the goodness, layering melty mozzarella, sharp parmesan, peppery arugula, and bright basil between layers of golden brown dough. This recipe yields two large loaves, making it perfect for sharing. You can also easily freeze whatever you don’t eat, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and foil, to be reheated easily in your oven whenever the mood strikes.

Yield: two large focaccia loaves

Time: Active 20 minutes, Inactive: 2 hours

Dough Ingredients:

  • 8 cups bread flour
  • 3 cups warm water
  • 3 packets (7 g each) dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt

Directions:

  1. In a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the flour, yeast, and sea salt. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the water in a steady stream, letting it incorporate.
  2. Let the mixer knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball, then take the dough out and knead it on a floured surface for 4-6 minutes, until it feels smooth and elastic.
  3. Wash out the mixer bowl with hot water, and place the dough in the bowl, covering the surface with plastic wrap, then wrapping the whole thing in a dishtowel.
  4. Let the dough rise in a warm place (on top of the furnace works well, or close to a radiator) for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until nearly doubled in size.
  5. Punch the dough down, then take the dough out and divide it into two equal pieces. Put each piece on a baking sheet, and stretch it into an oblong shape (keeping in mind you’ll be folding the dough in half over itself with the filling inside).

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 handfuls fresh arugula
  • 1 small handful fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Once you’ve rolled out your dough on your baking sheets, fill one half of each piece of dough with the cheese, arugula, and basil. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle over some salt and pepper.
  3. Fold the empty half of the dough over all the fillings, and crimp the edges like sealing a calzone, tucking and rolling the edges under themselves. Alternatively, you can just crimp the edges shut with the tines of a fork.
  4. Let the dough rise again for 30 minutes, then rub the top with a bit of olive oil, and sprinkle over a bit of sea salt and some torn up basil leaves if you like.
  5. Bake both baking sheets for 25-30 minutes, until the bread turns golden brown, and sounds hollow when tapped. Let the bread rest for 10 minutes, then dig in and enjoy! Serve with additional olive oil for dipping if you want to be extra decadent.

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Recipe inspired by Jaime Oliver.

Peking Duck with Homemade Sesame Pancakes & Miso Hoisin Sauce

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Peking duck, originally prepared for emperors during the imperial era, is now considered a traditional classic dish in Hong Kong. Though this dish takes a considerable amount of time to prepare, that’s part of what makes it so special, and so impressive. None of the steps require much skill, though your dinner guests will think you’re a culinary master. Though duck contains a high amount of fat, duck fat has less saturated fat than butter, and can actually lower your cholesterol with its high levels of healthy mono-unsaturated fat. It’s the healthiest animal fat you can eat. Most of the fat renders out of the duck when you cook it this way, and you can use the remaining rendered fat to cook meats and vegetables. Homemade pancakes reduce unnecessary processed ingredients, and making your own hoisin sauce allows for the inclusion of super-food miso. Its fermented qualities boost your immune system and digestion. Fill up your scallion pancake with crunchy, fresh and healthy scallions and cucumbers, and serve your Peking duck with a simple cabbage slaw, and you’ll have a healthy twist on this very impressive and delicious Hong Kong classic.

For the recipe, visit GeoBlue’s Healthy Travel Blog, or their site Travel Well Worldwide.

Hot Buttered Honey Whiskey Cocktail

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I recently did a recipe collaboration with the lovely and talented Heidi Daus of Heidi Daus Designs (and a perennial HSN favorite), pairing her decadent jewelry with equally decadent drinks. This hot buttered honey whisky drink is perfect for warming up on a cold snowy night, and a great reward for digging yourself out of the crazy snow we’ve had on the east coast.

  • 2 tbs. salted butter
  • 2 oz. Honey Whiskey (like Jack Daniels)
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 3-4 oz. boiling water
  • Pinch of sea salt if desired
  • Cinnamon stick (optional- to serve)

Directions:

  1. In a glass mug, combine the butter, rum, vodka, and brown sugar. Pour over the boiling water, and stir until everything is mixed.
  2. Garnish with a pinch of sea salt, and a cinnamon stick, if desired. Enjoy!

French Kiss

Photography by Maryellen Stadtlander, with styling by Allison Burg.

View the recipe, as well as more beautiful jewelry, on Heidi’s blog here. Stay tuned for three more fun cocktail recipe collaborations in the coming weeks.

Agricola Brings Micro-Seasonal Farm-to-Table Fare to Princeton

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The word Agricola means farmer in Latin, and there couldn’t be a more perfect name for this restaurant. Driven by the micro-seasonal offerings of their local farm, Agricola brings farm fresh produce right from their organic soil onto your plate. Jim Naun as Agricola’s proprietor, Josh Thomson as its executive chef, and Steve Tomlinson as its farm manager come together to build a restaurant dream team, and the proof is on your plate. Each plate comes delicately and deliberately seasoned and sauced, with the utmost respect for the integrity of the ingredients. The light-handed touch of the kitchen allows the bright flavors and textures of the ingredients to shine, without bogging them down with unnecessary heavy sauces and overpowering spices.

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Dedicated to their community, Agricola sources its produce and livestock from Great Road Farm, just four miles from downtown Princeton. Using sustainable and organic farming methods, Great Road Farm supplies Agricola with a steady stream of top-notch ingredients to build its ever-evolving menu around. Their winter menu centers around hearty greens, robust root vegetables, earthy mushrooms, and slow-braised tender meats.

We started with drinks and the cheese plate at Agricola’s beautiful and cozy bar. Selections of top shelf name brand liquors share shelf space with small batch local distilleries and micro-breweries, with several organic liquor options among them. The Great “Dirt” Road Farm Martini, named after their farm, mixes Crop organic vodka, brine, and a judicious amount of dry vermouth, and comes garnished with Great Road Farm house pickled vegetables. They also offer house-made sodas in interesting flavor combinations like maple-rosemary-grapefruit and ginger-pomegranate. The cheese plate made a lasting impression on our table, with its fresh honeycomb, seasonal chutney, and house-made crackers to accompany a selection of local cheese.

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At my dinner, we started with the bright and barely dressed kale salad, the parsnip soup, and the goat cheese & potato terrine. The kale salad at first bite seemed lacking in dressing, but a few bites in allowed you to appreciate the delicate flavors of the roasted carrots, pickled squash, and pumpkin seed vinaigrette. The parsnip soup, served with red beet chips, tasted earthy and sharp, with a silky smooth finish. The goat cheese & potato terrine, with roasted beets, peppery micro arugula, and a sharp balsamic syrup, elevates simple ingredients into something special.

For main courses, we ordered the pappardelle pasta, the yellow fin tuna, and the pork chop. The pappardelle pasta tasted deliciously, deceptively light. Only a skilled chef can make pasta, butter, and braised meat taste delicate and light. Braised veal ossobuco, homemade pappardelle pasta, shredded kale are tossed together in a diaphanous buttery broth, and topped with a sprinkling of herbed gremolata and fresh parmesan. Easily one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had. The yellow fin tuna, served with leeks, freekeh, black garlic, olives, toasted coriander vinaigrette, was perfectly seared and delicately spiced. The sizable bone-in pork chop, from nearby Eden Farms, came with a pomegranate-pistachio relish, braised collard greens, and a tangy cider jus that carefully balanced the richness of the meat.

Selecting from Agricola’s menu proved a challenge, not because of its size but because everything sounded so darn delicious. I appreciated the curated and not overwhelming size of the menu, with eight first courses, seven main courses, three sizes, and three flatbreads from their wood fire oven. The butternut squash flatbread, with squash puree, kale, coach farm goat cheese, caramelized red onion, and toasted almonds is at the top of my list for my next visit.

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For dessert, we shared the citrus cheesecake and the gingerbread ice cream sandwiches. The cheesecake tasted light and bright, with a vanilla bean shortbread, grapefruit curd, and a blood orange chip. The gingerbread ice cream sandwiches are a dream come true, with butter pecan ice cream sandwiched between tender house-made gingerbread cookies, and drizzled with a maple sauce. Perfection all around.

Agricola is open for weekend brunch Saturday and Sunday, for lunch Monday-Friday, and dinner every day of the week. Its bar is open late most nights.

For the full article, visit Devil Gourmet.

Costa Rican Ceviche

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Costa Rica’s abundance of fresh seafood lends itself perfectly to ceviche. Naturally high and protein and low in fat, ceviche’s raw preparation makes it a breeze to prepare and ideal for serving to a large group of people. Though technically raw, the fish in ceviche takes on a cooked texture due to the acid in the lime juice. It firms up in texture and becomes opaque, just as if you cooked it. The addition of ginger ale makes the ceviche classically Costa Rican, and gives the flavors a slightly sweet flair. Zingy, bright, and bursting with fresh flavors, this ceviche tastes so good you’ll forget how good it is for you. Serve some avocado alongside your ceviche for a boost of healthy fats, and you’ve got a delicious and balanced meal to serve and share.

For the recipe, visit Geo- Blue’s site Travel Well Worldwide, or their site Healthy Travel Blog. 

The Breslin: Bringing Classic Nose-to-Tail British Food to the Flatiron

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April Bloomfield is no stranger to the NYC restaurant scene. The Spotted Pig, her original New York outpost, resides in an original West Village carriage house, and serves up British and Italian comfort food favorites, including an infamous burger that helped the spot earn a Michelin star six years in a row. The scene takes the tone of a rowdy raucous English pub, though with vastly better food and a carefully curated wine and craft beer selection. Bloomfield’s two spots in the Ace Hotel, located in the Flatiron, offer a slightly more classy vibe, though no less fun. Start your night with some oysters, small bites, and cocktails at the immaculate and lively John Dory Oyster Bar, them move your party over to the Breslin, just across the hotel lobby.

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Let’s Get Started

The Breslin serves up a meat-centric menu, so while it might not be the place to embrace your healthy new years resolutions, it’s certainly the perfect spot to treat yourself to comforting, seasonal, and artisanal nose-to-tail cuisine. The menu builds around local produce and meat from small farmers and growers, making the socially conscious feel a bit better about indulging in meat. Handmade terrines, sausages, and charcuterie populate the winter menu, abound with roasted, caramelized, creamy, salty flavors.

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The Breslin offers a full list of beers and wines, but their cocktail menu is not to be missed. The penecilina, mixed with pueblo viejo, del maguey vida mezcal, , fresh ginger, and freshly squeezed lime juice, is smokey, spicy, and dangerously drinkable. If you’re in the market for something more classic, the house g&t, made with Ford’s gin and a house prepared allspice lemongrass tonic, offers a fresh twist on an old classic.

The Lamb Burger Is Not To Be Missed

A list of small plates perfect for sharing tops the menu, but if you’re in the market for something more substantial, look no further than the lamb burger. Sweet ground lamb is char-grilled and served on a warm bun with feta cheese and cumin mayo, with a side of thrice cooked chips (fries). Juicy, super tender, and packed with flavor, it’s the ultimate splurge. For large groups, the Breslin offers a fried chicken feast, or a whole pig roast, not for the faint of heart.

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If you’re in the market for something a bit lighter, the winter vegetable salad with pecorino sardo & charred onion vinaigrette fits the bill. Bright and fresh, it’s the perfect complement to the menu’s other fatty fare. For dessert, the peanut butter mouse, with dark chocolate, banana sherbet, and coffee, offers the ideal sweet bite to round off your meal.

The Breslin doesn’t take reservations, but if you go and put your name down, you can head next door to the John Dory and enjoy some oysters and drinks while you wait. Or you can wait at the Ace Hotel lobby bar, complete with a massive vintage American flag draped behind the bar. The people watching in the lobby is not to be missed. If you’re nice to the hostess, she might seat you in one of the coveted back booths, which feel like you’re riding along in an old vintage train car, all to yourself.

Great Friends, Great Food, Great Times – It’s At The Breslin

For the full article, visit Devil Gourmet.