pretzel toffee chip brownies

do you like take 5 candy bars? inorite?! well these little beauts are take 5s in brownie form. INORITE?! read on, lover of all that is good in the world.

auditory pairing: fun. - walking the dog (bc its pk's first birfday today!)

first person who tells me what this molecular structure is gets something special from me!

hint: it has something to do with this recipe

pretzel toffee chip brownies
yields ~1 dozen big brownies
adapted from recipegirl

1/2c butter (1 stick)
2  1oz squares dark chocolate
1/2c sugar
3/4c flour
2 eggs
1/2c toffee bits
1 bag chocolate chips/chunks
1c broken up pretzels

1. preheat oven to 350, line half-sheet or square pan with foil and spray with cooking spray

2. melt butter and chocolate, transfer to bowl

3. add sugar, flour, and eggs to said bowl, whisk baby whisk

4. add chocolate chips/chunks, toffee bits, pretzels, mix. pour mixture into foiled/sprayed pan and smooth with spatula

5. bake ~15 mins for half-sheet pan, ~20 mins for square pan, until brownies appear done

6. and trust me, you WANT this step. let brownies cool completely, and then place in fridge for a few hours. this is done for two reasons, a: it is akin to hot lava at the end of it's baking period. it will burn your whole mouth and make your palate never taste food the same again...not that i did that. b: when the chocolate chunks resolidify, they're money. they're so money they don't even know it and make this whole situation jump up to a higha level!


Restaurant Week

It's the most wonderful time of the year (October in Richmond, November in Miami and Summer & Winter in NYC!!) when some of the best restaurants in your city come together to offer a prix fixe lunch and/or dinner!! Yes, prix fixe.
It's like winning the lottery over and over and over again in one sitting! (gawd, I'm awful at this non-sarcastic kind of humor). Anyways, (before I make a total fool out of myself), being the Danny Meyer and Van Gogh fan that I am, I wanted to try The Modern. I, along with two Chinese boys (ha!), went to dinner on a cold winter night.

SO . . . I thought we were off to a good start when I saw this . . .

I chose the Braised Tripe with chickpeas and harissa aioli (which kind of reminded me of my Grandma's (Dad's Nanay) tripe with chickpeas and tomatoes) for my first course, which, after eating all the mini baguettes above, made me really full.

Then for the second course, I chose the Saffron Tagliatelle with braised rabbit, wild mushrooms and baby zucchini.

Then to top it off, I chose the Modern Cheesecake with almond crumble, raspberry and fromage blanc sorbet. I've been craving cheesecake for days and this fit the bill perfectly.

Were my choices predictable? A little bit. Tripe. Anything with saffron. But! I did try the cheesecake, which I normally would not. I usually tend to go the chocolate or creme brulee (granted that it's on the menu) route. Well, creme brulee or not I thought it was a pretty good meal. If I had to pay full price, I would say it's "an ok" meal but given that it's $35, it was great! So, go. If you're in NYC, go opentable bonkers like I did.


coconut saffron ice cream

yea. it's snowing and i'm making ice cream. what of it? here's some science for that ass: more ice cream is sold per capita in colder climates compared to that of warmer climates. your face. i'd go into explaining why it's better for our bodies to eat ice cream in cold weather, and drink coffee in hot weather, but that would negate my "no long intros" rule. it would also make me look highly nerdy. and you guys can't know that about me just yet.

this ice cream is seriously motherflipping marvelous. i made this for my dad and i am incapable of not licking the spoon after i accidentally drop it in the ice cream over and over...

auditory pairing: blue scholars - bruise brothers (its a filipino and persian duo....coconut and saffron! zing!)

coconut saffron ice cream
yields ~1 pint
adapted from david lebovitz

2/3c whipping cream
1c coconut milk
1/4c sugar
scant 1/2 tsp saffron threads 

1. crush the saffron threads in a small mortar and pestle. in a medium saucepan, bring all ingredients to a boil.

2. reduce the heat and simmer (simma down na!) gently for 10mins, stir occasionally. remove from heat and chill the mixture thoroughly in the fridge.

3. once chilled, churn in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. eat the SHIT out of this ice cream.

if you have a kitchenaid, i seriously advise getting the ice cream attachment. it's way cheaper than buying a lame-o ice cream maker. i say lame-o because i am jealous if you own one.



sassy pumpkin soup

i have a confession to make. i have a lover and her name is pumpkin. she must be on the anaheim baseball team because shes an AAANNGEL! if its not pumpkin season, butternut squash will do. i like to precut and freeze mine for later pumpkin debauchery.

auditory pairing: peter bjorn and john - i want you! (dedicated to my lover, pumpkin...4 lyf)

pumpkin soup
adapted from Vegetarian
(yields 6 servings)

2lb pumpkin
3tbsp butter/margarine
1 onion, sliced thinly
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 1/2c vegetable stock
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1tbsp lemon juice
2 bay leaves
1 1/4c milk
salt and peppa (do you smell dat peppa?!)
cream and chives for garnish

1. peel pumpkin, remove seeds, cut flesh into 1" cubes. 

2. melt butter/margarine in a large, heavy-bottomed (teehee) saucepan. add onion and garlic and fry over low heat until soft but not colored.

3. add pumpkin and toss with the onion for 2-3min. add the stock and bring to a boil over medium heat. season with salt and peppa('s here!) and add ginger, lemon juice, and bay leaves. cover and simmer over lowish heat for 20min. until the pumpkin is tender.

4. discard bay leaves. cool the soup a little and use a blender/food processor, or..my favorite item in the world: immersion blender, to process until smooth.

5. if you used an immersion blender, add the milk and reheat gently. if you used blender/food processor, pour back into the saucepan and do the same. adjust seasoning and garnish with a swirl of cream. add snipped chives, and dip your favorite panini in it!



hummus b'tahini (translates to foodgasm in one's mouth...no, don't look it up)

trust me, i'm lebanese. this is what hummus b'tahini means. oh? you're a language snob and want the classic arabic translation? fine. chick peas with sesame paste. hussy. 

what you are about to experience is the real deal authentic hummus recipe that YOU MUST NEVER STRAY FROM. ok, maybe you can used canned chick peas instead of soaking/boiling dried ones; i will explain in due time, young caterpillar.

auditory pairing: vampire weekend - giving up the gun (cuz of the garlic. i'm so droll!)

hummus b'tahini
(yields ~3cups)

-1c dried chick peas soaked overnight (or 1 can of chick peas)
-2tsp salt
-2 cloves garlic
-3/4c tahini sauce
-1/2c lemon juice
-pinch paprika & extra virgin olive oil for garnish

1. if you used canned chick peas, skip this step (cheater). drain the soaked chick peas and place in a pot with 3c water. add about a teaspoon of salt and boil for 10 minutes. turn the heat to low(ish) and simmer the chick peas for another hour until very soft. drain liquid off (and reserve for later). 

2. puree chick peas in a food processor or blender. you can also just press them through a sieve, but what year are we in, the 1800s?! 

3. crush the garlic (i like to use my mortar and pestle) with the remaining teaspoon of salt. add this to the puree and mix in your processor. 

4. slowly, and alternately, mix in the tahini and lemon juice while mixing in your processor/blender. if the mixture is too dry, add a little reserved water drained from the boiled chick peas (of if you used canned chick peas, tap water is fine). the consistency of the end product should be thick and creamy (get your mind out of the gutter!). adjust salt and lemon to taste.

5. serve in a bowl drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. sprinkle paprika for attractiveness. serve with pita bread/pita chips/crackers/veggies.

now make like a vacuum and suck. the hummus. all of it.




It's not a sophisticated story nor does it start with something like - "my love affair with foie gras started when I was 10 when my parents and i were vacationing in . . ." It's more like living and growing up in a part of town where I can literally walk to the market and see, smell and hear everything . . . Then moving to a tropical part of a country where rice, beans, plantains, curry goat, jerk chicken, paella, sushi, Mario's burritos (and warm hello's), lambi and pad thai were not staples, but almost are . . . Then there's the occasional visit to a city that they say, "doesn't sleep" to adventurous food trips here, there and everywhere . . . Then . . . coming across something so unfamiliar as grits, spoon bread, biscuits and Southern hospitality which opened my eyes and made me realize that there is a bottomless pot in my gastronomical pot-au-feu . . . What better way to express my ultimate love for food than writing about it with two of of the funniest, wittiest and most beautiful women in my life, who share the same passion for food and each other, as I do. With that being said... Bon Appetit mon Amour. :)


whole wheat french baguettes of GLORY

hello audience. thought we forgot about you? heavens no. we dream of you in our sleep, and sleep with you in our dreams. now onto food porn.

the type of cancer my dad has means he must add tons of whole grains to his diet (or as i like to call it, poopie power...or pee squared for you trendy folk). what better way to accomplish that then with a swagger francais? this is for the most part your run of the mill french bread recipe but with two adaptations: whole wheat flour is used, and a cold fermentation is done initially.

auditory pairing: beirut - my night with the prostitute from marseille  

whole wheat french baguettes
(yields 4 baguettes) 

2c unbleached bread flour
- 3 1/2c whole wheat flour
- 2tsp salt
- 2 1/4tsp active dry yeast
- 2c warm water

i cheated and used my kitchenaid with a dough hook. throw all ingredients in and turn that mofo on. you can alternately do it the non-wussy way: knead it by hand. after dough is kneaded, remove it and place in a lightly oiled large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. immediately place in fridge overnight.

baking day:
remove the dough from fridge 2h before baking. once ready, transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and separate into four pieces. pat each piece into a rectangle. bring the bottom half of the rectangle to the center and seal the seam. bring the top half of the rectangle to the center and seal the seam. then pinch together the seam you've created and with seam side underneath, roll out dough to desired length (6-12in...thats what she said!). be sure to taper off ends so the baguette looks legit!

lightly spray the top of the baguettes with pam/spray oil. use a couche (or be ghetto like i did and just use lightly floured towels rolled up in between each baguette to help keep its shape) while proofing at room temperature. lightly cover with plastic wrap during the proofing process. this should take 1 1/2-2h, you want your bread to be about 1 1/2x bigger than its original size. (start preheating your oven to 450F 45min before bake time, place a broiler pan/sheet pan one rack under where you intend to bake your bread. this will be used as a steam pan)

15min before, remove plastic wrap from dough. transfer baguettes to a lightly floured medium that you will use to bake on. i have a cast aluminum griddle that i like to bake bread with, but anything from a pizza baking stone to a cookie sheet can be used. right before baking, score each baguette 3-4x with 1/2" deep slits. the key to getting a crusty bread is steam, so pour a cup of hot water into the steam pan and place your baguettes in the oven.

bake for 12min, rotate the pan and bake for another 15min. cool on wire rack for half an hour before consuming with vigor.