Tomato Time is Here!

It is tomato season and I am loving it! This time of the year I could eat tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Their flavor is sweet and delicious. There is nothing more juicy and refreshing than a fresh tomato in July or August. I guess that is why prime tomato season is in the summer. While I am very content to simply sprinkle the tomato with some Jacobsen Salt Co Flake Salt, tomatoes are also delicious in recipes. Try this one for a Summertime Frittata with Tomatoes and Goat Cheese. Feel free to add other vegetables you have in your refrigerator but the tomatoes are definitely the stars here.  You could even serve it with a tomato salad on the side!

Happy Friday,

Julie

Summertime Frittata

Makes 2-4 servings

Ingredients:

8 large eggs, cracked and beaten

8 oz baby spinach

½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved

2 oz herbed goat cheese, crumbled

Salt and Pepper to taste

Method:

-Preheat oven to 375°F.

-Heat a medium non-stick pan over high heat.  Add a splash of olive oil to the pan and sauté the spinach. Drain off the excess water.

-Reduce heat to medium and add the eggs. Let the eggs cook slowly, running a rubber spatula around the edge of the pan to prevent the egg from sticking. Cook for 4-5 minutes.  Top with crumbled goat cheese and tomatoes and place in preheated oven.

-Bake for 5-7 minutes, until the egg is cooking through.  Remove from pan and slice into pie shaped pieces to serve.

 

Grab a cone and some Ice Cream

Ice Cream Selection

We do a lot of celebrating at my house… between birthdays, milestone days at school and the occasional ‘food’ holiday we’re always making a party out of it.  We recently celebrated National Ice Cream Day with an ice cream treat and for half-birthday celebrations in our family we also get ice cream. Since it is summer and lots of you are probably having ice cream as treat, here is a list of some of our favorite places to cool off with a creamy treat. Some are more appropriate for the kids while others are clearly skewed towards the grown-ups in our family.  With the sunshine out this weekend and the weather back in the 80’s we’ll likely find ourselves out for another sweet treat very soon.

Milk Bar: We frequent Milk Bar for their coffee, cookies and their ice cream.  The Cereal Milk Soft Serve is always available, and they have a rotating second flavor.  Currently in NYC  it is Compost Cookie which has all of the flavors of their cookie with the same name… coffee, pretzels, potato chips, oats & butterscotch.  Locations in NYC, LA and in between.

Van Leeuwen:  This Brooklyn ice cream shop expanded to my neighborhood a little over a year ago and has been a hit ever since.  They specialize in vegan flavors so if that is something that entices you, this is the place to go.  Van Leeuwen has some very creative flavors like Brown Sugar Snickerdoodle and Vegan Toasted Coconut Blondie and they also have classics like mint chocolate chip and plain old vanilla. They have locations and trucks all over NYC and LA.

Mister Softee Ice Cream Truck: The local ice cream truck is great for a quick fix if you like chocolate and/or vanilla ice. They’ll even top it with sprinkles if you ask.  Trucks are typically in and around New York City.

Screme Gelato: We ended up at this local kosher neighborhood gelato place for National Ice Cream Day.  They make their own gelato using the best ingredients around.  Their presentation is great with heaps of gelato topped with some of the ingredients. We had cookies n screme which was topped with lots and lots of oreos!

Shake Shack: My kids love their milk shakes and my go-to is a root beer float.  The frozen custard at Shake Shack is as good, if not better, than their burgers. Try one of their concretes which is sort of like a Dairy Queen Blizzard but much better.  Locations across the country and around the world.

Where do you like to go for ice cream on a warm summer day?

Happy Friday,

Julie

The Thrill of the Grill

I just got an email from the management company of my building reminding us that it is illegal to have a propane or charcoal grill on your terrace or in your apartment.  While having an open flame grill inside your apartment sounds crazy having one outside isn’t so crazy.  But rules are rules and when we renovated our apartment we tried really hard to get the building to allow us to have a legal gas line barbecue but, in the end, didn’t succeed.  So we have our indoor grill on top of our range and it does a pretty good job.  The email got me thinking about why grilling has such an appeal that people are breaking these rules to have grilled food.

Grilling outside is a social way to cook. The stereotype is mostly true that men love to grill. I think a big part of that is the fact that they can stand around with a drink in their hand while ‘manning’ the grill.  There are obviously varying ways to ‘man’ the grill. I have memories of grilling with my grandfather where he would set a timer on his watch so we would know when to turn the steaks so they were evenly cooked and also had perfect cross marks on them.  On the other end of the spectrum is the set it and almost forget method where you simply watch for a lot of smoke or flames and then check in on what is cooking.   Both ways are satisfying for the grill master and also produce delicious food.

Cooking over an open flame also provides sense of adventure.  A gas grill is pretty easy to turn off and on, but you still have to watch out for flames firing up onto your meal.  Lighting a charcoal grill or even cooking over wood is something that requires skill and should be rewarded with a delicious meal.  The charcoal chimney is an amazing invention but there is still an amount of skill and luck to getting that fire going.  Unless you grew up as part of the boy scouts or girl scouts, starting a wood fire is tough.  Having the challenge of starting the fire and creating the environment to cook is one of the appeals of grilling.

Finally, there are the health benefits of having your food cooked over an open flame.  First off, you actually eat less fat because the fat is dripping off of the meat through the grates on the grill.  Foods retain more of their nutrients when cooked over an open flame.  This includes vegetables and proteins and happens because of low water content in the food.  You also eat less fat because you only need a little oil to keep the food from sticking to the grill but otherwise most of your flavor comes from the smoke of the grill and not from adding fats to your food. 

With summer in full swing, grilling season is also in full swing. I hope you are able to enjoy the social and health benefits from grilling. Most importantly be safe when you grill and certainly don’t have an open flame grill inside the house!  

Happy Friday,

Juliie

Summer time is for peaches!

Summer is a time for lots of gatherings with friends and family. I often feel compelled to bring something delicious to the celebration. It is an excuse for me to cook something different and who doesn’t love getting tons of compliments on the dish they prepared.  One of my go-to summer desserts is peach cobbler.  Peaches are in peak season and this cobbler is so easy to make for 8, 18 or even 28!  Serve with a side of vanilla ice cream and you’ll have a dessert everyone is going to remember.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Peach Cobbler

Makes 10 servings

Ingredients:

½ cup unsalted butter

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar, divided

1 tablespoon baking powder

A pinch of salt

1 cup milk

4 cups fresh peaches slices

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Method:

-Melt butter in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish while preheating your oven to 375°F.

-Combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder and salt with milk.  Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter over butter but do not stir.

-Bring remaining 1 cup sugar, peaches and lemon juice to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Pour over batter(do not stir).

-Bake at 375°F for 40-45 minutes or until the crust turns golden brown.  Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

Cool Down with a Salad!

Summer is officially here and I try my best to cool things down in the kitchen when the weather heats up outside.  I like to have make-ahead sides that can be served at room temperature and often serve salads for dinner. Cooking in the morning before the weather really heats is a good way to beat the heat in the kitchen.  Here are the key components to a successful entrée salad.

  • A good base of GREENS: whether it be kale or Romaine or a mix of baby greens you need a base for your salad. Greens come in all flavors from mild to strong and provide the perfect back drop to a delicious salad.
  • Protein: Having a protein is key for turning a salad from a side dish to an entrée. I love grilled salmon on a salad or hard boiled eggs. Both of these can be made ahead to beat the heat at dinner time. If you really don’t feel like turning on the oven or stove, open a can of tuna or add some canned beans to your salad to provide protein.
  • Some Crunch: This could come from something as simple as toasted almonds or a crisp apple.  Adding some crunch to your salad gives it some texture and makes it more appealing to all of your senses.
  • Something Salty: If you are feeling simple, sprinkle your salad with some Jacobsen Salt Co. Flake Salt. If you want to dig deeper add a salty cheese or maybe some crushed tortilla chips or perhaps some salty meat like a cubed salami.
  • Something Sweet: I love putting some dried fruit on top of my salad… raisins & apricots are always a good choice. Candied nuts are a great option to add something sweet and crunchy!
  • Dressing: This could be the most important component of your salad as it provides lots of flavor to your meal.  I am partial to line of amazing dressings from Farmhouse Lab. I would say my favorite is the Berry Olive but the truth is I love them all.  A dressing should add flavor and bring all of the other components in  your salad into one dish.  If you prefer to keep your dressing simple, I would recommend FIVE Extra Virgin Olive Oil and FIVE Aged Balsamic Vinegar.

With these key components and a combination of your favorite fruits and vegetables you are sure to have a delicious salad on hand for dinner tonight.  The best part of having a really good salad for dinner is saving the leftovers for lunch the following day!

Happy Friday,

Julie

Spring into Summer

After Memorial Day, I really start to feel the transition from spring into summer.  Spring is one of my favorite seasons. Everything starts to turn green and we get to be less bundled as the temperature begins to creep up. Produce also begins to turn green and there is a new variety of vegetables and fruits to use in the kitchen! Now that we have passed the unofficial start of summer, I can dig out those white pants from of the back of my closet(Just kidding!) and embrace even more produce.  These days we do start to wear shorts more than pants and there are more days when I go out without a jacket.  School is slowly coming to an end and we can all look forward to the care-free fun of camp during the summer. 

One of my favorite parts of summer is the ability to serve something that requires little to no cooking.  Salads become staple on our dinner menu. I dare you to count the number of times I post a tomato, basil, and mozzarella salad this summer. I’ll be changing them up slightly each time by using different sized tomatoes, perhaps using a dressing from Farm House Labs one week and the following week simply drizzling the salad with 5 Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  I plan to cook vegetables ahead of time and serve them with a light vinaigrette to greet the freshness of summer.  The wine in our house also begins to change from red to white and maybe with a rose mixed in.  With the summer heat, a chilled wine is always appreciated and this summer we are ready for drinks on the terrace with plastic wine glasses!

One downside of the heat is that we need to ship some of our products express to make sure they arrive in their best condition.  You can check out all of our summer shipping guidelines here.

Whether you spend your summer in the city, at the beach or somewhere in between I hope it is as relaxing as you want it to be.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Fire up the Grill!

Fire up the grill!

Who doesn’t love to grill…especially on a warm sunny day, am I right?  At my house I typically do the cooking but my husband is always in charge of the grilling.  It isn’t that I don’t know how to grill, it is just that he likes it and it is an easy task for me to delegate to him.  In the city, we have a grill as part of our Wolf Range which isn’t quite as romantic as grilling outside (but better than not grilling at all).  When we go on vacation, we always rent a house with a grill.  On those instances I am pretty sure my husband loves being outside by the grill, sipping glass of wine and enjoying the weather. 

With Memorial Day Weekend starting, summer has un-officially begun and that marks the start of grilling season for most.  When I grill a protein I typically don’t follow  recipe.  The meat or fish is seasoned with one or more spice blends from La Boîte and some kosher salt.  For side dishes I tend to be more of a recipe follower.  Here is one of my favorite grilled side dishes. I first started making this when I lived in London and we had a charcoal grill on our roof top.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Grilled Romaine Salad

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

2 heads Romaine Lettuce

1 red onion

2 ripe avocados

1 pint grape tomatoes

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Method

-Pre-heat grill to medium high heat. While the grill is heating prepare the vegetables.  Slice the heads of Romaine in half from the stem to the tip.  Peel and slice the onion into ¼ inch slices.  Season lettuce and onion with olive oil, salt and pepper.

-Place onion slices on the grill away from the direct heat.  Allow to grill for about 20 minutes or until no crunch remains.

-Place lettuce on grill and allow to cook for 3-4 minutes per side.

-Slice grilled lettuce into 1-inch ribbons and put into salad bowl.  Chop grilled onion and add to the bowl.

-Slice the grape tomatoes in halve and add to the bowl.  Dice the avocado and add it to the bowl as well.

-Drizzle with a little more olive oil and salt and pepper if desired.  Toss to coat and enjoy.

 

All-You-Can-Eat

Earlier this summer, I had the pleasure of cruising to Alaska aboard the Disney Wonder.  I had heard a lot about cruises and their all-you-can-eat buffets so I set my expectations pretty low for the food we would eat aboard the ship.  I was pleasantly surprised with the dining options and even more so with the service and hospitality extended from the servers on board.

For breakfast the main option was Cabanas(the all-you-can-eat buffet). It worked out really great for my family as we could each pick and choose what we wanted.  While I don’t like to waste food, anyone who has children knows they are often picky about what they eat and it changes from day to day. The buffet was great because we could load up a plate with Mickey Mouse Waffles, chocolate chip pancakes, donuts and even fresh fruit.  There were healthier options as well and I typically got yogurt with fruit and granola while my husband chose the made-to-order omelet.  The good news was with all of the options our crew started off the day with tanks full and ready to go.

Lunch was a little bit different as you could choose from a variety and ‘take-away’ counters or the buffet.  I believe there was a sit-down option as well but we didn’t take advantage of that.  Pete’s Boiler Bites served up the best chicken fingers and French Fries on the ship.  Pinocchio’s Pizzeria had pretty good pizza and even humored my son by making him pizza without the sauce with extra cheese on the side.  Daisy’s De-Lites had paninis, salads and lots of fresh fruit. And then there was Cabanas with the never-ending buffet of options complete with plain pasta to satisfy any child.  We typically got a variety from more than one of the options and the best part was sitting outside looking at the amazing views.  Lunch often finished with ice cream from Eye Scream Treats, a serve-yourself soft serve ice cream that was available from 10am-11pm.

Dinner was the most formal of the meals with a set reservation rotating between three restaurants.  Every night had a different theme and were all loosely Disney based.  Animators Palate had a lot of screens on the wall with Disney images to entertain you throughout the meal.  We also had breakfast with the characters here.  Tiana’s Place was very Cajun and we even celebrated Mardi Gras there one night.  Triton’s was based on The Little Mermaid and had a bit more seafood than the others. There were often ‘fancy’ options on the menu including truffles and lobster.  As I am writing this three weeks after my return, there isn’t anything that I ate that stood out as amazing or a complete disappointment.  As I mentioned the service was amazing and we had the same servers for all of our dinners on the ship.

The rumors about gaining weight on a cruise might be true.  My brother-in-law even downloaded an app that makes you look like you’ve gained a few pounds.  Perhaps it is my self-control but I walked off the ship still wearing the same pants I had on when I boarded and they felt just fine.  I found the food on the ship to be better than I expected. My only disappointment was that the lack of local options. I cannot say I really enjoyed Alaskan cuisine but I did enjoy everything else Alaska had to offer.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Traveling Vegan

Finding vegan food while traveling is not always easy, especially when traveling to areas of the country that rely heavily on meat and dairy products. I was in Roanoke, Virginia during the 4th of July week, and finding vegan food at restaurants and markets was really quite challenging. Aside from a beautiful array of fresh produce at roadside farm stands, fresh and delicious vegan food was nearly nonexistent. Thankfully I’m a chef, and I enjoy a challenge, so I was able to whip up quick and delicious meals on the go, to be enjoyed at the hotel, on the road, or before going out to dinner with my family. It’s a little awkward sitting food-less at a table of dining individuals, but when the majority of restaurants have no vegan options, there are only so many french fries one can consume in a weeks time, so it’s better to just pass. With a little planning and willpower, it’s really no effort at all to create beautiful and nutrient dense vegan meals with little to no kitchen equipment in a hotel room — you just need to be prepared. When shopping, remember balance, knowing that each of your meals should contain greens, carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Choose fruits and veggies that need no kitchen equipment to prep for consumption. If craving melon, opt for the pre-cut and packaged options — not something I would normally advocate for, but when you’re in a bind, it’s okay to use. If preparing a salad, like mentioned with the melon above, chose pre-cut and packaged produce that can simply be added to salad greens. A simple vinaigrette can be made with vinegar — like red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard, salt and pepper, whisked with a fork in a plastic bowl. Fresh fruit is always a delicious add-in to a salad, so feel free to add whichever fruit you desire, and maybe add some roasted nuts and a protein rich canned bean like chickpeas, and boom, an easy and delicious lunch or dinner. For breakfast, I enjoyed either avocado toast with roasted red pepper hummus and a side of fresh fruit, toast with raw almond butter, a smear of coconut yogurt, and fresh berries, or a bottled organic protein shake. The moral of the story is, whether traveling near or far, finding vegan food at restaurants may be a challenge, but creating beautiful food doesn’t have to be. With a little imagination and preparation, you’ll have an amazing meal in minutes flat. 

Enjoy the journey! 

Payton 

Dining Across the Pond

Traveling is one of my favorite things to do. Getting to a new place, seeing new scenery, and trying new foods are what making adventures in different cities and countries the best!  Since Summer is often a time for travel, we’ve decided to focus our blog on foods in different places.

Right after I got married, my husband and I went to London.  This wasn’t a week’s visit, we lived there for two years. As you can imagine, I had the opportunity to really immerse myself in British Cuisine. British food has gotten a bad rap for a long time but let me tell you there is a lot of great food in London if you look for it.  As with any metropolitan city there are chefs from around the world, cooking their native cuisines. At the same time, there are still plenty of local chefs cooking amazing British Food.  Here are some of my favorites.

Geales – This is a neighborhood restaurant that serves up the biggest portion of fish and chips you’ve ever seen.  It is also the best fish and chips I’ve ever had.  We went here whenever anyone came to visit so they could cross fish and chips off their list.  Let me tell you, it never got old.  This is still a stop on any trip I take to London.

The Ledbury – Now Number 27 of the Worlds 50 Best Restaurants,  The Ledbury is fine dining at it’s best.  I had the pleasure of dining here many times as it was just down the street from where I lived.  The food and ambiance complemented each other perfectly providing an intimate dining experience on some of the best local foods.

St. John – This is one of the original nose to tail restaurants where they literally serve you everything from the snout to the hoof.  While that might not sound appealing to all, it was wonderful to see how they used traditional methods on non-traditional cuts of meat.  The flavors were traditionally British but the food was anything but traditional.

Rococo Chocolates – I couldn’t right a post about London without mentioning our amazing Rococo Chocolates.  We have a large selection in our marketplace, here.  There are four retail locations in London and if you are strolling around Belgravia, don’t miss the chance to have a coffee and a chocolate in their wonderful MaRococo Garden.  All of their chocolates are made in London and the fresh ganache isn’t available outside of England, so be sure to select a few of those to taste as well. My personal favorite is the Anglesey Sea Salt Ganache.

If you need any other eating tips in London just let me know.  I could write pages of recommendations.

Happy Friday,

Julie