July 1, 2014

Escape to Hudson, NY

This past weekend, Dave and I took a little road trip up the Taconic Parkway to Hudson, NY. My parents recently did a similar trip and I have read about New York City chefs opening up renowned restaurants using local ingredients, like Hudson Valley cheese and beef. Some of these only have tasting menus, all on the pricier side of $75. However, Swoon Kitchenbar serves individual dishes and we ate there the first night. Dave had a tender pappardelle bolognese and I ate a lemon mushroom risotto. Unfortunately I did not take pictures of the food, but the portobellos in my dish were fat and juicy in a light wine sauce. We had lunch at Cafe Le Perche, where their bread is made in house. Dave's BLT with fried egg was smooshed between two soft pieces of rustic peasant, which soaked up the yolk beautifully.

All in all, we had a nice, relaxing getaway. The town of Hudson is charming. There is one main street (Warren Street) where you can find art galleries, antique shops, furniture stores and hand-crafted goods like leather bags and sunglasses made from recycled skateboards at Ecosystem. It's a quiet and tired town in areas, but not mundane. If you go, opt for a weekend as the shops close during the week.

After reading "36 Hours in the Hudson Valley," there is much more to explore that we just didn't have the time for. But the trip is easy and we'll be back to venture through some of the other towns along the Hudson.

Dave studying a map of Hudson. We stayed at Front Street Street Guest House, right by the river. Our room was cute, and the little place was casual with no formal concierge or front desk (but always someone a phone call away). 
I love hotel bathrobes! These were especially cozy and fluffy.

There was a shared bathroom and kitchen, which at first I thought would be weird, but it was kept up nicely with all the necessary amenities. Plus, there was free popcorn, oatmeal and granola bars. Can't argue with that.
View of the Hudson. I love the silhouette of the Catskills in the background.  

Train station - two blocks from our hotel. Although we drove, if you plan to take the train from NYC, I would recommend finding accommodations near the station. 
A mountain of shoe string fries from Swoon Kitchenbar, served with spicy dijon aoili- yum!
We took a 10 minute drive to Olana State Historic Site. Unfortunately, the tours to view the house were all booked, but we walked around the grounds and were still able to see beautiful views of the Hudson.

View of the Hudson and the Catskills from the property
On Saturday, a craft fair overtook the waterfront park in Hudson. I loved these handmade finger puppets from Petitfelts, made of felt and wool. Their textures seemed so life-like! (Taken with iPhone).

On our way out of town, we stopped by Olde Hudson, a specialty foods store selling imported pastas, anchovies, sauces, cheese, meats, and produce. We bought a Stilton from England and a Scharfe Maxx from Switzerland.

We also grabbed some dessert from Hudson Chocolate Bar. My favorite was the lavender truffle on the bottom. 
We ate our little picnic on the Hudson in Cold Spring, NY, which is another cute town in the Hudson Valley! The river was much more expansive here than in Hudson. 

June 26, 2014

On to the next one

Hi people!

I know it has been a while since I posted, but wanted to give a life update. I am heading back to school in August to get my master's in Journalism at Columbia. So, I took some time off until then to relax. Been doing a lot of reading (currently on Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon and highly recommend it!), watching Orange is the New Black, and hanging in my favorite spot - Washington Sq. Park. I guess what I am saying is that I've been too busy lazing around to post on here. Rough. :) This weekend though, Dave and I are going to Hudson, NY and plan to do a little road trip home, so more to come on that. It's summer in the city (which will be both a bane and joy of the coming months) and I can already tell it's going to be a hot one. Let's enjoy!

P.S. Lizzie and I have a bucket list going. Some of our plans include...

June 11, 2014

Kale Caesar with Farro

Photograph by Britta Lokting
Well folks, I could not have been more giddy to share with you, and brag about, this newly-discovered kale Caesar with farro. That is, until I found out it is actually not newly-discovered; I've already featured it on here. Ack! I guess, though, that just shows how delightful this salad is. I love this recipe from Food & Wine because it takes America's favorite- albeit kind of plain - salad, and makes it sophisticated.

When I first tasted the creamy tofu and Dijon dressing, it was one of those melt-in-your-mouth moments. Needless to say, I gobbled the entire salad up and raved about it the next day to anyone that would listen (mainly Lizzie). Then last night, as I mindlessly, and nostalgically, clicked back through my blog photos, I came across a suspiciously familiar one. I squinted at the picture and as I read the list of ingredients, I almost gasped. There it was, my kale Caesar, staring me in the face. It would seem that even after years of loving and tasting new food, apparently I still subconsciously fixate on those few stand-out recipes. And this my friends, is one for the books.

I would like to add from my previous post, that by nixing the sardines (a poor move) and the parmesan cheese on top (again, not my recommendation, but given the potency of the dressing, a decision that won't sacrifice the flavor of the salad), then this dish becomes vegan. Oh, and this time around, I made my own croutons; it takes about 5 minutes and is much more fulfilling than, dry, crackly store-bought ones.  Just slice up some rye bread into one-inch thick pieces and fry over olive oil in a skillet until browned. Yum!

1 cup farro
Rye bread cut into 1 inch cubes
8 oz red or green kale, stems discarded and leaves torn
12 oz Tuscan kale, stems discarded and leaves shredded
6 oz of silken tofu, drained - it is important you buy silken tofu and not firm tofu
5 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
1/2 teaspoon finely grated garlic
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Parmesan cheese 
2 slices rye bread
2 tablespoons olive oil

To make:
Boil a saucepan of water and cook the farro until tender, about 20 minutes. 
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the bread pieces and cook on each side until golden and crispy. Season with salt and transfer to a plate. 
In a food processor, puree the tofu, anchovies, garlic, and mustard. Add a bit of water if too thick.
Toss the dressing with the kale.
Transfer to plates and top with the farro, parmesan, and salt and pepper. 

June 1, 2014

Moroccan Couscous with Mint, peas and oranges

Photograph by Britta Lokting
When it comes to summer cooking, mint and basil are my go-to ingredients. Dishes that incorporate either or both unfailingly taste so fresh and light. Last week, I originally bought one bunch of mint to add to my morning smoothies, along with blackberries, raspberries and Greek yogurt. I ended up with a good amount of leftovers and figured I would use it for lunch and dinner as well. The preparation for this couscous dish is so minimal, I was able to make it before work in the morning, instead of the night before; it takes a total of 10-15 minutes. The peas and orange slices not only look vibrant, their buttery and citrus flavors offset one another nicely. As usual however, the mint is the shining star here. It's both a highlight and necessity of this dish.

3/4 cup Moroccan style couscous
1/4 cup frozen peas
1 orange, peeled into sliced
1/4 cup mint, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper

To make:
Boil 1 cup water in a medium saucepan.
Stir in the couscous and immediately remove from heat. Cover and let sit for five minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in skillet and add the frozen peas. Cook until thawed and warm.
Fluff the couscous and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper.
Stir in the peas and mint and add in the orange slices.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

May 19, 2014

Olive Oil Muffins

Photograph by Britta Lokting
My girlfriend had a potluck brunch this past weekend and I was originally thinking of making a pasta salad, but I just bought a new muffin tin and had yet to break it in. Also, muffins typically don't require the same extensive list of ingredients that other baked goods do, and it's easy to make modifications. I scoured the Internet for a recipe with the least amount of ingredients possible (i.e. budget friendly), and stumbled upon one for olive oil muffins. As it turned out, I had everything already in my pantry. Gold mine! Since the base of these muffins are so basic (it consists of the oil, flour, some sugar and Greek yogurt), I mixed up the flavors, making a sweet and savory version. You could play around with this recipe. I think sun-dried tomato and basil could make for another savory twist. Unfortunately, these do tend to dry out easily (I am not sure why), so I suggest eating them right out of the oven and/or doubling the amount of Greek yogurt the original recipe calls for. I did that for the pine nut muffins and they stayed moist longer. 

Ingredients: (makes 6 muffins)
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large eggs
1/4 cup Greek yogurt (I recommend at least half a cup)
1/4 cup pine seeds toasted or 1/4 cup pistachios and 1/4 cup chocolate chips

To make:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and baking powder and set aside
In another bowl, whisk the sugar, olive oil, eggs, and yogurt
Slowly pour the dry ingredients into the bowl and mix together until a batter forms. 
Add in the pine nuts or pistachios and chocolate chips
Spoon the batter evenly into muffin tins and bake for about 20 minutes
Serve immediately

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