Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Super Awesome Spring Dessert

When Alex and I go out to eat, we generally split dessert. I'm not usually one to finish anything too sweet on my own. However, there is a bar in Williamsburg that serves the MOST amazing apple crisp ever. It's huge, and I eat the whole thing, all by myself.

This dessert is on that level. I had a hard time not eating the entire pan when it came out of the oven. Later this week I picked up some ice cream to finish off the rest, and it was super delicious.

If you have any rhubarb in the house, make this crisp tonight. It's easy, and pretty quick, and your tummy will thank you.

I started with this recipe online, but cut things back just a bit.


Rhubarb Crisp


1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup quick cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups sliced rhubarb
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions: Mix the brown sugar, flour, oats, butter, and cinnamon until crumbly. Grease the bottom of a square or round cake pan. Press half the mixture into the bottom of the pan. Cover with chopped rhubarb. Mix water and granulated sugar, vanilla, and corn starch in a sauce pan over medium heat until mostly clear. Pour the mixture over the rhubarb. Crumble the remaining brown sugar mixture over the top.

Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Brooklyn Engagement Photography

Last weekend I met Serena and Sean at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens for their engagement session. These two are from Taiwan and are getting married this summer in Central Park before going back to Asia for a big celebration.

I had a ball working with both of them and am super excited for their wedding! Here a few photos from our afternoon. Enjoy!





After the gardens, we also headed down by the Brooklyn bridge for a few shots.





Monday, April 26, 2010

Creamy Asparagus Soup

I still had a few bunches of asparagus left after my field day at the farmers market and a rainy Sunday evening called for soup.

This soup came together super quickly and was delicious, perfect for a weeknight meal.

Creamy Asparagus Soup
Adapted from Martha Stewart, Great Food Fast

3 TBS butter
1 1/2 cups chopped shallots
1/2 tsp dried thyme
3 TBS flour
2 bundles of asparagus (about 2 - 2.5 lbs) , chopped into large pieces
1/3 cup heavy cream
sea salt to taste
juice of half a lemon
4 cups water
2 cups broth or stock

In a large soup pot, melt butter and saute shallots with thyme until soft. Add the flour and stir until blended. Add asparagus and water and chicken or veggie stock and bring to a boil. Season with generously with salt to taste. Cover, and simmer until asparagus is bright green, 2-4 minutes. Puree the soup in batches or in the pot with an immersion blender. Add cream and lemon juice. Serve immediately.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Spring Harvest Explosion!


I seriously can not tell you how excited I've been for the green market to get going this spring season. It's seems like forever we've just had apples, apples, potatoes, and onions. And the onions are really starting to even look a little sad.

However, as the city has started blooming on every corner, I've been getting my hopes up every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday that something new and green would pop up.

Last week I got my first strike with ramps. Now, I really had no idea what ramps were, only that there was literally a line to get them. I figured I might as well give them a shot.


It turns out, ramps are wild leeks, supposedly similar in flavor to onions and garlic. Hearing this made me very excited to try them. I got myself some pasta, some hot house tomatoes just for the occasion, and some of the seasons first spinach as well as some chicken sausage.


I cooked my ramps with a few leaves of spinach just a bit with garlic in some olive oil until wilted, and tossed them with the tomatoes, and then the sausage with more olive oil and pasta.



I'll be honest, it was just not what I'd hoped. The ramps were fine, but not all that flavorful. I ended up wishing I had added more garlic or onions or peppers. Oh well, for next time.

However, this Wednesday, I got my real spring harvest wish. The market literally tripled in size! Almost everyone has come back! I filled my bag with beautiful green asparagus, rhubarb, arugula, radishes, baby greens, and burpless cucumber. Yes, it's really called burpless cucumber.



Sold by my most favorite tomato lady from Jersey, who I would say has the most beautiful produce in Union Square, she assured me I would never go back to regular cucumbers again. (If you google burpless cucumbers, the first thing that comes up is a study, which discusses the cucumbers, and judges' burp resistance, which I found highly amusing.) They were in fact delicious with a delicate flavor you just don't find in a grocery store cucumber.

I tossed the asparagus with olive oil, sea salt, and a bit of black pepper and roasted them in the oven at 350 for about 5-7 minutes.

In celebration, I also decided to spring for scallops from Blue Moon Fisheries, and they were excellent! I sauteed them in butter with shallots, garlic and a bit of lemon juice.


I also cooked rhubarb for the first time! I don't know if I've ever had it before, but have heard delicious things about it! I emailed my fabulous mother in law for recipe suggestions, and ended up with the following for a rhubarb nut bread among others. I halved this to only make one loaf, but it turned out great! Thanks Chris!


Rhubarb Nut Bread
Courtesy of the Trapp Family! (Alex's Grandmother)

1 1/2 c. brown sugar
2/3 c. canola oil (or similar)
1 egg
1 c. sour milk (add a tablespoon of vinegar to the cup of regular milk)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. diced fresh rhubarb
1/2 c. nuts
Topping: 1/2 c. sugar 1 tablespoon butter


Stir ingredients together in order given (except Topping). Pour into 2 well-greased and floured loaf pans in equal amounts. Mix sugar and butter together and strew over each as "Topping". Bake 325 degrees about 40 minutes. Do not overbake.

Cheers To Spring!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Happy Hanami!

Hanami is the Japanese cultural tradition enjoying and viewing the cherry blossom season.

I managed to get out to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens for the start of Hanami on Sunday, and it was a beautiful afternoon. The official cherry blossom festival, Sakura Matsuri, isn't until the first of May, and many of the trees aren't in bloom yet, but there were still lots of beautiful flowers to be enjoyed.










Monday, April 5, 2010

A Whirlwind of Flavor!

That's how Alex described this dish, "a whirlwind of flavor". I figured that was about as good a description as I was going to get. This dish was colorful and a bit spicy, filling but light, and perfect for a warm spring day.


I was inspired by the Sesame Noodles with Baby Greens and Peanut-Ginger Dressing I found on Ezra Pound Cake. I basically followed that recipe, but also took some from a very similar recipe in my Cafe Brenda Cookbook.

Sesame Noodles with Spicy Peanut Ginger Dressing and Garlic Citrus Shrimp:
Based on Ezra Pound Cake


* 8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
* 1-2 tablespoon dark sesame oil
* Peanut-Ginger Dressing
* chopped fresh chives
* 1 cucumber chopped or sliced into half-rounds
* mixed baby greens
* 3-4 small carrots, julienned
* 1 green bell pepper, chopped into long strips
* 1 cup snap peas, chopped
* 1 package (we used a half, but could have used more) medium or large shrimp
* 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
* juice of 1/2 lime and lemon
* red pepper flakes
* olive oil
* chopped peanuts

* 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter (Natural Style, unsalted)
* 1/4 to 1/3 C (approx) orange juice
* Juice of 1 lime
* 1 TBS Honey
* 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
* 2 tablespoons soy sauce
* 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
* 2 tablespoons peeled, grated fresh ginger
* 3 garlic cloves, minced
* A little less then 1/4 cup canola oil

For Salad:

1. Cook your noodles to package directions, set aside.
2. Chop, mince, and otherwise dice your veggies. Put in a large salad bowl.
3. Add the noodles to the veggies and toss with a couple TBS of sesame oil
4. Cook your shrimp with a bit of olive oil and minced garlic, add juice from lemon and lime, and sprinkle with about 1/2 to 1 tsp of red pepper flakes or to taste, continue cooking until heated through.

For Dressing:
Whisk together all ingredients, except the oil. Once everything is whisked together, slowly add the oil until combined smoothly.

To Serve:

Pile a base of mixed greens on a plate, cover with noodles, add shrimp, then drizzle with the peanut dressing and top with a garnish of chopped peanuts. Enjoy!


Saturday, April 3, 2010


Spring has sprung in the city! The leaves have started budding and the cherry blossoms are just starting to bloom. Alex and I spent the day yesterday enjoying the weather having a picnic by the river and then dessert and drinks in a little cafe garden in the village. It was lovely. Today I successfully raced a 10K in Central Park and managed to get out and walk around the neighborhood a bit to shoot a few of the spring blooms. Tomorrow I hope to make it over to the Botanic Gardens for more cherry blossoms!

For now, Happy Spring! Hopefully the market will finally have some spring vegetables next week!