Happy Thanksgiving

Here's one of my favorite recipes for Thanksgiving. Individually portioned, fast in the oven and portion control. Oh, and delicious. All things to be thankful for. I made these yesterday with students with a class at Haven's Kitchen. Apple Pie Cupcakes (serves 12)

3 free form pie shells (divided into quarters) or pate brisee recipe 6 apples, macoun  is a personal favorite Sugar, to taste 2 TB all purpose flour Nutmeg, dash Cinnamon, to taste Pinch of salt 12 TB unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Separate pie shells and chill while making the filling. Cut apples in slices, and then half the slices. They should be small pieces, since we're making cupcakes not pie. Season with sugar. This depends on the level of sweetness in your apples. TASTE the apples. If they are tart, add as much as 1/2 cup. If you think they are sweet, limit it to 1/4 cup sugar. Add flour, nutmeg (a dash!), cinnamon to taste. I also ask for a pinch of salt. The mixture should be wet but not soupy.

Line the muffin tins with each pie portion. It won't be perfect. If you'd like to make them in more circle forms, use a rolling pin and shape, not necessary as they will overhang the tin. Add the apple mixture and crinkle the remaining pie shell around. Add one TB of butter on top of each muffin.

Bake until golden brown. About 15-17 minutes.

Join Haven's Kitchen for Haven's Harvest

Join Haven's Kitchen for Haven's Harvest on September 28th from 2-5 PM Over the last 10 months, I've been a part of the Haven's Kitchen teaching staff. This past September I became one of their full time chefs, and I couldn't be more proud. Not familiar with Haven's Kitchen? Check us out.This beautiful space is a three fold business encompassing a retail space/coffee shop, cooking school and event space.

I'd love to welcome all my friends to our upcoming House Party, HAVEN'S HARVEST on Sunday, October 28 from 2pm-5pm. Tickets get you unlimited access to food & drink, along with live music, and pumpkin carving for kids. It's a great opportunity to see the beautiful space and spend a Sunday afternoon.

Our house parties not only give us a chance to invite our friends into the space, but also allows us to promote other small business owners with great products. We will have Anna Gordon of the good batch , Lauren & Flannery of bigLITTLE Get Together, the pair behind Due North Rum, the boys from The Bronx Brewery, and the Hella Bitters team.

Overview: cocktails, kegs, sweets, turkey legs, pies, pumpkin carving, live music. Sounds like a perfect Sunday - right?!?!

Tickets: Havensharvest.eventbrite.com

Special secret promo code for you: HKFRIEND

Any questions email me at ashton@havenskitchen.com with inquiries. I look forward to celebrating with you.

Pies! Tonight 9/26

Creating desserts is one of my favorite things to do, and I am sharing that experience with everyone in the teaching kitchen next Wednesday, September 26thfrom 7- 9 PM. This Pies! class allows students to welcome in the season, share a meal, and get their hands dirty.

There are few items that evoke the smells, tastes, and imagery of fall like pies do. Pies are actually one of the most versatile and seasonal dishes out there. Since it’s fall at Haven’s Kitchen, this class will focus on breaking down the basics of pie making and offering each student a totally hands on experience to make a double crusted apple pie from start to finish. Unfamiliar with leaf lard? After this class you won’t be. These pies will remind you of grandma’s house on a crisp fall day. And if you didn’t have a baking grandmother, you’ll wish you did!

Each student will be creating a 9” double-crusted pie to take home (don’t worry we’ll eat one in class too!), as well as a savory tart to enjoy at the end of the class.  As always, we will enjoy wine with our meal at the end of class to celebrate a job well done!

Call 212-929-7900 or email classes@havenskitchen.com to sign up.

Creme Delicious is Gorgeous

My first word was gorgeous, no joke. I used to walk around saying everything was “gorgeous” from our family dog, to church songs, to pretty much anything you could imagine. After tailoring the use of the word a bit in the last 25 years I’ve come to realize it’s reserved for those items that are well, truly gorgeous. So when I say the cakes from Creme Delicious are beautiful beyond beautiful, I mean to say, they’re gorgeous. As a classically trained pastry chef I can’t even begin to describe in words how incredibly difficult these designs must be, it takes a true skilled artist.

That’s what these cakes are, above all else, art. Having been featured in O Magazine, Martha Stewart Weddings and scores of reputable wedding and event venues exemplify what’s obvious to the naked eye; these cakes are in a league of their own design wise.

This nine step process takes true artistry. Cake shapes include heart and square. Cake flavors include chocolate, vanilla, green tea, red velvet and pink champagne. Buttercream options include jasmine white chocolate, chocolate hazelnut, strawberry, mango and green tea.

Cakes are available upon order, at http://www.creme-delicious.com/index.php or via email at concierge@creme-delicious.com.

To view the original article on Sugar Loco, click here.

Ice Cream Sandwiches and French Macaroons

We all know I'm a junky for sugar. Dessert is my calling and I'd forgo any meal for a bowl of ice cream ... and I have plenty of friends who'd agree with my sentiment. That being said, when I was invited to a private tasting at Francois Payard's newest location in Columbus Circle (58th and Broadway) to taste their latest offering, ice cream, I couldn't hop on an uptown train faster.

Better than just ice cream, Fancois Payard's 3 locations are making ice cream sandwiches with artisanal ice cream sandwiches between ... get this, French macaroons. AH! I wish I was Oprah so that I could do her big "AHH!"

These treats are available at all locations of Francois Payard Bakeries and FP Patisserie and were designed by Chef Francois Payard.

Locations: Columbus Circle 3 Columbus Circle New York, NY 10019 Entrance on 1778 Broadway, between 57th & 58th street
(212) 956-1775

116 West Houston Street New York, NY 10012 between Thompson St. & Sullivan St.
(212) 995-0888

210 Murray Street New York, NY 10282 Between West Street and North End Avenue
(Across from Shake Shack)
(212) 566-8300

Ice Cream Sandwich Flavors: Raspberry Pistachio; Passion Fruit Cheesecake; Coconut Mango; Chocolate with Cocoa Nibs

Price: $5 each.

Charleston in 24-Hours

I'm heading down to one of my favorite cities in the country this week, Charleston, SC. Besides trying not to sweat my body weight off during a Charleston summer, I'll be sipping plenty of cocktails and attending some much anticipated golf at the 2012 PGA Championship and cheering on fellow Demon Deacon, Webb Simpson.

I recently wrote a piece for UScoop, a website exploring the needs and trends of college kids, about 24-Hours in Charleston. I warn you though, just as any good journalist, I didn't give away all my secrets. Cheers!

"We’re headin’ down south ya’ll, making a well-worth-it stop in “Chucktown”, South Carolina! Charleston is a town rich with history and culture. It’s also capital of southern soul food, producing restaurants, chefs and dishes that rival larger metropolises. Life in Charleston juxtaposes between old southern traditions and modern trends. If you only have twenty-four hours in Chawl’ston, it’s wise to taste a little bit of every aspect.  Cheers with a glass of sweet tea and get ready a southern-soul ride…"

To read the rest of the article and see my picks for how to spend one day in Charleston, click here.

Easy Weekday Lunch

I’m all about dressing up your lunch. Often times 11:30 rolls around and your stomach starts to rumble. It’s also around this time you realize that the bagged lunch you so carefully made with the intention of being healthy and penny pitching looks .... well, less than stellar. That’s where this recipe comes in. Ever go to a restaurant and before even glancing at the menu catch a dish coming out of a kitchen on the way to a nearby diner’s table knowing that’s what you want? Same concept here. Stop looking at food porn on Pintrest, make your lunch restaurant worthy. Think to yourself, “If it looks good, I’ll want to eat it.” And you will.

Quinoa Shrimp Salad makes enough for the whole week

This recipe seems complicated but it’s not. Make the quinoa and blanch the asparagus on Sunday night. Use precooked shrimp, seared shrimp (can also be done a night before) and/or leave vegetarian.

1 cup to 1 1/2 cup ratio of quinoa and cold water, I do the whole package for the week so measure the amount of cups of grain and supplement with the correct amount of water 3 cups sugar snap peas, green beans and celery 5 carrots, peeled 1 large cucumber, small dice 1 cup fresh herb (can be parsley, cilantro or basil) 1 cup chopped nuts, such as sunflower seeds

Dressing

Olive oil Lemon juice Cayenne pepper

Soak quinoa in cold water for five minutes (this is not necessarily the measured out water). Rinse thoroughly 2 times and pour of the water.

Place in a large pot with water and salt. Cover the pot and bring to a boil, turn to low heat and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

In a large pot on the side, bring to a boil and salt. Cut vegetables into small 1” pieces, think bite-szie.

Combine all the vegetables with grain and dress with desired amount of olive oil, lemon and salt and pepper. Add cayenne for extra kick. There are no extra measurements, dress and taste as you go.

This will last all week.

Serve this salad over blanched asparagus.

Blanched Asparagus

1 bunch of asparagus

Heat pot of water up until boils. Salt and drop asparagus into pot until bright green, about two minutes. Remove and place in an ice bath and/or in a colander under cold running water.

Seared Shrimp

1/2 lb. shrimp, tails on and de-veined Olive oil Salt Pepper

Heat oil in pan over medium heat and salt and pepper the shrimp. Place shrimp in pan and allow to site for 2 minutes per side. Remove and serve immediately or chill. Will last 3 days.

Beer Dinner Success

Check out the menu and shots from the beer dinner at Manchester Pub on June 27th with Speakeasy Ales and Lagers.

Menu Speakeasy Beer Dinner - Manchester Pub June 27th

Mahi Mahi Ceviche spring pea puree with meyer lemon and black sesame ~ Speakeasy White Lightning

Fried Green Tomato Salad fresh mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, pea tendrils with bacon mustard vinaigrette ~ Speakeasy Big Daddy IPA

Southern Duo Lemon and Golden Beet Deviled Egg and Grapefruit and Beet Deviled Egg both garnished with pickled beets

served with

BBQ Brisket “Crostini” served over a warm grits cake ~ Speakeasy Prohibition Ale

North African Spice Chicken Legs dry rubbed and served with house made pretzel and beer mustard ~ Speakeasy Payback Porter

Brown Butter Brownie pecans, almonds, caramel sauce served with coffee ice cream ~ Speakeasy Scarface Imperial Stout

Photos by Larry Westler. Visit his site, Larrywestler.com.

Pie Face

I've been bad about my blogging ... and sweet eating. Who would have thought that at some point I'd be tired of eating dessert? Well, almost. I've recently begun writing freelance for Sugar Loco, a site dedicated to the best sweets in your city. I recently had the pleasure of dining at Pie Face, located on the corner of 53rd and Broadway, check it out ...

"I’ve been called a “pie face” before, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a compliment. But with the installment of its first State-side location, the Australian bakery cafe, Pie Face I don’t think I’ll ever mind being called “pie face” again ..."

To read the full story on Sugar Loco, click here.

Manchester Pub Beer Dinner

I love serendipitous encounters that lead to new job opportunities. This happens more times than I can count since moving to New York and it not only makes you realize how tiny the city is, but how everyone loves to eat and drink. Last year while looking for a new apartment I saw a place in Chelsea with a young female relator. We ended up chit-chatting and exchanging recipes and business cards. A relator disguised as a die-hard-foodie, not the first I've encountered. I love it, it makes the awkward silence gaps of what to talk about disappear, food is a commonality.

I love wine as much as the next sorority sister, but what I love more than wine, especially during the summer, is a cold beer. Craft beers are all the rage so I'm excited to say that "beer dinners" and pairing beer with food have become more and more mainstream.

Turns out my relator friend (who I actually didn't get an apartment from) referred me to her friend and owner of Manchester Pub. Turns out they do beer dinners. Can you see where this is going ...

On June 27th at Manchester Pub located at 920 2nd Ave (corner of 49th) I will be serving two seatings for dinner, one at 6:30 PM and one at 9 PM. This five-course meal will be paired with Speakeasy Ales and Lagers. The theme, Great Gatsby, speakeasy feel. Makes sense right? Dressing up is encouraged.

Come join me and the rest of the staff at Manchester Pub. To learn more click here. To find out more on Facebook click here.

Reserve your seats early by emailing Lawrence at lawrence@manchesterpubnyc.com.

Hog Haven

Over the last few months I've had the pleasure of working at the beautiful Haven's Kitchen. Situated between Chelsea Market and Union Square Farmer's Market, at 109 17th St. between 6th and 7th, Haven's Kitchen is a chef's dream to cook and teach at. Want to join my next class? On Sunday June 3rd from 1-5 PM, we're hosting a Hog Haven event where we'll be roasting a 200 lb. spring pig.

Complete with drinks, meat, chefs, produce and friends come take a look at the new space. To purchase tickets, click here.

Check out my interview on the Haven's Kitchen blog.

London Calling

It was always my parents dream to go to London for their honeymoon. Their marriage has lasted for 28 years (and counting!), but they've never made it to London. My boyfriend spent his semester abroad in London. My favorite city abroad during Semester at Sea was Hong Kong (an Asian twin to London). The city of bangers and mash (how could I dislike this combo?), polo (I ride), tea (I'm an old soul) and Kate Middleton (enough said) is calling my name! Not so long ago during a cooking show audition I was asked, "Which Food Network chef do you most relate to?" Pushing my prejudgements aside and ignoring my inner chef criticism, I shared my culinary role model ... Ina Garten. "Give me a nice Jewish man and stick me in East Hampton!" was how I responded. The horror on the producers' faces was enough to tell me, "Pack your bags, this is the end of your audition." HA! I'm not sure if it was the fact that I had spoken so truthfully or that they were shocked at my choice, I assume the former. What can I say, Ina is the only person on reality cooking TV I wholeheartedly love. In her words, "How easy is that?"

Growing up in the catering world, I worked in a specialty food store/catering company/deli during high school and always found that my calling was more of an "entertaining" rather than a chef. Swap my chef's coat for a tattered apron and opt for family style service instead of plated courses. I can whip up a party for 50 using ingredients in my parents house on the spur of a moment, and have been known to do so. Plus, Ina always has a supply of Veuve in her fridge, can you say she's a lady after my own heart?

How does this tie into London? Well, Ina and my (whoops! her) husband Jeffery recently taped their trip to London, sharing their favorite destinations. I can't help but oogle Ottolenghi and it's marvelous selections of Mediterranean food is enough to stop you in your tracks. Given the chance, I'd probably spend hours in here.

Borough Market is a given for any foodie. As is holing up in a pub. Pints at breakfast anyone? Done and done. Shopping is a must (if funds allow) and even though my inner New Yorker skepticism for anything "touristy" screams, "Don't get on the red bus!" ... I might just have to.

Ger-Nis and Kitchen Surfing Happy House

Next Friday, April 27th I will be celebrating Ger-Nis Culinary Herb Center's birthday along with Kitchen Surfing in an Spring Happy Hour with cocktails and canapes full of herbs, citrus and spring produce. Click here to see more information and sign up. I will be making Spring Crudite Cups with Green Goddess Dip. " All participants will receive 50% off for any classes of events that they sign up for on this exciting night. This is a perfect night for us to thank all of our instructors and customers as well as collect important feedback from all so that we can improve. It’s a rare opportunity for those members of the press or bloggers, photographers or writers in general to come visit us in the midst of a prime event. It’s another big spring party and you’re all invited!" - Ger-Nis

Healthy Chicken Parm

Yes, believe it or not you can make Chicken Parmesan healthy.

  • Tenderizing the chicken flattens the breast, doubly portions and allowing you to eat half.
  • Flavorful way of eating chicken breasts aka white meat. I usually don't like chicken breasts.
  • Use egg whites instead of whole egg to bread.
  • Bread one side only.

Healthy Chicken Parmesan (serving size one)

  • One chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg white
  • tomato sauce (store bought or homemade)
  • mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Take chicken breast and place between two pieces of saran wrap on in a large bag. Pound out the chicken or "tenderize" it until flattened, about 1/2". Place egg white in one bowl and bread crumbs and Parmesan together in another. Season both bowls with salt and pepper.

Place chicken (only one side) into the egg white and then the bread crumb mixture. Place the unbreaded side of the chicken on a sprayed or lined sheet pan and top with tomato sauce and slice of mozzarella, bake for 25 minutes.

Eat immediately or store and reheat when ready to eat.

Parson's The New School Aftertaste Event

Spring is here and that means one thing for me ... parties! New Yorkers tend to hibernate from New Year's Eve to March 1st. Even with the soaring temperatures in January (I think we had several days in the 60's), true "party season" begins when March does.

For the second year in a row I had the honor of catering Parsons The New School for Design's Aftertaste Event. In case you missed my black and white themed menu, check it out.

This year the party was an intimate cocktail party for 100 with plated and stationed canapes in the theme of Synesthesia, which included the mixing of colors, tastes and sensations for guests. Synesthesia is the neurological condition in which a person involuntarily experiences one sensory through another sensory experience. Bored yet? I promise that's just the fancy jargon.

What it meant for me was beautiful colors, textures, tastes and produce to work with. We concentrated on citrus and using the full palate of end-of-season citrus from lemon into blood orange. Check out the menu below.

Menu

Duo of Soups Lemon Butternut Squash Soup with Chives Roasted Tomato and Orange Soup with Orange Curl served in glass test tubes and garnished with pop rocks

Personal Crudite Cups served in hollowed out Amy's Bread and served with lemony herb dip

Beet Chips honey infused goat cheese, micro greens and dried kishus

Beet Blood Orange & Beet Meyer Lemon Deviled Eggs elegantly pink and yellow and served with candied lemon peels and pickled beets

Mahi Mahi Ceviche meyer lemon, black sesame seeds and watercress

Sweet Potato Sliders served with coconut meringue, candied bacon and pecans

Pork Confit Crostini shredded and served over a bed of colorful roasted baby carrots

Citrus Colored Macaroons Lemon Orange Passion Fruit

Photos are compliments of my iPhone and the very talented Lee Gibson, visit his site here.

Meyer Lemon Love

There are few ingredients in winter produce I don't get sick of. Root vegetables begin to loose their appeal by mid-February and the lack luster selection of fruit makes me reach outside my "local" and "seasonal" notions and splurge on berries at Whole Foods. The one things I don't ever get sick of are Meyer Lemons. The insanely sweet yet tart lemon will transform the way you think about lemons, lemon juice, salad dressings, cocktails and pretty much any dish you'd use lemons for. There's not really a good way to describe the taste of one ... you just have to try them.

Fresh Direct might not know they have the best deal in town ... 2 bags for $4. Sometimes these babies run for about $3.99 a lb. so this is a steal. Buy them and then make the relish below, compliments of Food & Wine Magazine.

And if you really love them, as much as I do, join me for my Meyer Lemon Love class at Ger-Nis Culinary and Herb Center.

Meyer Lemon Relish adaptation from Food & Wine Magazine

Ingredients

  • 1 large Meyer lemon—peeled, peel very thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot—1/2 minced, 1/2 very thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Finely chop the lemon pulp, discarding any seeds, and transfer to a bowl. Add the lemon peel, minced and sliced shallot, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, parsley, olive oil and crushed red pepper to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

The relish can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Meyer Lemon Love Flyer

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Need a perfect treat for Valentine's Day? Chocolate covered strawberries. Despite the fact that the holiday is over-rated and in my opinion, dumb ... who doesn't like or appreciate chocolate covered strawberries? You can even dress them up as your favorite football players (see below).

Take chocolate (preferably dark) and melt over a double boiler. Then dip stem-on strawberries into the melted chocolate and allow to harden. Putting in the refrigerator helps.

Need a tutorial? Check out this video I did for GeoBeats ... cheers!

Really Simple (and Healthy!) Waffles

I woke up this morning craving something solid for breakfast. Not too heavy but still indulgent. Here's a super easy and healthy recipe I created this morning. Batter will last for three days, so with a little preparation today you can make fresh waffles everyday this week OR make them all now and pop in the freezer and to reheat, use the toaster. Whole Wheat Flaxseed Waffles

  • 1 1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour (if you don't have any on hand use all purpose, I used whole wheat because honest, you can't taste the difference, so why not)
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups water (or milk, but I didn't have any on hand)
  • 1 tablespoon ground Flaxseed (omit if you don't have)
  • 1/4 cup oil

Combine all ingredients and heat waffle iron. Spray waffle iron with non-stick spray and coat pan with desire amount of batter. Cover iron and bake on both sides until desired. Top with syrup, fruit, yogurt and enjoy.

Rachael vs. Guy Celebrity Cook Off

So it's been a week since the big reveal and in case you didn't know what candied lemon peels were before, you probably do now. So does Coolio!

Compliments of Food Network

Last summer I had the privilege of working as a chef with Team Guy (Chef Coolio and Joey Fatone) on Rachel vs. Guy Celebrity Cook Off. Last Sunday the double season finale aired at 10 PM EST on Food Network. In case you missed it, check out the episode below. It was a very cool (ha, pun intended!) experience.

Holiday Parties

One of the downsides of my job during December is that I have no work holiday parties to attend. Most people wouldn't call this a "downside," but trust me, come December I don't see my 9-to-5-ers. And no, despite my sisters' opinion that I'm the world's biggest dork, I promise, I have friends ... Truth be told, starting a small business can be lonely. There I said it. Despite the flexible hours, euphoric feelings of accomplishment, bills, travel, food, it's an uphill battle. Champagne, party of one? Doesn't sound as appealing does it ...

Luckily, being in the food service industry allows for me to attend other people's holiday parties. Well, kinda. I cater them, so in a sense, it's the best of both worlds.

In honor of that, I asked my favorite chefs, bartenders and freelance friends that have helped me in the past to work the Bollare Public Relations Holiday Party 2011 with me. Holiday season was about a month ago, but never too late to share some merriment. January doesn't have to be so depressing ... and even better I have my 9-to-5 friends back.

Menu Holiday Cocktail

Sparkling Pear and Cranberry Cocktail garnished with rosemary

Artisanal Cheese Board (3 passed cheese canapes)

Bosc Pears with creamy Camebert, Honey and Oregano * Prosciutto wrapped Aged Cheddar on Pumpkin Bread * Feta, Grape and Olive stack

Additional Canapes

Mango Crab Stacks lump crab atop toasted brioche Belgian Endive Cups goat cheese quenelles, fig, and caramelized pecans

Dessert

Speciality Monogrammed Bollare Petite Fours