Would you consider getting weekly flowers delivered in your CSA? It’s a splurge, but what a cheerful addition it would be! This CSA in Park Slope offers flowers in their deliveries (and bread and eggs, oh, and vegetables, of course).
Ryan and I have been entertaining the idea of getting a CSA, but we don’t cook anymore, as you can tell from my lack of blog posts. We’re hoping the cost of a CSA would force us to cook, but we’re not ready to commit.
I really love how you can buy flowers on almost every street corner in New York. What do you think? Is it worth the cost?
I know I can’t get them. My cats are obsessed with flowers. They would knock over the vase and eat them all up.
Hey everyone, I’m participating in the Virtual Vegan Potluck. It’s a fun opportunity to connect with blogs from all over the world and share our favorite vegan recipes.
If you’re stopping by for the potluck, welcome!
For this potluck, I’m bringing these fresh tofu spring rolls and some peanut dipping sauce.
These spring rolls use rice paper, and I don’t fry the whole spring roll, although I did fry the tofu. You can find the rice paper, rice noodles, tofu, and Thai basil at your Asian grocery store.
Prepare the Tofu
First, press the tofu for about 15 minutes to prepare it. To press tofu, drain it, wrap it in a few layers of paper towels, place it on a plate and put something heavy on it. In my case, I use my cast iron.
Once you’re done pressing the tofu, pat it dry and place it on a cutting board to slice it. I sliced mine on the thin side, a little bit bigger than your finger.
Pour your flour into a bowl. The flour helps give the tofu its golden color when frying. Place each piece of tofu into the flour and cover it well on each side.
In a skillet, heat about a half-inch of oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Place the tofu in the skillet and cook until golden-brown, or about five minutes on each side.
When it’s done, drain the oil on a paper towel.
Prepare the Rice Noodles
Rice noodles take very little prep. You’ll be amazed. Pull apart about a cup of dry rice noodles. Place them in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Cover the noodles completely with hot water. I heated up some water in a tea kettle, but don’t bring it to a boiling. Let them set for about five minutes, and they’ll be perfectly soft.
Prepare the Rice Paper Wrapping
Ok, so rice paper is a tricky thing. You’ll need patience and delicate fingers. Be prepared to lose a few wrappers in the process. I lost two. You’ll need something that’s large, round, and flat. I used my skillet (do not heat up the skillet). Fill it with about a half-inch of warm water and place the rice paper in it. Let the rice paper rest in the water until it’s completely soft and you can no longer see the textured pattern. This only takes a few seconds. It may try to curl up on you, simply push it down.
Once the rice paper is soft, gently pull it out of the water and give it a shake. Try your best to prevent it from folding up on itself. If it does, you can probably still rescue it, once you put it on a plate. Only soak one rice paper at a time.
The plate can be your best friend. I found using a plate that’s smaller than the paper, and one that has a dip in it can be very useful for helping you straighten out your rice paper. I also let my rice paper dangle on the edge of the place, so I could smooth it out.
The trick to assembling these is to avoid over stuffing them. Just remember, less is more. The delicate rice paper can’t handle a lot of stretching, so they’ll either tear, or you won’t be able to completely wrap them. The amount of filling depends on the size of your rice paper, but I try to keep my fillings about the size of my palm.
You can assemble however you’d like, but I put the lettuce first, since it helps keep everything contained. Place your fillings about 1/3 of the way down on the plate.
Rolling it up
Lightly fold the top 1/3 over the fillings, and then fold over the right and left sides one at a time. Once you have three sides folded, you can begin to roll it.
These are severed with the peanut dipping sauce, which can be found at the recipe below.
tofu spring rolls with peanut dipping sauce
1 16 oz. package extra-firm tofu
½ cup flour
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup dried rice noodles
11 pieces of rice paper
½ cup shredded carrots
5 leaves lettuce
Thai basil and/or mint
Peanut Dipping Sauce
1 garlic clove
3 heaping tbsp peanut butter
¼ c hot water
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp peanuts, chopped
1 tbsp sugar
Prepare the Tofu
Press the tofu for 15 minutes, until well drained.
Slice the tofu into ¼ inch thick pieces.
Pour flour into a small mixing bowl.
Place tofu in flour until well coated.
Pour vegetable oil in a skillet. Warm over medium-high heat.
Fry tofu in oil until golden brown, or 5 minutes on each side.
When it has a nice golden brown color, place on a plate with a few napkins, to drain.
Prepare rice noodles
Place rice noodles in a medium sized mixing bowl.
Immerse the noodles in hot water. Let set for 5 minutes, or until tender.
When the noodles are tender, drain the water.
Prepare the rice paper
Place the rice paper in a shallow pool of warm water for about 20 seconds, or until soft.
Place the lettuce, tofu, noodles, carrots, and herbs in the middle of the rice paper, about ⅓ of the way down. The spring roll filling should not be larger than your palm. Do not over stuff. Carefully fold the rice paper around the fillings and roll it up.
Peanut Dipping Sauce
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the garlic, peanut butter, hot water, soy sauce, peanuts and sugar, until smooth.
Thanks again for joining me for this potluck. Please check out the rest of the blogs participating today.
It’s safe to say that dutch babies have become a mild obsession in my house. I went 26 years of my life in ignorance of their existence, so, really, I’m just making up for lost time.
This is my third time making them. I’ve started experimenting with the recipe, which is adapted from here.
Straying from the traditional blueberry, I made strawberry syrup. Part of being a grown-up cook requires ditching the Aunt Jemima for pure maple syrup, which is frustratingly expensive, but worth the price. As an adult, I eat much differently than what my parents raised me on. I think I was well into my 20′s before I even had pure maple syrup, we always used HFCS based syrups.
My family also never had a cast iron while growing up. I received mine as a gift from Ryan a few years ago and I love it. When I moved to NY, I packed it in my luggage. That’s commitment.
dutch babies with homemade strawberry maple syrup
Recipe type: Breakfast
¾ cup milk
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. Butter
Strawberry Maple Syrup
1 cup maple syrup
2 cups fresh strawberries, chopped into chunks
Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
Once oven is preheated, place cast iron in it.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk until frothy.
Use a wooden spoon to slowly mix in flour, a few ounces at a time.
Add salt, sugar, and vanilla extract.
Mix with spoon until well combined.
Remove the cast iron from the skillet.
Place the butter in the cast iron. Push it around until it’s completely melted.
Pour the batter into the cast iron.
Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees.
Place cast iron back in the oven.
Bake for 12 minutes, or until golden brown and puffy.
Strawberry Maple Syrup
In a medium-sized pot, warm syrup and strawberries over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes.
The syrup will become thicker the longer it’s cooked.
Once the strawberries get warm, they will get soft. This makes them easier to smash with a spoon.
You can smash the strawberries until the syrup reaches desired consistency.
This recipe makes one dutch baby and 1 cup of syrup.
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Place the cast iron in the oven to heat it up.
To make the dutch babies, combine the milk and eggs and whisk with an electric mixer or by hand until they’re frothy.
Stir in the flour a little bit at a time, until well combined. Then add the vanilla, salt, and sugar.
Once your cast iron is hot, carefully remove it from the oven and toss in the butter. Swish it around while it sizzles until it’s completely melted.
Pour the batter into the cast iron.
Reduce the oven temperature to 425 degrees and place the skillet into the oven. Bake for 12 minutes, or until puffy and slightly browned. They get really puffy in the oven, but deflate once they cool.
Hello friends. This weekend, I’m spending a lot of time at home. I just moved my cats into the new apartment and I want to keep an eye on things. My roommate also has a cat, so we’re spending a lot of times doing cat introductions. They can be such grumpy creatures. But it’s so worth it, especially when they take naps with you.
(photo by ryan)
It’s a beautiful weekend. I hope to get a little bit of baking done and a little bit more unpacking. I hope to show you the place, when it finally comes together.
I’ve seen a few recipes floating around the web for egg salads that use greek yogurt and avocado instead of mayonnaise. In fact, I could have sworn I save a few, or at least pinned one or two of them. But when I went to search my computer for a recipe, they were nowhere to be found.
So instead of googling one, I just winged it. So here you go. An on-the-fly, I still don’t have basic kitchen staples, let’s hope this tastes good recipe.
And it does. It could quite possibly be the best out there.
I’ll have to admit I was skeptical about giving up mayonnaise. I was raised in the south, after all. And since hearty vegetarian sandwiches are hard to find down there, egg salad sandwiches became my go-to. And (my secret confession) I don’t like Greek yogurt, so I was reluctant to try this at all.
This is one of those recipes that I thought would be the sum of its parts. One that would fail to deliver something better. But I was really impressed. You don’t miss the mayonnaise. I added some sauteed red onions for crunch and flavor. And if you’re an avocado fan, well, you’ll regret not trying this sooner.
It’s ok. There’s still time.
My favorite part of making egg salad is the memories. The smashing of hard boiled eggs with a fork recalls vivid parts of my past. My mother didn’t teach me a lot of cooking growing up. But I remember the way it felt making egg salads with her. Back then it was only eggs, paprika, and mayonnaise. Last summer it was pickles, grainy mustard, and crusty bread with Ryan before we set out on a hike or a trip to the beach. Today, in a big city it is Greek yogurt and avocado. I guess everything evolves.
avocado egg salad
Recipe type: lunch, salad
1 Tbsp butter
¼ large red onion, diced
2 eggs, hard boiled
½ ripe avocado
3 Tbsp. plain Greek yogurt
Salt, to taste
While you’re waiting for your eggs to boil, place butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.
When the butter is melted, toss in the diced onions and sautee about 5 minutes, until soft.
Place the peeled eggs, sauteed onion, avocado, and Greek yogurt into a mixing bowl and mash until well combined.
After spending the past two weeks moving and painting my new apartment, I really needed a relaxing weekend. Ryan and I woke up early on Saturday Morning and scoped out Tom’s Restaurant. It’s one of the few diners in our neighborhood, and still a mile away, but Yelp promised it would be worth the walk. When we got there, the line was wrapping down the block. The 30-minute wait was made pleasant by a server who brought us coffee, water, oranges, and then french fries, in that order. It was worth the wait. Tom’s makes their own flavored butters and serves fries for breakfast (with horseradish sauce!). Incredible.
Then Ryan and I walked over to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. Sadly, I misplaced my DSLR camera battery during the move, so I had to snap all of these photos with my iphone.
The gardens were filled with rows and rows of tulips. I couldn’t stop staring at them. I’ve never seen anything like it.
I immediately longed to sleep in a bed of tulips a la Alice in Wonderland. I see the appeal.
More Alice in Wonderland flowers! I was on such a literary kick at the gardens. We walked through, and loved, the Shakespeare garden.
The gardens had an excellent Bonsai exhibit, and I fell in love. I hope to grow my own Bonsai soon, but what a commitment.
We really embarked on this trip with the intentions of seeing the Cherry Blossoms. Unfortunately we picked a bad day. There were tons of people celebrating a cultural event. It sort of felt like Disney World. There was even a giant tent set up underneath the blossoms, so it was hard to get a good idea of how spectacular they were.
We mean to come back later this month. But, we were lucky enough to snap a pretty great picture in front of them.
And a few more, just to show you how genuinely happy and excited we get about gardens.
It really is like we’re at Disney World. Like, this photo below was taken solely because we found a willow tree.
Then we finished up the trip with some shared FroYo. Pretty perfect.
Other highlights of the weekend are: cheap pedicure, baking, really great conversations with Ryan, watching the Roomba sweep while I drank my morning coffee, and this guy:
After Felicite and I signed our lease on our new place in Crown Heights, I invited her over to my rental room for an experimental lunch. After all, broker’s fees make me ravenous. I was really concerned about how lunch would taste. I even prepped her, “I’ve never made this before… It might not be good… There’s always pizza if it doesn’t work out.”
So, clearly, I’m a nervous wreck about cooking something new for someone. But this pad thai turned out great. And it only has 13 carbs per serving! The secret? I substituted cabbage for noodles. The carbs were not missed. It was still oily and peanut buttery, which is all I ask for in my pad thai.
low carb tofu pad thai
Recipe type: dinner
4 Tbsp. canola oil, plus more for frying
1 16 oz. block of extra firm tofu, pressed
1 small onion, diced
6 cups, or ¼ head of large cabbage, shredded
5 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 cloves of garlic, diced
2 Tbsp. Peanut Butter
2 green onions, chopped
Extra Delicious Options
Fry the Tofu
Press the tofu for about 15 minutes to drain all water
Cut the tofu into triangles or cubes
Pour oil into frying pan, until it covers the whole pan and is about ¼ inch deep
Warm oil over medium-high heat
Add the tofu to the oil and cook on each side for about five minutes, until all sides are a nice tan color, appx. 25 minutes.
Place on a paper towel to drain excess oil
Chop the cabbage into long, thin pieces
Pour 4 Tbsp. oil into pan and warm it over medium heat
Once the oil is hot, add in the chopped onion and sautee for five minutes, or until soft.
Sautee in the cabbage and top with the soy sauce
Continue to cook the cabbage, stirring occasionally, until it reaches a noodle-like consistency
After about 10 minutes, toss in the garlic and peanut butter and give it a stir.
Once the cabbage is completely cooked down, add in the tofu and green onions and let it simmer for a few minutes.
If you want, now is a good time to crack an egg in the mixture and scramble it.
I haven’t been blogging much and it’s making me very sad. After our move to New York, I expected to be settled much faster than this. Or maybe this transition has been quick, and I’m just impatient. After all, it will only be three months tomorrow. The kitchen in the room I’m renting isn’t great for cooking. And the closest craft stores are expensive, 35 minutes away, and only sell specialty stuff like yarn or paper. I’m looking at craft supplies online, but it’s not the same as waking into a Michael’s.
Sometimes, it seems impossible to do the things I love. Baking, crafting, camping, and equestrian. I had my first, and last, riding lesson in the city. It was a pretty awful experience. So now, I’m looking to ride somewhere in New Jersey, but that requires a car. I’m exploring those options and, hopefully, I’ll be riding again by Autumn.
Maybe I need to love new things in this new city. But where does that leave this blog? And where does that leave me?
Not all is hopeless. I am baking donuts as I write this. And I finally signed a lease in a dream apartment. It has a huge kitchen, two pantries, and a dining room. So, my days of entertaining and baking are close. And I can finally get my cats back, although, it might break my heart to take them away from Ryan. They’re so sweet to each other.
One of the glorious aspects of moving to Brooklyn has been the never-ending section of places to eat. How will I ever get to them all? But, I do have a gripe about my neighborhood’s lack of decent breakfast places. Aside from the French Bakery downstairs (ok, so I guess it’s not that bad), it’s hard to find sweet breakfast foods, except for the Dunkin’ Donuts down the street.
I don’t think I’ve ever had Dunkin’ Donuts before I moved to NY. There was a surprising lack of them in Tallahassee, and I see why. They are the worst. Like, they sort of ruined my Sunday morning, their donuts are that bad.
Seeing this as a challenge, I bought this donut pan (it’s on sale!). Now, I’ve spent the past two Sundays making donuts. Unfortunately, the first round was a little disastrous but these were much improved.
Recipe type: Breakfast,
½ cups (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tbsp orange zest
1⅔ cup flour
1¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup half and half
¼ cup water
½ cup dried cranberries
1¼ cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon orange zest
3 Tablespoons of half and half (You can use milk)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Zest the orange.
Combining the Ingredients
In a large bowl, use a wooden spoon to combine the butter and sugar and mix until they’re creamy.
Slowly stir in the vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time.
In a second bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. These are your dry ingredients.
Begin pouring the dry ingredients into the large bowl of wet ingredients. Pour in the dry ingredients about a half a cup at a time and mix thoroughly after each pour. Mix until you are out of dry ingredients and everything is well combined.
In a cup, mix together ¼ cup of half and half with the ¼ cup water. Note: You can just use ½ cup of milk, instead.
Pour the milk mixture into the batter. Mix until combined.
Finally, fold in the dried cranberries.
Spray a donut pan with cooking release spray (I used pam). Fill the pan up half-way with the batter.
Place in the preheated oven and bake for 12 minutes, or until golden.
Preparing the Glaze
Pour the powdered sugar in a large bowl and stir in the orange zest.
Begin whisking the mixture and add the milk in one tablespoon at a time.
You can add more milk or water into the mixture if you want a more runny consistency.
Dip the donuts into the glaze mixture or pour the mixture on top.
If you dip the donuts, you may have to dip them multiple times, waiting a few minutes in between each dip.
Allow an hour for glaze to harden.
I adapted the recipe from here. I didn’t have any milk, so I used half and half. I also used dried cranberries, but her recipe calls for fresh.
My roommates were apprehensive about the flavor combination, but it’s pretty incredible. There aren’t any donuts left.
The highlight of last week was certainly The Big Cheesy. It’s a grilled cheese competition where some of the best NYC sandwich makers face-off and stand judged by foodie New Yorkers’ critical pallets.
We were greeted with some local Sixpoint beers to accompany our sampling. I had the Crisp, Ryan had the Sweetaction.
Here’s a sample of what was on some of the menus.
Say Cheese took second place with their French Onion grilled cheese and their S’more sandwich. They told us to “squeeze and bite” into it.
Murray’s Cheese Bar had a pretty good sandwich, especially paired with the smoky tomato soup. They also serve Sweetgrass Dairy’s Greenhill cheese! It was my favorite local cheese from Tallahassee, and perhaps, all time.
Melt Shop (bottom left) won the competition with their bacon, cheddar, and cranberry-onion chutney sandwich. Since I don’t eat meat, I wasn’t able to try this one. Lucy’s Whey (right) served up a cheddar, apple, and ham grilled cheese. I had one without the ham.
The Sons of Essex won third place with their truffle grilled cheese with arugula.
My favorite was ‘wichcraft’s fontina and mushroom grilled cheese. It was a great cheese and they had the best bread. Their non-vegetarian option was fontina and pulled pork. They won my vote. They also gave me a free sandwich for signing up for their mailing list. So, they’re great.
I was so inspired by all of the different combinations of grilled cheese. It never got boring. Each sandwich was completely unique and they were all incredible. We left feeling totally stuffed. Who knew sampling grilled cheeses for an hour could be so filling?