Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

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Mint Julep Granita

May 4, 2010

Granita is an Italian-style shaved ice. Think snow cone but softer and with the syrup already mixed in. In other words, better.

For brunch this past Sunday I created a menu with a loose Kentucky Derby theme. A big thanks for this goes to Kyle Leuken, who brought the best mint juleps to the brunch.

So after a meal of bread pudding, citrus salad, breakfast pizzas, and parfait almost everyone was filled to the brim, so it was good that dessert was basically just sweetened ice flakes. I think they were a success.

This is an easy dish to throw together so I really encourage you to give it a shot for your next weekend or 4th of July party.

Mint Julep Granita
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s Mint Julep Sorbet

3/4 c. sugar
2 c. water
1/2 c. fresh mint leaves
1/4 c. good bourbon
1/4 c. club soda

  • In a medium saucepan, bring sugar, water, and mint to a boil to dissolve sugar. Turn heat off and let cool to room temperature, about 20-30 minutes. Add bourbon and club soda.
  • Pour into a freezer safe container. It’s best here to have a wide, shallow dish such as a 13″x9″ glass baking pan. Put the dish in the freezer, uncovered.
  • After 30 minutes, whisk the mixture, scraping down the sides of the dish to loosen up any frozen ice pieces. Return to the freezer uncovered.
  • Twice more after 30 minutes repeat the whisking and scraping of the mixture. At this point the granita should be the texture of wet snow. Cover the dish and freeze for 1 hour, or up to 2 days.
  • Serve in a small bowl with mint sprigs and powdered sugar as garnish, both optional.

Enjoy, friends. Later this week, Brian will be giving everyone a recap of the brunch so stay tuned.

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Happy Easter Breakfast

March 23, 2008

Food on Easter….a time to celebrate after the long fast of Lent. It’s no wonder that Easter feasts are grand and luxurious. And while that’s typically saved for the dinner meals on Easter, I think that Easter Sunday provides a great opportunity for an extra special breakfast as well.

So here it is, my Easter Sunday French Toast (served with bacon on the side)

Makes 6 – 8 Slices

6 -8 3/4″ Slices of day-old French, Italian, sourdough, or other crusty bread
1 egg
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup half and half
2 T. sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. Grand Marnier
1 T. flour

  • In a medium sized bowl, beat egg and sugar together.
  • Add milk, half and half, vanilla, and Grand Marnier and whisk until combined.
  • Sprinkle flour evenly over the mixture and whisk to combine, until all lumps are gone and the mixture is smooth.
  • Transfer the mixture to a pie dish or other shallow baking dish.
  • Heat a large skillet (cast iron if you have it) over medium heat. Melt 1 Tablespoon butter.
  • Soak each piece of bread for 30 seconds per side, then hold above the mixture to allow excess batter to drip off.
  • Brown each slice in the hot skillet, two minutes on the first side and about 90 seconds on the second side.
  • Keep warm in the oven while you prepare the other slices. Add 1 Tablespoon of butter for each batch in the skillet.
  • Serve with syrup or warm berry compote.

Happy Easter!

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Happy Birthday Alex Kushner

March 20, 2008

In honor of my good friend Alex’s birthday, I thought it would be fun to completely rip off a recipe of his and post it on this blog as my own. ūüôā

Alex Kusher’s Seth Klonsky’s Famous Chocolate Brownies

4 oz good quality unsweetened baking chocolate (I use Ghirardelli or Scharffen Berger)
2 sticks unsalted butter
4 large whole eggs, room temperature or warmed in their shells for five minutes in lukewarm water
2 t. real vanilla extract
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. baking powder
2 c. granulated sugar
1 c. all-purpose flour
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. walnuts (optional, sortof)

  • Preheat oven to 325¬į
  • Melt together the¬†chocolate¬†and the butter in a double boiler (or the microwave, but be careful not to burn the chocolate)
  • In a large bowl, beat the eggs until light in color and texture
  • Combine all dry ingredients, chocolate/butter mixture, and eggs together in the bowl and stir to combine.
  • Add chocolate chips and walnuts (you’re not really considering leaving these out, are you?)
  • Bake approximately 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

A few pointers:

  • When combining the ingredients, I typically add the chocolate/butter mixture first before the dry ingredients. When you do that though, make sure to add it slowly, so as not to end up cooking the eggs with the hot chocolate.
  • Once you add the flour, no need to over stir the mixture. You want it thoroughly combined, but over stirring will leave you with a more dense (read: bad) brownie.
  • Don’t leave out the walnuts.

I hope you enjoy Alex’s my recipe. It took me one phone call years of hard work to perfect.

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Good Morning 2008!

January 1, 2008

Questo anno risolvo fare pi√Ļ cappuccini.

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Happy Christmas!

December 26, 2007

Hey everyone! ¬†Happy Christmas! ¬†Even though it’s still 2007, and I said I wasn’t going to post anything until the new year, I just had to write down the Christmas dinner that we finished tonight.


Our family has this tradition…okay, it’s not a tradition yet, but it will be! ¬†Anyway, story still applies, we have this tradition of making our Christmas dinner inspired by a different ethnic cuisine every year. ¬†This year: Indian.

I’ll cut to the chase. ¬†Here’s the menu:
  • Indian Spiced Roasted Rack of Lamb
  • Cauliflower and Potato Gratin
  • Braised Carrots with Fennel, Onion, and Cumin Seed
  • Buttermilk Drop Biscuits with Cumin Seed, Black Pepper, and Cayenne
  • Orange Cardamom Ice Cream (recipe not included…call me lazy)

As you might pick up from the recipes that follow, we didn’t exactly succeed in making every¬†dish to its Indian-inspired roots. ¬†But this meal was fantastic anyway and the smells and flavors of Indian cuisine did shine.

If you’re interested, here are the (admittedly rough) recipes:

Indian Spiced Rack of Lamb

1 or 2 racks of lamb, frenched
Indian Spice Rub: indian curry powder, coriander, turmeric, cumin powder, salt, black pepper
Olive Oil (or other vegetable oil)

  • Rub all sides of lamb with spice rub. ¬†Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
  • Pre-heat oven to 450¬į and set the oven rack to the center of the oven
  • Brush fatty side of lamb with olive oil, then place in roasting pan, on a rack, oiled side up.
  • Bake for exactly 20 minutes for rare, 25 minutes for medium-rare.
  • Let lamb set for 5 – 10 minutes before carving and serving.
Cauliflower and Potato Gratin

1 large or 2 small heads of cauliflower
5 small red potatoes
4 T. butter
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
4 T. all-purpose flour
2 c. milk
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 large handful Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, or more to taste.
1 small bunch of parsley (about 1/4 cup total)
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Preheat oven to 350¬į
  • Using a sharp knife (or if you’re smart, a mandoline) slice the potatoes 1/8″ thick.
  • Trim cauliflower to medium-sized florets
  • Par boil in salty water (it should taste like sea water) for 90 seconds. ¬†Rinse under cold water, or shock in an ice water bath to stop the cooking. ¬†Set aside.
  • In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. ¬†Add garlic. ¬†Saute garlic to infuse flavor into the butter, but don’t brown it!
  • Add flour and cook for about 3 minutes. ¬†You might want to use a whisk here, so that your roux is smooth and there are no floury lumps. ¬†Those lumps make for bad gratin!
  • Add milk and buttermilk, whisk until smooth, and turn heat down to medium low.
  • Continue to stir the white sauce until it is smooth and thickens up. ¬†It should take about 5 minutes, maybe a little more, maybe a little less.¬†
  • Now is a good time to add the cheese. ¬†Stir quickly so that it melts evenly into the sauce.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • In a buttered baking dish, add a thin layer of sauce and spread with a spatula to coat.
  • Add a layer of potatoes (about half of them here) and then cover with another layer of sauce.
  • Add a layer of cauliflower, and again add sauce on top.
  • Finally, top with the rest of the potatoes, more sauce, and into the oven it goes.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, until the potatoes just start to turn brown.
  • Mix the melted butter and bread crumbs together and sprinkle evenly on top of the gratin. ¬†Bake for 10 minutes more. ¬†
  • If at this point, the topping isn’t brown and crispy, throw it under the broiler for a few minutes. ¬†That will definitely do the trick.
Braised Carrots with Fennel, Onion, and Cumin Seed

Olive Oil
1 large fennel bulb (or two small ones, or three really small ones, or four…just kidding), sliced thin.
1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin
1.5 T. cumin seed
2 healthy pinches of kosher salt
8-10 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 2 inch pieces
1.5 c. chicken broth

  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. ¬†Add fennel, onion, cumin seed, and kosher salt. ¬†Saute for 10 – 15 minutes or until both the fennel and onion are soft and translucent. ¬†You’re not trying to brown the onions — the salt helps you in this regard. Instead, you’re just trying to bring out their natural sugars. ¬†Be patient.
  • Add carrots, stir two or three times until the carrots are coated evenly with oil.
  • Add chicken broth and cover.
  • Simmer on medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes, or until carrots are tender.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
Buttermilk Drop Biscuits with Cumin Seed, Black Pepper, and Cayenne

We didn’t invent the wheel on this one. ¬†This recipe is happily borrowed from Cooks Illustrated, and I’ve shared their recipe with you here. ¬†We add 1 teaspoon of cumin seed, 1.5 T of black pepper, and a 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne to the flour. Otherwise it’s exactly as it appears in the magazine!

2  cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces)
2  teaspoons baking powder 
1/2  teaspoon baking soda 
1  teaspoon sugar 
3/4  teaspoon table salt 
1  cup buttermilk (cold)
8  tablespoons  unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly (about 5 minutes), plus 2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing biscuits


  • Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Combine buttermilk and 8 tablespoons melted butter in medium bowl, stirring until butter forms small clumps (see photo below).
  • Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until just incorporated and batter pulls away from sides of bowl. Using greased 1/4-cup dry measure, scoop level amount of batter and drop onto parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet (biscuits should measure about 2 1/4 inches in diameter and 1 1/4 inches high). Repeat with remaining batter, spacing biscuits about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until tops are golden brown and crisp, 12 to 14 minutes.
  • Brush biscuit tops with remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter. Transfer to wire rack and let cool 5 minutes before serving.
And that was dinner! ¬†I was supposed to take pictures beforehand to post here, but I’m new to this game and I forgot. ¬†I’ll do better next time.

Until then, Merry Christmas! ¬†I hope you have a wonderful holiday and I will be back next year…or tomorrow if I can’t resist (again).

xoxo