Who can say they don't love banana bread? Warm out of the oven, perfect for late night snacking, broken into a bread pudding, or battered into french toast, it might just be my all time favorite bread to throw together and is also the perfect excuse to use up those spotty overripe bananas. Also, whose Mom didn't have this in her cooking arsenal growing up? It's so nostalgic and it makes your house smell lovely.
Last week my friends and I packed up our gear and provisions and headed up to the lush Hudson Valley for the day. I could drive for hours looking at the canopies of mixed oaks, mist coming off the Hudson River and the spruce and birch trees. This time of year is perfect, with the dampness from the rain, the late spring water run-off and the warm sunny 75 degree days. There are so many watering holes and summer hideouts up here it's silly. Today we're headed to one of my favorite spots up here - Kaaterskill Falls. On the short hike in I spotted some young reishi mushrooms growing in clusters up the side of a dead Hemlock tree just off the trail path. Once I spotted one, more and more of the red/orange lacquered beauties popped into view. It was mesmerizing. The damp growing conditions seem perfect right now.
The 2017 Tony Awards are over. It's taken me a week to recover. Wow - After a moment of calm it feels like the Tony performance was such a blur. The lights went down, the crowd cheered, hearts were tired but it was adrenaline pushing us through to the last kick of our performance. Groban started us off, we shot out like a cannon and the rest was a blur. All I remember was Keegan Key's voice announcing our long show title, trying to look fierce without falling on my face, losing my breath, it all being over and then getting on the bus back to the theatre to change out of our costumes. It was such a high and walking into work Tuesday felt like the comedown. It was as if the Tony buzz drugs wore off, we were all soberly back to Earth and got to revel in the 2 Tony awards that we get to call our own.
It's safe to say that I'm a crunchy granola freak. Like, a nutty freak. It fits right into my lifestyle. It's cheap, it's nutritious, and a good on-the-go protein and fiber filler that I can grab on my way to work or toss in some almond milk for a midnight snack or a camping trip. Good granola is just so comforting. I grew up eating my Mom's version from her Mennonite cookbook but recently I noticed something odd - combing through the confusing library of granola brands at Whole Foods that promised no oils or refined sugar, it amazed me how much these little 12oz bags sell for. When did something as simple as granola with cheap ingredients, popularized by a bunch of hippies get so expensive?
The weather is warming up, Spring is here and the long strolls around the city have started. For as many cafes and cold pressed juice shops I've wandered through here in NYC, I keep seeing these energy balls - mostly priced around $3 which I think is just insane. THE ELK in the West Village has a good version of what I mean. This gave me a hankering to try my own energy balls while having the luxury of keeping them around the apartment but with a fraction of the cost.
The inspiration for this humble slice of winter breakfast, which can double as dessert or a pre-baked camping treat, comes from the Delaware Baked Oatmeal at the Grey Dog here in NYC. It comes baked, streuselly on the outside and dotted with raisins and cinnamon on the inside and sits around a pool of warm almond milk.
Veggie balls like these are so easy to throw together, even with a small list of ingredients like I have here, I'm not sure why I don't make them more often! You might notice since my Super Bowl snack post, I can't shake the cauliflower train. They're so super tasty and versatile, so why not? At the Union Square Whole Foods lunch buffet I saw these cauliflower quinoa balls sitting in a Romesco sauce, which is a Spanish, smoky sauce made from roasted tomatoes and red peppers. It was as yummy as it looked.
It's no secret the boroughs and hoods of NYC have a treasure trove of great bars and restaurants - some old standards, and some open and close as fast as the trends carry them. Where to go can be tricky. Where to bring a date can be an even bigger headache. For a number of reasons and any local will agree with this - most date night places are NOT in Midtown West, where I work and where I spend most of my waking hours.
My first sip of puckery cranberry infused vodka came from one of my many nights at the Russian Samovar on West 54th Street. In this comfortably warm and perfectly bourgeois Theatre District hideaway (co-owned by Mikhail Baryshnikov) you can feel and smell that this place is straight out of the homeland even without ever stepping foot in Russia.
HAPPY 2017 - the year of the rooster and vision board making! There's something to be said for the simple unadorned potato and onion latke, the kind Bubbe used to make. I started making them as passed hors d'oeuvres for gatherings around the holidays and played with ways to change them up because why not?
To kick off the start of winter, a hearty & creamy white bean and kale soup will always have my heart. It’s so comforting in all the right ways. Preparing this spin on a French classic ‘garbur’ with a warm skillet cornbread or some toasted peasant bread and melted gruyere cheese can be just the cure for a blustering day.
Looking for a juice spot while working in Chicago, I found B'Gabs Goodies in the south side hood of Hyde Park, a hippy-dippy juice and vegan food spot with walls lined with drawers of Chinese and Ayurvedic herbs. The co-owner, who needs his own TV show, introduced me to a tonic he swore by and takes 3 times a day as a shot.
Over the years my pantry has become a cast iron sanctuary. Unless I'm running a restaurant, what can I possibly do with 4 identical cast iron skillets? Certain foods take on a smoky hint of the outdoors that just can’t be replaced with cookware like enamel or steel and good ol' cornbread is no exception. The way the cast iron divides up the heat throughout, makes this dutch style of cooking ideal for something like cornbread.