Nutella Bridal Pancake Faces: #SpreadtheHappy

As a rule, I don’t develop recipes or write posts for a product exchange.

This is my business, and unless I am hired to write a post, I just don’t do it…If I can’t pay my cab driver with a jar of peanut butter, then you can’t pay me that way.

However…rules are made to be broken.

Especially if there is Nutella involved.

Nutella…who doesn’t love this stuff?

Maybe people who hate the first flowers of spring and the way that babies crinkle their tiny noses when they first learn to laugh?

Yeah, those must be the only people who hate Nutella.

Because the rest of us know that this hazelnut-chocolate spread is a gift from the heavens. I remember the first time that I had it was in French Class in 7th grade. My teacher gave us each an icy Orangina and a small piece of baguette smeared with thick, rich, creamy Nutella. Then she told us that French kids got to eat this bread and chocolate concoction for breakfast every single day.

All of a sudden, my oatmeal and scrambled eggs seemed pretty crappy.

That’s why when Nutella offered me the chance to participate in “Spread the Smiles” for Pancake Day, I was on it.

This isn’t really a recipe, it’s an art project.

Please keep in mind how much I hate art. I am so bad at it. That same year that I tried Nutella was the year that I got a B- in drawing…in DRAWING. 

However, I guess love for Nutella>hatred of art projects.

So here we go.

And…because I have weddings on the brain…I of course made a Nutella bride (silver dollar style, so I could rationalize eating 12 of them).

DSCN5584

1. Make your pancakes or nuke your frozen pancakes (I judge all the time but not for using frozen pancakes).

DSCN5589

2. Pipe out your tiny Nutella eyes, nose, and mouth (totally forgot the nose and added it in later).

DSCN5590

3. Spoon on your hair (ie, bangs made out of strawberry, pineapple, or apple butter  jam, according to the hair color you want).

DSCN5593 4. Pipe out your marshmallow fluff bridal veil.

DSCN5600 5. Eat and repeat at least 5 times.

You know that you want to create your own little bride, policeman, doctor, or president on your own. So here’s your chance!

Just leave a comment and I will randomly choose 2 winners on this Friday, May 7 at 6 pm to win 2 jars of Nutella!

Nutella: The only stuff that is bettr than money!

Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this post. I have been given product to use and give away. 

What I Ate This Weekend

Well, it didn’t snowpocalypse this weekend.

But I still ate chili and drank too much and watched a ton of bad movies on tv in my pajamas.

So, yes, it was an awesome 48 hours.

And here is some of the stuff that I enjoyed:

IMG_20140220_124247_008 Meatballs at Fratelli’s

This hole in the wall on the UES has some amazingly good meatballs. The rest of the food is ho-hum, but these meatballs are wonderful – soft, juicy, and redolent with oregano and just a smidge of garlic. They are served in a pool of thick, chunky, bright tomato sauce – a good contrast to the hearty meatballs. These are almost as good as The Meatball Shop, without the wait in line. An order of these and a few pieces of the accompanying warm flatbread makes a really satisfying lunch.
IMG_20140227_103607_872 Bliss Spa Waiting Room

So, occasionally, a girl has to get a facial. When I say occasionally, I really mean occasionally – the last time I got a facial was when Ross and Rachel were still “on a break.” 

Man, how times have changed!

Now, there are 17 different kinds of facials you can get, with 93 add ons and 104 additional options.

And, yes, even the basic ones are expensive.

But, at least at Bliss, you get an array of treats in the waiting room. Sliced cucumbers, seeded crackers, some suprisingly sharp cheddar cheese, fudgy brownie bits, and moist blondies studded with hunks of dark chocolate. 

Pair that with the ice cold carafes of lemon scented water, steam rooms and sauna, and relaxing waiting room with all of the trashy magazines that your heart desires, and you have yourself an entire afternoon’s worth of fun.

Of course I made myself lunch after my appointment. Trust me, they build it into the price.  IMG_20140227_175639_164 Sriracha Lime Salt

My girlfriend, Katlin, made this for my bridal shower and I have to say…it’s one of my favorite gifts that I received! She made 2 other salts, including an tasty fruity one, but this is divine. It’s savory, garlicky, citrusy, and spicy. I have used it in everything from lentil soup to grilled cheese sandwiches, to a Bloody Mary rim. Yes it brings the Bloody Mary to the next level. And to top it all off, she made it herself – every time that I use it, I think of her in such a sweet and personal way.

Then I drink until I need to take a nap because this REALLY DOES make those Bloody Marys addictive.

Spring, Where Are You?: The Fritos and Foie Gras Edition

It will be March 1 tomorrow.

By all accounts, that is when spring should start, equinox or not.

It’s daylight savings next week, for Pete’s sake!

I’m not even asking you, I’m telling you. Spring should be here NOW.

So here are the things that I wish were on my docket for this weekend:

Drinking margaritas

Eating light, fresh sushi

Cooking with fresh asparagus and tender new potatoes

Scrambling eggs for an outdoor brunch

And here is what I actually will be doing:

france day 1 and 2 059

Drinking hot cocoa

Eating lamb stew

Cooking with hearty beef and pasta

Making the fattiest, most decadent vegetarian sandwich known to humankind

Because it’s going to be 10 degrees and snowing this weekend.

Winter, I have given you your due, but to me, you are now dead.

Sun, come to mama.

How to Approach a Tasting Menu

Originally published at Whisked Foodie

A tasting menu is a huge commitment. A commitment of time, a commitment of money, and a commitment of appetite. It isn’t something that should be entered into lightly. You need to take the time to prepare and to anticipate. Follow these steps before you undertake a tasting menu:

photo 1 (6)

Consider the cost

It’s not just the cost of the menu. The cost of alcohol, the cost of menu supplements, and the cost of tip. This isn’t the time that you want to be mentally calculating your budget or praying that your debit card works. This is a wonderful, often once-in-a-lifetime experience and should be savored, not stressful. It is better to wait until you can really enjoy yourself then try to go before you can afford it.

end of trip 013

Will you like the restaurant?

If you hate the scent of curry, then that hot Indian restaurant in town isn’t going to impress you no matter how many James Beard Awards the chef has won. This is a big decision, so don’t base it on popularity or on something your friend liked. Be sure to go somewhere that you will really enjoy.

Give yourself time

The servers certainly can speed up your meal, but why would you want them to do that? Part of the glory of the meal is sitting back, relaxing with a wine pairing, and enjoying conversation with your fellow diners. This isn’t just a meal, it’s an experience.

Ask questions

Don’t know which wine to choose for dessert or what uni is? Just ask! Servers at fine dining restaurants are usually passionate about food and are more than happy to assist you in your choices. It isn’t about upselling you; it’s all about enhancing your experience.

Have an open mind

Who knows when you will get the chance to try frog legs or tomato gelee again? You don’t have to eat everything, but if you don’t at least try everything, you might as well go to McDonald’s for dinner.

Leave the diet at home

This should be totally self-explanatory.

Breakfast in the City

I have been all about breakfast lately! Bye bye steak and spaghetti, hello eggs for breakfast, waffles for lunch, an roast beef hash for dinner. Here’s where I have been getting my fix!
IMG_20140223_115007_989 Country breakfast at Citrus

Sure, this place might be most known for its trendy Latin-Asian fusion, but it does a damned good skillet fried egg with crispy bacon and a side of creamy, cheesy grits. It’s not mind blowing, but considering that it comes with a (spicy and potent!) Bloody Mary, the price is really reasonable. The bacon is crispy, the grits are buttery and rich, and the eggs are cooked but not at all rubbery. Plus, it’s super kid friendly, right down to the fountain where you can let your little ones congregate – there is always at least one parent there watching over all of the others.

That’s when you enjoy that Bloody Mary. 
IMG_20140217_084259_522 French breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien

I haven’t ever seen any Parisian eating a breakfast that even remotely resembles this, but if they knew how tasty it is, then they would be all over it. A soft boiled egg, with tender whites and a thick, hot yolk, is the ideal vehicle for slabs of tangy levain bread. Or, you can slather the bread in whipped cream cheese and top it with some soft smoked salmon. This hits all of the great breakfast points for me – eggy, light, filling, and savory. It will keep you full until lunch without feeling like you have a carb hangover.

IMG_20131025_202052_504

Chuao maple bacon chocolate bar

Okay, so it isn’t breakfast, but it has maple in it. And bacon. But not too much – just enough to add a really salty note to that creamy milk chocolate and almost insanely sweet maple.  It’s the ideal mixture of sweet, sharp, and very rich - there iss o much cream in the chocolate that it melts on your fingers. They sell tiny bars of this, which is great…because when I buy big one, I eat the whole thing.

After all, it does count as breakfast. 

 

Kringles for Christmas in February

Being Jewish gives me a ton of culinary advantages. I was eating liver at a young age, learned about the goodness of schmaltz on bread, and absolutely live to celebrate any holiday with a ton of food.

But, I was also denied some opportunities.

Like the opportunity to come downstairs on Christmas morning to the scent of cinnamon, sugar, and nuts.

Because, in some Gentile households of Danish descent, the kids get that every year in the form of a Kringle.

My friend Karl introduced us to this insanely delicious treat this past weekend – a little Christmas in February, dontcha know?

photo 1 (9) These Kringles come from Oh Danish Bakery in Wisconsin. You just order them online and freeze them. Follow the easy instructions to heat them up – don’t even THINK about microwaving these babies. Would you splatter paint on a Degas?

photo 3 (4) They come iced and ready to go. After just 3 minutes in your warm oven, the incredible scent of something sweeter than a cinnamon roll but with the same yeasty, familiar overtone wafts through the house.

photo 4 (4) This is addictive. It’s better than the alligator from Viktor Benes. It’s flaky and tender, but not doughy or gummy like most cinnamon rolls. It’s filled with a very fine pate of pecans, cinnamon, and sugar – it’s so delicate in texture but very robust in flavor. The icing is hard and crispy, like the awesome glaze on a sugar cookie, juxtaposing the delicate dough and the almost creamy filling. There are supposedly other versions, filled with raspberry and other fruits, but man…I can’t imagine anything tastier than this.

I wish this was a sample the company had sent me so I could send you some in a giveaway. But it isn’t  - it’s just this kick ass pastry from Wisconsin that my Danish friend Karl (Danish by way of Tucson, AZ) brought over for breakfast.

It’s why we keep him around.

And it’s why I’m mad that I’m Jewish

Empanadas and a Root and Bone Preview

I won’t keep ya in suspense – here are some delicious eats I have been enjoying as of late:

IMG_20140201_202451_680 (1)

Squash blossom and goat cheese empanadas at Cafe Frida

This place is kinda pricey and the portions can be small, but this is one of the dishes on the menu that is not only tasty but well portioned. The empanadas are very big – excellent for an appetizer or enough for the majority of a small meal. They are flatter than traditional empanadas and very flaky. The interior is creamy and earthy, with oregano and cilantro. It’s served on a rather spicy, tart salsa that brightens up the whole dish. I highly recommend this and a potent frozen blood orange margaritas for a snack at the bar.

IMG_20140204_202354_979

Skate with lemon and butter at Ed’s Chowder House

Been awhile since I ate here, right? The service has definitely gone down a notch, but the fish is as excellent as ever. This skate is as good as I have had anywhere, and that includes a very salty version that I once had at Balthazar. This is crispy, moist, and flaky with a mild taste, similar to bass. It’s served in an almost too buttery sauce – rich, tart with lemon, and swimming with herbs and leeks. It’s picatta style to the max, complete with buttery crushed potatoes. It’s super rich and a little heavy for a fish dish, which makes it ideal for a winter night.

IMG_20140130_121034_580

Deviled Eggs from Root and Bone

Top Chef’s Jeff McInnis is bringing his southern fried cookin’ up north and when it hopefully opens this spring in Alphabet City, expect the lines to go around the block. At this preview event, I had some really great food, but none was better than this deviled egg. Creamy, tart, and salty with a surprising umami kick from the anchovy – this is an egg for the ages. The perfect brunch dish or anytime dish. I could eat a dozen, no problem.

Seven Foodie Phrases You Will Never Hear Me Say

This isn’t just a blog about food…it’s a blog about me.

And I want you all to be prepared, not just for what to expect from an Italian restaurant, but how to tell if I have become a zombie in case of the zombie apocalypse. 

If I ever utter one of these phrases, it’s not me. It’s my zombie self.

So run.

Because I would NEVER say:

“Ugh, I would never eat fast food.”

“Dude, no foie gras is worth that much money.”

DSCN5413

“Oh I didn’t prepare to wait in line. That’s okay – let’s just wait for a couple of hours – I’m hungry, but I won’t get cranky!”

IMG_20131104_085745_925

“I know that we are in Japan but I just really want to go to TGIFriday’s…”

“Give me another red wine – I never get hungover!”

amsterdam day 3 029

“I honestly can’t eat one more French fry.”

“Let’s skip the appetizers and just order more dessert!”

IMG_20130808_150544_613

“Just dig right in, it’s okay if you don’t wait for me to take a picture for my blog.”

Superbowl Sunday Menu

So, there is a big event coming up.

I know this because my fiance told me that we have to hold a party for it.

I have never hosted this kind of party. This isn’t really a dinner party. It isn’t an awards show party. And there will be no pairing of wine with cheese.

It’s a big bowl party.

Wait…no… a SUPER bowl party.

There’s going to be a football game and for some reason, people are super psyched.

I will try very hard to watch some of the game and not just play Candy Crush the entire time.

The good thing about this party is that the main focus, besides football, is on food. Not intricate, complicated dishes with subtle spicing, but with the trashiest food possible. Hearty in both ingredients and flavoring, it has to be stuff that feeds a crowd with varying palates and allergies and is also delicious. So, here is what I am thinking of making:

Bombay Deviled Eggs

The last time I made these was almost 2 years ago and they were so popular that they went without me even getting a chance to go back for seconds. They are handheld, they are filling,they are cheap, and they are major crowd pleasers. They aren’t overtly Indian, just slightly spicy and fragrant – the perfect twist on a deviled egg.

Mexican Cheeseburger Dip

I mean, come on…this stuff is tailor made for a Superbowl party. It’s hot, it’s meaty, it’s cheesy, it’s INCREDIBLY unhealthy, and you are supposed to eat it with Fritos…it’s literally PERFECT. I mean, right?

Right.

Jalapeno Popper Monkey Bread

Because why just serve normal bread when you can have one stuffed with cheese and bacon?

Tabasco Sweet and Hot Pralines

These are the perfect thing to snack on in between platefuls of meat and cheese. Just grab a a handful and munch while playing candy crush – I mean, watching the game. They are the perfect mixture of sweet and savory – tasty but not too hoity-toity gourmet. This is good stuff to have sitting around the house. I might mix it in the bowls with plain popcorn.

Fig, Ricotta, and Prosciutto Flatbread

Gonna get maybe 4 or 5 cans of pizza dough and bang these babies out. Might top some with chicken sausage or duck prosciutto to make it kosher.

Might not.

These are as close as I can get to heaven. Pork. Fig. Cheese. and Carbs.

Oh yeah.

Obviously, making some guac, too.

What are you eating on Superbowl Sunday?

The Greatest Cooking Shortcuts

If you couldn’t guess by now…I’m pretty lazy. 

I love spandex pants – no zippers to zip.

I love spoiler websites – who wants to sit through the entire LOTR trilogy, anyway?

And I LOVE cooking cheats.

I’m not one of those cooks who thinks that you need to can your own jams  and butcher your own hog to make a a homemade meal truly authentic. I’m not quite the Semi Homemade Nightmare that some celebrities are (nor am I subtle), but there are a few products that I just LOVE using to make my meals faster, easier, and more accessible. Here are my faves:

Worcestershire Sauce

Stuff from heaven, nothing less. This is salty, savory, umami in a bottle. It’s made from anchovies, garlic, about a million spices, and other things, and let me tell you…it’s the missing ingredient in almost anything. It’s the key to my shortcut Caesar dressing, the star in every single burger, and I wouldn’t go near a Bloody Mary that doesn’t use the stuff. I never use anchovies – just use this potent stuff. it makes everything taste much deeper and richer, like you have been boiling stock all day just for your last minute bouillabaisse. Don’t leave home without this.

Canned tomatoes

If you have a bumper crop of tomatoes and a bunch of time on your hands, by all means, put up your own tomatoes this week. However, if you have no desire to stand around the kitchen in the heat, boiling, seasoning, sterilizing, and washing for hours, then just buy the stuff in the cans. Nowadays, there are so many varieties of canned tomatoes—imported, Mexican, organic, and fire-roasted to name a few—that there is no reason that you can’t find the tomatoes you need for your recipe. Even when tomato is the star, store-bought canned tomatoes offer the same tang and acidity of home-canned ones. The low sodium ones are especially useful, so you can doctor them up yourself. I use them in salsa, in tomato sauce, and even roast them with plenty of garlic, basil, oregano, and olive oil. 

Canned Stock

I know, I know that homemade is best. And if I had a huge suburban freezer, I would totally just make a huge batch and keep it frozen year round to always have wonderfully gelatinous, rich stock at my disposal.

But, sadly, I have only a tiny NYC fridge.

And I like watching The Real Housewives more than I like boiling soup bones.

So boxed stock makes it into my soups, sauces, roasts, and purees. It often gets a bump from fresh herbs, but come on…this shortcut is a no brainer. 

Pre Shredded Cheese

If I am making dinner for 3 or 4, sure I will grate the stuff fresh – it tastes much more vibrant and fresh, and it doesn’t have all of those weird ingredients that keep it from clumping. But when I am making 60 mac-and-cheese cups for the preschool party or 2 huge trays of tamale pie, I’m going with the pre-grated stuff. It might not be great, but it is quite good.

Cookie Dough

Because ain’t no one complaining about a freshly made cookie, no matter who made the dough.