Archives for category: Brooklyn

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This was somewhat of a magical spring weekend in Brooklyn. Finally, warmth. Finally, a reason to use sunscreen. Finally, dust off the bike and get in the park. I didn’t waste a minute of it. Saturday I was at the farmer’s market in Grand Army Plaza plucking asparagus and radishes (post to come soon). The cherry blossoms made a rosé carpet of petals. Today it was the Fifth Avenue market in Park Slope, stopping by to visit friends at the Butterstein’s kettle corn stand and Runner & Stone‘s tent for Peter Endriss’s almond croissants and rye miche. Other weekend treats included nettle gnochi (from Runner & Stone’s brick-and-mortar restaurant in Gowanus), tatsoi dressed with lemon and olive oil that I made at home, and these chocolate coconut date bars. Raw, vegan. Inspired by fellow blogger Emily von Euw’s recipe for chocolate cream caramel bars over at This Rawsome Vegan Life.

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My friend Jill and I made some substitutions which ultimately worked well but left us with more of a peanut-butter-and-jelly style bar than a chocolate-cream-caramel. We substituted a cup of dates in the nut butter layer with a cup of dried cherries (because we ran out of dates, oops!); and we used peanut butter instead of cashew butter mostly because it’s cheaper. Next time though I think I’ll try with the cashew butter and dates, but this version is lip-smacking. And there is no baking, no heat involved. All you need is a blender or food processor.

And go see the new Jon Favreau movie Chef. It’s the story of a father learning how to get close to his son. It’s a story about how to make the best Cubanos. About how not to settle in life. Just don’t watch this movie hungry like I did.

I also include a photo below of the new Dan Graham installation on the Met’s rooftop garden. If you’re in New York, go see it!  The views, even on a rainy misty evening, are sublime.

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Chocolate Coconut Date Bars (Raw & Vegan)
Adapted from This Rawsome Vegan Life

For the crust:
1 1/4 cup almond flour (or 1 cup almonds)
1 cup dates
pinch of salt

For the nut butter layer:
1/2 cup peanut butter or cashew butter
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup dried cherries or dates

For the chocolate layer:
1/3 cup coconut oil
2-3 tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 cup sweetener (I used date syrup; maple syrup or honey would work)
Sea salt, for sprinkling

To make the crust:
Blend the almonds (or almond flour) with the dates in a food processor or blender until smooth and stuck together. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of a loaf pan or 8 x 8 baking pan lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate while you prepare the rest.

To make the remaining two layers:
Mix the nut butter, coconut oil, and dried cherries or dates in your food processor or blender until smooth. Pour over the slightly chilled crust layer. Refrigerate while you prepare the final layer. Wipe out your blender and add the remaining coconut oil, cocoa powder, and sweetener. Blend until smooth and pour this final layer on top. Chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Or in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Before serving sprinkle some Maldon sea salt flakes over the top.

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A while back I acquired a yogurt maker. I don’t remember how or when or from whom exactly. But about the time I started making my own kimchi and kombucha I started fermenting my milk too. [Insert Brooklyn joke here.]

Making yogurt is almost foolproof. Like making ricotta or almond milk or tempeh. (Ok, making tempeh isn’t really easy at all but you should read this post by Lagusta if you want to learn how.) Herein lies the key: start with good milk. I’m probably not supposed to advocate for raw milk but let’s just say the less pasteurized the more good bacteria and the more tangy and flavorful your yogurt will be. I use Evans’ Farmhouse milk from upstate New York which I can get at my local food coop. They maintain full pasture-based cows and it’s a family owned farm. As Anne Saxelby was quoted as saying in the Times, “This is butter.”

I’ll also just say for all my vegans out there, take heart. You can make non-dairy yogurt at home too. I’ve been making my own yogurt for a while now so I have my own culture to work from. I just save a little from each previous batch I make to mix with the new milk. You can also buy a single-serving container of yogurt and use that as a starter, or use a starter like Belle+Bella. I like theirs because it’s non-gmo and works well with soy, almond, or other kinds of milks.

As with most things I make and document on this blog, I save neither time nor money by going the homemade route. Would it be easier to go into my local grocery store and buy a quart of Stonyfield yogurt? Yes. Cheaper? Probably. But would it taste as good? It’s also about avoiding processed food and additives when I can. I don’t do this religiously nor aspire to (until I become a yoga teacher who lives in Vermont and makes pottery in about twenty years.) Until then, I dabble in the fermenting arts when I can. You should give it a try.

Homemade Yogurt
Makes approx. 1 quart of yogurt

1 quart milk
1 packet (5 g) of yogurt starter like Belle+Bella’s Yogo or 1 c yogurt at room temperature

1. Heat 1 quart or liter of milk to approximately 180 degrees F (82C).
2. Let the milk cool to approx. 108F (42C).
3. Stir either your packet of starter or your cup of yogurt with a small amount of the cooled milk and mix well.
4. Combine this mixture with the rest of the milk and stir well.
5. Keep warm at approx. 112F (44C) for at least five hours and up to about 12. You can do this in your oven but it really is a lot easier to use a yogurt maker.
6. Refrigerate for a few hours before eating.

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Friday night I saw the the film The Lunchbox, a love story of sorts centered around Mumbai’s incredibly efficient lunchbox delivery system. If you watch this movie hungry your stomach will be grumbling throughout, craving the mouth-watering curries that the lucky character Saajan gets to eat each day for lunch. It also made me want to remake my red lentil tarkaspicy coconut curry, and quick curry.

But this post takes a different tack. Inspired by the craze of cross-pollinating baked goods all over this town I read Julia Moskin’s story in this week’s Times with interest. I can’t really say or write “scuffin” without smirking (cronut is easier for some reason), so I’m not calling these that. These are basically muffins filled with jam. I didn’t include the cream from the original recipe although I’m sure that would be tasty (I just rarely have cream on hand and it didn’t seem totally necessary here). I also added whole grain rye flour instead of using all-purpose pastry flour, making for a richer, slightly denser flavor that I like, kinda the philosophy of Tartine’s Book No. 3, on baking with whole grains.

If you’re avoiding butter and eggs (I’m looking at you my vegan friends) you could substitute coconut oil for the butter, and half a mashed banana for the egg. Check out this post for a few different vegan egg replacements for baking. And if you use the coconut oil instead of butter, use 1/4 c additional coconut oil instead of the olive oil that’s called for below, that will just keep for a more consistent flavor.

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Whole Grain Muffins with Jam
adapted from Julia Moskin, The New York Times

4 tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for greasing muffin tins
1 c whole-wheat flour
3/4 c rye flour (you can use all-purpose or any other type you like)
1/4 c wheat germ
3 tbsp raw sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 c whole milk
1/4 c olive oil
approx. 1/2 c of your favorite fruit jam

Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease 12 muffin cups with butter and set aside. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Melt the butter and add to the dry ingredients, mixing with a fork until just combined.

In a separate bowl whisk together the egg (or 1/2 banana if using), milk, and olive oil, and add to the dry ingredients until just combined.

Scoop the dough into the muffin tins, reserving about 1/4 of the dough for topping. Make a small well in the dough and drop in a spoonful of your favorite fruit jam. Using the remaining dough cover the tops of the muffins, across the top you can scatter a little sugar, or flax seeds, or poppy seeds, crushed nuts might be good too.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes until browned. Let cool then, using a butter knife, transfer out of the tins to a rack.

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Yields 12 muffins

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