Welcome, spring + chilled green pea and ramp soup

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Another beautiful spring weekend and a stimulating trip to the Hudson Valley to one of my favorite destinations – DIA:Beacon.

Modern art is my other big love and it was exciting to see the extensive Carl Andre retrospective getting installed before its opening on May 5th.

I also love sitting in the garden and listening to the Bird Calls audio work. Everything is slowly awakening again and the cherry and apple trees have started to blossom. 20140422-120839.jpg

Inspired by the freshness of the season, here is a beautiful way to enjoy those ramps a little bit longer. And the edible chive flowers are not wholly necessary but they are so just pretty, aren’t they?

Tip: If you’re buying ramps at the market, wrap them in a paper towel and seal in a ziploc bag so that they stay fresh in the fridge.

Chilled green pea and ramp soup

You’ll need:

  • 3 cups shelled fresh peas or 1 package frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed ramp leaves + ramp stems, chopped
  • 1 cup vegetable stock (*you could use more, if you would prefer a thinner soup*)
  • 1 t freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 T olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  • crumbled goat cheese
  • chive flowers (optional)

1. Heat olive oil in a deep pan, add ramp stems, salt and pepper and sauté lightly.

2. Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Add the peas and bring back up to boil, then take off of heat right away.

3. Add ramp leaves and stir to combine. Let cool slightly, then add lemon juice and process (in batches, if necessary) until smooth in a food processor or blender.

4. Taste for seasoning. Cool at room temperature and then refrigerate until chilled.

IMG_13435. Before serving, stir through with crumbled goat cheese and top with chive flowers.

Happy Easter Weekend!

IMG_1339Happy Easter weekend, if you are celebrating!

In some parts of the world (not here, alas), this is a long weekend, perfect for spring walks, slowly roasting lamb and having endless cups of tea with hot cross buns.

I am at least able to do the latter, having picked up some hot cross buns at The Breslin last night (no, still no oven at home for baking…) and having tucked into one or two of them already.IMG_1341

Wherever you are spending this holiday weekend, I hope it is filled with sunshine and time with loved ones.

If you are making your own Easter cake, I point you in the direction of the oldie but goodie s&h cake primer.

Orthodox Easter falls on the same Sunday this year, so you may as well top your Easter cakes with some homemade paskha (I’ll let you in on a secret: it is also quite delicious on its own).IMG_0073Have a great weekend, everyone!

Ramp and buffalo mozzarella crostini

IMG_1329I’m sure everyone’s posts, blogs, and visual diaries are currently overrun with talk of spring and how it is finally – finally – upon us.

Springtime means a renewed fascination with ramps. More so, it means more exciting and fulfilling trips to the greenmarket.

As someone who is always up very early anyway, I love starting my day waking up with the city, the farmers, and market vendors (and other shoppers, home and restaurant chefs…and their dogs one of whom literally sat *on* me today, quite happily so).

This dish is rustic, simple and so full of seasonal flavors…I dare you to have just one.

So tonight, it’s ramps & rosé (from Provence, naturally).

Tips: For more ramp recipes: grits with ramps and crustless ramp and asparagus quicheIMG_1325

Ramp and buffalo mozzarella crostini

You’ll need:

  • 4 pieces crusty bread (I used a sour rye, but any sourdough or ciabatta would work well)
  • 1 ball fresh buffalo mozzarella
  • ~15-20 ramp stalks
  • 2 T spicy marcona almonds
  • a pinch of salt
  • pink peppercorns
  • olive oil

1. Sauté the ramps lightly in olive oil with a pinch of salt until just wilted and fragrant.

2. Toast the bread (if desired). Top with generous slices of mozzarella followed by the ramps.

3. Chop the almonds roughly and  crush the pink peppercorns gently with your fingers and add to top off the crostini.IMG_1324

Best enjoyed outside in the sun.

As ever, if you need more inspiration: more photos here.

Red Hawk and apple crisp grilled cheese

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The perfect comfort food, a diet cheat, an extra treat – whatever you call it, grilled cheese is IT.

I am sure you all agree.

This spring version combines some of my favorite things to pair with another one of my favorite things –  Cowgirl Creamery cheese. These include: more cheese (hard and zesty cheese, this time), fuji apples, and kale chips.

Tip: If you’re making your own kale chips, you can search on the sidebar for a simple recipe!

Red Hawk and apple crisp grilled cheese

You’ll need:

  • two slices nutty and crusty bread
  • two slices Red Hawk Cowgirl Creamery Cheese
  • two slices pepperjack cheese
  • about 4-6 thin slices of fuji apple
  • a handful of kale chips
  • 1 T of butter

1. Layer Red Hawk Cheese with slices of pepperjack, apple and some kale chips on top of each slice of bread. Sandwich together.

2. Heat up your skillet and add half of the butter.

3. Grill one side of the bread until crusty and golden brown. The cheese should be starting to melt nicely.IMG_1306

4. Add remaining butter and flip. You can lightly press the sandwich down at this point too.

IMG_1323Enjoy while it’s hot!

I like to serve it with more kale and apple chips to pretend like this is a healthy snack…!

Chocolate-topped coconut macaroons

IMG_1305One way to make the perfect crunchy and chewy coconut macaroon – not to be confused with a French macaron! – even better?

Chocolate. And a little bit of fleur de sel because I love salty chocolate.

So, I guess, that’s two things.

Although I don’t celebrate Passover, it is coming up soon, but you can also make these anytime!

It’s a good opportunity to use your silpat.

And, yes, I used the oven at my parents’ house over the weekend because it will still be a couple more weeks before mine is back on… (sigh)

Chocolate-topped coconut macaroons

You’ll need:

(makes a dozen)

  • 1 1/2 cups sweet shredded coconut
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 cup of raw sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 t of pure vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (for topping)
  • fleur de sel (for topping)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Prep your baking sheet – line it with parchment or a silpat.

2. Briskly whisk together the egg whites, sugar, salt, and vanilla (if using). Whisk until frothy.

3. Fold in the coconut so that it’s uniformly distributed through the mixture.

4. Shape the macaroons using a teaspoon and wet hands to form balls on the parchment or silpat.

5.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden. Cool completely before topping.

6. While the macaroons are cooling, slowly melt the chocolate over a bain marie until glossy.IMG_1303

7. You can dip the macaroons into the chocolate or drizzle them with the melted chocolate using a spoon, then sprinkle with a bit of fleur de del or another light, flaky salt.IMG_1304

Weekend routines + happy Sunday!

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We all have our weekend routines and if you follow me on instagram, you know that on Sundays I have a coffee, then go to barre class, make kale and eggs with lots of hot sauce (more often than not, that is what I eat after the gym) and religiously read the Sunday Styles.

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Sometimes, I shop for flowers. Sunday is also cleaning and laundry day, but I try not to get to get too carried away as I tend to do (a familial trait!).

I know that some of you make waffles for the kids – invite me next time! – or walk your cute dogs, run along the marina, or go to dim sum.

Share your other favorite Sunday activities in the comments, I would love to hear about them.

It’s important to have routines and I definitely like mine – it’s a large part of the comfort of being at home as opposed to the adventures of travel.

Hope you are all having a very happy weekend (it’s beginning to smell a little bit like spring out there…)

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“5 minute” strawberry jam

IMG_1296Still playing catch-up since getting back  last week from my trip to France and to Moscow to visit family.

Spending time with my grandma always brings back so many delicious memories. As we reminisced about childhood summers spent in her garden, I could almost taste the strawberry, raspberry, and currant jams.

My cousin and I would be tasked with picking the berries (though we ate as many as we picked, I’m sure!) and taste testing.

When gran had her large pots of jam cooking away on the stove, my favorite was the light pink foam that bubbled up to the top of the cooking strawberries. Berries and sugar – what can be a more classic combination?

Here is my updated take on “pyatiminutka,” a 5-minute quick cook strawberry jam.

Tip: the recipe is easily doubled or tripled! 

“5 minute” strawberry jam

You’ll need:

  • 3 cups chopped fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 1 t balsamic glaze

1. Clean and chop up the strawberries. If you’re lucky enough to have the smaller variety, they may be left whole or simply halved.

2. Toss cinnamon with the sugar. Add the fruit and the sugar to a pot and bring to a boil.

3. Simmer for about 5 minutes (hence the name!). Add the balsamic glaze at the very end for a punch of flavor.

4. Reduce heat, taste, and cool in a jar or bowl.IMG_1297

The jam will keep, covered, in the fridge for a week or two.

Thanks, grandma!

Postcard from JLP

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A belated hello from sunny France!

My week here has flown by, as is often the case, but it was still pleasantly full of wonderful memories…

Like magical painterly sunsets20140315-152712.jpg
Luscious Alsacian fruit tarts20140315-152831.jpg
And shopping around antique markets – see above – and indulging (over-indulging, perhaps) my love for fresh flowers and anemones, in particular.20140315-153005.jpg

As ever, much more over on Instagram!

Crème brûlée oatmeal

photo2Nothing good to report on the oven/stove front.

The happy news this week is limited to a) getting over a nasty cold b) going back to France this weekend for mom’s birthday.

I have yet to finish packing…but before I rush off, I wanted to share this wonderful treat, inspired by a breakfast at my favorite neighborhood spot, Back Forty West.

Perhaps, you’ll make it this weekend for an easy and delicious breakfast or brunch treat.

This is the kind of oatmeal that will delight both kids and adults. They may even fight each other for it!

Tips: Use a kitchen torch if you have one and feel comfortable doing so, otherwise you can pop this in the broiler to get the top all toasty.

Crème brûlée oatmeal

You’ll need:

(per serving)

  • 1/2 cup steel cut oats
  • 2 T brown sugar (can also use maple sugar)
  • 2 T mascarpone
  • 1 T candied pecans
  • milk (if you’re using it to make the oatmeal)
  • a tiny pinch of salt

1. Cook oats according to package instructions, adding a tiny pinch of salt.

I usually make oatmeal with water instead of milk, but you can use milk, if you’d like. There is more than enough richness in the dish to make up for it though.

Set oven/broiler to broil, if you’re not using a torch.

2. Roughly chop the pecans and fold gently into the oatmeal.

3. You will need to use an oven-safe dish.

Scoop the mascarpone into the dish, then layer the oatmeal on top.

photo34. Top with sugar and brûlée (or broil) until toasty brown. You can substitute maple sugar for brown sugar if you have a real sweet tooth.

Winter citrus salad (revisited)

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I’m sure most of you are getting sick of this particular brand of winter weather that has stayed with us for quite a while, I know I am!

Still, citrus is one of the winning parts of this season. I love the ruby red blood oranges and the fragrant meyer lemons.

How striking is this blood orange Dama Blanca from Tertulia? It made last Sunday that much more festive.blood orange cocktail

Combined with crisp fennel and the sweet and sour notes of pomegranate molasses, winter citrus makes for one of my absolute favorite salads.

Quite cheerful too, isn’t it?

Tips: Unless you are a real proficient, I would avoid the mandolin for safety’s sake. Instead, use your chef’s knife to section the citrus and slice the fruit and vegetables thinly.

Winter citrus salad

You’ll need:

  • 1 blood orange
  • 1 meyer lemon
  • 1 fennel bulb (save a few of the fronds)
  • olive oil
  • pomegranate molasses
  • fleur de sel

1. Section the blood orange and slice the fennel thinly. Add a few slices of the meyer lemon to the plate, as well.

2. Layer the fennel and the citrus.

3. Dress with a squeeze of meyer lemon, a drizzle of olive oil, pomegranate molasses and a good pinch of salt.

Top with a little bit of the saved fennel fronds.

4. Let the salad stand for about 15-20 minutes before serving.
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