Happy Halloween! Tonight we're going to our friends' house for a little party (I'm going to be a bee, same as last year) and then coming home early because tomorrow we leave for Mexico! So this is the last you'll be hearing from me until we get back.
I plan to consume my share of fish tacos and margaritas. Here's a round-up of recipes to try at home.
And, to wash it all down:
*Image by Eduard Leasa Photography (available here).
Yesterday, I opened my email to find one from Southwest declaring, "Your trip is around the corner!" Is there a more exciting subject line? I can't wait.
I'm so looking forward to just hanging out on a beach (in Mexico!!) with a good book - but what book? Here are some I've been wanting to check out.
Lena Dunham's funny and flippant memoir seems the perfect beach read.
Short stories are great for the beach, B.J. Novak is hilarious, and One More Thing's been getting some really good reviews. Might be worth checking out.
I love Parks and Recreation and Amy Poehler and everything she says and does, so I'm pretty sure I need her new book.
This American Life has never steered me wrong, and this collection edited by Ira Glass features some heavy hitters and what promises to be compelling storytelling.
I really enjoyed Zadie Smith's White Teeth - think it's time to pick up one of her other novels and NW looks like a good one.
It doesn't matter what topic Roxane Gay is writing about, everything she does packs a punch. I'm super excited to read her debut novel.
That does it for me. What books are making up your leisure reading? Any recommendations?
Last week we had some friends over dinner and it happened to be Diwali, so we lit some candles and had a little feast.
I decorated the table with tea lights wrapped in glittery silver and gold washi tape (Pooja did the taping), some small gourds, and a flower arrangement that included these cool kind-of-pumpkins-on-a-branch.
I got a little excited about the snacks - the initial plan was blistered shishito peppers and burrata mozzarella, with toasted baguette (Pooja helped out by brushing the slices with olive oil before popping them in the toaster oven). But the cheese man at Brooklyn Fare was nice so I also bought a honey-rubbed gouda which was delicious. And I love figs, so I added some of those (Deepa took care of slicing them and putting them on the plate). Finally (not pictured), I roasted some spiced chickpeas, which was definitely overkill (recipe here).
Plus, tons of red wine. (Someone brought over a bottle of this and I really enjoyed it.)
For the main course, we kept it simple. I made a salad with some (really excellent) Boston lettuce (from Satur Farms), blood oranges (which I didn't supreme because it was taking too long and I wanted to play), thinly sliced fennel, pistachios, and a lemony vinaigrette.
J made an absolutely delicious minestrone soup (recipe here, but he used vegetable broth instead of beef) and I whipped up some biscuits to go on the side (recipe here, but replacing blue cheese and scallions with cheddar and chives).
Dessert was pumpkin bread pudding with freshly whipped vanilla-cinnamon whipped cream.
Claire and Martin gifted us a bottle of Eagle Rare bourbon, which made for an excellent nightcap.
Good friends, good food, good wine and gourds - I'd call it a dinner party success.
After the party, I put the gourds in this bowl to keep a little festivity in the house.
After all, it is decorative gourd season (you knew that was coming, didn't you?)
J and I spent the weekend in New Jersey visiting his parents. On Sunday, we went for a little stroll through the neighborhood. It was a beautiful day.
Our walk took us to nearby Conklin Farms, a u-pick farm with pumpkins with every conceivable type of pumpkin and gourd.
The farm was also home to a few goats, and Bunnyville.
When we got hungry, we snacked on fresh apple cider and hot apple cider doughnuts.
The farm also offered haunted hayrides.
Our walk home was a little overcast, but still pretty.
We also found a furry friend.
Hope you lovelies had a dreamy weekend.
Some links to share:
This post is dedicated to Bahar, who has been asking for this for a month.
I know that's not the most beautiful food picture in the world, but chicken and dumplings is so freaking good no matter how frumpy it looks.
You can't dress it up and make it pretty (if you can, please tell me how you manage it), but it is exactly what you want in simmering away on your stovetop when it's blustery outside and the world is complicated and you need something simple and soulful and warm. You want this.
Just trust me and make this, ok?
I started by melting 6-8 tablespoons of grass-fed butter in my dutch oven, which I'm madly in love with (it's a Lodge, for those who may be curious). Then I added one chopped onion, two sliced leeks (white parts only), four garlic cloves and a dash of salt and pepper. And, because I can't help myself, a shake of red chili pepper.
I let that soften and cook down for five or so minutes, then added six tablespoons of all-purpose flour and stirred it around to let it cook. I forgot this part once, and just sauteed the vegetables in olive oil, and it was fine, but very thin.
Next, a quarter cup of red wine (we had some Malbec open, so that's what I used). After that cooked off, I added a quarter cup of whole milk and four and a half cups of low-sodium chicken stock. Then I added two chopped up carrots (I left the peel on because nutrition), two chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces (using thigh meat here will not be discouraged), a few bay leaves and some dried thyme. And more salt and pepper, of course.
Then I put the lid on and let it simmer away for about forty minutes.
At that point, I was ready to make the dumplings. Two cups of flour, one cup of buttermilk (or one cup of milk with one tablespoon of white vinegar, set out until it curdles), one tablespoon of baking powder, a pinch of salt and three tablespoons of butter (I ran out of butter tonight and used shortening because randomly it was what we had, and it was fine, but I'd prefer butter).
I've infused the buttermilk before with fresh rosemary, and if you have some in the house, you won't regret using it here.
Warm the buttermilk and butter in the microwave until the butter is soft enough to mix easily with the dry ingredients (but don't cook it - I just zap mine for thirty seconds or thereabouts). Use a wooden spoon to incorporate everything.
Once you have a batter, use two spoons to loosely shape the dumplings and drop them in the stew. Before I added them, I put in one pound of fresh baby spinach, about one cup of frozen peas, and a few sprigs of tarragon. Gave that a good stir and then dropped my dumplings on top.
Put the lid back on and let simmer for another ten to fifteen minutes until the dumplings are cooked through. Ladle into a bowl and know that everything is right, right now.
Last week's Boston post had me thinking about our recent jaunt to Cape Cod, so I decided I would share some highlights here for a little trip down (very recent) memory lane.
J and I spent Labor Day weekend celebrating the wedding of our lovely friends, Vivian and Ryan. The Main Event was, of course, gorgeous and lovely and perfect in every way (even the rain! It was perfect. Did I mention that already?).
But we wanted to extend our little getaway, so we headed up a day and a half early to give us some time to explore and relax.
We stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites, which was perfectly comfortable and pleasant and I would definitely recommend it.
Our first night started off with dinner and drinks at Embargo on Main Street - a cute tapas joint which had (free!) live music when we were there. We stuffed ourselves silly, including on some of the best moules mariniere I've ever had (even if they didn't come with frites).
While our stay included free breakfast at the hotel, I would instead recommend checking out local favorite Ann & Fran's Kitchen. Fresh lobster and delicious diner classics in a cute little neighborhood joint will start your day off on the right foot.
Post-breakfast, we headed down to the very picturesque waterfront and took the Hy-Line Hyannis Harbor Cruise, which lasted about an hour and gave us a nice tour of the area, including the Kennedy Compound. We may have been the only people on the boat under sixty, but I always love a boat ride.
Also down by the docks, there are tons of art spaces to wander around and through, including the Artists' Shanties right outside the harbor. Added bonus: free music! The area bills itself as the HyArts District, and the outdoor music events throughout the season seem pretty cool. We also stopped by Gallery Artrio and snagged a couple of cute prints.
Then it was a quick walk to the JFK Memorial, which was peaceful and lovely to stroll through and has some really stunning views of the water.
So long, Cape Cod. Hope to see you next summer.
Travel by Aubree Eisenwinter.
This year has seen a lot of cross-country flights, and I'm starting to feel like I have my travel routine down pat. As another flight is rapidly approaching (seriously, how is it already mid-October?), I thought I'd do a rundown of the routine I use to get me from airport to sightseeing without feeling like a zombie.
My favorite trick is going straight to the gym from the plane - I tried this when I flew to California for my sister's bachelorette party last summer. My friend Michelle was picking me up, but my flight landed before she got off work so I killed some time at the Santa Monica Equinox and it was way more exciting than just working out at home. The friendly folks working behind the front desk held my luggage while I worked out all the kinks from sitting in a tin can for six hours, and then I was able to shower in peace and was ready to hit the town when I was done and it was great.
Unfortunately, that's not always an option. So, behold, my next-best tricks and what-nots.
First, preparation is key. As this article notes, sleep and hydration are musts to surviving a flight.
Second, you need the products (all of which will fit neatly in your carry-on clear plastic bag).
I start off with some serious moisturizer. Lately, I've been loving this Josie Maran argan oil. It's good for everything - face, hair, cuticles - it doesn't clog pores, and it's 100% organic.
I also get my hair ready by prepping it with Alterna Caviar moisture milk and then braiding it.
Once I get on the plane, I put on some sweater socks (these are adorable), drink a bunch of water, and try to sleep (or read a bunch of magazines, or get sucked in to some terrible tv marathon).
Once the plane's landing, I start getting my face ready. I love the Ole Henriksen brightening face wipes - they cleanse beautifully and make my face smell like a smoothie, which is always a plus. (As an alternative, I'm also a fan of these cucumber and sage wipes from Burt's Bees).
Next, I spritz with this Caudalie beauty elixir, which feels luxurious and refreshing.
Finally, a tinted moisturizer with SPF - my go-to is the Origins Vitazing energizing moisturizer (added bonus: it's made without parabens, sulfates, and a lot of other things that are generally icky).
Once I land, I take out the braids, shake it out and spritz some Bumble and Bumble surf spray at the roots.
Next, a quick slick of lip gloss for some color - I'm really liking the Bare Minerals Moxie lipgloss in Maverick (and it is also made without parabens, sulfates, synthetic etc. etc.).
Then I curl my eyelashes and apply mascara - a quick swipe of DiorShow Maximizing Lash Plumping Serum boosts the effect and keeps my lashes from getting brittle. To finish it off, I'm a big fan of Lancome Hypnose Mascara.
That, a quick swipe of one of these and a new application of deoderant to freshen up, and I'm ready to go.
Airplane and Dalmatians by Vitta.
Claire (left) and Pooja (right) are excellent people who have birthdays close together, so every year they have a birthday party at Boat Bar, a dive bar on Smith Street.
Last year, I made cake balls for the party and everyone liked them, so now it's tradition.
I use this recipe for best birthday cake, except I only used 4 cups of flour (instead of 4 cups and 2 tablespoons), I used regular all-purpose flour instead of cake flour and I baked in a single large casserole dish instead of two round pans. I also made the frosting, but I used 2 cups of sour cream (because that's how much comes in a container) and omitted the instant espresso.
After I baked it, this is what it looked like.
I resisted the urge to just cut myself a slice and move on, and I let the cake cool over night.
The next morning, I crumbled the cake and made the frosting.
Crumbling cake is best done with your best tools: clean hands.
Just get right on in there.
To make the frosting, I melted chocolate chips in 30 second increments in the microwave until smooth. No double boilers here, no sir.
After that, I added the sour cream, vanilla and corn syrup and stirred until smooth. Then I added the frosting to the cake crumbs and started shaping balls.
You may want to start adding the frosting slowly at first; you'll know you have enough when the balls start to hold together on their own. It's too much frosting if it falls apart as a pile of mush in your hand. That's ok though - cake balls are forgiving. Just mix it back in with some dry cake crumbs until you get the right consistency.
Once all the cake was formed into balls, I melted some more chocolate so I could dip them. You could get fancy here and use popsicle sticks so that you can dip all the way around, but I think that just ends up making more of a mess in the end. So I just dip half way or so, then roll around in rainbow sprinkles.
And there you have it: cake balls. This made 52 not-quite-evenly-sized balls, minus the bites that I snuck while I was making them.
I promise, you show up to a dive bar birthday party with these and you will not be turned away. The leftovers (should you have any) make an excellent breakfast the next morning if you, like me, believe hangovers deserve some cake for breakfast.
For lunch on Saturday, we finished the last of the turkey meatballs. That's basil from our plant we've been growing on the deck.
There was also a peppery little arugula salad, with red onions, tomatoes (from the farmer's market!), parmesan, and a lemony vinaigrette.
Sunday we embraced the autumn chill and went for a walk around Brooklyn Bridge Park.
A lot of the leaves had started to turn colors.
Smorgasburg was still up and running, including one of my favorite stands, Bon Chovie.
Walking through the neighborhood, some of the shops had their Halloween decorations up.
There was more this weekend, including a dive-y birthday party (stay tuned for a cakeballs recipe from the party) and a lady lawyers potluck (more on that later).
For now, here's a link round-up:
Lately, I haven't been able to get enough of red wine, red meat, and dark chocolate.
This kick is not what one would call a shocker since these are three things I'm hardly likely to turn down ever, but lately - I don't know if it's the weather, or hormones run amok, or something got disconnected in my tastebud region - but I'm non-stop craving rich, complex, deep, bold.
Flavors that linger on the palate and stick in the brain.
Whatever it is, I keep going back for more of the big three.
(As someone who was a vegetarian for half her life, the red meat thing is weird but I'm just going with it).
So I thought for this post that I would do a round-up of some recipes featuring my latest food crushes.
That should keep us busy for awhile. Enjoy your weekend! Hope it's delicious.