Food makes me happy. And cooking for friends, gardening (on a little piece of a Brooklyn deck right now), and sharing tasty ideas makes me even happier. So I figured what better way to spread some of this happiness than to start sharing my food, recipes and tips with friends -- some of whom I haven’t met yet. I hope you enjoy...

Monday, September 19, 2011

... And for Dessert

Suggested listening while reading this post: 

It's a little strange: I have almost no sweet tooth, but I love making desserts.  I always taste them (of course) -- and enjoy them -- but I can only take a bite or two, and then I want to eat a pickle.  Except for when it comes to salty or tart desserts, in which case I could eat a few nibbles more...

I especially enjoy making cheesecake, and so for our Labor Day weekend barbecue ( I borrowed from a few recipes I've been using through the years -- including my "pecan & graham" cheesecake crust ( to put together my spin on a Peach Melba. 

Sweet Theresa's "Pecan & Graham" Cheesecake Crust

Suggested listening while reading this post (it's by the Light Crust Doughboys ;))

There are 3 components that make up a great cheesecake -- the crust, the filling, and the topping.  And while I like to change up my fillings (sometimes I make a more traditional cream cheese version, sometimes one with goat cheese and sour cream), and the toppings (the possibilities are endless here), I keep coming back to the same crust recipe over-and-over again.  And like almost all cheesecake crusts, it's really easy to make. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

(Summer) Soup & Salad

Suggested listening while reading this post (Orgone's CRABBY Ali)

We wanted the start of our Labor Day barbecue ( to taste like Summer.  A crab & corn soup and a salad with arugula, dried blueberries, yellow cherry tomatoes and crumbled goat cheese topped with a mint & parsley vinaigrette definitely did the trick. 

The salad and dressing comes together in minutes (although I like to make the v
inaigrette a few hours -- if not a day -- ahead, since it only tastes better with a bit of time), and the soup cooks low & slow for hours making it a great weekend dish.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Summer Close-Out Cook-Out

Suggested listening while reading this post:


It's taken me a while to get this this post because I came down with a bad bug and wasn't feeling myself for a bit.  But now that I'm back, I'm ready to cook up a storm (I'm writing this while working on braised short ribs) and am super excited to tell you about our Labor Day weekend barbecue too.

My husband & I really, really love to throw barbecue parties.  We've got a great big deck, which is a luxury in Brooklyn and we definitely like to put it to use.  And since Labor Day pretty much marks the end of summer, we wanted this one to be especially tasty.  So we planned out a full menu with soup, salad, two small "entrees" and dessert -- plus cocktails, of course.  We kept this party on the small side, so we could pick up some special ingredients and everyone would have a place to sit and enjoy their meal.

Early that morning I'd started on a simple, but deceptively-potent, spiked sun tea.  We have a great acrylic drink dispenser that makes easy work of this (  And so all I did was fill it up 3/4 of the way with filtered water, throw in a dozen passion fruit tea bags for a summery flavor, and let it sit in the sun for a few hours. Right before our friends came over I tossed in a few frozen lemon slices (which keep the tea cool and add some zing) and a bottle of Absolute Wild Tea vodka.  Instant tasty summer cocktail that tastes like non-alcoholic tea, so be careful with this one...

We started our meal with a crab and corn soup.  The night before the party I'd slowly sauteed some chopped onions in a bit of concentrated lobster broth (we always have chicken, beef and lobster Better Than Bullion in our fridge -- it comes in so handy).  I added in a spice bag filled with bay leaves, oregano, sage and thyme, as well as some roasted corn tossed in canola oil, Old Bay, salt and pepper to give the soup just a bit of thickness.  Then I continued slowly adding water and letting this base simmer for hours.  The next day I brought the soup back to the stove and added crab claw.  I let the soup simmer so those flavors could develop for a few hours before adding in some fresh herbs -- cilantro, parsley and this great "soup celery" from the farmers market, which is very leafy with skinny little stalks.  We served the soup drizzled with a spicy roasted jalapeno and cilantro oil that my husband whipped up. 

Then onto an arugula, crumbled goat cheese, dried blueberry (Trader Joe's sells these great little freeze-dried blueberries -- and strawberries -- that I love to use in salads), and yellow cherry tomato salad topped with my mint & parsley vinaigrette -- one of my-all time favorite dressings.  It tastes like eating a garden, in the most wonderful of ways. 

For our next course my husband marinated shrimp in bourbon (Maker's Mark is our go-to), lemon, honey, jalapeno and cilantro and threw them on the grill.  We're both pretty passionate about cooking and so I always like to put fun tools in his stocking -- this past Christmas I gave him these neat "fire wire" flexible skewers from Williams-Sonoma that are great for shrimp and veggies.  The shrimp turned out incredible and in full disclosure, this dish was all him -- I can't take any credit for the deliciousness here.

Next up: kobe beef sliders with grilled onions on little home-made buns woven with rosemary, sage and thyme from the garden, served with the kirby cucumbers, cauliflower and onions I pickled a few weeks ago (  These burgers were really easy and tasted incredible.  We picked up some gorgeous kobe beef and worked it into tiny patties, about 1/8 of a pound each.  Right before grilling we lightly seasoned them with kosher salt but were mindful not to over-flavor this beautiful beef.  We topped the burgers with grilled onions and Port Salut -- a semi-soft cow's milk cheese that has a soft flavor and melts nicely.  So good.

And we finished all this off with a goat cheese cheesecake topped with freshly sliced peaches & raspberry sauce.  All-in-all, one of my favorite dinners with friends yet.

I'll be posting the recipes to these dishes over the next few days, so check back in soon...