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Tuesday
Jul022013

Celebrate July 4th with Baci S'mores

It's that time of year again — time to fire up the campfire, set off fireworks and catch fireflies. This July 4th, make your traditional s'mores special by adding Baci chocolates.

Baci are Italian chocolate hazelnut truffles, and when popped into the center of a freshly toasted marshmallow, they'll set off fireworks in your taste buds. Head on over to Colavita's Facebook Page or Baci's Facebook Page and like them for the full instructions. You can also check out our how-to stop motion animation below:

Special thanks to Tiny Cool for the sound!

Thursday
Jun272013

Rinny's Race Cakes

Recently, I had the great good fortune to meet two pro triathletes: Mirinda Carfrae and Tim O'Donnell. 

Chelsea Piers hosted a Q & A event with the tri-sport stars and "Rinny" and "TO" good-naturedly indulged us while we peppered them with ridiculous questions like,

"How do you stay motivated?" and, "What do you eat before a race?"

To this last question, Mirinda admitted that she eats cupcakes before her races. Cupcakes. With icing. Specifically, she liked Whole Foods' gluten-free cupcakes. She mentioned something about them being a perfect amount of calories and sugar — topping off what was hopefully a nutrient-rich diet the previous day.

Here I am eating oatmeal before I race, like a sucker, and Mirinda is chowing down on cupcakes. Later on, I questioned her privately, "You really eat cupcakes before a race?" 

"She has a food blog, she might write about this!" a bystander cautioned Mirinda before she could answer.

At this, Tim piped up and said I should make them for the blog and call them "Rinny's Racecakes".

And so, I have. All the credit goes to Rinny for the idea and TO for the name.

Now, these cakes are a little different. They are gluten-free, but they're made with beets which keeps them extra moist, and some say the Nitric Oxide in beets translates to better athletic performance...I'll try anything.

The sea salt topping is for extra electrolytes, which can't hurt on those hot summer race days.

Finally, how to get them to a race. If you're lucky enough to be eating at home beforehand, then you don't have this problem. But if you need to take your breakfast with you, you need to accomplish two things: 

1. Minimize frosting mess.

2. Prevents cupcake squish (a real phenomenon.

To solve the first problem, I sliced the cupcakes in half and frosted them sandwich style. Easy!

For issue the second, I converted a simple bottle of Smart Water into a cupcake tote. Instructions follow!

What You Need:

For the Cake:

1-1/2 cups almond meal

½ cup brown rice flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt

1-1/2 cups turbinado sugar

2/3 cup cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder

4 small red beets, roasted

3 eggs

½ cup almond milk

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (I used Colavita)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Frosting:

1-2 tablespoons of water

1 8oz package of vegan cream cheese (I used Daiya - I swear it's good)

2 1/2 tablespoons of PB2 peanut butter powder (I used the chocolate flavor)

2-3 tablespoons of confectioner's sugar (depending on your need to sweetness

For the Top:

Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

Process:

First, deal with the beets. I admit to being lazy and bought mine pre-roated. I've got a lot on my mind pre-race and I don't really want to bother with roasting things, whatever they are. However, if you'd like to roast, here's how to do it:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Slice the beets in half and wrap them in aluminum foil.

Place the wrapped beets in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, or until soft when pierced through the center with a knife.

Remove the beets from the oven, allow to cool and then peel the skins off. Chop them into cubes.

Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees.

Place the cooled, chopped beets in a blender with the almond milk and puree until very smooth - so smooth you could drink it.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, brown rice flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cacao powder and turbinado sugar. Mix all dry ingredients together.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, olive oil and vanilla extract.

Add the pureed beets to the egg mixture and mix to combine. Pour the wet beet mixture into the mixing bowl with all of the dry ingredients and stir until combined.

Prepare a cupcake tin by lining with cupcake paper or greasing with non-stick baking spray.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean.

Allow the cupcakes to cool.

In the meantime, prepare the frosting:

Place the cream cheese, peanut butter powder, water and sugar in a medium bowl. With a hand-held mixer, beat until smooth. It's best to add just a little water at a time, so the mixture doesn't get runny. It should be the consistency of frosting.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, slice them in half cross-wise with a sharp knife and sandwich in some frosting on the bottom half. Place the top back on and garnish the top with the pink Himalayan sea salt (extra electrolytes!).

How to make the water bottle carrier:

What You Need:

1 bottle of Smart Water (drink the water first, you'll need to be hydrated anyway if you're racing)

1 exacto knife

Parchment paper for lining in between the cupcakes

What to Do:

With the exacto, slice the bottle of water around the middle so you have two same-sized pieces. 

On the top half, make a small vertical cut, like the tails of a suit jacket. This will allow you to fit the top half into the bottom half.

Place a finished cupcake in the bottom half of the bottle. 

Place a piece of parchment on top of the cupcake.

Keep stacking cupcakes and parchment alternately until it seems unwise to continue.

Secure the top half of the bottle over the bottom. 

Race breakky to go!

On a side note, Tim was kind enough to write this message on his photo for The Box. I used it as a Father's Day card:

Tuesday
Jun252013

Breakfast Nook Pizza

This blog is a window into our lives – John's and mine. It's our breakfast nook on the Internet and in each post, we invite you all in to have a look around.

We like to keep the nook upbeat and tidy (unlike John's apartment - egads!), but sometimes there are crumbs on the tablecloth and the napkins are wrinkled. Sometimes I haven't been at the nook in a few days and John's too busy golfing (or combing his hair).

But even if we're not around, we'd still like for you to feel welcome, because what we think is most important is not the state of your living quarters (every wayward sock, a harbinger of chaos!), but that your guest feel comfortable.

Which brings up a question: How comfortable can you be in someone else's space?

Where's the bathroom?

Can I get a drink of water?

Is this thing equipped with fire extinguishers should things go horribly awry?

These are all questions you may ask yourself upon entering someone else's space and this is ok.

When I have guests over to my tiny studio apartment, I like them to feel at home. Likewise, I want you readers to feel at home on this blog, too. If you visited my apartment, I'd tell you the following:

The bathroom is to the right and is decorated with an assortment of bike shorts and sports bras (sorry).

The water (which I will gladly fetch for you) is from the tap (NYC's finest!).

And the fire extinguisher is under the sink (possibility for things going awry: 65%)

More, than this, when I have guests over, I feed them. It's what a good Italian girl does.

On the blog, you don't have to worry about where my bathroom is and if you need to unleash various fire retardants. But I'm still going to feed you...digitally speaking. So have a seat in our breakfast nook, pour yourself a cup of coffee and relax. I've got a pie in the oven....a pizza, of course.

Elana's Breakfast Nook Pizza

What You Need:

For the Oat & Walnut Breakfast Pizza Dough:

1 envelope active dried yeast

1 ½ cups warm water – 100 degrees F

3 cups whole wheat flour (all purpose, bread, or 00 flour)

1/2 cups oats

½ cup walnuts

3-4 tablespoons ground flax seeds

¾ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Tools:
Pizza stone and pizza peel, semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting. If you don’t have a peel or a pizza stone, you can also use a cookie sheet. If you are using a cookie sheet, it’s not necessary to use semolina flour or cornmeal. Just place your dough round directly onto the cookie sheet and add toppings.

For the toppings:

1 quart fresh strawberries, sliced

1 quart fresh blackberries

1 quart fresh blueberries

a soft, mild cheese such as a farmer’s cheese

grated zest from 1 lemon

confectioner’s sugar for dusting

For the balsamic syrup:

1 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons Colavita Balsamic Vinegar

1/4 cup water

pinch salt

1 cup fresh blueberries

grated zest from 1/2 lemon

What To Do:

For the Dough:

1. In a medium mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1 cup of the warm water.

2. Stir in ½ cup of the whole wheat flour.

3. Cover with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let stand for 30 minutes to let the mixture bubble and rise.

4. After the 30 minutes are up, pour the yeast mixture into the bowl of a food processor or stand mixer. You can mix by hand as well in a large bowl.

5. Add the remaining ½ cup of warm water, salt, sugar and the olive oil to the food processor.

6. Add the walnuts, pulsing to chop them finely.

7. Combine the remaining 2 ½ cups whole wheat flour, ½ cup oats and ground flax seeds in a bowl. Slowly begin to add this mixture to the food processor, ½ cup at a time.

8. The dough will start to hold together and form into a ball.

9. When this happens, remove the dough from the bowl, and place on a floured counter top.

10. Knead the dough until it is smooth. This may take about 10 minutes.

11.  Dust the dough lightly all over with flour and place in a large bowl, covered with a kitchen towel.

12. Let it rise for 1 hour.

13.  After an hour, the dough will be doubled in size. Punch it down in the center and divide the dough into four or five equal parts.

14.  Form each part into a smooth ball and let them rise, covered, on a floured surface for 30 minutes.

 You can store the dough covered, overnight in the refrigerator, or use it immediately. If you chill it overnight, allow the dough to come to room temperature before using it.

Before you top your pizza, heat your oven to 500 degrees F. If you are using a pizza stone, place the stone in the oven and heat it up for at least 30 minutes prior to baking on it.

This dough will be slightly less bouncy and pliable, as it has less gluten than traditional white flour crust. Gently press out the dough from the center on a floured surface until you have a flat, round disc, about 6-7 inches in diameter.

Take out your pizza peel and dust it with semolina flour or cornmeal.

Place your stretched dough onto the dusted peel. Make sure that you can easily slide the dough around on the peel.

Now you are ready for toppings!

Spread the farmer’s cheese over the top of the stretched out dough.

Layer the strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries over the top of the cheese.

Slide the pizza in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the berries start to pop and ooze purple juice over the surface of the pie.

Remove from the oven, and sprinkle with fresh lemon zest and confectioner’s sugar. Drizzle with the blueberry balsamic syrup (recipe follows) and serve with coffee or tea!

For the Balsamic Syrup:

In a small sauce pan, heat the sugar and balsamic vinegar together until the sugar has dissolved. Add remaining ingredients; bring to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, until the blueberries pop and become soft.

Set-aside. (Can be made a day in advance; heat slightly or bring to room temperature before serving)
NOTE: I used Colavita oil and vinegar products for this recipe, as this is June's Slice of the Month installment for Colavita's monthly Facebook pizza feature. Please go check them out on Facebook to download the fancy PDF cookbooklet!

 

Thursday
Jun202013

Hobby's Delicatessen in Newark, NJ

I'm certainly not an authority on much.  Italian food, 90's Hip Hop, organizing bachelor parties and the movie "Heat", perhaps I'm an authority on, but not much else.  I'm certainly not an authority on Jewish Delicatessens, but, damnit, I do know a good sandwich when I have one. And at Hobby's Deli in Newark, New Jersey, I "discovered" a classic.

I say "discovered" because I think I'm the only attorney in Northern New Jersey who only recently visited Hobby's.  I heard about it, sure - most commonly during an internship at the US Attorney's Office in particular - but chalked up its praises as mere hype from the unrefined palates of attorneys.  After all, what did boring lawyers know about good food?  Alas, on a recent trip to the Federal Courthouse in the Brick City, I finally made my first stop to Hobby's and what a delicious experience it was. 

I arrived at Hobby's thanks to the heady guidance of one of my cooler bosses at my law firm, who deemed it appropriate to extend our brief stay in Newark owing to our (his, really) victory on a bail hearing.  He's also Jewish, which helped in ordering some other menu mainstays (like knish).  Above you can see a white tomato, which was actually pickled; a first for me and honestly quite crisp and delicious.  As advised by my waitress, a Dr. Browns root beer must be accompanied by my soon to be eaten corned beef sandwich.  It was quite refreshing. L'chaim!

The Root beer came in handy when washing down the flaky, moist and substantial knish.

And there she is.  A beautiful, towering, corned beef sandwich that is as tender as can be.  The corned beef is pickled on the premises, and perfectly scrumptious, salty, moist, and robust.  Each bite is faintly accompanied by a subtle "squish" sound, owing to the fine craftsmanship and delicate texture of the sliced meat.  To dress it up a bit - and this is encouraged, I promise - I slap on some of Hobby's wonderfully spicy mustard which acts as the perfect sidekick to it all.  A brilliant combination.  The bread is fresh, sturdy, but not overwhelming or distracting towards the meat.  Really an amazing sandwich.

My boss even introduced me to one of the owners, Marc Brummer, who could not have been friendlier and more appreciative of my enthusiastic praise of the corned beef. 

Overall, the entire experience at Hobby's was more than worth it and I'll definitely be coming back.  Never has a potential trip to the Federal Courthouse in Newark been so appetizing.

Overall Experience - Animal House

 

Friday
Jun072013

Super Foods Cookbook

Good morning! It's a rainy morning here in New York City. The usual cats and dogs are teeming from the gray clouds above. I'd like to bring a little color to this gray day for you... a little color in the form of food.

SUPER FOODS! I know it's been a little while since I last posted. I've been working. On this cookbook, in fact. It was released via Colavita's Facebook page last week, and I'd like to share it with you here and now.

First, pretty please with sugar in the raw on top, make your way to Colavita's Facebook page and like them. You'll be able to download all kinds of crazy goodness in the form of cookbooks. These cookbooks are usually produced by yours truly, so I have an agenda. 

And the agenda is stuffing you full of good for you food that also tastes amazing. Take for example the following, featured in the book:

The roasted beets and pineapples sit on a tart made of graham cracker crumbs and walnuts, with just a touch of sugar. A little tangy goat cheese and fresh mint make it all come alive. I made this from the Morristown satellite office and fed it to The Box and John for dinner. The Box and John don't do veggies. But they did this tart. And went in again for seconds. You should do it too.

Or how about:

This pasta is so simple your pet monkey could do it. The giant stove top wok is an asset, but not a requirement — a regular skillet or frying pan works just as nicely. As a bonus, if you're in a time crunch, you can use frozen shrimp. So get that pet monkey to work! I mean, he WAS just lying about on the sofa diminishing your supply of Kettle Chips, was he not? This is a better use of his time.

If you're into grains, you'll love this salad Farro, Beet Greens and Salmon Salad:

Did you know you could eat the green tops of beets? You can – and they are packed with vitamins and actually taste good. The cucumber and mint dressing give this salad a light and summer taste. Throw it on your outdoor picnic table this summer, with some Watermelon Mojito's on the side... Hey, I'm here to help.

I can't leave out breakfast, my favorite meal of the day. These Blueberry and Oat Pancakes are not your run-of-the-mill breakfast cake, although they will keep you running around the mill, as they're packed with good, energy-providing grains. A little blueberry balsamic syrup gives these cakes a tangy sweetness.

But this isn't all you'll get! If you call now, you get this FREE set of Japanese kitchen knives! 

No, you won't. Sorry, I got carried away. But you WILL get more recipes. The above are just a few of the featured dishes. Have I won you over? If so, click here and download your PDF. These recipes are perfect for summer time. Perfect for outdoor parties. Perfect for feeding families, or even just yourself. I've tried all of them and they have my stamp of approval. I hope they get yours too.

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