Category: Food

The Perfect 4th of July Side: Watermelon, Feta and Mint Salad

The Perfect 4th of July Side: Watermelon, Feta and Mint Salad

watermelonfeta

I think I have said this on the blog before, but summer is my absolute favorite season for cooking. Fresh, light ingredients and pounds and pounds of fruit make me just love it. This salad is a perfect combination of fresh and fruity, and is a great accompaniment to a July 4th BBQ. The mint and melon are refreshing, the farro is nutty, and feta and olive oil finish it perfectly.

This is also a really great meal for those of us looking to watch our waist-lines on a holiday that dishes out a hefty dose of greasy meats and sides. I love watermelon salads, and always order them on the seasonal menus from my favorite restaurants. Usually with cucumber and feta, they are always delicious. However, with the farro added this can become a completely filling meal, totally suitable for a quick dinner.

Farro is my new grain obsession. I know quinoa is trendy right now, and it is delicious; but farro has even more protein than quinoa, and its rice-like texture is so good in salads or served warm with tofu and veggies! I sort of made this recipe up based off of a dish I had at a restaurant, so I encourage you to mess around with the ingredients.

photo-21-1024x768

You will need:

  • Watermelon- (duh) I bought a quarter of a watermelon and probably ate half of it while I was cooking (oops). I would say cut it up and use as much as you can manage not to eat.
  • Farro- 1 cup (dry) should cook more than enough for 4 servings
  • Mint
  • Feta (the more the better, as is true of all cheese)
  • Spring Mix
  • Baguette- Try not to eat this either

To Prepare:
photo-1-1024x768

  1. Cut up (or if you are lazy buy it pre-cut) all the watermelon into bite-size chunks. Cut the mint and leave it sprinkled on the watermelon while you make everything else.
  2. Prepare the farro as instructed on the back of the package (usually this takes like 15 min).
  3. Put some lettuce into individual bowls. I don’t like to serve this in one big bowl because it is not really the kind of salad that you toss.
  4. Top with a heaping spoonful of farro (chilled for a bit after cooking so that it doesn’t wilt the lettuce).
  5. Add a ton of feta.
  6. Put some watermelon and mint on top of that.
  7. Dress with olive oil and balsamic.
  8. Serve with some crusty baguette.

Seriously that was like the easiest thing to ever make in the history of ever. Also it is really really good and looks impressive because it has fancy ingredients! Happy 4th of July beauties!

Veggie Tempeh Chili

Veggie Tempeh Chili

For those of you who don’t know, I haven’t eaten meat (unless it was accidentally, because that has happened…) since I was nine. I was a weird kid. I would always eat my vegetables first, and I would rather go to bed without dessert than eat my chicken. Being a vegetarian was a natural transition for me. I don’t give it much thought, because it is simply an intrinsic part of who I am. Being a vegetarian seems like a pretty common thing in today’s society, but just in case…here are the responses to questions that I get asked most if you were wondering:

“How do you find places to eat?” I have been to over 20 countries, and I have never had a problem maintaining my diet. I may not want to go to a BBQ restaurant with you, and I won’t pretend I am not a picky eater, (for reasons other than my vegetarianism) but I will find something to eat. Please don’t worry about me! (I hate going to other people’s houses and having people fuss over my diet. Literally, I will bring something for myself, don’t change a menu around for me PLEASE!

“Don’t you just want a hamburger?” I never ever crave meat. I think it smells good when it is cooking though…

“Are you a vegan?” I eat eggs/dairy. I don’t like the taste of eggs or milk, but I will eat them if they are in something. I am not a vegan (despite many failed attempts).  Cheese is amazing. Sorry I’m not sorry.

If you care to know more, feel free to comment below or shoot me an email! The following recipe has got to be one of my personal favorite veggie recipes. I love southwestern inspired food, and this tempeh chili will put other veggie chilies to shame. I have had plenty of chilis that were a poor excuse for weird bean soup. My boyfriend–a meat-eater–loves this stuff and laps it up one bowl at a time. Its a great meal to make on a Sunday and reheat throughout the week as well!

You will need:

  • 1 15oz can Kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15oz can Black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15oz can Garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 habanero pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 32oz can crushed tomatoes (I like to use the fire roasted kind)
  • 1 package of tempeh
  • 7 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 handful of dark chocolate chips  (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

I like to add shredded cheese, hot sauce and diced avocado on top. You can also add tortilla chips and Greek yogurt (or sour cream).

To cook:

  • Cut up the tempeh into bite size pieces. Saute in a little bit of olive oil for 5-7 minutes, until the tempeh browns. Set aside.
  • Chop up the onions and peppers and saute in a pot with oil until they start to brown, then add the garlic and corn and let cook for an additional few minutes.
  • Drain and rinse the beans, and then pour all of the remaining ingredients in to the pot with the veggies (including the tempeh and spices, but not the chocolate).
  • Stirring occasionally, let all the ingredients cook on low heat for at least twenty minutes. I personally feel that if you do this for an hour or so the flavors will meld much better.
  • Before your serve, add a handful of chocolate chips and stir well. This adds a totally subtle and awesome depth. This little step really takes this recipe up a notch. Plus you can be all secretive and refuse to tell anyone what that extra special something is.
  • Garnish to your choosing and enjoy!

veggietempeh

New York City Eats

New York City Eats

I love food almost as much as I love clothes. You know that old saying about how there are two kinds of people, those who live to eat and those who eat to live? People who eat to live are so much more boring, in my opinion. One of the things I was most excited about in moving to the city was the endless number of restaurants that I could try. With about a year and a half of city-living under my belt, I have a list of favorite spots a mile long. I’ve decided to shave it down to a top 10. If you’re in town, the restaurants below are all worth a visit! If you live here, I suggest you give there places a try! What’s your favorite NYC restaurant? I am dying to know! And now…in no particular order…

rest-8-150x150
rest-3-150x150
rest-6-150x150

1. Via Tribunali: 122 Ludlow St, Manhattan, NY 10002

With one wood burning pizza oven and only one chef who cooks for the whole joint, this tiny Lower East Side spot has arguably the best pizza in the city. You can tell this is true, because every time you go there will be a table of Italians next to you talking about how authentic the pizza is. Don’t skip the bruschetta here, you’ll be missing out. Reasonably priced and romantic, this is a great date spot!

2. The Meatball Shop: Multiple Locations (I frequent the Upper East Side one)

Industrial, loud and fun, The Meatball Shop is a great way to get a pretty cheap meal with friends in a super trendy atmosphere. Their veggie meatballs are the bomb! So are their daily rotating specials, and their pesto sauce, and their sangria. It’s great for groups of friends, but there is usually a wait so make a reservation if you can!

3. Vero: 1004 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10022

This is probably the restaurant that I frequent most often, and they have arguably the best happy hour specials in the city. On Mondays, if you buy a glass of wine, you get a free panini (usually $14). On Sundays, everything (including pitchers of their awesome flavored sangrias) are half off. They have great late night and early bird happy hours too. The food is fresh, the paninis are awesome, and you can get a wine flight and a cheese plate for $20. See you there?

4. Jack’s Wife Freda: 224 Lafayette St, Manhattan, NY 10012

Probably my favorite lunch spot, this SoHo staple is one of the trendiest places in the city. It is also a great place to people watch; a favorite of style bloggers, its always on the Instagrams of Manhattan’s most fashionable ladies. Get the grilled halloumi, thank me later. Also good: avocado toast, malva pudding, spaghetti squash and tofu. The place is an interesting mix of Mediterranean and Jewish food, a welcome combo in my book.

5. The Cellar at Beecher’s: 900 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

Another great happy hour spot, The Cellar is in the basement of a famous cheese shop. From 5-7 on weekdays you can get $7 boats of amazing mac and cheese and $5 cocktails. The marinated cheese curds are amazing! Also, every time I go here, I see someone famous.

6. Talde: 369 7th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215

My only Brooklyn spot, and I’ve only been here for brunch, but this place is amazing! They have Asian fusion brunch with sriracha ketchup and ramen bowls where the broth is made out of buttered toast. It is owned by a former Top Chef contestent and boasts a truly unique menu! Get some butternut squash samosas!

7. Alice’s Tea Cup: Multiple locations

This place is so popular, and for good reason. Afternoon tea is my favorite meal of the day, but no matter when you come here the food will be great. There is always a wait, no reservations, and sometimes less than great service, but its always awesome and adorable. They have the best scones on earth. Honest. And I had an Irish grandma make me scones. Go early in the a.m. to avoid a wait because they don’t take reservations for less than six people. Bring home a bag of their homemade tea infused granola and thank me later.

8. Beauty and Essex: 146 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

A truly trendy dinner spot, this small plates place is really fun for dates or with friends. The food is amazing, as are the cocktails, atmosphere and people watching. Located on the Lower East Side, the front entrance is a pawn shop. When you go, order a few different things, everything I have tried has been impressive. Also, wear heels.

9. Calle Ocho: Inside the Excelsior Hotel, 45 W 81st StNew York, NY 10024

This is the kind of place where you need to plan to go and make reservations weeks in advance. They have a wildly popular bottomless brunch. With six kinds of sangria, unlimited and for free while you are eating, its impossible to get in without a reservation. The sangrias are all really tasty, and strong! Be careful! Once I went with Nick and we each had an entree and four glasses of sangria. Our final bill was $30. Can’t beat it. Plus the food is still really good!

10. Candle Cafe: Multiple locations

This is one of my favorite vegan spots in the city. I forced Nick to go here once–even though he wanted to eat meat–and Anthony Bourdain was at the table next to us. (After which I yelled in Nick’s face”Obviously this is where we should be eating!”) They have the most amazing sweet potato tempeh sandwich. There are also great salads and smoothies. It is healthy, but still a fancy little spot if you want a nice dinner.

Hope you guys enjoy! I can add to the list if you are looking for more recommendations!

 

Prêt-à-Portea

Prêt-à-Portea

pretatea

I had afternoon tea pretty much every day in London, but this one was by far the most special. The Berkeley Hotel, just down the street from Harrods does a tea inspired by recent runway looks. I love tea; herbal, green, black, oolong, it makes no difference to me. Fashion inspired tea, however; now that is something special! I am pretty sure the Berkeley is the only place on earth that one can have this experience, and at £39.00 a pop I thought it was a bargain! (A little more if you want champagne, which obviously I did.) From the second I showed up to the Berkeley, I knew that this was going to be the best tea of my life. Everyone calls you “Madame,” and the service was impeccable and almost hilarious (in the sense that I am incredibly Americanized and found how fancy everything was to be amusing).

Now what I am about to tell you…well I can’t decide whether to be ashamed or proud of it. In the photos pictured below you will see everything that was served to me at tea. I went alone and I ate literally all of it. (Plus a plate of finger sandwiches-not pictured) Never have I been so full in my life. I literally was there for almost two hours, taking periodic breaks so that I could sufficiently stuff my face. (Obviously I was extremely elegant and classy and did not come off as pig…) I told myself that I had to eat all of it so that I would be able to describe all of it to you. Which was a great excuse. And completely unnecessary, because honestly the concept sells itself. That being said, everything was amazing. (Duh.) Also, I ate a cookie shaped like a Burberry Prorsum coat, and it doesn’t get much better than that ladies.

Seated in an elegant room among women clad in Chanel and Prada, I basked in the warm glow of utter gluttony. It is an experience I recommend you all have. The tea also comes with unlimited pots of tea (I tried three kinds) and food (as if you need more). Personally, I recommend the pear caramel tea, it was truly unique and exquisite. Check out the photos below to see all the adorable fashion-inspired goodies, as well as my comments on how they tasted!

photo-14
Look at my fancy personalized pink pump place card! (Say that three times fast!)

photo-32
I ate all of that…and a tray of finger sandwiches…and three pots of tea…and two glasses of champagne. Sorry I’m not sorry.

photo-41
This delicious version of the Burberry Trench paired nicely with my ginger cookie Gianvito Rossi boot. These little cookies were not just adorable, the meal didn’t skimp on taste either!

photo-16-1024x1024
This was by far my favorite desert. A Jean Paul Gautier gold quilted banana and caramel cremeux with passion fruit compote. I wish I could swim in this. It was so good. I dare say I would rather have an unlimited supply of this than the actual dress.

photo-25-1024x1024
This was the best look-a-like in my opinion, and it was also super tasty. The Saint Laurent Essential “Classic Duffle 6” was made into a sumptuous sponge cake covered in fondant. It was almost too cute to eat…but then I ate it.

photo-33-1024x1024
I always love a good macaroon, and this Vivienne Westwood Anglomania oversized mint one was no exception. It had the perfect sweet and chewy texture to rival the best French macaroons out there (of which I have eaten many).

From Oscar de la Renta to Armani, and Giles to Miu Miu, my tea cake tower covered fashion week looks from across the globe while managing to be exceptionally delicious. Feeling sick from consuming probably at least half a cake was completely worth it. Treat yo’self ladies! And the next time you are in London book your fashion tea and thank me later!

photo-421

Tried and True Recipes

Tried and True Recipes

I wanted to share my go-to recipes for busy nights after work, impressive party dishes, or yummy weekend comfort food. I’ve been a vegetarian for about 14 years, so you won’t find any meat here (but Nick never seems to complain as far as my cooking is concerned)! I always look for recipes online, and the below are from some of my favorite websites, food blogs, and chefs.

1. Cauliflower and Caramelized Onion Tart from Smitten Kitchen: This is a bit time consuming, but such a crowd pleaser. People usually will fight over the last piece. Impressive and unique it is perfect for a pot-luck, date night, or lunch for your significant other’s parents.
triedandtrue

2. My Favorite Tomato Soup from Taste of Home: This soup has six ingredients, takes no time, and is friggin’ delicious. I like to make it with grilled cheese, and then cut the grilled cheese into little cubes and add grilled cheese “croutons” to the soup.
recipe-2

3. Fig and Goat Cheese Crostini from Martha Stewart: Perfect crowd-pleaser as the statement appetizer at your next party, this is classy, unique and delicious. The figs make it seem special, but it is still really easy.
recipe-3

4. Vanilla Tea Infused Granola from Alice’s Tea Cup: Alice’s Tea Cup is one of my absolute favorite restaurants in the city. Their tea-infused granola is the best! I always get it with yogurt and berries. This year for Christmas, I made a huge batch and gave them as gifts in mason jars.
recipe-41

5. Miso Sweet Potato and Broccoli Bowl by Goop: For a healthy but quick after work dinner, this is amazing. Nick tried to drink the sauce, but I discouraged him because…ew.
recipe-5

This is just a brief taste of my favorite recipes. I have a ton more-stay tuned to the “cucina” section of the blog for recipes and recommendations! Send me your favorite recipes too! I am always looking for suggestions.