Monthly Archives: May 2011

“The Dusty Review” on Bromography – Discoveries of New York Foodies

Bromography.com!

I’m incredibly excited to join the team at Bromography.com, a New York City based food website that develops recipes, reviews restaurants and attends the big food events that unite we urban dwellers and our obsession with food.

My column, The Dusty Review, takes on markets, restaurants, cafes and coffee shops from the allergy-friendly perspective.  I mostly concentrated on the service and the communication with the wait-staff, reporting on how presenting my food allergies is received and the options on the menu for those of us with allergies or those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.

My second review came out for Bisous, ciao Macarons, a delicious bakery in the Lower East Side.  This review is paving the way for my review of an incredible book, Mad About Macarons, and interview with author Jill Collana.

I also reviewed the adorable cafe, Fatta Cuckoo, also in the Lower East Side.

Please check out Bromography.com and get the scoop from New York City’s obsessive foodies!

bisous chio, Macarons

Fatta Cuckoo

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Rosewater Lavender Shortbread

When traveling to perform, I get to glimpse into the lives and the vibes of different homes and cities. I’m currently performing in The Enchanted April at the Hampton Theatre Company and living in the director and producer’s peaceful, beautiful house right on the bay. It’s filled with plants and artwork from all over the world.  I take their dog, Mia, on morning walks past fields of flowers and houses with perfectly manicured laws.  From my attic suite (which makes me feel a little Louisa May Alcott as I write and draw), I can see water. When I open the window, the scent of flowers fills the rooms.

I feel extremely fulfilled from working with this character and this incredible cast, who have been so warm in welcoming me into their lives. And with some time to spare during the day (with rehearsals coming to a close), I’m baking some cookies for concessions. I couldn’t quite put a gluten-free, allergy-friendly cookie out there (both to limit costs and appeal to the appetite of this particular audience), but knew my contribution had to be something special.

The show is about four women who escape from their troubles in rainy London to a castle in Italy, where “in April it is simply a mass of flowers” as “bushels and bushels of wisteria” flank the terraces.  Eventually, they all find their happy endings, their hearts warmed by the Italian sunshine, the “unusually fresh” sea air and facing their demons amongst the company of strangers who soon become friends.

So my contribution is a traditional English shortbread cookie, laced with rosewater and dried lavender.  Simple ingredients, a little time and patience, and a beautiful, garden-scented result.

Rosewater Lavender Shortbread

Ingredients

  • 20 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened (I used Kerry Gold for the higher fat content)
  • 1 cup white sugar plus more for dusting
  • 2 eggs (plus egg whites for brushing)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 scant Tbsp dried lavender flowers
  • 3 scant Tbsp rosewater

Directions

  • With a hand mixer (or in a food processor) beat butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy, about two minutes.
  • Add eggs and blend to combine.
  • Add flour, cornstarch, lavender and rosewater and mix just until a dough ball forms.
  • Remove from mixer, separate into two balls and flatten into disks.  Wrap in plastic and put in refrigerator for at least one hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • Line baking sheets with parchment paper and flour work surface.
  • If the dough is still too soft, knead in a little more flour.
  • Roll each disk into 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut into desired shapes (I made both 1 1/2 inch and 2 inch cookies with success, both with round and fluted cutters.)
  • Use a spatula to transfer to lined sheets, wash lightly with egg white and sprinkle with sugar.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on size), switching racks halfway through baking, until slightly golden at edges.

Notes: I made two sizes (one to sell and smaller ones with the extra dough).  Other than rolling the smaller size a bit thinner and baking for a shorter amount of time, they came out with equally beautiful results.  The pictures above are of the larger ones that I brushed with egg white before sanding with sugar.  The picture below shows the smaller cookies that weren’t brushed.  To keep with the traditional sheen of a shortbread, I think from now on I will not egg wash the cookies before baking.

Smaller version of Rosewater Lavender Shortbread

My (Broken) Heart in a Pie

(Broken) Heart Pie

Broken hearts are messy.  As is this (Broken) Heart Pie.  In my mind my submission for Pietopia’s friendly competition which asks “what does your life taste like, in a pie?” was a bit more elegant, a bit more pulled together.  But I guess that’s the thing about a broken heart in a dusty kitchen.  Things aren’t always going to come out the way you had hoped.  And that’s okay.  Just like I will be.

So, “what does my life taste like, in a pie?” 

Red fruits, lots of them; rich and luscious and sweet and syrupy.  Candied nuts.  Ginger.  Cinnamon.  Molasses.  Warm flavors.  All things ripe and sweet and full of color and bursting with love.  For as much as my heart is very much broken, it is still bursting with love.  Both for the person who broke it, and for myself.  I’ve never been in such a humbled position.

So, the creation.  I decided to cut myself some slack and not make homemade ginger molasses cookies, as I’m not in my apartment with my arsenal of tools.  I picked up a box of Ginger Cookies with Sliced Almonds from Pamela’s Products.  They’re very moist and gluten and dairy free, so all I had to do was crush them, mix them with about 3 Tbsp of melted unsalted butter, press into a pie plate and bake for a bit.  I should have bought two boxes, to make a fuller crust, or gotten off my tush and made a pie crust as I have dozens for times before.  But again, dusty.  So the crust only covers the bottom and slightly up the sides.

I guess this is more like a (Broken) Heart Cobbler.  Same difference.

The recipe for the filling is below, and I suggest your favorite sweet crust – using a ginger snap or molasses cookie seems to suit these fruits perfectly.  And because of the cookies I used this pie was gluten-free.  And had I used Earth Balance instead of the butter in the crust, it’d be dairy-free too.

While I only had a small bite of the final product, I can promise you this pie (cobbler, whatever), is very luscious, very sweet, and almost sanguine.  The cast* gobbled it down after our run-through tonight and seemed pleased, saying they were fortified with the fruit and nut combination, and it disappeared quickly.

I didn’t tell them the name: (Broken) Heart Pie.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups fresh cherries, pitted
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh, sliced strawberries
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries, whole
  • 1/2 cup dried, unsweetened cherries
  • 1/2 cup candied almonds (I used sweet cinnamon almonds roasted from Whole Foods, but here’s a solid recipe from Food.com).
  • 1/2 cup sugar, honey or some form of sweetener
  • 4 Tbsp cornstarch, tapioca starch or arrowroot
  • 1 pie crust of choice

Directions

  • Prepare whichever pie crust you prefer, and blind-bake it (bake it without anything in it) until done.  Remove from heat while you prepare the filling.
  • Place the pitted cherries in a large, preferably non-stick pot or dutch oven.  Bring to medium heat and allow some of the cherry juices to reduce, around five minutes.
  • Add the raspberries and strawberries, and continue to cook until the mixture first bubbles with juice, and then begins to reduce, about 8 minutes.  You want the mixture to still have some juice, but not so much that it’s overwhelming the fruit.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Whisk together the sugar and starch, and pour over fruit.  Mix thoroughly until incorporated (if you’re using honey, add that first and mix in, and then the starch).
  • Return to low heat and continue stirring gently until the mixture thickens.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  • When almost cool, stir in dried cherries and almonds.
  • Fill crust.
  • Set in the refrigerator until completely chilled before serving.

*Shameless plug: I’m performing in Enchanted April at the Hampton Theater Company, running from May 26th to June 12th in Quogue, New York.  If you’re near the Hamptons, please come check it out. It’s a darling show with a lot of heart, and some really challenging and fulfilling moments for me onstage.  And I’ll be selling garden shortbread cookies at the concessions.

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