Author Archive

Cure-What-Ails-You Fresh Ginger Tea

Posted by on Thursday Mar 27th, 2014

This afternoon, I’m going to sound like a hack selling some cure-all elixir on the street corner. This homemade, heart-warming, health-giving brew is so good, it’s worth the risk of like sounding like a shill, though.

I promise, this potion of minced fresh ginger slowly steeped into hot water, finished with spoonfuls of honey and squeezes of lemon or lime has cured me of: oncoming colds, indigestion, being freezing, exhaustion, and even the Sunday blues.

I first had a tea like this in a much richer variation, a thick, sweet liquid served hot in tiny cups. You could only drink a few sips, the tea was so rich and sweet, but the taste was so developed that when we looked at the recipe we were amazed to find just three ingredients: ginger, honey, and citrus. The instructions explained a lot. Those ingredients simmered for a long time, maybe even hours, until they reduced and the tea grew syrupy. In the end, I never made it this way–it was just a little too much.

When you need to drink a lot of tea–when you’re dehydrated or feel like you might be coming down with something like a spring cold–that syrupy stuff doesn’t do. You just can’t drink enough of it. And that’s the reason I started brewing a weaker version. The ginger steeps for at least twenty minutes, so there’s plenty of spice and flavor. I can’t explain what deliciousness happens to that flavor when you add the honey and lemon; that’s the moment the cloudy ginger juice goes from a simple tea to an elixir you might want to sell on a street corner, or at least tell everyone about.

The tea has become such a staple of my drinking life that when Skinnygirl Daily asked me to share a recipe inspired by my participation in the Healthy Habits Challenge, I knew it was time to post about the brew.

Secret Ingredient Bloody Marys

Posted by on Thursday Mar 27th, 2014

Early in the week, I posted about Bloody Marys to drink at restaurants and bars around town. Now, I’m contributing to Stoli’s round-up of homemade Bloody Marys, stirred up by foodies in cities across the country. As expected, I’ve got a recipe inspired by New York City–and by people like me, those who live and drink our Bloody Marys here.

New York is a city of layers. The Big Onion, not the Big Apple. You might find the surface charming–those West Village cobblestone streets!–but then discover the grit of the C train. Or perhaps the first layer turns you off with its crowds and grime but then you ride up the elevator somewhere in Chelsea and catch sight of the water towers at sunset. The innermost layers are hardest to find, and fun because of it–the emptiest corners of the park for frisbee and the only good bar in Times Square, the supper clubs and the Saturday night dance parties in the back rooms of apparent coffee shops.

Likewise, no matter how much a Bloody Mary appears to be a glass of tomato juice, the true deliciousness lies in the tiny pinches of this and that, under-the-surface ingredients that turn the glass into something extraordinary. In my Bloody Mary, as in New York, some of the charm is right there on the top layer, like the avocado garnish. But you can’t see most of it, and you just have to trust that the umami-rich fish sauce, the spicy pickle brine, and the pinch of rich smoked paprika are there. Until you taste the drink. Then you know it’s good.

This post was sponsored by Stoli. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that keep Big Girls, Small Kitchen delicious. Check out Stoli’s coast-to-coast search for local Bloody Mary deliciousness by following #SearchforMary. Savor Stoli Responsibly. STOLICHNAYA® Premium Vodka and Flavored Premium Vodkas. 37.5%-40% Alc/Vol. (75-80 proof). Distilled from Russian Grain. Stoli Group USA, LLC, New York, NY ©2014 Spirits International, B.V.

Strawberry Mousse

Posted by on Wednesday Mar 26th, 2014

Natalie of Good Girl Style is back today to share the first dessert of spring. That’s right: spring. Please, don’t look outside while you click through this post, and you might be able to delude yourself into believing that strawberries are growing right here, right now.

Natalie joins us each month to share incredible desserts with Big Girls, Small Kitchen readers–desserts that are entirely gluten-free, but not like obviously gluten-free. That means no specialty flours or hard-to-find ingredients, just good old-fashioned butter, sugar, chocolate, cream, and lovable pink strawberries. Don’t miss her most recent posts, about Stovetop Rice Pudding and Classic Chocolate Truffles.

Ahh, fresh strawberry mousse. The pillowy, light pink treat comes together in a snap and tastes of summer sunshine and lazy afternoons. Whip up this dessert when you need reassurance that the snow will melt and we will be wearing shorts, eventually.

In Florida it’s prime strawberry season (and already shorts season, too!), so try to find Plant City, Florida strawberries for great flavor. You can also use frozen berries. If you don’t have time to thaw your frozen strawberries, just run the bag under warm water for a few seconds until the berries soften. With every airy spoonful of this treat, you’ll be transported to a place where the grass is green, the skies are blue, and the strawberries are always perfectly ripe.

Big news! This toasty piece of delicious toasted Stonefire naan topped with tomato achaar (made and sold by my friend Chitra at Brooklyn Delhi) and homemade raita laced with grated cukes and toasted mustard seeds, is not like the other dishes on this blog, the ones that exist only on your computer screen unless you go through the trouble of cooking them yourself.

This delicious piece of Indian-inspired pizza is yours to eat on April 5th in Williamsburg (at Kent & North 8th; it’s Smorgasburg’s first day outdoors), where I’ll be helping welcome Stonefire’s traveling food truck to the city and sharing bites of the delicacy above with all of you. Come say hi!

Here’s a little more about what we’ll be serving. As you can see, it kind of resembles a pizza. In reality, everything is spiced with Indian flavors, rather than being morphed into an Italian look-alike like this naan meatball pizza. Instead of tomato sauce, we’ve got achaar, a sweet, spicy, and tangy relish that’s traditionally used as a topping for rice, curries, or dal. In place of cheese, there’s a cooling raita, a yogurt sauce often paired with achaar. Lastly, we replaced pizza’s basil or oregano with bright mint and cilantro.

Though you might not normally see this naan prepared in exactly this pizza-like style, you definitely could wind up at an Indian feast with condiments, bread, and herbs on the table and find yourself eating just this combination of achaar, raita, and naan, bite by delicious bite.

And if you’d like one of those delicious bites to be yours, come try the Toasted Garlic Naan with Tomato Achaar & Raita in real life. With me. In Brooklyn. See you on Saturday, April 5th outside Smorgasburg, Kent Ave. & N. 8th St. in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

This post was sponsored by Stonefire. Read previous Stonefire posts here and figure out where to get your own naan on Stonefire’s store finder. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that keep Big Girls, Small Kitchen delicious!

The Bloody Marys of New York City

Posted by on Monday Mar 24th, 2014

Good morning. First thing Monday may seem like a strange moment to talk about our favorite hair-of-the-dog order, the Bloody Mary. Or, maybe not. Goodbye, weekend. Hello, week. Cheers!

All this winter, in its #SearchforMary, Stoli vodka has been toasting to that very same Bloody Mary, in all its regional variations–the drink can differ so much from bar to bar, not to mention from city to city. So, I set out to find what we’ve got on offer, Bloody Mary-wise, here in New York.

The Bloody Mary is an exquisitely American drink, less a cocktail and more like a culinary event, each drink creation an original moment to to invent the Bloody anew. With unexpected combinations of salty, briny, and rich, the tomato juice, celery, horseradish, and vodka manifest in tons of different delicious drinks, and I’m known to order them frequently–and to make them myself.

In my mind, there are a few ways a Bloody Mary can stand out. One, the garnish. Some of my favorite Bloody Marys keep it really simple in the drink itself, then pile on the  pickles, celery stalks, and lobster claws (!) for a meal-like topping. Two, the booze. Tequila and gin can both create great Bloodys, though nothing holds a candle to the original vodka, which just works. Then three, there’s the balance. With all the strong flavors, you can wind up with too much of one thing: tomato, celery, even ice, but the best of the best balance all these proportionately with the flavor of the booze.

So that you don’t have to traipse all over New York City in your search for a brilliant Bloody, I’ve enlisted my tastebuds, Stoli’s ambassadors, and the collective local knowledge of New York City’s Bloody drinkers to bring you a short round-up of standout Bloody Marys. As with the drink everywhere, there are so many tweaks and variations that at first it’s hard to see what makes each of these particularly New York-y. But take a step back and you’ll see. In New York, creativity’s token city, there’s truly no limit to what our bartenders have done with the famous Bloody Mary, and this round-up highlights a vast array of tweaks.

Read on for a few recipes and check back Wednesday for my take on the New York City Bloody Mary. If I’ve missed your favorite NYC Bloody Mary, please let me know in the comments!

Make the Best Burger Ever

Posted by on Wednesday Mar 19th, 2014

There’s such a victory in making something at home that you always only eat out. For some reason, I’d long relegated the burger to a meal I enjoyed only at restaurants, with favorites around the city, from Shake Shack to Anchored Inn and Five Napkin to our neighborhood’s James. But the classic burger is really easy to make at home–and to make at home really, really well.

With help from burger experts, I put together The Complete Guide to Making Burgers at Home for First We Feast. Find the step-by-step photos and discover what burger principles must be upheld and what elements are yours to play around with over on First We Feast.

Not all parts of Brooklyn are the same, despite the worldwide branding, etc. For a while last year, my office was in East Williamsburg, and I rode through a cross-section of the borough on my way from once-dowdy and now maybe a little too hip Prospect Heights to industrial-chic East Williamsburg. Anyway, given those nuances, my favorite place for non-brown-bag-lunch days near work was Newtown, a tiny Middle Eastern vegetarian joint whose nuance clearly designated it ‘Burg-ian, not Heights-ish, but anyway, on indulgent days there, I ordered the most amazing halloumi sandwich (homemade focaccia, herbed cream cheese, mushrooms, eggplant, greens, tomato, and fried halloumi). On regular days, the sabich platter was mine.

Sabich refers to the combo of hummus, eggplant, and hard-boiled egg (I posted about a sabich sandwich once), and a bite of that on fresh pita topped with harissa? That’s one of my top foods.

But lunch out is a treat for me. And so this post is about making sabich-like hummus platters at home–with the same kind of make-ahead approach as the Brisket Burrito Bowls from the other week. The components come together with just a little work on Sunday, then become a daily dose of beautiful, healthful, enviable lunch sustenance.

Because of the season, I nixed eggplant and chose beets and fennel as my vegetables instead. I made hummus using beans from a can, because I didn’t have dried chickpeas to cook and Sunday afternoon was busy. I added a little extra green, and spice, with a simple harissa-like herb mixture used for garnish. Then I kept the protein level high with the sabich-like addition of an egg, medium-boiled and sliced each day.

If there are those among you who prefer the sandwich format over the platter, these very same ingredients will deliver you an excellent veggie and hummus sandwich–just spread on the hummus and green harissa, then pile up sliced eggs, roasted beets, and fennel. Read on below for recipes and guidelines for putting together your very own lunchtime hummus platters, all based on the lunch I ate each day last week.

**How to Make Hummus Platters for the Week**

I’ve shared about a million different iterations of hummus that might inspire you: classic creamy hummus, herby avocado hummus, lentil hummus. This particular batch was made with two cans of chickpeas, 3/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup tahini, 2 teaspoons of salt, 2 cloves of garlic, and the juice of 2 lemons–all blended together in the food processor, enough for about 8 hummus bowls. You can almost always find some ingredients for hummus at home–here’s how to work with what you have.

Roasted Beets
Roasted beets are really easy to make. Place a couple of (unpeeled) beets on a baking sheet and toss with a tiny bit of olive oil. Bake at 425°F for about 1 hour, until a knife slides in with no resistance. Remove from the oven and let cool. Remove the skin with the help of a paring knife, then cut the beets into slices or cubes. If you don’t like staining your cutting boards red, pick up yellow beets. For 8 servings, roast 8 small or 4 large beets.