I’ve been completely digging acai bowls lately. Like, three-bowls-a-day digging. What is an acai bowl? It’s basically a thick smoothie in a bowl topped with freshly cut fruit, granola and a blob of nut butter. Acai itself is actually a reddish purple, inch-long berry from the acai palm tree native to Central and South America. People are losing their minds over acai because of its ridiculously high antioxidant levels (greater than that of blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, etc.). There is some anecdotal evidence that consuming acai berries promotes weight loss, but studies so far are inconclusive.
To be quite honest, I don’t go nuts over acai because of it’s flavor – I actually find it bitter, grainy and earthy. Some say it tastes like dark chocolate, but I don’t find it to be so. So why do I even bother? Because of it’s pretty purple color (yea, seriously) and it’s high antioxidant levels. It’s like throwing in a supercharged multi-vitamin into my breakfast (lunch or dinner) every day and the rest of the components to an acai bowl are super hearty and delicious. The high antioxidant levels neutralize free radicals in our bods, and those are the little suckers that attack proteins and fats that lead to premature aging (read: WRINKLES people) and cause different types of disease. Economically speaking, I prefer freeze dried powdered acai, like that from Navitas Naturals. It can be added to smoothies, bowls, baked goods, oatmeal, etc. Or if you are going for a thicker, ready to blend version, try Sambazon.
Bowls (or smoothies) are best enjoyed right after they are made, but they can keep well covered up to 48 hours (give it a quick stir or pulse in a blender before serving). Make is a superfood bowl by adding in chia seeds, ground flaxseeds or goji berries. I love the crunch unsweetened granola adds to the bowl and the creamy peanut butter taste.
PEANUT BUTTER VANILLA PROTEIN ACAI BOWL by yours truly
1 tablespoon dried acai powder (like Navitas Naturals) or 1 package frozen acai blend from Sambazon
1/2 unsweetened dairy-free milk like soy or almond
1 scoop unsweetened vanilla protein powder
1/2 frozen banana (use 1/2 unfrozen banana if using a pre-frozen acai blend pack)
1/2 cup freshly cup fruit like banana, strawberries, blueberries or mangos
1/4 cup low sugar granola
1/2 tablespoon peanut butter or your favorite nut butter
Toppings to taste like ground flax seed, chia seeds, coconut flakes, etc.
Blend acai, milk, protein powder and banana until thick and firm. You may have to scrape down the sides of the blender to fully incorporate or add extra ice.
Scoop acai base into a bowl and top with fresh fruit, granola, nut butter and toppings to taste. Enjoy!
Challah egg sandwich with home fries at B&H Dairy Restaurant
Egg over-easy on a zucchini chickpea waffle with basil and tomato (recipe below)
Scrambled egg sandwich with avocado on Amy’s Bread
Contadino: poached eggs with kale sprouts and kabocha squash at Maialino
Egg and cheese sandwich from Shake Shack Grand Central
An egg can unify or save any dish.
Words I live by everyday ^^
They say it’s nature’s most perfect food: the egg. All the deliciousness (read: fat) is in that golden yolk. I can get into practically anything that has an egg top, with a flowing river of flavor.
EGG OVER-EASY ON ZUCCHINI CHICKPEA WAFFLE WITH BASIL AND TOMATO
1 cup chickpea flour (garbanzo bean)
1/2 +1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg white
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 grated zucchini
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh basil
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your waffle iron; lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray.
Combine chickpea flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk together egg white, soy milk and olive oil; fold in grated zucchini and garlic. Add wet to dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Pour about 1/4 cup batter onto waffle iron. Bake 2-3 minutes on each side or until crisp and golden. Repeat with remaining batter.
While waffles bake, fry eggs over easy. When waffles are ready, evenly distribute basil and tomatoes over waffles and top with fried eggs. Break yolks so they run over waffles. Finish with salt and pepper to taste.
I love trolling the Internet for new recipes. I hate having to scroll through a million photos of food at slightly different angles and nonsensical text in blog posts to actually get to the recipe itself.
Here is the recipe.
PORCINI THYME MILLET WITH FRIED EGG
1/3 cup dried porcini mushrooms
1/2 cup dry hulled millet
5 cloves peeled minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Place dried porcini mushrooms in a bowl filled with 2 cups hot water; set aside for 20 minutes.
Strain mushrooms through a fine sieve, reserving the mushroom water; pat mushrooms dry and chop.
Combine millet with the reserved mushroom water in a medium pot set to boil; once boiled, reduce heat to low for 15-20 minutes or until water is absorbed and grains have “sprouted”. Remove from heat and let stand covered for 10 minutes.
While the millet cooks, warm olive oil in a small skillet on medium heat. Add minced garlic, chopped mushrooms and thyme; sauté until the the mushrooms are soft and mixture fragrant, about 2-4 minutes. Remove from heat.
Fluff millet with a fork and mix in mushroom mixture.
Fry eggs using the leftover oil residue used to sauté the mushrooms; top mushroom millet with fried eggs and salt and pepper to taste.
Note: To make this dish even more decadent, I used truffled salt to add a sprinkle of richness.
** This post is a paid article in collaboration with Castello Cheese. All opinions and recipes are my own. **
Gone are the days of chips left in cellophane bags and watered down beers or boxed wine. An elegant, yet easy wine and cheese party is within your reach. Here are some helpful hints to throwing a successful wine and cheese party in your twenties (and thirties, or forties…) on the fly.
KISS – Keep It Simple….Sally If you’re inviting more than four people to your home, keep the cooking low-key, as in not at all. I love no-cook recipes and apps. Pickles (like small and salty cornichons), flavorful cheeses, full-bodied or light wines, herbed crackers, pre-made spreads and sauces and precut vegetables or washed fruit are your best friend. Unless you are inviting over a group of sommeliers, I wouldn’t agonize over the vintage of the wine or if it pairs perfectly with the cheese or hors d’oeuvres. Just present what you like and what tastes good to you – isn’t that what having “good taste” is? No need to have precise measurements with the food either.
Sharing is caring. Invite guests to bring over their favorite bottle of wine or easy homemade or store bought appetizer (people like trying their hand at Top Chef – let them). However, if it is not explicitly a potluck, I refrain from requiring or implying that guests bring over anything. You want to welcome them into your home, not make it seem like this is a business transaction. Make sure to have serving utensils and plates prepared for your guests’ food. Food looks more beautiful and appetizing on a simple plate than left in the plastic wrap or foil it traveled in.
Use what you have on hand – Leftover jam? Slather them on crackers and top with cheese. Cinnamon sticks and half a bottle of whiskey? Thank goodness someone brought cider because now you can quickly heat up hot apple cider with a kick. There is no need to go out and buy brand new food if you can whip up a great appetizer using food items you already have on hand. Just make sure the food you already have is clean, unspoiled and of good quality. The beauty about hors d’oeuvres is that you can get crafty in the kitchen – I always say limitation breeds creativity.
Dress it up – A lovely wooden cutting board, simple clean wine glasses, a couple of lit candles, soft music or a clear vase full of flowers (no arranging necessary) instantly class up your wine and cheese gathering. A lovely pitcher for water instead of leaving the clunky Brita filter out on the table sends the message that you also thought about your guests’ thirst – always a good idea to keep the party hydrated. Aim for table settings that look perfectly disheveled- like a model. You want it to say, “I woke up like this.” Note: An artful drizzle of honey or sauce on a cheese board goes a long way.
Break out the silver – Clean up might be easier, but next level parties use real ceramic, glass and silverware. No more SOLO cups or leftover takeout utensils. Plus, you’re saving the earth and reusing items you already have.
Enjoy yourself. Parties are supposed to be fun, right? So enjoy the company of your guests, food and wine. Don’t worry about the party being perfect – your guests came to see you and enjoy you’re company too, so don’t be holed up in the kitchen or running back and forth like a busy bee fawning over people.
Now, to the food…
If stinky cheeses are the irritable, spinster aunt only a select few take a liking to, then Havarti is everyone’s favorite uncle. Of all the cheeses, Havarti might be my favorite. It’s buttery rich, yet mild creamy flavor is welcome in any setting across a variety of palates- such as a simple wine and cheese get-together of twenty 20-somethings in a cramped New York City apartment.
This versatile, semi-firm Danish cow’s milk table cheese can be sliced, grilled or melted. Washed curds give it a pleasing mild, subtle flavor and a buttery aroma. It’s lovely cream to yellow color lends itself to being a canvas for other brightly pigmented accompaniments such as jewel-toned jams, deeply colored vegetable greens and fiery red sauces. Unlike perfectly smooth, level cheeses, Havarti has small, irregular openings, or “eyes.” I like that – ultra-smoothness or perfection (in anything) can make me squeamish. It’s quite popular as a dessert cheese, and great served with fruit and wine.
There is nothing I enjoy more than spending a frigid, cold Sunday morning with a mug of hot coffee, pancakes and some good company. Some places are better for doing this than others: in bed with a thick comforter, the kitchen table with wafting cooking smells, or Five Leaves. This small, corner street local Greenpoint establishment always has a pack of groupies crowding around it’s door – day or night. Evening on a breathtakingly cold Sunday at 10 AM, there was a throng of bundled up couples and trios, waiting their death sentence of an hour to be seated at a table. Luckily, my party of two was seated after a mere 20 minutes (HA!). I felt slightly triumphant that somehow I only waited a handful of moments whilst the rest of the sniffling hopefuls outside were still eking it out. The hostess was super friendly and cheery, which instantly made me friendly and cheery back ( I think that might have been why I won the lotto so quickly). People were even agreeing to eat on the outside sidewalk cafe, sipping their cold Bloody Mary’s in even the colder, icy air.
While I was really craving a Ceci Cela croissant, my love of pancakes won over (as it always does). After ordering an Americano (lukewarm, okay at best), I was greeted quickly by a stack of fluffy, lovely smelling ricotta pancakes, layered with sliced bananas and crowned with a bevy of strawberries and blueberries and a dollop of whipped honeycomb butter. Aside from the presentation ,there were no bells and whistles to these pancakes – just perfection. I might even say they rivaled that of Clinton Street Baking Company’s ‘cakes (maybe). That might be crossing the line. Five Leaves ricotta pancakes were completely satisfying and lush though. I speared bites of the Big Breakkie across the table – standard poached eggs with hash browns, whole wheat toast and avocado. The fritter-like hash browns were my favorite – crispy on the outside, soft and hot on the inside, with a spicy little kick.
This is a real-life photograph of the coveted cookie shot by Dominique Ansel at his SoHo bakery, taken (and eaten) by yours truly. It was $3 of pure heaven and luck. I walked in at the right time and didn’t have to wait a single second in a line. It was warm, just-soft- enough cookie, filled with lightly vanilla-infused milk. If only I could pound shots like these at the bar on Saturday night instead of bottom shelf tequila.
This is my cookie shot. To be fair, I made it at 1 AM one night when I was more than a little sauced up. Aesthetics aside, it held up very well, and it was damn delicious. The cookie structure was made using my chocolate chip sea salt cookie recipe. Instead of dairy-milk, I whisked some vanilla extract into unsweetened soy milk, which was just as tasty as Dom’s.
Since I needed to make the most of my visit to DA, I also dined on the hybrid banana bread tiramisu (underwhelming, folks – not banana-y or either tiramisu-y enough), a frozen s’mores, perfect little egg sandwich, waffle affogato and the DKA (not to worry – I had a partner in crime to help split these treats with me). To be honest, the perfect little egg sandwich, cookie shot and DKA were the snacks that really took the cake. If you have the good fortune of not getting mobbed by a crowd next time you’re in SoHo, try those out!
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons tightly packed dark brown sugar
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips or roughly chopped semi-sweet chocolate bar into 1/2- to 1/4-inch pieces
Coarse sea salt
For the cookie shots:
1 cup dark chocolate candy melts or chips
1 1/2 cups your favorite milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook butter while gently swirling pan constantly, until butter begins to turn golden brown and smells nutty, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and continue swirling the pan until the butter is a rich brown, about 15 seconds longer. Pour into a medium bowl, whisk in ice cube, and put into refrigerator. Allow to cool completely, whisking occasionally.
While butter cools, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Put granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract in a bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk manually or on medium high speed until mixture is pale brownish-yellow and falls off the whisk in thick ribbons when lifted, about 5 minutes.
When brown butter mixture has cooled, add brown sugar and cooled brown butter to egg mixture. If using a standing mixer, mix on medium speed with a paddle to combine, about 15 seconds. Add flour mixture and mix on low speed until just barely combined but some dry flour still remains, about 15 seconds. Add chocolate and mix on low until dough comes together, about 15 seconds longer. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate dough at least overnight and up to three days.
When ready to bake, remove cookie dough from fridge and let warm up at room temperature for about 20-30 minutes, or until pliable.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease the molds of a popover pan.
Form the cookie shots inside the molds, making the walls of the cookie shot about 1/4 inch thick. Chill for 20 to 30 minutes before baking.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until the cookies just start to brown. Remove from the oven, and let cool completely.
Melt chocolate candy melts, and then pour the melted chocolate into the well of each cookie. Let it sit for a minute, and then pour the excess chocolate back into the pan. Chill cookie shots until the chocolate has set.
Mix together milk and vanilla extract, and serve inside each cookie shot.