Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wine Wednesdays - Friendsgiving Edition

This past Sunday I hosted my second annual Friendsgiving, and boy did we step up our game.  While last year was great, this year we really took things to the next level, amazing new recipes, fabulous wine, and of course many laughs. 

Thanksgiving really is my favorite meal.  This year feels particularly exciting as I missed out last year by going to Morocco instead of home.  And while the trip was wonderful, lamb tagine just doesn't exactly have the same nostalgia as turkey!  And I missed my family.  Speaking of, I'm on a plane as we speak heading home for the week, just beating super-storm Boreas, guess it's going to be a brutal winter!

Anyways, back to the food, and more importantly the wine!  My friend Sarah brought a Beaujolais Villages 2013 Nouveau that was particularly tasty!  She asked the clerk at her local wine shop for a "red wine for mostly white drinkers" and he nail it with his suggestion!  Light, well balanced, fruity, with a slightly spicy bite on the finish.  It was the perfect compliment to our meal.
So many of the recent wine newsletters have highlighted what to bring for Thanksgiving, and Beaujolais has been listed several times, but this was my first experience with the varietal.  Hailing from the region just south of Burgundy, Beaujolais' are made from the Gamay grape.  The unique thing about Beaujolais is that the wine is harvested, bottled and released all within the same year, no aging required.  The wine is typically released the 3rd Thursday in the month of November, making it the perfect Thanksgiving wine.  
I was pretty proud of my table scape!
Hot flashes on the coldest day of the year! - Just kidding, my apartment gets unbearably hot!
Yay for friends in small spaces!

She's back!  My original NY roomie Emily just moved in around the corner!

Ina Garten's roasted turkey roulade

The spread!

It's a miracle this all came out of my teeny tiny oven!
Best meal of the year!
Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving full of all of the above!

Wine:  L. Et R. Dufaitre Beaujolais-Village Nouveau 2013
Purchased:  The Green Grape, Fort Green
Price: $14.99
Would buy again: Yes!

Monday, November 25, 2013

7 Hours in Paris

**I wrote this post almost one year ago and realized I never posted!  One year ago today, on my way back from Morocco, I was gallivanting around Paris, hitting up all of my favorite spots, so I thought it was only right to share my take on what to do if you ever find yourself with 7 hours to spare in Paris!

When life gives you lemons....take an overnight layover in Paris!  On a recent trip I found myself with an overnight layover at CDG.  I was schedule to fly out first thing Monday morning, but decided I was too close to not spend the day in Paris, the macaroons were calling my name!  So, I "volunteered" to bump myself off of my oversold morning flight and opted for a PM flight.  An hour later I was snuggled up in an airport hotel, giddy at the thought of Paris in the morning!  It had been a year and a half since I was last in Paris with my Mom, I made my plan of attack to ensure I would hit all of my favorite spots in the time I had!

I woke up early to catch the RER into the city leaving me 7 hours to explore before having to head back to the airport to catch my flight.  I took the metro to the Invalides stop and began my day!  There is nothing better than emerging from the metro onto the Paris streets, I did a little giddy dance, repeating to myself "I'm in Paris!!"  I said a quick hello to the "eiff then took a stroll over the Pont Alexander.  

Selfie with the 'Eiff

Past the Grand and Petite Palais (1 day late for the Karl Lagerfeld exhibit!)  Up the Champs Elysees, past La Concorde and to the Madeleine where I stopped for breakfast.

Can I start every day like this please?
There was no time to pause, I had places to go!  I conveniently remembered that there was a Laduree in the neighborhood so I just had to pop in.  One salted caramel and espresso macaroon later I was on my way once again. 

  Then off to Chanel on Rue Cambon, the scene of my first designer shoe purchase when I studied abroad.  I continued down the Rue Saint Honore, popping in to Colette, Astier, and Herve Chapelier.  

I continued to walk, past the Louvre and the Palais Royale, up to Rue Etienne Marcel and over to my favorite market street, Rue Montorgueil.  It was a Monday so many of the shops were closed, but I remembered from my last trip in a frantic search before leaving for the airport, that this bakery was open on Mondays and had my favorite fig bread!  I stocked up, and immediately tore off the end of a mini baguette and savored (my gluten free habits don't apply during vacation).

Onward towards the Marais, I walked past the apartment we stayed at and our local metro station.  I had hoped that the Marche des Enfants Rouge would be open, but my luck ran out (was hoping to have a prosciutto crepe from my guy!).  So I settled for falafel at L'as du Fallafel, a close second!  

I spent the afternoon wandering around the Marais, shopping, strolling, taking it all in.  I picked up a new pair of sneakers at Bensimon and a sweater at a local boutique.  Little treats to remind me of this wonderful day!

 I found a cheese shop for a slice of Comte to take back with me to the airport for one final snack.  One full, perfect day in Paris, this should tide me over for a least a little while :-)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Snickerdoodles - Lightened Up and Pumpkin-ized

A couple of weeks ago when my pumpkin-chocolate caramel bark didn't quite turn out as expected, I got the crazy idea in my head that it would be perfect baked into a cookie.  A snickerdoodle at that!  After poking around the web, I couldn't believe how much flour/sugar/butter was in the typical snickerdoodle recipe.  It seemed so unnecessary.  So I adapted the below, adding pumpkin, because you know, it's November and that's what we're supposed to do for the next few weeks until we move on to peppermint.

Oh.My.Gawddddd these are good.  Like maybe the best thing I've ever made good.  I couldn't stop eating them straight out of the oven (or the dough out of the freezer, it's eggless!), but they were so good and chewy when they cooled as well.

I tried two different gluten free flours, with similar but slightly different results.  Cup4Cup made bigger, softer more pillowy cookies, Better Batter resulted in smaller, denser cookies.  Both had great flavor.  

Bubbling sugar and honey

Stir in pumpkin - the smell is intoxicating!!
Mix wet and dry ingredients separately and then combine
Roll caramel into balls and stuff inside cookie dough

Roll cookie dough in sugar/pumpkin pie spice mix

These cookies will not spread, so give them a gentle smush with a fork before popping in the oven.
Cup4Cup results - a bit messy but tastes great!

Better Batter, smaller and denser but still yummy!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Snickerdoodles (With Pumpkin Caramel)
*Recipe adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie
3/4 cup gluten free flour (I tried c4c and better batter, both good)
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt (just under level)
1/4 tsp cream of tarter (optional) - I didn't use
1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sugar or sucanat or evaporated cane juice – I used ¼ cup organic white sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 tablespoons milk of choice – I used unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup “butter” of choice, such as Earth Balance (I haven’t tried a lower-fat butter sub in this recipe, so I don’t know if that would work.) – I used regular butter
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine dry ingredients and mix well.  In a separate bowl, melt the butter of choice, then stir in vanilla and milk.  Pour dry into wet and mix again.  If batter is too runny add flour in small increments until dough comes together, it will be wet/sticky.  Form balls. Stuff balls with a piece of caramel.  Roll each ball in a mix of cinnamon and sugar.  I rolled in sugar+pumpkin pie spice for added pumpkin flavor.  If you want soft cookies, you’ll need to get the balls very cold. (So roll the balls, cover in the sugar, then fridge until cold.) Cook for 9-10 minutes.  Caramel will melt out but just spoon back on top of cookie as it cools.  Another option is to make the caramel runny (see note below) and swirl in ribbons of caramel into the dough before making balls, if you try this let me know how it turns out!
Pumpkin Caramel:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 stick butter
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice

In a heavy bottomed pot, bring the sugar and honey to a boil.
Add the butter and stir until it's melted.
Add the heavy cream and boil until a candy thermometer reads 290 degrees.
Take the caramel off the heat and stir until smooth and no longer bubbling. Add the pumpkin and spice and stir to combine.
Pour the caramel onto a silpat mat or parchment lined cookie tray.
Let the caramel set until cool and hard.
*For runny caramel sauce, cook below 290 degrees, 290 is supposed to cause caramel to “crack” but both times when I’ve done it, it gets to a chewy texture which is fine for stuffing in cookies.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wine Wednesdays

It's Wednesday, we're T-minus 9 days until Thanksgiving!  Where's the wine??? 
I've been drinking....but nothing of note.  I'll work on that next week at home and report back.  I've had a friend in town so we've been, here, and here, all of my go-to's and favorites and must trys if you're coming to NY. 
In the meantime, I found this article with suggested wine pairings for your Thanksgiving feast. 
If you try one of the suggested wines do let me know what you think!
Image via Pinterest

Monday, November 18, 2013

I Can't Stop Eating This.....

I know I know, another blogger with another pumpkin recipe!  But wait, don't run just yet, trust me, you'll want to make this!
Zucchini noodles with pumpkin rosemary sauce and spicy sausage.  It starts with zucchini noodles, such genius!  Since giving up gluten I've made these a staple, and they really do the trick.  Plus you can have an entire plate and not feel the least bit guilty!  Zucchini even ranks better than spaghetti squash on the low carb/low sugar meter, winning!
This meal comes together in minutes and is so comforting and tasty.  Make it tonight!

Zucchini Noodles and Spicy Sausage with Pumpkin Rosemary Sauce
*Serves 2

2 medium zucchini
1 sausage of choice (I like spicy pork or chicken for a little kick)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 Tbsp butter
1 shallot, chopped
1 glove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp rosemary, chopped (I've used dried but fresh would probably take this to another level)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup hot water

Use a julienne peeler to peel your zucchini into strips.  Peel until you reach the seeds then discard the core. 

Remove sausage from casing and brown in a skillet over medium heat.  Once cooked through, remove from pan and set aside. 

Heat oil and butter (I used ghee) in a skillet over medium heat.  Add shallot, rosemary, and garlic.  Cook until softened, about 2 minutes.  Stir in pumpkin and water, adding more if necessary to reach desired consistency.  Simmer until just thickened. 

In another skillet, saute zucchini noodles until softened and warmed through, about 3 minutes.  Toss in sauce and crumble sausage on top.  Top with Parmesan cheese if desired!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Weekend Getaway - Montreal

Last weekend cousin Augusta and I jetted off to Montreal for a little girls weekend away.  I seriously missed our epic Montauk weekends so it felt so great to get out of the city.  It was a quick 45 hour weekend, but we certainly packed it all in, despite cancelled flights BOTH ways.  By Sunday night when we found our our flight was cancelled it certainly felt like a joke, but we were luckily rebooked on a flight leaving an hour later, leaving just enough time for a classy plate of nachos and another glass of wine at the airport bar, when life gives you lemons....

 But back to Montreal.  We got in late Friday night, threw our bags down at the Hotel St. Paul, and headed to Garde Manger for dinner.  We walked in just after the kitchen had closed, but the nice waiter put together a lovely seafood platter of oysters, smoked salmon, and smoke trout.  The restaurant is a young, fun, buzzy vibe, and turns into quite the bar scene as the night goes on.

The classy spread at the Delta Skyclub at JFK, making the most of our delay TO Montreal.....
PEI Oysters, smoked salmon and trout at Garde Manger
Her's and ...... her's bathrobes, holding hands!
Saturday morning we were up and out early...apparently too early for this city.  We walked the streets of the old town and felt like we were the only people around.  The cobblestone and shop-lined streets were certainly reminicent of Europe.  We decided to rent bikes using their city-wide rental system, similar to NY's Citibikes.  WHile a little challeneging to navigate on bikes in a city you aren't familiar with, we made our way to the Atwater market for breakfast.  The market is open 7 days a week, and is full of stalls brimming with fresh product, cheese, charcuterie etc.  By this point it was almost 11, totally justifiable to skip breakfast and head straight for cheese and salami (our favorite food groups) with a side of grapes.  Channeling Paris in the best possible way!

Atwater Market
Back on bikes!

This little piggy......endless charcuterie!
Our spread!
After wandering the market, we spent the afternoon shopping and wandering through the various neighborhoods.  We made our way back to Old Port for steak frites lunch, only to be foiled that the restaurant listed as a top place for steak frites only serves it at dinner!  Luckily, it was warm, there was a fun ambiance, and they had an amazing duck confit salad that we added fries to in order to cure our cravings!  It didn't dissapoint!

We wandered the old town for the rest of the afternoon, and we found the people!  Once the shops opened, the neighborhood came alive, with cute shops, tons of restaurants, and people milling about.  As the sun started to set (at 4:30pm!) the lights came on and the streets were absolutely beautiful.

We went for pre-dinner drinks at Le Bremner, the sister restaurant of Garde Manger.  We bellied up to the bar for a cocktail, and chatted with the friendliest bartenders.  The exact people we needed to meet to round out our recommendations for the rest of the weekend.  Dinner was at Le Club Chasse et Peche, which means "Hunting and Fishing Club".   A bit more formal, but the food was excellent.  Our waiter wasn't joking when he described the scallops as "candy", I could have popped those things like Skittles.

Sunday we took our bartender's recommendations and headed up to Mile End for a boozy brunch at the Sparrow.  We settled in at the bar and had a delicious brunch, poached eggs on root vegetable latkes with a herb hollandaise!  Amazing.

We spent the afternoon wandering the Mile End area, the "Brooklyn" of Monteal.  Much better for shopping than the high street we had walked in downtown the day before.  We made our way back down to Old Port for an afternoon snackie of charcuterie before heading to the airport.

We came, we drank, we ate....and ate.  But we walked and biked!  All in all a fun weekend, but I would recommend going when the weather is a little warmer, seems like the city shuts down a bit as winter rolls in.
And then there were nachos.......


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