Main Dishes

Roasted Beet Ravioli

I think one of the best things about my job is that I actually get to develop and publish my own recipes. I published my first last week!

If you still have yet to try wonton wrapper ravioli, you are missing out. It’s ridiculous how easy this is. And it tastes pretty exactly like regular pasta. With the big v-day coming up, I figured it’s about time to share a pasta recipe with a filling that is roughly the color of a beating heart, possibly a little pinker, but you can deal, right? Unlike the rest of the blogosphere, I have yet to succumb to dyeing everything blood-red. But I have started buying too many chocolate bars at the grocery store, so let’s call that properly getting into the holiday spirit!

As I was developing this recipe, I tried to remember if I ever actually made a ~Valentine’s Day meal~ for a significant other, and came to the realization that I don’t think I have. I’ve made birthday dinners and hey-my-parents-are-out-of-town dinners and Friday night dinners and possibly anniversary dinners, but never have I ever (that I can recall) cooked for my Valentine on Valentine’s Day. Odd, considering how often I cook. Less odd, considering I was kitchen-less and at college for the last four years, plus I didn’t have a Valentine for a couple of those years. I’m not even sure if I’ll be cooking this February 14 either. But you should! If you have a significant other or a spouse or a Netflix-buddy or just a lot of hungry friends, this is the meal you should make, for Valentine’s Day  or any other time you feel like cooking but not necessarily like turning your kitchen into a disaster-zone.

The roasted beet filling is very easy to make, (even a few days ahead of time) as are the ravioli themselves. They also freeze well if you don’t have time to cook before dinner.

Head over to POPSUGAR Food for the recipe!

Book Review, Sides, Snacks

Torta (Dominican Corn Bread)

The genius behind Hot Bread Kitchen is threefold. Founder Jessamyn Rodriguez 1) decided to create a space dedicated to making bread. This is fairly self-explanatory. Bread is perfection. Chewy, salty perfection. And in a world filled with sad, soft, cellophane-wrapped grocery store bread that can barely stand up to butter, let along sandwich fillings, we need all the real bread we can get. 2) For said bread-making space, Rodriguez hires low-income, immigrant and minority people, often women. HBK then provides these employees with proper culinary skill that they can take on to future places of employment within the food industry. 3) The employees of Hot Bread Kitchen share their own bread making secrets from their heritages and homelands (Moroccan m’smen! Indian naan! Persian nan-e quandi!)

These brilliant aspects of Rodriguez’s company and more are apparent from the Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook. Unlike a traditional cookbook of recipes with a bit of copy, HBK’s book is more like a coffee table book that happens to teach readers to make breads from around the world.

The book is divided into sections: unleavened flatbreads, leavened flatbreads, tortillas and more, lean breads and roll-ups, Challah and beyond, filled doughs from around the world, quick breads and holiday breads, and (my personal favorite) what to do with leftover bread (a problem I rarely find myself experiencing, but the ideas were so creative!) If you’ve found yourself saying, “gee, my grandma/aunt/mother used to make all her bread from scratch and I never do that, I should try!” this is the book for you. Start with soft lavash and make your way to a Chilean empanada.

As if the book didn’t cover an expansive enough topic, it also includes recipes for culturally appropriate dishes to serve alongside your breads –not that there’s anything “wrong” with putting peanut butter and jelly on a tortilla– but why not try your hand at chilaquiles? Or make a Bangladeshi-style vegetable dish packed with fenugreek, nigella, black mustard, and fennel seeds to accompany your homemade chapatis? Also, the Challah French toast grilled cheese with peaches hellllo. And once I master Bahn Mi baguette dough, I plan to make the pork belly Banh Mi with “the works” recipe, contributed by HBK’s former farmers’ market manager Thuy Nguyen.

Which brings me to one of my favorite elements of this book: peppered among the recipes are Baker’s Profiles, which detail short stories of current and former Hot Bread Kitchen employees. Women who have baked for HBK have gone on to work for well- known NYC bakeries like Amy’s Bread, larger companies like Whole Foods, and even started their own shops.

The first recipe I made from this cookbook was a torta, a Dominican corn bread baked in a skillet. A sweet, buttery bread I’d just as soon eat with a slick of chocolate frosting for dessert as I would crumbled into chili. This recipe was contributed by Rodriquez’s mother-in-law, and is incredible. I don’t own an 8-in cast iron skillet, so I made my torta in ceramic dish, though I imagine a regular cake pan will work just fine too (it’s just not as fun to plunk that down on the dinner table as it is with a more *rustic* skillet)

Torta (from the Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook, makes 1 8-inch loaf)

1 cup AP Flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons whole milk
9 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350º F. Put an 8-inch cast-skillet in the oven to get hot.

Whisk together to the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

Whisk together the eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl.

Warm the milk and 8 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring every now and then, until the butter is melted. While whisking, slowly pour the butter and milk mixture into the flour mixture. Mix until smooth. Whisk in the egg mixture.

Take the skillet out of the oven and add the remaining tablespoon of butter. It should melt immediately. Tilt the skillet to spread the butter over its surface. Pour the batter into the skillet. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Let cool completely before inverting torta from the pan and slicing.


NOTE: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review. Check out this review on their website too!


Challah French Toast

I’m not into New Year’s resolutions. Flashy, sweeping declarations of plans to make “better” choices: to work harder, to eat smarter, to exercise longer. From my own experience, such plans usually involve deprivation –which as a concept is inherently flawed– and are always abandoned not by accident, but by reaching a breaking point mid-February, if not earlier. The cold weather mixes with the lack of whatever I’ve decided to omit (breakfast pastries, bread, refined sugar) and I find myself binging on chocolate chips to the point of sickness. I’ll sit on the couch and think about the resolution I’ve effectively “ruined” and begin to loathe myself.

And it is because of this that I resolve that resolutions are not just overrated, but incredibly problematic. I will not make them anymore.

I didn’t make a resolution to start running last year, I just did it, because I was upset with so many things I couldn’t fix and ACTUALLY running away didn’t seem a real option. I haven’t gone running much these past few (er– five) months because I’ve been busier and much, much happier. I haven’t had that urge to run away from the gnawing pangs of failure, hunger, and general gloominess in my stomach. I’m less motivated to go on night runs after work because there are actual fun things to do in the evening now, not just post-class homework and bed. I should motivate myself though, because there is a certain inexplicable pleasure I get from running around. And the horrible darkness that seems to start at 4pm is actually slowly happening later, even if just minute by minute, so maybe that’ll help.

I will try to be nicer in the coming year– to be less judgmental, or nit-picky, or whatever one would care to call it. I will save more money, because I’ll never actually be able to move out if I keep buying pretty dresses and $8 yogurt on a regular basis. And I really want to move out. I should probably drink less coffee, but I don’t want to do that, so I very well may not. I will try to be more comfortable in my own skin. I’ll eat more bread and less dessert, because I prefer baguettes to cake and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’ll wear more glittery eyeshadow too, because I really like glitter.

And I’ll try to make French Toast more often, because wow, is it delicious.

Challah French Toast (serves a 4-6)

1 loaf Challah
4 eggs
a few good glugs of milk
dash or two of cinnamon and cloves
maple syrup

Make the Challah and let cool completely. Slice into fat slices. Heat a large pan on medium. Whisk together the eggs, milk, and spices in a bowl large enough to fit the bread. Two slices at a time, soak the bread in the egg mixture until fully saturated. Fry the bread until golden brown, then flip, cooking the other side until the bread is heated all the way through. Continue with the rest of the loaf of bread. Serve by the pile-ful with lots of butter and maple syrup.

Main Dishes, Snacks

Roasted Vegetables on Toast

Have you ever been sitting at your work desk, staring at your $14 Sweetgreen salad and distinctly felt as though you heard your credit card sigh? Or perhaps you’re less tempted by the to-go counter and manage to brown-bag it, only to be overwhelmed with despair as you crunch on damp baby carrots (why are they always damp?!) and mini packages of hummus, or relive your elementary school years with a Wonder Bread PB&J. Or sadder still, you find yourself with one hand on the computer and the other in a family-sized bag of pita chips at 3:45, stomach growling for all to hear, because you’ve once again just not had time to eat. I propose an end to this (and an echo to the the #notsaddesklunch movement) in the form of toast and roasted vegetables.

The veggie spread takes all of an hour to create, as many days ahead as you choose. And did you know that toast CAN in fact be reheated to its original crunchy state? Head over to Food52 to check out my article!


lately // november 2015

This is the time for going on long walks outside. Taking a deep breath fills my lungs not with frigid icy air nor that thick summer stuff that makes me want to run screaming back to air conditioning.

This is the time for drinking wine or coffee while wrapped in a blanket.

This is the time for trying not to yell at the store manager of literally every establishment for playing Christmas music at top volume. I mean SRSLY.

This is the time for realizing that if you hate treadmills and like running after 5pm you should probably get a reflective vest or a headlamp so you stay safe from squinty drivers and uneven sidewalks. And by ‘you,’ I mean me.

This is the time for figuring out how to make matcha lattes at home because they’re just so darn green and frothy.

This is the time for realizing how much happier I am now than I was last year at this time, even if you couldn’t tell from blog posts.

This is the time for deciding that I can be as honest as I want in this space, and for giving a big ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ if reading anything particularly full of feelings makes you uncomfortable. I’ll admit that said honesty will be squished between pictures of cake, so you can go ‘head and just scroll around to those if you’d prefer.

This is the time for being thankful that after going on a million –okay, seven..eight?– interviews, I finally landed a pretty rad intern position and am a commuter now wooOOOOooOoOOo nj transit.

This is the time for making cookies on Saturday mornings in PJs, and eating said cookies for breakfast.

put carrot juice in homemade applesauce and you will NOT be disappointed // the aftermath of what I think was the most food ever served at a birthday bash but you only turn 23 and 24 once so all the stops were pulled out ~THX~ to all you people who like Ben and I enough to make food and bring it to a party // the Firkser dining room drink cart is starting to look so nice that I almost feel guilty drinking things from it. Almost // my first pecan pie tasted pretty good, and even if the crust shrank, no one noticed because they were too busy staring at my new pie box AKA the best birthday gift e v e r // just a little self promotion again read my Food52 article pls and thank you // this is not the view from my desk, but it is a view from my new office // more self promotion, this time on The Nosher: I strongly recommend you make this in the coming months, tzimmes is warm and sweet and roasty, which are essentially the only adjectives I want to find connected with my winter food // this is an egg fried INSIDE A BAGEL // moon + twinkly lights = all the happy feels //spaghetti pie spaghetti pie spaghetti pie spaghetti pie spaghetti pie spaghetti pie


Banoffee Pie Parfaits

The turkey has been served. Siblings came back from college in waves; facial piercings dangling, quoting Althusser and complaining about dining hall scrambled eggs. Grandma can’t get over how old everyone looks, and also wants to know who’s engaged yet. Our belts have been thrown into the closet, not to be seen again for several months. It’s officially *that* time of year. Which means all the holiday movies are about to take over our lives. ARE YOU READY? I’m not, really.

Except in the case of one. Love Actually. If you haven’t seen it, you better get yourself a copy or rent it on demand or illegally download it or obtain the movie however you watch movies now, because this is what you should do tonight. It’s one of those movies that focuses around 107890 different storylines so you don’t get too bored/can get up for more pie or eggnog without worrying about missing much. And Love Actually Day (five weeks before Christmas) was officially last Friday, so we’re a little late but that’s okay.

The point of those sentences is the first time I ever heard of Banoffee pie was in Love Actually. Kiera Knightly tries to win Andrew Lincoln’s (who, incidentally, you probably know as that guy from The Walking Dead) friendship with banoffee pie. How freakin’ cute, amirite? I immediately looked up what the heck banoffee pie was, and got very very excited. It’s basically banana cream pie with dulce de leche. How had I not heard of this?!

There is, however, one HUGE error with this otherwise flawlessly written rom-com-feel-good-“Holiday” scene: Kiera says she has terrible taste in pie. Referring to the banoffee pie. What what what are you doing. I made up my mind right then and there to make this pie asap and then promptly forgot until the next time I watched the movie about a year later and yelled at myself for my not having made it yet. And then forgot again. Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I was looking through my favorite vegan blog‘s archives instead of doing adulty things and I saw a recipe for the pie. And then I was at my friend’s house and she reminded me that Love Actually Day was a week away. It was fate. Spoilers: banoffee pie is fucking incredible and even if you don’t like bananas you will like this pie IT’S THAT GOOD.

Most recipes for this pie have a nut-infused pâte brisée pie crust or crumbled cookie crust, but you can make whatever your heart desires. *I* think the best possible choice is a digestive biscuit crust. Digestive biscuits were v hip and trendy for like a week on the food websites in 2014, but I think they deserve more than 15 minutes of fame. They’re so much more than something to bring out when having a British-theme night or looking for a cookie made with whole wheat flour as an excuse to eat an entire sleeve-ful. They’re also not super sweet, which balances out the very sweet bananas and toffee.

ALSO: do you like to read other things on the internet? You should check out my beautiful friend Kelsey’s blog, Kelsey at the Movies. Kelsey’s a fantastically talented writer and a film scholarship grad student at NYU. Read her stuff!

ALSO ALSO: We’re getting close to my *200th* recipe post up in here! Any requests for what I should make will be appreciated~

Banoffee Pie Parfaits

20 digestive biscuits
5 tablespoons coconut oil, soft but not melted
pinch of salt

2 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons dark rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 bananas

1 cup whipping cream (or 1 batch coconut whipped cream with sweetener left out if you prefer)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)

Make the crust: Butter or oil any kind of pie pan and set aside. It 100% doesn’t matter what you use here, as you will be destroying said crust upon its completion. Place biscuits and salt in a large food processor and pulse until you have fine, flour-like crumbs. Add the coconut oil and pulse until combined. Press into prepared pan and freeze for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, then bake crust for 8-10 minutes. Let cool completely.

Make the filling Simmer the sweetened condensed milk in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat until very thick and golden brown, stirring VERY frequently (about 25 minutes.) Do NOT walk away, as there is a strong possibility the milk will begin to burn on the bottom of the pan. If this does begin to happen and the burnt bits are only brown, you’re okay; you’ll just want to pass the milk through a fine mesh sieve when it’s done cooking. If this doesn’t happen, take pride in the fact that you’re better at cooking/have a superior stove than I. Remove from heat, transferring to a heatsafe glass bowl, and stir in the rum and vanilla extract. Let cool completely, then transfer to a jar.

Put it all together: locate four or five glass jars or parfait/sundae glasses. Whip cream, syrup, and vanilla together until peaks form. Remove crust from tart pan and crumble it up completely. Slice bananas thinly. Spoon a thick layer of crust crumbles into the jars, then a layer of toffee, then a layer of bananas. Repeat until you’v filled the jars or used up all your ingredients. Dollop a final smear of whipped cream over the bananas, then top with a sprinkle of crust. Consume immediately if you so choose, but the flavors combine fantastically after sitting in the fridge for a few hours. Dessert will last for a few days in the fridge.


Extras, Main Dishes, Sides, Snacks

Name the Artwork: A Pop Quiz in Famous Food Paintings

I have a deep affinity for quizzes, particularly for those related to food. So naturally, I was thrilled when Food52 decided to publish my article about food in art, featuring (you guessed it) a quiz! Can you name them all? Head over to Food52 for answers and recipes!

ps- check out my new clips page to see other things I write outside of the blog~

Breakfasts, Snacks

Crumbly Ginger Date Breakfast Cookies

The existence of ‘self’ is what keeps everybody from confronting their fears about the ground they happen to be standing on.
—Robert Smithson

I’ve never been a part of any organized worship, but I’ve been thinking about it lately. About one thing having enough power for someone to actually single it out as an exalted entity. My parents came from Conservative Jewish and Sunday Protestant families respectively, so my sister and I weren’t raised “religious” in the truest sense of the word. We know why there’s a three-day gap between Good Friday and Easter (it’s actually not this) and we can recite the Hanukkah blessings in Hebrew (which probably has more to do with liking to sing and less to do with studying religious text), but that’s pretty much the extent of it. When I was younger I sometimes felt like I missed out, as never got to complain about Sunday School nor did I have a Bat Mitzvah. Looking back, I understand I was—albeit unconsciously—given a fairly unique opportunity to explore my own relationship with worship. And while I’m attracted to certain aspects of religion, particularly to the sense of community involved in belonging to a house of worship, and to theological storytelling, I didn’t, and still don’t really, have a yearning to practice. Religion aside, I’ve never felt as though I regard anything with enough devotion to throw around the term “worship”. At least, not for something that doesn’t seem cliche or obvious. It means too much.

I prefer when people are honest. I like when it’s cloudy outside. I enjoy 85% dark chocolate. But I don’t worship “Truth” or “Nature” or “Theobroma cacao”. Someone asked me last year if I worshiped anything, likely as a test, because this person already had their semi-pseduo-intellectual answer ready to go. I vaguely recall saying something pretentious, like “food and the actions that come with it”, but that was a cop out. I have yet to find something so powerful that I feel the need to proclaim its control over how live my life, because honestly, that feels like it can get tricky. Am I doing things because I like them, or because I made the sweeping declaration to hold myself to a certain set of standards? Maybe it’s good to have dogma, but only if one can admit it may not stay the same forever. This has less to do with religion and more to do with worship in the ritualistic sense.

I can say with certainty that food is a powerful element of my life. I use it to ensure that I feel good. I try not to let it become something that controls every choice I make, but I can often fall into that pattern. I’d like to involve food in my future career, difficult as that may be. It’s personal and important, but it is not Everything (with a capital E). My favorite part about having to feed myself at school last year was that when I went grocery shopping, I controlled every element of my purchases. If I wanted to buy 25 cans of coconut milk I could. If I wanted to eat stir fry (or kale salad or Cocoa Puffs) for dinner five nights in a row, I could. There was no one telling me they’re bored of that meal, or they don’t like this particular vegetable, etc. It’s all extremely selfish, but sometimes it’s good to think about yourself.

Since I moved back home, breakfast seems to be the one meal where I can consistently eat whatever I want. I miss being able to make simply what pleases me, and I know I’ll have that again someday. But that day is not today. So in the meantime I will break up a ginger date breakfast cookie over yogurt and be okay with it.


Speaking of worship, horrific events like those that occurred at the University of Missouri on Wednesday, and in Paris (and Beirut and in Baghdad) on Friday only cause me –and many others, I imagine– to question further whether there is any sort of higher power controlling this world. Hundreds of people lost their lives, and hundreds of thousands lost their sense of security this week. No one can give a reason why, except for the chillingly open-ended term that seems to encapsulate so many recent acts of violence. If, like me, you’re another person in the States feeling helpless, it looks like the very least we can do is stay aware, alert, and supportive. I’m trying to read as much as I can about the events, I hope if you can spare the time you do the same.


Crumbly Ginger Date Breakfast Cookies (very loosely adapted from The Vibrant Table)

1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
3/4 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/4 cup corn flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa nibs
2 large pieces crystalized ginger
4 pitted deglet noor dates

1 tablespoon coconut sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Combine the flours, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. In a small bowl whisk together the almond milk, coconut sugar, and vanilla. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and fold together.

Finely chop the ginger and dates, and add to the batter along with the cocoa nibs. Using a teaspoon cookie scoop, drop cookies onto the prepared tray.

Bake for 15 minutes, until the tops of the cookies are golden brown. In the meantime, combine the extra coconut sugar, cocoa powder, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Take the cookies out of the oven and while they’re warm place the sugar mixture in a fine mesh sieve and dust over the tops of the cookies.


Book Review, Extras

Citrus Salt

Citrus. The word is as zippy as the flavor. I like to say it over and over and over, just as I tend to unwrap clemintine after clemintine this time of year. Citrus is a vibrant collection of recipes compiled by LA-based writer and food stylist Valerie Aikman-Smith. The photography, as bright and sharp as the book’s subject, was produced by Victoria Pearson.

The book covers new uses for common citrus flavors (orange, lemon, lime, etc.), which makes for a nice read. But Valerie didn’t want to make just a nice book. She goes further, encouraging the use of lesser known fruits like Buddha’s hands, kumquats, and yuzu.

What strikes me most about this book is the care that was taken by Valerie to discover which ingredients and flavors highlight certain citrus fruits best. Anyone with some kitchen experience knows that a dusting of zest livens up most dishes, but the beauty of Citrus comes through upon seeing that every dish isn’t pasta with a shaving of lemon peel or cake with orange juice. Valerie has clearly tested each recipe featured profusely, noting that lime and chili powder work well with candied almonds; Meyer lemon juice is well suited in a burnt sugar tart; orange peel best highlights the lovely bitterness of Campari in marmalade. Further, she knows that certain varieties of the same fruit complement some dishes better than others: a tart ruby grapefruit will cut through spicy Szechuan shrimp and noodle salad, while scallops are better suited to be served with a cream made from Oroblanco grapefruit, which is less bitter and gentler to the mild seafood.

I decided to make citrus salt from this book, as I rarely infuse salts and it seemed like fun to break out the mortar and pestle. You can use literally any zest you make have hanging about your fridge (I bet grapefruit would be slammin’.) I used a combination of lemon, lime, and orange because I was feeling festive. And just FYI, this is a perfect gift idea for anyone you know who likes to cook/mix cocktails, as infused salts tend to be v pri¢ey. So why not just make your own in giant vats this holiday season and give it out to friends and coworkers in cute little jars?

Swap this for regular salt in recipes that need a little boost and/or use it to rim cocktail glasses. I wish it were still 95 degrees out so I could make Valerie’s Icy Blood Orange Margaritas and serve them in citrus salt-rimmed glasses. Actually, I might just do it anyway! Who’s with me?

Citrus Salt (from Citrus: Sweet and Savory Sun-Kissed Recipes; makes ~1/2 cup)

1/2 cup flakey sea or kosher salt
3 tablespoons citrus zest

In a small bowl, combine salt and zest with your fingers (or use a mortar and pestle.) Spread mixture evenly onto a plate and let dry overnight. Transfer to a glass container with a tight-fitting lid and store at room temperature for up to three months.

NOTE: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review. Check out this review on their website too! 


lately // october 2015

I’ll admit it– I didn’t carve a pumpkin this year. Or last year. Or..the year before that…oops? I did, however, do a lot of other autumny things this October. Also, check out things I wrote on other corners of the internet: talking about Superfoods on Freja Daily; Mandelbrot vs. Biscotti on the Nosher; my latest restaurant review of Ani Ramen on the Montclair Dispatch

I wanted pie at 10 pm but had no crust, so I made this and it was perfect // I’ve been riding the train a lot recently and I think the meadowlands are getting prettier // Hi my name is Becca and I am a cookbookaholic // practicing the opposite of life hacks with homemade puff pastry for The Kitchn Baking School // I covered the Amanti Vino Cru vs. Brew event for the Montclair Dispatch // fall is so spooky and I love it // pro tip: it’s really fun to wrap oneself in a giant blanket and drink wine and eat bread outside in 40-degree weather // listening to some real pros talk food, career choices, and morning habits at NYCWFF // later that day, making bitters with Hella Bitters (anyone want to come over for a drink?)// I like eating steel cut oats even though they take approximately 30 years to cook // I love Halloween