Whenever I host a dinner party, I get caught up in the dinner menu, appetizers, and drinks. Dessert is usually the last thing on my mind. And after a full day of prepping, cooking, and hosting, I want to serve something easy. A scoop of ice cream is the easiest of desserts, but it’s also kinda boring. Solution: affogatos. An affogato is just a scoop of vanilla ice cream with a shot of hot espresso poured over. As the espresso melts the ice cream, it basically becomes a sweet and creamy latte. I topped mine with a sprinkle of cacao nibs for a little crunch. Yummm!
During my recent vacation in Portland, I made multiple trips to Roman Candle Baking Co. Everything I ate there was delicious, but their salmon toast was particularly memorable. So memorable that I had to create my own version of it at home. It’s a no-cook, no-fuss recipe that will have you eating in just a few minutes.
Start with a slice of rustic, grainy bread. I used walnut levain. Spread with unsalted butter and sprinkle on some capers. Add sliced avocado and smoked salmon.
In a bowl, toss arugula with a drizzle of olive oil and sea salt. Take a handful of the dressed arugula and place on top of the salmon. Finish with some freshly cracked black pepper over the plate and you’re done!
Before my last dinner party, I took a few minutes to work on a few small details. I pulled out my calligraphy kit from a workshop I attended to make place cards and a menu. These little additions were the perfect finishing touches, making the dinner table seem so put together.
You guys. Cookies dripping with dulce de leche and covered with powdered sugar? These are alfajores and in this moment they are my favorite type of cookie. I followed CHOW’s recipe for the cookies and Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for the dulce de leche. The dulce de leche took over an hour to make, so while the cookie dough was chilling in the fridge, I put on some fun music and went to work. It’s not a hard recipe to follow – it just takes time and patience. But oh man was it worth it. With this recipe, you’ll have more than enough leftover after making the cookies. Perfect as an ice cream topping or you know, just eating it straight out of the jar.
Last week I visited the Mast Brothers Chocolate store in Williamsburg for a tour and tasting. Like most others, I fell in love with this brand at first sight. The packaging is absolutely beautiful – they have a full time designer on staff who designs the paper and helps create the look and feel of the factory and store. What a dream job!
Behind the pretty packaging is delicious chocolate. The ingredients are simple, but the flavors are anything but. All you need is cacao and sugar to make chocolate, but the wonderful and complex flavors come from the beans. Everything from bean type, weather, and soil, to the roasting process define how the chocolate will taste. So when you taste notes of citrus, stone fruit, or slate, that all comes from the beans. Cool, huh?
After a little 101 on cacao beans, we got a behind the scenes look at how the chocolate is made. And each step of the way, we got to taste the chocolate.
And here they are! All packaged up and ready to go. Did you know that all the Mast Brothers Chocolate you see in your local Whole Foods and specialty stores come from this very factory?
If you’re in New York, stop by the store for the tour or even just to browse. You can taste chocolate either way!
I love hosting dinner parties, but the prep and cleanup that comes with it can be a total drag. For a simpler night with guests, I like the idea of having a small group of close friends over for a tasting party to try some drink/snack pairings. Wine and cheese is the standard, but chocolate pairings would be a fun and unexpected activity. And as the host, the best part might be that the prep and cleanup is minimal.
I’ve paired 3 Ghirardelli Intense Dark flavors with complimentary drinks and snacks. Sipping and nibbling on these while watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones sounds like the perfect Sunday night.
Ghirardelli Intense Dark Hazelnut Heaven / Blue Bottle New Orleans Iced Coffee / Ginger Snaps
Margaritas are the popular choice with Mexican food, but if a paloma is on the menu, that’s what I’m ordering. Palomas are typically made with tequila but I prefer using a smoky mezcal. It gives the drink an unexpectedly smooth bite that works well with the sweetness of the grapefruit.
Makes 1 drink
- 2.5 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
- 0.5 ounce fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoon agave nectar
- 2.5 ounces mezcal
- club soda
- grapefruit garnish
- Combine grapefruit and lime juices with agave nectar in a glass.
- Stir in mezcal. You can use white tequila if you don’t have mezcal on hand.
- Fill the glass with ice. Top with club soda and grapefruit garnish.
Poached eggs always seemed so fancy and difficult to make. Intimidated, I reserved my poached egg cravings for restaurant brunches. Turns out, it’s pretty easy and I’ve been missing out on some serious poached egg meals that could be cooked at home. Just add some white distilled vinegar to your simmering water before adding the egg. That’s it?! you ask? That’s it. I must have missed this not-so-secret trick in home ec 101.
While the egg cooked, I toasted a slice of sourdough, washed some arugula, and made some coffee. I was sitting down at the table in 5 minutes. It felt like I was having breakfast at a cafe, except I was in my pajamas.
You just need Irish whiskey, cream, simple syrup, and your favorite cold brew coffee. Cold brew is coffee that’s been slowly brewed without any heat over a period of hours. I used Stumptown‘s version (available at any Whole Foods) for its rich and subtly sweet flavor — excellent for a coffee cocktail. If you don’t have cold brew on hand, you can use regular drip coffee, but be sure to brew strong and let it cool completely.
- 6 parts cold brew coffee
- 2 parts Irish whiskey
- 1.5 parts simple syrup
- 1.5 parts cream
- In a cocktail shaker, add coffee, whiskey, and simple syrup. Fill with ice and shake vigorously for 5 seconds (enough to cool, but not dilute the mixture).
- Strain into chilled collins glasses filled with ice.
- Carefully top with heavy cream.
- Add a cute straw and enjoy!
Although I am a sweet-breakfast person to my core, I can never say no to a plate of Huevos Rancheros when it’s listed on a brunch menu. This version of the dish, with avocados standing in for refried beans, has the added bonus of making the meal a bit healthier while still remaining completely delicious, and the whole thing was pretty simple to boot. I was able to scrape this dish together at the spur of the moment with items I already had in my fridge, but if you need to cut a corner while cooking this, I bet substituting a good store-made chunky salsa could work in place of step one in the recipe. If you do have some extra time, however, I think making your own tortillas would really put the dish over the top– but then again, what dish isn’t improved with a hot, fresh tortilla? ;)
You can find the recipe here, on Food52. Enjoy!