My Jen
Hot Chocolate
Pesto Capellini
Carrot Pappardelle
Finger Limes
Modern BLT


Fresh Raspberries

I had to share this shot just because the color looked so pretty.

Image by MadeForJen


Pumpkin Pie Cake with Vanilla Cream

Like many Americans, I love pumpkin pie. There is something incredibly soothing about the spicy taste, the smooth texture and the dollop of cream.  But there's also something about pumpkin cake or bread - the rich but dense texture with that pie-reminiscent taste.

Here's a twist on both - why not put the two together? Even better, this one is lactose-free!

1 12oz can pumpkin puree
1/2 C brown sugar
1-2 tsp ground cinnamon (depends how spicy you want it)
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 C cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs

1 1/2 C graham cracker crumbs
1/4 C granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
6 Tbs butter, melted

Vanilla Cream
2 egg yolks
1/4 C granulated sugar
2 Tbs + 1/2 tsp cornstarch
3/4 C soy milk
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Start with the vanilla cream since it will take at least an hour.  In a bowl, whisk the yolks until smooth. Separately in a saucepan, mix the sugar and cornstarch over medium heat, add the soy milk in a slow, steady stream. Cook until it begins to bubble and thicken.  Pour 1/3 of the mix into the eggs, whisk until smooth, then put the mix back into the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, 3-5 more minutes until thick. Remove from heat and put into a ceramic bowl and chill covered for an hour.

Preheat oven to 400°F.  In a stainless steel bowl, beat the eggs then add the puree, brown sugar, spices, flour and baking powder and mix well. In a separate bowl, mix the crumbs, white sugar, cinnamon and butter until crumbly.

Grease a cupcake pan with butter or cooking spray and line the bottoms with parchment. Spoon enough pumpkin mix into each cup to fill 2/3 of the way. Fill the remainder with graham mix but not quite to the top, then pat down gently with your fingers.

Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 325°F for another 6 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. To remove, place the top of a cookie sheet down onto the open cups and flip over. Allow to cool completely.

Note: a quick "cheat" for vanilla cream - prepare a box of sugar-free, dairy-free, no-cook vanilla pudding mix according to directions but use only 3/4 of the milk. Whip 2 egg whites in a bowl and once peaked, blend the two together.


Review: Spasso

Spasso is a superb little Italian restaurant deep in the West Village. We stumbled on this place back in the summertime and just managed to hit the end of brunch but oh, are we glad we made it.

Brunch anywhere in NYC wouldn't be brunch without eggs (ok, really it wouldn't be brunch without cocktails but seeing as how neither Jen or I drink, that's not in the cards). Though not prominent on the menu, Spasso is no different. What caught us by surprise is literally how perfect the poached eggs were. Being a cook, poached eggs are somewhat of a "holy grail" of dishes which take an enormous amount of work to perfect, and even at a high-end restaurant, I've seen botched terribly. 

I'd really like to make my way back there so we can try out the pasta. I'm not a big crab eater but this orecchiette looks delicious.

Of course for me I had to have a skirt steak. I neglected to take a photo of it but needless to say - perfect also.

The place is bright and charming, if not just slightly too cozy like any Village eatery, but a comfortable level of noise, atmosphere and attitude.

551 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014

Images by Spasso & Gilt


The Loving Spoon

This was so cute I had to share it. Some of the best gifts are the most personalized ones, and Jen surprised me last night with a cute gift - a loving spoon.

This creative piece came from Loving Spoon out of Canada. Here they engrave a personal note into the  bowl (that's the rounded part). The roughness is part of the allure.

Anyway, this is just leading up to Valentine's Day. Can't wait to get there :)


Brys + Edgewood Cake Kits

Now this is a great idea if you're on the "decoratively challenged" side (no judgment, it's not easy to make food cross the boundary between nice and spectacular).

These great cakes from Brys + Edgewood are actually kits and designed for the novice to make fantastic and beautiful cakes.

All the kits include everything you need to make the cake, including the pre-colored fondant, cake mix, disposable paper baking molds and instructions.

And for those of you guys still looking for a neat date idea...try baking! Think about it - you get to stay at home, you get to be the "creative genius" for the day, and you get to be around your woman for several hours!

And by the way - there's a special running on Gilt Taste through February 14th!



Homemade Hash

I like comfort food. Who doesn't? Like everyone, I have my favorites, and near the top of that list (right next to potstickers and bacon) is corned beef hash. More specifically, homemade corned beef hash.

Hash is just so incredibly easy to make and doesn't require a lot of effort - if you've ever done it, you know that it takes more patience than anything else. However, there's a few shortcuts you can take if you're like me and you want it faster.

Traditionally, you've got to have an egg with it. I still preferred a good fried egg but lately, soft-boiled eggs are making a comeback. And here I've tossed some fresh chives and tomatoes to offset the richness from the egg and oils. Good eats!

Homemade Hash

1 part any fatty deli-style beef - roast beef, brisket, corned beef
1 part potato (use russet or Yukon)
3 Tbs vegetable oil

The reason for a fatty beef is that it will crisp up much nicer than lean cuts. The meat can be already cooked but for a change of pace, try using uncooked meats (take care with some cuts that have a high water content such as stewing beef - they won't cook the same way). If it is already cooked, put it in late in the process.

Bake the potato for 4 minutes in a microwave (not completely).  While "baking," rough cut the beef into small pieces - no larger than 3/8" cubes.  Holding the potato in a towel, peel the skin off the potato and then chop similarly.

Heat the oil in a large skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat. When hot, put the meat and potatoes in and fry until browned on one side, then toss and continue until there is a nice crispness on most of the ingredients. Salt and pepper to taste.

Personally I love hash doused in ketchup, but that's a personal preference.

Images by MadeForJen