While we were in New York for Fashion Week, I had a crazy list of places I wanted to try. Vivi Bubble Tea, home of the cotton candy float, was one of them, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
I take my happy hour cocktails really seriously. I’m so spoiled- David was a bartender at a ritzy restaurant in college, so his mixology skills are on point. He whips up all sorts of delicious sippers for me!
We’re all about eating seasonally, and that applies to happy hour as well! Watermelon is a mainstay of our summertime grocery list, and thanks to a new basil pruning technique, my plants are exploding! I’m a huge basil fan, especially when the herb is paired with fruit, and a bit of ginger fizziness is the perfect exclamation point.
I’ve struggled with sleeplessness since high school, and am a total night owl. I sometimes work or read until the wee hours of the morning, but more often than not, midnight finds me in the kitchen. We do mostly homemade sweets around here, so sometimes I’m getting ahead on the next day’s to-do list- gotta keep dessert stocked! But most of the time I’m just relaxing and recipe testing, so I wanted to share a few of our recent favorites.
This s’mores pie was rich and creamy and delicious. David doesn’t love dark chocolate the way I do, so I used half dark and half milk. I thought it was perfectly sweet that way, but it’s not supersweet like actual s’mores- some more or or even all milk chocolate will get you there. And seriously, if you haven’t made homemade marshmallow yet, you need too- it’s much easier than it looks!
Deb over at smitten kitchen mentioned that Chef Suzanne Goin served this brown butter and hazelnut confection as her own wedding cake, and I totally see why now. I adore the flavor of brown butter, and it balanced perfectly with the moreish texture of the nuts and the ganache draping. The cake came together quickly and disappeared from the cake plate in the same fashion. I’ve more hazelnuts in the fridge, so I’m certain it will have a return engagement one night soon.
I’m totally on a cream puff kick. In all honestly, we’ve had them two nights in a row, and I’m not even embarrassed by that- they’re damn delicious. I’ve been using Dorie Greenspan’s pâté à choux recipe (currently reading her Baking Chez Moi), filling them with a mix of vanilla custard and freshly whipped cream, dipping or drizzling them with ganache, and devouring by the plateful.
Elaborate birthday cakes are the norm around here, as is replacing candles with fireworks. David mentioned wanting a pb&j inspired cake this year, so I ran with that one night. I stacked peanut butter cake with strained strawberry jam, then slathered it with fluffy brown sugar-peanut butter frosting, another slick of jam, and chopped salted peanuts. It was enormous (too big for the cake bell) and phenomenal.
And the better the cake, the better the cake shake! Leftover cake into shakes is one of my very favorite revamps, and I love mixing up different flavors. This version included pb&j cake, strawberries, peanut butter, vanilla ice cream, malted milk powder, and a healthy splash of amaretto. Sometimes I even get fancy… like whipped cream and a slice of cake on top.
I guess you could say night times are good times in the Coe kitchen.
Avocado toast is everywhere, it seems. There’s a version on every fancy brunch menu, and at most coffee shops here in LA as well. A million recipes abound, all something to the extent of seasoned smushed avocado, on toasted bread. Let’s be real- it’s not freaking rocket science, but it’s delicious.
That said, we eat unreasonable amounts of it around our house. Most days, it’s merely toasted homemade bread, the avocado seasoned with lemon, salt and peppers (black and Aleppo). But more is more. So I regularly upgrade with yummy toppings, whether for company or mere kicks.
Some of our favorite assortments:
fried egg, Bad Seed chili granola (I stockpile this when I’m in New York.)
Try one (or all!) of these avocado toasts, and let me know which is your favorite!
I may be a sucker for nearly any flowers, but not everyone feels that way. David has zero interest in almost all of my floral arrangements, that is, except for when I make a candied bacon bouquet. It’s a perfect Valentine’s Day treat for anyone, especially an enthusiastic carnivore.
One of our favorite restaurants at home in New Orleans, Elizabeth’s, makes the most amazing praline bacon. Over the years, I’ve refined my hot-and-sweet candied bacon recipe- we served twenty pounds of pig candy on our wedding dessert buffet, and I make it regularly for friends, family, special occasions and no reason whatsoever.
For such an impressive display, it’s not an unreasonable amount of work. Yes, drilling holes in the bottom of your mini-muffin pan (wearing eye protection, pleaseandthanks) may take a minute, but that just gives you the ability to whip up a batch of bacon roses anytime.
Candied Bacon Roses
Carnival season is hands-down my favorite time of year, and king cake is one of those confections I just can’t say no to. Whether classic cinnamon swirl, cream-cheese-filled king cake or a traditional French galette des rois, it’s probably having a date with my mouth.
We were fortunate enough to have a dear friend ship us a king cake from the legendary Manny Randazzo’s, and it totally hit the spot. Most years, I wind up making several king cakes throughout carnival season- this recipe from Sucré, on Magazine Street, is my go to, and Randazzo’s and Sucré are by far the best king cakes available by mail. but i have a serious affinity for the French king cake, or galette des rois… la Boulangerie makes my favorite in town.
But, according to #12 of my #16in16, this is the year of taking on those intimidating cookery projects. So after a brief foray of pricing out having galettes de rois shipped, it was game on. As luscious as this pistachio-and-citron version from Gontran Cherrier (who makes my very favorite croissants in Paris) looks, I decided to save that and focus on the traditional French almond frangipane filled confection. I worked with Clotilde and David Lebovitz‘s recipes, adapting them and making the frangipane from scratch.
I didn’t trust myself and my limited artistic talent to provide even decorative cut work, so lots of overlapping salad plate tracings did the job with style. It’s super important to flute and seal the edges properly so that the frangipane doesn’t bubble out. And make sure your egg wash doesn’t drip down the sides- it will inhibit the pastry’s puffing. With traditional king cakes, you’d bake in a ceramic fève, or insert a plastic baby into the baked king cake. Here though, I went super old-school and baked in a whole almond (and was a total five-year old and stole it from David’s slice to claim the carnival queen title.)
I can be a picky brat about eating out, especially at casual chain restaurants, but Lemonade is one you won’t find me fussing about. I swear, we grab food there at least once a week. The Gemini in me adores all the quality options, and I love delicious and varied ways of enjoying my veggies with minimal fuss. A six-portion salad and a lemonade to share is perfectly sized for a lunch date!
When I saw the Lemonade cookbook at checkout one day, I knew it would be coming home with me. Having tested it in the kitchen, I wanted to share some thoughts on a few recipes I tried in this installment of Cookbook Chronicles.
Going for the namesake, I had to make a lemonade. The key to the tart richness of their lemonades is a freshly made thick fruit purée. With so many flavor options, I chose pear basil lemonade (page 231), which I’ve never seen onsite. Pears are incredible this time of year, and I love the herbaceous flavor of basil in sweets, so this was a major hit for me.
Unfotunately, the corn chowder (page 171) was not nearly as good. I went for the Malibu clambake variation, which included seafood stock and clams, but the soup was bland and watery and just kindof boring. We tried topping it with smoked paprika, pickled red onions, jalepenos, and each helped, but nothing could fully save this soup.
Black bottom cheesecake brownies (page 201) are my favorite treat from the dessert case at Lemonade, and I’m a big fan of the chocolate-cheesecake flavor combo in general. But I found this recipe really disappointing- the batter wanted to be clumpy, despite the tedious method, and the finished products were tougher than I’d like. For a chocolate cheesecake craving, I’d rather point you to Smitten Kitchen’s cheesecake marbled brownies for fat superior deliciousness for much less time and effort anyway.
I tend to skip over cookies for more elaborate sweets, but I made these Oatmeal-Golden Raisin Cookies (page 189) over the holidays and they were really yummy. I love golden raisins, and they were lovely bursts of sweetness in these tender, chewy cookies.
When I first saw the coconut cake (page 206) in the desert case, I was all heart-eyed over the coconut-milk-soaked layers, but they somehow managed to be both dry and sticky… I thought they might have been serving it a day past its prime. I felt certain I could do better at home, and I did. The barely sweetened frosting balanced the sweeter cake and filling nicely, though I did substitute half the sugared coconut shreds in the topping with unsweetened coconut flakes.
So it’s been a little hit-or-miss as far as experimenting, but I’m certainly liking having the recipes on hand to some of my favorite salads and homemade dressings. I’m pretty sure more than a few Lemonade recipes will be making it in to the regular mealtime rotation.
I’d always been intimidated by homemade marshmallows, until I discovered that they’re astonishingly easy with the help of a candy thermometer and stand mixer. I first made these marshmallows last holiday season, and they may have ruined me for commercially-made ones forever. They’re irresistible by the handful, super soft and flavorful, and they quickly go molten and so delicious when roasted or topping a hot drink.
The name’s a bit punny. For serious flavor, I use homemade bourbon vanilla, along with scraping in a whole vanilla bean and adding a touch of almond for the NOLA nectar homage. I cut them into cubes mostly for speed and ease, and I find being generous with the starch-and-sugar mixture super helpful- I even fill a shaker with it.
I’m all about the edible treats as holiday gifts… I make and share small batches of goodies all season long. So I filled sweet little holly-print boxes with marshmallows and curled shiny red ribbon for festive treats to be given to friends.
These marshmallows melt so incredibly, they elevate simple hot cocoa to a fantastical treat. I behave like a five year old and just keep piling marshmallows into my cup. Despite sticky-fingered snacking and the distraction of Elf, we even managed to get a few presents wrapped, so I’ll call it a winter evening success.
Vanilla Squared Marshmallows
(adapted from Alton Brown’s homemade marshmallows)
The cocoa I serve is adapted from this one– I add cinnamon and a sprinkle each of cardamom and cayenne. It makes a rich semisweet cocoa that is perfect with the melting marshmallows. Feel free to thin with more milk or sweeten further, but homemade cocoa is so easy and delicious the packets simply don’t compare.
As much as I love latkes, I can’t eat them for 8 nights straight if I want to fit into my clothes. So I make a point of experimenting with and serving other foods with Jewish and Israeli foods as we celebrate Hannukah.
Having made several variations of chocolate babka in the past, Smitten Kitchen’s simplification of Yotam Ottolenghi’s krantz cakes are hands down the best. I decided to up the ante a notch by raiding/catching up on my Valrhona x Trader Joe’s chocolate calendar and including several different dark varieties, and it was a scrumptious life choice.
The cutting and twisting stage can be a little iffy, but refrigerating the dough to stiffen the butter makes all the difference. And as long as you get it into the pan in some fashion, it will rise up just dandy. And yes, I have to use a mug of water to humidify my microwave as a rising drawer- even in sunny SoCal, our house is an icebox.
I lose all self-control around this yumminess- that little pan of ends was history before I’d even finished glazing the loaves. With Hanukkah falling early this year, we’re celebrating the miracle of light as we prepare and decorate for our annual holiday open house, which we’re hosting this weekend.
The babka made for some scrumptious Hanukkah bush decorating fuel. The moist and tender brioche was swirled generously with melted chocolate, and warm slices paired perfectly with glasses of icy cold milk.
We don’t go too overboard with holiday decor. As much as I love the way it looks, I have limited patience for the untangling and wrangling, putting up and taking down, organizing and storing, and David even less so. My mom is a holiday superdecorator and I’m nowhere near her level, so I’m just grateful that she gifted us the majority of those gorgeous vintage glass ornaments.
But I loooooooveee the smell of a live tree in the house, so every year we wind up at the tree lot. It’s the same story, different year- I try and talk David into a 9 footer or the like, he laughs in my face. Then we inspect no less than a dozen (more reasonably sized) trees until I find the perfect one. And once we get it home, I’m hanging onto the mantle or teetering on the arm of the couch to perch the sparkly fleur de lis on the top.
There’s a lot of love on this little table. The chanukiah was a wedding present, and my mother in law crocheted the tablecloth as a gift for me. We collected the pinecones hiking in Big Bear during our 2nd wedding anniversary getaway, then cleaned and glittered them. I can’t help but smile when I see it all- it’s simple but special.
David got me a new MacBook Air last month, and his new camera body arrived a few weeks ago. Since we’re already using and loving our big gifts this year, we’re exchanging smaller treats each night. Some are useful, like the previous night’s Restoration Hardware foot duvets (graphite for David, grey for me), some are indulgent, like these gorgeous rose gold and brown abalone Kendra Scott earrings, and some are silly, like the box of practical jokes and disguises David proceeded to open.
With all the travel I’ve clocked this year (24 round trips in 2015) it’s been really amazing to have put up the suitcases for the year. To just spend some time around the house, making it fun and festive, just gives me all the warm and fuzzy feelings.
Introducing a new series today! I love working my way through cookbooks, so after I do, I’ll be sharing a few favorite tried-and-true recipes with my modifications here as the Cookbook Chronicles. Let me know if there are any cookbooks you’d like me to feature. Good eats and good times!
This summer’s ridiculously sweltering heat was the perfect time for me to forsake my oven and reacquaint myself with the ice cream maker I’ve had since college, and David Lebovitz‘s The Perfect Scoop was the perfect cookbook to have close at hand. Our freezers have been frequently and enthusiastically visited lately- every recipe we’ve tried has been on point.
I made this ice cream (page 80) with gorgeous black mission figs from the farmers market. Somehow, the recipe yielded plenty to churn as well as fill half a dozen popsicles, and we weren’t complaining.
Golden plum with blackberry swirl
I used super fragrant Golden Nectar plums in this ice cream (page 77) and it was the perfect balance of sweet and bright yet creamy. I subbed blackberries for raspberries in a lovely tart swirl (page 92) and it was scrumptious.
One of my favorite local creameries, Quenelle, does a yummy basil chocolate chip that inspired this. Creamy fresh basil ice cream (page 100) was streaked with semisweet Valrhona stracciatella (page 210). It made for incredible brownie sundaes, and I could barely keep from stealing bites of that not-too-sweet herbal-floral goodness when walking past the fridge.
Date, rum, and pecan
This ice cream (page 45) was probably David’s favorite batch. Trader Joe’s spiced pecans were the perfect choice here. Trini to the bone, I used generous lashings of Angostura 7 Year, and it was beautifully boozy with a creamy gelato-like texture.
Despite the calendar, we still have a good bit of SoCal summer ahead of us, and I have a pretty good feeling it will include toasted almond and candied cherry (page 60) and malted milk (page 51) ice creams.
Cheers to amazing ice cream and indian summer!