Apples and Bananas

The first time I saw a trailer for Despicable Me I thought it looked like the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. But when I accidentally saw it in the lobby of a Courtyard Marriott two summers ago and found out it was actually a heartwarming film about family and bananas, my life was changed forever, though not quite so much as when I found out the current batch of Chiquita Banana fruit stickers had minions on them. There was only one in our whole bunch, but I immediately took it off and stuck it on my computer. I knew somehow I had to catch ’em all, and that I was going to make that happen no matter how crazy it made me look.

 

I think the minions are judging me but I don't really care...

 

So did I go through every single banana in the entire display of bananas next time I went to Stop and Shop? Nope! Because my mom did it for me! Two days later she brought home a bag of 15 bananas – meant, to be fair, to develop smoothie recipes – but almost every one with a different minion sticker. I’m ashamed to say I hid them under my desk for about 36 hours, until I could painstakingly apply them to my computer without my sisters trying to steal them. But here’s the finished product – an Apple covered with bananas! They look beautiful, don’t you think?

 

minions2

 

How about you – have you ever done anything as crazy as this? Comment below and let me know I’m in good company 😉

Spotlight: Ava Eats the World

The best part of being a food blogger is getting to read other blogs and call it “research and development.” But one of the sad things is that when you’ve looked at a few hundred blogs, they all begin to look a bit the same. That’s why it’s so refreshing when you come across something really unique, like Global Table Adventure. Blogger Sasha Martin is cooking through the world in alphabetical order and best of all, she’s taking her whole family along for the ride. This is what we’re all about at The Road Home – bringing the world home, and involving everyone – so I wanted to share this video with you guys. Ava is so adorable she makes me want to reach out and give my computer a hug – I’m sure you’ll agree. This is the Uganda video but there’s one for each country, put together by Sasha’s husband, Keith (otherwise known as Mr. Picky). Be sure to check out the rest of them here! Props to Sasha & Co. – we can’t wait to see what you guys do next!

 

 

Songs We Love

In honor of the impending launch of The Road Home, and of the new Spotify embed feature, we’ve decided to bring you a homey playlist we’ve been working on. Some of these are predictable (who would have ever guessed that three songs called “Home” would end up on the list?) and some just create a comforting vibe. Look out for new additions in the next few days and weeks, and feel free to suggest anything you think we should add! We can’t wait to hear what you think.

Ba- ba- ba- ba- banana

I’m sitting in a library being really productive and putting the finishing touches on this incredible blog you don’t know about yet. A few minutes ago I decided to be really productive by going on Facebook. I saw this on a friend’s wall and since I care about the wellbeing of every reader here, I knew this valuable information was too important to go unshared. Get studying – if you have any work ethic you’ll be fluent by tomorrow.

 

Spread food-y, Minion-y love with this super awesome wallpaper from DesignBolt, or, if you’re super crazy, you can decorate your computer like me. Click here for the full story!

 

Minion Wallpaper

 

Credits:

Banana Language: 9gag

Featured image: DesignBolts

By the Book

 

If I do nothing else in this post, I have to issue an apology to Nach Waxman, the infinitely wonderful owner of Kitchen Arts and Letters, for taking (count them) eighteen months almost to the day to publish an article about his awesome Upper East Side store. I could have had two babies in that time. And it’s especially especially since I promised (I kid you not) that I would get it up the weekend after our interview. I haven’t been back in since, because I told myself I wouldn’t until I finished the article. You have no idea how hard it is to stay away from a place like that. Shame drives me to do crazy things. So I’m sorry Nach. Your store is amazing, and you’ll be seeing me again soon.

 

 

There are a million things to say about Kitchen Arts and Letters, but I’ve taken so long to write this post because I just couldn’t figure out what I had to add to the mix. When I found this store on my way to babysitting all those months ago, I naively thought I had discovered something, and I was totally ready to scoop the world. I very quickly found out that Eric Ripert (head chef at Le Bernadin) had named Kitchen Arts and Letters one of his top three things about New York he couldn’t live without. And that because of that NBC did a special on them that had run in every taxi in New York. Nach said that after this, people began pouring in from everywhere. “We get a lot of overseas customers, and about a year ago this woman came in,” he told me. “Marvelous looking, distinguished looking woman with some inscrutable accent I couldn’t make out and she started asking me a lot of questions, and I said, ‘Sure, I’m happy to talk with you, what is this about?’ She was the editor of the leading food magazine in Finland. So an article ran in Finnish.” So much for scooping the world.

 

 

So I thought about writing a simple article where I just talked about the amazing and eclectic selection of New and Used books he carries, on every topic, by every author, in every language I don’t speak. Or about the staff who will help you find anything from The Joy of Cooking to topics so specific you can’t even imagine them. Take this quite for illustration: “We used to carry, and unfortunately it’s not in print anymore, but we used to carry a book on kayak cooking. It was just food that served people on Kayak trips.” So I thought about telling you about all that (so hard that it would appear I just did) (clever, no?). But as I thought back on our conversation, I realized I was missing something much bigger.

 

 

You see, the thing about Kitchen Arts and Letters is it tells us something awesome and important about food: there’s something in it for absolutely everybody. Nach, who doesn’t much care for cooking from recipes, is very adamant that his store is not a cookbook store, despite how many they carry. “Actually less than half of the store is cookbooks,” he told me. “The other half is books about food: food culture, food science, food economics, agriculture, fiction with food themes, we carry a book called Food and the Theater of Moliere. We carry books on restaurant accounting; we carry books on almost anything.”

 

 

As I perused the store I really did find books on every subject imaginable – ethics, art, farming, eating and so much laughing. There’s no reasonable person who couldn’t find something of interest in a store like that, even though it seems like such a specific theme. And since this brilliant store specializes in only the one thing, everyone who works there is a wealth of knowledge and can easily talk to you for just about forever on whatever it is that floats your culinary boat. “Very very few books ever sell here without conversation,” Nach told me. This, he says, is one of the most important parts of his business. He has a website, but it is distinctly not for mail-ordering. “We decided quite specifically to not have online ordering because it forces you to do things that we don’t want to do, like canned descriptions of books,” he said. And so even if you don’t know what part of the food world you fit into, Kitchen Arts and Letters can help you figure that out, in a way that the internet, for all its good points, never could.

 

 

Kitchen Arts and Letters, as a store, pretty much sums up our entire life philosophy. When we tell people we want to help them Find their Inner Gourmet, we mean we want to help people find the part of food that sings to them. Food is the only art we have to encounter every single day, several times a day, and since we don’t get a choice about it, it’s a good thing there’s something for everyone to love, whether it be good writing, photography, community service or, yes, cooking. If you’re in New York, you really have to check this place out. The store is located at 1435 Lexington Avenue (between 93rd and 94th), and you can find out more at their website www.kitchenartsandletters.com.

Things You Should Know About

My computer died-ish the other morning, which is why I made a lot of promises about upcoming posts I didn’t end up keeping (and you know from experience I’d never do that otherwise). But it turns out there’s an only slightly limiting WordPress app for my phone. And I just had to share these with you, even if it means eternal thumb cramps. I care about you way too much for my own good.

Ok, imagine you are eating the fluffiest, most buttery biscuit in the whole world. And imagine if it was a perfect marriage of blissfully sweet and decadently cheesy. And imagine that even though you made it from a mix (secret recipe!) it still sort of required enough culinary steps for you to tell your friends and family you made it. If that doesn’t sound like heaven food to you, then stop paying attention to me, try Jim n Nick’s Cheese Biscuits and come up with a better description yourself. Odds are you can’t- they render most people speechless. They’re incredible. We ate them alongside fried eggs, sausage and orange juice but they’re meant to be eaten by the millions with whipped butter and a side of barbecue. Or just alone. In all seriousness my roommate ate nine.

20120328-013212.jpg

Make them with mild cheddar, not sharp, and remember that cutting in butter means rubbing it into the flour with your hands. Now you know everything you need to know. If you don’t live with anyone from Alabama, you can, and should, order a bag here.

True Devotion

 

I’m sure you’ll be shocked to hear this, but every once in a while, we college students aren’t in the mood to eat healthy food for dinner. In my suite, that means we make pancakes instead. It’s less of an incredibly terrible idea than you think, and if you serve them with fruit and count them as dessert too you can pretty much justify it. And besides, by anybody’s definition my friends and I are really good kids, so I guess this is our way of sticking it to our parents (don’t tell mom). But we should have known better than to disobey anybody ever, because today, karma came and (very literally) stuck it right back to us.

 You see the droplets on that pancake? Contrary to popular belief that's not what they're supposed to look like.

 

It began at the supermarket, when the cheapest bottle of maple syrup we could find was the same price we paid for tomorrow’s Salmon. Which granted wasn’t that much… but seriously, it’s syrup. But I’m a hardcore New Englander, and one of the very first Facebook groups I ever joined was “Just Say No to Fake Maple Syrup.” I didn’t have it in me to buy Aunt Jemima, and fortunately none of my suite-mates did either (and they’re from California and Alabama!). So we said, “Whatever, at least it will last us a while, and at least it’s not over-processed, artificially flavored corn syrup.” Plus it was organic. And we were splitting it a bunch of ways. All things considered probably worth it. We thought.

 

There's a nail in that syrup...

 

Things went swimmingly until we got to the dinner table. The pancakes puffed up perfectly, the bacon was crisp as crisp can be, and even the January blueberries were good. And then Theresa went to open the maple syrup. The cap didn’t budge. Not even a little.  She tried again. Nothing. She passed it to Mary Margaret. Still nothing. They passed it to me. Predictably nothing. As you can probably guess from the picture above (yes, that’s a nail) we were in for a long evening. Still not properly worried, we tried cutting off that little plastic ring that holds on the cap with our pancake knives. When that didn’t work, we successfully severed it with a sharp knife. But obviously, that wasn’t the problem.

 

This is the arsenal. Don't we look so legit?

 

After prying with a large kitchen knife, attempting to loosen it with a bottle opener, running it under hot water, banging it on the table and even getting my roommate, a fencer, to try her hand at it, all four of us had injured ourselves in some decently significant way. At this point, any sensible person would just give up, or at least go return the syrup. But the pancakes were cold by now anyway, and for what we paid for the syrup and the effort we’d already put in, gosh darn it, we weren’t eating without it. And since we’re not sensible in the slightest, we got out a serrated knife and started sawing it off. After many minutes of sawing we finally got through to the glass…

 Theresa with a knife

 

and of course it didn’t budge. Clearly, we realized, some spiteful person at the Brad’s Organic factory had glued the top on just for us. And so finally we had no choice but to resort to… the hammer.

 

Hammer, otherwise known as desperation at its finest

 

Five holes later, we were able to apply our syrup in a spongey fashion, like kindergarteners with those funny, squeezey glue sticks…

 

I wanted to make cookies out of this syrup... Does anyone know a better way to do this?

 

… and ultimately, we developed this beautiful contraption to let the syrup drip out over the course of the next century, so that someday I can make cookies out of it, and *maybe* we can access enough to put on waffles. The moral of this story is: never underestimate 3 nineteen-year-old girls on a quest for syrup.

The end!


I’m going to give you my favorite pancake recipe now, on the condition that your syrup a) is made of Maple and b) is not Brad’s Organic. This recipe is hopelessly fluffy, and great with bananas, with chocolate chips or with both. Or plain, or with blueberries, or with sliced strawberries. Unless you use Brad’s Organic Syrup, you just can’t go wrong.

Click to download PDF!

 

The Chipwich goes to Finishing School

 

The other day, over dinner, mom innocently asked Bella and me what our favorite Trashy Junk Food was. On so many levels, that ought to be an easy question for me to spurn: The Omnivores Dilemma is my favorite book, I love the locavore movement, I’m a part-time moral vegetarian, my mom’s a gourmet cooking teacher, and for Heaven’s sake, I write a food blog. On all accounts, I should really be above all that.

 

 

But, you may find it refreshing to know, food bloggers (most of us) are people too. From Pringles to Flavor Blasted Goldfish, Green Sour Patch Kids to Snickers Bars, memories and flavors came rushing back to me. I remembered the time at summer camp when Nora and I each ate 3 bowls of Cocoa Pebbles for breakfast, or the many Halloweens when I would trade Ellie for all her Reese’s Pieces (after we’d eaten Nathans Hot Dogs wrapped in Pillsbury Crescent Rolls for dinner…). Then, of course, some of these foods  just taste much better than any of us want to admit. Cappuccino Jelly Bellies are almost as good as Tiramisù, and McDonalds French Fries could hold their own at any bistro. We find the Ruffles rrrrrrrrridges completely irresistable, and though many of you may have heard me profess that goat cheese is my favorite food in the whole wide world, I’m sorry to say that is a vicious lie.  I’m just too ashamed to admit how much I love Frosted Flakes.

 

 

 

Your list may not be as bad as the one Isabella and I started (57 favorites, and counting) but I *know* you have foods like this too. The problem is, as I’ve already addressed, we are all so (theoretically) above these foods that it’s kind of embarrassing to buy them. Our twinkies are supposed to come from local bakeries, and at the very least we have to pretend that Paul Newman makes milk’s favorite cookie (although to be fair, Trader Joe Joes actually are way better than Oreos). But that brings me to the other issue. A lot of times, when you go back to your favorite junk foods, they don’t taste quite the way you remember. Duncan Hines brownies have yet to disappoint me, but I swear Funfetti is way sweeter than it used to be. So I decided to begin an intermittent series in which we’ll take our favorite junk foods, and we’ll make them ourselves so they’ll taste as good as we remember (maybe better!), and so we can sort of pretend they’re healthier (they’re not). And because the Good Humor Truck has been tempting me at the playground all summer, I thought we’d start with the Chipwich, my all-time Ice Cream Truck favorite.

 

 

 

I didn’t want to change it too much – no Rosewater Ice Cream or Dulce de Leche layers or Almond coatings. Those would be delicious, but superfluous. I trust you (and encourage you) to add them on your own if you want, but my goal was to get the satisfaction of the original, while making up for the few things it lacks. For our version, we adapted the New York Times version of the Jacques Torres chocolate chip cookie, which is is the best cookie we’ve ever made or eaten, and to preserve our sanity we filled them with Haagen Dazs Vanilla Ice Cream. I’ll spare you my rant on Haagen Dazs Five, but the little known secret is that Haagen Dazs Vanilla only lists five ingredients anyway, so it’s pretty much like homemade (only way better) but it spares you the stress of the ice cream freezer. And Haagen Dazs is a level of perfection you can’t improve on anyway.

 

 

Bake the cookies, freeze them, fill them, freeze them, roll them in chocolate chips, freeze them… or at any step along the way just eat them. These taste just like the original, but with a creamier filling, a more buttery cookie, more chocolatey chocolate, and top notes of bourbon from the ice cream. And they strike just the right balance of sweet-but-not-too-sweet, because there’s no HFCS! They’re perfect any time you’re yearning for a summer refreshment with an indulgent, nostalgic spirit. Our recipe is not intended as a replacement – the original will always have a place in our hearts. This is simply the chipwich refined, finally reaching its ultimate potential, grown up to be the best it can possibly be.

 

Just Peachy

My roommate this year had a pair of purple Crocs that followed me everywhere. If I was at my desk, the Crocs were underneath, if I was by my bed, they were under my ladder, and if I was walking across the floor, I could be sure that the Crocs would be right smack dab in the middle. I think most people would be annoyed, or creeped out, if a pair of shoes were stalking them. But I’m a big believer in fate (one day I’ll tell you the story of how my parents met, and you’ll understand), so I knew it must be a sign of… something.

It was a sign of this pie, if you can believe it...

 

So it made perfect sense when, in March, I got an email from John Moore, who works with none other than Mario Batali, asking me to write a post on one of Mario’s recipes. At the time I was still in New York  – so close to Eataly but so far from my kitchen – but I hurriedly immersed myself in the vibrant Babbo Cookbook so I could get cooking as soon as I got home.

 

This cookbook is awesome

 

Picking a recipe was next to impossible. Goat Cheese Tortelloni with Dried Orange and Fennel Pollen sounded so decadent, but then again homemade Gnocchi with Oxtail Ragù was reminiscent of the first meal I ate out in New York. I read about Duck with Chicory, Preserved Lemons and Kumquat Vinaigrette, Asparagus Vinaigrette with Black Pepper Pecorino Zabaglione, and even a Saffron Panna Cotta that sounded perfectly indulgent. It wasn’t actually until I got home that I could even make a decision. But when late May came around, and the sun began to shine, and the thermometer hit 90, and I got out my shorts and skirts and began to spend my days building fairy houses in the backyard with Francesca and Isabella, the answer was clear. “This weather clearly calls for a Peach Crostata with Honey Butter and Honey Vanilla Gelato,” I thought to myself, “I wonder if Mario has a recipe for anything like that…”

 

Woah....

 

And you can imagine my utter shock when Mario had a recipe for exactly that…

(Just kidding) (I fudged the details of that story a bit)

 

A cross section of the crostata

 

I ran out to pick up some beautiful Georgia peaches, turned on Andrea Bocelli Radio (which is the only thing you can listen to while making Italian food, or really just while making food) and got to work baking. And I should warn you – making all the parts of this recipe will take you a good part of the day. But I can promise that it is ridiculously worth it. And even if you can’t, for example, make the gelato because you haven’t got the time (or the gelato maker), please make the Crostata. It is the perfect Italian twist on Peach Pie (or to use Mario’s words, what happened when “the perfect summer pie happened to take a little ride uptown”) and it brings summer wherever you are.

I began a bit scared because I have very little experience in tart doughs. But this one, to my shock, took about 10 minutes, and it smells and tastes, like an amazing cookie. I kept on calling my family over to smell it while I was making it. Which is a weird thing to do with a tart dough. But it really smelled that good. And, in fact, I actually made cookies out of the extra dough, and filled them with spekuloos (although in the spirit of Italy, I’d actually recommend using Nutella instead). They’re a bit tougher in texture than the tart shell, since you have to knead them and roll them out again, but it’s so much better than letting the dough go to waste.

 

Cookies&Milk

 

There are just a few important things to remember. First of all, freeze your butter after you dice it so that your crust will be nice and flaky. It’ll only take a few minutes, but it makes a big difference. Second of all, if your refrigerator has a tendency to freeze things, as ours did the day I made this, then only chill the dough for three-four hours, rather than overnight, so it doesn’t have a chance to freeze. Otherwise you will have a very interesting time trying to roll it out. If it does for some reason, freeze, you have little choice but to let it thaw a bit, so just be careful to make sure the thawed dough doesn’t stick to your work surface. Put down a little flour underneath when you roll it out, but if it does still stick, carefully run the blunt end of a chef’s knife underneath the dough to separate it from the countertop. Then just pick it by draping it over your rolling pin, and lay in the tart pan.

 

How to make a crust

 

With the crust behind me I moved on to the filling and the gelato. Everything went off delightfully without a hitch. The almond filling is about as simple as a buttercream (and the process is very similar), and the peaches just need to be tossed with a few things to accentuate their flavor and texture. And as for the gelato, just remember – making gelato is quite a bit like making a creme brulée, or a creme anglaise – it’s very important to temper your eggs by whisking in a little bit (1/3 cup or so) of your cream, before slowly pouring the yolks into the cream, whisking all the while. That’s the best way to avoid fancy scrambled eggs (unless you like that kind of thing). But that’s the hardest part of the recipe, and it’s really not as scary as it sounds. Then just freeze the gelato in a better gelato maker than my $30 disaster (there are horror stories, but you don’t need to hear them… they involve cursing and a kitchenaid), and you’re done!

 

The crostata again

 

I hate to say it, but I always expect to have to change something when I use a restaurant cookbook, because professionals often don’t measure when they cook, making their recipes difficult to transcribe. So you can imagine my actual surprise (as distinct from the fake surprise of before) when everything came out the first time, without editing anything. This recipe translates beautifully from restaurant kitchen to home kitchen, which I think is one of it’s chief successes. The other thing I love, is that while there are many steps, none of them are too difficult, which perfectly illustrates the Fig philosophy, that a recipe doesn’t need to involve ridiculous techniques and liquid nitrogen to be absolutely perfect. The essence of good cuisine lies in knowing the best way to accentuate an ingredient, or in understanding how to blend flavors, which this recipe does perfectly. So whether your summer is here, or right around the corner, this Crostata is the perfect way to welcome it in. Serve it warm, or chilled, with a scoop of gelato and a drizzle of honey butter. Put on your favorite pair of Crocs, turn up Andrea Bocelli, and love your life. If you can get local fruit, even better – I can’t wait to make this after the first time I go peach picking. But even if you can’t, this quintessential, sophisticated summer dessert is tutto delicioso e tutto perfetto. Buon Appetito!

 

Peach Crostata with Honey Butter and Honey Vanilla Gelato

From: Reprinted with permission from Mario Batali’s The Babbo Cookbook

Ingredients:

    1 recipe Tart Dough (see below)

      Almond Filling

      • 1 1/2 cups blanched, sliced, almonds
      • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
      • 1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
      • 1 egg
      • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
      • pinch of kosher salt

      Streusel

      • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
      • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
      • 1/2 cup blanched, sliced Almonds
      • 3/4 cup sugar
      • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

      Peaches

      • 6 medium ripe peaches
      • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
      • 1/2 cup sugar

      Honey Butter

      • 1 cup honey
      • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
      • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened

      2 pints Honey Vanilla Gelato (see below)

        Directions:

        1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
        2. Roll the chilled Tart Dough into a 12-inch circle, large enough to line the bottom and sides of a 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Press the dough into the sides and trim the top so that the dough is flush with the tart pan. Place the pastry shell in the refrigerator and chill until completely firm, about 30 minutes.
        3. To make the filling: spread the almonds evenly on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until light golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Allow to cool completely, then place the nuts in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped but not powdery.
        4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and the confectioners’ sugar until very smooth and creamy. Beat in the egg, followed by the vanilla and the salt. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Thoroughly beat in the ground almonds. Set aside.
        5. To make the streusel: Melt the butter and set aside to cool. Place the flour, almonds, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the melted butter and pulse to form pea-size crumbs. Spread the streusel out onto a cookie sheet and chill briefly.
        6. Peel the peaches and cut into 1/4-inch wedges. In a large bowl, toss the peach wedges with the lemon juice, vanilla, flour and sugar. Spread enough of the almond filling on the bottom of the tart to completely cover it, and arrange the peach slices densely on top. Sprinkle the streusel crumbs over the tart. Place the tart on a baking sheet to catch any juices and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the crust and streusel are nicely browned and the juices are bubbling. Allow to cool completely before removing the tart from the pan.
        7. To make the honey butter: In a small saucepan, combine the honey and the insides of the split vanilla bean. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the hone is reduced by 2 thirds. Whisk in the butter until it is completely incorporated.
        8. Serve with a scoop of the Honey Vanilla Gelato and drizzle with the honey butter.

        Tart Dough

        From: Reprinted with permission from Mario Batali’s The Babbo Cookbook

        Ingredients:

        • 2 1/3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
        • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
        • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
        • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
        • grated zest of 1 orange
        • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small cubes
        • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
        • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
        • 2 teaspoons heavy cream

        Directions:

        1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and orange zest. 
        2. Add the cold butter cubes and toss lightly to coat. Pulse until the butter is the size of small peas.
        3. In a separate bowl, combine the egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and heavy cream, and add it to the flour-butter mixture. 
        4. Pulse to moisten the dough, then pulse until it begins to come together. 
        5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead by hand. 
        6. If the dough is too dry, add a few drops of heavy cream. 
        7. Shape into a small disk, wrap, and chill thoroughly for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

        Honey-Vanilla Gelato

        From: Reprinted with permission from Mario Batali’s The Babbo Cookbook

        Ingredients:

        • 9 egg yolks (*note from Gabrielle – save the whites, we’re going to do something with them in an upcoming post)
        • 1/2 cup honey
        • pinch of kosher salt
        • 2 1/4 cups milk
        • 3/4 cup heavy cream
        • 1 plump vanilla bean, split lengthwise
        • 2 tablespoons sugar

        Directions:

        1. Place the egg yolks in a small bowl and whisk together with the honey and salt.
        2. Combine the milk and cream in a medium saucepan. Add the vanilla bean and sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat. When the milk and cream come to a rolling boil, quickly whisk some of the boiling milk into the egg yolk mixture, then return the egg yolk mixture back tot he pot. Whisk well to combine the rest of the milk with the egg yolk mixture. Strain through a chinois or fine-mesh strainer and save the vanilla bean for future use.
        3. Chill the custard completely, then freeze in a gelato maker according the the manufacturer’s instructions.

        Prête à Etudier? I am now…

        I am currently quite extremely busy studying away for exams, but I’m taking a study break to let you in on a little secret. Its name is spekuloos and it’s keeping me alive.

        Spec-you-lohse. Just for the record, the dagoba hot chocolate behind it is aweful. Do not buy it. I won it, and I keep it on my shelf because it looks nice. But it has the texture of chalk, as does the actual chocolate they make. It is not good.

        If you live within a million mile radius of New York, you need to make a pilgrimage to Wafels and Dinges, the best food truck in the universe. No exaggeration – A million miles, Best in the universe. The truck travels with their waffles and dinges (which I believe loosely translates to “thingies” but for our purposes means toppings) around the city every day, and they can be found by their twitter feed. If you can go, order a lièges Waffle, made with dough, not batter. But even if you can’t go, because you live more than a million miles away, you absolutely must try their spekuloos spread, which you can, and should, order from their website. It’s a spread with the texture of a less sticky peanut butter, but made with “de Belgian Gingerbread Cookies.” Essentially it tastes like gingerbread without the unnecessary extra spices. It’s so much better than peanut butter. In fact, I’m pretty sure this is the next Nutella (remember, you heard it here first). It’s perfect on bread, crepes, matzah, bananas and waffles, and I spekulate (sorry) it would be a fantastic glue for a gingerbread house.

        Some might say this is not helping me study for my impending French and Bio exams. But as I eat the above spekuloos with a spoon, my digestive system is breaking the sugars in it down into glucose monomers (yeah, that’s right), which are giving me energy through the rather complicated cell respiration system I’m about to memorize. And hey, they speak French in Belgium, right?

        *”Prête à étudier” means “ready to study.” I’m practicing my prepositions and everything!