Friday, January 31, 2014

White Chocolate Brownies

After reading David Lebovitz's "The Sweet Life in Paris," I've become slightly obsessed with French food and culture.  So when he posted this fabulous recipe, which originated in a French magazine, I knew I had to try it.  I'm kind of picky when it comes to white chocolate because sometimes it tastes artificial or overly sweet. But with highly quality Ghirardelli white chocolate, these brownies are a welcome deviation from traditional brownies - they're moist and chewy and the lemon zest gives it a perfect zing. 

Above: Nobody said this was a healthy recipe.  With over a stick of butter, this recipe is classically French.
Below: I baked the batter for exactly 30 minutes.  Depending on your oven, monitor the crust color to prevent over-baking, or worse, drying out. Nobody likes dry cake. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

LA Winter Tart

There may be a polar vortex blowing through the country, but in LA, it's been feeling like summer lately.  I took advantage of the beautiful LA weather (and harvest) by making a berry tart, which is usually reserved for summer.  With an extra pie crust in the freezer, I improvised and made a rectangular tart, which I filled with some homemade eclair custard cream and topped with a berry mix.  Summer or not, this is the perfect base for any fruit tart.

Custard Recipe

2 cups milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon butter

1. In a saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla over medium heat.  Bring to a boil.  Immediately turn off the heat and set aside.
2.  In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and whisk vigorously until there are no lumps. 
3. Whisk in some of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture. (A splash will do).  The purpose is to bring up the temperature of the eggs gradually so they don't curdle. Whisk in the remaining hot milk mixture into the eggs.  Pour the entire mixture through a strainer back into the saucepan. 
4. Cook over medium-high heat. Whisk constantly until thick and slowly boiling.
5. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter.  Once it has cooled to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. 

To assemble the tart: 
Thaw the pie crust until pliable.  Press the dough into your desired pan.  Bake the pie crust according to the package directions.  Once the pie crust is cooked and cooled, spread the cooled custard mixture into the tart shell and top with your favorite fruit.  Dust with powdered sugar.  Alternatively, try glazing the fruit with warm jam or jelly.

...Or, just dip the fruit in the custard and eat as is!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

30 Degree Weekend

View from the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Museum Row 

I spent this past weekend in New York with a few of my best girlfriends from college.  Having graduated from college in a town that is eternally sunny, the four of us were perpetually frozen during the whole weekend.  But, the icing on the cake was reuniting with my freshman year roommate, who is a temporary New Yorker (until she moves back to the best coast).  Sharing a room with these amazing girls and seeing old faces made me nostalgic for our dorm days, and although we were only together for a short weekend, I realized that time doesn't weaken true friendships. 

Above Left: Breakfast at Ess-a-bagel.  
Above Right: Dinner at Mario Batali's newest venture, Otto Enoteca

 Above: Our hotel lobby, where episodes of Gossip Girl were filmed
Below: Obligatory trip to Laduree

Above: Picasso's "Les Demoiselles d'avignon" at MoMa
Below: Lombardi's white pizza and margherita pizza, which were both inhaled in 5 seconds.

Above Left: Arguably the cheesiest french onion soup in existence at Balthazar in SoHo. My friends loved the Steak Frites.
Above Right: French toast and mascarpone/cherry rice pudding at Rice to Riches in Nolita. (Think rice pudding รก la Pinkberry.)
Below: Flower mimosas at Sarabeth's on the Upper West Side


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