Plum Vol au Vents

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 My brother recently went to France to visit his girlfriend. Though I could easily spout off the reasons why I could be immensely jealous (his girlfriend lives on a farm in the South of France, her mother is a great baker who makes French breads and pastries for all the local stores and restaurants, they harvest their own honey… did I mention that her mother is a baker?), Michael brought me back a lot of French swag.

Included in my “swag” was a bottle of award-winning French wine and one jar of honey harvested from the bees around the farm. I had no problem finishing the bottle of wine, especially since my brother helped himself and his roommate to a glass, but there’s only so many cups of tea with honey this girl can drink.

I decided the only thing that could do French honey justice was a French-inspired pastry. Thus enters my plum vol au vents. I love this recipe because it combines one of my favorite stone fruits with layer upon buttery layer of puff pastry. It might not be the healthiest thing for you, but boy, will it taste good. I hope you enjoy them!

Cheers!

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Plum Vol au Vents

5 Ripe Plums

5 Tbsp. of Honey

Cracked Pepper

Puff Pastry, defrosted

Egg Wash

1 Egg

4 Tbsp. of Whole Milk

Directions:

Wash and dice four plums. In an oiled pan, toss with honey and cracked pepper. Broil at 500 degrees for 15 minutes or until soft. Set aside to cool.

On a floured surface, roll out the defrosted puff pastry until it’s about 1/4″ thick. With a 4″ circular cookie cutter, cut an even number of circles in the dough. In half of the dough circles, press a 2″ cookie cutter in the center of the dough — only enough to create a distinct demarcation. Beat the egg and milk together to create the egg wash, and generously baste the half of the dough circles without demarcation lines. Gently cover with the other half of the puff pastry circles and press the edges together to create a seal. Generously baste the top of the puff pastry circles with the egg wash. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until dough rises and is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let vol au vents cool.

After the dough cools, take a knife (I used a pairing knife) and cut along the demarcation lines on top of each vol au vent. Remove any extra dough from the interior of the pastry, and fill with the plum mixture. Garnish with slices of plum.

Serves 6.

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Rosemary Truffle White Bean Hummus

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I’m not sure if truffle is just really “in” right now, if it’s a New York thing or if I’m just going through a phase but … I’m hooked. Definitely too many truffle parmesan fries as of late, but I finally gave in and bought a bottle for cooking. It’s definitely a very rich ingredient, but just a dash can make all the difference in a recipe.

*Funny side story about “truffles”…when Cathy and I were in Spain in May, we were hanging out with some Spanish guys and walked down a sort of sketchy alley on the way to a bar. They were explaining how you have to be careful in some areas of Madrid, there can be pick-pockets and truffle dealers. My ears definitely perked up…I thought we had stumbled upon the truffle black market, what a jackpot. He was confused when Cathy and I looked excited, and after awhile we figured out he was talking about the drug commonly known as “shrooms,” not the truffle kind. So be careful when asking for truffles outside the US!*

Back to the real kind of truffles…My roommates and I consume an unreasonable amount of hummus, because it’s one of those things that’s easy to grab and dip some veggies in after work. But I’m starting to get tired of the same old plain flavor, so I decided I would take a stab at something different. I am still gathering my life together here in NYC and getting used to a tiny kitchen and limited space, but I finally bought a food processor so I can finally make my basics from scratch again! (Can’t wait to start making nut butters :D) Anyway, I started with a white bean base instead of the classic chickpea, and kind of threw in all my favorite flavors- rosemary, lemon, garlic, basil…and truffle. I have to say it turned out pretty well, and was  great as a hungover Sunday snack. Can’t wait to come up with more fun ideas to use truffle oil! Suggestions?!

Bon Appétit!

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Rosemary Truffle White Bean Hummus

1 Can Canneloni Beans (~15oz), liquid removed and rinsed

1/4 Cup Chickpeas

1/4 Cup and 1 Tsp Olive Oil, separate

1 Tsp Fresh Lemon Juice

1 Tsp Grated Lemon Peel

1 Tsp Truffle Oil

1 Clove Garlic

1 Sprig Fresh Rosemary, stem removed

Directions:

In a food processor, blend canneloni beans, chickpeas, 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon juice, lemon peel, truffle oil, garlic and rosemary until smooth.  Place in a bowl, and swirl in the tsp of olive oil. Place a spring of rosemary in the middle for presentation. Serve with fresh vegetables, pita bread or crackers.

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A Taste of NYC: Momofuku Ssam Bar

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Chilled summer beans (left), spicy pork sausage and rice cakes (right)

Oh, alamain readers, I’ve been neglecting you. Just like the boy who promises to call after a date but never does, I teased you with promises of tantalizing stories of the New York food scene but never delivered. I wish I could throw excuses your way such as, “I was testing out new recipes” or “I left my tastebuds in New York City,” but in reality, I’ve just been so darn busy. You don’t have to wait much longer as I am so excited to tell you about our dining experience at Momofuku Ssam Bar. But first…. let me give you the quick “elevator update” of my last few weeks:

  • My cousins moved back to the United States after 5+ years living in Korea. Not only did I get to reconnect with my cousin Brandon (the last time I saw him, he was 4), I met my youngest cousin Ryan (2) for the first time.
  • Thanks to Hailey’s suggestion, I applied to a Saturday program through UCLA that helps underprivileged high school students with their college applications. It feels nice to be able to give back, though I’ll admit I’m nervous that I’m not certified to give advice… certifiable? Well, that’s another story. ;)
  • And, last but not least, Alamain was most recently featured on Buzzfeed for the first time for our Bi Bim Bap post from a while back. Check us out at #16. :)

With mini-updates out of the way, let’s discuss food. I’ve been eager to try one of the Momofuku restaurants ever since one of my coworkers made the Momofuku Milk Bar Cake for another coworker’s birthday. I was so impressed by layer after layer of crumb and cake that I spent 6+ hours trying to recreate it for Hailey’s birthday a couple years back. It’s still one of the baked goods I’m most proud of to-date. If a cake could look and taste so good, I knew that the brick and mortar restaurants would not disappoint.

Ssam roughly translates to “wrapped” in Korean and refers to the Korean lettuce wrap usually filled with rice, some meat and spices. Despite the name, the restaurant didn’t stick only to Korean traditional dishes and ventured into some interesting Asian-fusion food combinations. If you have a chance to try Ssam Bar, I highly recommend it. Just come early, or expect to wait for over an hour to grab a seat at one of their many communal tables.

Cheers!

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bread and butter (left). steam buns with pork belly (right)

Momofuku Ssam Bar

207 2nd avenue, New York, NY 10003

What to Order:

Main:

Chilled summer beans, spicy pork sausage and rice cakes, bread and butter. steam buns (pork belly!), tempura soft-shell crab and the garlic roasted  quail.

Dessert:

Go across the street to Milk Bar and sample the Cereal Milk or Crack Pie soft serve.

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tempura soft-shell crab (left), garlic roasted quail (right)

Summer Green Salad

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Now that Labor Day has come and gone, is summer really over? I see that they started servicing Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks…but who is going to drink them when it’s 90 degrees in NYC! In my book, summer is still going strong, hence the need for a refreshing green salad. I am going to keep eating fresh summer foods for as long as I can. As they say in Game of Thrones…Winter is Coming. So there will be plenty of time for fun fall foods to come.

Since being in NYC I’ve had a constant stream of visitors, which is great, but it means eating out a lot. The restaurants here are so good, but the lifestyle is overly indulgent. This past Sunday I wanted a day completely to myself, since I haven’t had one in about a month. I woke up early and went to the gym, did laundry, cleaned, ran errands…and made the most refreshing salad for a hot September day- no eating out for a day please! (Turns out I totally forgot my dad was in town for the night and we had a reservation at Stanton Social so my healthy day sort of got scratched come evening- but it was totally worth it).

The theme of this salad is green- everything green. The cucumber and honey dew give it a very crisp and light feel, and the fresh lime and cayenne pepper give it a tiny kick. I was very pleased with how it turned out, I will definitely be keeping this on my rotation of healthy lunch salads!

Bon Appétit!

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Summer Green Salad (Recipe from Whole Foods)

1 Large Cucumber, peeled and diced into small pieces

1 1/2 Cups Diced Honey Dew

1 Green Pepper, diced

2 Heaping Tbsps Fresh Chopped Mint Leaves

Juice from 1 Lime

1/4 Tsp Cayenne Pepper

A Pinch of Sea Salt

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the diced cucumber, honey dew and green pepper. Add the fresh mint leaves. Pour the lime juice into the bowl and mix together. Add the cayenne pepper and sea salt, mixing to combine. Serve chilled.

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Heirloom Tomato Galette

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 I spent the Labor Day weekend visiting Hailey in her new New York apartment. When I arrived late Thursday night, the city was alive with late night pizza joints and people on every corner. It was completely different than my quiet LA neighborhood, and, I’ll admit, I loved it!

The next morning, Marta flew in with the rest of the LA crew, and we embarked on what has turned into a little tradition: a morning stroll around the city with a coffee and croissant from Dean & Deluca in hand. Let me tell you, these croissants are so buttery and flakey, it’s hard to eat just one. We reasoned that every 40 blocks we walked was worth one croissant…that’s rational right?! Regardless of this line of reasoning, I think it’s safe to say I packed on a few pounds from our weekend chock-full of foodie adventures.

Before I left for New York, (in an effort to eat healthier to prepare for the upcoming trip) I made this vegan galette. For something sans butter, the crust was decent and flakey–though no where near those Dean & Deluca croissants I was raving about earlier. I wanted to take advantage of the beautiful heirloom tomatoes we’ve been blessed with this summer, so I decided to throw in a few of those too. I hope you all enjoy.

Cheers!

P.S. Stay tuned next week for Hailey and my reviews of all the food we tried on our NYC vacation!

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Vegan Tomato Galette

Crust

2 Cups of Whole Wheat Flour

4 Tbsp. of Vegetable Shortening

8 Tbsp. of Vegan Butter

2 Tbsp. of Water

1/2 Tsp. of Salt

Filling

3 Large Heirloom Tomatoes

1 Medium Zucchini

1 Medium Yellow Squash

Red Onion

2 Cloves of Garlic, minced.

Olive Oil

Directions:

To make the dough, add all the dry ingredients into a food processor and pulse to mix. Add 1 tablespoon of shortening and vegan butter at a time and pulse until the flour mixture looks and feels grainy to the touch. Add water (adding more than 2 tablespoons if needed) until the dough begins to stick together. Wrap in parchment and chill for at least an hour.

Once the dough is chilled, roll on a floured surface roughly into a circle about 1/4 an inch thick. Drizzle olive oil and minced garlic on the surface, leaving about a one inch border. Alternate layers of tomato and summer squash. Top with red onion shavings. Fold in the crust edges. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 6-8 servings.
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A Taste of NYC: Red Farm

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Katz Deli Pastrami Egg Roll

I’m not sure if you’re aware, but dim sum is my jam. I grew up on dim sum as a kid when my family lived in Hong Kong, and to this day it’s up there with my favorite foods. I even took Cathy to her first dim sum in LA…she didn’t love it, but LA kind of fails on the Chinese food front; San Francisco and New York I would argue totally crush it. I promise you’ll come around, Cathy.

I first heard about Red Farm while reading one of my favorite food blogs, Chez Catey Lou. Her husband does a Friday Night Dinner series, and I think it’s adorable that he gets involved and adds restaurant reviews to her beautiful baking creations. Anyway, the description of upscale dim sum immediately caught my interest.

I did some research on the menu, and found several interesting things. 1) They serve dim sum appetizers for dinner. Dim Sum is usually more of a weekend brunch food, so it’s a huge score that they have it here at night, what a novel idea. 2) The menu is not JUST dim sum, but an eclectic grouping of creative Chinese-inspired dishes. By Chinese-inspired, I mean they have a Katz Deli pastrami egg roll- talk about a New York twist! Don’t think you’ll find that anywhere else.

I think my favorite dish (see the picture below) was the Pac Man dumplings. It was almost too cool to eat; they literally made dumplings into a scene from Pac Man. This place definitely gets an A++ for creativity, and the taste to match.

Some tidbits: They will only take reservations for 8-20 people, and this is prix fixe. I ate at the West Village location (there is also one on the Upper East Side) with my parents around 7 and we only had to wait about 10 minutes- so I suggest just going early. PLEASE order the Spicy Crispy Beef (if you eat beef). It’s something we completely looked over until the waitress suggested it, but I would argue it is the dish absolutely not to miss.

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BBQ’d Pork Belly

 

Red Farm

529 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014

What to Order:

Drink: Blackberry Fizz, House Mule, Thai Basil Lemonade

Main: Spicy Crispy Beef, BBQ’d Pork Belly, Katz Pastrami Egg Roll, Pac Man Shrimp Dumplings, Wide Rice Noodles w/BBQ Roast Duck

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Spicy Crispy Beef

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Wide Rice Noodles

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Vegan Carrot Cake Bars

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TWO MORE DAYS. I’ve been counting down the days until our little gang makes our way to New York and reunites with Hailey. And now, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Hailey planned our NYC eating itinerary over a month before she officially became a resident. That means she planned our restaurant list TWO MONTHS IN ADVANCE.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m beyond excited; I’ve already perused each restaurant’s menu countless times and know exactly what I’ll be ordering.

As a way to hopefully prevent some of the damage I’m sure to do against my waistline, I’m doing a make-shift “master cleanse” this week. (I have a protein smoothie for breakfast, master cleanse for lunch, and a salad topped with lean protein for dinner). I’m currently on day two of this “cleanse,” and honestly, the only thing that keeps me from raiding the candy dispensers at work is thoughts of the lobster egg benedict at Jane Restaurant brunch.

I made these carrot cake bars over the weekend as a healthy alternative for my ever-present sweet tooth. Since I’m not a fan of carrots and dislike dates, you would think that I would hate these bars; but, I actually really enjoyed them. The best part? They are vegan! Just remember to pit your dates before you blend the ingredients, or you might end up with a “pit”iful toothache. ;)

Cheers!

carrotcakebarVegan Carrot Cake Bars

1 Cup of Almonds

1/2 Cup of Shredded Carrot

1/3 Cup of Unsweetened Shredded Coconut

1/4 Cup of Raisins

10 Pitted Dates

3 Tbsp. of Honey

Directions:

Place almonds into a high-powered blender and blend until it reaches a crumbly consistency. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until mixed. Press mixture into the bottom of a lined, 9-inch pan and chill for at least an hour. Cut, and wrap bars.

Makes 6-8 servings.

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“Mexican Hot Chocolate” Smoothie

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 This is my first time “cooking” in my NYC apartment! Yes, I’m using the term lightly. The past few weeks have been a whirlwind, and I am embarrassed to say I have yet to use the oven. The convenience of dinner options is just way too crazy, but I am planning on forcing myself to cook once in awhile once things settle down. The good news about my NYC apartment is that I have an amazing outdoor patio space (see photo at the bottom!) which means the natural light and settings available for my photography are even better than I had in LA. Yes, I’m very lucky…such a patio is unheard of in this city.

This smoothie recipe is one of my favorites, and it’s packed full of protein and quite healthy. I’ve always loved a good chocolate-cinnamon combination, and this smoothie, or you may even call it a healthy milkshake, is good enough to eat for breakfast (or dinner?). It’s got pure cacao powder, greek yogurt, banana, peanut butter and almond milk–all guilt-free ingredients, so drink up!

Also, guess what?! A La Main will officially be reunited in precisely ONE WEEK! Yes, Cathy and the gang are coming to visit me in NYC for Labor Day Weekend. And you can bet there will be plenty of cooking eating throughout the weekend! I can’t wait to take my friends to some awesome spots I’ve discovered in my neighborhood, as well as explore some new places. Stay tuned!

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Mexican Hot Chocolate Inspired Smoothie 

1 Banana, frozen

1/2 Cup of Non-fat Greek Yogurt

1/4 Cup of Almond Milk

1 1/2 Tbsp of Peanut Butter

2 Tbsp of Raw Cacao Powder

1 Tsp of Cinnamon

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together in a blender and enjoy.

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Spiked Arnold Palmer

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In honor of National Lemonade Day (technically tomorrow, August 20th), we’ve decided to present to you, the boozier cousin of the Arnold Palmer. But before we get the the refreshing cocktail, I thought I would share some interesting tidbits I ran across while doing my recipe research.

  •   The drink’s named after the American golfer, Arnold Palmer. The drink supposedly got it’s name when Palmer ordered a tea/lemonade mocktail at the 1960s U.S. Open. A woman nearby saw the drink and told her waiter, “I’ll have the Palmer drink.”
  • There’s no strict lemonade to tea ratio, though most restaurants use a half and half combination.

And some fun facts on lemons to make you day a little brighter.

  • Since lemons are high in vitamin C, sailors used them as a way to prevent scurvy, a disease that causes achy joints, loose teeth and bleeding gums. According to Sunkist, to this day, the British Navy requires ships to carry enough lemons for sailors to have one ounce of juice a day.
  • Lemons are multi-duty. Not only do they taste good, they act as pretty powerful natural cleaners. According to Cooking Light, the juice can brighten aluminum, the rind (dipped in salt) acts as an abrasive scrubber and the “leftovers” can be used as a sink disposal deodorizer. Now, that’s what I call your money’s worth.
  • Lemon trees produce fruit all year, meaning any day can be a Palmer day.

One of my coworkers said the other day, “you know you’ve made it when they make a non-alcoholic drink after you.” I’ll counter, a little bit of vodka never hurt anybody…especially when it looks like this!

Cheers!

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Spiked Arnold Palmer

3 Cups of Trader Joe’s Organic Lemonade

6-7 Black Tea Bags

3 Cups of Water

1 1/2 Cups of Vodka

Mint

Oranges

Lemons

Directions:

Boil water and steep tea bags until tea is almost cool. Mix lemonade, tea and vodka. Add wedges of orange and lemon and garnish with mint.

Makes 6-8 servings.

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A Taste of NYC: ABC Cocina

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My Dad had to be in NYC all this week for work, so my Mom decided to come out to NYC too for the whole week. At first I said: fantastic! I can get started on so many of the restaurants I’ve been dying to try, since they are here for a total of 6 nights. Today marks night 5, and let me tell you…I’m starting to get a little sick of eating out, to my surprise. We’ve eaten at some great places so far (yes, reviews to come), but perhaps our favorite dinner has been ABC Cocina.

I told my Dad I wanted to eat at ABC Kitchen, but he got confused and made a reservation at the wrong place (although same chef). What a serendipitous mistake, as it turns out Cocina has moved to the top slots on my family’s NYC restaurant list. The food is tapas style, with unique Mexican, Spanish and contemporary flavors and often odd combinations. We took a look at the menu and decided out of the 30 or so listings there were maybe two things we weren’t too keen on. This is definitely one of the few places I might come back to sooner than later purely because you could have an entirely different meal.

Our reservation wasn’t until 9:30, but we were starving so we headed over early to see if our table was ready. We ended up sitting at the bar for half an hour, and ordered the most delicious mango sangria. It was pretty sweet, but very refreshing on a warm NYC summer night. Once we were sat, we immediately order the sweet pea guacamole. Now, I’m an avocado FREAK…i could eat them all day everyday. But this guac was outrageously good, even for a California girl with high standards. All in all, this place is definitely a MUST if you come to NYC.

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ABC Cocina

38 East 19th St., New York, NY 10003

What to Order:

Drink: Mango Sangria

Main: Sweet pea guacamole, shrimp with sizzling garlic and chili oil, gooey spicy ham and cheese fritters, crispy fish tacos, savory glazed short rib tacos, market string beans, maitake mushrooms, arroz con pollo

Dessert: We were too full for dessert however the waitress gave us a bag of cookies to go! The dulce de leche was amazing.
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