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!
Plum Vol au Vents
5 Ripe Plums
5 Tbsp. of Honey
Puff Pastry, defrosted
4 Tbsp. of Whole Milk
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.
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?!
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
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.
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.
207 2nd avenue, New York, NY 10003
What to Order:
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.
Go across the street to Milk Bar and sample the Cereal Milk or Crack Pie soft serve.
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!
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
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.
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.
P.S. Stay tuned next week for Hailey and my reviews of all the food we tried on our NYC vacation!
Vegan Tomato Galette
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
3 Large Heirloom Tomatoes
1 Medium Zucchini
1 Medium Yellow Squash
2 Cloves of Garlic, minced.
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.