Life Happens.

When you’re busy making plans. 

…. Miss me? 

I’ll be back tomorrow. I hope. 

A lot has been going on and clearly … I have some esplainnnnin to do!

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Late Night Eats: Tomato Pesto Risotto.

If you watch Triple D, known as Diners, Drive-ins & Dives to its less affectionate fans, which Food Network somehow conveniently broadcasts late at night (conspiracy I tell you…) you will relate to where I am coming from.

Tonight Guy, as he is oh so easily able to do, foiled my plan to close my kitchen for the evening and enjoy an order of takeout for the first time, in a long time. The vent fan went on, the gas on the Viking radiated heat in my most favorite color blue in the world, and I found myself cooking a hodge podge late night eat.

High class hodge podge of course….

It’s been one of those weeks. You feel lazy because your to-do list still sits with not one item crossed off, but you know that at most times you were actually so busy you forgot to breathe. This week I forgot to go grocery shopping, I didn’t get enough work done that I needed to do, I ate too much butter, and I didn’t get enough sleep. Yet, somehow I made a lot of progress with a couple of my projects. But back track to the forgetting to grocery shop… yea. Some food lover I am.

So tonight, as I sat there staring at Guy take bites big enough for a small army (ha.ha. Guy’s Big Bite?… I get it now) I knew I needed to think of some way to throw together what I had.

  • A 3/4 of the way full carton of chicken stock
  • 2 unfinished bottles of chardonnay
  • 2 roma tomatoes… that looked half like prunes
  • 1 tupperware of homemade pesto
I always have arborio on hand, so, even though I wanted to break out a cuisinart and try to figure out the secret to the tomato jam on tonight’s episode- I went comfort – Tomato Pesto Risotto
Place the stock in a medium pot over high heat so that it reaches a slow boil. Meanwhile, mince and saute a medium vidalia onion in olive oil and then toss in the chopped plum tomato. As it all combines, take a cup of arborio rice, pour it into the mix to let the grains brown for a few minutes… then ladle portions of the broth and splashes of the chardonnay over the rice until it becomes that beautiful creamy consistency that I love. Finish the dish off by spreading spoonfuls of pesto throughout..
20 minutes of constant cook, some of the best aromas that exist marrying in front of my eyes, and now I sit on the couch, not feeling so jealous of Guy anymore.
p.s. a mug is the best way to enjoy late night eats. spills minimized, super portable. made for tv.

Patience and a Great Scale. Tartine Bread: Day 5.

I am not sure what was worse… the appearance or the smell as soon as I unveiled my starter after the first two days of rest.

By the end of this whole experience I anticipate that my bread will be named and will have a permanent place in my family. Right now it is living in the office, in the deep dark cold corner, tucked in nicely with a kitchen towel…

Anyway, clearly something was working because it was all quite stunning.

It’s fun to look forward to feeding it every day! 4pm is the magical hour.

You remove all but 75 grams of what is in the bowl and throw it away, and then “feed” it 100 grams of 78 degree water, and 150 grams of the flour blend that was made and ziploc bagged on the first day. On the bag I put a tick mark with each day that passes just to be precise…

I love the reward of slow and steady progress, but really without patience and a good scale, this loaf would absolutely cease to ever exist.

8 Ways to Go Cupcake Crazy.

As much as I love to cook, I love to bake more. I love crafting dishes with the freshest ingredients, but I love creaming softened butter and sugar more. If you asked me what my favorite smell is, the answer is Basil, but there is nothing at. all. like the smell of butter and vanilla.

I am Cupcake Crazy…

But then again, who isn’t? What’s not to love about the novelty of being able to sink your teeth into a two bite masterpiece, and multiple times if you so choose. You might fear judgement if you ask for a second piece of cake, or shall I say the, “oh can I just have a little sliver more”. You don’t want a sliver, you want a whole piece! Who ya fooling?

But cupcakes, they are like the judgement free zone of the baking world. No one is going to make a peep if you have your hand at two or three… and the best part is, unlike a cake, you can delve into a variety of flavors (if they are available) without feeling over indulgent! Tasting 3 cakes sounds crazy, taking two bites into 3 cupcakes and having but a crumb left on the plate, that’s normal.

This past weekend I proved that point:

200+ mini cupcakes, 8 ways, for 30 people…

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Lunchtime at the Produce Market.

As you all might have read, I am still going strong with my (quite abbreviated but still committed) detox that I promised myself to on Monday. Today my sister and I went to our favorite local produce market and amongst the 40 lemons, 3 bionic stalks of celery, a gorgeous canteloupe, and 60 dollars worth of all of the freshest choices, I was seeing visions of my lunch.

I came home, sauteed some onions, boiled my quinoa, and threw in a few tablespoons of shelled edamame and garbanzo beans, chopped carrots and celery, and if only I had slivered almonds it would have completed the look. No salt needed because of the garbanzos, and so filling, it is the perfect produce market creation.

Hope everyone has a great rest of the day!

Find me in a Foodie Fantasyland.


I tuck myself into bed tonight with my new favorite foodie memoir…

My Life from Scratch – A Sweet Journey of Starting Over, One Cake At A Time

By, Gesine Bullock – Prado

With the turning of each page of this memoir I become more and more in awe the ease of voice evident through Gesine’s writing. If I were to begin my book today, it would be through gracious inspiration derived from this memoir of all things sweet and sensuous… The details she notices throughout her life, the way she marks her emotion and feelings, and her ability to make your mouth water as you delve deeper and deeper into becoming her biggest fan is what I myself aspire to be able to do to my audience one day. Not only does she recount the steps it took to make her own bakery possible, but by far one of the most exciting thing about the book are the recipes she divulges randomly throughout the text.

I see myself screaming out from the pages… from my own memories of sneaking oreos from neighbors because just as her mother did, my mom never allowed such transfatty packages of addiction laced with hydrogenated oils into our house, to my now familiar experience wearing what she calls “bakery casual” and enjoying the somber stillness of the world at 5 am as you drive on empty roads to turn on the ovens, prepared to be covered in flour (but as she hilariously notes, it is really only on the last 12 inches of your legs that the apron doesn’t cover).

I will let you discover the rest that this gem has to offer and put your heels over your head in favor of this book on your own.

I just leave you with this passage…. that left me with tingles up my spine:

“To quote a rare human who evolved into a mature being, Ghandi would have told me, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’ I didn’t want more stuff. I wanted to be more happy. I wanted to be good. I wanted to stop hating people and start understanding. And the only way I knew how to feel like a good and kind person was through baking.”

Ditto, Gesine.


Something to discuss:

What are your favorite foodie books? Cookbooks, memoirs, or collections of writing… I want to know!

comment. subscribe. or tweet me @gradtogourmet

Peanut Butter & Jelly Revisted.

In 2nd grade my mom made me a PB&J sandwich every single day to take to school. I will never forget that. Unfortunately said sandwich usually lost the daily battle with my smushy lunch box. Either there was jelly all over the bag every time I opened it, or there was the dreaded purple circle imprinted in the middle of the bread… I know you all know what I’m talking about. My question is why didn’t I ask for something else? I was such a pain in the neck elementary school kid… my parents might say something things will never change (he he). Anyway, it took me a while to be able to enjoy PB&J after that. At 22 years old, I am pretty sure I have outgrown that student staple sandwich, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t found other ways to enjoy the classic flavor combination.

Last night I put together a batch of PB&J cupcakes… and also a small batch of yellow cake cupcakes.

You would think that is what I am most excited to share with you, but actually… I am MORE excited to share with you all that I used to make these beauties.

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Welcoming Cupcake Season.

I can’t say that the weather here on the east coast has been consistent lately. Friday I drove to work at 6 am  as my windshield wipers batted away big snow flakes, tomorrow it is supposed to be a beyond gorgeous 72 degrees, and let’s not forget it is April, so anticipating on and off showers is only proper as reminded by the silly phrase we were raised on. April Showers bring May flowers… April also brings something else, Cupcakes.

After a long winter in the garage, our fountain floated its way back to the center of the pond this morning. A real stamp of Spring, and a reminder that for at least another 8 months, I won’t have to fear lifting the shades to see its frozen surface staring back at me!

In honor of this lovely day, I will be in the kitchen churning out a few batches of my specialty cakes, feeling the breeze blow in from the breakfast room doors and listening to the sound of splish splashing water as it calms me down. It is the only way to say good-bye to the uninspiring winter season, and the dirty left over snow, like mounds of burnt crumbs, that has finally melted all away!

Something to discuss:

What are your favorite cupcake flavors?! My dad is having a big party this weekend, and I am responsible for endless trays of cupcakes for dessert …. Besides the obvious, chocolate, vanilla, and red velvet… what else should I feature?

comment. subscribe. tweet me @gradtogourmet

A New Location for Di Bruno Brothers: The Ardmore Preview Party.

I never thought I would be this excited about a few hundred square feet! I am proud to announce, congratulate, and most of all welcome one of the premiere Philadelphia Italian markets, Di Bruno Brothers, into the Ardmore Farmer’s Market. If you remember from a few weeks ago, I chronicled my experience at the Rittenhouse location… teasing the introduction of this amazingly necessary mecca to the Main Line. Well, it is officially close enough to taste…. and that is what I had the pleasure of doing for several hours last night at their Grand Opening preview party. Taste, sample, smell, see, and toast to what should be quite the influential addition to the Philadelphia suburbs.

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