Category Archives: Favorite Things

Is it Possible I Own Over 100 Cookbooks?

Is it possible I own over 100 cookbooks? Apparently it is, and I can’t believe I put it out there for everyone to read! Before I sat down to write today, I didn’t know what I wanted to talk about; I just knew I wanted to start a dialog about cookbooks. But what do I want to talk about? Do I want to tell you about my favorites. Do I want to share how and why I got the books I did. Do I want to share a recipe from one of them. Should I be like Julie Powell from the famed Julie and Julia Blog and cook my through one of my books? Where do I begin? Maybe I should start by explaining how my cookbooks multiplied like rabbits!

At some point when I moved to NYC, I became a cookbook collector. Maybe it was all the hours I spent at the Strand Book Store http://www.strandbooks.com/ at the corner of 12th and Broadway. With an iced coffee in hand I could easily spend the day leafing through the art and design books, poetry books, and biography’s, but somehow I always ended up by the cookbook section. My collection grew as the years went by. When I got married, my mother gave me 3 cookbooks plus one she had handwritten just for me with some of her famed recipes. That little cookbook she gave me was the start of something really great.

Over the years, many became gifts from family and friends. My husband was a business consultant and wherever he traveled, he came home with a cookbook. Still not sure what I’m going to do with that Mormon Cookbook from Utah! There was also the cookbook of the month club I joined and a new one would show up every month. Then I found Kitchen Arts and Letters http://kitchenartsandletters.com/bookstore/ a bookstore which sells only cookbooks! Can you hear the ethereal music playing in the background? I can! Lucky for me, Columbus has it’s own special book store called The Book Loft http://www.bookloft.com/  It has 32 rooms of books, three of them containing cookbooks!

Over the years I realized I enjoy reading cookbooks the same way other people read novels. Right now the books on my nightstand are Modern Jewish Cooking by Leah Koenig, Cookie Love by Mindy Segal, Martha Stewart’s Appetizers and Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston. Since I counted over 100 cookbooks on my bookcase, that Feng Shui book is looking like a must read and will remain on the top of the stack!

Do I have a favorite? Well I’ll have to channel my mother here and say no, I have 10 fingers and I love them all the same! The same can be said for my collection. They each have a reason for taking their place on my shelf. Whether it’s the style of cooking, a chef I like, history, a particular region, or technique; they all have a place in my heart. I do have a soft spot for any cookbook with beautiful photography. Some are so stunning, they warrant a special place on my coffee table! I treasure the ones I have from my mother and mother-in-law with their handwritten notes and newspaper clippings of recipes used as place markers. Both great cooks and bakers who never needed a cookbook but, like me, enjoyed reading them cover to cover like a novel.

This past winter, I signed up to be part of a cookbook swap. I guess I thought I needed yet another cookbook! It was so much fun to get a cookbook in the mail and if you’re keeping track, this book makes the count 101!  I’ll share more about the swap in another post. In the meantime…

Tell me about your favorite cookbooks so we can start our own cookbook of the month club! We can call it What are you “Reating” unless you think that’s way too corny! I think it could be fun to find out what cookbooks you, my fabulous readers are using. Until then, happy cooking… and sweet baking.

 

An Egg Sandwich that is Simple, and Absolutely Delicious!

No matter how you put it together, an egg sandwich is simple and absolutely delicious. It’s a whole meal in one neatly wrapped package. I’ve been enjoying egg sandwiches for a long time – since high school in fact. In those days it was an English muffin with an egg in one hand, and books in the other as I ran out the door to school. I think handheld meals are the best way to enjoy a healthy breakfast when pressed for time and let’s face it, there are so many variations and are so yummy! With Thanksgiving just around the corner, and recipe websites blitzing every holiday recipe known to mankind, I thought I would go a different route and offer a healthy breakfast alternative for you my wonderful readers. This is a two for one, as I’m also giving a shout out to one of my favorite coffee places here.

Recently I had an egg sandwich I can’t stop thinking about! It was at Fox in the Snow and not the kind you want to eat on the run. Instead, you want to sit and savor every bite with a steaming hot cup of coffee. Fox in the Snow http://www.foxinthesnow.com/ is a bakery/coffee shop here in Columbus, Ohio. Cute name right? It’s located in an old garage and has a cool urban feel – which for me is a plus! It doesn’t hurt that the owners are Brooklyn transplants – something this New York girl was happy to find out! The menu is simple – great pastries and great coffee. I went in last week for a quick bite. A friend told me about their egg sandwich and said it was a must have so I ordered one with a hot mocha and as I waited listened to the album playing in the background.

The fluffy egg soufflé which is so light and rich sits on top of fresh crusty bread. It is topped with cheese (which I think is gruyere or Swiss), arugula, and a Dijon spread. (It ordinarily comes with bacon but not for this girl) Since they are a little far from where I live, I had to come up with something to tide me over until my next visit, so I decided to try my hand at making a lower fat version.

That was last Friday and I have made two of them since! Of course it’s not exactly like the one I had at Fox in the Snow. However, it has all of the components and is quite delicious in its own right and something I don’t feel guilty having a couple times a week. I think you’ll really enjoy it too!

The Sandwich
1 ciabatta roll or other fresh roll of your choice lightly toasted
3 to 4 egg whites*
1 slice of good melting cheese (gruyere, Swiss, or white cheddar)
handful of arugula
salt and pepper to taste

The Spread
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (use your favorite brand, I like Maille)
2 teaspoons Hellmann’s mayonnaise (you must use Hellmann’s)

First prepare the spread by mixing the mustard and mayo together in a small bowl, and set aside.

Place a small nonstick frying pan on the stove on medium heat. Spray it with canola oil or add 1 teaspoon of butter if you wish. Crack 3 to 4 eggs in a bowl and discard the yolks (or put them in a container for later use). Whisk the egg whites quickly with salt and pepper to taste and place in the prepared heated pan.

Lightly toast your roll while preparing your omelet. After you flip the egg, place the cheese on top to melt while the other side is cooking.

To build the egg sandwich, spread both pieces of the bread with the mustard, then place the egg with cheese on top, the arugula, and finally the top of the bread.

*You could use two whole eggs if you prefer. Crack them in a bowl, add a dash of milk, a pinch of salt and pepper and whisk till fluffy then continue with the recipe)

Going to the NHL All-Star Weekend in Columbus? Plan to take a Snack Break at the 400!

Columbus will be Hoppin’ this weekend with the NHL All-Star Weekend of festivities. And I will be Poppin’ at the Farmer’s Market at 400 W. Rich!

If you’re planning on joining the All-Star Weekend activities, take a break from all the testosterone and come to the 400 for a visit’! Four new flavors of caramel popcorn are coming with me! Banana Split Caramel Popcorn anyone?

Hope to see you there! We’re only 5 minutes away from all the festivities!

Did my Husband and I Invent the Food Crawl in the 80’s? I Think we did!

If you search for the term “food crawl” on the internet you won’t find too much information. However, on the Food Network, Cooking Channel and in many culinary magazines you hear and read about it quite frequently.

I would define a food crawl as follows: where one goes on a culinary tour to different restaurants to sample food. For example, you can do one in search of the best restaurant, or specific food such as coffee crawl, or taco crawl. There is also a progressive food crawl where you might have drinks and appetizers at one restaurant, dinner at another, then dessert and coffee at different location. Living in NYC, food crawls are a part of daily life. Any big city will afford you this opportunity. My husband and I were doing food crawls since we met without even knowing it – we’re such trend setters! More often than not, we had dinner one place and dessert at another. Recently we were in NYC and while waiting to be seated at Lombardi’s Pizza (just had to get in another pizza plug!), my husband showed up with a tray of Melissa’s Cupcakes for us to nosh on while we waited 45 minutes for our table! After dinner, we went to Rice to Riches for rice pudding for dessert. That was a food crawl too.

When my husband and I first met, I remember one time we decided to walk to dinner from  his apartment on West 53rd and 8th down to the East Village (around 10th street) where we would end up at a place called PizzaPizza. It was about an hour walk to get there. We were starving so we decided to stop in at Luigi’s Pizza across the street and share a slice before we headed downtown – just the fuel we needed! On our way, we passed so many pizza places it seemed there was one on at least every other block! Somewhere along the way we stopped in at one of the Ray’s* Pizza places just for fun. We each took a bite but didn’t really like it. It was very cheese heavy so we tossed it and kept walking. Then we came across Lazarra’s Pizza on 38th street By the time we got to PizzaPizza, we were very happy to sit down, and very ready to order a pizza! In the end, Luigi’s was the best of the night and we had invented the food crawl!

So why am I telling you all of this? Saturday my family did a local pizza crawl in honor of National Pizza Week and so that I could share it with you. We chose 3 places that are in the top 25 here in Columbus. It was my son’s last day of winter break so we chose pizza places near the bus station that would get him back to college. Ironically, they are in the top 4 of that list! First stop, Harvest Pizzeria in German Village. We have been there before and absolutely love their pizza. We thought just like with Luigi’s we should start out with something tried and true – just in case! We ordered two pies – one with mushrooms and the other vegetable. The pizzas are baked in a wood burning oven and the crust was light and delicious with just the right chew and char on the crust. It’s not NY pizza, but that’s more than okay, it doesn’t have to be. It’s unique and stands on its own. I always get the almond pesto on the side, just to drizzle on top – so good, I started making it at home! We’re Harvest Pizza lovers in my house as you can tell!

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Harvest Pizzeria in German Village

An hour later we headed over to Yellow Brick Pizza in Old Town East. We have heard so much about it, we wanted to give it a try. We ordered a regular cheese pie so that toppings didn’t get in the way of taste. This was my husband’s favorite place of the day. It was a good solid pie. The pizza had a nice crispy crust, just the right amount of cheese, and a great tasting sauce. What more can you ask for? Tater tots apparently because they’re on the menu with a variety of toppings! Of course we got those too! They were good, probably better with toppings and a drink but we were there for the pizza.

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Yellow Brick Pizza in Olde Town East

Last but not least was Bono Pizza. Bono Pizza was my white whale (you know as in Moby Dick – the one that got away)! About 6 years ago we passed a small little place in the Short North that had a sign in the window – Bono Pizza to go. They were closed but I wrote down their number so I could get their hours and pick up a pie to try another time. I went there again a couple months later and the sign on the window said sorry, ovens are out. 3rd time will be a charm – right? A few weeks later I went back and they were closed; they had moved to a new location. I forgot about them for a while, then one day I was driving my son to baseball and saw a sign for Bono Pizza. I quickly pulled into the parking lot. They were located in a convenience store and had pies to go after 5pm. We missed them again!

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Bono Pizza in Grandview

This past summer, while in the area, I saw a sign that said we’ve moved. For some reason I felt compelled to follow the signs to their new location – I didn’t want pizza but wasn’t giving up. I found them located in an apartment complex and yes they were closed for lunch but now I knew where they were. It’s an odd location, very small, and less than fancy but there’s something warm about the place. Saturday, I finally caught the white whale! We dropped Jarred off at the bus, did a few errands and headed over for dinner (of course I called them on the way to make sure they were open!). I couldn’t believe after 6 years we finally did it. Was it worth it? Read on to find out!

The restaurant is located in an apartment complex which is a little unusual but seems to work. One thing we loved was the red and white checkered tablecloths. It reminded us of NYC pizza places. We ordered three 10 inch pies and loved the Margherita pizza with extra garlic they call The Caroline. It really was delicious. The dough was crisp and tender and had a nice wood charred flavor, add in the fresh mozzarella – it was a winner! As for the other two, we just ordered the wrong pies. So we are going to judge solely based on the Margherita pie which was amazing.

End of day results… You can see why all three are among the top 25 best pies in Columbus. All different, all very good in their own right. Ethan and I selected Harvest Pizza as our favorite. My husband’s favorite was Yellow Brick Pizza. Bono was a top contender but I think at a disadvantage, it was the last pie of the day, we were a little full, and I guess after 6 years, my expectations were just too high. Jarred’s favorite was Zen Cha Tea (no pizza), but that’s another story! All in all it was a really fun day. I finally caught the white whale, we had some great food, and so many laughs along the way and I would go back to any of them in a heartbeat! Can’t wait until next year’s National Pizza Week! I have so much more to share, more recipes, more stories, I may not be able to wait! In the meantime, check out the places I’ve mentioned plus these I have been to (also in the top 25) … Mikey’s Late Night Slice, Natalie’s Coal Fired Pizza, and Borgata Pizza Cafe. Only 19 more to try!

*There are dozens of pizza places with the name Ray in it all claiming to be the first and one and only original. There are often debates as to whether they are related in some way. Off the top of my head, there is Ray Bari, Original Ray’s, Famous Original Ray’s, Ray’s, I think there is even a World Famous Ray’s Pizza. Check out this blog to find out more about Ray’s pizza and for a funny clip on Seinfeld about Ray’s thepizzasnob.net/2012/07/08/a-slice-of-new-york-city-the-real-rays-pizza-5/

In the Spirit of the Season, and National Brownie Day I Offer you this Post! Enjoy!

Holiday Brownies with Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg!

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This is one reason why I love Martha Stewart. In the spirit of the holiday season I’m posting one of her old shows. To say it’s hilarious is an understatement. The video is 17 minutes long, but worth watching. I included a shorter version as well. Enjoy!

http://www.marthastewart.com/246797/holiday-brownies-snoop-dogg#246797

This is a shorter video…

http://videos.nymag.com/video/Snoop-Dogg-on-Martha-Stewart#c=HFB27M21099LZ94B&t=Snoop%20Dogg%20on%20Martha%20Stewart

I have made this recipe before and it’s really very good.