Tag Archives: Dessert

Ilili *****

ilili
212.683.2929
236 5th Ave (corner of West 27 & 5th)
New York, NY 10001

CHECK OUT THE MENU!

I am the kind of foodie that seeks out hole in the wall restaurants,  loves eating sketchy street foods, and believes that you can get 5-star quality food from a truck. That being said, I also do occasionally enjoy going to hyped up,  “mega restaurants” in the city to determine whether or not they are really as overrated as the NY Times critics claim.  This past weekend I went to Ilili, where chef-owner Philippe Massoud is combining traditional Middle Eastern and modern Mediterranean flavors to create inspired and upscale Lebanese dishes. The atmosphere is nothing short of grandiose with seating for over 300 people, in a bi-level restaurant space that is broken up into multiple cozy lounges and dining nooks.
Adam 1
My friend Liz and I took our seats in one of these little cubbyholes and began to salivate while reading over the menu. I asked our waitress to recommend the best three dishes on the menu, and without an hesitation at all she replied, “the Chankleesh, the brussel sprouts, and the Ilili candybar dessert.”Her confidence was convincing so we got started with an order of the Chankleesh, which is a creamy feta cheese combined with ripe tomatoes, onions, olive oil, and za’atar spices ($10). It sounds simple and it is, but every single ingredient is top  notch quality and each flavor is perfectly balanced. It was also the first dish to arrive at the table and in my starving state, it was anxiously anticipated and quickly scarfed down. I used the warm and pillowy soft pita to pick up the bits and pieces and tomato that remained on the plate and soak up the remaining oil and za’atar spices.
Shankleeskedited
Warm Pita Breadedited
Finally our cocktails arrived. I ordered the From Beirut with Passion, which is a basil cilantro mint infused vodka with sparkling passion fruit juice. It is served on the rocks and it is the perfect blend of herbal and sweet, without being too fruity.
From Beirut with Passionedited
I preferred it to Liz’s Poison Sumac Margarita with tequila, orange liquor, pomegranate juice, and lime. 
Sumac Margaritaedited
Next to arrive at the table were the Brussel Sprouts with grapes, fig jam, walnuts, and minted yogurt ($14). Almost every table in our nook had an order of these, and I totally understood why after my first forkful–they are the absolute BEST!!  A unique combination of flavors that transform an basic every day veggie into a over the top Lebanese comfort food. So rich and delicious. In fact, chef Massoud posted the recipe on the website (click here for the link!)
Brussel Sproutsedited
Liz is into shrimp so we also split an order of the Black Iron Shrimp with jalapeño, garlic, and cilantro ($15). I thought the shrimp were a bit tough, and would probably opt for a different appetizer next time, as they were nothing special in comparison to rest of our meal.
Shrimps in Garlicedited
For the main entree we shared the Mixed Grill Meat plate for two ($64). We figured this would be the best way sample a variety of meats on the menu, exposing us to the greatest amount of Lebanese classics. The meat plate included chicken shish taouk, kofta lamb kebabs, and lamb chops along with a side of ratatouille and a garlic whip trio, which is a heavenly emulsion of oil and herbs.
Grilled Meat Platteredited
My favorite meat on the plate was by far the lamb kofta which is basically a Lebanese meatball that is rolled into the shape of a sausage link.  The word kofta is derived from the Persian word ‘Kufteh’ meaning mashed, which represents the ground meat (oftentimes lamb) that is then mixed with cumin, coriander, parsley, mint, onion, and garlic. I ate a lot of kofta while traveling in Croatia and these were just as authentic and delicious as I can remember.
Grilled Meat Platter3edited
The lamb chop was cooked to perfection and seasoned straight through. I was cleaning the bone shamelessly, holding the chop between my two fingers. The chicken was juicy and tender but not nearly as flavorful as either of the lamb dishes.
Grilled Meat Platter2edited
Herbed Oil Emulsionsedited
 Despite my feelings of overwhelming fullness (let’s face it, none of these dishes were light), I had embarked on gluttonous journey that would not be complete without dessert…..and two of them!
We ordered the Ilili Candybar3, which is a chocolate lovers dream plate consisting of rich chocolate ganache, a chocolate Lebanese ice cream with hints of caramel and fig, and a white chocolate sesame sauce with crumbles of pistachio ($12).
Ilili CnadyBar3edited
Ilili is known for this dessert and chocoholic Liz looked like she was having an out of body experience with each bite, but I seemed to prefer the Labne Cheesecakes which were rich, smooth, and creamy ($10).
1001693_10151561159388458_440742766_n
Overall the meal was one of the best dining experiences of my life from the food to the atmosphere to the service. The service is impeccable by the way. The wait staff knows the menu inside and out, which is incredibly important at ethnic restaurants, and they can help any indecisive dinner arrive at a good ordering decision. Your water glass will never go empty an the delicious pita basket will be refilled continuously throughout the meal. I had no expectations for Ilili because I really hadn’t read any reviews prior to my meal there (very unusual for me….as I normally like to get acquainted with menu pages and yelp reviews before I dine somewhere new), but I left feeling justified with every penny spent. A perfect meal at a reasonable price. I cannot wait to go back!

Leave a comment

Filed under Bars, Brunch, Cocktails, Dessert, International Restaurants, Mediterranean Cuisine, New York Restaurants

Lilly’s on the Canal ****

Outsde of Lily's
609.397.62422
2 Canal Street
Lambertville, NJ 08530
 

CHECK OUT THE MENU!

Unlike most females, I’m not usually one to make a big fuss over my birthday. Sure, I like a glass of champagne and something sweet to celebrate the start of a new chapter in life, but rarely do I attempt to make formal plans and I NEVER get caught trying to split the bill with my “20 closest girlfriends” at some hoity-toity birthday dinner. Those dinners always turn into a shit-show when the check arrives and the 3 real best friends—usually the roomates—end up having to pay the remainder of the unsettled bar tab while the 17 drunken acquaintances dance away.

This year, I wanted to celebrate my 24th birthday in the normal fashion—doing something quiet and relaxing. My friend, Liz, took me for a pedicure and treated me to lunch. It was a gorgeous day so we drove out Lambertville, NJ and went to Lily’s on the Canal for some Class-A chick food. The menu features incredible gourmet salads, unique sandwiches & wraps, and delicious homemade desserts. It is an ideal restaurant to bring a woman on a date, and it is the perfect spot for a ladies luncheon.

I decided to order a modified version of the Baby Spinach Salad, which came fully-loaded with grilled marinated chicken breast, balsamic glazed Portobello mushroom cap, goat cheese, seasonal tomatoes, avocado, and balsamic vinaigrette ($14). 

Chicken and Spinach Salad 

There is not one bad thing I can say about the salad. It was all of my favorite ingredients on one plate in a perfect entrée-sized portion! The chicken was warm and juicy, and the mushrooms were seasoned perfectly. I also am a huge fan of their homemade salad dressings.

Liz ordered the same salad but got it standard issue with Grilled Marinated Chicken Breast, Balsamic Glazed Portobello Mushrooms, Buttermilk Bleu Cheese, Seasonal Tomato, Avocado, and Ranch Dressing.

We also decided to share an order of the Skinny French Fries ($5), which are cut shoestring style and fried to golden delicious crisp!

Lily's French Fries

Some of my other favorite meals at Lily’s include:

The Penne with Vodka Sauce—and I usually add chicken, but you can also choose to add grilled shrimp ($15). Like it says on the menu, “it’s an oldie, but a goodie!”

I am also obsessed with the Caesar Salad with Chopped Romaine Lettuce, Creamy Goat Cheese, Applewood Bacon, Parmesan Croutons, and Caesar Dressing ($13). It is a twist on a classic Caesar, which normally has Parmesan, but the goat cheese and freshly cooked bacon bits put this salad over the top!

The burgers at Lilly’s are also quite good, and can be ordered in several different variations. I like the Three Mini Angus Beef Sliders, which are served open face with Swiss cheese, sautéed mushrooms, onions, and skinny fries ($12)!

Sliders and Fries

A lighter way to enjoy their burgers, is by ordering the Burger Salad (made with Certified Angus Beef or Vegetable Patty) served over mixed greens with red onion slices, guacamole, spinach hummus, and black bean salad with a balsamic vinaigrette ($12). Not only is it delicious and filling, but you cannot beat the price for what you get!

The only dish I have tried that I wouldn’t recommend getting would be the New York Strip Steak with Blue Cheese, Mushrooms, and Onions over Skinny Fries ($25). The steak was small and very fatty. It was also very oily and too way heavy with the fries.

Steak and Blue Cheese

If you can manage to save room for dessert, I would suggest ordering a slice of one of their incredible seven layer cakes: Coconut Cake, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake, Carrot Cake, Chocolate Truffle Cake, Chocolate Kahlua Cake—just to name a few!

Dessert Display

Leave a comment

Filed under Bakery, Buck's County, Cafe / Bistro, Cakes, Dessert, New Jersey Restaurants, Take-Out

{ Tres Leches Macaroons – Gluten Free! }

Finished Macaroons

I have always been a fan of caramel ever since I was a little kid, but when I moved to Argentina and was introduced to Dulce de Leche my mind was literally blown and I have been an addict ever since (I actually have a dulce de leche-scented candle burning in my room at this very moment!). You see caramel is made from pure sugar, but dulce de leche is made from sweetened milk so it has a much richer and creamier texture. In Latin American cultures, dulce de leche is used to flavor all sorts of sweets and candies, from ice cream (the best is Freddo), to lollipops, to cakes, and cookies (“alfajores”).

Dulce de Leche

Ever since my return to the US, I have been looking for more and more ways to include it in my baking recipes at home. The result?

These mouth-watering tres leches macaroons, which make for a perfect passover dessert since they are gluten free! I made them for my friend Liz’s cookie exchange this holiday season, and they were a smashing hit. I might also add that they stayed good in the refrigerator for about 2 1/2 weeks when stored in an air tight container.

And as if coconut and caramel aren’t already decadent enough, I also like to dip my macarons in chocolate! They are sinfully good and ridiculously easy to make, so print this recipe out and make them please!

{ Ingredients }

  • 2 – 14 oz bags of sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 – 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tsp good vanilla extract (I use Madagascar)
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips for dipping (optional!)

[ To Make the Macaroons }

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Combine the shredded coconut, the condensed milk, the sour cream, the heavy cream, and the extracts in the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment.

3. Mix the ingredients together on a low speed until well thoroughly combined.

Macaroon Mix

4. Use a large ice cream scoop (#12) to spoon the batter onto a baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper. Do not press down on the cookies!!

Unbaked

5. Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 8-10 minutes, or until slightly golden brown around the edges.

Baeke2d

6. Use wire racks to allow to cool completely on baking sheet. Then dip in melted semi-sweet chocolate, if desired!

Dipping Macaroons

7. Or drizzle with melted semi-sweet chocolate!

Chocolate Drizzled

Leave a comment

Filed under Baking, Dessert, Recipes

Felix’s Caketeria ****

Cupcake Assortment

Cupcakes became sort of food craze over the past couple of years, with several “cutesy” bakeshops opening up all over the country in a very short period of time. But but very few of these bake shops have managed to survive into 2013 because their ridiculously over-priced, miniature offerings, were just trendy items and not actually quality desserts. Felix’s Caketeria on the other hand, is going strong and even expanding because they are a phenomenal bakery that has mastered the art of exquisite cakes. Fortunately, for consumers like myself, they offer their indulgent cakes in miniature sizes (dare I call them cupcakes?!) to be enjoyed on days that aren’t specialty occasions. No birthday, no problem!

Doesn’t mean you can’t sneak a cupcake on your lunch break!

Cupcake Display

My personal favorite is the Chocolate Salty Caramel, which is a chocolate cake filled with salty caramel, topped with chocolate buttercream and a caramel drizzle. 

Chocolate Salted Caramel

I also love the traditional Carrot Cake, which is made with pineapple, coconut, pecans and topped with a cream cheese icing. 

Carrot Cupcake

The only thing that you must remember is that Felix’s Caketeria uses REAL buttercream to frost their cupcakes, so the cupcake MUST be brought up to room temperature before they are enjoyed. If your impatience gets the best of you, you will be eating a rock hard cupcake and you won’t get the most of your miniature cake experience.

Ohh, and one last cupcake special that they occasionally have is the Eclair Cupcake, shown below:

Eclair Cupcake

Leave a comment

Filed under Bakery, Baking, Cafe / Bistro, Philadelphia Restaurants

{ Chocolate Chip Cookie Throwdown! }

Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookie
When The New York Times published the recipe for their favorite chocolate chip cookie, shit hit the fan…..in the food blogging world, at least!  It was like everyone instantaneously took out their kitchen aid mixers and got to baking and blogging. Post after post on my RSS feed featured reviews commenting on the cookie’s flavor, texture, and composition. Bakers and cookie connoisseurs alike disputed in blog columns whether or not this recipe was actually the best, and then offered their comments/suggestions to make it even better. With all this sugary hype, I  knew that I would just have to try the recipe out for myself. And being the type A, OCD freak that I am, I decided that I would also give a go at two of the other recipes suggested as contenders for the title of best chocolate chip cookie: (1) Jacques Torres’ Original Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe & (2) blogger, “Will Bake for Tattoos’” Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Batches
So with three types of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies before me, which cookie recipe proved victorious?!?
Cookies Baked
Jacques Torres Chocolate
The New York Times recipe (#1 on the baking sheet) is a modified version of this classic (and it was a close second place), but the texture was uniform throughout the cookie. I liked that Jacques’ recipe  (#2 on the baking sheet!) had a crispier edge with a softer/chewier center.
NY Times Choc. Chip
The “Will Bake for Tattoos’” Recipe (#3 on the baking sheet) was far too commercial tasting in my opinion; it had a very “cakey” texture as opposed to a chewy texture, and the sugar in the cookie never caramelized to create a golden rim around the edge.
Will Bake for Tattoos
One thing that I did for all of the cookies, was allow them to chill in the refrigerator over night. The New York Times published an article in 2008, stating that the secret to a perfect chocolate chip cookie was to let it chill for a minimum of 24 hours, and ideally for 36 hours! I made sure to plan ahead (a rarity), and prepared my dough 24 hours in advance of baking to get the maximum quality out of the doughs.
Without further ado, here is the recipe for Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookies:

{ Ingredients }

  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons pastry flour
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 pounds bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

{ Directions }

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars.

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Reduce the speed to low and add both flours, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, and chocolate; mix until well combined.

Using a 4-ounce ice cream scoop, drop the cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.

Bake until lightly browned, but still soft, about 20 minutes.

Cool slightly on baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

2 Comments

Filed under Baking, Recipes

{ Cranberry Walnut Celebration Bread }

Thanks to Ms. Hurricane Sandy, I had an unexpected day off of work today! And that means my my oven was set at a comfortable 350 degrees with a constant rotation of breads, cakes, and cookies going though it’s doors. Four loaves of banana bread, and 2 dozen chocolate chip cookies later….I was ready to attempt a more complicated bread recipe from Peter Reinhart’s cookbook, “The Bakers Apprentice.” I haven’t done much bread baking before, but I was feeling up to the challenge with all of the free time on my hands!

The original recipe calls for a mixture of cranberries and walnuts, but I was running low on berries so I also threw in some golden raisins and dried currants. If a panettone and a babka had a love child, this bread would be it! Everyone in my family agreed that it will be made on Christmas morning for many more generations to come…aka, the bread turned out incredible!

So without further ado, here is my recipe for Kendall’s Christmas Celebration Bread, adapted from Peter Reinhart’s Cranberry-Walnut Celebration Bread in “The Baker’s Apprentice.”

{ Ingredients}

  • 3 cups of bread flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/5 tablespoons lemon extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup of buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup of water, at room temperature
  • 1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried currants
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

{ To Make the Bread }

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine all of the ingredients (except the dried fruits and nuts) to make a soft dough. Switch the attachment to a dough kneading hook and knead for 5 minutes.

The dough should clear the sides of the mixing bowl, but remain tacky to the bottom. Adjust the concentrations of water and flour so that the dough takes this form.

Add the cranberries, raisins, and currants and continue to knead by hand for an additional 2 minutes.

Then add the chopped walnuts and knead by hand until the nuts are evenly distributed.

Transfer the dough to a well oiled bowl and allow to ferment, uncovered, at room temperature for 2 hours. The dough should almost double in size!

Transfer the dough a counter top surface and divide into 6 pieces; 3 larger pieces and 3 smaller pieces. Roll out all 6 pieces by hand into long strands. Braid the 3 larger strands using the 3-braid technique and then do the same with the 3 smaller strands.

Place the large braid on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and then place the smaller braid directly on top of it. Brush the entire bread with an egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk) and allow to sit at room temperature for another 2 hours.

The braided bread should double in size. Brush the entire bread with egg wash a second time.

Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before serving.

I like to serve mine with a flavorful homemade butter. Recipe, below:

{ Homemade Sweet Orange Butter }

  • 1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon Maple Syrup
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

{ To Make the Butter }

Combine all ingredient in the bowl of an electric mixer, and whisk on a medium-high speed until well combined and buttery in texture.

1 Comment

Filed under Baking, Recipes

{ Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake with Ganache }

Certain things are just meant to go together: biscuits and gravy, bacon and eggs, rum and coke, and last but not least, chocolate and peanut butter! Independently, these items are all delicious, but put them together, and they are like an orgasm for the tastebuds. So when I came across this recipe for a Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake with Ganache on Pinterest the other day, I knew it would be divine. It’s just kind of hard to justify a three layer cake for one person with no real special occasion. But I wasn’t about to just “Pin” this recipe and forget about it. No, I was determined to make this cake ASAP. And so I began scrolling through my Facebook calendar in search of upcoming birthdays #Diary of a fat girl.

My Uncle’s 50th Birthday was the perfect excuse, and given his borderline unhealthy obsession with peanut butter, the dessert couldn’t be more perfect for him.

This  was my first time ever making a layer cake, and I am proud to say that it was much easier undertaking than I had initially anticipated. So do not be nervous if you are a layer-cake virgin too! Just do NOT rush the cooling/assembly process and you will be fine.

NOTE: This will make a lot of cake. This cake is very rich. Be prepared to share with lots of friends, family, and neighbors! 

*Recipe Originally from The Pixelated Crumb

{ Ingredients }

For the Chocolate Cake Layers:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Ghirardelli)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I ONLY use Madagascar vanilla, makes a huge difference)
  • 2 eggs

For the Peanut Butter Frosting: (I found that I had to double this recipe to frost the entire cake, so you may want to double it as well!)

  • 10 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 5 cups of confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 2/3 cup of smooth peanut butter (preferably, a commercial brand so that the oil doesn’t separate out)

For the Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache:

  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half

{ To Make the Chocolate Cake Layers }

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare three 9″ round cake pans by buttering the bottoms and sides. Line the bottom of each pan with a sheet of parchment paper and then butter the surface of the paper. (I traced the cake pan on the paper and cut it out to get a good fit….this really helps the cake pop of the pan nicely.)

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and the sour cream and whisk to blend.

Gradually beat in the water. Mix in the vanilla and the vinegar.

Whisk in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat until will blended. Divide the batter among the 3 prepared cake pans, filling them up only half way.

Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for at least 20 minutes on a drying rack. Then run a knife around the outer edge of the pan, and invert onto plate to remove the cake. Peel back the parchment paper and allow to cool completely. (If you are making the cake layers in advance, you can wrap them in parchment paper and store them in the freezer for a couple of days!)

{ To Make the Peanut Butter Frosting }

In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, scarping town the sides of the bowl after each addition. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes).

Add the peanut butter and beat until well blended.

{ To Make the Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache }

NOTE: Make this after you have already assembled and frosted your cake, because the ganache is used immediately!

In the top of a double boiler system, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use immediately, while the mixture is still warm.

{ To Assemble the Layer Cake }

Image taken from The Pixelated Crumb

Place one layer on a cake stand and spread 1/3 of the frosting evenly on the top of the cake. Repeat with the next layer.

Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting (unless you doubled the frosting recipe like I did, in which case, you will probably have some left over!).

Refrigerate the frosted cake for at least 1 hour to set the frosting.

To decorate with the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Ganache, simply pour the warm glaze over the top of the cake and help spread it evenly so that the mixture runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. I used a spoon to help guide the chocolate down!

Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes so that the glaze has time to set completely.

Remove 1 hour before serving to bring to room temperature!

 

1 Comment

Filed under Baking, Recipes

{ Best Lunch Spots in Buck’s County }

Finding good food on-the-go is tough when you don’t live in a city studded with Pret a Manager, Chipotle, and five-star food trucks. In Buck’s County, the options are pretty limited to full-service, sit-down restaurants or drive-thru, fast-food establishments. If you don’t brown paper bag it to work, you’re looking at either an overpriced gourmet salad, a 40-minute sushi luncheon, or a greasy quarter-pounder in the McDonald’s parking lot. But thankfully, local restaurant owners are finally starting to fill this market gap by opening quick-service lunch spots with high-quality food.

Here is a list of my favorite lunch spots in Buck’s County:

1. { Sariano’s Country Cafe }

CHECK OUT THE MENU!

Located right in the heart of Lahaska, is this adorable French cafe with homemade croissants, fresh soups, and delicious Croque Monsieur sandwiches. You can eat al fresco at any of the outdoor cafe tables, or take your order to-go (just be warned that there is only one indoor table, so might not be the best option for a cold/rainy day!). The menu is posted on a black board behind the counter, and although isn’t terribly long, neither is the wait for your food!

I highly recommend the Grilled Vegetable & Mozzarella Sandwich, which is served warm on a Fresh Butter Croissant ($7.00). The vegetables are chopped up nice and small, and the croissant provides delicious and sturdy base for the sandwich, keeping it together as you eat.

Of course, this being a French cafe, I also recommend the Croque Monsieur sandwiches, which are served on homemade French bread. They have the classic Ham & Cheese ($5.50), but I suggest trying the Goat Cheese & Proscuitto ($6.50) combination, which isn’t something you see every day! Keep in mind that these sandwiches are served hot, so the cheese is warm and bubbly when they come out of the oven. Delicious.

And lastly, I really enjoy Sariano’s Shrimp & Corn Chowder Soup ($7.00), which is creamy and slightly spicy but not too heavy. The soup prices seems a little high, when compared those of the sandwiches, but the portions are really generous and it comes accompanied with your choice of crackers or homemade French bread.

If you’re really in a hurry, Sariano’s also offers an assortment of pre-made meals that you can choose from.

2. { Jule’s Thin Crust }

Photo taken from TheMainLineVine

CHECK OUT THE MENU!

With new locations popping up all over Buck’s County, it is clear that Jule’s Thin Crust has found a recipe for success. This gourmet pizza shop, which relies heavily on locally and organically grown produce, offer 22+ varieties of pizza, innovative salads, and gluten-free, as well as whole-wheat, products. If you stop by for just a few slices, you can choose from anything available on the line and get back to work within 10 minutes. And if you’d rather place a full pie or custom order, you’re looking at a total wait time of about 15 minutes, but you’re more than welcome to bring a bottle of wine to help pass the time while you wait! Just keep in mind that you’re still at a pizza place, so to all my wine-snobs: NO, there will not be glassware!

I suggest trying the new Buffalo Chicken Pizza with hormone free chicken, chopped celery, blue cheese, mozzarella, arugala, and buffalo sauce ($2.90 per slice). Or the Kim’s Pie with hormone free chicken, portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions, balsamic BBQ glaze, mozzarella, and chives ($2.90 per slice).

Another classic, loved by all, is the Brushetta Pizza with Chopped Organic Tomatoes, Fresh Cubed Mozzarella, Garlic, Oregano, and Arugala, with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil! It will revolutionize your idea of pizza.

3. { Marhaba }

Photo Taken from The New York Times

CHECK OUT THE MENU!

Tucked away on a side street in Lambertville, is one of the best Middle Eastern Restaurants that I have ever been to! The interior is cozy, the prices are reasonable, and the food is authentic and a-m-a-z-i-n-g. The Gyro Sandwich, which is slow roasted lamb, topped with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and tahini drizzle on a warm homemade pita ($5.95) is a deal that can’t be beat and so it has become a regular weekly lunch for me and my mother.

Photo Taken from Jersey Foodies

I also recommend the Babaganough, which is a grilled eggplant spread mixed with tahini, garlic, and fresh lemon juice ($5.95) served alongside warm homemade pita bread. The spread has a zesty flavor and a creamy texture, that is beautiful when paired with the zatter spices on the pita bread.

Photo Taken from ThePalatePrincess

4. { Genivieves Panini & Salads To-Go }

CHECK OUT THE MENU!

I found this place on Groupon a couple of weeks ago, and I have been hooked ever since! Located in the center of Doylestown, Genivieves serves up seasonally inspired food made with locally produced ingredients. The sandwiches are crafted like a work of art and the flavor combinations are a food-enthusiasts dream. My personal favorites are: the Vegetale with grilled asparagus, plum tomato, gooey taleggio cheese, and fresh pesto on multigrain bread ($7.50);  and the Tuscany with grilled chicken breast, sautéed broccoli rabe, and sharp provolone on rustic ciabatta bread ($7.50). 

In addition to their fabulous warm panini’s, Genivieves also offers gourmet salads, homemade soups, and assorted baked goods. And if you find yourself addicted, as I have, then you can also order their food for catered dinners with 24 hours advance notice. Unfortunately, Genivieves is take-out only, so you cannot dine-in.

Leave a comment

Filed under Baking, Cafe / Bistro, Coffee Shop, French Restaurants, Italian Restaurants, Lunch Spots, New Jersey Restaurants, Philadelphia Restaurants, Take-Out

{ Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce }

If I were to make a list for the culinary wonder’s of the world, Panettone bread would certainly be somewhere near the top. A sweet bread, dotted with soft raisins and candied citrus fruit peels, Panettone is best-known for it’s uncanny ability to stay fresh over great lengths of time. I always receive at least one during the Christmas holidays, but usually I don’t around to eating it before anytime before Easter. I often joke that in the event of a nuclear apocalypse, only three things would survive: Twinkies, roaches, and few ribbon-wrapped panettone loaves. Hence, hell on Earth.

Although there is no hope for making Twinkies more palatable, panettone can actually be quite delicious when used in other recipes. It makes a great base for stuffing, a flavorful bread for French toast, and of course, a delicious bread pudding! The fruity flavors of the bread naturally infuse whatever dish you are making, so you don’t have to do as much work seasoning the food. I recently decided to try this bread pudding recipe from Giada de Laurentiis because I saw that it came with a warm Amaretto sauce drizzle. It sounded over the top on Food Network, and it certainly did not disappoint!

I used about 1 1/2 pounds of cubed panettone bread, and made two bread puddings from it. I also doubled the Giada’s recipe for the Amaretto drizzle because it sounded like the best part of the dessert, and I wanted to make sure that there was enough to soak up each bite. I will post the recipe with my modifications below, but you can also view the original by clicking HERE!

Now if only a doctor could put the secret ingredient from Twinkies and panettone into my moisturizer, it might help extend the shelf-life of my face!

{ Ingredients }

For the Bread Pudding:

  • 1 ½  pounds of panettone bread, crusts trimmed, and cubed into 1″ pieces
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups of whipping cream
  • 2 ½  cups of whole milk
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar

For the Amaretto Sauce:

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup amaretto liqueur
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch

{ To Make the Amaretto Sauce } Bring the cream, milk, and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. In a small bowl mix the amaretto and cornstarch to combine and then whisk the into the cream mixture.

Simmer over a medium-low heat until the sauce thickens (stirring constantly), for about 2 minutes. Set aside and keep warm, if serving the same day.

NOTE: The sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Just warm over low heat before serving.

{ To Make the Bread Pudding } Lightly grease a 13″ x 9″ baking sheet. Arrange the cubed panettone in the dish.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, milk, and sugar to combine.

Pour this custard mixture over the panettone cubes, using the back of a wooden spoon to press the cubes into the liquid. It is important that they are very well submerged. Allow the bread to soak for 30 minutes.

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Bake until the pudding puffs and it set in the center, about 45 minutes (depending on the size of the dish that you chose to use). Allow to cool slightly.

Spoon the bread pudding onto a plate and drizzle with warm amaretto sauce. Enjoy!

Leave a comment

Filed under Baking, Recipes

{ Tres Leches Cupcakes }

Girl meets boy. Girl has crush. Boy is Spanish. How does she get him to like her?

Easy, she casts a love spell by baking him Tres Leches Cupcakes. Spanish people can’t seem to get enough of tres leches desserts, and boys can’t get enough of a woman that cooks! The combination….lethal.

This recipe is guaranteed to impress and even better it’s cheap to make, considering that most of the ingredients are pantry staples and canned goods. If you aren’t the best baker, don’t worry! These cupcakes are are almost impossible to screw up because they get bathed in a rich and creamy tres leeches mixture after they are baked. So even if you happen overcook them, you can reconstitute the moisture in the cake afterwards.

For those of you who are good at baking (and really like sweet stuff), feel free to make these in cuatro leches cupcakes by adding a bit of dulce de leche to the milk mixture. Or instead of using whipped cream as frosting, make a dulce de leche buttercream (there are tons of recipes you can find on the internet). I’m a simpleton so I stick to tres leches with whipped cream, but kudos to you experimenters!

And if you are really trying to impress–as I was–it is crucial that you make the whipped cream in front of your guest! Most people don’t understand just how easy it is to make, and they are blown away by another’s ability to transform liquid into a sugary, white, pillow of deliciousness. It cracks me up when people say, “oh my gosh, homemade whipped cream!?! Wow, you’re such a chef.” Of course, I don’t mention that the kitchen aid does all the work! And finally, dust your miniature cakes with a pinch of cinnamon and voila, you have an incredibly delicious, bite-sized, morsel of bliss!

Ohhh, and you may think you are drowning your cupcakes in the tres leches mixture….but keep pouring it on!!!! They are supposed to be very moist. The first time I made this recipe, I held back on the amount of tres leches mixture I used, and I they were too dry. I ended up taking the cupcakes out of the wrapper and soaking them in the tres leches mixture over night. I then spooned the pieces out of the bowl and ate it like soup. #diary of a fat girl.

{ Ingredients }

  • 6 large eggs, separated, room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
  • Homemade Whipped Cream (see instructions below)
  • Ground cinnamon, for dusting
{ To Make the Cupcakes } Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper-lines foil liners. With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk together egg whites, baking soda, and salt until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low. Add yolks and sugar, whisk until completely combined. Fold in melted butter with a flexible spatula. Add flour in four batches, folding until just combined after each.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each halfway. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until light golden brown, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven.
Immediately poke holes in the tops of cupcakes with a skewer.
Whisk together evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream. With cupcakes still in tins, brush milk mixture over cupcakes, repeating until all liquid has been used.
Allow cupcakes to absorb mixture, at least 30 minutes (or up to 1 day in the refrigerator). Bring to room temperature before serving.
To finish, dollop whipped cream generously onto cupcakes, and dust with ground cinnamon. Serve immediately.
{ To Make the Whipped Cream } In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat 2 cups of heavy whipping cream with whisk attachment, until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 3/4 cup of powdered sugar. Continue beating until still peaks form, but do not over beat or the mixture will become grainy.

2 Comments

Filed under Baking, Recipes