Recipe Testing: Heirloom Caprese Strata

Monday, August 3, 2015

You know those times where you're just sitting at home and it hits you, wow I'm hungry. Like a sneak attack of some sort. I don't know about you but when I get hungry, I get "hangry" (combo of hungry + angry). In this state its best for me to eat ASAP unless you wanna deal with the consequences. I found myself in this situation a few weeks ago and of course there wasn't really anything in my house to eat besides the basics. Then thank god for Pinterest for the idea of a strata, just milk, eggs, bread, cheese, and tomatoes. And let me tell you what a beautiful feeling it is when you find a perfect recipe and you have all the ingredients in quantities you need. Also bonus it's a one pan recipe and I get an excuse to use my cast iron skillet.

Heirloom Caprese Strata

Recipe by Christine Byrne

Serves 4

For this recipe, I used 8 slices of multigrain grocery store bread, because it had been sitting in my refrigerator forever. Really, though, you can use any kind of bread you want, as long as it yields 4-6 cups of torn cubes.
8 large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
8 slices multigrain bread, torn into rough 2-inch pieces (4-6 cups)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn, divided
1. Preheat oven to 375 °F.
2 Crack eggs into a large mixing bowl, and whisk vigorously until the whites and yolks are combined and the mixture starts to bubble. Whisk in the milk and season with salt and pepper. Add the torn pieces of bread and toss everything together so that the bread is completely saturated.
3. Melt butter in a large cast-iron skillet (if you don’t have cast-iron, just make sure you’re using something oven-proof) over medium heat. Swirl the butter around the bottom of the skillet, and tilt the pan so that the butter coats at least 1 1/2-inches up the sides. Add the bread and egg mixture, and spread it over the bottom of the skillet in a full, even layer. Top with sliced tomato and sliced mozzarella, then sprinkle with half of the basil leaves. 
4. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the egg is completely cooked through. Take the strata out of the oven and let it sit for at least 5 minutes in the skillet before serving
5. To serve, cut 4 equal slices and garnish with the remaining basil. It’s great served with a green salad, but also perfectly delicious on its own.

Gov Ball Eats

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A few weekends ago I got the opportunity to go to Governor's Ball with my best friends. For those of you that have never been, Governor's Ball is a music festival located on Randall's Island in NYC. Along with the amazing music, Governor's Ball is notorious for its great food. I was so surprised to see so many options on their grounds, vegan, gluten free, vegetarian, you name it. Even though I don't have any restrictions when it comes to food, its nice to see that everyone was able to find something they enjoy. They definitely had the unhealthy (delicious) carnival like food as well as healthier options for those who are more health conscious. Here is the entire list of vendors that were there. I also enjoyed seeing all the food trucks lined up on the sides (they were super crowded, so sadly I did not get to eat off one of them). We ate mostly off of the regular stands that were there. It was honestly one of the best weekends of my life so if you get the chance to go, do it!!!

#1 + #2: Chicken Gyro (perfect for when we were
running from concert to concert) p.s. sorry for the bite out of it, I was pretty hungry
#3: + #4: My friend Jess got a coconut water from CoCo & Co
and I got six delicious arancini balls from the Arancini Bros
#5: The famous Nutella ball
#6: Not sure of the official name for this arancino
(singular for arancini) but basically it was macaroni
and cheese ball and let me tell you it was delicious
#7: Ice cream sandwich (w/ cookies and creme in da middle)
from Davey's Ice Cream
#8: Lastly, Paulette and I got the famous compost cookie
from Momofuku Milk Bar. Surprisingly, it was not one of my
favorites from them, but still pretty good

Memorial Day Weekend + Patriotic Berry Tart

Monday, June 1, 2015

Happy June!! Summer is coming so fast, we are just on the brink of ending school. Memorial day weekend is probably one of the hardest weekends to end because it teases you with a quick taste of those long summer days. Once it's over, you just have to convince yourself to push through those final weeks of school to finally make it to the promise land.

For Memorial day weekend, everything was pretty calm at my house, which was good because my family has been traveling 24/7 lately (mostly road trips). We got to go to Central Park on Sunday, which I loved. Let me tell you, if I ever get the chance to live in the city, you bet I'll be at Central Park every chance I get. Everything is just so laid back and, I know this is kind of weird but, I love to people watch so Central Park is perfect for that.

A few days before I stumbled upon a beautiful buzzfeed article while in spanish class (when i was suppose to be conjugating verbs in the imperfect tense) and it had a ton of great patriotic dessert ideas. I decided to go with the Berry Tart with Brown Butter Shortbread Crust ---> recipe here. Of course right before I made this, I found out we do not own a giant tart pan, so I ended up using a pie pan (hey not as pretty, but I made it work).

In other news, this weekend I am very excited to say my friends and I will be heading to Governor's Ball Music Festival in NYC! Along with amazing live music, I heard that the food is going to be pretty amazing as well. There are going to be a ton of food stands and trucks all around the island. Hopefully I will take tons of pictures of all the ice cream, tacos, and funnel cakes I will be eating:)

Hope you had a great Memorial day weekend


Monday, May 4, 2015

Just a few pictures of what's been going on lately.

Attempting the Great French Macaron

Sunday, March 15, 2015

This is it. Right here. One of the scariest things to face in dessert land. For the longest time I've wanted to conquer one of these bad boys, but I never had: a. the patience or b. the time. Back in February, I had a break from school with nothing to do, so I decided to accept the challenge. I have to admit, I was honestly prepared for the worst. The thing about french macaroons that make them hard is the fact that they are insanely precise. If you are off with your measurements, it makes a huge difference, even if you're off only by a little bit. Also there are so many different factors that contribute to the quality of the macaroon.

First before I go into anything else I would just like to clarify:

Macaroon= the round cookie composed of shredded coconut (usually chewy)
Macaron= (pronounced: Mah-kah-ROHN) composed of two meringue cookies with a jelly filling typically in-between 

Yes, from making these I found out that there is a difference, between the two.

After a whole day of research for recipes, I decided to go with one from Martha Stewart, because seriously how can you go wrong with Martha. (RECIPE --> here)

With this being my first time making these I didn't want to go overboard with all the different flavors, so I just did a standard cookie recipe. But then came the filling.... everything was going so well with the cookie I was so surprised, but then the filling..... oh the filling....

While doing my research I made the decision to go with a swiss meringue buttercream for the inside. Well I found out that I simply cannot make a swiss meringue buttercream if my life depended on it. I did make it one time before this, for a cake, but it failed horribly. For the macarons I figured I could try it again. But no. 

I don't know what's wrong with me, but every time I make it, it falls and becomes too thin:( 
After the second time of it not coming out, I gave up and tried to attempt to fix it. In the end it came out ehh, not great but it still tasted good with the macaron. I added a little bit of raspberry jam to it for taste as well, which helped. 

If I were to make these again, I would try and go for a more jelly filling (but that's just my opinion).
Despite the filling not turning out fantastic, I was overall overjoyed with the results. The cookie was firm, yet chewy, how a good macaroon should be.

So don't be afraid!! If you have been itching to make french macaroons, but have been too intimidated, just go for it! Seriously I am horrible with exact measurements and if I can do it, you can too!

Here are some videos that helped me with the technique:
-Rose Water Macarons
-How to Make Macarons
-How to Make Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Go forth and make some amazing french macarons!


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