Thursday, April 5, 2018

Pretty in Pink: NYC's Pietro Nolita

I discovered Pietro Nolita, the all pink, intimately chic, yet casual, Italian eatery in New York City, on Instagram, amidst all the rave.

So when my travels landed me back in my favorite of cities during the recent Christmas holidays, there was no question that I would be making its acquaintance.  Had I considered its cuisine or food worthiness?  Not really.  Just the fact that it was ALL PINK and a girly girl's dream.

Pietro NoLita's Jewel Box Exterior
And so my plan of action began: decide on the day and time, find something pink to wear...because photos, and paint the pink.  On the last night of my stay, we arrived for an early dinner before heading off to see the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular.  And those who know me best, know that an obligatory photo shoot ensued.  Despite the nightfall and blustery weather, I had to get photos of (and with) the adorable pink exterior before heading inside to settle in.

Once inside, more photos were in order, in between placing our orders and chatting up the staff.  And then there was the food.  Oh yes, food.  The reason you ultimately go out to dinner, no?  Now I was remembering the 'why' behind the 'what' of it all.  And I'm happy to say that my dish (a pan-seared sea bass) was delicious and my return is imminent to take in some of the house pasta.  So see, you really can go for the design thrills and leave satiated and...tickled pink. :)

Make it a place to dine whenever you find yourself in NYC looking for a quaint spot to sip and nosh--and it's okay if you don't want to mimic my all-pink enthusiasm.  I'm certain that you'll be enamored all the same by the cozy space and good eats.

Located in Soho (one of my favorite Manhattan districts), the kitchen opens daily from 11am and goes into the wee hours, serving lunch, brunch, and dinner.  There are no reservations, just loads of atmosphere and...

Happy Eating!

Pietro NoLita
174 Elizabeth Street
New York, New York 10012


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Butternut Squash Galette

Life has been on the busier side lately, so I've been away longer than usual here on the blog.  And if I had to be away, I'm glad to share that it's been a "good" busy spell.  Some exciting (but admittedly time-infringing) work to produce a second-to-none International Women's Day event on last Friday was fulfilled to my deep satisfaction.  Then there are other areas of my life that have shared my attention and focus like vacation planning (priorities, right?), along with ministry and plain 'ole adulting!

When I finally checked IWD off the list last week, I exhaled and my thoughts soon turned to "what's next" here.   And the what's next is a savory galette that wins all the awards for delicious, elegant, seasonal--and easy--fare!

I was spurred along to finally bake a Butternut Squash Galette (which has been on my baking agenda for the months prior that I've bought and stored butternut squash in my pantry) when Monday's windy spell collided with extra sunshine (translate energy) from the daylight savings turn.  And within the hour, a flaky, rustic vegetable tart--accented with tangy, herbed goat cheese (so good!)--was ready to be consumed.

I normally make a tried and true pastry dough, but because I was eager to crank out this too-long delayed delicacy, I opted for one of my all time favorite shortcuts: puff pastry.  And I have to say, the crispy flakiness has me thinking this was the best move after all.

I sliced my squash in thin rounds for a beautiful layering effect I wanted to achieve, seasoned them with olive oil, salt, pepper, herbs de provence and maple syrup, then baked them off to a tender, almost caramelized, doneness.  Then I rolled out my chilled dough, smeared on some goat cheese, layered the squash on top and folded the dough to encircle all the goodness.  A brush of egg wash and sprinkle of flaked sea salt on the dough to finish was all that stood between the tart and the hot oven.

Despite the amazing ease of bringing this dish together, its casual elegance shines through.  It's perfect as a hearty appetizer or served with a side or two for lunch or dinner.

So here's to less busy-ness (for now anyway :) ) and more....

Happy Eating!

Butternut Squash Galette
1 medium-sized butternut squash
Olive oil
Salt (Kosher and Flaked Sea Salt)
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Herbs de Provence
Maple Syrup
Herbed Goat Cheese
1 Puff-Pastry Sheet
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Peel squash and slice into thin rounds.  Toss squash with oil, kosher salt, pepper, herbs and maple syrup (all ingredients measured to taste.)  Spread evenly on a baking sheet and roast in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until cooked and slightly browned.

Remove squash from oven and set aside.  Lower oven temperature to 400 degrees F.    

Roll out pastry into a round and smear softened goat cheese in the center, being sure to leave a border.  Layer squash onto pastry and fold edges of pastry up to enclose the ingredients.  Brush the pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with flaked sea salt.  

Place tart on baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes until pastry is golden brown.  Remove from oven, slice and enjoy! 


Friday, February 16, 2018

{Be Inspired!}: Kitchen Envy

I am among those who consider the kitchen to be the "heart" of the home.  In my case it relates largely to the fact that much of the gathering, sharing, sustenance and memories stem from moments spent in the kitchen.  And then there's that thing that I have for cooking, baking--and eating. :)

All of that can definitely make it exciting (most days, anyway) to create a space that's true to your personal aesthetic and utility purposes.  Whether you're working with a large area, a galley space, or somewhere in between, kitchen's are magic!  From lighting, to fixtures, appliances, furniture, counter tops, flooring, cookware, art and beyond, there's seemingly no limit to what your space can reflect and inspire.

And speaking of inspiration, I'm constantly feeding my kitchen fantasies with loads of it, like the scenes included here.  If you're looking for even more (and who isn't?!), head over to my Homes/Interiors board on Pinterest for more of everything you love to love.

Happy Inspired Living!

Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Cinnamon Raisin Bread Pudding with Maple Glaze

History has it that bread pudding's origins date as far back as the 11th century.  And the refusal to waste leftover bread made it into a popular, frugal dish.  Fast forward to more modern times, the late 20th century to be exact, and that's where my personal history with bread pudding began.

I vividly remember the first time I tasted bread pudding.  I was a college freshman being treated to dinner by a Sorority big sister at a lovely local restaurant in our college town.  I'm sure I probably followed her lead in ordering it since I had never had it (and looked up to her immensely).  But that's where the following stopped.  Once I tasted the warm, perfectly spiced and comforting pudding, I knew we'd have a life long love affair.  And if my blog is any indication, you can probably guess how much of a fan I am.

Thinking back to that first taste, Cinnamon Raisin Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce, I'm thrilled to be recreating a dish that expanded my food horizons all those years ago and remains as a vivid reminder of the friendship and sisterhood that framed my first encounter.

And if that wasn't enough, bread pudding is the quintessential "bang for the buck", wow appeal, minus the requisite heavy lifting, dish that cooks and bakers everywhere love to bring to life.  Not to mention that its roots in frugality still makes it perfect for sharing without breaking the bank.

My version is served warm with a generous drizzle of maple glaze (sorry Bourbon), and perfectly proportioned in individual ramekins hearkening back to that personalized dessert course where we were first introduced. :)

If you're already a fan of this delicacy, then here's more to love.  If you're making it for the first time, I'm confident that, like me, you'll never look back.

Finally, what could make this even more special than including this recipe in the 2018 edition of the Black History Month Virtual Potluck?!  What began as an expose of 28 of the web's top black food bloggers in celebration of Black History Month continues again this year in similar, delicious fashion.  Each day of February will present a new recipe for you to explore and add to your personal repertoire.  See the full lineup following the recipe and be sure to join in on the fun.

Happy Eating!

Cinnamon Raisin Bread Pudding with Maple Glaze
1 lb. cinnamon raisin bread, cubed into 1 in. pieces
1 quart half-n-half
4 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted, plus more for greasing ramekins
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup
4 tablespoons powdered sugar, plus more for dusting 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease individual ramekins and set aside.
Place cubed bread on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes. 
While bread is toasting, whisk together half-n-half, eggs, sugar, melted butter, salt, cinnamon and vanilla in a large bowl.  Add in toasted bread and push with hands to submerge in custard.  Let sit for 10 minutes.
Ladle bread custard into ramekins.  Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake in oven for 30-40 minutes until cooked through (a tester inserted into the center should come out clean.)
Meanwhile, for the maple glaze, whisk together maple syrup and powdered sugar to desired consistency.  Add a few drops of water to loosen, if needed. 
Remove ramekins from the oven, allow to cool slightly, and dust puddings with powdered sugar.  Drizzle with maple glaze, serve and enjoy!

Black History Month Potluck 2018
Beautiful Eats & Things | Turkey Sausage Stuffed Collard Green Wraps
Better With Biscuits | Fresh Corn Pudding
Beyond The Bayou Food Blog | Creole Red Snapper Courtbouillon
Brandi’s Diary | Better than Jiffy Cornbread from Scratch
Butter Be Ready | Southern Style Mac and Cheese
Chef Kenneth | Fried Sweet Potato Hand Pie
Chocolate For Basil | Pilau and Kachumbari (Spiced Rice with Pico)
Cooks with Soul | Braised Short Rib Meatloaf
D.M.R. Fine Foods | Cinnamon Raisin Bread Pudding with Maple Glaze
Dash of Jazz | Nigerian Jollof Rice
Domestic Dee | Fried Peach Pies
Eat.Drink.Frolic. | Olive Oil Braised Collard Greens
Food Fidelity | Mofongo Relleno (Mashed Plantains with Garlic Shrimp)
Food is Love Made Edible | Buttermilk Biscuits with Fried Chicken and Tabasco Honey
High Heels and Good Meals | Crawfish Etouffee
HomeMadeZagat | Shrimp with Spicy Curry Cream Sauce
Houston Food Fetish | Sweet Almond Tea Cakes
In the Kitchen w/Kmarie | Pineapple Lemonade
Marisa Moore Nutrition | Bourbon Peach Glazed Salmon
Meiko and The Dish | Candied Bourbon Peach Cobbler
My Life Runs On Food | Lentil Soup and Roast Okra
Orchids + Sweet Tea | Carrot and Zucchini Noodles Stir Fry with Shrimp
Raised on Ramen | Orange Glazed Brussels Sprouts
Savory Spicerack | Creamy Seafood Stew
Simply LaKita | Blackberry Cobbler
The Hungry Hutch | Orange Bundt Cake with Vanilla Glaze
The Kitchenista Diaries | Smothered Turkey Wings
The Seasoning Bottle | Honey Turmeric Skillet Chicken

Thursday, January 18, 2018

{In Case You Missed It}: 2017 Highlights

Happy New Year! Embarking upon another year has always been a source of excitement, hope and anticipation for what's to come.  As 2018 continues to unfold, I'm pressing the pause button to reflect and share some of the amazing highlights that 2017 brought to D.M.R. Fine Foods.

There's a heightened sense of gratitude that occurs when I realize just how amazing this past year has been.  On virtually every front, I was so blessed to create, curate, and share my passions in both familiar and new (for me), exciting ways!

If you've been along for the ride with me until now, multiplied thank yous!! And if you're newer to D.M.R. Fine Foods, welcome!  I look forward to you settling in and staying awhile. :)

So without further adieu, here's our best of 2017, starting with a short video stream of some favorite moments (recommended: watch in full screen mode).
Travel ~
My year in travel was probably my biggest in recent memory.  I literally started the year in the midst of a winter getaway to Rome, Florence and Paris and got to take in these favorite cities (and fall in love with them) all over again.  Within a month, I was off to warmer terrain in the U.S. Virgin Islands and enjoyed a lovely return visit to St. Croix.  My journeys continued to New Orleans, Chicago, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Cuba, Phoenix (including one amazing day trip to the Grand Canyon) and finally, my perennial favorite, NYC.  Travel is such a source of joy and discovery and refreshing for me, so a year heavy in taking in destinations near and far couldn't have been better.

Food ~
2017 was by far the most exciting year in food to date!  I started the year sharing recipes inspired by travels, like Warm Goat Cheese Salad, soon followed by a phenomenal virtual potluck with 27 other food bloggers in honor of Black History Month!! It was a one-of-a-kind showcase of global black culture--through the lens of food, including my Curry Chicken Pot Pie feature.  More goodness followed with recipes like Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, Cherry Upside Down Cake, Roasted Shrimp and Pineapple Skewers, Braised Short Ribs and more!

Beyond my kitchen, my food journey was also inextricably linked to my travels, and I had the pleasure of taking in unforgettable local eats and restaurants, such as this and this and this.  It was another delicious year, indeed!

Media ~
Beyond sharing here on the blog, my recurring column in Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine, digital and social media, I was immensely blessed to add both television and radio to the fold.  From a radio interview on the food and culture scene in St. Croix, USVI to several appearances on CBS46's Atlanta Plugged In morning show, I couldn't have been more thrilled for the opportunities to share my food and lifestyle passions with broader audiences.

The year brought continued successful collaborations that included media relations and social campaigns for the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, The Four Seasons Hotel, St. Lucia Department of Tourism, Davio's Northern Italian Restaurant, PopSugar, and more.

Fashion & Lifestyle ~
Fashion found its way center stage through style files on Trench Coats, the Met Gala Red Carpet and the exceptional Ragtrade Atlanta Fashion Week and Runway Show.

And lifestyle inspiration spanned fall tablescapes, to holiday-themed decor, and more.

Thank you for allowing D.M.R. Fine Foods to share with you and may you be inspired to live "the good life" like never before!


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Slow-Cooker Sweet and Sour Chicken

Cookbooks are a home cook's best ally.  And when you're thinking about dishes that will (ahem) indulge your giddiness to break in your recently gifted Slow Cooker, it doesn't get much better than a cookbook that mixes yummy, slow-cooked recipes into its bounty.

I knew Valerie Bertinelli's new cookbook, Valerie's Home Cooking, was a keeper the moment I got my hands on it.  Filled with beautiful, scrumptious food and drinks that usher you into her kitchen, I am excited to taste my way through its pages.  And where to start?  With an effortless home spin on classic Chinese Takeout: Slow-Cooker Sweet and Sour Chicken.

I love that my slow-cooker does virtually all of the work, and I can still enjoy a delicious home cooked meal.  I think know you'll enjoy it, too.

Happy Eating!

Slow-Cooker Sweet and Sour Chicken
Serves 4 Hands-on 30 minutes Total 4 hours

2 tablespoons canola oil
8 (8-ounce) bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 white onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1⁄3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
3 cups hot cooked white rice
¼ cup sliced scallions
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the chicken to the skillet, and cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Place the chicken in a 4- to 5-quart slow cooker.
2. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the skillet. Add the bell peppers and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add the vegetables to the slow cooker.
3. Whisk together the vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, cornstarch, and sugar. Pour the mixture over the chicken and vegetables in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW until the chicken is tender and cooked through, 3 hours and 30 minutes to 4 hours. Serve the chicken mixture over the hot cooked rice topped with the scallions and sesame seeds.

Ingredient Note:
Chicken thighs have more flavor and  are more forgiving during cooking, staying juicy.

Recipe and photos excerpted from Valerie’s Home Cooking by Valerie Bertinelli. Copyright © 2017 Oxmoor House. Reprinted with permission from Time Inc. Books, a division of Time Inc. New York, NY. All rights reserved.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Chocolate Truffles (& A Food Story)

Ten years. TEN YEARS!

I recently came up for air and realized that, indeed, it has been ten years since I first "went public" (read: beyond doting family and friends) with my food passion and journey.  I had been cooking, baking--and sharing--well before then, but ten years ago (the holiday season of 2007, to be exact), I decided to take my love of creating and sharing great food to another level.  And it was then that my inaugural Holiday Sweets and Treats Menu was born.

When I set about this whirlwind task of developing the menu (the easy part--and 100% inspiration) and subsequently fulfilling 35 orders that first Christmas (yes, 35!!!--and more in the queue that I had to decline as the word spread), I didn't have any more immediate plans on this front.  Because let me tell you: that. was. some. work.--100% perspiration.

Still, I took immense pleasure in the fact that people responded to my food--and wanted to pay me for it! (A sensation I imagine most creatives and entrepreneurs experience.)  I made everything from scratch (the purist in me is still alive and well all these years later.)  I had personalized ribbons with my new chosen name, D.M.R. Fine Foods, designed to adorn the delivery boxes.  And, finally, I personally packaged--and delivered--every order to each precious customer across the Metropolitan Atlanta area (the majority of whom were...strangers!)  It was the ultimate labor of love--and one that has brought me to this very moment in grateful retrospection.

This has been one of the best surprises and journeys of my life so far--replete with blessing after continual blessing.  I'm so grateful to God for the gifts and talents He's graced me with and for allowing me to share them with those who cross my path in real life or virtually.  And THE BEST IS YET TO COME!

As an ode to that first menu and the abundant memories, I'm sharing a delicious, indulgent confection that has been with me since that initial launch: my rich Chocolate Truffles.  And because they're so easy to pull together, you can make them now and enjoy them in time for Christmas--and beyond!

Here's to ten years and counting, a Merry Christmas....and, as always, Happy Eating!

Chocolate Truffles
8 oz. semisweet (good quality) chocolate --some of my favorites are Lindt and Ghirardelli 
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Confectioner's Sugar
Dutch (Unsweetened) Cocoa 

Finely chop chocolate and set aside in a heat-proof bowl.  

Add cream to a heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Stir in vanilla.  Let cool for 20 seconds.

Pour hot cream over chocolate and stir to melt chocolate completely.  (Cook's Note: If chocolate still has lumps, place bowl over a pot of simmering water--being careful that the bowl doesn't touch the water--and continue to stir until the mixture is completely melted and smooth.) 

Refrigerate for at least two hours and then using a small ice cream scoop or teaspoon, scoop out the truffles.  They don't have to perfect; it's meant to be rustic as a mimic to the real (savory) truffles.

To finish, roll truffles in powdered sugar and cocoa (and any other coatings you prefer.)  Serve and enjoy!

© D.M.R. Fine Foods. All rights reserved.