The Ugly Tomato

The Ugly Tomato: what I often hear heirlooms called. What do I think? They are some of the best dirt candy you can find at your farmer's market during the summer. How can you not smile at the crazy colors, shapes and sizes of these awesome tomatoes. 

I decided to make a pizza using some leftover green heirlooms as well as the famous green, kale, to make a delicious summer market flatbread. 

So the next time you are at the market, collect a variety of veggies and make a veggie collage on your pizza--a delicious creation that you won't be able to resist. 

Stone Hollow Farms Part 1

Weekends in Birmingham have led to excursions and explorations of the deep South. Stone Hollow Farms in Harpersville, AL is one of my favorite Saturday afternoon adventures. Stone Hollow Farms is run by Deb Stone and her family. Their delicious creation: gourmet goat cheese. What do they do with that goat cheese: sell it, of course, but also supply it to local restaurants including their own called The Pantry. 

Stone Hollow is one beautiful place--we went out a few weekends ago to scout for a future photo shoot we are planning in a couple of weeks...take a peek :) 

Vanilla-Blueberry Pecan Scones

Saturday morning, I managed to get out of bed and head to Pocahontas Produce to go blueberry picking. The farm was on the outskirts of Birmingham, quite quaint in appearance, and a weekend oasis.

We began filling our buckets, while also eating our fill of blueberries on the way--Mother Nature's candy.

We each left on a summer produce high with a gallon of berries and ready to cook up some berry fun.

Since it is the weekend, breakfast is always my favorite weekend meal--it's the meal that begins your day and sets your mood for the relaxation and fun you have ahead of you. So, I had to make blueberry scones, specifically Vanilla-Blueberry Pecan scones--yum! 

Vanilla-Blueberry Pecan Scones 
Time: 1 hour 
Servings: 8 scones 

1 cup AP flour 
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/2 cup cold butter, diced
1 egg
1/4 cup heavy cream 
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup fresh blueberries
1/3 cup pecans 
heavy cream for brushing before baking 
turbinado sugar, optional 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. 
2. Add butter and mix until flour mixture looks like coarse sand. 
3. Add egg and heavy cream, and mix until thick dough forms. 
4. Add blueberries and mix with mixer to allow berries to release some juices. 
5. Stir in pecans. 

6. On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1-inch thick square.
7. Cut square into 4 smaller squares. Cut each square into 2 triangles to form 8 scones. 
8. Brush with heavy cream and top with sugar--*recommended turbinado sugar. 
9. Bake 18-20 minutes and sprinkle with more sugar when finished. 

A perfect summer breakfast treat! 

Citrus-Spiced Sweet Tea

Y'all, I have settled back in the South for a little bit. What does this mean?? Awesome bbq, fried chicken, sweet tea and an apartment with a kitchen...this girl isn't kitchenless anymore! 

To begin my Alabama adventure, I figured I would start this new chapter off with a twist on classic Southern sweet tea. This citrus-spiced sweet tea from

Charleston Receipts

will be the perfect welcome home drink.

Southern Spiced Tea 

Recipe by: Charleston Receipts 

Total time: 15 minutes 

Servings: 18 cups



8 cups boiling water 

4 tea bags 

6 oranges, squeezed 

2 lemons, squeezed 

1 tsp. ground cloves 

Simple Syrup 

2 cups sugar

8 cups water 


1. Steep tea bags in 8 cups of boiling water for 5 minutes. 

2. In a separate saucepan, heat 8 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar until the sugar dissolves. 

3. Squeeze oranges and lemons. 

4. Add simple sugar, cloves and fruit juice. Serve tea chilled.

Graduation Countdown!

Today we took our graduation class picture...what does that mean? Only a few more days until our graduation day---WOW, the past 6 months have flown by! My culinary school experience has been beyond my wildest expectations--I have been able to explore and learn about classic techniques and unique ingredients, as well as gain real world experience with an externship at Jean-Georges. I can't say thank you enough to ICC for an amazing educational experience! 

With graduation coming means moving on to new adventures, and that new adventure is taking me back to the South--aka Alabama--where I will begin a fellowship in food styling, recipe testing and recipe development while singing Sweet Home Alabama all Summer long ;) I am thrilled at the opportunity and look forward to coming back to NYC soon with new skills and experiences! SO...I guess I should begin drinking some good old sweet tea again--BAMA here I come! 

Crave of the Day 5.26.14

Time has been flying and more memories are being created. Last weekend, I returned to college to officially graduate and walk with my class in the commencement ceremony. It was crazy to look back on the past four years and see how life has changed so much. 

Of course, going back to good old North Carolina meant my taste buds were dying for a classic Southern meal. Ever since, I can't stop craving the classic flavors of the South--y'all know how to cook! 

The King's Kitchen--Charlotte, NC
Go if you get the chance!!

Sneaking Behind the Scenes of the Red Carpet

Earlier this month, one of the best annual events of the food world occurred--The James Beard Awards at Lincoln Center. Now if you are a foodie, then you know what this means, every chef you have ever dreamed of meeting, seeing in person, or tasting their food would be at the gala that night. 

Why was I so excited? Because I was helping to serve hors d'oeuvres to chefs I have been dying to meet my entire life. 

So the evening began with me starstruck walking into Lincoln Center.


I was assigned to work with Chef Charles Phan of The Slanted Door in San Francisco. That evening I helped to serve a tapioca dumpling with shrimp and pork in a flavored fish sauce--holy goodness it was one bite of AMAZINGNESS.

We set up shop in the Lincoln Center atrium with all of the other famous chefs who were also serving food. It was a food fantasy to be able to try dishes from well-known chefs all around the country. 

After serving dumplings for the VIP tasting event, we then got to go and watch half of the awards show which was a blast. Ted Allen was the perfect MC for the evening. 
One awesome bunch of chefs.

Exciting news came in the middle of the awards show when we found out Chef Phan, who I was working under, won Outstanding Restaurant--what did this mean??...we were the most popular food table after the show! It was thrilling to be able to serve so many iconic food individuals the dumplings of a winning chef. 

What a way to kick off the month of May. Cheers to all the chefs who inspire the food world day after day with your crazy creations. 

In the Name of Meat!

Currently, we are in the buffet lesson of class--this means we get to customize a charcuterie buffet as well as a themed buffet. This past week we spent our days breaking down half of an entire pig to make 15 charcuterie dishes for the buffet--boy was this a meaty project!  

We first began with a half of an entire pig (I'm not joking...), and broke down the different cuts of meat using a butcher's saw. 

Then we ground all of the meat and fat, and formed beautiful works of meat in the form of sausages, pates, head cheese--the list goes on and on! 

Ancho-chili pork loin 

Buffet #1

Buffet #2

(I spy a pig snout in that piece of head cheese, above)

I even traded places with the bread bakers for a day and got to make potato bread! 

It was a great week full of learning about some serious meat and culinary techniques that have been around for centuries (crazy, right?). Up next, our surprise project of the week: a buffet fit for a Quinceanera, just wait for those pictures! 

Something's brewing...

It's been a while! Life suddenly caught me by storm, but now I'm back ready to share what's been brewing in my life these days.

The past two weeks, I had the lovely opportunity to take a brewing and mixology class. The first lecture was brewing--I learned how to make beer in my own home. We learned about hops, malts, fermentation, tools, the list goes on. Talk about a true science.

I was a little skeptical about the flavor of home-brewed beer, but surprisingly, it was very smooth and delicious--you could barely notice the difference (the middle glass pictured above). 

The following week, we had a cocktail lecture...this is where class became a little too fun (if I need to say anything else). The bartender had us sample the different categories of spirits, as well as different mixed drinks made with those spirits. We learned about all different gins, rums, tequilas, vodkas, the list goes on and on. Finally at the end of the night, the bar was open to us to customize our own cocktail. I made a ginger mint cocktail with vodka and a hint of lime, delicious (not the cocktail pictured below). 

I had a great time and learned not only how to make beer and cocktails, but also how different beers and spirits are able to complement food. I highly recommend a class if you can find one in your spare time! 

One Fabulous Eating Weekend

I love when guests or friends of friends come to visit, why? Well, that gives me an excuse to eat wonderful food all the time--good food is all part of good hospitality, right?? Umm, yes.

So first I began my weekend with a fabulous meal at Amanda Freitag's reopening of Empire Diner in Chelsea. I had been anticipating this night for two weeks already, and I wasn't let down. First of all, the ambiance, AMAZING. Don't think neon lights diner, think dark, cosmopolitan, 2014 diner with vintage accents--so much love. And also, any diner with a huge mural saying "EAT" on the outside of the building is obviously calling your name, luring you in to eat some sweet potato chili fries. 

We began the eating adventure with the sweet potato chili fries, an ode to my Southern college experience. They were delightful. Next we tried the burger which was served, of course, on a brioche bun (I mean nothing else would ever suffice). We also tried the market special which were fish tacos; spicy and a great reminder that summer is just around the corner, thank you, thank you, thank you. And since it was a diner, we had to order dessert. We were in luck, since it was pi day they had special pies. We sampled both their traditional apple and the special Nutella pie--we may have been stuffed when we were served dessert, but we each happily ate a whole piece and left Empire Diner in one lovely food coma. 

The next evening we set out on a mission for some awesome ramen, aka Momofuku. Now this is always a challenge because the line is usually so long that it wraps around all of Manhattan and back again. What do you know? We arrive at the restaurant and there is a 2 hour wait. But I'm a trooper when it comes to Momofuku, since it is a favorite, so of course I made the team wait it out and boy, was it worth it. Meanwhile, we observed a lovely St. Patty's Day party in the distance, so that was entertainment enough. 

By 10:30 P.M. I was happily eating Spicy Miso Ramen, licking my lips after every bite, and laughing while we all attempted to eat our ramen politely (yeah, right). All I can say is I always leave Momofuku saying YUM, YUM, YUM.

The Sea of White

It was 2pm...suddenly the fire alarm goes off. All of us pause. What do we think? There couldn't be a fire.

Next thing you know, we have evacuated the building and are standing on the side of the busy NYC road. It was an awesome sight though--honestly most people turned and looked at each other saying they were blinded by the sea of white chef coats. Over 100 students outside, crowding the street in a blob of white. A vision of culinary madness.

Don't worry, there was no fire. Just smoke coming from the boiler room. 

Cheese and Thank You

I walked into the kitchen, and already recognized the bright orange and red wrappers. My face lit up, Murray's Cheese had entered the room--today was going to be a great day. For those who don't know, Murray's Cheese is the most amazing cheese wonderland originally located in the lovely Greenwich Village. What do they sell? Beautiful, smelly, delightful, flavorful, aged cheese. If Murray's was for rent, I would fight all to claim the lease and call it my home. I am crazy about this place. 

Anywho...Friday was cheese day. We made cheese, ate cheese, cooked with cheese, you name it and cheese was there to help us out. It was a blast learning to make ricotta (pictured below) and mozzarella. 

The second half of the day was consumed by the wonderful cheese tasting. We were guided by our chef through the different milks, yogurts, and cheeses of the cow, goat and sheep. 

Conclusions...I love sheep milk, yogurt, and cheese. It's no wonder sheep was my favorite, it has the highest fat content of the three (oh goodness, why?). We left the day in a complete cheese coma, which I must say I have never experienced before. Cheers to cheese and all the happiness it brings to the world.