Lunch al Desko seems to be the new hot thing these days. It’s the simple idea of bringing in leftovers or making your lunch instead of buying the same basic Sweetgreen salad/California roll/Deli panini. Despite sparking ridiculous “challenges” like #Cook90, I’m in full support of the ham sandwich’s newfound trendiness. My favorite office lunch happens to be an upscale version this classic brown bag staple. I’ll usually make a prosciutto & mozzarella sandwich when I already have one or more of the ingredients at home. Let’s say there’s some arugula and bread from last night’s dinner; at Noon, I’ll run out to Whole Foods for mozz, prosciut, and peppers. These three ingredients cost just as much as salad or sushi, and there will be leftovers for an pre-dinner snack.
Economical, resourceful, and delicious, Lunch al Desko definitely deserves its recent buzz. Admittedly, the prosciutto & mozz sandwich is my definition of “best.” So tell us your favorite office lunch in the comments! But it better not be “1 can of chickpeas.”
Fresh mozzarella, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1 roasted pepper, sliced into strips
Arugula, or whatever greenery you have on hand
Long roll, ciabatta, or baguette
Olive oil & red wine vinegar, optional but recommended
Salt & pepper
Pro-tip: try to get the roasted pepper from the grocery store salad bar. Pour the olive oil and vinegar into the same container as the roasted pepper.
Prep the mozzarella, prosciutto, arugula, and pepper on a plate. Cut bread lengthwise. If using, spread pesto on the bottom half.
Layer on prosciutto, mozzarella, roasted pepper, and arugula. Drizzle oil and vinegar, sprinkle salt and pepper.
Mastering a chocolate tart recipe sort of makes you feel like you could pull off the eternally enviable style of Parisian women – you are Patricia, the beautiful American heroine of Breathless. That, “I woke up this stylish and put-together” look. Seemingly effortless and simple, but at the same time tailored and unique. Parisian style is unassuming, beautiful, and beguiling. For years us American woman have been trying to crack the code. Serving this chocolate tart to guests, you’ll elicit a similar response. They’ll be thinking, “It’s so simple, but so good and I’m not sure how I can recreate this for myself.” This tart is perfect all on its own – no need to accessorize with whipped cream or ice cream. The filling is silky smooth chocolate, but with just the right amount of bite. And you’ll only need a sliver. There’s a lot of decadence in a tiny portion.
The inspiration for this recipe comes from David Lebovitz, a Parisian emigrate and our favorite ex-pat food writer. We used a crust recipe from Amanda Hesser, though David has his own as well (which we are sure is great).
Ingredients (Crust, makes 2):
8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened + extra for greasing
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp milk
12 oz (about 2 1/3 cup) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
6 TBS warm coffee
4 oz unsalted butter, cubed at room temperature
pinch of sea salt
4 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 large eggs
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
Make the crust. In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add the egg yolk and milk and beat to combine. In a separate, medium bowl combine the flour and salt. Slowly add the flour to the butter mixture, stirring until completely blended. Gather dough into 2 balls and wrap each in plastic wrap. Freeze one for a later date and chill one in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
Heavily butter a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Make sure to butter all the nooks and crannies. Roll out the dough and press the dough into the pan, patching up the sides and trimming the edges as needed. Prick the bottom with a fork and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Prebake the tart shell. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove tart from freezer, fill with pie weights, dried rice, dried beans to prevent the crust from puffing up. We use a lot of coins! And line the crust with parchment paper or a buttered piece aluminum foil before pouring in coins or weights. Bake until golden, 20-25 minutes.
While prebaking, make the chocolate filling. Spread sugar in an even layer in the bottom of a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or dutch-oven. Cook the sugar over medium heat until the edges liquefy and begin to caramelize. Using a heatproof utensil, gently drag the liquified sugar toward the center of the pan. This encourages the sugar to melt evenly.
Once the sugar is melted it will caramelize fairly quickly. When it starts to smoke, but before it burns, turn off the heat and stir in the coffee. Be careful when you do this; wear oven mitts and don’t stand too close to the pan. The mixture will bubble and seize up a bit. If the caramel has seized up a bit, stir it gently until smoothed.
Add the butter and salt and stir until melted. Then add both chocolates and stir until smooth. Once smooth, mix in the eggs, then the flour. Finally, stir in vanilla.
Pour the mixture into the pre-baked tart shell. Bake 15-20 minutes, just until the filling starts to rise and crack at the edges but the center is still jiggly. Don’t over bake!
Remove from oven and let cool completely before slicing.
You can enjoy with some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, but it truly is delicious all on it’s own!
Charlie Bird is one of those New York restaurants. It’s been around for over ten years!! That’s a feat in New York. And it still manages to have a newfangled feel. Lots of fresh ingredients, incredibly inventive dishes. The food is delicious. But…Charlie Bird is one of those New York restaurants – small plates, not so small prices. Luke and I have been only once and it was when my parents were in town. Special dinner for a special occasion. Our lives and salaries don’t really warrant dinners at Charlie Bird. Prior to our dinner, having done my research, I knew the farro salad was a Charlie Bird favorite. But sitting down for dinner and perusing the menu, there were so many other amazing options. Farro, being a humble grain, just wasn’t all that appealing! I don’t regret this decision. Dinner was perfect. And thanks to Melissa Clark, we were able to replicate the farro salad at home. Though we could never claim that our version is as good as Charlie Bird’s, we both were able to enjoy very sizable portions!
1 cup farro
1 cup apple cider
2 tsp kosher salt + more to taste
2 cups water
2 bay leaves
6 TBS olive oil
juice of 1 small lemon (about 3 TBS)
about 1/3 cup shaved parm (you can use a vegetable peeler to shave)
2 big handfuls of arugula
1 cup parsley, roughly chopped
1 cup mint, roughly chopped
3 radishes, thinly sliced
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
In a medium saucepan, bring farro, apple cider, water, salt and bay leaves to a simmer. Simmer until farro is tender (it will still have a little bit of chew) and the liquid has evaporated, about 30 minutes. If the liquid evaporates before the farro is done cooking, add a bit more water. Let farro cool and then discard the bay leaves.
In a salad bowl, make the dressing. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Add cooled farro and cheese and mix well. This mixture can sit for a couple of hours at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge. When ready to eat, mix in the arugula, herbs, tomatoes, and radishes. Top with flaky sea salt, to taste.
Details: Serves 4-6. This is a hearty salad and can be eaten as a main course! Serves 4 as a main, 6 as a side.
When planning our meals for the week, Hillary and I always keep an eye out for the shrimp sale at Whole Foods. Any opportunity at double-digit discounts shouldn’t go to waste, especially on these precious prawns. In order to always take advantage of the sale, we have an eclectic roster of shrimp dishes to satisfy any particular craving. The first (and easiest) recipe in this trio of dishes provides the dry spice of cumin, paprika, and cayenne. Next is the butter+oil+garlic+wine+lemon formula for classic shrimp scampi. The last dish, a Thai inspired yellow curry, takes some more time and ingredients, but will probably end up being the star of your weekday menu. Not surprisingly, these three recipes, along with the previously shared Hot n Honey version, come from true masters of the weekday dinner: Mark Bittman and Melissa Clark. We hope you share our excitement next time you see “YOU SAVE: $11.99 /lb” on some fancy shrimp at WF.
The Simplest and Best Shrimp Dish – Mark Bittman
¼ cup olive oil
4-5 garlic cloves, cut into slivers
1 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined, and dried
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp hot paprika
½ tsp cayenne (optional)
¼ tsp turmeric (optional)
Chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
Prep spices on small plate and make sure shrimp are dry.
Pour oil into a large skillet, swirling the oil so that it covers the bottom of pan. Turn heat to low and add garlic. Cook until the slivers turn golden, about 2 minutes.
Raise the heat to medium-high and add the shrimp. Add your plate of spices to the pan. Stir to evenly distribute the spices and then leave alone. Shake the pan a couple times over 5 minutes. Shrimp will be nicely coated and pink.
Garnish with parsley and serve with white rice.
Shrimp Scampi – Melissa Clark
1TBS extra-virgin olive oil
3garlic cloves, minced
⅓ cup dry white wine
½ tsp salt
Pinch of red chili flakes
Pinch of fresh ground black pepper
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
¼ cup chopped parsley
Juice of half a lemon
Pasta or bread
Melt butter with olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic and stir constantly until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
Add wine, salt, chili flakes, black pepper and bring mixture to a simmer. Let it reduce by half, while stirring. This should take just 1-2 minutes.
Add shrimp and saute until just pink, about 2-4 minutes. Add parsley and squeeze in lemon juice and stir to incorporate. Enjoy with pasta or bread!
Shrimp in Yellow Curry – Mark Bittman
2 TBS neutral oil, veggie or canola will do.
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 TBS minced garlic
1 TBS minced ginger
1 tsp red pepper flakes or fresh chilies
1 TBS curry powder
13.5 oz can coconut milk
1 lb medium-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 TBS fish sauce
¼ cup minced cilantro/mint leaves for garnish
¼ cup chopped peanuts for garnish
Prep onion, garlic, ginger, chilies and make sure canned coconut milk is stirred.
Pour oil into large, deep skillet and turn heat to medium. Add onion, garlic, ginger and chilies and stir frequently making sure veggies don’t burn. After 5-8 minutes, the mixture should be soft and pasty. Add curry powder and cook for another minute.
Pour in coconut milk and raise the heat to medium-high. The mixture will get nice and bubbly. Stir occasionally until almost all liquid has evaporated.
Add the shrimpy’s and salt + pepper. Stir frequently, the shrimp will release their liquid, making the mixture more curry-esque again. Cook until shrimp turn pink.
Add 1 TBS of the fish sauce and taste. Add more if you’d like. Serve on top of white rice, garnished with chopped cilantro or mint and peanuts. I like to add some chili garlic sauce for an extra kick.
This recipe, which we sourced from Nigella Lawson, has made its way around the web a bit. You can find a version from Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen. Martha makes a similar recipe with just two additional ingredients – lemon zest and fresh dill. It’s a tried and true recipe that is welcome to a little tinkering. And like Romeo and Juliet or Jay-Z and Beyonce, buttermilk and chicken are an illustrious couple, most famous of course for the wondrous results of frying buttermilk brined chicken. Buttermilk is such an amazing marinade because it not only imbues flavor, but its acidic composition also tenderizes the meat – double win!! As long as you can remember to whip together this super simple marinade the night before, this chicken recipe comes together real quick and yields flavorful, tender meat with salty, crispy skin. Enjoy with a green salad and some bread to sop up the chicken juices. You’ll feel like you’re seriously spoiling yourself for a weekday dinner.
4-6 chicken bone-in thighs (or a mix of thighs, drumsticks, wings – important to have bone-in chicken, whatever you choose!)
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup + 2 TBS veggie oil (we used canola)
1 TBS freshly ground black pepper
1 TBS sea salt
2 TBS freshly chopped rosemary
1 TBS honey
2 cloves peeled and crushed garlic + garlic cloves with skin on for roasting (optional)
The night before, marinate yo chicken! Place chicken in a large freezer bag. Add buttermilk, 1/4 cup oil, salt, crushed garlic, rosemary, and honey. Seal bag securely, mix contents around, and store in your fridge. Chicken can be marinated for up to 2 days.
Remove chicken from marinade and place on rack so excess can drip off. Try to let your chicken rest at room temperature for 30 minutes, or an hour ideally. This will allow your chicken to dry off a bit and come to room temperature, which ensures even cooking and crispiness.
Preheat oven to 425°F. We opted to cook our chicken in our cast iron skillet, but you can also cook on a tinfoil lined roasting pan (tinfoil makes for easy cleanup). Drizzle chicken with 2 TBS of oil. Sprinkle with a bit more sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. Throw the couple cloves of garlic in the skillet as well, if you’d like (they turn soft and are great spread over a slice of bread). Place in oven and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until when chicken is pierced the juices run clear.
Remove from oven and let rest for about 5 minutes. Then enjoy immediately!
Details: Serves 4-ish. Maybe we’re gluttons, but we have a hard time eating just a single chicken thigh per person.
Pancakes? Too sweet. Bacon and eggs? Too greasy. Yogurt parfait? Eh, been there, done that. Oatmeal? Don’t even ask. Sunday morning breakfast can be full of options, but with half of the weekend already over you deserve to be picky. You may want to lay in bed all day and treat yourself to an indulgent breakfast; or keep it lean before a 5 mile run. Hillary usually wants to be lay in bed a little bit longer while I’m gearing up to go…we compromise with a long walk. Whatever your appetite, day’s plan or mood, these whole grain blueberry muffins will surely satisfy.
This recipe comes from Julia Moskin via The New York Times. We omitted the orange streusel topping because we wanted these muffins to still have some simplicity. Filled with carrots, blueberries, oats, walnuts – there’s nothing more you really need. Indulgent, but still healty-ish, it’s the perfect way to start your morning. And if you take sometime to make these on Sunday morning, you’ll have muffin breakfasts for the rest of the week!
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal (preferably fine-ground)
2/3 cup rolled oats (not the instant version)
2/3 packed light brown sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg (or additional cinnamon)
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1 1/3 cups coconut oil or neutral oil like canola
2/3 cup maple syrup or honey
2 cups grated carrots or tart apple
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
Assemble all the ingredients on your table / countertop for birds-eye Instagram photo. You are baking on Sunday morning, it deserves documentation.
Heat oven to 425°F. Heavily butter your muffin tin or use paper liners.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flours, cornmeal, oats, sugar, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt
In a smaller mixing bowl, mix together the wet ingredients: buttermilk, oil, maple syrup and eggs.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and carefully mix. Don’t over mix, the batter can be a bit lumpy. Stir in carrots, blueberries, and walnuts.
Let the batter rest for 15-20 minutes. You can use this time to post the earlier “prep” photo to your Instagram story. After resting, give the batter a light stir to make sure it’s thick and fluffy.
Plop enough of the batter to almost fill the muffin indentation. Mound the center so you’ll get nicely rounded tops.
Place tin in oven and reduce temperature to 400°F. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Cool muffins in the tin on a rack for 5-10 minutes and then remove.
Details: Makes about 24 small/medium sized muffins
Disappointingly, women today are still not respected, nonetheless celebrated. In this month of March when we celebrate Women’s History, it is important to pay tribute to the incredible women who shape and inspire us. Women who deserve recognition everyday, but some extra pomp and circumstance all March long. Marcella Hazan is one of those women. When reading about Marcella you come across many admiring quotes – famous chefs and food writers who credit Marcella for teaching them how to cook, care for, and love food. Interestingly, many of the chefs Marcella inspired were men. Marcella did begin cooking for traditional reasons – married in 1955 and living in New York she was first compelled to cook in order to”feed a young, hard-working husband.” Although her foray into cooking was more or less due to gender stereotypes, she quickly realized her skillfulness and wasted no time putting it to good work. Hazan went on to publish several cookbooks. Her first, The Classic Italian Cookbook, is legitimately the classic Italian cookbook. It is canonical. This March, Luke and I honored Marcella’s legacy by tackling her bolognese recipe. We’d argue it’s the only bolognese recipe you’ll ever need. No need to cross reference with other cookbooks or websites, substitute one ingredient for another, or make many additions. Follow this recipe as is and you’ll have the perfect bolognese sauce.
1 1/2 cup canned whole tomatoes, cut up, with their juices (get good quality!)
1 lb pasta (spaghetti or fettuccine)
freshly grated parm, for serving
Be prepared to spend the next 4 hours tending to your bolognese. Once it starts simmering it doesn’t take much work, but this sauce likes to be checked up on regularly.
Put the oil, butter, and chopped onion in a heavy bottom pot or dutch oven and turn heat on medium. Cook until the onion has become translucent, about 5 minutes, and then add the carrots and celery.* Cook for an additional 2 minutes.
Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Stir meat well, so that it crumbles, breaking up with a fork if necessary. Cook until the beef has lost its red color.
Add milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until milk has bubbled away completely. Add the freshly grated nutmeg and stir.
Add the wine, and as with the milk, let it simmer until it has evaporated completely. Add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all the ingredients well. When the tomatoes begin to bubble turn the heat all the way down. You want the sauce to cook at a very gentle simmer. Cook, uncovered, for about 3 hours, stirring from time to time. During this cooking process, you will likely find that the sauce loses quite a bit of liquid. Be wary of this! You don’t want the meat to stick to the bottom of your pot so add 1/2 cup water at a time when the liquid supply is looking low.* At the end of the 3 hours though no water should be left. Also check taste as you go, adding more salt as necessary.
Add a tablespoon of butter to the cooked pasta, and toss with the sauce. Serve with plenty of freshly grated parm.
The recipe above is verbatim Marcella Hazan bolognese. We did not want to disrespect the queen of Italian cooking in this post. We did make the following 2 minor adjustments that you can consider making as well –
With the celery and carrots, we also added a couple cloves of garlic, minced.
We created a mixture of tomato paste and warm water (1 TBS tomato paste to 2 cups warm water), stirring the tomato paste into the water so that it would dissolve. We added this mixture to the sauce when it was drying out. We ended up using all 2 cups of this mixture during the 3 hour simmer.