Friday, May 30, 2014

Back to Basics: Whipped Cream

Happy Friday! Even though this week was a short work week, I cannot wait for the weekend. Top of my to-do list: catching up on sleep, visiting the Farmer's Market, and working on this blog! I have lots of big changes in the works!

This whipped cream recipe is a necessity, a true basics recipe. It's creamy and slightly sweet, with a just a hint of vanilla. It's the perfect complement for both a rich, dark flourless chocolate cake and a bowl of vanilla ice cream.

Homemade whipped cream elevates the store-bought berry pie you raced to get before your friend's BBQ, and the whipped cream makes them think you are SO on top of your game. If you are awesome made your own pie, or cake, why ruin it with Cool Whip that always manages to leave a waxy film in your mouth?

My favorite way to eat whipped cream, though, is atop a fresh bowl of berries. There is no better way to end a summer meal!

Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Fifteen minutes ahead of time, place your metal bowl and metal whisks into the freezer.

Place the sugar and vanilla in the mixing bowl, then add the whipping cream. Whisk just until the cream reaches stiff peaks. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Favorite Finds: Rip van Wafels

Anything that could combine my late-afternoon coffee with a delicious sweet always gets my attention.

Add to that some Dutch flair and a treat that doesn't break the caloric bank, and you might also get my heart.

Meet Rip van Wafels. They make stroopwafels, two thin waffle cookies filled with either caramel or cocoa. You place the stroopwafel over your hot cup of coffee or tea, and wait for the filling to slightly melt.

With Rip van Wafels, I know I can get a tasty treat in with my Blue Bottle coffee without feeling as if I just ruined my healthy eating plan for the day. While their stroopwafels certainly are not healthy, they contain less sugar and calories than a muffin, energy bar, or some other snack I pick up at my favorite coffee shop.

Last week in San Francisco, a good friend was telling me about his experience meditating-just a few minutes each night- and I was really struck by the positive impact he could feel it having on his life. And then I read this New Yorker article about how busy we all are, and how it could be tied to our desire for material possession. It got me thinking, when was the last time I wasn't in a rush, wasn't racing to finish a to-do list, wasn't worried about what will happen next? 

I probably have a lot of work to do in the relaxation department. But I'm going to start with some deep breathing, while waiting for my Rip van Wafels stroopwafel to warm up.

 All images via Rip van Wafels.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Weekend Reading

I hope you all have a wonderful three-day weekend! I am spending the weekend out in the Bay visiting friends. It feels so nice to be out in the sunshine. This trip will be filled with lots of Tartine pastries, Mexican food, hikes, and laughter with old friends.

Image from Jen Huang Photography

In the meantime, here is a roundup of some interesting finds from the week. Enjoy!

  • I'm dying to go see "Chef"--a new movie featuring Jon Favreau, Scarlett Johansson, and Sofia Vergara

  • This great video from the Ellen Show featuring the Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences will make you quite 'happy'

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Back to Basics: Basil Pesto

With spring in full bloom, there is nothing that I want more than fresh herbs. Chopped herbs in my salads, on my chicken, in my pasta...I'll add them to anything!

This pesto is chock full of basil and makes the perfect sauce for the warmer season.  It's so easy to put together and is so versatile! I put this on top of my roasted salmon, add extra oil and turn it into salad dressing, and of course, as a sauce for pasta. 

This recipe is from Cook's Illustrated, which always has impeccable recipes. It does not disappoint!

Basil Pesto

1/4 cup pine nuts
3 medium garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
Ground black pepper

Toast the nuts in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until just golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes; set aside.

Add the garlic to the skillet and toast over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant. Let the garlic cool slightly, then peel and chop.

Place the basil in a heavy-duty 1 gallon zipper-lock plastic bag. Pound the bag with the flat side of a meat pounder or a rolling pin until all the leaves are bruised.

Process the nuts, garlic, basil, oil, and salt in a food processor until smooth, stopping as necessary to scrape down the sides of the bowl, about one minute. Stir in the parmesan cheese, and then season with pepper to taste.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Favorite Finds: Tonx Coffee

Coffee lovers, meet Tonx.

Tonx is a coffee subscription service that ships you freshly roasted beans straight to your door, every other week. The coffee is date-stamped, so you know it's fresh!

I love high-quality coffee, but nothing hurts more than paying $3-4 for coffee each time I head to my favorite local coffee shops. I love the idea of being able to discover new and delicious beans, right from your own home.

I recently ordered the free trial on Tonx, and I am hooked! I am excited to switch over the half sack (6 oz) for $12 a bag. Tonx offers a variety of sizes, from 6oz to 15 pounds, that ships out twice a month. For me, the 6 oz size is perfect for my morning coffee.

My free sample, Ketiara, is from Takengon, Sumatra. It was a delicious brew for the morning, and my coffee had strong notes of stone fruit and chocolate, just like Tonx's description said! I also loved how Tonx described not just the coffee, but also the region and the producers of the coffee.

I really enjoyed getting a new and delicious coffee delivered straight to me, courtesy of Tonx. And considering they were recently acquired by Blue Bottle, I would say the future is looking quite bright for them!

If you're looking to try out Tonx, they are giving Hilary Stone Soup readers $5 worth of credit.  You can use this link here: https://tonx.org/f4dde7da

Friday, May 16, 2014

French Yogurt Cake

I've always had an obsession with tea parties. I love the frilly lace tablecloths, the delicate vintage teacups, and the dainty sugar cubes that I add to my Assam tea.

Lately, I've been dreaming of hosting a tea party for friends to celebrate spring. Unfortunately, my house is not that accommodating for tea parties--we don't have very much common space. 

However, this French yogurt cake would be at the top of my list of things to serve at a spring tea party. It is very similar to a pound cake, but instead of butter it uses greek yogurt. The result is a delicious, light cake that would go impeccably well with a cup of tea. 

To make the cake even more festive, top with fresh fruit!

French Yogurt Cake

From Bon Appétit

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
3/4 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat pan with vegetable oil spray. Dust pan with flour; tap out excess.

Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. 

Using your fingers, rub sugar with lemon zest in a large bowl until sugar is moist. Add yogurt, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract; whisk to blend. Fold in dry ingredients just to blend. 

Pour batter into prepared pan, and then smooth the top of the batter. Bake until top is golden brown and a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean, 50-55 minutes. 

Let pan cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert onto rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Back to Basics: Poached Eggs with Ramps

I am about to change your life. Seriously.

Okay, maybe not so seriously. But trying ramps a few weeks ago WAS a life-changing experience for me, and it could be for you too.

Now, you are probably thinking to yourself: 1) what in the world is a ramp? and 2) why is it life-changing?

Ramps are garlicky-spring onions that bring a garlicky punch that mellows as you cook it. If you like garlic and onions, you will LOVE ramps.

Now, for the sad part...ramps are typically only available late March through June. Also, it's very rare to find them at the grocery store. You'll be better off looking for them at your farmer's market. 

This poached egg recipe below is my favorite way to make ramps. It showcases the ramp flavor beautifully, and though the finished product looks pretty impressive, it only takes about 15 minutes to make. 

Serve this poached egg and ramp recipe for brunch or turn it into your next Meatless Monday dinner. 

Why is this recipe part of my back to basics series? Even though ramps aren't necessarily a basic ingredient, poached eggs should definitely be in your repertoire.


Poached Eggs with Ramps

Inspired by Bon Appétit Magazine

1 pound ramps
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 slices country style bread
4 poached eggs (recipe below)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Flaky sea salt (like Maldon)

Rinse the ramps really well in cold water. Cut dark-green leaves from ramps and slice into 1" thick sections. Trim off the end of the bulbs. Slice the rest of the bulbs and stems into 1/4" thick sections.

Heat butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the bulbs and stems, then seasons with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring often, until the bulbs and stems soften (about 5-8 minutes). Then add in the leaves and continue cooking for approximately 3 minutes, until the leaves soften.

Toast bread, then brush with olive oil. Top each piece of toast with ramps and then a poached egg. Drizzle with olive oil, and then top with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt.

Poached Eggs

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
4 large eggs

Bring 2" of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat so water is at a gentle simmer, then add the vinegar. 

Crack an egg into a small bowl. Gently slide the egg into the simmering water. 

Repeat with remaining eggs, waiting until the whites are opaque before adding the next egg (you should wait approximately 30 seconds between eggs).

Poach for about 3 minutes--the whites will be set, but the yolks will still be runny. Using a slotted spoon, transfer eggs to paper towels as they are done. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Favorite Finds: Clearly Kombucha

I'm kicking off a new series--Favorite Finds--to highlight some of my favorite food companies around the globe. Enjoy today's inaugural post!

I am NOT a kombucha person. #sorrynotsorry

So any kombucha that can turn me into a full-fledged fan of this fermented drink must be pretty great stuff.

Enter, Clearly Kombucha.

I first tried Clearly Kombucha in college, and it quickly became my kombucha brand of choice.

As a non-kombucha fan, I like Clearly because they provide delicious low calorie and low sugar refreshments. Their flavors, like Black Currant and Strawberry Hibiscus, are spot on. They have a clean and crisp taste that I would take over a soda any day.

Plus, they filter their kombucha (just like champagne!) so there are no gross floatie things in your kombucha, unlike most of the unappetizing options at your local health foods store.

The founders, Ali Zarrow and Caleb Cargle, and the rest of the Clearly Kombucha team approach making kombucha with the passion of a vintner. They have their own brewing facility where they only use non-GMO, fair trade, AND organic ingredients to bring you the best kombucha around.

Clearly Kombucha is selling all across the country, and you can check out where to buy them here!

Also, if you're feeling a little bit social, enter into Clearly Kombucha's Instagram contest. They are giving away some delicious snacks to a special someone who shares the picture below on Instagram and tags it #cksnacktime. Good luck!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Little Gem Salad with Feta, Grapefruit, and Toasted Pecans

Happy Friday! I am so excited for a weekend of lovely weather, tennis, and great coffee.  One of my favorite weekend activities is heading over to the Dupont Circle Farmer's Market on Sunday mornings, post-workout.

This past weekend, a beautiful head of little gem lettuce caught my eye at one of the stands at the market.  Little gem looks a little bit like romaine and has a crunchy texture and a slightly sweet flavor.

This salad takes some very simple ingredients and combines them into one delicious salad. I love any sort of salty-sweet combination, and this salad does not disappoint thanks to the grapefruit and the feta cheese.

This salad and some great bread (and maybe even a glass of vino) is the perfect weekend lunch meal.

Enjoy the weekend!

Little Gem Salad with Feta, Grapefruit, and Toasted Pecans

One small head of Little Gem lettuce, cleaned and stems removed
One grapefruit, sectioned into smaller pieces
1/4 cup toasted pecans (hazelnuts would be equally delicious)
1/3 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup grapefruit juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon of honey
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Layer the Little Gem leaves on a large serving platter. Top with grapefruit sections, pecan, and feta cheese.

Whisk together the grapefruit juice, olive oil, honey, and a dash of salt and pepper in a bowl. Drizzle over the salad, and save the rest in the fridge for another time!


Monday, May 5, 2014

Gourmet Mother's Day Gifts

(1) Coeur a la creme molds that are beautiful enough to double as a tray from knick knacks

(2) David Lebovitz's newest cookbook will have your Francophile mom feeling as if she is in Paris

(3) A gorgeous  hydrangea and peony bay wreath for the hostess

(4) Graeter's ultimate ice cream gift for any mom who loves chocolate chunks in her ice cream

(5) Let your mom drink as if she's in the Big Easy with Blue Bottle's New Orleans iced coffee kit

(6) If your mom dreams of having tea with Kate, send her tea from the Queen's favorite places, Fortnum and Mason

(7) Every mom needs a personal stash of chocolate...

(8) Make her Mother's Day brunch extra special with kouing amans from Les Madelines

Friday, May 2, 2014

Iced Coffee Mint Mojitos

Despite the fact that I saw more rain this week than I probably have in my entire life living in San Diego, I am in full spring and summer mode. Bring on the bright colored shorts! Bring on the sunscreen lotion and tennis matches! Bring on the iced coffee mint mojitos!

That's right. Iced coffee mint mojitos. basically, sweet and creamy iced coffee with a subtle mint taste thanks to some mint syrup and a giant fresh sprig of mint. It's the ultimate summer coffee drink.

Philz out in the Bay Area perfected this drink a long time ago. Since I am doubtful a Philz is going to open up in DC anytime soon, I realized I needed to learn how to make iced coffee mint mojitos myself. 

Now, I've already shared how to make a perfect cup of coffee here. However, there is an even easier way (!) to get your caffeine in the mornings, it just requires a little bit of foresight.

Cold brew coffee is my absolute favorite for iced coffee. It has a smoother, sweeter taste in comparison to other brewing methods. Also, it is much more concentrated in flavor and caffeine than traditional drip coffee, which means you won't dilute the taste of the coffee when you add milk or cream. 

I combined my cold brew iced coffee with some cream, mint syrup, and a fresh sprig of mint to get a delicious treat.

What are your warm weather favorite drinks? 

Iced Coffee Mint Mojitos

Adjust the recipe to your tastes--swap the cream for almond milk, add more mint syrup if you want yours sweeter, etc!

Cold-brew coffee (recipe below)
Mint syrup (recipe below)
One fresh sprig of mint
Add mint sprig to a tall glass. Fill the cup 3/4 of the way with your cold brew coffee. 

Add at least one tablespoon of cream, and one tablespoon of mint syrup.  Stir together, and then slightly muddle the mint leaf.  Add ice as desired.

Cold Brew Iced Coffee

1/3 cup coarsely ground coffee beans
1 1/2 cups water

Place coffee grounds into a container. Add water, and then stir to ensure all the coffee grounds are moist.

Let sit for 12 hours, either in the fridge or on the counter. In the morning, strain twice through a fine mesh sleeve lined with either a coffee filter or a cheesecloth. Keep any extra coffee in the fridge!

Mint Syrup

This syrup is not just for iced coffee--add it to iced tea, club soda, or cocktails!

1 bunch fresh  mint, ends trimmed
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water

Place all of the ingredients in a small sauce pan and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved and the syrup has thickened. 

Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer, then store in the fridge until  ready to use!


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