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Watermelon and Honeydew Aguas Frescas

July 1, 2010

Agua frescas, or “fresh waters,” are light, cooling fruit drinks so magically refreshing it’s clear why they’re the unofficial thirst-quencher of Latin America.

In their purest form, agua frescas are simply blended fruit, water, and a little lime – the essence of summer fruit, sipped through a straw. Adding an herb-infused simple syrup (and maybe a splash of vodka) opens a world of inventive flavor possibilities.

The key is to use the ripest fruit you can find. Taking my cue from the agua fresca vendors around New York this week, that meant watermelon and honeydew, with pineapple, mango and peach appearing later in the summer. Simply throw your fruit of choice in a blender with some water, sweeten to taste and serve. For the recipe, check out the full post on The Kitchn.

My Guest Post On Mowielicious: Citrus Campari Sorbet

June 28, 2010

You thought I was done with the Campari but no… turns out the citrus pops are even better in sorbet form. Added bonus – you can freeze them like adorable little oranges (thank you Martha Stewart). Read more…

Guest Post by Mowielicious: Meringue Ice Cream Cake With Summer Berries

June 20, 2010

This week’s recipe is a special treat: a guest post by Mowie of the beautiful blog Mowielicious. He’s such a rockstar that he barely needs an intro, but here it is in a nutshell: he’s a fantastic baker and writer with a penchant for everything pink (I mean, he even found pink strawberry flowers, who knew those existed.) Read more…

Boozy Campari Citrus Pops

June 17, 2010

Remember the childhood joy of slurping an icy popsicle on a hot day? These pretty pastel pops serve up summer nostalgia with a boozy adult twist.

The secret ingredient is Campari, the scarlet Italian aperitif made from herbs, spices and fruit. It’s traditionally served over ice with soda water and a slice of lime or a splash of juice. A great summer barbecue drink, Campari is refreshing in the heat and mild enough (25 percent alcohol) you can sip it all afternoon without worries.

The pops are sweeter, fruitier and just plain fun. All you need is four ingredients and a couple of kiddie popsicle molds from the 99 cent store.

The pink grapefruit pops are perfect for Campari lovers – tart, with the alcohol’s distinctly bittersweet flavor. If they were served in a little glass at a fancy restaurant you’d call them palate cleansing. The orange versions are sweeter, a mouthful of frosty orange with a just a little extra something. Mix up a batch of each – popsicles never felt so classy (the full recipe’s available on The Kitchn).

Wedding: John & Laura

June 12, 2010

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of photographing a wedding that was special for two reasons. First, my cousin John married Laura, a lovely and intelligent woman who thinks he’s hilarious (well done!). Second, this momentous occasion was documented by the talented photographer Masen Larsen, who graciously let me tag along. The sure-to-be beautiful shots of the bride and newlyweds will appear on his blog; I focused on my family, and the details of the day. Read more…

Out and About: Bar Tabac and Frankies

June 2, 2010

This Memorial Day was a long, glorious, traipsing through gardens kind of weekend. To celebrate the arrival of summer, Brooklyn Based asked me to do a roundup of outdoor dining, including two of my favorite neighborhood spots. Bar Tabac (top) serves cold Stella, spicy merguez sausage and tall cones of fries, with a sidewalk view of Smith Street. Frankies (bottom) offers ambiance and otherworldly pasta. Read more…

Rhubarb Crostata with Jasmine Whipped Cream

May 29, 2010

Dawn Casale started One Girl Cookies, one of my favorite Brooklyn bakeries, from a simple idea: cookies could be presented as beautifully as chocolates, instead of just tossed in a tin. Ten years later, the concept has grown from one girl churning out cookies in a tiny West Village apartment to a staff of 16 in a thriving Brooklyn storefront.

I met Dawn a few months back at a delightful Sunday Suppers brunch, and had the pleasure of shooting her in her beautiful Brooklyn kitchen as she prepared a rhubarb crostata with jasmine whipped cream for The Kitchn (full post here). Everything about it was great – the sunlit space, the story, the easygoing approach to food and the fantastic recipe.

Dawn’s story has a fairytale quality to it. After several enjoyable years in high-end retail, she decided to make a career of cooking, a talent nourished in her food-loving Sicilian family. But she knew the intense restaurant life wasn’t for her, so she opted for sweet over savory. Quitting her job at Barney’s, Dawn started baking cookies out of her apartment, relying mainly on word-of-mouth for sales.

Then came the big break: a mention and a photo in Vogue. Dawn hurried to the newsstand every day, but the story never ran. She was crushed, until the feature’s photographer happened to mention her cookies to Giorgio DeLuca, founder of Dean & Deluca. With a national distributor, sales went through the roof, and Dawn’s roommate came home daily to mountains of baking trays and boxes of cookies stashed under his bed.

In search of more help (and a new roommate), Dawn met Dave, a baker finishing up pastry school who happened to live down the block. Hitting it off in the kitchen, they decided to work rather than live together, and quickly became an excellent baking team. They rented a commercial kitchen and started catering events with sweet favors and dessert bars, working 17-hour days to meet holiday demand. Then one Christmas, as they were bundling up for the cold at the end of a long shift, Dave dropped a bomb: new pastry degree in hand, he was leaving to open Otto with Mario Batali.

Three weeks later he was back – this time for good. In 2005, the Dawn and Dave celebrated the opening of their Brooklyn storefront and their own wedding. Now Dawn minds Nate (now 1) and the business side of things while Dave runs the One Girl Cookies kitchen, just a few blocks away from the apartment. When he’s not churning out cookies or teaching baking classes, Dave is whipping up homemade scones, biscuits and yogurt every morning at the store for lucky brunch guests.

Dawn’s trademark style suffuses their Brooklyn kitchen, an airy space with tasteful touches like vintage flower bottles and a chalk board shopping list. A host of frequent dinner parties, Dawn says she makes food that “makes people happy,” and her rhubarb crostata with jasmine whipped cream lived up to that promise.

A crostata is a low-fuss version of pie, perfect for non-bakers like me (Dawn herself admits to being more of a cook than a baker, shhh, don’t tell!) If the dough tears, you just patch it back up, and fold it over in a raggedy, rustic crust that holds in the bubbling fruit. The crostata was flaky and perfectly tart, with just enough orange and an inspired dollop of jasmine whipped cream, which softened out the tanginess. Hot out of the oven, it was utterly delicious.

Read more…

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