Box Kitchen

IMG_2515Apart from New York City, one is pressed to find late night eats in the U.S. (clarification: food you want to eat). I found myself in downtown SF starving at 11pm, in need of something more than a “small plate”. Connected to a dive bar is a little hole in the wall serving up eats until 1am, Box Kitchen. I’m immediately skeptical. The drunken early twenties crowd outside would probably eat anything. As usual, hunger takes over, garlic fries are sounding pretty great. I break down…and they are delicious! So delicious that I order another round of fries and a burger. Simple, tasty, open late, and a great draft selection at Tempest Bar. Sorry for judging you twenties crowd, you were right!

A Venezuelan Christmas with pan de jamón

pan-de-jamonVenezuelan Christmas Ham Bread Recipe

Yield: 1 loaf

  • 1 1/2c lukewarm milk (can use any milk)
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 pkg active dry yeast
  • 4 1/2 c flour, plus more as needed (can use whole wheat if desired, but adjust amount accordingly)
  • 7 T butter, melted (can use olive oil)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 c dark raisins
  • 3/4 c light raisins
  • 1/2 lb ham, prosciutto works wonderfully
  • 1 c sliced pimento stuffed olives
  • 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tsp milk for egg wash

In a large bowl, combine the milk, sugar, and yeast. Stir and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Whisk in 1 cup of the flour and set to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

After one hour is up, whisk in 4 tablespoons of the melted butter, 2 eggs, and the salt. Add 2 cups of flour and mix well. Continue to add the remainder of the flour and mix until you have a soft and sticky dough. Transfer the dough to a well floured workspace and knead until smooth and elastic adding more flour as needed.

Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a buttered bowl. Roll the dough in the bowl to coat all sides with butter. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1-2 hours. *Hate to knead? Mix until the dough is soft and sticky then allow to rise for one hour. After that, pop it in the fridge to rise overnight. The next day, follow the remaining steps.*

While the dough is rising, soak the raisins in hot water and cover until plump (about 15 minutes).

When doubled in bulk, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to a 14″ x 18″ rectangle. Brush with the remaining butter and layer the ham, raisins, and olives. Starting on the long edge, roll the dough up (like a jelly roll) and place seam side down on a lightly buttered baking sheet. Cover with a clean towel and let rest for 15 minutes while the oven preheats to 350 F. Before placing in the oven, brush the bread with the egg wash. Bake for about 40 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cover with a damp kitchen towel for 15 minutes.

Eating Berlin

kaeserieLa Soupe Populaire – tops my list of best restaurants in Berlin. The unique setting enhances the dining experience and the details alone are enough to keep you entertained. Service was as thoughtful as the food, wines were excellent, and if you’re wondering about the cover charge, it’s totally worth it! Menus in German and English.

La Kaeserie – once you’ve entered, you won’t want to leave. If there are free tables, stay for a cheese plate that will not disappoint! I wanted to bring back all the cheese and unpasteurized butter…

Street food Thursday at Markthalle Neun – outstanding street food night!! Bao, jams, fish and chips, New York pastrami sandwiches, smoked fish, Aussie meat pies, wine and cheese plates and I could go on. If you’re around on a Thursday evening in Berlin, this is the place to be.

Aguevo – yummy Mexican spot

Rembrandt Burger – solid burgers and fries

Burger Meister – honestly, I didn’t picture myself waiting for a burger underneath a train station, let alone eating there. I did both. It’s the Berlin version of Shake Shack and yes, it’s tasty.

Brezel Company – because you want a pretzel, because they have pretzels stuffed with cream cheese (genius!).


Silo – super cute cafe, Australian owners, great coffee and deliciously fresh eats.

Five Elephant – good coffee, not many food items, friendly service.

Am Ende der Welt – near Hamburger Bahnof museum, small selection of food.


Hopfenreich – craft beer, local and imports, selection rotates often. Drafts are available in different sizes.

Bier Lieb – craft beer store, fun selection!

Die Apotheken Bar – crazy good cocktails (board games too)

Heiden Peters – some of best local beer I had

Hops and Barley – popular local brewery, good stuff, constantly rotating selection


Banana Cream Pie

bcpIf you’re looking for a quick, fairly-healthy fix for your banana cream pie craving, give this recipe a try!

Ingredients for 2 servings:

¼ c Almonds – finely ground

6 oz greek yogurt (I used vanilla flavored)

1 ripe banana – sliced

Using two jam jars, layer the above ingredients as you wish. A lidded jar will keep for about 2 days.

Fennel & Preserved Lemons

While in Decatur at Paper Plane, I had a great accompaniment on my cheese plate, pickled fennel. I was so obsessed that I decided to make a batch of my own. Here’s a great starter recipe from Food52. I made a couple of changes as usual and took advantage of the preserved lemons sitting in my fridge:

1 Fennel bulb (stalks removed)

1 c apple cider vinegar

1/2 c water

3 Tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

a pinch of peppercorns

1 quarter of a preserved lemon

Then you pretty much follow Food52’s recipe. I waited 24hrs before sampling.

What to do with the stalks and fronds? The Kitchn already has the answer! I was inspired to craft up a salad:

Quinoa and Amaranth Salad with Fennel Fronds, Chickpeas, Egg, and Preserved Lemon


2/3 c quinoa (cooked)

1/4 c amaranth (popped and then thrown in with quinoa while boiling)

1/4 c onion, chopped

1 zucchini, chopped

2 eggs, hardboiled then chopped

1/2 c chickpeas (I used canned)


Equal parts vinegar and oil (I used apple cider viegar and olive oil, maybe 1/8 c of each)

1 clove garlic, minced

fennel fronds, as many or as little as you like

1/4 of a preserved lemon (rinsed well and then chopped)

1 T mustard

salt and pepper to taste

Cook quinoa and amaranth together. While that’s cooking, sautee onions with zucchini. Gather the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl and whisk until combined. Let the quinoa and amaranth cool a bit and then combine with the other ingredients. Pour the dressing over and allow to sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.



French Toast – the secret ingredient

frenchtoastI make french toast all the time, sometimes before work if I’m really craving it. French toast doesn’t have to be time consuming; milk, egg, vanilla, cinnamon and bread, pretty simple. Sure, you could get fancy with an overnight french toast or a combo of cream and milk, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Recently, I was making french toast and looking through my cabinets to see if I had anything that might add a special touch and there it was, instant vanilla pudding mix. Don’t ask me why it was there, the important part is that if you add a teaspoon or two to your milk/egg mixture, it will taste at least 20% more awesome (that’s a conservative estimate).


lyndellsWhen I was a little kid, my mother would take me to Lyndell’s and they would always give me a cookie. Now that I’m older, I just take a number like everyone else. On most days, you won’t need the number, but on any holiday that calls for pastry, you wait until you’re called. My favorite things: honeycomb bread (made with graham flour which is rare around these parts), white mountain bread, snowflake rolls, all the danish, jelly donuts, ricotta pie, hazelnut cookies with chocolate drizzle, and Linzer cookies.

Eat this: Love Grain

lovegrainHappy Sunday and first day of June! Sunday calls for a leisurely breakfast. Today I whipped up a batch of pancakes with Love Grain’s pancake and waffle mix. They are easy to make, cook quickly and evenly, delicious, and local (Somerville, Ma). The mixture is mostly teff which has been popping up everywhere lately. I made the vegan version with almond milk, just lovely! I’ll probably explore more uses for the mix, maybe muffins or cookies, we shall see.

Strawberry Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars

srbIt’s rhubarb season again! I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and made some tweaks:

*whole wheat flour instead of AP

* 1/4 cup of demerara sugar instead of light brown

*5 Tablespoons of Olive Oil instead of butter

*didn’t use cornstarch or the tablespoon of sugar on the fruit

*Added some dollops of ginger spread from Ginger People on the fruit layer

Next time I make them I will double the recipe because mine came out quite thin. Delicious crumbled on top of ice cream though!


Charleston, SC


Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q – don’t judge me because I got the pulled pork nachos. They were delicious! The White Thai on draft was refreshing and tasted much better than the can.

Edmund’s Oast – they make their own beer and charcuterie! None of their beers were quite what I was feeling that evening, so I went with something else (note: the peanut butter and jelly beer was unique). Oh and they have punch on draft! The charcuterie and cheese plates were nothing but fantastic. The farm lettuce salad was refreshing and a perfect fit for the warm weather. The pickled shrimp wasn’t exactly what I expected and the thick layer of aioli ruined it for me. Overall, the meal was lovely and the space was beautiful, I’d go back for sure!

Tattooed Moose – yep, the place from Diners, Drive Ins and Dives…great dive bar! Maybe next time I’ll try the duck pastrami.

Kudu Coffee & Craft Beer – feels like a college haunt, in a good way. Great coffee (lacking in pastry options though), lots of beers on draft to take out into the courtyard (Evil Twin Hop Flood!), super cute and relaxing.

Two Boroughs Larder – reminds me of Philadelphia (I don’ really have justification for that, it just does). Local, seasonal, simple, and kitschy – we had the hot dog and a scrapple sandwich, both were yummy! I left with a tote bag, that dog Walter is too cute to pass up!

Closed for Business – lots of draft options, retro kitschy decor, pork rinds – you get the drift.