Sunday, May 18, 2014

WILD: Meet Me at The Greenhouse. (for gluten free pizza and sangria and pretty lights.)

I am SO amped to tell you about this place. 

You may have seen a little sneak peek on my Instagram, but a few weeks ago Gail PR invited a really fun bunch of bloggers and journalists to check out WILD, which recently opened their second location in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. (The first is in the West Village, just blocks from my apartment, and I am slapping myself for not trying it sooner.)

First off, the two owners - Miki Agrawal and Walid Hammami - are likely two of the most interesting humans you will ever meet. So it's of zero surprise that this place kicks. ass. Miki is a serial-entrepreneur and former pro-soccer player who launches companies in her sleep, writes about it, and eats gluten free. Walid has OWNED restaurants since he was 19 years old, and DJs in his spare time. Because I'm sure restaurant owners have tons of that. 

I'm not sure who's responsible for the decor at WILD, but I would 100% eat a shoe if it meant hanging out in The Greenhouse - which is a magical place behind the main restaurant that I was sure didn't exist in New York City. First impression: we were walking right into a Pinterest wedding (complete with vintage frames, wildflowers, and strings upon strings of twinkling lights). If a tiny little hipster fairy floated out and perched on the lip of my mason jar of sangria, I wouldn't have been all that surprised. 

So, ambiance? Check. Banging gluten free food? BIG HUGE DELICIOUS CHECK. We tasted pear gorgonzola pizza with fresh rosemary, salmon skewers with sage and caper sauce, and wild mushroom herb pasta with arugula (to name a few). For dessert? KALE. CUPCAKES. This is real life. And in this thing called real life those kale cupcakes are gooooood. The cake part is reminiscent of a zucchini cake, and the vegan frosting adds a smooth, sweet, sumpin' sumpin'. I could totally go for one right now.

Every single thing we tasted was outstanding. The menu is all gluten free aside from a few pasta dishes, and Miki happily shared that they're phasing out the gluten-containing pasta - so in due time, the kitchen will be ALL gluten free. But don't be afraid to bring you gluten-loving friends. Pretty much everyone at the event (and everyone at my table of 12!) had no gluten restrictions, and it was all rave reviews. The gluten free (and vegan!) pizza crust was especially well-received. So light and crispy that you can easily polish off a whole pie without needing a nap, and the chickpea flour added a nice socca-like taste.

Thanks Miki, Walid and Gail PR for a beautiful night and the fullest of bellies. You guys, go try WILD. Sit back in the greenhouse. Eat a gluten free dessert pizza, if you're feeling crazy. You will love it! 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

GIVEAWAY: Gluten Free, All-Natural SugarPuss Lip Balm (aka Cat-Chap).

Phone: check. Keys: check. Wallet: check. Cat-chap: check. 

Eric and I do NOT leave home without cat-chap. We have come back to the apartment to get the forgotten cat-chap. I have stolen his cat-chap after losing mine. We have legitimately bickered over the location of the missing cat-chap.

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL. We're addicted. 

Cat-chap is not its real name, of course. Just a nickname. Because I nickname things I love, like dogs and chapstick and my siblings. 

SugarPuss Lip Balm is the brilliant creation of my cousin Jackie. Before SugarPuss (coined for her cute kitty Lola who snapchats me all. da. time.), I accepted the fact that chapstick feels delightful for 20 minutes (tops), wears off, then leaves your lips drier than they were to begin with. Seems kinda silly, doesn't it? 

What I've learned via Jackie, is that this does not have to be the case. No sir-ee. Apparently there are lots of preservatives and not-nice things in mass-produced chapstick that cause it to dry out your lips. SugarPuss has none of those things, plus lots of GOOD things like shea butter, avocado oil, coconut oil, and vitamin e. I'm telling you, this stuff keeps your lips soft all day. It's pretty incredible.  

So incredible, that I would love very much for ten of you to try it out. Fo' free. Just enter the contest by telling me which one of the four types you want to try, and liking SugarPuss Lip Balm on Facebook. As a heads up, the three tinted ones (nude, lavender and sunset pink) are VERY sheer - as you can see in the photo of my claw hand below. So don't be afraid of how pigmented they look in the tube! (If you're a dude though, I'd stick with the natural/untinted. Though a certain male who I spend a lot of time with has been known to swipe on one of the tinted ones when we don't have an untinted version handy. Oops.)

I swear to my mother that your other drugstore chapsticks will end up in a sad pile in the back of a drawer somewhere. Which is exactly where mine are now. I don't think Goodwill wants them and I'm too indecisive to throw things away, so that shall be their home. 

My beloved cat-chap, however, has taken up permanent residence on my nightstand, in my purse, in Eric's pocket, and on my face.   

 SugarPuss Lip Balm Giveaway:
 10 Winners Receive One Lip Balm Each

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, March 27, 2014

How to Make Crispy Pan-Fried Tofu like a CHAMP

Hold the chips. I'll have this, please:

SO WHAT if I snack on crispy, pillowy little tofu cubes. So freaking what if I'm obsessed with the crunchy outside, and soft, silky inside. (Especially when dunked in sweet thai chili sauce, or with a few drops of my new favorite gluten free soy sauce. Hubba Hubba.)

To be fair, these little guys also make their way into vegetable stir fry quite often. (Exhibit A, of many Exhibits.)

My tofu-searing was pretty hit-or-miss for a while, until I read this article on The Kitchn that recommended coating the tofu with cornstarch. AAHH of course there's a secret! And let me tell you, it's pretty foolproof. As long as your pan is hot and you've got a little oil action going on, there will. be. crust. 

Only thing is, I'd kinda rather not flip 24 individual tofu cubes in a screaming hot pan. Instead, I cut the whole block in half, pan-fry each half of the tofu block (which is just TWO pieces to flip - go math), then slice it into cubes. No, all 8 sides of each tofu cube are not crispy. But I never miss it. Besides, I'm usually inhaling them too fast for my mouth to notice.

Really hoping you give this method a shot. If you don't already enjoy tofu, maybe it will even make you a convert? Hey, I'm not trying to sell miracles here. Just some crispaaaaay tofu nuggets. You oughta know.

Recipe: Crispy Pan-Fried Tofu Cubes 
(with Scallions and Sesame Seeds)

- Instead of cutting the tofu into cubes, you can leave each slab whole and serve it as a main protein. Or, try slicing each slab into strips (like tofu fries)!
- The crispy cubes can be eaten alone (I think they'd make a great appetizer with a cool dipping sauce), or tossed into stir fries, salads, etc. 
- I think a really sharp, serrated knife is important for slicing the crispy tofu without damaging the crust. (I've been using this one for years and it's still SO sharp. Also works magic on tomatoes!)

1 16-oz. block firm tofu
Canola oil 
Sliced scallions (optional)
Toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Gluten free dipping sauce, like S&F Sweet Thai Chili Sauce (optional)

Slice open tofu container and drain out all of the liquid. Pat the block of tofu dry with a paper towel.

Rest the tofu on one of the shorter sides, and slice down the middle with a serrated knife to cut it into two equal slabs. (Slabs? Sure, we'll run with that. See pictures for reference.)

To press some of the liquid out of the tofu, stack three folded-in-half paper towels on a cutting board. Place the two tofu slabs on top, and cover the tofu with three more folded-in-half paper towels. Place a heavy skillet (cast iron, if you have it) and a few cans/jars on top of everything to weigh it down. Leave the tofu to drain for at least 5 minutes. 

Discard the paper towels (which should have soaked up a good amount of liquid). Dust the two largest surfaces of each tofu slab with cornstarch, spreading it out and pressing it in with your fingers. You can optionally coat the sides as well if you want to crisp those too.

Place a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add enough canola oil to lightly coat the bottom. (I used about 1.5 teaspoons.) Once the oil is really hot, place the two pieces of tofu in the pan, cut side down. 

Cook for 7 minutes (or until the bottom is very golden and has formed a crust). Flip the tofu, and cook for an additional 7 minutes. (You may need to add another splash of oil after you flip.)

At this point, if you cornstarch-ed the sides of the tofu, you can use tongs to sear all 4 of the sides for 1-2 minutes each. (Sometimes I skip this step.) 

Move the tofu to a cutting board and allow it to cool for a few minutes. Use a serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to slice each slab of tofu into 12 cubes - cutting lengthwise into thirds, then crosswise into fourths (see photos). You'll want to use a really sharp knife, and be gentle so that the crust doesn't tear off.

Now your crispy tofu cubes are ready to be added to stir fries, salads, or eaten alone! If eating them alone, I top them with a handful of sliced scallions and a few big pinches of toasted sesame seeds. They're extra delicious dunked in a sauce like this one.
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