NEWS – new chapter!

We have news. No, not pregnant and nope, we’re not moving. Other news…

Back in 2007 the week Alex and I signed the contract to buy our place and move to Brooklyn, we went to dinner at a little restaurant near our house, The Garden Café. It was run by a husband / wife team for years and in Zagat had a 28 / 30 rating for food. It was a gem. And then it closed.

In 2009 during the worst economic downturn of our lives, a bright sunny place opened in that corner spot. It was founded by Alex Hall (more about him HERE) and was called Milk Bar. Milk Bar is an Australian café serving exceptional coffee, simple and delicious food in a modern environment. In 2014 he opened Brunswick, with a similar theme, just off Prospect Park in Windsor Terrace.

Here’s the news – we now own them. YES!  With a couple of other owners, including my ever wonderful business partner Darryl, several months ago we bought Milk Bar and Brunswick. Alex Hall built and ran them very successfully and he recently moved to Des Moines with his family to conquer the Midwest. He’s been an invaluable mentor to me – a real hero – teaching me the ins and out of how these cafes work. His dedication is what made both cafes work and we strive to carry that on.


We are overjoyed to have this opportunity. Milk Bar was one of the first places I took Avery for a breakfast out, just the two of us. On another occasion, I took her to her first drop off playdate and went to Milk Bar to enjoy coffee, breakfast and a book by myself. It’s a port in a storm, a neighborhood staple, a place to slow down your life for a few minutes. When we learned of Brunswick, it opened up a new part of Brooklyn for us, Windsor Terrace a wonderful family neighborhood a few minute drive away.

Both cafes are fixtures in their neighborhoods. They are places to unwind, meet friends, or enjoy time on your own for breakfast, lunch or a snack (and coffee, of course).  The café teams have also been hugely supportive and loyal (feeling really lucky over here, if you can’t tell.)

We are super psyched to invest in Brooklyn’s local offerings. If you’re in Brooklyn, we hope you’ll swing by and see us. For now, please like us on Facebook and find us on Instagram – links below!




Menu 47 – Middle East FEAST!

My first favorite entertaining phrase is “make ahead.” My second is “room temperature” especially in summer months. There are few things that make for a relaxed party or dinner than a made ahead meal served room temperature.

This past weekend I had my mother in town AND my mother in law – two women who love me no matter what I serve, but who we also love to cook for. So we did. And boy what a feast it was – the oohing and ahhing – and not just because they are The Moms – they actually liked it!

This menu is Middle East/Jerusalem inspired. Start with almonds – roasted and salted – and olives (the best you can find). Next, a series of salads. Tomatoes and cucumbers; raw squash with a light dressing and feta; burnt eggplant with pomegranate seeds. I also made Green Couscous (for the love of Yotam!) and it’s so easy and different and good.

For the main, we went grilled rack of lamb. You have a lot of leeway here with the main – the salads would go nicely with grilled or roasted chicken, steak, pork or even fish. It’s hard to go wrong so go with what you like best. Since we had the grill going, we toasted up some flatbreads too.

Of course we wanted dessert. We got the most amazing baklava – two kinds – pistachio and walnut. No way was I making baklava. I am not insane. There are certain things one should almost always buy. Support your local businesses – buy baklava.

And that was that. It’s a fair amount of washing and chopping but with a bit of planning (LOVE planning), you can have everything done by 3pm and resting, then just fire up your grill. Put everything on your table on large platters and have at it. One of my favorite menus ever.

Menu 47 - 8 11 2016


Tips and Notes

Tomatoes and Cucumbers – this doesn’t really need a recipe (Kirby cucumbers; colorful tomatoes cut into odd shapes; a little red onion; maybe you grate a garlic clove on it; red wine or sherry vinegar; olive oil; salt/pepper; time to come together). But if you must – this is a good basic version:

Burnt Eggplant – Oh how I love Yotam. Seriously buy his cookbooks.

Raw Squash and Feta – puurrty…

More Yotam, Green Couscous

And the Bakalva – if you don’t have a middle eastern store near you, look here:


Menu 46 – Life Happens

Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, home cooking just doesn’t happen. Too busy, too hot, too tired. Whatever it is, sometimes it’s just too much.

Our last three weeks have been this way. It hasn’t been abnormally busy – everyone is always busy, la di da. No, it’s not that. But I’ve been distracted and not so high on plan, shop, prep, cook, clean. The kids have eaten a lot of pizza and pasta. And look, they’re still alive 🙂

This coming weekend will be a little different. We will reconnect with the cooking process and having a proper sit down family meal. I snagged this menu from HelloFresh, which I’ve done a couple of times. I won’t review the experience here but I will say that if it makes your life easier to have the planning, shopping and measuring done for you, these services (Blue Apron, HelloFresh, many others) are great so go for it.

They posted a menu HERE that is simple, healthy and good. Pan-Seared Salmon to start with Arugula Mint Pesto – really fresh flavors that don’t require a lot of time – good bang for your buck. A quinoa salad that has almonds and peppery arugula…one of those things you’ll make and say “wouldn’t it be nice to have this around more often?” And last a fun side of broiled snap peas. Honestly, this is the kind of meal you could double and serve to company – it’s pretty, fresh and easy.

It wouldn’t be a family dinner without dessert. But on this night we go no fuss and dish up ice cream. Make sure you get some that everyone loves. Not a bad way to get back in the cooking groove, if I do say so myself.

Menu 46 - 7 18 2016

Tips and Notes

You can download the whole process here:

Menu 45 – 10th Anniversary Feast!!!

10 years ago on this day, June 24th, we got married. What a day – what a weekend that was! There was canoeing and fishing; golfing and bird watching. There were golf carts and big hats; peonies and a string quartet. We had a backdrop of mountains and brilliant blue sky. We had a moose head! There were friends and family from far and wide. We had very few slow songs and a LOT of dancing. It was one of the best weekends of our lives, and thinking about it this week has been a fabulous walk down memory lane.

Planning our wedding was a great experience for us as a couple – we absolutely loved it. We started by listing things that we like and then tried to incorporate as many of those things as we could into the weekend. Ten years later, we still like planning and as such, tonight we are reliving part of that glorious day with a menu inspired by what we served that night. I’ve posted a very simple written menu of what we actually ate that night – you will see that tonight’s menu is clearly inspired by the same.

Tonight we will have a salad with shaved zucchini in a lemon dressing – lots of shaved parmesan gets tossed in as well. Then ribeye straight from the grill (my husband is the BEST grill master) and béarnaise. We will also have grilled asparagus because – you know – béarnaise. Ten years ago we served gratin dauphinoise – tonight we will make due with baked potatoes with sour cream and chives (so good). For dessert rather than cake at our wedding we had pies – LOTS of pies – five kinds to be exact (strawberry rhubarb, wild main blueberry, apple raspberry, maple pecan and peach). Tonight we have friends coming over who offered to bring a sweet and that makes me so happy.

Rather than a drawing this week I added a few shots from our wedding. They are pictures of pictures because – old school – I don’t have digital versions at the moment (SO old fashioned, I know). We’ve had a really amazing decade and I feel so blessed to have the husband and family I have…I hope you enjoy this little walk down memory lane with me.


Menu 45 - 10th anniversary

dad pic
I love this picture – my dad’s hand on Alexander’s arm…
Actually getting married here – here we go!
the walk
Priceless Alexander face
walk away
Photographer “walk away! walk away right now!”
The Moose. Just the Best.

Tips and notes

Menu 44 – FATHER’S DAY is almost here…

Let’s be honest – brunch is terrible. The food is average; the drinks are watery and dreadful. And you most often WAIT for the privilege! Time to re-do brunch.

And what better time to re-do brunch than on Father’s Day. Time to make brunch a real meal, in your home – and today, a meal that puts hair on your chest. This is not a brunch for the faint of heart. This is a brunch for DADS.

Start strong with a Bloody Bull. Bloody Bulls are a riff on the bloody mary – but better. We’re talking beef broth (stop – just stop – listen to me). Read the link below for why bloody bulls are superior to the average bloody mary. Your dad is superior – he deserves this. Next, oysters. I said put hair on your chest. Oysters will do it (and I bet your dad will NOT be expecting oysters. A little surprise never hurt anyone). For the main event, Steak and Eggs. “Steak and eggs” are a father favorite in my house. Serious protein. A real meal. But let’s fancy it up some and serve the steak and eggs over spinach and OVER polenta (over over!). This is the way to eat eggs.

And of course, coffee. But frankly after eating all of this what you really should do for your dad is prop him up in the best chair in the house, hand him a remote and the paper and keep those bloodies on refill. He will probably nap. And one of the best things you can ever give a dad is a nap (same with moms).  Plan a little, and get this done for your pops.

Menu 44 - 6 16 2016


Tips and notes

In support of the Bloody Bull:



Menu 43 – TACOS

In general, you will be happy if you eat tacos. Have you noticed that? Who doesn’t like tacos? I wouldn’t hang out with people who don’t like tacos. The best tacos I ever had (other than my mom’s) were at Rockaway Taco. A couple of years ago, we had a family beach morning, jumping in waves and building castles with the kids. Around 11:30, we skedaddled our way to Rockaway Taco, ordered a bunch and ate them while sitting in the back end of our car. Then we went home, the kids took naps and we lounged the rest of the day. It was great.

Rockaway Taco itself is now gone – sort of – it reemerged here: Go if you can!

Because of Rockaway Taco, I associate tacos with surfing. No, I don’t surf. But apparently people who surf like tacos, so, you know, it all comes back to tacos in the end. Oh and June is International Surfing Month (because I bet you didn’t know that).

This week re-create that taco surf moment and make a bunch of amazing tacos. Play surfer music if you want. Mix a big batch of margaritas. Whip up fried fish tacos topped with cabbage and spicy mayo. Serve with roasted corn salad – equites. Finish with a big dish of ice cream – ideally with your feet still in the sand.

Menu 43 - 6 3 2016


Tips and notes

Start with a pitcher of margaritas:

Next, roasted corn salad:

And the main event, ROCKAWAY TACOS:

Menu 42 – Memorial Day PICNIC

Memorial Day – about so much more than burgers on the grill. It’s about honoring all Americans who died while in military service, and their families who by extension, gave so much. It began as Decoration Day when family members visited cemeteries and decorated gravesites of the war dead with flowers. This traditional of having Decoration Days still remains today and often involves many family members meeting at a cemetery, decorating together and then having a picnic-like “dinner on the ground” (at least according to Wikipedia).

Also according to Wikipedia, “On Memorial Day, the flag of the United States is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day. The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. At noon, their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.”

So on this day, remember with your own family and friends how grateful we need to be for all who’ve sacrificed their lives. Attend a parade. Say thank you. Prepare a meal that you mindfully share with those family and friends.

I’m sticking with Decoration Day here and suggesting a picnic. Nobody will be mad if you pour them a Back Nine to start – you know, a spiked Arnold Palmer. Next, everyone seems to like cold fried chicken – how about turning that into a sandwich on this day. Make a spicy slaw too, and slice pickles – people can top their chicken sandwich as they wish. Alongside, a fresh couscous salad (keeps well outside – a little fancier than baby carrots and hummus…not that there’s anything wrong with that). I always want potato chips at picnics, so find the best you can and snag a few bags. And last, it’s not a picnic without dessert…at a picnic cherry pie might be messy, so go with bars – cherry pie bars.

Have a happy, healthy, grateful and mindful Memorial Day.



Tips and Notes

A refreshing drink:

The chicken from this sandwich, make ahead, grab some buns, make the slaw, have people assemble on their own:

Buy the best pickles you can find:

THIS couscous salad!

Also smart to buy the best potato chips you can find:

And last but not least, a not messy “cherry pie”


Menu 41 – Spanish Night!

Last week got away from me – no menu. This happens. Dinner making becomes dinner ordering. Totally unsatisfying.

Let’s come back from a non-cooking week strong with a menu that takes you on a vacation – to Spain! And outside – to your grill! Yes this week we are grilling paella.

Break out the castanets.

My mother is coming to visit this weekend, and in general, she hates a fuss. I can respect that, so we are keeping things relatively easy and making three things only – including the cocktail! A beautiful sangria (click!) to start things off. She is always worrying that people will ruin their appetites with starters so we’re going right for the big game tonight – get grilling and cook a lot of paella. I’ve included a simple recipe below. The beauty of this is that cooking on the grill reduces your clean up needs in the kitchen…simple…win! And to finish, after you’ve had your fill of crab and squid, indulge in this lovely citrus almond cake. Might want to make a lot of the sangria – I bet it goes well with the cake.

Menu 41 - 5 18 2016

Tips and Notes

Menu 40 – Mother’s Day Menu

I don’t know about you, but I just don’t think taking your mom to a crowded pricey brunch with bad champagne and poorly cooked yolks is the right way to shower her with love. She BIRTHED you for heaven’s sake. All the scars, the body aches, weight gain, bloated feet, the resulting butt wiping, nipple soreness (if you just cringed, imagine how your mom felt), 2AM wake-ups, barfy clothes, whining, cajoling, Cheerios, rotten milk in car seats, playground anxiety, pretending Dr. Seuss is interesting, Kraft mac n cheese smell, lunch-making…(I haven’t even gotten to the teenage years!)…

And your way of saying thanks is with overcooked eggs and questionable hollandaise. *shaking head*

We can do better, and we will. We will make an effort. With moms, effort counts.

When I think of my mother many things come to mind but one of the biggest memories I have is of her making me clothes. She had two sewing machines when I was a kid – one super functional and the other was her grandmother’s – an antique Singer sewing machine. It is quite beautiful. It still works. It mends, it makes, it creates, it is sturdy…just like my mom. Sewing is a bit of a lost art. My mother (and in fact both of my mothers-in-law) is an expert. She made it look easy. And isn’t that sometimes what mother’s do? We get dinner on the table, make/mend/buy clothes, we pick up and arrange, we organize, etc…and it’s like it just happens.

It doesn’t JUST happen. There is work and effort and thought behind all of that. So for your mom, give her some of the same. This is a lunch or dinner menu. It looks fancy, is absolutely delicious and totally doable. Start with Minted Pea Soup, served cold. Add a bit of crème fraiche before serving and it looks gussied up. Next, Potato Crusted Halibut over Wild Mushrooms and Haricot Vert. You make this plate look above and beyond with swirls of carrot reduction and a truffle vinaigrette (hard to spell – not hard to make). Last, in the best glasses you have (cognac snifters would be nice), serve your very deserving mother Panna Cotta topped with a gorgeous Strawberry Rhubarb Compote.

All of this can be made and prepped ahead except the halibut, which you cook before serving. If your mother likes to cook, ask her to help with this part. Doing things with your mom is as rewarding as doing things for your mom.

Now get out there and shop. Make this one really count for your mom.

Menu 40 - 5 6 2016


Tips and Notes


So the fish. Apparently to get the Wild Mushroom and Haricot Vert part of this recipe you need this book: It’s worth buying…For the fish part follow this:  For the Wild Mushroom and Haricot Vert part, basically in some butter and olive oil, saute sliced shallots, then your mushrooms, then your blanched haricot vert. Add salt and pepper. A squeeze of lemon juice. To plate, veg on the bottom. Fish on top. If you buy the book, you get the benefit of fancy truffle vinaigrette and carrot reduction.

The panna cotta: and the compote:

Menu 39 – Home Sweet Home

It’s Spring Break season here in NYC – so some people (not us) got away for vacation. Even if I’m not on vacation, I like thinking about it. Dare to dream.

One of the best things about taking a vacation is coming home. Isn’t that a beautiful thing? Back to your own bed, all of your clothes, your familiar surroundings. And cooking. Back to your own cooking. I love eating out but every night gets to be a bit much. On those nights when we return home, we’re often excited to eat our own cooking.

But not with a lot of effort. There’s unpacking to do and people are tired. So you need an easy and highly satisfying menu to cook on the night you get home from a vacation.

Grill to the rescue! So many benefits to grilling – the great outdoors, no kitchen mess, my husband does it. Everyone wins. But wait! Are we going standard burger and hot dogs? Not tonight, we’re not! We’re going seafood and making a few things that are super tasty on their own with no work. Grilled clams to start. That’s it. Everyone forgets about grilling littleneck clams but it’s the easiest thing in the world and SO satisfying. Next, break out that package of skewers you have tucked away. Skewer shrimp/chorizo/shrimp/chorizo (make the kids do this – kids love putting things on skewers). Since shrimp and chorizo are flavorful to begin with (and you’re tired because you just got home), you can grill those and leave it at that. If you want to do more, I’ve added a slightly fancier recipe below. Last, actual vegetables. Everyone likes grilled vegetables and since we are leaning Spanish we are spiffing these up with just the littlest bit of cooking (I know, you’re tired). The grilled vegetables are topped with a super simple garlicky mix of breadcrumbs. Everything is better with breadcrumbs.

And last, you want dessert. Spanish Rice Pudding. I did include a recipe below if you actually want to cook but I have a great cheat for you. Buy the rice pudding (Kozy Shack is the BEST), and then add just a little cinnamon and vanilla. It’s basically the same and easier.

See! Now you’re unpacked. You enjoyed a really simple menu that felt like vacation but had all the benefits of arriving back home. Life, and home, is sweet.

Menu 39 - 4 28 2016


Tips and Notes For grilled clams, you do just that, put them straight on the grill. Take them off when they open, which is likely after a few minutes. You can stop here and just eat them. Or you can add a little pepper and a squeeze of lemon. OR if you want to get a teeny bit fancy, put some herb butter on them like this one..


Only the smallest bit of non-grill cooking involved here:

If you want to make it yourself: