Wayfaring Kitchen

bicoastal pastry chef, word obsessed, photo newbie, organization junkie.

What’s in a Wine Bar?

On a recent chilly evening, a couple of my girlfriends and I decided to try a few glasses of wine at Corkbuzz in Union Square. I’ve read a good deal of press about the {relatively new} wine studio and have been itching to try it out. After all, the owner, Laura Maniec, has dominated the food and wine press recently; who wouldn’t trust her elaborate wine inventory? 

We decided to sample two bottles of one: an Italian Barbera from Piedmont and a California red from Forlorn Hope. Forlorn Hope is one of my absolute favorite wines. It has a rich flavor, smooth finish, and low tanins. The Barbera was also quite delicious; a bit more acidity and dryness but had an equally as easy finish. Both wines paired nicely with the cheese we ordered: neither heavy or tanic, both had enough acidity to pair against the cheese.

As I mentioned, we ordered cheese (wine and cheese, I could live off this stuff): three american cheeses, two cow and one goat. I’m also a fan of goat’s milk cheese due to the creamy texture, smooth finish, and ability to pair with most food. One of the cow’s milk cheeses we ordered was a cheddar, which, could possibly be my all-time, childhood favorite. I love the nuttiness of a good cheddar cheese, it’s ability to crumble in your mouth, and the fact that I can eat it up with a fork. No bread necessary.

Which, brings me to my final point, I was a bit turned off by the offering of bread. We were delegated four, large slices of a sourdough bread. I really prefer a smaller loaf, more slices, and something other than the all-too-familiar white bread. Walnut? Fig? Olive? The options are endless with bread and the creativity is booming in New York City. With such an imaginative wine menu, I’d expect more from the kitchen.

Service also probably could use some tweaking. But isn’t that always the case with new operations? It just sort of seemed like everyone was running around with no direction at all. Our server had no method to his madness, in terms of pouring the wine. It is a wine bar, no? 

Nonetheless, I will return and enjoy many more experiences at Corkbuzz. The possibilties are endless and the space is relaxing, enlightening, and welcoming. 

Lessons Learned From My Grandmother

I would like to do a little ode to my Grandmother, my Meemaw. She has been a huge part of my life, and while both my parents were at work, she practically raised me. As I make my way towards the end of my twenty’s, I realize the importance and value in my time with my Meemaw. Here are just a few things I want to always remember.

1. An old-fashioned doughnut and coffee makes the best breakfast, ever.

2. Pink lemonade is better than regular, and Tab is the greatest diet soda ever created.

3. Horse-back riding is the best form of physical activity.

4. If you’re going to swim, doing so in the ocean is the only way.

5. A lady should always leave the house wearing jewelry. And to that extent, no matter what, she should never, ever bite her nails.

6. When you hug people, put your weight into it. A good hug is a valuable asset.

7. Never give up.

8. No one knows what’s best for you, only you can decide that.

9. Sometimes, on a lovely day, noon is a perfectly good time to have a cocktail.

10. Old fashions, VO Manhattans, and a gin and tonic are the only cocktails worth having. Don’t trust a bartender who can’t make them.

11. Giving your ring finger, as a substitute for your middle, is a great way to flip someone off.

12. New isn’t always better. 

13. Skirts will always make you feel better than pants.

14. No matter what style is “in” Ferragamo’s are the best shoe to wear. 

15. Take care of your books, never get rid of them.

16. A book club is always going to be the best social group.

17. Write letters. Never stop. Never lose touch with your friends.

18. Whenever you can, travel, as often as you can.

19. Keep track of your family. Know where your people come from.

20. Believe in something bigger than yourself. Stay true to this. Always believe. 

21. Learn to play an instrument, and practice everyday. 

22. Stay educated; keep learning constantly. 

23. It’s ok to believe in ghosts, be supersticious, and believe dimes are luckier than pennies. 

24. Enjoy a good meal with your family, take value in it. 

25. You should always have a pet. Specifically a cat and/or dog. 

Keys to the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

1. Room temperature, almost melting, butter. Do not microwave or melt.

2. Salt. More than you think. Seriously.

3. More brown sugar than granulated sugar. Why? Adds some spice and it’s not as sweet.

4. Most importantly: Too much chocolate. Don’t be cheap with it!

Heads In Beds Review

Just this past week I was fortunate enough to stumble across Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky. Folks, I could not put this bad boy down and finished it almost as quickly as Jacob Tomsky got me laughing. 

This book is honest, funny, a bit vulgar, and a theraputic tool for anyone in the service industry. Mr. Tomsky details his experience as a Front Desk Agent at a couple top hotels in New Orleans and New York City. Let me tell you, even as someone in the service industry, I had no idea how difficult customer service could be. I know after reading this book, I for one, have a few ideas how I can be more grateful when at a hotel. 

If you don’t work in the hospitality or service industry: this book is for you. It’s for the people who come in and out of hotels, are on vacation, a business trip, or trying to escape their lives. It’s for the people who don’t realize how much work and time goes into making sure you feel at home. 

It’s also for anyone who wants a quick, entertaining read that will keep you laughing all throughout the book. It’s nothing too sad, nothing too serious, just a memoir Mr. Tomsky used to clear his chest a bit— while he continues his career as a Front Desk Agent. And if I can just warn you— this book is not suited for the easily offended. Or maybe, it just is. 

Per Se

Just this week, something wonderful happened: I had the opportunity to eat at Per Se. 

Located in the Time Warner building in Columbus Circle, Per Se stands above the hustle and bustle of New York City streets, overlookiing the city skyscrapers. The city lights decorate the dining room so you feel almost majestic while you dine. You enter on the fourth floor of the building, into an-almost industrial dining room. Clean, asymetrical lines, hanging light sculptures, and a teared-dining room. You feel as if you are literally suspended above the street. 

You don’t have to choose the wallet-breaking-tasting menu at Per Se. You can eat in the Salon and order a-la carte, still enjoying some of the same luxuries as if you had the tasting menu. The salon is peaceful and comfortable, with couches and windows to keep you occupied.

The staff makes you feel as if you’re in your own living room; perfectly comfortable and calm. You don’t have to worry about anything tonight. All your decisions are simple and made for you. Order a drink and sit back.

We enjoyed a bottle of champagne while ordering our meal a-la carte. My favorite part of the meal was the romaine-soup. Clean, crisp and refershing with just the right textures. And, to soak up the leftover flavors, four different selections of bread. My favorite was the pretzel, paired with butter from the Loire Valley (because everything is better in France, eh?). You also can’t go wrong with their mini-baguette. Close your eyes and bite into it and you feel as if you’re actually in France.

Now, I’m going to be up front with you. Even if you’re paying $40 for your entree, it is still going to be tiny. I’m sorry, but something needs to pay for the butter from France. However, you’re given so many different items before your actual entree, you actually feel quite satisfied afterwards. Especially when given three different types of truffles, chocolate covered hazelnuts, and the infamous box of chocolates.

The food was perfect, I really had no complaint. But the reason the evening left me feeling almost whimsical was the service. I have to say, Per Se made me appreciate the concept of hospitality and service and what these people really work so hard to accomplish.

If you can save your money and conceive spending a small fortune for a meal, you should go, and float above Manhattan for an evening. 

Schedule Optional

I want to start a mini series within this blog of tales and tidbits from the kitchen. I’m going to begin with one of my first kitchen jobs, on one of my first days.

I had recently relocated to the City By The Bay and had yet to totally figure out the transportation system (that’s to say the delays and unpunctuality of the transportation system accepted in San Francisco.). I was used to my previous corporate positions, where so long as I finished my work in a timely manner (um, get this done in two weeks or so. You finished it in an hour? Wow, you’re great!), I was free to come and go as I pleased. My start time ranged from 7:30 to 10:30 am depending on after-work curriculars.

Ok so I had finished training for my new position as a pastry cook at this fine dining, top restaurant. I was to report to work at (I later discovered for myself this meant you better be here one to two hours early unless you’re faster than your chef) 3:30 in the afternoon and set up my station for service. Work through service. And complete the evening prep sheet so the morning pastry cook had an easy morning.

It took me about 30 minutes to get to work, from door to door. I left my house around 2:45 to catch my train. The train came on time and then, right before going underground, it came to a halting stop. I wasn’t quite worried, though, because I can work faster than most, so who will care if I’m late?

3:35 and I’m walking into the kitchen, ready, or so I thought, for work.

"Where have you been?" My boss doesn’t even look at me, he’s concentrating on some chocolate tempering. He stays very calm, relaxed and awaits my response.

"My train was stuck in the tunnel again. Sorry." I smile, I’m so new and innocent, of course he’ll feel sorry for me. Lost little Katie, she didn’t know any better.

He stops, looks me right in the eye and says very quickly with no smile, “why don’t you write down your schedule and we’ll work around you.”

I laugh at first. Then another nervous laugh. He doesn’t look away from me.

I got to work at 2:30 the next day. I then set the standard for getting to work so early you will never be late ever again.

Everyday Accesories

This probably isn’t breaking news or anything, but I love jewelry. 

I have fond memories of sneaking up to my grandmother’s bedroom as a little girl, and fastidiously going through all of her delicate, priceless jewelry.  She had long, gold lockets, antique sapphire rings, gold-studded earrings… priceless.

As I grew older she would allow me to try on a ring or two and on one special day, she promised me I could choose one of her rings if I stopped biting my nails. In addition to this promise, my mother vowed to let me pierce my ears.

From that moment on, I’ve acquired a well-rounded collection of antique, family heirlooms, gifts from boyfriends, friends, and family. I’ve developped a passion for finding unique, quality-made pieces of jewelry.

I want to share my everyday pieces that I could not go without. And the places I’ve found them. I try and only buy jewelry made in the United States, which is pretty much my goal for everything I put on my body.

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(clockwise from top left)

1. Gold watch— this is a gift from my boyfriend and was really my first piece of adult-like jewelry. I love this watch. It was from a local jeweler in Oakland, CA.

2. David Yurman ring, gift from my parents for my 21st birthday and it rarely leaves my finger. I love that it’s silver and gold and will match anything else I wear.

3. Pearl necklace- gift to my mother when she was born from her godfather. It’s so delicate and yet stands out perfectly.

4.Faceted round-drop Emerald Earrings- I got these from my most recent fix from stitch-fix and I love these! Besides being the new “it” color this season, they go perfectly with a simple outfit and have enough color to pop.

5. These two rings I absolutely adore. Both were gifts from my boyfriend and both were bought at our favorite store in California. Seriously, if you live in the Bay Area or are ever visiting, go here. I can’t emphasize it enough. Good Stock is one of those boutiques you can spend an afternoon searching through beautiful jewelry, candles, scarves, bags, makeup, and many other odds and ends. You’ll also be greeted by the warm and genuine owner who probably has the job every girl dreams of. At any rate, they sell cool stuff, the majorite of which is local to the West Coast. 

As you can see I try to find locally-made jewelry that is unique, well-made and designed, and something totally timeless. I used to be one of those girls who gushed over Tiffany’s, and now I gush over the stuff no one else has. It’s so important to support this country and all the people who work so hard to establish themselves. I may have become a bit of a California hippie, but I totally search for that “Made in USA” label.

I turn to these pieces daily because the majority of them are simple, but pretty, and the earrings provide that hint of color, but are not overbearing. The necklace reminds of my past, the watch of my future, and the rings make me feel feminine. 

I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen.

—Frank Lloyd Wright

Coconut Almond Granola

If there is one thing that has become a staple among most bakeries, and even restaurants, it’s granola.

I don’t think you realize just how fantastic granola can be until you make it yourself. This way, the flavors and ingredients really stand out, it’s not the typical densely-sweet and processed cereal you buy at the grocery store. Granola can become a necessary ingredient for your snacks, salads, breakfasts, and trail mixes (just a few of my favorite uses).

Since returning to my hometown, my family (both immediate and extended) has become dependent on me for their weekly granola needs. It’s such an easy thing to make, I try to tell them. And it really is! Granola doesn’t require much preparation, the most important process is stirring it while it bakes. And you can easily make it in bulk and use it throughout your busy work week!

Here’s my go-to, basic recipe for you to give a try.

Coconut Almond Granola

*Preheat your oven to 310 degrees and take out a large baking sheet.

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup steel cut oats
  • 1 cup almonds, roughly halved
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut

Combine first six ingredients in a large bowl and make sure you thoroughly mix them. 

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup canola oil

Combine the last three in gredients in a small saucepan and put over medium heat. Let come to a simmer (don’t boil) and pour over the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly.

Pour ingredients onto a sheet try and, using a large spatula, flatten and spread evenly.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove tray, stir ingredients gently on tray. Place back into oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until the granola is golden brown. It’s ok to take it a little further, the more toasty the oats, the better! If you start to smell a burnt sent, it may just need to be mixed. 

Let cool on sheet tray and store in an air-tight container. 

Coconut Curry Soup

Well, I really did it this time; I tempted mother nature by throwing my winter coat in the back of the closet, wearing my bright colored Toms and a spring jacket outside. Now she’s angry and has gone ahead and thrown yet anotehr winter storm my way. The weather man has described this upcoming storm as a “beast,” how lucky are we? Jet Blue, will you please fly me back to San Francisco for free? 

Well since I am stuck here for the time being, it was pretty necessary to make soup for lunch today instead of my usual salad. However, due to the inclimate, uninticing weather, I needed to make some soup out of what was already in the house.

Fortunately enough, my compost soup turned into quite a delicious coconut curry. Jealous? Don’t worry, anyone can make this bad boy at home and it leaves you with just enough leftovers for lunch the next day.

Coconut Curry Soup

  • 1 (8oz) can of coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup broth (I used chicken, you can use whatever)
  • 4 tsp green curry paste
  • 1 tsp tomato paste

Gather everything into a medium-sized saucepan and whisk together over high heat. 

  • 1 diced peper
  • A bunch of kale leaves, wripped into thin strips
  • 1 diced, and roasted, sweet potato (it should be cooked, and cooled, before adding)
  • 1 cup diced tofu

Once the liquid has begun to simmer, lower the heat and add the rest of your ingredients (you can add/ substitute whatever you want really, it’s a 
"compost" soup).

Let your ingredients simmer over low heat for about 10-15 minutes, ensuring everything is cooked all the way through, and has soaked up some of the delicious flavors of the curry and coconut.

Serve over brown rice, quinoa, or by itself in a giant soup bowl.

Leftovers will taste even better!

Soul mates.

Soul mates.

Good morning!

Good morning!

Crucial Cookware to a Creative Kitchen

I have my fair share of kitchen experience: my mother’s kitchen, my tiny apartment kitchen, culinary school kitchens, restaurant kitchens, and back to my mother’s kitchen. I’ve been exposed to many tools, and many times, not enough tools. This is when you must be the most creative, and usually are able to produce the best desserts.

Here’s is a list of my top three favorite tools. Which I could not live without. For right now, I may change my mind in a year. These are the tools I feel I can do the most with, add the best flavor, and wouldn’t be able to get anything done without.

  1. A microplane: You can do so much with a microplane. Not just used for zesting a lemon, a microplane can grate cheese, shave some chocolate, grate some ginger, or garlic. Use your imagination, the list goes on. In a pinch, this guy can add additional flavor or be a last-minute touch on a dish.
  2. An immersion blender: I love these. I use them instead of blenders. You can make a smoothie, ice cream base, salad dressing, salsa, guacamole, ganache, or a sauce with this bad boy. It’s often as powerful as a blender and easier to clean.
  3. My chef’s knife: I’d be no where without it. To each their own. Which just means, everyone has their own preference. No one is wrong, it depends on your hands and what you’re doing with it. I love my misono because it’s clean, precise, simple, and quite versatile. No matter what, a sharp knife is central to your work as a chef.  

What are your favorite tools?

You know who ends up living their dreams? Sad messes like Charlie.

— Marnie, from Girls

Kennedy Irish Soda Bread

'Tis the season to be Irish.

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My mother is an Irish-Italian-American; she was raised by an Italian mother and an Irish father. Besides beer and whiskey, the Irish have not really contributed too much to our culinary world— growing up, my mother of course chose to cook primarily Italian food for us. Sunday was her day to make tomotoe sauce for the week. Our weekly menu was densly composed of spaghetti and meatballs, veal parmagiana. baked ziti, and lasagna. Any childs dream, no? Not mine.

By the time I got to high school and traveled a little bit, I wanted to explore, get creative, and stop eating spaghetti so often. Ok, by the time I went away to college, I would dream about waking up Sunday morning to the smell of my mother’s tomatoe sauce. I even atteptmed to recreate it once or twice, but failed when I asked her for a recipe (Recipe? What recipe?).

Pardon me, my stomach distracted me from the point of this story.

Once a year, I looked forward to a holiday in the middle of March. No, not because I wanted to join my friends at noon and drink green beer for the day. Because, unlike most kids my age, I loved corned beef and cabbage. My mother would pile all the ingredients in the slow cooker in the morning, and by the end of the day the sour smell of cabbage warmed my heart.

Don’t worry, this is not the recipe I’m giving you.

I also looked forward to making my mother’s family Irish Soda Bread. This was such a delight in the morning, or at snack time, or for dessert. The carraway seeds can throw you off, but they don’t necessarily need to be added. Just try it. It’s like a giant scone!

Irish Soda Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (in absense of paper, you can just grease the tray).

In a large bowl, whisk together:

  • 2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Baking soda
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup Carraway seeds
  • 2 tablespoons Sugar

In another bow, whisk together:

  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup Buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and fold together. Once combined,  add in:

  • 1/2 cup Raisins

Using your hands, form the dough into a ball (it will be sticky) and place onto tray.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool and enjoy with a cup of irish tea!

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