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Photo Journal: Spring Awakening 2015

Spring planting in Orient.....

Dave, Sophie and Charlie preparing for Memorial Day

The epitomy of Spring: Peonies, gorgeous and fleeting

Tribeca Farmer's Market

Channing Daughter's Rosato, South Fork of Long Island

First strawberries of the season

My stephanotis coming to life


Juno, Super Bowl Sunday and Sticky Chicken (2 ways)

After wrecking havoc on Long Island and most of Southern New England -- Blizzard "Juno" is finally made it's way out to sea Monday evening. And per usual, life inched back to normal on Tuesday morning. 

My "backyard" on Eastern Long Island

It seems so funny to give a snow storm a name. I intuitively want to type "hurricane", but no, this was a snow storm for some and a blizzard for others.

NYC missed the brunt of the storm, when it migrated farther east than initially expected. Not taking any chances, the city took the extraordinary step of shutting down mass transit, as well as closing several tunnels and the George Washington Bridge on Monday night.  Cars were also banned on the streets after 11 PM, so clean-up crews and emergency personal would be unencumbered by traffic.

My "backyard" in Manhattan

Many New Yorkers screamed "over-kill" on Tuesday morning. But after being evacuated from my home during Hurricane Sandy, I for one was thankful how seriously the city took this storm.

Tear Drop Park, Battery Park City

Kids in lower Manhattan also stood behind their mayor and took full advantage of both the snow and the very rare "snow-day". Even as night fell, they continued to play in Tear Drop Park with their sleds and inner tubes.

It was really wonderful to see how 8 inches of snow could spawn such exuberance. 

Elsewhere in the US, The Seattle Sea Hawks and The New England Patriots are gearing up for for the Super Bowl this evening, in Glendale Arizona.  By the time the game kicks off, the weather is expected to be a balmy 67 degrees, with no blizzards in sight. What a relief this must be for The Patriots and Tom Brady, as there will be no cold weather to spontaneously deflate the footballs. #deflategate.  

This is also great news for anyone who coughed up $6000 for a ticket. Parkas, scarves and mittens will definitely not be necessary.

But for those of us who will be watching the game from the comfort of your living are 2 chicken recipes which have "game day" written all over them. 

{Sweet and Sticky} Honey Soy Sauce Chicken Fingers

These chicken fingers are an irresistible combination of crunchy, sweet, spicy and sticky. And despite appearances, they are very easy to make.

The original recipe notes that the breaded chicken fingers can be baked or fried.  I tried both methods, and found that the baked chicken fingers did not properly brown or crisp up in the oven, despite baking them at 425F. On the other hand, frying the chicken in very hot oil produced a light and crispy chicken finger.

To serve, you can either quickly tossed the chicken fingers in the sauce or serve the sauce on the side. Either way, be sure to garnish the chicken fingers with plenty of chopped cilantro and lime wedges and serve with ice cold michelades.

Sticky Honey Soy Sauce Chicken Wings

If sweet and sticky chicken wings are more your thing, than this recipe is for you. 

Unlike the chicken fingers, these wings require some lead time to prepare -- as they need to marinate for a few hours in a combination of soy sauce, fresh ginger, garlic, lemon juice and cilantro. To finish, the wings are sauteed in a honey - butter sauce until they turn a deep amber color and are cooked through. Sesame seeds and flaky seas salt are the only garnish that you need.

When I first tasted one of these wings, it occurred to me that this is what sesame chicken is suppose to taste like. Sweet and sticky, but not oily or cloying in any way.

A platter of these won't last long. Just be sure to have plenty of extra napkins on hand. 


The printable recipe for the Honey Soy Sauce Chicken Fingers can be found here and for the Honey-Soy Chicken Wings here.   


Chocolate Orange Cake

Whenever I ask my nephew Dillon what flavor cake he wants, the answer is always the same: CHOCOLATE. This is a kid after my own heart. I love chocolate cake. Especially this recipe for devil's food cake, which is my favorite cake recipe ever

With that said, my favorite recipe does have its' idiosyncrasies -- including a batter that is so thin that one initially thinks that the recipe is flawed (or that one did something wrong). But believe me, this chocolate orange cake makes my devil's food cake look quite ordinary.

This recipe was initially published by Nigella Lawson in 2004 and has surprisingly garnered very little attention on the blogosphere.  The cake is actually a riff on a popular Separdic Passover cake, which uses boiled oranges and ground almonds, but does not contain fat or flour.

Most flourless chocolate cakes get their lift and structure from beaten eggs whites, which are incorporated into the batter at the very end. This step sounds easy enough on paper, but can be tricky to pull off properly -- as over mixing will quickly deflate the batter. Thankfully, this flourless recipe does not require any advanced baking skills. Rather, all one needs to do is boil, puree and mix.

The base of the cake is 2 boiled oranges, which are pureed in a food processor -- skin, pith and all. To this, one adds eggs, almond meal, cocoa and leavening. And that is it.

At this point, I am sure that you must shaking your head in disbelief -- especially over the peel and pith business. I certainly was. But somehow this hot mess pulls itself together and you end up with a dense and moist chocolate cake, which has lovely citrus and almond undertones.  

I served the cake with a dusting of powdered sugar. But it would also be delicious with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. And of course, if you don't like chocolate, just leave the cocoa out of the batter and make the more traditional orange almond cake.   

Whatever you do, I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised.

The printable recipe is here.


AJ in the Kitchen 2014 Year in Review

As we usher in 2015, here is a quick look back at some of the most popular recipes on my blog in 2014:

1. Cauliflower Panna Cotta with Caviar  2. Lyonaisse Salad  3. Leeks Vinaigrette

4. Parisienne Gnocchi with Spinach, Onions and Poached Eggs  5. Making Autumn Themed Marzipan Fruit and Vegetables  6. Vanilla and Chocolate Icebox Cookies

7. Bourbon Poached Pears  8. Dying Easter Eggs Naturally  9. Roasted Salmon Rosettes with Pistachio-Mint Pesto

One of my goals for the website in 2014 was to improve the quality and composition of my photography. It has definitely been a slow learning curve. But with the help of my Canon EOS Rebel Camera SL1, my new Canon Speedlite 430EX II flash, and a lot of practice, things are heading in the right direction.

Below are some of my favorite floral shots from 2014. Most of the flowers were purchased at the Tribeca Green Market from March through November and were locally raised.

Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope that you will check back often, as the 2015 content evolves. You are always welcome.