Rise and Shine, Part VI

AvocadoAvocado – the unofficial mascot of millennial culture. It’s a pretty awesome food, with a versatility that makes it the kind of friend you always want to have around. From pasta sauces to creamy desserts to savory appetizers, this fruit has it all. So when thinking of how to feature avocado, I turned to my all-time favorite meal: breakfast. This is part six of my mini series “Rise and Shine”. So far the series has featured my adventures with brunch, and I thought it high time I chronicled the dishes that I enjoy every morning before work: Rich Fruit Smoothie and (the Instagram-famous) Avocado Toast.

AvoToastLet’s start with the toast – this is a dish that has taken the internet by storm. It’s simple, delicious and never gets old. As a spread, it’s also a healthy substitute where butter or jam are the traditional go-to’s. What’s perhaps more interesting is the many ways people interpret the increasing popularity of the dish: from it’s alleged necessity as an everyday staple in the “bourgeoisie’s diet” to being a symptom of our continued “fetishization of food.” I’m a millennial, so I’m not helping to disperse any of these myths…but it’s a great and filling breakfast. I for one think making it at home is a fantastic option, versus paying $30 at a Brooklyn brunch enclave for a few slices. Click HERE to see the recipe for this internet celebrity. 

Shake_3Smoothies are a great way to start the day – you can pack in a ton of nutrients, and mix it up based on what’s in season (or on sale). When I reflect on the ingredients that are must-have’s, I’d say they are a banana, some yogurt, nuts, and of course avocado. The yogurt and nuts are the protein: which make this a really filling meal, and give you the energy to kick off your day. I always use bananas since they are delicious, but the avocado is what gives the smoothie a thick and creamy consistency. You can even add a little honey, but I find the fruits to add enough sweetness.

There is a bit of an art to packing a blender – the trick is to go from the softest ingredients to the toughest. As the above photo shows, I placed the avocado and the bananas at the bottom of the jar, followed by the kiwis, berries, almonds, and finally the ice; pouring in the milk at the very end. Organizing the jar this way facilitates the blending process, and creates a super smooth and creamy result. That being said, if you have one of those crazy-cool blenders that can crush concrete…then feel free to just dump everything in. If the mixture is too thick, just add a splash of milk and pulse until combined. I make these almost every morning, and can guarantee it becomes second nature. Click HERE to see the recipe for this healthy morning treat. 

Shake_4The promise of these dishes is enough to inspire even the sleepiest to rouse on a weekday. So in considering a piece that worked well with these dishes, I came across Gustav Mahler’s “Frühlingsmorgen” (Spring Morning) from his collection of Lieder und Gesänge. Mahler was known to devote his mornings to composing: pouring himself into his scores and harmonic textures, then indulging himself in the afternoon with mountainous vistas and lakeside excursions. This makes the “Frühlingsmorgen” all the more apt – both of the dishes in this blog post are colorful, flavor-forward and bright: reminiscent of spring, if you will. This particular song falls within Volume 1 of the collection: written between 1880 and 1881. The song is labeled “Gemächlich, leicht bewegt”, which roughly translates to “with leisurely movement”. The following video features the German lyric baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and the musical icon Leonard Bernstein on piano (though there are plenty of fantastic recordings with sopranos on YouTube as well). Enjoy!!

Sources Cited:
Oyler, L. “My Fruitful Search for the Origins of Avocado Toast,” Broadly. Sep 13. 2016.
Goldfield, H. “The Trend is Toast,” The New Yorker. May 2, 2014.
“Lieder und Gesänge (Mahler)”, Wikipedia.com

It’s Gravy, Baby

DSC_0449I have to say, the Pacific NW won me over this summer. Surrounded by mountainous vistas and cerulean waters, it’s a paradise for those who love the outdoors. Now that I’m back on the East Coast, I’ve been reminiscing about my travels over the last three months. Tom and I visited a lot of really cool places, and one of those getaways included a weekend stay on Hat Island. The above was the view just outside the house we stayed in – sipping hot coffee in hoodies and slippers while watching the sun rise – courtesy of some wonderful friends. It was a quick but memorable weekend, and we indulged in some fantastic dinners while there. Tom and I treated the group to a big Italian meal: a basic arugula salad and heaping plates of Sunday Gravy (basically extreme spaghetti and meatballs).

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Hat Island is a very unique place. Housing more than 200 families (permanently or as a vacation stay), it is a private island that’s just over 1-mile in length and overrun with bunnies. Tom’s good high school friends’ have a property there, and they generously invited us for a two-day getaway from Seattle. One of the great things about cooking at a summer house is consistent access to natural light. As Serious Eats points out, “a shady spot on a sunny day is the holy grail of natural lighting conditions” (when it comes to food photography). I’m no professional, but photos with natural light versus those without are like night and day…pun intended! The below photo, of a basic arugula salad with fruits and goat cheese and walnuts, shows just that.

ArugulaSaladSo, about that gravy: one of our favorite TV shows is The Sopranos. Many believe this series launched the genre of quality storytelling outside of the movie theater (read: paved the way for GoT). Whether you’ve seen the show or not, its cultural impact still resonates today. Those who watched it finally understand that spaghetti sauce should actually be called gravy…when done the Italian way. This recipe takes hours to make, and is sourced from The Sopranos Family Cookbook: “written” by Artie Bucco (the chef of the show’s Vesuvio restaurant). The book stays in character, voicing the opinions and anecdotes of our favorite cast members. Despite the tongue-in-cheek writing, the recipes are genuine, having been written by actual chef Michele Scicolone. The easy-to-follow instructions result in some fantastic dinners.

SundayGravy_1The recipe can be adjusted up or down to yield your desired serving size. I’d say my two key pieces of advice for this recipe are 1) don’t sacrifice on time – be prepared to invest an afternoon in making this – and 2) don’t go crazy with side dishes, since this is a filling main course. If you do make way too much food, however, the leftovers are still pretty great. We served ours with whole wheat spaghetti, but you can choose any noodle. Take some inspiration from The Sopranos’ Paulie: “Can I just get some macaroni and gravy?!” Click HERE to see the recipe for this mouthwatering classic. 

SundayGravy_2Like I said, a small serving of this goes a long way – thanks to the rich and filling gravy. For the musical pairing, I was looking for two key qualities. The first being a piece that exudes depth in a “serving size” length, and the second being a musical excerpt that was featured on the show The Sopranos: in homage to the cookbook. Fortunately, there was an aria that fit the bill: “Chi il bel sogno di Doretta” from Giacomo Puccini’s opera La Rondine. The aria is short, but – like any great Puccini aria – takes your breath away with a few stanzas. Yet the work is a deviation from Puccini’s canon, as it is essentially an “operetta”: a compositional style more akin to musicals than classical opera. Puccini initially eschewed the form, claiming “An operetta is something I will never do.” Yet geopolitical circumstances (WWI) led to a loyalty contract which ultimately resulted in the premiere of La Rondine: which by the way is Italian for “the swallow.” As for The Sopranos, the aria appears twice in the series: once in the pilot episode, and then again in the finale of Season 5. In both instances, Tony Soprano (our protagonist) comes to understand his own mortality – and how trivial daily annoyances can be. My opera geek friends may see the irony in a (real life) soprano narrating a (fictional) Soprano’s brush with death…the following recording is the same that was used in the show, featuring the singer Luba Orgonasova. Enjoy!

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South of the Orient: Part IX

Noodles_2August was HOT. The temps in Seattle were much higher, on average, than usual. As a consequence of these norms, the city doesn’t believe in air conditioning…so Tom and I were on the lookout for any solution to cool down. In many parts of the world, heat is met with more heat. Whether it is an Indian drinking hot chai or a Jamaican enjoying jerk chicken (seasoned with must-have Scotch bonnets), a variety of cultures turn to hot and spicy foods in the sweltering heat. The reason? It makes you sweat, and sweat cools you down. I’m no scientist, but we were desperate and willing to try anything. So we decided to indulge in our own spicy experiment with Pad Kee Mao.

ThailandThis recipe did not come out of a cookbook. Tom learned how to make the dish while living in Southeast Asia; in Laos, Thailand and Malaysia, primarily. He spent about a year in the region, split between a pre-college getaway and a post-college return.  The above photo was taken by Tom in Tham Kong Lo: a cave that extends for 7 miles. He shares more about the adventure:

Our small gang of backpackers had convened at a grass hut guest house the night before, the entire village having lost power at 7PM (daily occurrence) we’d bonded over candlelit noodles and communist beer (Beerlao), and planned the following day’s excursion. Tham Kong Lo is a stalactite-riddled mega cave that stretches deep underneath miles of limestone karst, home to a singular, somewhat terrifying ecosystem and traversable only by canoe. There’s darkness in familiar settings and then there’s pics, oily darkness pregnant with bats, giant spiders and dripping with humidity. Everyone should experience the latter at some point, if only for the experience of emerging renewed and soaking wet into a lush jungle valley at the other side, sunshine streaming through the banyan trees.

Noodles_3When Tom shared this story with me, I was inspired to recreate an image of those “stalactites” using our noodles…it was one of those things that sounded way cooler in my head. But the photo also illustrates perfectly al dente rice noodles, so I kept it. Moving on, many of us know Pad Kee Mao by it’s English title: Drunken Noodles. Khi mao is Thai for “drunkard”…yet the source of this appellation is a bit of a mystery. Some believe the first-ever recipe included rice wine, while others attribute the recipe to a drunken chef who concocted the dish with whatever was available in his home after a long night out. Regardless, it is now one of the cuisine’s most famous celebrities, and for good reason.

DSC_0171The dish is spicy, but can be moderated to your taste by de-seeding the peppers or omitting them entirely. It brings together a variety of rich flavors in a fairly quick preparation: oyster sauce, chili paste, soy sauce, fish sauce, and loads of veggies. Tom cooks the dish so that there is very little liquid left in the pan before serving – so there is some patience involved. But the end result is absolutely worth the wait. You can include one or a medley of proteins (we used both chicken and tofu in our recipe). One key ingredient, flavor-wise and aesthetically, is basil: you can use Thai or regular, just be sure to have a whole heap of it. Click HERE to see the recipe for this spicy dish.  

NoodlesWhen you eat something spicy, not only do you sweat – your heart rate also increases…much like my own whenever I think of playing the opening lines of Jacques Ibert’s Flute Concerto. Written in the doldrums of the Great Depression, the work was commissioned by the renowned flutist and pedagogue Marcel Moyse. It is surprisingly lighthearted for the era yet far from frivolous. Even with a reduced orchestra, the work is both both elegant and rich with thematic color…and, for the soloist, very difficult to perform. The opening stanza is an audition ace, as flutists across the world harness the dramatic statement to impress panels. The piece as a whole sustains an exhilarating pace, with two poignant respites that allow our soloist to catch her breath…just before hurling the audience into an electric finale. The following recording features Emmanuel Pahud (my flute hero) and the Tonhalle Orchester Zürich performing the first movement of the concerto. Enjoy!

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Sources Cited:
“Drunken Noodles,” Wikipedia.com
“Flute Concerto: Jacques Ibert,” LA Phil

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This Beef is Lit

DSC_0172It’s insane to think that Fall is nearly here. Looking back on the last 3 months, this summer has been both adventurously beautiful and extraordinarily hot. I got a taste of the West Coast for the first time in my life in Seattle, which involved a lot of time in the outdoors, and was able to enjoy a much-needed break following my time at NYU Stern. The picture above was taken at lake in the middle of Snoqualmie Pass: not pictured is me, out of breath and sunburned, very much looking forward to a big meal. Fortunately, we had a great dinner waiting for us back home of Steak au Poivre and Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic. 

Blue_PotatoesMashed potatoes are great on their own – but add some blue cheese and roasted garlic, and you may ask yourself “How have I made it this far without these potatoes?” Ok, maybe that was just me…but trust me when I say this is a solid companion to steak. I like to use red-skinned potatoes and keep the peels, to add some character to the dish. If you want a creamier mash, opt for Yukon Gold, since you will risk overworking the mash if you try to achieve the smoother consistency with red potatoes. Can’t find blue cheese? Gorgonzola is a fantastic substitute (as I shared in my latest blog post). Click HERE to see the recipe for this irresistible side.

Steaks_PanSteak au Poivre is French for “pepper steak”…which seems to leave a lot of room for interpretation. However, the traditional preparation involves peppercorns (naturally), heavy cream, and brandy. Any number of adjustments can be made from here. Some chefs insist on the traditional sauce trio, while others (including my favorite, Julia Childs) call for a more unique take with cognac, stock, and multicolor peppercorns. So as you can imagine, the various interpretations on this dish are indeed appreciable. Our recipe here will use only the basic, with a “lighter” sauce than some of the top hits on Google. But the key is to get a solid cut of meat. We found two reasonable cuts of filet mignon, but sirloin or strip will also get the job done.

FlameTom learned how to make this recipe from his mom, Virgina. As to the interpretations I referenced, there are two key differences when it comes to the sauce: where the alcohol is used either to deglaze the pan or for a flambe. Virginia’s recipe calls for the latter, which makes for a very cool photo op. An important note on cooking with open flames: things can go from cool to bad very quickly if you don’t take the right precautions, so always off the heat (especially if you’re working with a gas stove) and move the pan away from any overhead materials that may be flammable. But it’s definitely a fun party trick if you’re hosting. Click HERE for this classic take on a beloved dish.

Steak_4In considering a pairing for this piece, I was tempted to go with Stravinsky’ “Firebird” or a Debussy for the all-too-obvious reason. But I wanted to give more attention to the depth of the dish’s richness and flavor, and thus felt like Dmitri Shostakovich would be a great companion. I’ve never paired anything on this site with Shostakovich, so I’ll first talk about the man himself before elucidating the musical pairing. Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich was born in Saint Petersburg in 1906, and many classical musicians have 800px-Dmitri_Shostakovich_credit_Deutsche_Fotothek_adjustedcome to recognize his musical voice as an expression of the creative struggles beneath the Stalin regime. His compositions aggregate a variety of styles, from strong Russian tones to dissonant protest to haunting melodies. To illustrate this variety: perhaps his most famous work is his fifth symphony, which was received phenomenally well by the conservative tastes of the Soviet public. Yet this followed on the heels a highly divisive fourth symphony, which premiered more than two decades after its completion due to its unorthodox nature. Today, historians debate the inspirations for and meaning behind many of Shostakovich’s works. So naturally, there are many interpretations. However, one set of German “ingredients” institute some consistency – the signature “DSCH” motif: which alludes to the German spelling of his name, Dmitri SCHostakovich, as well as the German locution for D (De), E-flat (Es), C (Ce), and Ha (B natural). This parallel to the blog’s dish leads to our musical pairing, where the DSCH motif is perhaps the most discernible: String Quartet No. 8 in C minor. The quartet, composed in the summer of 1960, was an homage to the Dresden casualties of 1945; where close to half a million were killed in an Allied air raid. He wrote “In memory of victims of fascism and war.” And the first four notes you hear are the DSCH motif. I first heard the piece my freshman year at the New England Conservatory, and it had a profound effect.

The following recording is with the Borodin Quartet: an ensemble which traces it history back to the Soviet Union and had a close working relationship with Shostakovich himself.  Enjoy!

Sources Cited:
“Steak au Poivre,” Cook’s Info
“Dmitri Shostakovich,” Wikipedia
“About the Piece: String Quartet No. 8 in C minor, Op.110,” LA Phil
“Borodin Quartet,” Wikipedia.com

Opus M.B.A

18527267_625593649807_4939594507671330445_oAfter 2 roller coaster years, I now have an M.B.A. from the NYU Stern School of Business. It feels a bit like a 180, since I assumed a flute performance degree would be my first and final tryst with higher education. Sitting here today, however, the transition from music to marketing feels perfectly organic. My two alma-maters, NEC and NYU, have given me more opportunities than I can count: and they complemented one another in surprising ways. The “return on investment” (we M.B.A’s can’t get enough of this phrase) from NYU includes a better understanding of strategic planning, five trips around the globe, ample space to exercise leadership skills, and a wealth of talented and generous friends. What comes next will be a combination of the exciting and the unknown, and I’m looking forward to the challenge. Not surprisingly, this 2-year degree pushed me to neglect this blog  – so now that I have some room to breathe, I am finally back to sharing some of my favorite recipes and music. And to show my renewed commitment, I’ll be sharing four delicious features:

Apple-Raspberry Crisp with Pecan Crunch Topping
Coleslaw with Gorgonzola
Smoky Oven-Roasted Spareribs
Sour Cream Cornbread

Cornbread_1Let’s start with the cornbread: any Southern chef will insist that cast iron and cornbread and inseparable concepts…except when you don’t have one, in which case glass pans are an OK substitute. It worked for us, and was still enjoyed by all our guests (most of whom were Southern). The original recipe calls for a spice that is impossible to find in your local Kroger or Safeway, known as Aleppo. And while nutmeg is a suggested replacement, we just went ahead without – and served the bread warm with lots of butter. Click HERE for the recipe of this baked golden delight.
Cole Slaw_1This coleslaw was awesome; like “we ate this for days after” kind of awesome. The original recipe called for Blue cheese, but we bought a tub of Gorgonzola that was on sale. (Thank you grocery gods for introducing us to this better option). We made the coleslaw the day prior, and it’s fairly simple to throw together. Feel free to adjust the dressing to your taste. Click HERE to see the recipe of this easy-to-make side.
SpicesAnd now, les ribs. The spice rub is a medley of things that all look great on paper: paprika, different peppers, cumin, salt, and…mace. (It claims that nutmeg can replace this, but we were super curious to discover what mace would taste like). The recipe makes about 2 cups worth, which is plenty for this recipe and then some. The taste is oddly similar to Old Bay Seasoning: so if you’re not a fan, I’d recommend sticking with good ol’ fashioned BBQ sauce. Fun fact about Old Bay: it is nearly 80 years old, and is believed to have been a clever way crab restauranteurs would push patrons to purchase more beverages (due to its extra “salty” factor).
Ribs_2The ribs themselves were roasted in an oven, for 6 wonderful hours at the lowest possible heat. While cooking these on a grill is an option, the oven provides a lower maintenance one that still yields fantastic results. We coated the three racks with the rub, wrapped them tightly in aluminum foil, and then didn’t open the oven door once during the 6-hour haul. The result was fall-off-the-bone ribs with a smoky aroma. How tender, you ask? My stepdad carved these with a butter knife. Click HERE to see the recipe for these irresistible ribs. 
BerryAnd finally, the dessert: a simple crumble that had all of the things we love about summer: fruit, butter and ice cream. The recipe is simple, and can be assembled the night before – we plopped the crumble into the oven before the guests arrived, and warmed it back up for ~15 minutes at the end of dinner for serving. You can use any combination of fruits in this crumble, just know that some may take a bit longer to cook than others (great example: rhubarb). Click HERE to see the recipe for this colorful treat.
Berry_1It has been so long since I have paired a piece of classical music with a meal, that I had to invest considerable energy into this final section. So much so that I started drafting this blog over 1 month ago. And then the piece that came to mind was so simple and perfect: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor. It is arguably one of the world’s most famous symphonies, and thus feels like the perfect inflection from my musical roots to a marketing future.

Beethoven began working on the 5th symphony at the age of 33. It would take him 4 years to finish, in the midst of what many consider Beethoven-Mähler_1804_hiresto be the most fruitful period of his career. However, Beethoven was also battling the deterioration of his hearing faculties – a development for which he proclaimed “[I must] seize Fate by the throat; it shall not bend or crush me completely.” One of the main characters of this symphony is Fate herself, persistently “knocking” at the door with the ever-recognizable motif (“Da-da-da-dom”), as the symphony opens in an ominous C-minor. Yet Fate is held at bay, with the symphony closing in a triumphant C-Major. This structure, of man versus fate, lent itself to many a narrative, bringing the work and Beethoven to great celebrity over the years. As an example: the piece was used to dramatic effect at the end of World War II to symbolize victory for the allies. And Disney further commemorated the work in the feature film Fantasia 2000.

This is perhaps a bit of a cheesy pairing, but the symphony’s resonance beyond classical circles suggests it is an apt one as I start this new chapter in business. The following performance is with the NBC Symphony Orchestra, led by Leonard Bernstein. Enjoy!

Sources Cited:
“Old Bay Seasoning.” Wikipedia.
“Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67”. NPR.

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A Tale of Turkey, Butter and Memories

thanksgivingdinner16Thanksgiving – a term that connotes joy and family to most, yet strikes fear into the hearts of every turkey in this country. And for good reason, considering Thanksgiving is the one holiday where we are willing to eat more of this particular meat than deemed humanly possible. Take my Thanksgiving, for instance. It was just Tom and me this year, and we still baked a monster of a bird (weighing in at 14 lbs) plus an absurdity of sides as though two people could conquer such a thing. One lost turkey, a neighborhood-wide power outage, 2 sticks of butter, and loads of Ziploc bags/Tupperware later – we did. I imagine that last sentence really confused (or intrigued) you, so here are the details of our Thanksgiving Feast: 2016 Edition. I will be featuring three recipes in this post:

(Also pictured: classic stuffing with pecans, corn muffins, and chocolate truffles). 

glazedturkey2Let’s start with the bird – I normally go nuts with brining, but this year we had a little hiccup known as Safeway. Our bird was accidentally sold to another client (or it ran off to Disney World to join its pardoned brethren) so our original plan to cook a 9-pound turkey was replaced with a plan to hastily find another one. Our search yielded a heavier bird, and, given its size, I simply salted the meat and refrigerated the bird in an uncovered roasting pan. The success of this simply trick guaranteed that I will never undertake a complicated brine again (I can almost hear my mom breathing a sigh of relief).
glazedturkey3I also glazed this bird, but since we had limited in tools (aka no brush) our turkey took on a bit of a tiger appearance – and Tom will tell you I had a 10-minute stress session as to whether I should even blog about it. But it was love at first bite. The skin was perfectly crispy, the meat itself was ridiculously flavorful, and the glaze’s remnant made one of the most delicious gravies I had have ever created. So our tiger bird just happened to be one of the best turkeys I have ever made. I kind of credit the power outage and runaway Safeway turkey for this one, but also know to give the recipe credit where it is due. You can find my modified version at THIS LINK.
mimosasAbout that power outage: which is why our corn muffins were so delayed. The turkey was sitting out, coming to “room temperature”, and the power cut out. We were also watching Episode 8 of West World – my newest obsession – and it cut out on a terrible cliffhanger (I can hardly describe the angst that followed). So anyways, it is in moments like these that Twitter becomes extremely useful. After a few hours and a tweet to the nice fella manning the SEA City Light account, the power came back on and we were good to go. It was during this brief respite that Tom and I also enjoyed some mimosas (Instagram post above…I don’t have any other photos from the outage since it was super dark inside of the apartment).
baconsproutsSo let’s talk about those brussels sprouts – they are fairly self-explanatory as the photo suggests. I said to Tom, “Let’s make these with bacon” and he heartily added “with blue cheese too!!” It was a healthy day. One of our secrets to great sprouts is roasting at high heat until crispy and cooked through. I can guarantee this will cure any aversion you have to the veggie, as roasting gives them a slightly nutty and almost sweet taste. But if you really want to kick it up a notch, follow our lead and toss them with blue cheese and bacon. You can find our recipe for these delicious veggies at THIS LINK.
roastedgarlicAnd finally – the Vegetable Mash. This might sound basic (not to be confused with #basic) but it is far from it – thanks to the addition of roasted garlic: the holy grail of mashed anything. The recipe itself is quite simple: the sweet potatoes and carrots are roasted, then puréed with salt, pepper, butter, thyme and roasted garlic. You can find the recipe for this lovely side at THIS LINK
rootsmashSo I wrote this blog with a taste of humor quite intentionally, considering current events – the past two months have been…rough, to put it lightly. And so we turn to the things we know and love: food, family, and humor. But perhaps what we should be discussing more is history, and looking to the wisdom of its lessons. After all, Thanksgiving itself is a bit of a history lesson: and, while it is not the most civil one, it reminds us of a time that we came together. What makes America great is not its ships or our flag or financial prosperity – it is the people who color the threads of this country’s rich, cultural tapestry.

So for my musical pairing, I chose a piece that commemorates the beauty of America: Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95: “From the New World.” While this was written by an Austrian, the piece itself celebrates the history and roots of the American culture, with spirituals and themes peppered throughout. Dvořák wrote the symphony during his brief sojourn in New York, and it has since become one of the hallmarks of the orchestral repertoire. The piece was premiered in December of 1893 at Carnegie Hall. The below video features the New York Philharmonic performing the piece – enjoy!

 

Celebrating a Milestone (in D Major)

Thai Pork_1After a crazy 11 months of nonstop action and studying, my first year as an MBA student is officially done! It was an extraordinary year, and I’ve learned a great deal about both business and myself. I’ll be starting my internship at Colgate-Palmolive very soon, but in the meantime thought I could catch up on blogging about my culinary adventures in my little corner of Brooklyn. Tom and I have been cooking a great deal, but between term papers and B-school life I was hard pressed to find the energy for taking photos. We decided celebrate the end of finals by cooking Pork Tenderloin with Thai Spices and Peanut Sauce.
Thai Pork_3Thanks to some Thai classics such as lemongrass, ginger and lime, the chicken could have stood on its own. The marinade is essentially a puree of aromatics that then translates to a beautiful coating in the final product. The original recipe calls for skewers (to make an actual “satay”) but I just thinly sliced the pork and arranged them on a baking tray – for ease of a quick weeknight meal. I imagine chicken could be an apt substitute, but I highly recommend the tenderloin.
Thai Pork_9Add in the rich peanut sauce and cucumber relish, and you’ve got yourself an incredible meal. The peanut sauce was perhaps my favorite. The coconut milk and sesame pair beautifully with the chicken, and the texture can be adjusted to taste (smooth like butter, or a rougher blend for added crunch). The salsa, while simple, was a phenomenal addition. I cut back the sugar in both the peanut sauce and the salsa, but you are welcome to add more (or less!) to taste. I made the sauce the night before, which definitely enhanced the flavors, and the cucumber salsa while the pork was cooking. Overall, this was a fantastic meal and one that we’ll be making again. Click HERE for this fantastic recipe!
Thai Pork_7In considering a pairing for this piece, I wanted something that recognized the richness of this dish while also celebrating my first year as an MBA student. This led me to arguably one of my favorite symphonies, Sibelius Symphony No. 2 in D. Written in 1902, this work is a tour de force, with Sibelius himself claiming it to be “a confession of the soul.” The symphony has personal resonance for me, as it was one of the last symphonies I performed before the start of my undergraduate degree at the New England Conservatory in Boston. And (as you will see) it leaves quite the impression – the finale particularly. Sibelius’s own words frame the symphony’s inspiration:

“Music is for me like a beautiful mosaic which God has put together. He takes all the pieces in his hand, throws them into the world, and we have to recreate the picture from the pieces.”

As was standard for works of the time, the symphony consists of 4 movements. However, its architecture was audacious – defying the norms of the “sonata-like” form that so many composers had followed before. That being said, the turn of the century was ushering in a new era of symphonies, with composers such as Mahler and Wagner having disrupted the scene decades prior. Yet what made this symphony unique was its ability to capture the hearts of audiences from the outset. The pastoral opening flows through a series of personalities, taking the listener on an impassioned journey of climactic highs and dulcet lows. In a word, this piece is eternal – having stood the test of time. The following video features Leonard Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic, performing the symphony in its entirety – enjoy!

Sources Cited:
“Symphony No. 2 (Sibelius).” Wikipedia.com
Sibelius Quote: Jean Sibelius, quoted by Jalmari Finne to Anna Sarlin, 28th June 1905. Goodreads.com

Easy Food for a Freezing Day

Falafel1 (1)New Yorkers are having an insanely cold weekend…which is a great excuse to stay inside, wear thick socks, and have Netflix/Hulu to keep you company. But this forced captivity means limited access to food – and considering I would feel like a terrible human in ordering Seamless (thus forcing a poor delivery guy to brave the cold himself) I had to get creative. I somehow convinced my carnivorous boyfriend Tom to go vegetarian for a day (cold weather does funny things to people) and pantry staples came to our rescue for this Easy Baked Falafel with Tahini Dressing recipe!
Falafel4There are a ton of falafel recipes floating around on the internet (shameless plug for a recipe on this blog: Sweet Potato Falafel) each with it’s own “secret ingredient” that makes it THE falafel for your recipe repertoire. Given our complete lack of desire to venture outdoors, our falafel was flavored with the classics: lemon, garlic, parsley and tahini (not pictured). We use a LOT of lemon for this, which you are welcome to scale up or down depending on your relationship with citrus.
Falafel8What’s great about this recipe is that it comes together fairly quickly. The “batter” rests in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, making it easier to roll the falafel balls…but you can skip this step if you have a cookie scooper or like the idea of “rustic” falafel. And if you’re really hungry and can’t bear the thought of going another second without food, the batter is basically hummus! No matter how you enjoy it, it’s a great quick meal – click HERE to see the recipe for this vegetarian fix! 
Falafel9 (3)In considering a musical pairing for this recipe, I looked for a piece that could complement both the simplicity of the recipe and its wintry context. My choice of Faure’s Pavane was almost immediate – you can say I’m biased (it features the flute quite prominently), but it’s a classic. The melody is both pure and haunting: painting a scene like the chilled, solitary streets of New York. And yet beauty lies within this solitude, as it is not a fearful scene but a rather peaceful one. The title of the work pays homage to the 16th-century European dance of the same name, which is both slow and processional in character. Ultimately, the piece evokes in its listener a desire to calm and be calmed – something every New Yorker can truly appreciate.  The following video is an excerpt of the full piece, which I chose because A) it’s the Berlin Philharmonic and B) the flute solo is played by my idol, Emmanuel Pahud 🙂 Enjoy!!

Sources Cited:
“Pavane,” Wikipedia.com

Rise and Shine: Part V

Quinoa_Pancakes2My blogging enterprise has been woefully absent…so let me try to explain: I moved to Manhattan in July to start a master’s program in business at NYU. It has been an amazing (albeit intense) journey, and the pace has redefined what I once considered “productive”. In the thick of this academic hurricane, I had to hit the pause button on a few beloved distractions…and my blog was an unfortunate casualty. This isn’t to suggest that I’ve tossed my favorite pastime of cooking altogether – trust me, I would be rendered insane if the refuge of a great homemade meal were taken away from me. After seeing countless ads on the MTA for culinary resolutions and eating more indulgent food than I care to admit, I felt the New Year was the perfect time to revive Classical Kitchen. Though this blog will always call Boston home, I plan to take advantage of every opportunity this city has to offer…with the understanding that tiny apartments sabotage most lighting opportunities for photography. So I’ll stop rambling; instead, let’s get cooking and talk about these Quinoa Pancakes with Honey and Strawberries.
Quinoa1My boyfriend Tom and I happened upon this recipe in early 2015 – we had a lot of leftover quinoa (I thought the measured amount would make half of what it did…long story) and wanted a unique recipe that called for pre-cooked quinoa. Quinoa is pretty great, in my book. Here’s a fun fact – thanks to the explosion of ancient grains and gluten free options, The United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organizatiom (FAO) claimed that 2013 was the “International Year of the Quinoa.” The grain has been a staple of the Andean diet since as early 1200 AD. It is both an adaptable and durable grain, making it an ideal mainstay for centuries. As far as production goes, Peru is the world’s largest producer, reporting a harvest of over 250 billion pounds in 2014.
Berries_HoneyToppings are what make pancakes one of America’s favorite breakfast foods. Tom and I like honey, since it’s useful in much of what we eat and drink. I bought a local honey for this (the pretty jar was the hook) and fresh strawberries. While these were our toppings, you can try out a variety of things – blueberries and yogurt, pecans and agave, bananas and nutella, or even a savory spin with avocados and sour cream. The pancakes themselves have no sugar, making them the perfect palate for any creative garnish.
Quinoa_Pancakes1These pancakes are, admittedly, very different from the buttermilk variety at your local diner. Not only are they full of protein and fiber, but the texture and size share a closer affinity with patties than with their namesake. The trick to getting these pancakes “perfect” is to ensure that the mixture has enough moisture to bind everything together, while also keeping the cakes small enough (while cooking) so they maintain their shape. The recipe will explain this more thoroughly, but be prepared to have one or two crumble mid-flip (but trust me, they will still be tasty!) Click HERE to see the recipe for this unique spin on a breakfast icon.  
Quinoa_Pancakes3While considering a musical pairing for this recipe, I knew an homage to New York was in order – which led me to one of my favorite American composers, Charles Ives, and his orchestral work Central Park in the Dark. Written in 1906, this turn-of-the-century piece beautifully illustrates a rare perspective of New York: a walk through Central Park at night. Ives himself wrote about the piece:

“This piece purports to be a picture-in-sounds of the sounds of nature and of happenings that men would hear some thirty or so years ago (before the combustion engine and radio monopolized the earth and air), when sitting on a bench in Central Park on a hot summer night.”

The strings represent the night, their ethereal darkness constant and gliding amidst the walk of our protagonist. The clarinet ushers in a scene of evening revelry, followed by the winds, brass and eventually full orchestra, as our protagonist passes a late-night casino. The moment is a passing one, as the omnipresent darkness returns and our protagonist tugs his cloak tighter about his shoulders as he continues home. Despite this work being written over a century ago, one can easily imagine its setting in present day: with similar vignettes of quiet and chaos enveloping our daily walks within this massive, beautiful city. I’ve learned a lot since moving to New York, but perhaps the most pressing lesson has been that this city is not lush with work insanity or impersonality – it is a living, breathing thing filled with opportunity and amazing people who want to make a difference. I’m beyond excited to now be a part of that story. Check out Ives’ work in the video below:

Sources Cited:
“Quinoa.” The World’s Healthiest Foods
“Quinoa.” Wikipedia.com
“Central Park in the Dark.” Wikipedia.com