Have you been to Picasso’s, a new neighborhood bakery?

I don’t always have time to bake, and we have a new bakery in our neighborhood on Westcott. This past week I sampled  donuts and brioche from Picasso’s Pastry.Image

These are baked chocolate donuts.  Since they are baked, they do taste more like chocolate than donuts, but they do satiate that chocolate cake craving!Image

I also sampled their chocolate brioche right out of the oven…ooey, gooey and delicious!

If you are in Syracuse, please support our local businesses and check out Picasso’s Pastries.


What’s in your CSA? kohlrabi, cilantro, swiss chard, or kale?

For the next month, I hope to focus a bit on eating at home in addition to  eating out because we’re eating more at home since we’re in the middle of CSA season and it is also Ramadan.

Last week my CSA had kohlrabi, cilantro, swiss chard, kale, beets and garlic scapes.

I decided to create a lentil stew using traditional Indian spices and seasonal greens.

Lentils with kohlrabi and greens:

3 tsp salt

3 tablespoons turmeric

1 tsp of red chili powder

3 cups of red lentils

1/2 white onion sliced

2 garlic cloves

2-3 kohlrabi

3 tsp cumin

1 tsp ginger powder

1 bunch of kale, swiss chard or spinach (optional)

cilantro for garnish


1) Boil 6 cups of water with 3 tsp salt.

2) Add  3 cups of rinsed dry masoor red lentils when the water comes to a full boil,  then turn down to low and simmer 30-45 minutes till lentils are soft like a thick bean soup.

3) Add a tablespoon of turmeric and 1 tsp of red chili powder  to the lentils, and mix in well.

4) Continue to let lentils summer, and fry half a white sliced onion with 1 tablespoon oil, 2-3 diced kohlrabi,  3 tsp cumin, 2 garlic cloves and a  tsp of ginger powder in a separate pan.

5) Add the fried mixture, one bunch of kale or swiss chard, and  1/4 cup water to your lentils, stir and let simmer another 30 minutes.

6) Taste, garnish with cilantro, and add salt  to taste!

What are you doing with all that extra kohlrabi, kale and swiss chard?

These are a few of my favorite things…

These are a few of my favorite things during the summer in Upstate New York…

I always make a point of getting to Darwin’s in Syracuse for lunch and Hatties in Saratoga for fried chicken. And for summer dinners, there are a few places I like to get to while I am off from teaching: Circa for  a casual but seasonal dinner in Cazenovia, Rosalies in Skaneateles for a special occasion dinner, Elderberry Pond in Skaneateles for when the weather is perfect, and Northstar  for a locavore dinner in Ithaca. These are places I particularly enjoy in the summer because they are either a bit of a drive from where I live, or they have really great ambiance and seasonal menus.

Last week we went to dinner at Circa with friends. The waiter told us they had just changed menus so we were trying out the brand new summer menu.ImageWe started with the roasted beets, cucumbers and pea shoots salad in a goat cheese mint dressing which was light and delicious.

For my entree I had the Carne Asada (grilled shaved marinated beef) tacos which were juicy, flavorful and topped with a large scoop of fresh guacamole. My friends had the savory sea food stew which I also tasted. It was very fresh and came in a light broth. We decided it could almost be an appetizer.Image

Can you see the delicious guacamole and beef?And even the tortilla was amazing.Image

We finished our meal with the lovely cheese plate which features local and artisan cheeses. Image

I usually get a sweet treat to end such a nice dinner, but I was so full that I could barely finish my tacos or sample the cheese. I hope to get back later this summer. I always think of Circa fondly.  If you happen to have a lazy weekend, Circa is worth the drive. Check out their summer menu here.

What are some of your favorite things in the summer?

Summer Lovin: Rosalies, the Owl House, and hurrah for the CSA!

I really love Syracuse in the summer. We’ve had a very long winter and it’s up to 74, sunny and breezy this week.

This past weekend we really enjoyed a few gems not as far as Saratoga.


Upstate New York has many Italian “American” restaurants. In Syracuse alone we have Gentiles, Francescas, Pastabilities, and Frankie’s to name a few. But Rosalie’s in Skaneateles is probably the most well know Italian American restaurant in the area.

We go to Rosalie’s once every summer with good friends.

I consider this a special occasion and tend to splurge when we go here.  They have their own herb and vegetable garden that you can see outside.

Rosalie's garden

Rosalie’s garden

I ordered the organic green salad which came with roasted peppers and pine nuts in an asiago cheese basket.


And I followed this with a surf and turf entree that they created for me. The dinner consisted of a small filet, three scallops, asparagus,

and roasted fingerling potatoes. This is what I consider a celebration meal!


Also this weekend, we made a detour to Rochester. I like to get to Trader Joe’s at least once a semester and I can’t go to Rochester without a meal at the Owl House or Good Luck. Since we were going to head out during the day, I made a reservation for brunch at the Owl House. I have had mixed experiences at the Owl House including  fine dinners, good lunches and an excellent brunch. Image

This was again an excellent brunch. I wasn’t sure what to order because I was in the mood for a hearty brunch, and was hesitant about trying the tempeh. I am not a vegetarian and sometimes the meat substitutes in restaurants miss the mark.  But I had the Hash N’ Eggs (two eggs any style with Cajun Seasoned Roasted Corn & smoked tempeh potato hash, toast and marmalade). And for those of you who have an aversion to tempeh, fear not. The brunch menu has some fabulous options including Migas, french toast and Stewed Pork Shoulder & Corn Bread Waffle w/ Housemade Pickled Jalapeno Hot Sauce, Maple. Syrup.

eggs and tempeh hash at the Owl House in Rochester

eggs and tempeh hash at the Owl House in Rochester

The tempeh hash was a delicious medley of corn, potatoes and well-seasoned tempeh. I almost ordered the salted chocolate tart for dessert, but I couldn’t stop eating the toast and marmalade.

toast and marmalade

toast and marmalade

The marmalade was made in house, tart and sweet, and lovely.Image

Did I mention I love marmalade?

Last but not least, one of the many joys of summer is the weekly CSA from Daily Harvest Farm.  We are in week 2 of our CSA and I prepared this meal tonight using spinach, cilantro, and turnips from our CSA. We’re leaving town soon and I wanted to use as much produce as possible.

CSA spinach and cilantro with shrimp

CSA spinach and cilantro with shrimp

If you live in Syracuse, check out Daily Harvest Farm! Summer is really the time to eat local, folks.

Next week check back when we’ll go from Saratoga to Sarasota!

Thought for Food or Food for Thought: Saturday links

food for thought

food for thought

So many great food-related things going on that don’t necessarily involve eating so here’s a round up of the links I thought were significant:

Do you ever think about what is appropriate to take to a pot luck or the quality of food you prepare when you entertain friends? How much of these choices are shaped by class or cultural capital? Alice Julier, sociologist of food, just published: Eating-Together-Food-Friendship-Inequality. This will be a very important book for any one who is interested in how class and inequality shape dining together and social life.

Secondly, someone finally wrote what lots of us are thinking: “The Food assholes dilemma”. This also touches on class in particular and how we can’t forget that through food we can exert power and reinforce hierarchies. My favorites from this piece are ” Eat what your grandmother ate, but only the things that take so long to prepare that she gave up making them long ago. Eat food, mostly overpriced and hyper local. Drink your tea from a canning jar that your grandmother used to make pickles in the 1960s. Don’t appear to enjoy it.” What are your food rules?

Lastly, I believe food preferences and phobias are largely linked to family, childhood exposure and environment. But this piece from the Huffington Post on Adventurous Eaters’ Food Habits is worth a read as it suggests food phobias may be linked to genetics. It touches on the nature versus nurture debate and issues related why some of us are more adventurous or picky eaters than others. Do you think environment or genetics play a larger role in how we develop food preferences?

*And if you are planning a vacation soon and want to head somewhere where you can relax but also enjoy great food, it’s time to consider Vermont. I’ve always loved Burlington, and will be there next summer. But the Vermont food scene is becoming  more interesting because of all the NYC transplant chefs combined with their well established  commitment to local food. I did make it to Bluebird last summer, but can’t wait to get back.

Road trip to Saratoga: Not for horse racing

One of the loveliest things about living in Syracuse is in under 5 hours by car, I can be in New York City, Toronto, Montreal, Boston or Cleveland. And in under 3 hours I can be in Saratoga Springs!

This past week was my annual pilgrimage to Saratoga. Not for the races, or the spas but for the fried chicken at Hatties. And I have had the fried chicken at Buttermilk in Brooklyn recently, and will have fried chicken and waffles at Ella’s in Tampa soon enough, but have you had the fried chicken with biscuits and greens at Hattie’s chicken shack? It’s an event worth driving 140 miles round trip for the one meal alone. In fact, a certain Canadian journalist and another certain food writer will confirm the worthiness of this drive.

Fried chicken dinner with smashed potatoes and corn on the cob

Fried chicken dinner with smashed potatoes and corn on the cob

I have eating at Hattie’s down to a science.  Arrive at Saratoga by 1pm for a light meal (usually at Max’s if  there on a Saturday/Sunday but we had a lovely light meal at Scallions), and arrive at Hattie’s by 5:30pm (because they do not take reservations).

At Scallions,  I ordered the mediterranean tapas appetizer which included grilled shrimp salad, falafel, hummus and naan for my light lunch.. It was all very fresh and tasty.

Mediterranean tapas at Scallion's

Mediterranean tapas at Scallion’s

And hopefully you arrive hungry because the fried chicken dinner includes a thigh, a breast, a wing and a drumstick.  But fear not, if you can’t finish half a chicken in one sitting, they will pack up your leftovers in these lovely reheatable foil packages. I have been known to bring back an entire chicken dinner for a certain Iowan.

Fried chicken dinner

Fried chicken dinner

As I said earlier, the fried chicken at Hattie’s is worth the drive alone. We finished the meal with the berry apple crisp.

The perfect ending

The perfect ending

But I always pop into the delightful Mrs. London’s for a baked good or two before I leave.

Mrs. London's pastry shop

Mrs. London’s pastry shop

Mrs. London’s is the closest thing to a Parisian bakery in upstate New York. The bread (and the pizzas, bagels and sandwiches) are all delicious.

Mrs. London's pastries

And the seasonal tarts are divine. I opted for a simple chocolate chip and a bag of shortbread jelly dots for take away!

Mrs. London's chocolate chip cookie

Mrs. London’s chocolate chip cookie

Are you planning your road trip now? Hattie’s also offers GF fried chicken, and has several new locations in the Saratoga region.  I’ll be back to Hattie’s to research their Sunday brunch (pain perdu, benedict, fried chicken and waffles, beignets)!

Check back next week when I’ll be traveling to Tampa and Sarasota!