Smorgasburg in DUMBO is my new favorite NYC experience.

I knew of its existence but it never rose to the top of my consciousness until this last Saturday when Cup of Jo reminded me of it.

Smorgasburg takes place in the old roof-less tobacco factory along the East River in DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), which boasts one of the coolest views of any market, to my mind:

Brooklyn Bridge seen through the factory

Manhattan Bridge in the distance

So our Sunday was spent in the best way possible: eating and drinking.  It started with grilled cheese sandwiches from Milk Truck, a lobster roll from Red Hook Lobster Pound (which pairs insanely well with Maine Root Soda), and an arepa con queso:

Then we moved on to Smoked Brisket sandwiches (I can't find the vendor name...crap):

Then it was mini homemade Pop Tarts (with plum jam in the middle!) from Anarchy in a Jar and gourmet S'mores from S'More Bakery:

We refreshed ourselves with Grady's Cold Brew coffee (I bought this bottle so I could continue to enjoy it all week) and cherry shaved ice from People's Pops:

Stuffed and drowsy - because, yes, we did eat all this between just the three of us - we went home to Manhattan via one of NYC's transportation gems - the East River Ferry:

An outstanding day: one of our best in the seven years we've lived in New York.

Eat, drink, and wear loose pants.


Recipe: Stuffed Croissant French Toast

Our friends Tina and Vic recently moved to Long Island City (Queens)...which we're thrilled about on multiple levels, not the least of which is that our travel time to visit them has been cut by half!  They invited us over to check out the new place, and we had a phenomenal time that included a spirited bocce tournament and outstanding street-style tacos:

And check out the view from their place:

Long Island City is looking tempting!

And because I can be a nosy person, I always check out the cookbooks my friends have on their shelves.  Before I could comment, though, Tina took FARMHOUSE KITCHEN FAVORITES* by Paula S. Croteau off the shelves and told me I had to borrow it from them.  I happily agreed.

Tina and Vic actually discovered the cookbook through Croteaux Vineyards, which is a Long Island winery that is a particular favorite of theirs.  Paula S. Croteau, of Croteaux Vineyards, also has her own school, Farmhouse Kitchen Cooking School; though, according to the website, classes are on hold for 2012.  As you can imagine, I am keen to get out to Long Island to visit the winery - it looks like it's a beautiful, welcoming space for tasting!

I've tried four recipes from the cookbook so far, and they have each been outstanding.  "Keepers," as Adam and I call recipes that have wowed us.  The first I want to share with you is Stuffed Croissant French Toast with Maple Blueberry Compote.  If you read the recipe and think it sounds too rich...well...you're probably right...

Adapted from Paula S. Croteau's Farmhouse Kitchen Favorites
Makes 6 croissants

1 cup half & half
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 8-oz package mascarpone, softened (okay to substitute cream cheese)
6 croissants
1 tablespoon plus 1 tablespoon canola oil, melted to coat griddle (I substituted olive oil, which was fine)

1. In a shallow dish or bowl, whisk the eggs, half & half, sugar, vanilla, and salt together.
2. Cut croissants almost completely in half.
3. Spread each croissant with 1 tablespoon of mascarpone cheese.
4. Gently soak and turn croissants in egg mixture until saturated.
5. Heat griddle or nonstick pan over medium-high heat.
6. Place the croissants on the griddle and cook until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.
7. Gently flip and cook the second side until golden.
8. Serve immediately or cover with foil and keep warm in a 200-degree oven.
9. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or top with maple blueberry compote (actually...I did both).


1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped

1. Place the berries, syrup, cinnamon, and pecans into a small metal skillet.
2. Simmer the mixture on medium-high heat until the berries soften, about 4-5 minutes.
3. Serve with French toast or pancakes.

NOTE ON KID-FRIENDLINESS: Croteau recommends mixing fruit jam in with the cheese stuffing.  But Bug doesn't like jam, and I decided I could do without it.  And I think it worked - jam would have just been that much richer and - believe me - this thing is rich enough on its own.  Also, Bug didn't want the compote - so she just went with powdered sugar.

The result?  Awesomeness.

Eat, drink, and add richness to your life.

* Buy FARMHOUSE KITCHEN FAVORITES at Croteaux Vineyards online store.



This news has made me very happy: Lucy Knisley's RELISH: MY LIFE IN THE KITCHEN has a release date of April 2, 2013 (pre-order it at Powell's)!

If you'll remember, I adored her book FRENCH MILK.  I can't wait to check this one out!

Macmillan has a deliciously tantalizing preview - check it out.


Photo experimentation: Panzanella

As you regular readers know (especially those on Instagram - follow me - "lauralutz"), I recently returned from a trip to Europe (Dublin, Zurich, and Hamburg).  We had some jetlag to deal with when we returned, of course, so I've been keeping my meals relatively simple.  One of those meals was Panzanella.  There are lots of recipes for Panzanella (here and here, for example), but I just did my own thing: bread, mozzarella, and tomatoes.  For the bread, I tossed the cubes in olive oil, salt, and pepper; I tossed the oil-saturated bread cubes in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat until they were toasted: croutons!  (Note: croutons are not necessary for this recipe; in fact, this is the first time I've ever toasted the bread.  Usually, I just tear up old bread and that's it)  For the tomatoes, I tossed those in olive oil, salt, and pepper as well.  At which point, I plated the dish.

So here's the thing: I'm not a trained photographer (obviously), and I've never taken a single class.  I have recently acquired a bunch of lenses, plus a fancy flash, and I'm in full experimentation mode.  Add a huge chunk of non-blogging, non-photo-taking time...and I'm such a newbie with all this.

So for fun, here's a sample of my photos for this dish:

I didn't use a flash here.

No flash here either.

No flash.  Just kept changing the angle and F-stop.

I got my Greenmarket flowers into the action...

My particular favorite, of course...lordy...  Obviously, I introduced the flash here.

Less flash...

Even less flash...

I started playing with the flash angle.

I tried using less flash.

Still. Not. Right.

I'm unhappy with all of them, of course, but I kept the whole series as a learning experience. And it adds to the whole experience when Adam says over my shoulder, "Why are all your shots centered?  Try something off-centered!" and Bug says, "Mom!  Mom!  I can get the white board to bounce the light!  Can I be in the picture?  Can we just eat now?"  Lordy.

As for the Panzanella, it's such a lovely end-of-summer dish: simple, light, flavorful.  Normally, I dump all these ingredients into bowls, toss it around, and serve it as a bit of a mess.  This is the first time I've plated it this way and I thought it was pretty classy.

Between teaching at Pratt and our European vacation, this summer has gone by so much faster than I expected.  This was the perfect way to celebrate our return home (and our break from restaurant eating!) and the end of an incredible season.

Eat, drink, and enjoy your Labor Day weekend!