Beach Baguette

This is a simple yet incredible sandwich I made my mom and myself for the beach. The inspiration came from a nearly identical sandwich I had at Whole Foods, and even though I try to avoid shopping there whenever possible, sometimes their lunch is very convenient and occasionally worth the price.

The sandwich I bought was in a baguette which was the first sign of greatness. In the sandwich was brie, apple slices, and thick cold cuts of turkey. Sounds simple, which it is, but it has all the texture needs and flavor combos: soft and crunchy, savory and sweet. Easy to make and easier to pack for the beach. No fuss, no mess. There was leftover grilled chicken in the fridge, so we used that. Here it is:

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BAT (Brie Apple Turkey) Sandwich

Makes 2

Ingredients

One baguette

About one wedge of brie cheese

1 granny smith apple

4 slices smoked turkey or whichever white meat you have around

Dijon Mustard

Mayonnaise

Cut the tips off of the baguette (save for Nutella scoopers later). Cut in half vertically and horizontally, making two sandwich shells. Coat the bottom slices with dijon mustard and the top slices with mayonnaise. Cut thick slices of brie, about 1/8 inch thick, and lay onto the bottom halves of bread. Next, cut the apple into slices slightly thinner than the brie, and lay one layer above the brie. Lastly, add two slices of turkey to each sandwich, then close it up. Pack in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready for the beach.

Of course, feel free to adjust the proportions to your liking, my own seem to be a good average. If you’re wary of apples with cheese, thinner slices will be a good gateway into a whole new world.

Enjoy the beach! The water is perfect rn.

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5 Ways to Use Speculoos (video)

Hey y’all, happy August! I’ve been playing around with beach snacks and fast sweet treats. Cookie butter, also known as speculoos spread, is one of my favorite things that comes out of a jar. Check out the video I made about how to eat it!

If you have some cookie butter in the cupboard and you don’t know what to do with it, here are the five things:

1. Dip sliced apples into it like peanut butter. Quick, easy, sweet, kinda nutritious.

2. Spread onto toast. Really lets the speculoos flavor come through.

3. Put it on ice cream. If you microwave a small bowl of the spread until it liquefies, it will harden like a chocoalte shell once it hits the ice cream. Textury delight!

4. Make it a filling for cookies. If you’re making a batch of cookies, or even want to spice up some store-bought cookie dough, a speculoos filling will surprise friends and taste great.

5. Eat with a spoon. Why not? Fewer calories, right?

Looking for more ways? Check out my speculoos rice crispy treats here!

These Days’ Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

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It’s been some time since I last gave you a chocolate chip recipe of mine, even though I always refer to my constant struggle to find the best recipe. While it is a constant struggle, I’ve been on a break to work on a fun and exciting Nutella cookie…more on this to come. In the meantime, I will leave you with my latest chocolate chip cookie recipe. And I’m not going to belabor the definition of the best chocolate chip cookie, because it’s different for everyone. There’s a quote from market researcher and spaghetti sauce selling extraordinaire Howard Moskowitz pointing out this phenomenon, when describing an experiment with one of his first clients: “There was no such thing as the perfect Diet Pepsi. They should have been looking for the perfect Diet Pepsis” (from Malcolm Gladwell’s essay “The Ketchup Conundrum”).

The point is not that I read a Malcolm Gladwell essay (you should too, though) but that I can’t tell you what the best chocolate chip cookie recipe is. If you happen to enjoy yours chewy on the inside,  butterscotchy, and full of chocolate like I do, this will get you in the right direction.

Happy baking!

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Chewy Chocolatey Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yields around 35 cookies

1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2-3 cups chocolate chips/chunks

Brown the butter on the stove, constantly stirring. Transfer to a heat resistant bowl and let cool. When the butter is cool, combine with sugars and vanilla. Mix in the eggs. Gradually fold in the flour, baking soda, and salt until just combined. Add the chocolate morsels. If you have time, chill in the fridge for 4 hours to overnight.

Bake in the oven at 375° for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are browning and the center is almost-but-not-quite-done. Let cool on the cookie tray.

 

Five Places to Eat in Portland, Maine

In the last couple of years, Portland, Maine has been getting a lot of attention for its food scene. It’s a very cute coastal town in southern Maine with a lot to do and eat. I took a solo trip for Memorial Day weekend to check it out, mostly involving walking from seafood to fries to doughnuts. I would do it again in a second: here are my favorite five spots for your next trip north!

 

1. Duck Fat

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Duck Fat is a very popular quick lunch and dinner spot in the heart of the food strip in Portland. They specialize in Belgian fries, of course fried in duck fat, sandwiches, shakes and homemade sodas. There was a crowd outside the modestly sized café, and people were waiting half hours to get in, at 2:30pm. I even had to wait 15 minutes just to get seated at the bar. But it was well worth it, as the poutine I ordered came to me in a flash, and was steaming and delicious. Straightforward, nothing fancy: Belgian fries covered in duck gravy, cheese curds, and chives. I also ordered a ginger zinger soda (in a mason jar. Portland’s there). It was extremely refreshing.

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2. Dutch’s

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While dining at a seafood restaurant by the piers, a couple next to me at the bar told me I had to go to Dutch’s for breakfast. This was great news, as it was already on my list. Dutch’s is known for their biscuits-and-gravy-fried-chicken hybrid sandwich. They call it the crispy chicken biscuit, and it’s a piece of fried chicken thigh covered in sausage gravy sandwiched between slices of their flaky, yet substantial house made biscuits. Unfortunately I couldn’t eat this because the gravy was made from sausage, and I don’t eat pork. Luckily, they had a second choice: the spicy chicken biscuit. Same thing as the first sandwich, with smashed avocado instead of gravy, and spicy chicken instead of regular chicken: win-win. I imagine the gravy would have been nice to break up the dryness, but it was still great. Dutch’s is also known for the (truly) crispy hash browns. The couple from the bar insisted I get a side of these. They were right out of they fryer when I got them, and very satisfying. I also got an Earl Grey doughnut for the road, which turned out to be one of the best pastries of the trip. The cream in the middle was perfectly mild – not too sweet, and just enough flavor.

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3. Tandem Coffee + Bakery

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So here is Portland’s quintessential hip into-my-coffee-and-chill-time café. It’s even more Brooklyn than Brooklyn: it’s an old gas station! Do you see that slightly askew ceiling? If not for this place, that Earl Grey doughnut would have won best pastry. I can’t get down with the bitterness of coffee, so their great roasts were wasted on me, but their pie and pastries were not. It was extremely difficult to decide on one pastry to try. I could have had a “loaded biscuit” with what you might guess is brie, but is actually a generous glob of butter, and strawberry jam. I could have had a cherry and chocolate scone, or a large chocolate chip cookie. But I went with their massive sticky bun. It looked so inviting from behind the glass display, and somehow more manageable than a dense scone (false). The icing was pooling in the folds of the dough which caught orange zest as a last addition. The top was crunchy and the middle was pillowy soft. I was not disappointed. On my way out of town, I stopped by again for a slice of strawberry hibiscus pie. Good choice.

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With Mast Brothers’ Hot Chocolate

 

 

4. Honey Paw

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I’m generally wary of restaurants with the vague term “Asian fusion” anywhere in a description. It just sounds suspect…what Asian cuisines are you fusing? Are they Asian? Is there also American food? Why? Asian fusion is exactly how Honey Paw labels their food. Well, almost: “regional American cuisine with an Asian sensibility”. I thought I’d step out of my comfort zone and see what the hype was about. The interior decoration is super cool; honey comb lanterns everywhere. My favorite part of the inside was the seating: one large community table, and a bar along the window. I ordered the smoked lamb khao soi with coconut curry, fermented mustard greens, and topped with crispy fried noodles. It was as amazing as it sounds, though I could barely finish my bowl; the rich flavor combination was a lot for my stomach to handle. That said, I’d eat it again, maybe with a friend.

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5. Eventide Oyster Co.

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If you’re into oysters, this is the place for you.Eventide is right next to Honey Paw, and owned by the same folks. Their original Portland restaurant has ten Maine varieties and more “away” varieties, nestled on ice in the stone trench in front of the bar. I’m not a slimy-raw-seafood person myself, but I wanted to see what else they had going on. This place also had a hefty mass of customers waiting to get in, which I bypassed once more by waiting 10 minutes to get to the bar. I ordered one of the specials: deep-fried soft shell crab, which was not as filling as I’d hoped for the price I paid for it. So I ordered a fried oyster steamed bun as reinforcement. Both were delicious, but a tad overpriced. In any case, a good place to spend money on good, local seafood.

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Bonus Round

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A $20 Maine lobster roll drenched in butter is worth it if you’re looking for a good lobster roll in a fancy restaurant by the water. You can find it at the new restaurant, Scales, that wants to overlook the Casco Bay, but really just overlooks a couple other seafood spots on the pier (this is where I met that couple on the bar). Don’t say I didn’t warn you about the butter: this guy’s bun is griddled in butter, and the four ounces of lobster meat are reheated…in butter. It took me nearly an hour just to get through it all without upsetting my stomach.

It’s worth a trip to Holy Donut to see what a potato doughnut tastes like. Luckily, not much like potatoes. I tried a lemon doughnut and was pleasantly surprised. Pro tip: go in the morning so you have more flavor choices that I did.

Any other Portland recommendations? Leave them below!

The Only Cookie Recipe You Need to Feed a Crowd

This is the easiest cookie recipe, hands down. It’s also the fastest cookie recipe, and my favorite to make. You read that right: oat and date cookies are my favorite cookies to make. It’s the most no-stress cookie recipe you can get without getting into the “3-ingredient recipe realm”. That said, it seems like you can count the number of ingredients on one hand. I love making these for friends, because they never fail to impress, and they take 10 minutes to put together.

On top of all that, it’s Ramadan, so of course I have an abundance of dates in the kitchen. This is really the only time I have dates around at all.

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Speaking of Ramadan, I wrote an article at work about what to eat to stay healthy during Ramadan. Check it out here!
I love these cookies so much that this is the second time I’ve written about them in a year, but I’m sure your friends will rejoice when you show up to the party with these in tow. Enjoy!

Oat and Date Cookies
Makes about 25 small cookies
Ingredients
1 1/2 cups  flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, cut up
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup coarsely chopped mejdool dates

Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs, and when it sticks together when molded into hands. Add the egg, beating until just blended. Mix in the sugar, oats, and dates. Drop tablespoons of the dough 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. This dough should be very firm.
Bake until lightly browned, 12-15 minutes, at 350 degrees. Cool on the sheets until the cookies firm slightly. Enjoy warm or at room temperature!
Ramadan Mubarak! Do you have any date recipes you’re cooking this month? Leave them in the comments!

Portland Part 5: Milk Glass Mrkt

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Our last breakfast stop in Portland was at a spot I’d seen in last year’s “Best New Restaurants” list from Bon Appétit . On the east side of the river, Milk Glass Mrkt is tucked away in the a corner of the Overlook neighborhood. They serve breakfast and lunch throughout the week in a counter-service format in a bright dining room. When we arrived on a Tuesday morning, it was quiet, with two indoor tables occupied and two other guests enjoying their coffee at the tables outside.

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After considering the menu, I ordered greens with smoked trout, rainbow chard, pickled red onions, walnuts, radish sprouts, and a fried egg. My mom got the cheddar biscuit with herbed egg and smoked salmon. To split, we ordered a warm brown butter almond cake with berry jam and crème fraîche.

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And everything was delicious. My breakfast salad had everything it needed – refreshment, warmth, nutrients, texture. The biscuit was flaky and the cheese melty. The almond cake was in fact warm and dense, yet somehow still moist.

This hidden gem is absolutely worth the $10 Uber ride, or leisurely bike ride from city center. Enjoy a quiet morning among the trees and houses, with a lovely staff and large seasonal menu. This was easily a food highlight of the trip!

Make sure to add Milk Glass Mrkt, Blue Star Donuts, Voodoo Doughnuts, and a food cart crawl to your itinerary for your next Portland trip. If you have any, leave your own recommendations in the comments!

Follow Me!

Hey there! While you wait for the latest from me and my traveling and baking adventures, check out and like my new Facebook page!

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And if you have a Bloglovin’ account, add me here! Next week will be the last installation of Portland, Oregon, and after that will be an intro to Portland, Maine that I’m visiting for the long weekend! Check Instagram for live updates of the New England adventures, and come back soon!