Breakfast OR Dessert Chai Chia Seed Pudding

I’ve recently taken on a love for chia seed pudding. After having it out the other day (exhibit A), I started making it at home. Expect many more chia seed recipes to come! For now, enjoy this delicious one! 

Alsooo—get excited for this awesomeness—since I’ve been getting a lot of love on my oh-so-gorg jewels that I wear in lots of my photos (here and on Instagram and Twitter), I thought it’d be fun to share some of the wealth! My awesome  Gorjana Infinity II Ring featured in this recipe comes from the great stylists at Rocksbox aaaannnddd with when you use the special code coffeeandchampagnexoxo when signing up you’ll get a month of jewelry tailored to your personal style shipped to you for free!

Breakfast OR Dessert Chai Chia Seed Pudding

INGREDIENTS

Chia Pudding

Almond Milk (2 cups)
Chia Concentrate (2 tsp)
Chia Seeds (1/2 cup)
Unsweetened Shredded Coconut (2 tsp)
Honey (2 tsp)

Topping

Medjool Dates (2, roughly chopped)
Blackberries (6, halved)
Fresh Mint (3 leaves, chiffonade)
Honey (1/2 tsp)

Breakfast OR Dessert Chai Chia Seed Pudding

KITCHEN ITEMS

Leakproof Container with Lid (that can hold up to 3 cups of liquid)
Measuring Cup
Measuring Spoon

Breakfast OR Dessert Chai Chia Seed Pudding

1. SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE. SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE. SHAKE YOUR CHIA. SHAKE YOUR CHIA: pour your almond milk, chai concentrate, honey and coconut directly into your container.

Close it and shake until all of your ingredients are mixed.

Add in your chia seeds and immediately close your container and shake vigorously until evenly combined (and not clumpy)—about 1 minute.

Should you get any clumping, try to break it up with a spoon.

Refrigerate overnight (or at least 4 hours)

Breakfast OR Dessert Chai Chia Seed Pudding

2. THE CHERRY ON TOP, KINDA: pour a serving of chia seeds into the bowl you plan to eat it out of.

Spread your date pieces evenly across the top of your chia pudding.

Lay your blackberry halves cut-side-down in a circle around the inner edge of your bowl. Make a second smaller circle of them in the middle.

Drizzle your honey over the top.

Sprinkle your mint evenly across the top of your now beautiful dish.

Happy healthy eats!

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Seafood & Vegetables Stir Fry(ish)

A light dinner option. Aaaaannnddd, such a fun and delicious take on a seafood stir fry!

Seafood & Vegetables Stir Fry(ish)

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 9 Minutes
Total Time: 19 Minutes

INGREDIENTS

Squid (1/4 lb, cut into 1/2 thick rings)
Shrimp (1/4 lb, medium sized)
Garlic (2 cloves, finely chopped)
Carrots (1 bunch, peeled and cut into1/2 inch thick pieces)
Golden Beet (1, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch thick wedges)
Radish (2, skinned and cut into 1/2 inch thick sticks)
White String Beans (30, cut the edges off and cut into 1/2 inch this pieces)
Fresh Basil (5 large leaves, chiffonade)
Fresh Mint (10 large leaves, chiffonade)
White Sugar (2 tsp)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper

KITCHEN ITEMS

8″ Frying Pan
12″ Frying Pan with Lid
Large Mixing Bowl
Rubber Spatula
Tongs
Plate
Mixing Bowl
Cutting Board
Chef’s Knife

Seafood & Vegetables Stir Fry(ish)

1. SWEETEN UP THE POT: once you have this step cooking, multitask and start working on the next one. This way everything is served at the same temperature.

Put your cut beets, string beans, radishes and carrots into your 12″ frying pan. Line them up so that they are flat on one layer and not piled up.

If you have extra vegetables that don’t fit, don’t try to squeeze them in. Instead, make a second batch.

Fill your frying pan with water that comes up to half the height of your vegetables.

So if your vegetables are 1/2″ in height, your water should be 1/4″ high.

Add in your sugar.

Cover your pan with it’s lid slightly tilted to let a little bit of air out.

Turn your heat to high.

Cook until the water has steamed out—about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and transfer to your mixing bowl.

Seafood & Vegetables Stir Fry(ish)

2. SURF’S UP: coat your 8″ frying pan with oil and turn your heat to high.

Add in your garlic and cook it down for about 1 minute.

Season your shrimp and calamari with salt and pepper.

Add your shrimp and calamari into your frying pan and let them cook for about 2 minutes.

Then, use your tongs to flip them. Cook for another 2 minutes—or until your seafood is fully cooked.

Using your tongs—to make sure you are getting the least amount of excess oil as possible—transfer your seafood to your vegetables in your mixing bowl.

3. MIX IT UP:  add your basil and mint to your mixing bowl.

Toss your seafood and vegetables around so that the basil and mint is evenly distributed.

Serve and eat!!

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French Toast Pizza

After recently being invited to try the new brunch menu at a gourmet pizza restaurant, and trying dish after dish, I was so hoping to encounter a fun morning styled pizza. I joked to my fellow food blogger friends that they should have a French Toast Pizza. After that, the idea wouldn’t leave my mind. I woke up the next morning, ran to my favorite grocery store and bread shop and got to cooking. 

The first word my taste-tester and I said in unison—mouths full, mind you—was “wow”. There wasn’t much else to say. It was so awesome! Get involved, STAT!

French Toast Pizza

INGREDIENTS

Cinnamon Raisin White Bread Round Loaf
Eggs (4, beaten)
2% Milk (1/2 cup)
Nutmeg (3/4 tsp)
Pure Vanilla Extract (1 tsp)
Bacardi Gold (1 1/2 tbsp)
Brown Sugar (1/2 cup, firmly packed)
Marscarpone
Powdered Sugar
Vermont Maple Syrup
Unsalted Butter (2 tbsp)

French Toast Pizza

KITCHEN ITEMS

12″ Nonstick Frying Pan
Large Mixing Bowl
Medium Mixing Bowl
Whisk
Metal Spatula
Baking Sheet
Cutting Board
Bread Knife
Butter Knife
Sifter

French Toast Pizza

1. MIX IT UP: in your medium mixing bowl, whisk together your eggs, milk, nutmeg, vanilla, Bacardi and brown sugar.

French Toast Pizza

2. CUT IT UP: use your bread knife to cut the rounded top off of your bread off and the crusted bottom.

Place your bread in your large mixing bowl and pour your whisked mixture evenly over it. Allow it to sit and marinate for 5 minutes.

Flip your soaked bread and allow it to marinate for another 5 minutes.

French Toast Pizza

3. COOK IT UP: preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Over high heat, coat your nonstick pan with your butter.

Transfer your soaked bread onto the frying pan. Let cook for 2 minutes—or till vigorously sizzling around the bread’s edges.

Use your spatula to flip your bread and cook for an additional 2 minutes—or till vigorously sizzling around the bread’s edges.

Transfer your cooked bread onto your baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes.

Put your now baked bread onto the dish you plan to serve it on.

French Toast Pizza

4. CHEESE & SAUCE: use your butter knife to spread your marscarpone evenly across the top of your bread.

Evenly sift your powdered sugar over your entire dish.

Heavily pour your maple syrup over the top of your marscarpone and powdered sugar coated bread. Allow the syrup to drip over the sides.

Use your bread knife to cut your French Toast Pizza into eight triangular slices.

Serve hot and enjoy!

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Chocolate Chip Cranberry Granola Bars

Back home from my snowboarding trip at Breckenridge and it got me to reminiscing about my trip earlier this winter and how delicious the granola bars that I made for it were. I have to share the recipe!

Do note, these are awesome for taking along with you all summer long too! I love a good granola bar to hold me over till my next meal while strolling down the streets of Manhattan!

Chocolate Chip Cranberry Granola Bars

Servings: 20 Bars
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Bake Time: 32 Minutes (including the toasting)
Cool Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 57 Minutes

INGREDIENTS

Quick Oats (3 cups, toasted for 7 minutes)
Sweetened Shredded Coconut (1 cup, toasted for 5 minutes)
Brown Sugar (1/2 cup, packed)
Honey (1/2 cup)
Vermont Maple Syrup (2 tbsp)
Vanilla Extract (1 tbsp)
Cinnamon (1 tbsp)
Dried Dates (1 cup, pureed with 1 tbsp of water)
Dried Dates (6, roughly chopped)
Semi-Sweet Mini Chocolate Chips (1 cup)
Dried Cranberries (3/4 cup)

Chocolate Chip Cranberry Granola Bars

KITCHEN ITEMS

Large Mixing Bowl
Baking Sheet
Parchment Paper
Cutting Board
Chef’s Knife
Measuring Cup

Chocolate Chip Cranberry Granola Bars

1. MIX IT UP: combine your toasted oats, toasted coconut, sugar, honey, pureed dates, Vermont maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon in your mixing bowl and using your hands, mix it all together.

Once thoroughly combined, add in your chocolate chips, chopped dates and dried cranberries and use your hands to evenly mix them in.

Chocolate Chip Cranberry Granola Bars

2. BAKE IT: preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Line your baking sheet with parchment paper.

Press your granola mixture evenly across into your baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes or till golden brown on the top.

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The Journey of Chef David Belknap of L&W Oyster Co. and his Signature Crab Cake

While sitting down with Chef de Cuisine David Belknap of L&W Oyster Co., I quickly realized that this wasn’t just a story about how fun, kind and creative a chef he is (all of which are true). Rather, this a prideful conversation about the creation, transformation and physical journey of his signature crab cake—a journey, that mirrors that of his own. 

Talking with Chef Belknap felt effortless, like pulling up a chair and sitting down with a friend you’ve grown up with. During our interview, we talked about everything from his culinary history that explores city to city, to the specifics of L&W’s produce and purveyors, to their delicious bottomless brunch menu.  After it all, he took me into his kitchen to make me two of his Benedict dishes on those famous crab cakes of his—talk about delicious! Hellooo, lobster-y Benedicts! I can’t even. I know, so many thoughts! Well, I’ll let him answer all of the questions (go on, read on)!

You must go try it for yourself at L&W Oyster Co.!

If you’re daring, his recipe is at the end of our interview for you to make at home! 

Talking Fish and Brunch with Chef de Cuisine David Belknap of L&W Oyster Co.

MW. After working in restaurants like Per Se and The Ritz Carlton (in Naples Beach, Denver and Grand Lakes) you have found a home here at L&W Oyster Co.. It’s hard not to see that there is a very clear change in atmosphere, vibe and clientele. Is this the aesthetic that you would say that you best relate to as a chef?

ChefDB. I do. I mean, the majority of my career has been spent in like casual dining restaurants, things like that—not chain restaurants but they’ve always been local like mom and pop little bar and grill type things. And, the past seven years I have stepped up to the luxury market and the Ritz Carlton and Per Se and I think that is kind of something that I needed personally as a chef to grow because I didn’t really know the fine dining aspect of it, I didn’t really know the high end food. But I think the way I kind of built out my career really worked out well for me because I’m not necessarily stuck doing fine dining food but I have the basis of really good cooking. So, it’s like what ever I make is going to taste amazing. But then, once I learned the fine dining aspect of it, then I can start crafting the visual of the food rather than just the flavors. So this place, L&W is kind of a melding of everything I’ve always worked for. everything I’ve always learned.

Talking Fish and Brunch with Chef de Cuisine David Belknap of L&W Oyster Co.

MW. Would you say it’s like “comfort food” elevated?

ChefDB. Yeah, that’s the kind of thing I like to do. I like to try to take comfort foods, things that are accessible to people and things that people understand and then kinda turn it on its head, twist it to make it different or at least different enough to put my stamp on it and call it L&W.

Talking Fish and Brunch with Chef de Cuisine David Belknap of L&W Oyster Co.

MW. Last time I was here, I had the “Lobster Mac & Cheese” and it was such a nice interpretation that I hadn’t tried before. I’ve been obsessing over it. Is there a dish on the menu that then stands out and excites you?

ChefDB. Um, anything in particular that’s sticking out. I mean the lobster mac and cheese was kind of a fun thing. Like you said, you’ve already tried it. And, basically, I was using the agnolotti platform and doing all kinds of different kinds of stuffing. Every week or so I would do a different stuffing like a scallop stuffing—different kinds of stuffings. One day I thought about it—I gotta make a cheese sauce. I think I was making a cheese sauce for a staff meeting or something. I was like, “damn this is really good. This would be insane on the inside of pasta”. Then, I made it. I tried it and was like, “holy shit, it’s like inside out mac and cheese”. So we kinda threw it on the menu and it was blowing up. People went nuts for it.

Talking Fish and Brunch with Chef de Cuisine David Belknap of L&W Oyster Co.

MW. When creating a new dish for the menu, what are the most important steps? Do you come up with a vision of what it will ultimately look like before testing it out?

ChefDB. It’s usually how things happen. Usually, inspiration comes from like me just like cooking for my family or cooking for the staff or something like that. It’s like, “that’s delicious”. It’s rare that I’ll like sit there and like try to come up with a dish while I’m just sitting on the couch. It usually comes to me while I’m messing around with something. Then you just build and build and build.

Talking Fish and Brunch with Chef de Cuisine David Belknap of L&W Oyster Co.

MW. Do you try to challenge your staff to come up with recipes?

ChefDB. I do. The employees that I try to encourage are the ones that are really doing this because they want to be a chef. They’re not doing it as a job, it’s not like they have a bachelors degree in Political Science and they’re just like here at night moonlighting to make a buck—these are people who are actually trying to do cooking as a career. Those are the people I usually try to inspire, try to push them.

Once it gets warmer, and we start seeing more vegetables and produce, I’ll go down to the farmers market and come back with 20-30 pounds of produce. I’ll  drop it on the counter and am like, “what are we doing with this?” I’m like, “well, I’m going to take this one and this one. I’m going to give you this, this and this. Do something with it.” So then they’ll mess around and I’ll guide them with it for the next 2-3 hours until we have a usable dish that can be put on the menu. More times than not, they have been successful dishes.

Talking Fish and Brunch with Chef de Cuisine David Belknap of L&W Oyster Co.

MW. They say hindsight is 20×20. Looking back on these experiences, what are the takeaways and learnings that you still incorporate into your kitchen today? And, what are you most proud of, so far, here at L&W Oyster Co.?

ChefDB. I mean, I took a lot from Per Se. It was a big learning experience for myself.

Coming out of there, every single thing I kind of knew, I had to throw out the door because they had their own way of doing it. But, once you learn those things, it’s an elevated way of learning things. Like I knew how to make a pasta, they taught me how to make perfect pasta. I knew if I was going to make a sauce, I had to puree it but you work over there and they teach you how to be obsessive about it—to the Nth degree perfection—like completely smooth, the completely right color, the completely right seasoning, how to season things properly, how to make something a certain consistency.

It’s those fun little things that you pick up.

Talking Fish and Brunch with Chef de Cuisine David Belknap of L&W Oyster Co.

MW. Working at a place called L&W Oyster Co. You must eat a lot of oysters. What is currently your favorite oyster, and why?

ChefDB. Probably our house oyster—what we consider our house oyster—the Montauk Pearl. Mike Martinson and Mike Doall come out of Montauk. They started probably about four years ago and we were like not one of their first restaurants but one of their main restaurants. We kinda got hooked up with him because they were supplying Almond [L&W Oyster Co.’s sister restaurant] so I started talking with them and tasting his oysters—it’s kinda that quintessential oyster. It’s briny, it’s meaty, it’s not overly salty—you know, the meat is like right there in the middle with a nice pliability and the quality super consistent. So, I’ve had them on the menu since we first opened.

Talking Fish and Brunch with Chef de Cuisine David Belknap of L&W Oyster Co.

MW. Aside from the exciting fact that this brunch is now “bottomless” are there any other stand out differences from your original brunch menu?

ChefDB. I mean just like our normal menu, we try to change it up every week, at least adding in or taking out a couple things just to keep it interesting, not to let the menu get stagnant. Obviously, it’s seafood themed but we also have meat options because not everyone wants to eat oysters when they’re hungover on a Sunday morning.

But, I think what’s happened, in the recent past, since we’ve kind of opened up “bottomless”, it really kind of opened up people’s doors, people’s minds to the restaurant. Prior to that, our brunch was never busy mainly because people think “oyster bar, not a great place for brunch”—no one wants to go to an oyster bar for brunch. Now, with all of this “bottomless” thing, we’ll turn this place two or three times on a Saturday.

So, we started doing the bottomless, and it turns out, that’s what New Yorkers want. They want to come in, they want get drunk before two o’clock.

Talking Fish and Brunch with Chef de Cuisine David Belknap of L&W Oyster Co.

MW. Which brunch dish, if you had to choose one, would you call out as “a must”? And, why?

ChefDB. “Angry Crab Benedict” is more—the crab cake is one of my signature dishes that I’ve been making for years. I’ve actually taken it to three or four different cities and work it into the menu somewhere. I’ve had it in Denver. I’ve had it down in Naples. And, now, I have it here in New York.

If you haven’t been in, it’s kind of a staple. You have to get it. The other one we’ve been doing recently is a lobster, lamb Benedict. I’ve just partnered with this gentleman out of Denver, actually, that has a lamb bacon company. So, yeah, we take an English muffin, toast it, crispy lamb bacon goes on top of that, then a poached egg, then I make a lobster hollandaise out of a lobster clarified butter.

We go through probably 20-40 pounds of lobster a day just between the lobster BLT and the lobster mac and cheese—so, we had a ridiculous amount of shells. So, that was one of the first things I started doing here—like I utilized those shells and made a lobster clarified butter. I just take those lobster shells and whole butter, put it all in a pot, cook it until it clarifies. And then blend it and what you get is this really like bright red clarified butter. So, I use that for like every lobster preparation that I have—just because it adds that extra punch.

So, then I take that and make it into a hollandaise with, what I call, a “lobster bottarga”. It’s kind of a different way to make a surf and turf.

Talking Fish and Brunch with Chef de Cuisine David Belknap of L&W Oyster Co.

MW. So, what’s so special about this crab cake that you keep traveling with it? What do you put in it?

ChefDB. So, um, it’s just a different way of doing a crab cake. Basically, I make a spicy guacamole—so I take avocados, garlic, cilantro, jalapeños, chipotle, salt and pepper, make this guacamole— and then I start adding things like breadcrumbs to it, eggs to bind it. It’s a very wet crab cake, so we take that and put it in panko breadcrumbs and kind of like press those panko breadcrumbs on to the top of it so you end up with this like crust but the inside is still moist and delicious. So, we portion those out and they get fried. Two poached eggs go on top. And then, our lunch and dinner crab cake we do a yuzu aoili but with our brunch we do a yuzu hollandaise—so a standard hollandaise, egg yolks, clarified butter, yuzu sauce, salt and pepper. And, yeah, it gets ladled over top. It has an acidic yet fatty taste that cuts through the spicy taste of the crab cake.

Talking Fish and Brunch with Chef de Cuisine David Belknap of L&W Oyster Co.

MW. I’ve heard that, brunch is not a favorite meal for chefs. It’s like, you’ve worked the night before, you have to come in early morning, it’s typically uninspired, people aren’t excited to be a part of it. Do you find that to be accurate? 

ChefDB. Oh, I guarantee it. No. I’ve never met a single chef that enjoys brunch.

MW. Do you enjoy making brunch.

ChefDB. No.

MW. You enjoy the concept of actually making the dishes but the execution…

ChefDB. Exactly. And, maybe that’s where we really started taking off. My excitement was, let’s say, wasn’t too great. And, so, I never really put any heart and sole into it when we first opened up. Like, I tried to make interesting things but then I wasn’t really stoked about it because every chef is stoked about dinner. Dinner is every chef’s “thing”.

But then, recently, I had this sous chef and was like, “you know what? I’m going to put you in charge of brunch. I’m going to make you do brunch and I’m going to sleep in”. So I started taking weekends off. I  built the dishes for him, so I was like, “these are the dishes that we’re going to do”—and, I think because of that, it took the stress off of me doing, you know, poach a thousand eggs a day and things like that. So, that gets me off the line and gets me that new found inspiration and come back and put a different dish on the menu because I do care but I don’t have to go and shlep it out.

Talking Fish and Brunch with Chef de Cuisine David Belknap of L&W Oyster Co.

MW. What’s next? 

ChefDB. We’ve been talking about opening up another L&W, kind of off and on. Maybe another L&W, maybe another concept all together.

So, what do you want to try?

The best words a chef could ever ask a girl! Then, off to the kitchen we went for Chef David Belknap to make me some brunch—on a deliciously gluttonous Tuesday evening!

Talking Fish and Brunch with Chef de Cuisine David Belknap of L&W Oyster Co.

Angry Crab Benedict by Chef David Belknap

Angry Crab Cake
1 crab claw meat
1 ea ripe avocado
1 ea chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (minced)
1/2 small jalapeno (minced)
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
2oz lime juice
1 egg
3/4c panko bread crumbs
salt &pepper
3C. panko bread crumbs for the breading process

 

Yuzu Hollandaise
1 egg yolk
4 oz clarified butter
1 oz lemon juice
1 oz yuzu juice
salt to taste

 

Directions
Mix all ingredients EXCEPT for the crab, in a bowl till incorporated. break up crab and fold in being careful no to break up the crab pieces too much.
Portion about 1/4 cup portions of crab mixture into the breading panko, gently press the balls of crab into the crumbs till the outside absorbs the moisture from the crab cake (developing the crust), shape into disks and let set in refrigerator for 1 hours.
To prepare, either pan fry or deep fry the crab cake till medium dark brown, drain on a paper towel and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Top with poached egg and smother with Yuzu Hollandaise.
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