Six reasons to visit Japan

Last fall I had the pleasure of going on my very first visit to Japan. It was an otherworldly experience that’s taken some time to process—I mean, the taxi doors open by themselves, the toilets bowls wash you and vending machines dispense delicacies like warm sake and fresh brewed coffee, ground to order. In other words, if life is about the details, it seems that the Japanese have mastered the art of living. I already knew I loved Japanese food. But here are a few more things that I learned during my time in Tokyo and the neighboring Saitama and Chiba prefectures:

 

1) The cats in Japan are really cute

The cats who oversee Goi station in Ichira, Chiba, get their breakfast from none other than the train conductor. Photo by Gabriella Gershenson

If you’re familiar with my Instagram feed, then you know I’m cat crazy. Well, not only is Japan home of Maru, the world’s cutest and most famous Internet cat. It’s also home to the phenomenon of the feline station master. It is what it sounds like—cats who live in train stations and are in charge of them, too. I felt very fortunate to catch these three bosses getting served breakfast by the train conductor at Goi station on the Kominato Line in Ichira, Chiba.

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DIY Mother’s Day spa treatments

Pamper Mom (especially if that’s you!) with spa treatments from your kitchen. They’re even better than breakfast in bed for giving her an ahhh-some Mother’s Day!

 

Chocolate & Strawberry Scrub

Berries and cocoa are high in skin-protecting antioxidants, and coarse sugar gently exfoliates, says Philip Berkovitz, food beauty guru and founder of Philip B Botanical Products.

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5 superfoods for National Superhero Day

It’s National Superhero Day and we’ve got a great way to celebrate — no spandex required! Here are some of our favorite recipes featuring superfoods: good-for-you ingredients that really pack a punch. Okay, so these dishes can’t give you real superpowers, but they can make you feel healthy, energized and ready to save the world. Check out our picks below!

Superfood Cereal Bowl Read more


Mother’s Day brunch ideas

Want to know how to really wow mom this year? Skip making Mother’s Day reservations and cook a delicious brunch at home instead! These dishes are easy to put together and will feed a crowd. Just whatever you do, don’t let mom help out—it’s her day off, after all!

 

Fresh Green Frittata

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5 guacamole ideas for your Cinco de Mayo fiesta

Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner, and if you’re still looking for the a guacamole recipe to wow your fiesta guests, look no further. This year, mix it up with some classic Mexican ingredients that will take your guacamole from plain to perfecto in no time.

Seven Layer Guacamole

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Our favorite recipes for passover

Meal planning for the eight days of Passover can seem intimidating, which is why we’ve picked out some easy, delicious recipes that just happen to be kosher rather than being forcibly so. You won’t find any fake flours, matzoh-this or wheat-free that, but what you will find are great ways to feed your family while still keeping the faith. Happy holidays!

 

Figgy Baked Brie is the perfect appetizer—no crostini required!

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5 not-your-average PB&J recipes

Sure, you could whip up a simple sammie for National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day, but why stop there when the possibilities are truly endless? It’s Saturday, after all, so get your hands sticky with the two best spreads that make you feel like a kid again… in bars, pie, doughnut holes and more!
 

PB & Berry Pie

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The Pastry School Diaries: A Bittersweet Goodbye

Editorial Assistant Lauren Katz is enrolled in the part-time Pastry & Baking Arts program at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education. Follow her each week as she shares her sweet experiences! 

 

When I started school back in July, I honestly couldn’t even picture what my last few classes would look like. I couldn’t imagine walking into a kitchen, following a recipe, asking questions and exploring my culinary strengths and weaknesses with the confidence that I’ve developed. I felt so unsure of the relationships I’d develop with my classmates and instructors, and I definitely didn’t think I would be capable to design, bake and decorate a two-tiered celebration cake all on my own. Now that the day is finally approaching, I’ve taken great pleasure in looking back at my growth along the way.

 

Gum paste bases for roses, cala lilies and mimosas

 

We’ve started making preliminary plans and accessories for our cakes. I submitted my first draft of what I hope my cake to look like, and I’ve spent most of my time in class working on gum paste roses. My cake is going to be draped in roses, so you can imagine I have a lot of work ahead of me.

 

My very rough sketch of what I hope my cake to look like

 

Out of all the unknowns that existed when I started school, I think the biggest was where I’d be completing my externship. Well, that day has finally arrived too, and I’ve happily accepted a placement in a test kitchen. I’ll be testing both savory and sweet recipes and continuing to learn more about life as a chef. I’m excited for a new phase in my culinary journey, but I know how much I’m going to miss this chapter of my life.

 

My classmates and me posing with our chocolate sculptures. So happy!

So as I close the book on the Pastry School Diaries, I want to thank you all for reading and letting me share this experience with you. I hope you’ve learned something along the way, and that if you’ve ever considered going back to school (whether it’s culinary school, business school or something completely different), my journey has pushed you just a little further to do so. On to the next sweet adventure!


What to do with leftover Easter eggs

Gather those extra Easter eggs and get cracking with these fun, easy recipes.

Bread-and-Butter Pickled Eggs

Once you’ve polished off a 24-oz. jar of bread-and-butter pickles, add 4 peeled hard-boiled eggs 3 sprigs dill and 2 bay leaves to the liquid in the jar. Refrigerate overnight. Makes 4.

Deviled Egg Dip

In a food processor, blend 6 hard-boiled eggs, 6 tbsp. mayo, 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. garlic powder and hot sauce to taste; season. Sprinkle with paprika. Serve with raw veggies. Makes 1 1/4 cups.

Egg & Smoked Salmon Pasta

Cook 1 lb. fettuccini; drain and reserve 3/4 cup pasta cooking water. In a pot, melt 8 oz. cream cheese, 2 tbsp. grated Parmesan and 1/2 tsp. Dijon. Stir in pasta, cooking water and 6 oz. chopped smoked salmon. Top with capers, chives and 3 grated hard-boiled eggs. Serves 6.

Breakfast Scotch Eggs

Shape 1 lb. bulk breakfast sausage into 6 thin patties; place 1 hard-boiled egg on each. Press sausage around egg to cover. Roll in flour, dip in beaten egg and coat with panko. Bake at 400 degrees until sausage is cooked through, 45 minutes. Makes 6.

By Ananda Eidelstein


The Pastry School Diaries: It’s what’s on the inside that matters

Editorial Assistant Lauren Katz is enrolled in the part-time Pastry & Baking Arts program at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education. Follow her each week as she shares her sweet experiences! 

 

The first step of learning how to make a wedding or “celebration” cake is learning how to pipe beautiful buttercream roses, buds and other flowers. If you’ve been following along, you should know by now that I was neither looking forward to this technique nor expecting to be very good at it, and I was right.

 

I was so ashamed of how my roses and piping work turned out that I actively chose to not photograph my work, although in retrospect I wish I had something to look back and laugh at.

 

“After about the 27th time, you’ll get the hang of it,” my chef-instructor said with a smile. She wasn’t kidding.

 

But what I’ve realized (yet again) is that this is just another test at my patience. Piping perfect flowers isn’t something someone should be naturally good at—it takes practice, diligence and concentration. I may never master the art of the perfect cala lily or rose, but I’ll certainly improve over the next few weeks. And you know what? The cake underneath is going to taste the same no matter how beautiful my buttercream work is (or isn’t).

I don’t need to walk out of my schooling with the ability to brag about my piping skills. If I can tell my friends, family and peers that I can bake you the best lemon-scented cake you’ve ever had in your life, that is more than enough for me.

 

Got any piping tips? I’d love to hear them! Check back next week for more tales from the kitchen.