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Urban Eats: Marble & Milkweed

Started by former pastry chef Briar Winters, Marble & Milkweed crafts beautiful organic and fair-trade teas from a clawfoot bathtub in her apartment in New York City's Lower East Side. From a Green Glow Elixir of Sencha leaves and spearmint to a Modern Chai of South Indian vanilla beans and cinnamon, it's hard not to just see pictures of Marble & Milkweed's teas and want a cup. In addition to selling tea, the shop also sells odds and ends for your dream tea time, like pure botanical fragrances and drinking crystals. Looking at the site, we practically have our kettle already on the stove. —Hazel

Nom Nom November: Gather Journal

Gather Journal, a James Beard Award-winning indie publication dedicated to good food and good conversation, is a feast for the eyes and the appetite. On the eve of the magazine's issue four launch, we talked to editor and co-founder Fiorella Valdesolo, and asked her to share a recipe from the cozy, Cocoon-themed issue, perfect for your Thanksgiving table. 

How did you get involved in the wonderful world of food?
I am a longtime lover and appreciator of all things food-related, but a relative newbie to the so-called food world. My entry point was through Gather Journal, a biannual recipe-driven magazine that I co-founded with my friend, the amazing Michele Outland, in the summer of 2012. The response since our launch has been greater than we could have ever imagined and we are having such a blast dreaming up the content for each issue. Our latest edition, the fall / winter 2014 "Cocoon" issue, is released on November 15th.

What is your idea of the perfect meal?
I can always get down with a bloody steak, oysters and a great bottle of red, but usually the best meals have everything to do with the company; if I'm sharing food with the people I love, that's pretty perfect.

What do you like to cook at home?
I'm first generation Italian and my repertoire at home definitely reflects that. There's a lot of carb love in my house.

Where to you love to go out to eat?
That list is constantly evolving but some of my favorite spots in and around the city right now are Battersby, Locanda Vini e Olii, Nightingale 9, Saraghina, Calliope, Buvette, Ganso (the Chez Jose pop-up in Williamsburg), and breakfast at Fort Defiance.

Sweet tooth or salt fiend?
Salt, salt, salt.

Your guilty food pleasure?
Anything deep fried.

Tell us about the new issue of Gather
The theme for the new fall / winter 2014 edition is Cocoon, and we explore every incarnation of the word—there are recipes that impart a warm, cozy, cocoon-like feeling, and those that visually mimic its wrapped and bundled form. We explore the idea of metamorphosis and renewal through the lens of food; devote a chapter to all things delicate, soft and silken, pay homage to the everlasting appeal of comfort food, and get up close and personal with butchery casings in a weird and wonderful way.

What is your most memorable food experience?
Gosh, that's a tough one. The few times I've managed to score a reservation at the Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare I'm blown away by the food. I had an incredible meal at this tiny, inexpensive restaurant in a village in Piedmont, Italy. Also, anything my nonna cooks is always memorable.

Winter is upon us! How are you keeping cozy this season?
An oversize cableknit Nili Lotan sweater, No. 6 shearling clog boots, and plenty of whiskey and ramen.

Serves 8 - 10

The season’s bounty is on glorious display in this moist cake of juicy, nestled-together pear halves, and currants, figs, and cranberries that have taken a nice, long whiskey bath. We like to think of it as a lazy, fall fruit cake—short on effort, long on pleasure.

1⁄2 cup dried cranberries
2 Tbsp dried currants
4 dried figs
1 cinnamon stick
1⁄2 cup rye whiskey or bourbon
1 & 3⁄4 sticks butter, softened, divided
3⁄4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 pears, halved and cored
1 & 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
1 & 1⁄2 tsp baking powder
1⁄4 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1⁄2 cup whole milk

1. Simmer cranberries, currants, and figs in whiskey with cinnamon stick 5 minutes then let stand 1 hour or overnight. Drain, reserving liquid. Slice figs in half.

2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter sides of a 9-inch cake pan. Smear a layer of butter using 3⁄4 of a stick on bottom of pan. Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar. Arrange pears, cut sides down, and dried fruit over sugar.

3. Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt.

4. Beat granulated sugar and remaining butter with an electric mixer until pale and light. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each. Beat in vanilla and reserved whiskey. On low speed, beat in half of flour mixture, then milk, then remaining flour. Gently spread batter over fruit.

5. Bake until cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cake stand in its pan set on a rack 10 minutes before inverting onto a plate to cool completely.

Nom Nom November: Sydney Kramer

During the month of November, we will be featuring some of our favorite women in food, gathering their tips on how to keep cozy this winter and sharing a recipe for your Thanksgiving feast. First up: Sydney Kramer, the talented Brooklynite behind food blog Crepes of Wrath. Kramer is a whiz in the kitchen, with a creative take on comfort food (her sea salt chocolate chip cookies won her the Anderson Cooper Cookie Challenge, no less). As a lover of Thanksgiving, we chatted to Sydney about her favorite Holiday dishes and the best Brooklyn dive bars to hit up on Thanksgiving Eve.
Interview by Katie Gregory

(Photos courtesy of Sydney Kramer)

When you were young, what dish did your family make every Thanksgiving?

My mom always made her famous chestnut and sausage stuffing. I loved it and I still do. I usually make it every year now that I’m on my own. I have been known to shamelessly stand in front of the fridge gorging myself on cold stuffing at midnight. It is as delicious cold as it is warm and this is a scientific fact. I still look forward to stuffing the most. I love foods with lots of flavors and textures, so stuffing is my jam.

What is your favorite dish to make these days? Is there anything you make sure you cook every Thanksgiving?

I love making something new for Thanksgiving every year. Last year my favorite dish was David Chang’s fish sauce Brussels sprouts, and this year we’re shunning turkey in favor of fried chicken with crab macaroni and cheese and sweet potato pie. Thanksgiving is a holiday about exciting food, and eating the same thing every year seems like it would get pretty old, which is why I’m sharing this waffle stuffing with you fine folks.

Do you go out the night before Thanksgiving? What is your favorite dive bar to hit up?

Last year we just stayed in and had a few drinks, but I personally love a bar around the corner from my apartment called The Tradesman in Bushwick, which we may end up at this year. We also love Burnside Brooklyn, where you can play shuffleboard and eat cheese curds any day of the week. The night before Thanksgiving is devoted entirely to preparation for the next day. I can’t go hard in the club two days in a row, so I always leave Wednesday night for baking and chopping and getting myself ready for what I believe is the best day of the year.

The Recipe:

Waffle, Maple & Sausage Stuffing
with cranberries and walnuts

Total Prep & Cooking Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

10-15 waffles (I used 10 large Belgian waffles, which is about 8 cups), cubed into 1-inch pieces
2 pounds breakfast sausage (think Jimmy Dean’s – this is America!)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 onions, finely chopped
5 stalks celery, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground sage
4-5 cups chicken stock
1 cup maple syrup, plus more for drizzling
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, finely cubed
Sea salt, for sprinkling

1. Use your favorite waffle recipe to make your waffles, or buy frozen Belgian waffles. Cook them according to the package directions. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F, cube the waffles into bite-size pieces, then place on two baking sheets and toast in the oven for 10-15 minutes until crisp. Allow to cool completely.

2. In a heavy bottomed pan, crumble in your sausage and turn the heat to medium-high. Cook the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until lightly browned and cooked through. Remove sausage from the pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Add in 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter over medium heat, then add in the chopped onions and celery. Cook until softened, about 5-6 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for another minute or so, until fragrant. Remove from heat.

3. In a large bowl, toss together the toasted waffle cubes, sausage, onion mixture, walnuts, cranberries, salt, thyme, sage, and 4 cups of chicken stock. Toss together, and add another cup of chicken stock if necessary. Pour in the maple syrup and toss to combine.

4. Press the stuffing into a well buttered 9 x13-inch pan (if you have extra, divide the stuffing between the 9x13-inch pan and an 8x8-inch pan) and drizzle with additional maple syrup and a sprinkle of sea salt. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, until golden and crispy. You may need an additional 5 minutes or so, depending on your oven. Serve warm alongside your Thanksgiving feast!