Styled by Luciana.

The ever so beautiful Luciana is getting into food styling!
I’m literally stalking her instagram from this point on!

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Photo cred: Lucky Peters

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Women Who Cook: Dalal Monroe

I met Dalal last summer at an Empanada party—that ran out of empanadas—and I’ve been following her on twitter ever since. It took a while before getting around to asking if she’d mind being featured on #avaeats, so I was stoked when she agreed to a little interview.img_6247

#avaeats: You and food: who, what, where, when, and why?
Dalal Monroe: I’m Dalal Monroe, self-taught chef and owner of Little Love Catering in Brooklyn, New York. And why—because I loveeeeeeee food and cooking soothes the soul.

#ae: How did you get into the culinary industry?
DM: I grew up in a southern foundation family so cooking was a must know how to do thing. I grew up in the kitchen and food is just so amazing, I educated myself on more until I started to cater for people.

#ae: Is cooking a day job or a side hustle for you?
DM: Cooking is my day job and side hustle: I’m a chef at a private school for kids Monday through Friday.

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Chicken Empanadas with Avocado Cilantro Dip.

#ae: What style of cooking do you do?
DM: I can’t say I have a style, I just like people to experience really good food.

#ae: How would you describe your food?
DM: Flavorful.

#ae: What are some challenges of being a female chef?
DM: I wouldn’t say there was any challenges honestly, it’s so perfectly balanced between male and female chefs.

#ae: What’s the most memorable meal you’ve eaten?
DM: Omg I’d have to say it was this broccoli and pear salad with lamb—it was freaking amazing!

#ae: What’s the most memorable meal you’ve prepared?
DM: Oh, it was oxtail hash—still is out of this world!

#ae: What’s your favorite cheap eats?
DM: $6 plate from Hardee’s Chinese restaurant.

#ae: What’s your guilty pleasure?
DM: 2 for $1 honey buns from the corner store and sweet potato pies from the chicken spot.

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Oxtail hash.

#ae: Who do you admire?
DM: My best friend Chantaye—she’s really amazing. Like me, she’s battled health issues but still pushes through. She graduated with her masters and I cried. She’s my kids godmother, and even miles apart she never misses a holiday or celebration—be it the physical or her sending gifts. She’s been my biggest supporter since we were 16 I’m truly blessed to have her

#ae: Who inspires you?
DM: My daughters, Skylar and Leia—those are my life lines.

#ae: If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing?
DM: Lab Clerk work, probably.

#ae: What’s your culinary dream?
DM: That’s a secret.

#ae: What one dish would you choose if it were your last meal?
DM: Surf and Turf with garlic mash and roasted asparagus.

#ae: Any talks of wanting to be a chef from your daughters when they grow up?
DM: They help me a lot now cooking actually but no—so far it’s an lawyer and a movie star.

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#ae: Oxtail, BBQ & Jerk Wings, Shrimp Boil, Mac and Cheese, Rasta Pasta, String Beans, Yams, & Cornbread: you tweeted this menu one weekend and I chimed in for details. You said paper box- what is that?
DM: The last event I catered was for -paper box is an event space I get hired to cater at often—that was an Unplugged event by a local artist. I’ve also catered events like hARTlem, The IN House, TNT Mic Series, TRUCKED, Buenos Dias Boatride, Ladies Dine Out, numerous parties, podcast, as well as meal prep for reality stars.

#ae: How can people taste your food?
DM: By placing an order directly with me at littlelovecatering@gmail.com, or catch me at any of the many events I do happen to be catering.

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Buffalo Chicken Sliders with Savory Waffles and Blue Cheese Coleslaw.

 

Unicorn Easter.

I wanted to think of something simple that everyone can enjoy when deciding how to deliver a sugar rush to the office this week. The thought processes didn’t take too long though: Golden or Double Stuffed, who doesn’t love Oreos?

I’m not the biggest white chocolate fan, so this little project was solely for visual pleasure, but Chéo and my boss loved them! They’re so pretty, definitely unicorn-esque!

I’m excited to try these at a much larger scale this summer!

Food Prep Made Easy

I can’t recall comfortably cooking in anyone’s kitchen other than my own. Because my dad continued his passion at home once he left the culinary industry, we had pots and pans and appliances out the whazoo. Not everyone’s as fortunate as I am to still have such a disposal at my fingertips, so I’ve had to maneuver and MacGyver- successfully– in other kitchens.

Because I knew I’d be cooking my first Christmas dinner this year for Chéo and I, I need to make this process as simple as possible in the Greensboro kitchen.

I bought a mini food processor! My go-to appliance and best friend, I do not finely chop/grate a thing. And it was on sale for $40- adulting done right. It’s compact and works very well: I just made a jerk seasoning to marinade some chicken and the puree is very smooth. I’m too proud of this purchase.

 

 

Sidebar: because Chéo and I are so unconventional, we’re having jerk chicken for Christmas dinner instead of the traditional roasted turkey. Here’s the caveat, I’ve never made jerk chicken. It can’t be that hard, so we’ll see if I return with an actual recipe.

Boozy Baking

Last weekend’s weather sucked: rain, snow, just cold all together. Refusing to step out into that mess, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to get some baking done- boozed up.

For the office, I made a chocolate cake with a very light cream cheese swirl. Baileys was infused in both the cake batter and cream cheese mixture. El jefe literally squealed when he saw the cake in the kitchen, literally. The cake was light and fluffy, not too sweet, and had enough Baileys that you can taste the flavor, but not too much to be drunk. They went like hot cakes, a long with the bunch of hot chocolate bombs (chocolate covered marshmallows) I made.

I went much heavier on the Baileys for the brownies, just because it was a personal batch. I’ve been baking brownies for Chéo since day one, and every time he says “I love that your brownies aren’t dry.” He hates the word moist– it’s pure comedy. I added semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips to the brownie batter, which made them pleasantly dense.

The rest of the Baileys is on standby. We’ll probably drink the rest by Christmas day. I’m on vacation until the new year, let me live.

Happy (Shotgun) Thanksgiving!

Yesterday morning, I had absolutely no intention of writing a thanksgiving post- let’s just say I wasn’t in the holiday spirit. Chéo shared my sentiments, as he wasn’t able to come to NYC for the weekend. After a few minutes of complaining how sad we were to each other, I was on the American Airlines website booking a ticket to Greensboro. 

I’m thankful for same-day round trip tickets priced under $300!

I finished my work day and headed straight to the airport- no clothes, no luggage, just the Nike tracksuit on my back and Uggs on my feet. 

Due to LaGuardia’s lovely construction project taking place (thanks Skanska), their confusing terminals, and their extremely slow shuttle bus, I missed my flight by a few minutes. To make matters worse, I had a layover in Washington D.C..

I’m thankful for the kind people at the American Airlines customer service desk for rebooking me on the next direct flight out for free!

Fast forward to 1am on thanksgiving morning, Chéo and I were putting together some type of menu for two in the aisles of Walmart. We usually have the most random carts: we’ve left the supermarket with milk, eggs, bread, and frying pans, and Febreze. Let’s see what I can come up with. 

Happy (unconventional) shotgun thanksgiving!