Its hard enough to find someone who is as genuine and candid as Christina Tosi, let alone someone whose work reflects those same values. Christina Tosi, chef and owner of Momofuku Milk Bar in New York City, is the master of cookies, sweets and everything weird in between. Her latest cookbook/semi-novel, Milk Bar Life, is the summation of her wacky world of pastry, Tosi’s upbringing in the midwest, and an exceptionally refreshing look at real food and real life.
I devoured each page, so thankful for a book that was written by an actual person- A person who I could have gone to school with or lived down the street from. Everything from Tang Toast (White Bread. Margarine. Tang. Yes) to Chicken Puffs (Pillsbury. Chicken. Mayo. Yes)- it just delights me that a James Beard Award-winning pastry chef can be cool with refrigerated pizza dough. Not only is she ok with it, she wrote it in her damn book. How ballsy is that?
There has been this resurgence of ‘high/low’ food lately, like it’s so nuts when a fancy Thomas Keller-type admits to eating Lays Potato Chips. Dudes, you’re not fooling anyone. We know you eat Oreos by the sleeve, we don’t have to pretend. Food is accepting and wonderful and nothing is wrong- the way you grew up just isn’t the way we eat now, just how we don’t have to forage for berries and nuts- we didn’t grow up concerned with GMOs or organic everything constantly. That is perfectly ok and Milk Bar Life agrees. Tosi celebrates her Campbells Cream of Chicken Soup heritage, but understands the need for moderation and evolution. We can’t all be eating margarine all the time, but its the times we do indulge that we’d like to be doing it around with friends, around a campfire with a cold beer- preferably, but not required.
Milk Bar Life is for anyone who is in a cookbook slump, waiting to crawl out from the piles of self-indulgent parading of restaurant chefs and clean eating and cronuts and anything that has sriracha in it, etc. This book is for anyone who wants to smile with delight in remembering the foods of their childhood, anyone who wants a real look into the lives of busy pastry chefs and behind the scenes of one of the most important bakeries in the US and anyone who enjoys the voice of an actual human being- one who speaks about her real life with real food. She really doesn’t sugar coat it. Ha. Get it? Pastry? Sugar? Anyway…
One of the recipes that really stood out to me was the XXXL Lady Salad- mostly because I praise the virtue that you should always make your salads in a giant bowl. I do believe they taste better, and Tosi has created the perfect salad around such a concept. Plus, it’s not just for ladies. I promise!
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 pound feta cheese
- black pepper
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 cups arugula
- 1 pint blueberries
- 2 scallions, sliced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
- Heat the oven to 375°F.
- Whisk together the honey and olive oil in a medium bow. Cut the block of feta in to 1/2 inch cubes, add to the bowl and toss to coat. Sprinkle a little black pepper over and toss once more.
- Spread the feta cubes on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until the feta begins to caramelize and brown. Set aside to cool.
- Make the vinaigrette: Whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, mustard, fish sauce and salt in a medium bow. Ratchet up your whisking to vigorous and drizzle in the olive oil in a steady stream until the dressing is completely smooth and beautifully emulsified.
- Assemble the salad. Toss the quinoa, feta, almonds with the arugula, blueberries, scallions, dill, parsley, and cilantro in a large bowl. Drizzle the dressing on top and give it a big final toss.
The following photos were taken at Katie Barreira and Darcy Lenz’s cookbook party in honor of Tosi. Thank you for the hospitality and desperation nachos! You ladies rock!
Tang toast- white bread, margarine, orange Tang drink mix. Yes?!
XXXL Lady Salad
Desperation Nachos. Can we talk about the mini pepperonis please?
Kim-Cheez-Its with Blue Cheese Dip!
Long Live Tosi and Milk Bar Life!