For the past two years Phoebe & Cara have been documenting their quarter-life culinary adventures cooking for friends, themselves and their catering business to rave reviews on their well-known blog Big Girls, Small Kitchen. Despite not having children yet, the vast majority of their dishes are family friendly (Late Summer Chicken Stew anyone?) and regularly grace the tables of families and singletons alike. Their first food memoir, Cara & Phoebe’s Quarter-Life Kitchen, will be published in Spring 2011 by HarperCollins. Today they’ve joined us on The Family Kitchen to answer a few questions about their culinary life these days and to share their AMAZING recipe for Pretzel Toffee Bark, a nut-free treat that is great for anyone with food allergies:
1) What was the initial inspiration behind Big Girls, Small Kitchen?
We were bored at our entry-level jobs, but we realized really quickly that we weren’t bored in the kitchen. We started Big Girls, Small Kitchen when we realized that the phone conversations about food and the dinner parties we hosted were the highlights of our weeks. We wanted to share our stories, as well as find out how other people our age were eating and cooking.
2) You say you made your Pretzel-Toffee Bark in your dorm room, has it made the transition to your adult kitchens?
Yes, absolutely. It’s so easy, but no one seems to have any idea when they taste it.
3) What do we have to look forward to in your book this spring?
Besides having a beautiful, easy-to-transport, BGSK experience packed into a book? Lots of inside information about being a 20something in NYC-dating, working, traveling – as well as our most pitch-perfect recipes for entertaining, at-home dating, and cooking for yourself. [Editors note: Their recipes are all family-friendly.]
4) What has been the most exciting experience BGSK has brought you since it’s inception?
The chance to have dinner with New York’s most interesting and creative entrepreneurs. Anyone we want to meet – we just invite them over, and make them a great meal. It’s awesome.
5) Favorite desserts?
Phoebe: Millionaire’s Shortbread
6) Favorite Fall Food?
Cara: Inside-Out Ravioli Pasta, aka pasta with winter squash
Phoebe: Chili – preferably Brisket-Pumpkin Chili
7) A message for your fans everywhere?
Get into your kitchens and cook! As we show, you don’t need a lot of space to make great food. Ad, as we learn from Kelsey, you don’t need a lot of time. But the payout is enormous! Get to it!
Pretzel-Toffee Bark, courtesy of Big Girls, Small Kitchen
You can use your favorite chocolate in place of the chips if you prefer. Use 16 ounces of chocolate.
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups broken pretzel pieces*
1 cup toffee bits**
*To break up the pretzels, put a handful or two in a zip-lock plastic bag. Pound with your fist until they’re broken up. Measure after breaking. You may need to repeat this until you have 2 cups.
**Sometimes you can find toffee bits in the baking aisle. If not, chop up a couple of Heath Bars.
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in short bursts in the microwave. You want it to be just melted–don’t let it bubble or anything. Add the nuts and the cherries OR the pretzels and toffee and stir to distribute.
Pour the bark onto a parchment-lined pan and spread it evenly with a spatula. Put the pan in the freezer and let the bark sit until hardened.
Using your hands or a knife, break the bark into bite-sized pieces. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.
Optional: Before breaking up the bark, melt 2 ounces good quality (contains cocoa butter) white chocolate in the microwave until just melted. Remove the chocolate bark from the freezer. Using a fork dipped into the white chocolate, flick your wrist to create streaks of white chocolate all over the bark. Return to the freezer and let harden.