Just before I moved to New York and was thrust into a life of scrimping and sighing over price tags, I was lucky enough to be introduced to the city’s chicest-yet-thriftiest lady, Miss Chelsea Fagan.
Chelsea is brilliant at being young and fabulous, and she has perfected the art of conquering New York on a budget because she’s a modern-day money expert. I kid you not.
As the woman behind The Financial Diet, she’s far from your parent’s stuffy investment advisor; she has devoted her days to doling out practical, smart, real financial advice, along with tips on spending less, investing well, and avoiding impulse purchases.
So does she enjoy the greatest extravagance, brunch? Sure, she’s frequently spotted at her favorite comfort food spots in Brooklyn. But her Sunday Fundays always come with a responsible pocketbook. When I asked her how she does it, she rattled off three simple tips:
1. When going to a new restaurant, set a budget for yourself and don’t get carried away. Instead of ordering multiple dishes and sides when you are drooling over everything on the menu, wait until you finish your frittata to decide if you really want that fruit salad or slice of pie.
2. If the brunch drinks are expensive, head to a friend’s house for a drink before or after, and limit yourself to just one at the restaurant itself. You get to mix up the scenery, keep the fun going, and not get locked into another $14 drink just because you’re still at the brunch table.
3. Look for specials and deals, and sign up for services that will let you know when the best deals are happening near you. Set your budget and see what you can find within it, instead of the other way around. You’ll save money, and you may even stumble upon your new favorite spot.
But her biggest tip is to brunch at home, and make it a mini event by inviting your nearest and dearest. Recently she did just that, and I popped over, bottle of bubbles in hand, to enjoy the afternoon.
And it was the perfect brunch, as evidenced in her photo essay here.
The table was a medley of homemade dishes, from the gorgeous quiche Lorraine to the sweet cheese phyllo puffs. Chelsea had also set up an impressive Bloody Mary bar. But the literal icing on the cake was her lemon pound cake, which was like an appetizer and dessert in one.
Here’s her recipe.
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup for glaze
- 4 eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup lemon juice for cake, plus 1/4 cup for syrup and 2 tablespoon for glaze
- 1/2 cup greek yogurt
- zest of one lemon
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1. In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or you can use a hand mixer,) cream the butter and cup of sugar until smooth Add the eggs one and a time followed by the vanilla.
3. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until almost combined. Fold in the lemon juice, zest and yogurt, finish mixing on low until combined. (Batter won’t be perfectly smooth but that’s Ok.)
4. Pout batter into a buttered/floured 9 inch loaf pan. Bake at 325F for 75-90 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
For the syrup:
5. Stir together 1/4 cup of lemon juice and 1/4 cup sugar until sugar has dissolved.
For the glaze:
6. Gradually add the lemon juice to the powdered sugar until desired drizzling consistency is reached.
7. Turn the warm cake onto a wire rack and brush all over with the syrup. (Do this when the cake is still warm! Drizzle with the glaze. Serve warm or room temperature.