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Grilled Oysters.

21 Jul

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While I enjoy oysters all year-round, there’s something about summer in New England that gets me craving these bivalves on a far too regular basis. Not that I’m complaining, as this is the place to have those kinds of cravings. There are many varieties to choose from, should I ever become bored with one. My favorites span from Nova Scotia to Cape Cod, with many subtle and not so subtle differences between each location.

The traditional method of consuming oysters – raw with some lemon, cocktail sauce and/or horseradish – gets me every time. I love it.

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However, I’ve branched out a bit and have had some exciting combinations lately – including shaved pickled ginger ice and red wine mignonette. I could also devour an entire batch of fried oysters in under thirty seconds if it weren’t for forcing myself not to do so. I had yet, however, been in the good fortune to indulge on a grilled oyster. That’s where this recipe, my backyard and the delightfully simple process for making grilled oysters at home come together.

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I collected the ingredients and created this recipe to share over at EatBoutique.com. If you’re curious as to how to make these delicious crowd pleasers, follow the link to find out how!

 

Winter Treats: Make your own Candied Ginger

16 Feb

CGleadTurns out, making candied ginger is really easy. And much cheaper to make on your own as opposed to buying a small package in the store.  Plus, once you make your own, you’ll have a long lasting supply of candied ginger that you can access at home, at the office, in the car…wherever!

I was never a hardcore fan of the store bought variety. I actually don’t think I’ve ever purchased a package of my own. But there was a quality about the flavor and the small, sugary slivers that I did enjoy. So that is what lead me to making my own.

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The process is pretty simple. If you can boil water, you can make these candied ginger treats!

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Ingredients:

  • Ginger Root (As much or as little as you’d like to make)
  • Sugar
  • Water

To make:

  1. Peel the outside layer of the ginger root off using the concave side of a spoon
  2. Slice ginger root into thin rounds
  3. Bring equal parts water and sugar to boil and add in the sliced ginger root. Lower the heat and let simmer for about 30 minutes
  4. Strain ginger from liquid. 
  5. Place sliced ginger on baking rack and let dry for at least 5 hours
  6. Toss ginger slices in a bowl with sugar
  7. Enjoy

Valentine’s Day Granita.

13 Feb

I was asked to come up with a Valentine’s Day dessert recipe with honey as the star ingredient for my friends over at True Food Movement. I chose to make this refreshing granita to close out the most love-filled day of the year with a sweet and cleansing frozen treat. The recipe uses honey and a sparkling rosé Labrusco….yum!

granita

The recipe is featured in True Food Movement’s first e-cookbook Honey for my HunnyIt puts some of the best recipes using honey together in one place, and I suggest you go on over and take a look.

What are you doing to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Making anything special??

Chestnut Stuffed Mushrooms (and holiday gift ideas!)

11 Dec

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My most recent post for Eat Boutique focuses on using chestnuts as the main ingredient in a filling and seasonally mouth-watering stuffed mushroom. 

Over the past few weeks the air in New England has been changing. It’s a familiar feel that brings an open-arm embrace to sweaters and hooded sweatshirts while at the same time an outstretched grasp hoping to cling to a few more days of warm weather. Fireplaces begin to smoke and the scent of burning wood while working out in the yard brings about a certain hunger. Thoughts of consuming recipes composed of  heartier elements than most that I have eaten over the past few months begin to invade my cravings.

The seasonal changes of fall bring about the recollection of roasting chestnuts in the fireplace while growing up. The uniquely brown nuts marked with an “X” pattern would line the outer tiles of the fireplace hearth, slowly roasting until their aroma filled the room. My family would eat them together as soon as they were cool enough to peel, but we had never used them in a recipe.

Chestnut-5Recently, while consulting with my hunger, I sensed that these hard-shelled delights might work well in a stuffed mushroom. I combined the fresh chestnuts with local leeks and hand-picked apples from a local orchard, then added some Manchego cheese to round out the flavors…

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To read more and to get the recipe, head on over to Eat Boutique! While you’re there, check out the gift boxes and individual items in the shop! I had the chance to sample (and purchase!) many of the items available at the Eat Boutique Holiday Market in Boston this past Sunday. The items and packages you will find easily make perfect gifts for someone on your list (or treat yourself!). 

My favorites include the Mexican Chocolate Almonds from Q’s Nuts (made right in my neighborhood!), Donovan’s Cellar Ginger Spiced Beets and for someone special, the Joy the Baker Gift Box which comes with Sweet Brook Farm Maple Syrup,  Sweet Revolution Caramels and a 14-oz bag of Marge Granola – oh, and a signed copy of Joy Wilson‘s cook book!

A new endeavor…

22 Oct

I am excited to announce that my first post writing and photographing for Eat Boutique, an online magazine and market,  is up! I truly admire the aesthetics and ideas behind what they have accomplished, and I am honored to be a part of it, in whatever small way I am able.  I urge you to go check out eveything they have put together over the past several years.

Below is an excerpt from my first contribution on how to make a delicious and filling veggie taco (Hint: Fried Green Tomatoes).

“Being a carnivore married to a vegetarian can sometimes be a challenging adventure. Over the past ten years I have been enlisted as a vegetarian-by-default at many a meal. During this time, however, I have grown to appreciate plant-based foods in ways that still surprise me. Using vegetables in unexpected places to fill the void in a meatless marriage has become a skill I am still honing, but there are those moments when a vegetable dish leaves me completely satiated.

Vegetarian tacos have been a recurring presence in my kitchen and typically involve a frozen meat substitute defrosted and flavored with a taco seasoning packet – and a lot of cheese. This dish, however, has none of the previously mentioned vegetarian taco curses. Using the leftover green tomatoes gathered from my garden right before the first frost settled in, I refocused the vegetarian taco into an exciting, fresh and multi-layered delight.”

Click here to read the rest of this post and to view images of how beautiful this dish is….

Peanut Sauce Blue Cheese Burger & Friend.

24 Sep

I was craving a bunch of things to eat this evening when I got in from work. I decided to put them all onto burgers and combine the goodness into some seriously flavorful bites. 

I found my favorite peanut sauce at the store the other day and have been dying to put it on something, anything, since I picked it up. I also wanted cheese. I haven’t had any since Saturday. This is a huge deal. 

Instead of dipping the cheese into the peanut sauce and satisfying my desires while at the same time ignoring thousands of years of evolution, I thought it might be nice to be civilized and eat a proper meal. Hence my burger idea. 

I mixed the meat with some garlic, fresh herbs, salt and pepper and grilled. Then took two routes.

Burger One: Apple (fresh picked at the orchard yesterday!) and Brie.

Burger Two: Blue Cheese (Bleu d’Auvergne), Onion, Peanut Sauce. 

I started out eating the peanut sauce burger first. Then switched to the brie and apple. There was some intense flavor action going on between the two as they fought for dominance over my tastebuds. They kind of complimented each other though. And I am happily satiated because of it.  

Bantam Cider Company

8 Sep

Thirsty? Check out Bantam Cider Company from Massachusetts. A local company using nearby orchards to make their deliciously flavorful cider. I wrote a bit about them, here’s an excerpt:

 The company chose their name because “the word bantam means small and mighty. When we were looking for a name, we wanted something that was a metaphor for our home market of Boston and at the same time, would embody our company – which is a small cider company in a sea of very large beverage brands.” explains Michelle da Silva of Bantam.

Bantam Cider Company’s first endeavor is a cider they have named “Wunderkind”. The name is in honor of one of the greatest modern adventurers, Amelia Earhart, who just happens to have local ties as well.

At the moment, Bantam is concentrating their energy on creating a variety of ciders. The company hopes to focus on cider in a way that people begin to reshape the way they experience it. Bantam has been experimenting with several new ideas, including a heavier farmhouse style cider and one with some accents of other fruits and spices…

…With autumn fast approaching, Bantam Cider Company will be starting up production again in late September/early October. At that time, apples fresh from central and western Massachusetts vineyards will be pressed for sweet cider. Bantam then adds yeast and ferments the cider in stainless steel tanks. Once ready, the cider is then blended to create the final product.

You can read the rest at the Boston Local Food Festival blog!

Fast And Easy Falafel Lentil Loaf.

9 Jul

Yeah, this recipe does have a lot of letter “L’s” in it. Rest assured, they will all stand for “love” once  you taste this dish. This has been a staple dinner recipe in my home for quite a while, for a few reasons:

  1. It’s simple to make.
  2. It’s inexpensive.
  3. There are always leftovers to enjoy the next day.
  4. It’s healthy.
  5. It’s filling.

The ingredients are most likely things you’ll have around your kitchen anyway. I always check to make sure I have the basic components (canned lentils, jarred roasted red peppers, falafel mix) in the pantry at all times.

It’s really great on those nights when reality hits. Those times you barely got yourself home from work and somehow forgot that you still need food before the evening is through. (It’s also really great on those nights when you plan ahead for it, too.)

Basically, you throw the seven ingredients in a bowl. Form that mixture into a loaf and put it in the oven. Wait a short while and dinner is served! It’s not hard. It’s super easy food for times when life is hard/annoying/too fast. 

How To Make:

(serves up to 4)

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 6 ounces falafel mix
  • 1 can lentils, rinsed
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 2 cups of chopped baby spinach
  • 1 12-ounce(ish) jar roasted red peppers, cut to 1/2″ pieces. Reserve 2 Tbs. of liquid from jar.
  • 2 eggs
Recipe:
 
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, including the 2 tbs of liquid from pepper jar. Mix well.
 
Form into a loaf on baking sheet with aluminum foil or other non-stick layer.
 
Bake in preheated oven set at 375° for 35-40 minutes. 
 
Eat on its own, or combine with a fresh vegetable or other side dish. This also goes really great with this easy to make peanut sauce recipe!


Make a Gooseberry Smoothie.

7 Jul

For some reason, this past week has seen me and smoothies having a serious love affair. I’ve been loading them with strawberries and kale and raspberries and blueberries and anything else I could find fresh. When the produce available at my local grocery store wasn’t cutting it, I ventured on over to my local farmers’ market. There were plenty of vegetables and fruit to choose from. Looking around, I was drawn in by the large, oddly shaped gooseberries. They look like a grape, but at the same time, not at all. 

I remember tasting one last year and enjoying it, but didn’t buy any at the time. They are often used for baking and are featured in pies and other desserts. They are also used to make beverages such as wine and tea. And smoothies.

 

Now, I wasn’t quite sure what to combine with the gooseberries, but something told me mango. So I did that. And some fresh blueberries. And honey. I added in some frozen peach slices as well for temperature control (I also used some frozen vanilla yogurt for this). A splash of vanilla flavored almond milk to round out the liquid portion and…

It was pretty darn refreshing! And apparently also very energizing, as after having one I went on a six mile walk. For real. 

Recipe…

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of whole gooseberries
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 3 frozen peach slices
  • 1/2 mango, cut up
  • 1/2 cup vanilla almond milk
  • 3/4 cup frozen vanilla yogurt
  • 2 Tbs raw honey

To make:

Add all of the ingredients into a blender. Turn the blender on. Mix into a smoothie. Drink. (I know. It’s incredibly hard to make.)

Will make about 2 cups worth of liquid smoothie goodness.

Avocado, Corn & Asparagus Salad

3 Jul

A few weekends ago I had the opportunity to spend the day on Cape Cod with my pal Molly and our beaus. The day consisted of walking to the beach, swimming in the pool, laying in the sun and eating food. Lovely summer food. 

I stole a recipe from that day and you’re about to read about it below. It was a fresh and brightly flavored succotash/salad. Local picked corn, purple asparagus, avocado, tomatoes, peppers, lime and herbs. Simple. And simply delicious. It is a perfect dish to bring to any Fourth of July cookout.

I couldn’t find any purple asparagus when I made this for a family gathering, but I think I was the only one who cared about this. I put the corn, peppers and asparagus on the grill. While those were cooking I picked fresh herbs from the herb garden and cut up the avocado and cherry tomatoes.  Once everything was ready I combined all together to make a filling side dish. Continue reading

How To Cook Fiddleheads.

7 May

Years ago while in college, I worked part time at a local Whole Foods. In that time, I learned a surprising amount about produce. I did not know there were so many edible items that grew from the earth. Fiddleheads, I believe, fit into that grouping.

I have to say, upon first glance, they can look as though someone made a mistake and inadvertently stocked the shelf with an imported species of centipede. That is not the case however. Besides, you want them to look all curled up and tight like they are hiding from you. That’s how you know they are safe to eat. (Once they lose the tight curl, they can make you sick.)

Now that I’ve scared you off from ever making these at home by comparing them to bugs and telling you they will make you ill, let me tell you about how I made them (and ate them!) in my kitchen.

Fiddleheads before cleaning

First, like I stated above, be sure the fiddleheads you are cooking with are tightly curled. Next, you will want to cut off the very tips of what is left of the stem. They tend to brown a little while hanging around at the produce section (think of it as a tan!). Chop it off, it makes for better aesthetics.

Once you’ve cut off the ends, wash the fiddleheads in a bowl of cold water. Get rid of any orange-brown leaves and/or dirt. I’d do this about three times, or until the water you’re draining out doesn’t have a lot of pieces floating around in it. After they are rinsed, you should boil them for about 10 minutes in water.

Add the fiddleheads, garlic, salt and butter in a pan and sauté until done to your liking. Plate, add some lemon on top and enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • Fiddleheads
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 tbs. butter
  • salt to taste
  • lemon

To make:

Cut and clean the fiddleheads as mentioned above.

Boil cleaned fiddleheads in a pot of water for about 10 minutes. Next, strain from water and add into pan/skillet with garlic, salt and butter. (I’m sure adding bacon here wouldn’t be a bad idea either…)

Sauté until done. Enjoy with your meal by adding on some fresh squeezed lemon juice!

Easy To Make (and eat) Peanut Sauce.

30 Apr

As a teenager, I spent most of my free time hanging around Harvard Square in Cambridge. You could find me either sitting in “the Pit” with friends or browsing about the stores at The Garage for music, apparel and random accessories to add to my wardrobe.

You could also find me at the Thai restaurant around the corner. I don’t remember the name of it (but they definitely knew me and my friends’ names). It has long since closed. But I know that is where my love of peanut sauce began. And my taste buds will forever be thankful.

I will admit to putting peanut sauce on anything that is edible. Pasta. Cheese (with or without crackers). Vegetables. Chicken. Hamburgers. Rice. It really does work with (almost) anything. Even on ice cream? I’ve never tried, but I can totally see it working out for you. Continue reading

Parsnip & Leek Smash

8 Mar

Parsnips and leeks, you say? Indeed. And with the addition of a little creme fraiche, this turns into a delicious side for any meal.

This is a great substitute for boring mashed potatoes, and though it’s simple to make with just three ingredients, it has a complex flavor that you’ll be craving time and time again. And it’s a pretty healthy dish, too.

Ever since I started adding parsnips into my regular rotation of vegetables, I have not been disappointed. The albino cousin of the carrot doesn’t particularly look like more than just an ordinary root, but it has a nutty flavor that really stands out. I prefer to leave the outer skin of the parsnip on, as it isn’t very thick and adds a nice texture.

These parsnips were given to me at the end of the growing season in late fall and I just now have gotten around to using them. They were grown organically at a local farm and were stored properly for a couple of months, allowing the fresh flavor to last well into winter.

And lest we forget the other main component of this dish, the leek. I find it is another underutilized vegetable with a lot of flavor. It’s related to onion and garlic, and works very well together with the parsnips.

Once the veggies are cut and boiled, put them in a bowl and use a potato masher to smash them all together. Add in the creme fraiche, salt and pepper and plate next to your main dish.

To make:

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium sized leeks, cut into 1/2″ rings
  • 1 pound parsnips, skin on, cut into 1-2″ chunks
  • 1/3 cup creme fraiche
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, and add parsnips and leeks. Let cook in boiling water until soft, about 15-20 minutes.

Remove from water and place in a medium sized bowl. Smash up the leek and parsnip together until mashed together. Add in creme fraiche, salt and pepper and mash together some more. (You can make this as smooth/chunky as you want, I prefer it somewhere in between.)

Plate and serve. You could garnish with nutmeg or a small dollop of creme fraiche.

Classic Deviled Eggs.

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A decade ago, if you were having a party, I was bringing the deviled eggs. And yes, if you’re doing the math, a decade ago I was in my very early twenties.

Now, with that admission out of the way, these things were a freaking hit. People could not stuff enough of them into their mouths. And so, I just kept on making them. And everyone wanted more, time and time again. I even bought a deviled egg platter. What? Yes.

I haven’t made these little oval delights in quite some time and have been in the mood for them, so here we are.

Continue reading

Chocolate Hazelnut Orange Cake.

4 Mar

On this particular sunny Sunday, I was supposed to be attending the wedding of my dear friend Meghan in Los Angeles. Two people I could not be happier for are celebrating their marriage outdoors in Elysian Park with a huge party. Instead of spending the day with them and dancing it up with friends and a speckle of celebrity attendees, I am here in New England because things don’t always work according to plan or intention.

However, today is also Molly’s birthday and she will be having a get together later on this evening. So I have that to look forward to. And, since I had the time, I made a cake to bring with me.

I have only made this cake once before for another friend on her birthday years ago. I remember everyone enjoyed it thoroughly, and I felt it was time to get on it again.

It’s not that hard to make and won’t take too long (as long as you aren’t staging photos, finding the right lighting and fighting with the dog because all she wants is to eat everything you are touching.) Oh, and the frosting is made with cheese. Enough said.

Once you have all of your ingredients together, it’s time to get started. Now, for the cake, just get yourself a good quality chocolate cake mix. Unless you want to upstage me and make it from scratch. That’s totally cool.

While the cake is baking, make the crunchy hazelnut caramel toffee. It’s pretty freaking simple. Water and sugar. Boil. Pour. Let set.

Now that the cake is cooling and the toffee is chopped, it’s time to make the frosting. The key to making this correctly is to have the Marscapone cheese at room temperature for mixing. Another thing is to make the whipped cream portion of the frosting first before adding it to the rest of the ingredients.

Once it’s all mixed, spread and even layer on top of the bottom layer of cake and sprinkle that with some of the orange zest/chocolate/sugar mixture.

Next, add the top layer of cake. And more frosting.

Once the chocolate cake is covered with the hazelnut crunch frosting, sprinkle as much of the orange/chocolate/sugar topping as you’d like.

And all of a sudden, you have a cake everyone will LOVE.

To make this cake: Continue reading

Cheesy Mushroom Risotto Fritters with Beet Hummus.

21 Feb

First of all. Can we talk about the color of the beet hummus? These pictures have not been enhanced in a way that has changed the color of the hummus dramatically. It actually looks like this in real life. And you can eat it. And it’s all okay.

Beets have been a favorite of mine for a while now. You can pickle them. Put them in a salad. Slice them and make chips. Put them in chocolate cake. (Yes, you can. My pal Joy the Baker shows you how.) The list goes on.

I put them in hummus this time around. And then paired that with cheesy mushroom risotto fritters.

Although it involves a little more time than some dishes (because you’re making the risotto from scratch) the reward is definitely worth the effort. You could actually make the risotto as a dish on its own for one night, and then use the leftovers to make the fritters the next. You could. I couldn’t, I don’t have that kind of patience.

The risotto and the beet hummus really compliment one another well, and the hummus transforms itself into a dipping sauce of sorts for the fritters.

Once you’ve cooked the risotto, you need to let it cool for about an hour. This is the perfect time to make the beet hummus!

Now that you’ve made that (it is insanely simple to make), set it aside and let’s get back to the fritters!

Take the cooled risotto and shape it into little patties. Throw those into some hot oil (I prefer grapeseed oil for frying) and brown ‘em up!

At this point of the process, I had made myself pretty freaking hungry. Next step is easy, just plate it and indulge.

How to make the risotto fritters: Continue reading

Cardamom, Vanilla & Orange French Toast (in a skillet!)

12 Feb

Winter has finally arrived here in New England, in mid-February. Well, maybe there isn’t any snow yet, but it’s frigid out. The sunshine and blue sky are deceiving. All I want to do is to be outdoors somewhere enjoying fresh air, but I hear the wind and bare tree branches clicking, and instead of outdoor activities, I think about what there is for me to eat.

And it’s that time on a Sunday between breakfast and lunch, so of course, brunch ideas come popping in.

You guys know about brunch, right? I ask only because a few weeks ago we were out enjoying some brunchy delights in Cambridge, and the couple at the table next to us HAD NEVER HEARD OF BRUNCH.

“You mean we can get something from the breakfast menu or the lunch menu? And what’s this ‘Brunch’ menu here? Can you explain ‘brunch’ to us?” Really?!?! REALLY.

They talked about what a great idea this brunch thing was for about 15 minutes. It was all very serious. And equally as disturbing. The term “brunch” was coined in 1895. 117 years ago. Perhaps I should have mentioned having a “midnight snack” to them and completely turned their world lopsided.

Anyway, brunch.

I got to thinking about what I felt like eating on this cold Sunday. French toast was sounding good. But so was something baked. And here was where I had a craving for a baked brioche french toast with hints of vanilla, cardamom and orange. (Totally normal craving, I might add.) I bundled up for a quick trip to the store and fifteen minutes later was back home in the kitchen.

This was one of the simplest and quickest meals to put together. Cut up the Brioche into thick slices and set 1/2 of the loaf aside. With the other half, break up the remaining slices into quarters. Leave them in a pile for a moment.

Add together the rest of the ingredients in a medium sized bowl and mix. Drop the bread in and let it soak.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can use the soaked bread pieces immediately or you could let them sit overnight in the fridge. This way, when you wake up in the morning, all you have to do is put this mixture in an iron skillet or glass bakeware and pop it in the oven for a half hour while you wake up, take a shower, hit the snooze button, etc.

Once the soggy bread is in the skillet, place it in the oven. Thirty minutes or so later you have breakfast. And an incredible smelling kitchen! Seriously, you’ll want to roll around in this smell. It’s good.

Carve out a slice and add on some fresh whipped cream and/or maple syrup (the real stuff!). This will be an amazing breakfast/brunch experience right at home. And because of the cardamom, this dish will pair very well with a citrus based drink, such as lemonade, orange juice or Mimosa.

Continue reading

Prosciutto, Mozzarella and Fig Compote on Focaccia.

29 Jan

Today began as one of those relaxing days when you wake up early, have no agenda, and feel like you could lounge around all day or ride your bike or go shopping or, well, pretty much do anything you please. Being winter in New England, options are automatically limited by taking any enjoyment out of outdoor activities.

I started out going for coffee and a bagel at the coffee shop down the street. I’ve been going there since 1999. I love it there. I brought my computer and played around for two hours with logos for a new project I am working on. I headed home around 10 AM, played with the dog and continued to do a lot of nothing. It was great.

Then, hunger started to creep in. Realizing I haven’t done a blog post in a week or two, I decided to combine activities and do something at least mildly productive. For this reason, I bring you today’s sandwich.

Actually, calling it a sandwich is a bit of an undersell. It is a meal compacted into the guise of being a sandwich. It’s my lunch and about half of my dinner. (I plan on eating a lot of cheese & crackers later while watching TV. I have lofty goals.). It is huge. And half of it would have sufficed.

Start with a fresh cut focaccia. Add to it some prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, fig compote and avocado. Eat.

All in all it’s a simple mix of ingredients that pleases the senses pretty easily.

I served it up with a side of bread and butter pickles from Saltbox Farm in Concord, Ma. It was a nice pairing. And I love anything I can eat from that place.

To make the sandwich…

  • 3-4 slices prosciutto
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 4 T fig compote
  • 6-8 small balls of fresh mozzarella, sliced in half
  • fresh cut focaccia
  • salt to taste

Build your sandwich like you would any other. It’s going to be thick when it’s all finished. I like to anchor mine with fig compote on both slices of focaccia. If you wish, you can also put this in a panini press, as it is even more delicious warm.

Blackberry & Kumquat Filled Brandy Tuiles.

13 Jan

Now. Look at these. Look at them closely. You know how you are studying them, imagining how incredible biting into any of them would be? Take that taste in your head. Multiply it by at least 17,000. That’s how good they are.

Let’s talk about the Tuiles, shall we? Crispy little cylindrical brandy wafers filled with Greek yogurt, blackberry jam, clementines, kumquats and black pepper. Oh man.

These little tubes of tastiness really get your tastebuds up on their feet. They are a perfect way to end a meal. Or a perfect snack to eat while watching TV. Or right before bed. If you made them right, you could probably have them for breakfast too…maybe add some apple and cinnamon into the mix?

These tuiles were just one of the desserts Molly Loveday made when she created this dinner. As an aside, we were also invited over for dinner last night. Homemade Gnudi pasta. Oh my.

I’m getting way too used to this having an awesome neighbor thing.

Continue reading

Tagliatelle and Littleneck Clams in a Gin-Basil Jalapeño Sauce.

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Eating is always better when I don’t have to cook anything  for myself. That is why I love having a close friend who is also an incredible chef.

On Friday night, my pal Molly Loveday invited Joe(y) and I over for dinner. A late dinner. Like, come over at 8:30 and we will start to get the ball rolling kind of late dinner. (By “get the ball rolling”, I mean I’ll watch you get all of this edible amazingness ready while I take pictures and drink Lambrusco.)

Molly makes real food, from scratch. She was trained by and has worked for an impressive list of people.  She knows exactly how to pair this with that. She understands and utilizes local ingredients at their peak. Everything always tastes flavorful and fresh. Molly even makes her own sparkling water and places it on the table with a glass that has your name on it. Now that’s service… I mean, friendship. That’s friendship!

Molly dressed her table with bunched herbs and fresh scallions, which just happen to be ingredients in the meal we will be feasting on.  And the table itself…Well, it’s a black and white enamel topped Hoosier table. The body of which was lovingly and professionally  restored (along with the bench) by her father. We are christening it tonight. It was just carried in about an hour or so before we arrived. The paint may or may not still be a little tacky.

On the menu for the evening:

  • Mackerel Tartine
  • Lentils, cauliflower and herbs topped with pomegranate seeds
  • Tagliatelle with littleneck clams in a gin-basil jalapeño sauce
  • Brandy Tuile with kumquat marmalade
  • Chocolate Caramel Tartlettes
  • Molly’s Blonde Fudge

I know, right?

The tagliatelle dish was completely filling and perfectly balanced. The jalapeño peppers added just enough kick to bring the fresh pasta to a higher level of being, especially when joined with the scallion. And I don’t believe you can ever go wrong with adding in littleneck clams.  (You can find the recipe for this dish at the bottom.)

Dessert pictures and recipes will be forthcoming. But let me just say, handmade blonde fudge and brandy tuiles beg for your attention. Stay tuned…

I’m excited and privileged to have Molly as one of my closest friends. I’m also elated that she has moved only a few blocks away. In any spare time the two of us may have, I know I’ll be heading over to her home any chance I get (for obvious reasons.)

Molly is currently putting her culinary talents to use right in your own kitchen! If you live in the Boston area and would like to have a private cooking lesson in your own home, or think someone you know would enjoy this as a gift, you can contact Molly for more details at ChefMollyLoveday@gmail.com

Expect more collaborations from Molly, myself and Joe(y) in the near future. Until then, give this main dish a try…

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Baked Gouda in a Skillet.

3 Jan

Throughout my twenties I frequented an establishment in Cambridge, Mass. called the B-Side Lounge. It was perfectly balanced, being both a well-stocked bar and an eatery with dishes that could rival any establishment. The crowd was always full of some of the Boston area’s best folks, and the staff were equally as charming and talented. There were so many things about this place that were perfect. The decor, the cocktail list, the menu! The one menu item that was my favorite, as well as a favorite of friends, was the Baked Gouda in a Skillet served with crostinis.

An old photo I took of the airplane fan inside of the B-Side Lounge

Baked Gouda in a Skillet. As a menu item! Perfect for cold winter nights when you just want to sit down, enjoy the company you are with, have a cocktail and share cheese. It’s been four years since the B-Side closed, and four years since I’ve dipped a crunchy crostini into a bubbling pool of gouda, cream, garlic, et al.

Today, I have fixed that. I decided to give a try at recreating this dish from my memory and the memory of my friends. There was a debate, briefly, about whether or not there were potatoes mixed in. My friends and I came to an understanding that while we do remember there being potato stick slices in the dish at one point, originally it was made without potatoes. My recipe has no potatoes. I also used a 6.5 inch skillet. If I remember correctly, the restaurant used either an eight or ten inch skillet.

My recipe does have a lot of cheese. Like, a lot, a lot. It also has garlic, shallots, cream, herbs, and the tiniest amount of butter.

I started by sautéing the garlic and shallots in the skillet. Then added cream. And cheese. And herbs. And some more cream. And then some more cheese. Then once it’s smooth in the pan, I just stuck it into the oven and waited.

The result was pretty similar to what I remember. It may not be the exact same proportions of this to that of its predecessor, but it came so close I can consider this an accomplished feat.

To make the B-Side Lounge Baked Gouda in a Skillet:

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces Gouda cheese
  • 1/3 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 small shallot, sliced thin
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter

Pre-heat your oven to 375°F.

Put the skillet over medium heat and add butter, garlic and shallots. Once those have sauteéd a few minutes, add about 1/2 of the heavy cream. Next, add in 1/2 of the cheese, bit by bit, allowing it to melt evenly and smoothly into the cream.

Put in the rosemary and thyme. Then add the rest of the cream, and then the remaining cheese. Again, mix while you add the cheese. Once it is smooth and thickened, move the skillet into the over. Don’t forget, the skillet is HOT, so use caution.

Leave in the oven for 12-14 minutes. Once done, secure the skillet and let briefly cool.

For the Crostinis:

Slice whatever kind of bread you’d enjoy having, but a loaf of crunchy crusty bread is ideal. Take each slice and give it a light coat of olive oil on each side. Put on top rack of oven and let brown. When one side is done, flip it over and toast the other side also. After a few minutes, the bread should be browned and crispy and perfect for dipping. (You can do this either before or after making the gouda in a skillet.)

Serves 2-3, depending on how much each of you love cheese.

Update: See the comments section for additional information regarding more ingredients used for the B-Side Lounge Baked Gouda in a Skillet…including fried potato sticks & goat cheese!

Wedding Gift: Customized Wooden Cutting Board.

2 Jan

Right before Christmas I received a package in the mail. To my surprise, it was not a Christmas present at all, but a wedding gift. And it was a pretty freaking great one at that.

My cousin Michael and his lovely wife Denise (I’m guessing it was mainly Denise who did the work here) sent a customized wooden cutting board to us as our wedding present. It has my newly hyphenated name and the year of the wedding etched into the wood.

It is really an incredible gift for someone who loves to be in the kitchen as much as I do. I have gotten over my reluctance to use the board (for fear of damaging it in any way) and baked up a nice treat with it that I’m going to share as my next blog post. I really am kind of in love with this as a gift idea!

Bourbon Soaked Cherries.

14 Dec

Last weekend while Joe(y) and I were away for the weekend visiting Provincetown, we stopped in for an early dinner and some drinks at one of my favorite places to eat. In addition to ordering dozens of oysters and a Pale Ale for myself, Joe(y) ordered an Old Fashioned. The waitress apologized that they no longer had the bourbon soaked cherries for the Old Fashioneds, and that they only had the regular maraschino cherries.

Wait. Back up. BOURBON SOAKED CHERRIES? Yes.

So. Of course. We then decided it was necessary to make our own. Somehow, there were fresh organic cherries for sale in December where we get our produce. We found a basic recipe online on how to preserve cherries whole in sugar syrup. But we can do better than just bourbon infused cherries. We expanded on the idea by including bourbon, cloves, orange peels and fresh ginger slices.

Yes. I’m totally pitting the cherry with a paper clip half unfolded. And yes. It does work! Joe(y) found that tip online (via Martha Stewart, of course).

Now, we haven’t actually been able to try the finished cherries yet. They need to macerate and absorb the flavors (and alcohol!) for at least a week. However, since we canned them in glass jars the proper way, these delicious cherries should last months in the fridge/pantry.

I snuck a taste of the syrup/bourbon/cherry/awesome concoction and, um, it was pretty freaking delicious. I can only imagine that the finished product is going to taste 5 billion times better. If that’s even possible.

These are going to make great gifts to friends and family for the holidays. It was also a fun way to spend an evening at home with Joe(y). We took turns between photographing and food prep and created something pretty awesome. Enjoy!

To do this, you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 pounds of fresh cherries
  • A bottle of your most favorite bourbon and/or whiskey
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 2 cups of water
  • Small to medium piece of ginger root
  • One orange
  • Whole cloves

Wash the cherries in water and then pit via the method above. Prepare the mulling flavors by piercing orange peel with whole cloves. Slice fresh ginger into round chunks, each about a half inch thick. Set aside.

In a pot, bring 2 cups of water and 1 cup of sugar to a boil. When the sugar dissolves, add in the orange peel, cloves and ginger. Lower hear and let simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain the syrup through a strainer to remove cloves, ginger and orange peel.  Return liquid to heat and return to a boil.

Add in one cup of cherries. Leave in for about 2 minutes to allow them to blanch. Remove with a hand strainer and set aside while repeating until all of the cherries have gone through this process.

Save about a cup of the syrup and add to it 2 cups of sugar. Bring to a boil, again allowing the sugar to dissolve. Then, remove from heat and let cool slightly. Add in about three cups of bourbon. Mix well. Fill jars with cherries and cover with whiskey/syrup mixture.

Seal. Wait. (Like, at least a few weeks.). Love.

Depending on how properly you can these, they will last for several months if stored properly.

Cheddar & Walnut Stuffed Mushrooms.

29 Nov Cheddar stuffed mushrooms

Years ago, Joey found a recipe for stuffed mushrooms that was similar to this one. Since then, we’ve tweaked and improved on it every time we make them for Christmas, Thanksgiving or any number of special occasions. We’ve been making them using the same recipe for a few years now. And also since then, we can never make enough.

They are pretty simple to make. And they will make your house smell incredible too! You probably have most of the ingredients just sitting around in your kitchen. Trust me, people will DEVOUR these. They will think you are incredible in the kitchen. And they will request these anytime you need to bring an appetizer to any gathering. They might even throw parties just so that they can eat these again. Continue reading

Vegetarian dinner for a meat eater. Grill edition.

24 Jul

Sometimes I have to grill vegetables instead of meat because I am in a relationship with a vegetarian. It’s okay! Thank you for your sympathy, but I still get my fill of carnivorous treats in my diet on a regular basis.

Tonight was one of those nights though. Where you just want to grill something other than meat. So I turned vegetables into a full meal, and it was enough to satisfy my dinnertime hunger.

I prepared the following three things on the grill:

1. Grilled zucchini rolled with fresh farmer’s goat cheese, baby spinach and basil.
2. Portabella mushrooms marinated in a homemade balsamic pesto.
3. Corn on the cob.

One of my all time favorite things to grill would be number one above and it is completely simple to make. Start off by cutting the zucchini lengthwise into strips.

Then, cover them with olive oil, salt and pepper and put them on the grill for a bit.

Once they’re cooked, gather everything else you need for rolling them up in one spot.

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Thinking about… Joy the Baker

13 Jul

So if you’ve read anything of mine over the past few months, you may have noticed I have been a bit preoccupied with the likes of Joy the Baker. Yes, Joy is a baker. And yes, she does it incredibly well.

Just ask Saveur, who named her blog the Best Baking and Dessert Blog of 2011. Also, the London Times granted her website the distinction of being one of the Top Fifty Food Blogs in the World (Yes, in the WORLD.)

Also, she has a highly popular and equally enjoyable podcast available on iTunes, where it debuted in May as the #9 most listened to podcast of the week. Go listen after you check her website and finish reading this interview, but before you make dinner.

I got the chance to sit down and chat (via video internet amazingness) with Joy. The resulting text below is what I have strung together into some semblance of an interview after nearly an hour of pretty awesome banter.

Joy doesn’t really like the woods. Or Ke$ha. She does, as one would expect, like to go out for dinner and cocktails. She likes to put Maker’s in her tea. And I am very much okay with all of it.

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Make your own ginger syrup / ginger ale.

27 Jun

So I love Ginger Ale. And I love any sort of drink that I can put Ginger Ale into. I don’t however, enjoy the fact that I’m drinking soda. Yes, I buy the 365 brand to make myself feel better. But what is a way to feel even less guilty about drinking soda? Making it yourself.

It’s actually pretty simple to turn this:

into this:

Once you have your ginger syrup all made, you can add it to club soda to get the perfect ginger taste of your liking. With a dash of bitters to even it all out.

Or you can add it to your favorite whiskey. With a splash of club soda. And some orange flavored bitters. And a lime.

For a recipe on how to make this syrup yourself, make your way over to Ms. Joy the Baker.

(Also, check out my interview with Joy here!)


Backyard Eats.

20 Jun

Friday night was one of the best weather nights so far this season. It demanded that time be spent outside in the yard. Uncovering the BBQ and tossing on some incredible tasting goodness. Talking about life and gardens and drinks and so on.

My friend Kree came over and brought an amazing cut of pork that had been marinating for hours beforehand. We found some assorted accompaniments in the house, such as red potatoes and onions. Joe(y) and Kree threw together a salad (which we topped with grilled garlic scapes…OMGZ!) and dinner on the patio was served.

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