Tag Archives: life

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

Happy Record Store Day!

21 Apr



                                            A snapshot of part of my collection

Today is record store day. A day to go out and support all of the small independent record shops around your town. I have to say, it’s been a while since I’ve actually gone out and purchased some vinyl. Ever since Record Hog in Cambridge closed, I just haven’t really found a shop that I loved to hang out at browsing as much as that one. There was always someone I knew looking around for records. And the cats! How awesome were those cats? I do have that shop to thank for a good majority of my collection though, and am thankful to have had it around as long as it was.

So, in no particular order, here are a few gems I can remember buying at record stores over the years that when I found them gave me the feeling only good music can:

  • The Gravel Pit – “Standing in My Way” and “Something’s Growing Inside”
  • There’s a DYKE in the Pit feat. Bikini Kill, Tribe 8, Lucy Stoners and 7 Year Bitch
  • Bonfire Madigan – Backseat Buoy
  • Elastica – The Bitch Don’t Work
  • Sleater-Kinney – Get Up 7″; One More Hour 7″
  • this is fort apache. feat. Dinosaur Jr., the Lemonheads, Juliana Hatfield, Buffalo Tom, Radiohead, Come and Throwing Muses.
  • …and everything nice 7″ featuring Babes in Toyland, Hole, STP and L7.
  • Tuscadero – Mt. Pleasant/Nancy Drew; Angel in a half shirt; Mark Robinson remixes
  • Letters to Cleo  – Anchor single
  • bis / Heavenly – split 7″
  • Ze Malibu Kids – Sound It Out

And here are some I remember buying at shows (better than any other means because usually the artist is directly selling you their music = best way to support music ever):

  • Rilo Kiley – The Execution of All Things (signed “bikini kill ! ❤ jenny lewis”)
  • Wild Flag – Glass Tambourine/Future Crimes 7″ (signed by all members)
  • Land of Talk – Speak to Me Bones / Death by Fire 7″ (last copy left)
  • Tilly and the Wall – Sad Sad Song (#301 of 1000)
  • Aly Spaltro (Lady Lamb the Beekeeper) – Sunday Shoes

And yes, there is the internet. And yes, you probably can find the album you want with a few types and clicks. But is that as fulfilling as discovering an album you’ve been longing for stuffed in between dozens of other albums? Of course not. And you’re less likely to stumble across an artist or band you’ve heard in passing or have long forgotten about when you’re looking for one specific title online.

Was I longing for a copy of The Waitresses Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful? Not entirely.  Did I need to buy Boom Boom Boom Bingo by Scruffy the Cat? Of course I didn’t. Was my goal for the day to head out and find Saving Grace by Throwing Muses? I don’t think it was. Am I stoked to have purchased full albums by The Cars, Blondie, ’til Tuesday and The Del Fuegos all for just $4.00? Hell yes.

My point? My music collection grew and grew thanks in part to all the records, compact discs and cassette tapes I happened to come across while out browsing music at my local music shops. You should go do that too. Yeah, Amazon and iTunes may be convenient and direct, but go take a couple of hours and spend it sorting through stacks of music. What you find will most likely excite and educate you far more than clicking once to confirm your purchase with Apple.

(This post was originally published on April 16, 2011)

Brooklyn.

15 Apr

Well, it sure is nice to be back on the internet so soon! Although, honestly, I enjoyed the time away. I’ve been home since Wednesday and today is really the first time I’m using the computer. However, being unable to do much else at this stage of recovery, here I am.

Since I haven’t been able to create any new content in the last two weeks or so, let’s travel back to the Saturday before my surgery. Joey and I took the short Boston to NYC drive through patches of rain and snow to spend the day in Brooklyn. I have a love/hate relationship with New York that has been on-going ever since I can remember.

I like that it has everything you could possibly want to eat/see/smell/taste/listen to/feel. I hate it for all of those reasons as well.

We made the trek primarily to attend the book signing of/ have dinner with the lovely Joy Wilson (aka Joy the Baker). The signing was held at The Brooklyn Kitchen (which, I have to say, is a nice all-purpose space). The room was packed, but the beer was free. And there were cookies. And scones. And brownies. Joy gave a brief talk, answered some questions and then started signing for the 250 or so people in attendance.

After having my book signed and finally giving Joy a huge hug, Joey and I took to the streets. We walked. And walked. And walked. All over Williamsburg and Greenpoint. Popping into shops and stores which caught our eye. We got coffee. It rained a little. I took some pictures. Visited old haunts. We were going to use this time to catch up with some friends, but plans changed at the last minute and we were left to our own devices while waiting for dinner.

Upon the suggestion of a friend, we met up for dinner at Enid’s with Joy, her man-friend and two acquaintances of theirs. My dinner consisted of bourbon and catfish. Enough said. It was a delightful time chatting and eating and a great way to spend some of my last few days before being laid up. The drive back right after was pretty smooth, and I think we were home by 12:15 AM.

Coincidentally, while I was writing this post, Joey was in the kitchen making dinner.  I had to take out the camera and start snapping pics, albeit as uncomfortable as it was to bend and get the right angle on the food. A different take on falafel and looks really delicious!  I’m sure I’ll be sharing it soon…

One small year.

3 Apr

It has been exactly one year since my first post on this blog and I’m completely surprised at how it has gone since then. I really had no idea it would be so food centered. I really thought it was going to be more of a design centered blog. No biggie.

I’ve created some pretty tasty recipes and dozens of photos to accompany them (remember the Bourbon Soaked Cherries or the Cheddar and Walnut Stuffed Mushrooms ?!?). I wholeheartedly enjoy the process of documenting what I’ve made as I’m making it. With that in mind, I think I’ll keep this site going on that same path for the future.

I’ve done interviews with some pretty awesome people about projects they are working on, and even made new friends in the process. (I’m talking about you, Joy Wilson.)

It was also an enjoyment to document road trips and vacations. Like that time I fell in love with Maine and the ocean and swimming in a rock quarry and the food and the people and the sleeping nook.

There have even been times where I thought I was crafty and made some things like these:

I’ll be continuing that all in the future, and add more into the mix as well.

With that said, I’ll be out of commission for a bit. I’m going in for heart surgery on Thursday (third times a charm, right?). With that in mind, I’m guessing I won’t be doing too many blog posts in the next two or three weeks. I promise to use the time to think up fun, tasty and aesthetically appealing content. And then I’ll use the remaining time I’m home from work to get all of those ideas posted up on here.

Also, in the next few months, Joey and I will be launching a new site! We have some pretty great ideas (well, at least we think     so) for content. We also have some amazing people on board to contribute, and I can’t wait to get that going for real.

And, since we’re talking openly, I may or may not change the name of this blog. Do we all like the name of this blog? Do I? I have no idea

Anyway, thank you all for reading, friends and strangers alike. You all rock. And I love that you keep coming back for more.

Shortbread Pop Tarts.

25 Mar

Homemade shortbread pop tarts? Uh-huh.

I had been looking for a way to make pop tarts from scratch. The filling was the easy part, the crust is what was perplexing. Recipes I had seen all call for making the crust with pre-made pie crusts. Meh.

Let’s be honest here, pop tarts don’t taste like pie. That’s why Hostess Fruit Pies exist.  So all of those recipes calling for pie crust use in this case are wrong. (Or, at the very least, terribly misguided.) After much consideration, I decided that the best option for crust would be a homemade shortbread crust.

As my friend Shari would say: Holy cats!

The shortbread is sweet and buttery and delicious. I flattened the dough into small rounds, placed some decent quality mixed berry preserve in the middle and topped it with another flattened dough the same size as the one on the bottom. These would definitely make Lorelai Gilmore go nuts – aside from the make it from scratch part.

Slice off the sides to give the pop tart its shape. Then, put in the oven for 20 minutes. Once they’re done, take them out and let cool. Drizzle the icing onto the top and add sugar. It’s really that simple.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups butter (unsalted)
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • jar mixed berry preserves
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • decorative sugar

Recipe:

Preheat oven to 350°F

Mix together the butter and sugar first. Make sure the butter is room temperature so that it mixes well with the sugar. Once they are mixed, add in the salt and gradually add in the flour.

Next, chill the dough for a few minutes until it is easy to form little pancake like shapes. Put a heaping tablespoon of preserve in the middle and spread around. Cover with another pancake shaped round of the shortbread dough. Trim the sides into a pop tart shape/size.

Once they are formed, put on a greased baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

While that cooks, mix together the confectioners sugar and milk. (Add in the milk one tablespoon at a time to be sure the icing doesn’t become too runny.)

Take baked tarts out of the over and put on cooling rack to cool. Drizzle on the icing glaze mixture and top that with decorative sugar.

The Cold and Lovely Pledge Campaign

15 Mar

Ten months ago I brought my first interview to this little piece of the web. It was with the newly formed band The Cold and Lovely, featuring Nicole Fiorentino (of Smashing Pumpkins) and Meghan Toohey (formerly of The So and So’s).

Since then, the duo added drummer Patty Schemel (formerly of Hole) to the mix, and the music has been flowing out of their instruments ever since.

Photo by Andrea Alseri


The band is at 97% of their goal towards making a new album via their Pledge Music site with 6 days left to pledge. I have no doubt they will be reaching that goal shortly, as long as some more music lovers make their way over right now!

Aside from the usual albums, t-shirts and posters most bands offer up, The Cold and Lovely have some other pretty great things. Nicole’s guitar used on tour with Smashing Pumpkins and Veruca Salt. You can write a song with Meghan or have her produce one of your own. How about an autographed set of drumsticks from Patty Schemel? There are plenty more items available as well, so check it out!

You’ll be hearing a lot more from this band in the future, and it would be awesome to say you were part of making that possible, wouldn’t it?

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.

Roller Derby #10

7 Mar

Here’s an old photo of an old skateboard I took about two years ago. I really love the color of the board and the worn out nature of the wood.

It sat here on display in my dining room for quite some time, and now resides in the same room, but in a different location.

Classic Deviled Eggs.

6 Mar

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

Letterpress Weekend Course: Day 2

26 Feb

Today was the second and final day of my weekend letterpress course. Remember how much in love with it I was yesterday? I still feel that way. And will definitely be investing in one of these machines (albeit most likely a much smaller one) in the not too distant future.

The machine we used today to print our designs was a Chandler and Price machine manufactured in 1902. It uses nothing but the power of your own arms and legs. It’s a workout and a creative design session all in one.

The creative part came to me a little too late however. I had no idea what to make. I was over-thinking it all weekend to the point where my mind could not decide on anything. Business cards? Greeting cards? Coasters? As I was gathering materials this morning, I still had no clue. Joe(y) had suggested I make recipe cards, so that’s what I did, sort of.

I made the design. It was a half-postcard half-recipe card hybrid, apparently. I enjoyed having to put everything in reverse. Where the top is at the bottom and the left is on the right. It fits in with my day job quite well as I view reversed images all day long. My brain easily adjusted to this part.

Next, I set the locked frame into the machine and applied the ink color that I had mixed together.

Once the machine had been set and inked, the actual printing process was quite speedy. I realized I probably should have made my form a bit smaller, and not the exact measurements of the size paper I would be using. I know better than that. I just wasn’t thinking.

In turn, I lost one of the lines I set in the process in order to be sure everything else fit it.

While I am not quite sure what exactly I made today, I love that I made something and understand how it all works now.

I have been wanting to learn this craft for a long time now, and have finally done just that. I’ll most likely be going back for open studio time in the near future, this time with an actual design and project in place.

Letterpress Weekend Course: Day 1

25 Feb

Today was the first of my two day crash course on learning how to set and operate a letterpress machine and type. I am incredibly in love.

I have wanted to take a course like this for several years now. I was always either too busy with actual classes that lead to a degree or I would have just missed a deadline whenever the idea popped back into my mind. This year, however, I was determined.

I found the course being offered at a local art school – Montserrat College of Art – and eagerly awaited registering and paying as soon as I could.

Today we learned the basics. How to set type correctly, how to use the machines, how to care for all the materials, techniques, etc. Our instructor was very friendly and insanely knowledgeable about all things letterpress – as well as lots of other things too!

The group of six in the class we all given a topic and asked to set type based on the theme. Our instructor showed us one from a previous class for which the topic was “food”. I wished that was today’s topic (If you’re new to this here blog, just take a look around, you’ll see why). Instead, we got “Myths”. Fine. I’ll work with it.

After setting my type (see the above pic – I apologize for the quality, I didn’t think to bring my actual camera today) we all then put our random thoughts and ideas regarding myths together. The press we used for this project was a Vanderbilt 219.

The final result:

I did the last line “SHE SANG THEM to THEIR DEATHS”. For some reason the only myth I could remember for the life of me was that of the Sirens in Greek mythology. I was super excited to have found little lobsters though. I love lobster.

Tomorrow I’m not sure what I’ll make. Most likely I’ll make some cards to send out. We’ll see what I come up with I guess…

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

Saltbox Farm – Concord, Ma

15 Feb

A shoot I helped out on with joe(y). I did some of the styling and whatnot. Great pics! Great food!

Joe And Sometimes (y)

Saltbox Farm is one of those places that somehow manages to capture an amazing essence of New England and distill it down to its truest and purest form. Pastoral fields, chickens running about and a weathered patina that seems to only get better with each passing season.  It’s the kind of place where modern cars somehow seem odd, you would half expect company to arrive via a horse drawn carriage and messages to arrive via telegram.  Owner Chef Ben Elliot’s grandfather built the farm in the 1940’s and modeled it after a 1720’s Saltbox.  Today, Ben carries on the tradition of the farm, using the land to harvest fresh produce, keep livestock and grow his culinary enterprise.  My dear friend, Chef Molly Loveday, has teamed up with Ben at Saltbox; together they not only run the farm but operate a successful catering company and offer private/group culinary classes.  I recently…

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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

Vinyl Devotion.

4 Feb

I feel weird posting a blog that does not revolve around foodage. What the what? When did this become a food blog?

Sometimes I do think about things other than food. This is one of those times.

I got this lovely piece of equipment at a yard sale back in 2002. I spent $25 dollars on it. Twenty-five. It’s a Morse/Electrophonic AM/FM radio, 8-Track player and record player. It came with about 18 8-track tapes as well. (Including an Elvis Christmas, Heart, Billy Joel, Carl Perkins, and the B-52’s, amongst others).

It lights up to the beat when you play music. Or talk radio. Or NPR.

Ever had an audio/visual experience while listening to Prairie Home Companion? It’s not that exciting. I should probably stick to putting the lights on only when there are strictly songs playing. I’ll work on that. 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.

12 Jan

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.

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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