Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Thank you for being patient and I hope to be a better blogger from now on.
Onward to the holiday season.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
This one is so easy that I honestly didn't believe it the first time I tried it. In fact, I have complicated it significantly since I first tried the recipe. I really wanted a light fresh cream sauce, and I was astounded at how easy this is. The lemon juice actually curdles the cream turning it into this lovely light and lemony cream sauce. The thyme is the perfect accompaniment. And depending on what you add into this one, this recipe can take as little as the amount of time it takes to cook pasta.
Creamy lemon pasta
Enough pasta for 2 people
1 cup cream
2 tsp lemon juice
Lemon zest from 1 lemon
3 tsp thyme
Pecorino Romano cheese for garnish
-Saute the lemon zest and the thyme in the olive oil for 2-3 minutes.
-Add in the cream and cook until it is reduced a little.
-Add in lemon juice.
-Season to taste with salt and pepper.
-Coat pasta with sauce.
Serve with any of the following.
-Chicken breasts cooked with lemon juice and thyme cut into small pieces.
-Slightly wilted baby spinach
-Sliced proscuitto ( I recommend you add this to the sauce at the last minute)
Or you can do what I do and add all three. The great thing about this recipe is that you can add any or all of the ingredients above to accommodate any number of picky palates.
While I was in California this August I spent some time with my brother-in-law's fiancee. I have always liked her and was happy to get a little time alone with her. Recently, she found out that she has a rare bundle of allergies (the condition has a horribly unpronounceable name but for the life of me I can't remember what it was) that slowly makes her esophagus close up. When it closes too far they have to inflate a balloon in her throat in order to make it open up again. Now, I haven't experienced this myself, but I'm told that not only does this suck royally but it is also dangerous and can lead to tearing of the esophagus. Not good. So her only real recourse is to take steroid inhalers and avoid the foods that cause the problem.
You may think well, that's obvious you know you're allergic to something avoid it. But here's the problem. There is no way to tell what she is allergic to without having expensive allergy testing done. Also, some of the things that are bad for her are so common that they are almost impossible to avoid. Like onions. I know I would have a problem living without onions I can only imagine how hard it must be for her. Now luckily she can eat the biggies, dairy, meat, and gluten are all ok.
When we were in Cali we went out to Maggiano's for dinner and poor Katie had to order her own specialty things to eat. Though, the chef did seem pleased to finally have a chance to do something out of the ordinary. One of the things he made was a modified crab cake that was simply delicious so, knowing that I am a foodie, Katie turned to me and asked if I could figure out how this was made. I took a few bites to figure out the main ingredients involved and decided to give it a try once I was home.
This is a really easy light and flavorful appetizer and this recipe makes enough for around 5 people. You can make it as casual or fancy as you choose. Not only is it good for someone allergic to gluten or onions but my shellfish loving father is going to be extremely excited about this as well.
Crab a la Katie
1/2 cup minced fennel
1/2 cup finely chopped red pepper
12 finely sliced basil leaves
12 oz lump crab
1/2 juiced lime or lemon
Roughly 1 tsp old bay seasoning to taste
Dash of garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 or 2 grinds of pepper
2 avocados 1 chopped or mushed 1 sliced into arches
Mix seasonings with crab and set aside. Saute peppers and fennel in olive oil for 2-3 minutes at medium heat. Turn down heat, add in crab, heat through. Transfer to medium bowl, add avocado and combine. Mold inside biscuit cutter/tin can etc
Serve with avocado slices.
Oh, and Happy Birthday Katie!!
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Angela’s high ceilings, spacious seating, and comfortable modern furnishings gives it both a trendy and family friendly feel. The open kitchen at the front of the restaurant makes it so that a perpetual aroma of coal-fired pizza wafts over diners as they await their delicious meal; making the anticipation even sweeter. Each table has a funky black pizza stand in the center to remind you what’s important. The outdoor patio is decorated with modern bar-height tables and chairs and small circular stands, just big enough to put your drink on, have been attached to a row of trees that give diners shelter from the building next door. The area feels secret and secluded even though it is right off Route 1.
The pizza is simply spectacular, as one would expect it to be in a sit down restaurant that has decided to specialize. But this pizza was particularly impressive. The pizza has just the right amount of cheese. Not too much, not too little, and the cheese runs throughout each piece of pizza both on top of and underneath the toppings. The thing that struck us in particular was how wonderfully melty and gooey it was. The toppings were generous on each piece but not overcrowded, and the crust was incredibly crisp on the bottom and provided a nice firm support for the toppings and cheese. The sauce is the perfect finisher for this fantastic pizza; salty and just a little bit spicy but not too chunky or runny.
The wings were another amazing surprise. No buffalo, crispy, hot, or sweet and sour here. You are only given two options: small or large. These wings are incredible. The meat simply falls off the bone and each bite is infused with lemon, garlic, rosemary, and who knows what other wonderful ingredients. The wings are served atop a tasty piece of focaccia and have sweet delicious onions heaped on top.
The wings and pizza aren’t the only things on the menu, there is also an extensive and very tasty looking wine and beer menu. Honestly, this may now be this Bostonist’s favorite pizza in the greater metropolitan area. Even though it is seriously out of the way, we will definitely be headed back out to Saugus soon to partake of this awesome new find.
Anglea’s is located on Route 1 in Saugus, they also have a location in Tyngsboro. You can check out their menu their website.
This post originally appeared on the Bostonist.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
The patio is open, airy, and pleasantly decorated, a little gem hidden in the back of this fine Waltham pub. You wouldn’t even know it was there if you didn’t notice the sliver of sunlight peeking through the back of the pub.
Joe Sent Me is your typical pub, benches and barstools abound on the inside and it’s a great place for trivia or an after-work drink with co-workers or friends. Their beer selection is varied and they even have Magner’s on tap for those of us who prefer their bubbles with a little apple flavor. Their mixed drinks are also quite tasty and well balanced. Not too much mixer or alcohol so you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth while sipping at something that doesn’t taste like jet fuel. The real surprise here was the delicious food menu.
We ordered a burger with bacon and caramelized onions and a pressed chicken sandwich with red peppers, cheese, and ranch dressing. The burger was juicy and perfectly cooked. And the saltiness of the bacon and the sweetness of the onions really complimented the juicy umami of the burger. The pressed chicken was a solidly put together sandwich with bread that was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The chicken was sliced, white breast-meat, well trimmed and juice with a lot of flavor. The red peppers, cheese and ranch dressing balanced each other out to create a truly deliciouscombination of flavors. None of the flavors were particularly overpowering by themselves but together they created a sandwich that was truly hard to put down.
Each sandwich came with a delightfully sour dill pickle wedge, the accompanying fries were appropriately crispy and salty, and we were pleasantly surprised when offered a set of condiments that included malt vinegar for the fries. Prices are reasonable and the food and drinks make Joe Sent Me a great place to hang out for an evening, in the winter or summer.
Joe Sent Me also has a location in Cambridge. You can find directions to either location and a menu on their website.
This Post first appeared on the Bostonist
Friday, September 11, 2009
This Bostonist hasn’t spent a lot of time in Needham. After the fantastic experience we had at a little restaurant there called Blue on Highland, though, this suburb is definitely on our map. We picked this restaurant on a whim, wanting something nice, nearby, and not too expensive. The menu at Blue on Highland is simple but contains a little bit of everything. From burgers and pizzas to filet mignon and chicken scaloppini, there is a delicious option for everyone.
One wall of the restaurant is covered with a tall multi-panel painting done entirely in blues and blacks, presumably to reinforce the name of the restaurant. The facing wall contains some fun abstract art. These pieces give the place the feel of a hip gallery and restaurant all rolled up in one.
The first thing that really caught our attention was the specialty martini menu, which contained items like a raspberry lime rickey and a pomegranate cosmopolitan. The raspberry lime rickey was amazing, with just enough raspberry flavor to have you smacking your lips but not so much that the drink became cloying or overpowering. The fresh lime juice did a great job of cutting the raspberry and orange liquors and the champagne added a tiny bit of bubbly that made it really taste like a raspberry lime rickey.
The night we visited we tried the crab cake with Cajun remoulade and arugula. This huge crab cake somehow managed to be more meat than breading, while still holding its shape. The remoulade was tangy and just a little bit spicy which perfectly accented the salty richness of the crab cake and the sharp bitterness of the arugula was a refreshing addition to the plate.
For entrees, we tried the steak frites and a swordfish special. These were both unexpectedly exceptional. The steak was tender, perfectly cooked, and the red wine demi glaze was so savory and well balanced that each bite had to be stirred around in the extra sauce. The fries were crispy and not greasy at all with just the right amount of salt, and our waitress automatically brought tiny sides of ketchup without us needing to ask. The real surprise on the plate was the perfectly crispy and flavorful sugar snap peas. This Bostonist has never had cooked snap peas that tasted so good!
The swordfish special was simply amazing. The balsamic glaze was so tangy and sweet that after one bite our mouths were watering for more. And the meaty steak of swordfish was perfectly paired with the light bitterness of fresh arugula and a salty base of white beans combined with fresh fall vegetables. We really hope this becomes a regular menu item!
This meal made such an impression that we immediately went out and recommended the restaurant to friends looking for a nice night out. The restaurant doesn’t take reservations for fewer than five people, and the booths are a little small if you have tall men in the party. But the awesome food, open atmosphere and friendly and knowledgeable wait staff more than makes up for these little shortcomings. You can find the menu and directions on the website.
Monday, September 7, 2009
So here is a picture of my first try at a galette. I had just been blackberry picking with some friends and all I had was nectarines in the house. So instead of raspberry and peach for my first try I made blackberry and nectarine. I know not the same thing, but I was using what I had at hand.
First I went in search of a tart dough. I ended up (as I so often do lately) turning to my America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book. I found a recipe for Rustic free form tart dough. Perfect! exactly what I was looking for. And it was easy. Combine ingredients in the cuisinart and then form a ball and refrigerate. With the America's Test Kitchen instructions it was also wasy to roll out between two pieces of parchment paper. Hooray!
As I was flipping through the book I found a recipe for a free form apple tart. Better and better I thought, I'll just adapt this for stone fruit and berries. Then I looked to the side of the apple tart recipe and there was a stone fruit and berries variant.
Oh America's Test Kitchen sometimes you way overcomplicate things sometimes but how I love you anyway.
Suprisingly, I managed to mess up the fruit in this tart worse than the tart dough. I forgot to add the sugar until the fruit was already on the crust, and I didn't have any corn starch so the runnyness had begun way before the tart even started cooking.
The result of my first galette ever was a soggy bottomed, slightly too tart tart with crust that was a little too salty. I also rolled out the crust too thick so the crust to fruit ratio felt a little unbalanced. Perhaps two smaller galettes next time.
Upon tasting it my husband was quick to inform me that the dough wasn't sweet enough and why hadn't I put more sugar on top of the crust like they did in the bakery?
I informed him that beggars can't be choosers and to eat his galette before I took it away from him. He did and I promised to try again later on in the week.
Here is the original recipe that I used: It should be interesting to see how this changes over the coming weeks!
Free Form Summer Fruit Tart ( adapted slightly from the Cooks Illustrated Website and the America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book)
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (7 1/2 ounces), plus additional for work surface
1/2 teaspoon table salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks), cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 - 6 tablespoons water (ice cold)
1 pound peaches, nectarines, apricots, or plums
1 cup berries (about 1/2 dry pint)
½ cup tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons corn starch
1. Note: The amount of water that the dough will require depends on the ambient humidity; in a dry environment, it may need more water, in a humid environment, less. The dough can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight or tightly wrapped in two sheets of plastic wrap and frozen for up to one week. If at any point the dough becomes soft, sticky, and dificult to work with during rolling, chill it until it becomes workable.
2. For the dough: In food processor, pulse flour and salt to combine, about three 1-second pulses. Scatter butter pieces over flour, then pulse until texture resembles coarse bread crumbs and butter pieces about the size of small peas remain, ten to twelve 1-second pulses. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon water over mixture and process 1 second; repeat until dough begins to form small curds and holds together when pinched with fingers. Empty dough onto work surface; dough will be crumbly (if dough has large dry areas, sprinkle additional 2 teaspoons water over dry areas and incorporate by gently fluffing entire amount of dough with fingers). Using bench scraper, gather dough into rough mound about 12 inches long and 4 inches wide (mound should be perpendicular to edge of counter). Beginning from farthest end, use heel of a hand to smear about one sixth of dough against work surface away from you. Repeat until all dough has been worked. Using bench scraper, gather dough again and repeat. Dough should now be cohesive. Form dough into 4-inch disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until cold and firm but malleable, about 1 hour.
3. For the filling: During last 30 minutes of chilling, prepare fruit. Halve and pit stone fruit and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. Gently wash and dry berries. Combine fruit in medium bowl (you should have about 3 cups); set aside. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.
4. To assemble and bake: (If dough has chilled longer than 1 hour and is cold and hard, let stand at room temperature 15 to 20 minutes before proceeding.) On large sheet of parchment paper lightly dusted with flour, roll dough to 12-inch round about 3/16 inch thick, dusting with flour as needed. (If dough sticks to parchment, gently loosen and lift sticky area with bench scraper and dust parchment with additional flour.) Slide parchment and dough onto baking sheet and refrigerate until cool and firm yet pliant, 15 to 30 minutes (if refrigerated longer and dough is hard and brittle, let stand at room temperature until pliant).
5. Toss the fruit with sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and corn starch.
6. Remove baking sheet with dough from refrigerator. Mound fruit in center of dough, leaving 2 1/2-inch border around edge. Carefully grasp one edge of dough and fold up outer 2 inches over fruit, leaving 1/2-inch area of dough just inside of fold free of fruit. Repeat around circumference of tart, overlapping dough every 2 to 3 inches; gently pinch pleated dough to secure, but do not press dough into fruit. Working quickly, brush dough with water and sprinkle evenly with 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake until crust is deep golden brown and fruit is bubbling, 50 to 55 minutes. Cool tart on baking sheet on wire rack 10 minutes. Using offset or wide metal spatula, loosen tart from parchment and carefully slide tart off parchment onto wire rack; cool until warm, about 30 minutes, or to room temperature, about 1 hour. Cut into wedges and serve.
Friday, September 4, 2009
So at the beginning of August my husband and I went to California for a variety of reasons.
1. To visit his extended family
2. To celebrate the engagement of my brother in law to a wonderful woman
3. To celebrate my cousin in law's engagement to another lovey gal
4. To visit our friends Brett and Cicely in San Francisco
5. For me to visit my friend April in LA
Now this is a lot to accomplish in one trip and the trip was a long one. I was out of town for 11 days and I traveled to Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and Gilroy before finally returning home. I hope I can avoid living out of bags like that for a little while, unless of course someone wants to send me to Italy, in which case, bring on the bags.
But anyway, the trip to Cali wasn't much of a food journey or I would tell you all about it. Mostly I ate a lot of breakfast and had few real foods of note. There was one dinner at a little french restaurant in San Fran that was fantastic and made me want to experiment with cooking rabbit and cassoulet, more on those as winter approaches.
But the real stand out food from that trip was a peach and raspberry galette that we had at a little bakery down the street from our friend Brett's house called Destination Baking Company. Before I say more, a note about my husband. I love him dearly but he honestly doesn't care about food. No desserts or dinners really thrill him and for him to even comment on something means that it really impressed him. For him to gush about something has only happened a handfull of times in the 11 years that we have been together.
He loved this galette, and he hates peaches. He was simply blown away by the goodness of this dessert.
So of course I had to try and recreate it when I got home.
Unfortunately pies and tarts are not my forte. give me chocolate and I will make you something fantastic, but my expertise is a little lacking when it comes to tarts and pies.
So this was going to be a challange for me. I will leave you with a picture of the amazing galette I will be attempting to recreate over the coming month and promise more updates on this experiment in the near future. In fact, I think I will go try my hand at some tart dough now...
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
If you asked what struck me about the movie I will go on about Meryl Streep's delightful portrayal of Julia Child. And how I connect to this movie because my Mom used to watch Julia Child all the time. She had all of her shows on tape and she would watch them over and over again on her kitchen television while making dinner. I have the infamous Mastering the Art of French Cooking and to this day I find it ridiculously intimidating because it seems like my mom made all of her complex and interesting dishes straight from Julia's book.
Now, if you ask me what struck me about the food in the movie I will go on ad nauseaum about how I want to de-bone a duck and stuff it with meat and cover it with pastry and then cook it. I really want to give this one a try (though honestly I worry about my ability to de-bone a duck and I have informed my friends that I will require a support staff to help me when I finally decide to make this ridiculously awesome dish).
The other food that caught my eye for immediate re-creation was the bruschetta. We talked about the bruschetta all the way home. And how good it looked. So when my foodie friends and I got home we took one look at the enormous bounty of yellow tomatoes in my garden and decided that we should go ahead and make some ourselves. So, one trip to the grocery store later and we were in my kitchen. One person toasting the bread in a skillet while the others chopped tomatoes, basil, onions, garlic and fresh mozzarella and tossing them with olive oil balsamic vinegar salt and pepper.
This is a fantastic appetizer and while the toasting the bread in the pan is a little more complicated than my normal method of shoving it in the toaster oven with some butter on it, the pan toasting with olive oil is MUCH better than the other version. I may never be able to make easy bruschetta again.
Colorful Summer Bruschetta
8 yellow pear tomatoes diced
2 medium red herloom tomatoes diced
10 basil leaves sliced very thinly in a chiffonade
4T Balsamic vinegar
4T Extra Virgin Olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3/4 cup very small balls of fresh mozz
1 clove garlic minced very tiny
9 slices of nice bread (sourdough, rustic, baguette, something crusty)
4T Extra virgin olive oil
Heat the olive oil in a skillet and toast the pieces of bread. Set aside
Place all of the ingredients for the tomato topping in a large bowl and mix them together until everything seems sufficiently coated in vinegar.
Spoon the topping over the toast and serve immediately (the toast will get soggy if it sits too long).
Monday, August 31, 2009
An apple crisp was the first thing I ever learned to bake on my own without my mother looking over my shoulder telling me how to do it. I must have checked the recipe a hundred times and it still came out wrong the first time. My second apple crisp was when I discovered that I could trust my instincts and successfully improvise a good recipe. All of this to explain why a crisp seemed like the safest place to try something new.
I actually made this for a 4th of July party so that there would be something gluten-free to eat. Yeah I know I'm a little behind in the blogging.
Gluten-Free Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
For the crumbly topping:
3/4 cup gluten free baking mix
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds
8 tablespoons butter cold
1/2 tsp salt
For the fruit:
3 cups strawberries sliced
1 1/2 cups rhubarb sliced thin
the juice from one lemon
1/2 cup of white sugar
pinch of corn starch ( to hold it together)
2Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the strawberries, rhubarb, lemon juice, sugar, vinegar and corn starch in a bowl and then pour them into a 9x9 baking pan.
For the topping combine all of the dry ingredients and then work the cold butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers until it sticks together when pinched, larger chunks of butter are ok, they will provide pockets of buttery goodness. Pour the crumble mixture on top of the fruit. Sprinkle some extra sliced almonds on top for good measure.
Bake for 20-35 minutes, the fruit will be bubbling and the crispy topping will be brown.
Happy eating to all of those out there with gluten intolerance.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Initially excited by the promise of ½ liter pitchers of sangria for 5 dollars and 5 dollar margaritas, we were delighted to find a prix fixe menu that provided a decent showcase of what this fabulous restaurant has to offer.
The appetizer was a delicious, BBQ short rib quesadilla with truffle crème fraiche and fig salsa. This was an amazing combination of textures and flavors. The beef was tender and sweet with just a hint of salty cheese which contrasted beautifully with the crispy tortilla and the light hint of crème fraiche. The real surprise on the plate was the fig salsa, wonderfully sweet dried figs infused with quite a bit of smoky kick.
The steak frites with guajillo bourbon sauce were a slightly different take on an old standby. The steak was tender and the bourbon sauce provided a subtly spicy and sweet accent and an excellent dipping sauce for the crisp salty frites. The chili lime arugula salad rounded out the plate by adding a fresh touch, the tang of the lime cleansed the palate as it cut through the lingering flavors of the bourbon sauce.
We ended our pre-fix menu with a molten chocolate cake. The cake was not quite molten, more soft and nicely rich and chocolaty. The vanilla ice cream was very light, the perfect accompaniment. Surprisingly the fresh raspberry sauce stood out above the other items on the plate, pleasantly intense with the perfect balance of sweet and sour.Overall Masa was a great dining experience; the staff was friendly and accommodating. The sangria was very tasty, though more fruit juice than wine, and the margaritas were a decent size for five dollars and by contrast deliciously potent. We highly suggest concentrating your dining on Masa’s southwestern dishes since this seems to be where they really shine. Masa’s menu is available on their website, as well as directions and special events.
This Post originally featured on Bostonist.com
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
The recently updated menu is enormous, offering everything from omelets and M&M pancakes to Cobb Salad and Crispy Chicken Wraps. So it does a great job of catering to people with varying tastes. While some people might call In A Pickle a greasy spoon, the décor feels like a combination between a diner and a submarine, this Bostonist has not been greased out by anything she has eaten there.
One of the first things we tried there were the Banana Pancakes. The slices of slightly under-ripe banana are caramelized by their contact with the hot grill. The pancakes are light, moist, and sweet and the banana adds a dark caramel tang to make each bite perfectly balanced, no syrup required. We were distressed to discover that the new menu added chocolate chips to their banana pancakes. But upon tasting this new iteration we discovered that the chocolate chips make these already wonderful pancakes even better, adding a light cocoa accent to the already amazing mix of flavors. These pancakes are so good that they even survive being taken out and eaten at home!
The omelets at In A Pickle are light and fluffy and fully loaded with any combination of fillings you can imagine. As far as sandwiches go, they recently introduced a few new options including the delicious Grilled Apple Bacon and Cheddar sandwich, a panini that is a delightful combination of sweet apples, smoky bacon, and salty cheddar all grilled in between thick tangy slices of sourdough bread.On weekend mornings In A Pickle can be so packed that a line heads out onto main street, sometimes there is even a waiting list, but during the week, or on weekends after noon you can usually slip in to a table right away. In A Pickle offers both breakfast and lunch options from 6am—3pm and you can check out their extensive menu online. Everything on the menu is also available for take-out. In A Pickle is a great place to get breakfast or lunch in-house or on-the-go next time you have a hankering for fantastic pancakes head on over to In A Pickle on Main street in Waltham you won’t be disappointed!
This post originally featured on Bostonist.com
Friday, July 17, 2009
Of course it took me a week to get around to writing about it but whose counting. If you're not paying attention you might miss Tavolo as you drive down Dorchester Ave it is inconspicuously located in a huge brick building that feels more like a home of offices than a fine dining restaurant. In fact I almost drove right past it. The inside feels like a comfortable family eatery with a slightly avant garde decorator. The the room we were seated in had floor to ceiling chalkboard walls covered in awesome doodles from a local artist. Every time I looked up I saw another thing to make me smile. And the lighting fixtures hanging from the ceiling were so interesting that they kept coming up as topics of conversation all night long.
This dinner was meant to be a showcase of the non-pizza fare that the restaurant has to offer as it moves away from a simple pizzeria and into the realm of fine dining. One awesome thing about dining with food bloggers is that I was not the only person taking pictures when the food arrived. It was really nice to be among others trying to get the perfect shot and swapping picture taking tips.
But I digress, onward to the food!
We started with a watermelon feta salad which was refreshing and accented by chopped mint and basil leaves. Now I'm not normally one for watermelon salad but this was stupendous. The feta was a perfect salty accent to the watery sweet melon and the mint and basil were surprisingly good fresh accents.
Next we were treated to some of the tenderest lightest gnocchi I have ever had with pancetta, pecorino, and local fava beans. The gnocchi was a perfect texture, not too chewy or hard and the chewy salty pancetta really went well with it. This was also a great showcase for the fresh beans and definitely gave me ideas for the future. I think this was my favorite dish of the evening I was really sad when I had finished this dish I could have kept eating it all night.
They brought out some house meatballs to accompany the gnocchi and these were stupendous. I am seriously picky about my meatballs and these passed all of my tests. They were mouthwateringly good. Salty and meaty with the right amount of umami and a clearly superior blend of meats combined with the simply succulent tomato sauce made for the perfect meatball. You can get them as a side order, with pasta or pressed in a panini (something I would really like to sample) If you don't try anything else on Tavolo's menu give these a try!
The next thing on the menu was a swordfish involtini. I really like swordfish though I forget about it from time to time and this was definitely a reminder of the amazing things you can do with swordfish. I've never thought of swordfish as a light and delicate dish. The only way I've ever seen it served is as a steak, so when they presented me with a thin cut of fish rolled around a mash of fontina cheese, garlic and parsley and adorned with a light sauce and sliced tomatoes, I was sceptical. But it was love at first bite. This was amazing, the cheese and garlic really brought out the meatiness of the fish while the delicate cut made it surprisingly light and the flavor combination was unforgettable salty, rich and meaty with the slight tang of tomatoes to cut any possibly fishiness. This was really a wonderful dish and yet another instance of me wanting to eat an entire plate of just this. I was finished with the tiny portion before I even realized it and I kind of mourned the loss of the that amazing flavor.
I got over my disappointment pretty quickly when I noticed that duck was the next thing on the menu. I adore duck, it is really one of my favorite things so I was really excited to see it on the menu. It was perfectly cooked and served with a little bit of current jam, currents tartness always go really well with the rich meatiness of duck and this was no exception. I disagreed with the faro and green beans that were served with it though. The faro was an odd texture to go with the duck and it had an overly earthy aftertaste. The green beans were fine, but not quite cooked enough or salty enough for my taste.
We ended the evening with coffee and a grilled blueberry pound cake with whipped cream and blueberry sauce. I actually split a coffee with a friend because it was late and I wanted to get home but then be able to get to sleep afterwards. I have to say this was great coffee, well balanced and not bitter at all. Though pound cake and blueberries aren't my favorite things. This was a nice light end to the evening and the grilling of the cake was a stroke of genius. There was a light caramelizing of the sugar around the edges of the cake that gave it the perfect texture and flavor, and the light flavor of blueberry cleansed the palate and left me feeling full and satisfied but not over sugared.
Overall I would recommend Tavolo, if for nothing other than the meatballs. I did notice that almost nothing on the menu we sampled was indicated on the regular menu, but I would definitely go back and sample anything on their regular menu. This was a really fantastic meal and I would recommend this place to anyone.
Sometimes it can be hard to take a gluten-free friend out to lunch or dinner. Pubs usually deal in foods that are fried with some sort of flour-based batter, any kind of sandwich is automatically off the menu, even salad dressings can sometimes be a dicey prospect and almost all Italian food is right out. Yet this Bostonist recently accompanied her gluten-free friend to a little pizzeria in Cambridge called Stone Hearth Pizza and discovered a new world of deliciousness, with a side of tasty gluten-free fare. Stone Hearth Pizza has locations in Cambridge, Belmont, and Needham; and is dedicated to providing customers with organic and local fare whenever possible. If you download a menu from their website you can see all the local farms they support, even their beers and wines are local.
Their dedication to local businesses spills over to their customers. What originally brought us to their door was the promise of their gluten-free pizza crust, which it turns out is crispy and light, without a hint of the grittiness that can sometimes accompany gluten-free bread products. Clearly, someone worked hard to get the consistency of this crust just right.
The restaurant's Neapolitan style fire-grilled pizzas are both inventive and well put together without an overabundance of any one ingredient, which creates a nice balance of flavors. The cheeses are fresh and well blended, and in this Bostonist’s opinion, their sauce is just right: not too sweet and not too salty.
There are several pre-imagined options available on their menu, or if you’re in the mood to be creative, just go ahead and make your own concoction from their extensive ingredient list.
The sandwiches at Stone Hearth are just as noteworthy as their pizzas. While the restaurant does not carry gluten-free sandwich bread, these sandwiches really prove that a good sandwich is all about the ingredients. Wraps are not normally this Bostonist’s thing, but it looked so delicious that she had to give it a try, and the chefs were very accommodating when we wanted to add fresh mozzarella to our California wrap. And wow, was it worth the risk!
The California wrap is a simple enough sandwich with romaine lettuce, grilled chicken, avocado, shaved red onions, and lemon Dijon dressing. Somehow the food artists at Stone Hearth Pizza managed to make this simple sandwich into something spectacular; all of the ingredients were chopped very finely and then mixed together with the dressing so that every bite contained a little bit of everything. The wrap was fresh and chewy; it (thankfully) lacked that slightly stale taste and texture that often afflict wraps. The most amazing thing was the avocado, clearly cut fresh as the sandwich was being made because it didn’t exhibit any of the watery loss of flavor that can happen with a pre-cut fruit. Somehow they managed to mush it just enough so that it still maintained enough integrity to not dribble out of the wrap but instead to cling perfectly to every other ingredient to hold the sandwich together. Every bite of this huge wrap was a joy and we kept eating it long after we were full just for the flavor of it.
Stone Hearth Pizza also offers baked pastas, both standard and gluten-free, and some very tasty salads with amazingly good homemade dressings.The Stone Hearth Pizza in Cambridge delivers to areas of Cambridge and Somerville, so check in with your local Stone Hearth Pizza to see if they deliver to you. We highly recommend this gem to everyone and are happy to be able to suggest a gluten-free pizza option to our gluten intolerant friends who are missing their pizza fix.
This post originally appeared on the Bostonist
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I found the idea for this dish on tastespotting. But once I started playing with it I definitely made it my own. This is quite possibly the easiest dinner I have ever made and one that my annoyingly critical husband actually really liked on the first try. I added in the hazelnuts after my husband proclaimed that it, had a nutty flavor, it gives the pasta a nice added crunch.
5 pieces of bacon
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup peas
2 tsp lemon thyme
3 handfuls of arugula
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts (chopped in a food processor)
1/2 a package cooked penne pasta
grated Pecorino Romano cheese
fry up the bacon until it is to your preference ( both crispy and chewy works) remove the bacon so that it can cool for a minute. Pour off about half the bacon fat and add 1/4 cup of water. Add in the peas and simmer for about 5 minutes. Crumble the cooled bacon into smallish pieces and then add the bacon, ricotta, thyme and hazelnuts stir until thoroughly mixed, then add in the pasta and stir until incorporated. Finally, spoon into a pasta bowl and mix in the arugala, sprinkle with the romano.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Ask for a steak recommendation in Boston and people will be climbing over one another to tout the virtues of their favorite steakhouse. From downtown favorites like K.O Prime and Grill 23 to slightly more out of the way options like the Capital Grille in Newton and Natick’s Metro 9 there’s no shortage of great steak options in Boston or the suburbs. Nestled on the ground floor of the Hotel Indigo, located just off I-95 in Newton, BOKX 109 is a fun steak house with a curious name. The first perk of trying this suburban gem is their free valet parking, simply let the nice gentlemen park your car and only worry about the tip. The restaurant is very comfortable, furnished in rich browns and oranges with soft lighting and lots of windows. The kitchen is open with a long, tall chef’s table located right next to it where larger parties can watch all the action. On the other side of the dining area is a small lounge and bar which provides access to the luxurious pool and patio. While BOKX 109 certainly maintains a sophisticated feel, the stuffiness that is often the trademark of a good steakhouse is happily missing. Instead, BOKX 109 offers a fun, chic option for people interested in getting their steak in the suburbs.
BOKX 109 has an innovative way of presenting their menus, printed on brown paper bag material and then folded around their napkins which are super-absorbent dish towels. BOKX’s starters come in three options, Snax, BOKX of greens, and sides. While the sides are clearly meant to go with the steaks, one side is more than enough for an appetizer. Among the actual appetizers, the crab cakes are the standout; three large crab cakes are served atop an apple and a celery root slaw which is divine. The salty, crispy crab cakes are filled with lots of chunky crab meat seasoned to perfection and topped with a light mustard sauce. The slaw was a pleasant surprise and its fresh, sweet taste was a truly different complement to the exemplary crab cakes.
The pear salad was a well balanced light starter with plenty of soft grilled pears served cold, which was surprising but quite good. The sprinkling of pecans added an occasional spicy crunch complimenting the simplicity of the greens and sherry vinaigrette dressing.
BOKX offers entrées in two ways, BOKX cuts with a la carte sides, and American Prime meals with meat and sides included in the price. For her BOKX cut this Bostonist tried the 189, a 10oz tenderloin with sides of truffled potato tots, mac and cheese, creamed spinach, and lobster risotto shared among fellow diners. The chefs at BOKX 109 really know how to cook a steak! A perfect medium, the juicy succulent steak arrived topped with delightfully crispy onion strings. Slightly crispy and salty on the outside and tender on the inside, this is one steak that doesn’t require extra sauces or seasonings; though BOKX 109 does offer a selection of additional sauces for two dollars each.
The sides are a little smaller than usual for a steak house, but at seven dollars apiece they are reasonably priced accompaniments for the steaks, and four sides is definitely enough to feed three people. The mac and cheese is very different; a stringy cheese layer on top conceals pasta sitting in a soupy cheese sauce underneath. This is not your traditional mac and cheese but this lighter version goes really well with the steak and keeps you from getting too full to finish your entree. The spinach was delicious, the shallots and fennel compliment the creaminess of the spinach to give it a very balanced and rich flavor. The lobster risotto was unremarkable, though filled with big chunks of lobster, the flavor is bland and the dish is very heavy. The tater tots, while an interesting idea and the side dish this Bostonist was most interested in tasting, were bland, not salty enough, and too hot to eat for most of the meal, additionally, the ratio of mushiness to crispiness was way too high.
For her second visit, this Bostonist tried the hanger steak with garlic butter and frites. The steak was tender and juicy and the addition of the garlic butter was amazing. Each bite was better than the last as the butter melted a little bit more to blend with the natural juices of the meat. But the real surprise on the plate was the frites. Instead of your standard thin fries, these were shoe string thin pieces of salty, crispy potato, like canned potato sticks only fresh and delicious; we simply couldn’t stop eating them.
Desserts are clearly not the strong suit at BOKX 109. The best things on the dessert menu are the shooters, and even they aren’t great. The dessert shooters are small shot glasses of desserts for three dollars each. It’s an interesting idea that allows people to finish their meal with a little something sweet without stuffing themselves or breaking the bank. The mud pie was by far the best of the four and the only thing we can really recommend on the dessert menu.
However, if you aren’t in the mood for dessert, just ask your waiter for your complimentary dish of cotton candy. The delivery of the cotton candy seems to be a little unclear, on one visit it was brought with our check like a giant fluffy after-dinner mint. Our waiter informed us that they do it every night with every table. However, the next time no cotton candy was forthcoming until we asked for it. We do highly recommend asking for it because BOKX 109 actually has a cotton candy machine on the premises and they make it fresh for every table. This novelty added greatly to our appreciation of this restaurant and their dedication to being a slightly different steak house.
If you’re looking for a more casual dining experience grab a bite at the bar/lounge and enjoy one of BOKX’s inventive and tasty cocktails. For example, the Pineapple Caipirinha is a delightful summer drink with imported rum and pineapple. For those of you who like your martinis, be warned they do have blue cheese stuffed olives, so be prepared to indulge.
For larger groups looking to indulge in a little outdoor dining, make a reservation at one of BOKX 109’s outdoor cabanas. You can enjoy the full menu in the comfort of your own private poolside cabana. The cabanas seat up to eight people and are open all summer long, weather permitting.
Finally, as a nod to these economic times, and in celebration of summer, BOKX109 is offering a three course pre-fix menu for $20.09. You can find the menu on their website, along with directions and some other summer deals.
Overall, while BOKX 109 is not our absolute favorite steakhouse, it is definitely worth regular visits for the food, the drinks, and of course the cotton candy.
This post originally appeared on Bostonist.com
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Mr. Sushi in Arlington is more than a safe bet for dining in the raw; in fact, it’s by far this Bostonist’s favorite Japanese restaurant. Mr. Sushi offers options for every appetite. Classic maki rolls (with the rice on the outside) are small enough to be eaten in a single bite, but not so small that you feel cheated. The less common nori maki rolls (wrapped with seaweed on the outside) are crisp and never rubbery. Mr. Sushi also offers a great variety of nigiri sushi—or, as this Bostonist likes to call it, big slabs of fish laid on rice. These staples are accented by several interesting specialty rolls, like the Caterpillar (an eel maki roll with avocado laid over the top) and the Dragon (a California roll draped with slabs of eel), to name a few. Mr. Sushi also offers several vegetarian rolls, so the place is great for accommodating a large group with different eating habits. The sushi is always fresh and tasty, and nothing that we've tried has ever had an overly fishy flavor.
Even the cooked sushi shines. The shrimp tempura roll, which can suffer from sogginess in the hands of a lesser chef, is always crispy and never greasy or overcooked.
If sushi isn’t your thing, Mr. Sushi also offers a great variety of Japanese dishes. The chicken teriyaki is tender and sweet with salty undertones and topped with crunchy sesame seeds that add a slightly nutty note. The dish comes with an abundance of vegetables and is served with plenty of sauce to pour over the rice. If you’re feeling hungry, try the dinner plate, which includes with rice, miso soup, and a small salad. The chicken Katsu is a crispy delight with a uniquely flavored sauce that is mostly salty with just a hint of sweet.
Overall, the prices at Mr. Sushi are decent: meals like the chicken teriyaki and the chicken Katsu come in under 20 dollars and leave you satisfied. The sushi is reasonably priced, and the rolls are decently sized in addition to being well balanced and delicious. While the décor is nothing special, Mr. Sushi has plenty of space to accommodate big groups, as well as small, cozy tables and booths for more intimate dining. The wait staff is always courteous and knowledgeable, and the service is swift and pleasant.
Located in Arlington Center (691 Massachusetts Avenue), Mr. Sushi is open seven days a week for both lunch and dinner. Parking can sometimes be a problem on weekend nights because of the Mass Ave. location, but circling the block a few times will usually land you a space. If you aren’t in the mood for dining in, Mr. Sushi delivers within the immediate area and provides take-out, which this Bostonist can tell you generally survives the trip very well. Mr. Sushi also has a location in Brookline at 329 Harvard Street.While Mr. Sushi doesn’t have a website, the restaurants provide mostly standard sushi and Japanese fare, so you can guess your options until you’re able to drop by and pick up a menu. Don’t forget to check out the weeknight sushi deals; you can often get a free maki roll with the purchase of a specialty roll, and Mr. Sushi has even been known to host all-you-can-eat sushi nights!
Monday, June 29, 2009
Ok, so I've always wanted to try Ikea's meatballs, I've heard friends rave about them for years. So when a friend wanted to head to Ikea to spruce up her new diggs we deiced that at about hour 3 we needed a lunch break. The swedish meatballs were addictivly bad. Not the disturbing concoctions of my grade school caffeteria (the only other place I've ever had swedish meatballs). Instead these were both bland and mouthwateringly tasty at the same time. When the lovely lady behind the counter served them up I thought there's no way I was going to eat all of those meatballs but after five minutes they were gone. I can't remember what they normally come with but I ordered them with pasta which was frankly unnecessary I could have just eaten the meatballs with gravy and the strange lindgon berry sauce that accompanies them. I have to say I'm really glad I tried Ikeas meatballs if for no reason other than that now I want to try to make them myself. I mean hey, if Ikea can do it so can I.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
After months of blissfully enjoying the wonderfulness of my panini press, I decided to get creative the other night when my husband called out quesadillas as a response to the age old question; "What do you want for dinner." These beauties not only tasted better than the ones you bake in the oven they looked beautiful. I felt like I was in a restaurant.
2 chicken breasts cut into thin strips
1 medium yellow onion
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 packet old el paso taco seasoning
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1 tsp goya
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 four tortillas
1/2 cup grated monteray jack cheese
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
in a small bowl cover the chicken strips and onions with olive oil, then evenly sprinkle them with seasonings. Next throw everything in a pan and cook until the chicken is cooked and the onions are translucent. Spread half of the chicken and onions evenly over one half of a tortilla. Cover with cheese and fold the tortilla in half so that the chicken and cheese are encased in tortilla. Place the tortilla on the panini maker until the cheese is melted. Repeat with the second tortilla. Serve with guacamole and sour cream.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
If you live in the Waltham area, it’s likely that you have passed Taqueria Mexico a number of times and never really noticed it. Tucked away at the end of Charles Street a block away from where it connects to Moody, Taqueria Mexico is a hidden gem worth finding.
We originally discovered it while in search of Mexican food that didn’t require an hour wait (like Margaritas down the street). A quick Google search revealed this small Mexican place that we had been driving by for months.
The décor at Taqueria Mexico isn’t going to win any awards. The restaurant is filled with basic booths and tables and lightly decorated with authentic touches. There are two televisions playing all the time, though they are usually tuned to Spanish language channels. The focus at Taqueria Mexico is the food. They boast an extensive menu with the first page consisting entirely of a la carte items like tacos, quesadillas, burritos, and nachos. Almost everything offered on this first page is under nine dollars, sometimes even under five; however, several of these items are small and it’ll take a couple of them to fill you up. The rest of the menu features a mix of authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex fare such as enchiladas, fajitas, ceviche, and a slightly disturbing tongue plate. These larger entrees won’t break the bank either, most items on the main course menu cost fewer than eleven dollars.
All of the food we’ve tried at Taqueria Mexico has been delicious. Some of our favorite entrees are the crispy chorizo taco and the tasty taquitos. The tender, salty chorizo meat, nestled inside a crispy shell and topped with lettuce and sour cream, may seem simple—but the complex flavor of the chorizo makes this taco a must-order no matter what else you’re getting for dinner. Eight small taquitos—crunchy corn tortillas wrapped around lightly seasoned chicken and topped with sour cream and guacamole—can easily become an appetizer for a table of four or most of an entrée for one. The nachos are good, though the enormous pile of toppings makes the chips go soggy quickly. The pollo enchiladas with poblano sauce are well rounded and filling with a rich combination of flavors. The chicken is moist and salty under the rich muddy flavor of the spicy poblano sauce.
Though the restaurant doesn’t serve hard liquor, it does offer a variety of beers, as well as some tasty sangria which is also fairly cheap. There's a small outdoor seating area, a rare commodity in Waltham, though it will have to stop raining before it becomes practical again. (Things are looking up on this front!)
Overall, Taqueria Mexico provides good solid Mexican food at a great price. The resturant can be crowded on weekend nights but the wait is seldom more than 15 minutes. Take-out is available. You can find the menu on the restaurant's website.
This post was originally featured on the Bostonist
Sunday, June 21, 2009
And this weekend when that happened to me, instead of making my husband take me out to Brunch, I decided to save some money and make an interesting brunchy concoction on my own. I was craving two things, eggs Benedict, and some kind of breakfast tart, like a quiche but less eggy and more other stuff. So, I started out trying to make the eggs benny. And as always, I found that for some reason the creation of a workable hollendaise sauce eludes me. I don't know why but I am just not capable of getting that sauce right. So, amidst my frustration I decided to try for the tart.
Puff pastry was the tart base of choice, so I took a sheet of puff pastry and built up the sides so that there would be a well for ingredients to sit in the middle. I wanted a kind of egg base, so I combined eggs and a little bit of cream and then used it as an egg wash for the puff pastry wall and then poured the rest in the middle, on top of the eggs I put,some torn up thinly sliced prosciutto. Then I added caramelized onions, pecorino Romano cheese, dubliner cheese, and aged Pecorino Romano. I topped the whole thing off with some very thin slices of tomato and then baked the whole lot at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. The results were spectacular. A delicious and filling breakfast tart with different complex flavor combinations in every bit. The butteryness of the puff pastry combined really well with the sweetness of the caramelized onions and the saltiness of the prosecutor coupled delightfully with the sweet tartness of the tomato slices. And underneath it all the eggs and cream created a light quichey texture for the whole tart. Overall I would call this breakfast an unqualified success. Hooray for experimenting!