Monday, December 24, 2012

Fantastic Berry Sauce

There is a local restaurant Solea . They make a roast duck leg and breast with a berry sauce that I LOVE. I sometimes have a hard time not licking it off of the plate. When I decided to learn to make duck I decided to make up my own version of this sauce as well. All of the people who have tried my sauce say that it's like Solea's only better. That may be because they love me but I honestly have to keep myself from drinking this stuff straight. :) Enjoy!

Berry sauce. 
1 cup of pom wonderful pomegranate juice 
3/4 cup of Pama pomegranate Liquor 
1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar 
2 packages blackberries
2 packages raspberries 
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1T honey 

Combine the pomegranate juice, Pama, and Balsamic Vinegar. Let simmer for 5 minutes until a bit of the alcohol has cooked off. 

Add in the berries and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the blackberries are starting to break down. You can encourage the berries to break down by smushing them a little.
Once the berries have broken down, strain through a fine mesh sieve. Use a rubber spatula to get all of the pulp possible off of the berries. (Warning, this will take a little while and might hurt your wrist, if you can get a helper to relieve you for a couple of minutes do it!) Discard the seeds once you are certain you aren't going to get anything out of them. Then clean the sieve and strain one more time to make sure you haven't missed any seeds. Return to the original pan, again make sure there are no seeds in there. Set the heat to low to heat the sauce up. Add honey or lemon juice to taste, you want it to be tart enough that your mouth waters but still with a sweet edge to it. 

This makes a crapton of sauce, but it freezes really well so you can use it later, this stuff is great on duck, butternut squash, on top of a baked brie and I'm sure it has many other uses as well.

Butternut Squash Puree

This is a combination of my own original recipe and some advice I got from a chef at a food event. This swirled with my berry sauce is a beautiful addition to any holiday table and it's also delicious and pretty good for you for those of you looking for a side dish that won't pack on the extra pounds.

Butternut squash puree

2 butternut squash 
2 T olive oil
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2-3T honey 
3-4T light cream 
dash of nutmeg
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 
Line a baking sheet with grill foil, or regular foil brushed with olive oil.
Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds. Brush the flesh with olive oil. Place the squash halves skin side up on the baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes or until a fork can pierce the flesh easily. Let the squash cool until you can remove the skin. Place the flesh in a bowl and use an emersion blender to puree ( you can also use a blender, or Cuisinart). Once the puree is smooth, you can mix in the honey, cream, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg to taste. You want a nice rich puree with some character. 

Foolproof Roast Duck

Pic to come when I find it on my hard drive.

This year for Christmas I made a duck. Oh I've done it before, heck it's practically a specialty of mine at this point. But this year I made it on Christmas Eve for my in-laws and my husband. Just the four of us. It was lovely. I've made this recipe a bunch of times but I never write it down. So that's what I'm doing this time over the next few days you'll get the whole recipe complete with butternut squash puree and an approximation of the berry sauce I make which is good on meat and veggies alike. Enjoy and Merry Christmas to all who celebrate, Happy Holidays to everyone else and a Happy New Year to all.

Foolproof Roast Duck
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary chopped
2T of salt
2T fresh ground pepper
a whole duck

Preheat oven to 425.
Rinse the duck with cold water inside and out. Use a pruning knife and your fingers to work your way between the skin and fat of the duck and the flesh of the duck, this will be a difficult and delicate procedure but totally worth it. Once you have a space between the duck flesh and the fat rub the flesh with salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary. Sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary over the outside of the skin of the duck and use the remains of the spices to season the cavity of the duck. Use a paring knife to make shallow pricks everywhere but drumsticks. Don't forget the areas where the thighs join the body.  Use a light touch with paring knife to gently crosshatch skin's top layer on breast side to facilitate release of fat. Be careful not to cut all the way through skin into flesh. Place in roasting pan breast side up. Roast for 50 minutes. Remove duck from oven and Tilt duck to drain, pouring juices from cavity into roasting pan. Flip the duck using two forks, tongs or turkey lifters. Roast for another 50 minutes. Flip one last time and roast breast side up for another 40-50 minutes, if it looks done it probably is, you want it to be 165 degrees on a meat thermometer.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Roasted butternut squash soup

A few weeks ago or a month I don't remember now. Someone invited me to a soup pot luck. I was feeling lazy the day I was asked so I planned on stopping and picking up soup at New England Soup Factory. However, at the last minute my obsessive nature kicked in and I decided that I needed to make soup. I was feeling really obsessed with Roasted butternut squash soup in particular so I set out to find an easy recipe to make. Then I got worried about it coming out wrong so I of course made another soup but that is for a different post.
Of course Williams-Sonoma came through with an easy recipe. The recipe below is adapted from this one.

2 large butternut squashes, each 1 1/2 to 2 lb.
olive oil
6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
4 large shallots, chopped
8 fresh sage leaves, shredded
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock or canned broth
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Ground nutmeg, to taste, if needed
Pinch of sugar, if needed
1/3 cup hazelnuts
Preheat an oven to 400°F.

Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Then, brush the flesh with olive oil and place skin up flesh down on a baking pan covered with tin foil ( if you can find grill foil I highly recommend it). Roast until they feel somewhat soft to the touch and a knife penetrates the skin easily, about 45 min-1 hour. Remove from the oven and, when cool enough to handle remove the skin.

While the squashes are cooling, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant and the skins have loosened, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and, while still warm, place the nuts in a kitchen towel. Rub the towel vigorously to remove the skins; do not worry if small bits of skin remain. run them through a food processor for a couple of pulses to chop them up.

In a large soup pot saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the shallots and the sage and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are tender and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the stock and squash pulp, raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for a few minutes to combine the flavors. Remove from the heat.

Use an immersion blender to smooth out the soup ( alternatively you could blend the soup in batches in a food processor or blender but this soup is practically made for an immersion blender.  Reheat gently over medium-low heat. Season with salt and pepper. If the squash is starchy rather than sweet, a little nutmeg will help. If the nutmeg does not give the proper flavor balance, add a pinch of sugar. This is a nice basic butternut squash soup but, if you want to add a little kick  you can add some fresh ginger to taste before you blend the soup.

The hazelnuts are meant to be an optional garnish but I personally refuse to eat this soup without them.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Charcoal Guidos

 The closing of the upper crust left a bit of a thin crust pizza gap on Moody street. Well, this week a new restaurant stepped up to fill that gap. Charcoal Guido's opened for lunch and dinner this past Wednesday. I managed to get there with some friends on Saturday night ( not our best choice timing wise).

The decor is very cute well put together and the bar looks really great, the top shelf of liquors is even bookended with two bottles of skull vodka, a touch that definitely gave me a smile. For such an epic looking bar the drink list was a bit of a let down, hopefully something they will work out in the coming months.

We started with the lamb skewers and Arancini. The lamb skewers were simple and delicious, definitely a must get for meat lovers. The Arancini was very good as well nice and crispy on the outside with the right amount of soft rice and melty cheese on the inside. Then we moved onto the pizzas which were excellent. We were a table of 4 and we split 3 pizzas leaving 1/2 a pizza of leftovers. We tried the prosciutto, the sausage and ricotta and the diavola. The prosciutto was a lighter treat with a no sauce pizza crust topped with salty prosciutto, slightly sweet thin slices of cheese and lightly dressed arugala. The ricotta and sausage was a pizza overflowing with high quality italian sausage melt in your mouth ricotta, tomato sauce and caramelized onions. While this one lost something in the structural integrity department the flavors were perfect. I didn't try the Diavola but my friend who did was extremely happy with her choice to add it to our table. There were also tasty looking salad, pasta and entree options that we didn't end up partaking in on this trip but will definitely try next time we stop in. The prices are pretty good with our entire meal coming out to around 70 dollars for 4 people though none of us partook of the alcohol offerings.

This brand new restaurant definitely still has some kinks to work out in the logistics department the waiting area is small, the putting your name in for a table process is disorganized, there are no reservations,  it's VERY loud, the space could benefit from some experimenting with the table placement, and they haven't quite worked out a take out option yet.

However, the quality of the food does making dealing with these inconveniences worth it. Just maybe stay away on Friday and Saturday nights until they have themselves together a little bit more.
All in all I am very excited about this new addition to Moody Street and I'm also excited to check out their lunch menu ( I'll update here once I do).

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Gaff

Photo courtesy of the Gaff website

I'm not normally a bar kind of Gal, but I've been to the same bar twice this weekend, so it might be time to talk about it. The Gaff is a little bar on Moody street that I absolutely adore. It's cozy and not too loud, and while it usually does decent business it's never packed. When you sit down there is always a fresh bowl of popcorn to munch on and right next to the front windows there are two couches which are just perfect for me and my friends, we can lounge, hear one another and have our drinks while looking out the window. We love them so much that we have started thinking of them as our couches since they are almost always open when we go in.

The drinks are excellent and very reasonably priced and they have my second favorite cider ( Samuel Smiths). They also have a huge beer selection and at least one cider on tap. What's not to love?! Oh and did I mention they make a good burger, a tasty hot dog, and FRIED PICKLES. The Gaff is also conveniently located across the street from Tempo, Habaneros, and a new restaurant ,Charcoal Guidos, (more on that place tomorrow) so if you find yourself waiting for a table and wanting a drink to pass the time it's a great option. I fully intend to spend more time there in the coming months and I highly recommend it. But if you do decide to visit. Stay off our couches :)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Annwich ( a flatbread chicken sandwich)


So I make this sandwich using the grill. My husband has named it the Annwhich (which if you know my husband is totally him. :) It's based on the Navajo sandwich from Cheesecake factory but... a bit better for you and pretty darn addictive if I do say so myself.

The Annwich

For the chicken:
3 chicken breasts
1 tbs olive oil
garlic powder
crushed rosemary

For the bread:
1 package store bought pizza dough divided in half
shredded asiago cheese just enough to sprinkle on the pizza dough while it cooks

For the spicy mayo:
1/2 a cup olive oil mayo
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried crushed rosemary
dash of goya adobo with pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder

For the final sandwich:
1 package arugula
1 avocado sliced thin

Start with the chicken. Toss the chicken in the olive oil and then add enough goya, garlic powder, and crushed rosemary so that both sides of the chicken are evenly coated. Grill the chicken for approximately 15 minutes ( around 7 minutes per side). Check to make sure the chicken is done you can always put it on for longer if need be.

For the bread. Oil the grill. Then stretch the pizza dough into two pieces, they can be any shape, but try to keep the anomalies symmetrical ( you're going to be cutting these in half later). Place the shaped pizza dough on the oiled grill. Sprinkle with asiago cheese. Grill for approx 5 minutes on one side ( you can take a peek and see if the grilling side is appropriately browned if not leave on for a little longer). Flip the dough and sprinkle this side with asiago cheese. Grill for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat when finished.

For the mayo, place all ingredients in a bowl and stir. I find that sometimes I need more chili powder or paprika, the proportions indicated above are approximate, season to personal taste.

Now you're ready to assemble the sandwich. Cut the bread in half whichever way the bread pieces will fit together best (this is where the symmetrical anomalies come in) spread with mayo. Line one side of the bread with chicken and then top with avocado pieces. Top with arugala and cover with other half of bread. Cut the sandwich in half. VOILA yummy Annwichy goodness.

total calories per serving approx 450 calories ( though we try to only eat 1/2 of the sandwiches and then save the other 1/2 for the next day)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Breakfast is the bane of my existence. I mean sure I've been known to indulge in the occasional weekend pancake or eggs Benedict but that is usually consumed well after noon and enjoyed only when someone else makes it for me. However, when I started trying to lose weight this summer I realized that breakfast is a necessary evil. Since I hate it I didn't mind just closing my eyes and bearing it while kick starting my metabolism with such vile treats as a 90 calorie packet of cottage cheese or some really yummy (note the sarcasam) egg whites. I started out on just protein because everything I read from low glycemic index advice columns to weight loss books suggested that kick starting your metabolism works better with protein and no sugar. Eventually I relented and added some "Gasp" fruit. Making it cottage cheese and blueberries or egg whites and strawberries.

Then, women's health showed me that I could ( occasionally cause I am still trying to cut back on carbs) eat something delicious for breakfast. Vans makes a series of not to bad for you frozen waffles, even the light ones are tasty and they all have some protein in them. Best part, the light ones are only 140 calories for 2 waffles. The twist is that you then add protein to the mix with some almond butter, but we're not done, drizzle some honey ( just a little) over almond butter and add some chopped strawberries and a few raspberries on top and POOF, you have a delicious and not too bad for you breakfast. If you make both waffles and use two tablespoons of almond butter (a serving) plus 1/4 cup of strawberries and raspberries the whole thing comes to. 364 calories for the whole kit and caboodle. However if this feels like too much you can have 2 egg whites and 1 waffle for just 216 calories ( this breakfast is totally worth 216 calories, it will keep you full for hours and is good fuel for a workout as well as a long morning at work) and the prep time is only about 15 minutes. I just wanted to share this one since it is so easy and was such a wonderful addition to my morning routine.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Black bean and turkey soup

I know I haven't been here in a while and I don't know how often I'll be able to update but I've gone through some changes in the past few months. I've started eating... healthily. I know I know what the hell. But I had a health scare and decided I needed to lose some weight. While I am perfectly happy working out to lose weight that never quite does it for me, even if it is a big part, so I had to make some diet changes. But not an actual DIET. Recently one of my friends suggested that maybe I should start writing about my new recipes because well, I've become a better cook in the past few years and I'm all about discovering new delicious stuff that maybe isn't quite as bad for me. So here is one I found online and made on a whim last night. I think it turned out pretty good and we'll definitely be making it again. Adapted from food and wine magazine
 1/4 pound sliced bacon, cut into bits (around 6 slices)
 1 onion, chopped
 1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
2 teaspoons dried oregano
 2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 3/4 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree (one 15-ounce can)
1 quart canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
1 2/3 cups drained and rinsed canned black beans (one 15-ounce can)
 1 pound of leftover roasted turkey breast cut into 1 in cubes
 10 ounces spinach, stems removed, leaves washed and cut crosswise into strips 

In a large stainless-steel pot, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pot. If you use center cut bacon I found that you don't have to drain off the fat. Reduce the heat to moderately low. Add the onion to the pot and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, cocoa, Tabasco sauce, oregano, salt, pepper, tomatoes, and broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the black beans and turkey to the pot. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the bacon. You can add the spinach in at this point and cook for a minute, or if you aren't planning on eating all at once you can add the spinach to the very hot bowls of soup and let them wilt in the bowls so you don't have wilty spinach in your leftovers. Serve with grated cheddar cheese and fritos or Tostidos. If you want to make it a little lighter eliminate the toppings. Serves 2 dinner portions and 2 lunch portions or 3 large dinner portions. Approximately 300 calories per serving