30 June 2010

get and stay fit!



check out Bunner's fitness blog here and and latest mad tasty video blog on how to make a quick lean meal here!

27 June 2010

an exciting disaster

Oh readers, let me tell you a tale of two thirds fail. My second Boston Organics delivery was chock full of vegetables I'd never really cooked with before, and I was ready for the challenge. But some challenges remind you that life is full of setbacks, and the important thing is to keep on going.


So everything started okay. I had some potatoes from a shopping trip that needed to get used up, so I threw them on the boil. I mean the basics of mashed potatoes are pretty easy, right? Boil the potatoes until they're soft, with or without skin, then mash into a bowl with milk/cream, cheese maybe and salt & pepper.


From the Boston Organics order, I had a bunch of spinach, which I chopped and simmered in olive oil with an orange pepper and some onions. Then I sort of saw the eggplant of the corner of my eye and decided to throw that in. I skinned it, sort of squared it (cut the sides off some it was moderately rectangular), and then cubed it. I had done this for a nut loaf before, and liked the way it looked. But that wasn't where the fail came in -- because I hate dry/rubbery eggplant, I decided I should add some veggie stock to make it juicy. It did that, I guess. But mostly, it just made it taste like soup. The most boring soup you've ever had.



You may have noticed that I shied away from explaining further about the mashed potato, well, no, that was not the 1/3 win. I also had a beet handy. I've posted my beet salad before -- oh wait! i haven't! i must do that! -- but I wasn't ready for anything quite so sweet. So, yeah, I boiled up a beet and threw it in the mash, which made it this ludicrous pink. It didn't mash as well as the potato, probably need another twenty minutes longer if it would ever get that way. And THEN I ADDED HAZELNUTS. Le sigh. Awful idea. Great with potato salad, but there is nothing great about hard nuts in your mashed potato, because even though you know what's in there, every time you bite down on the nut you just get this idea that the potatoes didn't cook enough. Awful.


However, the meal was saved by the asparagus. It was beautiful, a great mix between thin and thick, and I copied a recipe Nicole told me over drinks -- brush them with olive oil, salt & pepper, then broil in the oven for 15 mins. I also took the liberty of adding some secret seasoning. I'm not gonna lie, they were AMAZING. Anyone baking asparagus instead of broiling or grilling is a fool. There, I said it.

Anyway, I look forward to righting the wrongs I inflicted on these innocent vegetables in the future. Thanks for listening.

24 June 2010

The whole duck experience. . .

Venturing out to a restaurant I have had my eye on for sometime now, we ate dinner a few weeks ago at Salt's in Cambridge . While I'd like to say that my desire to dine here came from rave reviews or knowing any chef training with Jody Adams of Rialto is fantastic, the truth is, I came because they have one item I simply cannot pass up: A whole roasted duck for two.


That's it. A whole roasted duck for two. It comes out on a push cart, nicely browned, stuffed with a calvados, sausage and herb mixture, accompanied by spring onions and roasted heirloom carrots and drizzled in lavendar honey and a rhubarb gastrique. They nicely carve it up and sent the two of us home with enough to make 2 more meals each with duck. and, its only $65. deal.


Before I get too far, let me take you through the full restaurant experience: its small, dimly lit and somewhat formal. They start you out with the most amazing homemade bread whose bottom has been brushed in butter and dipped in coarse sea salt. followed by an amuse bouche, complimentary of course, of a potato cream soup with bacon foam and chives. We of course ordered an appetizer - which was a poached farm egg nestled in bed of green garlic oat risotto, burgundy escargot, morelle mushrooms surrounded by a gruyere and walnut oil gastrique. Then they brought the duck and asked preference for part, carving it right in front. We were far too stuffed for dessert, but they provided a palate cleanser of homemade cocoa marshmallows and rasberry jam bites. Yum.


So, you ask, as we walked away from this dinner overly satisified and were feeling a bit guilty at how pleasurable the experience was, what were we to do with all that extra duck? Well, we managed to do a duck salad, mix it in with sprouts and shredded carrots and make into egg rolls, make duck cakes and lastly, indulge over breakfast in this masterpiece:
Pictured: baby potatoes with left over spring onions, heirloom carrots and wilted spinach, topped with sauteed duck, fried egg and a spritz of hot sauce.


23 June 2010

Biscotti with Cranberries and Pistachios

Biscotti with Cranberries and Pistachios (from Bon App├ętit, December 2003)
  • 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon whole aniseed
  • 1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
  • ¾ cup shelled natural unsalted pistachios
  • 6 ounces imported white chocolate, chopped
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl.
  4. Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl to blend well.
  5. Beat in eggs 1 at a time.
  6. Mix in lemon peel, vanilla, and aniseed.
  7. Beat in flour mixture just until blended.
  8. Stir in cranberries and pistachios (dough will be sticky).
  9. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface.
  10. Gather dough together; divide in half. Roll each half into 15-inch-long log (about 1 1/4 inches wide).
  11. Carefully transfer logs to 1 prepared baking sheet, spacing 3 inches apart.
  12. Bake logs until almost firm to touch but still pale, about 28 minutes.
  13. Cool logs on baking sheet 10 minutes while maintaining oven temperature.
  14. Carefully transfer logs still on parchment to cutting board.
  15. Using serrated knife and gentle sawing motion, cut logs crosswise into generous 1/2-inch-thick slices.
  16. Place slices, 1 cut side down, on remaining 2 prepared sheets.
  17. Bake until firm and pale golden, about 9 minutes per side.
  18. Transfer cookies to racks and cool.
  19. Line another baking sheet with waxed paper.
  20. Stir white chocolate in top of double boiler over barely simmering water just until smooth.
  21. Remove from over water.
  22. Dip 1 end of each cookie into melted chocolate, tilting pan if necessary; shake off excess chocolate.
  23. Place cookies on prepared sheet.
  24. Chill until chocolate is firm, about 30 minutes.

16 June 2010

Easy Tomato Soup Spice Cake


Recently I was looking online for quick and easy dessert recipes. I found one for a spice cake that uses tomato soup instead of oil. Not a bad idea... I am going to give it a try. Here is how to make it, via allrecipes.com:


Ingredients

* 1 (18.25 ounce) package spice cake mix
* 1 (10.75 ounce) can Condensed Tomato Soup
* 1/2 cup water
* 2 eggs

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and lightly flour two 8-inch or 9-inch round cake pans.
2. Mix cake mix, soup, water and eggs according to package directions. Pour into prepared pans.
3. Bake 25 minutes or until done.
4. Cool on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely.
5. Fill and frost with your favorite cream cheese frosting.

05 June 2010

lettuce on pasta



This meal felt somewhat controversial. To start with, I'd just received my first box from Boston Organics, and was pleased. Thing is, I may be a vegetarian but I hate lettuce. I didn't want to put it on my no list even though I could just in case the lettuce was the kind of green that'd make me change my mind, but when it arrived I still felt cold. So, I decided to put it on pasta.

Now I'm not sure where I read this, but someone out there on the great wide web thought that it would be a great idea to tell folks that if they got too much lettuce in their farmshare that they should saute it with olive oil and salt & pepper. So I did. As you can see, it looks like I was stirfrying a salad.


With the help of time, it began to look more like the sort of pasta topping I'd hoped for. The greens ended up looking like bak choy, and tasting similarly, albeit slightly more bitter. I threw it on gluten-free pasta with baby tomatoes, onions and some pesto and it went down pretty well.

02 June 2010

Cold Brewing Iced Coffee


I love iced coffee. It all started with peer pressure when I was working at Boston Duck Tours in college, but I am thankful that my coworkers brought me to the dark (espresso?) side. I drink iced coffee year round... and often make it myself at home. Here is a great method for cold-brewing which supposedly produces magical iced coffee:

Cold Brewing Iced Coffee, via the Internet Food Association:

"What you need to do is fill a pitcher with a mixture of water and coffee (if you’re grinding your own, aim for a coarse grind) in a ratio of about 1 cup of coffee to about 4.5 cups of water. Stir it up to mix, and stick it in the fridge for, ideally, a 12 hour overnight brew. In the morning, strain the mixture. If your strainer isn’t fine-meshed enough (mine isn’t) you can supplement it with a paper coffee filter. Now you’ve got a delicious pitcher of coffee concentrate. Pour some over an ice cube and enjoy! Most authorities I’ve consulted actually suggest that you dilute the concentrate with some water or milk. I don’t, personally, find that to be necessary since the cold-brewing process leaves you with a coffee that’s all singing flavors and no acid and bitterness, but who am I to contradict the authorities if that’s how you prefer to drink it."

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