Monthly Archives: August 2010

zucchini lemon pasta

There are a few food blogs that I check pretty regularly, but hands down my favorite is Smitten Kitchen.  When I saw this recipe of hers there was no question about whether I was going to make it, it was when.  You see, I love any quick simple pasta that involves lemon.   Oh, and there’s cheese!

When I had already picked up the zucchini for this recipe, my sister sent me a different but similar zucchini pasta recipe.  When I responded that we were once again on the same wavelength, she wrote back that she had seen this recipe and wasn’t going to  make it because she didn’t have a mandoline.  Oh.  Oops, I missed that part.  But it wasn’t going to stop me! I had a fleeting thought that I could just cutting them thicker, but scoffed at the idea. I would do it by hand!  So I painstakingly cut the first zucchini into teeny tiny slivers.  Then Joseph came along and finished the next two double time with his master cutting skills. Continue reading


Thomas Keller’s Caramelized Sea Scallops

Joseph insisted that instead of going out for his birthday, he wanted to make a nice meal at home and break open a bottle of wine that we brought back from our honeymoon in Napa last year.  One of the restaurants that we went to on our honeymoon was Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc (French Laundry wasn’t quite in our budget, not to mention it’s really hard to get reservations) and I gave Joseph Keller’s new cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home for Christmas.  Now, Thomas Keller’s cooking at home isn’t quite what we do at home on an average weekday night (I wish).  In fact, we hadn’t made anything from it yet, although Joseph has found the book to have really helpful tips, for example, how long to let meat rest before serving.  I mostly like to look at all the pretty pictures.

Anyway, while many of the recipes are bit more involved, Joseph found a very simple recipe that he wanted to make and oh my goodness, you need to do yourself a favor and try it in your home right away.  It’s very, very simple, and very, very tasty.  A perfectly caramelized scallop is pure perfection – a sweet little treat from the sea. We served them with roasted broccoli and some rice, threw in a cheese course (Camembert that we brought back from the French airport highrollers that we are), all served with Joseph Phelps’ 2007 Sauvignon Blanc. The result was a meal that tasted so good it felt like we’d spent a small fortune at a great restaurant and the cleanup was pretty minimal so we weren’t left with a mess wishing that we had gone out. Continue reading


macaron expédition

Remember my search for a macaron that rivaled the one I got in France?  Well, I hadn’t given up the search, but until this past weekend, the only other macarons I had tried were the ones from the River St. Whole Foods in Cambridge.  They were good, fine, whatever, but not worthy of their own post.  Luckily my sister-in-law, Jordan, tipped me off that Joyce Bakeshop in Brooklyn has amazing French macarons.  Now, a tiny disclaimer here that Jordan and her husband Mark are actually good friends of Joyce and her husband.  That said, this place is awesome, all family connections aside. In addition to the great vibe and friendly, helpful staff (definite bonuses, but let’s not kid ourselves about the most important component of a bakeshop!), the goods here are are more than good.  The shop has shelf after shelf of delectable treats of all kinds (chocolate cakes, fruit tarts, and puff pastry, oh my!) that I just can’t decide between.

joyce bakeshop

I could go on and on, but it would make me too hungry and not to mention depressed because I live 4 hours away.  But we were in New York this weekend visiting Mark and Jordan (and little almost 2-year-old Amelia!) and for a wedding luncheon and frankly, there was no way I was leaving the state without going to Joyce’s and getting a macaron.  We went Saturday night but alas, it was too late in the day and they were out of macarons.  So we tried again the next afternoon on our way out of town.  Success! The second that I saw that they had macarons I ran and  told the guy at the counter that I needed one of every flavor.  I was in such a rush that I forgot to ask what flavors they were, so it’s kind of a guess… but I think we got coffee, vanilla, and salted caramel.

Yum, yum, yum.  These are definitely the best stateside macarons we’ve had!  They had the perfect balance of a delicate crunch of the outer meringue and ooey gooey middle.  The vanilla was quite tasty, but not my favorite of the three (but vanilla rarely – ok, never – is).  The coffee flavor was very subtle and super delicious.  The caramel macaron was also quite good, but what I really loved was the salt.  I wonder what kind of salt it was?  The big flaky grains had a really sharp flavor and I wish I had some in my cupboard.  I don’t know, maybe it was kosher salt after all and the yummy macaron just heightened the flavor experience.  All in all, I strongly suggest you begin planning your next trip to Brooklyn right now and make sure you get to Joyce’s early enough to get yourself a macaron (or 10).


shrimp tacos with tomato, radish, and habañero

Ok, it’s been a while since I’ve shared a recipe and here I am sharing another Rick Bayless recipe, also from Mexican Everyday.  This is the perfect summer meal — nice and light, crisp, and refreshing.

These tacos do pack a bit of heat from the habeñero, which is considerably spicier than jalepeños, but nothing too serious and the citrusy radish salad helps soften the heat level. Rick’s directions don’t specify whether you are to seed and de-rib the pepper and Joseph nearly didn’t which I believe would result in something nearly inedible for most people.  The ribs (the white part running the length of the inside of the chile) and the seeds pack the biggest punch of peppers, and like I said, habeñeros are up there on the heat charts. Check out cookthink.com for great tips on how to cut chiles.  Please also remember not to handle the seeds or ribs with your bare hands because the oils will remain long after and then you’ll go to take out your contacts and you will be very sorry. You can always use a plastic bag or something if you’re worried about it.

There’s really nothing else to say about about this dish, other than to make sure you make these before summer slips away and also make sure you check out his tips on how to reheat store-bought corn tortillas.  Failure to do so will result in lots of ripped up tortillas and that’s a promise.

Shrimp Tacos with Tomato, Radish, and Habañero
Adapted from Rick Bayless

Serves 4

1 to 1 1/4 lb medium-small shrimp, cooked and peeled*
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 small white onion, finely chopped
6 radishes, thinly sliced
1 fresh habeñero (or jalepeño), stemmed and finely chopped
2 large ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped in 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 cup (loosely packed) chopped cilantro
salt
12 warm corn tortillas (reheat using Rick’s technique if you get store-bought)

Combine the shrimp, lime juice, onion, radishes, chile, tomatoes, and cilantro in a bowl. Season to taste with salt, probably close to a teaspoon.

Serve with warm corn tortillas.

* These can also be made with fish or shellfish if you prefer


Blueberry pickin’

blueberries

When we came to West Branch Pond as kids, my sister and the kids of our close family friends often went blueberry picking. It always made me think of Blueberries for Sal, one of my favorite books, and I was always on the lookout for a mama bear and her cubs. We never saw them, but I don’t think I will ever be able to go blueberry picking in Maine without thinking I’ll also see a bear.

This trip was no different than past trips (you know, other than the fact that we were now much older and picking berries with our husbands) and we didn’t see any bears. But we did end up with a bunch of berries to bring back to the kitchen at WBPC. The next morning there was no question about what we were going to pick for breakfast. I only wish we’d gone picking earlier (and frequently!) so we could have had berry pancakes every morning! Alas, these blueberry pancakes were our last breakfast before heading back to Boston to return to the daily grind of real life. It was pretty sweet while it lasted.

blueberry pancakes


mmmm s’mores

s'mores ingredients

The West Branch Pond staff didn’t cook all our meals on our Maine vacation. Oh no.  We made our own s’mores thank you very much.  And since I haven’t shared a recipe in a while (because they really did cook everything for us), I’m sharing the s’mores recipe with you :).

s'mores fire

I was so busy toasting the marshmallows to a perfect honey brown that I didn’t have time to take photos, so Joseph kindly stepped in and took photos while I got my sugar fix.  I did make him one, though (I’m not completely terrible).  We just couldn’t get a great photo of the final product given the low lighting and the simple fact that it’s very difficult to hold a freshly made s’more without gobbling it up promptly, so this is the best shot we got.

s'more

S’mores

  • bunch of marshmallows
  • graham crackers (my father, who is the least picky eater I know and would happily eat PB&J and cereal for the rest of his life, will only eat Honey Maid graham crackers and the man knows his graham crackers because that was his go to snack when he came home from work every single day.  Like I said, repetition does not phase him.)
  • chocolate (I’m normally not a huge Hershey’s fan because there are so many better brands of chocolate, but if you’re ever going to use it, s’mores making is the time)

Roast marshmallows over an open flame to taste.  Some prefer charred and some like them barely cooked, but I like slow roasting them until honey brown all over.

If using a wood burning stove as we did, I suggest using my sister’s technique of resting a graham cracker with a row of chocolate on top to bring the chocolate to a more melty state.

When your marshmallow is cooked to your liking, sandwich the marshmallow between 2 squares of graham crackers with at least one row of chocolate.

If you are out on a camping trip (or at home using your gas stove), and don’t have internet access to get this recipe and you can’t remember my precise directions for this difficult recipe, never fear, the marshmallow bag has a recipe printed on it!

If you are making s’mores in your kitchen over your gas stove and you’re using a fork instead of the traditional stick, DO NOT lick the fork when you take the marshmallow off.  You will probably still forget each time and do it anyway, but I’m warning you to try to remember not to lick it.  You will thank me.


West Branch Pond

 

west branch pond row boats

moose

So the real reason for our trip to Maine was not the blueberry beer, but to go to West Branch Pond Camps to hang out for 3 1/2 heavenly, relaxing days with my parents, sister, and brother-in-law. This is the kind of place where the most difficult decisions you’ll be faced with are whether you want pancakes or french toast for breakfast and whether you want to go for a hike or go canoeing and take a dip in the pond.  It is a hard life!

dining

 

All meals at WBPC are prepared by the owners at the lodge which was only 100 feet or so from the log cabin we stayed in.  While not all of the food was quite 100% up to my standards (canned green beans?), the rest of the food more than makes up for it.  Really.  It more than makes up for the canned green beans.  Fresh baked bread with every lunch and dinner.  Fresh baked dessert with every lunch and dinner. And just damn good home cooking for the rest of it.  Macaroni and cheese with huge chunks of croutons.  Beautiful roasted cornish hen.  Turkey dinner with the most amazing, rich, creamy mashed potatoes and killer stuffing. And the ribs!  Having been vegetarian for many years, I had never actually had ribs.  The meat practically came off the bone just by looking at it and was smothered in a tangy barbecue sauce.  I was in love.  And while some of the veggies may have come from a can, many of them also come straight out of their garden.  So really, the rest of the food more than made up for the occasional canned veggie. By a long shot.

cornish hen

cream puff

lemon square

Oh, and of course we brought our own wine.  Lots of it.

Sharp Rock

Sharp Rock Synergy


Fisherman’s Catch

We may have just gotten back from our trip to Europe, but we decided it was time for another vacation (if only life could always be like this).  We started our trip to Maine right after work on Thursday and worked our way up to Greenville where we were staying the night before heading to West Branch Pond early the next morning.  We were eager to start the Maine experience and followed glowing Yelp reviews to Fisherman’s Catch in Wells, ME on the way up.  There was a 70 minute wait, but we figured it would be worth it, in part because people people kept telling us just that as they exited the restaurant patting their bellies. A Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale with wild Maine blueberries bobbing about made the wait easy.  The beer itself is tasty, but the berries, which explode with fresh blueberry sweetness and the the subtly fruity ale they’d been soaking in, were the real highlight.

blueberry ale

The meal itself was less satisfying.  So many of the Yelp reviewers raved about the fried clams and the menu alerts readers to the fact that the clams make it into the book 1001 Things to do Before You Die.  Or so I thought…. I found out later that it actually said 1001 Things to do Before You Diet.  I find this considerably less exciting because the first is not limited to food. Regardless, when we ordered the Captains Platter for 2, which was loaded with fried scallops, clams, shrimp, and haddock on top of french fries and hey, why not throw in some rolls because there’s not enough white/yellow food, we found that it pretty much all tasted the same.  Maybe it’s because we don’t eat much fried food?  I don’t know.  It really all just tasted like the batter, which I would say was only so-so.  But maybe it’s just Joseph and me, because everyone else just loved it.  Next time I think I’ll just stick to the lobster.

mountain of fried seafood


Clover Food Lab

clover food lab

I was excited to see the feature on Serious Eats on the Clover Food Lab truck over by MIT because friends had just told us last week that we needed to check it out.  That was all we needed to convince us to ditch our plans to go to the gym and head on over before they closed at 7:00. It was fantastic. They gave us a “sample” of freshly made watermelon soda while we waited and believe me, a sample that’s 2/3 the regular serving certainly gets me in the mood for a good meal.

chickpea fritter and soy blt

Joseph got the soy BLT and I got the chickpea fritter.  The soy BLT was more about texture, while the chickpea fritter had more substance (and was very pretty to photograph). We also split the rosemary fries which were pretty awesome – the little fried rosemary leaves were tasty on their own, not to mention with the fries. And we got all that for $13.  Not bad.

rosemary fries


Healthy Carrot Zucchini Muffins

carrot zucchini muffin

Remember that carrot cake I made last week?  And how much I enjoyed shoving carrots down the shoot of the food processor?  Well, I went overboard on both the purchase of carrots and the shredding of carrots.  The carrots I didn’t shred were perfect for the Chicken in Escabeche of Caramelized Onions, Carrots, and Jalapeños.  But I needed something to use up the nearly two extra cups of shredded carrots that I ended up with.  I saw a recipe somewhere for carrot zucchini muffins and decided that was the perfect way to at least use some of them up.  I finally got around to getting some zucchini last night, but then I couldn’t find the recipe.  I searched through my cookbooks, but finally gave up and went to my friend, the interwebs.  I found a healthy (you know, as healthy as they can be when they have a cup and a half of sugar…) recipe that was reviewed well and I had all the ingredients, so I went with it.

Let me just say that this is not a dessert muffin.  I know there are plenty of people that generally don’t eat muffins for dessert, but I think many muffins, especially right out of the oven, make a wonderful dessert.  These muffins are fine for breakfast or a snack.  But they are NOT a dessert muffin.  So when your husband has just made you a delicious dinner and then wants some dessert, don’t tell him to hold off on dessert because you are going to make these muffins because everyone involved will be disappointed.  No, it’s probably better that he go for the Ben & Jerry’s fro yo in the freezer.

I still have another 3/4 cup or so of shredded carrots, so let me know if you have any great ideas!

Carrot Zucchini Muffins
Adapted from Nicole’s Winter Carrot Zucchini Bread

Makes 12

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
6 egg whites*
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup grated unpeeled zucchini
1 cup grated carrot
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)**

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease muffin tin.
  2. Sift together all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in a large bowl until well blended.
  3. Beat egg whites with a mixer until light and frothy. Stir in applesauce, brown sugar, zucchini, carrots, and vanilla until well combined. Mix in the raisins and pecans, if using. Add the flour mixture, stirring just until blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20-25  minutes or so. Pop the muffins out and let cool on a wire rack.

* I didn’t feel like wasting 6 egg yolks and didn’t have time to make ice cream or a custard and I was lazy and didn’t feel like doing the whole beating and folding with the egg whites, so I just used 3 eggs.  It mike work with just 2 eggs.  And it would certainly be healthier with all egg whites, but oh well.

** I didn’t use em. And I’ll hide it in the footnote that you can also add raisins if you want.  If I were ever going to put raisins in a muffin, this is probably the muffin I would do it in.