True to form, I’ve told you about dessert before dinner. What can I say, I was really excited about that key lime coconut cake! But the dinner definitely held up to the dessert that followed. We didn’t really have any plans for Easter dinner, but wanted something that was easy and celebrated spring. We had planned to make an asparagus and bacon quiche with a goat cheese and strawberry topped salad, but things took a turn when we got to the Whole Foods and saw that Vermont Smoke and Cure had a table set up with a bunch of different samples. We love their pepperoni but had never tried any of their other products. We both tried the ham, took one look at each other, nodded, and I picked out the smallest ham they had while Joseph returned the quiche ingredients that we no longer needed.
I hadn’t even known that ham was a classical Easter dish until about a week ago. I have no real memory of Easter dinner growing up. My Easter memories revolve entirely around the chocolate cake with green coconut grass and peeps that my mom made, and the absolute best Easter egg hunt you could imagine. Our good family friends had a cabin in the Shenandoah’s and we would all head out there for the weekend. After a hearty scrambled egg breakfast, we would venture out into the woods where the “Easter Bunny” (aka our fathers) had hidden eggs. As the youngest, Stanley and I would get a head start before our older sisters raced past us and got all the eggs in the higher branches.
The eggs were a mixture of hard boiled eggs that we had dyed the day before and plastic and metal (yeah, really old school) eggs filled with candy. After we scoured the woods for eggs, we would sit on the floor, decide who had won the biggest loot prize, and commence trading of candy for our favorites. Every year there was a “winner” of the special egg: a plastic egg with a carrot or piece of broccoli in it to the great delight of our mothers. We were considerably less amused. Continue reading
If you had told me 15 years ago that one of my absolute favorite foods was eel, I would have laughed and told you you were out of your mind. I mean, who eats eel? That’s just craziness. today, freshwater eel, or unagi, is absolutely one of my favorite things. When we go out for sushi, I always save a piece of unagi nagiri for last so that I can end my meal with that perfect bite.
I’m a sucker for sauces and condiments and I just can’t get enough kabayaki sauce, the salty/sweet barbecue-like sauce it’s basted in. After your tongue gets a hit of the kabayaki sauce, you bite through the crunchy exterior to find that it’s melt-in-your-mouth succulent and smokey on the inside. It’s a wonderland of flavor and texture and once I finally tried it, I knew that unagi and I were going to have a very strong lifelong relationship.
We finally had some decent weather this past weekend and I was absolutely desperate to get out of the house. We’d never been to New Bedford, a town hailed for being one of the most important whaling ports in the 19th Century, so we made the one hour drive down from Boston and checked out some sites that Joseph had picked out.
The highlight was definitely Margaret’s (actually across the river in Fairhaven), a small, unpretentious seafood restaurant that we picked based on strong Yelp reviews. It was packed but turnover was fast enough that it seemed that no one ever had to wait. They had yummy focaccia at the table waiting for us before we even sat down which is both delightful and dangerous for someone who loves bread as much as I do. We both got seafood plates that had slightly different content, but pretty much the same sauce. The food – especially the huge, sweet, and plump mussels – was delicious and the prices were friendly on the wallet. Simple food done well, amazing prices, awesome service. If you’re ever in the area, I definitely recommend stopping by.
We also stopped by Lydia’s, a Portuguese Bakery, for some somewhat unmemorable pastries. We knew nothing about Portuguese pastries and had no idea what to get, so that may have been the problem. Next we headed to Sid Wainer & Son, a specialty food wholesaler with a retail store open to the public where you can get a $300 jar of winter truffles and enough free food samples to constitute a small lunch. Make sure to bring a jacket if you want to peruse their well-stocked cheese room.
Next was Travessia Winery, an urban winery that sources most of their grapes from a vineyard in Massachusetts. The Pinot Grigio and the Chardonnay are well worth skipping, while the Vidal Blanc and especially the red blend Jester, whose grapes are sourced from California, are tastier. Mostly I was just glad that you saved $2 off the tasting by opting out of getting the “free” glass. Anyone want any winery wine glasses? We have enough to stock a small restaurant.
When we were little, my sister received this kid’s cookbook that we just loved. There are actually only three recipes I remember making from it, but we made them over and over again. There was the yummy, chunky apple sauce, these awesome cakes that you put in an ice cream cone and that looked like ice cream but weren’t (I pulled one out of my lunchbox at school one day to the utter amazement of my friends), and oven baked fried chicken. I loved that chicken. I’m not sure how much my sister and I actually helped, but the one thing I do remember doing is putting the cornflakes for the breading in a big ziplock and mashing it to pieces with a rolling pin. It was so much fun and I felt all grown up. And honestly, the bag and rolling pin is a useful trick I still use often (who wants to sit there chopping walnuts when you could just roll over them?).
Those of you have been following along know that I had knee surgery a little over a month ago and have been relying on Joseph for most of my meals. We also have a freezer full (well, only half full now) of amazing food my mother-in-law sent us home with right before my surgery. Joseph wins the best husband ever award in part because of how he waited on me hand and foot in the first couple weeks after my surgery and still does all the cooking and cleaning, in part because he drives me everywhere (including all my doctor’s and physical therapy appointments of which there are many) because I’m not allowed to drive for a few more weeks, but most especially because he made me this oven fried chicken last week.
Have you ever gone to dinner at someone’s house and before they serve you the food they say, “Uh, I hope you like garlic,” with just the slightest touch of hesitation? Like garlic? Are you kidding? I can’t get enough!
Now, to be fair, I have on occasion turned down an everything bagel because I was afraid of starting the day off with garlic breath, but by lunch, it’s all over. You might just want to sit on the other side of the conference room if I have a meeting with you in the afternoon.
And of course there’s garlic and then there’s roasted garlic. Don’t you just love restaurants that serve roasted garlic with thick, crusty bread to smear it on. Well, if you like that, you’ll love this pasta dish. The lemon adds a nice tang to the sweet, rich flavor from the roasted tomatoes and garlic, while the beans add both protein and a nice flavor and texture, and the basil adds a nice earthy sweetness to top it all off.
I don’t know about you, but I am so incredibly ready for spring. Winter in Boston was brutal with 38 inches of snow in January alone. The snow has finally (mostly) melted and they’re talking about temps in the 50s this weekend. I’d like to say that I’ll be out enjoying the weather, but I’m not particularly mobile with my post-surgery knee. I am bound and determined to make it outside for a least a little bit, even if it’s just to the back porch.
If you ask me, the only upside to all the snow was working from home and having Joseph make me panini for lunch. My office doesn’t have a whole lot of lunch options nearby, and besides, I’m generally happier saving my money to go out for a nice dinner rather than buy a mediocre sandwich because I didn’t bring anything for lunch.
I get so carried away sometimes with finding new recipes and cooking that I forget to actually blog about the things I cook! Case in point, I was on the phone with my sister yesterday and she said that as soon as I’m back on my feet she’d love to see a risotto recipe on Pixelated Crumb. As soon as she said it, I realized that we had in fact made one and had photographed it and everything, but I’d never actually gotten around to posting it. Which is a shame because it’s really good!
When I went back to find the photos, I found several other recipes that I haven’t posted yet. Recipes that are really, really good, but I just forgot that I hadn’t posted yet! The good news for all of you is that I’m laid up recovering from knee surgery, so I have plenty of time to revisit them, starting with the risotto.
Joseph and I have a handful of recipes that we always keep readily available for the weeks when we don’t have any groceries and don’t have time to sit down and actually plan before going to the store. They’re all mostly healthy, quick, easy, and good. We’ve had this fried rice recipe in our arsenal for a while. Well, not quite this recipe. We usually make this recipe vegetarian, using tofu instead of ham, and the pineapple is a new addition. But that’s the beauty of fried rice — it’s so versatile! It’s great because the key components of it are so easy to keep stocked in your kitchen and you can modify it based on what other stuff you have in your kitchen.
Like I said, up to this point we had always made the dish vegetarian. But we had recently made a Hawaiian pizza (more on that later). We had already decided that we were going to make the fried rice and Joseph remembered we still had pineapple and then I remembered that we still had ham. It was just meant to be.
Growing up in my family, the idea of eating duck was much like the idea of eating your pet. It’s not that we had ducks, but they were almost like a family mascot. My dad did an amazing Donald Duck impersonation which my sister and I requested about five times a day. As a reward, we showered him with Donald Duck figurines which sometimes included other duck paraphernalia. We also spent many weekends out on our sailboat in the Chesapeake Bay and, not knowing better, fed the ducks all the time. So I was always horrified by the idea of eating duck and swore I never would.
The first time I ever had duck was entirely accidental. I was at a work gala and I grabbed a quesadilla appetizer off of a passing tray and put it in my mouth before hearing what it was. I shocked. Horrified. Who puts duck in quesadillas? I felt like I had deeply betrayed my old friends from the Bay. I renewed my oath to never, ever eat duck (again) and went on my way. Until I started dating a Filipino guy. A Filipino guy who loves his duck.
I held strong to my no duck rule for quite a while. But after time my reason starting seeming more and more silly and Joseph, while entirely supportive of my choices, was also eager to open my eyes to one of his favorite foods. I finally broke down and (intentionally) ate duck at a food and wine festival in Orlando. I had a reached a point in my culinary life where I didn’t want to be restricted by my own inhibitions. Since the food was all there and being prepared whether or not I ate it, I went for it. And I had to admit that I liked it. I have since even gone so far as to order it at restaurants! Continue reading
I love condiments. I slather a ton of mustard on my burgers, I like lots of ketchup with my fries, but barbecue sauce has always been my favorite. When we were kids and my parents took us out for dinner, we almost always ordered chicken tenders. It worked out perfectly because they came with a little bowl of honey mustard sauce and a bowl of barbecue sauce and my sister, Jessica, and I would just do a trade so that I ended up with two barbecue sauces and she had two honey mustards.
Even as an adult Jessica stuck to her guns and every time I mentioned a place that did a great barbecue, she insisted that she really wasn’t into barbecue. She’s crazy. I mean, it can be done so many ways! And besides, how can you not love the sweet, smokey tang of good ol’ fashioned barbecue sauce? Continue reading