Sunday, September 18, 2016


Babbo Pizzeria - Boston, MA


     So I swam across the Boston Harbor for an event called Sharkfest. It was wavy, salty, nearly a mile across and therefore exhausting, especially after not having swam more than 30 minutes all year. David and his mah, pah and sister came to watch (which was super sweet of them), so naturally, the next course of action post-race was an afternoon feeding. Babbo opened back in 2015 and is owned and operated by world renowned chef Mario Batali. As soon as it opened I put it on my food bucket list. It was finally time.
     After the race we all headed over to Babbo. It is a very large space on the main floor of one of the brand new skyscrapers down in the seaport. With bright lighting, marble countertops, and crystal wine glasses on all the tables, Babbo had a very vibrant atmosphere that was on the fancy side. We were maybe a little underdressed but no one seemed to mind. There were two small open kitchen areas where people were making pizzas, slicing meats and roasting things. I had never seen bar chairs  and place settings surrounding the open kitchens anyplace except sushi restaurants, so this seemed to add a little bit more of a casual element.
     I was so excited for pizza and a little nervous that it might be on the smaller side because it was more upscale, but I was proved wrong. First we ordered the chopped salad to split, which was surprisingly amazing. It was full of different ingredients including "Bibb, Radicchio, Mortadella, Prosciutto Cotto, Castelveltrano, Ceci, Montasio" or in other words bibb lettuce, radicchio (a purple leafy vegetable), Italian sausage, Italian cooked ham, olives, chickpeas and Montasio cheese. It was lightly and evenly dressed and was full of goodies rather than mostly greens. Everyone loved it.
     Now for the pizzas. We got the Margherita pizza which was phenomenal. It was very light and fresh, and I loved the sauce. Because Margherita pizza is only tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and basil, the sauce really needs to be on point, and it sure was. It wasn't sweet but was full of fresh tomato flavor. I also loved that they put full basil leaves on it rather than the little strips that seem to be the norm. The second pizza was the Quattro Formaggi which had four types of cheese including mozzarella, gorgonzola, smoked mozzarella, and grana (an Italian hard cheese similar to parmesian-reggiano). I honestly couldn't say I could detect more than three different cheeses. I definitely could taste the mozzarella, and the smoked mozzarella seemed to be a little overpowering, but perhaps because I'm not a big fan of the smoked flavor. I couldn't find the gorgonzola, but I definitely could taste some sort of other nutty flavor that I'd guess was the grana. Either way, the cheeses brought such a rich flavor to the pizza, and went perfectly with the eggplant and summer squash.
     Then came the Salsiccia (or "Salchicha" as David called it because he says everything with a Spanish accent). The third pizza was my favorite mostly because of the fennel sausage. You can always tell my sausage is homemade because it's done right. It's more like little sausage exploded balls on top of a pizza, and it's not greasy. It has a very simple flavor and a simple feeling in your mouth. This sausage was amazing and was nestled atop buffalo mozzarella (yes... apparently "Mozzarelle di Bufala" is made from an Italian water buffalo...haha), basil leaves and fennel pollen. You could see the pollen sprinkled on top, but I didn't notice its flavor. Either way, this pizza was amazing. All of the pizzas were amazing. I loved the organic wheat crust. It was thin on the bottom but the edges had a little chewiness to them that was awesome. It seemed to have a little bit of the sourdough zing. I don't think I was making that up, and I hope they do that on purpose because it was great.
     Everyone left not feeling gross after four slices of pizza, but rather feeling satisfied and enriched with a new culinary experience. Definitely try out Babbo if you're down in the Seaport. Mario won't disappoint.


Grass Fed - Jamaica Plain, MA
Strange looking, but delicious - The Cali

     Every time I do a job down in Jamaica Plain I get real excited because I think maybe we might get to stop for lunch, and I can go to one of the kajillion amazing looking restaurants down on that side of town. This day was my lucky day because the house we were moving was right near Grass Fed, a burger joint that uses 100% grass fed meat from Walden Local Meat Co in Carlisle, MA. Happy cows, happy planet. 
     The restaurant itself is rather small with only a few tables and bar stools along the windows, and they have a chalkboard menu with doodles everywhere. I knew right away I wanted the Cali, which had a grass fed beef patty, spicy avocado spread, mesclun, pepperjack cheese, red onion, and cilantro-lime mayo. I asked them to keep mine a little pink, and they did just that. It was perfect. The burger was a little small (as I anticipated) but it had that homemade, hand pressed burger feel. The meat was juicy, not greasy, and rich with flavor. The best part about the patty was the crispy edges. Sometimes when you grill a burger at home, the juices and fats come out and form little crispy nubs around the edges of the burger that melt in your mouth when you eat them. This burger had a little skirt of these nubs. It was fabulous. And my two favorite elements to compliment the patty? The red onions and the cilantro-lime mayo. That mayo was sooooo good and light and delicious. I don't know what it was about the red onions but I loved them. Maybe because they were really thinly sliced, and I wasn't pulling huge onion chunks out? The mesclun was a cool deviation from the normal lettuce too. I liked that. Oh and let's not forget the bun. I have never had a burger bun like this before. It was a little bit sweeter than most (not nearly dessert-like), but its texture was so different. It was compressible kind of like a croissant, and chewy and moist almost like those Hawaiian sweet rolls (again not nearly as sweet). It was delicious. The whole thing was exceptional and left me feeling not gross (unlike the burger I ate at TGIFridays a couple weeks ago. Big mistake). 


Blue Ribbon Barbeque - Arlington MA
The kind of beautiful presentation you get when you
order take out. Pulled pork, mashed taters and cornbread.

     I'm not sure if I should write about Blue Ribbon yet because I didn't get the full experience. But for Karl's post birthday celebrations, Kevin ordered some Blue Ribbon as take out and we all got together and ate it. It was delicious. I was starving. Maybe those two things are related. Either way, we got some pulled pork which was some of the juiciest pulled pork I've ever had. With our take out orders they gave us three little bottles of different vinegar-based sauces for the meat (apparently these sauces are more typical of those found in North Carolina). These were definitely my kind of sauce because they had powerful flavor but weren't sweet, thick or syrupy. I hate those store brand types of bbq sauce. Get out of here with that. These were much thinner, and my favorite sauce was the Blue Ribbon Gold which had a subtle hint of heat. We also got a tub of mashed red potatoes (the one and only best kind of potato to use) which definitely had the dairy and the butter one always wants in some good quality mashed potatoes. And the cornbread. I've got a new #2 best cornbread I've ever had. Dave, your cornbread has now slipped to #3 on my list. Sorry. This cornbread had great moisture preventing it from crumbling to pieces, and it had the perfect amount of sweetness. Amazing with butter. Amazing without. 
     I feel like I'm doing Blue Ribbon a little bit of an injustice simply because I can't write about their physical restaurant and because I didn't have full exposure to the menu and options, but this will have to do until now. Until next time...

Monday, July 11, 2016

Where Do I Put This Lime?

Roxy's Grilled Cheese - Allston, MA

How cute it this?
     So Roxy's started out as a food truck and now has a brick and mortar location near my apartment! Bummer! I've never been to their food truck, but I've seen it around town a million times and never heard a bad word about that heavenly childhood staple... the grilled cheese. Meagan went a few times when she lived here, and she never understood why I didn't just walk down the street and go get a grilled cheese if I wanted to try it so bad. She had a good point. I don't know why.
     Regardless, David and I were starving after a sick concert out on a boat in the Boston Harbor (we went to see Knife Party... but they never really came on... wth). We got an uber straight from the cruise back to Roxy's in Allston trying to beat the clock and make it there before they closed at 11. The restaurant is typical of a sandwich/burger shop with a long counter and plenty of wooden tables along the side. It's all very simple, and the workers were very accommodating to us taking part in this grilled cheese experience even though they probably just wanted to go home at 11pm on a Friday night. We're the worst.
     Of course, David wanted the grilled cheese with the braised short rib. It came with fontina cheese and caramelized onions. I love all these things (fontina cheese is one of my favorites). They really loaded in this nice and juicy shredded rib meat, and it was delicious. It wasn't so juicy that it got the bread soggy, and it also wasn't dry. It had the perfect moisture level, they melted that cheese like pros, and the caramelized onions added a subtle sweetness to the sandwich. It was heavenly.
     Just to be different, I ordered the Allston, which was goat cheese, fig jam, caramelized onions, and arugula. This sandwich had so many unique flavors in it. It was crazy complex, but almost too much. While I love caramelized onions, I don't think they belonged on this sandwich. You lose their subtly sweet flavor because they were overpowered by the sweet fig jam. I would've preferred less of the fig jam simply because of how sweet and overpowering it was. I loved the fresh addition of the peppery arugula. Another bummer about this sandwich is that, because goat cheese naturally gets rather runny when heated, it's tough to keep it contained within a sandwich. It's especially tough when the sandwich makers have grilled the bread to such golden perfection that the edges of the bread stiffen up (great job guys), and therefore each bite becomes a eruption of goat cheese and fig jam. But the runniness of the cheese is no fault of Roxy's. This sandwich idea is a great one, but I just wish I could have kept more of the contents in between the two slices of bread and not all over my plate and table.


Ariana - Allston, MA

Manu, flatbread, and the dipping sauces
     First, a small story. Araiana used to be over in Brighton, and I remember seeing it when I first moved to the area. I have wanted to go since, but they moved over to Allston. Jimmy and I were looking for a place to go eat once, and I wanted to try Ariana so I called to make sure they were open after their move. They said they'd be open in two weeks, and guess what... two weeks later they called me back just to tell me they were open now, and I could come in. How cool is that? Who does that?!? I was so impressed.
     So finally, after going to Antonia's art show just up the street, David and I went into Ariana to check it out. It's a fancy little place that serves up Afghanistan cuisine. Their dim mood lighting, white table linens and blue water glasses made us feel elegant in our running shorts and t-shirts.
Korma Challow
     They brought a basket of (what looked like) homemade flatbread and served it with a sauce trio that included some sort of a walnut pesto, a sweet chili sauce and a cucumber yogurt sauce. That walnut pesto was the bomb. Too made David couldn't eat it without exploding. As an appetizer we ordered the Mantu, which was kind of like a ravioli. It was their homemade pastry shells (that's impressive in itself) filled with onions and beef, served in a shallow pool of yogurt and topped with carrots, yellow split peas and beef sauce. Excuse me? These were incredible and so full of flavor. The pastry shells were very thin and tender and the combination of the veggies and beef was so delicious and savory. It was all very light too. Generally in American/Italian cooking, things involving pastry dough and meat sauces tend to be pretty heavy and filling, but this was light and the perfect little appetizer.
     For the meal, I ordered lamb. Duh. I got the Korma Challow with was leg of lamb sautéed with onions, tomatoes, garlic, green beans, potatoes and spices. It was incredible. It was basically what I expected as far as Afghanistan cuisine in that it was some sort of meat in a tomato based sauce with veggies and a multitude of spices. One thing I noted right away was the complexity of spices in everything. Afghanistan food must generally use a variety of spices we don't use here because there were flavors I couldn't label. Anyway, the lamb was so tender and full of flavor like a good quality chunk of lamb. You won't get that everywhere. The dish was served with rice and lentils. Normally I'm not crazy about rice, but this long grain rice was fluffy and rich with flavor and a unique individualized texture. The little cumin seeds added a great flavor too.
     Ariana was quite impressive. From the atmosphere, to the water glasses, and to the food and flavors, I was impressed each step of the way. I was even more impressed with David's willingness to expand his palette. He's getting there.


Stephanie's Village Pancake House - Rowley, MA

     Before heading out to see some of the mansions for the Massachusetts Trustees of Reservations free open house day, I let David pick a breakfast spot. Normally this is my job, but I was "busy" or something and wanted to see what he could come up with. He knew that if we were traveling out of town (or basically whenever), I definitely wouldn't want to go a chain restaurant. He was right, and he picked a great place! We went to Stephanie's Village Pancake House, which is actually an old house that was built as a saltbox in 1660. It was renovated into a colonial home 40 years later and is still nearly the same today. When you walk in the front door to the restaurant, you're actually walking into what looks like the old living room of the house. As our waitress guided us to our table, we wove our way through hallways, the dining room, and other various rooms until we got to what looked like an old bedroom with a fireplace. It was literally the cutest restaurant I've ever seen, and it was jammed! Everyone was there. I was so excited. I was so proud of him.
All breakfast. All the time. 
     For breakfast I ordered the Quick Start which was very simply a small omelette with cheese, bacon, homefries, and a fruit bowl. I also got a side of pancakes with strawberries on top because I couldn't not get pancakes at a pancake house (unless it's Ihop...ew). The omelette was kind of silly, to be honest, but I should've expected it. The menu said it was just a plain omelette with cheese and that really was it. Just eggs folded in half with a sprinkle of cheese. The homefries were pretty good with their crispy uneven edges. Bacon is bacon. The fruit was fresh and great, and I love ending a breakfast meal with it. But my favorite part was the pancakes. They were light, fluffy and mildly sweet with strawberries on top (and no not the stupid syrupy type strawberry topping that shouldn't even be considered strawberries anymore). The only thing that would've been better would be fresh strawberries. The best part though was that they served REAL maple syrup. You never see that. Ever. Unless you want to pay extra for it. Not here. Stephanie knows what's up.
     I'd highly recommend Stephanie's if you're ever up in the Rowley/Ipswitch area and are looking for good food. Come for the pancakes, the atmosphere and the history.


Rosa Mexicano - Boston, MA
What a goof. Carnitas were great though.

     Meagan is such a weirdo. Look at this picture. This was taken after our waiter grabbed Meagan's lime that we sneakily put in a cup/candle holder thing in order to hide it. I don't know why it was so funny but it was.
     Rosa Mexicano is a big restaurant down in the Seaport. I've seen it once or twice, but I honestly assumed it was a chain so I never went. However, today was different. We had just gotten out of the Institute for Contemporary Art, we were weirded out by the things we saw and needed to eat things to feel better. This is when I learned it was in fact a chain, but it was delicious, and I will tell you about it anyway.
     First of all they gave us a complimentary appetizer sampler which was some sort of shrimp on a corn chip with a mango sauce and pickled cabbage. It was ok, but it's the thought that counts. The thought to refill the delicious, hot chip basket gave them a few more points too. We just split an entree which was their Carnitas; slow-braised pork with cilantro, white onion and grilled pineapple. It came hot to the table in a cast iron skillet with handmade corn tortillas. We were given a generous portion of pork, nice hunks of pineapple, and a separate bowl of baked beans, rice, salsa and three kinds of sauces included a spicy habanero one, a thin salsa verde and sour cream. I'm completely guessing on those first two sauce, but it's what I'd guess they were.
The complimentary appetizer. Had to be careful not to fill up before the meal.
     The presentation of this whole dish was beautiful and quite overwhelming! There were so many flavor combinations to make. It was thrilling. Pork and pineapple always amazes me. It's such a great combination. The pork was moist and peppery and the pineapple had the subtly caramelizing edges. Those refried (black) beans were incredible! Honestly the best refried beans I've ever had, and I don't know why. They were so smooth. Maybe they were so good because they were black beans rather than the other beans that are generally used. I was so happy there were leftover beans because I wanted to eat them by the spoonful while sitting on my couch.
     The whole meal was excellent and filling, even when split between two people. The atmosphere was lively. The diving man sculptures affixed to the wall fountain behind Meagan were mesmerizing. All in all a good time.


Ironside Grill - Charlestown, MA
Veggie Burger from Ironside Grill

     I don't think I experienced Ironside Grill for all that it can be. Mantas and I went for lunch one day when we were on a job in Charlestown.  Although its name has evolved, Ironside is one of the oldest remaining restaurants in Charlestown, dating back to 1950. Now, Ironside is a little classy sports bar-like place in the heart of residential Charlestown. It's named after Old Ironsides (the USS Constitution) that sits in the Boston naval yard in Charlestown.
     I expected to encounter a bunch of tourists just out of the Bunker Hill monument and that's exactly what we encountered. Out of fear of feeling too full and gross (and about to move a ton of furniture), I opted for the veggie burger, which was was really just a pre-made patty that wasn't their own. So when a restaurant throws something like that together, you're not really experiencing what they can do, in a culinary sense. However, rather than fries, I got their grilled asparagus, which was probably one of the best simple veggie side dishes I've ever had. It was perfectly tender and just seasoned with salt and pepper. They were great. Ha. Easy to please.


Tresca's Eating Place - Watertown, MA
Denver Omelette, home fries, scali toast and pancakes.
     I ask Jimmy if he wants to go to Wegman's. He asks if we're getting breakfast first. Uhhh.... of course. We intended to go to Deluxe Diner out in Watertown, but the line was out the door. No time for that. So we walked to Tresca's just up the street and sat down right away. Tresca's was a nice open restaurant with a typical diner feel and a bunch of tables. We were greeted by a woman with a charming woman with a heavy Irish accent and quickly confused her with a starving incoherent mumbles. I ordered the Denver omelette which had green peppers, onions, ham and american cheese. I wished it wasn't american cheese, but this was an amazing omelette. Normally I find omelettes, especially a mostly veggie omelette, kind of bland at restaurants, but this was a really flavorful omelette through and through. It was big and stuffed. The veggies were fresh and the slightly crisp edges of the eggs had an amazing flavor as if they had put a little extra butter in the pan. Definitely one of the best simple omelettes I've had at a restaurant. Their homefries were ok. Nothing fantastic. The omelette was also served with Scali toast, which was fabulous. Scali bread is a type of braided Italian bread made primarily in Boston (I just learned this on the world wide web).
     Then as breakfast dessert, we split a stack of 3 HUGE pancakes. I loved them. I don't know what was so different about them, but the batter seemed different. They felt like something more than just white flour, egg, and milk. More rich. Maybe it was the butter.
     As far as breakfast joints go, Tresca's was pretty impressive. I loved the atmosphere and the food was great and super filling. Very pleased. Plus the Irish lady was the cutest.


Chocolate Chunk Almond Butter Blondies - My Kitchen, Allston, MA
I wish I had a prettier picture of just how amazing these chocolate chunk almond butter blondies were. 
     THESE BLONDIES. THESE BLONDIES ARE THE BEST BLONDIES I'VE EVER HAD. This is a recipe from Oh Lady Cakes. I love her. I made them for Jimmy, Karl, Kevin and I for our road trip to Philly back in May, but I'm sure I ate 90% of them. They were delicious. They were dense, they were fluffy, they were rich in almond flavor, and they were moist. The chocolate chips I used, Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet, were key too. Definitely one of the best things I've made myself in a while.

Chocolate Chunk Almond Butter Blondies
Oh Lady Cakes

3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon potato starch
2 tablespoons refined coconut oil, melted (but not hot)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons almond milk or milk
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup unbleached flour
Dark chocolate, roughly chopped (or Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chips)
Raw almonds, roughly chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a 5×8″ baking pan with parchment paper; set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and potato starch, followed by the coconut oil and vanilla extract; mix for about 30 seconds to ensure the starch absorbs any excess oil. Whisk in the milk, until completely combined, then whisk in the almond butter and mix until smooth.

3. Add the baking powder, sea salt, and flour, and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula, just until combined.

4. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan then level with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with chocolate chunks and chopped almonds. Bake at 350˚F for 34-38 minutes. For chewy blondies, bake for 28-30 minutes. For blondies that are completely baked through, bake for the full 38 minutes. Once baked, transfer pan to a wire rack to cool. After 10 minutes, lift bars out of the pan by the parchment paper and cool completely. Cut into 8 squares and store in an air tight container.


Marbled Peppermint Crunch Cake - My Kitchen, Allston, MA
Looks a little rough around the edges. 
     I am awful at frosting cakes. Simply awful. Look at that thing. However, based on the outcome of this cake, I guess I'm not so awful at making it taste good. It was the bomb. I wonder though if it was the perfect texture and consistency because I used cake flour from King Arthur Flour up in Vermont. That place makes exceptional products. The cake was beautifully moist and rich. The peppermint flavor throughout the cake itself and the frosting was subtle. I wished the peppermint candies on top stayed crunchy a few days later, but if you're serving most of the cake the same day you make it, you won't have that problem. 
     I found this recipe on Crepes of Wrath and saved it for a special occasion. This special occasion was really just a thank you to David for trying to figure out what was wrong with my car while I had to work. I was really appreciative. 

Marbled Peppermint Crunch Cake
Crepes of Wrath

Chocolate Cake:
     1½ cups all-purpose flour
     1½ cups granulated sugar
     ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
     2 tablespoons espresso powder (optional)
     1½ teaspoons baking soda
     1 teaspoon baking powder
     1 teaspoon kosher salt
     ¾ cup whole milk
     ¾ cup room-temperature water
     2 eggs
     3 tablespoons vegetable oil
     1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Peppermint Frosting:
     2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
     5 cups powdered sugar
     ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
Chocolate Ganache:
     1½ cups bittersweet chocolate
     2 teaspoons heavy cream

     1½ cups crushed candy canes or peppermint candies

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add in your milk and water, beat to combine, then add in your eggs and beat to combine. Add in your vegetable oil and peppermint extract, then beat to combine, scraping down the bowl as needed.
3. Cut out 3 pieces of parchment to fit into 3 8-inch cake pans. Pour the batter evenly among the 3 pans, then bake for 25-30 minutes until set. Set aside to cool.
4. While the cake cools, make the frosting. Beat together the butter, powdered sugar, and peppermint extract, scraping down the bowl as needed, until light and fluffy. Set aside.
5. Place a dollop of frosting on your work surface, be it a cake board or a plate. Place your first layer of cake on the surface and level it off with a serrated knife. Place a large dollop of frosting on the first layer, smooth it out, and sprinkle with ⅓ of your crushed candy canes. Repeat with the second layer, then with the third layer, level it off and use the rest of the frosting to coat the cake. Let the cake chill in the fridge for 15 minutes, then scrape off any excess with a cake scraper or crumb scraper for a "naked cake" look. Place the cake back in the fridge.
6. While the cake chills, melt your chocolate in a medium pot over medium heat, stirring often so that it doesn't burn. Add in the heavy cream very slowly and stir to combine. Spread the frosting over the cake again, and use the cake scraper to scrape off any excess for a marbled, "naked" cake look. Sprinkle with additional crushed peppermint candy, if you'd like, then chill for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving.


Paparazzi - Boston, MA
Tomato Mozzarella sandwich

     We had a three day move with a great guy in Boston who treated us to lunch three times at Paparazzi, a fancy Italian restaurant over on Newbury St. Day one I had their Pollo sandwich which had grilled chicken breast, basil pesto, tomato, fontina, toasted ciabatta, mixed greens and lemon vinaigrette. This was probably my favorite of the three days. The chicken was super juicy, the pesto was fabulous and I loved the fontina cheese. The greens and lemon vinaigrette added a nice freshness to the savory side of the sandwich. It was a beautiful balance. Day two I got their Polpetta Panini sandwich which had beef meatballs, mozzarella, pecorino romano, pomodoro, mixed greens, and lemon vinaigrette. Now this one was rich. The beef meatballs had a great salty and herb rich flavor and were great with the melted mozzarella and nutty pecorino romano. This sandwich was a little heavier than the chicken though so I needed to save half if I wanted to continue moving furniture all day. Plus I had also gotten their hand cut herbed french fries. So savory. So good. Day three I got their Tomato Mozzarella sandwich with fresh mozzarella, beefsteak tomato, basil pesto, balsamic reduction, toasted ciabatta, mixed greens, and lemon vinaigrette. This sandwich was also great, but I wanted it to be bigger. I loved the freshness, and you can't beat the mozzarella, tomato, balsamic combination. The first two days our customer also ordered some Margherita pizzas. They were very simple. Super thin crust, crushed tomatoes, light cheese, basil and oregano leaves. A great little side snack to pair with the sandwiches. 
Margherita pizza
     Unfortunately, I don't know anything about the inside / atmosphere of Paparazzi, but the food was delicious. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

See Ya Never

Anthem - Boston, MA
Orecchiette with roasted veggies and steak

     The Boston Marathon came and went... and so did the all you can eat pasta deals. Sad face. This was the second year that David and I (as non-runners) took advantage of the all you can eat pasta deals that restaurants in the area offer the night before the race. Last year we went to Bambara, which was honestly better than Anthem. Even though it's pretty pricey, Anthem has a beautiful, modern-rustic space in the heart of Quincy Market, and it's often teeming with tourists.
     For the marathon, Anthem had an unlimited pasta deal, but you had to pay extra for meat with each additional bowl. So we got steak added to the first bowl, which was delicious, and we were sad for the rest of the bowls. However, I really liked the combo sauce made of marinara and pesto that they added to the orecchiette pasta. It gave the pasta a much more rich flavor than straight marinara would have. They also mixed in some roasted squash, zucchini and carrots. Bonus.


BISq - Cambridge, MA
Bazz Hook-Up Board

     After work/school, Zach and I met up for our bi-monthy feeding. We both wanted to try out Bisq, which is a tiny, hip, "restaurant and wine bar" that recently opened near GG. Bisq seems to be semi farm-to-table and focuses on unique, natural, whole ingredients, similar to Commonwealth (which Zach and I also went to once). It's a wooden furniture and mason jars kind of place that serves up a non-Spanish version of tapas, or small plates. 
Top: N'Awlins shrimp toast, Bottom: Lamb ribs
     The waiter sold us on the Bazz Hook-Up Board, which is their head chef's version of a charcuterie board. They had three homemade meats: something similar to a procuitto, a blood sausage like variety, and another resembling salami. All of them were served with toast and absolutely delicious. Salty, melt-in-your-mouth meat. The board also had a chicken liver patte topped with house-made granola, kale and (what I think was) a pomegranate sauce. Crazy combination, but it worked. There was also a glob of lard that was whipped with cinnamon sugar. Yes I said lard. I think it was cinnamon sugar and it was strangely sweet, but delicious, especially when spread on the toast. THAT was melt-in-your-mouth because it was straight fat. That's ok, right? Lastly, they had a few small pieces of house-pickled okra and a whole grain mustard. I liked the pickles because they helped cut the fat in your mouth after eating the other board items. I wished there were more. 
     For the meal we ordered the lamb ribs... obviously. I don't think I've ever had lamb ribs, and these were incredible. I don't know how they even got them onto the plate without the meat falling off the bone because it was out of this world tender. They were super succulent and topped with small pieces of crispy kale and a sour orange glaze, adding some unique texture elements. That glaze was a surprisingly fabulous addition to the lamb. The sweet but sour flavor was delicious with the savory flavory of the lamb. As the second dish, we order the N'awlings barbecue shrimp toast which was mind-blowing. It seems next to impossible to deconstruct this. It was served as two pieces of toast with a thick, rich, cheesy layer that had grilled small shrimp in it. It wasn't barbecue as in the tomato-based barbecue sauce you're probably thinking of, but rather it's considered barbecue because it was cooked on a barbecue. On top they drizzled another slightly sour but sweet glaze and some "sexy scallions." So good. 
     These types of restaurants are difficult to describe because the flavors of things are so intricate and complex. It beautiful. I couldn't believe that lamb. It was so good. Like mind-alteringly good. 


The Banshee - Dorchester, MA
Black angus burger and pub fries

O'Malley's Gaelic fries
     After a year and a half at UMass Boston, I finally hit up The Banshee, the local, favorite bar of a lot of my classmates. After my last grad GIS class I was teaching, all of the students and I went out for some food and beers as our final farewell. I anticipated standard bar food, but this was far from. The Banshee was a cozy little dark Irish pub with a really chill vibe. I loved it, and the menu was so much more than I expected with a little bit of everything from pizzas to burgers and bangers and mash. I'm still in this I-need-a-burger-everyday phase (where I'm not actually eating burgers everyday but I want them) so I ordered their black angus burger that was served with sautéed onions, peppers and mushrooms on a brioche roll. The burger was beautiful. Thick and juicy and the sautéed goodies were the perfect addition. It was served with a side of great salty fries...some soft, some crispy, some a little burnt. I ate half of it all partially because it was 9pm and partially because I destroyed a plate of their O'Malley's Gaelic fries. These were their pub fries topped with cheddar cheese, butcher's cut smoked bacon and a drizzle of ranch. It was stupid good. Stupid good and stupid artery clogging I'm sure but that cheese though...


The Linden Store - Wellesley, MA
The Linden Special

     There aren't many surprises in my life that are more exciting than when customers offer to buy us lunch when we're working. This time we were doing a job out in Wellesley and the wifey offered to get us some deli sandwiches from The Linden Store. It was their favorite local deli. My lightweight days made me appreciate a deli sandwich I can sink my teeth into more than the average person, so I was pumped. I ordered the Linden Special which was mortadella, prosciutto, salami, provolone cheese, marinated peppers, tomatoes, and oil. It was simple, but delicious. There were so many delicious salty meats that paired so well with the marinated peppers, again that cut the fat of the meats. I think it would've been a little better with some more greenery. Maybe some spinach or arugula. But it was still tasty. A step up from Jimmy Johns for sure. 


Greenhills Irish Bakery - Dorchester, MA

Irish Breakfast Roll

     A pro to working with such diverse crews is that a lot of them often know where to get great food from their home countries. We finished an onload far too quickly down in Dorchester a couple weeks ago and Mark knew just the place to stop for second breakfast. There's nothing wrong with second breakfast. It was this hopping place called Greenhills Irish Bakery serving up a variety of pastries, breads, and INCREDIBLE breakfast sandwiches. I got their small Irish breakfast roll which was a homemade buttered roll that nuzzled a fried egg, Irish bacon (which is more like what we consider ham but better), Irish sausage and black and white pudding. I couldn't believe how good the sausage was. It was 100% different than the type of sausage you normally buy here in that it was less greasy, more meaty and tasted like it had more spices in it. It was the same story with the blood sausage/black and white pudding. The blood sausage had an incredible flavor partially due to the caraway seeds, which are not a commonly used spice. In both sausages, I really felt like I was tasting the meat itself rather than fillers or fat. Throw it all together with the salty Irish bacon and the egg and it was something dreamy. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Who Throws A Muffin?

Blue Frog Bakery - Jamaica Plain, MA

Bread Pudding Muffin
     I admittedly hate delivering boxes alone on Box Express days. One benefit though is seeing a delicious bakery and immediately stopping without needing to consult the crew. I had just dropped some boxes off in Jamaica Plain and was waiting at a stoplight when I saw this enormous blue frog sculpture popping out of the side of a red brick building. I love frogs, so I was instantly intrigued. I was in the door before I even finished reading the word "Bakery" on their sign.
The Ciabatta
     Blue Frog Bakery is a tiny little shop with standing room for only a couple people. They had some incredible looking pastries and a bunch of fresh, organic breads. I saw a muffin that looked like a morning glory muffin (the ones with carrots, raisins, pineapple, apple, coconut and who really knows what else) so I asked for "the crazy looking muffin." She says "oh the bread pudding muffin?" Um... excuse me? Um yes. Give me this godly bread pudding muffin. It was incredible. It was clearly fresh because it was still warm. It had chocolate chips throughout that were still melty. It had a stiff muffin top crust supported by its incredibly dense, and moist core. It was just like the kind of bread pudding you scoop out of a casserole dish. I lost my mind eating it in the van. "Having said that, I do have some thoughts." (name that reference) While I loved the inclusion of chocolate chips, I think they may have detracted from the uniqueness of the muffin. No one makes a bread pudding muffin, so I wanted to taste more of the bread pudding. The chocolate chips were rather abundant throughout the muffin and were very sweet. Their sweetness and abundance seemed to mask the bread pudding flavors. As a suggestion to Blue Frog Bakery, I'd suggest fewer chips or more bitter chips, so they're not as overpowering and masking your ingenious and inventive bread pudding muffin.
      I intended to only get a muffin, but then I read that they won "Best Bread" in Boston for 2015. I got a loaf of their Ciabatta bread which was incredibly soft and delicious. It was so simple and didn't have this distinct mildly crunchy shell you picture most fresh breads having. This bread was so good. Good to the point where I could easily just sit there and eat it plain.  I couldn't stop with the bread and butter. Then again, ciabatta generally has a decent amount of holes inside which make the best little receptacles for your melted butter. No shame.


Michael's Deli - Brookline, MA
Michael's Corned Beef Sandwich

     So excited. I've wanted to go to Michael's Deli for a long time, and the time finally came! Cecil and I were out on a Nippon Express job and Nobu dropped us off in Brookline to forage. I brought my lunch, but as soon as I saw Michael's I knew there was no point in trying to fight the urge. Michaels is a tiny New York style deli in Brookline with a delightful staff. The man behind the counter was quite charming and super patient dealing with my indecisive self. I needed the corned beef sandwich though. That's what they're known for. They're a pretty famous name in Boston, as they've been named to Boston's "Best of" list many times and featured in countless magazines and award lists. 
     It was delicious. It was rich, succulent, salty and had that little sour hit from the sauerkraut.  I'm trying to compare this corned beef sandwich to that of Katz's Deli in New York, but they're different. Let's start with the meat. Michael's meat was thinly shaved whereas Katz's was thick cut. I think Katz's meat was more flavorful and richer, but I also liked the thin shaved meat at Michael's. It was unique and different, and oh man they loaded it up. It held together in the sandwich better, and I think they layered the sauerkraut and thousand island dressing throughout the layers of meat. Genius. That was the coolest part of the sandwich. I love inventive sandwich makers. Because they dispersed the sauerkraut and dressing throughout, it never got pushed out, which is clearly one of the worst things to happen whenever you're eating a sandwich. The one downside to Michael's sandwich was the bread. Because the meat/kraut/sauce combo was rather juicy, the thin sliced bread got soaked and fell apart quickly. I would've loved a more hearty slice. 
     I also got a spinach kanish to go and had it for dinner the next night. I'm not sure if I've had a kanish before, but it's basically like my grandma's sfeeha; a hunk of dough stuffed with anything you desire. The spinach kanish was pretty tasty, but I wanted a lemony bite with the nutty flavor of pine nuts, like that of grandma's spinach pies. 
     I love Michael's Deli, and I want to go back for that sandwich... or the conversation. 


In-House Cafe - Allston, MA

     This past Sunday was one of the best Sundays and most "Sunday" Sundays I've had in probably 2 years. What I mean by this is, I woke up, made myself some toast, Jimmy called and we went to breakfast, and I returned home to watch some shows and movies with various people filtering in and out the rest of the day. I did run down to the park to kick a soccer ball around with Tresser and her kids later in the day, completing the great Sunday picture. Anyway, it was just really relaxing because I submitted my thesis the day before and had no guilt (ok minimal guilt) about not doing anything all day. 

     Back to breakfast. Jimmy and I went to this little cyber-cafe looking place over on Harvard Ave which is not really a cyber cafe at all. Idk why I thought it was. I think just because their logo looks like it has a play button in it. I chose them because they had a "fourteen page breakfast menu" which would've been 2 pages if they had put more than 3 items on each page. I'm not mad, it was just kind of funny. Anyway, it was a cool little place in that there were random sized tables and chairs scattered throughout, kind of like you'd expect to see in someone's living room. Maybe that's why it's called In-House Cafe? Anyway, I ordered the Soprano Omelette, which was decent. It had sliced Halal Italian sausage, provolone cheese and caramelized onions. I think I would've liked more onions, more caramelized, and I would've liked them in strings rather than diced up so small. You didn't really get the unique caramelized onion flavor because they were just cooked (if that makes sense). The sausage was tasty, but had the texture of a hot dog. It wasn't a hot dog, but I like when breakfast sausage has that chunky texture.  I felt like the omelette overall was missing some substance. It had a ton of cheese, but I'm thinking the addition of maybe some multi-colored italian peppers would've taken it to that next level and complimented the italian sausage. It was served with some really delicious home fries and toast. However, I wished the toast was buttered. All it had was this little dime sized squirt of who knows what on top. Weirded me out a little. We were going to go for the banana caramel and pecan french toast, but we decided to wait until we got our first breakfast before ordering our breakfast dessert. However, in true Jimmy and Laurissa fashion, we were too full by the end and not patient enough to stand in line to order the french toast. Next time. 
     Overall, In-House was a decent little breakfast joint. Nothing fancy. Nothing special. But a cute little place to pop in for a quick order at the counter breakfast. 


Dumpling House - Cambridge, MA

     I have a confession. I briefly considered quitting On High Heat. Sometimes I just want to go out to eat or cook something and not take a picture. Sometimes I just want to enjoy the food, and I did just that for the Dumpling House. Long story short, I don't think I'm going to give up just yet. So here goes... Dumpling House is stuck in that mysterious area between Central and Harvard Square in Cambridge. It doesn't get as much as attention as the squares, but it boasts some pretty amazing restaurants like Zoe's, Mass Ave Diner, and Dumpling House.
     I've seen this place quite a few times, and it's always full, so when Alyse came to town and suggested meeting at Dumpling House, I was beyond excited. Not to mention I was coming from work and was starving. I was so surprised how big this restaurant was! And boy did they need all the space they could get. It was packed. We sat at one of the big circular tables with the spinning center table thing. What the heck are those called? Either way, it was great because we got everything family style, meaning we could all share everything and spin it around to each other on the swively table top.
     I want to apologize though, as I have a very limited idea of what we ate. I was starving, got there late and never looked at a menu. Nor did I snap a photo. Either way, we had one plate of some sort of lo mein with chicken which was tasty. Salty. I needed it though. We also got another plate of some sort of fried chicken in sauce (that same food court style asian food you know you crave sometimes but hate yourself after eating) which was delicious and a higher quality than Panda Express type fried chicken. The best part was the dumplings. Hence the name I'm assuming. We got two different kinds. The first serving were seafood dumplings which came steamed in these silver stackable containers. I'll admit I have no idea what's going on when I eat dumplings. You can never see what's inside, so it's always a surprise. These seafood dumplings were good though. Pretty simple, but tasty.
     The other dumplings we got were soup dumplings which Alyse has mentioned many times before. She says they take a cube of some sort of condensed soup, put it inside a dumpling, cook it and it liquifies so that when you bite into the dumpling, it's filled with soup! How cool is that? These were delicious, savory and bursting with flavor. Like chicken soup in a dumpling. Probably my second favorite next to the sauce fried chicken nonsense.
     I wish I had some sort of photo to show them to you, but I don't. You'll just have to trust me when I say, if you're looking for good dumplings, you don't have to go all the way down to Chinatown.


Punjabi Grill - Cambridge, MA

     Rolando made me do it. Or I could blame Guillermo or Rob. For lunch once day in the middle of a job out in Davis Square, Rob decided he wanted to get Indian food. I brought my lunch, as always, but I agreed to go with them anywhere. We ended up at Punjabi Grill in Davis for their lunch buffet. Buffet. NEVER get a buffet for lunch when you're moving furniture all day. NEVER EVER get an Indian buffet for lunch when you're moving furniture all day. Or maybe just have some self control. Or just don't go to a buffet. We were all dying after, but it was delicious.
     Again, this was during my "I'm not going to write about food anymore" phase, so I have no pictures. Only memories. And because it was a buffet, I have no idea what I ate. So, I'll write about Punjabi Grill from a general standpoint. Everything was super fresh, delicious and exploding with flavor. Their samosas were fresh out of the fryer and the naan was fresh out of the oven. It was incredible. Even the rice pudding was excellent. What made it even better was that my bill maxed out at $10 for unlimited delicious food. This experience just reminded me how amazing lunch deals can be. Forget getting dinner... wanna go get lunch?


Brown Jug - Revere, MA

     So it's funny because the other day David and I were talking about my food blogging and how some people go to a restaurant, try one thing and then just assume the restaurant is total junk because the one dish they happened to try was not so good. What's funny about it was that quite soon after that we went to The Brown Jug in Revere and had the absolute worst pizza I've ever had. It was their taco pizza. Now I've had an exceptional taco pizza before in East Lansing at Georgio's Gourmet Pizza. Brown Jug's pizza was so far from exceptional. On the menu it said it had hamburger on it. Well... it sure did. They cut up hamburgers and put it on the pizza. If you're going to make it a taco pizza, use ground hamburger and at least add some taco seasoning or something that even remotely resembles the taste of a taco. They used shit cheese. There were a couple chunks of obnoxiously large tomatoes through on top milling about with shards of white iceberg lettuce. Literally nothing about the pizza was good. Not even the crust, and I'm easy to please when it comes to crust. It tasted like trash and made you feel like trash. Tacos would never be that mean.


Chickpea Sauté - My Kitchen, Allston

Full disclosure: This is not my picture. It's from Girl Versus Dough.
But I couldn't not show you how pretty this dish is. 

     Yes, I'm finally writing about something I cooked! I've been so unenthused about the things I've made recently. However, this chickpea sauté got me out of my funk. I found this recipe on Girl Versus Dough and tweaked it a little to fit my Lebanese heritage with zatar instead of caraway seeds. I think it turned out exceptional and I'd suggest following my recipe. The mint is key. Don't skimp. This is a nice light, but filling dish that's super satisfying. And don't be scared of the olive oil, pepper, yogurt mix. It's a strange but great addition to the whole dish when you dollop a little bit on top.

Chickpea Sauté

1 bunch (about 8 cups) Swiss chard, leaves separated from stems
1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for garnish
4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1-2 tablespoons Zatar
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Toss in a small handful of sea salt, then add Swiss chard stalks. Blanch stalks for 3 minutes, then add leaves and blanch another 2 minutes. Drain and rinse chard under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels, then transfer to a cutting board and chop roughly. Set aside.

2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add carrots and zatar and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chickpeas and chard; cook another 6 minutes. Add garlic, herbs, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat; add more salt or pepper, if desired.

3. Stir together Greek yogurt, olive oil and some salt and pepper. Transfer chickpea mixture to a serving plate and top with yogurt mixture, an extra drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of black pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

I Thought I Smelled Cabbage

Slumbrew - Somerville, MA
Nachos, tots, pretzel

     Months and months ago, I was part of the crew that moved Slumbrew into their new location right around the corner from Gentle Giant. I'm not going to go into the details about the move, but they gave us beer as a tip and let us hang out for a bit. After a day of moving and minimal eating/drinking, one beer hit hard. Slumbrew has some really unique beers; a lot of which are pretty high on the alcohol content and quite bitter, which is not quite my style. However, after Rolando and I finished a different job a few weeks ago, we decided to head over and grab some foods. Plus, he was aching to get in on one of their sour beers called Gose Revolution, which is a German style ale with hibiscus, sea salt and citrus. It was delicious! I had never even heard of a sour beer before, but this was easily my favorite beer of theirs. It felt a little bit lighter but had a citrus taste. I don't know how to describe beer, so I'll get to the food.
     As David finished up his job that day, he came over and joined our Connect Four game at Slumbrew (Ro and I tied 2-2 but I think I would've beaten him on that 5th game). Everyone was starving, so we ordered a plate of their nachos. Unfortunately, they were out of the pulled pork which was supposed to come on top, but I had seen their little mini kitchen before and the place was packed, so I understood how the kitchen itself probably was having a hard time keeping up. Instead they threw a cup of chili on top, which was a nice, simple meat and bean chili. The chips were the best part though. They were the perfect thickness, didn't get soggy under the toppings and had a great lime flavor. Something was different about these though, and I honestly couldn't figure it out. They had a richer flavor than most tortilla chips. As if they had a brown buttery flavor maybe? Can't be. Seems like way too much work for tortilla chips. I'm not even sure they were homemade or not, but I'd guess so. Either way, I could eat those chips until I die. The nachos also had jack cheese, pico de gallo, and a lime sour cream. While they weren't the best I've had, and I wished for more toppings, those chips made them great. That and the sour cream. The lime sour cream was new to me, and it had double the bite of normal sour cream. Very cool.
     We also got some of the tater tots which were.... tater tots. It's practically impossible to screw those up or make them super crazy awesome. They were served with a chipotle ketchup, which was good, but they were better with Rolando's warm beer cheese that came with his soft pretzel. I love the bite that beer cheese has, especially as it cools. The soft pretzel was fabulous too with the perfect slightly stiff shell and the soft, squishy dough inside. I definitely have to go back and get my own pretzel which should be real tough considering it's a rough 1 minute walk from the warehouse. Bummer.


Amelia's Taqueria - Allston, MA

Tacos al pastor
     Last Sunday I convinced Eric to go do some winter hiking with me in the Fells. After a short hour and a half through the snow and the hills, it was lunch time. We came back to Allston and decided to try out Amelia's Taqueria on Brighton Ave. It seems like there are hundreds of restaurants on Brighton Ave in Allston, and I haven't been to nearly enough. I feel like they are so easily overlooked when comparing to Cambridge and Boston restaurants, but they really shouldn't be. Amelia's was great. For 3.75 I got the largest taco I've ever seen. The woman warmed up two small corn tortillas and loaded on the ingredients. Their selection was incredible. They had maybe 7 kinds of meats to choose from (including cow tongue... which I've had before with my grandpa), tons of different vegetables cut up different ways, cooked different ways and seasoned different ways. For example, I got purple cabbage on my taco. Who does that? Who offers that? I was thrilled to be presented with so many options. Anyway, I got the al pastor, which is apparently pork marinated in a mixture of chilis and other spices. Supposedly they generally cut it into thin strips, put them together and rotate over a fire, but the chunks of meat I had were more like larger, thick chunks. I'm ok with that. 
     I also got pice de gallo, sour cream and Oaxaca cheese which is a semi-soft Mexican stringy cheese. The cheese is known to be a good melting cheese and has a mellow buttery flavor.  Throw in that purple cabbage and some pork, and you've got a recipe for the strangest taco. It was delicious though. I loved all the different flavors and the crunch that the cabbage added to the taco. I was astounded by how much meat they gave me. Totally worth the money. Their chips and guac was spot on too. They stuffed a ton of the salty, lime chips in the bag and the guac was the perfect mix of smooth with some small avocado, onion and tomato chunks inside.
     If you're looking for a burrito or Mexican food in Allston, definitely stop by Amelia's. They have great portions, they're quick and fairly priced. I want to go back and try other things!


Espresso Chocolate Shortbreads - My Kitchen, Allston, MA

Espresso chocolate shortbreads
     You can never go wrong with Smitten Kitchen.... well, unless you're on a time crunch. While most of her recipes are fairly involved and complicated, this one was relatively simple (I don't mean to take away from her recipes because they're complex and intricate for a reason and that's because they're incredible). But, finding a nut free cookie recipe that's safe for David is hard for me because all the best ones I save have nuts in them because they generally trump all others. Luckily, I stumbled upon her collection of cookie recipes and found these espresso shortbreads. I don't know if I've ever even made shortbreads before. 
What I thought was so cool about this recipe was the bag method she introduced. Once the dough was made, you put it in a plastic bag and roll it out inside the bag. Then you chill it, cut open the bag and cut these perfect little adorable squares. It's beautiful. What was also beautiful was the dough. Lord have mercy this cookie dough was delicious... and raw egg free so I felt slightly less guilty about eating half of it. I loved the subtle coffee flavor and the crumbly-ness of the cookie so much. So so much.

Espresso Chocolate Shortbreads

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder (or instant coffee)
1 tablespoon boiling water
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon coarse, sea or kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1. Dissolve the espresso in the boiling water, and set aside to cool.

2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes or until the mixture is very smooth. Beat in the vanilla, dissolved espresso and salt, then reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour. Try not to work the dough to much. Just mix it until it's incorporated and fold in the chopped chocolate. 
Dough in a bag

3. Using a spatula, transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving it unzipped and roll the dough into a 9 x 10 1/2 inch rectangle that’s 1/4 inch thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

4. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

5. Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board (discard the bag) and cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies.

6. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets at the midway point. The shortbreads will be very pale–they shouldn’t take on much color. Transfer the cookies to a rack.


Sweet Potato Gnocchi - My Kitchen, Allston, MA

Sweet potato gnocchi

     Sweet Potato Gnocchi is one of those recipes I was eager to make yet dreading it at the same time. I just pictured them coming out like little gooey dough balls with the consistency of tapioca balls or something. I hoped I wouldn't get them that wrong, but you never know. I finally mustered up the energy to try them and they were fabulous! I take that back. They were decent. What was fabulous was the dish I made with them. 
Sweet potato gnocchi, brussel sprouts, goat cheese, pepitas, and dried cranberries
     So the gnocchi themselves came from Oh My Veggies. They were relatively easy to make, but you just have to prepare your roasted sweet potatoes far enough in advance so you're not dealing with hot sweet potatoes mush when trying to form your dough. If you check out her recipe, it tells you to add brown sugar. I simply neglected to do so because I got distracted, but do as you please. 
     As for the recipe I used for the whole dish, I found it on Empowered Sustenance. It basically tossed the gnocchi together with brussel sprouts, crumbled goat cheese, pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and dried cranberries. I made a few tweaks to it like not adding bacon or therefore frying the gnocchi in the residual bacon fat. I also didn't add any dressing. I didn't want to mask my gnocchi flavors or the brussel sprout and goat cheese flavors. One thing that really kicked this recipe into gear was opting to cook the sprouts in coconut oil. Literally everything coconut oil touches turns to gold. It's magical. After I had boiled the gnocchi like the recipe from Oh My Veggies called for, I crisped up their edges by sautéing them in a little coconut oil alongside my sprouts. When I was assembling the salad, I waited until the end to add the goat cheese and pumpkin seeds so that if I needed to reheat some at a later date, I wouldn't worry about cooking the cheese and seeds. 

Sweet Potato Gnocchi 

1 1/2 c. mashed roasted sweet potato, drained in fine mesh sieve for about 2 hours
6 oz. ricotta cheese, drained in fine mesh sieve for about 2 hours < don't use fat free! My mistake :/
1/2 c. shredded parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour + more for rolling and shaping gnocchi

1. Combine sweet potato and ricotta in a large bowl and add parmesan cheese, and salt. 

2. Stir until well-combined. Fold in flour, 2 tablespoons at a time, until a dough is formed. Add as little dough as possible. The dough should be slightly sticky but not so sticky that you can't work with it.

3. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Divide into 3 pieces. Using your palms, roll and stretch each piece into a 20-inch rope. You may end up dividing the dough even further if your rope gets unruly. Add more flour as needed.

4. Cut each rope into 20 one-inch pieces. Place gnocchi on fork and gently press the center with your thumb, rocking back and forth.
5. Boil finished gnocchi one or two handfuls at a time in a large pot of salted water for 3-5 minutes, until tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a baking sheet to cool.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brussels Sprouts

6 cups brussels sprouts, halved
3 Tbsp coconut oil
1 batch sweet potato gnocchi (see above)
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, add 1-2tbs coconut oil. Once hot, add in brussels sprouts and cook until crisp. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and remove and place in a bowl. 

2. In the same skillet, heat another tbs of coconut oil and add sweet potato gnocchi in batches cooking until crisp on all sides, rotating with tongs.

3. Continue adding additional butter/coconut oil and gnocchi until all has been cooked. Add to brussels sprouts along with dried cranberries. When ready to serve, add pumpkin seeds and goat cheese crumbles. Serve warm.