Sunday, April 1, 2012

What comes around, goes around.

Cornmeal, Rosemary Butter Cookies - 578 Washington St #3, Brighton, MA

     Looking for a light cookie? Different than the rest? I've got to thank Ilse for these. She introduced me to the majesty of these cookies at Amanda's Cookie Swap around Christmas. Now it was my turn to share the love. The only thing I did differently than this recipe is that I didn't use sugar sprinkles and I only added pepper to a couple of them. I preferred the cookies without pepper and just a sprinkle of sugar on top of each.

2½ cups King Arthur unbleached, all-purpose flour  
1 cup fine cornmeal
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1½ cups fresh unsalted butter, at cool room temperature (3 cubes)
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons almond extract
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
coarsely ground black pepper
clear sugar sprinkles 
  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour add the cornmeal and salt. Whisk the mixture well to evenly distribute.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar.
  3. Add the almond extract, pepper, and rosemary, and mix.
  4. Add the flour mixture and mix very briefly on very slow speed, just until a dough forms.
  5. Scoop balls of dough, leveling each ball with the edges of the scoop. 
  6. You can arrange the dough balls closely together on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for as long as a couple of days, or proceed immediately to baking.
  7. Coat a baking sheet lightly with vegetable spray. Arrange 12 cookie balls, flat sides down, 2 inches apart, on the baking sheet.
  8. Gently flatten each cookie ball to a ¼-inch thickness.
  9. Coarsely grind black pepper over each cookie and then sprinkle each cookie with clear sprinkles.
  10. Bake each sheet of cookies at 350° for about 15 minutes, rotating the pan at the halfway point to ensure even browning.
  11. Remove from the oven, loosen each cookie with a thin spatula and let cool for 3-4 minutes on the pan. Remove cookies from the cookie sheet and place on a wire rack and cool completely.
  12. Store airtight, in layers separated by wax paper rounds, in a cookie tin in a cool, dry place. These cookies improve with age. They keep for 3-4 weeks. Cookies may also be frozen.

Bartley's Burgers - Cambridge, MA

     I really do love exploring new restaurants, but every now and then, you just have to go back to those that capture your heart. Bartley's Burgers in Harvard Square. I went twice. Once with Patrick to just celebrate life and once with Joan, Lauren and Mary to celebrate a successful winter training season. How do I describe this? Have you ever been to Applebees? Well it's nothing like that. This place was small, packed, tables the size of a deck of cards, and more  treasures hung on the wall than you could fully observe during a meal... especially during the meal I was about to have. Guy Fieri hung next to Elvis which hung next to a Red Sox jersey. Completely random but unique. The menu lists about 25 different gourmet burgers to choose from in addition to their simpler burgers that are scribbled on a chalkboard hung near the ceiling. The names of the burgers were unique and varied from "The Sarah Palin" to "The Jeremy Linsanity."
     Trip #1. I rose to the occasion and ordered "The Viagra." A 7oz plump, juicy burger with blue cheese sauce, bacon, lettuce and tomatoes. I could go into why I think it's called the Viagra, but I'm sure you get the picture. Juicy burger. Blue cheese. Just remember the last time you bit into something like that. Could be the size. Could be the consistency and color. I'm done. I find it rare at restaurants when you ask for medium rare that they actually cook it right. It seems like no matter what you tell them, they're always going to torch it. Everyone except Bartley's. The burger came beautifully red. Practically still mooing. Finally. The beautiful burger came with fries. Perfect fries. I feel like I've described so many types of fries, and I'm running out of good fry adjectives other than "soft on the inside, crispy on the outside." But that's just how it was. "You gotta get a frappé. There's no choice." OK. Fine, Patrick. The things I'm forced to do. I went with their special called "The Elvis." Not sure why, but it had reeses cups, chocolate syrup and bananas. Mmm mmmm mmmmmmmm! It was awesome. Nice and thick but not too banana-y. Patrick got the cake batter frappé. Bet you can't guess what it tasted like. Exactly.
     Trip #2. I got the "Tim Thomas." Jack cheese burger, chilli, salsa, sour cream and onion rings. As we waited for our burgers, we discussed our favorite condiments. Topping the list were sour cream and salsa. I knew I ordered right. The onion rings came first. I have to admit, I was a little dissappointed. They looked so good. Thin onion slices with a mild coating of batter. They arrived piping hot to the table, but there really wasn't much flavor to them. It was just fried-ness. Oh well. We also got cheese fries. Fake cheese on top of their delicious fries. The fries were better without the cheese. Anyway... onto the burger. DE-licious... and I was so glad. The thing was loaded. I mean loaded with chili and salsa. Half of it fell out and half covered my face and hands. The sour cream was that key ingredient that brought it all together. I never would've ever thought to put it all together, but it was fabulous. It had a little spice, but not too much. Warm gooey cheese. Man... that cheese with the chili. Top notch.
     Overall. Winning experience. Both times. Very happy. More frappé.

Blue Shirt Cafe - Somerville, MA 

     Testing week had began. We started off with our first 30 minute piece in months. I dropped 2.3 seconds off my average. I thought, it ever I've deserved the Peanut Butter Delight smoothie from Blue Shirt on a weekday, it was today. This time I went with everyone from work when they walked into Davis Sq for lunch. I ordered it anticipating it would be delicious, but I would feel like a cow after. I was wrong. I felt great because it was light and I didn't feel like I had consumed 3 days worth of calories in one drink. It had peanut butter, bananas, chocolate syrup, non-fat yogurt and low fat milk. It was smooth and light but chocolatey and peanut buttery. It wasn't too thick to drink with a straw and I was rather satisfied. Again, one of those restaurants you just have to go back to.

Clover - Cambridge, MA

     So my boss says to me, "If you're not busy tomorrow evening, I was wondering if you would like to go to a food truck class for my fiance. I'll pay you for your time there and buy your meal." Sometimes I wonder what kind of job I have. How in the world did I land this? I'm not sure, but I'm very happy about it. So after my workout, I scurry up to Inman Square to the Clover Food Lab for a class called Food Truck 102. I got a meal as soon as I got there because I was practically wasting away after running to get there on time. I got their chic pea place and a small loaf of warm fluffy flat bread. The chic pea plate had a chic pea salad, some sort of other salad with tomatoes and cucumbers, a mountain of hummus and fried falafel balls sitting atop pickled cabbage. Let me first provide you some reference. Clover is a vegetarian food business that began out of a truck. They now have 2 restaurant locations across Boston and 5 trucks out on the streets. Clover prides itself on using local, fresh, and organic ingredients when possible and a menu changes with the seasons. Very cool idea. So everything in my hummus plate was super fresh and refreshing. I truthfully have no idea where to even begin. Each part of the meal had so many flavors and textures. Sweet, sour, smooth, crunchy. I could've eaten 1000 of the falafel balls (not the night before a weigh-in though:/ ). The hummus was great. Not as good as my grandma's but definitely more fresh than you normally get in the store.
     In addition to the chic pea plate I also got a cup of their sweet onion soup. Probably the best onion soup I've ever had. It was just lightly sweet, but maintained every bit of onion flavor. It was dark too. Not sure what made it so dark. I also got the hibiscus tea. It was a maroon color, light and sweet. Again, refreshing.
I left Clover A) Educated, B) Full and C) refreshed. It was great. Not a feeling you can always say after eating out.

Martin's Coffee Shop - Brookline, MA

     I love croissants. I love french toast. Never have I ever thought of putting the two together. Genius idea. I went into Martin's thinking, "I'm going to get something light" and was planning on sticking to it until I saw the home fries piled up on the grill.. I really don't want to talk about the reason we went to Martin's coffee shop, but Joan and I went to Martin's Coffee Shop in Brookline village to meet some people. Martin's is just a little hole in the wall cafe that's been voted Boston's best a couple years. They had just about anything you wanted on the menu, as far as standard cafe food. Some really delicious sounding sandwiches. Even thought it was 1pm, I had to get a pile of their "Home Fries." This was their standard potato dish with onions. The onions and potatoes were grilled in a way that the flavors of each infiltrated the other. These potatoes were perfectly tender and seasoned with... maybe paprika? It was red. So delicious and hearty.
     The french toast was so good. Very unique. It had the light, airy, flakiness of a croissant, but the look and taste of french toast. Lightly sweet and light in weight. If only I had real maple syrup.

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