I’m a fairly good cook thanks to my Mom who always encouraged me in the kitchen and I actually cook several homemade meals every week. I know a lot of people think all I do is eat out, but I do enjoy cooking. For example, this weekend I roasted a bunch of veggies, made a ridiculous amount of what turned out to be delicious red sauce, approximately 18 meatballs and one of my better eggplant Parmesan.
I make this sort of thing regularly through out the Fall and Winter. It is my comfort food. Do you cook? What do you make regularly?
The third Saturday of every month The Boston Chocolate School (yes we even have a school for that here in Boston) hosts a 3 hour class that is the perfect gift for any chocoholic.
I attended September’s class with my good friend and fellow blogger, 40-Something Life, unsure of what to expect. Our class was hosted by Chef Dorian (shown above with 40-something life blogger and yours truly). Dorian was the Season 2 winner of The Food Network show, Sweet Genius, and after taking his class, I can honestly say he’s also a comic genius. His class is both entertaining and educational – this man is CRAZY about chocolate.
The first half of the class, which takes place near Downtown Crossing in Boston, is spent learning about chocolate while sipping what might be some of the best hot chocolate in town. I learned things like the only 5 ingredients any chocolate should have: cocoa liquor (ground cocoa beans), cocoa butter, sugar, soy lecithin and real vanilla. So simple really, but because some large recognizable brands like Hershey don’t use this and add other “stuff” they aren’t technically considered chocolate.
With the Fall in full swing and colder weather coming, this might make for the perfect Saturday activity if you have even a mild interest in chocolate. Certainly the entertainment value that Chef Dorian brings to the class cannot be stressed enough. Boston Chocolate School classes occur the 3rd Saturday of each month, with the next class on Saturday, October 19th.
More information about this can be found on their website, The Boston Chocolate School.
Starting this Thursday and running through Sunday, July 21st is Boston’s Fork Lift Food Fest; hosted in conjunction with Boston’s music festival, Outside the Box.
Boston’s Fork Lift Food Fest – July 18 – 21
The Fork Lift Food Fest features local restaurants and celebrity chefs in City Hall Plaza. In addition to a lot of great food, check out the Wine & Beer Pavilion (for those 21 and over).
More information is here.
Farm & Fable, a vintage cookbook kitchen shop that has space to host cooking demonstrations and classes, will open a new retail space on the corner of Shawmut Avenue and Milford Street across from Coppa Boston in the South End.
I’m relieved to see this space will be home to a new retail shop. With Formaggio and the Syrian Market just across the street and a number of cafes, restaurants and other retailers on this block I hope there will be sufficient foot traffic for this specialty shop.
Future home of Farm & Fable
While construction continues at 251 Shawmut Avenue, you may follow Farm & Fable on Twitter at @FarmAndFable or check out their Facebook page.
Hummus is an easy to make and affordable dip or spread from the Middle East. I like the fact that you can make it in 10 minutes and need not use a single pan. Moreover, it’s nutritious – high in iron and vitamins C and B6 as well as a good source of protein and dietary fiber.
You should be able to buy all the ingredients necessary to make enough hummus to serve for four people for approximately $10. Ingredients include:
1 16oz. can of garbanzo beans / chickpeas
1 red onion
1/4 cup of liquid from can of garbanzo beans / chickpeas
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1+ tablespoon of tahini
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cumin
The juice from half a lemon
The process could not be more simple. Add the ingredients into a food processor and blend until they are fully mixed. You may be tempted to omit the tahini and cumin if you don’t have this in your cupboards, but it is the combination of these ingredients that really provide the flavor associated with hummus and you’ll do yourself a disservice so don’t substitute these.
Optional: For garnish you may include finely chopped chives. The green coloring and flavoring really enhances the spread.
Pesto is an easy to make Italian sauce that originates from Liguria, a region of northern Italy. It consists of basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan-Reggiano cheese and olive oil.
I love the flavor of freshly made pesto, and I think you will too. Why buy store made pesto when it is so easy to make and you can control the ingredients to ensure everything tastes fresh? I roast the garlic before adding it, but traditional recipes use raw minced garlic cloves (rule of thumb is one clove per cup of basil). Prep time (if you don’t roast the garlic) is only 5-10 minutes.
2-3 cups of packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
1/2 a head of garlic (I use more garlic because I roast it first and I love garlic)
1/3 cup of unsalted pine nuts
Salt & pepper combined together – add to taste
Instructions: Add the basil in a food processor and pulse – as the herbs start to blend add pine nuts, garlic and half the olive oil. Pulse 2-3 times then add the cheese and remaining oil and pulse again until ingredients are blended – taste and add salt / pepper mix to enhance the flavor.
Once the sauce has combined it is ready to be poured over a pasta or you may refrigerate and keep to have later with your meal. If I can make one suggestion, it would be to ensure you have very fresh, deep green basil leaves.
NOTE: I roast a head of garlic (takes ~30 minutes at 400°). This is an extra step and not part of a traditional pesto, but I like the flavor of roasted garlic.
Last week I was invited to attend an event hosted by the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts (SBN) at The Granary Tavern. This nonprofit’s mission is to build a Massachusetts economy that is local, green, and fair. They currently organize several programs but are probably best known for the Boston Local Food Festival held each fall.
Chef Keenan from The Granary Tavern was tasked by the SBN to pull together a tempting 3-course dinner for a crowd of approximately 50+ people using only locally sourced ingredients (down to the flour and salt used). For those who live outside of New England you may not realize how difficult this can be during the height of our winter, but I have to tip my hat to Chef Keenan who did an admirable job. The dinner was both social and educational – driving home the point that even here in the winter, one may buy locally grown foods and prepare nutritionally balanced, delicious meals.
Dinner started with a salad made with assorted lettuce, parsnips, apples, and cheese. The crunchy parsnip strips, cubed apples and tangy vinaigrette contrasted nicely with the soft goat’s cheese and buttery lettuce flavors. And as you can plainly see in the photo below – everything looked fresh.Following the salad, I had high hopes for the main course which I had ordered. The second course was a grilled Angus hanger steak served on a bed of root vegetables with a rich sauce; I believe it was a hollandaise – it was delicious.The final course of the evening was a baked Alaska made with maple syrup ice cream and drizzled with extra maple syrup for additional flavoring. I’d never had a baked Alaska before but this was light and sweet. I love real maple syrup and it was the inclusion of this local ingredient more than any other that tempted me, while I scraped my plate clean, finishing off the baked Alaska. In the past I’ve written about local farmer’s markets and my interest in purchasing food that is locally sourced (for example The Foodery post in January) . Do you purchase food from a farmer’s market? Do you notice a difference in the quality / freshness of that food? How important is this to you?
For nearly six months a food service called The Foodery has been in the Boston area, making and delivering restaurant quality meals that have locally sourced, organic ingredients.
I was unfamiliar with this new business founded by college friends turned entrepreneurs, John Bauer and Mike Speights, but I love their idea of making good, nutritious food more accessible and thought their business model was unique to Boston.
Their goal is to help people who want to eat healthy but don’t have the time, skill or inclination to make these kinds of meals. The business model is very straight forward, but all that convenience and the quality of the ingredients comes at a cost – approximately $24 per meal – so for those on a tight budget this is probably not feasible. However for professionals on the go who find themselves eating out at restaurants regularly this provides a slightly more affordable option and certainly more healthy with all meals not only nutritionally balanced but also capping out at 550 calories.
Want to learn more about The Foodery? Check out their website at www.MyFoodery.com and let me know what you think. To see if The Foodery serves your community link here.
One of my favorite shops in my neighborhood is South End Formaggio. It is a tiny shop stuffed from floor to ceiling full of delicious food, wine and beer, but it is best known for its exceptional selection of cheese and meats. I love this shop, but with only two other locations (Cambridge and NYC – Lower East Side) it may be impractical for you to pay a visit.
Source: Just Add Cheese
However, if you are a cheese lovah (err I mean lover), you may want to check out the Formaggio Kitchen blog. They have tempting posts like recipes for Mac and Many Cheeses and Ricotta Toasts with Turkish Figs. Their blog also has interesting posts like How to Put Together a Cheese Platter. Lastly, you can follow their tempting Tweets on Twitter, here.
Last Saturday I was a judge at The Taste of Provincetown. All the great cooking along with the chef’s competition inspired me to go back into the kitchen and pull together this meal.
This is an easy to cook, nutritious meal that takes 20 minutes and cost approximately $15 in ingredients. Substitute ingredients you may not have or do not like for something that appeals to you.
Tip: If you do not care for mushrooms substitute the vegetable with something similar that will absorb some of the juice and flavoring of the mango salsa; refrain from starches – vegetables work best.
Chick-fil-A because of their opposition to same sex marriage. The company has made significant donations to homophobic organizations like Exodus and The Family Research Council.
Earlier this month, I included a picture urging people not to support
Trying to be sensitive to all you who LOVE fried chicken sandwiches, I thought I would share this video of Hilah Johnson. It’s a legit video and one you will appreciate if you are a fried chicken lover. I love the start of the video when Hilah says, “When’s the best time for a fried chicken sandwich? Sunday morning. Who’s closed on Sunday? Chick-fil-A!
Will you start watching your favorite food programs on your computer? Google thinks you will and that is why starting July 2nd The Food Network and Cooking Channel will have to keep an eye on YouTube’s newest original content channel, appropriately named, HUNGRY.
HUNGRY will include a combination of how-to and celebrity-chef food videos. As a part-time cook with a penchant for buying fruits and veggies I’ve never seen before, I regularly check YouTube for food preparation tips. Last spring after watching a video on how to prepare artichokes, I wrote my post Chef BosGuy.
Mango coconut chicken
with lemon scented cous cous & cranberries
This meal will feed 3-4 people, takes 30 minutes from start to finish (including clean up) and costs approximately $15. For my dinner I also included a salad and steamed broccoli. Before you start cooking combine your chicken and marinade. From everything I read one should do this the night before, but I let this sit for about 10 minutes and it came out fine. I punctured the chicken with a fork then poured a half a cup of the marinade over the chicken strips.
Add the julienned pepper and leek with a splash of chicken broth on medium high heat. The pepper will add color and texture whereas the leek adds flavoring. Leeks are similar to onions but more mild. Let this cook for a few minutes then add the chicken. Once added, turn down the heat to medium, flip every few minutes and keep covered to ensure the chicken does not get dry; cooking time 8-10 minutes; turn off heat and keep covered until you are ready to serve.Once you’ve started to cook the peppers and leeks, in a separate pan add 2 cups of chicken broth, the zest of one lemon on high heat and cover. In a minute this will come to a boil; add 2 cups of cous cous and 1/3 cup of dried cranberries, stir and cover. I leave burner on the lowest possible setting for about 30 seconds then turn it off and let the cous cous sit covered for 5 minutes. Use a fork to “fluff” before serving this since the grain will clump together.
For our dinner I also steamed broccoli and made a salad with greens, a tomato and walnuts then dressed it with a honey vinaigrette and olive oil. Don’t be frightened by the size of the steamed broccoli on my plate (I love broccoli). The meal is satisfying without the sides, but I prefer dinner with a salad and lots of veggies.
Cooking chicken can seem a bit like the culinary version of Ground Hog Day. Unless you are a vegetarian, you likely have a fair amount of this protein in your diet, and it can quickly become very boring to cook. This recipe takes approximately 30 minutes to prep, cook and clean and all the ingredients may be purchased for ~$10.00 per person.
Chicken Prep Step 1: Slice the chicken breast into strips (it will cook more quickly this way). Then put each strip into a ziplock bag and pound the strip flat. In the photo below the two strips on the left have been pounded.
Chicken Prep Step 2: Dip the pounded breast strips in a saucer filled with 1 cup of milk then into a second saucer filled with 1 cup of panko (or bread) crumbs and a half cup of grated parmesan cheese. Tap off the excess and place in a plate to prepare for cooking.
Cooking: In this recipe I’ve used one leek and two cups of sliced mushrooms, but an onion may be used in lieu of the leek. You may also substitute the mushrooms with a vegetable of your liking, but I like the texture and taste of mushrooms with chicken. Saute your vegetables with 1 tsp of melted butter over medium heat. As the vegetables soften, add a half to one cup of white wine, the chicken and cover the pan (flip the chicken after 2-3 minutes).Accompanying my “Wicked easy chicken” is steamed broccoli as well as whole grain rice. As mentioned above, the total time in the kitchen including prep, cooking and clean up is less than 30 minutes. If you are dieting, you can remove the breading process outlined in “Chicken Prep Step 2″ and add the juice of one lemon for additional flavoring. Likewise the white wine can be substituted with another liquid of your choosing but I would suggest chicken stock.
The total cooking time (including prep) for this dinner is 15-20 minutes. The cost of the ingredients less the wine, butter and seasoning is $7.00 to $9.00.
Start by sautéing carrots and leeks over medium heat in 1tbs of butter, 1/3 cup of white wine and a pinch of salt for 2-3 minutes. This will soften the vegetables and create a base to place your filet. Just prior to adding the salmon in the pan, squeeze the juice of 1/2 of a lemon and let it sit for a minute then add with the lemon juice skin-side down in the pan. Place 1/2 a tbs of butter on the top of the filet and cover the pan. After approximately 3 minutes flip the salmon so the skin is facing up and cover.
After 2 minutes uncover the pan, remove it from the burner and let it rest for 3-4 minutes. The fish will continue to cook in its own heat and absorb the flavors of the lemon wine and butter. The meal below was also accompanied by couscous and steamed broccoli, but use whatever you like.
Note: I was not able to figure out how to effectively remove the bones from the filet so next time I will ask if my grocer will do this for me or show me how.