Tag Archives: Dining

BosGuy cooks: Tomato sauce

Tomato Sauce

I share this recipe each winter because it is great comfort food. I spend many of my Sunday afternoons in the winter months happily cooking my favorite meals and for many of those dinners a good homemade red sauce is required. While you can use your favorite jarred sauce with this recipe, I do think this tastes best with whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes.

Cooking time can vary and as a general rule cooking longer over lower heat is better than shorter over higher heat but the reality is you can pull together a decent red sauce in about 45 minutes (including prep time). However, this tastes best when cooked, allowed to cool on the stove top and then refrigerated overnight, which is why I often make a red sauce on the weekend with the intention to use it later that week.

As a general rule, I add to my sauce a minced onion, several cloves of roasted garlic (also minced), an Italian sausage (I tend to buy the sausage meat out of the casing) and a carrot and roasted red bell pepper (both of which I puree). For seasonings I use chopped parsley (the more the better), red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, bay leaves and dried Italian seasonings.

BosGuy cooks

Cooking Instructions: Start by adding a bit of olive oil in a pan on medium high heat. Make your sauce a little spicier by adding red pepper flakes with the oil before the pan is hot. Sautée a minced onion until they soften then reduce the heat to medium or medium low to avoid burning the food. Next, add Italian sausage (take it out of the casing or buy it that way) and minced garlic (I prefer to use roasted garlic). After these combine for 2-3 minutes, you can add the tomato sauce, a bit of tomato paste, a couple bay leaves, salt and pepper to taste and Italian seasonings.

Next puree the roasted red pepper and carrot and stir it into the sauce so everything combines. The roasted pepper will bring a lot of flavor to the sauce, while the carrot acts as a natural sweetner cutting the acidity. It can be substituted with a tablespoon of sugar.

Lastly, cover the sauce pan and lower the heat so the sauce will lightly simmer and let it cook for ~30 minutes, stirring occassionally. Add a cup of freshly chopped parsley in the final 4-5 minutes. If you add it too early the taste is muted but if added in the final minutes they soften and pack more flavor.

BosGuy cooking

Cooking Tips: If the sauce becomes too thick add chicken stock / or water. Add a dash of red wine and stir to deepen the coloring then drizzle olive oil and fresh ground black pepper atop the sauce. If you want to go all out add a table spoon or two of ricotta cheese when serving.

BosGuy cooks: Roasted eggplant

I originally shared a post on roasted eggplant in January 2012 and wanted to update and repost because this is an easy recipe anyone can follow and as a bonus requires very little in the way of clean up.

Roasted eggplant is extremely flavorful and a healthy snack that is full of vitamins, minerals and fiber. I like to purée roasted eggplant and portobelo mushrooms to use as the base for my vegetarian red sauce. To roast eggplant you’ll need an eggplant (obviously) but you’ll also need garlic, about 1/3 of a cup of olive oil as well as basil, salt and thyme.

Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees. Then cut the eggplant in half and score it with deep cuts, but don’t pierce the skin. Add 1 tbsp of salt into the cuts and let the eggplant rest for 20 minutes. The salt will cause the eggplant to sweat (as shown in photo above). Squeeze the eggplant to release the excess water to remove the bitter taste and help with roasting.

Combine 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil and a couple pinches of thyme for flavoring and brush the eggplant liberally; then brush the garlic cloves and embed them into the scoring marks (use as many as you like).

Flip the brushed eggplant face down on a tray lined with parchment paper. I like to also place a few basil leaves between the parchment and eggplant. Place this into the oven for 45 minutes then take out and let cool for 15 minutes.

BosGuy cooks: Pancakes

When I was younger and spent weekends at my grandparents house it was not uncommon for my grandmother to make pancakes for breakfast and my cousins who lived down the street would often join us for pancake eating contests.

My grandmother would thin out the recipe to make more pancakes for us by adding more milk to the batter and would often then sprinkle our pancakes with powdered sugar. Italian grandmothers put powdered sugar on everything sweet just to make it a little sweeter.

In the photo above, I’ve included chopped walnuts as well as sliced bananas in the batter then I added a few more banana slices atop the pancakes. When in season, blueberries and raspberries also work really well and add more flavor.

Making pancakes from scratch is really easy and tastes great. Just make sure you have real butter and maple syrup to add. You can also spread jam on these and roll them up if you want to eat them on the go.

Ingredients:

1 cup of flour
1 cup of milk
1-2 eggs
1/4 cup of sugar
4 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup of margarine / butter
fresh fruit like blueberries, bananas or strawberries (optional)

Preparation: Pre heat your griddle or pan to 375-400⁰ (basically what I’m saying is this needs to be very hot). Then mix your ingredients together in a large bowl. If you use a mixer be careful that you don’t cover yourself in flour when you start mixing the ingredients. The batter should have a thin, silky consistency; no lumps. If you prefer pancakes to be heavier add less milk.

Because the batter comes together so quickly, don’t start to make the pancakes until you know the griddle is hot and you’re ready to go. These will only cook for a few minutes.

Cooking: Ladle the pancake batter on the griddle and flip when you see air bubbles forming in the batter. Depending on how hot your griddle is this will only take a couple of minutes.

Cooking tips: This batter can double for waffles. And as mentioned above, add fruit to your batter if you like. I try to set some of the fruit aside to also sprinkle atop the pancake stacks. It’s both visually appealing and tastes great.

BosGuy cooks: Cherry coffee cake

The title is misleading because I have not made my Mom’s cherry coffee cake, but for as long as I can remember my mother would make this Christmas morning. As a kid I loved the sweet cake for breakfast and as I got older, I appreciated it even more with a strong cup of coffee.

With Christmas now just days away, I thought I’d share this family recipe. If you enjoy baking, give this a try and let me know how it turns out.

Ingredients:

1 21oz can of cherry pie filling
1 and 1/4 cups of flour
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of milk
1 egg
10 tbsp of butter (melted)
1 tsp double-acting baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract

According to Mom, preheat your oven to 350 and grease a 9×9 baking pan.

Mix with a fork the flour, half of the total sugar (1/2 cup), baking powder, baking soda and salt (the salt will cut the sweetness so Mom often refrains from including it). Add 1/2 cup of melted butter, milk, egg and vanilla and spoon beat until all is well mixed and then pour it into your greased pan.

In a small bowl, use a fork to combine the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, 2 heaping tablespoons of flour and the remaining melted butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Then sprinkle half of this over the batter in the pan and stir 1 tsp of lemon juice into pie filling before sprinkling the remaining mixture over the cake.

Bake in the oven at 350⁰ for 1 hour – until top is golden brown then take it out and let it sit for about 30 minutes until it is cool enough to eat.

Thanks Mom.

BosGuy cooks: Beef Bourguignon

I’ve been making a modified version of the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe each winter for a few years and it never disappoints. It’s best to prepare this over the weekend and always tastes better if you serve it a day or two later. Just be sure to clear out enough space in your refrigerator for the giant pot once it has cooked and cooled.

While this requires more ingredients and is a bit more work than my usual recipe, it is worth it. This recipe will feed 4-6 people. Ingredients include:

8-12 oz of cubed Pancetta
2 1/2 lbs cubed chuck beef
1 lbs of carrots thickly sliced
1 lbs of mushrooms (stems removed thickly sliced)
1 lbs of frozen pearl onions
2 sweet onions (I like Vidalia)
4 garlic cloves minced
4 tbsp of butter
1-2 tbsp of tomato paste
3 tbsp of flour
Sourdough Bread sliced and grilled

1 bottle of dry red wine
2 cups (8oz) beef broth
1/2 cup of Cognac
Drizzle of olive oil

1/2 cup of parsley chopped
Generous portion of dried thyme
Ground black pepper and salt

Step 1: The prep work takes about 15 minutes. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees, pull out all the ingredients, chop your veggies and using a paper towel, pat dry the beef cubes and place them on a tray with a paper towel. If you skip this step they won’t sear correctly.

Step 2: Drizzle a little olive oil into a large pan that can hold all the ingredients above (remember you’re going to use an entire bottle of wine!) and can go into your oven. Once the oil is hot (I keep this on medium high heat), add the cubed Pancetta and stir for approximately 5-7 minutes then scoop onto a plate (try not to scoop out the liquid) and don’t worry about bits being stuck to pan.

Step 3: Lightly salt the beef on your tray and add these into the pan (a few at a time) and turn to sear on all sides. You only want the outside lightly browned (1-2 minutes) and you’ll need space to rotate the meat. Then remove and place on the same plate as the Pancetta and sprinkle with fresh ground black pepper.

Step 4: Add carrots, sweet onions and a dash of salt. Let this cook in the oil and fat from the meat for about 5 minutes until they start to brown then throw in the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes.

Step 5: This is the fun part! Add the Cognac and light on fire to burn off the alcohol. After the flames are gone, add the Pancetta, beef, bottle of wine and beef broth. Make sure the liquid just covers the meat and vegetables. Also add the tomato paste and dried thyme, cover and bring to a simmer.

Step 6: Bring to a simmer then place it in the oven with a tight fitting lid for ~75-90 minutes.

Step 7: Make a quick roux just before you take the pan out of the oven. This is an easy and important step to thicken the stew. Combine 2 tbsp of butter and flour. First, add the butter in a pan over low heat and once melted stir in the flour (you can whisk it with your fork). Then pour it into the pot along with the 1lb bag of frozen pearl onions, cover the pot and place it on the stove for ~15 on medium low heat. When done, the meat should be soft enough to cut with a fork.

This may sound like a lot of work but it’s delicious and after making it once, it is pretty easy to follow. There is a lot of food so you’ll likely have plenty of leftovers (and the leftovers always taste better).

One other note: I like to use Ina’s suggestion of getting thick slices of sourdough bread toasted in the oven to serve as the base for this stew. It is a lighter and easier option than making mashed potatoes but Sergio loves mashed potatoes so that is what I’ve shown at the top of the post.

Bon Appétit

Boston’s outdoor dining pilot program to continue in 2021

One of the few good things that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic was the city of Boston’s outdoor dining pilot program that was intended to help restaurants faced with strict indoor dining restrictions. The move was enthusiastically supported by restaurant owners, their staff and patrons so yesterday the city of Boston announced that it would resume its outdoor-dining pilot, allowing restaurants to use street parking and sidewalk space outside their doors for tables effective April 1, 2021 (or possibly earlier depending on the weather). Below are some key dates for Boston restaurants to note.

January 18, 2021: The initial deadline for licensees to submit an application to receive a decision or follow-up questions from the city of Boston Licensing Board is due by February 19, 2020. Licensees may also submit an application after this date to participate and those applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

February 19, 2021: The city of Boston Licensing Board will notify licensees of approvals or requests for more information if they submitted their application by January 18.

April 1, 2021: The 2021 Outdoor Dining Pilot will start on April 1, 2021, weather permitting. This may start earlier if the weather permits. More updates will be shared in the future.

Boston Outdoor Dining Application

According to the mayor’s office approximately 550 Boston restaurants extended their dining space outdoors (415 of them on public land). Click here for more information about 2021 Outdoor Dining Pilot Program.

BosGuy cooks: Nana’s chicken

In our family recipe book this is called “Easy Bake Chicken”. Even a novice in the kitchen can make this dinner and the good news is it has virtually no clean up and is always delicious. The ingredients you will need include:

  • 1.5 lbs chicken thighs (skinned)
  • 2 onions thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup of chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup of Sherry wine
  • Seasoned bread crumbs and Italian herbs
  • Sprinkle of olive oil
  • 8-10 sundried tomatoes (optional)
  • 4-8 oz of thinly sliced baby bella mushrooms (optional)
  • Dash of salt and pepper

With regards to the chicken, you can use breast meat if you prefer. I sometimes mix the cuts using both light and dark meat.

Start by preheating your oven to 350⁰ and begin your prep work which includes adding about 3 tablespoons of olive oil to your baking pan (I use a 9″ x 13″ pyrex for the oven). Make sure the oil coats the pan because it will help prevent the meat from sticking.

Thinly slice your onions, mince your two garlic cloves and give a rough chop to the parsely (about 1/2 a cups worth) and set all that aside.

Roll your chicken in the oil coating the pan. This will help the seasonings stick. Then season with a few pinches of Italian dried herbs, a dash of salt and pepper and the minced garlic on both sides. Finally, sprinkle just enough breadcrumbs to lightly cover the top of the chicken and add 1/2 a cup of sherry in the pan. Next place your sliced onions on top of the lightly breaded chicken followed by the chopped parsley. I also add sundried tomatoes (not part of Nana’s recipe and optional to include). Your pan should look something like the photo above.

Cover the pan with foil and poke a few holes in the foil with a fork then put it into the oven for 35 minutes. Then take off the foil and bake for another 35 minutes, adding the sliced mushrooms with ~10 minutes remaining (again, optional). Finally, give it a good broil for about 2 minutes.

The one pan meal is easy to clean up and always delicious. Serve it with a salad or with steamed broccoli (cooked in the microwave for easy clean up). It is also delicious with pasta. You can use your extra sherry to make a sherry, shallot and butter sauce for the pasta, but I’ll share that recipe in a future post.

BosGuy cooks: Meatballs

The weather in New England can be cool and rainy in the spring, hot and humid in the summer, dry and comfortable in the fall and downright chilly in the winter. Those changes in the weather influence what I eat and as it gets colder in New England, I’m eating less salads and looking for comfort food like my family recipe for meatballs.

This is very much a “hands on” meal to make so your hands will get messy. As a general rule, I make these one or two days ahead of time because they always taste better the next day. The recipe below should yield you approximately 12 good sized meatballs.

Ingredients include:

1.5 lbs meat (lean ground beef / ground veal / ground pork)
1 cup of sweet onion (chopped)
1 egg
1-2 garlic cloves (minced)
1/2 cup of Italian parsley (chopped)
1/2 cup of bread crumbs (or panko crumbs)
1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup baby portobello mushrooms (chopped) (optional ingredient)
1/4 cup of water
1 tsp of salt, pepper and Italian seasonings

I substitute the ground veal and buy a third of a pound of 93% lean ground beef and a third of a pound of 80% lean ground beef. You can also purchase either spicy or sweet italian sausage for the pork – just remove the casing.

Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350⁰

The directions to make meatballs may be messy but they are easy to follow.

  1. Start by preheating your oven to 350⁰
  2. Place ground beef into large mixing container
  3. Add the other ingredients (I start with the dry ingredients first)
  4. Kneed all the ingredients so everything is thoroughly combined
  5. Let the mixture rest for 10-15 minutes
  6. Hand roll individual meatballs (approx 1.5″ in diameter)
  7. Coat a frying pan with olive oil and when it is hot turn the heat down to medium / medium low (you don’t want hot oil splattering)
  8. Add a few meatballs at a time and roll around for 1-2 minutes to lightly cook – add to a plate with papertowels to absorb excess oil
  9. Add undercooked meatballs to a baking dish that has a light coating of tomato sauce (this helps prevent the meatballs from sticking)
  10. Top the meatballs with a little sauce and cover with aluminum foil
  11. Put into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes
  12. Turn off the oven and take out the meatballs, then sprinkle cheese and more choppped parsley
  13. Put back into the oven (which should be off) uncovered for 5 minutes

These meatballs are great with pasta but also make for a delicious meatball sandwich the next day and can easily be warmed up in the microwave.

Gaslight Boston announces it will close

Sunday, November 22 Gaslight Boston, the French(ish) restaurant from the Aquitaine Group, will close for good. The restaurant was perhaps best known for their ability to host large parties at their communal tables and their patio dining. I will miss their beat salad which is second to none and the friendly staff.

While the current economy had to be a factor in the decision to close, the reason cited was that their lease was ending. I feel confident that this space will not remain vacant for long. The proximity to the highway, ample parking and the patio space will make this an appealing property for someone once this pandemic is under control but until then it will certainly be sad to see this space go dark. I wish the staff well and much luck.

You can read Seth Woods note announcing the closure on the Gaslight website, here.

Ducali Caffe’s Nutella croissants are wicked awesome

Ducali Cafe opened next door to the restaurant by the same name in the North End last month. When I learned that they would be serving Nutella croissants I knew that I would have to trek across town to try these tempting treats.

The Nutella croissants are $4.00 and sold with a dusting of powdered sugar on them. I brought mine home and put it in the oven at 200 degrees for a few minutes while I brewed coffee to dip my croissant in it. How else is one expected to eat these treats?

When I took the warmed the croissant out of the oven, I could smell the buttery treat and hint of Nutella. The pastry was flaky and light and well worth the calories just in case you were wondering. If you enjoy such treats head over to the North End and tell them BosGuy sent you.

Ducali Caffe
289 Causeway Street
Boston, MA

BosGuy cooks: Vegetable curry

This is an easy, affordable and versatile dish that takes about 15 minutes to prepare and 30 minutes to cook. You can add a protein like chicken if you want, but the ingredients can vary to suit whatever is in your refrigerator. Just be mindful to start with the ingredients that take the longest to cook.

Step 1: Pull out whatever you would like to include in this vegetable mélange and chop into bite size pieces. You will also need: 1 tablespoon of butter, some vegetable or chicken broth (water or even a lager or ale works too), salt and pepper and of course a curry. I use Spur Tree Jamaican curry.

Step 2: Over medium heat add 1 tablespoon of butter and let it melt. Add 1 chopped onion and 2 healthy tablespoons of curry. Let this cook for a couple of minutes then add the thicker vegetables (see below) I used 1 cauliflower, 2 carrots, a half cup of walnuts and 4-6 small, whole garlic cloves. Add salt and cover for approximately 15 minutes (stirring occassionally).

Step 3: Add 1/3 of a cup of broth and stir to ensure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan then add the lighter vegetables. I used a red and green bell pepper, 8-10 baby bella mushrooms, and 2 celery stalks. Add fresh ground pepper and cover for another 5-10 minutes. If you want to increase the curry flavoring also add a final tablespoon at this point and stir.

Step 4: Turn off heat and leave uncovered for 5 minutes to cool before serving.

Cooking tip: This is great on its own, but I like to serve this over rice. This meal makes for excellent leftovers, tasting even better the next day.

Get 50% rebate on your restaurant bill with SeatedApp

Approximately 20% of restaurants in Massachusetts have closed permanently and The Pioneer Institute predicts that the state’s restaurant industry will lose an estimated $2.13 billion this year. In response, the dining app, Seated, is rolling out a program modeled after a successful initiative in the UK that will offer a 50% rebate on any restaurant bill Monday through Wednesday in November that can be applied to the Seated Store which includes brands like Uber, Starbucks, Adidas, Target and many more. This offer is good for only dining-in and if your reservation is made via the Seated app.

The initiative called, Eat Out to Help Out MA, is free but to participate you must download the Seated app in the App Store or Google Play Store, identify the participating restaurant, make a reservation or signal you are a walk-in, and submit a photo of your receipt within the app to claim the rebate after your meal. More than 100 restaurants in Boston and Cambridge have indicated they will be participating in this program.

For those of you who are trying to be budget conscious this is an opportunity to show your support and be able to provide a slightly more generous tip to the staff at your favorite participating restaurant.

Atlántico opens in the South End

Photography by Brian Samuels

Bucking a trend of recent restaurant closures, I’m glad to write that this past Thursday Chef Michael Serpa opened his new seafood restaurant, Atlántico, in the South End at 600 Harrison in space formerly occupied by Southern Proper.

The seafood restaurant has a really interesting menu that is mostly comprised of Spanish & Portuguese tapas that is broken down into several sections including an oyster bar (what else would you expect from the chef behind Back Bay’s Select Oyster Bar), a larger selection of cold and hot and grilled tapas, and for those who are very hungry a large paella. Prices range widely, but the dinner and drink menu is currently available online, here.

The restaurant is open for dinner 7 days a week and according to the website weekend brunch on Sunday from 11am to 2pm. Café service will be available Monday to Friday from 7am to 2pm.

Photography by Brian Samuels

I’ve yet to check out the restaurant but do plan to see if the cafe is open this week to try some of their pastries, breakfast sandwiches and coffee.

Atlántico
600 Harrison Avenue
857-233-2898 || info@atlanticoboston.com

Hours of Operation
Weekday café service 7AM – 2PM
Dinner daily starting at 5PM
Sunday brunch 11AM-3PM

Stella Restaurant to be reborn as a food truck

Stella Boston, Evan DelutyThe popular South End restaurant, that closed in May could be reborn (sort of). Boston.com reported yesterday that the owner of Stella Restaurant on Washington Street (shown above), Evan Deluty, will be setting up a truck called Stella Express in Southie at the corner of West Broadway and B Street –  near the Broadway T station.

Apparently the new food truck will offer favorites from the old Stella menu and if all goes as planned, Stella Express will debut on August 18. But what I want to know is where will be the bar?

Cinquecento in Boston’s South End closes

At the height of the coronavirus epidemic in Massachusetts The Acquitaine Group Italian restaurant, Cinquecento, which was closed due to a statewide shutdown to flatten the curve with COVID-19 infections was flooded with approximately five feet of water from a water main break on Harrison Avenue.

Since the mid-April flood there has been a lot of activity to make the building (and surrounding buildings) habitable again but earlier this week the successful Italian restaurant with the beautiful patio announced that they will not reopen. Below is a photo of  me at their Rosso Container Bar on their beautiful patio.

Ciao Cinquecento