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Last night, instead of NYE dinner at The Red House, we changed things up a bit and went to Harvest.  Both restaurants are in Harvard Square, Cambridge, but they are pretty different.  Harvest is fancier, the portions generally smaller, but still every bit wonderful and delightful.

I adore Harvest, even though I don’t eat there too often.  I’ve never been disappointed by their seasonal menus.  Although, I think my opinion of the restaurant is slightly skewed.  I took a special one-time cooking class with Mary Dumont, who is Harvest’s executive chef.  The class had a bonus appearance by Brian Mercury, who is  Harvest’s executive pastry chef.  They were both lovely people with infectious personalities and an obvious love for what they do.  It’s hard to dislike food created by them.

Last year, I had kicked myself slightly for not doing NYE dinner at Harvest.  The menu sounded amazing.  As such, I had my heart set on NYE dinner this year at Harvest from the get-go.  And it did not disappoint.

IMG_20141231_175758 Continue Reading »

Happy Holidays!

Am I really blogging on Christmas Day?  Yes.  Consider this my present to you.  (^_^)

My semester at night school is over and done with.  I am signed up for more night classes next semester, but I’ve decided to go off track and just take the classes that are of interest to me.  This means that I’m taking my next class at noncredit and hopefully that will afford me more mental space to do things I like, like blogging.

Anyway, I’ve had a cookbook sitting on my table that was sent to me by Blogging For Books.  I’ve been meaning to write about it for what feels like forever.  I just didn’t have the time until now.  Note – I’m not getting compensated for this beyond getting a cookbook for free.  This is my first time using Blogging For Books, and I think I could really like it.  When I logged in, there were about five or so cookbooks that I could chose from to review.  However, only one of them really caught my eye.

About week later, The Kitchen Ecosystem by Eugenia Bone landed in my mailbox.

First impressions?  I love the layout, the look, and the concept of this book.  In general, Eugenia gives you some recipes using a fresh ingredient, like fennel.  Then, she’ll provide a recipe to preserve said ingredient.  For our example, fennel becomes fennel-pistachio compote.  To round out the group of recipes for the ingredient, there are recipes on how to use the preserved product.  So in turn, fennel-pistachio compote becomes paired with egg salad or striped bass.

IMG_20141108_122710~2The chapters are centered around each ingredient.  They are in alphabetical order, starting from apples and finishing with zucchini.  There is also a small chapter on condiments, and a small chapter on how to preserve.  The pictures really complement the book.  The food styling is done so that the dishes look delicious and comforting.   Nothing looks intimidating.

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The only downside to this book is that I don’t think I’ll get to use it very often.  Several of the preservation recipes require pressure canning which I don’t have the equipment for.  Meanwhile, there are some recipes that just aren’t my thing.  There’s a recipe for Fried Ravioli with Grape Must Concentrate.  It’s a traditional Italian Christmas dessert, according to the description.  I’m sure it’s delicious, and I’d be happy to eat it if someone made it for me.  I just don’t see myself ever making it.
IMG_20141108_122750~2Overall, I like this cookbook and plan to use it.  (Hopefully, sooner rather than later.  Cranberry juice recipe, I’m looking at you.)  I will have to do some tweaking for those recipes where I won’t have the preserved components prepared in advanced, but I think that’s ok.

Eugenia Bone has a website that is, I think, a fair representation of her style.  Feel free to check it out, if the book is of any interest to you.

Reference Links:
http://www.bloggingforbooks.org/
http://www.kitchenecosystem.com/

Summer/Fall 2014

Look!  Pictures as promised!

There are probably more pictures I should upload but this is all I remember.

grilled chicken and stewed okra at Kareem's (Watertown, MA)

grilled chicken and stewed okra at Kareem’s (Watertown, MA)

kale2

tuscano kale in my garden

kale1

red kale in my garden

lobster and peach dish  at Kareem's (Watertown, MA)

lobster and peach dish at Kareem’s (Watertown, MA)

Kareem’s is a place in Watertown that serves dinner on the weekends (otherwise, it’s dedicated for catering and cooking classes).  An entree is typically around $25, but the food is fresh and lovely.  Chef Ahmad is very talented.  He also makes delicious desserts.  Expect the menu to rotate with the season.

let's talk about food festival swag

let’s talk about food festival swag

let's talk about food 2014

let’s talk about food 2014

let's talk about food 2014

let’s talk about food 2014.

I meandered through the Let’s Talk About Food festival by myself this year.  It’s not as fun when you’re alone.  It was smaller this year, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.  I found that having two demo locations last year to be overwhelming.  So, I’m glad that there was only one demo location, but the down side is that it meant fewer demos this year.

I had a lot of homework looming over my head that weekend, so I didn’t stick around for too long.

Farmstead board at the Salty Pig

Farmstead board at the Salty Pig

Salty board at the Salty Pig

Salty board at the Salty Pig

I still love the Salty Pig.  I was there on a Saturday with some friends for lunch.  Menu set up is a little different on lunch, than dinner or Sundays.  We ordered sampler boards instead of the normal charcuterie/cheese a la carte.   The Salty Pig board came with (I think):

Porchetta, SP Kitchen, MA Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder, Fennel Pollen, Rosemary
Stracciatella, SP Kitchen, MA Mozzarella Style Pulled Cheese Marinated Olives
N’duja Rillette, SP Kitchen, MA Smoked Pork, Calabrian Chili, Sea Salt

While I think our Farmstead board was:
Manchego de Corcuera, SPA Sheep, Aged 3 Months, Rich & Buttery
Pont L’Evêque, Normandy, FRA Cow, Washed Rind, Soft & Strong
Vermont Wildflower Honey
Marcona Almonds
Stravecchio, Veneto, ITA 
Cow, Aged 12 Months, Sweet & Nutty

I also ate a Broccoli Rabe pizza with Ricotta Salata, Lemon, Garlic, Chili.  No pictures because we devoured it so quickly, but it was delicious.  Definitely different, but no less awesome.  If you ever have a chance to visit the Salty Pig, I highly recommend it.

Miss me?

hahaha, I owe you so many pictures.  I probably shouldn’t be laughing at myself.

This weekend I should be heading over to the Rhinebeck area in New York, but hopefully I can carve out some time to post.

I always think that the change from July to August is the turning point of summer. It’s the signal for last hurrahs and doing things while you still can.

It’s also the time of year when I make blueberry jam.

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I use the blueberry jam recipe from foodinjars, but I replace lemon juice with balsamic vinegar.  For better or for worse, it’s my favorite jam ever.  And I say “for worse” because when I run out, I’m out until next year.  And because I have to make it, it means that sometimes things don’t go right.  This year, I had a little too much pectin, so it’s a bit too firm.  lol!

Oh well.  In the end, it doesn’t matter.  I still can’t get enough of it.

IMG_20140801_130641

 

Reference link:

http://foodinjars.com/2009/08/blueberry-jam/

My brother-in-law and I grill together a few times a summer. We’re a bit too lazy to do it more often than that. Or maybe we’re just influenced by family members. My niece doesn’t like grilled food (she’s 10) so I guess there’s less incentive.

But July 4th weekend is usually when we break out the grill. I’m more experimental than the rest of my family, so I brought over my own meat to grill. BIL did some BBQ-sauced chicken and some teriyaki chicken. Meanwhile, I took some inspiration from “The Big-Flavor Grill” by Chris Schelsinger and John Willoughby. The whole book runs on the idea of “grill it, and flavor it afterward.”

I made pork tenderloin skewers, and then tossed them with the fresh herbs, garlic and lemon sauce recipe (the original published recipe paired the sauce with grilled chicken). My fresh herbs were oregano and tarragon from my garden. The original instructions has you keep the ingredients separate until you’re ready to toss but I don’t know why. I preferred dumping everything in a large mixing bowl so that I had an easier time bringing it outside.

Overall, we really liked it. I think my mom was the only person unimpressed but that’s only because she found the lemon juice to be too sour. I could barely taste it. I plated my pork with some stir-fried watercress (made by my mom) and some white rice. It was delicious.

I think I need a copy of the book for myself (I know… I have too many cookbooks) since the copy I was working from came from the library. There are lots of other recipes in the book that I would like to try before summer ends.

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I don’t think I’ve talked about this restaurant before, although I’m sure I meant to.

Last weekend, I was visiting a friend in the Dutchess County/Columbia County part of New York.  One of our favorite places to eat  out there is an unassuming restaurant called “Another Fork in the Road”, in the town of Milan (pronounced as MY-LAN, and not like the Italian city because New York is odd like that).   Although it’s nothing special in decor, the food is anything but.

We went on a Sunday night, which meant that it wasn’t packed with people but it also meant that a lot of things had run out on the menu.  Oh well.

We were still well fed.

Here was our menu:

menu1

 

menu2

My friends and I shared three appetizers.  We had the grilled asparagus with smoked ricotta and soft boiled egg, the tandoori calamari, and the crispy pork belly with sweet potato and kale.

The smoked ricotta was amazing (as in, I still want some more right now).  The flavor of it with the grilled asparagus and egg was just perfect.  I loved the pork belly dish just as much.  The pork belly was sweet from the root beer but it didn’t taste like root beer at all.  It just tasted delicious.  It was wonderfully crispy and the mash was really good too (and, to me anyway, not heavy on the sweet potato flavor somehow… I wonder if it also had some root beer in it).   For my dinner companions, the pork belly dish was the best of the three.

app1

 

apps2

Our least favorite was the tandoori calamari.  It was fine, but it wasn’t anything special.  One person at the table is an Indian food “expert” and she said that the combination of spices was too bitter.  Personally, I just thought that it wasn’t as well thought out as the other dishes so it paled in comparison.  Also, the carrots should have been a little softer.

As for our entrees, there was duck with beans and fiddleheads, chestnut gnocchi with porcini, and 5-spice marinated flank steak with chard/ramp “kimchi”.

duck

 

gnocchi

I had a bite of the duck and the gnocchi.  Both were very good.  I almost ordered them  but my friends and I have a pact to not order the same dish if we’re dining at Another Fork.  I’m glad I didn’t.  I grew up on Chinese style roast duck, so I find most other duck dishes to be a little boring.  (Even if I am dining at a fine restaurant in Paris.  True story.)

The gnocchi were good but the chestnut flavor was undetectable under the sauce.  The sauce was amazing, but it’s really more of a fall/winter dish than a spring dish.

steak

The steak dish was my entree.  Downsides?  I couldn’t taste any 5-spice flavoring.  I could only taste the wine in the marinade.  As for the kimchi, it wasn’t kimchi at all.  I’m not sure it had even been fermented or pickled, to be honest.  I think it might have been sauteed.  So, I’m not sure why the restaurant chose to describe it as kimchi.  (I’ve had pickled items at the restaurant before.  It was delicious, so I know they know how to.)

The upside?  Boy, it was a tasty dish!  Definitely my favorite of the three and I’m glad it was all mine.  (^_^)

I can’t wait to visit the restaurant again the next time I’m in the area.  You should go too, if the opportunity is ever there.

Reference Link:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Another-Fork-in-the-Road/163533972662

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