Thursday, February 28, 2008

Long Lost Friend(s)

The power of the internet is something that is still awe inspiring for me. My latest fascination with Facebook has not only gotten me in touch with highschool pals (some dear and some less so), my baby cousins (not babies anymore- most of them are getting married and graduating from colleges), friends I’ve met via the internet (hurray for Andra Sue!) and people who knew me way way way back in the beginnings of my adulthood or as my friend said tonight, “I’ve known you since you were a just a baby dyke”. Indeed.

Two old friends, Lisabeth and Lisa, I had lost contact with contacted me last week via Facebook. Both of them knew me, well, it feels like a lifetime ago. Before I was a storeowner, I was hugely involved in grassroots community organizing work. I attended a lot of retreats centered around “undoing racism” “diversity training” “creating change”…worthy causes but I’ve always been someone who takes everything to heart and so it was always hard for me to feel crushed under the weight of all the oppressions in the world and not really get very far in changing much. I wasn’t cut out for the front line of social change activism. And so I left the work and a huge portion of my networks and friends as a result. How could I justify sitting at a queer women’s community organizer potluck if I not only didn’t organize anymore but I also kinda sold out?

Lisabeth has a new job that brings her to Boston from DC on a monthly basis. And she wanted to have dinner and catch up. So where to go with a dear old friend? What restaurant would live up to this special reunion?

After going thru my mental rolodex of restaurants in Boston, I remembered Metropolis. I always forget about this place! But it’s kinda like a long lost friend. This tiny little wine bar is also home to some of the best meals I’ve had in the city. It’s cozy and unpretentious. Metropolis was the perfect place to meet Lisabeth.

I arrived to find her at the bar flirting with all those around her, the bartender the guy and the girl on either side of her. Some things won’t ever change; Lisabeth is a natural charmer. She gets along with everyone and b/c of her easy going nature I felt instantly at home. I got a great big hug from her before we were led to a cozy corner table for our “date”. Next month Lisa will be coming down to Boston with Lisabeth and I can barely wait to see her!

The food is great. I can’t stress enough how good the food at this place really is. Lisabeth had a grilled calamari appetizer and I swear I think she might have started to lick the bowl it came in, if the waitress hadn’t come in the nix of time. I had a yummy gnocchi and dock confit starter. The gnocchi was truly featherly light. And the sauce was very flavorful. It wasn’t very thick but the crusty bread set down at our table before our dishes came out helped me to mop up the juice.

Lisabeth moved onto a medium rare 8oz steak served with argula and mash potatoes. She was very happy. I stuck with my tried and true dish…the pan roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and a sautéed mushroom gravy. I consider my own home roasted chicken pretty damn tasty but Metropolis’ chicken is highly addictive. It’s seasoned perfectly with a very crisp crackling skin. I watch the woman sitting next to me finish her chicken and leave the skin. Seemed like a crying shame to me, but eh I guess crunchy salty animal fat isn’t for everyone.

The desserts at Metropolis are fantastic. They’re homey and generously sized. Enough to share - as long as you’re not eating with me. Otherwise you’ll need to get your own. Lisabeth and I finished with two orders of banana bread pudding. I love bananas and I love bread pudding so it seemed like a perfect pairing to me. It was divine and the perfect way to end a meal with a dear old friend.

We lingered over our coffees and prolonged our farewells. I’m very happy it was only goodbye until next month. As we walked outside we felt the snowflakes starting to fall. Oye Boston!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Be a Peach and Read This Post

I made the mistake of buying peaches in February. Can you really blame me? I mean it's crazy, crazy cold here in Boston and I wanted some 'semblence of spring. If I can't see it outside at least I can have it happening in my mouth. Oye, that just sounds bad. Anyway, the peaches, not shockingly tasted eh. I didn't want to throw them out though. There were four decent sized peaches and to just toss them seemed wasteful.

I decided I'd make a fruit compote/jam with them. I chopped up the peaches and mixed in sugar (not sure how much I eye balled it), cinnamon, chopped crystallized ginger, a pinch of salt and a good squeeze from half a lemon. I let this stew away on my burner for a bit with the lid on the pot. I watched the end of the season finale of Nip/Tuck I had DVR-ed and flipped thru the lastest time magazine (all I can say is I saw the ending coming! bah, not a great season ender to one of my favorite shows but whatever).

Finally I took off the lid and saw what you see in the picture above, only in a pot bubbling away on the stove. The peaches really shrunk down and the liquid was caramel-y with sugar, peach juice. Yum. I didn't wait for it to cool, I took a spoon and dipped it into the liquid and blew and blew and blew....and finally tasted.

It was very good. It kinda tasted like a peach cobbler in my mouth...that's sorta like summer, right? I cooled the rest of the peaches and threw the container in my fridge. As for what I'll do with the results, I'm uncertain. I'm sure it will get spooned into and eaten directly from the container if I don't come up with any use for it.

But I bet it'd be great as a side to pork, chicken or on top of ice cream too.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Blue Ribbon Friend

"We're having Blue Ribbon at work today. I'll bring you some." Said my friend.

Okay, so imagine my surprise to see a huge platter of food. We've got ribs, brisket, chicken, a turkey leg, collard greens, mashed potatoes, rice and beans and corn. Plus corn bread and chocolate chip cookie bars. Enough food for an army!

A Blue Ribbon Friend indeed!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Weekend + Wrap Up

It was a busy weekend at the stores. Since it was a long weekend, people must have been itching to get out of the house. Not only were my shops kept busy but every time I went to a restaurant or anywhere, places seemed a bit more crowded than usual. It wasn't annoying it was more of an "oh look people!" thing.

Okay, so quite unexpectedly I got Sunday off! Yayayyayayayaya!!!! I was so excited. I decided I would take the day and do something I never get a chance to go. I wouldn't take the day and do my usual chores of laundry, gym, cleaning my apt., but I would use the day and take a field trip. I decided it was high time I went to see the new ICA. It's been on my to-do list for a long time. Actually it was on "our" to-do list. A friend past away last year and before she died we made a list of things we'd do together when she got well. Unfortunately we never got to do anything on the list. And not a day goes by without me thinking of her. And so it was high time I saw the ICA. Beth would be there with me in spirit and I couldn't not do something because it was on the list. How long would I be able to use that as an excuse not to live? Seriously!

So I decided I would walk from my place in Fenway over to the ICA in South Boston. It was a good 4 mile walk thru the city. It was a cold day but I bundled up and bought a Starsux skim latte to help keep my fingers warm. I got to walk thru Chinatown and see the Lunar New Year celebration. It was fun to stop a bit and watch the lion/dragon thingie!

If you fed it lettuce, a hand would magically appear out of the mouth of this fearsome creature and hand over some incense. So much cool than a vending machine!

But I couldn't stop long, I had someplace I had to be. I did stop and take a couple of pics of this old buildings on my way:

The first picture you can see the building being held up by the metal support rods attached to the building right next to it. And the second picture is a new building but behind it there is this cool old brick wall that looks like they're trying to have be a part of the new building. I like it when old buildings are restored or used in combination with new structuring.

But again, I could stop for long. I had a bit more to walk and finally I was here:

Behold, the ICA building! I'm not a huge fan of the outside. It looks too MIT science building for my liking. I like the use of glass and I like the views from inside. See:
The new ICA sits on the waterfront and it makes great use of the location. I'd pay $15 just for the view alone! Once inside, I saw some great stuff. The piece I really felt an emotional connection to was Falling Fire by Cornelia Parker. Wow, it was both beautiful and sad. She took actual pieces of a burned down store that had been completely turned into black charcoal and strung it up so it was sort of like a huge air mobil. It looked like it was both falling and yet gliding in air. You saw these nails and pieces of blackened wood. To me, it was profound because it was once someone's business...once someone's dreams and hopes. The piece really moved me. It was really quite stunning as art. There were lots of other cool things too. And at the end, there is this really awesome modern media lab:
Row upon row of Macs ready for one to listen to various short videos/films produced at the ICA or interviews with artists. And again the view of the water was awesome!

I ended my visit and started on my journey home. I was 10 mins into walking back when it started to hail. Ouch! Stupid Boston weather! Then it started to rain and then pour, I barely made it to the T in time.

Once home, I had convinced a friend that we should have dinner together 1.) b/c I wanted to see her 2.) b/c I was hungry. We went back and forth about the plans for the evening until she proposed of the the most generous offers I think I've ever received. Dinner at Oishii, her treat! Holy hell!!!!!! Yeah my friends rule!!!!!!

I got gussied up b/c it's rare I find myself having an expensive sushi meal at what many consider the best sushi restaurant in town. My friend had once been a server at Oishii and was greeted warmly by the owners. We sat down and enjoyed a glass of sake brought to us by the chef as we reviewed the menu. I let my friend do all the ordering. I really don't know what she ordered except there was a lot of it and all of it was impressively presented, fresh and very delicious. My only complaint being that I'm a shorty and I didn't really have a great view of all the action behind the sushi bar. My dinner companion did nudge me to watch one of the chefs bust out a butane torch (think home depot) and lightly sear some fish on top of a giant maki roll. It makes me think all good fish should be cooked this way, if at all!

Below are pictures I made her take of some of what we ordered:

As for what any of it is, I haven't a clue. Perhaps she'll be able to comment on what was eaten and what we drank that night. But it was all yummy and the last item had fruit and foie gras in it!!! Overall, Oishii is an amazing experience but as for what I'd recommend to order, well I'd recommend taking my friend with you!

Afteralls, we found ourselves at Union pestering Lee, who look liked he needed to be pestered.

Monday, I had to work but Tuesday I had off again! Woohoo, I mean two days off in one week??? Who would have thunk it possible? Not me! But this day I did need to do my usual time off errands: grocery store, bank, go to the store to pull hours for the employees, pay bills, clean my place, blah blah blah. But with a full day off, I was also able to indulge in one of my favorite gluttonous pastimes: Indian Buffet!

I went to Rami's in Coolidge Corner. I think the best Indian buffets in Boston tend to be in Cambridge: Indian Castle and Ghandi. But I had little time on my hand for lunch and so Rami's was the closest option. Behold my plate of spicy goodness!

We've got saag paneer, a shredded potato fritter of some sort, curry chicken, curry cauliflower and that bowl in the back filled with raita. I have to admit to having an addiction to raita. I eat it like soup much to the horror and dismay of those around me. Luckily it was only me having lunch and so there was no one to disgust. This is good b/c I went back three times for more raita.

And as promised I did make the chickpea salad on the Organette website. Only I added a few extras: 1/4 cup of capers, 1/4 cup of chopped onion and a few splashes of red wine vinegar.

Okay, I know it doesn't look like much in the bowl but I gotta tell you this little salad rocks!!!! It's so good I was scooping out bits of it as a snack after dinner even! It made a nice dinner, a nice TV snack and a nice midnight snack too. Oye! Lucky for me chickpeas are high in protein and low in fat.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Dinner For Detoxer

I invited a friend over to my place for dinner and a civilized game of scrabble. The friend is in the middle of a bi annual detox she does and so I didn't want to be the one to muck it up for her. She couldn't do any foods that are known to cause major allergies and no meat either. Oye, that sure that doesn't seem to leave a lot of room for amazing cuisine (I'm not a cutting edge Raw Chef here!), but I liked the idea of having this dinner as a challenge. Something yummy but within the confines of her diet for the month.

There was a little back and forth with her about various ingredients. "olive oil?" "fine, infact recommended" "chickpeas?" "hmm, I think chickpeas fine but even if they're not, I'm saying to hell with it"... And so on and so forth.

I looked thru my old recipe files thinking I was going to do something lentil based, but when I came upon this recipe and reviewed the ingredients, decided to make it. This recipe came to me byway of Bon Appetit - Black Bean and Sweet Potato Stew and it seemed perfect. Right out of college, this dish was a mainstay dinner for me. It was hearty, easy to make and dirt cheap too! I've never made the polenta triangles that are suppose to accompany this meal but perhaps one day.

A few thoughts on this recipe: It's a fairly sweet recipe and I swear that I end up having to add a lot more liquid than just 2 cups OJ. I only had OJ on hand and so I added quite a bit more. In the future I think perhaps the addition of some chicken broth (veggie broth for your friends who might be detoxing) or some diced canned tomatoes might keep the stew from drying out and keep it was being too sweet.

I used regular old jalapeño pepper. I only used 1 and it wasn't very hot. Next time I'm going to add 2. This dish really can take the heat!

Definitely offer sour cream on the side for this stew. Again it helps to cut the sweetness and makes this fairly simple dish seem a bit more luxurious. Unfortunately dairy wasn't on the good list for my friend's diet.

But I did garnish with avocado and orange, yum! The chopping board with stuff waiting to be added:

And I think this dish would benefit from the addition of a little cilantro. I love cumin and so I add equal parts chili powder and cumin and I really enjoy the flavor from the extra spice. The picture at the very top of this posting is the stew bubbling away. It doesn't look all that great but trust me, it's really a super recipe. I think it's great for people who want to try their hand cooking at home b/c it's a recipe that can easily be tweaked according to one's preferences. Plus it's vegan and vegetarian.

I was going to just make a simple green salad to accompany this dish but I stumbled upon this recipe by way of Orangette. Another food blogger (my apologies I can't remember which one it was, I read so many of them! Oye!) had just posted about it and I remembered originally seeing this recipe and knew I had to try it. Orangette, besides being very well written, has some great recipes on her site! There is another chickpea recipe that I've long been tempted to make. Perhaps even made this week! Okay, so at my ghetto shaws, they don't have tahini. I asked my friend coming for dinner if she would be so kind as to bring some with her. No problem she said.

But upon arrival she was tahini-less!!! Scandal and horror!!! What were we to do? Well, since she's something of a cook herself she asked if I had sesame oil (I did...did you know that stuff keeps almost forever in the fridge?). And she set up to make a substitute tahini by mashing the chickpea into the sesame oil. Here she is with the food challenge secret ingredient of the night:

I nuked the butternut squash (I had chopped and chopped and chopped, did I mention I chopped it a long time) for a bit to warm it and we added her concoction, all spice, lemon, onion and cilantro. And this is what it looked like when we were done:

And the taste? Awesome! It's a great easy salad and has great sweet, sour and savory going on all at once. I don't know why but lemon juice really is BFF with chickpeas. It brings out their sweetness and overall nutty flavor. Lemon juice really elevates chickpeas to another level. And isn't that what BFF was suppose to do? Love and support? Yeah, something like that.

So it was a great filling and winter time dinner (very very fiber rich, very good for you - I found myself wanting a side of bacon at the end of it) and a good game. I got my ass handed to me, but it was a lot of fun, and at the end, we decided to award points for words we made up if we could come up with somewhat believable definitions. I mean, notiff really should be a word, people come on!!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Karate Chop!

I'm having a friend over for dinner tonight and I'm making an old recipe and a new old. I started last night prepping everything because I knew I would be working right up until it was time for dinner. The recipes aren't hard. They are both very easy and I'm post them later when I write about the meal.

However, the one hassle with both of the recipes is the amount of chopping involved. And "cubing". Bah! Making things into 1 1/2 inch or 1 inch squares is so hard when you're dealing with objects that tend to be irregularly shaped. So a good portion of my evening was spent pretending I was a prep chef. I cubed sweet potatoes and butternut squash. I finely diced onion and sliced some red peppers too. All of this to figure out I'm perhaps the world's slowest prep chef ever. Not to mention one with bad size perception....I kept second guessing what an 1&1/2 inch cube was and what an 1 inch was as well. As a result my cubes are kinda if the surreal nature and all over the place in terms of width and height.

The one good thing was that last night Lost was on and I got to chop and watch. Yay....and can I just say holy forshizzle!!!!

What is Sayid doing working for Ben????? Omg, crazy. Why Sayid why? Does your dislike of John Locke run that deep? Are you back to your torturer ways? What the shizzle? Was that woman you killed on the island as well? Perhaps she's the spy that Ben planted on the boat. Holy crap and who was that guy on the golf course you shot in the chest???

Monday, February 11, 2008

My B*tch Better Have My $$!

Last night I decided to try my hand at making moussaka. I've never made it before and thought it would be fun to try. I found a fairly easy looking and tasty sounding recipe on the Cooking Light website (posted in the entry before) and set off to buy the ingredients at the semi awful Shaws across the street.

Believe me when I say it's kinda bad at that Shaws. Ask anyone, who knows Fenway, if they've ever been to that supermarket and watch them shudder. Yeah. Anyway, I seem to do okay there and am good about subbing in and out things in recipes based on what looks sorta decent. But I was really bummed that Shaws didn't have any ground lamb. A little lackluster ground beef package hit my grocery cart. Although I will say that there were some very cute looking lambchops, and I was tempted to buy those and say screw you moussaka! But I stuck to the game plan and decided I'd consider lambchops next week.

I got the rest of my ingredients and while in the baking aisle (one of my favorite aisles) getting spices, I spied cans of sweetened condensed milk. Oh boy. As some of my friends know (I'm looking at you Caroline!). I have a little bit of a drug problem in the form of caramelized sweetened condensed milk or dulce de leche. Oh man! I read somewhere a long time ago that if you boil cans of this milk for a couple of hours and open, they result in brown caramel-y goodness. The first time I ever did it, I ate an entire tin can all by myself and all in one day. I have very little self restraint around foods I love but an entire can of dulce de leche?!?! Yeah, it's a problem. And somehow, who knows how, two cans of sweetened condensed milk end up in my cart with the sad little beef square.

And somehow, who knows how, as I was making my moussaka, those cans of milk made it into a boiling pot of water. Perhaps via the hand of God?

Alright so there were many steps involved with this moussaka but it seems that all moussaka is labor intensive. I browned the meat and threw the onions in with it. I didn't bother to drain it b/c it was a fairly lean pack of meat. I kept referring back to the recipe from my computer, why waste paper if the recipe sucks and perhaps I missed a part where it told me to drain the diced tomatoes. I threw the entire four cans in with gusto.

The sauce was the most interesting part for me because it was a low fat white sauce recipe that called for three egg whites. The sauce turned out fairly tasty but there wasn't a lot of it. I debated making another batch but decided that I didn't want to deviate from the recipe too much.

This is my moussaka pre-cooked and settling into the oven.

This is my moussaka after. I was so excited about this dish. I couldn't wait to taste it. And?

It was good but not great. The first piece revealed an ocean of liquid in the pan. I ended up draining out a lot of water before I stored the rest of it away. And yes, I should have made a double batch of the sauce! It wasn't nearly enough for this thick and filling casserole. The flavor was very good and the texture was great. I liked the addition of the raisins a lot. I think with some rework, this might be a fairly kick ass recipe.

So my moussaka was a little eh, you know what wasn't? God's intervention of Dulce de Leche for me!

Poppin the lid of one container revealing...a biblical proportion miracle! Milk becomes my personal crack cocaine! Oye, as if I needed any other vehicle, other than my spoon (alright sometimes my finger!) for this stuff , I picked up some sugar cookie dough at the supermarket (laziness prevails sometimes!) and sandwiched a little of the dulce de leche between two fresh out of the oven cookies.

And settled in for some I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. What could be better on a freakin crazy cold night in Boston? Sometimes God is good, really good!


I tend to eat out a lot. It's a perk of being single and living right in a city area. It's faster and sometimes even cheaper for me to walk the four blocks to grab some home style Thai food or a seriously good burrito, but we'll get to those places later.

One of the areas of the city I enjoy going to is the South End of Boston. There are a lot of great dining options and also some not so great ones too. But one that holds a special place in my heart is Union.

A friend I haven't seen in quite some time, came by the new shop to finally check it out. I was closing up for the day and she was thinking of going by Union to grab some grub. I asked if I could tag along. She happily agreed.

I've been going to Union for so long that it's hard to remember the first time. But I do remember being super excited (still getting excited) when a hot small cast iron skillet of complimentary cornbread was placed in from of me. The skillet had a handle and the most darling tiny potholder covering it. Just for the cuteness factor alone, I was smitten, but the cornbread was quite yummy too. Hot from the oven and sweet, it was the perfect item to start a nice meal.

Whenever I go to Union, I only sit in the bar section. Yes, I know there is an entire portion of the restaurant that I'm missing but I've always loved dinning at the bar. If ever given a choice, I usually opt for bar seating. I know it's considered second rate, but bar seating often works for me. "Um the wait is over an hour but there is seating at the bar if you'd like"...Perhaps it's the sorta casual nature of the bar or the fact that often the bartenders are the most charming individuals in the entire establishment (no disrespect to the rest of restaurants service staff!). When I go to Pearl Oyster in New York, I've never even seen half of the place b/c I always walk in and saddle on up to the bar.

The other part of the appeal is the bartender, Lee. From the first time I ever met him, I liked him. Funny, charming and very good at his job, he keeps a close eye on the place. And it shows. The bar is often full with regulars grabbing a nice cocktail and a decent meal.

Union changes it's menu seasonally but is relatively consistent in it's offerings. Something gnochi , some tuna, some chicken, always a burger, green salads etc.... I think it's what is often referred to as "New American". The food isn't going to win awards but it's nicely prepared and the ingredients are fresh and well seasoned. Last night I had a butternut bisque that was a bit more savory than what I expected. It came with fried sage leaves and nuts (perhaps pumkin) on top. It was a lovely presentation but not what I thought I was getting flavor wise. My dining companion suggested I take pieces of the cornbread I love much and crumble it into the soup. It was a great idea and I was a little embarrassed crumbling cornbread into my soup bowl, afraid that diners around me would say, "look at that little Asian chick with absolutely no table manners!". But one bite told me that risking looking like a FOB was worth it. It was perfect and exactly what I wanted! My friend took a bite and thought it was good too and even suggested to Lee that they make cornbread croûtons for the soup. I also got the braised shortribs listed as an appetizer as my main entree but as I sampled my friend's salmon I wondered if I should have gotten that instead. It was perfectly cooked and very, very moist.

My dining companion being a wine aficionado ordered two glasses of sparkling wine for us to have with our meal. I haven't the foggiest notion what it was, but it was very good. Not too dry and not too fruity at all.

It was a good meal and a nice way to catch up with a good friend. So if you're ever in Boston and unsure where to go for something nicely prepared, moderately priced with warm hospitality, go to Union, sit at the bar and introduce yourself to Lee. You really can't go wrong with that!

Lamb Moussaka

I've had a hankering for greek food for a while now. What I'd really love is a huge gyro sandwich that is as big as my head brimming with yogurt sauce and french fries on the side shoved right into the pita. Yum. But alas I have yet to find a good place for such a craving.

Anyway, I've also been craving some moussaka but since it's notorious for being a heavy dish, I hit cooking light for this recipe below. I'm hoping to make it for dinner tonight. I'll be sure to post about how it goes.


Lamb mixture:
1 1/2 pounds lean ground lamb or beef
2 cups chopped onion
Cooking spray
1/2 cup dried currants or raisins
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 large garlic clove, minced

2 cups 1% low-fat milk, divided
1 tablespoon butter or stick margarine
3 large egg whites
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Remaining ingredients:
2 (1 1/4-pound) eggplants, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 pound peeled baking potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
Oregano sprigs (optional)


To prepare lamb mixture, cook lamb in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until browned; stir to crumble. Remove from pan; drain. Set aside. Wipe skillet with paper towels.

Add onion to pan coated with cooking spray; sauté 5 minutes. Add lamb, currants, and next 7 ingredients (currants through garlic); bring to a boil. Cook until thick (about 30 minutes).

Preheat broiler.

To prepare sauce, cook 1 1/2 cups milk and butter in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat to 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Remove from heat. Combine 1/2 cup milk, egg whites, flour, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl; gradually add the hot milk mixture to the egg white mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Return milk mixture to pan, and cook until thick (about 15 minutes), stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Place half of eggplant slices on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, and brush with 1 1/2 teaspoons oil. Broil 4 minutes on each side or until browned. Repeat procedure with remaining eggplant and 1 1/2 teaspoons oil.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Cook potato slices in boiling water 5 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain. Rinse with cold water; drain well.

Arrange potatoes in the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange half the eggplant slices over potatoes. Pour 4 cups lamb mixture over eggplant, and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cheese. Arrange remaining eggplant over cheese, and top with the remaining lamb mixture. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cheese. Spread sauce over cheese, and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cheese. Bake at 375° for 45 minutes or until top is golden brown. Let stand 15 minutes. Garnish with oregano sprigs, if desired.


8 servings

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Holy Moly!

It's hailing here in Boston! Oye vey and it's coming down hard and it's extremely windy as well. It looks painful just to be outside. It looks like someone put Boston on the wash cycle and we're not taking gentle rinse here people!

Anyway, I wanted to post about fish today. One of my new year's resolutions was to eat fish at least once a week. So far I've done a pretty good job of it. Up till now I've been poaching the fish in foil with a bit of olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon or orange. It's been fairly tasty and light. But lately I've had enough of the poaching in foil route and wanted to try something a bit different. My experience cooking fish at home is limited to none.

I'm an avid reader of food blogs and came across this recipe here: Sweet Nicks
I like this blog because I think it's great that this mom makes time to try out all sorts of new recipes. Not to mention that her son is perhaps the cutest thing ever too. Anyway, her recipes don't usually appeal to me (different folks, different strokes), but when I saw this fish recipe I knew I just had to try it. I made the recipe with Sweet Nicks' modifications I love anything with capers!

Sautéed Tilapia with Lemon-Peppercorn Pan Sauce
Recipe courtesy of Pam Anderson, Cooking Light, MARCH 2004
And Sweet Nick
3/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons drained capers (I used probably double the amount b/c I'm a caper fiend like that)
1 teaspoon butter
1 lb fish
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons butter
Lemon wedges (optional)

Combine first 3 ingredients. Melt 1 teaspoon of butter with oil in a large nonstick skillet over low heat. While butter melts, sprinkle fish fillets with salt and black pepper. Place the flour in a shallow dish. Dredge fillets in flour; shake off excess flour.

Increase heat to medium-high; heat 2 minutes or until butter turns golden brown. Add fillets to pan; sauté 3 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Remove fillets from pan. Add broth mixture to pan, scraping to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil; cook until reduced to 1/2 cup (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat. Stir in two teaspoons of butter with a whisk. Serve sauce over fillets. Garnish with lemon wedges, if desired.

The recipe said you should serve with rice. Rice would have certainly soaked up all the lovely sauce. But since I had just gone to the grocery store earlier than evening and only had long cooking brown rice (aka would have taken another hour), I decided to try something a little different. I didn't have any thing that would really soak up the sauce on the fish but as I stood in front of my fridge, it dawned on me that I had bought a cute little head of cauliflower to roast in the oven for later in the week. Hmmm, perhaps I could do a faux mash of cauliflower...kinda like masked potatoes. I cut off some florets, rinse them well and popped them in the microwave for a few minutes. Once they were fork tender, I threw them into my blender with some chicken stock, a small pat of butter, lots of salt, some pepper and a fresh chopped scallion.

I scooped out the mixture. It kinda looked like mashed potatoes and smelled delicious. I placed the fish and plenty of the sauce on my plate and settled in for an evening of reading the Sunday New York Times and channel surfing for a bit.

How was it? Divine! I took a small bite of the fish, sauce, caper and cauliflower mash and boy was it good! The fish was tender and moist, a bit crispy on the edges. The sauce had the right balance of acid and I swear the cauliflower almost tasted like mashed spuds (and no I didn't use a lot of butter!).

It was a lovely, easy and fairly light meal. I was proud of myself for venturing into new territory with fish. And actually I can't wait to make this meal again soon! the time it took me to write this post, it stopped hailing, started snowing and now has stopped completely. Boston weather is strange indeed!

My First Post!

Welcome to my new food blog! I own two small retail clothing stores in Boston and really don't have huge amounts of free time, however I seem to always find time to read food blogs and I enjoy them immensely. I seem to have some opinions of my mine about food and cooking and thought perhaps it would be nice to be a part of what is an ever growing food blog community.

I'm hoping to be able to take part in some of the blog "challenges" and events that occur such as Daring Bakers, Hay Hay It's Donna Hay Day etc. I know there are plenty more out there; I just hope I'm up to task.

Sadly, I don't have a very swanky digital camera so you'll have to make due with my sad little camera phone or nikon 100 digitals, sad. I know, I tend to not be much of a picture taker but I do know 90% of the fun of food blogs are the pics.

I'm very excited to start and hope that you will be able to join me as I start cooking and baking more frequently and sharing my frank opinions on Boston's kinda interesting dining scene.