Monday, December 21, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Thanksgiving dinner went well. It was a gluttony fest and I was happy to share it with E yet another year. The sticky rice stuffing I adored but E felt it was too sweet. Maybe I overdid the quantity of Chinese sausage or the soy. I'll continue to have to work to tweak the recipe. But now we own a huge bag of sticky rice so maybe I'll work on my rice pudding recipes next? I have a lovely one that calls for coconut milk, dried sour cherries and mangoes that I haven't made in a while.
The community servings pies were kinda well, average. I was a little disappointed in a couple of things:
1.) the crusts were clearly supermarket made. Blah to that!
2.) the apple pie sported a crumble topping that was not very crumbling. It was actually quite soggy by the time it got to us (10am in the morning on Wednesday) and had a cornstarch thickened apple filling (ala McDonald's).
I was really hoping for more. Luckily it's hard to really f up a pecan pie so I was pleased with that.
All in all it was a very nice Thursday off with the one I love the most.
So the reason for the pepto? I'm not really sure to be honest but I came home last night, ate some Trader Joe's Flaxseed Chips and then thought I was gonna die from stomach pains. It was pretty bad and pretty instantaneous and lasted almost all night.
And tonight as I was eating our turkey day leftovers I felt like everything tasted gammy and just weird. Lately my stomach and my taste buds haven't been really happy and I'm not sure what's going on. I usually have a stomach of steel and I'll happily eat just about anything. I will say that my employee's mom made me a lovely sandwich for lunch and I ate that no problem.
Sigh. I'm trying to figure out what's going on with me, food and my body these days but sometimes it feels like I'm not making much progress. E and I will be doing a juice detox later this week so hopefully that will help to reset some stuff for me.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Fried Chicken Legs
Sticky Rice Stuffing
Baby Bok Choy
Community Servings Pie (Pecan for me and Apple for E)
I'm really excited about this meal!!
I hope all of you have a really wonderful Turkey day with those you love.
My mom did make rice krispy treats when I was young. They were simple and seemed marginally more nutritious with the addition of rice cereal. When I went to college, our Dorm Mother (we actually had those...an adult woman who often had a family with them living in the dorm to look after us kinda like Edna Garrett on "The Facts of Life") made them for TV night but she used an entire stick of butter for one batch. They were overly rich in a way that was both addictive and kinda sickening. And when I became an adult, well rice krispies became prepackaged as a snack I'd eat during my office job. They even came in peanut butter and chocolate dipped. Certainly these were not the rice krispy treats of my past. I didn't really think much about rice krispy treats at all...
Until those commercials with the mom and kids. Oh you know the ones. They're set in black and white with the cute kid all in awe over rice krispies. Damn you marketing! So when I was in the grocery store with E today, I told her I wanted to make rice krispy treats. E proceeded to tell me that she had never had a homemade rice krispy treat to which I was both shocked and amazed. I thought everyone had had homemade rice krispy treats. Sure the packaged ones were good but nothing like the ones you made at home.
So happily I made E and me some rice krispy treats but these I decided to change a little bit. I browned the butter before melting and folding into the marshmallows and mixing in the cereal. I didn't notice a difference in the taste profile at first but asked E what she thought. She liked them a lot and said she noticed the nuttiness of taste that the brown butter brought. I decided that clearly I needed to try another taste and so tried it again. And you know what? Browning the butter is a good move. I don't think you need to add extra butter to the recipe ala adding the freshmen 15 move that my Dorm Mother did, but I do think the added step of letting the butter heat until it gets brown is a nice one. A subtle but grown up taste to something I remember from long past.
I was glad to share it with E but with a new touch that is all our own.
Friday, October 30, 2009
However, I refuse to give up on losing the poundage! I'm going to try and be a bit more mindful of what I shove into my pie trap for the next month and step on the exercise and see where it all leads me.
Hopefully I'll find my way!
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
It's been way too long since I last posted. I even had a fairly good food trip to NYC that I never got around to posting about. The store has been sucking my mine. Oh sure, I always blame it on the shop but seriously, small business owners definitely know what I'm talking about when I talk about my lack of time and energy.
So what has gotten me out of my non-posting slump? A change of seasons perhaps. Fall is certainly upon us in New England. Luckily our CSA share doesn't end until the end of October so we've gotten to see what the change in seasons brings.
Tonight we're having a couple of friends over. One is an old friend I've known forever and another is a fairly new friend I'm introducing to E. Infact the old friend asked what time for dinner, I said 8 and she said she'd be here around 6:30. That's how we roll.
So when I went to the CSA on Monday, I knew I wanted some stuff that we could cook or share with friends. I was happy to see heads of lettuce and some last of the summer cherry tomatoes. I grabbed a couple of green peppers so I could make a salad and Beth's favorite salad dressing to go with it. I also was thinking of making an apple tarte tatin. In my family, the only apples we cooked with were Granny Smiths. We're a family that really enjoys tart with our sweet. So alas no GS were to be found but they did have plums. I found this kinda cool because I always only thought of plums as an early summer or late spring fruit. I didn't know they were still even really in season. So I grabbed a container of plums and decided that I wanted to try and make Evan Kleiman's plum sour cream pie. The recipe is here.
I also really wanted to try and make an apple tarte tatin. My friend Caroline makes one every fall and she uses puff pastry dough. So I went ahead and looked for a recipe on epicurious and found this one.
So I was going to attempt two new recipes. I wasn't 100% that either would work out well. Infact, I was a bit concerned that the desserts would be a big fail but I hadn't been baking in so long that I wanted to try something new.
I started by cutting up the plums. Look how pretty!
It seemed like a lot of plums and Evan didn't really say now many. So I decided to make two pies. I ended up doubling the sour cream mixture. Unfortunately, as I was pouring the plums and sour cream into the pie crusts I started to realize that maybe there was too much sour cream stuff and should have just stayed with one pie. My hunch was confirmed because the pies took close to 2 hrs to cook. Eeek. They looked cute coming out of the oven though:
Look! Pie crust cozies, teehee. Anyway, I let the pies cool and snuck a piece. The filling wasn't right at all. It was lumpy and not sweet enough. I was kinda bummed but hoped that the ice cream a guest was bringing would help disguise the issue.
I moved into the apple tartin.
I followed the recipe down to the letter and when it came time to flip, the middle of my apple tartin was completely burned. I was so sad. I even used less time than what the recipe asked for just because I knew our oven ran hot (damn electric!)
Sigh. Well luckily, Jenny did bring ice cream that that helped. It also helped that E made an amazing pasta dinner. But E making an amazing dinner is to be expected.
Since it's fairly early in the fall season, I think I will be attempting the apple tartin again. Watch out apple tartin, I'm gonna make you my bitch for sure! ;)
Monday, August 17, 2009
Imagine yourself coming home after work on a Friday night. You plop down on the couch next to your partner in crime. "What do you want to do for dinner?" "I dunno, what do you want to do?" Imagine that this conversation gets played out over and over again over a period of 30 minutes. Sad. I know. But sometimes when you've live in a place long enough, you get so bored with everything and this includes meal options.
Luckily I remembered that a friend on Twitter had recently tweeted about her RW meal at Marliave and I've heard good things about it from my partner in crime as well. Typically, I avoid restaurants during RW because I've never had a stellar experience. The quality of the meal is average to sucky and the quality of the service really blows too. Infact, the service is why I avoid RW all together. When I go out to eat, I'd rather not be viewed with unveiled distain. I get it though. You get the odd assortment of people coming to your fine dining establishments acting like they're rock stars when infact all they are are a bunch of hacks. We sometimes get people like that in my shop as well and let me tell you, serving them is not pleasant. It's not about the cost of the meal but it's more about a certain mentality that seems to go with it at times too. So I can't imagine having to work RW for 2 weeks twice each year.
So after 30 minutes of our played out convo on the couch, I checked Open Table and saw that we could book a reservation for 9pm. Perfect. It gave us enough time to get ready and hope on the T. I decided it was time to bust out my new Manolos (see above!) and take them for a test drive. Luckily I didn't have to do much walking because walking in these shoes was not easy at all. It wasn't that they're painful but because they are so high, they pitch me forward a little too far. So walking because an interesting endeavor. I'll have to figure out how to exactly "fix" the situation with my shoes because I love them so much and refuse NOT to wear them. If I had to chose my true loves in life, I'd list: food, premium denim, insanely expensive lingerie, make-up, E and stupid expensive shoes (not in that order but close to).
Slowly, very very slowly (due to my heels) we made it to Marliave. Luckily we got there by 9pm. I have to say that I thought it was odd that I was able to get a last minute reservation on a Friday night so easily.
Hmm...sadly, E and I should have taken it as an indication of what we should expect. I was going to write up an entire review of our meal but E beat me to the punch and already did a fantastic write up here. I'll let you read her take on it because she use to work in the restaurant industry and her observations seem so keenly on point with Marliave.
Here's the thing. I wanted to like it so much. I'd heard so many wonderful things about it and their RW menu was beyond expressive in its number of offerings. But what I got to experience didn't feel like Marliave in its prime at all. Even the space felt a bit run down and not looked after too caringly. The food was decent but the attention to the experience overall wasn't good. Perhaps it can be best summed with my dessert that came to my table looking like a giant boob. I suddenly felt like E had gotten me a gag dessert from Sweet Nothings.
However it was fun to try Marliave. Although I won't be jumping at the suggestion, I'd definitely give it another shot at some point. Besides any excuse I get to show off my expensive shoe collection is always good by me!
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Even though I was really sad to get the test results back positive, I decided that it's not gonna keep me from living my life. For example, I had ice cream last night and didn't seem to have any issues. I have skim milk in my coffee today and everything seems good. I did skip the cheese from my egg/bacon croissant because 1.) I didn't want to press my luck 2.) I don't really care for the melted plastic texture on my sandwich.
I think I'll just be mindful of what I eat, how much I eat...Besides, isn't that what we're all suppose to do anyway?
Thanks for all the support everyone!
Everyone I know who went to see the movie has gushed about it. I mean, GUSHED. Go see it, see it now. Men, women, gay, straight. How could I an adorer of food not see Julie and Julia? So I went to a 10pm showing by myself...I packed ice cream for a snack and set off.
I wiggled in my seat in full anticipation of the amazingness that was about to occur. Sure, I read the book and thought it was painfully boring; so boring that I skimmed the end and laid the book down. But everyone said that the movie was better than the book and it had Meryl Streep for goodness sakes! And this movie reconnected her with Stanley Tucci. I loved them in the Devil Wore Prada. And while I didn't love, love that book (I did finish it and enjoyed it as a day read) I adored the movie and could watch it day in and day out.
So I expected the same greatness. And while Meryl and Stanley were totally lovely and moving as Paul and Julia, I couldn't quite get passed by my distaste of Julie Powell. Amy Adams is a really great actress because she had me disliking her just as much as I remember from the book.
Julie Powell is disliked so much in the blog world, I believe, because so many people are jealous of her almost meteoric rise to fame and fortune. Personally, that doesn't bother me all that much, kudos to her for all that. But what does bother me is this feeling I get from her of her overwhelming sense of entitlement. I have this feeling that she's a person who isn't mystified by her fame/fortune but sees it as her God given right. I imagine her internal dialogue goes like this,"Of course, I'm a successful writer, fools! In fact, fate was suppose to have made me one years ago! Duh!"
And maybe my sense of her is way off and she's a sweet, humble little slice of pie, but she certainly doesn't come off as such in Julie and Julia in book form or movie form. Sadly, I think her next book, "Cleaving" will just confirm my sense of her further. It's apparently a book about her affair and need to run away and learn the ancient art of meat butcher. Oh jeez. Yes, that's how we all get to deal with issues in our lives, by running away to butcher shop training. Very few people have such a charmed life.
Overall, I liked the movie but couldn't love. Infact, all the flashes to Julie Powell scenes made me cringe and left me yawning. I couldn't get over my distaste for her long enough to enjoy anything she did.
I guess the easiest way to sum up my feelings for this movie is to say that if they make Cleaving into a movie, I won't be standing in line for a ticket. But if anyone wants to just make a movie devoted to Julia and Paul, I'm in!
Saturday, August 8, 2009
I'm sorry I haven't seen posting much lately. My work life has truly eaten up time, space and energy for little else. I'm trying to get an online shop for Jean Therapy up and have another little pet side project in the works as well. Sometimes I consider blogging but my meals and life with food really haven't been anything too special these days.
I've been trying to make peace with my issues with wheat. It's been tough. Anytime E had anything with bread involved, I ask to take a sniff before she digs in. And I take a deep inhalation. Sometimes I have a little nibble. Even a hotdog bun causes me to go into rapture. I miss bread so damn much that it all seems so damn unfair. If only I had known how truly "unfair" it was about to get.
Recently I had a doctor's appointment. I remembered to mention my stomach issues to her and she instantly scheduled a lactose test for me. I was a little taken aback. I mean, I'm Korean and all but I'm also adopted so I've had a glass of milk with every meal since I could remember. Dairy in the form of cheese and ice cream are a daily requirement for me; my cheese bin in the fridge is always stocked so I can have a quick snack and don't even get me started on the gallons of ice cream I typically have on hand.
When I came home and told E, we both thought the same thing. Perhaps, not really meaning to, my doctor had kinda stererotyped me as being lactose intolerant because I'm Asian. No matter, I'd go ahead with the test. It would be one more thing to rule out for me to be allergic to.
The test is a breathorlizer dealie and one that takes three hours to administer. Also, you can't have anything to eat or drink for 10 hrs before and this includes water. Since I was having the test in the morning I was able to sleep for most of the 10 hrs. But the period from 9-12 was a little rough because this was my typical midnight snacking time. E will have a glass of wine or bourbon and I reach for ice cream. Actually it's probably not the healthiest evening routine and I think we both might want to reevaluate.
I arrived for the test early. I was parched, cranky, tired and my breath was a little funky because I couldn't use "a lot" of water to brush my teeth and absolutely no Listerine. "Why, did I decide this was a good idea? I already KNOW I'm not allergic to lactose". I fumed and chided myself for going along with the test.
Soon I and four other people were ushered into a room and given clear keg cups half full of what looked like water. These were the lactose/sucrose solutions and we were told to drink the entire portion. I took a small sip thru my straw and deemed it not so bad. It was tepid and slightly sweet.
"Well, it could be worse", I thought as I proceeded to try and down the rest of the solution.
Okay, a few more sips into the beverage and I changed my mind. It was disgusting. Drinking lukewarm sugar water is really not fun at all. It was a lot to stomach and I was having trouble downing it all. I kinda felt like a wuss until I looked around the room at the four other people. They didn't look too happy either. Infact, the woman next to me said, "blah, this is awful!".
So armed with the knowledge that I wasn't the only one suffering, I pulled thru and emptied the cup. Every 30 mins for 3 hours we had to come back to the room and blow into the plastic bag. So for 3 hours, I played with my phone (the day that Twitter went down! drats!), watch the Today show and marveled over how many times they recycled the same damn new stories and internally kicked myself for taking the test when I was so not lactose intolerant.
But the reason for kicking myself changed about 20 mins after I chugged whatever was in the cup. My tummy was a mess. I was in a bit of pain and had some GI distress. F-ck! And it didn't stop. My tummy was a mess all day and into the evening as well. Damn me for taking a test that made me so sick!
I haven't gotten the test results back but I'm fairly certain that my test will come back positive and I am indeed lactose intolerant. My GI distress was almost immediate.
While the possibility of being both lactose and wheat intolerant really bums me out, I'm also trying to figure out how to move forward. People have told me that there are plenty of substitutes for wheat and cheese. Plus I know my friend V uses the lactose pills so he can easily handle the cheese on a cheeseburger. And I know that this is true but I also wonder if the best course of action, for me, not for anyone else, is to clean those foods out of my diet completely and see how I feel. I'm tempted to do the latter but I'm also baffled by what to eat, especially as someone who is so wedded to cheese and ice cream. And yes, I've had rice milk and soy milk ice cream and I don't really enjoy either one very much. And sorbet?! I mean it's got a place but sometimes you just want a big ole ice cream sundae or a vanilla creme brulee.
Alright, so I'm being a little pouty about the entire situation and I recognize that. Besides, if all this had come up for me years ago, I'm sure that I wouldn't have the world of alternatives and subs I have at my disposal now. And you know what? Pecan crackers aren't really half bad so maybe I'll be ok afterall.
Friday, July 3, 2009
Watch CBS Videos Online
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Dolin: a tiny glass on ice.
Why the hell did I wait this long to join a CSA again?
Monday, June 22, 2009
This rainy afternoon, I trekked down to Boston's City Hall to pick up my first ever CSA share. I was excited to see what we had scored and to meet my CSA farmers/providers as well. The City Hall farmers market is a bit small but for someone, like me, who lives in the city and doesn't have access to a car, even tiny markets like this one in a T convenient place make a huge difference.
I joined the Silverbrook Farms CSA. I didn't know much about them other than they had several pick up days and times and the locations were also in T accessible locales. I wanted to join Stillman Farms CSA but they lack convenient pick up places unless you happen to live close by and very limited days/times. I was bummed because my friend Caroline, who moved to CA, raved, raved, raved about Stillman's CSA. Infact, her great experience was the catalyst for me wanting to join one too.
So off I went! I walked passed the four other stalls and made a mental note to stop by each of them on my way back home. When I finally arrived to the Silverbrook Stall, I noticed it didn't seem as lush or showy as the other veggies stalls. Infact, they lacked fruits. I noticed that the other two vendors had cherries and strawberries out. No matter, my CSA peeps won me over with their earnest and friendly nature. I introduced myself to them. They were quick to apologize that there would be no strawberries this week, as had been previously announced, due to the weather but that they were giving us freshly made strawberry jam instead. In my bag went fresh eggs (!), cheese, a huge head of lettuce, kale, chard and an alien looking veggie that looked like a cross between a green turnip and lettuce. I was pleased with my portion. So many veggies! I was a little sad that there weren't any fruit-y type veggies but again, no matter. My CSA peeps were extraordinarily nice and friendly. I'm delighted at the prospect of going every week to see them!
I walked back to the various stalls and stopped by a bakery stall for a company called the Danish Company. The man working there was wonderfully friendly too. I asked if he had any gluten or wheat free offerings and he showed me the almond macaroon and the coconut one too. I bought 1 of each to try. The size of the almond macaroon was a little small compared to Modern Pastry but it was very good as was the coconut one. As he wrapped up my cookies, he asked if I'd be interested in buying gluten/wheat free bread. I said absolutely and that I'd be back each week for the my Silverbrook CSA. He brightened over the prospect of me coming back each week and mentioned that he had talked to the Silverbrook CSA kids about doing a collaboration with them. I said that I thought that'd be a great idea. I bid him farewell and told him I'd be back next week.
I was so happy over my positive interactions that I decided that I wanted to at least check out Stillman Farms booth. They had the first stall and it was apparent that they took what they did seriously. Besides a large offering of strawberries they had maybe four different varieties of beets, plus a freezer full of meat. I saw chorizo and was so tempted to grab some to go with the eggs that I had gotten from Silverbrook. But I held off. The two people working the booth didn't seem really interested in helping me at all. I stood there for a bit and waited. I finally asked the man about some beets. He answered my question but wasn't very friendly. It was clear that Stillmans was like the "cool" kids of the farmer's market. They didn't have to be charming or friendly. They knew they were the poo. Finally I decided, I'd buy some beets and strawberries and I mentioned to them both that I wanted to join their CSA, to which the answer came back, "well we're just so popular..." Really, seriously that's your answer?!?!
"Um no," I said, "I just couldn't make the times and locations of your pick up. I wish you'd do the CSA pick up here". The woman (who was a bit nicer than the man) said something about there being a 1000 something or other and it's just too hard to coordinate. No worries. I'm not complaining. I then went on to explain that my friend Caroline who moved to California was a big fan and she was the one who told me about them. I figured flattery would get me in good with the cool kids.
Not so much. Instead they faced each other and said, "wow that's cool that someone who moved to California is still talking about us". Um, yeah. Hello, remember me? I'm right here. Hello?!
Ok, I get it. You guys are all farmers and that's what you do. But the best way to describe the Stillman farms people would be to call them the Mean Girls of the Farm Stand. They seemed a little stuck up and kinda over it. Maybe it was the crappy weather. I'll certainly go back and buy things from them and give them another shot but I'm kinda glad I didn't join their CSA. If Stillman Farms are the Mean Girls of the Farmers Market, then my little Silverbrook Farms would be the Band Geeks or in Mean Girls, they'd be the Math Team. And well, as a former band geek, I think I've found my peeps.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
I've watched many episodes over the years but his is perhaps the best scene I've ever seen and yes it does involve food ;)
Friday, June 19, 2009
I think that people close to me, as well as not close to me, know that I love India Quality restaurant in Kenmore. I often get IQ for lunch when I'm working at Jean Therapy. I always order the came thing. I think I don't get anything different because I've tried to deviate before and, while it was good, it wasn't exactly what I really wanted. I always get the saag paneer. I love the taste of curry with the texture of the creamy spinach/greens and the chewy, sorta spongey, cheese! It's a wonderful dish full of comfort and complexity for me.
So when I saw a recipe on-line a while back for making paneer cheese at home, I cut and paste the recipe to an email, sent it to myself and archived it. What I cut and pasted is below this post. I'm sooo sorry to the blog where I found the recipe because I can't for the life of me remember where I got it.
In any event, it's a very simple recipe and I was kinda excited to be able to say, "I made my own homemade cheese". So how did I do? Well, for such an easy recipe, I managed to mess it up. A couple of suggestions, so you can learn from my mistakes:
1.) Use a cheesecloth and not a kitchen towel.
2.) Wait until the curds have cooled a bit to dump them into the cheesecloth in the colander.
3.) Wait until the curds have really cooled off to start squeezing out the liquid. E and I were so excited over making cheese that right after dumping the hot curds into the kitchen towel in the colander, she started squeezing out the liquid. This resulted in most of the hot cheese sticking to my kitchen towel.
4.) Make the cheese ahead of the sag. This will give you time to really press it and get the liquid out before you attempt to fry it.
Will I make cheese again? Sure, but it won't be a staple in my kitchen that's for sure. I don't think I was born to become a cheese maker anytime soon. A cheese eater on the other hand, well, that's another story entirely! Also, the sag recipe I got off the Internet somewhere (again can't remember where) wasn't quite right. It called for yogurt and didn't have the creamy mouth feel I was use to. So if anyone has a fairly foolproof recipe for saag, please share!!!!
This comes from my oft-consulted copy of Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian.
- 2 litres whole milk
- 3-4 tblsps white vinegar
You’ll also need:
- A large, heavy saucepan in which to boil the milk, plus a colander and tea-towel for straining.
- Place your colander in the sink and line with a clean tea-towel or few layers of muslin.
- Put the milk in a large heavy saucepan over a medium-high heat.
- Stir the milk occasionally while it’s heating, otherwise you’re likely to end up with burnt milk residue on the base of the pot (at least that’s what happens to me!)
- When the milk is just beginning to boil, turn the heat to low and add 3 tblsps of vinegar. The milk should curdle and separate into solid white curds and a thin greenish liquid, the whey.
- The curdling should start happening right after the vinegar is added. If it doesn’t, add another tblsp of vinegar.
- Once the milk is separated (which won’t take long, maybe a minute or so) remove from the heat and pour the contents into your lined colander. Most of the whey will drain out.
- Now, you can either just let the curds sit and drain for 5-10 minutes and use them as soft curds (as you might use ricotta) or you can press them into a solid patty.
- To press into a patty, gather up the ends of the tea-towel, twist and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
- Then take your little cloth bundle, flatten it into your desired patty shape and leave the top firmly twisted. Sit it on a board in the sink and top with another board and weight it down for about 3-4 minutes. The weight (a heavy pot, say, or a combination of pots) should weigh at least 2.25kg.
- The paneer is now ready. It can be sliced and fried or cut into cubes and used in any number of Indian recipes.
- Having read Jenni’s post on the world of dairy infusion, I thought, hey, ho, I could add something into the milk to impart some flavour while it boils. So far I have tried adding a piece of cinnamon stick and ended up with lovely, mildly cinnamon-flavoured curds. There are lots of other things you could try adding, like bay leaves, cloves or other whole spices, depending on how you want the curds to taste.
- If you’re going to press the paneer, you can mix herbs or spices into the curds just before you press them. For Indian dishes I like to add 1 tsp of toasted cumin seeds and a couple of twists of black pepper to the paneer but you can choose the flavouring to suit whatever dish you’re making.
- Approx. 250g of paneer
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
I make no bones that I love a good, cheap meal! As much as I adore fine dining and an excuse to get dressed up and put on some make-up, I love a meal that is down and dirty and just delicious. So Chinatown is a section of the city I often find myself wandering towards. My faves use to include Taiwan Cafe and Hong Kong Cafe. But lately, I've noticed the quality of the dishes at both places going a bit south. It made me a little sad and I found myself in need of a new place to fill in the gap. This is how Gourmet Dumpling House came to be near and dear in my heart. Elizabeth and I passed by it a few times and often said we'd stop on and try it soon. But E's not a huge fan of Chinese food and I was a little worried about her not enjoying her meal if we tried a new Chinese joint. But the place got rave reviews from my friend W and so we had to try it out.
First of all, the menu is huge! For such a little place, it's got one of the biggest menus I've seen. And don't let the name fool you. Dumplings are not the only thing they serve. However, the dumplings are very good. I especially like the long, pan fried Taiwanese style ones. They take longer to arrive but they're worth the wait. One dumpling dish I wouldn't order again from them would be the soup dumplings. They were a little dried out and not as soupy on the inside as I'd hoped. For soup dumplings I'd stick to Taiwan Cafe.
Among the other things they seem to do well is seafood! Recently, I had the crabs with ginger and scallion and the clams with black bean and basil sauce. Both were excellent. The portion on the crab was insane while the portion on the clams was a little less insane, it was still a very generous serving.
My standard favorite of watercress with garlic is hard to mess up but sometimes it comes out of places and is kinda not good. This is not the case with this place! Everytime I've ordered it, it's fantastic. Crunchy stems and soft leaves with sweet slivers of garlic.
And if you like that old standby, scallion pancake, definitely order it here. It's really flaky and good.
Like most places in Chinatown, the space and the decor leave a lot to be desired. The space is small and the family that runs really packs it in. Take for example, the picture up above. This was my seat one night. I was by myself and got the table that was jammed next to the fish/seafood tanks (literally the table ledge was jutting over the lower tanks). I swear they were staring at me the entire time I was eating. It was a bit creepy but with so much yummy food, I soon got over it. It was also the table in the corner next to a very dirty broom/dust bin and so led me to believe that perhaps it was the staff dining table. But on other occasions I've seen them seat other couples at that table so clearly it's used by other diners as well. I will note that all of them and me aren't Chinese, hmmm....jk. The service isn't the most pleasant and they don't mind bumping into you, shoving you aside to get by but given the space and the number of people vying for a table, I actually don't fault the servers too much. Plus I've had one of the owners just seat me when I was waiting for another person in my party and as I apologized and said I'd just go ahead and order while I wait, he waved his hand and said there was no need. I appreciated that he tried to go the extra step in courtesy.
Overall, this place rocks. And as word has gotten out, it's become busy as f-ck but I'm sure it will kinda die down soon. It was like this for Taiwan Cafe as well; when it first opened, it was literally mobbed every weekend. Overall, this just affirms that the best, cheapest meals are to be found in Chinatown. And if you ever want to find me during the week, just wait for me at the Dumpling House. Chances are I'll show up before too long!
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Lately, Elizabeth and I have been trying to economize and eat out a bit less. We try to be careful with our limited funds, but even still we enjoy eating well. Since we both had Monday off, we decided it would be nice to try the $17.50 lunch at Sel de la Terre. I love Sel de la Terre. I had never been to the new Back Bay location but I was familiar with the waterfront locale. My friend, Beth, enjoyed the food there and so we'd sometimes go for dinner, splitting the fries and loving the in-house made bread. I had fond memories of the first Sel de la Terre but only ever went for dinner, never went for lunch and thought it'd be fun to try.
Elizabeth and I walked from our apartment, one of the perks of city living, and found the day to be beautiful but really chilly. The next day it was 93*! Oh Boston! What a strange spring you have. Anyway, we opted to sit at the bar. The bartender was nice and competent enough. Elizabeth was able to get her sazerac and I tried something from the bar menu called "London Calling" it's a gin based cocktail that was light and refreshing. We both decided on the $17.50 prix fixe lunch. It changes everyday but when we were there it was a starter of salmon croquettes and then duck meatballs with harricot verts and potato puree. We also opted for a side of french frieds. Yum!
The bread from Sel de la Terre is really good. My favorite bread in the bread basket was the olive bread. It had a chewy crust and the flavor of olive was very prominent.
The salmon croquettes came and were clearly made ahead of time, taken out of the fridge and seared on each side for a nice crust. They did arrive a bit on the cold side, which I was cool with, but E wasn't so certain she was down with it. The little side salad that came with the croquettes are lovely. It wasn't your usual mixed green salad and included flowers and pea shoot leaves. It was nicely dressed and I really appreciated that they treated the salad as important as the croquettes. I really enjoyed the first dish because they took me back to the days of my Grandma E's salmon croquettes (her's will always be tops in my book!!).
I was pretty much full after the first dish but we still had duck meatballs and french fries coming! The meatballs were very good and came with an accompany compote of some sort. It looked like a bit of caramelized onion and since E doesn't do onions, she handed hers over to me. I prompted ate it and realized it was onion but citrus of some sort. Elizabeth tasted some and realized it was blood orange, her favorite fruit! She was crushed that she didn't know. It was a lovely accompany to the rich meal. The pureed potatoes were really just a pool of butter with a bit of starch for show. The french fries were wonderful. Hot and not too skinny for me but still skinny enough for Elizabeth.
All in all, it was a HUGE lunch. Both of us were stuffed and only finished half of the meatballs on our plates. We decided to take it home and do something fun with the leftovers.
I was hankering for some Greek food as I often do and thought the meatballs would be really good in a sorta gyro sandwich. I mentioned my craving to Elizabeth and told her I was thinking soft flat bread with a yogurt and cucumber sauce. Pita bread wouldn't cut it. How about naan? But would the grocery store even have anything like naan?
So last night E and I took a trip to the Shaws across the street in search of ingredients. And guess what? They did have naan. Elizabeth spotted it in the fresh bread/bakery section and it was the last one too! I was really impressed that they had it at all and that it was the last package. We also got some Greek yogurt (again so happy but so shocked that they had it at Shaws).
Elizabeth put together the sandwiches which consisted of the leftover meatballs and beans. These she put on the naan and threw into the oven. On top she put shredded carrot, roast red pepper and oil cured olives. She chopped some mint and cucumber and mixed it into the yogurt and when the meatball topped naan had warmed thru, she put everything on top.
It was a delicious meal and a great way to use the leftovers. I was so happy that I mentioned my idea to Elizabeth because it truly was a very yummy dinner. It was so yummy that I was 1/3 of the way thru and then took the picture. Sorry! (burp)
So if you're stuck with leftovers, don't ever be sad! Just think about something you're craving and see where that takes you.
Monday, April 20, 2009
A little while back Mark Bittman made mention of adding scallions and soy sauce to oatmeal. Little did he know that he'd started off a sh_tstorm. The comments all over the internet came pouring in. Some were curious, even supportive but the majority of people found it strange and gross to put soy sauce in a good associated with milk, brown sugar and raisins.
I admit to being very intrigued but never really followed up on the idea. I had grown up on oatmeal for breakfast as a child and actually never really cared for it. No amount of brown sugar or raisins made it sweet enough for me and it would often sit in front me getting cold and going uneaten. My mom, trying to get me to eat a proper breakfast, would often threaten that if I didn't eat the oatmeal that it would reappear for my dinner. And lo and behold, it would. For dinner I'd sometimes be faced with the very oatmeal I had not eaten for breakfast. Only this time, it was cold from the fridge. Bad childhood food memories indeed.
Oatmeal had a place in my kitchen but only as an ingredient in oatmeal cookies and it sat beside the sugar and flour in my pantry. But again, my curiosity got the best of me and I found myself hungry after a workout. I didn't have anything in the kitchen worth fixing before I had to scoot to work but I was tired of my usual pumpernickel bagel. Ahh, now seemed like a good time to try the Mark Bittman oatmeal trick.
I cooked the oatmeal according to the instructions but without milk and when it was finished I added a handful of chopped scallions and about three spoonfuls of soy sauce. I stirred it in and tasted. It tasted familiar and comforting. Infact, it was delicious! It was like rice congee but without the rice! The scallions added crunch as well as flavor. How could something so simple be so good or so controversial?
I went to work but thought about the dish all day. That evening after it had cooked I added a bit of sesame oil and another handful of chopped spinach. The sesame oil didn't really add much and provided a lesson in keeping things simple but the spinach added a bit more green crunch and was lovely. I imagine asparagus would be great as well. Later, I added a chunk of herbed goat cheese and some oil brined olives; it was wonderful as well. Not as good as the soy sauce version but different and still really tasty.
Not convinced? I say, "try it!". Considering how cheap oatmeal is, you have nothing to lose if you don't like it. Plus, if oatmeal isn't really your thing, you can just make some cookies with the leftover oats.
Leah's Riff on Mark Bittman's Savory Oatmeal Idea:
1 cup oatmeal
2 cups water
dash of salt
(cook oatmeal, water and salt as directed)
1 cup fresh chopped spinach
2 stalks of scallions
4 teaspoons of soy sauce (more if you're a salt fiend like me)
Once the oatmeal is cooked and still hot add the spinach, scallions and soy sauce. Stir like crazy and eat.
Leah's Second Try:
1 cup oatmeal
2 cups water
dash of salt
(cook oatmeal, water and salt as directed)
1 good sized nub of goatcheese
6 oil brined olives pitted and chopped (or if you're like me, ripped apart with your fingers).
Once the oatmeal is cooked and still hot add the goat cheese and olives. Stir like crazy and eat.
I'm still a big fan of the soy sauce version but if you're a goat cheese fan, the second version will probably win you over.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
I'm sad the picture of this pizza is so small. It's from Picco in the South End and it's one of my favorite places for pizza in the city. The crust is perfect...not too thick or thin and the perfect char on the bottom. I should have done an upskirt pic but I'm an amateur so you're left with this crappy photo. Trust me, the pizza is good stuff. The service is hit or miss. Sometimes I get nice people who are very attentive and other times I've had servers that I wanted to throw knives out. But go for the pizza and the home made ice cream!
For our anniversary, E made triple battered chicken for me. I love fried chicken and I tend to love a thick crust. She did a great job getting a thick crust. How she got all that crust to hang into that poor little drumstick is beyond me. It had good flavor and made sure the chicken was juicy but it was a little too thick, even for the likes of me! But A+++ for effort.
In keeping with my needs for Korean food, we went to a place in Chinatown that was eh. But sometimes when you crave something you just have to have it no matter what. But seriously, can someone come up with an amazing Korean place in Boston already?!?
Friday, March 13, 2009
The most terrifying thing I've seen is her making a Kwanzaa cake. Watch that clip and tell me your eyeballs don't burst into flames. It's a war crime on television. You'll scream.
Those seemed like might strongly words even for Bourdain. I was intrigued but too busy/lazy to seek out an episode of Semi Homemade involving Kwanzaa cake, but decided to Tweet my thoughts:
And wouldn't you know, I got a response from a friend a few minutes later:
Sandra Lee made a Kwanzaa cake at some point?? Omg so wrong on so many levels and I really want to see that episode. about 7 hours ago from web
msdixon@denimmafia Ask and you shall receive http://tinyurl.com/4jtbu2about 7 hours ago from TwitterFox in reply to denimmafia
It was a link to the Sandra Lee Kwanzaa cake fiasco. And for your viewing pleasure I'll embed it here for you as well:
O.M.G. Seriously, how do angel food cake, chocolate frosting, apple pie filling and cornnuts (aka acorns) go together? Who does that? And how does anything in this cake reflect Kwanzaa? How do cornnuts become "acorns" and suit cake decorations? It's as if Sandra Lee is a complete stoner and just mashed a bunch of things together because she got the munchies.
And honestly, what about this cake reflects "kwanzaa"? So yeah, while Bourdain's word seemed intense, they were absolutely befitting in this situation. A war crime indeed. And yes, I screamed!
Monday, February 16, 2009
I own almost each of her cookbooks and they all live in my tiny kitchen so I can quickly refer to them. Even so, I wasn't feeling overly inspired by any of them lately. But Ina recently came out with a new cookbook called Back to Basics that I thought looked awesome. So awesome that I bought it was a gift for food buddy Caroline and was a little sad to give it away. So E bought it for me as a Xmas gift so I had a copy of my own.
I found a yummy sounding butternut curry soup inside and have been wanting to try it for a while now. It looked very simple and easy. And since I had a day off from work, I figured I might as well give it a whirl. I also decided that I wanted dessert too and was craving chocolate mousse. My craving is odd given the very bad experience I had with chocolate mousse in the 8th grade.
My 8th grade French class was having a party, and I was given the task of making chocolate mousse. How I ended up with this task is beyond me, because I had no clue how to make it. But sure, I told the teacher I'd give it a shot if she gave me a recipe for it. Too bad the recipe she gave me involved things that a 13 year old knows nothing about, such as brewed coffee, cognac and an ice bath. All I can say is that the mousse was a disaster and turned into lumpy chocolate soup sans coffee, cognac and ice bath. That was the first and last time I made chocolate mousse until tonight.
I, being an Ina devotee, checked to see if she had a recipe for chocolate mousse and she did. It, of course, involved two different types of alcohol. Given my experience with Ina's tiramisu and the sheer amount of rum in that dish, I decided that I'd use a different recipe. I wanted something fairly simple but with a slight depth of flavor. I looked in my Betty Crocker cookbook and found a recipe that involved a total of four ingredients: chocolate chips, sugar, egg yolks, whipping cream. And while the recipe was idiotically simple (why didn't my French teacher give me this recipe to make?!?!), I was afraid the taste would be dull as well. I decided to improvise a bit and added instant espresso to the cream I had to heat as well as some good vanilla extract too.
What resulted was an incredibly rich and light mousse with the exact depth of flavor I wanted as a result of the espresso and vanilla. Yum! It's the sort of thing that you can't eat a lot of, but boy, you really wish you could! Thanks Betty Crocker Cookbook!
So back to the curry butternut soup...it was simple, simple, simple. Roast cubes of butternut squash, onion and apple until they're soft and cooked thru, run it thru a food mill (or a blender in my case), add to chicken stock, sprinkle with curry, salt and pepper and garnish with coconut, banana and cashews.
I liked how easy the soup was to bring together, although I hate, with a passion, cutting the squash. It's just so boring to me and seems like it always takes forever to peel and cube. So I roasted and pureed and soon dinner was ready. E dressed the greens I purchased with a simple oil and vinegar dressing and I pulled out soup bowls.
The soup was nice. It was sweet because of the butternut squash. The curry flavor wasn't as apparent as I had hoped though.
I wonder if I'll always be kinda lukewarm about the actual outcome of my Ina Garten recipes. I mean, I love her so much, but everything I'd ever followed of hers, turns out eh. It's good but never great. Perhaps I love Ina so much, too much that nothing will ever live up to my expectations. Maybe I need to start building a lower pedal stool in my head for my Ina. I'll think about it...
Sunday, January 18, 2009
At Lunar New Year, many Chinese families pay their respects to the Kitchen God known as either Zaowang or Tsao Wang. One of the most popular lesser gods and credited with the invention of fire, the KG is the one who oversees the virtues of a family. Why the kitchen? Well, the heart of any family tends to be here, in the kitchen.
There is something so adorable about this practice and yet so familiar. It sorta of reminds me of the wine that Jewish families leave out for the holy spirit. Offering to gods and spirits cross so many culture borders and I really love that. But I love the idea of the KG so much b/c I love the idea of a god living inside my stove!
Perhaps, I should give my KG an offering so he will not only sing my praises in heaven but also so he can figure out how to get that darn electric oven to bake cakes evenly.
Even though this really isn't a holiday that I celebrate, I do plan on going to Chinatown next Monday to feast on clams, dumplings, pork and noodles! Yum!
Thursday, January 8, 2009
A fire earlier this week destroyed the restaurant block of Peterborough St. In total seven businesses including six restaurants and one dry cleaning business were destroyed. If Fenway Park is the heart of my neighborhood, well this block was certainly the stomach. I have so many fond memories of meals with friends on this block in the smmertime. Plus, at least a few of my weekly meals came from either Rod Dee or El Pelon (both of which I've mentioned on this blog).
One of my employees worked at the Sorrentos located on this block and everytime she walks past it (she also lives in Fenway) it makes her want to cry. It's pretty sad to see the black charred remains of what was once a vibrant and thriving space. It was a block that everyone in the neighborhood knew and to say that it will be missed is an understatement. The owner of the property said that he will rebuild but I guess it's now a question as to what will go into the spaces. I hope El Pelon and Rod Dee come back!
El Pelon suffered from a fire about 13 months ago and that forced them to close and rebuild, but they were able to reopen in the summer. I'm not 100% certain how fire insurance works but to have a fire again 13 months later, well it might be a case of the insurance company not covering the entire cost to rebuild. But I don't know. In any event, a big black hole is now part of my 'hood. Sigh.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Happy 2009 Everyone!
This time last year I made some resolutions that I was good about keeping for about a month. Yeah, so this year I decided not to make any except for maybe losing the 10 lbs I somehow gain between this time last year and now.
Weight has always been something that vexes me. Even when I was young, I was concerned I was "fat". In truth, I've never had to really truly worry too much about my weight. But I do have a comfortable range for myself and I'm a bit outside my range these days. Easy enough! It just means I need to curb on certain foods and step up some exercise.
And so it is with a heavy heart that I leave the Daring Bakers group. I learned a lot about baking from this blogger group and ate a lot of yummy things I made too. But with my new commitment to eating a little bit healthier I feel that my mission in life doesn't really align properly with this group.
Don't worry, I'm not closing down shop completely! I'm definitely going to try and keep up with this blog and tell you about some of the lovely things I get to eat.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Shops at Prudential
Boston, MA 02199
"If I could give this place negative stars I certainly would.
This afternoon I headed into Teavana with fiancée the purpose of buying my mom a gift. She's obsessed with the mint tea from Oleana and I've been on a search to find something as aromatic.
The store was busy and very chaotic. People tended to crowd around the free vats of tea. My fiancée and I scooted to the front to try and get help. It looked, at first, as though there were only two people working the counter and they were helping others already. So I went ahead and stood close to the counter and thought I'd wait for assistance.
My fiancée spotted an employee who was walking thru the crowd. His idea of "help" was to inform us that there were two lines in order to be served. I did get a chance to ask him if they had mint tea and if I'd be able to try a sample of either of them. No, he said but I could smell the tea. But I needed to wait here for help from the people behind the counter. "Okay," I thought, " No problem! I don't mind waiting for help".
But what happened next made me so angry that I actually just walked out the door and didn't make my purchase.
The same young man who informed me of the "line" for which I was next up took it upon himself to help a guy who wasn't even in line. He even had the gall to start putting together tea samples for him to try and pulling loose tea for this man. This was after I was tersely informed I couldn't sample the mint tea I wanted to buy and told to stand in line (even though I was first in line for help).
Now, I'm queer and I take a huge amount of offense at homophobia of any kind, but this Teavanna employee is the kind of person who gives queers every place a bad name. I basically was ignored because I didn't have a penis.
Another employee even asked, "Are you waiting to buy loose tea?" Yes, you motherf_cker! I'm trying to buy a gift for my Mom. And yet again I was informed that i needed to wait in one of the two lines forming. This was my cue to leave.
First of all, never have I been treated in such a rude manner at any store. If I could have avoided interacting with anyone there, I would have just grabbed the tea and left but the way the store is set up, you must interact with the employees. And that would be just fine if I had gotten some customer service instead of being informed over and over again about their made up bureaucracy of two lines, which I was standing in.
Secondly, being that I own stores, I'd think I would know a thing or two about about helping customers. And never would I ever skip someone tho the front of the line for being gay, a lesbian or proud owner of a penis. I was so completely ignored (except to be told about the stupid damn lines) that it made me feel that being nice and patient at Teavana doesn't work in one's favor.
Third, if you know I'm there buying a gift and I'm not a browser, it would be common sense that you'd want to help me make my purchase and be on my way. But it felt like not a single employee was interested in doing their job.
Lastly, this place sucks for hiring people who clearly discriminate based on sexual orientation. Trust me. And I'm usually the last person to use Yelp to write something bad about another place but my experience was so horrifying bad that I really had no choice."