Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas in Portland

I flew back to Portland again this year to spend the holidays with my family. Stanley is back in the States this year, so this was the first time the whole family had been together for Christmas in a few years and it was really nice. As is usually the case with me and my parents, there was quite a bit of cooking going on. We all felt like last year's feast was one of the best we've ever done, but we managed to improve upon it this year with a little help from Thomas Keller.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Emily's Chemistry Adventures: Dressed Up Vodka Tonic

It's a stretch to call this an adventure, since it was super-easy and I knew it would work. My actual chemistry adventure was a bit of a failure due to a misinterpretation of an ingredient... but I'll get to that at the end. First, I had this calcium chloride bath sitting around from last week, so I decided to get some nice fruit juice to spherify. I had no luck finding what I wanted (which was guava), so I grabbed a can of mango nectar at H-Mart and made this fun and simple cocktail:

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Emily's Chemistry Adventures: Flourless Chocolate-Hazelnut Cake with Nutella Powder and Frangelico Caviar

I got a big box of chemicals in the mail the other day, and am looking forward to playing with them. My pain issues are making it hard for me to spend 13 hours in the kitchen making fun, elaborate dishes these days, so I thought molecular gastronomy would be a way to keep having fun in the kitchen without spending quite so much time in there. There will probably be a lot of failures to go along with any successes, and I promise to report on both. I'm easing into things by starting with two garnishes for Mini Flourless Chocolate-Hazelnut Cakes.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Champagne Dinner

I typically tend to pair champagne only with appetizers, so the Gordon's Annual Champagne Dinner turned out to be an eye-opening experience. Chefs Bryan Roof and Dan Souza from America's Test Kitchen came up with some fantastic food pairings for every wine, and at the end of the night I found myself wondering why I hadn't started exploring the world of champagne pairings earlier. After an aperitif of Heidsieck Monopole Blue Top (a really nice light, slightly fruity chamapgne), the meal got under way with an Amuse of Chatham Oysters with Tobiko Caviar Vinaigrette.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Everyday Yumminess: Turkey Pozole

Last year as I made my turkey stock, I knew I wanted to do something with it other than traditional Thanksgiving-y flavors. I stumbled upon a recipe for Turkey Pozole at Food & Wine and knew it was the perfect thing to do with my homemade stock and leftover turkey. It is now officially part of my tradition.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Post-Thanksgiving Sandwiches

If it weren't for Turkey Pozole and the brilliance of Turkey, Cranberry, Arugula, and Brie Sandwiches, I don't know that I'd bother making Thanksgiving dinner. For me, this is what it's all about:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Everyday Yumminess: Mini Bourbon-Pumpkin Cheesecakes

Dessert-baking is tricky for the solo diner. You can only scale things back so far, and then you'd better hope it freezes well so you don't have to eat the dessert twice a day for a week. This was my conundrum at Thanksgiving. I had my eye on this Bourbon-Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe at Epicurious, but what am I going to do with a whole cheesecake? Luckily, I found these awesome mini-cheesecake pans and my problem was solved. Look how adorable:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sunday Cookbook Adventures: Michael Psilakis's Chicken Souvlaki

Food cravings can be a funny thing. I'm pretty sure I'd never had souvlaki before last night (since gyros are typically on the menu at places that make good souvlaki, and I always go the gyro route...), but as I was planning meals last week I had a deep, inexplicable craving for chicken souvlaki. I knew immediately which cookbook to turn to, and the finished product was just as advertised in Michael Psilakis's recipe: "Messy and great."

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Random Ramblings

I took Stanley to the airport at 4am on Wednesday and have been recovering ever since... It was a really fantastic visit, during which we managed to break our all-time record of Consecutive Days Spent Together Without Driving One Another Crazy, but an introvert like me needs a good chunk of alone-time to recover after 3 weeks of being around people (even awesome people) all the time. Due to budget considerations, it was a pretty chill visit... Lots of sitting on the patio with a glass of scotch discussing politics and the world... a bit of me kicking Stanley's ass at Bananagrams (an awesome game Lisa and Will introduced me to)... a trip out to Cape Ann for some chowder and gorgeous views... and, of course some yummy home cooking. It had been too long since I'd had quality time with my brother, though, so I'll take a good discussion with Stanley while sipping scotch on the porch over hectic activities any day... Here are a few pictures from Cape Ann. It was an absolutely gorgeous fall day, and the water was ridiculously blue.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Everyday Yumminess: Fresh Flour Tortillas

I've always felt like somewhat of a failure due to the fact that I could only make fresh corn tortillas, not fresh flour tortillas. Granted, I had never tried to make flour tortillas, but the prospect seemed intimidating for some reason. When I made my awesome carnitas, though, I came to realize that I needed to add flour-tortilla-making to my skill set. Thus, I turned to my friend J (and through her to her awesome mom, whose kick-ass horchata recipe I had already fallen in love with) for help finding the best recipe to start with.

Everyday Yumminess: Perfect Margaritas

As part of a Mexican feast last weekend, Stanley and I took it upon ourselves to make the perfect margarita, and we succeeded quite impressively (if I do say so myself)...

Cookbook Adventures: World's Greatest Hamburgers

Stanley is staying with me for a few weeks, and I thought it was a great opportunity to make a recipe that's been calling to me for a while: Thomas Keller's perfect hamburgers from the Ad Hoc at Home Cookbook.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

An Interesting (and Delicious) Scotch-Pairing Dinner

I headed over to Gordon's with Joe on Thursday to check out their Compass Box Whiskey-Pairing Dinner.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Another Great Show...

On Thursday night, Stanley and I hit the Royale Nightclub in Boston for an awesome show from The Walkmen. AA Bondy were the main opening act and were pretty kick-ass, but The Walkmen were fan-freaking-tastic.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

My Kick-Ass Week in California

I can't believe it's already Thursday and I'm just now sitting down to post about the fantastic time I had in California with some of my very favorite people last week. Here's a quick (though somehow incredibly long) run-down including the good, the bad, and lots of awesome food and wine...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dinner at The French Laundry

As part of a reunion vacation with Steph, Jenn, and Mel, we headed over to The French Laundry on Monday night for the meal of a lifetime...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Blog Note

Just wanted to post a quick note that the blog won't be regressing into a Bucs & Bunnies theme, even though that is not at all obvious from the last 3 posts... I was planning to cook something awesome from one of my favorite cookbooks last Saturday, but I was still recovering from food poisoning (from Oklahoma of all places... sigh...) when I did my grocery shopping and I was having a hard time finding anything remotely appetizing. I'm doing much better now, and will soon be hanging out with friends in California, which (knowing these friends) will include fun times in the kitchen, great food, and great wine... and on Monday it will also include dinner at The French Laundry. (Woot!)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sunday Cookbook Adventures: Peas and Carrots

The NFL season (finally) starts next week, which means I will no longer have Sundays to putz around in the kitchen. I'll still try to do some crazy stuff on Saturdays, but these recipes that take two days aren't going to be happening. In honor of my last free weekend, I decided to turn to the French Laundry Cookbook and try Thomas Keller's spectacular recipe for a dish that he playfully refers to as "Peas and Carrots."
For those of you who don't have the book, the peas in "Peas and Carrots" are represented by a pea shoot salad that finishes the dish... The carrot appears in a ginger-carrot emulsion that is so delicious it almost makes you weep... Finally, the garnish to your peas and your carrots is a savory crepe stuffed with perfectly seasoned lobster. I don't have words for how amazing this dish was.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sunday Cookbook Adventures: Faux Gras

One of the recipes that has very much intrigued me since I first looked through Happy in the Kitchen is the Faux Gras, which Michel Richard claims tastes ridiculously similar to foie gras. It definitely does have a very foie quality to it, and even if you don't believe that you should believe that it is the most elegant chicken liver pâté you will ever taste...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Everyday Yumminess: Pineapple-Ginger Chicken with Coconut Rice

When I was in college and came to visit Portland, there was a Caribbean restaurant called Sweetwater's Jam House that Stanley would sometimes take me to. One of the dishes that we loved there was the Pineapple-Ginger Chicken. When I got back to Boston after the first time I had it, I started working on replicating the dish... which turned out to be necessary since the restaurant closed not long after I came up with the perfect version of Pineapple-Ginger Chicken.

Everyday Yumminess: Pan-Seared Tuna with Ginger-Shiitake Cream Sauce

I made this dish for the first time probably 10 years ago. I remember being in my parents' kitchen. We melted the butter, added the ginger, garlic, scallions, and cilantro, and were blown away by how amazing the kitchen suddenly smelled. We knew at that moment that making this dish was a brilliant idea. For reasons I can't fathom, I haven't made this in 5 or 6 years. After tasting it again last night, it definitely won't be that long before I make it again. You can find the original recipe here so you can make this at home. It's literally 10 minutes of prep and 10 minutes of cooking before you're sitting down to an amazing meal. Things start out with fresh, delicious tuna...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dinner at Daniel

I'm down in Pennsylvania visiting my friend Lisa this weekend, and we trekked into NYC Saturday night for what turned out to be one of the best and most enjoyable meals of my life.

SomSmack! (aka The Event Formerly Known as Sommelier Smackdown!)

Another month, another Smackdown...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Cookbook Adventures: Ridiculously Awesome Lobster Burgers

A new cookbook has entered my life, and keeps putting a smile on my face. Whether I'm reading through recipes, discovering a cool new technique, or enjoying the amazing finished product, this book is downright... fun. My first real foray into the world of Michel Richard was making these mind-blowing Lobster Burgers.

Sunday Cookbook Adventures: Wafer-Thin Potato Crisps

I got an amazing new cookbook a couple weeks ago, sent to my by a fantastic aunt who loves cooking, but not in the way where dinner requires 13 hours in the kitchen. (Am I the only one who loves that kind of cooking?) Anyway, she sent it to the right person because this book is totally rocking my world. The first dish I completed from the book (which I prepared as a component of some kick-ass Lobster Burgers) is one of the very first that caught my eye when I first opened the book: The Wafer-Thin Potato Crisps.

Everyday Yumminess: My Mom's Eggs Baked in Zucchini

I suppose this isn't technically my mom's recipe, since she got it from The Vegetarian Epicure many moons ago, but I will always associate it with my mom nonetheless, since she introduced it to me when I was at an age where I thought my mom just magically knew how to make good food.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sunday Cookbook Adventures: Perfect Carnitas with Mexican Rice and Beans

The hardest thing about living for a couple years in Melbourne and now in Boston is having to go months without access to a good version of what I refer to as "trashy Mexican food" (which is available only on trips to the west coast). The word "trashy" is not meant to imply anything negative about the quality. Rather, "trashy" means (for me) that tacos are a couple bucks and you won't be seeing any $15 entrees unless they feed a family. No tablecloths. Sometimes not even any indoor seating. Just good, trashy food. When I lived in Santa Barbara, I got my fix with the Carnitas Super Plate at Super Cucas, my all-time favorite place for trashy Mexican food. After this past weekend, though, I can honestly say that my new favorite place for trashy Mexican food is in my own kitchen...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Everyday Yumminess: Homemade Sushi

When you're an undergrad at MIT, January is Independent Activities Period (IAP), which means that you can either hang out on campus and take assorted fun classes or you can just take the time as a vacation. That is, of course, unless you're a physics major... in which case one required class takes place during IAP. Being forced to stick around campus for this stupid class many years ago, I decided to take a couple fun classes as well. Glass-blowing was all full, but I did manage to snag spots in both Sushi-Making and Bonsai. As will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever met me, Bonsai is not for me. I don't even have 1/100 of the patience that proper maintenance of my tree would have required... and then the bass from the music I was playing in my dorm room knocked a 30-pound book of class notes off of their shelf down onto my tree not once but twice... (The fact that it happened a second time probably indicates that I had some subconscious desire to kill that damn tree.) Needless to say, the tree did not survive and I will never attempt such things again. Sushi-making, though? That was awesome.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sunday Cookbook Adventures: Michael Psilakis's Amazing Gyros

I picked up a kick-ass new cookbook a little over a week ago, and it didn’t take long flipping through the pages before I knew exactly what I wanted for dinner this weekend. The book is Michael Psilakis’s awesome How to Roast a Lamb, and the recipe that was calling to me was for Kefi Lamb Gyros. The finished product may not look like much, but trust me when I tell you that it will rock your world...

Everyday Yumminess: Garlic Confit

This is actually a recipe from my awesome new Greek cookbook, How to Roast a Lamb, but I'm listing it under "Everyday Yumminess" instead of "Cookbook Adventures" since it's one of those simple, awesome things that you'll find yourself making all the time without having to even reach for the book. Behold the beauty of Garlic Confit:

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sunday Cookbook Adventures: Momofuku 48-hour Short Ribs

This recipe wasn't at the top of my queue initially, but shot to the top of my queue immediately when I bought myself a new toy: the Sous Vide Supreme. I'll rave about that as it comes up in the post, but let's start with the food...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Everyday Yumminess: Corn Salad

Possibly the best thing about summer is corn coming into season. I can't get enough of fresh, sweet, delicious summer corn... I was having a hard-core green bean craving heading into the weekend (which has never happened to me before... but the heart wants what it wants...) so I went looking for something that could combine these two vegetables. What I stumbled upon was a quick and easy recipe for Warm Corn Salad with Green Beans, Radishes, and Fresh Thyme.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sunday Cookbook Adventures: Scallop Fest

I did something a little different with my cookbook adventure this weekend. I could pretend it was inspired by something clever (like this great article), but in reality it was sort of random. I needed to drive out to Sherborn to pick up 70 pounds of hay for the rabbits at (the totally awesome) Sweet Meadow Farms, and it just so happens that the place where I buy kick-ass diver scallops is directly on the way home from there. This was clearly a sign from above that I should be cooking scallops this weekend. I couldn't decide which scallop dish to make, torn between a simple-yet-elegant recipe from the Gourmet cookbook and a somewhat-fussier recipe from the Momofuku cookbook. Not in the mood for tough decisions, the easiest solution seemed to be to make both. This sets up a bit of a competition: Who will win? Mainstream cooking magazine (with a few modifications from me) or fancy-pants restaurant cookbook?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sommelier Smackdown!

After a brief hiatus, Sommelier Smackdown made its triumphant return on Thursday. Ben, Joe, Ben's Special Lady Friend, and Joe's housemate met up with me at Gordon's for the event. Paul Turano and Anne Moynihan from Tryst were back as our chefs, and Brahm Callahan from Post 390 (below, right) returned as the reigning champion sommelier. His challenger was Todd Lipman from Bin 26 (below, left).
Brahm had quickly become one of our favorite contenders at these events, so we were glad to have him back. He manages to be incredibly knowledgeable about wine without coming off as a pompous ass about it. I don't like to post negative things about people here, so I won't comment on Todd's personality. Anyway... The menu was pretty awesome, as has consistently been the case with Paul Turano at the helm...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

My Parents' Visit: Food, food, food, and more food...

I dropped my parents off at the airport today after a really nice visit of a little over a week. They did a lot of tourist stuff in DC before they got to Boston and the weather was pretty gross, so it was a relatively uneventful visit in terms of ever leaving my apartment... but there was a lot of good cooking and many competitive games of Scrabble. We made some good progress with bonding the rabbits while we sat out on the porch in a few hours of bearable weather. Charley really likes Rico now, and just needs to figure out how to express it in an appropriate way. Rico is being extraordinarily patient with him, and things continue moving in the right direction...
My Kaffir Lime tree is not only not-dead, but is actually thriving. My parents spotted a couple small places where new grown was just beginning to show when they got here, and there are now 8-inch branches in those spots. (It's grown even more in the day since I last took pictures, actually...)
Check out these two shots of the same growth two days apart:Pretty impressive, no? I'm psyched... Oh, and speaking of impressive: I learned that my dad has artistic talent other than music (who knew?) when he impressively replicated the Ad Hoc at Home cover on my kitchen chalkboard (since that book spent so much time in my kitchen during the week)...
Aside from that, most of our activities revolved around cooking great meals (and tracking down great ingredients at Russo's, Blood Farm, and H-Mart). Here's a look at the Culinary Week in Review. On Friday, I had to work all day and decided it would be a great time to take my parents up on their offer to cook me dinner. We went with the simple-yet-delicious Donna Hay Classic of Grilled Chicken with Warm Lemon Couscous.
On Saturday, I thought the traditional "Welcome to Boston" meal of Lobster and steak was in order... We picked up four lobsters (from the left, they are Bob, Mr. Pinchy, Bob II, and Mr. Pinchy II), three for dinner and one for seafood sausage later...
A little grilled corn, some perfectly grilled Blood Farm Rib-eye, tender and delicious lobster, and a bit of (Amish) butter... You can't really go wrong with that.
On Sunday, which was, coincidentally, the Fourth of July, we decided to make the World's Greatest Fried Chicken. (Very patriotic of us, don't you think?) As the name suggests, it was pretty effing awesome....
On Monday (pardon the recycled picture...), we enjoyed dinner of Totally Awesome Seafood Sausage from my kick-ass Charcuterie cookbook...
Tuesday featured a trip out to Blood Farm, and a dinner of Pork Shoulder Steaks cooked sous vide and accompanied by the Momofuku Homemade Ranch Dressing and some charred zucchini and onion. It was the bomb, and will definitely enter the summer rotation...
We were hoping to do the Marinated Skirt Steak recipe from Ad Hoc at Home on Wednesday, but Blood Farm was out of skirt steak so we ended up having to use flank steak instead. The marinade was amazing, and my dad grilled the steaks perfectly. so they were tender and delicious. My mom, meanwhile, made a fantastic batch of homemade biscuits that we topped with the Bay Leaf Butter that I whipped up... Along with some grilled asparagus, this was a great reminder of how great simple food can be.
Speaking of Bay Leaf Butter, Thursday morning featured our foray into the world of Momofuku's Homemade English Muffins with Bay Leaf Butter, which we then converted into some awesome Eggs Benedict for a late brunch. As I mentioned in the linked post, they were pretty much the best English muffins in the history of English muffins...
Because that wasn't enough culinary awesome for one day, we completed prep on the Ad Hoc at Home Pork Belly Confit recipe for dinner. The broccoli rabe with chili flakes and garlic was a perfect side dish, and the pork belly recipe will serve as a good starting point when I tweak it (from oven-baked in a vat of fat to cooked sous vide while surrounded by a thin film of fat) in the future. Oh, and it was really really delicious, too...
Finally, Friday was the day we would assemble our Momofuku Bánh Mì. Because the baguette was still in the process of completing its final rise when dinner time rolled around, I pulled some steamed buns and pork belly out of the freezer to impress my parents with a quick, zero-effort appetizer of Momofuku Pork Buns...
From there it was on to the main event: Momofuku Bánh Mì. Not sure if my parents loved this as much as I did, since they don't have the same memories associated with these flavors that I do, but I thought it was pretty great and a fun dish to prepare.
So, there you have it. A week of vacationing at home with some culinarily adventurous guests. I think the moral of this post for any friends reading it is something along the lines of "Come visit me! I'll cook you yummy food!"... Then again, it would probably be easiest if you just move to the Boston metro area instead. Think about it...