the veggie bowl

IMG_5710Oh January. You saucy minx.

Just as the post-holiday blues hit and we all vow to eat nothing but vegetables until eternity, you swoop in with biting cold temperatures that produce cravings of warm, cheesey, carby things.

This little number is the perfect crossover between what your heart is telling you you want and what your brain is in the background mentioning might be the healthy choice.  Finding the middle ground of these forces is the only way to live.   In my experience, if you fall too far down the treat rabbit hole you will just find as much discomfort as you might in a hunger-induced juice cleanse haze.

Whatever the month, you should always get to eat delicious things.  Start strong in January.  Eat your veggies and keep your cheesy goodness too.

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the veggie bowl
serves 2

This is similar to a previously semi-indulgent farro bowl, with some seasonal changes. You can add more veggies than the ones here (they are just what happened to be available in my fridge). Sub in different greens like kale or chard; broccoli would be a wonderful addition, as would asparagus. If you like things spicy add some red pepper flakes when you cook the vegetables.  You could also throw in some chicken or even steak for extra protein. GO CRAZY.  And I suppose you could exclude the cheese, but I wouldn’t.

1 cup farro
2 tsp chives, chopped
1 tbs seasame seeds
4 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced thinly
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
2 eggs
1/2 cup shredded cheese (of your preference, I recommend a cheddar jack or parmesan)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the farro, mix in the chives, and set aside.
2. In a large skillet cook the vegetables over medium high heat.  Start with the onion (as it takes the longest to get tender), cook for 2 minutes then add mushrooms.  Stir occasionally and season as you go.  When the mushrooms begin to brown and the onion is translucent, add in the spinach and sesame seeds and reduce heat to low. Cook until spinach wilts and remove from heat.
3. While the vegetables are cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. When the water is just at a rolling boil, add the eggs in their shells and let them cook for 6 minutes. Pull them out and run them under cold water until cool enough to handle. Peel them and cut them in half.
4. Add the vegetables and cheese to the farro and chives, and stir together.  Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil if desired, and give each bowl an egg.

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the veggie bowl

holidays with Eat Boutique

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Holiday shopping is one of my favorite things; and my second favorite sort of shopping after grocery.  So naturally when an option presents itself that combines my top two shopping passions, dreams come true and I spend too much money on things that are not entirely necessary (but at the same time completely necessary).

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The ever elegant Eat Boutique’s holiday pop-up shop has a full blown residence this year in the Fenway, directly next to Sweet Cheeks (our Boston BBQ situation with epic brisket and biscuits).  Open Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday for three weeks, the online store has been brought to life in a cozy little nook complete with pleasant people, tasty samples, and mini events.

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Maggie Battista, the local brain behind Eat Boutique, was there giving out smiles and information on everything out for sale.  The little shop had a steady flow of traffic and was adorably quaint.  It was just so lovely, and I highly recommend paying them a visit this weekend or next.  Sample some goodies.  Chat with Maggie and some of the makers. Get a present just for yourself that you don’t want to share.

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Can’t make it to the shop? Be not afeard, trendy food shopper. Eat Boutique is primarily an online shop, check it out here.

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holidays with Eat Boutique

the greenest pasta

The week before thanksgiving is a tough one for eating and cooking. You are likely anticipating just how much eating and cooking is in your immediate future, which fuels a desire for quick, easy comforts as you prepare for those ultimate kitchen hours ahead.

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 Also, if you live in a place where the farmers’ markets basically shut down completely as winter arrives (like in say, Massachusetts), you are probably stocking up on what’s left of the fresh produce before it all but disappears.

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 This dish pairs the need for ease with some remaining market treasures. With sliced and sautéed swiss chard, some leeks, and fresh spinach pasta; you get to feel like you’re eating your greens even though you’re also getting the treat of hearty carbs. And naturally there is a healthy topper of parmesan cheese for good measure.

 *If you want to be bold and make your own pasta, check this recipe out. If you are following my pre-thanksgiving laziness guidelines, grab fresh pasta that someone else made, ideally someone local. Don’t be afraid to use ravioli or tortellini either. The more cheese the merrier.

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the greenest pasta
serves 4 to 6

1 1/2 pounds fresh pasta
6 leaves of swiss chard, stems and leaves, chopped
½ cup of leeks, finely diced
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan cheese for serving

  1. Remove the leaves of the swiss chard from their stems. Cut in small strips, and dice the stems in small pieces.
  2. Over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and sauté the diced leeks and swiss chard stems for 3 minutes or until softened. Add in final tablespoon of butter and the chard leaves and cook additional 3 minutes.
  3. Add stock to the vegetables and turn up heat slightly to reduce into a sauce. If you’re feeling indulgent, throw in a little more butter. Cook until liquid reduced to your preference and remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to your taste.
  4. 4. Cook pasta (fresh pasta usually only needs to be boiled for a minute or so) and add directly into the sauce pan. Over low heat, stir pasta with chard and leeks until combined. Top with parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

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the greenest pasta

a love letter to Gordon Hamersley (in pictures)

Dear Chef,

We’ve never met, but when I heard you were retiring I immediately booked a table at Hamersley’s Bistro to try your long revered food while I still had the chance.  And I can honestly say it was pretty game changing.  As you were greeted by friends and admirers throughout the dining room, and I ate everything the kitchen gave me without coming up for air, it became perfectly clear to me why your restaurant has been an institution in this city for the last 27 years. Thanks for that one meal, I’m only sorry there weren’t hundreds of others.

Cheers to you, sir.

-An adoring fan

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a south end landmark

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crispy duck confit with roasted apple, frisee, walnuts, and dreams.
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spinach and ricotta crêpes with sugar pumpkin, broccoli rabe and creamy parmesan sauce. perfectly perfect in every way.
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seared sea scallops with sweet potatoes, roasted apple, brussels Sprouts and maple-cured bacon … balsamic glaze. Otherwise known as: all my favorite things.
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THE roast chicken. with garlic. lemon. and parsley. and chicken will never be the same.
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warm apple, oat and almond crumble with vanilla ice cream. a perfect fall finish.
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au revoir, mon chéri.


a love letter to Gordon Hamersley (in pictures)

spaghetti squash and pepperoni sauce

Yes, I did in fact say pepperoni sauce.

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it’s decorative gourd season! I for one could not be more excited about it. In this little corner of America, the leaves are once again mimicking the shades of a brilliant sunset…making driving on highways pleasurable and reminding us all to stock up on cider.

The farmers’ markets are also shifting out of their summer ware as zucchini and pattypans are being replaced by delicatas and butternuts. Squash is a quintessential piece of the autumnal diet.  And while each is great in its own right, spaghetti squash holds a special place in this carb lovers heart.

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It is an exceptionally deceiving substitute for pasta, mimicking it in color and hearty texture.  This dish is ridiculously easy, and comes together quickly for a veggie-centric weeknight dinner.  Salami or sopressata can sub in for pepperoni.   In a pinch you can use a favorite jarred tomato sauce.  And there are greens thrown in just for good measure so you remember to pat yourself on the back for eating so many vegetables.

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Let’s celebrate decorative gourd season the right way.

Spaghetti Squash with Pepperoni Sauce

the base of the sauce is adapted (barely) from the incomparable Deb Perelman of smitten kitchen. I trust her on almost everything because unlike me she is utterly meticulous in her testing and retesting. I take a more…devil may care approach.

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THE SAUCE
2 cups swiss chard or spinach leaves, sliced in strips
1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup red wine
hunk of pepperoni (this is to taste really, but get it thick off the log from the butcher), cubed

THE REST
olive oil & butter for cooking
1 large (or 2 small) spaghetti squashes
parmesan cheese for garnishing

1. Set the oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Slice the spaghetti squash lengthwise and remove the seeds.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and place flesh side down on the baking sheet.  Roast in the oven for half an hour, or until fork tender.

2. Remove the squash and let it cool enough to handle.  Using a fork, scrape the flesh out of the skin.  It will come out in strands and look like spaghetti.  Put in a large bowl and set aside.

3. In a large pot over medium heat, melt a tablespoon of butter, and add onion. Let cook 5 minutes or until just translucent.  Add in the garlic and greens, then cook an additional minute.  Add in the rest of the sauce ingredients and cook together over medium-low heat for 10 minutes or until flavors meld and the greens are well wilted (this takes a bit longer if you are using chard as it is tougher than spinach).

4. Pour the sauce over the squash and mix together to coat the strands.  Top with parmesan cheese for a truly pasta-esque experience.

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this is real life.
spaghetti squash and pepperoni sauce

farmers’ market fagioli

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So the weather is changing.  The trees are even mid color shift, and I had no idea until it was suddenly cold enough to crave soup for dinner.

Since the farmers’ markets are still open and there are plenty of amazing things available — like fresh cranberry beans and leeks and heirloom tomatoes — it stands to reason that if there is to be soup, it should be made with fresh goods.

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This seasonal take on Pasta e Fagioli is hearty like a good pasta dish and light like healing consommés of yore.  It is warming and  satisfying and everything you need for those first few cool nights of fall.

Pasta e Fagioli 

Serves 8

8 large tomatoes, peeled and diced
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 large leeks, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 cups fresh borlotti (cranberry) beans, shelled
3 garlic cloves, diced fine
2 cups small pasta such as ditalini
3 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 ½ cups parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste

  1. To peel the tomatoes, slice each in half crosswise and place flesh side down on a baking sheet.  Set oven broiler on high, and let tomatoes roast for 8-10 minutes.  Remove and let cool 2 minutes.  Peel away skins, remove cores, and dice.
  2. In a large stockpot over medium heat olive oil.  Add leeks, carrots, celery, oregano, salt and pepper to taste, and cook until soft; stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook 2 additional minutes.
  3. Add chicken stock, water, bay leaf, and beans. Cook 25 minutes, covered.
  4. Turn heat down to low.  Add pasta and tomatoes (and more salt if needed) and cook additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove bay leaf and add in spinach.  Serve immediately topped with fresh grated parmesan cheese.

PS: don’t be afraid to throw some cooked bacon or pancetta into the mix here…it can add another layer of flavor (and let’s be serious, bacon always plays.)

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farmers’ market fagioli

honey whipped goat cheese crositini

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The Jewish New Year has just come and gone, and somehow things feel the same.  Crazy that the switch from September 24 to September 25 didn’t bring fireworks and glittery outfits. But alas, it did come with some semblance to its January 1st counterpart: a (food) hangover and a slice of hope for the next year.

It is customary to eat apples and honey as a symbol of hope for sweetness in the coming year, and so behold my appetizer menu take on this traditional pairing: honey whipped goat cheese crosinti with apples and walnuts.

This recipe appeared in the food section of The Boston Globe this week, so you can find it there, or you can read it here, either way it’s worth making.  And no, you don’t have to eat it only for the Jewish New Year.  Didn’t you just go apple picking? What will you do with all those apples!? Do this. It is very autumnal tasting if I do say so myself.  It takes all of 10 minutes to put together…and as the fairy-god-mother of my dreams Ina Garten says, “how easy is that?”.

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Honey Whipped Goat Cheese Crostini with Apples and Walnuts 

Honey is nature’s sticky golden sweetener, and one of the most versatile ingredients in a cook’s arsenal.  It easily acquaints itself with either sweet or savory preparations; and has a flavor that is distinct yet plays well with others.  The Rosh Hashanah pairing of apples & honey is this dish’s inspiration. The crostini can be served on their own as an appetizer with a glass of sparkling wine, or  as the temperature drops, alongside a warming squash soup.

One baguette, sliced

4 oz goat cheese

1/3 cup honey, extra for drizzling

1 large apple, sliced

3/4 walnuts, toasted and chopped

Salt to taste

Serves 6-8

  1. Cut baguette in ½ inch thick slices. Set oven at 350 degrees and toast slices 8 to 10 minutes or until just browned.
  2. In a food processor combine honey, goat cheese, and salt. Pulse until honey is fully incorporated into the cheese and the mixture is smooth.
  3. Over medium heat, toast walnuts 5 minutes or until just fragrant. Remove from heat, let cool, then coarsely chop.
  4. Spread cheese on toasts and sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Slice apples thin and place 1 slice on each toast. Drizzle with honey and serve immediately.
honey whipped goat cheese crositini

boston burger tour: 1st edition

The Boston Burger Tour began as a mission to find the city’s preeminent hunks of beef sandwiched in buns. A quest as noble as the one for the Holy Grail, and equally as formidable, I must admit so far it’s been an absolute pleasure.

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Stop #1 was at Alden & Harlow. Their burger includes a cheese frico made of delicious cheddar, a salty special sauce, lettuce shreds, and a buttery bun. The beef was perfectly cooked and visually evoked memories of Big Macs of yore.

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We had heard good things. We heard right.

Stop #2 has gotten a lot of good press, most recently landing on Food & Wine Magazine’s best burgers in America list.  You guessed it, THE Craigie on Main burger. I had heard that Chef Tony Maws only includes tomatoes in his list of classic toppings at the end of the summer when tomatoes are in season, so the timing was critical.

IMG_5091Not just the seasonal timing was important though. Maws only makes 18 burgers a night, and only serves them at the bar. When I arrived at 5:30pm on the dot to be the first person in the restaurant I found a line door that made me fear I would never get the chance to try this infamous beef sandwich.  It all worked out though, and it was worthy of the hype it’s been given.

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Aside from being a near perfect burger, the french fries that came with it were also exceptional. A burger is only as good as its sides I always say.

In short, both of these burger experiences were exceptional. They are wonderful places to begin your own burger-centric adventure (which you obviously should have started by now) because everyone has their own burger credentials. And I mean if this picture doesn’t make you crave a burger, I can’t imagine anything will.

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boston burger tour: 1st edition

wednesdays with sourdough

A day filled with bread is a day well spent.

The following is a brief photographic exposé of a day spent not only with bread but also in the exceedingly pleasant company of the incomparable Sheryl Julian, Food Editor for the Boston Globe; and Jaclyn Fishman: food writer, friend, and baker extraordinaire.

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Jaclyn wrote this fantastic piece on sourdough for the Globe this week. Last week, she and I had the privilege to help Sheryl and a Globe photographer style and shoot the pictures for the pages. It was magical.

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 Jaclyn baked cakes. And baguettes. And soft rolls and hard rolls and boules and biscuits. We had sourdough in every conceivable variation, and it was as if all my dreams had come true.

"ode to toast". one of my all time favorite foods.
“ode to toast”. one of my all time favorite foods.

Having the opportunity to eat delicious bread while learning the nuances of food photography and styling was this hungry kid’s equivalent of Christmas.  (It’s a work in progress though, we are clearly still learning here.)

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But the best part is that you too can have all the sourdough your heart desires, because Ms. Fishman has shared her secret to starters in the article. Starters can last forever if they are well tended, and since they certainly are more versatile than you were thinking when you started reading this, hop to it! These mountains of carbs could be yours.

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wednesdays with sourdough

les framboises

If you’ve been overlooking raspberries, get your eyes checked, and look again.

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Whether your preference is to the classic red, the intriguing gold, or the elusive black; raspberries are one of the most delicious berries of the bunch.

There is so much produce available all at once in the summertime it becomes difficult to decide what you want.  It’s an embarrassment of riches that those of us that lose our local goodies with the change of the seasons, so we need to remember to appreciate them between our beach trips and lobstah rolls.

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golden raspberries.

Aside from my dad, I rarely hear people profess their love for the raspberry.  This makes no sense to me.  They are sweet AND tart, and are great for eating on their own, thrown in with yogurt and granola, or on top of ice cream at dessert.

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red raspberries.

They may not have their own shortcake like strawberries, or be so beloved in pies as blueberries; but they are not to be ignored.

black raspberries. not just for ice cream. and DIFFERENT than blackberries.
black raspberries. not just for ice cream. and DIFFERENT than blackberries.
les framboises