Monday, August 30, 2010

24 hours in NYC to fresh tomato sauce at home

Dessert before dinner? Why not, right? No worries, we saved the cupcakes for dessert, just like mom would tell you to do.

I'm lucky enough to have at least a dozen good friends who call New York City home. So for me, going down to "The City" (and let's be clear here, there's only one, "The City". Although I've been guilty of referring to Boston this way from time to time.) is an easy and relatively cheap affair. The trusty Prius doesn't take much gas to get there, and there's always a couch to sleep on.

I'm sure it doesn't shock any of my readers that my favorite activity in "The City" is eating (well, drinking to go along with that.) So in going down to visit my two best friends for the weekend, my only request was that we eat and drink well.

Ah, the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden in Astoria, Queens, NY. It's been a favorite among my friends since our early 20's when they all descended upon NYC looking for for jobs and what was next in life. The Beer Garden is the oldest in NYC and spans a good city block. From the street, it looks like you're entering a VFW Hall, then you're in a small bar, then you go out the back door which opens to the huge backyard. It's filled with singles, couples, families, all ages on Saturday afternoon. Belly up to the bar for pitchers of different brews. Take a trip over to the grill for kielbasa and sauerkraut, sausages, burgers, or order off the menu and get potato pancakes or pierogies.

When I travel to New York, we usually end up eating in little neighborhood favorites. Once and while we hit the big name joints, but in our quest for good and reasonable priced foods. We usually end up in a smaller, fun, local spot. After the beer garden we headed to Fatty's Cafe in Astoria on Ditmars Boulevard. The spot has a great little patio out back that makes you feel like you're in the islands, not in the middle of Queens. It was allegedly opened by a couple who felt the neighborhood needed a good mojito, and thus Fatty's was born. The guacamole was fresh and addicting. I ordered the enchiladas. They come with one in verde sauce, the other in rojas. Both sauces a little different, and both were absolutely outstanding. The girls got chorizo tacos and a hanger steak and fries. Everyone went away full and happy for the night.

Brunch in NYC is an absolute must. Everyone offers it, and almost everyone goes out for it. It's something I really wish cities and towns in Massachusetts would embrace, it's truly therapeutic. We picked another neighborhood spot a few blocks from where I was staying. Cafe D'Alsace was a venture by a chef from Brittany to bring Alsatian cuisine to Manhattan. The coffee is strong, and the meal begins with some piping hot, crusty bread served with fresh butter and jam.

I ordered the frittata d'lyon. To be perfectly honest, I wasn't sure what Rosette D'Lyon was when I ordered it. I believe I have started a minor obsession with this move. Rosette D'Lyon is a cured sausage with a sharp, distinct flavor, and it's delicious. It's paired in this brunch dish with sweet caramelized onions and served over roasted potatoes.

Now, it's time for dessert! I have read about Crumbs in articles, blogs and heard about it from friends. I did not, however, realize that there was one about a block from my friend's apartment on the Upper East Side. The first Crumbs was opened on the Upper West Side in 2003. They now have several locations in the tri-state area and a few in California. We stopped on the way home from brunch so I could bring treats home to the husband.

If you like cupcakes, this place is a dangerous mecca. These cupcakes are massive and ridiculously rich. Needless to say, they're meant for sharing. I chose a Baba Booey (chocolate cake filled with peanut butter frosting), a Chocolate Malted (covered in whoppers), a S'mores (chocolate cake with marshmallow cream cheese frosting) and a Peach Cobbler.

So armed with cupcakes and good times, it was time to hit the road and head for home. My darling husband had been busying himself picking tomatoes from the backyard patch and I was dying for some fresh tomato sauce to pair with the homemade gnocchi I made and froze about a week or so ago. Now, I missed my usual market day today, but the backyard patch is offering up so much this week, I can probably make due. For those readers looking for a market trip, I'll be hitting the Dedham Market this Wednesday instead! However, it doesn't get more local than your own backyard.

Fresh tomato sauce is something for which every backyard gardener has a formula. When the tomatoes start coming in and ripening on the vine, they come in large amounts. Fresh sauce is a perfect way to enjoy them. It's not like your grandfather's marinara. It's meant to bring out the fresh flavors of each tomato. I use all kinds in this sauce. I had a few heirlooms in this sauce, one or two being a black variety and a beefsteak. It's not a detailed recipe, have fun with it and add in what you think will work!

Fresh Tomato Sauce
5-6 fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 tablespoons tomato paste
pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 cup mixed fresh basil and oregano

Heat olive oil in a dutch oven or saucepan, cook onion until soft, add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add tomato paste and fresh tomatoes, salt, pepper and punch of red pepper flakes. Cook 45 minutes to an hour, until sauce gets thick and "saucey". Add chopped fresh herbs and cook for an extra few minutes. 

Serve hot over pasta.

This was happily enjoyed over the gnocchi in the comfort of my lovely home and quickly followed by half of a heavenly S'mores cupcake. A very happy Sunday night. Pin It

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Summer Bounty Bacon Lasagna

Who doesn't love bacon? The smell of it cooking in our home will bring not only the pugs, but the husband, running to the kitchen. I've been seeing some recipes for creamed corn with bacon in my searches for ideas of what to do with the ears of corn I keep picking up for Heron Pond Farm's tent at the Newburyport Farmers' Market every week. Those recipes looked fabulous, but I wanted to put together a main dish. On hand, I had the corn, a big zucchini from our garden and bacon. I had ricotta to use and lasagna noodles, so this recipe was born.  The white sauce is borrowed from Gourmet, but the rest is the product of my bizarre imagination.

Summer Bounty Bacon Lasagna

White Sauce (from Gourmet/1997)
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups milk

6 strips center-cut bacon
1/2 red onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, smashed
1 zucchini, sliced into ribbons
4 ears corn, kernels removed from cob
24 oz (3 cups) ricotta cheese (you can use skim or whole milk)
1 egg
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Rest of Lasagna
1 box Lasagna noodles (I'll admit, I cheated and used no-boil this time)
1 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat over to 375 degrees.

Fry bacon up in a 12-inch skillet until crispy. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate. Wipe out skillet, leaving a little of the bacon fat behind.

Add red onion to skillet and cook over medium high heat until softened. Add garlic, cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add zucchini ribbons, then add corn. Salt and pepper to taste and cook until corn and zucchini are slightly soft, 5-7 minutes. Set skillet aside.

Prepare ricotta mixture by beating 1 egg into ricotta in a medium bowl. Add fresh basil and crumbled bacon with salt and pepper and stir until combined, set aside. 

Prepare white sauce next - melt butter over low heat, then add flour and stir and cook a roux, about 3 minutes. Add milk in a stream, stirring away, and bring up to a boil, whisking until sauce thickens. Salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes.

Take a 9x13 lasagna pan, add 1 cup white sauce to cover the bottom. Arrange first layer of lasagna noodles. Spread 1/3 amount of ricotta/bacon mixture over noodles, then 1/3 of corn mixture, then sprinkle Parmesan over the top and finally 1 cup of the sauce. Repeat for three layers. Pour remaining sauce over the top, sprinkle remaining Parmesan over the top.

Cover with foil and bake for 45-60 minutes (depending on if you used no boil noodles or not), until top is golden.

This is part of Farmers' Market Week here in Massachusetts and the Loving Local blog-a-thon. Please go to Mass Farmers' Markets to donate and help out! Pin It

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Peach and Cardamon Crisp

Some days the main course isn't the main attraction. Newburyport has been getting coming down, soaking wet, so bad the pugs won't even go out in it rain for 24 hours; the rain itself has been around for a couple of days. I'm not complaining. I love the rhythmic sound of the rain. It helps me sleep at night. It's fabulous for our garden. The zucchini is exploding again. Our grass might actually become somewhat green again.

The rain, however, makes me extremely lazy and unmotivated to leave the house. I wanted to bring you a main attraction main dish today, but I needed some ingredients and frankly, I wasn't leaving the house. On this cool, rainy day though, my oven was begging to be used. I, personally, wanted something warm to take the chill off. So I decided it was a good day to make dessert instead.

I was flipping through a slide show on Bon Appetit's website of peach recipes (I have lovely peaches from Applecrest Farm Orchards, from the Newburyport Farmers' Market). They do a peach and cardamon pie that looks fabulous. I was out of eggs, however, so no crust was being made in this house today. So I decided to devise the below recipe based on what I had in the house. I love crisps or crumbles actually a tad more than pies, anyway. I find they make the fruit, the star in the recipe, stand out just a little bit more.

Peach and Cardamon Crisp


4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, chilled
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash of cinnamon

4 peaches, sliced (I used white and yellow peaches and a nectarine)
1/8 cup granulated sugar
1/8 cup brown sugar
juice of half a lemon
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a food processor combine all topping ingredients and pulse several times, until mixture had a consistency of sand. If you don't have a food processor, combine all dry ingredients and then cut butter in with two knives, until you reach the right consistency. Set aside in fridge.

Combine sliced peaches, brown and white sugars, lemon juice and cardamon and cinnamon.

Pour fruit into a greased 8-inch square pan, sprinkle topping over fruit and bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees until golden brown.

Serve with vanilla ice cream.

This is part of Loving Local and Mass Farmers' Markets week. I'm proud to take part in a blog-a-thon with other fine writers and cooks who love to buy, eat, and cook locally. It's set up to benefit Mass Farmers' Markets, a non-profit charitable organization that helps farmers markets throughout the Commonwealth. It's a great event run through the blog, "In Our Grandmothers' Kitchen". I encourage everyone to chip and help out your local markets by not only shopping there, but making a donation to the organization that strives to help them out, you can do so here. Time the time to check out all the other great blogs out the participating this week and get some great ideas! There are a lot of fabulous local farms, cooks, and artisans out there who need your support. Just think of it like you're supporting your neighbors, because you are! Pin It

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Rainy Day Bounty

A bit of rainy day here on the North Shore. Gray, a little gloomy, but frankly, we need it. Every local farmer in New England needs it. The Bingham backyard patch needs it. It's been a dry and hot summer here in Massachusetts. Keeping our little garden alive through it all has been a challenge (and one that my delightful husband has taken and conquered valiantly). I can't even imagine if you're a working, sustainable farm how you get through the long months without rain. It doesn't seem to phase them though. The trip to Newburyport Farmers' Market this morning was full of produce coming in every color of the rainbow.

This week's trip rang in at a stellar $16. Why so low? It's that time of year where I'm not sure what our own garden will give us. We're getting a good amount of tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. We might see another eggplant or zucchini this week. The $16 went a good way though: corn and watermelon from Heron Pond Farm, lettuce from Farmer Dave's, peaches from Applecrest Farm Orchard, ciabatta from The Savory Kitchen and a chocolate, brown sugar pecan bundt cake from Blue Egg Baking Co.

Where will it go? The corn will go into some kind of creamed corn with bacon. I keep seeing such recipes all over the place, and frankly, it sounds like a meal in itself. The lettuce will pair with some of the backyard tomatoes and maybe some of the ciabatta for a panzanella (Tuscan bread salad). The watermelon will become snacks, both fresh and maybe whipped up into a sorbet of sorts with the leftovers. The peaches... well... I'm still thinking about those.

This falls right into place with Loving Local week here in Massachusetts. I'm proud to take part in a blog-a-thon with other fine writers and cooks who love to cook locally. It's set up to benefit Mass Farmers Markets, a non-profit charitable organization that helps farmers markets throughout the Commonwealth. It's a great event run through the blog, "In Our Grandmother's Kitchen". I encourage you to chip in and help out your local markets by not only shopping there, but making a donation to the organization that strives to help them out, you can do so here. Take the time to check out all the other great blogs out there participating this week, and get some fabulous ideas of what to do with all of late summer's bounty!

Where did last week's purchases go? All over the place.

The squashes, both zucchini and patty pan, the potatoes, the garlic and some red onion went into a Potato and Squash Savory Tart. The leftover squash, onion, potato mix went into a frittata on Saturday morning. The jalapenos went into a quesadilla I made earlier in the week. The ground beef, some onion, some tomatoes, they went into taco night. The green beans and chicken are still around, they'll be dinner tonight.

I was impressed with my using up of leftovers this week. I had a lot of cantaloupe. After I had my share of it fresh, I whipped it up into a sorbet (sugar, lime juice, fruit and rum), thanks to a great idea by Mary of The Savory Kitchen.

I had plenty of cooked new potatoes leftover from the tart and not a lot of ideas of what to do with it. I finally figured with plenty of tomatoes coming in for fresh sauce; I'd make home gnocchi and freeze it for later. Cooks Illustrated has a quick and easy potato gnocchi recipe and you can freeze them by laying them out flat on a baking sheet, and putting them in the freezer for about an hour. Transfer them into a freezer bag and they won't stick together. They'll stay like that in the freezer for about a month or two.

This falls right into place with Loving Local week here in Massachusetts. I'm proud to take part in a blog-a-thon with other fine writers and cooks who love to cook locally. It's set up to benefit Mass Farmers Markets, a non-profit charitable organization that helps farmers markets throughout the Commonwealth. It's a great event run through the blog, "In Our Grandmother's Kitchen". I encourage you to chip in and help out your local markets by not only shopping there, but making a donation to the organization that strives to help them out, you can do so here. Take the time to check out all the other great blogs out there participating this week, and get some fabulous ideas of what to do with all of late summer's bounty. There are a lot of fabulous local farms, cooks and artisans out there who need your support. Just think of it like you're supporting your neighbors, because you are! I'll be blogging again on what I'm doing with all this yummy loot later this week. Enjoy and please support Mass Farmers Markets!
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Potato and Squash Savory Tart

Anytime you can have what's essentially pie for a meal, you've done something right in life. A tart is pretty much a short pie with no top. The idea is the same, a crust with filling. Tarts, quiches, rustic free-form crusts - all perfect ways to use up what's in your produce drawer.

This is the time of year at your local market where just about everything looks perfect. Not a problem, per se, until you get home. You pick up a bit of everything and now you look at it and wonder, "How the heck am I going to use this all?". Look at it as a chance to get really creative and let your locally-grown produce shine.

My "problems" this week? They include zucchini, patty pan squash and bunch of new potatoes. I wanted to combine them in some way that wasn't a salad of some variety. I had recently (and happily) purchased a beautiful tart pan with the oh-so-important removable bottom. So tart is is!

Potato and Squash Savory Tart

Note: I used an olive oil crust for this tart (which I love). It's not my own, but borrowed from the lovely Mary Reilly's Cooking 4 the Week , who borrowed from Amanda Hesser's recipe for Peach Tart from Cooking for Mr. Latte.

Olive Oil Crust
1 1/2 cups (6.75 ounces) flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup (4 ounces) olive oil
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) milk

5 medium new potatoes, cooked then sliced
1/2 zucchini squash, sliced into half rounds
1/2 patty pan squash (you can use more zucchini or a summer squash here), sliced as evenly as you can
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup onion (I used red) chopped
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon olive oil
3oz fresh mozzarella
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat over to 425 degrees.

Boil potatoes, cook and slice. Take sliced squash and toss with a touch of salt, set in a colander, let liquid strain out. Take out and put on paper towels to dry.

While the liquid is straining. Mix flour, salt, and sugar together in one bowl. Mix olive oil and milk together in another. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix. Voila! Dough. Press into a greased tart pan (or a pie pan, whatever you have around).

Take a tablespoon of olive oil and heat in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until soft. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add squash and cook until slightly softened, let cool for a few minutes.

While the squash is cooking, in a bowl, take the ricotta cheese, add a teaspoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Take ricotta mix and spread over the tart dough, sprinkle fresh rosemary over the top (any yummy herb you have growing will most likely do here). Arrange potatoes over the ricotta cheese, arrange sliced mozzarella around it. Take slightly cooled squash, onion and garlic mix and top the potatoes and cheese. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the tart.

Put into the oven for 35 minutes and bake until crust is golden brown. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, Slice, serve and enjoy!

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Melons, Patty Pan Squashes and a week's worth of ideas, oh my!

It's raining melons at the market this week. The seasons' first watermelons and cantaloupes are arriving and they're ready to go... home with me that is. It's an interesting part of the season for our house. The backyard patch is offering up cherry tomatoes on a daily basis. Every other day offers up a pepper or an eggplant or a squash of some variety. It's really an exciting time I figure this all into my trip to the market so I know what to buy around.

It's Sunday, that means it's time to go over the bounty for the week and how much lighter my wallet is this week because of it all and what it is set to become. In total, including a $17 trip to the standard grocery store, I spent $54 and it will feed us for the week. At the Newburyport Farmers' Market I picked up the following: a cantaloupe (Wheelerbrook Farm), a watermelon, green beans, two onions (Heron Pond Farms), a patty pan squash (Colby Farm), two jalepeno peppers (Arrowhead Farm) , new potatoes and garlic (Middle Earth Farm). I also picked up a loaf of Cheddar-Jalapeno Bread from The Savory Kitchen (will freeze half for later). In total - $22 spent at the Farmers' Market. I stopped at Tendercrop Farms for grass-fed ground beef and some chimmichurri chicken and spent $15 there. The local Market Basket supplied the rest for $17.

This is all supplemented with the fresh blueberries I picked at Applecrest this weekend. Half went into the freezer, the other half into snacks and Poor Girl Gourmet's Blueberry Crumble which is a piece of heaven. I also have zucchini from the garden to play with and lots of fresh herbs. What will all this make? I have some ideas:

Zucchini, Patty Pan Squash, New Potatoes, garlic, onion - thinking a tart of some variety, maybe with mozzarella and rosemary
Chimmichurri Chicken, jalapenos etc - Some kind of burrito, or enchiladas (craving mexican this week)
Ground Beef, jalapenos - taco night, a favorite in our house

Where did last week's market and garden loot go? The eggplant turned into a beautiful Eggplant Parmesan with a side salad made almost entirely with finds in our garden.

It also turned into a new favorite, perfect for entertaining - Ricotta and Sage Stuffed Chicken Breasts.

The corn I used in the Corn and Chive Risotto I've blogged about before. The potatoes and beans all ended up being used as sides for a all-around tasty week. Pin It

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sage and Ricotta-Stuffed Chicken Breast with Peaches

A photo simply cannot do this dish justice. It's like a flavor explosion of happiness. Cheesy, right? I can't describe it any other way.

The idea came from the lonely sage in the back of our garden patch. It's in the back corner, often encroached upon by the out-of-control oregano. Even when attacked, it does flourish back there. I don't think of sage enough in the summer. It seems to pop into my head in October, when my fresh stuff is long gone, to pair with apples and pork. It's a fun compliment to fall harvests, hardly rearing its head in August.

Until this August.

Peaches are in season and there's no better time to sink your teeth into these soft-skinned delights. So I picked up one of the yellow variety and one of the white from Applecrest Farm Orchards this weekend looking to incorporate them into a main dish. I've never paired peach with sage so it was a bit of an experiment. I also wanted to make my own ricotta for the first time. If you haven't done it, try it. It's fun, easy, and extremely tasty. I had great luck with this recipe from David Lebovitz of Check it out; it's a great, mouthwatering-site. The following recipe is the result of all of this inspiration.

Sage and Ricotta-Stuffed Chicken Breast with Peaches

1 lb boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
1/4 cup olive oil (and a touch more for cooking)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper

1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage and parsley (1/4 cup total, more sage than parsley)
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper

Peach Sauce:
2 whole fresh peaches, pitted, cut into slices
3/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Start with preparing the chicken breasts. Take each and a knife, and starting at the thickest side of the breast, cut a slit almost all the way through the breast, but not completely through. In a bowl, combine olive oil and dijon mustard and whisk together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss chicken into the bowl, tossing to coat and let sit while you prepare the stuffing.

In another bowl, combine ricotta and sage and parsley. Add olive oil until you can get a whisk through the mixture somewhat easily. Take stuffing and fill the chicken breasts. There should be enough that it's spilling over just a bit, but you could still close the chicken breast. Close and tie shut with three pieces of cooking twine (or unwaxed plain dental floss).

Heat a bit of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear and slightly brown chicken on each side. Put in a baking dish of some variety and put into the oven to finish, about 20 minutes,  until juices run clear, or the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees or higher (my preferred method).

While the chicken is cooking in the oven, prepare the peach topping. In a saucepan, combine all ingredients (peaches, wine, sugar, cinnamon and salt). Cook over medium heat until sauce reduces and thickens a bit.

Serve sauce over chicken breasts for a very enjoyable meal.

In this case - I served it with steamed fresh green and wax beans (from Heron Pond Farm) tossed with a little butter and stone-ground mustard. Pin It

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Stocking up and getting inspired...

First off, a confession. I actually had so much stuff from this morning's farmers' market that it was a struggle to actually capture it all on camera. Hardly a bad thing, in fact, it's an inspiring thing. After a week on the road, we came home to a very sad and empty refrigerator. Seriously, it was begging to have stuff put in it. Taking advantage of the emptiness, I elected to clean it all first before filling it. Really, a clean refrigerator is such a beautiful thing, I should do it way more often.

Sunday mornings are lazy and meandering in our home. When I finally do get ready, it's to meander some more, buying food. You see, for some, grocery shopping makes them break out in hives or they hate it so much they avoid it until the last possible second. Call me the complete opposite. I look forward to it; I crave it. I love finding the perfect ingredients to make fabulous food all week long. It makes my week happier. My routine on Sunday morning is usually the same. I start at the Newburyport Farmers' Market, hit up Tendercrop Farms for locally-raised meats and treats, and then finish at the standard grocery store for the extras. 

So let's get back to basics here. What was my haul this week, and what did it cost me? This isn't a typical run for the week, since we were out of a lot of basics as well as what I needed for meals for the week. 

We begin at the market - Green Jasmine Tea from White Heron Tea, it's a serious addiction of mine and worth every single penny of the $6 I spend on it every 3-4 weeks. I scout through all the farm booths first, to see what's available and where I can get the best deal on what I need. I start at Farmer Dave's and pick up lettuce ($2.50 a bag) and a zucchini (mine aren't ready yet) for 75-cents. I roam over to Applecrest Farm Orchards for a couple of yellow peaches and a white ($1.75). Heron Pond Farm provides me with some green and wax beans for the week and 4 ears of corn ($3.25 total). Middle Earth Farm of Amesbury provides me with a little, exciting find - Yukon gold rush new potatoes. I finish off with a round of The Savory Kitchen's kalamata olive focaccia ($6).  It's a grand total of $19.50 for most of my produce for the week, under my usual $20 budget for the market AND the non-usual purchase of tea is in there.

A quick stop at Tendercrop results in some Hawaiian Teryaki steak tips and nearly two pounds of boneless chicken breast. I succumb to Tendercrop's homemade bean dip and tortilla chips, we'll call those my treats for the week. I leave spending $30 ($10 for my little treat).

So at this point for the week I've spent $50 on groceries. We've been gone, so we're out of milk, yogurt, cereal - the list goes on an on. I think because of the need for some paper products, my bill at Market Basket was about $50. We're at $100 total for the week, but I think only about $75 is truly groceries. I don't think that's too bad considering the fridge was completely empty.

This being said - I am supplementing fresh herbs, green pepper and an eggplant from my garden this week, which has just exploded! Look at these pretty babies:

So what, pray tell, will this all result in is probably what you're thinking at this point. Here's the current plan:

Sunday: Steak Tips from Tendercrop with Herb-Tossed Potatoes.
Monday: Ricotta and Sage-stuffed Chicken Breast with Peach Compote (inspired by this trip to the market) with mustard and chive green and wax beans on the side.
Tuesday: Corn and Chive Risotto (because I'm dying for it and have to make it again!)
Wednesday: Eggplant Parm (because the husband is dying for it and I FINALLY have a homegrown eggplant)
Thursday and Friday - I know I'll have chicken left, but frankly, I just haven't gotten this far this week. A stuffed zucchini I know will make an appearance somewhere as well.

It's nice to be home and back in the swing of things. I felt a little lost without my kitchen this week. Stay tuned to see what comes out of it - I hear I'm going blueberry and peach picking this week as well. Might be time to do a little baking!

A P.S. and by the way - While I was away, I was honored to be part of an article that ran in the Boston Globe North written by the very talented Joel Brown. Myself and local bloggers Jane Ward, Mary Reilly, Tracey Miller and Abigail Cahill O’Brien were featured as people writing about and loving local, fresh food. Please check it out and check out all their blogs! Boston Globe: Food Bloggers Feast on Local Produce Pin It

Friday, August 6, 2010

Vancouver/Seattle - A feast for the senses

Ah Vancouver - a true feast for the senses. I'm a blessed to have friends and family on both coasts, and all over the U.S. and Canada. Vancouver is truly one of the most beautiful places in the entire world. The photo above simply cannot do it justice. Mountains meet the Pacific Ocean there, visible from pretty much any point in the city.

I shouldn't wax poetic too much, you do come here to chat about food. When I escape my everyday life and head out on vacation, it's all about the food for my husband and me. I had a wise uncle once say, "Kimmy, it's all about the eating and drinking." He was completely right.

While in Vancouver and Seattle, I was treated to fabulous salmon, dim sum, and local produce. I also got to hang out at two of the largest public markets in the Pacific Northwest - Granville Island in Vancouver and Pike Place in Seattle.

This is the view from Granville Island in Vancouver, not too shabby, eh? Granville Island is mostly a tourist area filled with shops, restaurants and markets. However, do not let that deter you. Locals enjoy the area as well, and the picking at the public market, well, it's ripe. It's also cherry season.

Your choice of salmon (of course) is large and super fresh. I was super eager to try the smoked maple salmon, however, our day was long and it just wasn't going to happen. I didn't think I'd be too popular with a bag full of smoked salmon several hours old.

The butcher section seriously made my mouth water. Alberta, grass-fed, perfect cuts of beef, a case-load of them.

 A ton of Asian influence in Vancouver, from Thai to Cantonese to Japanese... these thai red peppers are like the ones I'm growing in my backyard, I hope they turn as red as these. The tea company was intoxicating... and those pot pies. Let's just say it was hard to leave.

The husband and I are beer lovers as well. There are few cities we don't visit without trying local brews along with whatever local dishes we're after. Show us a brewery and we're inside in a few seconds for a tasting. Granville Island, fittingly, has "Granville Island Brewing". I've had their beer before and was instantly a fan. Fresh, crisp, and they have options for every palette. I tried the Maple Cream Ale (sweet and a dash of bitter all at the same time), the Honey Lager (very smooth, sweet, easy if you're planning on having more than one) and the Amber Ale (my favorite, complex, enough hops but not overwhelming).

So, unfortunately the time had come to leave the beautiful and beloved City of Vancouver. We flew in and out of Seattle (direct non-stop from Boston! Yippee!!) so we decided to spend a night there to take in some baseball and some good food. It was my first (and very quick) stop at Pike Place Market.

Beautiful, isn't it? I didn't have time to poke around too long, however, I had to see the famous fish-throwing area of the market, filled with its salmon and Dungeness crab. Dungeness is by far, my favorite type of crab overall. Everywhere you go in Seattle, you see something that's truly amazing - the Dungeness crab grilled cheese sandwich. An epic combination of crab, cream cheese and other local cheeses fried up to perfection.

We're heading to a baseball game, so that definitely means a brew or two before heading into beautiful Safeco Field. We headed over to FX McRory's to sample one or two of their 22 beers on tap. I really enjoy that most of those beers are local. I enjoyed the Hale Cream Ale, my husband took down Hale's Supergoose IPA.

The game came and went and we found ourselves back at the lovely Hotel Andra (which I can highly recommend). It's in a great neighborhood with a couple of great restaurants like Assaggio and Serious Pie. We were lucky enough to grab a Buffalo Mozzarella pizza from Serious Pie right before closing to snack on. Try one. It's worth it. Fabulous, sweet tomatoes and creamy mozzarella on a wood-fired crust.

Sadly the trip had to come to an end. Before packing up and heading to the airport we grabbed some sweets from Dahlia Bakery (affiliated with Serious Pie). If you're in the area, try their vanilla-bean coffeecake and chocolate truffle cookie. Decadent but not over the top - a perfect way to end a perfect week in the Pacific Northwest.

So that's our adventure for this month. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to go figure out what to actually COOK for lunch here at home! Pin It

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Lighter and Local... but on the road

So yes, this blog is local to the seacoast of Massachusetts, but in our family, we're lucky to have people who love us all over North America. We're in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada right now with friends and family. It's a beautiful region, where mountains meet ocean. If you've never been, go. It's breathtaking.
Vancouver has a very large Asian population which is reflected in its food. My step-mother-in-law is from Hong Kong. Every single time we all meet up here in Vancouver, we go for dim sum. You really haven't lived and eaten food until you've gone for dim sum in a place where it's authentic and full of families filling the room with boisterous talk and filling their plates with fantastic food. It's a Cantonese tradition, full of small plates that pass by your table with servers calling out what everything is and what they have to offer. You point and it appears on your table (of course, a relative who speaks the language is always a huge help!). Shrimp dumplings, fried cakes with shrimp and chives, spring rolls, sesame rolls with bean paste inside... the list goes on and on.
The room is loud, but happy. If you leave there without being completely stuffed you haven't done your job.
So lighter and local will return to the seacoast of Massachusetts in just a couple of days. However, we're in the business of talking about great food wherever we roam. Pin It