Thursday, April 29, 2010
- Emeril Lagasse: arrogant chef stereotype (though entertaining)
- Paula Deen: uses too much butter
- The Neelys: so lovey-dovey it's gross
- Rachel Ray: that voice makes me cringe. She also over-uses nutmeg - just saying
- Ina Garten: always seems to be preparing dinner for her husband. Women's rights, anyone?
- Giada de Laurentiis: love her.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Yet the German mixed grill fare is the most authentic food of the Rhine region that I've found in Boston; specialties include weiner schnitzel, bratwurst, and jaegerschnitzel - breaded veal tenderloin drowned in a Jaegermeister sauce. Not the place for you if you are a) a vegetarian, b) on a diet, or c) not a drinker. Though they do offer selected small plate versions of the popular dishes as well. Their epic German tasting menu, four courses each paired with a different beer, is not for the faint-hearted. You begin with their potato pancake (can be dry, but yummy with cinnamon roasted apples), followed by wiener schnitzel, then your choice of wurst (with sauerkraut of course), and then finally the German chocolate cheesecake (at which point I leave on a stretcher.) Of course they do Oktoberfest as well.
Friday nights at Jacob Wirth is when the festivities really happen, as the piano player Mel plays tunes of all the great classics, from the Beatles to Motown, and everyone in the dining room is invited to sing along. With song books with the lyrics at each table, the evening becomes a giant sing-along ... growing louder as the drinks are drained ... It's a great venue for celebrations of special occasions, and there's a birthday party nearly every week. Though keep in mind that the noise level in the spacious dining room can become a cacophony, so this is not the place for a quiet dinner (or even a conversation) on Friday nights.
So go with a group of friends, be sure to make reservations in advance since the tables in the dining room near Mel's piano are sure to fill up quickly, sample the fresh beers on tap, and get ready to sing! Finally, I like to finish with a "Winter Warmer," their coffee drinks such as the Winter Mint Coffee and Black Forest Coffee, the perfect boozy hot mugs to fill your belly before heading back out into the Boston cold. You'll leave happy.
Friday, April 23, 2010
- Do not wash with water to clean - remove grit with a paper towel
- Typically, remove the stalks from shiitake mushrooms (keep them on for button mushrooms)
- Slice mushrooms cap side down
- When sauteeing, do not add salt to mushrooms immediately after they have gone in to the pan - wait for them to soften first or the salt will dry them out
Nice pairing: mushrooms and thyme
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
- When making pasta, always salt the water after it has come to a boil.
- Never overcook pasta - only serve "al dente" (when using dry pasta, because fresh pasta is already soft to begin with.)
- Do not drain pasta too much - it must be glossy with moisture.
- When tossing pasta with olive oil, use good quality olive oil - it makes all the difference
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Chocolate Kahlua Cake
2/3 cup flour (recipe calls for pastry flour but I all-purpose works fine) 1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup low fat milk (vanilla soy milk works as well)
1/4 cup canola oil
3 tbsp. kahlua (I doubled this and also added Bailey's)
3 tbsp. brewed coffee (or 2 tbsp. ground coffee to give it a real kick!)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup evaporated milk
Raspberries or strawberries to garnish
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees, coat 9 x 13" pan with canola oil, dust with flour
2) Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, sugar in bowl
3) Combine egg, milk, oil, kahlua, coffee - beat with wire whip; add dry ingredients, mix to combine
4) Pour into pan, bake 10-12 min. (I found that with my oven this was not long enough and even after baking an extra five minutes the center of the cake was still gooey, with a molten cake uncooked consistency. It was fantastic, though.) Cool.
5) To make ganache, place chocolate chips in double boiler (I place them in a metal bowl over a stovetop pot of boiling water) to melt, stirring with a wooden spoon. Pour evaporated milk over chocolate, let sit five minutes, whisk. Cool and spread over cake.
Note: cake and ganache must be cool before icing the cake, otherwise it will melt and not have the proper consistency.
*Ganache may be one of the most lovely things on Earth. Just saying.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Nutella was developed by Pietro Ferrero (of Ferrero Rocher) during World War II, as a way of stretching a dwindling supply of chocolate. Hazelnuts are plentiful in the Piedmont region of Italy, so they were ground and mixed with cocoa and milk to create this creamy spread, which could be produced in large quantities. The chocolate-hazelnut combination caught on, and soon people were hooked. (Try it - you'll see why.) They continued to make nutella after rationing was over and it became a common household item in Italy throughout the 20th century, though it was hard to find outside Europe until it started to become more popular elsewhere in recent years. Knock-offs, such as the Spanish product Nocilla or the French-manufactured version, which uses more sugar (we call it "faux-tella") just aren't the same. The best is the original Italian.
I began to see nutella advertisements on American television in the past year, signifying its transcendence into the U.S. market. What was once considered a novelty item is now becoming increasingly used in American kitchens. And what's not to love - nutella is literally half fat, with one of the richest tastes imaginable. I personally prefer it paired with lighter foods, such as fresh strawberries or bananas, though I've seen it eaten on white bread, (even with cereal) and of course on crepes. I find that once someone has a taste of nutella, they're hooked.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
Sibling Rivalry in Boston's South End took the concept of culinary competition and turned it into a happening restaurant, as brother chefs David and Bob Kinkead created a "dueling" menu that showcases their talents with different interpretations of the same seasonal ingredients. The dinner menu literally has two columns, one for each chef, to show the parallels and variations between each's selections. For example, while one will have duck agnolotti (a kind of ravioli) in a sage marsala sauce, while the other will make crispy pressed duck with cipollini onions and sour cherries - same bird, different takes. They also experiment using ingredients in different courses, as Chef David makes a Moroccan style lamb appetizer, while Chef Bob does a grilled paillard of lamb with rosemary as an entree. Alternatively, they also use similar cooking techniques to different ingredients as well, such as the Asian tuna tartare with pickled ginger and spicy aioli and the ancho chile steak tartare with pickled cabbage, a Southwestern-inspired version of the dish. Never lacking in creativity, Sibling Rivalry's menu changes regularly depending on what's in season, so the specials are always exciting.
Sibling Rivalry offers a pre-fixe menu to give diners the chance to experience three courses of culinary genious, which I highly recommend. Described as "modern American cuisine," Sibling Rivalry demonstrates the melting pot effect of U.S. culture - and food - blending different ethnic cuisines with a selection that includes mussels in Thai curry, Southwestern scallops, Korean style short ribs, classic Italian gnocchi, Vietnamese crispy fried squid, and Alaskin halibut, to name a few. Every single dish is well-executed, with a classy presentation to match the restaurant's posh atmosphere and swanky location, and of course cocktails to match. Yet Sibling Rivalry doesn't overdo it, because they know they don't have to. Minimalist decor, a good (yet not too lengthy and overwhelming) wine selection, top-notch (but not snobby) service, and most importantly, good food.
Who wins the rivalry? The diner, for you can't go wrong with a meal here.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Thursday, April 8, 2010
The Bethesda location is prime real estate in the newly-developed commercial district Bethesda Row, with a pedestrian walkway to foment foot traffic. The restaurant decor jives with this escalating sense of sophistication, simple and modern with Middle Eastern decorating touches, such as the wall of large colored lanterns to accent the otherwise muted tones of the dining room, with cedar and ceiling-high windows overlooking the street. I came during one of the heaviest tourist weeks of the year for the area, as early April is primetime season for when the cherry blossoms are in bloom. Accordingly Lebanese Taverna had a "Cherry Blossom Special" of the week, a rack of lamb, marinated with garlic, rosemary, and zaatar over a morello cherry cabernet reduction with fava beans and grape tomatoes - the pink lamb meat and red cherry sauce and tomatoes to celebrate the blooming trees! The dish uses holistic, prime Elysian field rack of lamb, and the Lebanese chefs know their lamb. The menu includes lamb done many ways: stewed lamb, braised lamb shank, lamb loin, lamb chop, spicy sausage, and in casseroles. Now that's options.
In a proper Lebanese meal you begin with the mezze, which in Arabic means snack and in the Eastern Mediterranean is a selection of appetizers or small dishes, similar to the Spanish tapas concept. The mezze menu includes the crispy spicy sausage, which was too charred for my taste and used to fatty a cut of meat, stuffed grape leaves, and m'saka, eggplant ratatouille cooked with chickpeas and tomatoes, my personal favorite. The falafel was decent (but I've had better - I've had some fabulous falafel) but needed more cumin and less green onions. The complimentary pita was stale.
Food: 4/5 stars.
Ambience: 3.5 stars.
Service: 2/5 stars.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Our family traditional brunch is an Eastern European menu: Polish kielbasa, Slovak colutche (see apricot and cherry-filled pastries above), ham, hard-boiled eggs, and of course, candy. Living in London during Eastertime gained me a profound appreciation for Cadbury's, furthering my aspirations to become a true chocolate connoisseur.
Friday, April 2, 2010
The minute I read her words, "Avocados are, to me, amongst the most sensuous, luscious and luxurious of ingredients" I knew I like Pati - now that's sexy.
When bread is good it's really good. My go-to neighborhood bakery is Clear Flour Bread, a homey corner shop from which the aroma of fresh baking bread wafts through the air, and a line of eager patrons spills out the door and wraps around the block every weekend. If I need bread to accompany a dinner I'll drop by on my way home from work; Clear Flour bakes "authentic breads of Italy and France" in shop, using organic and stone-ground flour, daily. From baguettes and batards to loaves of soft, chewy sourdough that's great for sandwiches or on its own, Clear Flour is always fresh, day-of, and delicious. They make pizza dough daily (ready by 1:30 pm, show up on the dot for first dibs) which you can roll out and top yourself - the possibilities are endless. The focaccia bread topped with onions is incredible, coming in large and smaller sizes, and my favorite item on the menu. The rotating pastry selection includes brioches, cookies from biscotti to macaroons, croissants, morning buns, scones, rustic tarts using seasonal fruit ... you never know exactly what you'll find. The cake selection alone ranges from bundt cakes, lemon pound cake, to gingerbread tea cakes, and the holiday specials go to another level - this Easter they'll make gateau Bretons and ganached chocolate egg-shaped cakes, but be sure to order one ahead of time, as they'll go fast. Clear Flour baked goods are hot commodities around here.