Friday, November 28, 2008

Buddhacello Beginnings

Just like my craft store problem, I have a problem with going to Russo's in Watertown. There are so many new and exciting fruits and veggies (not to mention cheeses, breads, dried fruits, etc) there that I have trouble not buying EVERYTHING I see. Case in point - the Buddha's hand.

The Buddha's hand is native to central Asia and is believed to be the first citrus to be brought into Europe. They're large and heavy and delightfully citrusy. Imagine what is so great about lemon peel - but all the way through the fruit. There's no juicy pulp, and the white flesh beneath the peel is not remotely bitter. In fact, the Buddha's hand is a bit sweeter than a lemon. It can be used wherever you would use lemon zest, and it can be eaten raw or cooked.

When I bought mine, the cashier asked if I knew what it was, and I said yes, a Buddha's hand. She asked if I knew how to use it, and I admitted that I wasn't entirely sure, but I knew you could make liqueur with it or candy the peel. She gave me a look like I was crazy to be buying an $8 fruit with no plan for use.

When it came to actually using the Buddha's hand, I decided on the liqueur route. I've been wanting to make my own flavored vodkas for a while, so this was a good kick in the pants for me to actually give the process a try. I diced up the citron, added it to canning jars, and poured about 750 ml of 100 proof vodka over the top of each jar. In the photo above, the jar on the left has had the vodka added while the jar on the right is waiting to get boozy. These will sit in my (cold and dark) closet for the next two weeks, getting a shake every now and then, until I'm ready to sweeten it up with some simple syrup.

This stuff should definitely make the holidays more fun ;)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Addictive Roasted Parsnips

I fell in love with parsnips last fall and haven't been able to get enough of them since. A relative of the carrot, parsnips are sweet like their cousins but are not quite as enjoyable raw. They're perfect roasted or in soups and were probably introduced to many people (myself included) via Terra Chips.

So as much as I love chopping parsnips into cubes and roasting, I wanted something a little more crunchy this time. Something a little more sweet and starchy, like what you find in that Terra Chips bag, but - you know - a little less fried.

Due to crowding on my roasting pan, some slices ended up very crispy while others were cooked through but not crunchy at all. I actually ended up liking this better than if they had been uniformly crispy. This would serve better as a side dish than a snack, especially alongside the turkey this Thursday.

Addictive Roasted Parsnips
1 pound parsnips (the fatter the better)
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1 Tbsp brown sugar, packed
1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
1/2 Tbsp Penzey's Tsardust Memories (or a blend of salt, garlic, cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg, and marjoram)

Preheat oven to 400°.

Using a carrot peeler, peel off skin of parsnips and discard. Peel the rest of the parsnips into strips using the peeler (you will be left with a small stub that is too hard to peel). In a large bowl, toss parsnip strips with the rest of the ingredients until coated. Arrange strips on a foil-lined baking sheet in a thin and even layer. Roast for about 30 minutes, tossing the parsnips occasionally to ensure uniform browning. Remove from oven when most of the strips are at least golden on the edges and they are all cooked all the way through.

Cheap Eats: The Paramount

Unless you have a hankering for IHOP, there are few places in this city where you can get quality breakfast throughout the day. Luckily, the Paramount on Charles Street serves breakfast all day long, for just those times when you need to feed those cravings.

Open since 1937, the Paramount has been serving up tasty food for over 70 years. The restaurant is set up cafeteria-style, and you have to wait in line to order and pay for your food before you find a table. They cover all the breakfast highlights - pancakes, waffles, omelettes, and full breakfast plates. The pancakes are fluffy and huge, and the banana pancakes get rave reviews. The malted belgian waffle with fresh fruit is literally covered in a thick mix of different fruits and is a quite a substantial meal. With the wait in line before you place your order, you get plenty of chance to look at what other diners are enjoying before picking out your own delicious meal.

The Paramount is located at 44 Charles Street in Beacon Hill. The day menu is served Monday-Friday, 7am-4:30pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 8am-4:30pm. The restaurant serves dinner from 4:30-10pm. Avoid the Paramount for weekend brunch if you don't like long lines (and really, who does?).

Originally posted on Bostonist.

Paramount on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Why I Will Be Thinking About Hot Pockets for the Next Three Days...

Last night, I had one of the geekiest nights in a long time. It started out with seeing Jim Gaffigan live at the Berklee Performance Center with the roommate (with tickets that we bought back in March!). Then I met up with some friends to see Jonathan Coulton at the Paradise (if you haven't heard his "Re: Your Brains", give it a listen right now) with what may have been the highest concentration of geeks in one place that I've ever seen. Then I met back up with the roommate to see a midnight showing of the influential Metropolis, complete with a live band, at the Coolidge Theatre.

But throughout the concert and the movie, all I could think of was Hot Pockets. If you're already a fan of Jim Gaffigan, you know why. If you've never heard of him though, watch the clips below and you'll understand why he's such a great comic. The Hot Pockets bit is one of his most famous (along with an amazing set about bacon... "God, how can he have so many jokes about bacon?!"). In fact, many of his best bits are about food, so what's not to love?

Oh, and representatives from Hot Pockets were actually there, handing out coupons and pens outside the venue. The best part? The pens play the Hot Pockets jingle when you press a button! The roommate and I both got them and have left them around the apartment to play with whenever the spirit takes us...

More good Jim Gaffigan food-related clips...

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Big Thank You

Thank you to everyone who voted for me for the's Blogging Scholarship. It's always exciting to be recognized for something you do, and maybe even more so for something you do as a hobby in your free time. I didn't end up winning, obviously, but it was still great to have so many new people visit my site in the past few weeks.

If you're a new reader who found me because of the Blogging Scholarship competition, I'd love it if you could leave a comment. I'm curious to see how many new readers I got out of this...

Thanks again!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bacon Cheddar Scallion Scones

I've been playing with a cream scone recipe for a while, but I've gotten tired of sweet scones. So after a little research online, I've put together a few recipes to form one damn good savory scone. Using the near-perfect triumvirate of bacon-cheddar-scallions, these are a nice alternative to biscuits. I'm planning on making mini versions of these to take with me to Thanksgiving next week.

Bacon Cheddar Scallion Scones

3 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 stick butter, cut into small pieces
about 5 ounces of cheddar, grated
4 green onions
10 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine dry ingredients (flour through cayenne). Add in butter and work with your hands to combine - press butter between your fingers to form thin sheets. Add cheese, green onions, and buttermilk, and mix together. Add bacon and egg and mix until all the ingredients are incorporated.

Turn dough out onto a flat surface and knead a few times to smooth out the dough. Form dough into a ball, then flatten into a 1/2-inch thick disk. Cut the disk into wedges. Spread wedges across a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving a little room around them. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until the bottom of the scones start to brown and the cheese in the scone begins to turn golden. Best served warm.

*And don't forget to vote for me (Pam Aghababian) for the Blogging Scholarship! I'm the only food blogger on the list. Voting ends Thursday (11/20) at 11:59pm!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cheap Eats: Tremont 647

Tacos are traditionally a low-cost food, but gourmet tacos in a sit-down restaurant can be hard to find. Tremont 647 in the South End has recently instituted $2 Taco Tuesdays, and their offerings definitely fill this gap.

The taco menu is offered all night on Tuesdays and consists of more than just tacos. Taco varieties rotate, with a mix of meats, fish, and veggies, and are served with salsa roja and salsa verde. Tacos offered when this Bostonist visited were (from left to right): fried catfish with pickled purple cabbage, grilled steak with onion and corn salsa, grilled vegetable with refried beans and lime-cumin vinaigrette, and carnitas with pico de gallo. Each taco is about 4 bites, and 4 tacos (for a total of $8!) makes a great meal.

Don't like tacos? Taco Tuesdays offers more cheap plates as well. The fried plaintains ($4) were perfectly cooked, with an excellent crunchy exterior and a creamy interior, and served with a very unique banana-guava "ketchup." The black bean, cheddar, and goat cheese quesadilla ($3), chipotle mashed potatoes ($3), and basket of warmed tortilla chips ($2) rounded out the meal.

Tremont 647 is open on Tuesday nights from 5:30 to 10pm and is located, surprisingly, at 647 Tremont Street.

Originally posted on Bostonist.

Tremont 647 on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cashew Fudge

Mel and I have been friends forever - since kindergarten, I guess. And in that roughly twenty years, there have been few people that have been able to tell us apart. People we meet when we're out automatically accept that we're sisters. Her mother's coworker (my dentist when I was a kid) had no idea we were two different people (based on the fact that he ALWAYS called me Mel). Teachers would figure it out eventually. Of course, it doesn't help that we perpetuate the myth that we're twins.

You see, we don't actually look all that similar. It's just that we're vaguely "ethnic" in the Middle Eastern sense of the word, have long, curly, black/brown hair, wear glasses, and have long names that are hard to pronounce and begin with the letter A.

So when it comes to throwing birthday parties, for the past couple of years, we've thrown a joint party (since we're only a month apart anyway). Our party was back in September, but I just found this picture and thought I'd post the recipe. For this year's party, we went with an all-desserts theme. We had all kinds of cookies and treats, and I even made the most amazing chocolate cake ever. I also needed something for my gluten-free friend (GFF!), so I made this delicious cashew fudge, based on a recipe from Dozen Flours.

This fudge is so easy to make, and the unctiousness of the cashew butter lends a flavor that is fantastic but hard to pinpoint.

Cashew Fudge

2 cups sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup cashew butter, well mixed and at room temperature
7 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
1/2 stick of butter, at room temperature and cut into 8 small pieces

Line a 8x8 baking dish or cake pan with parchment paper so it comes up and over the sides of the pan.

Combine the sugar, cream, milk, and salt in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Once the mixture begins to bubble, stir frequently until it reaches 235° on a candy thermometer, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the vanilla and cashew butter and continue to stire until the cashew butter is completely absorbed and the candy is smooth and thick. Transfer to the prepared pan, spreading it evenly with a rubber spatula. Set the dish aside for about 1 hour for the fudge to cool and harden.

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter together. Mix until well blended. Pour the chocolate over the top of the fudge, smoothing and shaking the pan. Let sit at least 20 minutes in the fridge until solid.

Lift the fudge out of the pan using the overhanging parchment paper. Cut it into 1-inch squares. Store the fudge in an airtight container with layers of wax paper.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Carrot Parsnip Ginger Soup

Mmm, root veggies. One thing I love about fall is the abundance of sweet, earthy vegetables that are awesome just about any way you prepare them. I don't really have a story about this soup - it's just quick and easy, hearty and delicious. If you're not a huge fan of ginger, you might want to bring it down to a 1-inch piece instead of 2-inch.

Carrot Parsnip Ginger Soup
4 cups chicken stock
1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped
1 pound parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced finely across the grain
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1 tsp sugar
white pepper

Bring the chicken stock to a boil over medium high heat. Add carrots, parsnips and ginger and reduce heat to medium low. Cover and simmer until the veggies are tender (about half an hour - the carrots are the hardest, so check them for doneness). Remove from heat and blend with an immersion blender (you can also blend in small batches in the blender). Blend in milk, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Yep, that's it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cheap Eats: The Battery

For a city known for its seafood, you would think that really good fish and chips would be easy to find in Boston. Unfortunately, this hasn't been the case. At least, until The Battery opened in Brighton Center three weeks ago.

Run by transplants from Cork, Ireland, this is the closest Boston has to the chip shops that are so easy to find across the pond. The menu is pretty basic - fries and battered things like fish and sausages. You can order a la carte or put together a supper with a main, fries, and a choice of peas, coleslaw, curry, or gravy. The fish (pollack) supper, shown above, is gigantic for only $8.95 - you really need to be starving to be able to put all this food away. The fish is flaky and steaming inside the crisp crust, and the hand cut chips are superbly crunchy on the outside and smooth on the inside. They're best enjoyed piping hot, though, as they lose some of their integrity as they cool. The Battery also offers Irish drinks, like Club Orange and Club Lemon, Lilt, Lucozade, and Ribena, if you want a truly authentic meal.

The Battery is located at 379 Washington Street in Brighton. They are open Sunday through Tuesday, 11am to 11pm, and Wednesday through Saturday, 11am to 1am.

Originally posted on Bostonist.

The Battery on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Vote for Me for the Blogging Scholarship

A couple of weeks ago, I submitted an entry for's Blogging Scholarship, mostly on a whim. I figured it was a good idea because the creation of my blog is so intrinsically linked to my master's program.

After college, I had been living with my parents to save up some money while I worked. When I got into my master's program in library science, I was also working downtown full time, so I figured it was time to get rid of my commute and be closer to both work and school. I started Cave Cibum as a way to explore the kitchen of my first apartment since my undergrad years and to force myself away from taking the easy route when it came to eating (like ordering pizza all the time, although some people think that's healthy). That job is now long gone and school is now full time, but I've managed to keep this thing running throughout all of it.

I was very happy to get an email yesterday saying that I had been named a finalist for the Blogging Scholarship. A full list of finalists can be found here. So please take a second (that's really all it takes) and vote for me here - for those of you who only know me through the internets, my full name is Pam Aghababian. Voting closes on November 20th at 11:59pm. And I'm also the only food blogger on the list, so fellow foodies, spread the word!

And for those of you who are just finding my site, I wanted to show off a few of my favorite posts. I hope you like them!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Blogging By Mail: Halloween Edition

Yes, it's that time of year again! Time for another round of Blogging By Mail. The ever-wonderful Stephanie from Dispensing Happiness managed to corral 116 mostly-food bloggers and set up a complicated network of who's-mailing-to-whom. By now, Brilynn at Jumbo Empanadas has received a very Boston-y package from me.

I received my mystery package (no name, just a return address in California) last week. It was a great mix of Halloween goodies - cookie cutters (bat, cat, ghost, and pumpkin), caramel Kisses, Maple Nut Goodies, and Caramel Apple Sugar Babies. The Sugar Babies are the only ones I've eaten so far - I love the combo of the slightly sour apple coating over the caramel, very different than regular Sugar Babies. I'm taking my time, though, with the box, as I want to keep all the fillings in my teeth ;) Sadly, the package arrived a little too late for this Halloween, but I'm an avid collector of cookie cutters, so I'll have no problem putting them to good use next year. Thanks to my mystery BBM benefactor!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Cheap Eats: Finale

Everyone knows that Finale, with four locations in the metro Boston area, is a great place for fancy desserts (albeit slightly pricy). But did you know they also serve up tasty lunches at a reasonable price?

Sandwiches at Finale in Harvard Square, Coolidge Corner, and downtown Boston run from $5.50 to $6.95 and are pretty hefty. They have traditionally offerings, such as egg salad, BLT, and tuna, as well as some more original compositions, such as the Apple Mango (sliced apples, mango chutney, goat cheese, caramelized onions, arugula, and walnuts on multigrain bread) and the Roasted Chicken (roasted chicken, Monterey Jack cheese, arugula, and sweet red onions on focaccia). The Chicken Pesto (pictured above) is stuffed with a whole chicken breast, sliced thin. The sweetness from the caramelized onions is a nice pair with the salty cheese and unctious pesto. Add chips and one of Finale's fresh cookies for The Finale Lunch, which runs from $8.50 to $9.95. Or go with half a sandwich and soup or salad for $7.95.

And don't forget to sign up for Finale's Sweet Rewards card while you're at it. You can rack up the points for every dollar spent, and you'll get $5 back for every $50 spent (plus free dessert on your birthday!).

Hours vary by location.

Originally posted on Bostonist.

Finale on Urbanspoon - Downtown Boston
Finale on Urbanspoon - Harvard Square
Finale Coolidge Corner on Urbanspoon - Coolidge Corner