Thursday, April 30, 2009

Rosewater Limeade

In an effort to stave off scurvy due to my end-of-semester diet of potato chips and coffee (and more coffee), I bought a bunch of limes at the market. All along, I was planning on making some limeade - a nice cool, refreshing drink to have in the fridge during this crazy hot-then-cold weather we've been having (95° Tuesday? 60° Wednesday? 75° Friday? My body is ten types of confused.). But after I mixed it together, I found it a little lacking.

Luckily, my trusty bottle of rosewater was standing nearby, and I added a little at a time until it tasted just right. I really like the pairing of lime and rose - sweet and tart, fruity and floral.

Rosewater Limeade
3/4 cup lime juice (about 4 large limes)
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp rosewater
3 cups water

Mix ingredients together in a pitcher until sugar is dissolved. Serve over ice.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Julie & Julia Trailer

Man am I excited for this movie! I loved the book (and the blog), and the actors seem perfect for the parts. (I may have loved the book more after I was told that Julie is married to one of my old coworkers...)

And the movie comes out the weekend of my birthday - looks like I have plans now!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bread & Chocolate, Newton

When you find a good bakery, it feels like you've struck gold, especially when you bake fairly well at home. It's easy for bakeries and restaurants to make desserts that are sufficient, but to make them extraordinary takes a lot of talent. I had heard good things about Bread & Chocolate in Newtonville, but I certainly wasn't expecting to find such a boon of deliciousness.

When my friend and I arrived, we wanted to jump right into eating the desserts, but we were slightly more virtuous and ordered a sandwich first. The Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwich was light and flavorful and thankfully light on the mayo. The chicken was good-quality white meat chopped into chunks. I really liked the addition of pesto to the mix, as it made the whole sandwich taste less mayo-y. And the bread was fresh from Iggy's, chewy and crispy and a nice foil to the soft filling.

For dessert, I went with a canelé - a small French pastry that I had heard about but never tried before. From the first bite, I was in love - chewy and crunchy on the outside, creamy and custardy on the inside, delicious all the way around. The canelé was small enough that I didn't feel like I was eating a huge pastry, but large enough to be satisfying. If all canelés are this good, I may have found a new favorite dessert...

I had heard the most about Bread & Chocolate's cupcakes, and luckily, I ran into a classmate outside, who recommended that we let the cupcakes warm up to room temperature before eating (they are kept in a refrigerator case). We chose a few different types, then headed home. After dinner, we pulled out the box, and oh my god, the cupcakes were amazing. I chose a chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting, topped with ganache - I may or may not have ended up with it smeared all over my face in my exuberance to shove it into my mouth. The cake itself was soft and moist, not dry like almost every other cupcake shops', and the peanut butter frosting was perfectly flavored - and they didn't leave out the salt! However, the ganache had cracked by the time we got home, so no pretty picture. Instead, you get a pretty pic of a pre-Easter coconut cupcake, which was equally delicious and perfectly baked.

Over all, I was tremendously happy with Bread & Chocolate. I'm ready to go back to try more things (although I'm sure I'll have a hard time not order a canelé and a peanut butter chocolate cupcake).

Bread & Chocolate Bakery Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sou Boreg

Sou Boreg, like so many Armenian dishes, is this mythical creature that many people talk about eating when they were younger, but would never attempt to make themselves. You can sometimes find it at Armenian markets, usually in the freezer section, and I was amazed to find it available every day on the menu at Brookline Family Restaurant, the Turkish place down the street from me.

The biggest reason why you don’t see this more often is because it’s such a time intensive process. This is one of those dishes that, in the old days, the ladies would have gathered together to make in mass quantities, helping each other and gossiping at the same time. While we were making this, my brother hypothesized that such complex dishes were created back in the day to cure boredom and enable gossip time; I favor the idea that they were a way to show off talent (and show off that you had the time to invest in the process) instead. When my mother complained that the process was taking too long, I said that we were at least getting in some bonding time. “Can’t we do something else to bond?” she asked.

Anyway, my mother tried making sou boreg from scratch years ago, and she found it to be more of a hassle than anything. Rolling out the dough took forever because it has to be so thin and even. Then, someone suggested using packaged eggroll wrappers instead, cutting out the steps of making and rolling out the dough. Each individual eggroll wrapper must still be boiled for a moment, shocked in ice water, then arranged on a towel to dry, meaning that the shortcut does not make this a quick dish to throw together. But if you have the time, the patience, and an extra set of hands, the reward is a crunchy, cheesy, buttery treat that will make you forget the effort that went into it.

The picture below shows the set up for boiling the noodles, with the pots for hot water (in the back), ice water (in the front), and the noodles on the towel.

Sou Boreg
2 lbs Muenster cheese, rind removed, grated
8 oz. cottage cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 cup parsley, minced
36 eggroll wrappers
1 ½ sticks butter, melted

Butter the bottom and sides of an 11x15 inch baking pan.

Combine Muenster cheese, cottage cheese, egg, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Fill another pot or bowl with ice water, and lay a large towel on the counter top next to the stove. Working one at a time, boil the first 18 eggroll wrappers in boiling water for about a minute, until just cooked through (they will fall apart if cooked too long). Transfer to ice water to cool the noodle, then lay flat on the towel to dry. Arrange the 18 noodles in the tray – for this size pan, three noodles per layer (2 whole and one cut in half) – and brush each layer with butter. After six layers, arrange cheese filling in an even layer. Boil and dry the rest of the noodles, then repeat layering over the cheese filling. Cover and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

Preheat oven to 400°. Remove tray from fridge and cut into squares. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden. Serve hot.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Do Not Open Door After Dusk

Found this sign in the back hall of the Starbucks in Newton Centre. Vampires may be a threat in the city, but who knew they were such a problem in the suburbs?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Taste of the Nation Boston

Share Our Strength is a national organization that focuses on fighting childhood hunger in America. They make sure that children get the food they need by providing access to and education about federal and other programs. Considering the current economic climate, there are about 12 million children in the US - that's one in six! - who are at risk of hunger. One way that they are able to do this is through a number of fundraising events throughout the year - delicious for people who attend, and immensely helpful for the children who benefit.

The Taste of the Nation events, held in 42 cities throughout the spring and summer, are a great way to get involved while enjoying an amazing night of food and drinks. The Boston event was held on April 2nd at the Hynes Convention Center, and man was it a great night. About 70 local restaurants and 40 wineries filled up the big hall, and the place was packed with people, enjoying all the great stuff. A great local band, Cassavettes, played all night - I recognized one of the songs at one point, spun around, and said to my friend "I know them! I have this song on my computer!" Overall, great food, drinks, and atmosphere equaled a really great event.

By the way, Taste of the Nation Worcester is coming up at the end of the month - April 27. If it's anything like the Boston event, it'll be amazing.

Can't attend a dinner but still want to help? You can donate through the Share Our Strength website. I really like that this is a cause that a lot of chefs (and food writers) get behind - Michael Ruhlman announced today that donations made through his site will enter donors into a contest for his newest book.

My friend Ann, who I've recently managed to pull into this crazy world of blogging, and I spent the evening trying as many things as possible. Some of my favorites:

Vermont Butter and Cheese Company (which has one of the most delicious URLs, by the way) - The fresh Crottin and the aged Bijou are brie-like and very tasty. The Crottin is more mild and would be a great place for people who think they don't like goat cheese to start. And the butter? Oh, yeah. With 86% butterfat (versus the mandated 80% minimum in most commercial butters), this stuff is just fantastic - I think I'll pick some up for the next time I make croissants.

Masa, which has great tapas deals, featured duck empanadas with a chocolate barbecue sauce. The ratio of filling to dough was perfect. They also served their chipotle tamarind margarita, which is not exactly my cup of tea, but very well mixed.

Davio's, which served a lovely spring pea ravioli (pictured above). Davio's always does pasta exquisitely, and this was no different. The pea filling was sweet and almost creamy, and the peas in the sauce were absolutely fresh and still a bit crisp. They also had a great display of white plastic forks standing at attention in a sea of grass (at the top of this post).

ChocoLee, an amazing little chocolate shop in the South End, was in the VIP room and served a variety of chocolates. She ran out by the end of the night, not so surprisingly.

Gargoyles on the Square served an odd truffle soup topped with potato puree and beet pollen. I hate truffles, but I couldn't stop eating this. The dish was meaty and unctuous and... wow. I've been meaning to try Gargoyles for ages, and this might just be the kick in the pants to get me there.

The Dining Alternative, which served peanut noodles. I'll admit, because they were served in little take-out boxes, I went back and grabbed a second helping for lunch the next day. Hey, I'm a grad student, what do you want? I've eaten a lot of peanut noodles in my time, and this was a great rendition of the dish. From what my friend Richard says, Peter Ungar (the chef of this catering company) is definitely one to watch.

The Lobby served duck quesadillas and a creamy butternut soup. We were very full by the time we reached this booth, but we knew from the first bite that the food was excellent. I had never heard of this place before (I can't even find it on Chowhound), but I have a good feeling that we'll be back.

Bombay Sapphire Gin - Besides all the wine, Bombay had a couple of booths (one in the regular area, and one in the VIP section) that were keeping people going. I've always enjoyed gin, although it's not my first choice of libations, but even Ann, who is not a gin girl at all, kept going back for more. Luckily, they handed out recipe cards, because the Tom Collins and Sapphire Royales that they were mixing will need to be replicated at home.

My one nit-pick about the event is (this is going to sound crazy) that there was too much food. I don't mean choices - I loved being able to try so many different things. I mean the size of portions. For an event sponsoring hunger, a huge amount of food was wasted. I much preferred the restaurants who kept their portions to one or two bites - I can go back for more if I like it!