Friday, January 30, 2009

Shhh, don't tell anyone. But remember, you heard it here first.

I work in an office over in Dudley Square. I love it because I can walk to work in 10 minutes and there is a Boston Public Library next door.

I hate it because if I forget my lunch I have the choice between pizza, Chinese, or a sub. I am not adding the fried chicken place to that list because I looooooove fried chicken. Nor am I adding the Haley House Bakery to that list because if I walk all the way to Haley, then I should just walk home for the lunch I forgot.

But most people I work with go out every day because lunch break is usually catchupwithwork-returncalls-stufffacewithfood for a fast hour. And honestly, getting everyone in the office to order from the same place at the same time is like herding cats into a bath.

This week a fellow walked into the office with a couple of menus for this mysterious soul food place. Furthermore this fella has offered to come in at 11:30 or so, take orders, and then deliver the food at lunchtime.

I don't quite understand it, but apparently it just opened (I might be wrong about this), serves soul food (I might be wrong about this), and is somewhere on Harrison Ave (I might be wrong about this). It is called the Stuffin' Muffin (I am not wrong about this. Bah hahahahahha! Stuffin' Muffin..)

The food is pretty delicious. At least the mac & cheese was, from the two or three bites I snagged from an inattentive co-worker. But it smells so SO good. I tried Googling the place, but no luck. I might try driving down Harrison Ave tomorrow just to see.

And I might just have to get some next week myself. If I do, I will be sure to take photos and get a better handle on the menu.

Hahahahhaha - Stuffin' Muffin.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I need to start making my own pho

I am pretty sure that I could eat pho every single night of the week for dinner.

That is not even a joke. I am a pho addict. Last night I really really REALLY wanted pho and forgot it was the New Year (Year of the Ox, hey that's me!) and every single pho place in the entire world was closed for the holiday.

If I was ever going to fall on my sword over food, it would have been last night. But it did make me realize that if I never want to feel that kind of shock and pain again, I better learn how to make pho stat.

A simple Google search brought me to the Steamy Kitchen blog and I am in LOVE.

I want to make this, and this, and that. And holy deliciousness - this for sure!

But for right now I want to make pho - from the recipe she has posted here. In the meantime I am going to angle for a pho dinner tonight!

Read at your own risk

Because what I am going to tell you, might make you barf. Seriously.

But you know what I just ate? A lettuce-mustard-mayo-bread n' butter pickle sandwich on whole wheat bread.

Frickin' DELICIOUS!

Numbah ONE!

Tuesday, January 27 2009, ~ 6:10pm:

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Can't let a day go by without this...

Oh yeah, you can count on me to bring you the important stuff.

Sunday, January 25th, sometime around 8ish maybe:

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie. Not Crap, I SWEAR!

I made a batch of vegetarian shepherd's pie for work lunches this week. For the record, I am NOT vegetarian, however I AM on Weight Watchers and making meat dishes with vegetarian substitutions shaves off tons of points. Like practically all the points.

To further reduce the point count I switched out the mashed potato top with a mashed cauliflower top.

Mind you, these are substitutions that I like. I wouldn't switch out one thing for something I didn't really enjoy. Otherwise I won't eat it. And it will turn fuzzy and green in the back of the fridge until the guilt I feel at wasting food goes away and I eventually toss it. Or it sprouts legs of its own and goes away on its own accord.

Obviously this is not a proper shepherd's pie, but more the idea of a shepherd's pie - a "meat" pie of sorts, served hot on a cold dark night, to make a person feel comforted.

The best approach is not to think about the ingredients you don't have, but rather what you do have and can throw in to the mix. All the vegetables I used were things I had on hand that were at the point where it was use or toss on the compost heap.

Here's how I made it:

1 head cauliflower
2 tsp olive oil

1 onion - chopped fine
3 cloves of garlic - minced
1 package mushrooms - chopped fine
4 carrots - chopped fine
4 little red potatoes chopped into chunks
2 cups frozen roasted corn

1 package Lightlife Smart Ground
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper

First trim the cauliflower, cut into florets, throw in a pot and steam with about half a cup of water until very soft. And turn on the oven to 350 degrees.

While that is cooking, in a big pan saute the onions in a little olive oil until translucent (about 7 to 10 minutes) then add in the garlic and cook a little longer over medium heat.

Add in the mushrooms, let cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring now and again to keep the mushrooms turning. Throw in the carrots, stir up, and then add in the potatoes. Let cook for a bit and then stir in the frozen corn.

Let that all cook, stirring just to keep things from sticking to the bottom.

In a non-stick pan (if you have one, otherwise use what you've got) heat up a little oil. When it gets hot, dump in the Smart Ground. Use a spatula to gently break up the Smart Ground into bits, use the bottom of the spatula and press the bits down, then turn them over. What you are trying to do is brown it a bit. At some point, season the Smart Ground to your taste. A little salt, pepper, and cumin worked for me, but you might not like that combo. Just remember, this is supposed to be a savory comfort food, so stay away from things like star anise, or cinnamon, unless you really, really, really have to have it.

As the Smart Ground browns, pour in the can of chopped tomatoes. What worked well for me was to strain in the tomato juice and cook that out a little before dumping in the tomato pieces. It seemed to make it a little thicker than juicy.

Let cook for a few more minutes and then turn off the heat. Now you need to make the mashed cauliflower.

By now the cauliflower should be very soft. With a slotted spoon put the cauliflower chunks into the bowl of a Cuisinart and process for about 20 seconds. Then add in the olive oil and process a until smooth. You might need to use a little of the cooking water if it doesn't want to get smooth, but be easy with it because you do want a slightly drier mash. If you don't have a Cuisinart, mash the cauliflower how you would a potato - with a masher, through a ricer, or force through a sieve.

When that is done, it's time to assemble the pie.

Add the Smart Ground and the cooked veg mix to an oven-proof baking dish. Gently turn it together to combine and pat it down a little. Spoon the mash on top and smooth it all over to the edge of the dish.

Put the dish on a baking tray and slide it into the oven for about an hour, or until the top gets a little brown, or gets little browned bits on top.

Try very hard if you can to wait about 5 or 10 minutes before digging in. It would be a shame to scorch your tongue and then not be able to enjoy it. Like I do about 97% of the time.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ok, last time. For now anyway.

After a hiatus for a couple of days, in which I totally thought the article was pulled, prize-winning noodle kugel is back on the Most Emailed List, a whopping 123 days after it was originally published.

Saturday, January 24th, ~9:45am:


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ok. NOW I am obsessed.

It is a little after 6pm on Tuesday, January 20th.

It is the day that will go down on the books as a turning point in our history.

And what is the number 2 most emailed article on Boston.com?


PRIZE-WINNING NOODLE FRICKING KUGEL!!!!!!!




I can't get over this article.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ginger Cake

On Tuesday after English Food arrived, I made the Ginger Cake recipe immediately.

When it came out of the oven I sliced off a bit at the end. It was warm and molasses-y, with a teacake-like crumb. But it wasn't quite the Ginger Cake I was hoping it would be. The entire loaf had a slightly tough crust and I thought the crumb seemed not quite right, a little too crumbly or something.

It was unfair to blame the cake. The fault lies entirely with my own impatience. And also with the fact that I didn't read the part in the recipe that says that the cake improves with age.

Two days later it is a completely different cake. Dark and not overly sweet, studded throughout with translucent slices of preserved ginger, the molasses taste has now mellowed and the ginger flavor has developed beautifully.

The crust is sticky and the crumb has become moist and dense.

I am trying extremely hard not to eat it all up because I want to see how it further develops. And also because I won't have a chance to get more ingredients before the weekend and I am scared to run out of this heavenly cake.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Empire Kugel Strikes Back

I do not believe there is any force strong enough out there to permanently bump "Prize-winning noodle kugel" off the Boston.com Most Emailed List.

11:18pm, 1/14/09:



This recipe was originally published on September 24th, 2008.

I really feel like one day I will make this recipe. Although I've read the comments section (38 comments on noodle kugel!!!) and the commentators have informed me that 1) this recipe is probably about 40bazillion points, 2) it will probably give me the trots, and 3) I am not the only one out there obsessed with how much this recipe is emailed.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

In bed with Jane.

So you might remember that back in October the Evil Twin and I took a spin up to Maine where I promptly fell in love with Rabelais, a store (a heaven really) for people who like cookbooks.

It's possible that I might enjoy reading about food a teenytiny bit more than actually making the recipes. I say that hesitantly because sometimes I read a recipe that I find that has to be made immediately. I will literally drop everything and start cooking. But that is another post for another day.

Ok, where was I? Oh righty, in bed with Jane.

So I'd been looking for a particular edition of Jane Grigson's English Food. Laurie Colwin makes a reference to this book in Home Cooking and I have been curious ever since, mostly about the peculiar Sussex Pond Pudding which involves baking a lemon in a pastry case. I left my contact information with the owner of Rabelais and that was that.

Until this weekend when I got the email that a copy had come in. I phoned them up yesterday and amazingly I got the book in the mail today! That is amazing to me. You can't understand what particular joy regularly delivered mail is until it isn't.

And then there I was in the kitchen with a dozen farm fresh eggs and this marvelous book. I made an omelette and cracked the book open. I read the Sussex Pond Pudding recipe, which I might well make this weekend although it seems a bit long on the butter and sugar. Wait, did I really just type those words? Oh please. Ignore that. Butter literally makes everything taste better.

And then I read the Ginger Cake recipe. I dropped everything and made it straight away.

Ginger Cake is a severe weakness of mine. Years ago when I lived in Ireland I cured everything with Jamaica Ginger Cake and cups and cups of strong Irish tea. Dark, damp, gingery - my idea of cake. I really think that it is sort of a blessing I can't get ginger cake like that at the bodega or I'd be 400lbs.

Oddly I had every ingredient required for this particular recipe, including black treacle.

Let me take a minute to explain here about the warning label that comes on the can of black treacle. It says "After expiry date DISCARD IMMEDIATELY".

I take such expiration warnings lightly. If something is expired but still under seal, chances are if it doesn't smell terrible, I will still eat it. Hey, I am still here aren't I?

However, those black treacle folks mean that when black treacle expires, it explodes. Yep. Yep, it does. Which is how I got black treacle on the ceiling and in my hair and on the floor. And all over the shelves. Oh, and everywhere.

So I used molasses instead.

Which is NOT the same. I love the result - bits of spicy ginger, damp, dark, and not overly sweet. But it was very molasses-y, rather than gingery. Which is ok with me seeing as how molasses is my favorite sugar after treacle.

My house smells lovely and now I am curling up with Jane in bed, to see what else I might have to leap up and make immediately.

Don't quote me, but it just might be something potted. Because dreary gray January days need to be gotten through with potted foods and lots of alcohol.

And lots of Ginger Cake.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Who me? Procrastinate? Never!

Ok, ok I am chipping away at the mess in my house, but for now here is a little New Years Day fun that magically combines my love of Scrubs, diners, dancing, and Martin Sexton.