Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Kegs & Eggs

I have had the wild fortune of having two mentors in my life. Some people only ever have one, some never experience help like that. Almost everything I know about law can be credited to two people, Brian Keane and David Kaplan. I worked for them both at The Kaplan/Bond Group. And these two guys could literally not be less alike! So it made for a perfect ying yang type of learning. I’m positive I have a whole blog dedicated to Brian for another day, but today I’m going to talk about David. This character goes by various names, Uncle Dave, Davey, the old guy, but I most affectionately call him DB, as do most who consider him family. On the surface he comes across as the tough guy who got a little crotchety over the years but when you get to the core he’s a caring, funny funny guy and a great teacher. And he should be, he’s been in this business about two and a half times as long as I’ve been walking the earth! Although some of the “rules” you learn from him are totally made up in DB land! When I was working there, Electra and I used to regularly try to get our bosses to call it an office holiday and throw a few back. Didn’t work too often, so we became inordinately good at coming up with cacamamey reasons!

One of my absolute favorite stories is the day we went into DB to talk about a possible St. Patrick’s Day “office holiday”….hey, about half the office was Irish seems valid! Anyway, the discussion quickly got to a Kegs & Eggs themed party! DB was soooo confused about this concept. So we quickly explained that you eat green eggs and drink beer for breakfast. I may have never seen him laugh so hard in my 4 years at that firm. He was totally on board……not so much for breakfast, but it was definitely a small battle won! Electra and I congratulated ourselves on a job well done and began to plan the party.

So obviously I was going to have to come up with some kind of green egg concoction that would make it to work and be ok heated up in the toaster oven. That’s when I decided to make a quiche with spinach to make it green! So I mixed up eggs, feta and spinach and took it in. DB literally talked about this thing for like a year afterwards he loved it so much! And this comes from a man that I used to sit in front of to make sure he was eating! He’d just get busy and not eat…Imagine, forgetting to eat!?!? I’ll NEVER suffer from that particular problem.

So I decided to one night have a throw back to the Kegs & Eggs minus the keg and make a quiche for dinner. But I didn’t really want spinach. So I came up with the much more veggie laden version that I had for dinner tonight.

3 whole eggs
7 egg whites
1 ½ crowns broccoli
1 roasted red pepper, chopped
½ green pepper, chopped
½ white onion, diced
2 green onions, sliced
6 oz grilled chicken, chopped
¼ cup feta cheese crumbles
2 tsp oregano
olive oil

First off, you can use a pie crust if you’re not worried about it or just put it all in a glass pie pan without it. Cut the broccoli into big pieces. Coat broccoli, green pepper pieces and white onion lightly in olive oil and roast at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, beat the whole eggs and egg whites. Put ½ the feta, the eggs, green onions, red pepper, chicken, oregano and s&p into a large bowl. Take the broccoli combo out of the oven. Chop some to break the broccoli pieces down a bit smaller. Mix those in with all the other ingredients. Pour into your pie pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Bake for another 10 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes before cutting.

This thing was so yummy and even with my big eater husband, we had leftovers! Maybe I’ll take them to DB!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ebi Sushi

When I was a younger I hated seafood. Absolutely could not bring myself to eat it. But one random day when I was about 17 my dad took me for sushi despite my protests. I’m a bit of a daddy’s girl, so I gave in pretty quickly. After a couple of makis and a few pieces of sweet shrimp, I was totally sold. The only problems is you really have to eat with sushi with someone that knows what they’re doing a few times before you can man that ship! So until I reached that point, the only time I ate sushi was with my dad. It was during those father-daughter dinners I realized I loved sushi! Strange, I totally loved raw seafood but could not stand the presence of cooked fish or seafood.

Anyway, years later I found myself in Boston eating what I consider to be much better sushi than what we had access to in Kentucky! Maybe it’s geography….that whole close to the ocean thing?!? I lived pretty close to a great sushi place when I was in Brighton, however, moving to the other side of the river changed things for me. There is just no easy way for me to get over there for sushi and frankly, its annoying and maaaaaybe I’m turning into one of those Cambridge/Somerville-ites that refuses to cross the river unless absolutely necessary!

So I’ve been desperately trying to find a restaurant that I can call my sushi home. Mind you, I’m referring to an affordable sushi place to pick up on the fly or have a casual eat in! There’s a few sushi places in town that are amazing but you leave broke wondering if there are criminal charges you can bring against the restaurant. So finding my sushi home has been no easy task! I tried Medford, Inman Square, Powderhouse, Davis Square, Fresh Pond….the list goes on.

So when Ebi Sushi moved into Union Square, I, ever the optimist, was very hopeful that it would be spectacular! Josh, on the other hand, was adamant that it was going to be some scary hole in the wall sushi joint that smells like fish! Incidentally, that was the first lesson at Dan Spencer Sushi University….If the restaurant smells like fish, don’t eat there!

Squid Salad
On one of my days off I ran in quickly for a quick lunch to go. I had a spicy salmon maki and a Japanese squash maki. It was perfect for a quickie so I could keep moving. And it was definitely tasty. But I’m much more of a purist and I like my raw fish with raw fish or maybe a little rice underneath. Therefore, I decided to eat there again when I didn’t have any time constraints. So I invited my friend Gisela to have dinner there with me. We ordered an unagi roll, octapus sushi and chirashi deluxe. I was so excited. But the waitress came back and told us they were out of octupus. So we ordered squid. Well, she came back again, full of apology to let us know they were out of squid sushi as well. Not wanting to think anymore, we decided the chirashi would be enough. The waitress politely walked away and came back with a cold squid salad compliments of Ebi to make up for not having the stuff we wanted. It was amazing. Had a bit of a scallion and soy flavor but the fish itself was perfect. We then got our sushi. The chirashi came out with salmon, himachi, salmon row, tuna, sea urchin, mackerel, another type of white fish, shrimp, crab and bean curd. There may have been more but you get the idea! I started eating the fish and wow, it was really delicious. It was just really really fresh fish. There was no goopy sauce getting in the way as you try to locate the fish and no rice overkill. It’s my opinion that if the fish is good enough it really doesn’t need, nor should it have sauce. Maybe a dip in the soy, or a leeeetle bbq on the eel, but that’s it! So I mowed chirashi until I couldn’t fit anymore in the belly. A terrible shame to throw away the leftover, but even my most valiant eating effort couldn’t put away this bowl of goodness! I waddled home totally convinced that I had located the diamond in the rough. An actual sushi place amidst the wannabe sushi restaurants in this area. Sorry if your favorite of the sushi world is one of these places….but I’m writing this to move you forward!
Chirashi Deluxe

Immediately after that dinner I knew I wanted to use my valuable resource (this blog) to get the word out on what real sushi should taste like. Also what it should cost….this place is maybe the cheapest sushi I’ve come across!

A couple of weeks later I decided Josh was trying this place if I had to drag him kicking and screaming. I also really wanted to try their lunch specials since they were so cheap. So I go a sashimi lunch special. It came with miso soup, rice, tempura, salad, sashimi, a California roll, and shrimp shumai. This thing is huge and it cost $11.50! I mean, really? So again, the food was amazing. Josh was really impressed. The quality of the fish is what impressed him the most. Whew! And the super friendly service definitely didn’t hurt this review. Josh and I sat at the sushi bar and chatted with the chef, Jose, the whole meal. He is super nice and helpful with recommendations to boot! We talked sushi and different places we’ve eaten and how special Ebi Sushi really is comparatively. Jose was super nice and so was the lone waitress. In fact, when I apologized for photographing our plates explaining that I wanted to blog the restaurant, she paid me the huge compliment of inquiring about the blog and actually took down the website on our ticket!

Ebi also has a creative and interesting cooked Japanese menu that I believe has got to be as awesome as the sushi!

This little bitty sushi restaurant is packing huge flavor and has truly enriched an up and coming Union Square. On behalf of the sushi eating Union community, I’d like to Thank You Ebi Sushi! You have definitely found yourself a lifer!

Sashimi Lunch Special
Get yourself down to Ebi Sushi. If you need a partner, I’m totally in! They are located at 290 Somerville Ave., Union Square, Somerville. If you’re familiar with Union, they are right next to the Dunks on the corner of Prospect Street.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Gaaaahlic Pesto Pizza

I am not really a huge pizza eater! I like it ok and I love Figs on Charles Street as a treat. But knowing how bad it is for you usually deters me unless Josh does a bit of pleading or I'm too lazy for anything else. This past Friday, Josh was working super late and had requested pizza for an easy dinner before we went to New Hampshire for his birthday weekend. So whatttaya gonna do when the poor birthday boy’s only request is a pizza?!? Why….make a healthier version, of course!

Then I got way excited because I remembered the previously blogged garlic scape pesto I made that was still waiting for me in the freezer! So I defrosted it for a bit of a different pizza that wouldn’t make me feel like the fat chef outside Dolce Vita on Hanover Street!

1 Whole Wheat Thin Boboli Pizza Crust
½ (or so) cup garlic scape pesto
1 grilled chicken breast, diced
½ red onion, caramelized
½ pint grape tomatoes
shredded parmesan cheese
shredded mozzarella cheese
olive oil
*I used lemon olive oil, but regular works

Heat your oven to 425 degrees. Roll your tomatoes in a little bit of olive oil, just to coat. Roast the tomatoes on a baking sheet until they start to split open. Smash them in a bowl until its almost a spread. Slice ½ red onion into thin slices. Sauté onion in a little olive oil and salt over low heat. Stir these until they are soft and start to turn brown. You may have to add olive oil if they start to stick. Spread the pesto on the pizza crust up to ¼ inch from the edge all the way around. Spread the roasted tomatoes on top. Put the caramelized onion and grilled chicken on the pizza. Sprinkle a little bit of the parmesan and mozzarella cheeses. Bake at 400 degrees until its brown and bubbly on top.

This was fabulously garlicky and delicious! And we didn’t feel anything like the fat man!!!! In fact, we even enjoyed a vino with zero guilt!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Extreme Fajitas

I am totally one of those people who loves to go out to those cheesy restaurants and order the sizzling plate of fajitas. 

There’s just something about my plate smoking when it arrives that kind of makes me want to clap my hands and dance around wearing a sombrero! The problem with these tasty moments of excitement is that the fajitas are usually coated in some random sauce-like stuff that I just cannot identify or convince myself is remotely healthy! As much as I’d like to close my eyes and exercise an “ignorance is bliss” mentality, because I truly enjoy them, I just can’t do it. Therefore, I decided to health them up for myself at home! So I threw on my sombrero and got to grilling. I know...seems strange and definitely isn’t a sizzling plate, but take a risk! They usually pay off!

Here’s the breakdown for enough for 3 maybe 4 small eaters, or me and one really hungry husband!

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
the equivalent in steak

1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 spicy pepper
*whatever you like best is totally fine, I used a red Serrano, a bit hotter than a jalapeno
1 red onion sliced into thick rings
½ handful chopped cilantro
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp cayenne
olive oil

Isn't it beautiful!!!!
Cut your chicken or steak into thin pieces. If you’re using chicken, slice it in half horizontally to make whole size thin pieces. Cut each bell pepper in half and remove seeds. Leave the spicy pepper completely whole. Those guys don’t do well in pieces on the grill…tend to fall through the grates. In a gallon size Ziploc bag, mix the cinnamon, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, cilantro, and s&p with enough olive oil to make a sludge-like consistency. Throw in the meat and all the vegetables except the onion. Shake it like a salt shaker until everything is equally coated. You can let this mix marinade as long as you want, but give it at least 30 minutes. When you’re ready to grill, spray some olive oil spray on your onion pieces and put everything on the grill together. You may want to wait until about half way through cooking before you put your spicy pepper on the grill if its skinny like mine was. Grill everything until done, about 10 – 12 minutes total. Slice up your grilled goodness and throw it on some tortillas with some guac, salsa, fat free sour cream! Skip the cheese if you can…there’s totally enough flavor so that you won’t miss the cheese!

Not only is this meal super impressive when you put all the food from the grill onto a plate, but it’s so flavorful! You’ll hardly miss the sizzling iron plate!

Finished Product! Didn't last long on that plate!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Rainy Rainy Sunday

It’s a drizzly dark and cool day. The kind of day where you want to stay in bed and watch movies. So after a combination of painting/redoing my bathroom and running around all weekend, that’s just what I had planned for today. Around 6:00pm I started to notice myself getting hungry and with the weather as it was, I decided to make a pot of soup. So I pealed myself off the couch and away from a Keeping Up With the Kardashians marathon, oh the sacrifices I make, and went to the kitchen to start cooking.

I had several veggies at the farmers’ market that I wanted to throw in it, but I was specifically excited to cook the fresh cranberry beans I picked up. These beans are a beautiful pinky color with fuschia speckle. Since they were fresh, this soup wasn’t going to take all day…Thank Goodness!

I kind of made a mishmash of the veggies in the fridge and some sausage to make a super healthy and really yummy soup.

Here’s the breakdown:

Al Fresco Spicy Jalapeno Chicken Sausage
I want to showcase this ingredient too because its pretty healthy as far as sausage goes and adds a ton of flavor and a bit of a kick to the broth of the soup. The nutrition information per link is as follows:

130 calories
7g fat
            2g sat fat
            0 trans fat
65mg cholesterol
450mg sodium
2g carbohydrates
1g sugar
15g protein

4 chicken sausage links, casings removed and crumbled
1lb or so fresh cranberry beans, shelled
10 okras, cut into ½” pieces
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, diced
2 ribs celery + leafy part, diced
3 cups stock
4 cups water
olive oil
2 bay leaves

Sauté the onion, carrot, celery and okra in about 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a dutch oven. If you notice the veggies sticking too badly, add more oil. Cook until the okra is almost soft. Then add the sausage and garlic to the pot stirring until the sausage browns up a bit. Then add the stock (I used beef because that’s what I had, but use whatever you like), water, cranberry beans and 2 bay leaves. Stir well and cook over medium heat for 40 minutes or until the beans are cooked through. Cover the pot for about ½ the time so that it thickens a bit. Stir in salt and pepper to taste and a handful of fresh cilantro. I served it warm with a whole wheat baguette that I grilled.

It was perfect for today to warm me up and keep me in my sleepy relaxed state. Now back to the couch for some Entourage! Yawwwn

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bathroom Rennovations

Apologies to those of you followers who expect a witty and informational blog post on Thursday nights! I have decided that I cannot live in this apartment any longer without doing something to the surface of my bathroom! I know, I've been living her 4 years now and I should have done this before, but I've reached the edge of my sanity. So tonight I am sanding, taping, and painting. Therefore, I will not have time to bring you your regularly scheduled food blog. For those of you who feel that I have failed you I would like to offer a white flag. I must quickly recommend a new treat that I found in my farmers' market last weekend! This wondrous fruit is called a husk cherry. Contrary to its name, it is, in fact, a tomato! It's a wee little tomato. Cute as a bugs ear! But when you take it out of its husk, it tastes like a really sweet something....perhaps...gasp...a cherry! And sans the ever dangerous pit! They are delightful. I threw them in a salad...eh not so much. I think from now on I'll eat them by themselves as a healthy snack at work! Check them out at the Union Square Farmers' Market or one local to you! Support your local growers!!!! xoxo

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Garlic Scape Me Away

My favorite thing about the dogma box from Boston Organics, besides the fact that they bring it to you and you have to put in zero effort to get it, is the fact that you cannot make a “No List” for the dogma box. Which means, you get what you get like it or not. This, in turn, forces me to eat things I’ve never cooked or in some cases, never heard of before. The first time this happened to me it was with watermelon radishes. I had no clue what to do with the softball sized radishes. But I am very glad to say that not only do I now know what to do with them, but I also really really like them!

So this happened to me a few weeks ago when the kind folks at Boston Organics delivered me a big bag of garlic scapes. These things look like green bean versions of those fun straws we used to drink out of as kids. They were totally intimidating. So much so, that I didn’t even take them out of the fridge until over a week later.

I googled and googled until I was blue. The only ways I found to use them were in pesto and cut up and cooked as a side dish like green beans! Now, I’m not saying that as a side dish they wouldn’t be good as I have no first hand experience. But I just don’t know about crunching down on something that taste like garlic! Good for you if that’s your thing, but I’ll be passing on your dinner invite! The other problem I found googling these was that the people that made pesto with them only added cheese and nuts. Again with the severe garlic flavor!!!

So I modified the pesto recipes that I found online and came up with an amazing end result. I must warn you however, the measurements on this are old school like how my Grandma Montgomery used to tell me. I apologize in advance, but I assure you that if you can read this you can do it too!

10 or 12 garlic scapes
5 or 6 handfuls baby spinach
1 handful almonds
1 handful fresh basil
½ handful of parmesan cheese
*Not the stuff made by Kraft, the real shredded stuff in the deli
1 lemon’s lemon juice
olive oil

Use a large food processor around 10 cup. I cut up the scapes into thirds. Put all the scapes and all the almonds in the food processor. Fill to the top with spinach (about 2 or 3 handfuls). Pulse until thin adding olive oil while you pulse. Scrape down the sides of the food processor, add s&p then 2 or 3 more handfuls of spinach, the parmesan cheese and the basil. Pulse again adding olive oil and scraping down the sides as needed. Squeeze in the lemon juice and stir together. If it's too thick for you, add more olive oil stirring it in. You want it all to be mixed together so stir it a bit.

The end result is a well flavored pesto that has a super bold garlic flavor, but won’t knock down your neighbors when you wave to them!

I tossed this mix with zucchini and pasta. But I think any vegetable you like would be awesome. I think when I pull it back out of the freezer I’ll try it on a grilled chicken sandwich with some caramelized onions and tomatoes!

The other great thing about this is it makes quite a bit and you can freeze it for a quick dinner later!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tomato Bliss

The absolute best thing about working in Downtown Crossing again is being close to my Aimster. If you didn’t know, Amy was my first friend in Boston. She saved me a number of times from complete depression when I lived all by my lonesome in Brighton. I recall, in fact, on my very first Derby Day away from Kentucky, I called her in tears. She hopped in her car and came over. Mind you, Amy lived about 30 minutes away from me at the time. I rewarded us both with country ham biscuits!

Due to my relocation, Aimster and I are having lunch walks together just about every day. Today she wanted to go to the Farmers’ Market at South Station, which I was totally up for! We got there and I asked her if she wanted me to create a dinner for her….the showing off again! I just can’t help myself! What she really wanted was tomatoes. For such a specific request, one must go to the Kimball Farms stand. I got into a conversation with the owner one time when I found he had green tomatoes. We discussed the common “yankee” misconception that green tomatoes aren’t ripe! That’s when I found out his farm actually specializes in tomatoes. And let me say, they’re doing a bang up job! The product is amazing! At that point, I commenced the smelling. It’s probably fair to say I had my nose on at least half of those tomatoes. Ooops!

Just Tomatoes
That’s when I decided Aimster was having a tri-colored tomato salad for dinner. After extensive smelling and feeling, I decided on an almost purple, orange and of course….green tomato. That’s when my twisted mind went into overdrive. I decided what she needed to go with this was peaches. She didn’t seem too jazzed, but humored me! Kimball Farms had some beautiful peaches, so I grabbed two white and two yellow. It was then I decided I would make the same for my dinner and proceeded to rinse and repeat!

We walked away discussing how to eat them. What we settled on was cutting everything up in a fairly uniform size, adding chopped fresh basil, salt and pepper and a splash of rice vinegar.

I made it tonight. It was flipping amazing! Josh’s quote, “this is restaurantable”. Not only was it really beautiful, but so delicious. Break this one out to impress your new boyfriend’s mother! A true summer dish!

As we all know tomatoes are super good for you…here’s why:
Finished Product

One of the most well known tomato eating benefit is its Lycopene content. Lycopene is a vital anti-oxidant that helps in the fight against cancerous cell formation as well as other kinds of health complications and diseases.

Nutrition Values of Tomato: Per 100grams

Vitamin A : 1,000 I.U.
Vitamin B : Thiamine .06 mg.;
Vitamin C : 23 mg.
Vitamin K : amount uncertain
Calcium : 11 mg.
Iron : .6 mg.
Phosphorus : 27 mg.
Potassium : 360 mg.
Protein : 1.0 gm.
Calories : 20

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Country Food

I don’t know if it’s my mother in me or my southern roots or perhaps I am a reincarnated version of myself who lived through the great depression. Whatever it is, I have this issue with wasting food. It breaks my heart to throw food away when people all over are hungry. This drives Josh absolutely bonkers! Maybe it’s that milk I refuse to throw out despite its week old expiration date! Nonetheless, its something I try my darndest to enforce in my house anyway. That said, I have become maybe the best that I know of at taking what I have in my house, not running out for anything and coming up with yummy things to eat. It’s a skill that seriously astounds my friend Aimster! Due to her amazement in my ability, I like to do it just to show off! Don’t judge me and don’t you dare judge me!

If you know me, you also know that I am crazy about fresh veggies. Additionally, no matter how long I am in Boston, I will always be a country girl at heart and I love to cook that way. In fact, buying veggies that remind me of the south and southern cooking is one of my favorite pastimes! With that in mind, I took myself down to my beloved Union Square Farmers’ Market this past weekend.

I picked up all sorts of random veggies that made me feel southern again….okra, sweet corn, onions, beets! Just so you know, beets weren’t always as shi shi as they are now, but we’ve been eating them in the south FOREVER! It wasn’t until I got home and started cleaning them and bagging them for the fridge that I realized I had an amazing meal sitting in front of me.

In the south, it is traditional to corn meal okra and fry it. This delicious. I mean, really really delicious. However, fried veggies just seems contrary to not only this blog, but the lifestyle I’ve adopted since my “porkchop” days...as my uncle so accurately put it. That doesn’t mean though that okra cooked another way isn’t fantabulous.  So here’s my country folk food!

2 Cornish Hens - soak in heavily salted cold water 10 minutes
*My mom does this to get the “germs” off….I don’t question it!
Pat dry Cornish hens with paper towel

8 Sprigs of Oregano
4 Sprigs of Rosemary
½ onion – chopped into quarters
6 garlic cloves
Handful parsley

Divide the above ingredients into two piles and stuff into the cavity of each Cornish Hen
Rub the outside of the hen with olive oil
*I had lemon flavored olive oil, it was terrific, but normal works too
Salt and pepper the outside of the hens

Heat oven to 450* F. Place the hens breast side up and tuck the wings under the bottom. Cook for 15 minutes then turn down to heat to 375* for 40 more minutes. Remove the hens from the oven and let sit 15 minutes for juices to redistribute.

Okra Dish – The Real Star of this Show!!    
This is what a raw okra
looks like, just incase!
3 ears of corn, cut off the cob
½ red onion, diced
8 whole okras, sliced horizontally in ½" pieces
1 green tomato, coarsely chopped
1 can petite diced tomatoes, juice drained but reserved for later
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Start the okra dish about 15 minutes before the hens are done. Put oil in pan over high heat. Add all the veggies. Saute for about 5 minutes. Add half the juice drained from the canned tomatoes. Stir. Add about salt and pepper to your taste…I like a ton of pepper. Cook this over high heat for about 15 minutes, continually stirring. Lower the heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer for another 15 minutes or until the okra is soft. All the while, keep stirring. If it starts to stick to the pan, add more tomato juice.

We ate the okra over brown rice, but Josh and I both agree that it would be fine without it! 

This one really took me back, if only I’d had a sweet tea to go with it!

               Cheers ya’ll!