Birds of a Feather

Clover February 23, 2011

Filed under: Beantown,Recipes and food — kcfeather @ 10:19 pm

Over the past 2.5 years or so, K has had quite a lot of thing to think about possible career alternatives to working in higher education.  She actually loves working in higher ed, but dislikes the long job searches (thus prompting her to consider other possibilities).  She was not all that far away from starting the process of developing a business plan for a little lunch cart at the Farm, but was deterred from doing so because a) we knew we would be leaving soon; and b) she got a real job.  But there was such a need for decent lunch options on campus, that it just might have worked (recently there have been some improvements to the situation, but the food service company that held most contracts on campus was detestable).

In any case, imagine her surprise when she found out that one of the best food trucks in the world Boston metropolitan area is parked right outside her new office building.  We are great believers in brown-bagging it (for cost reasons).

But this truck keeps it cheap, and the food is SOOO GOOD, so it’s quite hard to resist.  Among the rotating menu options that have become near and dear to K:

  • Breakfast Sandwich (with a poached egg, sharp cheddar, tomato, salt and pepper – simple, but really hits the spot)
  • Popovers with apple butter
  • Chickpea fritter sandwich
  • African peanut soup
  • Potato leek soup
  • Pretty much any soup that they make (was bummed to miss the Coconut-Shitake Soup the other day)

There’s a location (what they call a “lab”) not too far from C’s office as well.  He’s become a big fan of their coffee.

Anyhow, just thought we’d share about one of the little things that we enjoy here in Cambridge.

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Little Piggies December 10, 2010

Filed under: Recipes and food,The everyday — kcfeather @ 8:11 pm

Last week when B and K were visiting, we made another trip to Craigie-on-Main.  We stopped in last month to try out their famous burger (it lived up to the hype).  But there was something else on the menu that caught C’s eye:

Confit and Roasted Milk-Fed Pig’s Head (for two)
Peking pancakes, spicy pumpkin sambal, boudin noir-hoisin sauce

It was actually a half pigs head, and we ordered it to share between the four of us last Friday:

Our half pig's head

The picture doesn’t quite do it justice…what you can’t see are that it still had it’s teeth and eye, intact.  It was served Peking duck-style, with thin pancakes, and a hoisin sauce made with blood sausage.  It was very tasty (the crispy skin was amazing).  But it was also very heavy…would have been better shared among a larger group of friends.  We pretty much rolled out of there (and over to Toscanini’s, where we had ice cream, of course!)

But the story does not end there, my friends.  We also got word this past week that we’ll be enjoying a full roast pig (read: feral hog-let) for Christmas dinner while we’re in Texas!  C’s uncle caught a few little wild piggies in a live trap a few months back, and has been plumping them up for the holidays.  The roast will be an overnight event (it takes awhile to roast a whole hog, after all!) and involves burying the big with hot coals and banana tree wood and leaves.  To say this is exciting news in our household is an understatement…we can’t wait to take part in this new Christmas tradition!

 

After Applepicking, Addendum October 16, 2010

Filed under: Recipes and food — kcfeather @ 2:06 pm

First, the pressed apple cider that we got when picking apples was so tasty that we went back for more, yesterday. It was much less crowded this time around, and C had fun throwing rotting apples into the farm’s goat and pig pens and watching the animals fight over the treats!

Also, we tried this recipe from The Gourmet Cookbook, and it was just so good we had to share.  We served it with green beans and roasted fingerling potatoes.

 

Pork Chops with Sauteed Apples and Cider Cream Sauce

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp butter

1 shallot, minced

1/2 cup apple cider

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/4 tsp dried sage

1 1/4 cups chicken stock/broth

2/3 cup heavy cream

 

6 pork loin chops (or however many you have people)

3 apples (not red delicious or granny smith, but pretty much anything else would work) – peeled, cored and cut into 8 wedges

2 Tbsp packed light brown sugar

 

Directions:

Melt 1 Tbsp of butter in saucepan over med-low heat. Add shallots and cook until tender, about 5 min.  Add apple cider,  cider vinegar, and sage, bring to a boil and boil until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 8 min (took me a bit longer).

Add 1 cup stock and boil until reduced to about 3/4 cup (about 12 min). Add cream and boil until reduced to about 1 cup (about 8 min.)

Meanwhile, pat dry pork chops and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 Tbsp of butter over med-high heat in a skillet until foam subsides. Add chops in 2 batches and cook, turning once, until just cooked through, 6 -8 min. per batch.  Transfer chops to a warm platter and cover loosely with foil.

Pour off fat from skillet. Add remaining 1 Tbsp butter, then add apples and cook over med. heat, turning occasionally, until golden and just tender, 4-5 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and toss with the brown sugar.

Add remaining 1/4 cup of chicken stock to skillet and deglaze by boiling over high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, for 1 minute.  Stir deglazing liquid into sauce, along with any juices from meat platter. Transfer apples to platter with pork, and pour sauce over top.

 

Hope you enjoy it!

 

Cilantro April 15, 2010

Filed under: Recipes and food,The everyday — kcfeather @ 4:39 pm

I absolutely detest cilantro (and I know I’m not alone!)  C always says that if I just forced myself to eat it for awhile, I would eventually grow to like it (he once did this with basil, primarily so that he could give me a bad time about not liking cilantro and onions).  According to this article in the NY Times, he may be right (shhhh…don’t tell him!)  I always wondered why the cilantro salad dressing was so much more bearable than the actual leaves…and now, I know!  Hmmm…to give in, and try what the article suggests (eat lots of cilantro to “increase the patterns”)?  Or be stubborn, and continue to refuse cilantro (particularly because it’s so often paired with my other least-favorite food, onions)?

 

Month-o-Salads in Review February 2, 2010

Filed under: Recipes and food,The everyday — kcfeather @ 4:05 am

We’ve sort of decided to extend the month of salads indefinitely, it was so enjoyable (and hopefully healthy, too). But we’ll be very loose about it (so I suppose the decision is to just eat MORE salads, not only salads).  Among other non-salad foods, I’ve been anxious to try some new pad thai recipes (if anyone has a good one, please send it my way!)

In any case, here are some salads we tried, with commentary:

The fennel salad: Fennel bulb and fronds, arugula, toasted pecans, gorgonzola, and red grapes (from Cooks Illustrated)
More appropriately: THE fennel salad. It was our first salad this January, and we knew it would be the best, without even tasting the others. Because it did indeed win the best salad award, we’re putting the recipe below.

Celery root, pear, and toasted hazelnuts
This was decent, but turns out that it’s just glorified coleslaw, which is not exactly what you want for dinner, if you’re eating just one thing.

Spinach salad with roasted hazelnuts, pear, and gorgonzola
With K’s vinaigrette, or just a storebought vinaigrette

Spinach with pecans, dried cranberries, and blue cheese
An old standby

Salade Nicoise
Always a favorite. We loosely use the Joy of Cooking version.

Arugula with finely chopped bittersweet chocolate and pistachios, with a sherry vinaigrette (from A Homemade Life)
We – especially C – had not-so-high expectations for this, but I saw the recipe and wanted to try it). Turned out it was excellent  – the subtle sweet of the chocolate balance out the spice of the arugula and the tang of the sherry vinegar.

Arugula with sugared pistachios, orange, and feta, with a light vinaigrette with fresh mint (from Cook’s Illustrated)
This was an outstanding salad, second only to The Fennel Salad. Perhaps because they both came from Cook’s Illustrated?  Be warned, though – the sugared pistachios are addictive, and perhaps the next big ice cream topping.

Some salads on our list for the next month:

Steak salad with miso dressing (an old favorite)
Caesar salad with homemade caesar dressing
A new version of the celery root salad, a la Bon Appetit
Grapefruit and avocado salad (all the better to use with our new grapefruit knife!)
Spinach salad with avocado, toasted almonds, and oranges

THE Fennel Salad (otherwise known as Arugula Salad with Grapes, Fennel, Gorgonzola, and Pecans, from Cook’s Illustrated)

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. apricot or peach jam (or honey)
  • 4.5 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 4.5 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, minced very fine (approx. 2 Tbsp.)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 small fennel bulb, cored and trimmed of stalks, and sliced very thin (approx. 1.5 cups); fronds chopped coarse (approx. 6 Tbsp.)
  • 8 oz. arugula
  • 9 oz. red seedless grapes (approx. 1.5 cups)
  • 5 oz. gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (approx. 1.25 cups)
  • 3/4 c. chopped pecans, toasted
Whisk jam, vinegar, oil, shallot, 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss the fennel with the vinaigrette; let sit for 15 minutes. Add arugula, fennel frond, and grapes to mixture; toss. Put salad in bowls/plates and serve.  Enjoy!
 

Month-o-Salads January 4, 2010

Filed under: Recipes and food — kcfeather @ 9:01 pm

After eating incredibly tasty but very rich food throughout December, we decided it was time to lighten up our diet. So we’ve proclaimed January a month of salads. We will likely eat other things, as well, but the goal is for the majority of our dinners to be vegetable-based salads of some sort or another. Yesterday I filled the fridge with all sorts of produce and the cupboard with all sorts of nuts to keep the salad-meals interesting. We’ll keep a tally and post the list of salads we have concocted (along with any new dressing discoveries) at the end of the month.

In the meantime, here’s my go-to vinaigrette recipe:

1 small tablespoon mustard (have used both dijon and sweeter mustards, like honey and sweet onion)
1 small tablespoon brown sugar or honey
1 minced or crushed clove of garlic
some salt
some ground pepper
1 (large) tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar (or regular balsamic)
2 tablespoons olive oil

I usually put all the ingredients in a small jar, seal the lid tight, and shake it like crazy until it has emulsified.

 

2009: The Year in Hamburgers December 31, 2009

Filed under: Holiday,Recipes and food — kcfeather @ 2:46 am

In honor of K’s favorite food (since she was 3), we thought that taking a look back to the burgers we’ve eaten this year would be a fun way to recap 2009.

In March, in Washington, DC, we had tasty burgers (and shakes) at Good Stuff Eatery. On the way home from DC, in the Atlanta airport, we also enjoyed the chance to try out Krystal burgers.

K had a fancy-shmancy and very tasty birthday burger at the Village Pub (complete with homemade pickles and duck fat fries). And, her birthday present from C was a Weber, so we can grill our own burgers (see a few home recipes below).

We celebrated C’s birthday at our place, grilling burgers, drinking sangria, and playing horseshoes (and watching fireworks).

Throughout the year, we enjoyed burgers as well as beer and fellowship on Thursday nights with friends from church at the Dutch Goose and the Oasis (local watering holes) – and at Antonio’s Nuthouse before they changed up the menu.

In-n-Out is a common stop when running errands (especially for K), and on California road trips to Merced, SLO/Santa Barbara, and Carmel (those who know the area might realize from that list of destinations that we’re giving the Gilroy In-n-Out especially good business).

To close out the year, this week in Dallas we had a chance to experience fine burgers at the fine Texas establishment: Braum’s. We were sad to miss a chance to visit the Dairymart in Pottsboro, TX and eat hamburgers there…maybe in 2010!

Finally, we wanted to share just a few favorite burgers-at-home from this past year:

UPDATE: After reading this post, C’s Aunt Sherry thought it was only appropriate that we close out our year with a burger – so on December 31 we had lunch at a very fun little drive-in/burger joint in Dallas, the Dairy-ette. The burgers were indeed tasty, and they had root beer in frosted mugs.  What fun!