What I’m Loving

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I periodically don’t cook or photograph for whatever reason – I’m lazy, the food isn’t attractive, the recipe is just not INTERESTING enough. The usual. This is good though, it makes me think outside of the box in terms of content. This lack of food to post is a great opportunity to tell you about the things I’ loving or obsessed with right now.

Millet: A couple of weeks ago I found a bag of millet my mom gave me and threw it in the rice cooker while I prepped a bunch of other stuff and threw together a quick grain salad. I adored it – the texture was wonderful. It was a really nutty, wonderful change to the brown rice BF and I have been eating recently. I have really been obsessed with my rice cooker recently – it cooks grains perfectly and it is so remarkably simple to use. As an added bonus it doesn’t heat up the house either so I don’t have to stand over a burner in warm weather. This summer expect a few rice and grain recipes to pop up here.

My Melitta Pour-Over Coffee Maker: This little piece of plastic is a dream come true. I’ve been at home in the mornings and for a long time just did tea instead of coffee, but I LOVE coffee. The taste, the texture, the caffeine, so I finally caved a couple weeks ago and grabbed a pour over coffee maker. I am so thankful I did. The brew is delicious and it’s so simple to make coffee in it that I’m back to a cup a day and relishing it.

My Porch: Is there anything as great as sitting on your back porch early in the morning and drinking coffee while you check in on your social media? I thought not. The birds are all loudly awake and kittenish goes absolutely bonkers. I’ve taken to bringing my cat to the porch with me so she gets a little outside time and I don’t have to worry about her taking off. She gets a bit fearless, jumping up onto our porch railing two stories above the ground, but she loves to chase the squirrels out there.

Polar Seltzer: Everyone is talking about Polar’s Summer flavors right now, and they’re amazing. I’ve been drinking them pretty much non-stop since I found them on sale at my local star market. The cucumber-melon made a SUBLIME mojito (with Privateer Rum, no less) and I can’t wait to try more flavors. I also love that Polar beverages are all made locally (the Polar company is over near Worcester). Not a fan of the odd summer flavors? Go for the Ruby Red Grapefruit – it’s fantastic with a bit of gin.

Homemade Iced Tea: Ever since that first warm day in mid April BF and I have had a pitcher of Iced Tea in our fridge. I’ve been using mostly Celestial Seasonings “Zinger” teas for it, they have such a nice full body and no caffeine. All of the zingers mix well too so you can swap out and exchange flavors, this week we have Raspberry-Lemon.

This Swimsuit: My sister got me this for my birthday in April. I’m SO EXCITED to go to the beach in it this summer, and in general, for beach days this summer. I want to go to the beach, play in the sand, read books, and most importantly, play a bit of skeeball.

The Boys Club: This is a great blog that my friend Brian and a few other cocktail obsessed bloggers put together – go here for all of your cocktail needs this summer. With a new post every day they cover everything from glassware to delicious drinks to breaking down what you’re drinking. WONDERFUL.

CTC International: I recently went to a great presentation by the founders of this company and learned a lot. They built s special needs school in Kenya! They donate money to rhino and elephant preservation! They are a non-profit donating to other non-profits. Also, they have butts on their bags. I love that.

Summer Beer: In the summer I pretty much only want to drink light beer or saisons. With their fun fruity flavors saisons are such lovely drinks for this season and I can drink them all day. Currently I’m plotting the takedown of Ommegang’s Hennepin Saison tonight. Saisons also pair well with my porch. Trying to stay local with summer beer is a cinch too – anything out of Jack’s Abbey is worth the time and a nicely chilled Bantam goes a long way towards cooling anyone down on those warm summer eves. For the more creative flavors head to the crew over at Night Shift – from a Habenero to a white stout they’re doing really cool things in beer. And Chris over at Notch makes low ABV beer (around 4%) that is always a light summer refreshment and keeps you upright.

Guest Post: The Seventh Sphinx talks Ginger

Ginger is such a great flavor. I know many people who are head-over-heels for it.  Next Monday I will be eating my weight in Ginger while I support a good cause: the Joslin Diabetes Center at Spoonful of Ginger – their annual benefit at the MFA to support the Asian-American Diabetes Initiative. I love to help out places like Joslin because Diabetes research is SUCH AN IMPORTANT CAUSE. We all know someone affected by either type 1 or type 2 Diabetes and it’s becoming more of a problem all the time. So go, get a ticket, eat some delicious ginger infused dishes and help Joslin find a cure.

My big sister, who you’ve heard me talk about here in the past, has recently started her own blog, called donatio olfaciendi causa – a lifestyle blog, she writes on style, perfume, makeup, books, and other miscellany. She and I share a very similar palate so when she was talking about writing a post on ginger as a condiment and flavor I suggested she do it as a guest post for me. I love it almost as much as she does! 

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I like ginger a lot.

A relative of turmeric, cardamom and galangal, this spicy rhizome can play for both the sweet and savory sides. Compelling and versatile, it is available in many forms, most of which I have in my life.

Here are some favorite incarnations:

raw: The spice impact is at its best. Peel it with a spoon and then: steep it to make tea, put matchsticks in your stir fry or curry (or salad!), add peelings to mixed drinks…and pretty much anywhere you add garlic, just add ginger, too. Ginger is good for you.

ginger juice: A great way to add a touch of ginger to beverages and soups.

minced ginger: The tough fibers make it kind of difficult to puree ginger yourself, and I find I’m more likely to use it if I have something ready to go. I like the Ginger People brand for being organic and having really powerful spicy flavor across their range, but I’ll take anything I can get.

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pickled ginger: This is the classic sushi accompaniment but I could eat it anytime, anywhere. I maintain that it plays well with any combination of rice and soy, and is a wonderful palette cleanser as well. It’s not too difficult to make yourself, either. The only difficult part is cutting the ginger thin enough, a job for a mandoline.

powdered ginger: Get high quality and it will show in your baking. I like Penzey’s best so far.

[powdered galangal: Galangal is a relative of ginger but more powerful, spicier, entirely distinct. It comes up in Asian cuisine, and is for me associated predominantly with Thai notes. Substitute for ginger sometime and see what happens.]

tea: Great when you’re sick, a good alternative to lemon for a toddy, and just…good. Provided you like ginger. Especially with honey. Straight or blended, I like. Can also be added to certain soup stocks (think ramen, or chicken soup) for a great, diffused flavor.

cookies: There are snaps, of course, which I love, but lately I gravitate toward these Ginger Thins from Trader Joe’s. Dead ringers for Anna’s ginger thins. These are what made me realize what great friends ginger and cheese can be. On a slightly unrelated note, the Coconut Thins are also extremely good.

crystallized: Snack on them or chop them up and put them in cookies.

jam: you know, jam… (mix it with a berry jam to make things in the world of toast more interesting)

lip balm: If you like ginger or mango, this lip balm is the one: Kiss My Face Ginger Mango lip balm 

fragrance: Ginger is, sadly, not the most popular perfume note. I don’t know why, though. It’s spicy and fresh at once, unisex, akin to citrus but more interesting, on account of not being citrus… Have found one I like, this Marc Jacobs Cocktail Splash. Dominant notes of ginger, citrus, and rhubarb (Rhubarb! Really! Go smell it.). Unfortunately only sold in this enormous bottle. I am testing out a lot of other supposed ginger fragrances, some of which have potential, but this is the only one I own so far. Origins also do a ginger line (perfume, lotion, etc), though I say it is too sweet, and not gingery enough. That said, this Paul Mitchell wild ginger line smells just like the Origins ginger perfume, and I am loving it. [Finding great smelling hair products is a bit more difficult, I think, so my standards are lower.]

And of course there is ginger ale, ginger beer, ginger chews, ginger liqueur, ginger essential oil, ginger soap, ginger syrup…

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Look for my follow-up post next week where I’ll share my recipe fro candied ginger! So good!

Irish Cream

Irish Cream

Irish cream, it makes me think of college and ill-formed ideas, a chilled liqueur poured over ice and sipped on a spring evening and, of course St. Patrick’s Day. As long as I’ve been old enough to drink I’ve loved Irish Cream, mostly Bailey’s but occasionally St. Brendan’s or another slightly lower shelf product. Last year, or was it two years ago?, BF started to develop a taste for irish cream as dessert. Pouring himself a small glass over ice in lieu of sweets or baked goods.

Whiskey

So in January while reading the Eat Boutique website I came across a recipe for homemade Baileys by Maggie and immediately started plotting – as far as I could tell I had all the ingredients on hand and it seemed like a perfect afternoon pick-me-up. So I made it. It was a resounding success and a perfect Friday afternoon snack.

Ingredients

So, now it St. Patrick’s Day and all I want to do is share this recipe with you. It’s 4 in the afternoon, but I’m in Boston and drinking early on St.Pat’s is totally respectable, right? This has rapidly become my go to in lieu of Bailey’s, and it means I always have an excuse for good irish whiskey to be kicking around. And I have zero problems with that!

Irish Cream

Adapted from Eat Boutique by Maggie Battista

 

  • 4 eggs (I use pasteurized or very fresh eggs)
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp instant espresso
  • 1 tsp boiling water
  • 1 tsp Irish Whiskey
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cup Irish Whiskey (I like to use a good whiskey, like Jameson or Bushmills)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (1/2 and 1/2 works too, it’s just not as rich)
  • Combine the boiling water, the instant espresso, and the 1 tsp whiskey together in a small bowl and set them aside to cool (I like to make this in batches of 1/4 cup of each ingredient and use it like extract in everything).
  • In the bowl of a stand mixture fitted with the whisk attachment combine the eggs, extracts, sweetened condensed milk, and cream or half and half.
  • Whip on medium until everything is frothy and fully incorporated.
  • With the mixer on low (on my KitchenAid I use the 2 setting) gently stream in the whiskey and continue to mix everything until fully blended.
  • Enjoy over ice, preferably with a friend, preferably today.

Scenes from events

I am a very busy girl –  over booking myself more often than not to come home in a stupor late at night to a BF that desperately misses me (after working late nights at HIS job).  So sometimes I attend pretty amazing events and just don’t have the time to write about them in depth here – but I still have pictures of these events, because I go with the best of intentions to share them.  Below are some highlights of meals I’ve eaten over the past few months because these are plates you simply MUST try if you are around these restaurants when they are serving them.

September saw me attend a blogger dinner at Lil’ Vinny’s in Somerville (which is sadly closed now) where I had a stunning bolognese and a truly fabulous ceasar salad (I know, I was surprised too).

October was truly packed with events that I just didn’t have the time to share but, again some highlights!

Remember when I went to Harbor Sweets and then told you all about the awesome Sweet Sloops?  I also went to Adriatic Restaurant and Bar that night where I was blown away by Goat Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms, the best pumpkin Ravioli I have ever tasted, and a wonderful almond tart stuffed with nutella and topped with house made hazelnut gelato.  I also managed to convert Megan into a crispy fried sage leaves convert here ;).

My second big event of October was with the lovely Renee when the Boston Brunchers turned 1!  This event was a huge success, where we came away with lovely (read GIANT) swag bags packed to the gills with some of the best gifts I’ve ever been given.  Seriously our sponsors for that event were FANTASTIC and they all gave us very generous gifts, from cookbooks to cookies to gift certificates.  It was fantastic.  And the food wasn’t bad either :)  The highlights of the meal for me were the amazing oyster shell wall at Island Creek Oyster Bar and the pastries.

My last little ode to fall happened at the tail end of October on a sunny Saturday with the fantastic Bernadette (old and very dear friend, she’s known BF since pre-school!) and a great many other fabulous bloggers.  We all went for a grand adventure at the Privateer Rum Distillery in Ipswich.  It was here that I fell hopelessly in love with this rum and their handcrafted cocktails, the Light and Stormy and the William Tell.  Both are addictive and refreshing cocktails, which I could drink a lot of.  Seriously.  See my previous post on dark and stormy cookies to read about my ginger obsession.  And the Privateer rum is sippable.  Look for it, try it you’ll see, and probably be a convert like me.

Pomflower Cocktail

Let’s talk hot, shall we?  I know that if you live south of the New England you are not really phased by the really hot temps.  But I am.  I’m kind of a pansy when it comes to all forms of extreme temperatures – below 20 degrees give me a book, a warm blanket and a cup of cocoa and tell me when it’s warm again.  When it’s stiflingly hot though – there isn’t a lot I can do aside from try not to move too much.  I know that there are actual ways to combat being hot (drink lots of water, take a cool shower, stand in front of the AC unit until your skin goes numb, etc) but these are only temporary solutions.  They seem to not really solve the problem.

The best way to “beat the heat” that I have learned this summer came on a whim of inspiration the same night I made that delicious focaccia bread.  The visiting friend hadn’t brought much with her when she came down since we had planned an epic day of cooking.  What she did bring though was crucial to our choices that evening – a bottle of prosecco.  Now I have a confession – I prefer cava or prosecco over actual champagne every time, I don’t know a lot about wine but I find a nice cava (Freixenet anyone?) far superior to most sparkling wines.

As we chilled the prosecco (she had brought Lunetta) I started to peruse my cabinets and fridge wondering about cocktails and mimosas.  I eventually settled on this cocktail.  I have heard a lot about elder flower liquor recently around the interwebs and on an impulse bought a nip of it to taste, also I thought the bottle was really pretty.  I tried it alone, not really sippable, but with prosecco and some POMWonderful it was divine.  The complexities of the elder flower liquor really shone with the sparkles of prosecco.  And the way the bubbles burst on your tongue makes these cocktails a lovely hot summer evening drink for me.  I found them indulgent and refreshing, a combination I plan to hold onto for a while longer.

Pomflower Sparkling Cocktail
Note: I made that word up.

1/2 oz Elder flower liquor (such as St. Germain)
1 oz pomegranate juice (such as POMWonderful)
2 oz chilled Prosecco or Cava (I love this with Freixenet but your favorite will probably work too)

Add the elder flower liquor and pomegranate juice to the bottom of a champagne flute and swirl them for a minute to mix.  Top the glass with the chilled sparkling wine.  Serve these with a crostini, or just some tasty bread, while sitting on a porch at sunset.  Marvel at the pinkness of the cocktail and share.

Note: POMWonderful gave me the pomegranate juice to use, but all the opinions here are my own and I would buy the POM juice again to make this cocktail alone.