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.

Dark and Stormy Cookies

I love a nice spicy ginger beer, something that leaves a lingering heat in the back of my throat.  Now pair the spicy ginger beer with a nice dark and spicy rum and a touch of lime and I will be there.  A dark and stormy is a perfect drink at pretty much any time of year – in the winter it’s got that kick from the ginger beer warming you from tip to toe and in the summer serve it with a big glass of ice and it’s insanely refreshing.  I’ve always been a little bit obsessed with the dark and stormy –  maybe it’s because i’m just obsessed with that gingery bite and the warmth of the rum.  But I do know that more than anything since that first sip of dark and stormy I’ve wanted it as a cookie –  not too sweet an with a nice crunch.  Never did I imagine this.

I created these cookies on a whim – they had been germinating in my head for a VERY long time but the timing was never quite right.  I couldn’t find the right base recipe or I was out of ginger, there was always something missing.  And then, this year I signed up for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap (you can sign up to do it next year here) that Julie and Lindsay organized – a monumental collection of bloggers coming together to pack cookies in boxes and ship them all around the country was a perfect excuse to do what I wanted to do – try recipes and make dark and stormy cookies!  So I did what any responsible adult that grew up in a household of cooking will do, I called my mom.

I asked for a recommendation as to what sort of base to make while flipping through my copy of Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook and came across a recipe for Glazed Lemon Cookies – a slice and bake that looked easy enough and that I had all the ingredients for (win).  So I threw the recipe out there – what if I used this recipe and swapped out some flavors for others, did Mom think it would work?  She said yes and then goodbye in rapid succession (she had to go to the farm for turkey time).

So, without further ado – Dark and Stormy cookies inspired by my tendency to be a bit of a lush and encouraged by a great many people along the way.

Dark and Stormy Cookies
Adapted from the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook recipe for Glazed Lemon cookies and the glaze recipe for Cornmeal-Lime Cookies from Flour by JB Chang.


Cookies:
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs grated Lime zest (about 1 lime)
2-3 Tbs finely minced candied ginger
1 3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
12 Tbs unsalted butter – cut into 1/2 inch cubes and chilled
1 large egg yolk
1 Tbs good ginger beer (Reed’s has a great spice, or Barritt’s if you want to stay classic)
2 Tbs dark spiced rum (I adore Kraken – there’s an octopus on the bottle but it also happens to be awesome)

Glaze:
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 Tbs rum
1 Tbs ginger beer
Zest of one lime (optional)

In a food processor combine the sugar, zest, and ginger, pulse until the sugar looks a little damp – about 7 pulses, this will be a little bit sticky.  Add the flour, salt, and baking powder to the sugar mixture, pulse until fully combined – about 10 pulses.  Add the butter cubes and pulse until the whole thing looks like fine cornmeal – 15 pulses should do it.  In a small bowl mix the egg yolk, ginger beer, and rum together until fully combined, pour this into the food processor, run the processor for another 20-25 secs until the whole mixture starts to come together in a ball.  When the dough has come together turn it out onto a parchment lined counter and gently knead whatever loose flour is still a bit loose into the dough.  Form the dough into a log 12-14 inches long by 2 inches wide.  Wrap this log in parchment paper and stick in the fridge for two hrs or up to two days, on the inverse if you want to cool your cookies quickly you can also stick this log in the freezer for 45 mins – but be careful with this as it can get far too firm if left too long.  Once the cookies have firmed up, preheat  your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and pull the cookies out of the cold place.  cut the cookies into 3/8 inch wide rounds and arrange them on 2 baking sheets about an inch apart, they don’t spread if they have firmed up enough in the fridge.  Bake the cookies fro 12-16 mins, mine took twelve, rotating the pans halfway through baking so that they are on different shelves of the oven and back to front.  When the cookies have golden brown edges and have puffed a bit in the center they are done.  Pull them from the oven and allow the to cool completely.

For the glaze mix the confectioner’s sugar, rum, and ginger beer together in a small bowl, the mixture should be quite runny.  Line the counter under your cookie racks with parchment paper.  Using a  pastry brush paint the glaze onto the tops of the cookies, in two layers (the first should pretty much soak right in).  While the glaze is still liquid sprinkle lime zest on the tops of the cookies, only do this if you are eating the cookies that day or else the lime gets a bit overpowering.  Now go and share these with someone who loves rum and ginger as much (or more so) than yourself.  they will say thank you.

Bananas Foster

So.  Here’s the thing about bananas foster, I hadn’t had it until just recently when Brian blogged about it.  His blog was full of fond memories of flambe-ing in the new year with bananas foster and family.  Touching and pretty much the best idea of how to bring in a new year ever, fire and sweets – yes please.  I got all the stuff and made it for BF and I to ring in the new year, that first time I messed it up, my sugar crystallized because I heated it up too quickly and it separated a little bit from the butter, but it was tasty and the fire was mighty attractive :).

So I tried it again, when a friend came over for dinner later in January, and again when my big sister was living with me.  It was a simple and fast dessert, something that tasted like it was a lot of work but wasn’t and it took at max 10 minutes to come together in a magical and oh-so-satisfying buttery way.

Recently, my sister came over for dinner on a night when we were supposed to go out, we got lazy and decided youtube videos were a much more entertaining prospect than dinner somewhere we couldn’t be loud and ridiculous.  So I did what any sensible person with a pretty bare fridge would do, I ran up the street to Arax for some dinner essentials; cauliflower, red pepper and pasta quick easy dinner fixings.  As I was getting ready to leave the store, and lamenting that I had missed the black figs they had on sale, one of the owners asked me if I could use some overripe bananas.  I said sure, thinking that I could make banana bread or a banana smoothie.  He handed me 14 bananas.  Not only was going to make banana bread and a banana smoothie but the strawberries I had just purchased for dessert were going in the fridge and bananas foster was dessert.  I went to the liquor store and got some nice dark rum and headed home.

When my big sister got there for dinner we ate – pasta with cauliflower and asiago.  Then we (she, BF and I) watched the Old Spice you tube videos with Fabio and Old Spice Guy (for the record, I’m in the Fabio camp here).  We giggled a lot and then I suggested we make dessert.  Big Sis perked up and asked what I was making, I told her and walked into the kitchen.  She followed begging me for the recipe.  I handed her my camera and told her that I would blog it if she would take pictures of the process.  Done.  So here it is – Bananas Foster with my big sister’s blessing and BF’s whole hearted approval.

Bananas Foster
Adapted from My Food Thoughts
Note:  Be careful as this is addictive, it can serve four people but two will polish it off just as easily.

1 stick butter, unsalted
1/2 cup dark brown sugar (I prefer the stronger flavor of the dk but light is fine if you want it less caramelly)
1/2-1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
4-5 ripe bananas, peeled and cut into managable pieces, I like sixths
1/4 cup rum (I used Kraken, because it’s got an octopus on the bottle)
vanilla ice cream or greek yogurt (for serving)

In a wide skillet melt the butter over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted add the brown sugar and cinnamon, stir well.  I find it’s best to sort of spread the brown sugar around the pan in a sprinkle as opposed to adding it in a lump to the middle, that will make it not blend with the butter.  Once the brown sugar and butter are incorporated add the banana pieces.  Cook one side of the bananas for about one minute then flip them and cook the other side.  They will be a nice caramel color.  Have a second person in the kitchen turn out the lights, for dramatic effect.  Add the rum.  Light it on fire.  Watch the rum burn off in pretty blues and oranges, be careful to keep anything flammable (like yourself) well away at this point.  Turn the lights back on.    Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or plain greek yogurt to a bowl.  Scoop as much of the bananas foster onto it as you can eat.  Eat it all.  Then sneak back into the kitchen for seconds.  or thirds. I won’t tell.  I promise.