Friday, July 29, 2011

"I've Got Enough Gazpacho For Everyone!"

From one of my all-time favorite The Simpsons episodes. "Lisa the Vegetarian" is about Lisa becoming a vegetarian after bonding with a lamb at a petting zoo. However, she gets ridiculed by her schoolmates and family (of course) for her beliefs. But after meeting Paul and Linda McCartney via a secret passage to the roof of Apu's Kwik-E Mart, she vows to vegetarianism. I'm smiling just thinking about how absurd this storyline is. But it is oh so funny.
[Homer fills the grill with lighter fluid and prepares to grill]
Lisa: Wait Dad! Good news, everyone! You don't have to eat meat! I've got enough gazpacho for everyone.
[Crowd murmurs]
Lisa: It's tomato soup, served ice cold!
[Crowd laughs out loud as Lisa growls and stomps off]
Barney Gumble: Go back to Russia!

If Lisa can enjoy gazpacho, my boys surely can, right? It was worth a try. It's been too damn hot to cook, and great way to get some veggies in.

Shrimp Gazpacho
Adapted from Everyday Food: Great Food Fast from The Kitchens of Martha Stewart Living

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 6 plum tomatoes, chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 small red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped, jarred roasted red bell peppers 
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped sundried tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato juice
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

  1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over high heat, swirling to coat bottom of pan. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Add half the shrimp; cook until browned on both sides and opaque in the center, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate; repeat with remaining shrimp (reduce heat if browning too quickly).

  2. In a food processor, combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, cucumber, and half the roasted peppers; process until combined. Add tomato juice and vinegar; process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

  3. To serve, divide tomato mixture among bowls; top with shrimp and remaining roasted peppers.

The Good: Quick and easy to prepare. The boys loved the shrimp.

The Bad: Shrimp with gazpacho flavor combo had me thinking I was eating shrimp cocktail. Not necessarily a bad thing I guess!

Grade: B+. Totally refreshing, clean dish for the summer. The boys tolerated the shrimp but wanted nothing to do with ice cold tomato soup.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Food Blogger's Photo Journal: Weekend on Martha's Vineyard

My family and I had the good fortunate to have spent a long weekend on Martha's Vineyard recently. I've had the opportunity to visit several times before and was looking forward to introducing the boys to "The Vineyard" as it often called. Of course they got to experience some homemade island ice cream, The Flying Horses, the Gingerbread Houses, the sun, sand and surf of course. What we didn't expect was the amazing produce and creative food from a surprisingly large number of local producers for such a small island. It was like a mini photography retreat for me - the photo opps were too numerous to count.

So here is just a small selection of some of my favorite pics from a food blogger's perspective. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves!

Morning Glory Farm Strawberry Festival - live music, games, activities and great food.

Strawberry cupcakes

Strawberry lemonade and Spinach Salad with Strawberries, Walnuts and Parmesan

Strawberry Salsa and Chilled Cucumber Soup

Farm hands working the grill
Festival Menu (one of each please!). Everything was outstanding.

West Tisbury Farmers Market was THE place to be Saturday morning

Garlic scape aplenty

This season's favorite ice cream parlor based on the crowds

What are some of your favorite farmers markets? How do you like to spend your summer vacation?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

BBQ Chicken Throwdown: David Chang vs. Martha Stewart

Is there anything better than BBQ chicken on the grill in the summer? The more napkins the better, right? Gotta love leftover cold chicken for a picnic the next day (or breakfast in some cases - ahem). There's usually a bottle of store-bought BBQ sauce in our house for emergencies. But I recently decided to test two very different BBQ chicken recipes from two of my favorite chefs: David Chang and Martha Stewart.

So join me in my fantasy "East meets West" BBQ Chicken Throwdown between David Chang of Momofuku fame and Martha Stewart, domestic goddess. Who will prevail? Read on to find out.

Spicy Korean BBQ Chicken
Adapted from David Chang, Men's Health

8 skinless chicken thighs
1 Tbsp sriracha hot sauce
2 Tbsp grapeseed oil, plus more for cooking
1/2 cup apple juice
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp Japanese shiro (white) miso
1 tsp minced ginger
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped scallions


1. Place the chicken in a large resealable plastic bag. In a medium bowl, mix together the sriracha, oil, apple juice, honey, miso, ginger, garlic, and salt. Add 1 cup of water and mix thoroughly; mix in the onion and scallions.

Pour half the marinade mixture into the plastic bag with the chicken, seal, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to a day. Refrigerate the remaining marinade in a small covered saucepan.

2. When you're ready to eat, remove the chicken from the fridge. Place the saucepan with the reserved marinade on medium heat and simmer until the mixture is thickened and saucelike, about 20 minutes.

3. Brush a grill or grill pan with grapeseed oil and set the heat to medium high. When the grill is ready, cook the thighs until the undersides have charred grill marks and release easily from the grill, about 8 minutes.

4. Flip the thighs and cook until a meat thermometer inserted in the middle reads 165°F, about 8-10 minutes more. Let them rest for 2 to 3 minutes, and serve with white rice and grilled vegetables like scallions, mushrooms, or bok choy. Makes 4 servings

The Good: Unique combination of flavors - sweet, spicy, earthy, salty - makes this stand out. Easy to whip up.

The Bad: Went light on the sirarcha sauce since I wanted to make sure this was not too spicy for the boys. The end result was good if not a little tame. Will dial up the heat next time.

Grade: A-. This was a big hit at our backyard BBQ. Serve with grilled scallions and this is a knockout dish.

Brown-Sugar BBQ Chicken
Adapted from Martha Stewart

1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3 pounds chicken drumsticks, patted dry
1. Heat grill to medium. In a medium bowl, whisk together ketchup, sugar, Worcestershire, and vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Set aside for basting.
2.  In a large bowl, toss chicken with vegetable oil; season well with coarse salt and ground pepper.

3. Lightly oil grates; place chicken on grill. Cover grill; cook, turning frequently, until chicken registers 165 degrees (160 degrees for breast) on an instant-read thermometer, 10 to 15 minutes. Uncover grill; continue cooking, basting frequently with sauce, until chicken is glazed thoroughly, 3 to 4 minutes more. 
The Good: Essentially there are only five ingredients to this dish. So simple yet so delicious.
The Bad: Even with the oiled grates, left such a mess on the grill.
Grade: A. A HUGE hit with all my boys. And even better the next day. Never buying store-bought sauce again.

This was a tough battle. But the win ultimately goes to (drum-roll please...) Martha. Basic ingredients found in any pantry plus ability to please even my protein-adverse 2-year-old makes this a winner.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Kicking off the Summer at The Cottage

If this first week of summer vacation is any indication of what the rest of the summer will be like, then it it going to be a fun, fabulous and boozy one. I was able to join several fellow Boston Parent Bloggers for a Mom's Night Out at The Cottage Chestnut Hill. Here's a quick recap:

The Cottage Overview
I've heard great things about The Cottage in Wellesley so was excited to hear a second MA location opened five weeks ago in Chestnut Hill. Owners John and Laura Wolfe brings their upscale, casual, SoCal dining concept to the East Coast, focused on light, fresh and local ingredients.

The Location

After some confusion as to the restaurant's location (we were told they were at the Chestnut Hill Mall, only to find out they are down the street next to Legal Seafood on Route 9), we were greeted by  friendly staff and brought to a private dining room.  The place just exudes atmosphere, transporting you to a sophisticated beach side house. And the place was slammed on a Monday night. Off to a good start.

The Booze

(left to right) Rosemary infused pomegranate margarita, Thai basil sangria, spa drinks (non-alcoholic), summer ale by Pretty Things Beer

Amazing summer cocktails served with charm by the bar manager and servers. All the drinks went down way too easy. *Hiccup*

The Food

Servers brought samples of their signature bites:

Sesame Ahi Tuna Nachos

I'm a sucker for seared ahi tuna so practically stalked the server to get a taste of the Sesame Ahi Tuna Nachos. The tuna was prepared perfectly. Not sure how I feel about the "nacho" chip. I don't like my raw fish to be too busy with other flavors and textures.

Fried California Avocado

The Cottage's take on potato skins, the Fried California Avocado is breaded and fried, served with Vermont jack and cheddar cheese, spiced sour cream, applewood bacon, and pico de gallo. It was pretty tasty, but was on the rich side for me to go back for more.

Fried Calamari

Aloha Chicken Tenders with pineapple salsa

Cheese platter

Pretty local cheese platter served a selection of local cheeses, fruits and honey, toasted pistachios, artisan bread.

Raspberry White Chocolate Bread Pudding

The evening ended a sweet note with some signature desserts. I went with the highly recommended Raspberry White Chocolate Bread Pudding. It was dense but not too sweet.

The Cottage is touted as being family-friendly, offering a kids menu, crayons and wikisticks to keep small fingers busy. Lunch/dinner options for kids are the expected fare - Hot dog, grilled cheese, PB&J, chicken fingers, mac and cheese. I was disappointed (but not surprised) to see such items as I would have loved to have seen smaller portions of some of their popular entrees on the kids menu (my kids would love Ale Battered Haddock + Chips). But chef Todd assured us parent bloggers that offering kids healthy, balanced sides, along with consideration for allergies, was a high priority. 

Overall, it was a great night and fun to catch up with fellow Boston Parent Bloggers. Everyone at The Cottage was friendly and attentive. I'll be taking the family sometime soon and hope to see the same attention to service, food presentation, and addictive cocktails when we go!

@massholemommy @myshinymonkey @umommy @jodigrundig @morethanm... on Twitpic
Boston Parent Bloggers (photo courtesy of Laura Reid of @BeingLoopy)


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