Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top 5 Things I Ate in 2011

Well, it's that time again. There are lots of retrospectives and “Best of 2011” right about now. In my case, here is my annual round-up of all the top recipes I tried over the past year (drum roll please):

We made these on a snow day during an especially cruel New England winter. This is the ultimate french toast recipe in my humble opinion. There's something about the eggy, buttery brioche with swirls of cinnamon, brown sugar and raisins that elevate the ordinary french toast to a whole new level.

2011 was the year of the meatball at our house, having tried multiple different meatball recipes in search of the perfect meatball recipe. Surprisingly, this traditional Chinese pork meatball topped them all. We had this as part of our Chinese New Year feast, but this can definitely be a quick weeknight meal. 

In an attempt to overcome my fear of baking, I bought Joanne Chang's Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe to challenge myself to bake more. My first (and most successful) recipe I tried had to be these bad boys. Takes a childhood favorite to new culinary heights. This has been a go-to treat at parties and hostess gifts.

It was an epic celebrity chef cook-off... in my imagination at least. I tested two different BBQ chicken recipes - one by David Chang and a second one by Martha Stewart. They were both pretty amazing but the ultimate champion was Martha. Pantry staples and kid-approval made this the recipe the winner of the BBQ Throwdown.

I had the opportunity to debunk all those crazy Chinese myths about lamb when I decided to compete in Boston’s first American Lamb Pro-Am. The challenge: create a dish using leg of lamb. The result: pretty darn amazing Moroccan inspired lamb pot stickers. This dish challenged me both as a blogger and a home cook. And it was honestly the most satisfying both as a food blogger and home cook. It pushed me to be creative and to stand out. And gave me the opportunity to meet some fabulous food bloggers and top Boston chefs.  I continue to be amazed by how supportive and talented the food blogging community can be. And how supportive and patient my family has been throughout the year. And this, my friends, is why I look forward to continue blogging in 2012.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Top (Last Minute) Gift Ideas for the Foodie Family (Part 2)

There's only four days until Christmas. Or six days left of Hanukkah. Gulp. And there's one or two people (or more if you're really behind) you still need to shop for. Here are my top last-minute holiday gifts for the foodie family on your list:

Subscription to ChopChop Magazine: My boys and I are huge fans of ChopChop Magazine - a quarterly food magazine for kids. It is full of great kid-tested recipes, tips for parents, colorful photos and fun games. Both kids and parents will be inspired to cook as a family.

Subscription to Cooks Illustrated: A must-have for any serious foodie. Each recipe is tested to perfection. Line drawings, scientific rationale and exhaustive testing tells you they're not fooling around when it comes to food.

How to Cook Everything App: From New York Times Food Journalist and legend Mark Bittman, this app is the first full cookbook adapted for an app. Besides the ginormous recipe collection, you get recipe timers, shopping lists, Bittman's voiceover and ability to make notes (for iPad). How cool is that?

CSA share: For the green-minded foodie family, a membership to a Community Supported Agriculture program is a gift that keeps on giving. Members receive anywhere between a few pounds to 15-20 pounds of local produce on a regular basis. It's all about Farm-to-Table.

The greatest gift of all... a gift certificate to a couples' favorite restaurant and free babysitting for the night. Need I say more?

Off to check my list twice and figure out some last-minute gifts of my own. Wishing you the happiest of holidays!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Spinning soccer ball cakes by Duff Goldman
Everyone was charmed by ace baker Duff Goldman at a private event. I was simply in awe.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My Top 5 Cookbooks for the Foodie Family (Pt 1)

If you're like me (world-class procrastinator), you may still be looking for some holiday gift ideas so you can start checking off everyone on your "nice" list. Here are some of my favorites - proven by the dirty, well-worn pages with crumbs caught between pages.

For busy families: Everyday Food: Great Food Fast This is our go-to cookbook for weeknight meals. Organized by season, this cookbook has a recipe for everyone. Simple and delicious meals - 250 to be exact.

For the baker: Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe I have always been timid when it came to baking. But Joanne Chang has changed that with these amazing - or spectacular - recipes. The photographs are drool-worthy. Best Christmas gift I bought for myself last year.

For anyone who hates doing the dishes: Simply Ming One-Pot Meals Every recipe we've tried so far has been a winner with the whole family. Organized by cooking technique, Ming's Asian-inspired recipes are easy to follow, including quick tips and wine pairings that this mom really appreciates. The fact that all of these can be made in one cooking vessel is a bonus.

For the anyone that likes to entertain but without all the fuss: Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics This cookbook has a crowd-pleasing dish on every page. What I really love about this cookbook is how Ina is able to breakdown a dish to be truly simple yet still be sophisticated to make you look like you slaved in the kitchen all day.

For the adventurous home cook: Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean Organized by spice, this cookbook is a master class in Eastern Mediterranean cuisine. This has to be the most beautifully designed cookbook in my collection. A must-have for any cookbook lover on your list.

Stay tuned for Pt 2 of "My Top 5 Cookbooks for the Foodie Family" - all new cookbooks I currently covet (and have conveniently left room for on my bookshelf (hint, hint Santa)).


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