Thursday, April 30, 2009

Victory is Sweet -and sometimes Spicy too!

So a few months ago I entered my Fabada: Fava Beans and Chorizo Soup recipe into Premio Food's Recipe Contest.

Monday I received an e-mail informing me that I am their 1st quarter winner! Pretty cool : )

Premio chooses one entry from the previous 3 months submission and the winner gets a variety box of sausages AND a t-shirt! (I am curious as to what this t-shirt will look like....will it have pictures of sausages on it...?!?)

Right now I am just basking in the glory of it all-and thinking of how I am going to use my free sausages...gotta love the prize of free meat ! ; )

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Raspberry Mango Salsa

2 cups fresh raspberries, washed and drained
1 mango
1/4 cup Vidalia onion (about 1/2 of medium onion)
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 limes

Wash and peel mango, cutting it into very small pieces. Mince onion and add to mango. Wash cilantro and let dry. Mince and add to mango mixture. Toss with fresh raspberries. Juice limes and pour over mixture.

Serve with freshly baked tortilla chips

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"Spanish Cuisine One Region at a Time: Catalonia”

About a month ago, I was contacted by Karen Pierce Gonzalez, a publisher at FolkHeart Press to review a new e-cookbook written by Catalan chef Eduardo Balaguer.

FolkHeart Press works to preserve "family folktales," or rather, family stories that may be lost over time. They offer e-books that tell how to write your family's story and e-books that combine family history within the context of culture, tradition and cuisine. Food anthropology, if you will.

The author opens with a scene from a family gathering; he is eight at the time and is observing his uncle cook. Through his words, we experience an eight year old's wonder and amazement at the smells, sounds and visuals that would result in paella, a Spanish rice dish filled with seafood, meat, vegetables and rich spices.

Balaguer then offers us a brief overview of the geographical and historical impact upon Catalan cuisine. He introduces us to several of the most-acclaimed Catalan chefs, including Ferran Adria of El Bulli and describes various Catalan dishes (many of which I tried in Barcelona, one of the best dining destinations in the world!).

This background information becomes useful once Balaguer begins to talk about the origin of paella. (I use the word "talk" instead of "write" begin the tone of this e-book is very conservational-I can imagine him speaking in front of the group of eager listeners, educating them about paella and Catalonia). Like many other dishes, it was born out of necessity; rice, vegetables and whatever bits of meat and seafood were combined to create an impressive dish, both filling and delicious!

Balaguer ends with tips on how to prepare paella and his favorite recipe for the dish, reminding us that like the Spanish peasants before us, we can substitute ingredients as we like, creating our own family dish.

I would recommend this e-book to those who are interested in learning more about the food history of Catalonia (some might use the term Spain...I would avoid doing that!). however, for those who have studied this cuisine, the information may just re-cap what they already know.
However in a culture where we spend more and more time eating fast food and dining alone, Balaguer reminds us of the important role cuisine plays in creating our family stories.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

If it's going to'll happen to me!

Completely unrelated to cooking...but sort of food related!

Friday night, I was walking in downtown Boston towards a bar/club to celebrate my boyfriend completing his first year of business school (congrats!).

Then, the unthinkable happened.

I happened to be wearing adorable sandals that unfortunately have no traction, and as I took a step my feet slid forward and my body backwards. (Luckily, Carlos has cat-like reflexes-kind of suspicious-and I did not hit the ground...very much).

You must be wondering what I fell on, so I'll just tell you...



I thought it was an urban legend...but now I know better.

Seriously though, what were the chances?!?

Blood Orange, Roasted Beets, Goat Cheese & Spinach Salad

1 can roasted beets (not pickled), rinsed well with water and drained
3 blood oranges

1 shallot
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar

2 tablespoons evoo

2 ounces goat cheese
1 cup packed spinach, rinsed and dried

Mince shallot and place in deep Tupperware dish. Add vinegar, olive oil and juice of 1 blood orange. Whisk together.

Slice beets into 1/4 inch thick discs. Add to vinaigrette.

Slice blood oranges into round discs horizontally. Slice away peel. Place blood orange circles above beets.

To serve, place spinach on top of salad plate. Add beets and oranges to spinach. Crumble goat cheese over salad, top with a little of the remaining vinaigrette and enjoy!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cuban Black Bean, Mango and Avocado Salsa

I started to cook while studying abroad in Havana, Cuba. Agromercados sold herbs, beans, fruits and vegetables on the road sides. The salsa is best served with homemade baked tortilla chips and a mojito. : )

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup cilantro
1 Vidalia onion

2 limes, juiced
3 medium tomatoes
2 mangos, chopped
1 avocado


Splash of orange juice
1 pack of 20 corn tortillas

Rinse cilantro well and let dry.

Mince well and add to chopped mangos.

Mix in black beans and diced onion.

Juice limes and add to bean mixture. (A helpful tip about juicing citrus fruit. If cold, warm up in the microwave for 10-15 seconds, and then roll the fruit on the cutting bo
ard, this will loosen the juice and provide more for the salsa).

Sprinkle cumin, paprika and orange juice over beans.

Add diced tomatoes to bean mixture, preferably a few hours before eating, as it will turn starchy if left for a long time in the refrigerator. Add avocado just before serving, as the avocado will brown if it sits too long.

Preheat oven to 425.

Slice tortillas into 6 wedges and bake on cookie sheet until lightly golden.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Alibi Bar & Lounge

Alibi (for those who are unaware) is a lounge that occupies the former Charles Street Jail in Boston. The jail was renovated and re-named The Liberty Hotel and has Alibi as well as restaurants upstairs (Clink and Scampo).

The lounge is set up so that cell bars serve as partitions between tables. Mug shots of celebrities like James Dean, Frank Sinatra, Lindsey Lohan and Hugh Grant decorate Alibi's walls. The shots detail their offense and their "alibi" justifying the crime. The vibe is definitely cool, the remaining cell bars giving patrons a small thrill at socializing where some of the most notorious criminals once served time.

Cocktails are tasty, with clever names like "jail bait," but are a bit overpriced, with most starting at 12 dollars. I recently learned that they don't make their own food-it is actually delivered through the back door from Harvard Gardens (sketchy). The truffle fries are good-they could use a bit more oil and a lot of Parmesan and I would call them great.

Get there early, as they reach maximum capacity fairly early in the night, and waiting outside is no fun.

The clientele are made up of young professionals, suits, hotel guests and people who are into the "see and be seen" scene (try saying that 3 times fast). I would describe Alibi's dress code as heels, make-up and an attitude.

That being said, when I go there with friends I always have fun; there is dim lighting, chill music, interesting drinks and the jail decor is appealing. It's probably the closest thing to a New York style lounge that we have in Boston (for those who are looking to live it up NYC style-but leave by Boston's 2am curfew). I'd go there with friends, but not necessarily to meet the love of your life (as he will probably only end up being the love of that night).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Easy Red Pepper and Basil Pasta Sauce

After spending 2 months bemoaning the lack of basil and Parmesan in Cuba, I discovered that the "albahaca" meant basil and was available in Havana's "super?markets", I went a bit overboard in making pasta (and was thus renamed "gordita," but that's another study). This remains one of my favorite sauces and is very easy to make.

1 small onion, chopped
2-3 red bell peppers (if small, use 3)
1 tomato, seeds removed and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil, minced (or use 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450.

Wash bell peppers and slice in half vertically. Remove stem, seeds and white stuff (I don't know what it is called-veins?). Place skin side up on cooking tray, drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on top and bake until tops are turning brown/black. Remove, let cool and remove skin from peppers and slice into smaller pieces.

In medium-large sauce pot, heat up remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and stir, turning heat down to medium to prevent browning. Let cook 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add bell pepper pieces, tomato, crushed red pepper and wine. Turn heat up to medium high so that liquid begins to simmer, stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes.

Add chicken broth and bring pot to simmer and let cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If using dried basil, add now.

Carefully pour mixture into blender and mix until sauce is smooth. Return to sauce pot and stir in minced basil. Add Parmesan and cook over medium-low heat 10 minutes or until incorporated.

Serve with your favorite pasta (also great over grilled chicken breasts and linguine!).

P.S. "yerba buena," which literally translates to "the good herb," which is mint. Not my first guess, but I guess they would not sell the alternative at agromercados.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Buitoni Wild Mushroom Agnolotti

I arrived home Friday evening to find a large box marked "perishable" in my doorway. Slightly intrigued and a wee bit afraid of its contents (live animal, explosive device, human head), I opened it very slowly (A little egotistical to think someone would seek me out and send me something dangerous, I know. But, Unibomber in jail or not, I was paranoid).

To my delight, inside was a free sample of Buitoni's new Wild Mushroom Agnolotti! It was shipped overnight with 4 large ice packs to keep it cold (very classy Foodbuzz and Buitoni).

Inside the pasta were crimini and portobello mushroms, roasted garlic, grana padano & parmesan. As I wanted to taste the agnolotti in its purest form, I merely drizzled olive oil over the cooked noodles and ground a little fresh pepper on top.

As I took my first bite, I could taste that madeira or something similar had been added during the cooking process, adding depth to the agnolotti's flavor. I had expected a generic cheese ravioli with bits of mushroom, but the cheese did not overpower the crimini and portobello. The agnolotti tasted fresh, almost restaurant quality-in fact, better than some restaurant meals I have eaten!

Even though the pasta was slightly salty, I decided to sprinkle additional parmesan cheese over the pasta anyway (cheese was my first love and I remain in love with cheese today).

In the future, I think I would serve this with a red bell pepper-basil sauce to add more flavor but perhaps reduce the agnolotti's saltiness.

To sum up: I got, I ate, I would eat it again.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Strawberry and Chocolate Cream Cheese Pie

For Chocolate Crust (from Epicurious):
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons ice water

For Chocolate Cream Cheese Filling:
8 oz semi sweet chocolate

3/4 cup whole milk
6 oz cream cheese
1 tablespoon confectioners sugar
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 lbs fresh strawberries

To Make Chocolate Crust:
Blend flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt in processor 5 seconds. Add butter and blend until moist sandy texture forms. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons ice water and blend until dough comes together. Press dough evenly onto bottom and up sides of 10 inch pie dish. Chill crust 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place crust on baking sheet. Bake crust until dry-looking and slightly puffed, about 18 minutes. Cool crust on rack completely.

To Make Filling:

Melt chocolate with milk in medium sauce pot over medium heat, whisking to ensure chocolate does not stick to pot. Add vanilla. Beat in cream cheese and sugar. Let cool to room temperature, then pour into cooled pie crust, smoothing top with a spoon.

Wash strawberries and cut off stems. Slice in half vertically and arrange stem-side down over filling in concentric circles. Cover with Saran wrap and refrigerate until serving.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Dine On Us Dinner @ Machu Picchu

About a month ago, I wrote Foodbuzz awhile ago, suggesting a "Dine On Us Dinner" at Machu Picchu, a local Peruvian restaurant in Somerville, MA.

I have been there twice; about 6 months ago and several year
s ago. On my first visit to the restaurant, I made other diners uncomfortable by staring at their plates, trying to match the visual to the menu descriptions to figure out what they were eating.

I went about 6 months ago
with my boyfriend. He is a smart guy-he let's me order for the both of us, turning the dilemma of "what do I want to order?" into ordering my top 2 choices for apps and main dishes. He is always happy with what I pick (or fakes it very well), and I am always happy to be given power, so it works very well for the both of us.

Last night I met up with 4 other food bloggers: Tia Nguyen, Finance Foodie, Tri2Cook and Artepicure.

When I eat out I tend to arrive perpetually early, and thus got
to Machu Picchu at 6:45. I ordered a Pisco Sour to wait for the others (felt a bit like a blind date). I observed Pisco, egg white, and what I suspect was sour mix but may have been real lime juice being poured into a blender. The result was a wine glass filled will a magical, alcoholic foam. (Note to self: when making meringue, just use a blender!).

One by one the other foodies arrived, and we made getting-to-know-you conversation. For a few, it seemed to be the first time they had eaten Peruvian, so I was hoping they would like their meals. We ordered Ceviche, Yuca a la Huancaina and Choclo Peruano con Queso for appetizers. Truth be told, I do not like ceviche, or sushi for that matter, so I cannot judge that dish.

The yuca came simila
r to french fries with a orange cheese-y sauce that consisted of cheese, egg yolk and aji pepper.

Choclo is giant corn on the cob. I don't know how else to describe it. It is more starchy than corn you'd find in the States. It came with a fresh white farmer's cheese-slightly vinegary and salty. I cut off the kernels, added some aji verde and a piece of cheese and was quite content with the dish. I imagine this to be Peruvian comfort food.

Most Peruvian restauran
ts in the States tend to dumb down their dishes-that is, use far less spice than what is traditional. As a result, I always ask for a side of "aji verde," a creamy, spicy pepper sauce, and add it to my dishes. Last night I mixed it into the yuca's huancaina sauce and also added a bit to my main dish.

I ordered "seco de carne," beef stew braised in a cilantro-based sauce. It came with a side of canary beans and white rice. The meat was extremely tender from the long cooking time, and had a deep flavor that mixed well with the beans and rice.

The other foodies ordered a fried seafood platter, steak, aji de gallina (shredded chicken in a yellow aji sauce with rice) and pollo chan-chan, spinach mashed potatoes surrounded by chicken-wrapped shrimp. The fried seafood seemed to be, well, fried seafood-nothing spectacular, but you cannot expect it to pretend to be anything different. The steak would have done well with a chimichurri-type sauce (of course, the Peruvian version, whatever that would be). The pollo chan-chan was presented beautifully and seemed to be a hit, as did the aji de gallina. To sum up the entrees: stay away from the main dishes which feature fried food, and you should be happy.

For dessert I more or less forced everyone to order alfajores, as Machu Picchu does these perfectly. The cookie is light and crumbles upon biting into it. Inside is dulce de leche, a vanilla caramel. These would be even better with a cortado (espresso with steamed milk) or a cafe con leche the next morning for breakfast. Which is what I am currently eating ; ).

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Raspberry Sorbet and Pineapple Frozen Yogurt

You can sneak in several servings of fruit to your daily diet by making smoothies, salads with fruit, fruit desserts, pancakes-wherever! How you get them is less important than you actually getting them (within reason, of course-deep frying them then rolling them around in sugar would be a bad idea). You might look at this recipe and think, it has a lot of sugar and she is saying its healthy? Not exactly-but one serving provides about 75% of your daily requirement of vitamin C, 100% of your daily manganese, almost 20% of your calcium requirement and many trace minerals-definitely a healthier replacement for your standard Ben & Jerry's.

Ingredients for Pineapple Frozen Yogurt:

2 1/2 cups pineapple

2 cups non-fat plain yogurt
2 limes (zest + juice)

Ingredients for Raspberry Yogurt:
5 cups (2 1/2 pints) raspberries, washed

1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

To make pineapple frozen yogurt:

Puree pineapple in blender. Blend in 1/2 cup sugar, yogurt, lime zest and juice on low speed.

Freeze in ice cream making according to instructions OR freeze puree until almost solid (check after 2-3 hours). (Note: you do not want to let this freeze solid, but rather into a very firm slush that you can still break up in blender).

Remove from fridge and put 1/2 into blender. Blend to break up ice particles, repeat with remaining frozen puree.
Repeat 1 hour later.

Transfer the sorbet to a container and store in the freezer for up to 5 days.

To make raspberry sorbet:

Blend raspberries with sugar and lemon juice until smooth.

Strain the mixture over a large bowl to remove seeds, pushing gently with the back of a spoon to help the process along.

Freeze in ice cream maker according to instructions OR freeze seedless puree until almost solid (check after 2-3 hours). (Note: you do not want to let this freeze solid, but rather into a very firm slush that you can still break up in blender).

Remove from fridge and put 1/2 into blender. Blend to break up ice particles, repeat with remaining frozen puree. Repeat 1 hour later.

Transfer the sorbet to a container and store in the freezer for up to 5 days.

To serve, soften in the fridge for 15-20 minutes before serving. Scoop one of each into martini glass r other decorative glassware. Garnish with mint and fresh raspberries if desired.

Makes 5-6 servings.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Overweight and Malnourished

We live in a pretty crazy world when it comes to food and eating. Some figures of which you already may be aware:

1 person dies every second as a result of hunger - 4,000 every hour - 100,000 each day - 36 million each year!*

In contrast:
  • There are 1.7 billion overweight or obese people worldwide
  • The total world population is 6.8 billion people
  • Thus, about 25% of the world population is overweight or obese
It may seem contradictory to say this, but many, if not most, overweight and obese individuals are also malnourished. So how exactly does that work?

"Obesity has become a problem of poverty," says Daniel Epstein of the WHO Regional Office of the Americas. “Poor people have an easier time of eating junk food. People fill up on things that have a high caloric value but little nutritional value.”

The common diet of many overweight individuals is to consume refined products high in fat, sugar, sodium but low in necessary fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Tomorrow I will post on "super-foods," nutrient dense foods (foods that provide the most fiber, minerals, vitamins, etc per calorie) and will begin to occasionally post nutrient-dense recipes that are 1) easy to make, 2) inexpensive and 3) tasty! Feedback is always appreciated, so let me know what you think of my dishes! (Please)

The food pyramid exists for a reason-when nutritional deficiencies
develop a number of physical and psychological symptoms arise. The table below provides a thorough overview of malnutrition's obvious side effects but also touches on its more subtle symptoms.

BiotinUncommonDermatitis, eye inflammation, hair loss, loss of muscle control, insomnia, muscle weakness
CalciumAverage diet contains 40 to 50% of RDA*Brittle nails, cramps, delusions, depression, insomnia, irritability, osteoporosis, palpitations, peridontal disease, rickets, tooth decay
Chromium90% of diets deficientAnxiety, fatigue, glucose intolerance, adult-onset diabetes
Copper75% of diets deficient; average diet contains 50% of RDA*Anemia, arterial damage, depression, diarrhea, fatigue, fragile bones, hair loss, hyperthyroidism, weakness
Essential fatty acidsVery commonDiarrhea, dry skin and hair, hair loss, immune impairment, infertility, poor wound healing, premenstrual syndrome, acne, eczema, gall stones, liver degeneration
Folic acidAverage diet contains 60% of RDA*; deficient in 100% of elderly in one study; deficient in 48% of adolescent girls; requirement doubles in pregnancyAnemia, apathy, diarrhea, fatigue, headaches, insomnia, loss of appetite, neural tube defects in fetus, paranoia, shortness of breath, weakness
IodineUncommon since the supplementation of salt with iodineCretinism, fatigue, hypothyroidism, weight gain
IronMost common mineral deficiencyAnemia, brittle nails, confusion, constipation, depression, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, inflamed tongue, mouth lesions
Magnesium75 to 85% of diets deficient: average diet contains 50 to 60% of RDA*Anxiety, confusion, heart attack, hyperactivity, insomnia, nervousness, muscular irritability, restlessness, weakness
ManganeseUnknown, may be common in womenAtherosclerosis, dizziness, elevated cholesterol, glucose intolerance, hearing loss, loss of muscle control, ringing in ears
NiacinCommonly deficient in elderlyBad breath, canker sores, confusion, depression, dermatitis, diarrhea, emotional instability, fatigue, irritability, loss of appetite, memory impairment, muscle weakness, nausea, skin eruptions and inflammation
Pantothenic acid (B5)Average elderly diet contains 60% of RDA*Abdominal pains, burning feet, depression, eczema, fatigue, hair loss, immune impairment, insomnia, irritability, low blood pressure, muscle spasms, nausea, poor coordination
PotassiumCommonly deficient in elderlyAcne, constipation, depression, edema, excessive water consumption, fatigue, glucose intolerance, high cholesterol levels, insomnia, mental impairment, muscle weakness, nervousness, poor reflexes
Pyridoxine (B6)71% of male and 90% of female diets deficientAcne, anemia, arthritis, eye inflammation, depression, dizziness, facial oiliness, fatigue, impaired wound healing, irritability, loss of appetite, loss of hair, mouth lesions, nausea
RiboflavinDeficient in 30% of elderly
Blurred vision, cataracts, depression, dermatitis, dizziness, hair loss, inflamed eyes, mouth lesions, nervousness, neurological symptoms (numbness, loss of sensation, "electric shock" sensations), seizures. sensitivity to light, sleepiness, weakness
SeleniumAverage diet contains 50% of RDAGrowth impairment, high cholesterol levels, increased incidence of cancer, pancreatic insufficiency (inability to secrete adequate amounts of digestive enzymes), immune impairment, liver impairment, male sterility
ThiaminCommonly deficient in elderlyConfusion, constipation, digestive problems, irritability, loss of appetite, memory loss, nervousness, numbness of hands and feet, pain sensitivity, poor coordination, weakness
Vitamin A20% of diets deficientAcne, dry hair, fatigue, growth impairment, insomnia, hyperkeratosis (thickening and roughness of skin), immune impairment, night blindness, weight loss
Vitamin B-12Serum levels low in 25% of hospital patientsAnemia, constipation, depression, dizziness, fatigue, intestinal disturbances, headaches, irritability, loss of vibration sensation, low stomach acid, mental disturbances, moodiness, mouth lesions, numbness, spinal cord degeneration
Vitamin C20 to 50% of diets deficientBleeding gums, depression, easy bruising, impaired wound healing, irritability, joint pains, loose teeth, malaise, tiredness.
Vitamin D62% of elderly women's diets deficientBurning sensation in mouth, diarrhea, insomnia, myopia, nervousness, osteomalacia, osteoporosis, rickets, scalp sweating
Vitamin E23% of male and 15% of female diets deficientGait disturbances, poor reflexes, loss of position sense, loss of vibration sense, shortened red blood cell life
Vitamin KDeficiency in pregnant women and newborns commonBleeding disorders
Zinc68% of diets deficient

Acne, amnesia, apathy, brittle nails, delayed sexual maturity, depression, diarrhea, eczema, fatigue, growth impairment, hair loss, high cholesterol levels, immune impairment, impotence, irritability, lethargy, loss of appetite, loss of sense of taste, low stomach acid, male infertility, memory impairment, night blindness, paranoia, white spots on nails, wound healing impairment
(Table Source: Total Wellness by Joseph Pizzorno, ND )

*Numbers may vary according to which site you visit.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A quick note for those who are unaware of this fantastic site: offers gift certificates to restaurants around the United States at a very discounted rate.

Check out Coupon Cabin to double your discount.

For $2-5 you can purchase a $25 gift certificate to great restaurants.

Usually there are some stipulations regarding minimum purchase, alcohol and days of the week during which the certificates can be used, but overall, a fantastic bargain! You should definitely check it out.

May's Fusion and Cuisine

Truth be told, I would never choose to live in Allston, MA...kind of loud, definitely dirty, AND on the much dreaded B-line. 3 strikes usually means you're out, but the neighborhood redeems itself by providing a plethora of cheap, international eats all within walking distance from my apartment.

Saturday night Carlos and I decided to check out May's Fusion and Cuisine, a hole in the wall Taiwanese restaurant on Glenville Ave.

May's website stresses their healthy cuisine, even claiming that their broiled miso-glazed salmon is "known for neck pain reduction associated with stress and lack of exercise."

After perusing the menu, we settled upon:

Scallion Pancake
Sliced Pork with Garlic Dipping Sauce
Da-Loo Noodle Soup

May’s Special Fried Rice

Passion Fruit Smoothie
Total Cost: about $40, plus tip

I don't know if I have ever had a Scallion Pancake before, but this was lightly fried and served with a teriyaki-like dipping sauce. It had just enough crunch around the edges to maintain its shape when being picked up. The scallions gave it a burst of flavor with each bite.

The Pork with Garlic Dipping Sauce came very thinly sliced and boiled. As a recent convert to eating pork, I was pleased that it was very light and complimented nicely with a side of lettuce and parsley, with a side of garlic sauce.

The Da-Loo Noodle Soup came in an enormous bowl, definitely larger than my head, possibly larger than Carlos's. 4 large prawns decorated the top of a pile of noodles, shredded pork, egg, bamboo shoots, bok choi, carrots and something called wood ear (mushrooms?) The soup came out steaming hot, which impressed me as I have often been disappointed by lukewarm soups in the past. The broth was flavorful, but not salty and the vegetables were slightly steamed but still retained their crunch.

The Special Fried Rice was also a sight to behold. Rice, vegetables, egg, chicken, shrimp and Taiwanese sausage (I am still unsure as to what meat I ate). True to May's claim, the rice was surprisingly NOT GREASY.

The highlight to our evening? Being the couple who obviously has no idea what they are ordering and taking home enough food to feed themselves for the next 24 hours. But seriously, if you go there, order one appetizer and one main dish-it will be plenty for two.
Try a smoothie-they have a wide variety of fruit options (and some vegetable ones too!). You will leave full, but not in the icky-I-ate-too-much sense of full. And the restaurant is easy on your wallet!

The leftovers were even more flavorful the next day for Sunday's Easter Brunch. After a Dominican Thanksgiving and Taiwanese Easter, I am looking to eating on the 4th of July. : ) Empanadas, anyone?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Shrimp Mole with Charred Zucchini

Mole (for those who have not had it), is a tomato-based sauce used with Pork, Chicken and other meats and vegetables. Like most Mexican sauces, the taste is complex due to the combination of green chiles, tomato, cinnamon, cumin, paprika, garlic, onion, chili powder, oregano and dark chocolate that have simmered for upwards of an hour. The result is spicy and slightly sweet, with smoky undertones. This recipe is very easy to make and results in about 1 1/2 cups of Mole-the amount needed for about 4 chicken breasts or 1 lb of shrimp.


1 lb shrimp, de-veined and tails removed (I used Trader Joe's frozen shrimp which were already cooked-cheating, I know-so I just had to defrost them)
1 onion, diced
4 heads garlic, minced
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes (preferably with diced green chiles in can)
1 tablespoon diced green chiles (if not already in tomatoes)
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon chili powder (or more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1-2 squares dark chocolate
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small zucchini
2 small summer squash

Heat up 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat in large saute pan. Add onions and garlic, stirring occasionally so that garlic does not burn (if browning, take pan off burner, turn heat to medium and return pan to burner 1 minute later). Cook 5-7 minutes, until onion is tender.

Add chili powder, cinnamon, paprika, oregano and cumin and cook 1 minute until fragrant. Add tomatoes and simmer 10 minutes.

Add broth, bring to a simmer and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Puree sauce in blender and return to pan. Melt chocolate squares (use 2 squares if you love chocolate-y mole) into sauce and cook 10 minutes at a simmer, or until the sauce has thickened.

Preheat oven to 400.

Wash vegetables. Slice in half lengthwise and cut each half into 4 chunks. Toss in remaining olive oil and cook in oven 15 minutes, turning once. Turn oven to broil and cook about 5 minutes until vegetables are just beginning to char.

Plate shrimp and vegetables and cover with mole. I recommend serving this with cornbread and sour cream to tone down the spice factor.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Call for Food Art! : )

Hey all! So, in the spirit of all things fun and food-related, I am holding a new contest that will run until June 1st. Based on some helpful feedback (not published, but you know who you are and I appreciate the honesty), a prize will be given by random (for me, that is going to mean pulling it out of a hat, or the like), so everyone will have an equal chance at winning. Of course, if you enter more than one creation, that does up your odds. Also based on feedback, if you are in the States or Canada, I will mail you a special prize (or if you are abroad, I could send you a small prize from a culinary online store in your country).

So what you need to do:

1) Create a piece of food art; this could be re-creating the Venus of Willendorf by carving a potato...making a Mayan pyramid cake or Edward Munch's The Scream. Or come up with something of your own, like a flock of marshmallow sheep or the like. What work you want to re-create is up to you, as long it is edible!

2) Photograph your creation. Post this photograph as a well as a drawing/photograph of the original artwork/monument or what you are replicating.

3) Give instructions on how to make your creation. An exact recipe with measurements is nice, but not obligatory. But do list supplies that you used!

4) Post a link to your creation as a comment below this post. Please do not copy and paste your browser link! Make a pretty link (this is easy to find online). This makes it easier for me during a round-up.

5) On your blog post, include a link back to this post so that others may enter.

5) Enter as many times as you want : )

More Argentina (&Chile!) Food Pics

A traditional Chilean 8 and I hadn't tired of beef! (By the way..."carne" is the Spanish word for meat, but in Chile and Argentina, it ONLY refers to beef...all other meats are called by their specific names like pollo or puerco). I have to say that Chilean beef rivals that of Argentina. The meat was pink, juicy and slightly smoky from having been grilled over charcoal; it was served with a salsa of tomato, cilantro and tomato.

Flying from Buenos Aires to Santiago, Chile. THIS was my view from the airplane!!!

Don't recall the name...but cute bakery in the Retiro/Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires

Eating Peruvian at Contigo Peru in Buenos Aires...Aji de Gallina, Ceviche and Papas a la Huancaina. The pepper "aji" adds heat to the dish, but it was toned down as Argentinean food is not terribly spicy overall. The chicken was slow cooked-tender to the point of falling apart, but the potatoes' cheese sauce needed a lot more aji to give it a kick.

At Cabernet, in Palermo Viejo. Good service, great food...prices are a bit higher but complimentary champagne to start and sorbet to cleanse the palate made it a great overall restaurant!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Pisco Sour

So while in Argentina and Chile, I had the chance to sample many a Pisco Sour. Much debate has been had as to the origins of this drink. Chile declared it as a national drink, which infuriated the Peruvians.

Knowing this, Rachael asked our waiter at a Peruvian restaurant in Buenos Aires "como se hace un Pisco Sour?" (how to make a pisco sour-I thought it had egg white, she did not). It indeed DID have "una clarita de huevo" (egg white). Repeating the steps back to the waiter, she said to buy a "pisco chileno" (Chilean Pisco) to which the waiter bitterly replied, "eso no existe"-"that does not exist!"

Either way, it makes for a tasty treat...although I like to have mine "sin clarita."
The following is a traditional recipe for this Peruvian cocktail.


1/2 cup simple syrup
7 ½ oz Pisco
3 oz fresh lime juice
1 egg white


Angostura Bitters

Pour Pisco, simple syrup, lime juice and egg white into large cup and mix a little. Put ice into a cocktail shaker. Pour 1/2 of Pisco mixture into cocktail shaker. Shake really well, until ice breaks in very small pieces and there is nice foam on top.
Pour mixture into 2 glasses. Put more ice into shaker and remaining Pisco mixture. Shake and pour into 2 glasses, making 4 total glasses of Pisco Sour. Top with bitters.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Last Saturday the BF&I decided to have dinner at Atasca. Upon entering, I noticed the typical "we have pretty plates on our walls" decor, nice, but nothing outstanding. We were seated in the back at a table for two, which I liked. Tables near the entrance, kitchen or in the middle of the dining room have traffic that detracts from the dining experience.

We decided to start with a typical Portuguese white, Vinho Verde. Vinho verde is typically light, slightly sweet and effervescent. It's mild and a crowd pleaser; even better, it is very cheap, running between 5-10 at a liquor store, and in our case $21 dollars for the bottle at Atasca.

We started with an appetizer of fresh cheese with tomatoes. It was served in the style of a caprese salad, with parsley instead of basil and lots of sauteed onions and olive oil. The tomatoes were surprisingly tasty for the winter. Bread was served with olive oil and roasted cloves of garlic. I decided to combine the bread, garlic, cheese and tomatoes and found the combination pretty good, about a 7 out of 10.

We also ordered scallops to share. They came with a wedge of fried/sauteed polenta, and, no surprise, more onions. The polenta had a rich smokey taste but the scallops did not stand out.

We shared the typical dish of pork and clams as an entree. It came in (I believe) a white wine, garlic and butter sauce. I asked for lemon wedges to squeeze over the dish. The combination sounds odd, but works surprisingly well. And the portion was huge-for under $20 it easily serves 2 people.

While the experience did not blow me away, I would go back to Atasca. Plus they are on, which would make a weeknight experience very affordable and thus very desirable.