Tuesday, April 23, 2013

For Boston

Today I read an article somewhere in the great internets about how the current generation is so self-absorbed that they tend to co-opt tragedy as their own.  They regale people with stories of how they could have been there at the site of the tragedy du jour.  There but for the grace of God...

This Boston tragedy was not mine.  It belonged to others, some near and dear to me who were at the scene of the bombings.  Others I've known and cared about over the years.  But it could not have happened to me.  I have been a long time gone from that city.  But in a time when the Yankees are playing Sweet Caroline to honor Boston, certainly I can say that in my heart of hearts, Boston you're my home.

And that my heart is breaking for all of those who have no need to co-opt tragedy, because it is their own.  Because it came right up to their doors and into their homes. Should you want to help, rather than retell your own plans to someday maybe run the marathon, check out charity navigator's advice on ways to donate.

And since you came here for food (you did come here for food, right?) rather than lectures on how to properly handle your reactions to crisis, how about a recipe from The New England Clam Shack Cookbook for some delicious scallops?  It's a much better way to feel like an honorary New Englander.

Verdict:  If I have any common sense, I'll get this in regular rotation in time for the summer.  Curing homesickness through cooking is something I definitely sign on for.

modified slightly from The New England Clam Shack Cookbook

1 lb sea scallops - select scallops that aren't sitting in a lot of liquid, scallops are better when dry.  Also pick ones that haven't started to separate
1/4  t salt
1/4 t sugar
1/2 t thyme
1/8 t garlic powder
1/8 t onion powder
olive oil
lemon wedges

Mix together the salt, sugar, thyme, garlic powder and onion powder.  Heat a cast-iron pan to medium high and add a bit of olive oil, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan (I used a paper towel to help smear it around and make sure I didn't have too much oil).  Pat your scallops dry and then sprinkle them top and bottom with the seasoning mix.  When the pan is hot, place the scallops in the pan, not touching.  Cook for 2-3 minutes on the first side, then if they are golden brown, flip and cook for 2-4 minutes on the other side.  Cooked scallops should be more opaque than when they started, firm to the touch and have those nice golden edges.  Garnish with lemon wedges (you know, so you can squeeze lemon on them).

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Best Quarter I Ever Spent

  A few years ago, I lived in Philadelphia, with access to its enormous and well-stocked library system.  Much as a supermarket seeds its checkout lanes with candy in order to inspire impulse buys, my local branch arranged a rack of books, recently removed from the collection right near the circulation desk.  So while you wait for the person in front of you to pay fines dating back to 1984 or argue that their adorable little cherub returned The Best of Barney DVD, at least, the nanny said she did, you would have something to browse, and hopefully purchase.  During one of these waits, I spied a copy of Sara's Secrets for Weeknight Meals for twenty-five cents.  An older edition than the one shown here, but nonetheless, a cookbook for a quarter?  That is a win, my friends.  It's been in use ever since, in fact, the falafel recipe and the Welsh rabbit recipe are both from the book.  But it had been a long time since I thumbed through it looking for something new.  Last week, spurred on by my recently neglected New Year's resolution I discovered Middle Eastern Meatball Sandwiches.  Mmmm.  They were ridiculously easy and completely delicious.

Verdict:  This cookbook is one of the MUST owns of my collection.  Also, I love Sara.

adapted from Sara's Secrets for Weeknight Meals

1 recipe tzatziki  - you can use Sara's from here, I make mine up.  My edition of the cookbook is dated enough that it's called cucumber yogurt sauce.

1 lb ground turkey (or beef or lamb, but I used turkey)
1/2 C chopped onion
1 clove minced garlic
1 large egg slightly beaten
1/2 t or so oregano
salt and pepper

pita bread with pockets (warmed)
lettuce washed dried and cut into ribbons to stuff into the pita

Make it gluten-free: The pita is the only gluten containing component here, so serve these over rice or alongside a nice greek salad to enjoy the flavors without the wheat.

Mix the turkey, onion, garlic, egg, oregano, salt and pepper together.  Form these into oval patties, bigger than a meatball but smaller than a burger.  I divided my ground meat evenly into 8 sections and made each a patty and was quite pleased with the size.

Cook them.  Now, I found this a bit tricksy.  Sara says you can skewer, brush with olive oil and grill for 8 minutes a side, which sounds heavenly, but I am without a grill.  She also says you can broil for 8 minutes a side, which is what I tried, but perhaps my toaster oven's broiler is inferior, because after the first 8 minutes in the oven, I began to panic and the rare state of things and had to improvise.  I slid them into a hot non-stick pan for 4 minutes (with the side that had been touching the broiler pan into the pan first because it was RAW) and then flipped for 2 more minutes. They ended up with a nice little crust but still very moist.  I'd hesitate to do it all in the pan, lest they dry out.  I'll let you know if I hit upon a better method, but this was still pretty painless.

Cut each pita in half, stuff each half with some lettuce and one patty.  Generously drizzle with tzatziki.  Start planning when you're going to make them again.

Friday, April 5, 2013


Last weekend, Ryan and I ate our way through Boston.  I could pretend my priorities were otherwise, but aside from seeing my best friend, I really only cared about the food.  We started with lunch Legal Seafood where I ordered my standard cup of chowder and steamers.  It's always the right choice. Dinner was at Mistral, which is still incredible after all these years.  And brunch the next day was at Zaftig's in Brookline where I devoured the challah french toast.  But with our spare time?  Our minimal spare time between meals?  Well, Ryan asked what I wanted to do.  And did I ask for a ride on the Swan Boats?  Or a trip to the MFA or the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum?  A stroll down Newbury Street?  Nope.  I asked to go to Mike's.  Home of the best cannoli evah.*  Our hotel was a conveniently short walk from the North End, and at 10am, Mike's is as empty as I've ever seen it.  I picked out 2 chocolate chip cannoli, Ryan opted for a pistachio and even though it's highly nontraditional, 
I got one chocolate ricotta with chocolate chips.  Ridiculously decadent, I know.  We've been slowly rationing them out, and they will be gone too soon, but oh, so worth it.
*Yes, I'm aware there's an ongoing debate as to whether Mike's or Modern is the best place to get cannoli. I am unwavering in my devotion to Mike's.  If you want to waste your time over at Modern, go for it.  It makes the line shorter for me.


Related Posts with Thumbnails