Tag Archives: friends

Week 49: Thai Soups

11 Dec

We have the most fabulous Thai restaurant, Lemon Thai, down the street from our house and we often go there when we’re craving Thai or are too lazy to make dinner. Most of the time I get pad thai or yellow curry and we sometimes share the veggie puff or fresh roll appetizers. My friend LeeMarie (of the awesomely random Secretary of Shenanigans) told me that she eats their hot and sour soup when she has a cold because the spiciness clears her sinuses right up. So the other day, when I felt a cold coming on, Andrew and I headed to Lemon Thai to ward it off.

Andrew got the Tom Yum (hot and sour soup):

And I got the Tom Kha (coconut soup):

Tom yum is a pretty popular Thai soup. The broth is spiced with chili, lemongrass, mushroom, and lime juice and then they add tons of veggies and sometimes chicken or tofu. Tom kha is coconut soup spiced with galangal, lime juice, and lemongrass. This soup also has tons of vegetables and will oftentimes also include chicken or tofu.

Andrew’s tom yum was way better than my tom kha. I was nervous to order the hot and sour soup myself because I was afraid it would be spicy, but it wasn’t too bad. The coconut soup was good, but the broth was so sweet. Maybe I should have expected the sweetness, with a coconut soup, but I wasn’t in the mood for sweet and I ended up eating most of Andrew’s soup instead. (We got pad thai too, so he ate most of that when I stole his soup.)

I’m glad LeeMarie told me the wonders of the hot and sour soup because although I’m not sure if it actually wards off colds, it is pretty delicious and I’ll definitely be ordering it again.

Week 46: Peanut Brittle

18 Nov

My friend Tomoko was visiting from San Francisco and we met at Trident to grab brunch last Saturday morning. She moved more than five years, so it was so terrific to see her again and get to catch up. It was a beautiful day and she was excited to see the foliage. We walked along Comm Ave and snapped photos of the gorgeous trees.

Tomoko brought me a box of peanut brittle from See’s Candies in San Francisco. She said she always brings it to her mom in Japan because her mom loves it too. I carried it with us as we walked along Comm Ave and then sat in a Starbucks, sipping coffees and chatting about how things have changed since we were last in Boston together. It was such a fantastic day.

I brought the box of peanut brittle home and Andrew and I broke it open a few days later. And we ate the whole box. Holy crap, peanut brittle is amazing. I’m appalled that I’ve lived all these years without it.

According to Wikipedia, you make peanut brittle by heating sugar and water. When caramelized,  peanuts, spices, and peanut butter are then mixed in. The hot candy is poured out onto a flat surface for cooling and is troweled to make it a uniform thickness. When the brittle cools, it is broken into pieces. This sounds rather complicated, so I doubt I’ll be trying it at home. But luckily, See’s Candies ships pretty much anywhere. You know what I’ll be eating this holiday season.

Week 42: Almond Butter

18 Oct

If you’ve ever been to Whole Foods, you’ve seen the peanut butter grinding station, which my friend Audrey is in love with. I’d never ground my own, but on a trip there with Audrey, she stopped to grind and I looked at all the nuts available there. I spotted almonds and realized I’d never had almond butter but had heard lots of great things about it. So I ground some almonds up right there and took my first container of almond butter home with me.

Photo from A Better Bag of Groceries

Almond butter is just like peanut butter, just made with almonds (obviously). Almonds, and almond butter, are high in monounsaturated fats, and are an excellent source of Vitamin E and magnesium and a good source of fiber (wikipedia). Because almond butter is relatively new on the scene and not mass produced by the Jiffs of the world, many of the brands on the market are all natural with no preservatives or artificial ingredients, which is another fantastic reason to give it a try.

I sliced up a fresh-picked cortland apple – picked in Vermont recently while visiting family (and seeing a hilarious play my aunt, uncle, and cousin were in) – and dabbed a healthy amount of almond butter on top. So good! I like almonds a lot, and I wasn’t surprised that almond butter tasted just like the almond version of peanut butter. It wasn’t as creamy as peanut butter, but that could just be because I had ground it myself at Whole Foods. It was a delicious snack and I’ll certainly be enjoying almond butter from now on, preferably on more freshly picked apples.

Week 40: Blue Cornbread

10 Oct

Wow! I can’t believe it’s week 40! Not only does that mean that is year of food exploration is almost over, but that means that it’s nearly the end of the year, and Thanksgiving and the holidays are just around the corner. That went by fast!

This week my book club met for our monthly brunch and book chat. I love my book club because we are awesome: 1) everyone is into the book club, which is great because then you don’t have people who don’t want to read the book or who can’t ever make time to get together 2) we have pretty similar taste in books, but usually have some really good differing opinions about the books we read 3) it’s miraculously easy for us to decide on our next book 4) all the girls are super cool and fun and smart and I love them. End of book club rant.

Anyway, we met at Masa in the South End. Their brunch is a steal because you get an “appetizer”  choice (fruit, granola or plantains), an entree (eggs with chorizo and cheese, huevos rancheros, eggs benedict, or chocolate chip pancakes), plus coffee or tea for $7.95! I mean, that is just crazy cheap! They also give you a basket of cornbread, which comes with three different types of butter and spreads. I wanted to try the blue cornbread because I’d never had it before.

Blue corn, or maize, is most known for its connection to the culture and life of Southwestern American Indians. According to wikipedia, blue corn was originally grown by the Hopi and is still today an essential part of Hopi dishes like piki bread. Blue corn “has several nutritional advantages over standard yellow or white corn varieties. It contains 20% more protein and has a lower glycemic index than white corn. When used to make tortillas, blue corn produces a sweeter, nuttier taste than yellow or white corn, and is a more complete protein source.”

The blue corn bread was delicious, although I thought it tasted just like yellow corn bread. But it seems that it’s a bit more nutritious, so of course I’m on board with blue corn instead of yellow. You know what I’ll be making next time we have some vegetarian chili!

Week 36: Figs

9 Sep

Fresh figs are in season right now and because they were on my list of suggestions (thanks Christina!), I figured I would try them this week. I originally thought I would toast them because Christina had given me a recipe with cheese and almonds that looked just delicious. But, alas, I am lazy, so I ate these figs raw at lunch at work and had some of my friends share them with me.

I didn’t know how to cut them and wasn’t sure if I could eat the skin, so Rebecca and Shani guided me through: first cut off the two ends, then cut the fig in half or quarters. That’s it!

They were pretty good. Not my favorite fruit ever, but it was fun to share them with the lunch crew because everyone was pretty into the figs. Every new person who walked into the kitchen was like, “Oh! Are those figs?!” like I had scored some sort of secret food that no one had had in years. So, anyway, lots of people partoook in the lunchtime tasting and everyone was happy to have some fig.

Figs are a good source of fiber and are rich in several minerals, including potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron. According to Health Food Made Easy, when you eat a half-cup of figs you get as much calcium as when you drink a half-cup of milk. Pretty cool!

I would love to try a roasted fig recipe because I think that would make the best appetizer at a party. I also saw this recipe, for fresh figs with toasted walnuts and mascarpone cheese. Mmmmmmm 🙂

Week 33: Jams!

19 Aug

Last weekend I went to my friend’s parent’s farm, Shady Acres Organic Farm, in New York. It was amazing. The farm is completely gorgeous – there’s a koi pond, plenty of shade, and a hammock to nap in. Not to mention the gardens, where Ana and Bob grow tomatoes, greens, peppers, carrots, beans, watermelons – pretty much anything you could ask for.

Amazing, right?

Because Nick’s mom Ana is a fabulous host, we ate like kings the entire weekend. Dinner on the first night was freshly-caught fish, lightly fried, served with a zucchini relish that was to-die for. We had mussels for an appetizer, a tomato-mozzarella-basil salad, and a delicious cucumber and dill salad. Everything was so fresh that it was one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten. The cucumbers and tomatoes taste a million times more amazing than those Shaws vegetables I grew up on.

Beautiful dinner table

The next morning we had an impromptu jam-tasting, using all the jams and jellies that Ana has made from the fresh fruit on the farm. We tried bluebarb jam, black cap/currant jelly, cucumber marmalade, spicy pear jam, and current jam. They were amazing! The cucumber marmalade was excellent, but belonged on a biscuit or cracker, not an English muffin. The spicy pear tasted like the fall and the bluebarb jam was sweet and delicious. I think my favorite was the black cap/current, which surprised me because I didn’t know what a black cap or a current was and didn’t think I would like it.

Breakfast jam-tasting

After the jam-tasting, instead of cozying up in the hammock or reading by the koi pond, we got to work. We made tomato sauce and bread and butter pickles and learned how to can them. Seriously! We did! It was so much fun too. We donned our aprons, stewed the tomatoes, chopped cucumbers, and tasted away. There were hours of  sauce-simmering and cucumber-cooling, and then we were ready to can. It’s a bit of a complicated process, which Nick’s mom makes seem soooooo easy. She  gets you right into the thick of things – we were stirring, tasting, pouring, boiling, and sealing away until we each had a dozen jars of delicious tomato sauce and crispy pickles to take home with us.

It was a completely amazing weekend at Shady Acres. We sat at the farm stand, picked fresh vegetables for dinner, fed the koi, napped in the hammock, played with the dogs, ate like kings, and canned like Martha Stewart. I fell in love with the farm and cannot wait until we visit again.

Week 28: Rhubarb

15 Jul

We spent last weekend on a Cape with an awesome group of friends. We ate like kings and drank like fish. And we ate pie. Because I’d never had strawberry rhubarb pie and one of our friends, Kari, is an amazing baker and was willing to teach me.

Rhubarb is a vegetable (but, funny story, is considered a fruit in the US because “a New York court decided in 1947 that since it was used in the United States as a fruit it was to be counted as a fruit for the purposes of regulations and duties” – wikipedia). The leaves are toxic but other parts of the plant are used for both medicinal and culinary purposes. Rhubarb stalks are look very much like celery, but have a strong tart taste. Most often, rhubarb stalks are cooked and used in pies and other foods for their tart flavor.

Kari didn’t even need a recipe to make the pie! I was incredibly impressed. We used store-bought crusts because, come on, I was on vacation and I wasn’t about to be rolling out pie dough with a cocktail in my hand.

Step 1 is to cut up the strawberries and rhubarbs, which kind of look like reddish-green celery, but in this picture actually look like sausage, don’t they?

Kari mixed together sugar, corn starch, and salt and added the mixture to the diced fruit:

This mixture is amazing because it starts breaking down the strawberries and rhubarbs and making a syrupy, sweet sauce. We let it sit for a while, stirring it occasionally to make sure it was doing its job. Then we poured the fruit and syrupy mixture into the ready pie crust and topped it with another top crust. We brushed the top crust with milk and added some sugar.

Beautiful, isn't it?

Then we baked it for 20 mins at 425 degrees, checking on it often to make sure it wasn’t burning. Then we lowered the temperature to 350 and baked for another 30 minutes or so. This was the most beautiful pie I’ve ever baked*.


* This is the only pie I’ve ever baked

Then we let it cool and topped each slice with ice cream.

The strawberries are sweet and the rhubarbs are tart and this pie is like their beautiful, magical marriage. Simply delicious. And now that I know how to make pies, I am so all over this. Watch out friends, we are all gaining ten pounds.

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