Privateer Rum Tasting

7 Nov

Two or three weekends ago, I had the opportunity to attend a private tasting of a brand new distillery located in Ipswich, MA – Privateer Rum Distillery courtesy of Boston Food Bloggers. I mean, who am I to say no to alcohol??????

Andrew Cabot is the owner of the infant Privateer Distillery, but make no mistake that the product that he provides is steeped in history. The distillery came to be after some research into his own history where he discovered that his ancestor (also by the name of Andrew Cabot) was a privateer during the American Revolution (how cool is that?!)

At this point it was pretty much destiny that the Privateer Distillery was born. I have to say, I was excited to taste their version of rum as I generally do not like traditional clear rum, I’m more of a dark rum person myself. Little did I know that was about to change.

At the Distillery, we were able to taste different types of traditional rums, the most commercial based, to somewhere in the middle, and finally Privateer. I have to say that Privateer was my favorite. Let’s just say it didn’t make me feel like I was getting heart burn as I was drinking it.

I think what I liked most about the Privateer headquarters is that it was part distillery, part bar, and part living room.

And of course we got to learn how rum is made. And we even got to have some samples of the product AS it was being made! How cool is that?!

And of course, being food bloggers, there was some delicious food. Lobster rolls anyone? I pretty much inhaled about 4 of these, they were so delicious.

One of the drinks that I was most excited to try was the Light & Stormy. Some of you may know that I’m OBSESSED with Dark and Stormy’s, so I was curious to see if this would be able to compete with my beloved D&S.

Made with Privateer Rum, Barritt’s Ginger beer, basil and lemon, this drink was out of this world! I couldn’t believe how well all the ingredients went together. I think my favorite part was the addition of the basil. It really kicked the drink to the next level. I can’t wait to make this drink myself!

We also got to sip some delicious and creamy clam chowder. I may have had a second cup…

Another drink that I was curious to try was the Nutty Brahmin. This drink was made with Privateer Rum, Frangelico, Kahlua and Bailey’s. This was NOT your average Mudslide. I have to admit, this was not a favorite of mine but many other people did like it.

Our main meal consisted of some delicious sweet Italian sausages with some beautiful caramelized onions and peppers with assorted condiments. The bread was a little much, but it was delicious non the less.

But let’s talk about dessert, shall we? How does apple cider donuts with maple cream sound to you? Because they sound and taste pretty amazing. These babies came from nearby Russell Orchards and were briefly grilled on the grill before being slathered with this delicious maple cream.

As if it couldn’t get any better I paired the donut with the William Tell, which was Privateer rum with apple cider, simple syrup, a touch of lime and cinnamon to finish it off. A-MAZING. Out of this world. My favorite drink by far, it seriously SCREAMED New England. And paired magnificently with the donuts.

A huge thanks to Rachel of Boston Food Bloggers for the wonderful opportunity and to Andrew Cabot of Privateer Rum for an amazing rum!

 

 

Crock Pot Shepard’s Pie

31 Oct

I originally made this Shepard’s Pie a few weeks ago when it was 80 degrees outside and sunny. I post this recipe now when there is snow on the ground and it’s barely in the 40s. Can someone say What.The.Hell.Happened?!?!!!?!

I admit, I’ve lived in New England all my life, and you’d think I would be used to this crazy weather by now, but you know what, I’M NOT. I’m not ready to miss what the ground looks like for the next 6 months. I’m not ready to have to carry 5 extra layers of clothing in order to stay warm while I’m waiting for the T for a half hour. I’m not ready to snuggle under my 80 covers on my bed.

Ok maybe I’m ok with that.

I really should have made this Crock Pot Shepard’s Pie this weekend, and not 4 weeks ago. Ah well. I do have a delicious pot roast happening right now in my Dutch Oven, so at least there is that. This recipe makes A LOT of Shepard’s Pie. Which is great if you need leftovers to last the week. Because it will. It might even last longer than that.

You know what I AM ready for? I’m ready for this cold to GTFO of here. This cold has been kicking my butt these past few weeks, which is the main reason why I haven’t posted….at all this week. I apologize. Guess that’s what happens when you are around a bunch of 4 and 5 years olds all day.

Crock Pot Shepard’s Pie
From Slow Cooker Revolution

 

Ingredients

  • 2 slices white sandwich bread, torn into quarters
  • 1/4 cup whole milk (I used skim)
  • 2lbs 85% ground beef
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 10oz white mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 onions, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 3 cups mashed potatoes
Directions
  1. Mash bread and milk into a paste in a large bowl using fork. Mix with ground beef, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper and mix with hands.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp oil in 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef mixture and cook, breaking up any small pieces, until beef is no longer pink. Transfer to slow cooker
  3. Heat remaining 2 tbsp oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, onions, carrots, tomato paste, garlic and thyme and cook until vegetables are soft, 8-10 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in broth, then transfer to slow cooker.
  4. Stir heavy cream and soy sauce into slow cooker. Cover and cook until beef is tender, about 6 hours on low.
  5. Let beef filling settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from the surface. Stir in peas and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Ladle into a bowl and cover with hot mashed potatoes.

 

Plum Cranberry Crumble

21 Oct

Recently we’ve been getting an abundance of plums in our CSA. I’ve kind of run out of ideas with them. Then, we received a bag of cranberries! How awesome! Except it wasn’t Thanksgiving so I couldn’t make cranberry sauce. So I came up with this crazy idea of combining them into a delicious crumble.

The verdict? My husband told me it was the best thing I had ever baked, ever. Whoa. That’s pretty extreme. But I knew he was serious when a day or two later it was half gone. Hmmmmm…..

But I mean, he was on to something. Delicious brown sugar crumble on top AND on the bottom? Tender slices of sweet plums plus the tarty goodness of cranberries? Yeah, I suppose I should have just known it was going to be amazing.

Can we talk about something ELSE that is amazing besides this crumble???

Wait for it…..

I GOT A NEW JOB!!!!!! DANCE PARTY!!!!

So many of you know that I’m in grad school studying to be an elementary school teacher. Well, my original plan was to stay at my job at the insurance company I was working for until I had to start my practicum next year. Well, I decided I didn’t want to do that anymore. Mainly because I felt like I was the only person in my program NOT in a school. You catch my drift?

So when my classmate and friend told me that the school she was working at was looking for an aide for a 4 year old boy with autism, I took it as a sign. I interviewed and was offered the job RIGHT after the interview. Talk about AMAZING!

So, to make a long story short, I’m into my third week at the school and I’m absolutely in love. While there are challenging days, exhausting days, new worries over just how I’m going to be able to afford to do anything anymore, there are also the days when everything goes amazing and I feel like I’m really connecting with not just my one on one, but with all the students. And I wouldn’t go back to my old job for anything. It’s nice to find something that you really click with, when you don’t feel like you are going to work everyday, but you are enjoying what you are doing!

So enough of my gushing. But you can help me celebrate by making some of this delicious Plum Cranberry Crumble!

Plum Cranberry Crumble

 

Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Ingredients

For the crumble:

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
For the filling:
  • 3 cups thinly sliced plums
  • 1.5 cups cranberries
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Juice from 1 lemon
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8×8 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a medium sized sauce pan, combine the plums, cranberries, sugars, cornstarch, and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Once it has been brought to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and continue simmering until the sauce thickens and the cranberries start to burst, about 10 minutes.
  3. For the crumble, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg in a medium sized bowl. Add the melted butter and mix until the mixture is no longer dry, but do not over mix.
  4. Pour half the crumble mixture into the bottom of the baking dish. Pour the plum/cranberry mix over the bottom crumble and use a spatula to make it even
  5. Dump the remaining crumble on top of the mixture and gently pat the crisp down.
  6. Place in the oven and bake for about 30-40 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
  7. Let cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

 

 

Ground Cherry Jam

19 Oct

Do you know what a Ground Cherry is? Yeah, I didn’t either. So when I started to get bags full of them, I had absolutely NO idea what to do with them!

I tried a bite and found that they were very sweet! The first time I used them I made a salsa verde, as I assumed they were just smaller tomatillos! It worked, but I really wanted to know what I could actually DO with these things!

So when I found myself with about 3 bags of these ground cherries, I thought to myself “Maybe I could make JAM with them?????”

Well  5 jars of beautiful ground cherry jam jars later, the answer to that question was a resounding YES! It makes for a very subtle jam, but when it’s slathered on a piece of toast with some peanut butter, it’ll give peanut butter and grape jelly a run for it’s money.

Ground Cherry Jam
From A Year in the Heritage Gardens

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of ground cherries, husks removed
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 1 package pectin
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water
Directions
  1. In a large pot, combine the ground cherries, lemon juice, water and pectin and bring to a boil.
  2. Once they are brought to a boil the cherries will start to burst, however feel free to mash them with a potato masher to speed up the process
  3. Add the sugar all at once and bring to a boil again
  4. Once it is brought to a boil for the second time, continue to boil for about 2 minutes.
  5. Pour into sterilized mason jars and cover tightly. Once they have popped, you know you are good. If they do not pop, then just stick them in the fridge once they have come to room temperature.

 

 

 

 

Boston Food Finds Tour of Beacon Hill/Back Bay

16 Oct

On Columbus Day weekend, my husband and I had the pleasure to attend a Boston Food Tour of Back Bay & Beacon Hill courtesy of  Audrey at Boston Food Finds. Never heard of Boston Food Finds? Well Audrey has developed some amazing relationships with Boston area restaurants and specialty food stores to create some amazing food tours. Her tours include Beacon Hill/Back Bay, Greenway, and coming soon, Harvard Sq & Downtown (which includes Quincy Market & the North End). They are great for the tourist as well as a local!

I was excited to try the Beacon Hill/Back Bay tour. When Joe and I moved in together, our first apartment was in Beacon Hill, so the stroll to and from each place brought back some nice memories.

Our first stop was at Lydia Shire’s famed restaurant Scampo, which is located in the beautiful Liberty Hotel. I had heard so many fantastic things about Scampo so I was very eager to start our tour.

We were given a menu of what we would be sampling while we were at Scampo. My mouth was watering the second I looked at the menu! Gnocchi and pizza?!? Two of my most favorite things!

Obviously any restaurant that has it’s own slicing machine is a great place in my book.

But first! We were able to take a tour of the kitchen. It’s fairly small, but very efficient. Many of the chef’s were working on prepping for dinner service. Yum-mie.

While we waited for the food to be served, we got to munch on some tasty homemade bread sticks. These aren’t your run of the mill boring packaged bread sticks that are served at sub par restaurants. These were crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, so-good-I-ate-3-of-them-breasticks.

We were sitting at the chef’s table, so we were able to see everything as it was made. I LOVE sitting at Chef’s tables. It’s so interesting to me to see how the food comes together to become something truly amazing.

And let me tell you, our first course did NOT disappoint. Fresh arugula, fresh tomatoes, with gooey mozzarella paired along side gnocchi served with chestnuts, Parmesan cheese reduction, and a browned butter, garlic and sage sauce.

I pretty much ate this in about 5 seconds. So amazing. And I remembered to sop up all the sauce with a fourth breadstick. Don’t judge me.

Next we tried Scampo’s world famous Lobster pizza. Um, hello? Lobster AND pizza. I might just have to live at Scampo (much to my wallet’s detriment). This pizza was amazing, tender and crispy crust, juicy and big pieces of lobster. My only teensy tiny problem with the pizza was that it was a little on the oily side. But still didn’t detract from the amazingness.

This tour was obviously off to a good start.

Our next stop was at Beacon Hill Chocolates. I have to admit, I’d walked past BHC while I lived in Beacon Hill, but never went inside. For shame. For inside contained….happiness.

BHC was in full Halloween mood. But you won’t find boring candy corn here. Sweet potato pie bars. Halloween inspired candy apples. Truffles. Lots and lots of truffles.

We were able to sample a variety of chocolates. And not just boring chocolate. Milk chocolate with lime and chile oil. Dark chocolate. All of it fantastic. And we got to take home some delicious S’Mores pops and some brownie pops. And I may have bought a couple pounds additional items.

The next stop on our tour was Bacco’s wine and cheese shop. Bacco’s opened this year and it has just been flourishing. This was another place I had walked by and was curious to see what it was all about.

Cheese? Check. Pâté? Check. Craft beers? Check. Awesome wine selection? Check. Delicious and affordable meals from Pigalle restaurant? Check. Meat and Cheese BENTO boxes?!?!! CHECKITY CHECK.

Yep. Awesome.

For this stop we got to sample some amazing Dukkah from Lydia’s Handcrafted Foods, which is an Egyptian nut and spice mix. Grab some bread, dip it in some fabulous olive oil, dip it in the Dukkah, repeat 1000 times, and fall into complete bliss. Next came the most amazing almond macaroons I’ve ever had. Made by an older gentleman, St. Emilion’s macaroons have an intense almond flavor that is out of this world. You cannot just eat one of these. We also tried 2 different varieties of cheese, plus a sweet pino grigio that was pretty amazing.

Up next was Sabatino & Co. I literally felt like I was walking into a perfume store, not a specialty food store (which is why I walked right past it!). Sabatino’s definitely belongs on Newbury St., with decadent olive oils (truffle infused olive oil anyone??), to the most amazing pistachio cream I’ve ever had in my life. I may have single handedly eaten about half of the jar.

Besides the sweets, we got to sample an intense black olive tapenade, a delicious eggplant caponata, and some delicious espresso cream.

The orange and strawberry chutney was one of my favorites. One of the most interesting products they had was truffle infused honey. Alone, I didn’t really care for the taste, but after I heard some of the things it can be used for, I would totally try it. Unfortunately, most of the items at Sabatino’s were out of my price range ($26.00 for an 8oz bottle of lemon infused olive oil????? Ouch) I didn’t buy anything.

Our second to last stop was at Turner Fisheries for their legendary clam chowder. To make their chowder, they use rice flour instead of regular flour because it produced a better consistency to the chowder. They even provided us with a copy of their recipe! Yum!

Their chowder definitely had a silky feel to it which I liked. The potatoes were great, not too soft, not too hard. Was it my favorite? Probably not, as I would have like more chunks of clam, but I will definitely take their advice on the rice flour.

Our last stop of the tour was at Sweet, because obviously we need to end with dessert. I’ve never really bought into the whole cupcake craze that has taken over Boston, as most of the time the cupcakes are overpriced, overly sweet, and overly dry.

With that said, I had a hard time picking a cupcake though. Do I go with a classic chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting? Do I go more Bostonian with a Boston Cream Pie cupcake? Do I go Fall with a Pumpkin Pie cupcake with cream cheese frosting? Decision Decisions.

In the end, I went with the Caramel Apple cupcake, complete with apple compote in the middle, vanilla bean caramel frosting, and a Popsicle stick to finish it off. It was pretty much the perfect ending to an amazing tour. Joe ended up getting the Molasses cupcake with crystallized ginger frosting, but saved it for later.

Thanks so much to Audrey and Boston Food Finds for such an amazing tour! And if you haven’t checked one out yet, you totally should!

Disclaimer: My husband and I were given 2 complimentary tickets for this tour. However, as always, all opinions are my own and were not influenced in any way shape or form.

Concord Grape Jelly

11 Oct

A few weeks ago, we got a bunch of grapes in our CSA. At first I had no idea what kind they were, and when I took a bite, it was definitely not pleasant. A quick Google search led me to my answer, Concord Grapes.

So what do you do when you get a bunch of Concord Grapes in your CSA? You make Concord Grape Jam, DUH.

I’m telling you, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches will NEVER be the same once you’ve made your own Grape Jam. It’s unreal. It’s magical. It’s the best thing ever. The only sad thing about this jam is that I only was able to make one jar and now it is almost gone. Must.Get.More.Grapes.

The link will have the original recipe which makes about 3-4 jars. The recipe below is enough for 1 pint of jam.

Concord Grape Jam
Recipe from The Hungry Mouse

Ingredients

  • 1lb Concord Grapes
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
Directions
  1. Skin the grapes by pinching one grape between two fingers and grabbing the meat of the grape. Separate the grape skin and the grape meat into 2 different bowls.
  2. Add the skins of the grape to a food processor with half of the sugar and process until liquefied. Grape skins stain EVERYTHING, so be careful, ok?
  3. Combine the pureed skins and the grape meat in a heavy bottomed, medium sized sauce pan. Add the lemon juice and the remaining sugar and stir to combine
  4. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Then reduce to a simmer and let it cook down for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally again and making sure the jam doesn’t burn the bottom of the pan.
  5. Place a small plate in the freezer. Strain the jam using a mesh strainer into a heat proof bowl until just the seeds are left.
  6. Take your plate out of the freezer. Make sure it is cold to the touch. Spoon a small amount of the jam onto the plate and return to the freezer for ONE minute.
  7. Take the plate out of the freezer and hold it on its side. If the jam runs down the plate, return the mixture to the pan and reduce further. Repeat the test until the jam doesn’t slide down the plate.
  8. For a second test, move the jam a little by running your finger from the bottom to the top. If a slight skin forms, then it is done.
  9. Place into sterilized jars and either process in a hot water bath or let them sit to room temperature before putting them in the fridge.

 

 

Harvard Square Oktoberfest 2011 @ Grendel’s Den

8 Oct

Many of you know that Joe and I honeymooned in Germany. In fact, while we were in Munich, we stayed very very close to the Oktoberfest grounds on the Theresienwiese. When it’s not being used as a large gathering for drinking copious amounts of beer and eating lots of pretzels, usually there is a carnival going on or some kind of huge flea market.

Every year, Harvard Sq celebrates Oktoberfest with a huge party, complete with parade and music in the form of Honk Fest.

We had a front row seat of all the parade festivities because during every Oktoberfest, we always get lunch at Grendel’s. They are one of the only restaurants that serve actual German Oktoberfest beers. Which makes me a very happy girl.

Unfortunately they don’t sell full liters but Joe and I both had a half liter of Paulaner Oktoberfest. Paulaner isn’t actually my favorite of the big six Munich beers (the other five being Hofbräu, Hacker-Pschorr, Spaten, Franziskaner, and my favorite and totally hard to find on draft in the US, Augustiner), but the Oktoberfest brew was still very very good.

We always start off with the pretzels and whole grain mustard. I prefer the pretzels here over the ones they have at Jacob Wirth’s, they are perfectly doughy with a good exterior.

Also served with the pretzels is Obatzda, which is a popular German cheese concoction composed of Camembert, butter, and other spices. It is a very pungent dish, so it’s something not to be taken lightly.

I went with the traditional bratwurst sandwich served with whole grain mustard and sauerkraut. The brat was grilled perfectly and the sauerkraut was pickled just the way I like it. It was served with some boring chips, so I filled myself up with the pretzels instead.

Joe went with the schweinebraten, which is pork with mashed potatoes and red cabbage. This was definitely Americanized, as the entire dish seemed to be braised in the same pot. It still tasted good, but was definitely NOT 100% German.

It’s Oktoberfest, right? Which means that we must have a second beer. I went with the Weihenstephaner Festbier, which was definitely more carbonated than the Paulaner. It did have a very crisp flavor, but I didn’t like it nearly as much as…

The Kostritzer Schwartzbier, which is a black lager. I had this lovely brew in Munich and it was one of my favorites of the entire trip. It has a really smooth taste, and if you don’t like aftertaste with your beer, you will DEFINITELY like this one.

And now I’m craving beer. Must remedy that.

I’m really pleased at how much larger and better Harvard Square Oktoberfest has become. It still has a long way to go (PLEASE sell more ACTUAL German beers and not just Harpoon and Sam Adams? Not that I have a problem with that…) but we definitely enjoy making our annual pilgrimage.

Grendel's Den on Urbanspoon

%d bloggers like this: