Archive | March, 2011

UFood Grill with Boston Food Bloggers

31 Mar

This past Monday night I had the opportunity to check out UFood Grill with a group of Boston Food Bloggers.

I have been a fan of UFood Grill ever since it was originally called Low Fat, Know Fat. I was curious to see what they were doing with a new menu. Luckily after a few name changes and menu tweaks, I’m still a fan.

We were greeted by a couple of representatives of UFood Grill, and after drinking some complimentary wines and beer, we were told to take our seats. After a rather long spiel about UFood Grill, it was on to the food! And be prepared, there was A LOT!

First off was a nice tossed salad with cherry tomatoes, feta, walnuts, and a blueberry pomegranate dressing. One of my favorite dishes of the night. It had a good crunch and the flavors melded extremely well.

Next up were the baked fries. I absolutely LOVE the baked fries over at B. Good and these tastes almost exactly the same which is a good thing! They still retained a crispy exterior and a soft interior. These were eaten up quite fast!

Next up was some balsamic glazed steak tips served with sweet potato and broccoli. The steak tips took the main stage, and they were bursting with flavor and were VERY tender. The sweet potatoes and broccoli were barely seasoned, but mixed together, they weren’t that bad. This was definitely another favorite dish.

Next up was a sausage pizza. Ever since discovering Naked Pizza (damn, that reminds me I need to do a write up on them too!! SO BEHIND!) I have yet to find a “healthy” pizza that I like more than them. This still stands. The crust was alright, crunchy and still chewy. The cheese was the right amount of stringy, but the sausage and the herbs turned me off. Too much oregano. The sausage was on the dry side and didn’t pack a lot of flavor. Later on in the night we got to sample their pesto pizza:

Thankfully the pesto pizza was a lot better, but I’d skip on the pizza here and go to Naked Pizza instead.

Throughout the night, we also got to sample some of their smoothies. I am a SUCKER for smoothies, and all of the smoothies we tried were refreshing and delicious! Perfect compliments to our meals!

Our next meal was the turkey burger with chitpotle mayo. I was VERY surprised at how juicy the turkey burger was. I was really impressed. I would definitely order this again!

The pulled chicken with brown rice had mixed reviews at our table. I appreciated the kick from the adobe sauce, but the brown rice was overcooked and too hard. The chicken itself was ok, but not something I would get again.

The next “course” was the pesto chicken panini. They explained to us that their pesto is made without pine nuts or any kind of nuts. It was very tasty! The pesto had a strong flavor, and the mozzarella was stringy, just how I like it.

At this point in the meal we couldn’t quite believe there could be more food coming!!! We definitely left quite satiated upon leaving. I’m never one to say no to anything with bacon on it, but I was not impressed with the bacon cheeseburger. After having the turkey burger I was excited to see if this burger would be just as juicy. It wasn’t. Sad face. This was also the part of the night when Kathy, Megan, Nicole and I started sharing plates instead of getting our own!

I did not enjoy their baked falafel wrap at all. Being Middle Eastern, I’m obviously very picky when it comes to items such as falafel, but this failed miserably. I’ve made baked falafel before, and it’s come out juicy and full of flavor. This falafel had no flavor, had the consistency of sand paper, and was just disappointing overall. I appreciate the pickled beets and the tahini sauce was tasty, but please, just skip out on this one.

Last but certainly not least, it was time for dessert. We had the option of choosing frozen yogurt with chocolate/vanilla or vanilla/berry. I went with the chocolate and I don’t regret it. I’ve had a hard time finding a chocolate frozen yogurt I can get behind, but UFood’s version is great! It had a strong chocolate flavor and I was very happy with it.

Overall I really enjoyed UFood Grill. There are definitely some hit and misses on the menu, but it’s nice to be able to find some good and healthy food that’s fast. They explained to us that they try to get all the food out in 3.5 minutes, so any place that can do that and have the food taste good, has my vote. We also learned that they try to source their food locally as much as they can, which I appreciate!

UFood Grill on Urbanspoon

Quinoa “Meat” Balls

29 Mar

When I saw that Katie over at the Small Boston Kitchen post a recipe for Quinoa “Meat” balls I immediately added it to my MUST MAKE NOW list.

And almost two months later here we are (Ahem, that is quick for me).

Quinoa is very quickly becoming a favorite food of mine. Quinoa is one of the healthiest foods you can have, and it packs a TON of protein plus it tastes so damn good. Quinoa has pretty much replaced a lot of the grain type food that we eat (most commonly being couscous).

Quinoa is versatile, you can pretty much have it for breakfast, lunch, dinner AND dessert. I mean, you can’t really say that for a lot of foods. Except for maybe cookies….

One bite of these delicious quinoa “meat” balls and you might not EVER go back to actual meatballs.

Ok, maybe sometimes….

Just trust me on this one, make these babies AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Quinoa “Meat” Balls

Adapted from The Small Boston Kitchen

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (I cooked it in my rice cooker, AMAZING I tell you!)
  • 6 crimini mushrooms, diced
  • 1/2 bag fresh spinach
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1 egg
  • 8-10 macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a saute pan, coat with olive oil and cook mushrooms, onion, and peppers until softened. Set aside and in the same pan cook the spinach until slightly wilted.

In a big bowl combine all the ingredients until they come together. Form into balls and place in a parchment lined baking sheet. Place into a 400 degree oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes.

Serve with spaghetti, in a sandwich, or just eat them as a snack!

Daring Baker’s: Meringue Coffee Cake

27 Mar

This was another Daring Baker/Cook’s Challenge that was done at the last possible minute. Last night at around 11:30PM to be exact. And photos were taken this morning. How’s THAT for procrastination? Just call me the Queen.

I’m always trying to enhance my knowledge of baking with yeast. And this Challenge was no exception. I was extremely happy with the rise on the bread, and even happier with the addition of the meringues (I’ve finally conquered meringues and their fickleness! Hooray!). Now I just need to work on making it look….pretty.

See what I’m saying? Ah well, as long as it tastes good right?

Hubby thought it tastes more like a babka and not a traditional coffee cake a la Entenmman’s. I gave him the side eye for it. While it’s not traditional coffee cake by any means, it’s still delicious.

 

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

Recipe from Life’s a Feast

Coffee Cake Dough

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dried yeast
  • 3/4 cup 1% milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment combine 1.5 cups of  flour, sugar and yeast. Mix together then add the salt.

In a small saucepan, combine the butter, milk and water and stir until the butter has melted. Add to the flour mixture and mix on low speed until blended. Increase the speed to medium and beat for another 2 minutes. Add the eggs and another cup of flour and beat an additional 2 minutes.

Remove bowl from mixer and using a wooden spoon add as much of the remaining flour in order to form a cohesive ball. Dump the mixture onto a floured surface and knead the dough for 8-10 minutes, adding the remaining flour until it forms a soft and smooth ball.

Place into a lightly greased bowl and make sure the ball is covered with oil on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise until doubled, about 45-60 minutes.

Meringue & Filling

  • 3 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 oz chocolate, chopped roughly
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon

In a VERY clean stand mixer with the beater attachment, add the egg whites and beat on low for 30 seconds. Increase the speed to as high as your stand mixer will go. Once the egg mixture begins to bubble and foam slightly add the vanilla extract. 1 tbsp at a time add the sugar until incorporated and stiff peaks form.

In a separate bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon and stir to combine. Set both aside

When the dough is ready punch it down a little and dump onto a floured surface and divide into 2 mounds. Roll each mound into about a 10×20″ rectangle. For each roll, dump half of the meringue mixture, followed by half the cinnamon sugar, and half of the chopped chocolate. Roll it up the long way until it forms a long roll and pinch the ends.

Gently transfer to a lined baking sheet and join the two ends to form a circle, making sure the pinched side is facing down. Using scissors, cut deeply into the roll every inch or so. The deeper you snip the better! I don’t think I snipped mine nearly as deep as I should have!

Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise an additional 45-60 minutes.

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat oven to 350. Mix up an egg wash (I didn’t have any whole eggs left so I combined 2 leftover egg yolks and some water. Worked out beautifully!) and slather it onto the rolls. Sprinkle additional cinnamon sugar if you wish.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, turning once, until the top is golden brown.

 

 

Apple Cinnamon Pop Tarts

24 Mar

Today I’m going to tell you about two of my favorite things. The first one?

Twitter

I have to admit, when I first joined Twitter I didn’t really get it. It felt like an extention of my Facebook status. I thought I would never use it. Then I got my smartphone (how did I ever live without this thing???) and became obsessed with Twitter. I think my husband thinks I need to join a Twitter-aholic’s Anonymous group or something. He just doesn’t get it 😛

I love Twitter because I’ve made so many AMAZING contacts and people that I consider friends. Twitter gets me thru the painful moments in my day. Never before have you been able to really connect with people like we have with the advent of Twitter. I can have a great meal at a restaurant and Tweet directly to them that it was fantastic, and if that restaurant is a good user of social media, they will usually respond, and I LOVE that.

When I got back from San Francisco, I checked my Twitter and noticed that Kathy & Megan were planning a bake date for that Sunday and wanted to know if I wanted to come along. Well, you both had me at bake date my dear friends.

Which brings me to my second favorite thing, which is actually part person and part book.

Joanne Chang and the Flour Cookbook.

I am not afraid to admit that I am also obsessed with Joanne Chang (but not in a stalkerish way I swear!) and her Flour Cookbook. I’ve only recently been exposed to the fabulousness that is Flour Bakery, and when I saw there was a cookbook, well, I just HAD to have it.

When I was deciding what to make for the bake date that weekend, I went straight to the Flour Cookbook. I like to take any opportunity I can to make something from the Flour Book because everything is just SO bad for you (and SO AMAZINGLY AWESOME all at the same time), I can only make something from that book if I’m going to be meeting up with people that I can give everything away to, otherwise I would be going up about 10 sizes thanks to the amount of butter and sugar that appears in these recipes.

My first foray into making homemade pop tarts was very bad. I thought I would be smart and hurry the cooling process for the dough by placing it in the freezer for 15 minutes. Let me give you some advice, DON’T do that. Just, don’t. Learn for my mistakes, PLEASE.

This time around, I was NOT fooling around. And even though they didn’t come out nice and pretty, they were AMAZING and DELICIOUS.

I am going to make these all the time. Butter be damned.

They paired nicely with the homemade hot chocolate supplied by Megan:

And the croissants that were made by Kathy:

I think I just discovered my third favorite thing: Bake Dates

Apple Cinnamon Pop Tarts

Recipe found in the Flour Cookbook by Joanne Chang

Pop Tart Crust

  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into about 12 pieces
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 tbsp cold milk

In a stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar and salt for about 10-15 seconds until combined. Add the butter to the bowl and mix on low speed for about 1 minute, until it holds together and there are still chunks of butter in the batter.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk and milk until blended and then add to the flour mixture. Mix on low speed for about 30 seconds or until the dough just comes together.

Empty onto a floured surface and gather into a tight mound. Starting on one side and at the top of the mound, use your palm and slide down the mound. Do this a couple of times until most of the butter is incorporated and the dough comes together.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and flatten into a 1″ disk. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours (I did overnight)

Apple Cinnamon Filling

  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour

In a medium saucepan melt the butter over high heat. Add the apples and toss for 2-3 minutes. Add the sugar and toss for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for at least a half hour before spooning onto pop tarts

Assemble the Pop Tarts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Take the dough out of the fridge and divide in half. Roll out each half on a floured surface to about a 11×14″ rectangle. I think mine rolled out a little smaller but I just rolled the extra dough together to form extra pop tarts. Using a paring knife, lightly score one rectangle into 8 3.5×5.5″ rectangles or about the size of an index card. Lightly beat one egg and brush the top of the dough with the egg. Spoon 2 big tbsp of filling on each. I had some filling leftover. Lay the second layer on top of the first. I used a fork to seal the pop tarts and brushed it again with the remaining egg. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Let them cool for at least 30 minutes.

I made a cinnamon glaze and brushed it on top. It was a little watery (not enough sugar me thinks) but still delicious!

Fly Away to San Francisco: Part 5

22 Mar

We’re going to skip ahead to our last full day in San Francisco. Why? I don’t need to tell you why, it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want!

…Just kidding.

Anyway, like I was saying, our last day in San Francisco was spent on the other side of the Bay in Berkeley. We took the BART from downtown and as soon as I came above ground I thought I was back on the East Coast. In fact, I swore I was in Cambridge, Central Square to be exact. And then Harvard. And maybe some Porter and definitely a splash of Davis thrown in for good measure.

It was kind of amazing and scary all at the same time.

The next time we come to the West Coast, I plan on spending a lot more time in Berkeley. So many amazing sounding restaurants stretched before us. Coffee shops galore. Crunchy granola. Lots of crunchy granola.

For lunch we decided to stop at Cheeseboard, which was highly recommended to us by two of our local friends.

Cheeseboard is a co-op and their menu is tiny. One pizza special. One dessert special. One salad special. $3 beers. That’s it. A whole pizza will set you back $20 and it feeds between 2-4 people. They list their pizza specials on their website so you know what they are going to have for the week.

The special for this particular day was red bell pepper, onions, mozzarella, feta, kalamata olive tapenade, garlic oil, and italian parsley. They only serve white pizza, so no sauce. But don’t worry, it doesn’t need it.

The pizza was pretty freaking amazing. I loved the saltiness of the olives with the stringiness of the cheese. The sauce was not missed at all. It was a huge burst of flavor in my mouth. There wasn’t much talking while we consumed our pizza.

But that’s ok! Because we got to listen to one of the live bands that plays there every day! It was a beautiful day outside, so the windows were open and there were tables outside.

Cheeseboard was definitely a great finish to our stay in San Francisco and makes me itching to come back to explore the awesomeness of Berkeley!

Cheeseboard Pizza on Urbanspoon

Boston Bruncher’s Dine & Dash!

17 Mar

For March’s Boston Brunchers a bunch of us decided to sign up for the Ras Na hEireann 5K race in Davis Square Somerville. After that, we would be brunching at Gargoyles on the Square. I was pumped for two reasons. #1 I love races and #2 I have been DYING to try Gargoyles Disco Brunch. So it was absolutely perfect.

The race itself was great, and filled with thousands of people, some dressed in just shorts (too cold!), others dressed in their greenest finery. I managed to finish in 27:02 (a personal best for me!) and nommed on a snack from Diesel Cafe while waiting for everyone to finish the race. Then, it was off to brunch!!

Since the rest of the bars in Davis were packed to the brims we decided to head over to Gargoyles early. They let us hang out at the bar area until our table was ready. The bartender that morning was fantastic! (Wish I remembered her name). For my drink I had a coffee with Irish Cream since I hadn’t had any coffee yet. It was delicious! And the coffee was strong! I also tried some of Renee’s bloody mary. Now, I am no bloody mary drinker but this was AMAZING. They make their own in house gazpacho infused vodka, and it literally tasted like soup and DIDN’T taste like alcohol. And I KNOW there was alcohol because I saw her pour it in. That drink is dangerous.

We finally sat down and it was like a party was going on. Disco ball, flashing lights, glow bracelets, and even a hot pink boa. Oh, and of course the seventies music. And it was REALLY dark.

We all decided to split a couple of orders of their homemade donuts. These babies were light fluffy balls of cinnamon and fried goodness. Pillows of air covered in cinnamon sugar. Served with a cream sauce on the side. I could have eaten 5 of them. But I didn’t.

Instead I saved room for the pretzel pancakes that were served with peanut butter fluff and two sausage patties. The pancakes didn’t scream PRETZEL, but that’s ok, it was the right combination of sweet and salty and peanuts. The sausage patty was pretty tasty too. I also managed to grab a couple of waffle fries, and I gave them a big thumbs up.

The only downside of the party? Once we sat down at our table we were ignored for at least 20 minutes. I didn’t mind too much, as I was surrounded by party music and friends, but it was a little off putting. We were told that they were a little backed up and that was why there was a long wait, but it was still off putting.

If you haven’t tried the disco brunch at Gargoyles you need to try it ASAP!

Oh, and you are probably wondering by now why there are no pictures? It’s because it was a homework assignment from Boston Food Bloggers. But don’t worry, if you want to check out pictures of the brunch, you can head over to some of the other bloggers that came!

Gargoyles on the Square on Urbanspoon

Daring Cook’s: Papas Rellenas

14 Mar

When I found out what the next Daring Cook’s challenge was, I simulataneously went, AWESOME and WTF?!?

I told hubby that it was ceviche and papas rellenas. He was not very excited by the thought of try to do raw fish at home. And, as I thought about it, neither did I. I’d rather just go to a restaurant and have other people worry about freshness and doing raw fish right instead of me worrying about it.

That and I did my Daring Cook’s challenge at about 8PM last night.

Whoops?

Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenges us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau. And Papas Rellenas adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra.

Papas Rellenas

Recipe adapted from the recipe supplied to us from Kathlyn

Potato “Dough”

  • 1.5lb potatoes, peeled
  • 1 egg

Boil the potatoes until a fork pierces the poatatoes easily. Cook completely then mash them with a potato ricer. Add the egg and mix until a dough forms.

Filling

  • 1lb ground turkey
  • 1 yellow pepper, finely diced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped olives
  • 1 jalepeno pepper, chopped
  • 1.5 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • salt and white pepper to taste

In a saute pan heat 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add onions and garlic and stir for 4-5 minutes or until slightly translucent. Add jalepeno and pepper and stir additional 4 minutes. Add meat and cook until brown. Add olives ad spices and stire to combine. Deglaze the pan with the white wine. Add salt and pepper. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

Coating

  • 1 egg, beaten with a little water in one bowl
  • 1/2 cup flour with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper and salt in another plate
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs in another plate

To assemble:

Scoop up some of the potato and flatten into a disc and scoop some of the filling into the middle. Wrap the potato around the filling, using extra potato to fill in the gaps if needed. Roll the finished ball first in the flour, then the egg mixture, and finally the panko bread crumbs.

In another deep pan, heat about 1.5-2″ of canola oil until it reaches about 350-375 degrees. Fry the papas for about 2-3 minutes on each side, until it reaches desired color. Serve immediately!

%d bloggers like this: