Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I've Moved!

Update your bookmarks - I moved to my new domain name and have switched over to WordPress (sorry Blogger).

It's still under construction, but all of my posts have been migrated. There seem to be a zillion design options in WordPress, so I would love some feedback on how I've set things up so far.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Three Bean Chili

What I love about making chili is that it’s so easy to improvise. It turns out differently every time, but only gets better and better.

I used three types of beans for this version – black, pinto, and kidney. The base consisted of cooked down onions, red bell pepper, and poblano pepper. A few chipotle chilis gave it a smoky heat, and a mixture of ground chili, cumin, coriander, and oregano rounded out the flavor. We made this to eat while watching the first Pats game of the season, so adding a bottle of beer seemed appropriate.

This chili was the perfect match for beer and football. Beware though, it was quite spicy.

Three Bean Chili

Vegetable oil
2 large sweet onions, chopped
1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp. coriander seed, toasted and ground*
1 tbsp. cumin seed, toasted and ground*
1 tbsp. Mexican oregano
1 tsp. hot chili powder (not a chili blend, just chili powder)
3 chipotle peppers, chopped
1 12-oz bottle of dark beer (we used Brooklyn Brown)
1 28-oz can of whole tomatoes
1 14-oz can black beans
1 14-oz can pinto beans
1 14-oz can kidney beans
1/3 c. cilantro, chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Juice of half a lime
Avocado, for serving
Greek yogurt or sour cream, for serving

*I toast the whole seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until lightly brown and fragrant, and then grind them.

Cook the onions in some vegetable oil over medium heat for about 15 minutes. Add the chopped poblano and red bell pepper. Cook for another 15 minutes until the vegetables are soft and lightly caramelized.

Add the garlic, coriander, cumin, oregano, chili powder, and chipotles. Cook for five minutes.

Add the beer and turn the heat up to high. Cook for about five minutes and add the tomatoes, crushing them before adding them to the pot. Once the tomatoes are simmering, add the beans.

Cook the chili for about an hour, adding water if it gets too dry. Right before serving, add the cilantro, scallions, and lime juice. Top with sliced avocados and a dollop of greek yogurt or sour cream. Crack open a beer.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


While brainstorming “tropical” things to cook for dinner on the night of the hurricane, Matt thought of a dish he had tried called Doubles. They’re a street food from Trinidad and Tobago that he described to me as spicy, curried chickpeas sandwiched between fried flatbreads and served with a variety of hot sauces and chutneys. I was sold.

We threw together a probably not-very-authentic but extremely tasty version of Chana Masala as the filling, and then found a recipe for the fried bread, which are called “bara,” on Saveur. For sauces, we used both a store-bought chutney and Jamaican jerk hot sauce. It was a perfect thing to cook on a (very) rainy day.


For the Filling

Vegetable oil
½ a yellow onion, chopped
1 fresno chili pepper, seeds removed and minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 ½ tsp. garam masala
1 ½ tsp. chili powder
Shake of turmeric
2 tbsp. whole milk yogurt
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 can of chickpeas, drained
Handful of cilantro, chopped

Start by sautéing the onion in some oil over medium heat. When it starts to soften, add the fresno chili, garlic, and ginger. Let this cook for a couple of minutes until softened, and then add the cumin, garam masala, chili powder, and turmeric. Cook for another minute or so, until the spices are fragrant. Add the yogurt and tomato paste. Let this mixture cook down so that it resembles a paste (about five minutes).

Add the chickpeas and just barely cover with water.

Let the mixture cook until the chickpeas are heated through. Then, scoop out roughly a half cup of the mixture and blend.

Return the blended chickpea mixture back to the pot.

At this point, you just want to cook it until the flavors come together. We let it sit on the stove while we cooked the bread, adding a little bit of water here and there if it dried out too much. Add the fresh cilantro at the very end before serving.

For the Bread
(Adapted from Saveur)

1 cups flour
1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 ¾ tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. sugar
3/8 c. water

Whisk together the flour, years, turmeric, salt, and sugar. Add the water and mix with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms.

Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Lightly oil the dough and transfer to a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, transfer to a warm place, and let it rise for about 1 ½ hours.

After it has risen, divide the dough into 8 1-ounce portions and form into balls. Press each ball until it resembles a thin disk.

Heat some vegetable oil to about 325 degrees and fry the bread one portion at a time, flipping once, for about 30 seconds total.

Transfer the breads to a paper towel lined tray and sprinkle with salt while they’re still hot.


I assembled all four “sandwiches” before serving and put them on a platter, but you could also just make them as you go.

We topped our doubles with a drizzle of jerk sauce and a nice heap of mango chutney. It was a spicy, sweet, and crunchy combination of goodness!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Restaurants: A Single Pebble

I had read some mixed reviews of A Single Pebble but thought the menu looked really tasty, so Matt and I thought we would try it for lunch last week. While I’m not exactly sure they serve very authentic Chinese food, everything tasted really fresh and surprisingly light.

I got the Spicy Sichuan Noodles with Chicken. The chicken was incredibly moist and was served on top of the noodles with some lightly sautéed bok choy. The sauce had a kick, but wasn’t as spicy as I had expected. The noodles themselves were great, and the portion was very generous!

Matt ordered some Scallion Pancakes. These were definitely the favorite out of everything we ordered. Even though they were fried, they didn’t taste greasy. They also actually tasted like scallions.

Matt also got the Pan-Fried Vegetable Potstickers. The posticker wrappers had that nice chewy-crisp texture, but we thought the filling was just a little bland. They weren’t bad, but weren’t the standout.

We shared the Coconut Tapioca Pudding for dessert. It was intensely coconut flavored without being too sweet. It was layered with fresh, tart blueberries and topped with some toasted coconut. It was simple and fantastic.

The lunch menu was very reasonably priced, I thought. The dinner menu does seem a little pricy, which seems to be part of why this restaurant gets criticized, but I think the freshness of the food is worth it. I’m hoping to make it back here for dinner before my time in Burlington is over!

A Single Pebble
133 Bank St
Burlington, VT 05401
A Single Pebble on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Restaurants: Redbones

Redbones is my favorite neighborhood hangout. The food is delicious and dirt cheap, and they are serious about their beer. The best time to go is definitely during lunch, in my opinion, as it can turn into kind of a madhouse at dinner. I also love sitting at the bar when possible.

They were actually open on Sunday during the hurricane, so we walked down there for lunch. We stuck to some of our favorites from their diverse beer list: Matt got a Brooklyn Brown and I got a Sixpoint Bengali Tiger.

We always order way too much food and can hardly ever make a dent, but I love getting a variety. The portions are just so big! This time, we started with the fried pickles and jalapenos, which were served with a homemade ranch dipping sauce. They’re always perfectly crunchy (which can be tricky with fried pickles) and well seasoned.

Matt is a vegetarian, so usually gets some assortment of sides and fried things. This time, he got the hushpuppies as part of his meal. They are basically puffy balls of delicious fried corn bread with scallions and garlic, served with a vinegar sauce.

He also got the corn fritters, which I always have to sneak a bite of. They taste like corn doughnuts and are served with real maple syrup. They could definitely pass as dessert.

We always get one of each of their sauces: sweet, hot, mild, and vinegar. My favorite is the sweet, but they’re all worth a try.

I often opt for their sliders rather than one big sandwich so I can have more variety. However, each slider is honestly enough for a meal. This time I got two (for the blog, of course): jerk beef (above) and pulled chicken (below). Each is served on a soft little bun with coleslaw and a pickle. The jerk beef just melts in your mouth and has a great kick. The tender beef with the soft bun, crunchy pickle, and creamy slaw is the perfect little bite.

The pulled chicken slider is similarly assembled, but the chicken is much sweeter. I like to put the sweet sauce on the jerk beef, and the spicy sauce on the sweet chicken.

I should mention that the ribs are also fantastic even though I didn't get any this time. The St. Louis style is my favorite, but you can’t go wrong with any of them.

Since the sliders don’t come with any sides, I ordered some potato salad. Their potato salad is one of my favorite things on the menu. It’s almost like a hybrid between potato salad and mashed potatoes – how can you go wrong with that? It’s creamy, but also tangy, and is downright addicting.

We often order a side of the atomic corn relish to go with everything. It stays true to its name – this stuff is seriously hot. I am a huge fan of anything spicy, and I can only tolerate the smallest bit of this relish on my food. However, it presents a nice challenge! It is also surprisingly flavorful, if you can tolerate the spice.

You have to save room for at least a bit of pecan pie at Redbones. They just have a really good, classic pecan pie with that sticky-sweet filling topped with the crunchy pecans.

It was the perfect end to another great meal at Redbones.

55 Chester Street
Somerville, MA 02144
Redbones Barbecue on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Eggs In Purgatory

I’m not sure how the name Eggs in Purgatory came about, but it’s basically eggs baked in tomato sauce. It’s also my new favorite brunch dish.

The dish is very basic and starts with a good tomato sauce. My go-to tomato sauce is the Rich Tomato Sauce from Marco Canora’s Salt to Taste. The recipe calls for cooking crushed cloves of garlic in olive oil until soft, then adding good canned tomatoes. You cook the tomatoes for about 30 minutes and then puree, adding in chunks of cold butter to make it a little bit creamy along with some fresh basil. I just love how simple it is, and it always comes out great.

I make a lot of variations on Marco Canora’s sauce, so I made a slightly spicy version of it this morning with fresh oregano instead of basil. We had a version of eggs baked in tomato sauce from Posto recently that was very heavy on the oregano, and it was delicious! I also upped the olive oil and garlic a little bit and omitted the butter, thinking that the eggs would provide enough creaminess in the dish.

Once the sauce is ready, the rest comes together quite fast. We used the eggs in purgatory recipe from Serious Eats as a guide for how long and at which temperature to cook the eggs. We also cut and toasted some thick slices of bread to put the eggs on.

Eggs in Purgatory

¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
½ tsp. red chili flakes
1 28-oz can tomatoes (we like Trader Joe’s brand)
Fresh oregano
4 eggs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Thick slices of bread

Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat and add the cloves of garlic and chili flakes. Cook for about 5 minutes until lightly golden and soft, adjusting the heat if necessary. Meanwhile, preheat the overn to 375 degrees. Add the tomatoes, crushing them a little bit with a wooden spoon. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper. Simmer for about 30 minutes.

When it’s ready, the tomatoes will be broken down and the oil will kind of separate and be on top of the sauce.

Add some fresh oregano (a sprig, more or less) and puree using a hand blender. Taste, and then season with salt and pepper if necessary.

Transfer some of the sauce to an oven proof casserole dish. There will be sauce left over, but it never goes to waste at our house. Crack four eggs into the casserole.

Cook the dish in the 375 degree oven for about 12 minutes. Toast the bread in the oven in the last five minutes of cooking time. To ensure that the yolks stay runny, take it out right as the whites begin to set and all turn white. They might not look quite done, but they will continue to set after you take it out of the oven.

Dip the bread right into the dish, or spoon the eggs and sauce right over the bread. You can also top it with a little bit of freshly grated parmesan cheese and/or some flaky sea salt. It’s such a simple but incredible combination.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Restaurants: Trattoria Delia

Matt and I checked out Trattoria Delia last night. Yelpers rave about this place, calling it the best Italian food in northern Vermont. I’m always skeptical about places hyped this much, but I went with an open mind.

The interior was very old-school (not in a good way), with the big wooden door, dark walls, and fancy tablecloths. I was immediately turned off when we sat down and our waitress placed a bottle of wine on our table. I’m pretty sure this is a technique the Olive Garden uses to sell more wine. I guess they think that if you see it, you’re going to buy it. Sure enough, they swiftly took away the original bottle when we ordered our own bottle of wine. I thought this was really tacky.

A few things on the menu struck me as odd. Almost every pasta dish had cream and sounded extremely heavy. Don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t coming here for a diet meal – but their combinations just sounded too rich. Also, random words in their menu descriptions were in Italian, which were italicized to show, I can only assume, how “authentic” the restaurant is.

“Wood-grilled fish of the day served with a marinata of olive oil, garlic, lemon, parsley and black pepper.”

None of these things would really matter to me if the food was good.

We started with the bruschetta. The first piece I tried had so much garlic that it actually burned the roof of my mouth. I couldn’t even taste the tomatoes. The second was lighter on the garlic, but still lacked flavor. I was at least hoping for some basil, but instead we got a few leaves of wilted arugula and a couple of sad olives

Matt ordered the Orecchiette con Fricone, which was described as a fried tomato sauce with crushed garlic, red pepper, and arugula. This was probably the most successful dish of the night, but it still wasn’t great. The pasta was cooked inconsistently and we both expected there to be more tomatoes.

I ordered the Gamberoni, which were blue prawns coated with bread crumbs and then grilled over a wood fire. It came with parsley infused olive oil and so-called “grilled vegetables.” The shrimp were overcooked and the olive oil didn’t add much flavor. The vegetables were a definite afterthought. The green beans were mushy and unseasoned. The carrots tasted like they were honey glazed (yes, like the kind people eat on thanksgiving). For $25, I was hoping for some fresh, grilled summer vegetables.

I’m not sure why, but we stuck around for dessert hoping things would get better. We ordered the Profiteroles. The pastry was dry and rubbery and the gelato was flavorless. To cover up the quality of the profiteroles, they were drenched in a syrupy chocolate sauce.

I have to attribute all of the good reviews to the fact that there aren’t many Italian restaurants in the area. For what we paid for our meal here (a lot!), I really cannot say good things about Trattoria Delia.

Trattoria Delia
152 Saint Paul Street
Burlington, VT 05401
Trattoria Delia on Urbanspoon