Monthly Archives: March 2012

damn you chris kimball!!!

i picked up a copy of the best of america’s test kitchen 2012 the other day from barnes & noble. i had a gift card from christmas taking up space in my wallet (thanks MJ and ali!) plus i like to compete with ATK in the kitchen. i view each and every one of their recipes as a challenge. a thrown gauntlet if you will. not like i’m some great chef or anything, but i like to look at the ridiculousness that is 5 pages of musings on whether turning the oven 3 degrees lower might have made the texture of the tibetian yak pie less stringy and using organic parchment paper would have rendered the belgian chocolate free-form tortes even more delectable and belgian-y. i live to condense their 9 page recipes into 1 and show them up by making whatever it is in 4 simple drama-free steps – and still blow your mind. after flipping through the 96 pages of food porn nonsense, i settled on the pasta roll-ups with chicken. such an unassuming name. bastards. they almost had me fooled. after skimming their recipe, i decided that it was absolutely unacceptable. i got rid of the sundried tomato and pine nuts immediately. while pine nuts are very yummy, they are extremely expensive right now. why go buy a bag of pine nuts for 17 bucks when you can get a scoop of walnuts from the bulk food aisle at any supermarket for a couple of bucks? i also subbed ricotta cheese for goat (though i do love goat cheese, i didn’t see this dish hanging on the use of goat cheese). but went ahead with the mozzarella and shredded parmesan. i simmered my chicken breast till done (figure it out) along with some salt, pepper and bay leaves for company. DO NOT BOIL! and when it does temp out, leave it to rest on a plate for 10 minutes while you put the rest of this nonsense together. soak your no-boil lasagna noodles in hot water for about 5 minutes till pliable. set aside and cover with a damp paper towel or cloth. i sauteed some bacon, and used the grease as a base for the roux. i made a simple roux with garlic, onion, half & half, s&p, chicken broth, and added parmesan, chopped walnuts and some mozzarella. ATK calls for nutmeg, but honestly, i never seem to have nutmeg and i don’t see this dish suffering too much from it’s exclusion. back to the chicken: use two forks to shred it  and then incorporate half the sauce. at this point, i add some herbs such as basil and oregano, possibly a little red pepper flake if you like it hot. i chose to add prosciutto to this recipe on a whim (i had it in the fridge). lay out your wet noodles and line with prosciutto. spoon the chicken/sauce mixture on top and prepare to roll. once you have your pasta rolled, place in a greased casserole dish and cover with the reserved sauce. cover with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes @ 350. remove foil and top with remaining shredded cheese and broil on high for 3-5 minutes. bazinga. if you can’t follow my simple directions, you have no place even cracking an ATK book, let alone reading this blog. make me proud. 

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yeah, I.T. called and they said that’s not yo’ cheese

all the time, i see some simply amazing shit at work. sometimes it’s hysterical, and sometimes it’s just sad and bizarre. i caught this today whilst walking through the caf:Image

most people in IT are socially awkward cheese hoarders

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ralph’s rockstar diner

ralph’s is a major institution, known not only to the woostah locals, but as a hidden new england gem to many in…well, rhode island. that’s about it. so they’ve got central MA and lil’ rhody, which could be worse. however, as the providence natives know, there are few, and ever dwindling, live music venues left in pvd compared to just 5 years ago. well, ralph’s chadwick square diner (which isn’t in chadwick square, make sure you mention  that to your gps) is still here! and i would argue that you need to at least make one trip and experience it’s awesomeness. built out of an old dining car, attached to an ancient firehouse, it’s the perfect eclectic mix of awesome food, great atmosphere and some really good bands. as you enter (beware the mob of cynical hipster smokers out front; don’t get any cynical on you…or hipster for that matter), turning left will bring you into the dining car. behind the counter, running the length of the car, some dude is grilling burgers and the slight smokey char of tasty meat wafts all throughout. my first visit, i plunked down on a counter seat and asked for a menu. i think the jukebox actually stopped. there are no menus! this is ralph’s! i was informed that they serve: burgers, veggie burgers, chili. there’s no special cheese selection, you can’t add applewood smoked slab bacon for $2, and there are definitely no crostini for the chili. you will get your cheeseburger and bag of chips and you will like it! so, stfu, sit, and get a burger. they are one of the best i’ve had since moving here. there is something to be said for doing just a few things and doing them really well. oh, and at the counter, full bar service. it’s like you don’t even need to move! however, you might miss out on all the other stuff going on at ralph’s.  if you were to turn right upon entering, you would head into a more typical bar area. rough wood, vintage signs, more hipsters, etc. a year or so ago, i actually went on a first date to ralphs, way before i actually knew very much about the place. it was an internet thing, and the girl was just getting back from an early wedding reception on a saturday evening. she had texted me, “hey, let’s meet up at ralph’s for a bit”. then she texted immediately after, “wait, i might be too drunk to go out – call me first so i know you’re not some psycho”. this, of course should have set off all kinds of alarm bells on my end. however, for those of you who actually know me, you know that we were at ralph’s within the next 30 minutes. and we were. we proceeded into the bar section and i quickly realized that it was karaoke night. she apparently knew and had actually intended on going to sing karaoke, because she made a beeline for the sign up table. we stood, awkwardly sipping beers till it was her turn. when they called her name, she rushed up to the mic and sang, “buffalo stance“. yes, that one. then she calmly replaced the mic, stepped off the stage, and came back and grabbed her beer. we never spoke about what had just happened. needless to say, i’m sure it goes without saying that nothing ever came of that first date travesty. continuing on, if you venture upstairs, that’s where all of the live music takes place. it’s a pretty much open floor plan with a good sized stage at the end and another full bar. motorcycles hang from the ceiling, your little brother’s highschool band sticker is on the wall and the hipsters have somehow figured out how to navigate the stairs. of course it depends who’s playing, but the atmosphere is really good and you could end up spending your saturday night at much worse places

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