Tag Archives: eatin’

serial crepe-ist.

i like crepes. i like crepes like zombie boy likes turtles. preferably savory crepes, but honestly i would put away any egg batter concoction you would place in front of me. so when i came across the merry table last year, a tiny french creperie in ptldme on wharf street, i thought i had creped myself and gone to heaven. on a whim, we had decided to head up to maine for a little vaca. although barring portland, i really don’t get the appeal at all. but in that really cool little city, there are a ton of excellent, quirky, even edgy, restaurants and eateries. the merry table wasn’t edgy. it was very much french. it’s location on wharf street, an alley really, with brick paving and stone buildings lends itself to the waterfront atmosphere and i was ready for a serious crepe experience! you can read my review on yelp that i linked to, but in the end, the merry table was a bit disappointing. and that made me think: crepes are not that hard to make. but to perfect? that is something entirely different. so i looked around the interwebs for a great crepe recipe. there were some good ones. there was also a lot of…crepe…sorry. no more crepe-y puns. seriously…that was it. i used to work in a kitchen that was owned by right-off-the-boat neapolitans. like, yesterday. and these guys had a fantastic savory crepe recipe that they had brought with them from the motherland. i don’t exactly remember it now in it’s entirety, but i do remember the ratio of 4:2:1 – respectively, eggs, milk, flour. like, a stick of melted butter, a bit of salt and a pinch of sugar and that’s it folks. i remember making up 10 gallon batches by hand waaayyy before there were cheap immersion blenders readily available. the trick was, once you had whipped all that air into the batter, you then needed to let it sit overnight in order not to have big fluffy pillows of pan-fried goodness. so, in my quest to recreate the perfect crepe. i knew that i needed to get the right tools for the job. hellllloooo williams sonoma. i had a gift card luckily, so i didn’t have to trade in my first born or anything. i got a sweet crepe pan from de Buyer, so that was pretty good. Image

i just followed my ratio of 4:2:1 and whipped up a Image

small batch of batter. this time with an immersion blender…Imagelet your batter sit for at least 3 hours if not overnight. you need to get the air out of the mix so it doesn’t puff up in the pan. now remember, butter is your friend. you need to butter the eff out of this in order to do it right. we’ve already got an entire stick of butter in the batter, but you need to butter the pan in between every other crepe, at the least. find the ladle that is appropriate to the pan size your’re using and drop it in a hot pan. medium heat to get it going, but you’re going to want to bring it back to med-low to finish these. they’re thin so they can burn easily. Image swirl the pan gently to distribute the batter evenly. then wait about 1 minute. then flip. if you can’t flip something in a pan, stop reading. i use wax paper sheets to stack multiple crepes when they’re done. which should be about 20 seconds more on the other side. Imageand that’s what you’re looking for. just slightly browned. so now we need a filling. you could do ham & brie, turkey with bechamel, baked apples & marscapone, etc etc etc. this light, delicate wrap is awesome with a million different combinations, so explore the possibilities. i chose to go with a thyme grilled chicken and lemon vinaigrette dressed arugula. ImageImage

i always grill the woody thyme stems into the chicken because it imparts such a great smoky woody flavor. Image

the best thing is that you can freeze extra crepes to use later, or refrigerate if you plan on using them within the week.Image

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hot for hummus

just felt it was my duty to let you know that THIS was out there (NentirelySFW. but really, it’s going to come down to the office culture and the style of management, etc. etc., blahblahblah…).

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superbowl xlvi banh mi

ahh, the superbowl. hundreds of thousands of fanatics cram bars and private parties to watch a bunch of dudes in spandex spank each other. yeah, i’m totally into it too. being raised in a house that rooted consistently for the ny giants, and then living in new england currently, this last superbowl, and the one prior in 2008, have really pushed my level of tolerance. granted, american football is a pretty cool sport with a lot of conviction, strategy and butt-slapping, however, i really can’t find it in myself to get behind a team. while i don’t mind watching the physical and strategic contest, i could really give a crap about who wins. it’s a game people. a game. what i really enjoy, is watching the ridonculous SB commercials and making tasty meaty food. this year, i had a hankerin’ for some banh mi. i must have seen it somewhere recently so it was stuck in my head. i was now determined to make the best sandwich ever. i started out with some chinese 5-spice sauteed pork, sliced radish, cilantro, julienned carrot, sliced cucumber, a touch of lime juice and mayonnaise. all of which i stuffed into a par-baked baguette then toasted off. annnd, that was it. this stuff is easy folks, get to it.

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nime chow tuesdays

i have almost zero food in my fridge, which is odd for someone who likes to cook, and often at that. i guess i can attribute this to working around food and eating at least two of my threeish to fourish meals of the day on the job. but when i get the yen to make something super delicious at home, i’ve got to go out shopping for the items specifically. and because i’m usually just cooking for 1, i’m left with a bunch of really odd items with no seeming correlation between them. arborio rice, chickpeas, pancetta, ginger root, you get the idea (although i could definitely make something with that stuff). the other night i got in around 9pm from work and started scouring the contents of my fridge, which i knew to be an exercise in failure. shrimp. cilantro. carrots. wait a minute…don’t i have a package of rice wrappers somewhere?

i only use double parrot. those single parrot wrappers are rubbish.

and that’s when it hit me, i had almost the exact makings of nime chow. i started pulling things out of cabinets and it only kept getting better. fish sauce, rice vinegar, romaine, vermicelli. shortly, i had my mise en place assembled and ready for action. i don’t have much counter space in my tiny kitchen, so i painstakingly have to make these one at a time. i let the rice paper soak in room temp water on a plate for about 1 minute or just under. once that is pliable (you’ll get a feel for just how soft they have to be after you do one or two), i transfer to another surface and load in the ingredients, which, depending on your recipe, or in my case, what i had to work with, can vary. the most common versions that i have seen include: lettuce, thai basil or cilantro, shrimp and vermicelli. i threw in some julienned carrot for good measure. a couple of years ago one of my brothers got me an OXO mandoline for christmas and all i have to say is, love. it. loveit. make sure your ingredients are centered left to right and just a bit lower than center on the rice paper. i fold in my sides first, just about 1.5″ in, but there are actually differing schools of thought on this. now that i had my nime chow assembled, i needed a dipping sauce. i really like some heat, so i decided to make a nuoc mam and added a bit of chili oil.i didn’t use a recipe for this. i just remembered a really good one i had at a vietnamese place i frequent and tried to recreate the same flavors. however, i’m sure the interweb is teeming with great nuoc mam recipes if you need them. one word of advice, DO NOT, burn the fish sauce while heating. i have done this before and my entire place smelled like the hold of a japanese fishing trawler for at least the next week. you don’t really need to give it much flame anyway, you’re just incorporating sugar till dissolved. and that’s it. it took me about 20 minutes to make an awesome dinner with random nonsense. im really hoping that my pantry and fridge align next week to make something equally ridiculous, perhaps osso buco?

that magic moment when you look in your fridge at 9:15 on a tuesday night and say, yeah, i could make some nime chow with what i've got right now.

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all the way, means something different in the woo

for those of you lucky enough to have spent some time in lil’ rhody, you’re…well, lucky. those of you that haven’t, you’re an outsider peering in through never-quite-clean windows, rubbing, rubbing, rubbing, but never getting that clear view of what’s inside the somewhat odd, yet mysterious and beckoning shop front. when i moved to RI roughly 11 years ago, one of my friends suggested meeting up at “sparky’s for suhm wienahs”. while i was initially confused and believing that we might be headed out to one of RI’s many and illustrious gay bars, i took him up on his offer and discovered a truly provincial and tasty-meaty treat (ok, stop laughing). hot wieners are an RI staple (really, stop laughing, this is not that kind of blog you jerk). brought there by the greeks in the 30’s and 40’s, what has become dubbed the “new york system” has flourished in RI and surrounding locales. according to wikipedia, hot wieners are made primarily of pork and veal, setting their distinct flavor apart from beef hot dogs. they are served in a steamed bun and most usually served with a proprietary meat sauce, celery salt and chopped raw onion. they tend to be smaller than a regular dog, which prompts both casual customers and zealots alike to order more than one. ordered as described, one shouts, “all the way!” at the grill cook, and then uses their digits to clarify just how many gaggers one desires. the grill cook then, ala tom cruise in cocktail, loads the dogs up his arm and dresses them as requested. the first time i witnessed this, i must admit i shivered just a bit in gastronomic anticipation. i also shivered just a bit due to the thought of my wieners touching the hairy-armed grill cook’s appendage. up the arm and all the way (which will get you about 6 hot wieners, dressed with meat sauce, etc) is how you do it. so, after moving to the woo, it was good to know that at least one institution was dedicated to the new york system. i haven’t been to coney island as of yet, and i hesitate to go, only because it might be a major letdown compared to my experience of RI gagger joints. however, the other night i was at a private party in west boylston and it was a classic rager. the hosts had put together a sumptuous buffet of wonderful food. as the night ran out, i sauntered back up to the buffet to see what i could scavenge. sadly, all i found was a box of frozen (yes, still frozen) spanikopita, and, sad dog. while sad dog was obviously in party mode, sad dog was still sad – as evidenced by sad dog’s picture. apparently, in worcester, “all the way” means a paper party hat

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new year’s at bocado

this is the second year in a row that we’ve done new years eve flamenco wine dinner at bocado. if you haven’t been, go. the only, and therefore obviously, best tapas place in the woo. owned by niche hospitality, bocado is a smashup of class, style, wine, more class, and tasty meaty things.

the flamenco dancer was beautiful, but in this candid, she's a bit creepy looking. in a "im a creepy gypsy looking over your shoulder" kinda way.

this year, tickets were only $75 ( i think last year they were $100) which gets you a seat in an intimate private dining room of about 40 guests. it also gets you 5 courses of tapas & platos, sangria, mucho wine, and 2 flamenco sets.

i’d love to rehash the menu with you, but after 5 courses of wine, i have no idea exactly what i ate. there was a pig involved though. definitely a pig. i do remember taking a menu card for this

very reason, but my briefly logical self forgot to tell NYE self where said card was stashed for safe keeping. the good news is that bocado runs a flamenco dinner, albeit not as zomg-all out-NYEish, every third friday of the month. i suggest you check it out. no, seriously. go. now.

cava toast from the porron. pretty much all downhill after this.

tasty meat

this is how the night ended. i was in a tommy girl kinda mood. in retrospect, this makes me think i was in the wrong bathroom...

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greetings from the woo, sort of

so, i set out to put together a worcester-centric food blog, only to make my first post from the wilds of rural new jersey. yes, there are wilds in dirty jerz. like wild wood, and swedesboro *shudder*. i’m not saying i’d never go to swedesboro, but i would NEVER go to swedesboro. have you seen those people?!? but it’s the day after chistmas, my birthday. yes, my birthday is the day after christmas, and yes it blows. i’ve never had a friends party (too close to the holiday), never got to bring cupcakes into school when i was little (school is out of session) never get to go out to a bar with anyone (nothing is open), etc, etc, blahblahblah. not that i’m complaining of course. i mean, i get to spend every birthday at my parent’s house, with my family, in the wilds of rural new jersey…EVERY. BIRTHDAY. EVERY. but, i digress. so, since i’m stuck in the middle of nowhere for the day, i’ve started a most enjoyable tradition: i cook the eff out of something and drink bourbon. and for the last two years, that’s been working out pretty well. i’m all about the pork. sausage, is god’s gift to me – a peace offering for being born the day after his frakking son.  and one of my favorite dishes with sausage is cassoulet. i’ve sort of forgotten the first recipe i found and used for cassoulet (i don’t really ever use a recipe), so i just winged it again. plus, this allows for an ever-evolving dish, which is awesome.  my mom had some great thick cut slab bacon from the local farmers market and some really nice pork sausages to start with. sauteed that up in the le creuset,


removed the bacon when browned (don’t drain!!) and let the sausages go at a medium flame. add some mirepoix, sweat, then added stock, wine, water just to cover the pork shoulders and let that simmer away for a while. i cheat and use canned white beans, but there are plenty of peeps who think the dried produce a better final product. i guess it has something to do with the dried bean soaking in ALL THE FAT that this dish has. if you have the time, sure, soak some cannelloni overnight and incorporate. didn’t have duck legs (well, i could get them, but at $35 for the entire duck…meh) so i used chicken thighs. browned and reserved for the final pot. some say there should be no tomato in this dish at all, but i always throw in a bit of tomato paste, just to thicken and give it a nice reddish hue. so, basically, once all your meats are browned, toss them into the stock mix and let that simmer for 2 hours at about 250 (times and temps are not fixed due to amount of bourbon consumption at this point). once everything gets in the le creuset dutch oven and braises for a couple of hours, pull it and top with a mix of breadcrumbs and shredded parmesan cheese. you want a nice, thick crust on this so put an ample amount. throw it back in the oven and hit high on the broiler. keep an eye on it because you don’t want to burn all that parmesan goodness, but you want it to crisp up. at this point, it’s either gonna’ rock or it’s gonna’ be crap. hope it’s not crap. and if it is, you can’t really blame me, now can you? merry christmas and happy effing birthday.

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