Sunday, June 26, 2011

First Food, Then Chocolate - Max Brenner

This is probably as close to the modern day Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory as you are going to get.

We saw this restaurant featured on The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Pizza Episode. They just opened up a new location on Boylston St., so of course we had to go check it out! We made reservations for a Saturday night at 6 pm, which was a good thing because it seemed like a lot of people had the same idea. L is depicted here waiting impatiently for the feasting to start.

We started with an order of the kid's mac and cheese. There is a science theme, with many of the condiments arriving in laboratory measuring devices. Syringe marinara appeals to my nerdy side.

I had a Berry Nutty Professor Chocolate Cocktail. Delicious!

For my main dish, I chose the Yummy Baja Style Tacos. One of them is missing you will note. There was a lack of fish, but there was nice crunch and spice.

E ordered the Mexican Jambalaya which was super spicy (not depicted). I made the mistake of biting into a red jalapeno pepper ring thinking it was a red sweet pepper. Thankfully L had a big cup of milk that I cooled myself off with!

We finished off with a Chocolate Chai and a Chocolate Surprise Tiramisu. Note the Erlenmeyer flask with liquid chocolate and the graph paper plate!

There were many fondue options, but flaming pots at the table are generally frowned upon when dining with a toddler. There was a lovely backdrop aroma of burning chocolate and marshmallows as a table close by was having the Smores Fondue!

We'll be back because with such an extensive menu there are too many things that I need to try.

I forgot about my cool dance moves here:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Is it "Quack Quack" or "Coin Coin"?

One of my friends who is from Switzerland and speaks Swiss German was telling me all the different ways that animals make noises in her country. I guess this all stems from the fact that our kids are at the age where one of the favourite past times is to teach them, "what does a monkey say?"... "ooh oooh ooh aah aah aah!" or "what does a dog say?"... "woof woof!" or is it "ruff ruff?"

This got me thinking about duck, or "ya ya" are L likes to call them because she goes to a bilingual Mandarin daycare. Mandarin ducks say, "quack quack" by the way.

Being in Chinatown exposes me to the opportunity to walk by a lot of hanging BBQ meat stores. I'm sure that in a couple of years, L's friends will be screaming, "ewwwww duck face", like Rudy Huxtable et al., but for now, ya ya it is. The live chicken stores also intrigue me, but that is for another day when my friend X will come with me and help me order. She swears that when she first moved here from China, she thought that store bought chicken tasted like wood and she had to buy tasty chicken from the live poultry stores in Chinatown. Now her palate has adjusted which is a bit disappointing, but I'd like to taste what one of these yummy ones is like... maybe even one of the ones with black skin! The skin is purported to have some therapeutic and medicinal purposes, especially for women!

So back to the ducks. On my way home last night, I stopped by Chinatown Cafe and bought 1/2 crispy BBQ pork and 1/2 BBQ duck.

Since I started receiving my Community Supported Agriculture shares from World Peas in the last couple of weeks, I haven't had to go shopping for fruits and veggies and I thought that Monsieur Canard might go well with some brussels sprouts and kale that I had from this week's bounty. There were also some nice garlic scapes that were from last week that I hadn't finished yet. These nice cruciferous vegetables (the baby cabbages and the kale) have great crunch! Cruciferous just means that when they flower, they make a cross-shaped flower -- so holy! It's the same family that broccoli and cauliflower come from.

So these little buddies got all chopped up.

Thrown into a pan with oil and the chopped garlic scapes with a citrus ponzu bath.

And topped with my BBQ'd friend.

Best part is that I still have about 5 servings of leftovers for the weekend. It's going to be a rainy one, so this is my version of summer comfort food.

Friday, June 10, 2011

2011 Locally Grown Patio Produce

The crazy rains throughout May/June in New England, followed by some ridiculously hot temperatures and more rain have been good for my plant babies. Everyone talks about eating local and organic these days, but the money and access is always the rate limiting factor.

We are lucky enough to have our own little patch and okay weather to grow a bit of stuff. A small elevated patio, however is not really productive enough to feed our family of three which includes a ravenous toddler. Yes, you heard me... ravenous. We have yet to see the "picky" moniker that is so common these days. Probably because she has never really been offered dinosaur shaped nuggets, we never order off of the "kids menu" and she would rather eat a whole apple or pear than a Delmonte fruit cup. I can't tell you how many times people stop us and say, "is she going to eat the peel on that whole fruit?". Hmmm... why not, I eat the peel. Fruit cups have brainwashed society into thinking that kids will choke and die on apple and pear peels.

I think also the fact that she "helps" plant the garden by "digging" in the dirt with her kid sized trowel gives her an idea of where the food actually comes from. Post a comment or email me and I can send you some peer-reviewed journal articles providing positive evidence for this. And these are actual community based research trials done in schools, so it's not just anecdotal.

All that being said, I also belong to a organic produce delivery service, Boston Organics and have coordinated set-up a cluster distribution point for the World Peas Community Supported Agriculture group in Charlestown. Boston Organics takes care of the organic and World Peas does the local part (and often organic, but because they are small farmers, they can't afford the USDA certification most times).

Anyway, here are some of my backyard babies before they bear fruit (well more precisely veggies). I'll update the pictures once we get more blooms!

Happy growing!

Snap peas.

Sage and thyme (foreground) Bell pepper (background)

Zucchini (I think I need to thin these out)

Grape tomatoes, lavender and scarlet flax (in the smaller pots in front)

Chives atop of my rain collecting barrel.
We don't have a hose hookup since our patio is on top of the garage on the 2nd floor and the house hose hookup is downstairs by the back door. This is better anyway, because why let all that good rain go to waste?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Grilled Pork Stuffed Squid Tubes

I had a craving for this Vietnamese dish after watching a documentary on the Discovery Channel about the Humboldt squid invasion.

I found a couple of recipes online that described how to make this yummy treat that my mom used to make when I was a kid. I used to act as sous-chef, helping her clean the squid of its guts, ink sac and pseudo-spine. However, one of the aforementioned recipes said that to make life easier, I should buy the pre-cleaned frozen version.

So off to HMart we went on Memorial Day to procure the ingredients. Shopping with a toddler is always dicey, so I grabbed my items without carefully reading the labels.

To make sure that I didn't give us all food poisoning, I opted to stir-fry the ground pork, mushrooms and shallot filling the morning before I was going to stuff the tubes. Then, to my surprise, when I got home from work and pulled the defrosted box of squid out of the fridge, I noticed that there would be more work to be done!

Eek -- they weren't cleaned - eyes, guts, pseudo-spine and everything! Thankfully, L had fallen asleep in her stroller on the way home from school, so I had a window of opportunity! My childhood skills came in handy and I was able to de-gross the squid tubes handily!

Stuffed and grilled and delicious! I used toothpicks to "sew up" the tube ends so that the filling didn't come exploding outwards on the BBQ. Great with hot sauce!