Tuesday, July 31, 2012

brasstacks one-year anniversary party

Last night I went to the Brasstacks Pop-Up One-Year Anniversary Block Party at Frommagio, in Cambridge. Brasstacks is a secret supper club that hosts lottery-invite-only dinners on a bi-monthly basis around Boston. Comprised of alumni from No.9 Park, Menton & Radius, Brasstacks focuses on locally-sourced seasonal ingredients prepared in basic ways with a few twists thrown in. Upon arrival I was greeted with 2 goats on a spit and an endless supply of beer from Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project & wine from Olmstead Wine Co. After receiving the beverages, I began to feast upon the cheese and charcuterie spread (no pictures...too tasty). A bunch of seasonal sides were served along with sections from the whole pig (and later parts of goats were served as well).



As chef Marc Sheehan was dividing up the goats, the dessert was beginning to be plated. After a night of savory tastiness, the dessert of boiled gingerbread & hard cider curd (with seasonal berries) was a nice change of pace! Tickets for this event sold out within hours, so fingers crossed for the facebook-lottery invite-only dinners. Unfortunately for us, their facebook is now up to 1,450 friends trying to get into one of these highly-coveted dinners! Overall, the food and ambiance was superb (and the weather was unbelievably beautiful, to boot)!

Here is a list provided by Brasstacks of all of the sides and mains served:
Whole Roasted Yorkshire Pig
Whole Roasted Kid Goats 
Green Tomato Marmalade, Spicy Plum Chutney, Mokum Carrot Relish, Bean Pot Onions
Grilled Sweet Corn with Goat Butter and Maine Sea Salt
Harvard Beets with Goat Yogurt, Anchovy and Fermented Shallots
Roasted New Potatoes with Mustard Greens, Young Garlic, and Fermented Asparagus
Grilled Radishes with Coppa, Pickled Clams, and Fines Herbes
Marinated Cucumbers, Ginger Vinegar, and Anise Hyssop
Grilled String Beans, Mushroom, Almond, and Egg Yolk
Raw Kale with Piermont, Fermented Sausage, and Pickled Currants
Maine Buckwheat with Grilled Zucchini, Smoked Peppers, and Shad Roe 
Steamed Gingerbread Hard Cider Curd, Grilled Peaches, Summer Berries
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Sunday, July 29, 2012

a busy day in boston

T and I took Friday off from work to bumble around with my mother, hoping the rain would wait until we were home. First stop was for lobstah rolls at Neptune Oyster (food first, obviously). Neptune Oyster opens at 1130am, and if you're interested in grabbing lunch, you should be there as close to opening time as possible, as they do not accept reservations and the wait can be up to 2 hours (especially for dinner). We popped our name on the list, were given our 45 minute wait time, and went on a mini-stroll through the North End for some coffee while we waited. After 45 minutes, we received our call and returned to be promptly seated at the cozy bar. Most important word: cozy. The space is small, with only about 15 chairs seated at the bar and a few tables pressed against the wall. The tin ceilings with the ceiling fans reminded you it was a warm breezy summer days as you peruse the surprisingly lengthy menu. We decided to split 1 hot lobster roll and 1 cold lobster roll (so we could try both, of course) while T went for the fried clams.



The picture of the kitchen contains the whole kitchen...2 people....small space, providing a surprisingly lengthy and delicious menu. In my opinion the hot lobster roll blew the cold lobster roll out of the water, but feel free to go and make your own decision!

To walk off all of the lobster we had just consumed at our large late lunch, we decided to make a few stops. First stop is one of my favorite spots, the Brattle Book Shop. One of the oldest bookshops in the country, it was founded in 1825. My favorite books to look for are old fabric bound black books that fall somewhere in my interests. Usually in the summer days, a bunch of books are placed outside and given major discount prices ($1-$5 books, despite the size or age of the book). New arrivals are added often, so I am always able to find something new to add to my collection!

Next we decided to stroll down Newbury Street, stopping at my favorite pet shop, Fish & Bone. It is filled with all-natural and organic treats, plush beds, as well as a bunch of flashy colorful leashes.  Glass canisters line the shelves in the center of the store, providing some conventional, and some hard-to-find treats for pups, including cow trachea, duck feet, bully sticks, and various dried liver pieces. I picked up a few regulars for Erin (including Philly cheesesteak ball, bacon wrapped sausage & chicken nibs) and let her try a duck foot to try something new, since you only live once! On my way out I spotted the best doggie birthday present ever: a personalized organic mini cake enveloped in mini treats! The sign reads it feeds 8...but I'm pretty sure Erin could eat that in 1 minute by herself....


We finished up Newbury Street with some minor shopping, before heading to our dinner at one of the few restaurants that manages to always get it right: Bistro du Midi. The marinated octopus was the highlight of the meal, along with the lavender beignets with chocolate dipping sauce.


Their wine cellar is impressive, and they have one of the longest wine lists I have seen in a restaurant. After a busy day in Boston, we headed home, before a busy wedding weekend.
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Thursday, July 26, 2012

tuna lettuce wraps

Just a quick easy snack/mini-meal idea before a super busy day tomorrow before a super busy weekend!

Tuna lettuce wraps, filled with chopped cucumber & avocado.


Easy-peasy healthy & refreshing summer recipe. Good to go!
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Monday, July 23, 2012

coffee face scrub

Next time you make some coffee, save the grounds. You'll be glad you did. This simple face scrub immediately makes your face feel SMOOTH and BEAUTIFUL!

Mix 3 tablespoons of organic moist used coffee grounds with 1 tablespoon organic extra virgin olive oil. Next mix in 1/3 teaspoon organic honey. The end. Really...just apply to your face and leave for 2 minutes before washing off with cool water. (Apply over a sink, this can get a little messy!) All you have to do is let the ingredients work for you while you sit there looking silly!

The effects really are immediate...I can't stop touching my smooth smooth face. Feel free to apply it anywhere you want glowing soft skin (elbows, legs, anywhere you want to show off all buffed up for the warm summer).

The natural effects of these ingredients are well known:
COFFEE GROUNDS: Immediately plumps the skin the make wrinkles less noticeable & acts as an exfoliator.
OLIVE OIL: Moisture moisture moisturizer.
HONEY: The radiance factor, acts as a moisture-trapper that makes skin look radiant and evenly toned.
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Friday, July 20, 2012

a pantry staple: vanilla sugar

Wish I could say I came up with this...but that'd be a lie! I can still share it with you so you can enjoy it too! Certain things are quickly made to be a pantry staple. This super simple vanilla sugar can be used in coffees, baked goods, or anything else that you can think to add vanilla or sugar to. I made a few to share with friends and family, and put them in these cute little jars that can easily be used for other goodies when the sugar runs out.

5 cups of sugar (divided)
1 vanilla bean

1. Cut vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape seeds into food processor.  Place vanilla beans off to the side.

2. Add 2 cups of sugar and blend until seeds are well-dispersed in the sugar.

3. Pour processed sugar into an air-tight jar and add vanilla beans & remaining 3 cups of sugar. Close and shake, shake, shake!

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

crunchy granola recipe

Sometimes, if I can make it easily, I can't bring myself to buy it in the store. Thought I'd try to make some granola this week...so I did!

1.5 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup raw pistachios
1/4 cup chopped, raw almonds
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/6 cup raw pepitas
1 tablespoon flax seeds 1 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/8 cup olive oil
1/4 cup currants
1/4 cup dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine dry ingredients (except currants and cranberries) into a large mixing bowl.

2. Add maple syrup and olive oil. Stir to coat.

3. Spread granola in an even layer on an ungreased baking sheet. 

4. Bake for 30 minutes (but stir every 10-15 minutes to prevent burning).

5. Remove from oven when browned, add currants and dried cranberries.

6. Let cool and store in an air-tight container. Enjoy as a snack on the go, in some yogurt, or with some milk and fresh fruit!

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chocolate chip cookies with banana

Last night I made chocolate chip cookies with slices of banana in them. This was a special request for a birthday...and I had never tried to make these before, but by goodness I will make these all the time now! T was the taste-tester and tested 5 before admitting that these were THE BEST COOKIES he had EVER HAD in his WHOLE LIFE! I heard this report many more times today...so enjoyyyyyy!

Ingredients (makes 18 medium/large cookies)
 2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter (cubed)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 bananas

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Lightly butter/grease baking sheets. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.

2. In a medium bowl (or a mixer), cream together the cubed butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.

3. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy.

4. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand. 

5. Drop 1/2 tbsp cookie dough onto prepared cookie sheet. Place banana slice on each dollop.

6. Cover banana slice with another 1/2 tbsp cookie dough and make sure all of banana slice is enveloped in the dough.

7. Bake for 14-16 minutes (check often to make sure they are perfect) until the top is crispy and the edges are almost browning. 

8. Cool on wire rack and enjoy [with a nice glass of milk]! 


*Also, if you're a peanut butter lover, feel free to pop some peanut butter in there, too!*
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Monday, July 16, 2012

simple weekend recap: edition 2

It's been much too warm to do anything too crazy this past weekend. Went out for drinks and apps with a friend last week at Scollay Square...had some delicious drinks (The Absolut Lemonade made of Absolute Citron, St. Germaine, fresh Lemon and Champagne...also known as delicious) with some tasty apps of guac and pulled pork sliders with cole slaw.

 Made some granola (recipe later this week!)...


Went to a nearby vineyard for another friend's bachelorette party...


Now I'm off to make chocolate chip cookies with banana insides and vanilla sugar (recipes this week!) for a birthday tomorrow...while Erin rests by the fan trying to survive this heat!

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