Wednesday, October 31, 2012

hot chocolate with vodka whipped cream

To buckle down & prepare for the storm I wanted something chocolately, creamy, and a little bit mischievous (I is Halloween season after all).  For the perfect night despite the miserable weather, you can easily whip up some hot chocolate with vodka whipped cream in under 5 minutes. You can also use this tasty recipe for some non-mischievous chocolatey goodness (without the vodka).

Ingredients (makes 2 large mugs-worth):
For hot chocolate:
2 1/2 cups skim milk
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
6 oz baking chocolate of choice, chopped
1 tbs vodka of choice (or other spirit, like rum or bailey's)

For whipped cream:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbs sugar
3 tbs vodka of choice (or other spirit)

1. Combine milk, heavy cream, and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a low simmer, making sure not to boil the mixture.  


2. Once liquid is at a low simmer, add chopped chocolate and whisk, whisk, whisk until smooth. Add vodka to mixture.

3. Keep heat on low while you make the whipped cream. With a handheld mixer, or a stand mixer, whip the cream until it begins to thicken. Once thick and fluffy, add sugar and vodka. Mix until cloud-like-fluffy.

4. Pour hot chocolate into mugs, top with generous dollops of whipped cream, and sprinkle with shaved chocolate. 

Cheers & enjoy!
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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

storm dinner: pot roast

To prepare for the impending "Frankenstorm", we loaded up on warm filling beef. If the power goes out, at least I'll have a toasty full stomach for a while!

3 lbs chuck beef
1 tbs olive oil
Salt & pepper
2 onions, roughly chopped
3 cloved garlic, minced
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup red wine 
14oz beef stock
Mushrooms of choice (optional)
5 large carrots, peeled and diagonally sliced
2lbs potatoes
1 tbs flour (optional: used for thickening into gravy)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Heat olive oil in oven-proof pot on medium-high. Add beef and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Brown on all sides.

2. Remove beef from pot and set aside on a plate. Add chopped onions to pot and stir until browned and tender. Return beef to the pot.

3. Add garlic, bay leaf, thyme, red wine, and beef stock. Bring to a simmer. Cover and place in preheated oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, prepare veggies of choice (I rehydrated some mushrooms since they were all I had on hand, and also added carrots and potatoes).


5. After the hour and a half is up, open the pot and add in prepared vegetables. Recover and return to oven for another hour.


6. Once the timer is up, make sure the beef is fall-off-the-fork tender, plate & enjoy. Best served with a glass of red wine that was used in recipe.

**Optional: If you are a gravy-person, add 1 tbs of flour to the
 liquid to thicken for a quick gravy-like sauce**
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Monday, October 29, 2012

simple weekend recap: edition 12

This weekend was spent celebrating my birthday a week early with some champagne...


and Swiss chocolate brought back by T...

before a dinner out at Blue Ginger on Saturday. 
Sunday night dinner was pot roast (recipe tomorrow)...


followed by snuggling up...

with homemade hot chocolate and 
vodka whipped cream (recipe Wednesday)!

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

blue ginger

Saturday night my parents, T & I went to one of my favorite Boston-area restaurants, Blue Ginger, to celebrate my birthday a week early. Serving East-West cuisine in Wellesley, Ming Tsai has retained his restaurant's high ratings since opening in 1998. Ming Tsai really needs no introduction, with his numerous awards and honors (even including an Emmy award for his cooking show).

As a nice surprise, T had called ahead and ordered champagne for the table, so we skipped cocktails and went straight to appetizers. I started with my usual, the shiitake-leek springrolls with three chile dipping sauce, because it is too good to pass up.

T went with the charcuterie plate with duck prosciutto, foie gras torchon and country pâté. Meim went with the pork hot & sour soup with umami shrimp dumpling and chile oil and my dad chose the crispy fried calamari with thai dipping sauce (which were perfectly prepared and had a bit of a cheddary-taste in the breading which was a nice spin on typical fried calamari).

Next I again went with my old orders and got the fantastic famous garlic-black pepper lobster with lemongrass fried rice with a pea tendril salad and tamari-ginger vinaigrette. This dish is the reason I keep coming back, it is the perfect balance of every sense. Perfectly prepared, I have no problem finishing my portion. I also could have a salad of the pea tendrils on a daily basis and be pleasantly happy.

(With my recommendation), my dad chose the soft & delicious sake-miso marinated sablefish (a.k.a. Butterfish) with wasabi oil, soy-lime syrup and vegetarian soba noodle sushi. I ordered this on my first trip to Blue Ginger, and enjoyed the light and delicate flavors mixed with the unbelievably flavorful soba noodle sushi on the side.

T went with the rare grilled marinated hanger steak with spicy dan dan noodles, pickled mustard green salad, and hot mustard aioli, which T reported was the most perfectly-prepared steak he has encountered. Not being a big fan of rare meat, I stole a dan dan noodle which I can report was also a nice piece of the tasty puzzle.

After the entrees, waiting for dessert, Ming Tsai took the time to escape the kitchen to come over to our table to say hello. Being extremely friendly, personable, and down-to-earth, the meet and greet was a nice bonus during my birthday dinner!

The other food-reason that I continue to return to Blue Ginger is the fact that this is the home of my favorite non-chocolate dessert in the world. Every time I go I order the sesame macadamia caramel nut tart with toasted coconut ice cream and housemade hot fudge with rum caramel bananas. No pictures, as I was too excited to dig in.  Meim went with the five spice apple fritters with cider glaze, cinnamon ice cream, and a ginger apple compote, which she had no problem finishing, so I assume it was delicious as well.

Blue Ginger on Urbanspoon
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Thursday, October 25, 2012

mfa: mario testino

While T is in Switzerland, meim is over to keep me company...again. Last night we went to Bondir for dinner, and the Museum of Fine Arts to check out the new exhibit by Mario Testino: In Your Face.

The museum provides a spot-on description of Testino and his collection: "Known for the elegance, beauty, style, irreverence, and contradiction of his images, Testino gives us a career retrospective arranged in compelling visual stories". The exhibit is definitely worth checking out, especially since this is Testino's first showing in the US.

But first, we headed to Bondir. I went with the bitter cocoa rigatoni with wagyu beef and wild mushroom ragu, dragon beans, and a lemon balm ricotta...

followed by the kalamata olive basted Rhode Island monkfish with seared baby leek, baby ppinach, Peter Wilcox potatoes, oil-cured olives, giardiniera, and oregano froth...

and again ended with the huckleberry semifreddo for dessert (and one of the best hot chocolates in the world).
After a nice dinner we headed over for the main event at the MFA. Photography has always been my favorite type of artwork (with impressionist paintings being a close second), so I was excited to see the massive pieces selectively placed around the rooms. With dark lighting and sexy damask wallpaper, you almost felt naughty looking at the naked and seductive celebrity pictures looming above you.

After the exhibit, we moved throughout the MFA, before heading home.

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