Tuesday, March 31, 2009
We got to the restaurant a little early so we sat at the bar for some drinks. They set up baskets of potato chips along the bar. We ate the whole basket full. The chips were large and crunchy.
I had a pineapple martini. I loved it! It actually tasted like pineapples.
Alex ordered the Uva Mojito. This was a good drink too. It tasted like a very sweet grape.
This may sound silly, but I love to see what restaurant's serve in their bread basket. It's like a preview of the meal. Capital Grille's bread basket is quite tasty and it has a variety of breads and crackers.
It cracks me up that although Alex hates both seafood and greens, he'd rather eat seafood than a salad. So we both ordered the clam chowder. The chowder was great and I thought it was perfect for Alex. It was very creamy, loaded with potatoes, and you couldn't really taste the clams in it.
I ordered the filet mignon and it was delicious! The steak was extremely tender and the juices were divine. I loved that the steak was crispy on the outside.
Alex ordered the strip steak. The steak was topped with some kind of garlic/onion butter. Alex liked the steak because it was well cooked and tender, but he was in the mood for something not as tough. It's amazing how the different cuts of steaks have different tastes and textures.
They brought out two sides. One was a mashed potato and the other was a creamed spinach. I didn't think I'd ever say this, but I actually liked the spinach. It didn't taste like spinach I have had before. It was smooth and creamy. It almost tasted like spinach in a light cheesy, garlic sauce.
The potatoes were classic. I love mashed potatoes that have bits of skin in it.
I chose the espresso chocolate cake and it was amazing. Pure chocolate bliss.
Alex chose the caramel gelato. The gelato was light and sweet. This dessert was simple and a perfect end to a heavy meal.
Capital Grille is located in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood. You can easily spend $150 on a dinner for two so it's nice to be able to get a high quality meal for only $33 per person.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Root Beer Bundt Cake
2 cups root beer (do not use diet root beer)
1 c. dark unsweetened cocoa powder (I used half dark, half regular)
½ c. butter, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 ¼ c. granulated sugar
½ c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 c. all purpose flour
1 ¼ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
Root Beer Fudge Frosting
2 oz. dark chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
½ c. unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp salt
¼ c. root beer
2/3 c. dark unsweetened cocoa powder (I used regular)
2 ½ c. powdered sugar
Vanilla Ice Cream
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Generously spray the inside of a 10” bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.
In a small saucepan, heat the root beer, cocoa powder and butter over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the sugars and whisk until dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together.
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs just until beaten, then whisk them into the cooled cocoa mixture until combined. Gently fold the flour mixture into the cocoa mixture. The batter will be slightly lumpy - do not overbeat it, as it will cause the cake to be tough.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 35-40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the cooking time, until a small sharp knife inserted in the cake comes clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Gently loosen the sides of the cake from the pan and turn it out onto the rack.
Root Beer Fudge Frosting:
Put all the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until the frosting is shiny and smooth.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
We ordered two things. Pretzels sticks and burgers. The pretzel sticks were a great appetizer; simple and delicious.
The burgers are a steal. By far the cheapest burger in the city ($7). The burger is compact and covered with cheese. You definitely can't go wrong with this burger, especially since it comes with a side of homemade fried potato chips.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Alex ordered the penne with pumpkin seed pesto. The penne was great. The pesto tasted like your traditional pesto but with a slight kick of pumpkin. The dish also came with root vegetables and one of them was sweet potato. This was a great addition to the dish because the sweetness of the potato was a nice contrast to the saltiness of the pesto.I ordered the hanger steak with fried potatoes. The steak was delicious and incredibly tender. The sauce made the steak juicier. The best part of this dish were the potatoes. Huge chunks of potatoes fried make me very, very happy.
Alex ordered the blood orange creme brulee. You can never go wrong with creme brulee and this one was pretty good. You could actually taste the orange in it. We've had flavored creme brulees before that have subtle flavors, but this one tasted like an orange custard.
I ordered the brownie with brandied berries. This serving was enough dessert for two people. The brownie had a crispy crust and was chewy on the inside. The brownie was very light and not too chocolaty. The berries were so fantastically tart and soft.
South End Buttery is located in Boston's South End Neighborhood.
This month's challenge has been quite an experience. There were a few moments there where I thought I was doing something wrong. First was when I made the bechamel sauce. It came together easily but it took a while for the sauce to thicken up. I didn't think I was going to have a thick sauce. Next was when I made the pasta. It was not coming together at all. I kept trying to knead it and nothing. I added a couple of Tbsps of water and it finally came together. I let it rest and then got to rolling. My arms were burning from all the rolling. I rolled it as thin as possible but once I put it in the boil water, it puffed up to almost twice the size. I didn't expect that one bit. Lastly, the ragu. Oh the ragu. It took less than an hour to make and the directions said it would take 2. Maybe it's because I just used ground beef instead of all the meats the recipe calls for? I did not end up with a meaty stew. It was more like a meaty paste. I honestly thought the pasta would be the hardest part of the recipe since I have never made homemade pasta, but I will admit that I was pretty confused with every element of this recipe. It all came together and tasted great, but it wasn't what I was expecting. At least now I can say I have made a lasagna from scratch!
Make sure to check out the new, fancy Daring Bakers site. It's gorgeous! Also, check out how the other DBers fared this month.
Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna (Lasagne Verdi al Forno)
(Serves 8 to 10 as a first course, 6 to 8 as a main dish)
Preparation Time: 15 minutes to assemble and 40 minutes cooking time
10 quarts (9 litres) salted water
1 recipe Spinach Pasta cut for lasagna (recipe follows)#1
1 recipe Bechamel Sauce (recipe follows)#2
1 recipe Country Style Ragu (recipe follows)#3
1 cup (4 ounces/125g) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
The ragu and the béchamel sauce can be made up to three days ahead. The ragu can also be frozen for up to one month. The pasta can be rolled out, cut and dried up to 24 hours before cooking. The assembled lasagne can wait at room temperature (20 degrees Celsius/68 degrees Fahrenheit) about 1 hour before baking. Do not refrigerate it before baking, as the topping of béchamel and cheese will overcook by the time the center is hot.
Assembling the Ingredients:
Have all the sauces, rewarmed gently over a medium heat, and the pasta at hand. Have a large perforated skimmer and a large bowl of cold water next to the stove. Spread a double thickness of paper towels over a large counter space. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Oil or butter a 3 quart (approx 3 litre) shallow baking dish.
Cooking the Pasta:
Bring the salted water to a boil. Drop about four pieces of pasta in the water at a time. Cook about 2 minutes. If you are using dried pasta, cook about 4 minutes, taste, and cook longer if necessary. The pasta will continue cooking during baking, so make sure it is only barely tender. Lift the lasagne from the water with a skimmer, drain, and then slip into the bowl of cold water to stop cooking. When cool, lift out and dry on the paper towels. Repeat until all the pasta is cooked.
Assembling the Lasagne:
Spread a thin layer of béchamel over the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange a layer of about four overlapping sheets of pasta over the béchamel. Spread a thin layer of béchamel (about 3 or 4 spoonfuls) over the pasta, and then an equally thin layer of the ragu. Sprinkle with about 1&1/2 tablespoons of the béchamel and about 1/3 cup of the cheese. Repeat the layers until all ingredients are used, finishing with béchamel sauce and topping with a generous dusting of cheese.
Baking and Serving the Lasagne:
Cover the baking dish lightly with foil, taking care not to let it touch the top of the lasagne. Bake 40 minutes, or until almost heated through. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes, or until hot in the center (test by inserting a knife – if it comes out very warm, the dish is ready). Take care not to brown the cheese topping. It should be melted, creamy looking and barely tinged with a little gold. Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and let the lasagne rest for about 10 minutes. Then serve. This is not a solid lasagne, but a moist one that slips a bit when it is cut and served.
#1 Spinach Egg Pasta (Pasta Verde)
Preparation: 45 minutes
Makes enough for 6 to 8 first course servings or 4 to 6 main course servings, equivalent to 1 pound (450g) dried boxed pasta.
2 jumbo eggs (2 ounces/60g or more)
10 ounces (300g) fresh spinach, rinsed dry, and finely chopped; or 6 ounces (170g) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
3&1/2 cups (14 ounces/400g) all purpose unbleached (plain) flour (organic stone ground preferred)
Working by Hand:
A roomy work surface, 24 to 30 inches deep by 30 to 36 inches (60cm to 77cm deep by 60cm to 92cm). Any smooth surface will do, but marble cools dough slightly, making it less flexible than desired.
A pastry scraper and a small wooden spoon for blending the dough.
A wooden dowel-style rolling pin. In Italy, pasta makers use one about 35 inches long and 2 inches thick (89cm long and 5cm thick). The shorter American-style pin with handles at either end can be used, but the longer it is, the easier it is to roll the pasta.
Note: although it is not traditional, Enza has successfully made pasta with a marble rolling pin, and this can be substituted for the wooden pin, if you have one.
Plastic wrap to wrap the resting dough and to cover rolled-out pasta waiting to be filled. It protects the pasta from drying out too quickly.
A sharp chef’s knife for cutting pasta sheets.
Cloth-covered chair backs, broom handles, or specially designed pasta racks found in cookware shops for draping the pasta.
Mixing the dough:
Mound the flour in the center of your work surface and make a well in the middle. Add the eggs and spinach. Use a wooden spoon to beat together the eggs and spinach. Then gradually start incorporating shallow scrapings of flour from the sides of the well into the liquid. As you work more and more flour into the liquid, the well’s sides may collapse. Use a pastry scraper to keep the liquids from running off and to incorporate the last bits of flour into the dough. Don’t worry if it looks like a hopelessly rough and messy lump.
With the aid of the scraper to scoop up unruly pieces, start kneading the dough. Once it becomes a cohesive mass, use the scraper to remove any bits of hard flour on the work surface – these will make the dough lumpy. Knead the dough for about 3 minutes. Its consistency should be elastic and a little sticky. If it is too sticky to move easily, knead in a few more tablespoons of flour. Continue kneading about 10 minutes, or until the dough has become satiny, smooth, and very elastic. It will feel alive under your hands. Do not shortcut this step. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and let it relax at room temperature 30 minutes to 3 hours.
Stretching and Thinning:
If using an extra-long rolling pin work with half the dough at a time. With a regular-length rolling pin, roll out a quarter of the dough at a time and keep the rest of the dough wrapped. Lightly sprinkle a large work surface with flour. The idea is to stretch the dough rather than press down and push it. Shape it into a ball and begin rolling out to form a circle, frequently turning the disc of dough a quarter turn. As it thins outs, start rolling the disc back on the pin a quarter of the way toward the center and stretching it gently sideways by running the palms of your hands over the rolled-up dough from the center of the pin outward. Unroll, turn the disc a quarter turn, and repeat. Do twice more.
Stretch and even out the center of the disc by rolling the dough a quarter of the way back on the pin. Then gently push the rolling pin away from you with one hand while holding the sheet in place on the work surface with the other hand. Repeat three more times, turning the dough a quarter turn each time.
Repeat the two processes as the disc becomes larger and thinner. The goal is a sheet of even thickness. For lasagne, the sheet should be so thin that you can clearly see your hand through it and see colours. Cut into rectangles about 4 by 8 inches (10 x 20 cm). Note: Enza says that transparency is a crucial element of lasagne pasta and the dough should be rolled as thinly as possible. She says this is why her housekeeper has such strong arms!
Dry the pasta at room temperature and store in a sealed container or bag.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
4 tablespoons (2 ounces/60g) unsalted butter
4 tablespoons (2 ounces/60g) all purpose unbleached (plain) flour, organic stone ground preferred
2&2/3 cups (approx 570ml) milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
Using a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over low to medium heat. Sift over the flour, whisk until smooth, and then stir (without stopping) for about 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk a little at a time and keep the mixture smooth. Bring to a slow simmer, and stir 3 to 4 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Season with salt, pepper, and a hint of nutmeg.
#3 Country Style Ragu’ (Ragu alla Contadina)
Preparation Time: Ingredient Preparation Time 30 minutes and Cooking time 2 hours
Makes enough sauce for 1 recipe fresh pasta or 1 pound/450g dried pasta)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (45 mL)
2 ounces/60g pancetta, finely chopped
1 medium onion, minced
1 medium stalk celery with leaves, minced
1 small carrot, minced
4 ounces/125g boneless veal shoulder or round
4 ounces/125g pork loin, trimmed of fat, or 4 ounces/125g mild Italian sausage (made without fennel)
8 ounces/250g beef skirt steak, hanging tender, or boneless chuck blade or chuck center cut (in order of preference)
1 ounce/30g thinly sliced Prosciutto di Parma
2/3 cup (5 ounces/160ml) dry red wine
1 &1/2 cups (12 ounces/375ml) chicken or beef stock (homemade if possible)
2 cups (16 ounces/500ml) milk
3 canned plum tomatoes, drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
The ragu can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. It also freezes well for up to 1 month. Skim the fat from the ragu’ before using it.
Browning the Ragu Base:
Heat the olive oil in a 12 inch (30cm) skillet (frying pan) over medium-high heat. Have a large saucepan handy to use once browning is complete. Add the pancetta and minced vegetables and sauté, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, 10 minutes, or until the onions barely begin to color. Coarsely grind all the meats together, including the prosciutto, in a food processor or meat grinder. Stir into the pan and slowly brown over medium heat. First the meats will give off a liquid and turn dull grey but, as the liquid evaporates, browning will begin. Stir often, scooping under the meats with the wooden spatula. Protect the brown glaze forming on the bottom of the pan by turning the heat down. Cook 15 minutes, or until the meats are a deep brown. Turn the contents of the skillet into a strainer and shake out the fat. Turn them into the saucepan and set over medium heat.
Reducing and Simmering: Add the wine to the skillet, lowering the heat so the sauce bubbles quietly. Stir occasionally until the wine has reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Scrape up the brown glaze as the wine bubbles. Then pour the reduced wine into the saucepan and set the skillet aside.
Stir ½ cup stock into the saucepan and let it bubble slowly, 10 minutes, or until totally evaporated. Repeat with another ½ cup stock. Stir in the last 1/2 cup stock along with the milk. Adjust heat so the liquid bubbles very slowly. Partially cover the pot, and cook 1 hour. Stir frequently to check for sticking.
Add the tomatoes, crushing them as they go into the pot. Cook uncovered, at a very slow bubble for another 45 minutes, or until the sauce resembles a thick, meaty stew. Season with salt and pepper.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Our meal started with some crispy crackers. (I don't know the name of this so if you do, please let me know.) The crackers were so light and airy. I have never had something that tasted so light. It was literally like taking a bite out of crispy air. This was served with two sauces, the red one was sweet and spicy and the green one was very herby (it reminded me of chimichurri minus the tang).
We ordered the Crispy Cheese Tikki Paties as an appetizer. These are potato patties stuffed with cheese and fried until golden. The crust was crispy and the inside was smooth and creamy. The flavors of the potatoes and cheese blended together perfectly.
I ordered the Goan Mirchi Shrimp. The shrimp is described as "shrimp marinated and cooked in dry coconut, kokum, and onion." I was expecting dry shrimp and not shrimp in a sauce so I was a little surprised when my dish was brought out. I think this was a blessing because I probably wouldn't have ordered the dish if it was described as "shrimp in a sauce" and I would have been disappointed if I missed out on this dish. The sauce was fantastic! It tasted like coconut cream with a bit of spicy heat. The shrimp was succulent and tasted great with the sauce.
Alex played it safe and ordered the Tandori Chicken. This dish was fabulous. They were not stingy with the chicken and there was enough chicken to feed a family. The chicken had a nice smoky flavor and I loved how unique the chicken tasted. It was easy to pick up on the spices used but all the flavors merged to create a delicious chicken. The best part? It smelled like cardamom.
We also ordered Naan. Alex has had Naan before and is a huge fan and wanted me to try it. The restaurant has several Naan options and we went with the buttered Naan. I thought the Naan was great and Alex thought it was ok. All the other times he had Naan it was crispy, this Naan was like a chewy flatbread. I thought it was perfect for dipping in my coconut sauce.
We didn't get to dessert because of how pleasantly stuffed we were. This restaurant was a great introduction to Indian food and I look forward to trying other Indian restaurants. Tamarind Bay-Coastal Indian Kitchen is located in Washington Square in Brookline. The service was great and the prices were better. The restaurant itself is gorgeous because it is well lit and filled with the warm blues and browns.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Sihan has the recipe up on her blog and I'm sure you'll get a better review of this recipe from the other TWDers.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Check out PW's post about it here.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Source: Sherry Yard's Desserts By The Yard
Makes 24 mini cheesecakes
12 vanilla wafer cookies
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp sour cream
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
12 ripe strawberries, hulled, and halved or quartered
Pulse the cookies in a food processor until you have crumbs. Line the cups of two mini muffin pans with paper liners and spoon a layer of cookie crumbs into the bottom of each.
In a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar at medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. On low speed, beat in the sour cream and lemon juice until well combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Spoon or pipe the filling into the cups. Refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours, until set.
Before serving, top each cheesecake with a strawberry piece or two.
PS...sorry for the non-food related post. Check back later for an awesome treat.