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Roadtrip! Food & Fun :: Boston and Martha’s Vineyard


Boston, MA

VIEW SLIDESHOW OF PHOTOS FROM BOSTON

Boston Waterfront

Boston Waterfront

I took the most amazing trip to Boston and Martha’s Vineyard over Labor Day holiday and fell in love. Boston is one of those places that feels like a big city but is actually pretty small and low-key if you ask me. I loved the slower pace, the still quietness of the South End on a Saturday night. The views of the harbor, the blue and white hues of sailboats and water surrounding the city’s edge. The amazing Italian food in the North End, the historic architecture all over the city and along the Freedom Trail, and the beautiful campus of Harvard University.

Charles River Sunset

Charles River Sunset

Watching the sunset at dusk over the Charles River. Amazing lobster and seafood on the harbor with views to match…and for a big city girl like me, I think I could live here one day.

The Colonnade Hotel Rooftop Pool

The Colonnade Hotel Rooftop Pool

We stayed at the amazing Colonnade Hotel (with a rooftop pool and bar!) in Back Bay.

Shop in Back Bay, Boston

Shop in Back Bay, Boston

The next day, we headed to Newbury Street in Back Bay for shopping…

Public Gardens, Boston

Public Gardens, Boston

then we wandered through the Public Gardens, heading to historic Charles Street to see all the beautiful old homes in Beacon Hill

The Hill Tavern

The Hill Tavern

before we stopped at The Hill Tavern for drinks and lunch.

Old City Hall

Old City Hall

We spent most of the day hiking the Freedom Trail to see all the old historic buildings and sites around town.

Shrimp & Polenta, Sibling Rivalry

Shrimp & Polenta, Sibling Rivalry

That night we had amazing dinner in the South End at Sibling Rivalry and had some delicious seafood.

Harvard University

Harvard University

Our last day there, we made our way to Harvard University and trekked around Cambridge! Boston is definitely small enough to see in a few days, but the views and slower pace will make you want to stay a lot longer.

Here’s a few places I went to that you don’t want to miss on your next trip to Boston:

The North End, Boston

The North End, Boston

North End (Boston’s Little Italy): If you are in the mood for Italian food and pastries, this is the place to go. Just head straight to Hanover Street and you’ll find a multitude of shops, restaurants and cafes, delis, pizzerias, bakeries, pubs and taverns. Many have lines out the door on a Friday night so reservations are highly recommended!

Lucca, The North End Boston

Lucca, The North End Boston

We had an amazing dinner at a really nice Italian restaurant called Lucca on N. Hanover Street (Grilled Veal with Truffled Mash and Asparagus) and Lobster Tagliatelle!

Cannoli from Mike's Pastry

Cannoli from Mike's Pastry

Then we hit Mike’s Pastry for amazing cannolis and gelato. Um, YUM!

Giacomo's, The North End

Giacomo's, The North End

Here’s a list of my favorite places in The North End that you don’t wanna miss: Lucca, Strega, Neptune Oyster, Giacomo’s, Fiore, Cantina Italiana, Dino’s Pizza and Subs, Mike’s Pastry, Modern Pastry.

Newbury Street, Back Bay

Newbury Street, Back Bay

Back Bay/South End These are two of Boston’s nicest neighborhoods in my opinion. Back Bay is the best place for shopping, art galleries, gardens, cuisine and culture in Boston. There are gorgeous historical homes and churches, clothing boutiques, spas and salons and fabulous restaurants to explore. Head to Newbury Street and make your way to the Public Garden to check out the Swan boats or just hang out in the park. The Charles River Esplanade is a great place to get a gorgeous view of the harbour and stroll along the river on a sunny day.

Sibling Rivalry, South End

Sibling Rivalry, South End

The South End is a tree-lined neighborhood known for its fine dining, art galleries, open market, restaurants and high end martini clubs and jazz bars. Head to Tremont Street and check out Sibling Rivalry, Stella, Tremont 647 for a nice dinner.

Enjoying a Blueberry Martini @ 28 Degrees

Enjoying a Blueberry Martini @ 28 Degrees

Then hit 28 Degrees for some great martinis..

The Beehive

The Beehive

and The Beehive for amazing live jazz and blues.

Seaport, Boston Harbor

Seaport, Boston Harbor

Waterfront/Seaport District – If you want a great view of the Boston Harbor, then you need to go to Waterfront and Seaport District. You can start in the North End near the Bunker Hill Bridge and then continue around Atlantic Ave to Christopher Columbus Park and view the harbor islands. From here you can walk to the Aquarium where there are several cruise lines that take you around the harbor. Head down to Rowes Wharf to check out the show cruise ships and Boston Harbor Hotel and Towers and then cross the old Northern Bridge to the Seaport District.

Legal Seafood

Legal Seafood

The two places I recommend for Waterfront Dining are the famous seafood restaurants Legal Sea Foods and across the street the Legal Test Kitchen

Shrimp Cocktail at LTK

Shrimp Cocktail at LTK

(we ate at LTK and I had the most amazing Shrimp Cocktail

Truffled Lobster Mac & Cheese, LTK

Truffled Lobster Mac & Cheese, LTK

and Truffled Lobster Mac ‘n Cheese – to die for!)

Tia's on the Waterfront

Tia's on the Waterfront

For casual dining and terrific cocktails on the harbor, there’s no other place than Tia’s Restaurant and Bar on the Waterfront! Closer to the North End than the Seaport, but awesome place for happy hour and watching the sunset..

Martha’s Vineyard, MA

VIEW SLIDESHOW OF PHOTOS FROM MARTHA’S VINEYARD

Vineyard Haven Harbor, MV

Vineyard Haven Harbor, MV

If there is ever a place I would like to go after retiring myself from the hustle and bustle of New York City, Martha’s Vineyard has to be top of my list. This charming island is the epitome of beautiful architecture, history, charm, quietness, tree-lined streets, locals, antiques and oh, seafood.

Vineyard Haven, MV

Vineyard Haven, MV

We took a train to Woods Hole from Boston and then took a ferry to Vineyard Haven, a lovely area of the island full of shops, restaurants, beautiful homes and even more stunning views of the ocean.

Black Dog Tavern

Black Dog Tavern

We strolled the streets for awhile and then made our way to the famous Black Dog Tavern, a restaurant and pub established in 1971,

Black Dog Clam Chowder

Black Dog Clam Chowder

famous for their Quahog (Clam) Chowder. Read my full review and get the recipe here!

The Edgartown Inn

The Edgartown Inn

Then we made our way to Edgartown, a quiet, beautiful little village on the island to check in to our Bed & Breakfast, The Edgartown Inn.

South Beach, Martha's Vineyard

South Beach, Martha's Vineyard

We decided to hit the beach immediately, so we headed to South Beach, the smaller, quieter beach on the South side of the island.

The Edgartown Lighthouse

The Edgartown Lighthouse

After relaxing and watching the sunset, we decided to head over to the Edgartown Lighthouse

House in Edgartown

House in Edgartown

and take in the views of the beautiful old homes,

Edgartown Harbor

Edgartown Harbor

harbors and the Harbor View Hotel.

Lobster Bisque

Lobster Bisque

That night we hit The Seafood Shanty for some delicious Lobster Bisque, Seafood Pasta, and Grilled Scallops and Shrimp. Situated right on the harbor, this is a great place for fresh seafood and great waterfront views. The prices are pretty reasonable too! After we stuffed our faces, it was time to have some fun.

The Atlantic Restaurant

The Atlantic Restaurant

We headed down to a fun area near the harbor and stopped at a local pub, and ran into a wedding party who pretty much took over the whole center of town. To top off the night, we went to the Atlantic Fish & Chop House for a drink and headed back to crash out!

Vineyard Breakfast at Edgartown Inn

Vineyard Breakfast at Edgartown Inn

The next day it was raining so our plans to hit Aquinna Beach on the other side of the island were ruined, but we had an amazing “Vineyard Breakfast” at our B&B with homemade apple cinnamon coffee cake,

Awesome Breakfast at Edgartown Inn

Awesome Breakfast at Edgartown Inn

scrambled eggs and bacon and some juice and coffee. Such a cute place!

Chappy House

Chappy House

We walked off breakfast by strolling around on N. Water Street for awhile..

Main Street, Edgartown

Main Street, Edgartown

and then we took a stroll down Main Street to check out more beautiful old homes, bookstores, shops and antique stores before we had to leave.

Murdicks Fudge, Edgartown

Murdicks Fudge, Edgartown

One of my favorite finds was Murdick’s Fudge – delicious creamy fudge in about 10 different flavors! Who can resist that?

The Vincent House

The Vincent House

The Vincent House was also really cool – the original home built in 1672 was actually transported into Edgartown and you can tour the house to see the classic Vineyard architecture and antique furnishings.

The Vincent House, MV

The Vincent House, MV

Imagine cooking in a big old fireplace like this–Love the cast iron pots!!)

VIncent House Garden

VIncent House Garden

This was definitely one of the most fun trips I’ve taken in a while..and I’ll most definitely be back (maybe for good!)

Edgartown Harbor

Edgartown Harbor

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A Taste of Martha’s Vineyard: The Black Dog Tavern’s Quahog Chowder


The Black Dog Tavern's Quahog Chowder

On Labor Day weekend I fell in love. With Martha’s Vineyard, that is. And an amazing clam chowder from a famous little place called The Black Dog Tavern in Vineyard Haven on the harbor. The Black Dog’s story began in 1971 on the beach in Vineyard Haven when Captain Bob Douglas opened an 88 seat restaurant named for his beloved black dog. The tavern has grown from a small island haunt to a nationally renowned restaurant with stores and merchandise branded in the Black Dog Tavern name. No trip to the Vineyard is complete without a meal at The Black Dog, especially to try their infamous Quahog Chowder that’s been on the menu since 1971!

Quahogs are hard shell clams, different from soft shell clams, otherwise known as “steamers”. This recipe is from The Black Dog Summer on the Vineyard Cookbook that I acquired on my recent trip. It is fairly easy to make, and a little more time consuming if you are using fresh clams but totally worth the effort for that fresh flavor. It’s rich and creamy, has a touch of thyme and paprika and lots of delicious clams, potatoes, celery and onion making it the perfect chowda’ for a Fall afternoon.

Serve with crusty bread, oyster crackers or croutons and a glass of white wine or a locally brewed ale. Now all you need is the gorgeous view of Martha’s Vineyard harbor to make it a true New England experience! (p.s. I’m moving there – someday!) Oh, and stay tuned for the full report and photos of my Boston and Martha’s Vineyard Labor Day weekend trip. More foodie fun to come! Enjoy. ~AG

Ingredients

2 oz salt pork, rind removed (or 8-10 slices of bacon, diced)
2 c diced onion
1 c diced celery
3 c diced potatoes
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground black pepper
4 c shelled quahogs with juice – 6 lbs in shell (or use jarred whole baby clams)
1/2 c salted butter (1 stick)
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 qts. light cream (or 1 qt heavy cream + 1 pint half and half)

Preparation

Dice the salt pork or bacon and saute in a large pot until translucent. If using bacon, saute over high heat until cooked through, then drain fat except for 2 tbsp. and return to the pot. Add the onions and celery and saute for 5 minutes.

Pour in about 1 1/2 cups of the clam juice and add the potatoes and seasonings. Simmer the mixture until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

Roux

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. When it is bubbling, add the flour and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. This is called a “roux”.

Roughly chop the quahogs, reserving any liquid (if you use whole baby clams you can skip this step).

When the potatoes are tender, add the quahogs to the large pot and simmer for 2 minutes.

Stir in the roux and continue simmering for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently. This is your chowder base.

Scalded Cream

In a separate saucepan, scald the cream by heating it on high until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan. Do not boil.

The Black Dog Tavern Quahog Chowder

Stir in the hot scalded cream into the chowder base, mix together, and remove from the heat.

B.D. Quahog Chowder

At The Black Dog, they serve it topped with croutons and a dollop of butter, accompanied by oyster crackers or crusty bread. Garnish with paprika and enjoy!

Serves 8 to 10.

The Black Dog Summer Vineyard Cookbook

The Black Dog Tavern Martha's Vineyard

The Black Dog Tavern Martha's Vineyard

The Black Dog Tavern

View of Martha's Vineyard harbor from The Black Dog

The Black Dog Tavern

More Clam Chowder Recipes you may enjoy:

Thick and Creamy New England Clam Chowder – Food.com

Epicurious Clam Chowder Recipe

Dave Lieberman’s Clam Chowder

Grillin’ Up Summer BBQ: Tasty Chicken Burgers and Shrimp Kabobs


Tasty Chicken Burgers and Shrimp Kabobs

Tasty Chicken Burgers and Shrimp Kabobs

Summer is finally on it’s way and along with the warm weather and sunshine comes grilling season! For Memorial Day, my beau and I went to Brighton Beach and soaked up the sun, sand and waves on a gorgeous, relaxing day. We hit the fresh fish, fruit and vegetable markets to pick up some gorgeous iced shrimp and some fresh ground chicken, pineapples, onion, cilantro and broccoli slaw and headed home to Manhattan to stoke up the fires and make some awesome BBQ rooftop-style.

Rooftop BBQ

Rooftop BBQ

Aiming to keep it light, we decided to whip up my infamous Chicken Burgers with my secret recipe made with Dale’s Steak Seasoning (a delicious find I discovered when living in Atlanta and great on anything grilled!) made with soy sauce, garlic, paprika and ginger mixed with some other spices mixed into the ground chicken (garlic, cilantro, salt, pepper and smoked paprika). We also made our signature Teriyaki Shrimp and Pineapple Kabobs marinated in Tavern on the Green‘s tasty Golden Ginger Teriyaki Sauce with ingredients of soy sauce, lemon, red wine vinegar, ginger, honey, and spices with pineapple juice and let them marinade for up to an hour. For grilling, we smoked them up over some Mesquite flavored coals to give the Chicken and Shrimp a delicious charred, smoky flavor. To top it off, we enjoyed a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and some Broccoli Slaw and enjoyed our rooftop dinner watching the stars on a lovely, breezy summer night overlooking the East side of Manhattan. Happy Summer on it’s way!

Chicken Burgers

Chicken Burgers

Tasty Chicken Burgers

1 lb ground Chicken (breast meat)
1 lb ground Chicken (thigh meat)
1/2 tbsp Garlic Powder or 1 tbsp fresh chopped Garlic
1 tbsp Smoked Paprika
1 tbsp Dale’s Seasoning
1 tbsp Paula Deen House Seasoning
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
1 bunch Cilantro, fresh chopped or 1 tbsp dried
A dash of fresh ground Salt and Pepper
4 Cheese slices, Muenster or Monterey Jack

Mix all ingredients except the cheese together with the ground chicken and mix thoroughly with your fingers in a claw motion until mixed well. Place burgers in a baking dish and cover, let marinade in refrigerator for up to 1 hour. Preheat grill with Mesquite Charcoal. Form meat mixture into 10-12 patties and grill over med-high heat for 5-6 mins each side until no longer pink. Melt cheese slices over burgers last 5 mins of grilling, covering grill to melt cheese. Serve with broccoli slaw and garlic dill pickles.

Serves 4.

Shrimp

Fresh Shrimp from the Market

Teriyaki Shrimp Kabobs

1.5 lb fresh Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 can pineapple chunks, or 1.5 cups fresh pineapple chunks
1/2 large red onion, cut into large chunks
Tavern on the Green Golden Ginger Teriyaki Sauce
1/2 cup Pineapple juice

In a large resealable plastic bag or plastic bowl, combine shrimp with Teriyaki Sesame Marinade and Pineapple juice; cover or seal and let marinate in the refrigerator for up to 2 hours.

Drain and discard marinade. On 8 metal or soaked bamboo skewers, alternately thread shrimp, pineapple and onion. Moisten a paper towel with cooking oil; using long-handled tongs, lightly coat the grill rack. Grill kabobs, covered, over medium heat for 2-3 minutes on each side or until shrimp turn pink.

Serves 4.

Asian Broccoli Slaw

Asian Broccoli Slaw

Asian Broccoli Slaw

Recipe by Paula Deen, Food Network

2 bags (3-ounce) Ramen Noodle Soup in Oriental
3/4 stick butter
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 bags (12-ounce) bags broccoli cole slaw (in the bagged salad section of the grocery store)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
Chopped green onions, for garnish

Dressing Mix:

3/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup brown or white sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 ramen noodle seasoning packet

Directions

Put the ramen noodles in a bag and crush them with a rolling pin while melting butter in a large skillet over low/medium heat. Add the crushed noodles and slivered almonds to the skillet and saute, stirring occasionally (keep temperature at low/medium heat). Meanwhile, whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Place the shredded broccoli into bowl and toss with the noodles, almonds, and sunflower seeds. Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat. Garnish with chopped green onions.
Serves 4-6.

On the Menu: Cooking with Fresh Seasonal Ingredients


Scallops and Asparagus

Scallops and Asparagus

Spring has arrived! It’s my favorite time of year when everything comes alive…flowers are blooming, streets are buzzing, the sun is shining, and the freshest fruits and vegetables are available at the local markets. Asparagus, Strawberries, Avocados – three lovely, seasonal ingredients perfect for a light and refreshing Spring menu. The salad has marinated strawberries in a Strawberry Balsamic Viniagrette, which gives them a sweet, tangy flavor – a perfect complement to the crunchy toasted almonds, bacon and avocado in this delicious spring salad. The Scallops are pan-seared in a roasted garlic chardonnay marinade with a splash of lemon, served with a side of sautéed fresh asparagus. Enjoy!

Pan Seared Scallops with Garlic and Lemon and Sauteed Asparagus

Ingredients

16 Large Sea Scallops
¼ c. Roasted Garlic Chardonnay Marinade (Tavern on the Green)
2 tbsp EVOO
1 lemon, sliced into wedges
Lemon Pepper (Trader Joe’s)
1-2 Green Onions, sliced
Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Kosher Salt to taste

Preparation

In a plastic freezer bag, place scallops and ¼ c. marinade and lemon pepper, coat scallops well. Marinade in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Prepped ingredients

Prepped ingredients

Chop the green onions and parsley and reserve for topping the scallops.

Asparagus

Asparagus

Cut off the ends of the asparagus (tough parts of the stem), rinse and pat dry. In a pre-heated sauté pan over medium-high, sauté the Asparagus in a tablespoon of olive oil with a splash of lemon juice and lemon pepper for about 5-6 minutes until cooked through.

After scallops are done marinating, take them out of the bag and dry off with paper towels. Place them in the same sauté pan, adding remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt and lemon pepper.

Pan-seared Scallops

Pan-seared Scallops

Sear the scallops for approx. 2-3 minutes per side until browned and cooked through. Sprinkle scallops with some fresh lemon juice and remove from pan.

Place asparagus and scallops on a plate and garnish with chopped green onions, parsley and a lemon wedge.

Serves 4.

Strawberry, Bacon and Avocado Salad

Strawberry, Bacon and Avocado Salad

Strawberry, Bacon and Avocado Salad with Toasted Marcona Almonds

Ingredients

1 lb of mixed lettuce
1 pint of fresh strawberries, sliced
4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 ripe avocado, sliced
½ cup of Rosemary Marcona almonds, toasted (Trader Joe’s)
3 green onions, sliced thin
3 tbsp of EVOO
3 tbsp of Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar (Tavern on the Green)
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper

Preparation

Slice the strawberries into thin slices and place in a sealable plastic bag with the 2 tbsp Strawberry Balsamic vinegar in the refrigerator, let marinade for about an hour.

Prepare salad dressing, mix olive oil, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and mustard together, slowly whisking in oil until it is mixed well and set aside.

Fry bacon in a pan until cooked well and drain on paper towels. Let bacon cool and crumble for salad topping. Set aside.

Rosemary Marcona Almonds and Green Onions

Rosemary Marcona Almonds and Green Onions

Place almonds in a separate pre-heated medium-sized pan with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle kosher salt over the nuts. Cook and stir for about 10-15 minutes until golden brown and toasty.

Slice the avocados and green onions.

In a large salad bowl, toss the lettuce and vinaigrette together, mixing well, and top salad greens with the marinated strawberries and sliced avocados.

Garnish the salad with crumbled bacon, green onions, toasted almonds, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4.

Salad Nicoise for a Spring Day


Salad Nicoise

Salad Nicoise

Spring is about unearthing fresh things. Lighter things. Brighter things. Turning a new leaf. Dusting off and starting new. There’s something so refreshing about a lovely, fresh, healthy salad on a Spring Day and what better time to make one of my favorites: Salad Nicoise.

Salad Nicoise is known as a compound salad made with eggs, potatoes, green beans, salad greens, fresh tuna and Nicoise olives arranged in a colorful display. The salad is made with a Tarragon Vinaigrette for the potatoes and with a Red wine vinaigrette drizzled over the entire salad platter at the end. We start by making the vinaigrette dressings, then boil the potatoes, beans, eggs in separate pots. The tomatoes are blanched for a minute and then cooled in an ice bath for peeling and quartering. The fresh tuna is seared in olive oil over a high heat until it has a crispy crust and then cut into slices. This recipe makes a large serving for 6-8 people which can be halved if you’re serving for a smaller crowd (or quartered if just making this lovely dish for yourself!) – Profiter!

Salad Nicoise

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

 Tarragon Vinaigrette

3 tbsp tarragon wine vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
¾ cup olive oil
1 large shallot, finely minced
¼ c or more chopped fresh tarragon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Red Wine Vinaigrette

3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
¾ cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
3 tbsp minced fresh green herbs (basil, parsley or tarragon)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Salad 

3 cups (2 lbs) red-skinned potatoes
¼ c. dry white wine
3 c (1 lb) baby green beans (haricots verts)
3-4 tomatoes
1 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
1 lb fresh tuna (or 2 cans imported tuna in olive oil)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 head Boston lettuce leaves, washed, drained and dried
3 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and quartered
6 anchovy fillets, soaked in water for 20 minutes and cut lengthwise
½ cup Nicoise olives

Preparation

Make the tarragon vinaigrette. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and mustard. Whisk until well blended. Slowly, in a thin stream, add the oil, whisking constantly, until it is emulsified into the vinegar and mustard. Stir in the shallot and tarragon and season with salt and pepper. Reserve.

Make the red wine vinaigrette. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and mustard. Whisk until well blended. Slowly, in a thin stream, add the oil, whisking constantly, until it is emulsified into the vinegar and mustard. Stir in the garlic and fresh herbs and season with salt and pepper. Reserve.

Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until just done, about 20 mins. Drain in a colander and allow the potatoes to cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, cut the potatoes into ¼ inch slices or a medium dice. Transfer the potatoes to a bowl and pour the wine over. Toss to coat and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. When the potatoes are completely cool, drain them of any excess wine and toss them with the tarragon vinaigrette. Reserve.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Trim the beans at the stem end leaving the tails intact. Add the beans to the boiling water and cook until just done, about 5 mins. Remove the beans with a slotted spoon, reserving the water. Drain and refresh under cold water. Drain again.

Return the salted water to a boil. Core the tomatoes and make an X in the bases just deep enough to score the skin. Fill a large bowl with ice and water and have it nearby. When the water boils, add the tomatoes and blanch them for 1 minutes. With a slotted spoon, immediately transfer the tomatoes to the ice bath. When cool, remove the skins and cut the tomatoes into quarters and eighths.

To prepare the fresh tuna, in a heavy skillet heat the oil over a high heat. Lightly salt and pepper the tuna and sauté until the fish has a golden crust and is rare to medium-rare in the center, 2-3 minutes per side. Cool and cut into slices or 1 inch cubes.

To assemble the final presentation of the salad: drizzle the beans and tomatoes with some of the red wine vinaigrette. If using canned tuna, lightly flake and toss with the vinaigrette lightly. Place the lettuce leaves around the edge of the salad platter. Drape the eggs with the anchovies. Arrange the tomato alternately with the olives, eggs and string beans. Mound the potato salad on the platter. Arrange the tuna next to the potatoes and drizzle the remaining red wine vinaigrette over all. Serve.


Mardi Gras Celebration: Crab Cakes w/ Spicy Remoulade Sauce


Hot and Spicy Crab Cakes for Fat Tuesday

New Orleans is one of my favorite cities in the world because of its rich history, diverse culture, quaint courtyards and wrought-iron balconies, jazz and blues on every corner and most of all the delicious spicy Cajun and Creole food this city is famous for. There is a difference between Cajun (French Louisiana settlers) and Creole (early French and Spanish settlers) and the food is slightly different in style although the ingredients used in dishes are similar – the “Holy Trinity” of green peppers, onions and celery, seafood (crawfish, shrimp, oysters), sausages, roux (flour cooked in fat as a thickening base for soups, stews and gumbos), hot sauce (Tabasco) and Cajun/Creole Spices made of cayenne, salt, pepper, onion powder, paprika, chili powder, mustard powder, basil, thyme and cloves (here’s a great recipe to make your own or Tony Chacere’s is a great one that is pre-made).

Creole cuisine is slightly more refined and lighter in spices and seasonings than Cajun cuisine, based on classical French cooking technique. Creole food has influences from France, Spain, Africa, Germany and Italy and typical Creole dishes include Oysters Rockefeller, Baked Fish Creole, Shrimp Etoufee, Remoulade Sauce and Bananas Foster. Cajun food is considered more of a “peasant country food” and tends to have spicier, more pungent, heavier ingredients and one-pot dishes. Typical Cajun dishes include Gumbo and Jambalaya, Red Beans and Rice, Crawfish Cornbread Dressing and Po-Boy Sandwiches.

Whether its Cajun or Creole, celebrate  Mardi Gras “Fat Tuesday” by cooking up some of these crunchy, golden Crab Cakes with a Spicy Remoulade Sauce and serve it with a Mixed Greens Salad of Endive, Escarole or Chicory, with a Creamy Shallot French Vinaigrette.

Crabcakes with Spicy Remoulade Sauce

Crabcakes with Spicy Remoulade Sauce

Crab Cakes

½ lb jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over (large chunks)
3 tbsp finely chopped red pepper
2 tbsp finely chopped shallots
2 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
¼ c mayonnaise
1 egg
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
Tabasco, several dashes (to taste)
Canola oil, for sautéing
Chives and Lemon wedges, for garnish

Combine crabmeat, red pepper, shallots and parsley in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, combine mayo and egg; season with cayenne and Tabasco. Gently stir in crab mixture and mix to combine. Stir in 2 tbsp of breadcrumbs to make the crab cakes hold together, and if necessary, add another 2 tbsp of breadcrumbs. Form into 4 crab cakes and coat with the Panko. Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to fry.

Crab Cakes Ready to Cook

Crab Cakes Ready to Cook

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add enough canola oil to coat the bottom of the pan.

Frying Crabcakes

Frying Crabcakes in Hot Oil

Add in crab cakes and cook over medium-high heat until the crab cakes are lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Flip crab cakes over and continue cooking another 2 minutes on the other side, or until lightly golden. Transfer to a parchment-lined sheet pan. Bake the crab cakes 10 minutes to cook through.

Crab Cakes on Parchment Paper

Crab Cakes on Parchment Paper

Spicy Remoulade Sauce

1 ½ c mayonnaise
3 tbsp capers, drained and chopped
3 tbsp chopped cornichons (small sweet gherkins)
1 tbsp chopped chives
1 tbsp chopped chervil
1 tbsp chopped tarragon
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp anchovy paste
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3-4 dashes Tabasco

In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise, capers, cornichons, chives, chervil, tarragon, mustard, anchovy paste, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover the sauce with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator until ready to use, up to overnight.

Place a dollop of Remoulade with garnishes of chopped chives and sliced lemons with the Crab Cakes. Serve with a crisp white wine and mixed greens (Endive, Escarole or Chicory) with a Creamy Shallot Vinaigrette (recipe follows).

Makes about 1 pint.

Mixed Greens with Creamy Shallot Vinaigrette

Beat 1 egg yolk with 2 tbsp white wine vinegar, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard and 2 tbsp minced shallots. Slowly, in a thin stream, add ¾ c vegetable oil and blend well. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over mixed greens such as Endive, Escarole or Chicory.

Makes 8 servings.

Recipes originated from Chef Gail Katz and ICE

Check out Tabasco.com for more great Mardi Gras recipes (Gumbo, Jambalaya, Etoufee & King Cakes!)

In the Mood For Love


Recipes To Spice Up Your Valentine’s Day


“Aphrodisiac: any of various forms of stimulation thought to arouse sexual excitement. Aphrodisiacs may be classified in two principal groups: (1) psycho-physiological (visual, tactile, olfactory, aural) and (2) internal (stemming from food, alcoholic drinks, drugs, love potions, medical preparations)”.

We’ve all heard that there are certain foods that have aphrodisiac powers, but which ones and what effect do they have on romance? There are several foods that increase the passion and mood for love – Almonds, Arugula, Asparagus, Avocado, Bananas, Basil, Chilies, Chocolate, Coffee, Figs, Garlic, Ginger, Honey, Nutmeg, Oysters, Pinenuts,  Raspberries, Strawberries, Black Truffles, Vanilla and Wine, just to name a few. Truffles are said to stimulate and sensitize the skin for touch. Vanilla’s scent and flavor is know to increase lust. Chilies increase blood flow and sex drive. The chemicals in Chocolate trigger neurochemicals in the brain that increases passion. Red Wine relaxes and stimulates the senses. For Valentine’s Day, I rounded up a few recipes featuring some of these sexy foods, guaranteed to spice up your night and make it a LOVELY one to remember!

Herbed Baked Oysters recipe

Herbed Oysters

Ingredients:

24 fresh oysters
¾ cup of breadcrumbs
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of olive oil
½ teaspoon of fresh thyme, chopped
½ teaspoon of fresh basil, chopped
¼ teaspoon of fresh marjoram, chopped
Zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Shuck the oysters and set aside on the half shell. Discard the remaining shells.

In a bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, garlic, mustard, olive oil, thyme, basil, marjoram, lemon zest and Parmesan.

 Top each oyster with about 1 teaspoon of the breadcrumb mixture and place the oysters on a baking sheet. Cook under high broiler (grill) for about 6 minutes or until the oysters are crispy and golden brown.

 Serve hot, with a wedge of lemon and your favorite hot pepper sauce on the side.

Recipe originated from www.oysterrecipes.org

Milk Soup with Truffles au Gratin

Truffle Gratin

Ingredients:

2 c. of chicken juice (gravy)
2 + 2/3 c. of milk cream
1 oz. of fresh truffle
2 lbs. of fresh bread
2/3 c. of truffle juice
1/3 c. of milk
2/3 c. of egg whites
Salt, white pepper

Preparation:

Reduce the chicken juice to half.

Add the milk, milk cream and reduce again.

Add the truffle juice and reduce until you get a nice texture.

Check on seasoning and put aside for the moment.

Preparation of the bread toasts:

Whisk 2/3 c. of cream, season with salt and pepper.

Cut the bread into 1 inch thick slices and cut them into circles (2 inch diameters)

Toast both sides of the bread pieces, dig one side on the piece and pour the wiped cream into it, bake it “au gratin”
under the broiler for a few minutes until lightly browned around the edges.

Recipe originated from French-Truffles.com

Chocolate Chicken

Chocolate Chicken

2 lbs. chicken, cut up — (2 to 2 1/2)
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil — (1 to 2)
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. anise seed
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp salt
3 tomatoes, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
1/2 tsp. fresh pepper
2 tsp. hot crushed red peppers
1/8 tsp. cayenne (or to taste)
Sesame seeds

Brown chicken in a medium skillet in hot oil. Remove to a large (13x9x2) cake pan or baking dish. Pour oil from skillet and add the stock. Simmer 5 minutes. Mix cocoa with vegetable oil to form a paste. Add cloves, cinnamon, anise seed, and blend. Stir spice mixture into simmering stock and simmer 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally. 
Pour mixture over the chicken parts. Cover and bake in preheated 350-degree oven until chicken is tender (around 1 to 1 1/2 hours). Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds over a bed of rice.

Spicy Scallops with Capellini

Scallop

Ingredients:

1 pound sea scallops, quartered if large
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 small dried chipotle chile with seeds, stemmed and chopped
Fine sea salt
1/2 pound capellini

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large shallow glass or ceramic baking dish, toss the scallops with the oil, wine, parsley, garlic and chipotle. Season with salt and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the oil is sizzling and the scallops are firm.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the capellini until just al dente, about 3 minutes. Drain; transfer to a serving bowl. Add the scallops and their juices, toss well and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Recipe originated from Food and Wine magazine.

Coffee and Chocolate Braised Short Ribs

Chocolate-Coffee Braised Short Ribs

Ingredients:

Olive oil or lard
5 lbs beef short ribs
Salt and Pepper
1 large onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
2 cups strong coffee
1.5 cups chopped tomatoes, with juice (or one 28 oz can)
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 cup unsweetened chocolate (70% or higher cacao)
Cilantro, chopped (for garnish)

Preparation:

Remove the short ribs from their package and rinse them under cold water. Pat them dry. Season the short ribs liberally with salt and pepper. (Use more salt than you think you will need). Heat the olive oil or lard in a cast iron pan or Dutch oven over medium high heat.

Place two or three of the short ribs in the pan. Be careful not to crowd the short ribs. You want to brown them, not steam them. Brown the short ribs well on all sides. You want the outsides of meat just a tad under burnt. Transfer the browned meat to a plate and continue to brown the rest of the meat. When done, remove all of the meat to the plate.

Reduce the heat to medium. If you used a cast iron pan for the browning, heat more oil in a large oven safe covered casserole dish. If you’re using a Dutch oven, just keep on cooking.

Add the onions and peppers and cook until the onions are translucent, approximately 5-10 minutes. Next mix in the garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the brown sugar and spices and cook for 5 minutes longer. Add the coffee, chopped tomatoes, and tomato paste and bring the whole mixture to a boil.

Return the short ribs to the pot and cover. Braise in the oven for 1.5 to 2 hours. Mix in the chocolate until melted. Season with the cilantro and salt and pepper.

Cook’s Notes: I cooked my ribs in a Dutch oven, but the next time I make this dish I’ll brown the ribs in the cast iron pan and then transfer them to the Dutch oven. I also think the chocolate makes a big difference. I received some Scharffenberger chocolate as part of a gift bag and I used that. However I think the Theo chocolate had a smoother taste, even though they were the same percentage cacao.

We served the short ribs over pasta, but I think rice would have been a better side kick to this dish. The sauce is very flavorful with the coffee, chocolate, and the peppers, and rice would just soak it all up. Cook the rice and plate a bed of it. Then serve the short ribs and sauce over the top. Mashed potatoes would also work well here and the addition of some sort of starch would make this a complete meal.

Recipe originated from www.cooklocal.com, adapted from the Washington Local and Seasonal Cookbook

Arugula and Avocado Salad With Shaved Parmesan and Toasted Pine Nuts

Arugula Avocado Salad

Ingredients:

2 bunches arugula, washed and dried ( about 6 cups)
1 avocados, peeled and sliced
Shaved parmigiano-reggiano cheese, to taste

Lemon Dressing

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
4 -5 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

Directions

To make the dressing, in a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and garlic. Slowly whisk in olive oil until the mixture is creamy. Season with salt and pepper.

Place arugula in a serving bowl and add dressing to taste. Mix well. Top with avocado slices, drizzle a bit more dressing over them and season with a pinch of salt. Using a vegetable peeler, shave slivers of Parmesan over the top.

Top off the salad with some toasted pine nuts for an extra crunch (and spice to your Valentine’s Day!)

Serves 4.

Recipe originated from Food.com

Bananas Foster

Bananas Foster

Ingredients

¼ cup (½ stick) butter
1 cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup banana liqueur
4 bananas, cut in half 
lengthwise, then halved
¼ cup dark rum
4 scoops vanilla ice cream

Instructions

Combine the butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a flambé pan or skillet. Place the pan over low heat either on an alcohol burner or on top of the stove, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the banana liqueur, then place the bananas in the pan. When the banana sections soften and begin to brown, carefully add the rum. Continue to cook the sauce until the rum is hot, then tip the pan slightly to ignite the rum. When the flames subside, lift the bananas out of the pan and place four pieces over each portion of ice cream. Generously spoon warm sauce over the top of the ice cream and serve immediately.

Recipe originated from Brennan’s Restaurant in New Orleans.

Chocolate Honey Mousse

chocolate mousse

Ingredients

12 oz of dark crispy chocolate
5-6 dessert spoons of pure honey
3 cups of fresh cream

Instructions

Mix together dark chocolate (should be crushed into pieces), 5 dessert spoons honey and ¾ cup of fresh cream. The ingredients
should be mixed over luke warm water. This mixture will need to be stirred constantly, till the dark chocolate stats to melt and combines itself with the honey and cream.

Once all three ingredients have blended into one another, keep it aside for it to cool.

While the chocolate mixture is kept aside to cool, start whipping the remaining cream (2 ¼ cups) but not very firm.

Once the cream is whipped and the chocolate mixture is cool, gradually and slowly fold the cream into it. Blend this mixture well.

Take a special serving dish and carefully pour the whole mixture into it and keep it to set in the refrigerator.

The chocolate honey mousse can also be poured into separate individual bowls as it does make a lavish amount.

If the mousse is poured into one whole serving dish, the chocolate honey mouse might take about 3 to 4 hours for it to set well.

Chocolate honey mousse can be served with creamy vanilla ice cream. Garnish with crushed nuts as a topping.

White Chocolate Raspberry Tart

Raspberry Tart

Ingredients:

1 ¼ cup of walnuts, finely chopped
¾ cup of unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons of sugar
1 ½ cup of flour
1 teaspoon of freshly-grated orange zest
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 cups of fresh raspberries
12 oz of white chocolate, chopped
½ cup of heavy cream, warmed
½ cup of whipped cream, to garnish

Directions:

In a bowl with an electric mixer, blend walnuts, ¾ of the butter, sugar, flour, orange zest and egg until thoroughly combined, and press into an 11-inch tart pan with removable bottom.

Freeze the shell for 15 minutes.

While the shell is freezing, preheat your oven to 375°F.

 Bake the shell in middle of your oven for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.

 Allow the shell to cool on a rack.

Remove the side of pan and transfer the shell to a plate.

 Fill shell with 2 ½ cups of raspberries.

In a large metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, melt the white chocolate. 

Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the cream and the remaining butter, whisking until smooth.

 Spread the white chocolate mixture over the raspberries, smoothing top and chill, covered, for 3 hours or overnight.

Garnish the tart with whipped cream and remaining ½ cup of raspberries.

Serve at room temperature.

Recipe originated from www.raspberryrecipes.net

Read more about Aphrodisiac Foods and History

The Last Supper: Gutsch’s Linguine


Gutsch's Linguine

As the New Year begins, so do New Years resolutions. Some of them we keep, some of them we don’t, but one of them we universally all decide is to eat healthier and shed a few pounds from all the holiday gatherings and fat-laden food. So, back to reality it is. Starting tomorrow. Holiday over. Back to work. Back to the gym. A pledge to living healthier, eating healthier and cooking healthier. A fresh start for the New Year. For my last hoorah, I decided to make one last supper before the regimen begins: Gutsch’s Linguine and Clams. Bacon. Butter. Pasta. Clams. Delicious melt-in-your-mouth flavor and OMG – so not a diet friendly dish. But you know what? You might as well enjoy your Last Supper and go all out, so that I did. And I enjoyed every last bite of it.

Gutsch’s Linguine and Clams

Makes 2-4 servings

4-5 slices of bacon, cut ¼” strips
1/8 c. sliced green onions
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tbsp. butter
1 – 6.5 oz can chopped clams (or baby whole clams)
¼ c. sliced black olives
1/8 c. snipped parsley
1/16 tsp. black pepper
6 oz. Linguine

Cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp and drain, reserving 1/8 c. drippings in the skillet. Set bacon aside.

Cook onion and garlic in drippings until tender, not brown. Stir in butter until melted**. Drain clams, reserving liquid.

Add clams, bacon, olives, parsley and black pepper and stir together.

Add half of the reserved clam liquid, heat through and keep hot over low heat**. Meanwhile, cook linguine and drain. Mix together with the clam mixture in the pan and place in a warm serving bowl. Top the pasta additional parsley for garnish.

Serve this dish with a green salad, crisp white wine and some crusty Italian bread. Delish!!

**You can also throw a little white wine in with the clam liquid and let it simmer down and substitute olive oil for the butter if desired.

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