Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Petting my Dishwasher

I am not a neat chef. I use four times the required number of dishes, I burn pots and pans, I break glasses, and I get food everywhere. But I have one rule that JR agreed to when we moved into together, “He who cooks, does not clean.”

This worked our exceptionally well for me in our last apartment, since we had no dishwasher.

We went 3 long years without one. I knew doing the dishes was a pain in the a&& for JR, heck I even helped out on those days when there were piles of plates (mostly when I made lasagna,) but I didn’t think not having a dishwasher was that big of a deal. I had to do dishes in my family every other week growing up and it was always a paint in a&& even with a dishwasher!

Then we moved, and my world was rocked. Everyone should have to live a number of years without a dishwasher at some point in their young adult life. I yearn to do the dishes now. I do them 3 times a day on the weekends. I run the dishwasher with 4 plates and 5 glasses in it, just to hear the glorious whoosh whoosh whoosh of it washing my dishes! Cleaning the kitchen takes 5 minutes now, and we can do it together!

It’s settled, my new kitchen, it’s heaven on earth.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

How to turn your dinner guests off from eating for a week.

Since moving in to our beautiful new apartment there has been one thing that has been consistently weird. The cats. We have 4 or 5 cats that spend a significant amount of time roaming outside around our house.

The cat we see most frequently belongs to the owners upstairs. She is a gray tabby with a super fluffy tail and she loves us whenever we walk by. She loves us so much, that we have had to start growling at her to keep her from coming into our apartment. Based on her behavior, and the other 4 cats that walk around and look in the windows, I think the previous owners let all the neighborhood cats into the apartment and fed them.

The other night night was the Patriots first game in the playoffs after their 16-0 season. It was a big game, but it was a bigger night for JR and I because we decided to entertain in our new apartment for the first time. We invited my parents over for lasagna and the game and spent the day cleaning and getting the apartment in order.

By 5PM everything looked great, the lasagnas were in the oven waiting to be cooked and all we had left to do was shower. In fact everything went great until about half way through dinner.

We were all sitting at my Grandmother's table in our dining room, with all our new wedding gear on the table. We were listening so some soft jazz and having a delightful dinner. Every so often the jazz took a slightly high note, but I didn't think so much of it. Finally my dad says, "What is that?" We discuss for a minute if it's the music or the heating system and then JR opens the door to our front step, and we find two cats in the middle of heated sex, RIGHT ON OUR DOOR STEP!

Talk about a major appetite killer. Lucky for me, my parents are pretty cool and laughed off the whole episode, but I am not having any more dinner parties until the cat upstairs isn't in heat any more!

Introducing the next Giada!


You see, SS convinced me, about 3 months ago, to apply online for a Lifetime realty TV show. It was going to be about women who love food, and would focus on the eating of 12 New York ladies.

I decided to play the "newlywed" card and my entire application was about how much I love cooking for my husband and finding new restaurants to go to on our anniversaries. I even made sure that all the photos I sent were from our wedding.

I honestly didn't think I would ever hear from them again, and this past weekend when we went out to dinner at Tides, SS and I commented on the fact that we hadn't. I was so amazed on Thursday when Tiffany, the casting director for the show called me on Thursday.

Tiffany was everything you could hope for from a Lifetime casting director, at least over the phone. Her Long Island accent was terrific and she called me 'honey' 3 times and 'darling' 5 times during our 4 minutes conversation. I could picture her platinum blond hair and inch long burgundy red finger nails and I was just dying to be a part of this show.

She offered me a spot,and I had to admit to having moved to Boston last weekend, and thus destroyed my opportunity. Tiffany promised to keep me on her mailing list for any openings here in Boston, and confided that her boyfriend lives here. Apparently she does quite a bit of business here so she can get all expense paid trips to see him for free. Perhaps the dream is still alive, but deep down inside, I know this was my chance to have my own Food Network TV show and I blew it!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Pizza Pizza

Any time you move, one of the most important things to find shortly after is your local pizza place. There is nothing like a Thursday night when cooking is the last thing on your mind and you need a good pizza with a cold beer.

One of the problems with Park Slope was that we never found our pizza place, and we were in Brooklyn! There was fancy pizza, greasy pizza, expensive pizza, pizza by the slice and delivery, but not a single place kept us both happy twice in a row.

To be fair, they had a tough act to follow, in Hartford we had OUR place. City Pizza. We ordered it 3 times a week, with blue cheese on the side for dipping. They had a fantastic sweet red sauce which they put on top of the cheese. The crust was thin and crunchy and it was good hot or cold. It was our perfect pizza and no matter what, nothing we found in Brooklyn compared.

In Boston, we are a little biased, Pizzeria Regiana's is as close to a family shrine that JR's family has. His parents claim that every important decision they have made, from babies to houses, was made while sitting there eating pizza.

Last night, when JR got tickets from his boss to go to the Bruins game at the Garden, I knew we had to go into the North End to Regina's for dinner. The secret for us is to get their standard cheese well done. This gives it a perfect crunchy crust. What makes their pizza fantastic is that along side they serve huge bottles of olive oil. Some have garlic in them, some have red pepper and others are plain, but which ever you choose, they are fantastic drizzled over the cheesy pizza and out of this world for dipping your crust in.

As you watch the people eat at Regina's you can see that everyone has their own style. JR will only use the garlic olive oil, while I like mine loaded with Parmesan cheese, red pepper and basil and then drizzled with both the red pepper oil and the garlic oil. Some people just prefer it plain, since the pizza stands up on it's own. It doesn't really matter that much how you like it, just that you are looking for some good solid pizza and a cold beer.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Butternut Heaven

Recently I fell in love with food magazines. It was a torrid affair until my husband stepped in and intervened by telling me I could only get one subscription for Christmas. I love the pictures and the recipes. The articles enthrall me and I even enjoy reading the ads (most of them have recipes!)

Each time I get a new one, I do a quick read though to get the landscape and see what’s there. Then over the course of 3 or 4 readings I go through each recipe and dream about shopping for it, cooking and eating it. Once I have ingested the whole issue cover to cover, I tear it apart and take the recipes I want to cook and put them in my “recipes to try” cook book.

It was a hard decision which magazine to get. I spent the last couple of months buying Gourmet, Food & Wine and Bon Appetite every month, perusing them leisurely and trying their recipes. I finally came to the decision that I wanted Food & Wine and this decision was largely based on the following recipe.

Curry-Roasted Butternut Squash and Chickpeas

• 1 large butternut squash - peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch dice
• One 19-ounce can chickpeas— drained, rinsed and dried
• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoon mild curry powder
• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
• 2 containers plain fat-free yogurt
• 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro or parsley
• 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 375°. In a Ziploc bag, toss the butternut squash with the chickpeas, olive oil, curry and cayenne and season with salt and pepper. Spread the squash cubes on a large rimmed baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes, or until tender.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir the yogurt with the cilantro or parsley and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

3. Spoon the roasted butternut squash and chickpeas onto a platter and drizzle with 1/2 cup of the yogurt sauce. Serve the remaining yogurt sauce on the side.

This recipe is so fantastic! I have made it for people and given the recipe out and everyone loves it. This is slightly modified from the F&W recipe. I like more spice, so I double it for both the cayenne and curry powder. Also the recipe calls for cilantro in the yogurt. JR hates cilantro so I made it with parsley which is really nice.

I made this last night and am eating the leftovers as I write, and I am in butternut heaven.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Elephants in my kitchen!

Our new apartment is exactly 200 feet from a Whole Foods and a Trader Joe's. I feel like we have been kicked up to a new level of grocery shopping. The Whole Foods is beautiful and I want to spend hours walking around exploring it and petting the food and buying more than we can consume, but my wallet and I have not yet had the chance.

The Trader Joe's was a bit of a surprise. I went in there for the first time on New Years Eve and it was PACKED. It immediately made me feel like I was back at the co-op in Park Slope. (Briefly JR and I belonged to one of the country's largest food co-ops. Then the whole "having to work to wait in line for an hour just to be harassed by the all-organic preaching checkout person before you can buy your food" got to be a bit much.) Anyway, back in Boston, the Trader Joe's was full of lovely, neat, different foods and about 4000 people too many. I quickly grabbed a few things and while checking out asked the very polite and helpful cashier when the best time to come was. He confided in me that any night after 8 was pretty safe.

Last night on our way home from the gym I wooed JR to the Trader Joe's by promising him beer. It was much less crowded and I got to spend some quality time wandering the aisles. The produce area was pretty depleted, but everything looked fresh and clean. I needed some garlic and had to choose between some mini-bulbs and some ELEPHANT GARLIC. I had no idea what I was in for.

I finished up and headed home to make my standard Boboli Pizza. Crunchy crust heaped with peppers, onions, broccoli, zucchini, cheese and, last night, garlic. A normal Boboli pizza in my house gets 1-2 cloves of garlic depending on if I have any client meetings the next day. I pulled off and diced one clove of the ELEPHANT GARLIC, and had about 6 cloves worth. It was very pungent, actually making me cry like an onion, and tasted fabulous in the pizza.

The good news is, I am working from home this week, the bad news is, JR is in week two of his new job. I hope they like garlic!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Farewell dinner....

Friday night was excellent. We stopped at our favorite drink spot - Tabla at Madison Square Park. We both got the cucumber martini. Mine had tons of cilantro in it, and was really quite spectacular.

Then we headed downtown to Tides. The food was good and interesting. Most fantastic were the PEi mussels we got to share. The sauce wasn't the standard butter garlic sauce that mussels are always served in, it was a lemon fennel sauce that was really good. The mussels also came with a big pile of thin slices sauteed fennel that was really nice.

I had the black pepper seared tuna and SS got the whole bronzino - both we also very good. SS then came back and helped me with the final packing, she was a master with the tape dispenser, and I was ready bright and early for the movers.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Eating my way out....

Tonight is my last night as a New Yorker. Tomorrow at 9AM I am officially moving to Boston. SS is taking me out to Tides Seafood, a New Yorkie restaurant in the Lower East Side that pays homage to good ol' New England seafoods like their famed lobster roll. It seems like a fitting place for my send off.

In looking at the menus, I am most excited about the Black Pepper Crusted Tuna, the Whole Fish of the Day, and of course the Lobster Roll. It's going to be hard to decide.

Once I get to Boston I hope to keep you updated on how a New York foodie adapts to eating outside the city. Keep posted for more!