Friday, January 11, 2008

Fatty McFatten

In a unanimous vote the city of Boston has banned Trans Fats.  For the health of the city, it is a good thing.  For the bakeries and the people who love pastry, maybe not so much.  Most restaurateurs apparently just shrugged off the vote-many of them have already changed their cooking methods to include oils not containing artificial trans fats.  Their feeling is that eating healthier is what people want these days anyway-so they made the jump well before this vote.


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I remember when I was still in culinary school one of my chef instructors made mention of this.  He was angry at the fact that the government could not only dictate what we put (or in this case, don't put) into our bodies but that the culinary world would suffer because of it.  Though I'm not 100% on his side, I am shocked that prominent cities (like New York) are making it their business to tell adults what they can eat.  OK, maybe not shocked...maybe more like a little weirded out.  I mean, we're supposed to be a "free" country, right?
 
Trans fats are good for food-especially pastries.  In fact, trans fats are responsible for the flakiest crusts you've ever had, and the biscuits that you can peel off in layers.  I can go into the technicalities as to why baking with oh, let's say, Crisco for example, works better for flakes than butter does, but I won't.  Just know that if all trans fats are banned all over the country, flaky crusts might end up being something you can only get in the back room of a dark restaurant.  From a man wearing a pinkie ring who's name may or may not be "Junior".
 
From a health perspective, I understand.  Americans tend to do everything in excess and therefore anything that is bad for us seems to be magnified.  Why do I say that it's just Americans?  Well, the French eat pastries, bread and cheese all day long and I can tell you from my brief stay in Paris that there are not many fat people there!  So-cities voting to take the trans out of fat makes sense to me.  But it's a vicious circle for me, because now-I'm back to calling out, "FREEDOM!"
 
What do you think?
 

Thursday, January 10, 2008

No Pants!

What do you think, should I go?




ps. I'm so not going...

Back 2 Work

I'm finally back to work today but feel oddly tired.  Maybe it's just the fact that I'm actually outside my apartment and, well...dressed.  Yesterday I did venture out for some groceries because I had nothing in the house.  This was risky because I had a fantastic parking spot (been parked there since Friday evening) and knew it would be tough to find a new space when I got back-around 4pm. 
 
Sure enough, there were no spots that I could park in (there are metered spots but they are only free after 6pm) so I had to circle around the block.  There are a few spots that are in the "gray" area as to whether or not you can park there.  These are usually the spots on the very end of the streets which are close to the sidewalks and intersections.  The curbs are not painted yellow and there are no signs indicating that you can't park there, so one would think it was safe.  But also knowing how many stupid tickets I've gotten in the last month, I usually opt to drive around the block a bit more to find a safe spot.  Well, yesterday I wasn't up to that, so I parked in one of the end spots near the sidewalk.  I know that on the opposite side of that street it is OK to park like this-because I do it almost every day.  But I also remember that one street right next to another street doesn't always mean they go by the same rules.
 
So I risked it.
 
It was actually the most perfect spot, because it's right on the corner next to the front door of my apartment building.  Not many people walk down that street, so the chances of my car being scratched are low.  (Even though the cover to my gas tank has a dent in it now.)  It was even better because I had grocery bags. 
 
I realize I've built this up so that you think I got towed.  Or a ticket.  But I didn't.  I walked outside and looked to my left and saw my little car sitting there perfectly.  And better yet, there was no bright orange ticket on the windshield telling me I parked in a no parking zone or that my inspection is expired.  (I recently figured this one out-I had the wrong inspection done on my car and this is why it's not logged that I am inspected. Gotta go do that soon...)  So, beside the fact that I am groggy and sleepy and wishing I were still in my nice comfy warm bed, I'm good.
 
And also, I have nothing else to write about.  Because I'm too sleepy to think of stories to tell, and haven't done anything in the past few days.  :)  Thanks again to all of you who joined Mo & I last night-it was fun!
 
Have a great Thursday!

 

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Romantic Recipes: The Mo Show

Thanks to all of you who joined me on The Mo Show earlier. It's always a ton of fun to co-host with Mo but having lots of interaction like we did tonight makes it even better. Remember, if you were not able to catch the live show, you can listen to the archives by clicking HERE. After you listen to the show, don't forget to rate it...

Below are the recipes we discussed tonight. Remember that the best thing to do is to break this menu up into 2 days-allowing you to relax on your special night.

The menu:

Oysters Rockefeller
Mini Beef Wellies (optional Madiera Sauces)
Roasted Asparagus (Broil on high with Olive Oil, S&P & finish with Lemon Juice)
Twice Baked Potatoes (Store bought)
Vanilla Panna Cotta w/ Strawberries and Chocolate

Game Plan:

1Day Prior:
Rockefeller Butter
Madiera Sauce
Duxelles (Mushrooms)
Chocolate Sauce
Panna Cotta

Day of:
Season & Sear Beef
Wrap Wellies
Bake off Potatoes
Roast Asparagus
Cut Strawberries

Oysters Rockefeller

It's All About the "O"

INGREDIENTS
12 oysters
2oz (50g) unsalted butter
1 small stick of celery, finely sliced
2 spring onions finely sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Handful of watercress leaves, finely chopped
Dash of Pernod or other anise-flavored liquor
Salt and Tabasco sauce, to taste
2 slices white bread, crusts removed
Rock salt for cooking
Lemon wedges & parsley sprigs to serve

METHOD
1. Melt the butter. Add the celery, spring onions, garlic, parsley, watercress and Pernod. Season to taste with salt and Tabasco sauce. Cook, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
2. Tip the mix into a food processor or blender, add the bread and process for 30 seconds to produce "green breadcrumbs".
**This mix can now be put into a bowl, covered and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance.

3. Open oysters. Drain the oysters and check for shell fragments.
4. Preheat the broiler to high.
5. *OPTIONAL* Line a baking tray with rock salt and place the oyster shells on it.
6. Place an oyster in each shell. Spoon the crumb mixture over each oyster to cover them completely.
7. Broil the oysters for about 1 to 2 minutes or until the topping is bubbling and nicely colored. Serve with lemon wedges and a smile. ;)

Mini Beef Wellies


Ingredients:
2 Fillet Mignon Steaks
2 Sheets of Puff Pastry sheets
Blue Cheese
Duxelles (Recipe Below)

Method:
1. Season Fillets with salt & pepper. Heat a skillet to almost smoking. Sear fillets on all sides to form a crust quickly. Remove from heat.
2. Unfold pastry and cut 2 squares big enough to wrap the entire fillet like package.
3. Pile 1 T of the duxelles mixture into the center of the pastry. Top with a slice of blue cheese and then the meat.
4. Wrap the package and put the seam down. Using an egg wash (egg & water) brush the outer layer of puff pastry. **These steps can be done up to 4 hours in advance-store in fridge until ready to bake.
5. Bake in the oven at 350 until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.

Duxelles

Does the duxelles?
Not as much as the beef!
(Ha ha ha)

Ingredients:
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon very finely chopped shallot
1 pound finely chopped mushrooms
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Splash of White Wine

Method:
In a skillet melt the butter over moderate heat and cook the shallot for about 30 seconds. Add the chopped mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook until the liquid rendered from the mushrooms evaporates, about 10 minutes. Deglaze with a splash of white wine & finish until evaporated. Cool before piling on pastry.

Madiera Sauce (Optional)

Ingredients:
1/2 c. Madeira wine (Burgundy)
3/4 c. fresh or canned beef broth
1 tbsp. Tomato Paste
3 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. flour
2 tsp. chopped parsley

Method:
1. Combine broth and paste in a sauce pan and reduce by half.
2. Add wine. Allow to boil, drop heat to simmer.
3. Season with Salt & Pepper to taste.
4. If sauce needs to be thicked, combine flour & butter to form a paste. Add slowly to the sauce until thick. Garnish with parsley.

Vanilla Panna Cotta

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
4 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 cup sugar
Mixed berries-Strawberries are suggested.
Satin chocolate sauce, recipe follows

Satin Chocolate Sauce: (Optional-you can use store bought sauce to save time)
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup hot water

Method:
1. In a small bowl, combine the water and gelatin and let soak about 10 minutes (do not stir). Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat the cream, vanilla bean and sugar to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.
2. As soon as it simmers, turn off the heat and add the gelatin mixture, stirring to dissolve the gelatin. If the gelatin doesn't completely dissolve in 3 minutes, return the mixture to the heat and warm gently until dissolved.
3. Pour the mixture into 6 to 8 ramekins or for a more sophisticated look, use martini glasses. Chill, uncovered, 2 hours or up to 1 day.

Satin Chocolate Sauce:
In the top half of a double boiler, combine the 2 chocolates over simmering water. Stir constantly until melted, then whisk in the syrup and water without removing the double boiler from the heat. Whisk until smooth and shiny. The sauce can be made up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerated. To rewarm, stir over low heat or heat in a microwave.

Randomivity Wednesday



First of all, remember to tune in to hear ME co-host Mo's show tonight! :) If you've never listened before, tonight's the night to start...it's easy-just click HERE at 7pm EST and join in the fun! (You can even call in to say hi).



*Having stabbing pains running along your tummy for 2.5 days is NOT fun. Especially when there is no "relief" that is normally associated with it.


*Laying on your sofa for 2 days straight makes it pretty hard to have a randomivity post. Mainly because, well...nothing random happened.


*Staying home while the rest of your building is at work is interesting...not only do you hear outdoor noises, but you hear the work men in apartments around you doing work. It's interesting because it makes me realize that I want to be home when they work on my apartment.


*My new friend Anette said to me, "It's a big city" in the context that it would be strange to run into people you know unless you tried here. Well, let me tell you-it will be twice now that I will have run into the weirdest person I've met so far, and I'm not likin' it!


*I'm having baking anxiety. I'll explain later. Maybe.


*While putting the tag onto this post, I saw that I have a "Drunken Rambles" tag. I think I want to do more drunken rambles...perhaps on Friday I will.

Wordless Wednesday: Romantic Dinner For 2



Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Mo Show


Yup, you read it correctly, I am joining Mo once again to co-host his show tomorrow night. We'll be talking about how to plan and make a romantic dinner for two...but don't worry if you don't have someone to share these ideas with-you can make these recipes for yourself and have leftovers!
It's quite easy to listen:
1. Tomorrow go to: The Mo Show at 7pm EST. It's really that easy! You do not have to register to listen, but if you do, you will be able to participate in the online chat during the show.
*You can even call in and talk with Mo & I...all of the information is on the site, so be sure to check it out.

Toosdae ?'s

It's Toosdae & I finally have questions back! Yay for questions!! Don't disappoint me now-answer away. Have fun...



1. If the sun had a flavor, what would it be? What about the moon?



2. If you could make the sky any color in the world, what color would you pick?



3. When you actually write with a pen-do you print or write in script?



1. The sun tastes like extra sharp cheddar cheese fondue-duh! The moon on the other hand tastes like wintergreen mints.



2. It's not very creative but I would keep it blue-but I would make it the most intense turquoise all of the time just like it was in Mexico and the water and the sky melted into each other.



3. I typically print unless I am signing my name or writing a special letter. Then it's script all the way baby.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Manic Monday: Exhaustion Sets In

Monday's are MoMoLicious!


I think by now you know that I am a girl who's never had a ton of friends all at the same time. Over my lifetime, I've had many friendships but have lost almost every single one-either by choice or by a change of location. (Every best friend I ever had in elementary school through 7th grade and then 9th grade moved away, leaving me utterly heartbroken every time and hesitant to get closer to friends after that.) I've often been told that people like me but they think that I do not like them-this is a direct result of me trying to protect myself from being heartbroken-buy ultimately what it has boiled down to is me being lonely on Saturday nights.

With the exception of my college years, I have never had a very active social life. I've always kept to my small group of friends and did things with them on an individual basis (or a very small group) and this, for the most part, is fine. However, there is (and probably always has been) a part of me that has always wanted to be more social-someone who goes out for dinner and drinks or to happy hours-or to see live music.

Moving to Boston seems to have filled that hole. I have more of a social life now than I have ever had in my entire life, and I've only lived here for a little over one month! I know that part of the reason is that there is simply more to do here on a more consistent basis. Things seem to just stop in the winter in CT. The other part is that I decided that if I am going to live here, I need to make friends here otherwise I will quickly get homesick.

Enter mysterious website that I joined which helps me make friends.

At first I was skeptical-I wondered why all of these people who already live in Boston didn't have their own friends to hang out with. Me? I had a reason-but them...what was wrong with them? The answer is: nothing. (Ok...there are some really weird ones...) These people simply want to meet NEW people. They are interesting, and educated and cultured and fun! And so far, none of the people I have become friendly with are American. I don't exactly know what that says about me, but right now, I don't care.

This weekend I received 3 emails from people I met last week asking if I'd like to get together again. I also went out to dinner with the girl from first night. We started out at a local Mexican place which served the BEST margaritas I've ever had in my life-even better than the ones that are served on the beaches of Mexico. After a few margaritas and a very filling dinner, we headed over to another square and had drinks at a bar there. Not only was it fun because we were out on the town, but I truly had great company.

She's a smart girl-a little older than I am but not by much-who's funny and warm. She's curious about lots of American things that they don't teach in books (slang, dating-stuff like that) and is a very positive person. I think we're going to become good friends-especially b/c she's already told me that I'm her 2nd favorite American of all time. :) Considering how many people live here, that's quite a compliment!! We parted ways with a hug and a promise to get together again soon-this time with another girl from first night.

You think that would be excitement enough for one girl-but no...there's more. One of my best friends from home-Megan-came to visit me for the first time yesterday! Seeing her is always fun anyway, but knowing that we'll remain friends no matter where we are warms my heart. We spent the day walking around Boston trying to find interesting things for her to buy as gifts (only found 1 cute outfit for her soon to be born granddaughter) and eating. Oh-and we ended up in a place we both love and often frequent together-the bookstore! Overall it was a tiring but fun day and I was sad to see her go. It's not often you find a friend like Megan (someone who understands rapid body temperature changes and who will run away from weird men on the T with you and not judge you) and I'm very lucky to have her.

So, pretty much I need a week off to recover from my weekend. Especially because next weekend is full already too! Boston...it's a great city to live in.




Remembering Ruby

It always delights me to find a fellow blogger who is talented enough to write a book. Many of us dapple in writing and most of us would "someday" like to actually publish something but know that it might never truly happen. Enter the lovely Melisa. I have not yet been able to read her book, but am thrilled to open my blog up to her so that she can share her masterpiece. Please read her thoughts and description of this book, and buy your copy online...


The Blog: Remembering Ruby


The Book:


Some interesting things about the book, in Melisa's words:

1. The story, though naturally sad in parts because of the subject, ends on an uplifting note because the overall theme is coping and moving on with life as a family after a loss.

2. I used real photos (in black and white) from our family rather than an illustrator. There were several reasons for this strategy, and I've been pleased with the feedback: I've been told that the photos make the story more "real" and "relatable".

3. The book is mostly made up of the story itself, but contains (at the back) a short parent guide on helping kids cope with loss. I do not get into any psychological advice because I am not a doctor, but I offer some suggestions on family activities and such. Our long-time veterinarian had some input into this part of the book.

4. The book is mainly geared towards ages 4-10, but it is truly a story for all ages.

5. My sister, Julie/Jules, designed the gorgeous cover and the interior as well. (In fact, if you hold the book open wide right next to your ear, you may be able to hear the sobbing we did while trying to get through the arduous publishing process.)

6. The book is only available online and not in stores. The most popular places to find it would be Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.