Sunday, October 30, 2011

Eggplant Cups

Let me share one of my favorite money saving a dinner in can be less expensive than paying your share of the bill at a restaurant. Add in the comfort of a casual dinner spread over a few hours at our home compared to being rushed out of your table, the awkward moments of how to split the check and then the early goodbyes to go home our separate ways and dining at home wins in so many ways. This is especially true when you have friends who are willing to do dishes since the clean up is absolutely my least favorite part of hosting! So many thank you go to all my awesome friend who don't hesitate to grab an apron and get scrubbing.

I am an avid reader of SmittenKitchen blog and I was super excited to see her post on the feature in Everyday Food , one of my favorite Martha publications. I loved her creative use of eggplant as a little shell to "stuff" - you know my love of stuffing veggies and eggplant isn't going to escape. I didn't really follow her recipe exactly - its a bit past fresh tomato season and well I forgot mint at the store (at least remembered parsley for my chicken roasting/soup making later this week) but I want to give some credit to the inspiration for tonight's dinner. I served these eggplant cups alongside some grilled steak tips (a cut that I NEVER see in NJ but grew up loving in New England!) and roasted zucchini.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

An Amazing Detour: Burdick Chocolates and a look back at summer 2011

Even though summer is now past I can't help but look back on some of the amazing adventures we had. If I had been a good blogger, you would know all about them but alas my blogging skills, especially in the summer months leave something to be desired! Our summer started out with an amazing trip to Stockholm, Sweden. We had many fun adventures including eating a luxurious traditional Swedish Smorgasbord at the Opera Cafe (a cafe/nightclub on the grounds of the Opera house). Unfortunately while it was quite beautiful inside, it seems that our tastes are not as fond of traditional Swedish cuisine as we might have hoped.

This summer also involved many different weddings. We saw 4 different friends (well 8 technically!) married this summer and each wedding was so different and unique. I am amazed that I could go to four wedding not see one repeating element ... all of brides even walked down the aisle to a different song! take that Wagner.

It was on the way to one of these weddings that we took a little detour to a small New Hampshire town and spent a lunch at L.A. Burdicks How did we find this little gem? Unfortunately I don't have a romantic story of us antiquing through the small towns of Vermont and New Hampshire and randomly stumbling upon a quaint town with this cafe (though the town and cafe were adorable!).... in fact I don't think that I have stumbled accidentally upon anything in the past few years. In this age of technology and iphones, I did what any self-respecting foodie in a foreign land (haha I don't know if a state 3 hours drive is exactly foreign but stay with me here) would do... I googled it! When I saw that Burdick's was mentioned in three different posts (and it was only 3 exits away!) I was sold (and hungry).

We arrived at a bit of an odd hour between lunch and dinner so we had the place almost all to ourselves. The pending Hurricane Irene made the quiet sleepy town even more so as most people busied themselves at the supermarket collecting water and batteries to prepare for this 100- year storm that was on track to punish New England. As the hostess called to warn those with Sunday Brunch reservations to call first in case they lost power, we sat savoring one of the most decadent mochas of all time. From the oozing, gooey, cheesy crust on the French onion soup to the freshly made salads, we very much enjoyed our visit to Burdicks. But the best part of the meal came with the check... these adorable little penguins, a Burdick trademark made paying the check a bit sweeter (along with their mice...made of chocolate of course!) After that small sample, we couldn't help taking a trip to the adjoining chocolate shop and grabbing a few chocolatey little friends to join us on the rest of our adventure.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fresh Basil "Chimichurri"

When your trusty basil plant keeps producing fragrant green leaves night after night it can sometimes seem hard to keep up. Pesto sauce gets a little boring - try this Latin spin that is based on a Chimichurri.

Blend together basil, 1/2 c olive oil, 3 garlic gloves, 1 tsp crushed red pepper and a squeeze of lemon to make it extra fresh. Serve on top of any grilled meat or vegetable.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fried Soft Shell Crab

Soft Shell crabs aren't always at my local store - the season is actually quite short so when I see them I am sure to pick them up. Even though frying something can be a bit messy there is just no better way to enjoy these delicious treats. I love using a spiced up crumb to coat the crab with a crunchy shell. This recipe is actually quite easy and frying doesn't have to be scary and mess - you can use a very small amount when you are making something as small as a few crabs or shrimp. No need for a huge pan full of oil for these!

We enjoyed them on a bed of matchstick vegetables with black sesame seeds, soy and ginger. We made our breading out of cornmeal with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and fresh ground pepper.