Follow the culinary adventures and misadventures of the Cooking Agents (Ray and Katie). Watch as we eat/cook our way into adulthood.
Happy National Taco Day!!! I only found out around 11:30 today and the tuna taco inception seed was planted. I made a run to Whole Foods, got home at 8 and by 8:30, dinner was on the table! This recipe is easy and is SO, SO delicious.
Tuna & Taco stuff
In a small bowl, combine cumin, cayenne, salt, pepper, and coriander. Rub spice mixture generously on both sides of the tuna.
Heat a nonstick pan on the stove over high heat. When pan is smoking hot, add olive oil, wait 10 seconds, then add tuna. Sear for 1 minute per side, or until fish is cooked on the outside, but rare on the inside. Beware! Your spice mixture on a very hot pan will smell very similar to mase. I would know. I was practically choking. Once you begin to breathe normally, transfer to a plate.
In the meantime microwave or heat your taco shells according to the box’s instructions.
Add all ingredients to a medium-size bowl. Toss gently. DO NOT MASH AVOCADO. The chunkier, the better!
Assemble and voila!
Last weekend, I had a friend over who was visiting from NYC, meaning it’ll be a challenge to impress from a food perspective. She arrived on Friday late afternoon and after dropping off her things at my office, we headed to Kingston Station in downtown Boston near my office. Although more know for its bar scene, we sat down for dinner in the back and got some drinks. The bread basket was average, but the maple butter elevated the bread, which led to a second basket. We shared PEI mussels to start that came with the standard white wine, garlic broth with tomatoes. For entrees, Grace ordered the Ahi Tuna Burger and I ordered the scallops with celery root puree, English peas, and carrots. The burger disappointed as it lacked the texture of a good sear and also came with sub par fries. Scallops were much better with a nice even golden sear and tender throughout.
Afterwards we headed back to my office for a mini tour and a game of pool (I won). Before heading to The Thinking Cup for dessert (sub par cupcake, good fruit tart, good atmosphere) and then to watch The Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
The next day, we went to the Friendly Toast in Kendall for brunch and ordered one savory egg and one sweet special. The eggs came with onions, tomatoes, bacon?, and some type of champagne along with home fries and toast. The pear and pomegranate french toast came smothered in a pear cream cheese and a side of sausage. Both were satisfying and unique, although Grace accused them of being overly flavorful. I thought that was suppose to be a good thing?
After brunch kayaking on the Charles was short lived as the forecast was cloudy, Grace either splashing me or herself with Charles River water, and bumpy waves so we left and headed to Newbury street so Grace could shop from the beginning to the end. This landed us with few great dining options as the more casual Back Bay dining scene is nonexistent so we ended up at Kashmir for Indian eats. We got a comp watermelon shooter, which tasted a little off as it didn’t taste like straight up watermelon juice, even though it was suppose to be along with Murg Do Piaza Khumb (pan roasted chicken with onions tomatoes, bell peppers, and spices), Gosht Korma (chunks of lamb cooked with spices and nuts in a mild cream sauce), Shahi Aloo Gobhi (cauliflower and potatoes with tomatoes, onions, herbs and spices), Garlic Naan and finished with Coconut Sorbet. Overall, the meal was average as the chicken and lamb were dry, and the naan was unevenly cooked. Mixing the sauces with the rice and the coconut sorbet were probably the highlights for me.
After getting back home and talking about Thomas Keller, Tom Haverfoods, and watching music videos we set out for some late night eats (failing to find Amy’s Cheddar Bowls at 3 locations) we sadly ended up at Tavern in the Square and had some tough as leather buffalo chicken skewers and drinks. Frozen food at Shaw’s would have been more fulfilling.
On Sunday, before heading to a doomed candlepin bowling excursion, we stopped by Anna’s Taqueria for lunch. Grace got the Mexican plate with chicken ranchero and some additional grilled veggies while I got the Carnitas Quesadilla (really a griddled burrito). Both dishes were good and very well priced. Grace even got to enjoy a non price inflated Mexican Coke (win for Boston).
We made a stop at Harard Square so that Grace could revisit from her days at pre-college, but it really just ended up being a trick to do some more shopping. We made a stop at Crema Cafe where I confirmed that I still don’t like coffee. On the way back home, Katie was able to get us two more tickets to the Yankees and Red Sox game that night so the original Oleana plans were canceled for Sunday night baseball! This of course was after I explained the value of these tickets to Grace so that the law of supply and demand made choosing easier.
At Fenway Park, we were able to get Pavilion seating with a counter service like seating and where food was brought to you. Some over priced beer and sausages later, we called it a weekend and headed home.
Since I started working, the most difficult decision I have to make is deciding what to have for lunch. Now that I actually work in a downtown area, I know the joys of having lunch options during the week, but it has also made my life that much more complicated. When I don’t bring lunch and I’m not lucky enough to snag a free lunch through leftovers in the common area from vendor visits, the brain starts ticking. So far I’ve been able to avoid chains when I’m on the hunt, which means no Chipotle or Cosi for this guy. If you work in downtown Boston, hopefully this little guide will be of assistance.
8 City Hall Ave.
Basic deli with sandwiches, soups, salads, and a few hot entrees. Sandwiches come with cold pasta salad and half a pickle. I ordered the cowboy grilled sandwich (roast beef, cheddar, tomato, pickles, red onions and bbq sauce on a ciabatta roll). Average sandwich that could have spent another few minutes in the panini press as the cheese wasn’t fully melted and the middle of the sandwich was still luke warm. Co-workers were bigger fans than me. $7-$8 for most items.
48 Winter Street
For Middle Eastern eats, you can’t go wrong with Falafel King. There’s falafel for your vegetarian friends and shawarma for the meat eaters. Service is fast and efficient although the location is cramped in a small hall among other take out counters. Look to spend $7 for most items.
44 Province Street
The most popular eatery on my list. Sam Lagrassa’s was featured on Diners, Dive Ins, and Dives. Note: it is not a diner, drive in, or dive. However, it has the heavy sandwiches that would merit mention on the show. I’ve been here twice and have gotten pastrami both times, as it is the closest thing to a NY quality pastrami sandwich i.e. mustard, cole slaw, and greasy, juicy, hot pastrami. More pricey than what I would like to spend on a work week lunch and could cause sluggishness in the afternoon, but definitely delicious. $8-$11 for most sandwiches.
101 Arch Street
For something a little different, try Chacarrero for Chilean sandwiches (bread made in house, grilled steak or chicken, meunster cheese, tomatoes, steamed string beans and avocado spread). My grilled steak made out a little dry and tough, green beans were on the over done side, and avocado spread was more runny than a spread. I didn’t think it was worth the hype going in, but I’d be open to returning. $7-$9 for sandwiches.
85 Arch Street
A lot like Delicato with mostly sandwiches, but with a few more hot entree options served cafeteria style. I opted for a gyro because I just can’t say no. I was a little skeptical as the meat wasn’t sliced from a large rotating hunk, but ended up being surprisingly juicy. Only downside is that it was cash only. Most items were $6-$8.
125 Summer Street
Located in a rather stuff lobby of 125 Summer Street, Andale is my Chipotle substitute. Burritos were slightly smaller and cheaper, but you have to pay extra for cheese, which I’d say isn’t normal. However guacamole is only $0.50 extra unlike Chipotle’s ridiculous extra charge. I got the Mexican sausage which was tasty, but a little difficult to eat. The pozole (mexican pork stew) was swimming in oil and chili and could do damage if you have a sensitive stomach. Burritos start at $5, most items $5-$7.
I hope this will encourage you downtown office drones to leave your building and explore new dining options. Just remember that none of your co-workers really care what multimillion dollar deal you are closing. They only care if you have a killer lunch spot recommendation.
Sometimes blogging about food means subjecting yourself and those you love to just plain ridiculousness and tom foolery. For instance, if I am planning on making something fancy and French for the blog, I’ll go shopping on Thursday or Friday so that on Saturday morning, I can have my mise en place ready to go by noon… usually for a recipe I’m going to be eating for dinner. Yes, I am a masochist and like cooking things that take me literally ALL DAY. My reason is the lighting in my apartment. It’s not ideal and I am a firm believer in natural lighting over artificial lighting when it comes to food. It just makes everything seem warm and sunny and of course makes the food overall more appealing. My job makes it impossible to take pictures of anything in daylight during the week, so again, my Saturday is my day in the sun… literally.
Blogging about food also means having to struggle through the neverending battle of the bulge. Fortunately, my boyfriend has equipped me with p90x videos. I’m whipping up buttercream one minute and then doing plyometrics 15 minutes later. Crazy, but I am doing p90x afterall. That must mean I’m EXTREME! I was talking with a fellow blogger, Winston from The Gluttonous JD, who shares my fear of fatness. Winston mentioned something about a diet, at which point I stopped paying attention. I don’t diet. I may indulge in smaller portions, but I do not and will not ever go cold turkey on certain food items. He caught my attention again when he mentioned Rick Bayless and soup that was “healthy”. In my mind, Rick Bayless + Soup + Easy Dinner = Tortilla Soup! I’m not sure how healthy this is, but I can guarantee it’s better than eating a cupcake or two.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This will be for your homemade tortilla strips.
While the oven is preheating, add the chicken thighs, jalepeno (add the seeds if you want it extra spicy), broth and chicken stock to a large pot. Turn the heat to medium-high and wait for the pot to come to a boil. Once it reaches its boiling point, redice the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
At this point, remove the chicken from the pot and set aside. You want it cool enough to handle when you go to shred it. In the meantime, add salt to the cooking liquid. Depending on your brand and how “low sodium” it really is, you will need to adjust the amount of salt you add. Slowly build up the amount of salt you add to the pot. Cliche, but it’s a good tip — you can always add but you can’t take it back. Keep tasting until the salt level is right for you.
To make the tortilla strips, brush the tortillas with the canola oil on both sides. Stack the tortillas and cut the rounds right down the middle. Stack the semi-circles and cut into strips about 1/2 inch wide. Spread the strips on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 10 minutes, then stir the strips around to make sure everyone is started to get a nice tan. Periodically check your strips for golden brown perfection. For me, it took another 7 minutes. Really watch these though. I went 3 minutes too long on my first batch and they very quickly went from golden brown to dark tropical tan. Yuck.
Your chicken should be cool and ready for shredding. If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, take the thighs and start shredding with your fingers. Throw the chicken into the pot and let it come back up in temperature.
To serve, you can be like me and dirty every single small bowl in your kitchen and fill them with the fun verdant toppings. Let your guests add what they’d like and enjoy!
Overall, I really didn’t think I would like this soup. In the pot, it was bland and ”chickeny”. Chicken isn’t a bad flavor, it was just a little one note and not the complex broth flavor I was looking for. HOWEVER, once I added all of the garnishes and a squeeze of lime, I was immediately transported to flavor town. This was refreshing and light. I would even be so bold to say it may have been healthy! Shocking, I know!!!! If you have the ingredients, I’d say give this soup a chance.
Last weekend, I caught up with Krissie and had lunch at Dorado in Brookline. Dorado serves tacos and cemitas, with a focus on Baja-California style fish tacos and authentic cemitas. Krissie and Katie came across Dorado awhile back, and I remember them stating that it was one of the best fish tacos they’ve ever had. I’m not a true connoisseur of fish tacos, but I’ve had my fair share ever since my spring break vacation to Cabo and then senior year living near Sunset Cantina, which served southwestern style cuisine. Ever since, if there are fish tacos on a menu 50% of the time, I’m ordering it.
Dorado offers individual tacos between $2.59-$2.99 or plates for $6.25 that includes 2 tacos, rice, beans, and a charred jalapeno. We ordered incorrectly after the first go around, and only ended up with 1 taco plate with 1 of each fried fish taco (Ensenada and Dorado) and a chorizo taco. Both fish tacos were great, but the Dorado stood above and beyond. Both tacos contained, 1 piece of fried Atlantic whitefish, cabbage, and salsa fresca, while the Ensenada had pickled onions and Baja crema and the Dorado had radishes and spicy chipotle crema. The fish was flaky, hot, and had the crust that was just right to match with the flaky fish meat.
Fish Taco Plate
The house made chorizo wasn’t too notable, but came with guacamole, which was a plus. The rice was mediocre, but the beans were one of the better black beans that I’ve had. On our second round of ordering, we got 1 more of each fish taco and a steak taco, which also gets a good review. The steak was marinated sirloin, and came with guacamole, queso fresco, and roasted tomato habenero salsa. All tacos came with 2 corn torillas.
Ensenada, Dorado, and Steak Taco
Service was very friendly and that included the counter staff and the owner and/or manager. After checking in on Yelp and getting a free Aguas Frescas (Lime, Ginger, and Pineapple drink), the owner/manager began picking my brain about social media sites like Yelp and Foursquare. Good thing I didn’t reveal that I dealt with these sites at my last job, so I could get back to my food asap, but now at least I know that he cares. Overall a good meal with hits and misses, but good enough to warrant further menu investigation. It’s also easy on the wallet and accessible via public transportation.
Being Interviewed Regarding my Yelp and Social Media Habits