Follow the culinary adventures and misadventures of the Cooking Agents (Ray and Katie). Watch as we eat/cook our way into adulthood.
In typical Ray fashion, I had friends over this past weekend and had a few days of pure gluttony. When friends come over, I try my best to get a sense of they are looking to try wherever I’m living and plan the weekend around meals that will be satisfying and give Boston a chance to impress.
To begin our journey, we headed to the North End since it would be a little less crowded on a Thursday night. We got on line at Giacomo’s and after 30 minutes, we were treated to calamari, garlic bread and pasta. Calamari was good, but could have been fried better. The marinara sauce was tangy and had a homemade taste to it. Pass on the garlic bread. Lobster Ravioli was finished off quickly as the portion size was small. Linguine with Fra-como sauce and shrimp and scallops and swordfish with a cream sauce were wins. Next, we braved the only semi-hectic crowds at Mike’s Pastry for cannolis. Peanut butter, yellow cream and pistachio all safe bets.
The next day, berry tarts from the previous day were for breakfast followed by UBurger. After some afternoon beer at Sam Adam’s Brewery, it was time for dinner at Yankee Lobster Fish Market were all 3 of us enjoyed clam chowder and Lobster Rolls. This was probably the most fulfilling meal of the weekend for me both because of the concept of fresh seafood by the water at the start of summer. Perfectly crispy fries and a long walk down Seaport Blvd. help too.
Lobster Roll from Yankee Lobster Fish Market
The next day, we hit up a few Asian establishments including Japonaise Bakery for some sweets including their Azuki Cream Bun, cakes and mochi. Take a pass on the cake and head straight for the Japanese cream items and pastries. For lunch we hopped between Bonchon Chicken for some wings, pork buns, and fried octopus balls and Jojo Taipei for soup dumplings, scallion pancakes and minced pork over rice. Finally for dinner, we headed to Redbones for some BBQ. St. Louis ribs won out above all and the smoked brisket was dry. Before my friends left, we had dim sum at Hei La Moon in Chinatown. If you’re concerned about my health right now, rest assured that I’ve been eating like a rabbit since the weekend.
Almond Cake with Oranges and Cream with an Azuki Mochi
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tbsp lemon zest
1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup whole milk
2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 packages (8 oz) of cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 oz fresh strawberries
1/4 cup of sugar
To make cupcakes—
Preheat oven to 325˚F. Prepare cupcake pan with liners.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside. In a stand mixer, fitted with a flat beater, combine cream cheese, butter, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Then beat in oil. Gradually add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk in 2 additions, ending with the flour mixture. Try not to over mix.
Fill cupcake liners about 1/2-2/3 full. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire cooling rack before frosting.
To make frosting—
In a food processor or blender, puree the strawberries. Strain the strawberries through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds. Once all seeds are removed, add the strawberry juice and the sugar to a sauce pan. On medium heat, reduce until the sauce can coat the back of a spoon. Remove and let cool.
In a stand mixer, fitted with a flat beater, combine all frosting ingredients.
Ah, my fridge is back to normal… full of baked goods.
These cupcakes are delicious. I think I could have added an extra teaspoon of lemon juice to really tang these up, but they were light and creamy and refreshing. I’d say this was a good way to start back here again. Great to be back.
I came across a Korean market in Central Square and bought rice cake for my chao nian gao recipe. I also picked a few items for another Snacks from Foreign Shores piece. After walking up and down the snack aisle, I went back to the piles of snacks near the front of the aisle to pick something that was obviously calling out to me. As I looked at a box of choco cake, I was thinking to myself, “should I get this?” Little did I know the answer was already written in front of me. Oh Yes! Choco Cake.
Oh Yes Chocao Cake!?!?
The box included 12 individually wrapped square cakes. On the wrapper it reads “You know that sweet things make smile. We love to see you smile with your people. So just taste this cake.” Sold and sold. Each choco cake consisted of two thin pieces of white/pale yellow cake with a thin layer of chocolate between each piece. The entire cake is then coated with another layer of chocolate. Sounds deadly doesn’t it? Don’t worry, Asian treats like this will not taste nearly as unhealthy as an American treat like say Entermann’s. Overall, a little to bland for a snack cake. I’m still sticking with biscuit and chocolate related snacks.
Individually Wrapped Treats
The anatomy of Oh Yes
This afternoon, I departed the Washington DC metro area back home to NJ before I ship up to Boston next weekend. While I was sad leaving a lot of people behind, I sure as hell enjoyed the dining farewell tour (mostly dictated by my remaining Groupons). I ate at the Morrison Clark Inn, Sticky Rice, Dangerously Delicious Pies, Kinkead’s, Comet Ping Pong, Zentan, Meskerem, PF Chang’s, The General Store, Uptown Deli, Hinata Sushi Carryout and Cafe Deluxe.
Morrison Clark Inn was hoppin’, and by that I mean for the 40+ crowd. I was definitely feeling out of place. There was only one other table with a younger couple. The food was decent, but pricey, so the value was lacking. The Striped Bass with Tarragon Fennel, Potato Risotto, and Butter Nut Coulis was rich and comforting. The crispy skin on the offering a nice salty contrast to the risotto and coulis swimming in butter.
I’ve decided that Sticky Rice should be seen less as a restaurant and more of bar with inventive food. Purists would cry foul at a lot of the special house rolls, but a lot of the items on the menu would make a great bar snack or meal. The atmosphere far outweighs the food. Dangerously Delicious Pies was located nearby Sticky Rice so I thought it’d be nice to finally get around to try a slice. A whole pie runs about $30 here so I was hesitant to invest in an entire pie when I’ve seen them at the nearby farmers’ market. I tried the Baltimore Bomb, which includes melted sandwich cookies that’s mixed into a vanilla chess pie. I liked what I was tasting, but I’ve had better pie at a lower cost.
Sticky Scallops and Samurai Shrimp
During my farewell tour, DC restaurant week and Bethesda-Chevy Chase restaurant week decided to try and mess up my financials, but I was strong enough to show restraint and only dined once at Kinkead’s for the RW menu. I had the Grilled Squid with Tomato Fondue, Pesto and Creamy Polenta for an appetizer (good), Crusted Hake with Mushroom Duxelle, Potato Gnocchi and Porcini Cream (excellent), and Strawberry Almond Cake with Lemon Bavarian and Strawberry Sauce (excellent). I’m extremely excited for Sibling Rivalry in Boston.
Grilled Squid with Tomato Fondue, Pesto and Creamy Polenta
Crusted Hake with Mushroom Duxelle, Potato Gnocchi and Porcini Cream
Strawberry Almond Cake with Lemon Bavarian and Strawberry Sauce
Comet Ping Pong left a lot to be desired. the toppings were bare on The Smokey (smokey mushrooms, smokey mozzarella, smokey bacon, melted onions, and garlic) and Yalie (clams, garlic, melted onions, thyme, Parmesan, lemon) suffered from a soggy crust. The wings and meatball apps were also not up to par. The restaurant’s food seems to suffer as a result of focusing on the bar and atmosphere rather than execution in the kitchen.
Zentan met my expectations as Susar Lee’s performance on Top Chef Masters drove me to make a trip out to Logan Circle. The sushi chef recommended the Escolar Crudo (excellent) and I ordered the half serving of the Singapore Slaw (excellent). The Carmelized Black Cod was good, but small and pricey ($26 for 4 2 bite piece s of fish). Paying $4 for a bowl of jasmine rice was highway robbery as well.
Meserkem was my first time trying Ethiopian food and it was quite disappointing, we ordered a beef and vegetarian (cabbage, potato, carrot) Sambussa both good (because they are fried) and a sampler (Meskerem Messob) of a few dishes (bland, luke warm). Next time I’m having Ethiopian food, it’s going to have to be with a seasoned expert.