Follow the culinary adventures and misadventures of the Cooking Agents (Ray and Katie). Watch as we eat/cook our way into adulthood.
The one year anniversary of our last post is coming up, so we thought it would be as a good a time as any to dig this blog out of its grave. A recap of the holidays seems appropriate.
Knowing that I was going to be taking a rip to China for two weeks during Thanksgiving, led me to organize a little Friendsgiving a few weeks before I took off. I was originally thinking of inviting around 10 folks, but since I had a new roommate who wasn’t around and gave me more control of the common areas, 25 people ended up accepting an invite and 19 people showed up. It was the first time I was hosting so it felt like a good opportunity to go big. One thing that helped was that I didn’t take a vacation day from work in 2012 until late October so I had plenty of time to prepare. I had the Friday off before the party (on a Sunday), but the total prep time stretched to the weeks before hand.
3 weeks out-send out invitations, start planning menu (the fun stuff)
2 weeks out-trim down menu, begin shopping lists
6 days before party-regret decision to host, buy alcohol
5 days before party-buy pantry goods, dry ingredients, turkey
4 days before party-plan out prep and cooking schedule, assign dishes to pots and pans
3 days before party-clean, set up chairs and tables out of storage
2 days before party-brine turkey, buy fresh foods, prep and make apps, soup, desserts, snacks, beast mode
1 day before party-air dry turkey, cook majority of side dishes, beast mode, panic attack
day of party-showtime
Luckily, my sister and her husband came a few hours early to help out with the last of the prep so the afternoon was a lot less stressful. The final menu looked like this:
White bean dip, roasted garlic hummus, pita chips with oregano, brie and gouda cheese plate, stuffed mushrooms, deviled eggs
Chilled potato leek soup with pesto genovese, southwest squash soup with ancho cream and toasted pumpkin seeds
Roasted turkey, beef stew with herbed dumplings
Jalapeno cheddar biscuits, cornbread, apple sausage stuffing, mushroom leek stuffing, green bean casserole, braised red cabbage, spaghetti squash with cranberries, mashed potatoes, quinoa with caramelized onions and mushroom, mac n cheese, gravy
Apple pie, pumpkin cheesecake, vanilla ice cream, chocolate coconut ice cream
Take Home Snacks
Cracker jacks, peanut clusters, candied pecans, gingersnaps
Some of the recipes were from the 6 week cooking course I took at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts in the fall. I cooked for two and a half days straight days. It was exhausting, but also so damn satisfying. It was my greatest culinary achievement to date. No regrets.
Mandatory Smiles for the Most Part
China- Yunnan Province and Shanghai
Moving on to my trip to China, the food was unremarkable, since we were on a tour group and ate rather generic plain food. The only highlights were some lamb and yak skewers at a night market and the signature dish of the Yunnan Province- Cross Bridge Noodles. It is a hot noodle sou, were you put raw, thinly sliced meats, and other toppings along with noodles into a hot bowl of broth with a layer of oil on top. When I went back to Shanghai prior to flaying back to the US, I had the best Beijing Duck (though there are probably better ones out there) in my life at a place near my aunt’s apartment.
For Christmas (NJ for a little over a week), I ate a rotation of all the favorites. Dim sum, stir fried noodles, diner fare, pizza, steamed lobsters, hot pot, frozen yogurt and my mom’s home cooking.
I was back in Boston for New Years and hung out at 28 degrees (cocktails, french fries) for most of the night before heading to Katie’s new place (quiche, the largest shrimp cocktail I’ve ever seen).
I took a look back at my 2012 food resolutions, and I only managed to complete 1.5 of the 5 items I listed so here’s hoping the 2013 list will be more successful.
1. Make Thomas Keller’s fried chicken! (carry over from last year)
2. Make pasta or Asian noodles from scratch (carry over from last year)
3. Make key lime chiffon pie and rice pudding
4. Cook or try a new exotic meat, vegetable and fruit
5. Try sea urchin and Spam
6. Eat at Toro, Island Creek Oyster Bar and RF O’Sullivan’s
7. Visit East Boston for Italian eats and 1 other ethnic cuisine
Happy New Year and be on the look out for more updates!
Merry Christmas, friends! I hope you all enjoyed a filling and festive meal with your families and friends. If you’re in my family, you make sure to grab the mashed sweet potatoes with sliced apples lest you miss your chance at the apples! You then proceed to talk loudly, laugh a whole bunch, and take in the family time you so desperately needed.
You clean your plate too… but not before snapping a picture.
I’ve already received cookbooks galore this Christmas, so prepare for fun foods in 2012. Enjoy the rest of 2011 everyone. Cheers!
25 is a big year, right? You’re at the midway point of your twenties when society suddenly views you as a grown up and as a reward, you no longer have to pay some exorbitant fee to drive a rental car. What better way to start such a year than to attend an exceptional chef’s tasting menu by the lovely, never disappointing Barbara Lynch (love to love you, baby).
Why yes we will.
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To know me is to know the fish taco. A bold sentence that barely scratches the surface of my intense love for this tasty gem.
In 2008, I began my love affair of a lifetime. It happened during senior week, when emotions and my fast metabolic appetite ran high. I arrived back to BU after being up all night at Mohegan Sun, only to be shuffled onto another bus and off to Martha’s Vineyard. I was exhausted. I still remember clear as day, Krissie telling me I was passed out the entire bus ride to the ferry. Of course by passed out, she was nicely telling me that I was snoring
lightly with my giant trap wide open for all bus occupants to see and hear. I’m sure I was greatly appreciated.
This picture summarized our trip. We threw rocks… lots of them. Mind you, this was early June, MV’s off season. The other portion of the day was spent on a 4+ hour adventure, biking around all parts of Martha’s Vineyard. We got lost, mostly because we deviated to find a bathroom, which was conveniently located at a Stop and Shop very off course.
The day was wrapped up in a hard shell. That’s right! A fish taco and a nice cold Corona brought my long day to a close. By far, Martha’s Vineyard was the most fun I’d had doing any sort of physical activity for a long time. 4 hours of exercise = not having to feel bad about skipping the gym for my entire senior year. Mind you, my logic hasn’t changed over the past 3+ years.
I’m not sure if it was the fact that I was famished or whether it truly was the greatest meal I’d ever had, but that grossly unauthentic fish taco was the most superb piece of food I ever put in my mouth. Thankfully, Yelp has since guided me to some of the “holy grails” of fish tacos in the greater Boston area — El Pelon Taqueria (which subsequently closed due to fire), Dorado Tacos, La Verdad, etc. Oh yes. You savory little morsels will be mine!
Wah! No longer available!
On Ray and my recent trip to the west coast, it shouldn’t come as a shocker that the ultimate San Diego fish taco was on our list. After a very long day at Mission Beach and a few rides on the Giant Dipper, we found ourselves at El Zarape in University Heights. I went for the classic fish tacos – one grilled and one fried. The grilled was a nice flavorful piece of mahi mahi and the fried was your average piece of white fish encased by a very light fried shell. The fish taco is humble served in a warm corn tortilla with tomatoes, shredded cabbage or lettuce, and a healthy squirt of white sauce. Add a very cold Corona and you are transported to flavor town.
Between the Corona and Ray, I’d choose the Corona (Sorry Ray!)
Grilled and Fried Fish Taco from El Zarape // my specialty, seared tuna fish tacos
Fish Taco and Carne Asada Taco from Lolita’s in San Diego
Random fish taco pic from Hawaii (circa 2008) I found on my phone
Now I want to go run to Whole Foods and make my own. Yes, the pescado taco de la casa!!!! Arrriiiiiiiba! I know, I get very excited.
Having a good 2 months to try and plan a weeks worth of eats was no easy task, especially with all the available burger options in southern California. I started narrowing down my search by categorizing burgers into classic and gourmet. I wound up with Father’s Office and Umami Burger for gourmet, Hodad’s and In N Out Burger for classic. Sadly, we decided to be responsible and only ended up eating at Father’s Office and In N Out.
Oasis and Cool Down
During our beach day in Santa Monica, we decided to take a 2 mile hike from the pier to Father’s Office to “earn” our burger. After worrying about getting seats, we were able to easily grab a table as it was already 2pm. The lunch crowd trickled down, while still holding enough patrons to keep it from being completely barren. Another perk of Father’s Office is that you have to be 21 to enter so no kids or teens.
We ordered 3 office burgers, a basket of sweet potato fries and beer. The burger was served on an elongated sub like bread and topped with a arugula, Gruyere, Maytag blue cheese and a caramelized onion and bacon compote that was something out of a dream I had a few years ago when I decided that I did in fact love onions. We weren’t able to choose how we wanted the burger cooked, but it came out about between a medium and medium well. It was so juicy that I didn’t even care. The burger was delicious and was more filling than I thought. Sadly, the meat patty took a backseat to the compote though I’m sure that it would have been great by itself. Be sure not to skip the sweet potato fries that were crispy and hot without being overcooked, which is what I run into too frequently with sweet potato fries. The fries also came with a garlic aoli that could kill any vampire within breathing distance so have mints or gum handy. Although I won’t say that Father’s Office had the best burger I’ve ever eaten, I will say that the Office Burger was among the top 3 gourmet burgers I’ve tried and would highly recommend it to others visiting LA or Santa Monica.
Artists at Work
Pour Some In N Out On Me!
On the final leg of our trip back in LA, we hit up a few different bars for cocktails before heading back home when Katie decided to be a complete genius and use the late night dining chip on In N Out before we headed back to my friend’s place for the night. This marked my second visit to In N Out ever and the first time armed with knowledge of the secret menu. I ordered a double double animal style and another t-shirt, which I’m still deciding whether or not to wear to work tomorrow. I passed on the fries since I remembered not liking them that much on the first go around. However, after stealing a few from my friend’s, In N Out fries are back in my good graces and will be an option on my next visit. They were crisp, hot and had plenty of fluffy potato goodness in them. The burger itself was a lot greasier than I remembered. The wrapping it came in was turning translucent as Katie was busy snapping pictures, but oh man did that grease translate well into flavor. I’ve never met a juicier thin patty burger and writing these words are making me visibly angry that there are 45 states in this great country that do not have access to a fresh In N Out burger. If a presidential candidate wants the fatty vote, here’s an idea: RUN ON THE IN N OUT FOR ALL STATES party.