Tag Archives: food

Brunch at Puritan & Company

restaurant Brunch at Puritan & CompanyWhen people ask me about where to go for brunch, I like to have a lot of good answers. So a meetup with the Boston Brunchers to a place I haven’t been to before is always welcome to see if I can add them to my list. This time it was to Puritan & Company in Inman Square in Cambridge. I know Inman Square is a bit of a hotspot food-wise but this was actually my first trip out there as someone who spends more time on the other end of the city.

 Brunch at Puritan & CompanyI was one of the first of the group to arrive and I had to take a few minutes to appreciate the decor. I’m not one of those people who swoons over pretty restaurants, but I was pretty close to it. A country chic decor that still had a nice youthful feel. I fell in love with the brocade on the benches. It was bright and airy, felt kind of like the kitchen you’d see in a magazine.

Though they have a full cocktail menu, they also have their 3 brunch favorites (mimosa, bloody, and a gin cocktail called the Park Avenue) for under $10, a rarity for menus around the Boston area. 

 Brunch at Puritan & CompanyYou would make a big mistake by skipping out on their housemade pastries to start off your meal. While not a big pastry person myself, it’s a big focus of their brunch. There’s a table in the middle of the restaurant where they all sit out for display. We tried a bunch of different ones. Just as you’d expect, I really loved the savory ham & gruyere pinwheels. 

But I also found myself really really in love with their coconut caramel danish. Hugely tasty without being too sweet, I would die for an entire one all for myself. On the other hand, while I loved the Boston Cream Donut, it was too rich for me to eat alone. 

 Brunch at Puritan & CompanyFor the main dish I ordered the Corned Beef Hash, I’m a sucker for a good hash and when I see one on the menu I’m hard pressed not to order it. It came in a skillet with some bright and beautiful sunny side up eggs.

Definitely not your typical hash, this was cooked so nicely, with big pieces of braised beef  and ribbons of potato. It was a much milder hash than I usually have and I could’ve used a bit more seasoning, but it was a great dish.

The Brunchers were big fans of the Wagyu Steak and Eggs and I had a nice bite of someone’s Coppa Ham Sandwich. 

You’ll probably want to make reservations, or come outside the brunch rush, but that’s true for most brunch places. But you could definitely bring a picky eater here and make them very happy.

Thanks to Puritan & Company for feeding the Brunchers free of charge.

Cupcakes and Cocktails at BCAE

event Cupcakes and Cocktails at BCAEThe other day I was chatting with some friends and we bemoaned the fact that as adults with kids we no longer have “activities.” We don’t have soccer practice or skating lessons or dance classes, the stuff that used to define us when we were younger. For me, getting out and doing something fun and different (and possibly even educational) is a choice I want to make as much as I can manage. I want to shake things up, be something more than a working mom who spends all her time working and mom-ing. 

My most recent foray into fun and learning: the Cupcakes and Cocktails class at Boston Center for Adult Education. The great thing about this class? Yes, you’ll learn plenty of baking tips and leave with some amazing recipes. But you’ll get to have plenty of adult fun, too. Seriously, if you and your girlfriend or spouse or whoever are looking for a fun and different night, I can’t really think of anything I’d rather do.

As someone who loves teaching, I’m usually pretty picky when someone teaches me. Lucky for you, the Cupcakes and Cocktails teacher, Dustin, is pretty fantastic. Full of knowledge and witty repartee, he keeps the evening fast and fun.

20140124 185310 Cupcakes and Cocktails at BCAE

Be prepared to work on your baking skills. Even more: be prepared to work on your baking-while-intoxicated skills. Because before the cupcakes show up, the cocktails start coming. One for each type of cupcake you make. (Our class had 3.)

We began with the Birthday Cake Shot. With a cherry at the bottom of the glass, whipped cream and sprinkles on top, and a smooth taste that reminds you of almond buttercream frosting, it’s a memorable way to start the evening.

 Cupcakes and Cocktails at BCAE

The group was divided up with each of us playing one part in making one of our three kinds of cupcakes. I was the official stirrer of the sangria compote for our Chocolate & Red Wine Cupcakes. And we all took turns helping out with the decorating. I’m no pro, so I stuck with the simple frosting on the Spring Break cupcakes (they had a coating of jello shots over the top). 

20140124 205936 Cupcakes and Cocktails at BCAE

Between each batch we’d make a new cocktail to go with it. A really tasty and quick sangria. A perfect winter hot toddy. It definitely helps you get a little relaxed while you get to know the people joining you in class.

In addition to a few great hours of fun, the baking tips were really good. (Maybe I should start doing it again one of these days…) I got some of the best on video. (You’ll have to click through…)

For example: don’t sift flour anymore, and when you’re measuring it, make sure you don’t add too much by packing it down. How to do it? A little shake shake… Looking for a simple way to fill the pastry bag before you frost? Use the top of your Cuisinart. Add some chocolate drizzle? Line up your cupcakes on foil and just use a glass.

And when your cupcakes come out of the oven, how do you keep them moist? Just cover the whole counter with plastic wrap. IT WORKS. These were some of the moist-est cupcakes I’ve ever eaten in my life.

20140124 185440 Cupcakes and Cocktails at BCAE

The Cupcakes and Cocktails class runs regularly at BCAE. It’s $60 for non-members with a $25 materials fee. Which is actually a pretty great deal for an evening of fun AND three (or more) cocktails AND over a dozen cupcakes that I took home with me. I would happily do it again. And the more friends I could bring, the better. There’s no need to head out to overpriced after-dinner drinks, relax somewhere that you can actually hear each other talk AND get plenty of sweets. It’s a win-win. 

Thanks to Blog and Tweet Boston and the Boston Center for Adult Education for hosting such a fun event. 

Brunch at Towne Stove & Spirits

restaurant Brunch at Towne Stove & SpiritsThe brunch buffet is one of those special indulgences that you don’t have on just any occasion. But if your family’s in town and you’re going to take a Sunday afternoon to go shopping on Newbury Street or go on a duck tour. If so, popping in for the Sunday Brunch Buffet at Towne Stove & Spirits is a great pick. 

Located right at the Prudential Center and Hynes Convention Center, it’s convenient to Back Bay and the Orange and Green lines. Buffets are a different kind of brunch. More expensive than a la carte, but give you the opportunity to try a bunch of different things and serve any palate. 

Towne fits the bill with a great indoor space and great variety, including hot and cold items, pastries, carving and omelet stations and even dessert.

Towne graciously hosted the Boston Brunchers for their Sunday-only brunch buffet.

 10914939953 341f403d3f z Brunch at Towne Stove & Spirits

10914634905 f7ae40d7da z Brunch at Towne Stove & Spirits

 

The highlight of the cold items for the bruncher crew: oysters, for sure. (It was too dark over there for me to get a good picture.) In fact, unlike most buffets our group filled their plates entirely with cold items before even hitting the hot bar. I’m not an oyster person myself, but I enjoyed their cheese quite a bit.

 

 

10914630845 9f5cd75450 z Brunch at Towne Stove & Spirits

 

Similarly, the pastry spread was not massive, but had well-chosen items for the most part. (My coffee cake was meh, but everything else was nice.)

The hot bar had two stations. One with waffles/pancakes and meat carving, the other with omelets. The omelet station offered egg whites, a big plus as far too many don’t. My eye went immediately to the egg dishes. I tend to do that.

 10914936023 3918400988 z Brunch at Towne Stove & Spirits

10914769804 37b9bbfbea z Brunch at Towne Stove & Spirits

 

The one big downside to a hot buffet is that you may not always have your food at the perfect temperature. My benedict was a bit cool, though it seemed like everyone else got theirs at a better temperature when they came over a few minutes later. I would’ve liked a little more flavor in the hash, too.

 

10914677116 003abaa315 z Brunch at Towne Stove & Spirits

 

The dessert table is the only one I could get entirely into one shot and it does a good job of showing you the kind of variety they offer. Shortcakes, parfaits, whoopie pies, cookies, and much more. The big hit, though, was one I highlighted on Instagram:

 Brunch at Towne Stove & Spirits

That, my friends, is Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding and it was far and away the most talked about item at the table. Really tasty and surely added a few pounds to all our waistlines. 

While I wasn’t totally blown away by their savory dishes, I had a very nice brunch with the buffet. (Another buffet plus: if you’re not crazy about a dish you can scrap it and head out for another one.) It definitely fills a need with a solid buffet, lots of choices, and a convenient location.  The $38 per person price tag is relatively reasonable for the area, plus they only charge $14 for kids under 12. And there’s plenty of kid-friendly options if you’ve got little ones along for the ride.

Thanks to Towne Stove & Spirits for hosting the Brunchers and providing us each with access to their brunch buffet. 

My Mom’s Holiday Rolls

rolls image My Moms Holiday RollsThis year we’re doing our second visit to Kim’s place for Thanksgiving. And as my gift to her, and the rest of you, I’ve received permission from my favorite cook to share her Oatmeal Dinner Roll recipe. My Mom tends to test several different versions of the same thing until she finds the absolute perfect one. This recipe has been a solid favorite in our house for the last decade or so. Mom likes them because they’re easy and everyone eats them. She assures me that even if you haven’t made rolls you can make these, though she cautions new cooks to read the recipe through first, you have one step that needs to happen about an hour before you start.

Happy Thanksgiving/Hanukkah/Day Off Work Everyone!

My Mom's Oatmeal Dinner Rolls
Save Recipe
Print
Ingredients
2 cups water
1 cup old fashioned oats
3 tbsp butter
2 (1/4 oz) envelopes active dry yeast
1/2 c. warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
1 tbsp sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c. firmly packed brown sugar
Instructions
Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan; stir in oats and butter. Boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Remove from heat; let cool to 110 degrees. Stir together yeast, warm water, sugar in a 2-cup measuring cup; let stand five minutes.
Beat oat mixture, yeast mixture, flour, salt and brown sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes). Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top.
Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 1 hour or until dough is doubled in bulk.
Punch dough down and divide in half; shape each portion into 16 (1 1/2-inch) balls. Place evenly into 2 lightly greased 9 x 1 3/4-inch round cake pans.
Cover and let rise in a warm place 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
Bake at 375 for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Notes
Mom recommends you put butter on your fingers when breaking up the dough into balls. You can add a little flour if it's sticky, but too much may dry them out.
Plan to start the oats an hour before you continue.
Don't Mind the Mess http://theseversons.net/
 

Stuff I Love: Food

affiliate links pic Stuff I Love: FoodI get a lot of stuff for blogging. I also pick up some stuff myself just because. This week I’m going to highlight a bunch of stuff I’ve been wanting to tell you about, both good and bad. Today is food, coming up are posts on beauty/style and books.

***

Some bloggers are very picky about their email. I admit, there is a lot of it and there’s plenty I delete without opening. But I do try to keep my eyes peeled for stuff that’s worthwhile. You never know whose email list you’ll end up on. So I noticed an email from Tofutti, a brand I know from their dairy-free ice cream treats like the Cutie, an ice-cream sandwich. My parents keep them in the house and I’ve always thought they were the perfect size for a dessert. But I’ve never ventured beyond the Cuties and so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got a box of Tofutti products in the mail. 

tofutti Stuff I Love: FoodIncluded was a box of Yours Truly Triple Chocolate Happiness cones. I was skeptical. I love chocolate, but I tend to save it for special occasions. I don’t munch on Hershey bars, but every now and then I’ll munch with delight on dark chocolate with sea salt. The cone is chocolate, it’s coated on the inside with chocolate, the ice cream is chocolate, it’s dipped in chocolate and then there are chocolate crumbles on top. Would it be too much? Would it taste okay despite being dairy-free? If you’ve chatted with me lately you probably already know the answer to this because I cannot stop talking about these cones. So delicious. Of course, with so much chocolate there’s a decent amount of sugar and fat in these, but if you’re going to splurge and ice cream isn’t always your stomach’s friend, this is such a welcome splurge. I have one left in my freezer and I dream about it. My only complaint is that the cone is more soft than crunchy, but I’m willing to forgive it.

 Stuff I Love: Food Stuff I Love: Food
Lately I’ve been losing weight (hooray!) in my ongoing effort to slowly but surely get back to pre-baby fighting form. My tricks are not very tricky, rather it has a lot to do with limiting portions and eating sad, boring food. I have my small, boring breakfast rather early when the kids get up and have to wait an awfully long time until I have my small, boring lunch. So the addition of Kind Bars Stuff I Love: Food to my morning is pretty huge and often the highlight of my day. I hate energy bars and protein bars. I am not a big fan of granola bars. But Kind bars are kind of in the middle, and are more like eating a handful of nuts and dried fruit than anything else. They do a good job of giving you something to keep your stomach happy, keep your sweet tooth appeased, and help with daily will power.

I recommend the Pomegranate Blueberry Pistachio and the Apricot Coconut as my favorites. And there are some with chocolate, too, if you go for that sort of thing. 

Another big part of the losing weight thing is having a meal on hand that I can make very quickly with very little effort. I was having a greek salad wrap, but my newest go-to is an Egg White Omelet with Spinach, Roasted Onions and Feta. I slice a couple onions, roast them in olive oil and put them in the fridge so I can take a bit each day. The egg whites are in a package. I just have to throw it all in the pan at the right time and then I can eat in about 5 minutes with no additional prep. 

It’s important I do this because otherwise my default meal is pasta. And eating all the carbs is not exactly the easiest way to lose pounds.

 Stuff I Love: Food Stuff I Love: Food
However, I am not cutting all the carbs out of my diet. I got one of the new Annie’s Microwaveable Mac and Cheese packs to try from Influenster and I have never been more pleased that my kids won’t eat Mac & Cheese. It was the perfect thing to eat after my flight home from Miami, where I hadn’t had a real dinner but I was too tired to put anything together. I never would’ve guessed it came from the microwave. It was creamier than the stuff in the box. I am going to have to force myself not to buy a giant box.

As for the kids and their food, I have grown weary of making or buying them dinners they don’t eat. They are terribly unreliable. (Except for granola. My kids have become granola fanatics.) My most successful solution is to take them to Chipotle for Beans & Rice. I order 1 kid’s build a taco plate, get it loaded up with only beans and rice, it comes with a milk and I buy one extra, I ask for one extra plate, then voila! Dinner for 2 kiddos for $5. I also tell Graham the rice is white even though I order brown. It’s white enough he can’t really tell. 

I plan to cook beans & rice at home and see how it goes over. I am not sure mine will be as magic with the kids as Chipotle’s.

 Stuff I Love: FoodTacos! For work I’ve been able to eat delicious tacos made from our tortilla machine (Like us on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter! Check out our Pinterest pins!) and I’m developing a serious love for tacos al pastor. And, of course, I’m nurturing my already-existing lifelong passion for guacamole. The food-eating is definitely a highlight of work so far, though it’s all been great. The Chicken Flautas at Zocalo pictured at right were also a favorite. Since good Mexican food is so hard to find in Boston, this has been appreciated beyond expression.

Trader Joe’s Gummy Tummies Penguins. Kathy needs to stop buying these for my children because I need to stop eating them. Do you hear me??

 As for what I’m NOT loving:

  • I also got a box of Tofutti Cuties, and while I like the small size and I’m fine with the taste, the way the cookies stick to my fingers bugs me.
  • Lean Cuisine. These are my small, boring lunches when I don’t have leftovers. Which is often. I can buy them in bulk at the warehouse club, which is good for my wallet. They get the job done in the small and healthy department. But they are so sad and depressing.    

Quinoa and Tomato Soup from Chef Ming Tsai

sponsored post image Quinoa and Tomato Soup from Chef Ming TsaiSo last week I headed out to Natick with the kiddos to see Chef Ming Tsai do some cooking and demonstrate some of his recipes. Graham was pretty pumped. I don’t think it’s come up, but for the last few weeks Graham has often requested to be addressed as “Chef Graham Bam” after he was bestowed the nickname by one of his babysitters. 

affiliate links pic Quinoa and Tomato Soup from Chef Ming TsaiTo get fully in the mood, Graham wore his chef’s hat, even if it wasn’t quite correctly branded.

 Quinoa and Tomato Soup from Chef Ming Tsai

He wasn’t in the mood to pose for pictures. Sometimes he gets bored of the Mom Paparazzi. 

You can tell Chef Ming has a TV show. He definitely knows how to talk his way through his work. He’s definitely a charmer and shared lots of cooking secrets.

He focused on 3 recipes from his new cookbook that are kid-friendly, including ice cream sandwiches made with Almond Oatmeal Cookies and Chicken-Onion Meatloaf with Sambal-Worcestershire Gravy. 

My favorite was the Quinoa and Tomato Soup, easy to sell to kids who will eat tomato sauce on pasta, quinoa to make it a little hearty, and little touches that work great for adults (sprinkle parmesan on top) that can be skipped for skeptical kids. 

 Quinoa and Tomato Soup from Chef Ming Tsai

These recipes are all in his cookbook Simply Ming in Your Kitchen: 80 Recipes to Watch, Learn, Cook & Enjoy Quinoa and Tomato Soup from Chef Ming Tsai which also includes QR codes you can scan to get videos of Ming demonstrating techniques for the recipes.

And here’s a special treat: the recipe for Quinoa and Tomato Soup, my fave of the night. It’s also a way to get your kids to try quinoa if it’s been unsuccessful before. With it hiding in the soup they won’t be staring at it on their plate, asking you what it is.

Quinoa and Tomato Soup
Save Recipe
Print
Ingredients
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 large onions, roughly chopped
1 tbsp minced ginger
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
4 ribs celery, thinly sliced
Two 28-oz cans whole plum tomatoes
2 quarts chicken stock
1/4 c. wheat-free tamari
1 c. quinoa, rinsed
parmesan for garnish
kosher salt
coarsely ground black pepper
Instructions
Heat a medium stock pot or soup pot over high heat. Add 2 tbsp of the oil and swirl to coat the bottom. When the oil is hot, add the onions, ginger, carrots and celery, season with salt and pepper, and saute, stirring every few minutes, until the vegetables are lightly caramelized, 10 to 12 minutes.
Add the tomatoes with their juice. Break them up and add the stock and tamari. Bring to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
With an immersion blender, puree the soup. Add the quinoa, bring to a simmer, and cook until the quinoa is just tender, about 12 minutes.
Transfer the soup to individual bowls, grate parmesan over each, drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Add a few grinds of pepper and serve.
Adapted from Simply Ming in Your Kitchen: 80 Recipes to Watch, Learn, Cook & Enjoy
Adapted from Simply Ming in Your Kitchen: 80 Recipes to Watch, Learn, Cook & Enjoy
Don't Mind the Mess http://theseversons.net/
Thanks to the Everywhere Society for sponsoring this post.