tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:/posts what emily cooks 2016-02-24T08:42:02Z Emily Olson tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/604394 2013-09-26T00:11:58Z 2016-02-24T08:42:02Z 5 ways to use: coconut milk
Up until recently, I had zero use for coconut milk. I looked at the cans on grocery shelves and never gave it fighting chance.

And then I decided to make tacos, and the recipe called for almost a cup of it. And then I wondered what else I could do with the leftovers (not the tacos, those were eaten). I poured the remaining coconut milk into a deli container, and it sat in the refrigerator.

Somehow I found a variety of uses for it. And at less than $3 a can (or less than a dollar at some places), its hard not to give this ingredient a shot.
cold brew coffee: substitute regular milk with the coconut variety. I also use my French press to make cold brew at home (1/3 cup ground beans, 1 1/2 cups water, let sit for 12 hours, strain, and while drinking, wonder why you didn't try this before)
cornmeal pancakes: use in lieu of buttermilk - the pancakes (or even waffles) don't turn quite the same shade of golden brown, but taste just as good. I like to make a few extra 'cakes to reheat the next day for breakfast.
pork & black bean tacos: giving credit where credit is due, Food52 posted this twist on a favorite. I've also used ground beef and pinto beans. What to do with the remaining pineapple juice will be the topic for a future post.

breakfast quinoa: cook one part quinoa in one part water, one part coconut milk. Once fluffy and spooned into a bowl, pour over a little more coconut milk and top with some toasted almonds.

rice pudding: similar to the breakfast quinoa, use this as a substitute for the other liquids (heavy cream, whole milk, etc).

PS: what other ways to do you use coconut milk?
Emily Olson
tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/602268 2013-09-20T04:22:57Z 2013-10-08T17:30:10Z Il Fornaio + IMAF Chef's Cup It was one of those nights when I wish I understood the Italian language beyond a few standard words. 

Earlier this summer, the IMAF Chef's Cup competition began in Italy with 12 Michelin starred chefs. Cooking demonstrations took place in Rome, Florence, Parma, Milan, Perugia, Venice and Viareggio; chefs prepared dishes inspired by works of art.

The IMAF Chef's Cup concluded at Il Fornaio with the competition narrowed to two competitors and close friends: Chef Rosanna Marziale of Le Colonne Restaurant in Caserta and Chef Stefano Cerveni of Le due Colombe in Corte Franca.
Glasses of Franciacorta prossecco and pieces of grana padano greeted a group of eager (and hungry) guests. After the aperitif hour, Rossella Canevari, the IMAFestival director and writer, introduced the competition and chefs.
Judges included Amy Sherman (Cooking with Amy), Chef Anthony Fossani, (America’s Cup), Liam Mayclem (KPIX CBS’s Foodie Chap), Mauro Cirilli (sommelier of Press Club San Francisco), and Chef Maurizio Mazzon (Il Fornaio). This panel had the tough job of evaluating the chefs' dishes.

The two chefs presented their art-inspired recipes during individual cooking demonstrations; Viola Buitoni served as the official translator. After each demonstration, the chefs presented their dishes to the judges while guests enjoyed each dish.
Chef Stefano Cerveni of Le prepares his dish (bread soup with quail and black truffles) during his cooking demonstration.
Chef Rosanna Marziale demonstrates her first course of spaghetti and San Marzano tomatoes stuffed inside a ball of mozzarella.
A winner is declared: Chef Stefano Cerveni wins the final stage of the competition.

Buona Tavola!

(many thanks to the ladies of Issima Public Relations for the opportunity to attend the event)

Emily Olson
tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/579895 2013-06-29T12:00:00Z 2013-10-08T17:25:32Z Strawberry Cornmeal Tart

Sometimes recipe inspiration comes on a walk home from the grocery store.

Not someone who usually buys premade things, I'd seen these cornmeal gluten free pizza crusts at the farmers market earlier in the day. The vendor selling these is situated next to one of three Blue Bottle coffee outposts, so its easy to check these crusts out while waiting. Seeing them for a second time at the grocery store made me immediately think "savory" with tomatoes and basil appearing everywhere. Bellwether's ricotta cheese went into my basket thinking the evening's dinner would be a vegetarian pizza.

On the walk home, I remembered the morning's Dirty Girl Farm strawberries, three day old mint, and thought "dessert"!

There really isn't a recipe, more like assembling and then a quick bake in the oven.

I cut a quarter of a cornmeal crust and spread some ricotta on it. Use more or less depending on how much you want. I could have used a little more. Thinly slice enough strawberries to cover the cheese, then crack some black pepper over the fruit. Slide onto a sheet pan and put into a preheated 425 degree oven (says so on the crust's package) and wait for 10-12 minutes. When the crust is golden brown and the berries are juicy, sprinkle some torn mint leaves.

I ate this before eating dinner.


Emily Olson
tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/579894 2013-05-20T03:22:31Z 2013-10-08T17:25:32Z Rhubarb Compote

Rhubarb is a sign of spring. Living in the Bay Area, I've seen it for several weeks hanging out near the strawberries, its culinary partner. When I lived in Chicago, it was for sale for a mere week or maybe two if we were lucky; and in Boston, I don't think I ever saw it.

I was inspired to just cook it solo and have dolloped it with my morning yogurt and granola. It would pair with butter on bread or on a slice of cake or between shortcakes and whipped cream. Just go with it.

Rhubarb Compote

7.5 oz rhubarb or 2 meaty stalks, remove the ends
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 Valencia orange, juice & zest
scant 1/4 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Cut the rhubarb into 1/4" pieces. Place pieces in a bowl with the vanilla extract, orange zest and juice, and sugar. Toss with your hands and let the pieces hang out in the bowl while the oven warms up.

Pour the rhubarb into a baking dish and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve with plain yogurt, ice cream or crème fraiche. Or spoon on toast, scones, or, really, anything.

Emily Olson
tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/529984 2013-02-10T19:16:00Z 2013-10-08T17:14:38Z Black Bean + Sweet Potato Chili

The calendar says February which means cooking and eating heavy meats, stews, and braises. Meals meant for winter days. Or like my New England friends, staying indoors while the snow piles up outside.

In San Francisco, the weather isn't exactly frigid with snow on the ground. Looking for something still hearty, full of flavor, and that doesn't require an oven (my kitchen doesn't have one), this chili fits the bill. I also had (almost) every ingredient on the list and made substitutions for what came up missing. In lieu of jalapeno, use one chipotle in adobo (which is really smoked jalapeno in a can). And I didn't have celery or a red onion. My adaptation makes enough for two big meals with leftovers; the original serves eight to twelve.

Pro tips: Even though the chili is vegetarian, I added ground beef on a second go of this for Super Bowl supper, but chorizo or another spicy sausage would work just fine. After browning the meat, keep the fat in the pan, add a little more oil if needed, and then proceed with the rest of the recipe.

Make the chili in advance, and it gets better after a day.

Black Bean + Sweet Potato Chili
adapted from Aida Mollenkamp

1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
1 small sweet potato, medium dice
1 (14 ounce) can cooked black beans, rinsed
2 small garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground chile powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, and chopped
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
8 ounces water, chicken or vegetable broth
Salt and pepper, to taste
Avocado, optional, for garnish
Tortilla Chips, cooked white rice, or cooked quinoa, optional

Heat oil in a large, heavy bottomed Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the sweet potatoes and cook until golden brown.

Stir in the black beans, garlic, chile powder, cumin, and jalapeno and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, water, and a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil over high heat, about 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the liquid is slightly thickened, about half an hour.

Taste the chili and adjust for any seasonings.

Garnish with avocado chunks or tortilla chips or serve over rice, or quinoa. A sprinkle of chopped green onion, chopped cilantro, or squeeze of lime would be great flourishes.]]>
Emily Olson
tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/529991 2012-12-13T04:44:00Z 2013-10-08T17:14:39Z 12.12.12

Some recent snaps of places visited and things eaten in San Francisco.

Of course, there are plenty of things not included. The totopos (chips covered in red chile sauce, cilantro, cheese, and white onion) from Nopalito. The Josey Baker toast of the day from the Mill. The olive bread from Tartine.

Or the sunets at Ocean Beach - there are too many of those. But then there are many scenes that a camera can't capture because the landscape has just too much fog or too much sunshine or just meant for remembering. #SoSF.

my neighborhood breakfast & lunch spot, Cassava, a husband & wife owned happy place in outer Richmond. Their once a week pop dinners are so popular they've been sold out for months.

an americano + donut from Four Barrel on Valencia in the Mission

yogurt + pear + granola at brunch at Nopa

tomato, mozzarella, basil pizza from Pizza del Popolo - a pizza truck on wheels with a wood oven

my first ramen - Hapa Ramen's fried chicken version - Ferry Building on Tuesdays

beverages at Chocolate Lab by Recchiuti:  lillet + soda water + orange and a hot chocolate - liquid dessert

a map of San Francisco inside Trouble Coffee

a PBR, a Polaroid land camera, and a smartphone: Sunday instant camera walking tour by Photobooth

a Dynamo Donut

Emily Olson
tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/529997 2012-10-15T03:59:00Z 2013-10-08T17:14:39Z Kickstarter ForageSF Dinner

Late last week, I attended one of the thank you dinners for folks who contributed money to ForageSF's Kickstarter campaign. All the funds raised will help build a cooking co-working space called Forage Kitchen. Food makers of all kinds will use the incubator space to launch businesses or can or jam whatever is in season, but cooking classes, events, and parties will also take place in the building. The brainchild behind this project is Iso Rabins, a guy who hopes the space will be a model for other cities to create.

Below is the menu of the evening's dinner - thanks to Meghan for making this happen!

Radishes with Nasturtium Butter and Hand Harvested Jacobsen's Sea Salt (not pictured)
Porcini Bisque with House-made Creme Fraiche

Crispy Fried Lake Smelt with Tempura Fried North Bay Seabeans

(served family style)
Wild House-Smoked Local Salmon with Dry Farm Potatoes and a Fresh Horseradish, Creme Fraiche and Dill Dressing
Little Gem Salad with Pickled Sea Beans and Champagne Vinaigrette
(served family style)
Caja China Roasted Turkey: Chanterelle and Lobster Mushroom Stuffing with Wild Boar Gravy and Quick Braised Greens

Eucalyptus and Wild Huckleberry Popsicle

Emily Olson
tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/530003 2012-10-08T00:05:00Z 2013-10-08T17:14:39Z City by the Bay Scenes

Day five of San Francisco living. The sun shines a different shade of blue. Not to wax rhapsodic or pile on the romanticism, but the air is a bit different out here. The biggest adjustment is the time difference. Three hours. Football is the first thing to air today. Not a terrible thing, its just not something I'm used to, especially when a beer used to be involved. Now its coffee or tea.

Blue Bottle coffee + saffron vanilla snickerdoodle at the Linden kiosk; 101 Cookbooks just posted the cookie recipe

Fort Mason/Off the Grid food truck park/Fleet Week Airshow - the outdoor volume will return to normal tomorrow.
@theMillSF coffee shop in progress - want to try their thick slices of toast
produce from the Grove + Divisadero Sunday farmers market - fresh figs were $5 a pound & flower bouquets $4 a bunch.

Nopalito's red chile chips + lime + crema (along with the rest of their menu) is crave worthy. And very welcoming and friendly service to boot. Its dangerous and delicious to be living around the corner.

Emily Olson
tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/530008 2012-10-03T22:23:00Z 2013-10-08T17:14:39Z jump & the net will appear

above: picture of a favorite Boston cafe, 3 little figs.

Today is my first full day in San Francisco. The weather is warm, the sky is blue, and there are new sights and smells.

Main to-do for the day was hitting the grocery store. With all of my kitchen tools/pantry items in storage in Boston, its tough to think about what I need, what I can live without, and what could work.

Here's what I bought at the Haight Street Market, a friendly local store that offers a membership. The exact rules seem to be in a grey area, but a discount is much appreciated.

above: tortillas, tortilla chips, yogurt, milk, avocado, cheddar cheese, oats, granola, arugula/spinach mix, eggs, iced coffee

When you moved to a new city, what did you buy on your first grocery store run?

Emily Olson
tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/530014 2012-09-07T22:28:00Z 2013-10-08T17:14:39Z Sonoma County Farms

Two weekends ago I visited some farms in Sonoma County. Its rare to find farms in this area as most of the land is used to grow grapes. 

The Oak Hill Farm sits on 700 acres of land on the side of a mountain in Glen Ellen, CA. The farm grows fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Privately owned since the 1950's, Anne Teller (owner) chose to keep the farmland free of chemicals and other pesticides.

The 100 year old barn houses a store, open to the public to buy seasonal produce, flowers, and handmade wreaths. Oak Hill sells to restaurants, grocery stores, and at local farmer's markets.

In contrast to Oak Hill, the Bi-Rite Farm is a smaller working farm in the Carneros Valley. Across the street from gorgeous vineyards, the farm is home to several pigs, a greenhouse, a small shed for storage, and two plots of land.

Specialty and hard to find varieties of fruits and vegetables are grown. Bi-Rite employees (and excited customers) are encouraged to harvest and help out lead farmer and produce buyer, Simon.  The crops that come from this farm are sold in the market.

As a side note, one the of best parts about this day was stumbling upon the Fremont Diner. Top notch comfort food in the middle of farms and vineyards. They also grow their ingredients out back. 

That mini chicken sandwich can't be beat. You know a place is a winner when the lady working the register says she comes to eat dinner on her days off.

Emily Olson
tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/530022 2012-08-28T23:21:00Z 2013-10-08T17:14:39Z M3 Brunch in Davis Square

Pickles, fried chicken, and chocolate bacon.

I spent a recent Sunday visiting a brand new restaurant in Davis Square (Somerville, MA) called M3. This Southern style spot gets it's name from the meat and three (vegetables or sides) plates popular on restaurant menus south of the Mason Dixon line.  Given my Tennessee roots, this brunch outing was of particular interest. There's a lot of culinary interest in down home cooking and Southern popular culture. How much would the menu deviate from authentic menu items and methods? What aspects would be hyped? Cutting to the chase: I would definitely return.

Two tables of Boston Brunchers were greeted with small plates of a watermelon, cucumber and fresh goat cheese salad. Refreshing, cool, and crisp, this salad was the lightweight among the rest of the brunch dishes. I would have eaten this course halfway through or at end of the meal, as a palate cleanser of sorts.
Next came a variety of pickles: green beans, carrots, onions, and broccoli. Crunchy, tangy, and sour vegetables were a nice foil to the Scotch eggs - quail eggs wrapped in sausage covered in bread crumbs and deep fried.

A chicken biscuit covered in gravy can be found on the "vittles" section of the menu. We learned that the chicken nugget is made at M3; this juicy piece of meat shouldn't be modified, exceptional only to be made better with gravy and a homemade biscuit. The light coating of gravy nappes the sandwich ever so slightly.

One dish that needs a touch of seasoning is the fried chicken and waffles. The chicken breading needed some salt and pepper. I'm not sure if the intention of the breading was a sweet application to match with the sweet waffle and fruit, but without the salt and pepper, the breading tasted like funnel cake batter. The pieces of chicken were golden brown and delicious. I happily tore apart the meat with my hands.

Next on the list of carb-heavy brunch dishes was a plate of blueberry and lemon ricotta pancakes.  Because of the seating arrangements at the table, fellow blogger Erin and I got to split a plate of these cakes. Caught between feeling stuffed and "just have one bite", we took a few bites and agreed it was a solid breakfast stand-by.

Last but not least, we wondered what would end the meal. Plates of French toast and chocolate dipped bacon appeared on the tables. The thick pieces of toast were coated in cinnamon bran, dipped in an egg wash, and cooked on a griddle. Apple butter syrup, fresh berries, and big pieces of chocolate covered bacon topped the toast. It's breakfast and dessert on one plate. I tasted the bacon and could taste more chocolate than salty pork. Not for me, but I would imagine its a popular dish for the enthusiastic bacon lovers of the world.
And what is brunch without beverages: I was triple-fisting with a Mickey Mouse mug of coffee, a mini Bloody Mary (pickles, M3 tomato mix, and aquavit), and a mimosa (Prosecco, pomegranate, orange juice, and a cube of pickled watermelon).

M3's dinner menu offers frog legs, fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, and catfish. Main entrees include three sides; the sides that sound most appealing to me are peach cornbread and the pimento cheese fries.

Y'all come back now.
*Thank you to M3 for providing the food and drinks at no charge to the Boston Brunchers.*

Emily Olson
tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/530033 2012-08-14T16:28:00Z 2013-10-08T17:14:39Z Butternut Squash Pasta + Kale

Its been years since I have cooked a packaged pasta. Buitoni, the longstanding brand of pasta sauces, filled pastas, and noodles, recently announced two new pasta flavors. The nice folks (thanks Sarah!) at Buitoni's agency, Night Agency in NYC, contacted me about tasting these pastas and creating a new recipe or two.  Armed with coupons to try them out, I brought home packages of the Butternut Squash Agnolotti (half moon shapes filled with butternut squash puree, ricotta cheese, and amoretti cookie crumbs) and the Chicken Marsala Ravioli (chicken, roasted mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, and Marsala wine). Both of these pastas are part of Buitoni's all natural reserve product line.  

Preferring the Butternut Squash, I made a list of ingredients that plays well with the agnolotti filling. Nutmeg immediately jumped to the top of the page. Shallots and garlic are always reliable aromatics. Finally, kale emerged as the other star of the show. The green leafy vegetable often shows up butternut squash side dishes or savory pies. Plus, it seems to be everywhere this time of year and for a bargain.

What I didn't want to create was another sauce, especially one chock full of butter or cream. Not that those sauces don't taste good - they just didn't seem to fit with this pasta.    What I like about this recipe is the use of a delicious filled pasta (the filling really tastes like butternut squash) along with seasonal ingredients, not to mention local.  This means cutting out some kitchen time (rolling and stuffing pasta) yet still chopping, stirring, and toasting raw ingredients. Water boils while the kale wilts in the saute pan. Active cooking time means dinner gets eaten sooner. 

Kale is one of those superfoods that gets lots of name dropping for health benefits and nutritional impact. It is a frequent guest on farmers market tables in the summer as well as the winter. In other words, this pasta recipe fits the summer and the January dinner menus. There are many varieties of kale - use whatever you find at the market. Since they all look like mini shrubs, rip off the stems and tear the leaves. No need to bring out the knife this time.  Unlike the other green leafy vegetable, spinach, it won't disappear quite as quickly in the pan.  Another +1 for this recipe: it only took 30 minutes, from start to finish.    

*I was not compensated for these products or recipes - the Night Agency provided me with coupons to purchase the pastas free of charge*

Butternut Squash Pasta + Kale + Toasted Sunflower Seeds

yield: 3-4 servings

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups kale (any variety), stems removed and leaves torn into pieces
1 small shallot, thinly sliced, about 1 tablespoon
1 garlic clove, chopped, about 1 teaspoon
1/2 cup (4 ounces) chicken or vegetable stock
Fresh nutmeg
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon toasted sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon grated Pecorino cheese
1 package Buitoni Butternut Squash Agnolotti

Cook the Buitoni pasta according to the instructions on the package.

Heat the olive oil in a medium size skillet on medium high heat.  Add the kale and toss the leaves in the olive oil to coat.  Watch how the color changes to bright green.  When the kale starts to wilt a little, add the shallot and garlic. Turn the heat down a bit to avoid burning the shallot and garlic.

After about five minutes of cooking, add the chicken or vegetable stock. The stock will sizzle and start to form a sauce, of sorts. The kale will get more tender. 

Grate the nutmeg over the kale - 20 gratings should do the trick.  Use more or less depending on taste. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper.

When the pasta is ready, spoon the agnolotti into a bowl or plate. Add several spoonfuls of the kale on top of the pasta. Sprinkle with toasted sunflower seeds and cheese.]]>
Emily Olson
tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/530039 2012-07-29T01:53:00Z 2013-10-08T17:14:39Z San Francisco Sights

wine flight before redeye flight to Boston

I definitely left my stomach in San Francisco; everything from wine to pizza to salted caramel ice cream to crudo to a mortadella hot dog. And, there are many places I didn't get to on my list.

 salted caramel + strawberry balsamic: Bi-Rite Creamery in the Mission

menu + refreshing hibiscus drink: Nopalito

Omnivore Books: tiny shop full of cookbooks, old and new

Boccalone in the Ferry Building: Chris Constantino's shop devoted to tasty pig parts

Tasting menu + wine pairings: Commonwealth in the Mission

Pot and Pantry: store sells gently used high end kitchen gear and offers recreational food classes

Marin County/San Rafael Farmers Market: 3rd largest market in California

Emily Olson
tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/530046 2012-07-16T17:36:00Z 2013-10-08T17:14:39Z Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream

Strawberry season might be over and done with in New England. Some farms might have strawberry fields ready later in the summer, but there is no guarantee especially when conflicting weather occurs. Other parts of the US might have strawberries at markets - if so, snatch them up and make this ice cream.

What makes this ice cream extra special is the strawberry puree.  Berries cook until they release their sugars and bubble in a not too thick syrup. Use "good" balsamic vinegar, the thick kind that costs a bit more at the grocery or specialty stores. A little goes a long way, and the extra money is worth the spend. Blend the berries and vinegar into a smooth puree and add to the ice cream base once everything is cooled. The rosy, light pink color looks like summer.

PS: if you want to extend this recipe to include ice cream sandwiches, the full cookie recipe is here. Promise its worth the extra effort.
Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream
inspired/adapted from Food52 & Bi-Rite Creamery
yield: one quart of ice cream

1 1/2 pints strawberries, hulled (stem removed) and halved
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
5 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup whole or 2% milk
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

for the strawberry balsamic puree:

Add the strawberries and first round of 2 teaspoons vinegar to a medium size sauce pot. Put the pot over medium heat and cook for about 8 minutes until the strawberries are soft and a lot of the berry juices are released. This step takes close to 7-8 minutes.

Let fruit cool slightly, then transfer the berries and their juices to a blender or food processor. A hand-held immersion blender could also work. Purée until smooth and hold the puree in the refrigerator until the ice cream base is very cold.

for the ice cream base:

In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks and a 1⁄4 cup of sugar.

In a heavy nonreactive saucepan, stir together the heavy cream, milk, salt, and the remaining 1⁄4 cup of sugar and put the pan over medium-high heat. When the mixture has tiny bubbles on the surface (a slight simmer), reduce the heat to medium.

Carefully pour 1⁄2 cup of the hot cream mixture (a ladle works well here) and, while whisking the eggs constantly, add the cream to the bowl with the egg yolks. Repeat, adding another 1⁄2 cup of the hot cream to the yolks. This tempering process gets the egg yolks ready to go into the pan with the rest of the hot cream mixture. Not going this would result in creamy scrambled eggs. Using a heatproof rubber spatula, stir the cream in the saucepan as you slowly pour the egg-and-cream mixture from the bowl into the pan. A kitchen helper helping stir would also be a good idea, if you are a first time ice cream maker.

Cook the egg and cream mixture carefully over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it is thickened. You will know the base is done when it coats the back of a spatula and holds a clear path when you run your finger across the spatula.

Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean container and cover with a top or place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the egg mixture. Refrigerate the base for at least 2 hours or overnight. You want this mixture to be very cold.

Whisk the strawberry purée and the remaining 2 teaspoons vinegar into the chilled base.

Freeze in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Eat immediately or transfer to a container and freeze for at least 4 hours for a more solid ice cream.

Emily Olson
tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/530052 2012-07-09T19:08:00Z 2013-10-08T17:14:39Z B Street Newton Brunch
In March I visited B Street Newton with Renee and Lara. The best thing we ate was B Street's turkey chili as noted in Renee's review. Because it was featured on the winter menu, I crossed my fingers in hopes that it would be featured on the recent Boston Brunchers tasting menu.
Alas, the chili was absent from the menu, but that meant trying many other items.  Eight brunchers were treated to a variety of summer menu tastes. Rose sangria (lots of fruit, but the rose was not punched up enough) and bloody Mary's (slightly spicy) kicked off the brunch. 

First courses were shared and included a potato flatbread pizza with fried eggs and bacon; hanger steak and scrambled egg quesadilla; feta and spinach phyllo tart; challah French toast with apples. All of these courses were well prepared, tasted delicious, but did not leave me overly impressed.   
Feeling like we could stopped eating after the first courses, I split the hangover burger with Liz from Eating Places; similar to other restaurant menus, the burger came on a grilled English muffin with bacon and a fried egg and roasted potato wedges on the side. We slid the egg off the burger due to previous first courses involving eggs. Might just be a personal preference, but I think the fried egg and bacon combo on everything has run its course. 
As a surprise to the group, the pastry chef made several seasonal fruit desserts. The strawberry rhubarb crumble with ice cream was a hit at the table. Sweet and sour flavors prove how this combination is a favorite. 
B Street Newton prefers to adjust it's menu with the season. Having an ever-changing menu keeps customers interested and curious about what is coming next.  

neighborhood destination, I would recommend dining at B Street if in the Newton area; its convenient to the Green D line (Newton Centre stop).

The brunch was provided free of charge, and the opinions are my own. Thanks to Boston Brunchers and B Street Newton's owner and staff for the meal.
Emily Olson
tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/530060 2012-07-09T16:32:43Z 2013-10-08T17:14:39Z White Rice + Technology

This is a story of why rice is an important ingredient to have in your kitchen. Not just because its an inexpensive pantry staple, but because it can save your mobile device. Run to the grocery store and buy a big bag to keep on hand the next time your smartphone decides to take a swim. 

Three days ago I dropped my phone, an Android, in water. The exact specifics of the situation will remain vague in order to avoid further self imposed embarrassment. So mad at myself I stomped home from leisurely reading at a coffee shop.

Recalling the urban legend of rice absorbing any liquids and restoring a phone back to life, I put the entire device in a bowl of rice. All that talk about rice drying out a phone has to be true, right?

I wait a few hours and turn it on. Nothing happens.  I remove the SIM card and put into an "older" flip phone circa 2010. The SIM card works great, and I can make calls and send texts. No fancy picture taking, but it will do.  

The Android stays in its rice bowl over night, and Saturday I march to the nearest TMobile store to see if they can do anything. TMobile dude turns it on! But, moments later, the screen goes black, and he said it might not ever work.  He advises me to look for an unlocked GSM phone on Amazon.com as a replacement. I search the site and find the exact model, but decide to wait because "WHAT IF THE RICE REALLY SAVES MY PHONE?!

Sunday afternoon I pull the phone out of the rice and turn it on. Everything starts to work, battery is fine, signal connection. Except the screen won't respond. So close, and yet so far away. Power the phone off and wait. And wait. A few hours later, after performing a hard master reset (hold the power + volume down + home buttons together), the phone and the screen come back to life. The SD card contains pictures. Other than downloading a few apps, its as if nothing had happened to the phone.

This white rice technique (plus an entire weekend of leaving the phone alone) actually works. If this happens to you, try it and leave a comment or two. While you wait for your phone to come back to life and need a dinner idea, try baking rice in the oven.  There's a lot of rice leftover in that bag.  

Emily Olson
tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/530067 2012-07-02T18:56:00Z 2013-10-08T17:14:39Z Breakfast Sandwich with Avocado

The breakfast sandwich is a hot item these days. Cafes, restaurants, and food trucks have one on their menus and each claims to be the best. While I have my favorites (here's looking at you Cutty's, Clover, and Area Four), I like the lazy freedom of making one at home whenever I want.

This sandwich comes together fast, so be prepared. Get your coffee, tea, OJ, or Diet Coke (hey, no judgement) ready, toast the bread, slice the cheese and avocado. While the eggs cook, don't leave the kitchen to check your email or send a tweet (except to say you are making a breakfast sandwich at home) because the eggs will overcook faster than you can say "Instagram isn't working! How will I capture this gastronomic moment?"

Breakfast Sandwich

inspired/adapted by Deb/Smitten Kitchen
yield: 1

1 sliced Brioche roll, English muffin, or 2 pieces of bread
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 egg
Black pepper and Kosher salt
1 tsp water
thin slices of avocado and white cheddar cheese
dashes of hot sauce (optional)

Get your breakfast drink of choice in progress.

Heat your broiler or toaster. Place the pieces of bread under the broiler (or in the toaster) until lightly toasted. Watch the bread carefully to avoid burning.

Heat a 9 inch nonstick skillet on medium low heat. Break the egg into a small dish and using a fork, beat the egg with the water and season with a pinch of salt and several grinds of black pepper.

Melt butter in the pan. Pour in the egg and roll it around so the egg covers the pan like a crepe. The egg will cook in about 60-90 seconds; the edge will be firm when prodded with a fork or small spatula.

Fold the "side" of the egg nearest to you (similar to folding a letter). Repeat this action on the three remaining egg "sides"; you should end up with something resembling a square.

Leave the folded egg square in the skillet to cook for another 30 seconds, then slide onto one piece of bread. Add slices of avocado and cheese. Before topping with the other piece of bread, add a few dashes of hot sauce.

Eat immediately.]]>
Emily Olson
tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/530071 2012-06-25T22:42:00Z 2013-10-08T17:14:40Z Cricket Creek Farm

In continuing the tour of Massachusetts farms, last Sunday I visited Cricket Creek Farm with my friend Elizabeth and her four legged companion, Jackson. Our friend, Jenni, is spending the rest of this year as a cheese-maker at CC, and we wanted to check out her new home. From Boston, the drive is all of three hours, but it's a scenic drive on Route 2. 

Located near Williamstown, Cricket Creek is a small, grass fed dairy with a herd of 40 Brown Swiss and Jersey cows.  Pigs, chickens, and guinea hens also roam the farm, and Cricket Creek is one of the few Massachusetts farms licensed to sell raw milk.  It is very delicious and unlike any milk found in the grocery store. Thick, smooth, and fresh. 

piglets hang out under the a-frame

afternoon nap from the sun

The farm includes a store stocked with bread, eggs, beef, pork, milk, and other condiments. Customers use the honor system when paying for their items.  A CSA (community support agriculture) program allows customers to receive weekly shares of meat, eggs, and dairy products. Boston cheese fans can purchase the award winning cheeses at Formaggio Kitchen. Central Bottle, and City Feed and Supply.  

a cat named creamy on watch in front of the store

Emily Olson
tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/530082 2012-05-24T15:52:00Z 2013-10-08T17:14:40Z Asparagus Salad

Admittedly, asparagus isn't a favorite. However, thinly shaved and tossed with a honey vinegar dressing, I think asparagus and I could be friends.  This pencil-like vegetable is best in the spring and sourced from your farmer. The mizuna is a hearty green that can be eaten raw or cooked. It just adds some extra bulk to the asparagus.  Pick your favorite fresh herb, chop and sprinkle along with some cheese.

Shaved Asparagus Salad

Serves: 2
Adapted from Food52

1/2 bunch asparagus
1/2 cup loosely packed mizuna or arugula
1/2 teaspoon chopped lemon verbena or mint
1 teaspoon Sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, thinly grated

Use a vegetable peeler to thinly shave the asparagus lengthwise to create strips.

Whisk together vinegar, honey, and olive oil. Toss with the lettuce and asparagus. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Grate the cheese on top. Sprinkle the lemon verbena or mint as the final touch on the salad.

Emily Olson
tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/530088 2012-05-22T21:11:00Z 2013-10-08T17:14:40Z Bacon + Brunch at Common Ground

Bacon. Bacon. Who's got the bacon?

Common Ground would be the answer.

Boston Brunchers visited Common Ground, a bar and grill located in Allston on Harvard Avenue, on a sleepy Mother's Day morning. CG has a new owner, new chef, and new menu. The group was greeted by a very enthusiastic owner, Bob O'Guin. After loading up our plates at the breakfast buffet, he brought each table plates of smoked and satisfyingly salty pork belly. Across the street from Common Ground is a building called "Bacon Chambers". Coincidence? Bob and his front of house managers just laughed. Special thanks to Bob, Nancy, and the CG for making our brunch enjoyable and "on the house". Your hospitality and generosity is appreciated.

Emily Olson
tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/530096 2012-05-15T20:38:00Z 2013-10-08T17:14:40Z Dim Sum Brunch with Herbivoracious

As a spring semester social media intern for the Harvard Common Press, I was paired with one of HCP's blogger authors, Michael Natkin. Last week, I along with a small group of Boston Brunchers had a chance to chat with Michael about his new book Herbivoracious and enjoy dim sum brunch at Moksa.  Boston was one of Michael's stops on the Herbivoracious book tour. A Seattle cook, writer, blogger, and now author, Michael wrote a globally inspired book of recipes full of unique flavors.  After spending several months "socializing" Michael's book, Herbivoracious, with vegetarian and food enthusiastic audiences, it was a treat to see the newly released book, especially seeing the color photos.  Michael shot all the photos in the book, all 80 of them. Herbivoracious contains vegetarian recipes with some conversions for gluten free or vegan options.  This conversation with Michael at Moksa, a two and a half month old restaurant in Central Square, Cambridge, proved to be a great setting to enjoy a Sunday dim sum brunch.
Moksa's dim sum brunch menu has a range of small plates and larger plates for sharing.  Chef Patricia Yeo (owner of Om Restaurant & Lounge) opened Moksa as Boston’s first Pan Asian Izakaya. Small plates are divided into Asian bbq meats, pan fried, steamed, and fried. Larger plates for sharing are noodles, rice, pancakes, and eggs. The dessert menu rotates on a daily basis. Moksa was very quiet during our Sunday brunch. The space has the feeling of a nightclub driven by a cocktail list.  Even though our group was the only party in the restaurant, our server explained every detail of the menu. We ordered a variety of vegetarian and meat dishes that the chef thought would be appropriate for the group.  Thanks to Moksa for the warm hospitality and the complimentary brunch. Special thanks to Adam Salamone and Bruce Shaw of Harvard Common Press for the fantastic internship experience.

Emily Olson
tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/530101 2012-04-16T02:08:00Z 2013-10-08T17:14:40Z A Day on the Farm

Today was spent visiting Stillmans at the Turkey Farm in Hardwick, MA. A few of us farmer's market assistants spent the afternoon at the farm.

Kate, the owner/farm girl/mom of an almost four year old, is in the middle of lamb-ing season. 

He is cute baby ram. Horns to come.

Baby lambs are born every day and at all hours of the day.  

The barn and house are just shy of 300 years old.

Adult rams - one is named Bernie, and he likes to misbehave.

Emily Olson
tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/530107 2012-03-16T02:07:00Z 2013-10-08T17:14:40Z Food Signs in Austin + SXSW

A visual look at food trucks and trailers in Austin, TX.


Emily Olson
tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/530111 2012-02-28T17:57:00Z 2013-10-08T17:14:40Z Brunch at Bakers' Best

What's a little brunch before watching the Academy Awards?  A group of Boston Brunchers visited the catering machine known as Bakers' Best, a catering company located in Needham. Michael Baker, founder and owner, started his business due to a poorly constructed turkey sandwich eaten during a business trip.  That was 28 years ago.

Today, Bakers' Best focuses it's business on corporate accounts, special events, charities, and schools.  The company has nearly 120 employees; the hallmark of the culture is their people. Many employees stay with the company for five, ten, or even 15 years. Diane Wilson, director of sales, leads a team of 13 who work seven days a week. During the brunch, a sales member was at her desk taking orders.  In the catering world, work never sleeps.

Chef Phyllis Kaplowitz (graduate of Johnson & Wales who cooked at the James Beard House and member of Les Dames d'Escoffier) and her culinary team prepared a feast with beverages, passed appetizers, amuse, and buffet. As we toured the office, kitchen, storage, and delivery areas, Michael explained each area's role. The entire place was humming with activity; Bakers' makes 100+ deliveries each day. A team of overnight bakers prepares breads, pastries, and baked goods.  The company makes an effort to source some ingredients from local farms and purveyors.

pastry basket: Meyer lemon blueberry scones, jelly donut muffins, cinnamon buns, sweet potato biscuits, and lavender butter

Here is the menu Chef Phyllis created for the group:

typical scene at a food blogger event! citrus cured gravlax with pickled onions, lemon crème fraiche and frissee in "everything" bagel cup
maple brown sugar bacon cup with sweet potato hash
bite size waffle egg sandwich with house made turkey sausage, tomato jelly and Camembert
mini bloody mary shots with jumbo poached shrimp, green beans, and celery salt dusting
spicy tuna tartare in miso sesame cup with spicy mayo and soy pearls
baby seasonal quiches: spinach/mushroom/leek & goat cheese, bacon/potato/onion, tomato/asparagus/feta “beet ravioli” with field greens, shaved fennel, citrus and Spanish vinaigrette

challah french toast • assorted toppings and Vermont maple syrup

A special thanks to Michael Baker, Adam Klein, Erin, and Boston Brunchers for putting this complimentary event together.

Emily Olson
tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/530017 2012-02-27T02:45:00Z 2013-10-08T17:14:39Z Lunch at Ducali with Cookbook Author Crescent Dragonwagon

I recently joined a small group of Boston Bruncher bloggers to have lunch and conversation with the noted and published author Crescent Dragonwagon.  The setting was Ducali, a casual Italian restaurant in the North End. Crescent's publisher, Workman, graciously sent each blogger a copy of her latest cookbook, Bean by Bean.  The book is divided into chapters by season and includes everything from appetizers to desserts (yes, beans can be used in sweet preparations).  She gives helpful hints for bean storage, soaking, and the always interesting historical background of bean varieties.  Conversation with Crescent and her husband, David (an accomplished writer and photographer) ranged from her thoughts on creative writing to starting a writer's colony in Arkansas to her favorite beans,

Bean by Bean was a book four years in the making.  Crescent is no stranger to the lengthy writing process as she has published 50 books in her career.  She has a children's book called All the Awake Animals coming out in the Fall of 2012.  To Crescent, "the best part of writing is the writing". She encouraged writers (especially young writers) to write across genres, Another key takeaway was to find your voice in every story.  Crescent leads creative writing workshops that encourages writers to do just that.

All of the bloggers commented on Crescent's warmth, perspective, and humor. She can be reached via Twitter as @cdragonwagon

All this talk about the cookbook and writing was served up alongside pizzas and salad.

Our first course was carciofi (broiled artichoke) served with homemade garlic aioli.

The baby spinach salad with goat cheese and dried cranberries was enjoyed by all, as evidenced by these almost clean plates.

We tried three pizzas, all vegetarian.

Spinaci fresh mozzarella, garlic and spinach, topped with black pepper and Romano cheese.

The rugola, a mozzarella topped with arugula, drizzled with truffle oil and topped with shaved Parmesan cheese. The chunks of cheese were salty and irresistible especially with the drops of truffle oil.

Grilled eggplant, mushroom, zucchini and mozzarella topped with fresh goat cheese.

Ducali (@ducali on Twitter) is located along the northern border of the North End out of the fray of Hanover Street.  The restaurant's name comes from the nickname of a soccer team in Parma.
Blogger's note: Lunch was provided free of charge by Ducali and the cookbook was also provided by Workman Publishing.

Emily Olson
tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/530028 2012-02-22T03:46:00Z 2013-10-08T17:14:39Z Maple Granola

So many granola recipes, and not enough time to recipe test all of them.  What makes this recipe crunchy and delicious is the extra virgin olive oil. The maple syrup lends a sweetness along with the brown sugar.  The pieces of fruit add pops of color. Granola can be stored in an air tight jar on the counter or in the freezer.  My new favorite container is this Weck jar - will try not to buy them by the dozen.

Maple Granola
Adapted from Orangette who adapted her recipe from Food 52

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup raw hulled sunflower seeds
1/2 cup silvered almonds
1/2 cup raw pecans, chopped
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup maple syrup (the real stuff, not pancake syrup please)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup each of dried cherries, dried apricots, raisins

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a small to medium size baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, pecans, light brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Stir to mix.

Add the olive and canola oils and maple syrup, and stir well. Spread the mixture evenly on the lined sheet pan. Bake, stirring every 15 minutes, until the granola is toasted, about 45 minutes. Remove the granola from the oven, and season with more salt (if needed). Cool completely on a wire rack. Add the dried fruits and stir.

Store in an airtight container.

Pin It

Emily Olson
tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/530036 2012-02-16T17:43:00Z 2013-10-08T17:14:39Z Rosemary + Lemon + Olive Oil Cookies

These cookies are a hit. Expect an empty plate so be prepared to snag a cookie before sharing with your next party. A Meyer lemon (cross between an orange and a lemon) is the aromatic choice with intense and fragrant juice and zest. Rosemary is equally pleasing, but thyme is another option. Use a middle of the road extra virgin olive oil since this ingredient isn't the start of the show, but a key understudy.

Rosemary + Lemon + Olive Oil Cookies
adapted from FoodNetwork (yep, that one)
yield: 16-20 cookies

1 cup AP flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
8 grinds of black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary (thyme can also be substituted)
1 small lemon (Meyer, if available), zest and juice
2 ounces extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons milk

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, black pepper, rosemary and zest.

In another small bowl or measuring cup, stir the lemon juice, olive oil, and milk together until blended.

Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Feel free to add additional milk by the 1/2 teaspoon if the dough looks too dry.

Scoop the dough into ping pong size balls and place on a parchment lined sheet pan.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are golden. Let cool and serve with tea.


Emily Olson
tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/530044 2012-02-07T02:58:00Z 2013-10-08T17:14:39Z Steamed Mussels + Wine

Steamed mussels might be the easiest one pot dinner possible. A little wine, some tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil go into a Dutch oven or stock pot large enough to hold the mussels.  After a few minutes of simmering, the mussels are open and ready to soak up the sauce.  French fries are a traditional side accompaniment.  But, so is a Belgian beer.

PS: this piece of paper should accompany the bag of mussels; it is usually attached to the bag. The paper tells the harvest location, harvest date, type of shellfish, and shipping date. It also tells the name of the seafood distributor and where the shellfish was sold. I bought these mussels from a farmer's market.

Steamed Mussels
yield: one (entree) or two (first course)

Note: mussels that do not open after cooking should not be eaten.

2 pounds mussels, washed and free of any black fibers or beards
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red or white wine
1/4 tomato sauce
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste if needed

Pour the olive oil into a medium size stock pot and heat until the oil shimmers.  Add the wine and tomato sauce and heat until simmering, 2-3 minutes.

Add the mussels to the pot and cover with a lid.  Increase the heat to medium high. Cook the mussels for 4-6 minutes. Stir them once or twice during cooking. 

Remove the mussels from the pot and transfer to a bowl. Pour the wine and tomato sauce over the mussels. Serve with crusty bread and enjoy immediately. Use a second bowl for the empty shells.

Follow Me on Pinterest

Emily Olson
tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/530051 2012-01-18T22:52:00Z 2013-10-08T17:14:39Z Ceia Kitchen & Bar: Boston Brunchers visit Newburyport

Spending a Monday morning at brunch isn't a typical occurrence, but when a holiday falls on a Monday, making brunch plans is a nice option.  Boston Brunchers organized a day time road trip to Ceia Kitchen and Bar in Newburyport, MA.  Ceia opened in the summer of 2011 and has received high praise from local and national media. 

Located in this charming Northshore town, Ceia garnered the attention of the Boston Globe and earned a mention on the newspaper's list of "best new restaurants of 2011".  Wine Spectator also named Ceia in its issue featuring the "2011 best restaurant wine lists in the world".  With a list featuring 120 bottles, the owner, Nancy Batista-Caswell, knows the importance of training her staff on the finer points of wine service.  Nancy recently spoke about her management practices in the January 2012 issue of Restaurant Management Magazine.

The word Ceia means “supper” in Portuguese, and the restaurant's menu reflects flavors from Spain, Italy, and Portugal. The brunch menu featured four courses with a cocktail with the first course and dessert wine to conclude. 
St. Germain 75
Oyster escabeche
Cold smoked asparagus with mache and mozzarella
Poached eggs, linguica and potato hash with Bernaise
Raspberry and Coconut Pain Perdu with a late harvest Sauvignon Blanc from Casablanca, Chile

Thank you to Nancy and her team for opening the restaurant early for the group.  This enjoyable meal was provided to Boston Brunchers free of charge by Ceia; writing a review was not a requirement to attend.

Follow Me on Pinterest

Emily Olson
tag:whatemilycooks.com,2013:Post/530058 2012-01-13T20:00:00Z 2013-10-08T17:14:39Z Cheese Plate

Friday the 13th lunch:

Salami from South End Formaggio
Cabot White Cheddar
Three year Gouda
Roaring 40's Blue Cheese

Emily Olson