Thursday, August 30, 2012

I Fell for Catalyst

On Monday evening, Z and I finally got a chance to try out Catalyst in Kendall Square. We knew it wouldn’t be a cheap meal, but we had heard so many good things about this restaurant that we assumed it was worth the splurge.

We assumed correctly.

It was a beautiful evening, so we opted to sit outside on the patio. Our attentive waitress came up to us almost immediately – a little too soon, actually – as we had to ask her for a few additional minutes to peruse the drink menu. Once she returned, I went with a glass of pinot grigio ($9), and Z went with the Lexington Brewing Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale ($7).

While we sipped our drinks, we contemplated what to order – Catalyst had a surprising amount of vegetarian options on their menu (we weren’t expecting to find as much as we did). After some deliberation, we decided to start with the cheese plate ($15), which is pricey, but we will always pay for good, quality cheese.

I loved how Catalyst’s cheese place came with just enough crusty bread and garnishes, including what we think were thinly-sliced plums, as well as candied pecans.

For my entrée, I went with the Israeli couscous-stuffed eggplant ($22) (Catalyst’s menu changes with the seasons, thanks to the focus they place on locally-grown, organic produce and farm-raised food. With that being said, I didn’t write down the actual name of this dish, but it’s currently on the menu!).

Z went with the smaller-portion of the zucchini ravioli (five raviolis for $10; large portion, 10 raviolis, is $20), as well as the Marinated Beet Salad, made with local burrata, watercress, and pistachio vinaigrette ($9).

Each plate was presented beautifully, and the best word to describe the beet salad is “whimsical.” Several of the beets were prepared differently than the others (one reminded us of a tuna tartare), which worked, although it seemed a bit random. My Israeli couscous dish was flavored perfectly, too – lots of smoky cumin and coriander enveloped this surprisingly light dish. I would have licked my plate clean if I didn’t fill up on cheese beforehand.

Our meal at Catalyst included delicious, local food, attentive service and lovely libations. We will definitely visit this recent Kendall Square addition again soon!

Oh, and if you’re wondering how “I fell for Catalyst”…on the way home, my bike flipped over – and so did I – which explains why I’ve been gimping around for the last few days.

Note to self: Don’t wear flip flops when biking, no matter how close to home you are.

 Catalyst on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Asparagus, Mushroom & Goat Cheese Quiche

Z and I haven't had a free weekend since the beginning of July. You all know what I mean: It's the let's-cram-every-getaway-imaginable-into-every-weekend-in-the-summer syndrome. It's been fun, but tiring. And this past weekend was no exception.

Friday night, I got out of work early and visited my sister and her family in Maine. Saturday morning, Z and I drove down to Connecticut for one of my good friend's bridal showers. Then, on Sunday, we went to Westborough for a family party. It was a blast, but exhausting. By the time we got home Sunday night, we were ready to relax and eat dinner. 

I had purchased pie crust from Trader Joe's earlier that day so we could have quiche for dinner that night. I took the pie crust out to thaw, and - thanks to my level of impatience at this point in the night - I tried unrolling the frozen dough way before it was ready, resulting in bits and pieces of pie crust. Frustrated, I stormed off to Star Market near our home and bought another pie crust. Let's just say we ate dinner a little later than we expected (9:30 p.m., to be exact).

Thankfully, the new pie crust saved dinner, and we were able to savor the last few minutes of the weekend.

Asparagus, Mushroom & Goat Cheese Quiche
Yields: 1 quiche (6 servings)
-2 tbsp. olive oil
-1 cup white button mushrooms, sliced
-1 cup asparagus, chopped
-1 frozen deep dish pie crust, thawed
-2 oz. goat cheese
-3 eggs
-1 cup half and half
-Salt and black pepper, to taste

1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.) Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms, and cook until tender.
3.) Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil. Cook asparagus in boiling water until just tender, about 1-2 minutes. Immediately drain and run under cold water.
4.) Place the mushrooms and asparagus into the bottom of the pie shell. Crumble the goat cheese over the vegetables. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, salt and pepper until smooth. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables and cheese. 
5.) Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes, or until firm and lightly browned on top. Let cool 5-10 minutes before serving. 

The end result: an elegant, creamy quiche that's surprisingly light and chocked full of vegetables. I used a deep dish pie crust, but I recommend just going for a regular crust (and only using two eggs + 3/4 cup half and half).

We enjoyed our quiche with a side salad and some toasted bread, which made for a well-balanced Sunday dinner (even if it was eaten at 9:30 p.m.). 

Which do you prefer: A weekend with no plans, or a weekend chocked full of plans?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Boston Adult's Museum

This past Wednesday was nothing like my typical Wednesdays – which usually involve an episode (or two) of The Real Housewives, some wine and possibly a gym session (not in that order). Instead, this past Wednesday involved giant bubbles, wine and Arthur the Aardvark’s Kitchen.

On August 22nd, the Boston Children’s Museum opened their acclaimed space after hours for adults (21+) only. Serving beer and wine at the cash bar, adults - who are kids at heart - had the opportunity to take advantage of everything the museum has to offer, for just $10 a ticket. The event was sold out and comfortably packed.

It was incredibly fun to visit this museum that I remember exploring as a kid, and to see all of the changes and additions that have since been made (i.e., the three-story Climb, which I do not recommend going on if you're claustrophobic).

Z and I on the three-story Climb.

My favorite part of the night, however, was the bubble room. I remember loving this as a kid, too - clearly, not much has changed. I don't even know what makes that "exhibit" so exciting - I guess bubbles (especially ginormous ones) are just plain cool.

The Children’s Museum provided such a fun night for us mature adults to just be silly and have a good time, in a nostalgic setting. 

I really hope they continue having events like this one so more people can experience them!

Did you ever visit the Children's Museum as a kid? If so, what was your favorite part about it?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My Current Obsession: Gingerbread Construction Co.

It’s not because of their muffins (although, they are good).

It’s not even because of their gingerbread. 


I’m currently obsessed with Gingerbread Construction Co. because of their iced coffee. 


While I normally make a batch of my own iced coffee at home, I do let myself splurge once or twice each week on iced coffee elsewhere. On the weekends, you can find me sipping an iced mocha from Café Rustica, or an iced coffee from Petsi Pies in Somerville – but during the week, I hit up the Gingerbread Construction Co. in Wakefield for my fix.

Here are the top 3 reasons why Gingerbread Construction Co.’s coffee rocks:

1.) Every single time I go they have a new, inventive coffee flavor, in addition to French vanilla and hazelnut (this week, for instance, one of their flavors was Caramel Nut Crunch – they also had Pistachio several weeks ago).

2.) Their coffee is smooth and perfectly strong (it does the job, but doesn’t give me the shakes).

3.) Whether it’s the case or not, their coffee tastes like the flavor is in the beans (vs. in a sugary syrup form).

I normally order a jumbo-sized, which comes to $2.36 after taxes – and is basically the size of a medium coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts (maybe a tad bit bigger).

The Gingerbread Construction Company has a second location in Winchester. If you ever find yourself in either of the W towns, I highly recommend stopping in to treat yourself!

What's your favorite local spot for iced (or hot) coffee?

Gingerbread Construction Co on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Scenes from Boulder

I hope you all had a good week last week! Our trip to Boulder, CO was pretty amazing. We spent our first two nights at Chautauqua (and had a surprisingly delicious dinner at their dining hall); then, we back-packed our way through the Rockies for four days (my first time camping for real); and our last two nights in Boulder were spent at the beautiful Hotel Boulderado. Some beer tasting, sightseeing, wildlife sightings (including deer, moose and elk), and mountain biking (much to my horror) was also involved. 

I took several hundred photos while we were away, so here are just some of the highlights from our epic trip.

The sights, from our hike:


More elk!

The food:

Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery - Avocado & Cheese Sandwich, $6.25.

Twirl frozen yogurt - they also have dairy-free options.

I also highly recommend The Boulder Omelet ($9.50) from Foolish Craig's, and the Veggie Burger ($8.50) at Walnut Brewery (washed down with one of their beers, obviously).

The beer:

Avery Brewing Co.'s Wheel Sucker Wheat Ale + their special tap for that day.

Mountain Sun's Jah'Mon Ginger.

Upslope Brown Ale - from Rueben's Burger Bistro.

Russian River brews from Backcountry Pizza & Tap House.

The accommodations:

Hotel Boulderado.

Our room!
 What are some of the highlights from your week?

Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery on Urbanspoon Backcountry Pizza & Taphouse on Urbanspoon Walnut Brewery on Urbanspoon Foolish Craig's Cafe on Urbanspoon Rueben's Burger Bistro on Urbanspoon Avery Brewing CO on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Parting Gift: Zucchini Spice Bread

Z and I are leaving tonight to go to New Hampshire – tomorrow we have a full day of looking at potential wedding venues. :)

Then, Saturday morning, we’re leaving for a week-long trip to Boulder, Colorado – which also happens to include four days of hiking/three nights of camping out on the trail. 

This last day of work will be a busy one, but I cannot wait for our vacation to begin!

While I’m gone, The EE will be pretty much inactive – I am going to be technology-free for most of our trip. With that being said, I am leaving you guys with this parting gift: Zucchini Spice Bread.

You can find the recipe on my “Desserts & Sweet Thangs” Pinterest board (I made almost the same recipe, but substituted canola oil for olive and omitted the cloves).

Enjoy, and have a fantastic week!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Eggplant Stir-fry with Roasted Garlic Peanut Sauce

For the last few weeks, our CSA has included a large, shiny eggplant. I rarely ever buy eggplant – mainly for the sole reason that I forget they exist when I’m at the grocery store - but I do love Eggplant Chips, eggplant Parmesan, and grilled eggplant (which is how we prepared it the first week our CSA graced us with the purple vegetable). But last week, I wanted to use the eggplant in a different way.

One of the last times we were in New Hampshire, Z and I stopped at the Stonewall Kitchen outlet. We picked up a lot of goodies that day, including a bottle of their Roasted Garlic Peanut Sauce. I love peanuts – I literally have at least one serving of peanut butter daily – but I rarely ever include the flavor in my dinners. This all changed last week when I decided to make a savory, exotic-tasting “stir-fry” with our newest eggplant.

Eggplant Stir-fry with Roasted Garlic Peanut Sauce
Yields: 4 servings
-3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
-1 medium eggplant, chopped into 1-inch cubes
-1 carrot, peeled and chopped
-1 green bell pepper, chopped
-5 white button mushrooms, chopped
-1 tsp. minced garlic
-1 tomato, chopped
-1 scallion, diced
-2 dashes of ginger powder
-1 dash of cayenne (or more, if you're a spice fiend like me)
-Salt and black pepper, to taste
-1 cup Stonewall Kitchen Roasted Garlic Peanut Sauce (or, your favorite peanut sauce)
-1/8 cup cilantro, roughly chopped, plus more for garnish

1.) In a wok (or large saucepan), heat 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add a layer of eggplant, and stir-fry until the eggplant cubes begin to brown and get sticky, about 3 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Remove the eggplant to a plate and cook the remaining eggplant using the same process, adding more oil if needed.
2.) Once the eggplant is done cooking, add the remaining 1 tbsp. of olive oil to the wok. Over medium heat, add the carrots and bell pepper; cook for about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until mushrooms begin to brown and release their juices. Add garlic, and stir.
3.) Once the garlic becomes fragrant (about 30 seconds), add the tomato and scallion. Season the dish with the ginger, cayenne, and some more salt and pepper. Stir again, and add the Roasted Garlic Peanut Sauce (feel free to add more than 1 cup, if desired). Stir, and reduce heat to a simmer. 
4.) Let the vegetables simmer with the sauce for 4-5 minutes. Then, add cilantro and serve over brown rice. Garnish with a few more cilantro leaves. 

The end result was colorful, semi-spicy vegetable stir-fry with subtle African flavors. Even though I had the rice, I longed for a piece of bread to sop up the extra creamy sauce with. 

This meal is light enough to enjoy on a hot summer evening, but would also be perfectly comforting on a chilly winter night.

What's your favorite eggplant dish?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Drink This: Dogfish Head Noble Rot

My body is radiating heat this morning. Like…a lot of heat. Z and I spent the weekend in Gloucester with his family, which included lots of time on a boat and in the ocean – which, for someone Irish/Scottish/English like me, means I spent a lot of time getting burned by the sun. Needless to say, today my skin is red and very, very warm. But it was worth it.

This past weekend also included a lot of good food and beer. Too much beer, perhaps, but we were on a mini vacation. It’s allowed. We didn’t imbibe too many fancy beers on the boat, but in the spirit of summer, I am writing to tell you about one of my favorite “fancy” beers this season – one that I fell in love with, despite how difficult it is to find in stores near me.

Dogfish Head’s Noble Rot is a beer that wine lovers will enjoy. It’s brewed with two unique wine grapes from Alexandria Nicole Cellars in Prosser, Washington. Just take a gander at this thirst-quenching description, straight from Dogfish’s website:

“The first addition is unfermented juice, known as must, from viognier grapes that have been infected with a benevolent fungus called botrytis. This noble rot reduces the water content in the grapes while magnifying their sweetness and complexity. The second is pinot gris must intensified by a process called dropping fruit, where large clusters of grapes are clipped to amplify the quality of those left behind.”

Yeah. Let’s just say this 9% beer is refreshing, crisp, and ideal for sipping on a hot summer day. Just sip carefully: this brew goes down a little too easily, despite its high abv.

To see where you can pick up a bottle near you, click here

What did you do this weekend?

Thursday, August 2, 2012


“Like the Red Line, the Green Line, the Orange Line, the Blue Line, and the Silver Line...” They're the BerryLine!

Locally-owned by good friends Pok Yang and Matthew Wallace, BerryLine is one of Boston’s favorite places to get frozen yogurt (they even won’s A-List award for “Best FroYo” in 2010 and 2011). Their first location opened in September 2007 in Harvard Square, and now they also boast locations in Porter Square, Fenway and on Newbury Street.

The concept behind BerryLine is similar to that of Pinkberry – basically, you go in, pick the flavor of fro-yo you want, and then load on the toppings. BerryLine usually features three or so flavors per day, and the toppings are plentiful – everything from Fruity Pebbles to Oreos to strawberries.

On our most recent visit to BerryLine, Z and I popped into the Harvard Square location. I went with a small peanut butter frozen yogurt ($2.76), which was featured that day, and loaded it up with chocolate chips, strawberries and honey nut granola.

Per usual, the frozen yogurt was wonderfully creamy, and the peanut butter flavor was the perfect mix of salty and sweet. Mixed with the chocolate, strawberries and granola, this was one satisfying weekend treat.

Prices for BerryLine’s yogurt are reasonable (a pint, the largest cup you can get, costs $5.33) – and for locally-made, inventive and delicious frozen yogurt, it’s worth every penny.

BerryLine on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Spicy Tofu Tacos with Corn & Black Bean Salsa

For me, corn on the cob = summer. Growing up, my siblings and I always eagerly shucked ears of corn in our backyard while my Dad started the grill. Now, I eagerly await corn on the cob season – shucking the ears of corn remind me of happy dinner memories with my family.

Luckily for Z and I, our last few weeks of our CSA box have included several ears of corn. The first week, we boiled the corn and slathered the cobs with olive oil, Parmesan cheese and chili powder. But last week, we didn’t get to use the corn as early as we would have liked to. We were having friends over from out of town on Saturday, so I used up the fresh corn in a refreshing, spicy salsa.

Corn & Black Bean Salsa
Yields: About 6 servings
-1 cup fresh corn
-1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
-1/2 large red onion, diced
-1 red bell pepper, diced
-2 tsp. minced jalapenos (I used canned)
-1 tsp. minced garlic
-1 tsp. cumin
-1 tbsp. chili powder
-Salt and black pepper, to taste
-1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
-Juice of 1 lime

1.) Place corn, black beans, onions, bell pepper, jalapenos and garlic in a large bowl. Season with cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper.
2.) Add cilantro and lime juice; stir to combine. Cover bowl with saran wrap and place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving (this salsa can also sit in the fridge overnight). Serve over tacos, or simply with tortilla chips.

This makes a good amount of salsa, so our friends only made a small dent in the bowl. On Sunday night, Z and I used up the remainder of the salsa for some spicy tofu tacos. I simply drained a block of extra firm tofu, and sliced it into ½-inch thick strips. I made a quick marinade of lime juice, fresh cilantro, a few canned jalapeno slices, salt and pepper, all pulsed together in my food processor. I marinated the tofu for about 20 minutes (please do longer, if time allows), and then seasoned the tofu slices liberally with chili powder and cumin. Then, I pan fried the tofu with some olive oil until it turned brown and crispy (about 10 minutes total). We enjoyed the tofu in crispy taco shells with some shredded Mexican blend cheese and the corn and black bean salsa.

This was an easy and delicious way to use up the leftovers we had.

What food = summer for you?