Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My Bachelorette Party

Well, I survived my bachelorette party (barely). It was this past Friday night to Saturday afternoon, and it was a total surprise. My bridesmaids planned an entire evening and day in Portsmouth, N.H., complete with a booze cruise Friday night (followed by more drinks at Gas Light), breakfast at The Friendly Toast the next morning, then a brewery tour (and more drinks) at Redhook Brewery. Some friends even came as far as Long Island. To say I felt special would be an understatement.

Here are some of the non-embarrassing photos from the occasion:

My awesome cake.

This photo does not do the double rainbow we saw on the cruise justice.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Wasabi Bloody Marys

The other day, my friends at ODDKA sent me a bottle of this:

Yes, that is wasabi-flavored vodka. But Wasabi is one of ODDKA's most "normal" vodka flavors. Here's a taste of some of the others: Salty Caramel Popcorn, Fresh Cut Grass, and Electricity

The bright green Wasabi vodka sounded right up my alley, and I used it in a vodka tonic to start. The wasabi provided a subtle spicy kick to the beverage without being overpowering like wasabi typically can be. I was surprised by how subtle the spice was, but also kind of relieved.

Knowing that I love my bloody marys a little spicy, I decided to whip up a batch last weekend using this Wasabi vodka. The end result was a zesty, flavorful libation that paired well with my homemade cream cheese (and bagels, naturally). 

Wasabi Bloody Marys
Yields: 2 servings
-3 cups low sodium V8 Vegetable Juice
-Juice of 1 lemon
-Juice of 1/2 a lime, plus a wedge for garnish
-1 tablespoon prepared horseradish 
-1 teaspoon minced garlic
-1 teaspoon Sriracha
-1/4 teaspoon whole celery seed
-Salt and black pepper, to taste
-4 Spanish olives, for garnish

1.) Place V8, lemon and lime juice, horseradish, garlic, Sriracha, and celery seed in a blender. Blend until smooth.
2.) Transfer to a pitcher and add salt and pepper. Stir and taste; adjust seasonings as necessary.
3.) Place pitcher in fridge for at least a few hours, or overnight. Before serving, taste and adjust ingredients as necessary (I ended up adding a little more horseradish and black pepper).
4.) Pour into two glasses and garnish each with two olives and a lime wedge. Enjoy!

ODDKA is also running a promotion right now on their Facebook page. They are giving new fans the ODDportunity (get it?) to visit and explore NYC with a friend. Fans can enter for a chance to win by "liking" the ODDKA Vodka Facebook page and answering three short questions about the brand.

Which flavor of ODDKA would you want to try?

This bottle of Wasabi vodka was complimentary, but all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Homemade Cream Cheese

If you are a fan of The EE on Facebook, you may have seen my post last Friday about making my own cream cheese. I had big plans to spend the afternoon creating my own creamy concoction...until I realized the first step in the process takes five seconds to do - and then 12 hours to set.

Regardless, by Sunday afternoon (I ended up starting on Saturday morning instead), Z and I had an impressive amount of homemade cream cheese to play with. And it took two easy steps over the course of 24 hours. The hardest part was the waiting.

I used this post as a guide, but it's a little too wordy for how easy making your own cream cheese really is. So, here's my version.

What you'll need:
-2 quarts light cream or half-and-half, at room temperature
-1 packet direct-set mesophilic starter (I got several packets at Modern Homebrew Emporium in Cambridge for under $6)

How to do it:
1.) Pour cream into a large bowl. Add packet of mesophilic starter and stir thoroughly. Cover, and let sit at room temperature for 12 hours. (72 degrees is an ideal temperature for this; if your house is warmer or colder, the time this mixture needs to sit may vary. When the cheese is ready, it should have the consistency of a smooth yogurt).
2.) Line a fine mesh strainer with cheese cloth. Once the cheese mixture is ready, pour it gently into the cheese cloth, then hang to dry for 9-12 hours, depending on how firm you like your cream cheese. To hang my cheese cloth, I simply tied the corners over my sink faucet and let it drain overnight.

Then, you'll have this:

Simply put the cream cheese in a Tupperware container in the fridge to help it firm up even more. Or, do as I did and split the cream cheese into several containers to make several different flavors. Z and I went to the farmers' market on Sunday and picked up scallions, so one of our containers became scallion cream cheese. The other? Jalapeno. We also saved a little bit of the plain for good measure.

The cream cheese should last in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks, and this batch makes enough for a good 30+ servings.

In the words of Ina Garten...how easy is that?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Pesto Egg Salad

It's hot here in Boston. Like, really hot. Hot enough for me to turn on the air conditioning, which speaks volumes. (I'm typically a fan-in-the-window kind of girl. And I'm cheap).

All this heat and humidity has my motivation to cook at about -5 percent. I also have no motivation to do any last-minute wedding planning (although there is a lot) - but, that's besides the point.

The other night, I at least mustered up the energy to boil some eggs for my dinner, while also using up some leftover pesto I made earlier in the week. I love adding pesto to my eggs in the morning, so I had a feeling this combination of cold eggs with the cheesy, salty pesto would be a good one. Thankfully, I was correct.

Pesto Egg Salad
Yields: 2 servings
Basil Pesto:
-2 cups fresh basil leaves
-1/2 cup grated Parmesan
-3 garlic cloves, chopped
-1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
-Generous squirt of lemon juice
-Salt and black pepper, to taste
-1/2 cup olive oil

1.) Add all ingredients except olive oil to a food processor and pulse. While the food processor is running, slowly add olive oil until pesto is smooth and ingredients are well-combined.  (Note: You will have leftover pesto, which is never a bad thing).

Egg Salad:
-4 hard-boiled eggs, cooled
-4 heaping teaspoons basil pesto
-Salt and black pepper, to taste
-Pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)

1.) Chop up boiled eggs into bite-sized chunks; place them in a small bowl.
2.) Add pesto, salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper; stir gently (feel free to add more olive oil if needed).
3). Cover and place in fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.

[Print this recipe]

The fresh basil, salty cheese, and cold hard-boiled eggs was an incredible combination - especially on a fiercely hot summer night. I highly recommend serving the egg salad in sandwich form with slices of fresh tomato.

Bonus: This recipe is also much healthier than your typical mayo-laden egg salads. Just sayin'. 

What kind of meals have you been making in this heat?

Monday, July 15, 2013

King's Hawaiian Brunch at Catalyst

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that carbs are my jam. Even with my wedding under four weeks away (gasp!), I still manage to eat my bodyweight in carbs on a daily basis.

So, when the folks at King's Hawaiian bread asked me if I wanted to attend their brunch event at Catalyst, I couldn't say no.

King's Hawaiian is a family-owned business that began back in the 1950's (you can read all about their history here). Repping for the company at this brunch was Courtney, the granddaughter of King's Hawaiian's owner and founder (Courtney's dad is currently the company's CEO). Courtney was sweet, hilarious, and extremely proud of her family's product and business model. 

For this brunch event, Catalyst was basically transformed into a Hawaiian getaway. Hawaiian music was playing through the restaurant's speakers, and the table decor included vibrant flower centerpieces and bright orange tablecloths. It was stunning.

Our meal began with guava mimosas (not pictured) and a few passed appetizers. I sampled the Fig and Blue Cheese on King’s Hawaiian Crostini with Cassis Syrup, as well as the White Gazpacho Sips, which were garnished with a grape and a Crispy King’s Hawaiian Garlic Chip. Some King's Hawaiian bread was also blended into the gazpacho to give it an extra creamy (not to mention interesting) texture.

After the passed appetizers, we all sat down for our plated meal. Catalyst Chef William Kovel had prepared several courses for this event, all using King's Hawaiian bread. Our first course was the Seared Ahi Tuna Salad with local greens, tomato, cucumber, and sheep's milk feta topped with black olive tapenade and King's Hawaiian crostini. The tuna was incredibly fresh, and I loved the varying textures and flavors in this dish.

For our second course, we had several entree options, but I went with the Maine Lobster Salad served on King's Hawaiian Original Hawaiian Sweet Hot Dog Bun, with house-made chips on the side. 

Filled with fresh herbs and lightly dressed in mayonnaise, this was one near-perfect lobster salad roll. The sweet, buttery bun paired with the obviously fresh lobster beautifully. It was also a bonus that the roll was piled high with the delicious crustacean.

Finally, for dessert, we had King's Hawaiian White Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding with caramel sauce, which Chef Kovel and Courtney showed us how to make before it was served to us. 

I'm not typically a big dessert person, but I ate every last bite of this one. Somehow, it wasn't overly sweet, but wonderfully decadent and full of white chocolate and caramel flavors.

This was such a fantastic event, and I loved learning more about King's Hawaiian bread and the family behind it. In the Boston area, I've seen their products at Shaw's and some Star Markets, to name a few - you can also find a retailer near you that carries them by clicking here. I definitely recommend giving their products a try, especially for your next BBQ!

Friendly reminder for the local folks: I'm partnering with the Boston Wine School this Thursday for a six-course wine dinner. I'm doing the cooking, and the wine experts will be pairing a different wine with each course. I hope you can join us, or at least share this event with your friends! Tickets can be purchased here

Catalyst on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 12, 2013

Brunch at Lineage in Brookline

A few Sundays ago, I joined the Boston Brunchers at Lineage in Brookline for...well, brunch.

Before attending this brunch, I found out that Lineage Chef Jeremy Sewall's current record also includes Eastern Standard, Island Creek Oyster Bar, and the upcoming Row 34 - and that Chef de Cuisine Alex Sáenz was the opening Executive Chef at Ten Tables in Provincetown. Needless to say, I was pretty darn excited about this brunch.

Oh, and Lineage's menu is printed daily so they can best accommodate what they find at the farmers' markets. Just F.Y.I.

Our meal started with a round of Lineage Bloody Marys ($8), which were perfectly spicy and seasoned. I also loved the addition of the olive - my all-time favorite Bloody garnish.

Random, but how neat are Lineage's salt and pepper shakers?

Anyway, we were then served Apricot Scones with Ginger Glaze, which were perfectly buttery and flaky. The scones were also clearly studded throughout with fresh bites of apricot, and the sweet ginger glaze was a wonderful complement to them.

As a table, we then decided to share an order of the Spicy Lobster Tacos ($14), which came with avocado mousse and mango salsa.

I loved the large chunks of fresh lobster combined with the creamy avocado and sweet mango. The salty, crispy taco shell was also a fun and delicious holder for everything inside.

A lot of this meal was family-style, so the next two plates to come out were the Buttermilk Pancakes ($12) with ricotta, strawberries, and cherries, as well as the Pullman French Toast ($12), served with maple syrup, white peaches, and Thai basil.

Although both of these dishes were tasty, my favorite was the pancakes. I adored the creamy ricotta paired with the fluffy, indulgent pancakes. The white peaches and Thai basil on the French toast were innovative and interesting accompaniments, which I appreciated.

Surprisingly, I was still able to eat after all of this, which was a good thing considering the next course was Huevos Rancheros ($16).

Black beans, cotija cheese, and Cholula aioli, all topped with a poached egg and served with an obviously homemade corn tortilla. (Lineage's Huevos Rancheros usually comes with flat iron steak, too). For me, one of the best things in life is a runny egg yolk dripping over everything on my plate, with some kind of carbohydrate on the side for sopping up the excess. Lineage's egg was thankfully cooked well, although not perfect, and the seasonings in this dish were spot-on.

All in all, we had a fantastic brunch at Lineage. Since their menu changes often, I'm eager to go back in the late summer and/or fall to see what Chef Sewall has up his sleeve.

Runny eggs: love 'em or hate 'em?

As part of my involvement with the Boston Brunchers, this meal was complimentary. All opinions are my own.

Lineage on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Eventbrite Boston Blogger Review

Over the past three months, I've had the pleasure of being an Eventbrite Boston Blogger. As part of this partnership, I was able to attend five food and/or wine events of my choosing - and then share my experience about each one with you.

Here's a quick recap of the events I attended:

I really enjoyed working with Eventbrite because it gave me the opportunity to try out different classes and events that I normally wouldn't have signed up for - most likely due to being stuck in my own social ways and not wanting to branch out too often. However, having the opportunity to learn new cooking skills, taste new (to me) wines, and discover food and wine (and beer!) pairings I may have never discovered otherwise was pretty darn cool. And, it was nice to branch out and step out of my comfort zone, all while meeting some new people.

It's also been a lot of fun getting to know Evenbrite Boston's Marketing Manager, Sara. Sara is clearly very passionate about this city, and it's obvious she loves bringing people together to learn something new and just have a good time.

All in all, working with Eventbrite over these past few months has been a really rewarding experience. I hope you guys enjoyed my posts, and are able to try out some of Eventbrite's events for yourself soon! (Like this one. Just sayin'.)

Have you ever attended an Eventbrite event before? If yes, what was the event?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


I hope everyone had a great 4th of July! We spent the earlier part of the long weekend with friends at a lake house, then ended the holiday with a beach day in Newport, R.I. It was a glorious few days, and it was nice to get away before "wedding crunch time" really kicks in (it's 4.5 weeks away!).

Another thing we did this weekend is make gazpacho. I've always been a gazpacho fan, but never attempted to make my own until this summer. And now, I feel like I'm making a new batch every week. I tried this recipe a few weeks ago when I was testing recipes for a catering client, and it was delicious. The only thing I'd change: use less V8 or tomato juice. Like, at least one cup less (the original recipe called for 4 cups). The gazpacho tasted fine the next day, but I like my gazpacho to taste fresh and full of vegetables...not full of tomato juice. 

Yields: 8 servings
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 red onion, diced
-1 large cucumber, diced
-5 Roma tomatoes, diced
-1 zucchini, diced
-2 stalks celery, diced
-1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
-Salt and black pepper, to taste
-3-4 cups low sodium V8 juice (or tomato juice; number of cups depends on how you like your gazpacho)
-1/4 cup olive oil
-1/8 cup red wine vinegar
-2 tablespoons granulated sugar
-6 dashes Tabasco or hot sauce
-Palmful of fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish

1.) In the bowl of a food processor or in a blender, combine the minced garlic with half the red onion, half the cucumber, half the tomato, half the zucchini, half the celery, half the jalapeno, salt, black pepper, half the tomato juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, sugar, and Tabasco. Pulse until all ingredients are blended well.
2.) Pour into a large bowl and add the rest of the tomato juice, and half of the remaining onion, cucumber, tomato, zucchini, celery, and jalapeno. (Reserve the rest of the diced vegetables for garnish).
3.) Stir mixture together and check seasonings, adding more salt or pepper if needed. Chill soup for at least a couple of hours, although overnight is best.
4.) Remove the soup from the fridge and stir. Check seasonings one last time. Ladle into a bowl and garnish with remaining diced vegetables, a sliver of fresh avocado (optional, although highly recommended), and cilantro. 

What could be better than cold, nutritious soup on a humid summer day? Not much, my friends. Not much.

Are you a fan of gazpacho?

Side note: For the Boston peeps, I am partnering up with the Boston Wine School for a fun vegetarian tasting event next Thursday, July 18th! The event will feature six wines that pair with seven meatless courses - all cooked by me. For more information, check out the event page here.

Friday, July 5, 2013

CSA Cooking School at Clover in Harvard Square

Clover Food Lab is one of my all-time favorite eateries in Cambridge. I live for their Chickpea Fritter sandwich. It's amazing.

So, when I heard that Clover's Harvard Square location had started offering a CSA Cooking School (the HUB location also has a class coming up in September), I jumped at the chance to attend one of their classes as part of my partnership with Eventbrite Boston. The first class was also perfect for summer: it was all about soda syrups, agua fresca, and lemonades.

The class kicked off with a complimentary beer. 

The class, which was held in Clover's intimately-sized kitchen, was taught by Vincenzo. The class was held in the small space while regular business was going on, but there were surprisingly few distractions during the hour-long demonstration.

During the class, we learned how to make rhubarb agua fresca with fresh rhubarb, strawberry soda, and basil lemonade. The rhubarb and strawberries were both from Four Town Farm in Seekonk.

Strawberry soda.

Basil lemonade.

Each drink we tried was incredibly refreshing and delightfully complex in flavor. My favorite was the strawberry soda, which was basically just strawberry puree (strawberries + sugar) mixed with soda water. All class attendees got sent home with some of the puree, and Z and I used it in several amazing cocktails afterwards.

Besides imbibing for an hour, Vincenzo also taught us some great tips, including knife skills, best use of a blender, and proper shelf life for the ingredients used. One tip I took away was that rhubarb tends to be sweeter (read: better) later in the summer, and you should always look for rhubarb that is firm and red/pink in color.

All in all, this was a really fun, informative, and unique class. I look forward to checking out more of Clover's CSA Cooking School in the future!

This post is part of an ongoing partnership with Eventbrite BostonEventbrite enables people all over the world to plan, promote, and sell out any event. It's also a destination for people to discover awesome events going on in THEIR city! Whatever your desires, hobbies, or interests - from photography workshops and wine classes to food festival and industry conferences, there's an event on Eventbrite for you to attend! Keep up on the goings-on in Beantown by following Eventbrite Boston on Twitter, or liking them on Facebook! Planning an event? Go ahead and create an account to get started

Clover on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Harvard Sweet Boutique + Low-Carb Cookies

Finding a cute package like this on my door step instantly brightened my day:

I mean, how adorable is that?

This polka dot package was sent to me by the kind folks at Harvard Sweet Boutique, a gourmet, all-natural dessert company based out of Hudson, Mass. All of Harvard Sweet Boutique's cookies, brownies, and toffee are made from-scratch with real, quality ingredients. They also offer low-carb and gluten-free treats for those with dietary restrictions.

In my cute little package I received a variety of cookies, brownies, and a toffee bar, but I have to say my favorite was the Peanut Butter Snack Brownie

This rich, fudgy brownie is topped with peanuts, pretzels, and chocolate chunks. I loved the combination of salty and sweet, and the salty components helped to tone down the brownie's sweetness.

Along with the package of goodies, Harvard Sweet Boutique also sent me a recipe for their Low-Carb Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies. I ended up using chunky peanut butter, since that's all we had, but these cookies came out fantastic regardless. Chewy and full of chocolate - how could that be bad?

Low-Carb Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies (from Sue George, owner of Harvard Sweet Boutique)
Yields: About 36 cookies
(12g carbohydrates per 1 oz. serving)
-1 stick unsalted butter (room temperature)
-1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
-1/2 cup light brown sugar
-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-1 egg
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 1/4 cup flour
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.) Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper or butter.
3.) Cream butter, peanut butter, light brown sugar, and sugar with mixer.
4.) Add egg and vanilla and mix well.
5.) Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt and whisk to mix.
6.) Add flour mixture to peanut butter mixture and stir until just blended.
7.) Add chocolate chunks and mix well.
8.) Bake 12-14 minutes until golden brown.

If you're interested in trying Harvard Sweet Boutique for yourself - or for a gift! - they're running an online promotion through December 31, 2013. Just simply use code 2013Gift at checkout to receive 20% off your order.

Have a safe and happy 4th of July!!

These products were complimentary, but the opinions expressed in this post are honest and 100% my own.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Summer Entertaining with Formaggio Kitchen

Last week, I attended yet another class at Formaggio Kitchen - but this time, we learned all about summer entertaining.

The two-hour class included a variety of sips and nibbles prepared by Julia and Jessica (our instructors for the evening). Each drink and bite we tried were all simple yet elegant items that can easily be put together for a summer shindig - and require little heat to prepare.

First up: a Cocchi Americano Cocktail paired with apricots with Bayley Hazen Blue Cheese and honey, as well as roasted red grapes with thyme and buffalo mozzarella.

This was one of my favorite pairings of the evening thanks to the simply prepared but wildly fresh apricots. The sweet apricots paired with the tangy, stinky blue cheese was an incredible combination, and the refreshing cocktail happily washed each bite down.

The second pairing of the night included Rose Sangria with fresh berries and June Taylor Blackberry Fennel Syrup, served alongside a goat cheese tart with tomato jam and cherry tomato confit.

Haven't I said enough with "rose sangria"? In case I haven't, this beverage was way too easy to drink, and it complemented the rich, buttery tart beautifully.

The third pairing of the evening included a variety of cheeses, paired with a Cantine Cincinnato "Castore," 2012. 

The cheeses included a goat's milk, two sheep's milk, and a cow's milk, all paired with a different condiment.

My favorite cheese and condiment pairing was the Cabot Clothbound Cheddar with the Fieschi Mostarda di Cremona (candied fruits). The sweet, syrupy fruits paired with the salty cheddar was a divine combination - and the white wine they were paired with didn't hurt, either.

The final course of the evening was a Poderi Cellario Moscato d'Asti, 2012 (not pictured) served with honeyed ricotta, which was topped with macerated strawberries and extra aged balsamic drizzle.

I'm usually not a fan of moscato - it's typically too sweet for me - but this one was surprisingly dry and crisp. The dryness of the wine also helped to balance the sweetness of the dessert, which was decadent and dangerous (let's just say I ate the entire thing in about 30 seconds).

Formaggio Kitchen's Summer Entertaining class was informative, fun, and incredibly delicious. We even got sent home with recipes for the dishes we sampled during the class! I highly recommend taking one of their classes, if you haven't already.

If the world was going to end tomorrow, what would your last meal be? Mine would be a bottle (or two) of wine, cheese, and crusty bread.

This post is part of an ongoing partnership with Eventbrite BostonEventbrite enables people all over the world to plan, promote, and sell out any event. It's also a destination for people to discover awesome events going on in THEIR city! Whatever your desires, hobbies, or interests - from photography workshops and wine classes to food festival and industry conferences, there's an event on Eventbrite for you to attend! Keep up on the goings-on in Beantown by following Eventbrite Boston on Twitter, or liking them on Facebook! Planning an event? Go ahead and create an account to get started