Thursday, May 31, 2012

Restaurant Rundown: The Beehive

My best friends are awesome. Seriously. They are the best. We went out to dinner for my birthday last night at The Beehive in the South End of Boston. I had never been before, and neither had anyone else but we had heard good things. It was such a cool place, there were so many things to look at and the food was delicious. They had awesome chandeliers in the bar area but it wasn't fancy. Definitely impressed.

First, the drinks:

Hello, lover. Sangria!

We had calamari as an appetizer, and it was awesome. It came with a lemon aioli and a pomodoro sauce. But we were starving and inhaled it, thus no picture.

On to the good stuff.

I had this. Grilled tuna steak with squid ink risotto, basil pesto, and asparagus vinaigrette. Oh, goodness this was so good. And yes you read that right, squid ink. That's the black stuff under there.  I was so nervous about the squid ink risotto, but it was delicious! My one complaint was maybe there was a little too much of it? It was very good, but not something you want to eat so much of. It's actually all over the bottom of the plate, under the salad. I wasn't able to finish it all. But man oh man did I finish that tuna. The best I've had in awhile.

Liz had this. It was skirt steak, with a brie bread pudding. Her steak was cooked perfectly (I know. I stole some) and the bread pudding was so different! I've never had a savory bread pudding, but the texture of bread pudding in general is not really my thing.

Lisa had Cod in a carrot-ginger sauce. She said it was good, and the girl inhaled it and basically licked her plate clean in about 5 minutes so it must have been!

Shannon had brisket tacos with Spanish rice. Usually, it comes with beans but Shannon doesn't like them. The brisket was awesome! For a girl who doesn't try a lot of new things and generally only eats burgers and chicken, it was fun to hear her say how much she liked it! She also tried a tiny bite of my squid ink risotto, which I now owe her a bottle of wine for trying. 

Everything at The Beehive was reeeeeally good, and the people working there were really nice too. They have live music every night and it was starting up as we were finishing our meal. 

Photo from Yelp

Photo from Yelp
I would totally go back to this place again, especially for their Sunday Jazz brunch. I have no doubt that it's delicious! And they have beignets! 

I'm going to go with 4/5 stars on my own personal scale. Drinks and food were very good, but bread was a very small portion. Bread is any easy thing to give a sizable serving on. And the place in general was kind of expensive. I would definitely go back though, when I had a few dollars to spare.

As well as an awesome meal, my friends also got me a gift card to buy some new knives for my kitchen. Poor Shannon has to listen to me complain about how I can't even cut soft things with my cheap-ass wal-mart knives. So on Saturday, Wusthof knives - HERE I COME!

Thanks, ladies for an awesome birthday :)

Now for the real question: Would YOU try something with squid ink? What's the weirdest thing you've ever eaten?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Limoncello Cupcakes

Yes, that is the title of this post. Yes, they really do exist. Yes, they were freaking delicious.

(Did anyone else have an M&M's commercial moment there? "They DO exist!" Guilty.)

I've had this bottle of limoncello in my apartment for a few months now, and every once in awhile I'll look at it and just be like "What the f am I going to do with that?" Shannon's mom brought it to Boston a while back and neither one of us knew anything about it. A lemon liqueur? An "after dinner drink," if you will. What the hell do we know about after dinner drinks? I work in a brewery, and we drink beer and wine with the occasional appletini.   I don't "sip" - I'm a grown up, I gulp. 

So, immediately my thoughts went to baking. I thought about doing a limoncello mousse of some kind, (which I still could, since this recipe didn't use as much limoncello as I had hoped) but I wasn't feeling it. Of course, then my brain went to cupcakes. Lemon cupcakes exist - so limoncello must too, right?

They do.

These babies are a limoncello cake, filled with lemon curd, and then frosted with a limoncello cream cheese buttercream. Yep. That happened.

Limoncello Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
Recipe adapted from Normal Activities
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 3 oz cream cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons limoncello
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice
1. Beat together butter and cream cheese, and then add in sugar and mix until light and fluffy.
2. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. (*NOTE: very important to use LARGE eggs when baking.)
3. Add the limoncello and lemon juice and mix until blended.
4. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
5. Alternately add flour and buttermilk to butter mixture, and mix only until blended.
6. Pour into prepared cupcake pans and bake at 350 for about 15 minutes. Cool completely.

For the lemon curd filling:
Recipe slightly adapted from David Lebovitz

  • 1/2 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice 
  • 1/2 cup sugar 
  • 2 large egg yolks 
  • 1 large eggs 
  • pinch of salt 
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed 
  • 2 tablespoons limoncello

1. Place a mesh strainer over a bowl, and set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the lemon juice, limoncello, sugar, egg yolks, egg, and salt.
3. Add the butter cubes and set the pan over low heat, whisking constantly until the butter is melted.
4. Whisk constantly until the mixture thickens, and becomes almost jelly-like.
5. Immediately press the curd through the strainer. Once strained, store the lemon curd in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to one week.

To fill cupcakes:

Slice a small cone shaped hole in the middle of each cupcake with a small paring knife. Fill with lemon curd. You can replace the cake cone you took out if you would like, but it really is the perfect bite of cake! I covered my cupcakes with frosting, so I didn't replace the cones.

For the frosting:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons limoncello
2 oz cream cheese

1. Cream together butter and cream cheese.
2. Add sugar and limoncello and blend until creamy.
3. Add more limoncello if the buttercream seems too thick.
4. Pipe (or slather and smear) onto cupcakes.

Also, tomorrow is my birthday. Which means I get to make myself a birthday cake!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Boston has been extra rainy this month. Isn't rain supposed to happen in April? April showers bring May flowers? No? Okay. Anyway, yesterday was particularly gross, and so soup was made. Baked potato soup to be exact. Loaded. And grilled cheese sandwiches. With ham.

Hungry yet? I am. Even though it's 10 a.m. My Chobani isn't cutting it today. Just so everyone knows, the blood orange chobani is the shit. Back to the soup. I love soup. I went to dinner with my Dad on Saturday, (Gheppetto's Grille - Which is amazing. Thanks, Dad!) and we were chatting about my childhood obsession with clam chowder. I ordered the stuff every single place we went. Every single one. I've probably sampled over 100 different kinds of clam chowder. Which is probably the main reason why I can't eat it anymore. It's very sad.

Sidenote: I'm very mad at myself for not taking pictures at restaurants I've been going to. I'm sitting down this weekend and figuring out to use the manual mode on my camera. Anybody know what a Coolpix P100 does?

Anyway, even though I can't stomach clam chowder, (as a Bostonian, I realize that this is probably punishable to the fullest extent of the law) I do love almost every other kind of soup. Even other forms of chowder. Which is basically what baked potato soup is. I searched for a recipe yesterday, and found quite a few I liked but I ended up making my own version. One thing though, don't be like me and have to strain your soup because you accidentally turned the burner to medium-high instead of medium-low when you add the flour to the milk. Oops. Also, stir it pretty much constantly until it thickens. Don't turn your back on it. It gets angry. But then it gets delicious.

Oh, I'm also a professional grilled cheese maker. I don't know if you knew that about me. Ha.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

  • 8 large-ish potatoes
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 half gallon milk (I used skim because I realize this recipe is evil)
  • half pound of bacon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon seasoning salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/4 cups cheddar jack cheese
  • sliced green onions

1. Bake potatoes in a 375 degree oven for 60 minutes, until tender. Let cool while bacon cooks. *You can do the potatoes in the microwave too, and save yourself a lot of time. But since my microwave is useless, it takes about the same amount of time to just do them in the oven.

2. Spread bacon on a cookie sheet and bake in 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes, until done.

3. Peel and chop potatoes into small pieces. Chop bacon into small pieces as well.

4. Pour milk into a large pot over medium-low heat, and add flour. Whisk until there are no lumps. Continue whisking until milk and flour mixture thickens. Stir in seasonings.

5. Once thick, add potatoes, bacon pieces (leave a little for a garnish), sour cream, and cheese and continue cooking until cheese is melted. Mash potatoes pieces in the pot with a potato masher, if you like.

6. Serve immediately. Garnish with extra cheese, green onions, and bacon.

I think I'll get about 6 bowls of this stuff. Keep in mind it is super filling, so it's more like half bowl servings!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Breakfast for Dinner

Oh, boy do I love breakfast. Anytime, always. I also love breakfast for dinner. My Mom's favorite meal to cook growing up was breakfast, and she took any excuse to make it. Dad makes a mean omelet too, so breakfast was always a big deal for us. We loved breakfast, and pancakes or eggs for dinner was always something to look forward to. I have a few tried and true breakfast recipes that will always be some of my favorites which I'm sure I'll share eventually, including my mom's blueberry stuffed french toast...drool.  But then I found these miraculous things. They're savory pancakes with bacon and corn in them. Then they're served with maple syrup. Woah.

I love weird food. I really do. I'll try anything once, and I love different combinations (except things with whole tomatoes chunks. blech.). This is where Scott and I are very different. He eats because he has to. I eat because I freaking love food. Imagine my surprise when I made these bacon and corn "pancakes," and he actually LOVED them. I think he liked them even more than I did.

I made them with simple breakfast potatoes that had a poached egg on top. This was by no means a low calorie dinner, but it definitely hit the spot! They do have a really thick batter, but don't let that fool you, they cook up into a nice little savory cake. I'm already thinking about other combinations... ;)

My breakfast potatoes are more of a method than a recipe, but they're definitely my favorite way to prepare them.

Breakfast Potatoes

  • 3 medium sized potatoes
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Seasoning salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash and dry potatoes and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes until tender. When done, chop into 1-inch pieces. You can either leave the skin on or take it off. I usually leave the skin on about half the potatoes.

2. Put oil in a skillet and heat over medium heat, add butter to oil and when melted add in chopped onions. When onions begin to brown, add potatoes. Season with salt and pepper (I've used Tastefully Simple's seasoning salt forever, but any kind works!) and toss with the oil, butter and onions. Pack the potatoes into a layer on the bottom of the pan and don't touch them for 8 minutes.

3. Using a spatula, flip over sections of the potatoes until all of them are turned over. If all the moisture is gone (the potatoes can be greedy suckers) add another pat of butter into the middle of the pan or some oil. Let the other brown for about 8 minutes. Done!

Now for the good stuff!

Bacon and Corn "Pancakes"
Recipe slightly adapted from Recipe Girl

  • 8 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup frozen, canned or fresh corn
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar Jack cheese
  • warm maple syrup, for serving
1. In a medium skillet, cook the bacon pieces until they begin to brown. Add the onion and cook until the bacon is crisp and the onion is softened.
2. While the bacon is cooking, combine the flour, chives, baking powder, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Stir in the milk, egg and oil, until just mixed. Stir in the bacon and onions, corn and cheese.
3. Heat and grease a griddle or large skillet. Pour a heaping 1/4-cup of the batter onto the griddle and cook until it is golden brown- 3 to 4 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining batter.
4. Serve stacks of cakes topped with a good dose of warm maple syrup.
This recipe gave me 8 pancakes. Enjoy!

Also, I need to say Happy Birthday to my little cousin! Can't believe your 13!

Please ignore my soap and Splenda. I need some photo editing software!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Restaurant Rundown: Happy's Bar + Kitchen

One of my best friends, Liz and I went to this brand spanking new restaurant called Happy's last night that opened last week on Boylston Street. It's the newest restaurant by the same chef that opened Tico downtown, which I've only heard good things about. My dad happened to see Happy's on Chronicle last week and how they have scorpion bowl-like drinks with Swedish fish in them! Sounds fun, no? It's like your given an excuse to eat alcoholic candy and not trying to sneak those damn addictive vodka-gummy bears.

Photo from BostonTweet

So we decided to try it. I have to say, I wasn't that impressed. Granted, it's a brand new restaurant, and I will still go back in a few months to try it again, but it just didn't wow me like I wanted it to. They do also have brunch though, and I will definitely be trying that!

The atmosphere of the place is pretty cool (I LOVED this light fixture made of teacups and spoons. I want one.)

Photo from Happy's

However, those "drink bowls"? They are almost $40. Each. Crazy! We ended up with beer. Of course. We work at a microbrewery, it usually ends up that way. We had the duck tacos for an appetizer, and they were good, but a seriously small portion. We got two mini tacos for $9. The "TV dinner" for the night was fried chicken with coleslaw, mashed potatoes and gravy, and a little mini cheesecake. I must say, it was cute. They served it in a plate made to look like an actual TV dinner tray. The food was good, but I've definitely had better fried chicken. Liz had the short ribs, which came with noodles, and they were good. But for some reason, I firmly believe short ribs should come with mashed potatoes. It's natural.

I had planned all day to actually use my camera and take pictures of our food, but I forgot. I'm an idiot. So, what's left is just my opinion on this place. It was decent, but kind of expensive. Like I said, I'll go back in a few months to give it another shot and I really hope the brunch is good. They did have Magic Hat #9 though, which does make me like it more!

I'm in the process of making a sourdough bread starter, and then will try my hand at making bread. I'm nervous! But my starter is doing all the weird things its supposed to, like bubbling and smelling sour and generally creeping me out, so I think it's working. Hopefully, I'll be making the bread this weekend and then posting the recipe!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Holy Calzones

This is turning into way more of a food blog than I wanted it to be. But I haven't had much chance to do anything else lately with working at my internship and the restaurant. Once my internship is over at the end of June, I may decide on a new direction!

Anyway, a few years ago I tried to make calzones. I found some random recipe on the internet (not a lot of well-known food blogs then!) for pizza dough and stuffed it with some cheese, pepperoni and sauce. Good god were they awful. The dough was horrible, sticky and gross and it just did not work. We had to throw them away and order a real pizza. That bad. 

I've actually had pretty bad luck with yeasty doughs For some reason, they just don't like me. I've tried sourdough bread and pizza dough but they usually don't work. I need more practice, I think. But the other day I wanted to try again. So I found this recipe, probably from pinterest, as per usual but I actually don't remember how I got to the blog. This calzone recipe came out so good! It has homemade dough and homemade sauce, and it's stuffed with sausage, pepperoni, onions, cheese, and I added peppers. I don;t know if it's the BEST pizza dough I've ever had, but it worked and I'm definitely on the hunt for one that's even better.

I think next time I'm going to use chicken and broccoli for the filling, or maybe shaved steak and cheese. Possibilities are endless.

Recipe adapted slightly from Simply Scratch

Pizza dough
  • 2-1/2 cups All Purpose Flour, plus more for kneading
  • 1 cup Warm Water {115-120 degrees}
  • 1 packet Active Dry Yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon Honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Olive Oil, plus more for oiling bowl
1. Add a half teaspoon of honey into a clean large bowl. 
2. Add the hot water into the bowl and sprinkle with the packet of yeast. Stir and let sit for a few minutes. 
3. Season with a half teaspoon of salt and olive oil. 
4. Sprinkle with one cup of the flour, stir with a spatula. Add in the second cup, stir until combine. 
5. Add the remaining half cup of flour and stir by hand until combined. 
6. On a well floured surface, knead the dough (add more flour if you need to) until no longer sticky. Should take about five minutes. 
7. Form the dough into a ball and add it to the bowl with the olive oil. Coat the dough with the oil, using it to work the oil up the sides of the bowl. 
8. Cover with a towel and place in a dry warm place for about an hour.

Pizza Sauce
  • 15 ounce can of Tomato Sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning 
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried Basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • a pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
  • Kosher Salt and Black Pepper to taste 
1. In a small sauce pan over medium low heat combine the tomato sauce, herbs and spices. Stir until hot then remove off of the heat to cool.

The Calzones:
  • 1 recipe for homemade pizza dough
  • 8 slices of pepperoni, quartered
  • 1 medium onion, sliced root to tip
  • 1/2 pound Ground Italian Sausage
  • 2 cups Freshly Grated Mozzarella
  • 1 green pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 whole Egg, beaten  

1. In a skillet brown the sausage, drain and set aside. 
2. Over medium heat cook onions until soft and golden. Add peppers after about 3 minutes.
3. Divide the pizza dough into 4 equal portions. Roll out to about 8 inches in diameter. 

4. Smear a couple spoonfuls of cooled pizza sauce. 
5. Top half of the circle with cooked Italian sausage, pepperoni, cooked onions and cheeses. 
6. Stretch and pull the dough over the top of the filling and twist and pinch the two seams together.
7. Beat the egg and brush it over top of the entire calzone. 

8. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20-minutes. Let cool before eating. Use any leftover pizza sauce to dunk your calzone in.

Real good.