Monday, May 29, 2017

Yvonne's — Boston, MA — A Restaurant Recommendation

Yvonne's restaurant and bar of Boston, MA


I know we've only just recently started getting to know each other, but I feel that there is something I need to say: 

We've spent the evening together, what? Three times now? And every time you've been just spectacular. No matter what the evening brings, you always make me feel special. I can't help but leave you with a smile on my face. 

But this last time was different. Why? Because it was the night you truly stole my heart. It wasn't your dark, glittering beauty or your cheeky coquettishness or even your voluptuous menu. Although the baked oysters were divine, the bavette steak mouth-wateringly tender, and the Enchanted Catnip a fiery sight to behold—you had me completely when I overheard your server say to another guest, "I'm sorry; we don't have flavored vodkas. But we do have plain vodka that we flavor with our own housemade syrups."

My dear girl. You are the one.

With all my heart,


P.S. You made it into the CAF recommended restaurant travel guide for Boston!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Grain-free Granola: A Delicious Anomaly

Chef Reiton and I had the pleasure of having one of his sisters visit us for a night on the way home from a business trip a week or so ago. After years of living close to each other, I didn't realize how much I missed her until we sat into the wee hours of the morning, catching up, reminiscing, drinking probably too much really good wine—and thoroughly enjoying every minute of it.

One thing we always talk about when we are together is food. Not only do we all love to eat, but quite a few people in Chef Reiton's family suffer from celiac, and so we are always sharing new meals or snacks or desserts that we have discovered that are gluten-free.

During this visit, Brenda pulled out a bag of grain-free granola that one of her friends had introduced her to. She let us try it, and wow! It was quite good!

Then she let us know how much that little bag of grain-free granola cost.

I believe I may have accidentally snorted a few pecan pieces in response. Why, oh WHY, do health food companies find it necessary to drastically overcharge for a product that they promote as necessary for all? We all know why: fad = $$$. But for many consumers , it's not about a fad. Their diet is based around a serious health condition, and there is NO reason that anyone should have to pay crap-tons of money to avoid going into anaphylactic shock. It's outrageous, and so I decided to give the health food companies the ol' one-two and come up with my own damn grain-free granola recipe.

Grain-Free Granola from Creating A Foodie

The "start-up" cost for making this granola may seem high, I understand. But a whole bag of nut parts is going to make a whole lotta granola. And you are ultimately going to be spending a LOT less than the $8 pre-packaged bag of grain-free granola you buy at the store!

This is not a terribly sweet granola. It's got a warm spice and salty flavor, but it's not going to be loading you up with sugar. And I would call this a snacking granola, not a cereal. You aren't going to need much.

If you don't like honey, you may want to try agave syrup, instead. And a few tips on nuts: don't look for nuts in the baking aisle. Look for the "generic" nuts that are sold in the bulk section or in the produce section. They will be cheaper. Also, look for broken pieces, slivers, or slices, instead. Whole nuts tend to be more expensive because they have to be prettier and so take more work to get out of the shell. And feel free to substitute the type of nuts used; go for what you already have. Or add some dried fruit or a teensy bit of brown sugar if you want it sweeter. You regular readers know what I think: you are the one eating it. Make it what you want. There is no one "right" way to make most recipes!

Ingredients and directions:

In a medium bowl, blend with a whisk:
• 1/8 cup coconut oil, melted
• 1/8 cup honey

Add to bowl and blend again:
• 1/8 tsp. almond extract
• 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Add to bowl then stir very well to coat:
• 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
• 1/4 cup slivered almonds
• 1/2 cup cashew pieces
• 1/4 cup pecan pieces
• 1/8 cup chia seeds
• 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
• 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
• 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
• 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

• 1/8 cup coconut flour

Blend well with whisk again. Place a piece of parchment paper on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour granola out onto paper and spread evenly. Break up any large clumps into smaller chunks.

Bake at 325° for 10 minutes. Toss. Bake for another 10 minutes until golden. Remove pan from the oven and place on a wire rack. Cool granola completely.

Chef Reiton loves his grain-free granola

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Yotam Ottolenghi's Cauliflower Steaks: A Vegetarian Dinner for Meat Lovers

Summer is coming fast. Maybe a bit too fast. My backside is, like, seriously not ready for it. So last night I made steak for dinner.

You heard me. STEAK. But not steak from a cow or a bison or even a pig.

I made steak from a cauliflower.

Ewww, I just heard you say.


My go-to "I-want-to-be-vegetarian-tonight" recipe writer, Yotam Ottolenghi, has a definite place in my kitchen. When I get tired of simply sautéing my veggies, I jazz them up Ottolenghi-style. His wide use of Middle Eastern spices and flavorings add a depth to vegetable dishes you just don't see elsewhere in the veggie world.

Like these cauliflower steaks shared in Bon Appétit (April 2017), for example. Ottolenghi transforms a vegetable that many only tolerate, cutting it into thick slices then alternately pan-frying and oven-roasting it into a deep, dark caramelized hunk of beefy deliciousness. Who would think?

Ottolenghi's Cauliflower Steaks: A Vegetarian Dinner for Meat Lovers

Laid on a simple bed of puréed cauliflower laced with lemon and tahini, it is then topped with a "salsa" made from more lemon zest, parsley, olive oil and nuts.

If you want to make this a vegan dinner, simply swap out the tiny bit of butter in the recipe for more olive oil. I think the butter contributes to the beefy taste, but it will still be frickin' fantastic to be sure. 

I did make a few adjustments because I didn't have what I thought I had... Ottolenghi suggests using walnuts and a Fresno chile for the salsa. I didn't have either, so I used pine nuts instead and skipped the chile but brushed my cauliflower slices with harissa paste (both very Middle Eastern in origin). Remarkably good, oddly satisfying, and SO being made again the exact same way.

[I can still hear some of you saying "Ewww." Just—shut up and go try it. You and your butt will be thanking me and Ottolenghi. Promise.]

Want some more suggestions of what to try from Ottolenghi? Check out his veggies-only cookbook, Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes, or his team-up with his buddy, Sami Tamimi, in Jerusalem: A Cookbook. I think you and your behind will be going vegetarian more often, too.

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