Saturday, March 21, 2015

Boston Bites

Gosh, I love alliteration...

Last week I was in Boston for a research conference and wanted - nay, needed - to share a few places with you. If you ever find yourself in Massachusetts (or more specifically Boston proper), get yourself to these locales ASAP:

1) Mistral (pronounced Mistraaaal - okay, I'm not good with phonetics) - pricey but worth it. Here, I had the best mushroom bisque of my life. It was full of wild mushrooms and came in a piping hot crock covered with puff pastry (see below, not my photo because I devoured it too quickly). I died. They also have a pear croustade which was, in the waiter's words "extraterrestrial." It was. I've never had pear caramel sauce but somehow they managed to infuse intense pear flavor without having the caramel seize.

2) Thinking Cup: coolest coffee shop ever and the macaroons are pretty fantabulous. Also located next to Georgetown Cupcake on Newbury Street: Plus. Plus-plus.

3) Finagle a Bagel: The name of course is what got me. Yummy breakfast sammies and super affordable. Bagels aren't as mind-blowing as Bodo's in Charlottesville, but bagel sandwiches are my life so I'm not complaining.

4) Flour: Go. Here. My lovely friend who's an ortho resident at Tufts brought be here and there aren't enough words to describe how much I loved it. With a name like "flour," they had a lot to live up to. We shared a delicious sticky bun and two sandwiches. The filling pairings were unexpected but perfect: think, sweet potato with walnut pesto?? Yes? Yes. By the way, how cute is their logo?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Chicken Caesar Salad

Different people get fixated on different things. A few weeks ago, I became very curious as to how hard it would be to make Caesar salad from scratch. I'd stopped myself from embarking upon said endeavor multiple times in the last few months, convinced a salad with no actual "substance" would not be filling and that it would be hard to make the dressing without a legit food processor or a wooden bowl to mix everything in. If you've ever seen Ina Garten make a salad, you understand why the wooden bowl is such an important competent to salad making. If you haven't, then you probably are wondering at what age I slipped on black ice and lost my mind. 

Anywhos, the most difficult (if you call it that) part of this was the dressing, but even that was pretty simple. The main way to ensure the salad is super tasty is to mix all the components separately with the dressing, then toss with a little more right at the end. This way everything is evenly coated. And just use your hands to toss - I find that a set of well washed hands is the best way to get that dressing into every nook and cranny of the lettuce. 

Chicken Caesar Salad 

Make croutons but cutting some crusty bread into cubes and frying in a pan over medium heat with a little olive oil and butter at the end. Set aside.

Season some chicken thighs (factor 1/person) with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Then roast at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. I use thighs because they are tasty, cheaper than the breasts, and almost impossible to overcook. Cut into cubes once they are cooked and set aside.

Chop romaine lettuce (factor one chunk per person) into bite-sized pieces. 

Slice a carton of cherry tomatoes in half and place in a separate bowl. Add the chicken and about 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan. I like shaved and not grated because I personally think the cheese becomes more an ingredient in the foreground than the back as a binder. I actually found a yummy mix of Parm, Fontina, and Asiago at Kroger of all places. And it looked super fresh. A little pricey, but hey, I saved all that money buying chicken thighs.

Make the dressing by combining in a bowl the following: 2 Tbs dijon mustard, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, 5 cloves super diced garlic, a splash of balsamic vinegar, the juice of half a lemon, and 2 Tbs anchovy paste. I highly suggest getting the paste - especially if you don't have a food processor - it mixes in so smoothly! Mix all this together then slowly and steadily stream in 1/2 cup olive oil, whisking the whole time to create an emulsion. Some people add an egg yolk to help with this. Some add mayo. I like the mustard/oil combination. 

Add some dressing to the tomato/chicken/cheese mix and stir to coat. Do the same with the lettuce then mix everything together with a little more dressing. This amount of dressing gave me enough to feed 3 people, generously. Serve with croutons arranged prettily on top.

By the way...I was 14. And I'm almost positive the effects have worn off ;)