Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Scones with Dried Cranberries and Pistachios

There is a Japanese bakery (I know, not the first thing I would have thought of) down the street from my house that makes the most wonderful moist and fluffy scones. I have tried in vain many times to make scones and what I usually end up with is a small starch like hockey puck. Yum.

I came across this recipe on Orangette and decided to give it a whirl. This was by far my best result with scones, but they were still a little dry, I think that is because I used skim milk instead of whole milk. I think that if I substitute whole milk or cream I will be a-okay.

They say that your metabolism slows down at 30; well, apparently not for my dear husband CB. That man is a garbage disposal. He is the type of person who in order to not lose weight simply from the efficiency of his basal metabolic rate needs to eat two breakfast a day, followed by lunch, a snack before dinner, then dinner, and then dinner must also be followed by dessert. Every night.

So these scones served the purpose of the easily transportable breakfast #2 everyday for CB. Scones equal easy to eat on trains and buses; cereal, not so easy. Yeah for scones.

½ c milk
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
3 Tbs sugar
1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup chopped pistachios

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Beat together the milk and the egg and then set aside. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Rub the butter into the flour mixture, working until you have no lumps bigger than a pea. Add the sugar and whatever additions you choose, and stir or toss to mix. Pour the wet ingredients into the dries, reserving just a tad of the milk-egg mixture to use as a glaze. Bring dough together gently with a wooden spoon.

Turn dough out onto a clean counter and knead it no more than 12 times. Pat dough into a round approximately ½-inch thick, and cut into 8 or 12 wedges. Place on an ungreased baking sheet or a Silpat, if you have one. Using a pastry brush, glaze wedges.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack.

Friday, February 17, 2006

White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Raspberry Sauce

Last month CB and I went to Sugarbush, VT with some friends for the weekend. One night we went to John Egan's Big World for dinner. Our meals were "good" not great and our service was less than stellar (a few times we thought our server forgot we were there.) Anyway, the night was all brought together by a quick viewing of the dessert menu and noticing that white chocolate bread pudding was on the menu. It was great, wonderful...on and on. I decided then and there that I would be making a vat of it when I got home. So above is my version of the Big World dessert.

I have always loved bread pudding, it just screams comfort food to me, and I for one have never, ever, tried to give up carbs at all in my life. Thank you marathon running for an excuse to eat ones own body weight in carbs and not feel pangs of guilt for days. I love you long distance training run, with follow up feeding fest.

I found this recipe after searching the internet. It seems this is a rendition of the recipe that is used on Carnival Cruise Lines. Huh!

White Chocolate Bread Pudding
5 large eggs
1/4 lb of butter
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups milk
1 loaf white bread
1-1/4 lb white chocolate
3/4 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 360°F (182°C). Remove the crust from the bread and soak it in the heated milk and cream. Beat the mixture by hand or in a mixer until the pieces of bread are reduced to the size you want. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler and incorporate that into the bread mixture.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until creamy. Add that to the bread mixture and stir until uniform. Transfer the batter to a buttered pan and place that pan in a larger pan of hot water in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the center is set. [Start checking the pudding after a half hour in the oven. Because this recipe is cut down so severely from the original, it may take a good deal less time to set.]

Raspberry Sauce
One bag frozen raspberries

I simply put a bag of frozen raspberrys in a sauce pan and boiled them, adding sugar until I got the consistency that I liked for drizzling.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Crockpot Adventures: Beef Stew

Next month dear husband CB and I will be moving into our new condo and will soon be taking on the life of home renovations. Because most of the renovations will be taking place in the kitchen and there will be a long long long stretch of time where I am left without a stove or cabinets or other useful components of a kitchen I have decided to become oh so familiar with my crockpot.

Sunday was my first adventure, soon to be followed by lots and lots of slow cooked meals in a crockpot most likely plugged into a socket in the living room.

Now I don't eat beef, so this was especially tricky for me considering I had no idea what "beef for stew" would look like, nor did I know where to locate it in the market. CB assured me that I would find it in the meat department and that it would be clearly labeled for stew. And it was quite easy to find and the process of making this was super easy, I simply cut a bunch of crap up, threw it in the crockpot and blap-dee-bloo ten hours later my house was filled with the aroma of dead cow marinating in its own juices with potatoes and carrots along for the ride. I did wander from my dietary restrictions and had three whole spoonfuls of it and I must say, that crockpot is quite the little chef.

Recipe - definitely not exact

  • 2 lbs. stew meat
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 1/2 c. beef broth
  • Onion, diced
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 3 potatoes, sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced

Place meat in crockpot, mix flour, salt and pepper and pour over meat. Stir and coat meat with flour. Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix well. Cook and cover. Low 9 hours. High 5 hours.

Note: I left out the worcestershire sauce because I forgot to add it. I also added a can of crushed tomatoes to the mix, you can use stewed if you want to more chunk-i-ness.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Brokeback / Vinalia Review

Movie Review: Brokeback Mountain
Saturday was the all girl fieldtrip to see Brokeback Mountain. For the past few years I have tried to see all films nominated for "best picture" before the Oscars are handed out. Last year was filled with wonderful films like The Aviator, Million Dollar Baby, Ray, Finding Neverland and Sideways. I have seen all of these movies and thoroughly enjoyed them all. I was rooting for Million Dollar Baby and The Aviator for the Oscar, so I was pleased with the Academy at the end of the night.

This year our choices for best picture are: Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Crash, Good Night and Good Luck, and Munich. I have now seen three of these films, Crash, Munich and Brokeback Mountain. The hype surrounding Brokeback made it very hard to go into the theatre without expectations, but I tried my hardest to not acknowledge the veritable array of nominations surrounding this film. I must say that I had a very hard time believing the feelings between Jack and Ennis during the beginning of their relationship. Maybe I was supposed to feel this way, maybe they themselves couldn't believe their relationships or their feelings for each other, so I wasn't supposed to believe it or understand it either. I don't know, I just found it very hard to fathom that without conversation, side glances or innuendos that these two people knew what the other was thinking, or even knew what they themselves were thinking. I did not believe their first sexual encounter was genuine, maybe it wasn't supposed to be; maybe it was supposed to represent confusion and unbelievability.

As the movie and story unfolded I began to believe the strife between Jack and Ennis, and actually came to believe in their love for each other. But this took a while. I came to really feel for Ennis, and began to feel sorry that he seemed to lack the ability to be happy. He seemed so sad all the time, and his existence was one of just existing, not being.

In the end I cared for the characters, all of them, and was left with a complete sense of hopelessness, not for me, but for the people who have no ability to make their lives better; who, live life day to day with the inability to fill their lives with happiness.

This however was not a movie that stayed with me, a few hours after the movie I was at the Linwood drinking beer and eating catfish. I was not filled with unhappiness, nor did it make me want to go out there and "change the world." I don't know if this films deserves the Oscar for the best of the year, but what I can say is that the acting is phenomenal, and the characters believable, even if the story doesn't always let them be believable. Heath Ledger was truly gifted in this movie, I don't know if he should win the best actor Oscar over Joaquin Phoenix though, because that was truly an amazing performance that Joaquin put on in Walk the Line.

We shall see.

Restaurant Review: Vinalia
So, I had a business lunch at Vinalia today on Summer Street. I ordered the baby arugula salad with berries and goat cheese. I was disappointed in this salad for one reason only; when the menu says with berries, I expect more than 2 raspberries and 2 blackberries, 4 berries does not make a berry salad. That being said the arugula was fresh and crisp, the goat cheese was just the right amount, and the berry vinaigrette was light and refreshing, I just wish that more than 4 tiny baby berries have found their way onto my bed of baby arugula. The fresh bread that is served before the meal was wonderful and warm, and our server was attentive and chipper. All around a good meal for a business lunch, just the minor berry problem.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Cajun Crab Stuffed Pepperoncini

This recipe is from Party Line with The Hearty Boys from the Food Network. I really like their recipes because they are great for entertaining and and are simple and not too expensive as far as ingredient cost. 36 pepperoncini
1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
8 ounces crab claw meat, shredded
1 1/2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
Chopped fresh parsley leaves

Cut the stem end off the pepperoncini and carefully scrape out the seeds. Set aside. Beat the cream cheese in the bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment. Add the crab and continue to mix. Add the Cajun seasoning, hot sauce, and thyme and mix until blended. Place the mixture into a pastry bag and pipe into the seeded pepperoncini. Dip the cream cheese end of the pepperoncini in the chopped parsley before serving and transfer directly to a serving tray.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

No Assing Through

A snippet of my commute. Yesterday I decided to take the Blue Line to the Green Line instead of walking directly to the Green Line. I don't usually take the route that forces me to be sedentary, but yesterday the temperature and wind forced me to abandon my usual ten minute walk to the train, and opt for the closer blue line. I'm glad I did, because sometimes things just strike you as funny. As I was standing among the many people shuffling home I happened to look to the end of the train where one car connects to the other, and, where once was a sign that read no passing through, there was now a sign which clearly stated no assing rough. I had to laugh, because I'm mature like that. What's better is that someone took the time to meticulously scrape off the letters. I wonder if they did this in one trip, or if it took them multiple trips. Everyday as they stood on the platform did they wonder to themselves, "now which car is it again?" Anyway, it made me laugh. As I exited the car two levels subterranean, I took the two flights of stairs up to the first subterranean level. As I climbed the stairs I could hear the sweetest sounds coming from above. Two people where playing guitars and singing in Spanish. I wanted to stay and listen for a while, but as is the way with the public transportation system, their timing is always off. As I got to the top stair my train pulled into the station and I entered, leaving the melodious sounds behind and wishing that I didn't have an appointment to make, and could just sit beside the singers and relax. The rest of my ride was petty uneventful.

This morning as I descended the stairs underground I was treated to another musical performance, however this one was different. I had a coffee in one had, a book in the other began to hear the bellowing of a tuba. Yes a tuba, in the Park Street station. This morning the choice of songs was "If I Only Had A Brain." from The Wizard of Oz. I found this weird, but I guess what else would you play on a tuba at 8:00 in the morning below the hustle and bustle of Park Street? I guess that's as good as anything.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Pistachio Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

What better to do on a Sunday night during SuperBowl XL pregame than to make a butt load of pistachio walnut chocolate chip cookies. Yum! As I mentioned. This blog will be a little bit o' everything. This would be the domestic goddess portion of the blog, soon to be followed by the movie critic, restaurant reviewer and environmentalist portion. What's that? You too want to make these delicious creations, here you go.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks, 1/2 pound) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated [white] sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups (12-ounce package) NESTLE TOLL HOUSE Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1/2 cup chopped pistachios

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large mixer bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE in preheated 375-degree [Fahrenheit] oven for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

(Note: becuase I have a small ass galley kitchen stove I baked the cookies at 350-degrees for 7 minutes. Small ovens seem to cook faster.)

Restaurant Review: Stephanie's on Newbury Street
Sunday I took my mom to Brunch for her birthday. Happy 54 Mom! I've been to Stephanie's before for dinner and for brunch and the food is always great, and in contrast to some reviews I have seen, the wait staff has always been cordial and attentive. This sunday was no exception. Our waitress was curtious, attentive and very nice. Other waitstaff stopped by our table and asked our predictions for the game and were in general very cordial.
That being said, I expect great service when I drop a C note on breakfast. I'm not judging here because I chose the restaurant, but $100 for four is generally what I expect to pay for dinner, including wine, not breakfast including coffe without libations in it. If however you have a hankering for a great Sunday brunch please do yourself a favor and order the Salmon Cake Bennedict - so frigging good. Eat it slowly and savor, it is truly great and worth the $16 you will spend on it. However, the blueberry pancakes were just okay and not worth the $14 considering you can get the same at Mike's diner in the South End for about a third of the price.

Movie Review: Memoirs of a Geisha
I have not read the book. Therefore I thought that I would really enjoy the movie. In general I tend to stay away from movies based on books if I have read the book - the films in general are always a dissapointment.
I give this movie 2 stars. I honestly just sort of lost interest in the plot and the characters. When the lights came on after I looked at EP and said - eh. That's it, at least it was a matinee and I only spent $7.5. Next Saturday EP and I are going to see Brokeback Mountain. There are films out there that you just have to see with your girlfriends because your husbands wouldn't be caught dead at, Brokeback is one of those films. So Saturday EP and I will get together to enjoy a film that neither of us would get to see if it were not for the bonds of girlfriends and the stubborn pigheaded men in our lives who can't see a movie with gay undertones, let a lone a gay cowboy movie.

Observation: Littering
What is wrong with people. Honestly, are you so lazy that you cannot walk a mere ten feet to the nearest trash can. The City is literally strewn with trash receptacles, designated places for you to throw your trash and yet people constantly think that the sidewalk is a good enough place as any to just throw their stuff. I bet your house is disgusting, it must be, you probably have a trash barrel in your kitchen, but I bet you house is littered with shit that just never made it there becuase you didn't feel like moving your lazy ass to the proper disposal area. I won't even get into the environmental ramifications of your actions, that will be for another day.

Friday, February 03, 2006

This cannot be February

This has been one of those winters were you think to yourself, there really IS something to that whole global warming issue. I heard on the news last week that 2005 was the warmest year in recorded history. Does that scare you? Well, it scares me a little. Although I did also hear that the unusually warm temperatures are due to a cycle of unusually warm ocean water temperature, which it just so happens is completely natural and is no cause for alarm. I guess you can always find the opposite sides of a cause if you look at it from both angles.

I know nothing about the history of Massachusetts. My firm is going after some work at the Boston State House. So, today in the interest of trying to know an iota of information about the building I went on a tour of the facility. I know shit about the history of Massachusetts. A state I have called home my entire life (except for a brief stint in Connecticut where I attended college.) It really was sad, I walked through the grand halls of the state house, all adorned with marble quarried from far off lands, big mahogany columns, paintings, statues and busts of important people, all of whom I had no familiarity to, but who obviously had their hand in the shaping of my homeland. I don't know what this says about me, maybe that I'm self centered and never cared to learn about the history until it translated into a business deal, or maybe it means that Massachusetts with all it's founding fathers and really important people failed me in the area of education. I don't know.

Restaurant Review: Silvertones
I lunched at Silvertones today. I have never had a bad meal here. Todays was made all the better because it followed the State House so was officially considered business and was expensed. Yeah. The waiteress was great, the food was great, the only slightly bad thing is that the acoustics are so terrible in the tiny place that you need to lean in to talk and listen. A minor price to pay for a good lunch.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

So this is it..My blog is Born.

When I was young a had a diary. Every night I recorded my life onto the pages, every insignificant occurance and also some pretty significant ones. I have no idea where those diaries are now, those uber personal enties that I kept from all eyes but my own. Funny, I really don't know where they are or who has access to them.

So here we are. Fourteen years later. History has a funny way of repeating itself doesn't it. Funny though, this time I don't give a shit if anybody reads my personal recordings...I'm a grown woman now; my decisions are my own.

My blog does not have a theme. It will be about everything, cooking, books, movies, city living, not so much about politics though..that's really not my forte. I'm not a very good writer, I'm pretty sure my spelling will be wrong and my grammar appalling at certain times. Go with it. This blog is what it is, and sadly isn't what it isn't.

There are certain blogs out there that just stink of over achievement, this will not be one of them, but I hope if you find yourself here that you stop, read and enjoy. The title of the blog is urban drivel. I named it that because it is my life. I live in Boston, I live like an urbanite, taking multiple forms of public transportation to and from places that I need to go to everyday. I only buy what I can carry home from the market because driving to the supermarket seems like a luxury, I know bus schedules by heart and also the drivers. The drivel part comes from the fact that isn't it all just drivel. Don't you know people who only talk because they like the sound of their own voice. Maybe I'm one of those people.