In the Kitchen

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I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather these past few weeks and can’t quite seem to kick it. I don’t know why but whenever I’m sick, I lose my appetite, which doesn’t help the whole getting better process. Last night I decided I needed a meal that felt like a big hug. And don’t you just agree that soup does that! I found this flu fighter soup on Pinterest and it has since become by go-to. Feeling under the weather? Give this a try. The broth will instantly make you feel better, I promise!

Flu Fighter Chicken Noodle Soup

For the chicken:

  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast tenders
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F).
  2. Place chicken tenders in a large baking dish lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil and sprinkle with spices. Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes, flipping the chicken at the half way point.
  3. Once cooked, pull into small chunks using two forks and set aside.

For the soup:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 very large onion, finely diced
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • Big pinch of salt
  • (1) 32 oz containers chicken stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups of pasta noodles (your choice)
  • Juice of 1 lemon, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped
 Directions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed soup pan over a medium flame. Add carrots, celery, and onion, and cook – stirring occasionally – for 8-9 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and salt and cook for another minute before adding the bay leaf, water and chicken stock.
  3. Increase heat to high, bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, stir in noodles, and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.
  4. Stir in cooked chicken, dill, and lemon juice. Taste soup to adjust seasonings.

In the Kitchen

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57 weeks ago I posted the above photo on Instagram of one of my favorite soup, promising to share the recipe soon. Since today is the first day of fall, I thought today would be the perfect day. I’ve been making this soup for nearly 15 years now as it is super easy and super delicious. Plus, it has a pretty high wow factor.

French Fish Chowder

*slightly modified from New York Times recipe

  • 1 lb. cod fillets
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion {1 medium onion}
  • 1 cup chopped celery {usually about 3 stalks}
  • 1 cup diced red pepper {1 red pepper}
  • 1 Tbs. minced garlic
  • 2 tsp. turmeric {an Indian spice with cancer fighting power}
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups of broth {fish, vegetable or chicken}
  • 1/2 cup orzo

Directions

  1. Cut fish into 1-inch cubes.
  2. Heat oil in large saucepan {I use my dutch over} and add onions, celery, red pepper and garlic and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  3. Add turmeric, wine, tomatoes, bay leaf, thyme, pepper flakes, broth, and season a little with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the orzo, stir well and simmer for about 8 minutes.
  5. Add in the fish and return soup to a boil. Remember to remove the bay leaf.

I like to finish the soup with about a tablespoon of cream and a dash of curry powder. I serve with grilled french bread rubbed with olive oil and garlic. I think the soup tastes better with a little time to rest so I tend to make the base ahead of time and just bring to a boil a few minutes before serving and then add the fish.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Bakeries {in Boston}

Boston Bakeries

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for bakeries. Anytime I’m planning a trip to a new place, I do my research to find the best local bakeries. Not only do I have a sweet tooth, but there is just something about a bakery/cafe vibe that captures me. With that, I thought I would share my favorite bakeries in Boston on this #tasytuesday.

We will start in Boston proper and go by neighborhood…

Tatte in Beacon Hill – Located on the corner of Charles and Mount Vernon Street, this is Tatte’s fifth and newest location in Boston {and my personal favorite as it is a short walk from my apartment}. Breakfast is served daily till 11:30 am and favorites include the avocado tartine and the shakshuka, a traditional north african dish. For lunch, the grilled halloumi salad is where it’s at. Tatte’s attention to details make it an instagramers heaven. Just take a look at their feed. And good news, most of their locations have plenty of indoor and outdoor seating.

Flour Bakery + Cafe in Back Bay, South End & Fort Point – Flour Bakery is what dreams are made of. Seriously. A trip to Boston isn’t complete without a visit to one of Joanne Chang’s delightful Flour locations. And good news, they offer breakfast, lunch and dinner. Favorites include their blueberry muffin, vegan chocolate cupcake, smoked turkey sandwich and greek salad. And to quench your thirst, they create a seasonal spritzer and specialty drink. This summer, their lemon-lime aid has been keeping me hydrated. Flour’s Back Bay location has plenty of seating and is also across the street from the Frieda Garcia park so great for kids too.

Canto 6 in Jamaica Plain – This rustic french bakery is the bee’s knees and has a loyal following of JP neighbors. And while it will take a little maneuvering to get to from downtown (Orange line outbound to Forrest Hills, get off at Green Street and walk two blocks towards Washington Street), I promise it is worth the trip. Their seasonal scones are some of the best and their sandwiches are the perfect accompaniment for a walk in the nearby Arboretum. Seating is limited.

Clear Flour Bread in Brookline – Specializing in classic french and italian breads, Clear Flour Bread is my go-to for you guessed it, bread. And while they offer some pastries {a delicious chocolate chip cookie}, there is no seating.

Cambridge Bakeries

Now, let’s cross the Charles…

Hi-Rise Bread Company in Harvard Square & Huron Village – I have my brother Travis to thank for introducing my to Hi-Rise. Similar to Flour, they have an impressive offering of pastries and mouth-watering sandwiches. Sometimes when I need an afternoon pick-me-up, I travel over to their Harvard Square location for a latte and a piece of their sinful vanilla bean loaf cake. It’s so good it was featured in former NYT food critic Amanda Hesser’s book Cooking for Mr. Latte. Their Huron Village location also has an impressive wine offering.

Sofra Bakery + Cafe in Cambridge/Watertown – Sofra is unlike any cafe experience in Boston with influences of Greek, Turkish and Lebanese delights in both decor and offerings. Their meze bar offerings are incredible (beet tzaziki is my favorite) and their chocolate earthquake cookies are just about the best thing I’ve even tried. Seating and parking are limited so I suggest going later in the day after the morning and lunch hour rush.

Forge Bakery in Union Square – When I’m craving a breakfast sandwich, I venture to Forge Bakery. Their simple egg sandwich on a homemade english muffin with avocado and sriracha hits the spot every single time. And in colder months, they make one of the most delicious hot chocolates I’ve ever tasted. Good news… plenty of seating and parking at Forge.

Bagelsaurus in Porter Square – I still remember the first taste of my very first NY bagel. Fifteen years later, no bagel could ever compare. That was until I discovered Bagelsaurus. Owner Mary Ting Hyatt’s bagels are simply the best and her offerings of bagel sandwiches are off-the-charts delicious. Might I suggest the t-rex? Bacon, almond butter, and banana. So good! I suggest greeting the staff at opening (7 am weekdays; 8 am weekends) as they sell-out quickly.

Loyal Nine Cafe in East Cambridge – The newest addition to the bakery scene, Loyal Nine Cafe has the most limited menu but one that is well worth the trip. Their coffee and lattes are served in pottery hand-made by the owner and their breakfast pastries (typically 3-5 to choose from) are delicious. We had the cinnamon roll Sunday morning and were quite happy. There is plenty of seating both indoor and out and since Loyal Nine is relatively new to the bakery scene in Boston, the pace is calm and perfect for a relaxing morning and/or afternoon.

Be sure to follow along with me on Instagram as I go #outandaboutwithmay in Boston and check back tomorrow as I share my favorite shops in this beautiful city of mine!

New {in Boston}

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As last week got away from me {sorry for my silence}, I wanted to keep my promise and devote this week to all things Boston. Today, I thought I’d share with you all that is NEW in this city of mine.

To keep things easy, I thought I’d go neighborhood by neighborhood. First up, Fort Point.

Fort Point/New Waterfront/Innovation District

I use to fondly call Fort Point the land of Barbara Lynch as Congress Street was home to three of her restaurants (Sportello, Drink and Mention). In just a few short years, though, Fort Point has blossomed and is now included in what many are calling the Innovation District, which includes The Seaport and the Waterfront. Companies like EnerNOC and Vertex are relocating to this thriving district. Driving down Seaport Boulevard, you can’t help but notice the luxury condo towers popping up left and right. The growth is incredible. Even more incredible, the restaurants to join the scene. A few to note: Mario Batali’s Babbo Pizzeria, Gather, Committee, and Empire {sister restaurant to the Back Bay’s Red Lantern}. I haven’t been just yet but I hear Hotel Envoy is the place to go for an evening cocktail and the best views of the Boston skyline at their Lookout Rooftop Bar.

South Boston/Southie

With the development throughout the Seaport/Waterfront, it’s no coincidence that South Boston has become the neighborhood for young professionals to enter the real estate market. In a recent article, I noted that Southie currently has over forty projects in either the planning/approval stage, under construction or just opened phase. All this activity has led to the opening of some pretty legit neighborhood spots. American Provisions is my go-to for delicious sandwiches, wine, cheese and provisions for an afternoon picnic, LOCO Taqueria & Oyster Bar for a night out on the town {and celebrate #tacotuesday} and Neatly Nestled for a wonderful selection of home goods and last minute gift ideas. I hear if you are single, Lincoln Tavern is the place to go. And you must check out The Lawn on D, a first of its kind, outdoor interactive space {adult playground} with a unique art installation of  20 lighted oval swings, games galore {bocce, ping pong, corn hole} a sound stage and open-air bar. This place has certainly lifted Boston’s cool factor.

Ink Block

In between Southie, I-93 and the South End, use to live a little paper called The Herald. But since it moved to the waterfront, this warehouse zone of the South End has been relatively quiet with just a gas station, Medieval Times and the Pine Street Inn. But times are a changing. Today, Ink Block is a 6-acre development with three unique buildings and 315 apartments to help restore this once vibrant neighborhood. This has certainly helped to extend the sophistication and appeal of the South End. At the anchor of it all, is a Whole Foods Market, which makes me a happy girl as my apartment is about a 8 minute walk away. Add to that, a milk + honey spa, and Ink Block is moving to become the hub of the South End.

Downtown

When Filene’s closed their doors in early 2006, Downtown Crossing lost a bit of its luster and for the past ten years has been a place one passes through to and from the Financial District and the Boston Common. Thankfully this is changing. Millennium Tower, a luxury high-rise residential skyscraper is emerging from the former retail location. And while occupancy won’t begin until next summer, you can check out the development while visiting the first city location of Roche Brothers. Word on the street is that acclaimed chef Michael Mina will be opening a Boston location of his acclaimed Pabu restaurant. Is it 2016 yet?!?!

Also changing the face of Downtown Boston is the highly anticipated Boston Public Market, which since opening last month, has become my new favorite spot in Boston.

Fenway

Similar to the Innovation District, condo buildings are under construction all along the back of Fenway Park. Add to that, a Target and rumors of a Wegmans grocery store, and pretty soon you’ll never have to leave Fenway. And if you have out-of-town guests visiting, just have them book a room at the recently opened Verb Hotel. The pool scene alone makes me want to book a stay-cation here.

Cambridge/Somerville

There are many in Boston who refuse to cross the Charles River and venture over to Cambridge and Somerville. But let’s be honest… this is where the food revolution has taken off in Boston. Alden & Harlow, Sarma, Union Square Donuts, Loyal NineState Park, Spoke Wine Bar. You can’t go wrong! Planning a trip to Boston, I highly recommend crossing the Charles and taking in the food scene on the other side.

So there you have it… my take on all that is NEW in Boston. Planning a visit? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment or email me with any questions. Happy to help!

Image Credit: Drawings of classic Boston icons by Swiss Cottage Designs via their blog.

In the Kitchen

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When hosting a dinner party, I try to keep my appetizers fairly simple. A beautiful crudite board with green goddess dressing or a cheese board bursting with bread, grapes and of course cheese {my rule of thumb is three: a hard, a soft and a really smelly one}. In addition, though, I always like to add a wow bite. And for me, those more often than not are Ina Garten’s Gruyère Cheese Puffs. The first time K tried these, she asked “are these homemade?” To which I responded, “Sweetie, I only make homemade.” As you can imagine, this is now a running joke in our home.

Don’t let the above photo scare you. These cheese puffs are super easy to make, I promise.

Ina’s Gruyère Cheese Puffs

  • 1 cup milk {I use whole milk for the flavor but any milk will do}
  • 1/4 lb unsalted butter {I always use unsalted butter when baking}
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 extra-large eggs {make sure your eggs are at room temperature}
  • 1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat over to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the milk, butter, salt, pepper and nutmeg over medium heat, until scalded. Add the flour all at once and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes. The flour will begin to coat the bottom of the pan.
  3. Pour this mixture into your kitchen aid mixer bowl and immediately add the eggs, Gruyère and parmesan and mix until eggs are incorporated and the dough is smooth and thick.
  4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag {I use a large zip lock bag and cut off one corner}. Pipe onto the lined baking sheet in a round {similar in size to a golf ball}. With a wet finger, lightly press down the swirl at the top of each puff. Brush the top of each puff lightly with egg wash {made with 1 egg and 1 tsp. of water whisked} and top with a pinch of Gruyère cheese.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Voila! You are done. Give them a try and let me know if you house guests love them as much as mine!

Celebrate

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Wishing one of my favorites Food52 a very happy birthday! For all of you who don’t know Food52, please allow me to make an introduction.

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Food52 was started by these two lovely ladies. Amanda Hesser, formerly of The New York Times and Merrill Stubbs, a former caterer {and Flour counter girl}. These two set out to create a community for chefs, both trained and novice, to exchange recipes, shares stories and support one another. And what a community they’ve created. From cookbooks to a podcast to an online store, Amanda and Merrill have reminded us the importance of food and sharing it with those we love.

Looking for inspiration? Look no further than Food52. But be warned, 10 minutes can easily turn into an hour… it’s just that good! And good news, they are offering free shipping on all orders placed today in honor of their big day. I just purchased these muffin molds and can’t wait for them to arrive.

I will leave you with their cooking manifesto:

  • If you cook, your family will eat dinner together.
  • If you cook, you will naturally have a more sustainable household.
  • If you cook, you’ll set a lifelong example for your children.
  • If you cook, you’ll understand what goes into food and will eat more healthily.
  • If you cook, you’ll make your home an important place in your life.
  • If you cook, you’ll make others happy.
  • If you cook, people will remember you.

*Photo credits: Food52

Opening Day

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It’s a very exciting day here in Boston as the much anticipated Boston Public Market officially opened its doors at 11 am. K and I are heading there after work {hours are 8 am to 8 pm, Wed-Sun I believe} and I can’t wait. Be sure to check out my Instagram feed this evening as I’m sure I won’t be able to control myself with the food photos!

I remember the first time I went to Chelsea Market {back in 2009} and wishing my beloved city had such an incredible space dedicated to all things food. Little did I know that the Boston Public Market has been in the works since 2001. According to the BPM website “In 2001, a group of food producers, restaurateurs, and food lovers gathered to form the Boston Public Market Association. After years of work advocating for the development of a public market in Boston, they gained the support of elected officials and helped identify a permanent site for the market.” But worth the wait it is as it’s the only locally sourced market of its kind in the United States. Everything sold at the Boston Public Market is produced or originates in New England.

The list of vendors is impressive too. Union Square Donuts, Mother Juice, Bon Me, Cellars at Jasper Farm, Sweet Lydia’s and Sienna Farms. My kitchen, tummy and fridge will be so pleased.

In the Kitchen

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#TacoTuesday has become a tradition at Melrose Place {our city abode}. At least twice a month, on Tuesday of course, I try a new taco recipe. I have about a 95% success rate, with one tragic night taking place a few weeks back with a Jamaican jerk chicken recipe. K’s favorite thus far was a honey-lime sweet potato, corn and black bean recipe.

Sometimes, though, I just crave a basic taco like the ones my mom use to make using the Ortega taco dinner kit. Since my mom doesn’t eat meat, she would use ground turkey. I have realized, though,  that those little seasoning packages just aren’t  a good idea. With a little research, and keeping my spice cabinet full of delicious blends from Ambrosia {an island must}, I developed my own taco seasoning. Mix 2 tablespoons of this with ground turkey, a can of garbanzo beans and some kale, and you have yourself a healthy and delicious taco.

May’s Taco Seasoning

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. black pepper

2 Tbs. chili powder

1 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tsp. sea salt

1 Tbs. ground cumin

In my opinion, the key to a great taco are all the fixings. Soft corn tortillas, avocados, chopped tomato, shredded cabbage, cilanto and cotija cheese are terrific additions. Give this a try. I promise, you’ll be having a #tacotuesday tradition soon enough!

In the Kitchen

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Happy Friday, friends! First off, I just want to thank you for your beautiful words regarding yesterday’s post. I am truly humbled and feeling quite blessed for having all of you in my life. Now onto my other love, entertaining.

Today I wanted to share my menu from a recent sips + snacks party we held on the deck. In my 12 years of city living, I’ve never had a deck. And now, K and I have a deck the size of our bedroom, which makes outdoor entertaining a must {especially after the winter we had}!

For cocktail parties, I like to keep the menu simple* with items that can be served at room temperature and are easily replenishable. I have been on a mezze kick as of late and thus decided to do a spread of four different mezze/dips with crudité. Each and every time I am putting together a party menu, my first go-to is my collection of Ina cookbooks. I decided on her Tzatziki and baba ganoush but knew I needed to add one or two more. While perusing Pinterest for inspiration, I found a beet root hummus and Moroccan spiced roasted carrot dip, which both turned out to be my favorite. K said the carrot dip was a pleasant surprise.

Dips always need a “vessel” (a term of endearment from my catering days) and thus I had plenty of pita on hand and a selection of crudité. I blanched the asparagus for 3 minutes in boiling water and then placed them immediately in an ice bath to stop the cooking. The result is a perfectly crisp and bright green asparagus spear. For the carrots, I did a simple peel and chop and then placed them in a plastic container with water. This helps to keep the carrots crisp. I quartered the radishes and did an ever so slight sprinkle of salt on top. And for the green beans and squash, a simple chop was all they needed. Next time around, I might omit the green beans and instead do some cucumber spears.

Another catering trick {which is oh so helpful for your guests}, label your food. I had these Moglea watercolor tags on hand and the colors matched our mezze spread perfectly. A little bakers twine around the jelly jars and voila!

I included my *asterisk above because although this spread of mezze was technically easy, it was a bit time consuming. In the end, though, well worth it. Looking to entertain this summer, I highly recommend this delicious and beautiful mezze spread.

Summer Bucket List

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Putting pen to paper to create my seasonal bucket list is how I like to greet each new season. I’ll admit I was 50/50 on last year’s list so hoping the below is a little more attainable. I’ll keep you posted!

1. Fly away in a hot air balloon.

2. Indulge my inner-child with the Harry Potter book series.

3. Fish

4. Explore the Boston Harbor Islands.

5. Master a ceviche recipe.

6. Rent a Hubway and explore all the wonderful new green spaces in my city, including The Green Way, Lawn on D, and The Arnold Arboretum.

7. Brave the Cape traffic and head to the iconic Wellfleet Drive-in for a night at the movies.

8. Explore the Catskills.

9. Work on my tennis game.

10. I am 33/50 in my dining experiences at the Top 50 Restaurants {according to Boston magazine}. I’d like to make it to 40. Thinking I will try No. 9 Park for lunch, Spoke Wine Bar one night after work, Bergamont for date night, Puritan & Company for brunch, Bistro du Midi for an early bite, Bronwyn for a long overdue dinner with my brother Travis and L’Espalier for afternoon tea. Anyone want to join me?