Sunday, February 26, 2012

Moving On and Up . . . and over to African Studies!

Amazing coworkers sending me off right!
Given the title of my blog, I suppose I owe everyone an update on my academic life as well, given you know probably everything there is about my life with food! I've managed to find a good way to relate the two though. My first day of my new job starts tomorrow - I'll be working at the Committee on African Studies, focused in part on their student programs and grants. I'm very excited to get back to a more student-focused position and be more integrated into campus life than in my prior position in development/fundraising. I've found myself even more excited now, following a delicious brunch with good work friends at Teranga, a Senegalese restaurant in the South End, which I've written about before! I also had a wonderful friend treat me to dinner there the other weekend as a congrats on my new African job!

Such a great place, made even greater following a visit from the owner Marie-Claude this morning! She is an impressive woman and pulled up a chair to chat with us this morning. Last summer she debuted on 'Chopped' and kicked butt, winning the competition and a whopping $10,000 that we hope she is using to open a 2nd restaurant, fingers crossed, in the Cambridge area!!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Dining in the North End

111 Salem Street, North End, Boston

Back in November (yes, as in 4 months ago) a coworker of mine was having a condo-warming party and to rally the troupes I got a group of us to all grab dinner in the North End before heading to the party. There are definitely pros and cons of the North End, but I can't ever turn down good Italian food so I'm always on the lookout for new places with good reviews in the area. I had seen Benevento's on none other than the Phantom Gourmet, and I was able to make a reservation for 6 people on OpenTable. We were all happy that we all got seated as soon as our entire party was there without having to wait!
The place is kind of small, but at least they take reservations. Our server was very friendly and their menu was pretty extensive, including the usual favorites you'd expect to find in the North End. I had seen Phantom Gourmet review their pizza, so that's the part of the menu I was there for. A few of us got two pizzas and shared so that we could try two different kinds - the Vanessa's Pesto: grilled chicken, pesto sauce, caramelized onoins, pecorino romano cheese, and mozzarella; and the traditional Margherita pizza, with diced tomatoes, mozzarella, basil.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day Dinner In!

It was so relaxing last night to spend the night in for Valentine's Day - cook a nice dinner and enjoy a good movie in with my valentine! We've been eating out a lot lately so we agreed that something lighter would be a good idea - I set off to think about my bf's favorite ingredients and how to incorporate those into the meal. Bananas, good cheese, dark chocolate, scallions, asian flavors ... and this is what I came up with!

Caprese Salad
Very simple, fresh Italian salad made with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, fresh basil and a little olive oil, salt and pepper
Crunchy Shrimp with a Ginger Orange Sauce over couscous and roasted asparagus
Panko breaded pan fried shrimp with flavors of ginger, cilantro, citrus and cumin, served with Israeli pearl couscous (with toasted almonds and scallions), and roasted asparagus with just a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and cumin.
Almost Vegan Chocolate Banana Pie
I attempted a new recipe, which always makes me a little nervous, but I had a little faith in this one and it turned out just like it was supposed to! I knew it was a success when a special someone went for a 2nd slice!

This recipe was 'almost' vegan because I didn't have the energy to figure out how to make a vegan pie crust. The filling followed the vegan guidelines though I think! The secret to this somewhat healthy pie was an entire container of silken tofu - yes, tofu.

Recipe follows ....

Monday, February 6, 2012

Spinach Chicken Parmesan

There are a few different ways to make chicken parmesan and although I don't make it the same way every time, there are some staples to what makes a good chicken parm! I usually try to add some veggies into the mix - be it spinach, or veggies into the tomato sauce, I feel better about eating this somewhat heavy dish when it has some nutritional value.

There's a little bit of prep involved with making chicken parm. One of the most important parts is having a good tomato sauce - whether it's a homemade sauce or your favorite pre-made tomato sauce, or just some diced tomatoes sauteed with herbs and garlic - just make sure it's the sauce you like best! This time around I just sauteed some diced cherry tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and basil instead of making up a big batch of tomato sauce.

As you can see above, putting the chicken together is the other important part of the dish! You should take out two shallow bowls - in one you can whisk up an egg with a couple TB of milk, and in the other just some italian seasoned breadcrumbs. If you're using thicker chicken breasts, you'll want to slice in half horizontally so that they don't take forever to cook through. In a saute pan, over medium heat, add a couple TB of olive oil. Dip the chicken breasts in the egg wash first, then the breadcrumbs, then transfer to the hot pan. You don't have to worry about cooking the chicken 100% through because it will continue to bake through when you put the dish in the oven, but you'll probably cook for about 5-6 mins per side.