Saturday, June 30, 2012

Basil Tree Catering

Just last month I learned that one perk of working in an office that hosts events is that catering companies reach out to you to see if you'd like to sample their food! This was a foodie's dream! Basil Tree Catering, based here in Cambridge, offered to set up a sample lunch for me and a coworker but then I offered to bring together some of my coworkers in other offices to have more people exposed to the name and food! It was sort of like I got to host my own little girls lunch party for free - not a bad part of the workday a couple weeks ago. Basil Tree explains that they have an Earth Friendly approach to catering - trying to reduce waste and engage in green practices wherever possible, which is nice with catering where you typically see the exact opposite of those things.
On the day of our sample lunch Mindy, from Basil Tree, came by right on time and set up this lovely spread for us, recyclable table cloth and all. She explained all of the food and there were probably 8 of us from different centers across the university. The menu included:
Rosemary Lemon Grilled Shrimp
Roasted Pepper & Mozzarella Crostini
An assortment of their fresh sandwiches: 
Fresh Mozzarella & Sundried Tomato, The Vermonter, Falafel wrap, Caesar Salad Wrap
Sundried Tomato Tortellini Salad
Southwest Sweet Potato Salad
Selection of our Seasonal Mini Desserts
Earth Friendly Paper Goods

I think it's safe to say that we were all impressed with the diverse options and quality of the food. Probably the only thing that didn't float my boat was the Crostini, because it seemed like it was the type of menu item that should've been served right from the toaster or oven, not served chilled. Everything else though was delicious! I want to try and make a version of the Southwest Sweet Potato Salad myself - a nice alternative to the traditional mayonnaise filled potato salad you see at all the summer bbqs (and you all know how much I loathe mayo!). I tried a half of the falafel wrap which was great - served on a lavash bread. I think we all went back for seconds and would definitely use them for future events! We asked a lot of questions and had acceptable answers for all of them - they have box lunches, breakfast menu options, monthly specials to target the customer that can't necessarily afford their more expensive options. They're a little more pricey than we could justify for a casual lunch event, but for some of our faculty events or meetings they could be perfect!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Never a shortage of pizza options

Emma's Pizza
40 Hampshire Street, Kendall Square - Cambridge
The Kendall Square area has really exploded in the last couple of years so I'm always up for exploring it further. My friend and I tried out Emma's Pizza, whose claim to fame on their website is "carefully crafted thin crust since the 60's" so they're not one of the new restaurants in the area. They have a little counter to order take out from, and also a small dining room with lots of uniquely decorate pizza peels hanging up on the walls around the restaurant.
They have such a long menu of pizza options on the list, which made it very difficult to decide! We opted for their Pedro's Guacamole - tangy and garlicky for dipping their homemade flatbread chips into. Delicious - but much too large of a portion for just 2 people and not enough dipping chips for the large quantity of dip (also a bit pricey at $8.95). The salads we saw coming out of the kitchen also looked good!
As for their pizzas, they have 3 different types of sauces to choose from as the base for your pizza. Rather than making our own, we trusted 2 of the chef's creations and got a large pizza divided into two different kinds. The first half was the #3 - baby spinach, roasted sweet potato, caramelized onions, garlic, rosemary sauce, mozzarella and goat cheese. The rosemary sauce they have is described as a spicier tomato sauce with fresh rosemary, but even my very sensitive tongue didn't think this sauce was too spicy, so you're safe if you're like me and don't like spice! For the other half we chose their most simple pizza - #2 - cherry tomato, basil, garlic, traditional sauce and mozzarella, but also had them add broccoli to it. I loved that it wasn't such tiny pieces of broccoli that you couldn't even tell it was there - nice bite size chunks! Both of the pizzas were great - we ate the whole pie! I think I liked the sweet potato one better, but only because it was different than the usual. With 23 other pizzas on the menu I could easily come back here and find another two halves to try out! We were also tempted by the pressed sandwiches - in particular the roasted veggie one. Not the place for a big group, but nice intimate feeling for a couple of friends catching up over a long dinner!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Ginger Soy Marinade

Ginger Soy Marinade
cilantro (2 frozen cubes if you don't have fresh on hand)
2 tsp minced garlic
1 TB honey
2 TB lite soy sauce
salt and pepper
3 TB olive oil
fresh lime juice and zest from 1/2 of a lime
2 tsp fresh finely chopped ginger
1 TB water

Mix all of the above ingredients together and use as a marinade or as a sauce to add once you've cooked your dish. I used a bunch of veggies and chicken breast and it worked really well. The sauce isn't too salty - I think adding the little bit of water helped and you could really taste the fresh ginger and citrus. The flavor might be a little bit strong for the lighter taste of shrimp, but maybe just use less of the sauce. Thankfully this sauce also doesn't get too thick or syrupy.
I had some leftover brown rice I was able to use but if you're making fresh rice you could try out this recipe here for Cilantro Lime Rice:
1 TB oil
1 cup rice
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2-3 cloves garlic
2 TB fresh lime juice
zest from one lime
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tsp salt

Heat the oil on low, add the garlic and rice - saute for about 2 mins. Add the broth, salt and lime juice, bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low for 15 minutes (depending on brown vs. white rice), when rice is done - add lime zest and cilantro, stir all together! Brown rice takes a lot longer to cook - so this recipe tends to work better with white but the extra flavors do nicely cover the sometimes grainy flavor of brown rice.