Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Raspberry Chocolate Crumb Squares

The raspberry square is a classic dessert. Most recipes call for jam or a combination of jam and fresh raspberries. I like a little tartness provided by using only fresh. By adding cornstarch, the raspberries form a jam-like consistency. A little lemon juice with a controlled amount of sugar allows you to adjust the the level of tartness. I just so happened to have some mini chocolate chips on hand and added some to the filling. Naturally! With lemon zest and an almond crust, this is an extremely delicious and very festive dessert that will not last very long at any gathering!  I topped off the dessert with powdered sugar and some lemon vanilla icing.  If you are in a chocolate mood, chocolate sauce is great (there could never be enough chocolate!), but I really enjoyed the lemon vanilla icing with powdered sugar. It was like a streusel!  Like most of my recipes, you can veganize this one and replace the butter with Earth Balance and use an egg substitute. I would recommend trying out some different berries such as cherries, blackberries or blueberries. Whatever happens to be season or available. This is an easy recipe with many possibilities.

1 1/2 cups flour
2 cups fresh raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1 stick butter
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup slivered almonds, ground
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
dash of salt
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon Lemon zest

1.5 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons soy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1.5 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a tart pan or 9X9 baking dish. Combine flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in butter until it is a course crumble. Stir in the egg, extract, and almonds. Spread 2/3 of the mixture into prepared tart pan. Reserve 1/3 of the mixture for the topping. In a separate bowl, combine the raspberries with 1/4 cup of sugar and cornstarch. Mash gently with a fork. Spread evenly over the crust. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips over raspberry mixture followed by lemon zest, and remaining topping.

Bake for 40 minutes or until the topping is golden brown. Let cool for at least 15 minutes (if you can wait that long!). Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Mix ingredients for vanilla icing. Add more or less milk for desired consistency. Drizzle icing over raspberry squares. 

This crust is perfect!


Now that we talking festive, delicious and jam-like... be sure to check out Boston local band, Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys ! Listen to their new album, SteamShipKillers on the website.  They are a must see live! 


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Kickin Beef Soup

This is the season for soup. Whether you are sick and in need of an elixir, or just want something warm. This will do the trick. The srircha adds a nice kick in combination with the full flavor of the seasoned beef.  You'll also get a nice dose of protein, vitamins and minerals from the brussels sprouts, fennel, red peppers and tomato. Fennel is packed with Niacin, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Folate, Potassium and Manganese. Read up on FennelYou can replace the beef with tofu and use vegetable stock for a vegeterian/vegan soup. It is simply delicious, low in calories, nutritious and very comforting!!


1lb stew chunk beef
1 fennel, chopped
1 lb. Brussels sprouts cut in half
2 red peppers chopped
1 tablespoon cardamon
1.5 tsp cinnamon
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tablespoon cumin
~2 tablespoons sriracha chili sauce
~1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
 2 tomatoes, chopped
 1 8oz. can crushed tomato

Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a large pot. Add beef. Season with cardamon, cinnamon, paprka, garlic salt, cumin. Cook until seared. Turn heat down to low. Cook Brussels sprouts, red peppers and fennel in separate pan. Add worcestershire sauce, sriracha and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 20min. Add to beef pot. Add tomatoes, followed by enough water to cover everything in pot. Bring to boil and reduce heat to a simmer. The longer it simmers the better (at least for a couple of hrs.). I recommend using a slow cooker.

Lots of flavor!

This alone would make a great dish!

I attended the Boston Music Awards at The Liberty Hotel (formerly the Charles Street Jail) on November 20th. Among the winners were Freezepop - Best Electronic Act, Viva Viva - Rock Artist of the Year, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper - Singer Songwriter of the Year, Shea Rose - R&B/Soul/Urban Contemporary Artist of the Year, Dead Cats Dead Rats - Punk Artist of the Year, The Dropkick Murphys  took home two awards, Live Artist of The Year & Artist of the Year. There were so many great live performances. All were winners! Among them were Bodega GirlsThe WandasEmperor Norton's Stationary Marching Band who performed outside the hotel!  Check out a recap and full list of winners and nominees on Boston Music Spotlight and on the BMA Facebook page.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Crepe Making with Dore Creperie!

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of learning the fine art of crepe making at Dore Creperie. Vilas Dhar conducts classes at this "pop-up" restaurant as another way of bringing more buzz to the location in downtown Boston. Read more about about Vilas and his Dore Creperie Pop-Up on
Crepe making demonstration with Vilas and Rob

There were eight of us in the class. We sat and listened to a brief presentation about the history of the crepe. Then we were split up into pairs and given tasks. We made crepe batter which consisted of eggs, melted butter, flour and sugar for the sweet crepe, and the savory batter had some herbs; Rosemary, thyme, oregano and a couple of others that I am forgetting. We then learned how to make crepes on the crepe stone! It is definitely more difficult than it looks! Vilas calls the wooden tool used to spread the batter around the stone 'a dowel'. It seems that the interwebs calls it a 'Trowel Spreader'. This small tool evenly distributes the thin batter allowing for a nice, crispy crepe. A very important tool, indeed! We then chose our fillings. For me, I chose a sweet variety with bananas, brown sugar, walnuts and marshmallows with a little whipped creme and cinnamon on top. We all had fun sampling each of our creations! There was so much going on in the kitchen, and with customers sporadically coming in during the class. Vilas remained calm, cool and collected and kept the class fun and engaging. At Dore they are always experimenting with different recipes. Vilas earlier that day cooked up some caramelized oinions and made a focaccia dough. He did not have time to finish and make the bread, so my food blogger buddy, Rachel who invited me to the event, volunteered me to finish the bread! I gladly agreed and made a few loaves of focaccia! It was my first time making focaccia, so it was risky. Luckily it came out pretty good and everyone enjoyed eating it. I would've made some cookies, but they were out of vanilla and sugar. This was the first I was let loose in an industrial kitchen and I would have whipped up many more baked goods that evening! With some good music, great company and the right tools, the atmosphere was perfect for cooking!

An added bonus, foccacia!

Dore will be closing its doors on November 19th. I highly recommend stopping in if you can and trying the bananas foster or the elvis crepes. The elvis contains bananas, peanut butter, and bacon! Vilas cooks the bacon on the crepe stone first and then adds the remaining ingredients. The flavors meld together perfectly. 

It is sad that Dore will be closing, but Vilas and partners are planning another pop-up in the near future. Keep a look out for the next pop-up restaurant near you!

In addition to having great pop-up restaurants, Boston also has a thriving local music scene. I would like to feature a new band with each blog post whenever possible. This evening of crepe making reminds me of a local band called The Cinnamon Fuzz I once had the privilege of sharing the stage with at Church of Boston about a year ago when playing with The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library. Check out their techy, new-wave synth pop EP, Cruise of The Century with songs like Reboot My Heart! Let's see if you recognize the special guest with red hair appearing at the end of the You Tube video!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pumpkin Peanut Butter and Liver Dog Treats with a Dog Halloween Parade Recap

 I was inspired to make some treats for my dog, Pluto after seeing the annual dog Halloween costume parade at Tomkins Square Park while visiting New York. It was a beautiful fall day with many adorable dogs and creative costumes! My favorite was Borat. Here is a link to my photo album with pictures from the event: Parade pictures The dogs seemed so proud and happy to show off their costumes! They were definitely trained to wear the costumes with some very yummy treats. Evermore Pet Food had a booth set up with some samples for the dogs. The samples looked like Pâté. I decided to make some Liver Treats when I returned back to Boston. I also found a Pumpkin Peanut Butter biscuit recipe. Pluto loved both. The liver treats were difficult to stomach while preparing. I will spare you from seeing pictures of ground up raw meat being spread onto a baking dish. Not very appetizing for sure! This was my first time cooking liver. The recipe requires that you blend the liver. It looked like a liver milkshake. Again, I will spare you... unless you really need to see the pics for the recipe. I will provide them upon request. The smell while cooking is pretty distinctive and not pleasant. Windows were opened even though it was cold outside! Pluto was loving it. Dogs will go crazy for these treats. They are great for training if you can handle the prep! The pumpkin peanut butter biscuits are great for a fall themed gift. Play around with the recipes and add different ingredients. Dog treats are very easy to make. Both recipes will make enough to last for a while. I may never purchase dog biscuits again and have fun while creating my own!

Borat stole the show!

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