Friday, February 25, 2011


 So, my friend Mary had a Groupon expiring for this restaurant, so we traded, she got my Cross Country Ski Groupon at Weston Ski and I got her one for $40 for dinner at Mantra.  I hate to say this, but I think I got the better end of this deal.  So, I went after work during the week.  There was a corporate event that night, so it was pretty crowded.  I didn't make a reservation, so the only table was a high top just off the bar.  Not my first choice, but I decided to go with the flow.  After a long wait, the wait staff found me.

I started with garlic and spinach naan.  This was like listening to a beautiful musical solo playing all the parts of a complicated harmony.
 The naan came with this tomato cranberry chutney.  This was very good, the right balance of sweet and acid, but it was served super cold, not to my liking.
 This is the main dish, Goat Cheese and Potato Tikki--Caramelized eggplant, sautéed spinach and tomato coulis with fenugreek.  The tomato coulis was out of this world.  The spinach was a bit salty.  I enjoyed the presentation, but I needed a sharper knife to cut the eggplant skin.
I still had some money left, so I went the bread pudding at my server's suggestion.  This was a dessert for dessert lovers (that would me!).  It had fresh fruit, chocolate sauce, ice cream, carmel sauce and white chocolate crumbles.

Next time I'm going to the Naan bar (and I hope my Dad is in town for that adventure).

Thursday, February 24, 2011

More Melts!

Okay, this was my favorite this week!  The left over Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese, some pancetta and onions cooked a little pancetta grease. I know that sounds so much more worse than it is, in fact it was so yummy.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I talk to my Dad almost every day.  Many of our conversations are about what to eat or how to prepare something.  When you live alone, you have a different perspective on meals.  I miss the evening family meal, but I can have that with my Dad and our cell phones.  We were talking the other days about pizza and he said that he had been having melts on flat bread as a quick pizza alternative.

So, this started me on the path, nothing is quite like a warm melty sandwich on these cold days.  This is roast beef with some leftover cheese I had in the fridge, cooked in the broiler until yum!

Here is today's sandwich, turkey, muenster cheese, yellow tomato, oil olive and mustard.  So yummy when you know you have to go out and shovel and it gives you a little extra.

Monday, February 21, 2011

I can't help myself Buffalo Mozzarella

So, I went to the store armed with a list.  I had been home sick a few days before, so bread was what I really needed to keep things calm.  I was starving (never, never do this, I know this!).  Then I walk by the table, ohhhh, I asked "What is that?", Buffalo Mozzarella, no vinegar in the brine, I had one taste.....
You know where this is going.  It was sweet, creamy, not salty,  and melted on my tongue.   Hey, cheese goes with bread right?

So then I go to bread section, they over baked for the school vacation so buy one get one free. Oh man this bad for me.  Then I see these yellow vine ripe tomatoes, fresh basil after a small backtrack.  I'm done. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Gravy Train Braised Chicken and Tamarind Roasted Vegetables

A friend was having surgery and I wanted to make a dinner to bring over for her and her family.  I went with the braised chicken, but they only like the thighs, so I just used them (I still put some pear under the skin).

The chicken is from a previous post Braised Chicken and the veggies are from from The Splendid Table Newsletter.  I love her show on NPR and listen to the pod casts. Here is the recipe:

Tamarind-Spice Glazed Roast of Brussels Sprouts, Onions and Chickpeas

Serves 3 to 4, and doubles easily
10 minutes prep time; 40 minutes oven time
Serve hot, at room temperature, or reheated. The roast keeps for 2 days in the refrigerator.

Tart, slightly sweet and subtly spiced, this is the soft side of Indian spicing. Along with the sweetness of onions, you'll taste the hint of orange that ground coriander always brings, the funkiness of cumin, and the sweet nutlike quality of roasted chickpeas.

Piled in a soup bowl with a finish of tamarind and plain whole-milk yogurt, the roast is a full supper. That touch of tamarind brings up all the other flavors.

Add a scoop of rice to the bowl and that, combined with the chickpeas in the recipe, will give you a complete protein – the same nutrition as eating a chunk of meat, but without the fat.

Cook to Cook: Tamarind tastes of dense, sour dried fruit with a strong sense of citrus and a lingering sweetness. You must try it. You can find tamarind concentrate in Asian, Hispanic, and Mediterranean groceries, and in some supermarkets. The brand we like is Tamcon. Once opened, it keeps for a year in the refrigerator. Tamarind drizzled in whole-milk yogurt is the stuff of dreams.
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 2 tightly-packed tablespoons fresh coriander leaves
  • One 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 to 3/4 pound Brussels sprouts, quartered
  • 1 large or 2 medium red onions, cut into 1/4-inch wide wedges
  • 1 tightly-packed cup arugula, curly endive, or spring mix, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • One 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon Crossover Spice Blend (recipe follows), or a blend of ground coriander, ground cumin, and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate, or 1-1/2 tablespoons lime juice with a little grated zest and 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons cold-pressed vegetable oil or good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk or low-fat yogurt (optional)
  1. Heat the oven to 450°F, and put a large shallow pan on the middle rack (a half-sheet pan is ideal because you don’t want to crowd the vegetables).
  2. In a food processor, combine the garlic, fresh coriander leaves, and ginger. Process until chopped fine – don’t puree them.
  3. Turn the mix into a large bowl. Add all the other ingredients except the finishing seasonings. Toss to blend. Carefully turn the mixture out onto the hot pan, spreading the pieces to cover the entire pan. Roast for about 40 minutes, turning often and scraping up the brown glaze from the pan's bottom. Once the peppers are tender, the greens browned, and the chickpeas crisp, the roasting is done. Brussels sprouts may still have some firmness, which is fine.
  4. Taste the vegetables for seasoning, then turn them into a serving bowl. If using the tamarind, blend it in. Drop the coriander leaves over the vegetables, and pass the yogurt separately.
Crossover Spice Blend
Makes about 3/4 cup
Keeps for 3 to 4 months in a dark, cool cupboard
There is a trio of spices that easily crosses borders from North Africa to the Middle East, to India, to Mexico: cumin, coriander, and pepper. Make up this foundation blend, then alter where needed as you take it from cuisine to cuisine. For instance, Morocco might demand the addition of sweet paprika, while an Indian recipe could call for more coriander and black pepper, and Mexico more cumin and the addition of ground chiles.

Rub or sprinkle the blend over vegetables and meats when roasting, sauté it into stews and soups, and use it as a finishing spice on salads and grains. Try mixing the blend with an equal amount of brown sugar and rubbing it into meats before placing them on the grill. That same mix offers a new take on grilled fresh pineapple.

Cook to Cook: You can tease even more flavor from Crossover Spice Blend by freshly grinding whole cumin and coriander seeds.
  • 1/4 cup ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup ground coriander
  • 1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) freshly-ground black pepper
Blend the spices together in a jar, and seal. Store away from heat and light.

I didn't make the crossover blend, but when I delivered the meal my friends ate the tamarind with the chicken and said it was delicious.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Winner is.....

 So, in December I had a contest for what was in your pantry.  Jeanne was the winner so on my last trip to NYC we made a cooking date.  She picked the menu, Thanksgiving Lasagna,  Jeanne is an long time friend that I do not see that as much as I'd like, when we do get together, it is full of fun.

I have not had a cooking date in awhile, so it was great fun.  Jeanne's daughter has been doing a lot of the cooking and she is a vegetarian, so she wanted to make something that would be enjoyed by everyone.

The recipe was easy and it helped to buy many of the ingredients pre-cut.  It was fun to spend time visiting and cooking, not just cooking to get  the meal on the table.  It was easy to assemble, and ready to go into the oven.
 Now, here is the way to enjoying cooking!

The finished product!  Here is the recipe, cut from a magazine.  I couldn't find where it was from, but I do have the scan of it. Saving clippings, now that is a topic for late.
It was a wonderful visit and I got many envious looks on the trip back to Boston when I ate my dinner. 

Maybe you will the winner of the next contest!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Snow Blindness--Brunch at Masa

 So the snow has beaten us down here in Boston.  I had to get out and about after a week of snow, sleeping over at work. What started out as a trip to Salam for Ice Sculptures and Chocolate, turned into ice sculpting in my driveway, so after I cleaned up for the 2nd time, I just went to brunch in the south end.  I read about Masa in the Boston Globe.  So I was looking forward to trying this place out.  There was some confusion when I arrived.  I opted to sit at the bar, but it was more work that I would have liked, I had to get up to give my order after my neighbors left me their menu.  I also had to ask them to clean off the spot next to me.  But after I got over that,,,,pure joy.
I started with the Caramelized Plantain Empanada / Mexican Cinnamon Cream Cheese.  Oh this was just yummy.  Then came the next course, Santa Fe Style Eggs Benedict Atop Southwestern Biscuits
Avocado, Green Chile Hollandaise and Southwest Home Fries.  The hollandaise was dreamy, with a good amount of lemon and a nice bite.  The pico de Gallo was wonderful, fresh tomato and cilantro and onion. 

I will give the place another try, but sit at a table and see if I can get a ride so I can try one of those great drinks.