Monday, May 25, 2009
As I write this, I'm heating up the Foreman for a grilled cheese sandwich. The nice thing about using the grill for these is you don't need to use any butter, so you save some fat and calories there, and you still get a nice, golden, crunchy outer crust. Grilled cheese was my favorite sandwich growing up, and I've stayed a fan as an adult, but lately, I really can't get enough of them!
I especially love grilled cheese with ketchup. Most people think this is really strange, but if you think about it, it makes sense. What side dish do you usually get with grilled cheese sandwiches? French fries. You put ketchup on french fries, right? From there it's one step to the sandwich itself. Delicious!
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Lately my standard go-to meal has been turkey burgers with crudites. The burgers only take about seven minutes on the grill, and I use that time to prep the veggies. They are nice and cool and crunchy - perfect for a hot evening like tonight.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
1 S. Main St.
White River Junction, VT
There's a new coffee shop in town, and boy, did we need it! Hanover coffee king Dirt Cowboy closes at 6 pm, and going there on a Saturday means finding (and paying for) parking in the congested downtown area. But newcomer Tuckerbox, across from the train station in WRJ, is exactly one mile from our place -- a pleasant walk across a bridge and through a park.
Their espresso-based drinks are excellent. On this trip , Dan got a mocha.
And of course, we had to try the peanut butter and bacon sandwich. I wasn't sure I would like it, but how could we pass it up? When else would we get the chance? It was just so odd -sounding that we had to try it.
It was tastier than I expected, but I wouldn't necessarily order it again. I think it was missing something. Maybe it would be better with Nutella? I wanted more of a jolt, more contrast between the bacon and the peanut butter. The bacon, from Claremont's North County Smokehouse, was excellent.
The star menu item, though, is the beignets. These puffy little donuts are served hot and tossed with your choice of seasoning - cinnamon sugar, vanilla sugar, or spicy chocolate powder. The texture is absolutely perfect - light and fluffy on the inside, with a perfectly crisp crust.
But, they are deep fried. So as much as I have enjoyed my visits to Tuckerbox so far - did I mention they have a huge wooden table, great for getting freelance done, and several comfy chairs? - I need to find a way to go there and not order beignets every single time. Luckily, their lunch options - salads, soups, and sandwiches - are much healthier.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Now that I've passed both of those hurdles, I'm turning my attention back to my poor, neglected blog. I'm blowing the dust off the keyboard and getting to work.
This week, I promise four (count 'em, four!) restaurant reviews, and next week I'll be back to posting actual meals that I cooked.
Thanks for sticking around. ;-)
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
(recipe via Jenny Bakes)
Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:
2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.
2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.
3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.
4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.
5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.
Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil "casserole" shaped pans from the grocery store. They're 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.
Prep notes: While the actual making of this cheesecake is a minimal time commitment, it does need to bake for almost an hour, cool in the oven for an hour, and chill overnight before it is served. Please plan accordingly!
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
To top it off, I dipped some strawberries in dark chocolate. Delicious!
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Dan had roast beef, turkey, cheddar, and red peppers in his sandwich, with apples slices and some leftover pasta salad (orzo with olive oil, tomato, and feta). His metabolism is so fast it should require a seatbelt, so he can handle the extra carbs.
These are store-bought mini pitas. I keep meaning to make pitas - they are really simple, only a handful of ingredients - but I just haven't had the time recently. Maybe next week!
Lately our grocery store has been having amazing specials on cheese, bringing our standard snacking cheddar down to only $2.99 a pound, so of course we've been stocking up. With all that cheese on hand, however, the danger is that we'll go overboard and eat way too much cheese (yes, hard to believe, but there is such a thing). So we've rationed it. I figure that between the two of us, one 8-oz bar of cheddar per week is sufficient (especially since that's not the only cheese we eat - that's just for simple snacks). When the price drops this low, the limit is six bars at a time, so in theory, the supply should last six weeks.
We've done shockingly well with this allotment, even having some bars of cheese last longer than a week. The timing also works out well because it seems like Price Chopper runs this special around every six weeks - so right as we're running out, we can stock up again. Perfect.
When we lived in London, there was a greater variety of cheap cheeses in the supermarkets there, and we enjoyed trying out as many different kinds as possible. I especially liked to toss some Red Leicester in my mac and cheese, and we enjoyed Stilton with apricots on oat cakes. Mmmm, yummy! And of course the cheddar was great - more sharp and crumbly than supermarket cheddar here. Hard to believe it's been four years since we moved back!
What are your favorite cheeses? Anything we should try? I'm thinking a cheese taste-test series on the blog would be an excellent excuse to buy more cheese!
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
But there is one caveat: throw a sandwich, even one I would normally gag at, on the grill, and bingo! I'm salivating. I think I first encountered the concept of panini when I first went to London at seventeen; there were a lot of little panini shops near my fashion school in the Tottenham Court Road area, and, other than the carrot-ginger soup from Pret a Manger, the panini became my favorite lunch option.
Last week was cold and drizzly here, and one day in particular was absolutely a grilled-cheese-and-tomato-soup kind of day. (Grilled cheese, of course, has always been the one exception to my sandwich indifference.) We had neither bread nor tomato soup nor ingredients for tomato soup on hand, so I called Dan and asked him to pick up sandwich fixings; by the time we got off the phone, we agreed that some kind of deli meat would be good. My only specific request was avocado (I'm on an avocado kick again) but left the details up to him.
He brought home turkey, roast beef, provolone, a tomato, some crimini mushrooms, and the obligatory avocado, along with a nice, crusty loaf of sourdough. We used everything for the sandwiches except the mushrooms (later served sauteed with scrambled eggs). After a few minutes on our little Foreman grill, the bread was toasty, the cheese was melted, and the combination was perfect. We ate at the kitchen table while tossing the Yahtzee dice, under cover of the skylight, hammered by the rain.
Monday, April 13, 2009
On Friday, I stocked up on lunch items and healthy snacks to prepare for my month-long stint in a real office. Working from home, I don't really plan what I eat, since I can just wander to the kitchen whenever I'm hungry and cook whatever I feel like. Since I won't be able to do that anymore, I want to have healthy options to bring for lunch and snacks. I splurged a bit and bought some pre-packaged items I usually avoid (e.g., individually-wrapped Laughing Cow cheese wedges, Breyer's yogurts with mix-ins, etc.), so our grocery bills will be higher this month, but I figure it's an okay price to pay in order to ensure that I don't get hungry mid-afternoon and hit the vending machine.
I also bought some Fiber One toaster pastries as a grab-and-go breakfast option; since I can no longer set my own work (and therefore sleep) hours, I may be in a rush some mornings and I figure one of those plus an apple is better (and cheaper) than heading to the Dirt Cowboy (local coffee shop) for a steamer and a pastry.