Posts Tagged ‘boston’

Brown Sugar Cafe & “Paradise Garden”

Yesterday night, I went out to dinner, and I chose Brown Sugar Cafe mostly because I had a hunkering for Thai food and I hadn’t gone out for something other than the occasional sandwich from Subway in quite a while.  If you haven’t been to Brown Sugar Cafe yet, you really need to make it out there. They’ve got plenty of meat-filled options, so take anyone there. Because, they’ve also got plenty of vegetarian options.

What I love about asian restaurants is that anything can be made vegetarian (i.e. the meat can be left out).

Looking through their extensive menu, I spent way too much time trying to make a choice. I chose Vegetarian Thai Spring Rolls for our appetizer; it came in 6 pieces with the house turnip sauce.  For my entree, I ended up narrowing my choices down to Red Curry, Pad Thai, Vegetable Fried Rice, Vegetarian Curry (extra vegetables and red curry with coconut milk), and this intriguing dish from the “Vegetarian Corner” section of the menu called Paradise Garden.

Paradise Garden won.

So what is Paradise Garden?  It is sauteed zucchini, bamboo strips, summer squash, Thai eggplant, cauliflower, snow peas, broccoli, carrots, celery, green beans, baby corn, green & red peppers and sweet basil leaves in mild red curry sauce. I had them make it spicy, because I love my red curry spicy, and I substituted brown rice for the white rice (because I love brown rice with Southeast Asian cuisine.

I’m pretty sure this dish won because it guaranteed a high and varied vegetable content,  and I love vegetables. Especially in curry. Also, this dish did not have tofu or eggs.  I have never been able to find a tofu dish I like (and I will try everyone’s dish at least once).  Now that I’ve tried tofu a solid dozen times, I do not ever want to eat more tofu.  Eggs, I love, hard-boiled, scrambled, as omelettes, but never in my rice or noodles.

This is Paradise Garden. It was Paradise. It was a Garden of Delicious.

paradise garden

Before Pumpkins Disappear This Year … Soup!

Usually when people are sick, Americans think, have some chicken noodle soup, stay in bed, and drink tea. Well, what do you give a vegetarian as a get-well food?  Normally, I’ll go for any soup – creamy tomato & basil is the easiest to make – but this time, I decided I wanted something a little different.  (If you’re still aching for Creamy Tomato Soup, try this recipe from The Food Network. Don’t forget to substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.)

Here’s magic:

pumpkin soup Image Source.

Pumpkin [Noodle] Soup (Approx. 4 Servings)

  • 1 lb. peeled pumpkin
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups milk
  • Grated nutmeg, a pinch
  • 1.5 ounces of spaghetti broken into small pieces
  • 6 tablespoons Freshly Grated Parmesan
  • Salt & Pepper, freshly ground, to taste
  1. Chop the pumpkin into 1-inch cubes.
  2. Heat the butter in a saucepan.  Add the onion and cook on medium heat until it softens. ~7 minutes.
  3. Stir in the pumpkin pieces and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the water and cook until the pumpkin is soft. ~15 minutes. Then, remove from heat.
  5. Process the soup in a blender, then return to pan.
  6. Stir in milk and nutmeg, season with salt & pepper.  Bring soup back to boil.
  7. Stir in the broken spaghetti and cook till pasta is done. Stir in the Parmesan and sprinkle again with nutmeg.
  8. Serve while hot!
  • I was recently taught how to make a pumpkin pie using real pumpkin (as opposed to canned purée) and phyllo dough, which completely expanded my pumpkin recipe range. Have you ever tried making pumpkin soup before?
  • Do you have any alternate versions of this recipe?
  • What’s your favorite soup when you are sick?

Nachos Nachos Nachos!

It’s a Saturday night and I’ve a bunch of homework to do (I know, I know, most college students go out on Saturday nights … I’d prefer a movie or a nice book at home. Call me granny if you want to.), and of course I’m looking for every possible method of procrastination. I might call up my friend Karen to see if she wants to go to Sunset. Where we would get beer, but more importantly, nachos. Now, nachos could really mean any manner of things, but the nachos I’d get here are a vast improvement from the nachos I used to eat at Target when I was 6 years old.

Case in point:

1. Nachos at Target – Tasteless tortilla chips doused with heated queso. I’d get jalapeños on these nachos just because otherwise those nachos were boring…

2. South of the Border Fiesta Nachos at Sunset Grill & Tap / Sunset Cantina – Here’s the description, straight from the menu: Hot nachos topped with choice of chili (Vegetarian, Taco Beef Black Beans) , jalapenos, scallions, tomatoes, black olives, jack and cheddar cheeses, shredded lettuce, guacamole, sour cream and salsa.  You can get the guac, sour cream, and salsa on the side, and you can substitute BBQ pulled pork, or add in BBQ/Cajun/Buffalo chicken. Or something. Choose a meat if you don’t want vegetarian chili, basically. But if you’re reading this blog, you’re probably looking to keep the veggie.

While rooting around the interwebs, I found a blog titled El Tour Del Nacho, written by several students in Boston who made it their mission to try and rank nachos all around Boston.  While I’m appalled that they’d rank it as such – they give Sunset the Bronze Medal for most delicious Nachos. They hold fast to The Pour House as the Gold Medal Champion. However, they give you a comprehensive analysis on the nachos. If this seems excessive, you must be new to the area. Or not from the South.

3. Repeat mention: The OTHERSIDE Nachos – I’ve professed my love for these nachos before, on this blog, but here it is again: This plate of delicious starts with a bed of tortilla chips topped with melted cheddar, jalapeños, their homemade vegetarian chili and salsa.

If you’re at home and you’re strapped for ingredients, try this twist:

Simple Nachos

  • Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • Scallions/Jalapeños
  • Tortilla Chips – Choose a brand that ISN’T Tostitos and you’re golden
  1. Sprinkle the cheese and scallions/jalapeños on the chips to your heart’s content.
  2. Microwave 30 seconds (or less if you’ve got a really powerful microwave. The cheese should not start bubbling.)
  3. Eat!
  • What are your thoughts?
  • Do you make nachos at home?
  • If so, what do you put on them?

Oatmeal Craisin White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, the National Eating Holiday, er, I mean, Day of Thanks (for tasty, tasty desserts, right?), here is a recipe for the delicious, delicious cookies that my friend Tim baked last night.  The inspiration came from a picture we saw ages ago on a website that is both a blessing and a curse to foodies like myself. FoodPornDaily. Have you heard of it? If not, go look now. Today’s picture is Chocolate Cake layered with Caramel, Peanut Butter, and Chocolate Mousse.

Christina and I supplied the oats, macadamia nuts, and wonderful company. (Right, Tim?) Disclaimer: The recipe below isn’t Tim’s.  If I can wrest that recipe from here, I’ll post it.

This recipe was taken off of  allrecipes.com  (Ocean Spray Oatmeal Craisin White Chocolate Chunk Cookies) and modified slightly.

cooookies

Oatmeal Craisin White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

Yields 2 1/2 dozen

  • 2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (6 ounce) package Ocean Spray® Craisins® Original Dried Cranberries
  • 2/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips
  • 2/3 cup chopped Macadamia nuts
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter or margarine and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well. Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate mixing bowl. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks.
  3. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

And now, I am off to finish up my last class, do some housework and pack my things for my adventure to Tampa, Florida tomorrow! There will be sun and there will be happiness!  There will also be a post or several coming up while I’m at home, never fear!

Happy Thanksgiving Break!

  • What about you? Have you ever had these or similar cookies?
  • What’s your favorite type of cookies?
  • What is your favorite Thanksgiving dessert (aside from pumpkin or apple pies)?

Baked Vegetable Frittata

The Frittata.  When I was in Copenhagen this past summer, my friend Jason introduced me to this Italian vegetable and egg dish.  Since then, I’ve discovered  numerous recipes for making frittatas, realized that each calls for the vegetables to be cooked differently, the eggs to be poured in at different times, and for the dish to be baked or broiled or cooked differently.  Alton Brown of the Food Network has a carnivorous version of the frittata recipe, for those of you cooking for a mixed party.

Because it’s slightly different from the allrecipes.com Potato and Vegetable Frittata Recipe, I’m providing Jason’s frittata recipe, which in all honesty, knowing Jason, he probably improvised the majority of it.

Potato and Vegetable Frittata

  • Large Pyrex-style oven safe glassware
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup onion, sliced in rings
  • 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1 zucchini, sliced in thin circles
  • 2 cups potatoes, sliced in thin circles
  • 1 cup fresh tomato, sliced in rings
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup whole milk
  • Salt and pepper , roughly ground from peppermill
  • Dried oregano
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat your oven; set it to broil.
  2. On a frying pan, heat oil and saute the onions and garlic over a low heat until the onions begin turning clear and the garlic begins turning golden. Remove from the heat.
  3. Beat the eggs with the salt, pepper, oregano, and cayenne in a separate bowl.  Mix in milk and heavy cream.
  4. Arrange the vegetables in the Pyrex (ours was an oval shaped dish). Cover the bottom of the dish with one layer of potato circles, arranged in a spiral of overlapping potato slices. Next, layer the zucchini and tomatoes,  then pour the bell peppers over the tomatoes.  Take the onions and garlic off the pan and top off the vegetable stack.
  5. Pour the egg/milk mixture over the vegetables, leaving a 1/2 inch or an 1 inch between the top of your vegetables/eggs and the top of the dish.
  6. Sprinkle the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over the mixture.
  7. Place dish in the oven and let bake/broil for about 45 minutes.  I think it took an hour for our eggs to set completely in the middle, but it really depends on your oven.  Check the dish at 30 minutes, because it could be fully cooked.
  8. When the eggs are firm and have started to brown around the edges, remove from oven and check center of dish to see if it is fully cooked.
  9. Cut into wedges and serve with hot sauce.

Enjoy!

  • What about you? Have you ever made a frittata?
  • Did you roast the vegetables beforehand?
  • What side dishes do you usually serve with frittatas?

Basil, Oregano, & Garlic: Flavors of My Winter “Pasta Primavera”

primavera

After eating one too many meals out this week, I spent the entire BU vs. UNH Men’s Ice Hockey game Saturday night (-we won, 4-2!) getting progressively hungrier and wondering about what I could make for dinner. The contents of my fridge really need to be emptied before I skip town for Thanksgiving. I thought about what I had – zucchinis, peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic… Combining those ingredients with the Italian herbs I had in my spice cabinet, I put together my take on a pasta primavera … in the winter. (For those of you who don’t know, “primavera” means “spring” in Italian.)

Wintertime Pasta “Primavera”

  • 1 cup large shell pasta
  • Barilla Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped in long thin strips
  • 1 Zucchini, chopped in semicircles (width – a little thinner than a centimeter)
  • 1/2 large red onion, chopped in thin semicircles
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • Fresh Basil, garnish, optional
  • Dried Basil
  • Dried Oregano
  • Garlic Salt
  • Salt
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Olive oil
  1. Cook the pasta in a large saucepan until it is al-dente.
  2. Once the water for the pasta is boiling, cut the vegetables.
  3. Heat oil on a flat pan – enough for all of the vegetables – 3-4 tbsp, more if needed, then lower heat to medium
  4. Throw some garlic salt and basil on the oil as it heats up.  Once it starts to snap, add the onions and cook until they start to turn clear.
  5. Add more basil and some oregano as well as the bell peppers and mix thoroughly.
  6. Once the bell peppers begin to become tender, add the zucchini and some salt.  Cook 2-3 minutes.
  7. Add the tomatoes and crushed pepper and let cook until the tomatoes start to soften and liquidate.
  8. Add the tomato sauce, mixing until all of the vegetables are covered lightly. Let simmer until sauce is thoroughly heated or vegetables fully cooked.
  9. Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the vegetables. Toss together, turn off flame.  Let cool slightly, garnish with fresh basil, then serve.

This made about 2-3 servings, which was great because now I have leftovers for today. Yay!

  • What about you? What vegetables do you include in pasta dishes?
  • What spices do you use for Italian food?
  • What is your favorite type of tomato sauce? Or, do you like to make your own?

My Mom’s Homemade Vegetarian Chili

I’ve been blathering on about the delicious vegetarian chili at The OTHERSIDE Cafe on Newbury St., Sunset Grill & Tap in Allston, and randomly, if you’re in the area, or in the mood for a 3-4 hour drive from Boston – Crow’s Corner (Cafe/Bakery near Cavendish, VT).

Now I’ve finally gotten around to it: the source of my love for chili.  When I was little, we’d go to Sweet Tomatoes, which is an all-you-can-eat restaurant in Tampa, Florida.  I’m not sure if they have any locations outside of Florida, but if you’re ever in Tampa – go there! In the soup section of Sweet Tomatoes’ giant buffet, was a vegetarian chili dish.  It easily became my favorite in that section, but one day, they stopped making it vegetarian with, go figure, the addition of …you guessed it – chicken broth.

One day, my mom surprised me by making that dish I could no longer find while dining out – vegetarian chili.  Her recipe, which deviated from the Sweet Tomatoes recipe quite deliberately, was phenomenal.  I loved it even more than the chili I’d eat at Sweet Tomatoes, and since then it remains my favorite recipe and has quickly risen to the top of my list of comfort foods.

Here’s the secret:

Uma’s Vegetarian Chili

  • 1 large Potato
  • 1-2 Carrots
  • 1 can Black Beans
  • 1 can Red Kidney Beans
  • 1 large can whole tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • French cut green beans
  • 1 Bell Pepper
  • 1 inch Ginger Root, finely chopped
  • Serrano Peppers, finely chopped (if you can handle the spice)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Tomato paste
  • Water
  • Lemon juice
  • Cumin powder
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Red chili powder
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Corn chips – Fritos scoops are my favorite.
  • Sour Cream (If you like it – I’ve met many people in New England who don’t… boggles my mind.)
  1. Make paste with garlic, 1/4 of the onions, tomato paste, 1/2 cup water in a blender.
  2. Put the paste along with the rest of the onions in a large sauce pan and cook for 1-2 minutes
  3. Add all but the canned vegetables and 1 cup water/enough water to cover all of the vegetables and cook until all vegetables (especially carrots/potatoes – those are tough veggies) are al dente.
  4. Add canned vegetables and let simmer for 10-15 minutes
  5. Add 1 tbsp (or more, depends on taste) of each cumin and chili powders.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  The chili should be spicy/tangy, but make sure the spice doesn’t overpower the flavor of the vegetables.
  6. Garnish with chopped, fresh cilantro.
  7. Serve in large bowls with corn chips and sour cream.
  8. Enjoy!
  • Do you have your own chili recipe? How is it different?
  • My sister adds corn to her chili. What other vegetables do you think make a good chili?
  • Any questions about the flavor or consistency?
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