Cookbook Twins

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Our friend Sara cleverly dubbed us the “cookbook twins” and that’s a nickname we think we can get behind. While it seems like our blogging days here on The Skinny Beet are few and far between, it doesn’t mean we’ve slowed down at all. By some total freak chance, we each both received separate cookbook deals recently. Richard is writing a burger cookbook with their friend Sam (formerly of JM Curley) and Katie is writing a book on SuperFood Sandwiches. Katie is also doing the photography for both books so we are busy folks these days. Happy and thrilled for these wonderful opportunities, but crazy involved with them too. Our podcast continues to roll out, Richard just started his first in a series of burger pop-ups all over Boston, and Katie is all over Eater Boston, crushing it with interviews, articles and pictures. We’ll be updating with news on our books along the way, so please check back in soon. Cheers!

Eat Boutique Holiday Giveaway

Hey all!

We’re just winding down from our Thanksgiving/Hanukkah celebrations and we’re gearing up for a busy holiday season! Since it’s the start of December, we wanted to start off the month with a giveaway, you know, just to get you in the mood for the Christmas season. Our friend Maggie, over at Eat Boutique, has generously given us two general admission tickets ($20 each) to the Eat Boutique Holiday Market, which is happening this coming Saturday, December 7th at Cruiseport Boston’s Black Falcon Cruise Terminal. If you aren’t familiar with Eat Boutique, it was started in 2007 as an online magazine and marketplace that celebrates local and small batch foods. Over the past couple of years, they’ve been running a holiday market as well, which gives the people behind all of these great local products, and the consumers that love them, a chance to connect in person. Available at this year’s holiday market, Mei Mei Street Kitchen, Island Creek Oysters and Union Square Donuts, to name a few. Additionally, a couple of cookbook authors, including Joanne Chang, Karen Covey and more, will be on hand to chat and sign cookbooks and small batch wine, cider, beer and cordial tastings will be available as well. If you’re interested in attending and you’d like to be entered to win the two free tickets, all you have to do is leave a comment, telling us what some of your favorite small, local food companies are. You’ll get a bonus entry if you mention a tweet (just be sure to mention us, @TheSkinnyBeet so we know that you entered). One winner will be selected on Wednesday afternoon and that person will receive both tickets and enjoy a day full of local, food and beverage fun!

Skinny Beet Updates

Man, where does the time go? I’m sure a lot of it has to do with the wedding and the honeymoon (Italy, sigh) but this year has flown by. We are still doing our thing, taking on more and more personal chef clients, talking to other lovely couples about catering their weddings next year, and booking private holiday parties for the next couple of months. Phew. In addition to all of that, Katie has started writing for Eater Boston (!!!) and Richard is still going strong contributing to Boston Magazine with two columns now. And then there’s the podcast, which we are so excited for, we’ve had a wonderful lineup of chefs, photographers, bloggers, bartenders and restauranteurs, and some incredible people lined up for future episodes. Richard also just launched the Boston Burger Blog App (free for iTunes) and somewhere in all of that we’ve found the time to cook lots of fun projects at home, including homemade cheese and our own bitters. So keep checking back as we can’t wait share more news, recipes and all of our latest cooking adventures in the weeks to come. Cheers!!

The Skinny Beet Podcast

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We’ve been having a blast recording our Podcast, The Skinny Beet Dinner Partyover the last few months. We started this Podcast in conjunction with the folks at Tell Me Something and while we’re still learning as we go, we’re really having a great time. So far we’ve had some sensational guests on, with folks coming from the restaurant world, music scene and more. We’re pretty much talking all food all the time, (sometimes it’s overkill talking about our own wedding, but can you blame us?) but it’s been fun mixing it up with different people along the way.

While we chat, we always have a few snacks on hand, recently we snacked on some Sweet and Salty Watermelon Skewers as well as Muhammara with Sesame Rounds. What’s really fun about having new guests is that we get to talk about different subjects that we probably wouldn’t touch on otherwise. We never really know what’s going to come up in conversation. Did you know you can subscribe to our show on iTunes? Well you can, so get on it :) Recently we found out our numbers have been growing quickly, we are so humbled and flattered that people are listening and love all the support we can get.

If you are someone in the Restaurant industry, a Blogger or just someone interested in food and you want to be a guest on our show, please drop us a line at ChefsRCKB@gmail.com. Additionally, if you are interested in sponsoring a podcast, either by way of money or samples of your product, please send us a note. We’ve been delighted (and happily full) enjoying delicious treats from our fist sponsor, Becca Bakes as well as our friends over at Pretzel Crisps! As always, thanks for staying in touch and for your ongoing support of The Skinny Beet!

In the Kitchen with…Chef Danny Bua of The Painted Burro

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We snuck in through the back entrance of The Painted Burro, since the front of the restaurant was under construction due to the impending expansion of the bar into the former Spike’s space. There, chef Danny Bua was eager to greet us and welcome us to into his kitchen. Chef Bua talks quickly and passionately, excited about his ingredients and the food he prepares, he can’t wait to share with us the secret behind his ever popular Yucatan Meatloaf.

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Originally from East Boston and born into an Italian family, chef Bua worked at the famed Mistral for years before settling in as executive chef at one of Somerville’s hottest restaurants. The kitchen is glistening and Bua’s sous chefs work diligently on their prep list for the day. The three of us are tucked away at the far end of the kitchen, stock simmering and the smell of onions and garlic work their magic on the neighboring burners. Chef Bua explains the ingredients and process behind the meatloaf, with more than a few aces up his sleeve that you’d never expect but we promised not to share. He buzzes around the kitchen, balancing a lively conversation with us as he whips together the mise en place with ease, describing some of the choices he made with the meatloaf and the process behind all things chipotle in adobo, chorizo and pickled jalapenos. We go on to discuss the differences between authentic Mexican food and just plain-old good food, and while Chef Bua would never make the claim of serving up legit authentic Mexican, he is proud of the great food he is putting out at The Painted Burro, as he should be. Just as our conversation starts to wrap up, Chef Bua presents us with the Yucatan Meatloaf. Tall in stature and resting atop a thick slab of Texas Toast and a brick-red pool of house made mole, the whole dish is topped off by two fried eggs and a delicate strand of cilantro. Spicy, beefy and downright satisfying, we can see why this is a popular item on the menu.

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We stopped at The Painted Burro on one of our food crawls not long ago, and we instantly fell in love with the fun vibe, decor and food while snacking away on a few bites from the bar. If you haven’t been here yet be sure to do so for either some killer cocktails and bites from the bar or more of a substantial meal in the dining room.

Charceuterie and Grapefruit

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Lately we seem to be getting the random urge to cook things out of nowhere. It used to be that we’d study our nerdy notebooks filled with things we wanted to try, study it and think about if for days before letting loose. I’ve had the urge to make Charceuterie for a while but never got around to it and knew I wanted to do it myself especially with all the harm fast food can cause. Maybe it was inspiration from Katz’s or I was just “in the mood” sort to speak, but after trying my hand at homemade Corned Beef, I knew I wanted to venture out a little further. Corned Beef and Pastrami are essentially the same thing with a few minor tweaks. Both are brined for a few days (so plan ahead) with similar ingredients, but the Pastrami is ultimately smoked then braised, whereas the corned beef is only braised until tender. We have an indoor smoker, which is a fantastic tool that we like to use for smoking salt, vanilla beans, potatoes and everything in between. The pastrami fit snugly in the smoker before we put it to the heat in a combination of Alder and Hickory woods. After an hour or so of our apartment starting to smell like a campfire (in the best way possible) it took a bath in water and more pickling spices for a couple of hours until it was barely tender. We let it sit in the braising liquid all week and happily sliced, diced and chopped the pastrami in every which way imaginable, finding its way into simple dinners, egg-based breakfast dishes and late night cravings with friends. Of course we had plenty of rye bread and spicy mustard at the ready too, you know, just in case. Continue reading

In The Kitchen With… Carolyn Johnson of 80 Thoreau

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Chef Carolyn Johnson

It’s always most interesting to hear the paths that people to take to get to the kitchen. Some know from the start and head right to Culinary School or to gain experience in a kitchen, others simply fall into it either through family or just naturally, and yet others start out on a very different path before winding up on the line. Carolyn Johnson belongs to the latter of the three, graduating from Wellesley College with a degree in Economics before eventually discovering her passion for food and the kitchen. “I don’t like to make fussy food” she says as she gracefully moves around the open kitchen, “no tweezers in my kitchen” she jokes, “My style is a bit more rustic”.

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Prepping the Lamb Belly

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Sauteed Spinach and Butter Beans waiting to be plated

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Kitchen Labels

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The Skinny Beet made the prep list!

Carolyn built an impressive background before taking on the Executive Chef position at 80 Thoreau, working at such famous spots as Icarus (formerly located in the South End) and Arrows in Ogunquit, ME before spending seven years at Rialto. “I never got bored because it just seemed as soon as I felt I had gotten the hang of something, there was something new to learn” she says of her lengthy stay at Jody Adams’ famed Harvard Square restaurant. Now she runs the show, and what most impressed us was the versatility and ease in which she prepares her dishes. Forget nose-to-tail, Chef Johnson takes it further than anyone we’ve encountered, literally using every component of produce, seafood and the like in every way possible.  Continue reading

Honey, honey

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Here we go! Another year. We thought a lot about what we wanted our first new post of 2013 to be about. We decided we’re not really into food predictions (I guess we like the suspense) and since you can read a little about what we’ve been up to over here, we were sort of left scratching our heads. We could talk about what a big year this will be for us (we’re getting married!) but we figure there’s plenty of time to share the details of our upcoming nuptials. So let’s skip all the formalities and get right to talking about an ingredient that we can’t seem to get enough of: Honey.

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We’re not sure where this new obsession started but we also don’t see an end in sight. Actually, on second thought, maybe it first started with a simple jar of artisan honey from Vermont. Yes, I think that was our gateway honey. Complexly sweet and pale in color but not opaque and thicker than traditional honey, one taste made us think of this seemingly humble ingredient in a different light. Gradually over the span of a couple of weeks, new jars of honey have been popping up in our cabinet. Chestnut honey, with it’s intense earthiness and slightly bitter notes, Lime tree honey, powerful and floral and Acacia honey, simply sweet and pure. Our addiction keeps growing from there and we seek out the honey section of every grocery and specialty store we’re in, trying to get our hands on whatever we haven’t tried. Our new found treasures have found themselves happy giving new flavor to soups, sauces, gracing our cheese plates, coating our breads and really anything else we can think of. We’ve got fancy little jars with golden honey, large jars of deep, almost brown colored honey and some that are so light in color they appear to be clear.

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We never considered ourselves to be “honey people” but here we are obsessing over and waxing on about it and to us that’s what makes this world of food so damn exciting. There’s so much to discover, learn about and get to know. We’re really looking forward to getting to know honey further this year, not to mention whatever other ingredients we’ll meet and get to know. It’s an exciting year ahead and we can’t wait to get started. Here’s to 2013!

A few of our favorite things…

On the tails of Boston Magazine’s release of this year’s picks for the 50 best restaurants, we thought it would be fun to compile a list of our own local top picks, and not just on the restaurant front. We’ve taken it a step further to include our 50 best picks for all things food related in the Greater Boston Area, why we like them and what we get when we’re there. These are in no particular order, by the way.

JM Curley – We come for the amazing burgers and unique twists on junk food and comfort food classics, but we stay for the unique cocktails in a warm, friendly atmosphere that always treats us like family.

The 21 Temple Gin and Tonic at JM Curley

The 21 Temple Gin and Tonic at JM Curley

East by Northeast – The perfect spot for an intimate dinner, it’s inventive, fun and completely delicious. Easily the best deal in town, an 8-course tasting menu is a steal at $38/person. A superb weekend brunch is also not to be missed.

Russo’s – Where would we be without Russo’s? Featuring hard to find fruits and vegetables, cheeses, flowers and spices, it’s our go-to spot for produce and prices that simply can’t be beat. We especially love the prepared Muhammara and the fact that we can never leave without piling our cart high. Tip; try shopping on a weekday to avoid the dreaded weekend crowd.

Craigie on Main – A great spot for a blow-out dinner, we especially love sneaking in to the bar area (which accepts reservations) and ordering the best burger in town. But get there early, they only sell a limited number of burgers each night.

Armenian Row, Mt. Auburn Street in Watertown – A great stretch of four unique Armenian markets, we always stock up on pita, sumac and pomegranate molasses among other things.

Sofra – A great spot for an in-between meal, order a Mezze plate and dip your heart out with hearty, middle eastern fare from an ever-changing menu. Seating is limited, so try going at an odd time or accept the fact that you might be dining in your car.

Marty’s – A great selection of wine, beer and liquor, we’ve been going to Marty’s for years. Ok, not that long, we aren’t that old. Mustard lover? Marty’s sells quite possibly the largest container of Dijon mustard we’ve ever seen at an absurdly low price.

Cabot’s - The ice cream shop Richard grew up with, it’s cash only at this Newtonville establishment. You can’t go wrong with any of their ice cream flavors, split one of their enormous sundaes for an extra special treat.

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Classic Hot Fudge Sundae at Cabot’s

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