Imari Fusion (or It Rains Fishes)



Imari Fusion, which is now called It Rains Fishes, in Winchester, MA was the focus of a recent Summer Friday outing. Lisa and I headed out to Winchester but were a bit confused trying to find the place. Imari changed both their name and their entrance. So we passed it completely until we realized we were really looking for It Rains Fishes. When that debacle was over, we found ourselves seated and in front of a very interesting menu which combined Japanese, Thai and Korean cuisines.


We started off with drinks. I had the most amazing Sparkling Limeade. It was the perfect combination of sour, sparkling and sweet. Yum! I made sure I left a lot so I could drink the rest for dessert.


Lisa had this beautiful Thai Iced Tea.


Lisa and I shared an appetizer of Steamed Dumplings with Shrimp and Pork filling. They were very tender and delicious when dipped in the soy sauce. Mmm...


We ordered two lunch combination boxes both of which came with a bowl of Miso soup. I didn't care for it. It was cloudy when stirred but all the grit sank to the bottom. I later found out that the grit was the miso paste. I also didn't like that there was only an insignificant amount of tofu, vegetables and scallions in the soup. So this was definitely a pass.


Lisa got the Bul Go Gee Combination box. She let me try some and the Bul Go Gee, a Korean Barbeque beef with a sweet marinade, was absolutely divine.


Each combination box came with a few California rolls, some dumplings (the same we had for an appetizer but fried), a salad, white rice, soy sauce and your choice of meat or vegetable. I got Vegetable Curry which was heavenly. Very spicy and sweet with lots of vegetables. I wish the vegetables were next to the white rice so I could mix them together! Otherwise this was an amazing box. I'd definitely get it again.

I wish my beau Carlos enjoyed Asian food as much as I do. He would love this place. But lucky for me, I have a good friend like Lisa who is as adventurous as me when it comes to eating out and different types of cuisine. 

Definitely try Imari Fusion/It Rains Fishes. I went here upon the recommendation of the Hidden Boston (Twitter/Facebook/Blog) who referred to it as a "hidden gem".

Treat Cupcake Bar

Treat Cupcake Bar in Needham, MA is true to it's name. Coming here was definitely a treat.

This place has been the buzz among food blogs and foodies and in the local news. The owner, David LaLiberte, had a career in Finance and decided to change gears and open up a cupcake shop. The shop has done so well that they've had to close early and once a week (normally they are open every day). They run out of cupcakes and just can't keep up with demand. If you are looking for something in part



The entrance and the interior are very retro yet modern. Their logo is the edge of a cupcake liner. Very cute. I wish they had a sign above the entrance calling out to people on the street because we almost drove right past the place!


The interior is very nice. There is an open kitchen in the back and you can see the bakers at work. There are two stations with registers in the middle. You can get pre-made cupcakes in different flavors with frostings. Or you can go to the make-your-own cupcake counter and pick your cake and frosting. You can add a variety of things to your frosting; everything from chocolate sprinkles to pop rocks. Lisa and I opted for pre-made chocolate cupcakes.


I had a chocolate cupcake with Oreo frosting. They also had a vanilla version with vanilla oreos. The cupcake was divine. Very rich chocolate cake, a light layer of chocolate ganache and a thick scoop of butter cream frosting with big chunks of Oreos mixed in. Each cupcake comes in it's own little pink tray with a liner, folded napkin and wooden spork. It's much easier eating the cupcake when you have a spork!


Lisa got a chocolate cupcake with chocolate ganache and a big scoop of peanut butter buttercream frosting topped with a peanut butter cup. Heavenly!


The only thing about these cupcakes is that they are super rich. You can't eat more than one at any given time. In fact, I had a hard time eating the one I purchased so I took the rest home with me. Treat has a variety of very cute take-away containers including this adorable take-out box!

If you live in Massachusetts, you MUST make a special trip out to Treat Cupcake Bar. Heck if you live in anywhere in New England, head on over. You will NOT be disappointed.

Blue on Highland


Lisa and I went to Blue on Highland on Highland Ave in Needham, MA. We needed to have a light lunch before the main event, which was a trip to the famed Treat Cupcake bar which was right down the street. The decor of Blue on Highland was very chic and sparkly. The dining area is very open and it wasn't very busy during lunch time. They opened the front window panels because it was a hot summer day. This didn't really do much since the restaurant is so close to the street and the view is of a commuter rail station and a gas station. So we opted for a corner booth instead of a streetside/indoor table.


We started off with some iced teas. I liked this iced tea because it was heavy on lemon flavor. It proved to be a very refreshing drink for a hot day.




Lisa got a Turkey Meatloaf with Apricot Ketchup and Sweet Potato Fries. She let me taste some and I thought the meatloaf was very moist and tender. The apricot ketchup tasted more like a barbecue sauce to me. I don't care for sweet potato fries but these were excellent. Lisa wasn't totally enamored with the meatloaf considering a friend of hers made the most amazing meatloaf she's ever had and since then other meatloaves pale in comparison.



I really needed something light so I opted to go for a salad. But it had to be substantial to so I chose their Chicken Cobb Salad. I wasn't all to happy with it. The presentation was nice and the tomatoes, chicken, avocado and bacon were great but I really didn't like the blue cheese or the dressing. It was so-so.

I wouldn't recommend Blue on Highland as a destination. Don't go out of your way to eat there. But if you are in the Needham area and need a nice place for lunch stop by!

Vegetarian Portuguese Kale & Potato Soup ~ Caldo Verde

My friend Kate Gabrielle, over at Scathingly Brilliant, asked me recently for an idea of how to use kale. My favorite way to cook with kale is to make Caldo Verde, a Portuguese soup that is comprised of kale, potatoes, garlic, onions, carrots and chorizo sausage. Since Kate is a vegetarian, I adapted my recipe by taking out the chorizo, adding red kidney beans for protein and replacing the chicken broth with vegetable broth. She made the soup and loved it.

So when my friend Kevin, who is also a vegetarian, mentioned that he is growing kale in his garden, I told him that he should try using some of that kale for a Vegetarian version of Caldo Verde. I promised him I would post the recipe and here it is! Enjoy.

Ingredients


1 onion, chopped
2 large carrots, sliced
4 potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 cloves of garlic, smashed
crushed red pepper flake to taste
a bunch of kale, shredded
6 cups of vegetable broth
1 15.5 oz can of Red Kidney beans





Chop your onion.



Slice your carrots.



Peel and chop your potatoes. Make sure you keep them in water so they don't start going brown.



Thinly shred your Kale. This is tricky. Make sure you refer my step-by-step instructions (complete with photos) here: Caldo Verde Recipe


Heat up some olive oil in a big soup pot. Add onions and cook until they start to get soft. Then add your carrots and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add potatoes, crushed red pepper flake, and garlic. Stir.


Add 6 cups of broth and bring the pot to a boil. Then add all of your shredded kale and cover the pot and simmer until the potatoes are cooked through. Stir occasionally. Add your red kidney beans last. Once they heat through, serve. You can crush the potatoes with a spoon to make the soup a bit thicker.

Enjoy while it's hot. Sorry for no picture of a bowl of soup. The whole pot was devoured pretty quickly.

Peach Blueberry Bread



August is the best time for peaches. They are really at their prime and the really ripe ones don't cling to their pits making them perfect for all sorts of baking. Wilson Farm had an abundance of beautiful peaches as well as locally grown blueberries so I decided to combine the two into a bread. What better way to celebrate August?

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of sour cream
2 eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla

10 tablespoons of butter mostly melted and cooled

2 cups of flour
1/2 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of baking soda
3/4 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 cup of blueberries
3 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped





Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine wet ingredients in one bowl and dry ingredients in another. Then mix them together and careful fold in the fruit.


Add to a greased loaf pan and bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until lightly golden. Let cool. Serve at room temperature. Enjoy!

Goose Valley Wild Rice - Wild Rice, Pork Chop & Leek/Corn Plate


Instead of a recipe, I thought I would create a plate using Goose Valley's Brown & Wild Rice Fusion. If you haven't developed a taste for wild rice, a wild rice pilaf or a fusion like this one is a great way to acclimate your taste buds to the unique flavor of wild rice. I loved this fusion because it was 100% whole grain and I felt good about eating brown rice and wild rice, where I usually just eat white rice.

The three different elements of this meal really complemented each other. The pork was salty and spicy with the cracked black pepper, the leek and corn with butter had a mild sweet flavor and everything was balanced out my the earthiness of the brown and wild rice fusion. I highly recommend you try it.

By the way, Goose Valley is on Facebook and Twitter. Make sure you follow them for updates on their products.


Ingredients:

Thin cut, boneless pork chops seasoned with salt & freshly cracked black pepper

2 leeks, halved and sliced and rinsed
3 ears of corn, grilled and kernels removed
2 tablespoons of butter

1 package of Goose Valley Brown & Wild Rice Fusion



Cook the Goose Valley Brown & Wild Rice Fusion per the instructions on the bag. Drain and set aside.

Heat up a pan with olive oil until it's sizzling hot. Add your seasoned pork chops and fry on both sides for 2-3 minutes. More if you like your chops crispy like I do.

In a small sautee pan, melt your 2 tablespoons of butter. Add your sliced leeks and cook at medium-low temperature until the leeks become soft. Stir in the corn and add salt to taste. Don't add pepper because it will disturb the balance of sweetness that the leeks, corn and butter provide.

Plate it all up and enjoy.




Flatbread Company & Sacco's




Sacco's Bowl Haven in Somerville, MA (Davis Square) received a complete makeover with the help of a local chain: Flatbread Company. In today's culture, we glorify mash-ups so the union of an old-fashioned candlepin bowling alley and a pizza joint that focuses on local ingredients seems to come at the perfect time. Normally, I'm opposed to this sort of thing considering I am an old-fashioned kind of gal but considering I highly respect the Flatbread Company and enjoy their food and I know that their union with Sacco's will help this local institution, I'm all for this renovation.

Lisa and I went to the new Flatbread/Sacco's on Friday. I was really impressed by how they transformed the billiard's room and half of the bowling lanes into a kitchen with a wood-fire oven and a dining area. The Flatbread Company is known for their open kitchens and visible oven so it was fun to watch them prepare our food while we waited. The renovation was really well down. A very modern yet retro look.


Lisa had the day's special: Stuffed Baked Potato Pizza. It had thin slices of potato, crispy bacon, thinly sliced scallions and a cross-hatch of sour cream. Lisa let me have a couple of slices and I must say it was divine. It is heavy though so chances are you'll be taking home leftovers.


I ordered my favorite Flatbread pizza: The Coevolution. Goat Cheese, Kalamata Olives, Roasted Red Peppers and Sliced Red Onions. So delicious. I do not like 3 out of the 4 ingredients but somehow on this pizza they all work. I had to stop myself from devouring the whole thing.

If you are in the Boston area, make sure you drop by Flatbread for some delicious pizza and some bowling to burn off the calories. Great thing about Flatbread is they have a great menu and they focus on using local ingredients whenever they can. You can feel good about eating here.

Bean & Hominy Salad


Hominy. Where have you been all my life? It's lucky that I refrained from devouring all of the delicious hominy I put into this salad because otherwise it would have just been a bean salad, sans hominy. Have you had hominy? I've never had it nor have I cooked with it. I wonder what other things I can do with it? This is a start of a beautiful friendship.

Ingredients:

15.5 oz can of Hominy (Goya)
15.5 oz can of Black Beans, rinsed
15.5 oz can of Red Kidney Beans, rinsed
1 cubanelle pepper chopped
3 small tomatoes seeded and chopped
chopped cilantro
juice of one lime
olive oil
salt, chili powder and cumin to taste

Mix your hominy, beans, peppers and tomatoes in a bowl. Add the salt, chili powder and cumin and toss. Then add the lime juice and olive oil and cilantro. Toss again. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Bean and Hominy Salad

Goose Valley Wild Rice - Wild Rice Salad Recipe







The good folks at Goose Valley noticed that my blog had an unpardonable dearth of wild rice recipes. In fact, I only have one: Turkey & Wild Rice Casserole. So they sent me a few packages of their wild rice to try. I'm always looking for wild rice in my local supermarket but I always find the same old wild rice pilaf in a box (with a seasoning packet I always throw away). I'm very glad to be able to try Goose Valley's wild rice in it's all-natural state.

Goose Valley Wild Rice comes from their Goose Valley ranch out in California. Here is some information from their website:



Only Goose Valley Wild Rice™ comes from just one location - Goose Valley. Other wild rice brands are blended from the output of many growers and locations. We hand select the plumpest Grade A wild rice for our Family Reserve.
We are not just concerned about quality at the ranch. We share ownership of the most modern wild rice mill in the industry, certified for organic production. Our packaging is filled by another family-owned company, also organic certified. No other wild rice brand is grown by a family in one location, milled by them, and packaged in an organic certified facility.



Family-owned Goose Valley Ranch™, is nestled high in the Cascade Mountains, south of Mt. Shasta, in the evening shadows of Hatchet Mountain. Goose Valley is still a wild place – we share Goose Valley with geese and duck, eagles and hawks, elk and deer, coyote, mountain lion, and bear. Since the 1980s the wildlife has grown along with our wild rice production. We started with a few acres, but demand caused us to expand production until we became the leading grower of certified organic and natural wild rice in America. Goose Valley’s red volcanic soil helps give Goose Valley Wild Rice its nutty flavor. Most agree that the pure water from spring snow melt is also critical. The summer’s hot days and chilly nights, and the winter’s freezing snow are ideal for growing wild rice.


Definitely check out Goose Valley wild rice if you can. I was impressed with my samples. I'll be doing two wild rice recipes using Goose Valley wild rice. This is the first one. Enjoy!



Ingredients:

2 ears of corn
4 tablespoons of chopped scallions
2 plum tomatoes chopped
1/2 lemon juiced
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste


Cook the Goose Valley Wild Rice according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside in the fridge to cool.

While the rice is cooking, grill two ears of corn (with a light coating of olive oil) and set aside to cool.

Chop the plum tomatoes and scallions. Add to a bowl with the cooked and cooled wild rice. Cut the kernels off the cobs and add corn to bowl. Add lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and toss. Enjoy!

Serve with Frango com Piri-Piri (find the recipe here)




Full disclosure: Thank you to Goose Valley for sending me some of their wild rice to try out!

Goose Valley is a company you can get behind. They believe in selling all natural and organic products, in sustainability and in charity. However, they have mixed feelings about geese! You can buy Goose Valley wild rice in several different forms on their website as well as on other online sites. They have a nice collection of recipes if you want some ideas of what to do with wild rice.


Wild Rice Salad Recipe

Hello, Goodbye Kitchen

For the past four years, I've lived in a good-sized 3rd level 1 bedroom apartment by myself. In the next few weeks, I'll be moving into a basement level 2 bedroom condo that my boyfriend owns.  One of the rooms I will miss the most out of my sweet (yet expensive) apartment is my lovely kitchen. I have a love-hate relationship with my kitchen, mostly love because of all the cooking I get to do there and the natural light that shines from the window but also hate because the kitchen is so tiny that I always have to negotiate space.

While most city gals keep shoes in their oven, I used mine to bake and broil everything from corn, ribs, casseroles, lasagnas, cookies, cakes, breads, etc. My stovetop has been a hotbed of many a culinary experiment and it's served me well. My spacious refrigerator has held many goodies and on any given Sunday it is overflowing with an abundance locally grown produce. The natural light and the tiny countertop has served as a studio for my favorite food shots that I've used for this blog.

In the past year or so that I've been writing this blog, I've always meant to do a photographic tour of my kitchen but I never got around to it. Now that it's almost time to say goodbye to my beloved kitchen I want to say hello to it one more time with this homage.


It's a tiny kitchen. If only they had made the living room to the right a bit more narrow I could have added an island. With so many folks having even smaller kitchenettes I can't really complain. My kitchen taught me how to make good use of limited space. Cooking here sometimes was the equivalent of a choreographed dance. 



This is my Microwave Hutch. I bought it unassembled from Target and put it together myself. Above sits the bright red microwave I've used to heat up leftovers, melt butter or chocolate and zap lemons and limes. Below it I keep my Crockpot and my fire-hazard-waiting-to-happen toaster. Below that are all my pots, pans, my grater, a loaf pan and my never-used panini press. This extra storage has been a lifesaver.


My refrigerator boasts magnets from some of my adventures. I also keep a recipe card with the ingredients of my Lemon Ricotta Pancakes (recipe to come) since I make them so often and the measurements need to be exact for perfect pancakes. I also keep a sheet with that week's meal plan on my refrigerator so I can make the best use out of my groceries. This has been amazingly helpful and making a weekly meal plan and only buying groceries for that week helps me save money and always have a game plan for lunch and dinner every day.


As I said before, on a Sunday this would be packed with produce. By the end of the week, it's pretty bare. I keep meat and dairy products in the vegetable bin below because otherwise I would forget about my produce there. Vegetables get the bottom shelf, fruit, eggs and bread get the middle shelf and condiments and beverages get the top shelf. The door gets a mish-mosh of various things and then of course there is my beloved butter dish!



Here is a shot of the workspace. It's not much but I've been able to put it to good use.



My oven/stovetop is electric. I keep all of my spices and my oils above. Keeping this clean has been a never ending battle but one worth the effort.




Everything about this space should be bigger. The sink, the countertop, even the dish dryer. But alas, it is tiny. I made do with it as I could. 



Below the sink I always keep a big jar of rice. I call it my bucket o rice. Every Latina should have one. 



Above my sink I keep dishes, glasses and various bits and bobs in the cabinets. Most of the items were donations from my mom and Carlos and others were bought from Ikea or HomeGoods. I have a set of small coffee mugs and plates that I never use. I have a set of Carlos' bachelor drink glasses. My good friend Kevin even got me a mug from Japan (not visible) that I keep here. You'll see above sandwiched between my serving plate and my baked goods container is a pie-plate. I won that eons ago and still keep it as a treasured item.


So it's time to finish up my Hello and say Goodbye to my lovely Kitchen!

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