Montreal in Three Days

After TONS of people (i.e. not even my mom) were asking me to get back to binnycooks, I figured I’d give it a whirl.  Plus I am sure everyone is getting le tired of watching the Les Miserables trailer over and over again on youtube, so maybe some fresh online procrastination material will do the world some good.

Since my bachelorette party cocktail, I did indeed go through with the nuptials. And in typical post-wedding fashion, promptly gained 20 pounds on the honeymoon in Montreal. I mean, I’m married now, right? I can gain as much weight as I want and stop brushing my hair (kidding… I never brushed my hair).

But seriously, Montreal is amazing. Everyone should literally skip work tomorrow and get in the car and drive there this instant. Here’s a three-day, four-night Montreal Guide from a convicted glutton:

Arrive Sunday night – check into L’Hotel (which in French means “hotel”), a moderately priced fantastic hotel in Old Montreal (the super charming cobblestoney part of the city). Walk a few blocks to eat dinner at Garde Manger. Get the plateaux de fruits de mer and the lobster poutine (when in Rome…).

Monday morning, it’s time for Part One of your Montreal Bagel Odyssey. Fairemount Bagel is your first stop. A total hole in the wall, I recommend the everything bagel (complete with fennel seeds!).

For lunch, check out Le Cartet back downtown – café au laits, chalkboards, farm tables – it’s great. For dinner, hit up Brasserie T!, the reasonably-priced sister restaurant of the famous Toque. Get the duck rillettes to start and finish with Mushrooms + a soft poached egg. Outrageously good.

Tuesday morning, try Montreal Bagel Odyssey stop #2: St. Viateur Bagel. Bagel-wise, I’m on Team Fairmount but St. Viateur is worth a stop as well. For lunch, hit up the legendary (et coûteux) Toque! Its hotel-lobby atmosphere leaves a lil’ to be desired, but, as my mom says, you can’t eat atmosphere. You can, however, eat venison tartar and duck confit crepes – which we did, and they were perfect.

Tuesday night, start early at Buvette Chez Simon, a laid back bistro that does everything right. After some cheese and charcuterie tapas, head down to our highlight of the trip, a late dinner at Joe Beef. It lives up to the hype. Don’t leave Montreal without it. Get some oysters and a dark beer.

Wednesday, walk over to Olive et Gourmando, an adorable bakery/café in Old Montreal, for a croissant or their “poached egg on your face”. Then,  bixi-bike down the canal to Marche Atwater and pick up some presents to bring home to the fam. For lunch, hit up a cult favorite (recommended by my McGill alum cousin), Rotisserie Romados – Peruvian chicken sandwiches at their finest. As an afternoon pick-me-up, try the lattes at Café Myriad (best barista in the city).

For your early dinner, go to L’Express, a French bistro with a perfect menu. We got the sorrel soup and the quiche du jour. For dinner #2, cap it off at Au Pied Du Cochon. Fried squash blossoms, little bites of fois gras, a tomato tart, and the PDC crispy “salad”… it is perfect.

I’m moving to Canada.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Response

Bachelorette Cocktail

There comes a time in every girl’s life when she meets a boy, falls in love, and before promising herself to a lifetime of dutiful espoused devotion, goes out to the Hamptons for the weekend to get absolutely juvenile with 11 of her closest girlfriends.

Ingredients:

  • One handle of vodka
  • juice of 5-6 lemons
  • a 16 oz bottle of POM
  • a hefty dose of simple syrup (melt one part sugar to one part water over low heat until dissolved)
  • 10-20 thin ginger slices, steeped in the simple syrup (optional)
  • Raspberries (frozen if you’re on a budget, fresh if you’re not)
  • Mint as a garnish
  • ICE!!
Posted in Drinks | 1 Response

Watermelon and Corn Salad

This dish is basically Call Me Maybe in salad form. Nothing makes me happier.

Ingredients:

  • Watermelon
  • Corn cut off the cob
  • Sliced mint
  • Feta (optional)
  • Salt as needed

Use a simple dressing like this:

  • 3 tablespoons EVOO
  • 2 ½ teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
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Artichoke and Olive Crostini

Wow I actually cannot believe May went by entirely without a post! Here we are in June and that poor brussel sprout post has been hanging out to dry for 5 weeks. Sheesh! I guess I’ve been busy? I started a job (I know, it’s very unlike me) at a catering company which has been going well. I “trained” for and ran a half marathon (it’s not that impressive… I basically barely jogged and spaced out for 2 hours). I discovered Malaysian food. I rebuilt a deck (with a teeny tiny bit of muscular assistance from the-boyfriend-turned-F-word). And I have continued a steady, healthy trend of spastic failure when it comes to wedding planning. So all in all, it’s been a pretty standard month!

I made this literally 4 weeks ago, and am only now getting around to posting it. So if my measurements are off, blame my memory, not me! You can’t really mess this up, though. The topping is just a combination of flavors—you can add more or less of different ingredients as you please. Make sure you buy pitted kalamata olives to save yourself the excruciating pain of pitting those things as you chop.

Start with the baguette. Toast your ¼ inch rounds in a 350⁰ oven for about 10 minutes, until they’re  crisp. Set these aside. In a bowl, combine the artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, capers, pecorino, parsley, and extra virgin olive oil. Toss it up, and spoon about 1 teaspoon of the mixture on each toasted baguette round. Throw these back in the oven for about 5 minutes until the cheese melts and the topping warms.

Serve right away or at room temp!

Ingredients:

  • French baguette, sliced into ¼ inch rounds
  • 1 cup drained and chopped artichoke hearts
  • ½-1 cup halved pitted kalamata olives
  • ¼ cup drained capers
  • 1 cup shredded pecorino cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • 2-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Makes about 50 little bites

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Curried Brussel Sprouts

Trying on wedding dresses is a hilarious endeavor. First, you have to get over the fact that you’re wearing a costume. And why these costumes have evolved to become almost exclusively inspired by cupcake frosting, I will never know. You walk into these bridal salons and your choices are either giant puffy explosion of fabric, OR, alternatively, giant puffy explosion of fabric.

Then, most of the sample dresses aren’t actually your size, so they’re clipped onto your body by some perky attendant with a bunch of chip clips. You’re basically making an expensive purchase based on something that you can sort of/kind of tell might be pretty if it were in the vicinity of your actual size. It’s like being asked to buy a car by a salesman who just showed you how well the car drives by pushing a toy version of it around a toy street making “vroom vroom” noises with his mouth like a five year old.

This is a slight exaggeration. It’s actually a hugely fun(ny) experience. Luckily, I did manage to find a dress that doesn’t make me look like Kim Kardashian. So now that I know what I’ll be wearing, it’s time to really start starving myself (kidding).

This is a good veggie side dish if you’re in the market for a good veggie dish. Start by heating the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over a medium to medium-low heat. Add your diced onion, halved brussel sprouts, and kosher salt and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even browning on all sides. When the sprouts are browned and tender, add the lemon juice, garlic, curry and sugar. Cook for another minute or so, taste for seasoning, and eat!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 15 brussel sprouts, halved
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon curry
  • ½ teaspoon sugar

Serve one!

Posted in Side Dishes, Vegetables | Leave a comment

Chorizo and Lentil Soup

Bummer! I made this soup for the crowd watching the Bruins game last night, and I like to think that it assuaged just a little bit of the heartbreak of losing Game Seven in overtime. That’s the thing about soups… they always come in handy one way or another. And don’t worry, hearty hockey fans, there’s always the French Open to look forward to!

This is so easy to make and terribly delicious. I got the idea from Barefoot’s Lentil Sausage Soup in her Barefoot in Paris book. But I turned the volume up, as she says, both in quantity and flavors. More garlic, more cumin, and spicy chorizo sausage instead of kielbasa (no offense to Poland). I also added my secret ingredient, honey, to round out the spiciness of the chorizo and cumin.

Start with your lentils. Put them in a large bowl and pour boiling water to cover them completely. Let them soak for 15 minutes and then drain them. In a large pot, melt the butter over a medium heat and add the onions, leeks, garlic, kosher salt, cumin, and thyme. Stir to mix and cook until the onion is soft and translucent, about 15 minutes. Add your carrots and celery and cook for another 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, drained lentils and honey and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to lowest of the low and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour until the lentils are tender.

Slice up your chorizo and add it to the soup. Taste and add more salt as needed. When the chorizo is hot, serve the soup topped with chopped chives.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound 8 ounces of French green lentils
  • 4 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 4 onions, peeled and diced
  • 2 leeks, diced and rinsed (those things are super sandy)
  • 1 entire bulb of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons freshly minced thyme
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 quarts of chicken stock
  • 6 ounce can of tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 pound precooked chorizo, sliced into rounds
  • Black pepper
  • Chives

Serves 10-12

Posted in Soup | 2 Responses

Gluten Free Strawberry Shortcake

Gluten is pretty crucial when it comes to baking. Trying to make a delicious baked good without gluten is like trying to build a skyscraper without steel, or an ice rink without water, or a teen movie without Zac Efron. Without gluten, which is in flour, you’re left trying to MacGyver together a batter with rice and nuts and xanthum gum… it’s a pretty scarring experience.

But, my sister Grace is gluten free. She slam-dunked us with that news about 8 years ago, and ever since then we’ve been on the search for the perfect gluten free desserts. We’ve found great GF brownie and cake mixes, but by far the biggest success story has been Pamela’s Gluten Free Baking Mix. I don’t know who Pamela is, but I’m pretty sure she is some sort of mutant super-baker/savant with magical powers.

So my sister Clare and I really wanted to make Strawberry Shortcake, and since Grace was around we decided to try a gluten free version. It came out well so it made it to the blog. Normally my GF creations crash and burn and get filed under Never, Ever Speak of This Again.

Preheat the oven to 425⁰. Into the bowl of your food processor, dump 2 cups of Pamela’s GF Baking Mix, the sugar, the baking soda, and the salt. Pulse a few times, and then add the butter. Pulse until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Dump this dry mixture into a bowl. In a separate bowl, beat together the milk, sour cream, and egg with a fork until reasonably combined. Then, pour that over the dry mixture and gently fold it barely together with a spatula.

Dust a non-wooden countertop with a little more GF Baking Mix, and turn the dough out onto the surface. Sprinkle more GF Baking Mix on top and gently press it down with your palms until it’s about 1 inch thick. Cut it into 9 pieces, roughly 2”x2” squares, and transfer to a baking sheet. Brush the tops with a little water and sprinkle with Sugar in the Raw.

Bake for 12 minutes, until the shortbread starts to brown. While it’s in the oven, toss your strawberries with ¼ cup of sugar, and whip your cream. Remove the shortbread from the oven, allow to cool slightly, and serve covered with sugared strawberries and whipped cream! You can also serve this room temperature hours later. So delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Pamela’s GF Baking Mix, plus extra for dusting
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick of cold butter, cut into small slices
  • ½ cup of milk
  • ¼ cup of sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • Sugar in the raw
  • 2 pounds of strawberries, cored and halved
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • whipped cream

Serves nine

Posted in Dessert | 2 Responses

Quinoa with Tomato, Olives, Feta, and Mint

How did Steve Jobs go from the guy who lived in his parents’ garage to the guy that changed the world? No seriously, I would love to find out. American Airlines was playing a documentary about him on my flight the other week, and we landed in Boston before I could find out his secrets. Like, what did he eat for breakfast? Did he floss his teeth? Did he do chin-ups before bed?

I too am currently housing all my belongings in my parents’ garage, living in my childhood bedroom (complete with Winnie the Pooh throw pillow… I went through a phase in the 5th grade), and looking to make it Big. Or at least semi-Big. Whatever type of Big that allows you to move out of your parents’ garage. So basically, I am Steve Jobs. At least the before model.

Steve-Jobs-before-model or not, living at home does have its perks. Like when my mom made this incredible pasta salad the other night with tomatoes, Kalamata olives, feta, and mint. It was dee-licious. I decided to copy her, only use quinoa instead of pasta. It’s super-straight forward to make.

Start with your quinoa. Follow the directions on the package. Mine said to boil 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan. When it comes to a boil, add 1 cup of quinoa, cover, and reduce the heat to medium. Let it cook for 12 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and cover for 15 more minutes.

While the quinoa cooks, combine your tomatoes, olives, feta, and mint in a medium bowl. Stir in the olive oil and the kosher salt. Once the quinoa has steamed for 15 minutes, add it to the bowl and stir it all together! A protein-packed lunch.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ½ cup chopped mint
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Makes about 6 cups

Posted in Rice, Grains, and Pasta, Salad, Side Dishes | 1 Response

Tax Day Cocktail

I finished my taxes on Friday and thought I deserved a celebratory cocktail. One thing led to another and all of a sudden I found myself pouring an entire handle of Jack Daniels into a giant glass gallon jug. This sometimes happens when I get the idea to make a cocktail. Before you think I planned on drinking it ALL myself – rest assured. I was going to share at least half with my friends in NYC Saturday night. Nothing brings the fun to a birthday party like a giant glass gallon jug cocktail.

This is super easy, especially if you already have a gallon jug. I love the old-fashioned glass ones that you can buy online in packs of four. They’re festive and functional and great for serving a crowd. To start, dump the entire handle of whiskey into the jug. In a small saucepan, pour in 2 cups of water and 1 ½ cups of dark brown sugar. Fully dissolve the sugar over a medium heat. Add this sugar water to the remaining 6 cups of water (this cools it down), and pour the entire sugar/water solution in with the bourbon.

Add your lime juice and stuff in tons of mint. It can sit in the fridge overnight, or get served right away. Serve over ice with a fresh mint garnish.

Ingredients:

  • A handle of Jack Daniels (1.75 liters)
  • 1 ½ cups dark brown sugar
  • 8 cups water
  • Juice of three limes
  • Tons of mint
  • Ice

Makes about 1 gallon

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Artichokes with Lemon Butter Sauce

So it’s been a little while since my last post. Nine days to be exact. This is a direct result of the fact that my brain/body/essence-of-being has been virtually frozen since I left Florida last week. As my body slowly readjusts to the Final-Chill-Smackdown, also known as April in Massachusetts, I’ve been able to emerge from the sleeping-bag-with-sleeves coat I’ve been wearing exclusively since last Wednesday and thaw my brain to the point where it’s capable of stringing a few sentences together.

Artichokes are a lot of fun. They may not be considered a “meal” by our male counterparts, but I’ve always thought that an artichoke makes a perfectly suitable lunch (maybe with some cheese and crusty bread—who am I kidding). Like my tan, they peel away in layers. And eventually, after what seems like hours of tearing off leaves and dunking them in butter, you’ll get to the hairy heart. It’s not really hair (it better not be)—I think they’re seeds or something—and you can just cut around them.

Normally my mom serves these with melted salted butter, which is obviously delicious. But I decided to jazz up my melted butter with shallots, garlic, white wine, lemon juice, and tarragon. It just makes the dunk-a-roo that much more of a treat.

Boil about 2 inches of water in a large pot, add plenty of salt (this should be seawater salty), and toss in your artichokes, stems trimmed. Cover and boil/steam away for about 30 minutes. While the chokes cook, you can make the sauce. Melt the butter in a small, nonstick skillet over a medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic, wait ten seconds, and then add the white wine and lemon juice. Boil that for 2-3 minutes and then remove the sauce from the heat. Add the kosher salt and the pepper.  You can let it get to room temperature, or keep it warm… whatever works for you.

When the chokes are cooked (you’ll know when a knife goes easily through the stem, and the leaves tear off very easily), drain them and serve. Give the sauce a final and vigorous stir, adding the tarragon, before spooning it into a serving bowl. Make sure to have an empty bowl on the table so your friends can chuck the leaves into it when they’re done!

Ingredients:

  • 4 artichokes, with stem trimmed
  • ½ stick of salted butter
  • ½ cup finely minced shallots (about 2 shallots)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • The juice of one lemon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped tarragon

Serves 4 people

Posted in Appetizers, Lunch, Side Dishes, Vegetables | 4 Responses