Monthly Archives: December 2009

Menu For Hope


Courtesy of Menu For Hope

Jessica Alpert

Christmas is getting closer….and closer.  You may be scrambling to buy your last gifts OR like me, this year you may be taking a holiday without gifts.  Oh recession, how we love you so.

No matter what, some gift giving for yourself while benefiting others is always a DO.  Jess of Sweet Amandine clued me in to a great charity raffle called Menu For Hope.   I’ll let her explain it in her own words.

The project was founded six years ago by the lovely and talented Pim, and has since grown into a worldwide annual event aimed at ending hunger. All proceeds go to the UN World Food Programme
, the world’s largest food aid agency. Last year, Menu for Hope raised over $62,000. This year, with your help, we hope to raise even more.
Here’s how it works: Food bloggers the world over have donated a range of food-related items to an online raffle. Your job is to take a look at the list of offerings
, and bid on the items of your choice. It’s just $10 per virtual ticket. Pretty neat, isn’t it? Your ten little dollars will help put a meal on someone’s table, and may even get you something sweet for your own.
For my part, I’m offering a trio of homemade sweet, almondy treats, packaged in a Florentine gift box from my favorite local paper shop. It’s Sweet Amandine three ways: almond butter tartlets, almond biscotti, and salted chocolate almond toffee. (Editor’s note: Delectable photo below)

Read the rest of the entry HERE.   Learn more about the program HERE.

Photo Courtesy of Sweet Amandine









Hurry Up and…Relax.


Photo: Tony the Misfit/Flickr

Susan McCrory

This time of year can be so crazed. I wonder if you feel that odd time warp I do just about now? The days roll by on their inexorable march, but you are able to make EACH free moment of EACH passing day COUNT. You laugh, talk, eat, drink, cook, bake, wrap and clean up, then repeat the next day–all the while doing a million things for as many people and thereby slowing down those passing hours.

This post is about what you can look forward to, or rather what I hope you can look forward to, soon: that wonderfully sleepy period of days before New Year’s Eve when the work pace slows both at work and at home. Sleep in! Cook or don’t cook! Make phone calls! Take strolls!

If you head to downtown Boston for your stroll, make sure you first check out this website for the Mayor’s Holiday Special. Nearly four dozen restaurants — mostly in Boston and Cambridge — are offering discounts as part of this annual effort to boost foot traffic and business. There are offers for free appetizers, free desserts, 20% off entrées, deals on shopping, parking, etc. If anything, you can use this site as a jumping off point for ideas as to what you might like to do at your leisure, whether you spend a little, a lot, or nothing at all. Just the fresh air, the holiday lights, and the relaxed mood will keep your spirits high. And don’t forget your skates! They’ll come in handy on both the Boston and Cambridge sides of the Charles.  Enjoy!

Cookbooks For The Cooks On Your List

Happy Monday to all.

Here and Now’s resident chef Kathy Gunst lugs in her favorite cookbooks of the year. They include “Gourmet Today” from Ruth Reichl, “My New Orleans” by John Besh, “Momofuku” by David Chang , “How to Roast a Lamb” by Michael Psilakis and “Stir: Mixing it up in the Italian Tradition” by Barbara Lynch. Kathy also suggests “Ad Hoc at Home” by Thomas Keller, “Baking” by James Peterson, and “Rose’s Heavenly Cakes” by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Check out the video to learn more.

Family Dinners


Photo: Daniel Morrison/Flickr

Today at the Kitchen we’re offering up something a little bit different in light of the holidays. Yes, OF COURSE it’s related to food, but it comes our way via a therapist and professor of psychology who practices here in Boston, Anne Fishel. Her essay “Reaping the Benefits of Family Dinners” was brought to my attention by a fellow mom of preschoolers who is also Anne’s colleague at Mass General.

This isn’t an essay solely relevant to parents (parents of toddlers or teenagers, especially) or to 20-somethings dreading coming home this time of year on account of that ubiquitous, religion-blind holiday activity, family meals. Rather, any one of us mildy (or wildly) interested in food and the dynamic of the table can take away from Anne’s essay some thought-provoking ideas about the importance of how we eat and what we eat together. Keep reading the comments posted at the end of her piece and you’ll see that the concept of family dinners can have an impact on the college dining hall and the scourge of eating disorders.

My own self, I grew up in a family that ate together every night, I mean every night, til the day I, the baby, left for college. I don’t know how my parents pulled it off since there were four of us kids. And it never felt like a burden for me as a teenager. No kidding. Miraculous?

Now, as a mom of two little people, I’d say my family of four eats dinner together that many evenings a week on average. In our circle of friends, I believe we do it more often than most. Believe me, enjoying the dinner I’d made and eating it with my 2- and 3-year olds were mutually exclusive activities. But that’s gotten better as they grow and, without needing to refer to the literature on the subject, I intuit that our time around the table is a formative thing for them. I’ll work to keep us eating at the same time, not in shifts, for as long as I can. But I suspect the day-to-day details of our family life at this moment look a whole lot different than they will five years from now. And certainly they look much different from those my parents lived when they were at this point in their own lives.

I am interested in knowing. For all of you reading the PRK blog, how did family dinners impact (or not) your interest in food as a hobby, a passion, a career? Do you make extra effort to have family dinners or to regularly share home-cooked meals with friends? Do you think our collective attitude as a nation towards family meals has changed?

Hannukah Gourmet


Photo: The Gifted Photographer/Flickr

Jessica Alpert

Whether or not you’re a member of the tribe, Hannukah offers some pretty DELISH menu ideas. FULL DISCLOSURE: Last night, I spent a good hour shredding and peeling potatoes to make potato rosti (recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart Mag).  It was a semi-success so it’ll be back to average latkes next time around. I’ve been digging around the internet and found quite a few other ideas (some even with instructional videos).

Latkes, kugel, macaroons.  Sound like Chinese? Read on and I’ll give you the latest and greatest on Hannukah’s delights ….um, beyond the lights.

-JEWCY offers a cooking series video called, get ready “Jewboy Cooks.”  Hilarious.  Take a look at the latke video with options to add zucchini, apples, and more.

-Ok, this is even better.  Don’t have time to shred potatoes?  Try DRIVE-THRU!  Here’s a version from Bubbe Wendy.  Brilliance courtesy of JEWCY and Fancy Fast Food.

-Kugel, a noodle dish that never gets old.  Check out this recipe from Sweet and Savory Says it All

-Finally, some Gluten-Free Options from Gluten-Free Bay….and some serious MACAROONS from Cabaret Squidoo.

Have the best RECIPE EVER?  Share the love.

The Holidays are Heating Up….

Photo: comedy nose/Flickr

Susan McCrory

OK, sorry in advance for the pun. But I couldn’t resist after reading about the One Night Culinary Event (O.N.C.E.) beginning tonight in Harvard Square and continuing through Thursday with Dante’s Inferno as the literary and culinary theme of the evening. It’s called O.N.C.E. in Hell: Dante’s Inferno in 10 Courses. Come again? Yep, the proverbial heat in the kitchen will get real and be brought to your theatre seat at this culinary and theatrical interpretation of Dante’s masterpiece being put on at the Oberon on Arrow Street. The three authors/chefs from Cuisine En Locale (one of them personal chef and local foodie JJ Gonson) conceived the menu and script as one and they are promising no one–not even vegetarians–will go hungry at this non-vegetarian event. It sounds mightily creative to me. Thank you, Swaroop, of AuntieChef for sending us word.

If  you are feeling the holiday heat in other ways and STILL fretting over gift ideas (I am), the gals of North Shore Dish have a fantastic, simple idea–well, a series of ideas, actually–that any one of us can apply to whomever we love, whatever our personal food interests may be and wherever we live. They are advocating the gift of local food, in the form of gift certificates to your favorite neighborhood joint, any favorite local foods you’d like to share (minus the stress of fancy wrapping), and for nearby cooking classes or brewery tours. They have easily, eloquently described their thinking on the matter, complete with ‘how about this’ examples, so I’ll sign off and leave it to their “Look Local” post.

New Years Dilemma

Photo: Istockphoto via Boston Zest

Ok, what are you all planning?  I have to admit, I always think New Years is overrated.  BUT I must again admit that this is most likely a defense mechanism.  After Hannukah, Christmas, (maybe some other celebrations in between), I’m pretty zonked.  As my family’s social coordinator (self-appointed and confirmed), I’m almost always at a loss.

This year I want to think about it early.  Should I do a dinner party? A low-key bar scene? A schmancy dinner? (hmmm, maybe not. READ: RECESSION). Even so, I really don’t want to rule anything out.

So…I hope we can collectively brainstorm.  What are YOU doing? Any events we should know about? Countryfied (as in majestic, snow-covered and champagne drenched B&B) options?  Perhaps a sweet unexpected something in the  (gasp.gasp) suburbs? Or…just ignore all of my hints and send us some wild ideas.  You know PRK’ers are totally open.

The twitter and blog scene is ALL about restaurant options.  Let me say this; I appreciate the dutiful research conducted by others.

Check out this list from Open Table. Penny Cherubino did some of her own homework and lists some options on her website, Boston Zest. And…Boston Chefs gives some suggestions HERE. Gayot (that’s guy-OH, tyvm) also lists some of its faves.

Alright now, let’s rally

Heaven forbid folks start looking to New York.

Oh, Christmas Tree

Tina from Carrots 'N' Cake picked out (and drove home) her tree this past weekend with her husband (photo:

You may not be able to eat them, but Christmas trees are a festive and fun part of local agriculture, so we at PRK want to pass along some resources for finding the perfect tree. If you haven’t had a tree tagged since September (like my family used to do), it’s time to get out and find the Fraser–or Balsam Fir, Scotch Pine or White Spruce with your name on it.

The Mass Department of Agricultural Resources encourages buying a locally grown Christmas tree and provides listings of tree farms and vendors across the state, by name and by county. Click here to see the listings, get tips for keeping a tree healthy through the season and how to recycle your tree at the end of the holidays.

Tina from Carrots ‘N’ Cake went out to Lambert’s to pick out her tree and has some great photos of the day.

Over at Boston Food and Whine, Tammy found that Albert J. Todesca & Son on Washington St. in West Roxbury is running a great promotion: one hundred percent of the proceeds from sales of Christmas trees at Todesca’s this season will go to the Children’s Hospital! Now that’s great holiday cheer.

Thursday Tidbits

Photo: thebittenword/Flickr

Susan McCrory

This morning PRK received its first issue of the Farm & Market Report from the Mass Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR). Help spread the word! This bi-monthly newsletter (to those of you who did not attend last week’s PRK MeetUp) is chuck-a-bluck full of ag industry information and news, some of it technical and industry-specific, some less so. For example, in this issue there’s news on the “Ag Tag,” a bulletin for downloading on Preserving Historic Farms, blog links and a calendar of events. The TOC really comes in handy.

You’ve gotta’ check this out: here’s a recipe from ecofoodie for chocolate cake that calls for, brace yourself, mayonnaise.  The results? “Perfection.”

I know Turkey Day has passed, but many folks (my in-laws included) eat it again at Christmas, so I couldn’t help but pass on this tongue-in-cheek post from the crew at AuntieChef. Heck, that crocheted feller’ could make a nifty holiday gift for the hard-to-buy-for person in your life…! If you’re still looking for gift ideas of the homemade persuasion, Fresh New England has come across several wonderful items, many involving small glass jars filled with home recipes of one sort or another, each cleverly decorated. Scroll past the “lemon mousse ingredients” photograph to reach the links (though I barely got there–her photography is THAT stunning).

A propos of game, chef Tim Wiechmann of T.W. Food in Cambridge (that’s the Tim of root cellaring fame; see Tom Urell’s post of Nov. 6), is hosting a fixed price Wild Game Dinner next Tuesday and Wednesday evening, Dec. 16 and 17.

Had enough bird? Try this Moroccan Vegetable Stew from Semi-Sweet, who came up with this recipe under duress–the ‘happy problem’ of having too many squash, carrotts and parsnips from a Winter CSA share.

If you’d like to follow up on the Slow Food Boston “Brazilian Cocktail Party” held last Thursday evening, click HERE for their follow-up photos, thanks and recipes. Over 100 people showed!

Finally, and not to toot our own horn, but some great photographs of the Dec. 3rd Meet-Up/EatUp held here at WBUR for the PRK community have been posted by the gals of We Are Not Martha. Thank you, Chels and Sues!

Don’t Forget The Animals

Photo: waterrose/Flickr

Jessica Alpert

It’s getting closer to the holidays and folks around the city are pulling together to remember the special cats, dogs, horses, hamsters, fishes (shall I go on?) of the Boston area.  Make sure you do your part, too.  Whether it’s attending an MSPCA event or cooking up a homemade doggie treat, you know your actions mean a lot to the critters.

Boston Zest recently shared the blogging stage with the MSPCA’s Brian Adams.  Besides a bake sale, the MSPCA is offering various events over the next few weeks to help raise funds for the organization.  Check out the options HERE.

The Animal Rescue Site is so fantastic.  Many of you web-ites probably know about it but just in case, I’m putting another link HERE. Click once a day to donate food (at NO cost to you) for homeless animals.  There is also a special challenge going on right now that allows you to vote for your favorite local shelter. The winner will receive $100,000 towards improving their services.

Now what about taking a break from your vigorous pie-baking regimen to create some treats for your animals? Here are some great horse/bird/dog recipes from the What’s Cooking Blog.

Only have time to think about animals during your commute?  Download this Radio Boston broadcast on DOGS (really…..DOGS) and be prepared to be amazed by the information we found (from fun tidbits to serious public policy issues).  No JOKE.

Have a local tidbit/event/idea for us?  Tweet us @jessprk and @pubradiokitchen.