Monthly Archives: December 2010

Hey, Honey

Italian Strufoli

Photo: Sue McCrory

Yesterday was a special day in my family. We converged at my brother’s house late in the afternoon for our annual strufoli-making party. Each year my mom directs, my dad watches, the younger of my two brothers manages, and all ten of us execute in some fashion. It was a great event, once again.

In preparation for this post, I googled strufoli to learn the history and should have figured. There’s a whole range of info out there. In turns, this sweet treat is: a Christmas tradition; “a favorite at Italian weddings;” Sicilian; Neapolitan (spelled struffoli); alternately flavored with orange rind, anise, vanilla, chocolate or nuts; a “cookie” (not exactly, not in my family!); and a “honey ball” (again, not exactly, at least not when we make it).

Strufoli is most definitely fried, coated with honey, predominantly associated with Christmas and Italian cuisine (don’t be fooled by the “Mc” in my married name.)

Back to the party. There we all were, three generations strolling in expectantly with rolling pins, pastry cutters and large, empty plates in hand. The bigger your plate, the bigger your bounty of strufoli on Christmas Day. Two-plus hours later, we left reeking of oil (my clothes still smell) and contentedly holding a plate piled high with strufoli for decimation on the 25th.

Here is the recipe from my grandmother, Emma Graziano, for how to make “strufs.” It’s a tradition we treasure.

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Fav Cookbooks in 2010

Photo: ex.libris/Flickr

Chef Kathy Gunst, resident chef of WBUR’s “Here & Now,” shares her favorite cookbooks in 2010 on today’s show. Some of these present more like tomes, but the recipes Kathy highlights from them look GREAT. There’s even a recipe for one of the most basic sweets in a baker’s repertoire, the oatmeal raisin cookie.

Mystery Meet: Mumbai Chopstix

Mystery+strangers+Indian+Chinese+a glass of Riesling=a good time.

This is the second Mystery Meet PRK has attended. Jessica Alpert dined in the dark in October, but this month there were no blindfolds or conga lines, just great conversation and live sitar.

In case you’re new to the concept of Mystery Meet, it’s a dinner club that began in July of this year thanks to social media entrepreneur, Seth Resler. Mystery Meet-ers get together the second Tuesday of every month at a restaurant of Resler’s choosing. Sounds normal, right?

Well, there’s a catch. Resler alerts followers via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and text message of the destination a mere 24 hours in advance. And since it’s not really a set ‘club’ with set ‘members,’ diners are usually a mish-mash of strangers, those who were fast and lucky enough to reserve a seat–September’s dinner sold out in FIVE minutes. Continue reading

PRK On The Air: Tiny Urban Kitchen, Molly O’Neill, Andy Husbands

This week, we’ve had some delectable segments, some serious candy for your ears.  If you missed Radio Boston’s charming interview with Jennifer Che of Tiny Urban Kitchen, take a listen HERE.

Friday on Here and Now, Robin Young interviews Molly O’Neill about her new book One Big Table: A Portrait of American Cooking.  Listen today at 12pm EST if you’re in the Boston area or find the interview on the Here & Now website.

Next Thursday, December 23rd Radio Boston welcomes Tremont 647’s Chef/Owner Andy Husbands for a tasting and conversation.  We’ll sample some of Andy’s favorite holiday dishes and we’ll take your questions about cooking, baking, entertaining–anything!  You can start emailing and tweeting them now to @pubradiokitchen.

Thursday Tidbits: Night Out

Photo: Mr. T in DC/Flickr


No Need to Book a Babysitter
Aura’s monthly Fine Dining “Family Style” is getting in the holiday spirit this month with a special Christmas menu. Both parents and kids get to enjoy a separate but equally delicious meal by Chef Rachel Klein. And when it’s time for some one-on-one time, the kids can act up in the play room. For reservations, call (617) 385-4300 or book online.

Think you’ve got some kick-ass holiday cookies? Ever put them to the test? Make a batch (at least three dozen to be exact) and bring them to Gordon’s December 18th from 2-4pm for their Cookie Competition (and Cocktails) for Toys for Tots. And for those who don’t bake, stop by anyway to judge and enjoy drinks made by Chris Rose of Pernod Ricard. Though the event is complimentary, all donations are much appreciated. Registration information here.

Ladies Night
Join the ladies of LUPEC Boston December 20th from 6-11pm at Starlite Lounge for a Holiday Punch Party benefitting On the Rise. To help support the women served by On the Rise, there’ll be a clothing drive (women’s casual winter clothing preferred), and one article of clothing gets you a free drink ticket (I.N.C.E.N.T.I.V.E.). Starlite will also be accepting donations all weekend long. More information HERE.

For anyone who’s been on Beacon Hill in the last year and a half, you may have noticed the tantalizing cupcake shop that’s been under construction for a teasingly long time. BUT, Isabelle’s Curly Cakes is now up and running. You can order online, by phone or have the “Everyday” flavored cupcakes delivered to your home. Have a look at their yummy selection.

An Eve(ning) Out
Once you’ve wrapped all the presents and put the cookies out for Santa, enjoy a Christmas Eve dinner out. Some of the area’s best restaurants will be serving up special holiday fare. A number of restaurants will be preparing the traditional Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner, and Portsmouth’s Black Trumpet Bistro will cook goose three different ways. Peruse all the options here. Reservations are a must. Continue reading

Fast Forward: 2011 Food Fun

Photo: Flickr/Sandra Bax

Anastacia Marx de Salcedo posts monthly on PRK for Slow Food Boston.

There are times during this season of gifts, gatherings and general excess when even the most holiday-spirited among us longs for the cold, clear light of January. A return to boring, everyday life with all its boring, everyday routines… Broken by the occasional bright spot, such as the following Slow Food Boston events planned for 2011. Mark your calendars!

Bean Fest ($5, $10 family maximum)
Saturday, January 8, 5-8 pm
First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church
630 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington, MA 02476
Reserve now!

Join Slow Food Boston and the First Parish Green Sanctuary committee in celebrating the humble bean! We’ll have a talk by renowned food historian, Ken Albala, based on his book, “Beans: A History;” an international potluck featuring the incredibly varied legumes—lentils, garbanzos, favas, peas, soybeans and the native American kidney, black, pinto and limas, etc.—in dips, stews, pancakes, rices and whatever else you concoct; bean games for children (beanbag toss, mancala, bean mosaics, a reading of Jack and the Beanstalk); and a crowning—via a Mardi-Gras-style cake—of a King and Queen (or King and King, or Queen and Queen; we’ll let the beans decide). We’ll also have an appearance by local heirloom bean farmer, Charlie Baer, and, if it can be arranged, a short scientific treatise on flatulence.

Cookbook Swap ($5)
Saturday, January 30, 1-4 pm
Green City Growers
600 Windsor Place, Somerville MA 02143

Got a few cookbooks languishing on your shelf that you never use? Maybe some well-intentioned but misdirected gadgetry? Extra ladles and graters? Even an appliance or two? Well, come on down to our Cookbook Swap and trade the kitchen stuff you don’t want for the stuff that you do.

Potluck/Book Club ($5)
Two of life’s greatest pleasures are good food and good books. This winter, Slow Food Boston will be inaugurating potlucks that combine the two. The concept is simple—and easygoing. We’ll announce a book and then, about a month later, organize a themed (hopefully something related to the book) potluck. But no worries. The book will only be a possible conversation item (and there will be no organized group discussion), so no need to have read it or even know anything about it to attend. Come just to sample some fabulous dishes and enjoy the company! And for those who’d rather follow along at home, we’ll run an online discussion of the month’s selection on the Public Radio Kitchen and Slow Food Boston websites.

For our first book, how does Fannie’s Last Supper, the new book by Cook’s Illustrated founder Chris Kimball in which he drills down through the history of Fannie Farmer, her cooking school (located in the South End) and Victorian Boston via an elaborately recreated menu, sound? Start reading now, and then in February we’ll have Golden Age potlucks at which some—but not all—of the dishes can be inspired by the reading. (No grimacing! There was a very active food culture in the late 1800s, especially among the middle and upper classes. Dibs on the Irish Moss Blanc-Mange!) If it sounds like fun, email me! Continue reading

A Dose of Zen

All photos: Alexandra Dimodica

The holidays are upon us, with all related festivities, concerts and shopping in full swing. For some of us, tensions run high. It could be the perfect time, then, to carve out a few hours and…just…relax.

If you live in the area, much-needed relaxation and perspective isn’t hard to find. A traditional Japanese cultural and culinary experience awaits at the Kaji Aso Studio, which I visited a few months ago. Around the corner from Boston’s Symphony Hall, the studio provides patrons with perhaps the best holiday gift of all– a dose of Zen.

Each Sunday afternoon, the studio hosts a traditional Japanese tea ceremony where dedicated tea masters, community members of Kaji Aso Studio and tea ceremony virgins enjoy matcha tea, sweet treats and (that priceless commodity) time with one another. Continue reading

Edible Science at Harvard


Photo: comedy_nose/Flickr

 This is really, really cool. The kind of thing that either makes you wistful for your college days or wish you had your own phalanx of eager young minds working through cooking conundrums for you.

This past semester, Harvard offered a course called “Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to the Science of Soft Matter.” Approximately 700 students tried to get in. Fewer than half made it. Those who did spent the next weeks applying creative thought and scientific inquiry to the solving of sticky (also savory, and sweet) culinary problems. Of real-life cooking forays gone wrong. Top chefs of the ilk of momofuku’s David Chang and White House Pastry Chef  Bill Yosses not only guest-lectured, but also helped propose ideas for the students’ end-of-the-semester projects, ideas that came directly from food prep obstacles such chefs, including Boston’s own Barbara Lynch, were facing in their own kitchens. Continue reading

Journeyman Starts With One Simple Step

Photo: Bellyglad/Flickr

Diana Kudayarova and Tse Wei Lim are unlikely restauranteurs.  On the cusp of their thirties, they didn’t go to culinary school, didn’t grow up gourmets and didn’t even start cooking until later in life. Diana’s grandmother said cooking wasn’t for modern women; Tse Wei’s thought he would “screw it up.”  The couple started their cooking adventure as a project they could experience together. First, they started learning how to cook: by scrubbing potatoes in restaurant kitchens, learning how to milk cows on rural farms, and simply–through trial and error. Eventually, they had a supper club where they served strangers gourmet meals in their small apartment. Finally, they decided to open their first restaurant, aptly named Journeyman. In a hidden Somerville alley.  During a recession.  A big recession.

Despite these significant challenges, Journeyman is booked nearly every night (a few months ago they were even forced to turn away Somerville’s Mayor Curtatone). It’s a small space with warm walls, complete with indoor herb garden. Fancy tablecloths are eschewed for brilliant stemware and endless amuse bouche. Each night a new menu is produced that reflects the season and the tastes of the chefs.

When PRK met the chefs on a Monday evening (their day off), they were wrapping up a wine tasting event. They seemed happy, if not somewhat exhausted. The couple has agreed to post their news, challenges, epiphanies, cooking wisdom and general thoughts each month here on Public Radio Kitchen.  We start today.

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Boston: A Veggie Skyline


Photo: Flickr/TinyUrbanKitchen

Nothing like starting off the week with some yummy downtown.  Seriously.  This Boston skyline is made completely out of VEGETABLES (and ahem, some fruit).  Blogger Jen from Tiny Urban Kitchen is no slouch when it comes to creative uses of produce and we’re proud to feature some very original organic architecture, including a nori-covered John Hancock and “100-green-bean-Pru!”

To learn more about Jen’s skyline, and why she picked certain veggies/fruits for certain landmarks (watermelon for Fenway–yes, there’s a story!), click HERE.   Don’t miss the fun video, too.