Sha-Sha-Shakshuka!!

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So good (pat, pat, pat…).  Sunday’s dinner was a success!  The menu:

  • Cheese and olives – with a bit of pepperoni
  • Falalfel with pita
  • Shakshuka
  • Briam  
  • Bailey cordials

The menu, minus a side dish, was set and I was beginning to panic, unsure as to what low-carb, paleo friendly accompaniment could go with a very spicy meal?  Thankfully, I lucked out; tripping across The Mediterranean Dish which is chock full of regionally appropriate dishes with easy-to-follow instructions, settling upon an intriguing Briam.  I also found great information on the New York Times’ Cooking site and on Eater.com – Eater being a  surprise as it’s a Vox website and as a general rule, I’m not a fan of Vox.

Italian Frying Peppers

The surprise hit was the falafel, thanks to Aglaia Kemezi’s Mediterranean Hot cookbook.  I’ve not previously seen, made or eaten the crispy patties of goodness and wasn’t sure what to expect.  The recipe called for Chilies which was confusing.  Never before have I purchased just chilies – habaneros and jalapenos, sure they’re pretty common in most Jersey grocery stores. I couldn’t recall, however, ever seeing plain ole fresh chilies in a store.  Frustratingly, I killed more time than I care to think about pacing up and down the aisle of Corrado’s looking for the spicy hot green goddess, but to no avail.  With the help of the produce guy, I found a pepper that we believed the recipe called for.

My happiness was short lived. While prepping the ingredients I realized that, combined, the falafel would probably be way too hot for my delicate palate. Feeling saucy, I threw caution to the wind – how could I not, my husband and our friend were taking them down; delicately nibbled the dark, crispy patty; and am now a changed woman.

The shakshuka – the driving force behind the meal — was delightful.  Albeit, the whole poach your eggs in the stew thing was new to me and something I need practice as ½ the eggs broke as I ‘gently’ dropped them into the stew.  The Briam was also intense – how could it not be, just look at that pan full comforting veggies. But I do question if it were the right side for the shakshuka – perhaps a little too sweet and maybe not a good strategy —  tomato on tomato —  when planning a meal.

Overall, the day was a success.  Proof?  That would be our friend, Ganesh, exclaiming, “this is basically a dish we make back home and yours is really good” – he’s from Southern India.  A few learnings from my adventures:

  • Frying peppers are a good substitution for Chili peppers (they may be one and the same). 
  • You really need to serve pita and some sort of saucy side with falafel
  • Shakshuka can be made the night before (I always enjoy doing this as it allows the ingredients to marry together).  Simply reheat and then add the eggs.

I’m confident the shakshuka will reappear on our table someday soon as will the falafel; however next go around they’ll be paleo friendly for the big man.  More tales of my mid-eastern culinary pursuits will follow.  Until then, however, I wish you safe travels, smooth sailings and, of course, bon appetite.

Impossible!

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The Impossible Burger

Well now, that’s impossible — a plant-based burger?  Yes, indeed, the Impossible Burger was introduced at CES 2019.  CES is the Consumer Electronic Show, held every year in lovely Vegas (there’s a tinge of sarcasm in there re: Vegas…and the whole plant-based burger thing).  I did some sleuthing for the best travel and food related products.  From what I can tell, the following are some of the more innovative food and travel products introduced into the marketplace:

Travel is Fun – The Brunswick Inn

Travel Stuff:

  • Ovis Autonomous Suitcase – This is cool, it follows you around in the airport (and, assumingly, elsewhere) eliminating the need to physically carry your luggage.
  • The Nomad Plug Travel Adapter – Rather trite, but if you travel internationally, needed.  ‘They’ say it’s the closest thing to a ‘universal adapter’ as there is.
  • Thinkware Q800 Pro Dashcam – If you’re a driver and into the whole dashcam thing, this is interesting.  Something to consider, also, if you’re taking a road trip, it has a built in GPS for embedding speed, time and location data into videos.
  • Volterman Travel Smart Wallet – Hmmm, a smart wallet, I ponder skeptically.  This one has a built-in powerbank, distance alarm, global GPS tracking, worldwide WiFi hotspot, and anti-Theft camera and may be worth checking out.
  • MWA Cylo Cannonball ‘Floatable’ Speaker – Who doesn’t need a floatable speaker?  These are fun and are also sand and dirt resistant – Cape Cod, look out!  I have beach worthy speakers!!

Foodie Stuff:

As I was researching the show’s foodie announcements, I stumbled across an eater.com article that hilariously described those innovative kitchen products we all just can’t live without. A humorous roundup of CES culinary ‘gadgets’, the article is written with a certain kind of snark that I love.  And, I decided I would let Deputy Editor Erin DeJesus do the talking for me.  Check out her article, even if for the chuckle (note, I do feel that the GE Kitchen Hub is worth it if you make a living in the kitchen; unlike myself doing this epicurean thing with my thousands — err, hundreds; err, dozens; yeah, that’s it, dozens – of followers).

The Jammy

As a final nod to my husband, before I sign off for the evening, the Jammy – or, a version of the Jammy — was introduced – an electric guitar with a collapsible neck, granted Tony would be more excited with a regular guitar.

That’s it for this evening. I’m going to jump in bed shortly, hoping for visions of Kohler’s Sensate Touchless Kitchen Faucet dancing in my head. Until my next missive, I wish you all safe travels, smooth sailings, and, of course, bon appetite.

All Eyes on the Weekend

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The weekend is upon us and I’m staying local.  For those looking for something a bit different, following is a roundup of offbeat activities throughout the Northeast culled with the specific mission of getting you out and about.

In Portland, The Maine Historical Society is seizing upon the culinary renaissance taking place throughout the state with  two distinct programs:  Maine Eats and Maine Brews.  The exhibits are on display at the Society’s home in downtown Portland.  A bit further North, The Brunswick Inn is having a Murder Mystery Weekend. A quasi-embarrassing confession, my husband and I love these types of excursions; on the surface they seem like they could be cheesy, but when done right, hilarity usually ensues (note, you must call the Inn to reserve as reservations can’t be made online?!?  Phone:  207.729.4914).

Out and about in New Hampshire, the Prescott Farm Educational Center in Laconia offers a Snowshoe program on Saturday.  And, Stowe, Vermont is hosting its annual Stowe Derby, one of the oldest and most unique ski races in North America.

If you’re around Providence, RI, take the Federal Hill Food Tour.  Hosted by Master Chef and Historian, Walter Potenza, the tour touches upon the great foods and history of Federal Hill and walkers will have the opportunity to sample cheeses, charcuterie, and antipasti.

In New York, check out the New York Botanical Garden’s Bar Car Night (Saturday is the last night for the Bar car evening).   On these nights exclusively for adults 21 and over, the wintry landscape of NYBG sets the scene for festive outdoor adventures, with an after-dark viewing of the Holiday Train Show.

The weekend also appears to be the start of a smattering of Restaurant Weeks.  In Philadelphia, the City Center Restaurant Week begins on Sunday, where those in the know can enjoy a three-course lunch for $20 and a three-course dinner for $35.  In Maryland, it’s the Baltimore Restaurant Week (as well as in a few other, key towns throughout the state).  They fancy themselves a ‘delicious city’ and the week’s specials feature two-course brunch and lunch menus range from $12-20, and three-course dinner menus range from $20-$35.

May inspiration be upon you to get out and about this weekend; I myself might just end up at the Botanical Gardens Saturday evening.  As always, I wish you all safe travels, smooth sailings, and, of course, bon appetite.

Bittersweet

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So, video #2 is here; finally. Spent a good chunk of the evening figuring out the app I purchased over the holidays. Unfortunately, I’m not very conversant with the platform so I’m presenting without any ado video #2 — Making pizza at the Woodland Cabin featuring my husband, Tony Rivera doing his open fire cooking.

Cooking Over an Open Fire

Would love any comments, suggestions, etc. in an effort to make this better; there are some obvious things, like adding a title page — duh; maybe adding some music; imitating Stellar Rad and adding an overlay of copy here and there. But, more importantly I’d love your thoughts on the content and how it’s presented — as well as any suggestions on video creation software as the verdict is still out on my current program.

And, for the Bittersweet part. Today is National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day and I’d like to dedicate this post to my Grandfather who died in the line of duty…way back when (I’m sure he loved pizza). Without him, there’d be no Mom and, subsequently, no me. So sad.

Officer Albert Lemoine, Woonsocket Rhode Island Police Department

In memory of him, and Tony’s Uncle Frank (coincidentally, the Pizza was made in his honor) and to all the Law Enforcement folks out there, a hearty thanks.

Wishing everyone, especially the men and woman in uniform, safe travels, smooth sailings and, of course, bon appetite.

Simple Pleasures

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Woefully behind in posting, I thought I’d do a write up on the various winter carnivals taking place throughout the NE. Disappointingly, however, my list was becoming more and more lame with each search. I’ve previously written about maple sugaring festivals; perhaps I should have updated that post for tonight.

My Not So Simple Salad

It’s been difficult getting back into the swing of things after the holidays, but I’m reveling in simple pleasures, one being my lunchtime salad. Definitely not a simple salad as that walnut commercial boasts about, but rather one that includes everything and the kitchen sink. Definitely refreshing, and needed, after the over-indulging of the holidays.

#Delicious

We celebrated little Christmas this past Sunday. Usually we host a brunch, but this year opted to go out to eat. The place we went, The Twisted Elm in Elmwood Park, NJ has a cozy atmosphere that includes a fire place — a definite bonus — and a menu that’s a combination of quasi-fancy fare and comfort food (literally, there’s a section on the menu entitled ‘Comfort Food’). Well, the Twisted Elm has a fantastic cheese board and its accompaniments — from fig preserves to relished cranberry to mapled walnuts — are simply scrumptious.

I’m restarting my Sunday epicurean sojourns this weekend. These are culinary pursuits I embark upon for our afternoon dinner (sometimes it’s evening, depending on the meal’s intricacy level). There’s little method behind my madness with these meals; sometimes I pick a country and do a traditional feast from the locale while other times I embark upon the season and create a meal based off the holiday du jour. Ultimately, there’s no formula that I follow.

This Sunday, I’m making a Shakshuka. I first had the dish in Montreal and assumed it was Canadian, it was so warming considering the chill in the air that weekend. Little did I know the dish hails from North Africa and the Mid-East. I’m excited, it’s made me dig out my Mediterranean Hot cookbook and has given a reason for me to create a spicy repast for the weekend. Details to follow; I’m assuming I’ll make it out of the kitchen unscathed and we’ll wind down the weekend with bellies’ full of this wonderful…err, soup, sauce, dish?

Thanks for stopping by. I wish you all safe travels, smooth sailings and, of course, bon appetite.