Monday, January 30, 2012
Sunday, January 29, 2012
We’re traveling with our friend Mark from Chicago, who has made all of the travel arrangements – for which I am eternally grateful. He’s planned all of our flights, our hotel reservations, our car rentals, and some excursions that sound unbelievable. Peter’s been studying the Lonely Planet Guide to New Zealand that I got him for Christmas, and is making a list of options for things to see in each location we visit.
I’ll be posting more details of our trip as it gets closer, but here’s a map of New Zealand showing where we’ll be hopping.
We start in Auckland, way up on the North Island, where we’ll stay for one night before flying to Queenstown on the South Island. We then drive to Lake Te Anau in Fiordland National Park (where we’ll spend one night on a boat cruising Doubtful Sound) before we drive back to Queenstown for a night’s stay. From there, we fly to Wellington, the southern most tip of the North Island, where we’ll stay two nights before driving to Napier for two nights, and then continuing on to Rotorua. “With bubbling mud pools, exploding geysers and surreal-coloured mineral terraces, the 'Sulphur City' and surrounding region never fails to impress,” says The Lonely Planet Guide. We finish our trip by driving back to Auckland where we’ll spend our last night before flying back to Boston via Los Angeles.
We are doing a crash-course in getting to know New Zealand, because we don’t want to miss a thing.
I’d be interested in any and all ideas and suggestions (books to read, websites or blogs to visit, food, drink and/or expedition suggestions, "must-see" attractions, etc.) whether you’ve been to New Zealand or have just always wanted to go. I’ll also be bringing my laptop with us and hope to post photos and recount our adventures on this blog. More details coming soon!
|An ad for the Boston Sports Club that appeared in today's Boston Sunday Globe.|
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
I was so eager to eat this dish that I forgot to snap a photo, but I did grab one from the Barefoot's website.
Note #1: Because we had a bunch of people over for dinner, I tripled this recipe and it worked great.
Note #2: I also used bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts as well as boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Cooked them all together for the same amount of time.
Barefoot Contessa's Lemon Chicken
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic (9 cloves)
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 boneless chicken breasts, skin on*
- 1 lemon
Monday, January 23, 2012
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Sunday, January 22, 2012
- 2 large onions, thickly sliced
- 3 large ripe bell peppers, cored, seeded, and cut into ½-inch-wide strips
- 1½ pounds redskin or Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 8 fresh sweet or hot Italian pork sausages (about 2¾ pounds), cut in half crosswise
- 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and black pepper
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- Set oven rack in lower-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees.
- In a large bowl, toss onions, bell peppers, potatoes, sausages, garlic, rosemary, oil, and 1 teaspoon each salt and black pepper.
- Spread mixture in large roasting pan and roast for about 1 hour, stirring after 30 minutes. If necessary, remove pan from oven and spoon off excess fat.
- Add orange juice and vinegar, return pan to oven, and continue roasting until sausages are well browned and the vegetables tender, 20 to 30 minutes longer, stirring once or twice.
- Add most of the parsley and stir to mix. With a slotted spoon, transfer mixture to a large serving dish, sprinkle with remaining parsley, and serve at once.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Friday, January 20, 2012
We got a few inches of white, powdery snow last night, which made for a beautiful morning landscape from the top floor in my office building. (That's downtown Boston off in the distance.) Forecasters say we might get another few inches tomorrow and then some more Sunday night. Sounds like a hot chocolate weekend to me.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
As Awkward Family Photo asks, “What exactly is happening behind that screen door?” Any guesses, fair readers?
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
But of course, Betty and I aren't the only one whooping it up today. Also celebrating birthdays are Muhammad Ali, Jim Carrey, Kid Rock, James Earl Jones, Michelle Obama, Zooey Deschanel, Susanna Hoffs, Maury Povich, and Vidal Sassoon.
- I'm a guy
- I didn't do it on a log at the beach
- I wouldn't be caught dead in that (color of) unitard
After that, it was a low-key birthday. Went to work, met a fellow here in South Boston who's going to help us prepare our taxes this year, took Otis for a quick walk around the block in the rain, and then settled in to watch the Golden Globe Awards from Sunday night which I thought were pretty boring and waaaaaay too long. The highlight of the evening was a hazelnut pastry from Flour Bakery that Peter surprised me with - delicious, creamy, and sweet. That's not how I'm going to lose a few pounds, but hell -- I'm sure Betty White would have done the same thing.
Monday, January 16, 2012
Villas, who died just month at the age of 73, was born in Belgium, and made a name for herself as a cabaret singer, actress and songwriter. She starred at the Casino de Paris in Las Vegas in the late 1960s, performing in as many as nine language (take that, Meryl Streep!). She also acted in several films, including the musical "Paint Your Wagon". Her life was filled with highs (performing duets with Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Charles Aznavour, etc.) as well as extreme lows (alcoholism, morphine addiction, as well as what's termed a "delusional disorder").
Enjoy this clip of Violetta - be sure to take in her crazy mane of hair, the stilted choreography, and her back-up singers who who just can't seem to stay on the beat.
Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) is one of my favorite cooks to watch on the Food Network, and even though we've made this cake a few times (and have also made the same batter to make some out of this world cupcakes), I think this particular cake took the prize: moist and delicious. Hmmm...could it be the five sticks of butter? If you're celebrating a special occasion or just feel like treating yourself to this impressive-looking but easy-to-make dessert, might I recommend this recipe?
The Barefoot Contessa's Coconut Cake
For the cake
3 sticks of butter at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
2 cups sugar
5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
1.5 teaspoons almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup milk
4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
For the frosting
1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
2 sticks butter at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 pound confectioners' sugar
6 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, then line them with parchment paper. Grease them again and dust lightly with flour.
Cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3-5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. With mixer on medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. The mixture might look a little curdled.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixture on low speed, alternatively add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter in three parts, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in four ounces of coconut.
Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 45-55 minutes, until tops are browned and cake tester comes out clean. Cool on baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling.
For the frosting, use a mixer to combine cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extract on low speed. Add the confectioners' surgar and mix until just smooth. Don't whip!
To assemble, place one layer of the cake on a flat serving plate, top side down, and spread with frosting. Place the second layer on top, top side up, and frost the top and sides. To decorate, sprinkle the top with coconut and lightly press more coconut onto the sides. Serve at room temperature.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Let's see...what's today's date?
To be fair, we have made progress as you can see in the series of photos above. But it's been a path of mis-steps and delays, including weeks of waiting for the City of Boston to process the approval certificate for the project. Once our paperwork was in place, our carpenter built-out the fireplace framework several inches wider than the agreed-upon architectural plans, which meant we had to go back and order more stone for the wrap-around. Then once the burner unit was put in, we had the little issue of a leaky gas valve. And did I mention that when the contractor finally got here to put on the stonefront (on January 2nd), the stone he and his coworker lugged up here to the fifth floor was the wrong color? They gamely repacked all of the stone and promised to correct the mistake, and they did, but now we are looking at a stone install date of January 19-20.
Here is the good news...we've been able to use the fireplace for several weeks now. And Peter did an awesome job picking out the burner unit. He did his due diligence and selected a unit that not only throws off great heat but looks like an actual woodburning fireplace.
And so while it may not yet look as pretty as it will (hopefully) very soon, we DO have a working fireplace, just like we had planned. I will look forward to letting you know when we finally put a big, fat checkmark next to "get fireplace installed" on our to-do list.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Monday, January 9, 2012
Sunday, January 8, 2012
- 1 whole chicken
- 7 ounces morel mushrooms (Peter couldn’t find, so he used a mixture of Portebello and Shitake)
- 1.25 cups Vin Jaune (sherry-like white wine)
- 1.25 cups heavy cream
- 5 shallots
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 bouquet garni
- ¾ cup chicken stock
- 4 teaspoons flour
- 2.5 tablespoons butter
- salt and pepper
- Saute the chicken in a mixture of butter and oil. Add the shallots and mushrooms and drain off the fat
- Return the chicken and shallots to the pan and coat with the flour. Add the wine and chicken stock.
- Add the peeled garlic and bouquet garni and cook at low simmer for 45 minutes.
- Stir in the heavy cream and cook and additional 15 minutes.
- Pour pouch of Lipton onion soup mix into a bowl.
- Stir in cold, fresh, delicious sour cream.
- Stir and serve with greasy, salty, crunchy potato chips of your choice.