Saturday, June 30, 2012

Summer Grilling: Turkey Burgers

Ok so this is my very first post from an iPhone. Long story short, I have been trying to organize a very hectic last week in Boston (I leave for Mexico early on Friday). Since this week also happens to be finals week, I am cramming all the studying I failed to do using June into a couple of days. Anyways, I thought I could start writing while I'm waiting for class to start and that way I can put up a post or two this week.

And let me tell you, I'm not hating typing on my phone; I thought it would be excruciating, but it's not--we'll see how many typos I have to correct later though.

So a bit about my summer so far. Now that classes are coming to an end I really can't wait to finally be on vacation. Sure, I love Boston in the summer and two classes are not bad, but I'm ready to go home. I'm also ready to start reading the pile of books (or bytes of ebooks) that I have accumulated over the year. Oh, and there is also a considerable amount of recipes that have been just decorating my Pinterest boards an bedroom shelves. I'd like to change that soon.

**Turns out my great idea to try to blog during summer finals was actually very stupid. But here is the end of my post and a recipe for delicious turkey burgers. This recipes is easy peasy, but it tastes so gourmet that you would never tell. Oh and the chutney-mustard dip on the side is delicious for dipping in fries too. Enjoy!

Turkey Burgers (adapted from Martha Stewart)
Makes 4.
Active time: 10 minutes. Total time: 20 minutes.

  • 2 slices whole wheat bread, tore into small pieces
  • 1 lb. lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 4 tablespoons store-bought (or home made) mango chutney
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1 cup mixed greens
  1. In a medium bowl combine bread, turkey, ricotta, 3 tablespoons chutney, 1 tablespoon mustard, chili powder and 1 teaspoon coarse salt until fully incorporated. Shape into 4 firmly-packed patties. (Patties can be frozen wrapped in plastic and placed in a Ziploc bag; they will keep for about 2 months)
  2. Preheat grill. In a small plate combine remaining chutney and mustard. Set aside.
  3. Cook burgers until well done, about 4 minutes on each side. Serve burgers topped with chutney-mustard sauce, tomato and mixed greens. (I also added some cilantro)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Guest Post: Tequila Tasting at Zocalo

*The following food review was written by my good friend Sandor Mark, a writer and fellow gourmet foodie. Photos taken by yours truly. Enjoy!

You may have never heard of Zocalo restaurant, but if you’ve ever walked far enough down Clarendon Street, you may have turned your head down a certain alley that overlooks I-90.  Wander far enough down those alleys, toward the one or two Mercedes parked in front of a valet stand and you’ll find yourself outside of a traditional looking Mexican restaurant.  With the bright tiling on the walls, first impressions of Zocalo may suggest it is the just another typical Mexican restaurant.  Thankfully first impressions aren’t everything.  Last Wednesday night, Zocalo Cocina Mexicana hosted a Tequila tasting dinner alongside Tanteo tequila. The dinner featured the culinary skill of Chef Ramos as he created a three courses to compliment the three different infused Tanteo tequilas: Jalapeño, Cocoa, and Tropical. 
When our group arrived at the restaurant, we were taken down into Zocalo’s basement dining room.  Far from the tiled décor upstairs, Zocalo’s basement dining room looked more like a nightclub than a Mexican restaurant.  The color changing mood lights, Pandora radio playing in the background, and the fully stocked bar was everything one could ask for when trying out new tequila.
What makes Tanteo special is that it's infused tequila. Jacob Gordon, a rep from Tanteo explained that it is different from flavored because “flavored liquors are made with syrups and chemicals, whereas Tanteo is infused with all natural ingredients.”  Surely enough, if you go on their website, you’ll see pictures of the Tequila being made with fresh jalapenos and cocoa beans.  What’s amazing to me is the pepper infusion makes the tequila spicy; nothing unbearable, but just enough heat to add an extra layer to the complexity to Tanteo’s flavor.

On our tables were three small wine glasses of Tanteo tequila.  For college students, dusting the bottom of glass with a drop of Tequila is hardly enough.  We all had our eyes on the many bottles of Tequila on the bar—to look at, but not to touch. It wasn’t long until we began joking, “Excuse me, I’m going to need to be topped off.”  We sniffed and examined the Tequila’s in front of us, waiting for someone to give us instructions.  My friend turned to me holding the pink tinged tropical tequila, “That’s got way more alcohol than the others,” he said.  When we actually tried them, we were surprised by the lack of harsh aftertaste. It turns out the jalapeno’s heat balances out the tequila’s sweetness” Then when we tried the tropical infusion, four layers of flavor emerged. “You’ll find that the flavors come in waves starting with the mango and ending with bread fruit,” said Gordon. 
The flavors only became more complex as the night progressed.  Along with the uniquely crafted food, Jenn Harvey, a mixologist at Zocalo, created special cocktails to compliment each course.  “Each of these dishes and cocktails are designed to celebrate the flavors and traditions of Mexico,” explained Jacob Gordon. Both Chef Ramos and Harvey dazzled and delighted us with each course.  Too often we go to fine dining establishments and find food that has become a grotesque display. Because of elaborate plating and difficult styles of cooking, fine dining has become more visual art than sensory pleasure.  Chef Ramos’ culinary skill was both sumptuous and artfully arranged, serving as a reminder that a decadent and luxurious meal can also be satisfying.  But what made the meal all the better were the three delicious cocktail pairings.
            Jenn’s mixologist skills brought an equal amount of innovation, imagination and flavor to the meal.  Using Tanteo tequila, Jenn created three different cocktails to compliment the food.  Starting with Tanteo’s original, Jalapeno infused tequila, Jenn created a new twist on the classic margarita.  Mixed with fresh limejuice and orange liquor, the first cocktail was paired with blue marlin tostadas and a cold beef salad called salpicon.  The first course of food and drink was refreshing and exciting, giving us the kick we needed to wake up our taste buds.  Now that both chef and mixologist had our attention, they brought the timbre down.

             For our second course, Jenn created an amber colored concoction using the Cocoa infused tequila, chipotle infused sweet vermouth and amontillado sherry. Matched with a pork chop stuffed with apples and chorizo sausage, the drink was as velvety decadent as the mashed potatoes served alongside our chops. The cocktail and food all felt so luxurious.  The flavors and alcohol created an intoxicating calm that can only be found in dimly lit parlors and smoke filled drawing rooms.
For dessert, Ramos created a tres leches de Mango cake, served with a refreshing summer drink, made from the tropical infused tequila, biter hiver and Jarrito’s mango.  For a moment we could have forgotten it was rainy and dark outside.  Down in the basement it was like the sun was setting on Cancun and we were putting our feet up after a hot day.

          Tanteo may be a newcomer to the Tequila industry, but when mixed adequately, its sophistication and potential wit makes it a complex brand of Tequila.  It certainly blows other brands like Patron and Jose Cuervo out of the water, not necessarily because it’s better tequila, but because it’s tequila with imagination and class; something that most tequila’s aren’t known for.  At the moment, the only place in Boston selling Tanteo is Bauer Spirits & Wine on Newbury Street, but hopefully it will gain the notoriety it most definitely deserves. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Summer Grilling: Zucchini Salad

I woke up this morning with one thing on my mind, Eddie Cochran.

After listening to a few of his songs, I started to fall in love. Then his good looks closed the deal. So I decided to write the term paper for my history of rock'n'roll class on him. Sure, his life was short--he died in a car crash at 21--but it is one to remember.

Cochran had the voice, the talent and the looks to make people swoon over him back in the 1950s. Well now he's making me swoon.

Anyways, I spent the morning reading--and napping at one point--and I couldn't have enjoyed it more.

In regards to food, last weekend I found a delicious-looking zucchini salad in the Globe Magazine. It's a fresh summer dish perfect on top of mixed greens or as a side to a grilled chicken breast.

Grilled Zucchini Salad (adapted from The Boston Globe Magazine)
Active time: 20 minutes. Total time: 30 minutes plus marinating time
Makes 6 servings

  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • Grated zest of 1/2 lime
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 lbs. zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices
  • Small handful cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 red pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and very finely sliced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 8 oz. crumbled feta cheese
For dressing

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  1. In a large bowl, mix rosemary, thyme, garlic salt, lime zest and juice and oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add zucchini and let marinate for about 1 hour. 
  2. Heat grill to medium high heat; grill zucchini for 4-5 minutes on each side. Let cool and slice into angled chunks, about 1-inch thick). 
  3. Place cilantro, red pepper, onion and feta in a large bowl. Add zucchini chunks and toss to combine. 
  4. In a separate bowl, combine all dressing ingredients. Add half the dressing to zucchini mix and toss, then add more if desired.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Fish with Cherry Salsa!

I know it's been forever since I last wrote. I'm not proud of my blogging commitment skills--once again I had to scrounge around for hours in order to get inspired enough to cook. It also doesn't help that it is the summer and all I want to do is bum around.

Well turns out I still have that passion for food that got me to start this blog. I only realized time had passed when I looked out to see a dark sky; I was so entranced in my chopping, that even my hunger went away. Until I took a first bite. That's when I realized how great a gourmet dinner is--and how awesome it is when you know you cooked it.

But before I go into recipes let me make a comment on my new--and still budding--record collection. Two years ago Amanda (my roommate) and I bought a record player on a limb. We then picked out five records that would make us seem like the cool-vinyl-listening-kids we wanted to be. Our "coolness" lasted all of two hours until we realize we didn't have appropriate speakers for the player and the only way of listening was though a laptop (talk about defeating the purpose of a record player).

Anyways, this summer I'm taking a history of Rock'n'Roll class (it's ahmazing) that makes me want to listen to old records all day long. So last week I finally made it to RadioShack and bought the right cables. Best purchase of the summer! I can finally pump up the volume and play records appropriately--not that I think I'm a cool kid anymore.

That's my bit on life for now. Following is a fish recipe that perfectly combines sweet and sour flavors. It's fresh, healthy and super simple. So next time you want a quick summer delight for dinner, make this. Enjoy!

Pan Fried Tilapia with Cherry Salsa (adapted from Everyday Food Light)
Makes 2 servings.
Active time: 25 minutes. Total time: 30 minutes.

  • 1 cup Bing cherries, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Coarse salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 Tilapia fillets, 4-6 oz. each
  1. In a medium bowl combine cherries, onion, cilantro, jalapeno and lime juice. Toss to mix and season with salt and pepper. Set salsa aside.
  2. Clean fish filets; brush with olive oil and season with coriander, salt and pepper on both sides. 
  3. Heat a large pan over medium high heat. Spray with cooking spray. Add fish fillets and panfry until fully cooked, about 3 minutes on each side. Serve fish topped with salsa.
*The fish can also be cooked on a grill and then topped with salsa to serve.