Showing posts with label new england. Show all posts
Showing posts with label new england. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Maple...Chocolate...Matzo...Passover Deliciousness

Passover snuck up on me this year. Since early February, the Good Cook Doris house has been abuzz with the activity of a new baby in the house. We welcomed taste tester #2 and have been having a blast with big brother and little sister in the house. Thankfully she doesn't mind hanging out in the kitchen with mom, but she doesn't have the patience for long drawn out recipes. When the time came to prepare for our two Passover seders, I knew a few sacrifices would have to be made.

Instead of peeling the hard-boiled eggs, a sign of spring and new life, for our gefilte fish platter I decided to spend my few minutes in the kitchen making this:

Maple Matzo Crunch! I think that it was a wise decision to forgo the stress of peeling eggs for this crunchy, sweet, addictive matzo treat. If you have about 15-20 minutes you too can be enjoying this! Perfect for Passover and honestly anytime of the year. 

The maple flavor gives it a unique New England twist. Top with nuts or leave it plain - either way it won't last long. Note, use Kosher for Passover products according your level of observance.

Maple Matzo Crunch
Serves ?? (not too many people if you are home alone with this!)
5 matzos (you may need more) 
1 cup of butter
1 cup granulated maple sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup (Grade A Dark Amber or Grade B)
2-4 oz. chocolate chips (semi-sweet or milk chocolate)
1/4 cup toasted pecans (or your favorite nut), chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Line a baking sheet with foil and arrange matzo pieces in a single layer
In a medium saucepan, combine butter, maple sugar, and maple syrup
Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally with a heatproof spatula
Remove from heat and pour evenly over matzo
Bake maple covered matzo for 4 minutes
Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the matzo pieces
Return to oven for 1-2 minutes, until chocolate is melted (the chips will still hold their shape)
Using a spatula, spread the chocolate on the matzo, creating a smooth layer
Sprinkle toasted nuts on top of the chocolate, if using
Allow to cool completely and break into smaller pieces
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator

Chag Sameach!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Boston Brunchers: Beautiful Bites at The Blue Room

Last weekend I had the opportunity to join the Boston Brunchers for a delicious late brunch at The Blue Room in Cambridge. The Blue Room is one of my favorite restaurants but I have never made it to brunch there. What I love about The Blue Room is their focus on high-quality, seasonal ingredients. The structure of the menu stays the same, but the specifics are dictated by the available ingredients. Besides the food, the people make you want to keep coming back. Everyone on the team is warm and welcoming.

We arrived on a cold, rainy Sunday for a 1:00 pm brunch. Each of the brunchers in the group was treated to a Ramos Gin Fizz while we waited for our table to be set. The charming bartenders set up a delicious looking assembly line (see their photo here) and frothed, zested, and presented us with these festive drinks.

Cold, rainy day outside - Cozy brunch inside.
The Blue Room's Sunday brunch is a buffet ($27 for adults, includes coffee or tea). Brunchers were provided a free trip to the buffet along with a cocktail. We made sure to tip generously at the end. The buffet is setup along the open kitchen and the dishes are constantly replaced, ensuring a full selection of hot items. The plates were large - ensuring room for a sampling of all of the items.

Round 1 for me was going to be all breakfast food, but there were more 'lunch' items than breakfast. Going clockwise, starting at the top: Iggy's roll with pear-stout confiture, marinated beets, braised winter greens, patatas bravas, applewood smoked bacon, scrambled eggs with creme fraiche, smoked salmon, and cheddar grits with brisket in the middle. The potatoes and the brisket were probably my two favorites - see the homage to brisket below.

Even though the brisket had a dark crust, it was perfectly tender and extremely flavorful. I need to find out what they put in the rub before barbecue season rolls around! Round two was a few more savory dishes (and maybe another piece of brisket....)

Thankfully I was seated with my back to the pastries table. That way I could enjoy the savory items without jumping straight to the sweets! Chef Robert Grant made a special blackberry pain perdu for the group and sent out warm, custardy, slices for each of us to enjoy. Look at those layers! It was so smooth it just melted in your mouth.

My restaurant sharing pal Renee and I got an assortment of other goodies from Pastry Chef Mia Velasquez's fresh baked selection. We tried warm from the oven cinnamon rolls, vanilla bean pound cake, scone, flourless chocolate cake, and a macaroon. If I was forced to pick a favorite, it would probably be the macaroon. Sticky and just the right amount of sweet to end the meal.

I have never left The Blue Room unsatisfied. After experiencing casual dinners to private events to lunch on the patio, and now brunch I can continue to say that The Blue Room is on the top of my favorite restaurant list.

Thanks to The Blue Room team for a fabulous brunch! Hope to see you again very soon!

I was selected to join the Boston Brunchers for this brunch at The 
Blue Room. Our meals (brunch, coffee, and brunch cocktail) were provided at no charge. We had a fabulous server and made sure to tip generously. 

Blue Room on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Vacation Eats: Burlington, Vermont

My family loves food as much as a I do! When planning a vacation to celebrate my mom's birthday, we knew that we would do a lot of eating. We started our week-long vacation with a weekend in Burlington, Vermont. My mom, brother, the hubby and I packed up the car and headed north. After about a four hour drive we arrived at our hotel in Burlington. 

After a quick pit stop, our first dining destination was the Bluebird Tavern, recommended by my friend Jenni. This local spot is known for its local, sustainable foods and creative menu. It's located just down the road from the main downtown area in Burlington. The space is really interesting, with dark wood interior and a nice rustic feel. Interestingly enough, in its former life it was a Mexican restaurant! The current owners did a great job of changing the space and giving it a warm and comfortable New England Tavern feel. The creative menu offered a lot of choices for both food and inventive cocktails. 

We had been driving all day and were ready to eat. After ordering cocktails - a roasted orange negroni for my brother and some wine, we started the meal with two different appetizers. My mom and I shared the chilled carrot soup served with pickled eggs and microgreens. There was also a delicious oil drizzled on top (can't remember what it is now!). And the four of us shared a huge bowl of poutine with bluebird gravy and Vermont cheddar curds. 

We didn't get a picture of all the entrees, just half of my squash blossom flatbread. The dough had just the right amount of bite and was topped with fried squash blossoms, thinly sliced zucchini and Vermont Butter & Creamery goat cheese. My adventurous brother chose the Smoked Deer served eggplant, olives, and new potatoes. My mom's dry aged NY strip was surrounded with a beautiful assortment of mushrooms and a flavorful mushroom jus. The service was great and the food was fantastic. We were pretty sure that we were too full for dessert...until the menu arrived. I just can't say no to root beer floats. And this was no ordinary root beer float. This one had roasted almond ice cream (with roasted almonds) and was topped with Rookie's root beer. Rookie's is a local Vermont brew. According to their Facebook page, "Rookie's Root Beer is hand crafted in small batches in our Burlington, Vermont since 2005.We use premium ingredients such as licorice, wintergreen, sassafras, vanilla, molasses, and evaporated cane juice."

After tasting this delicious combination of roasted almond and handcrafted root beer, it will be hard to go back to plain vanilla!

Next time you're in Burlington, be sure to stop in to Bluebird Tavern! Bluebird Tavern on Urbanspoon

The next morning we got up bright and early to head to a day full of dairy delights - the 3rd Annual Vermont Cheesemakers Festival. The sun was shining and there were hardly any clouds in the sky. The festival takes place on the beautiful grounds of Shelburne Farms. As we drove toward the Coach Barn we passed grazing cows, the manicured lawn of the Inn and along the edge of Lake Champlain.

After arriving at the festival, we had our hands stamped and started our adventure. The festival was set up in a large entry tent as well as various rooms in the Coach Barn. My mom and brother purchased tasting glasses to sample out the local beers, wines and spirits. For just a few dollars, plus a few more for samples and they were  happy!

Maple syrup shots

Cheers! Maple Cheesecake minis.
After a sweet treat, we settled in for an entertaining grilling demo from Steve Atkins
Chef and Owner of The Kitchen Table Bistro.My only complaint was that he only showed us how to make the recipes and there were no samples. Since they sounded so good, we adapted one for our most recent cookout. Grilled bread (whole grain baguette) with grilled flank steak, thinly sliced Montegrappa cheese and arugula. It was a perfect appetizer and easy to customize for non-cheese eaters and non-arugula lovers.

After sampling cheeses, pickles, jams, sauces, and more we were ready for some solid food. There were two lunch vendors set up just outside the tent. We opted for the grass-fed burger topped with Vermont cheddar and a side of Asian slaw. We added on some Root Cellar bread and butter pickles that we purchased for a perfect pairing (try to say that three times fast!).

I think the hubby is thanking this little guy
for the delicious goat cheese.

The festival was a lot of fun! The tickets were reasonably priced and we had a great weekend in Burlington. It did get crowded as the day went on, but everyone was polite. There were a huge number of samples to be had - I only wish we could have bought more! Our next destination was Montreal and we weren't travelling with any refrigeration. I did get a lot of brochures to remember what we liked.

For links to all of the vendors, including the ones below visit the official festival website at It's hard to describe everything we tried, so here are some of our tasting highlights:

Root Cellar Pickles: In addition to traditional bread & butter, they also had sweet & spicy and apple cinnamon!
Red Hen Baking Company: They had a delicious assortment of breads to pair with the cheese samples. We didn't move quickly enough and they were sold out before we could get a loaf.
Maplebrook Farm:  Fresh ricotta sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, fresh mozzarella, and deliciously creamy burrata cheese.
Sage Farm: This small family run dairy produces a number of delicious goat cheeses. We tried the Sterling and the Madonna. They were creamy, a little tangy, and delicious.
O Bread Baking Company: This bakery is located on the property of Shelburne Farm and has been turning out pies, baguettes, and more since 1979. We bought a deliciously buttery brioche for a road trip snack.
Vermont Spirits: Tell me this doesn't sound incredible: "Vermont Gold Vodka is pure, delicate, unflavored vodka, handmade in small batches from the sugar of maple sap". This unique distillery produces three vodkas: two from maple sap and one from milk sugars. This results in a smooth vodka. Each year is different depending on the sap.
Cellars at Jasper Hill Farm: Of course everything that gets aged at this facility is worth noting! I especially love the Cabot clothbound cheddar.

We left the festival full and happy!

We had a few other stops in Burlington before heading north. We found a little more room in our stomachs for a tasty locally sourced dinner at The Farmhouse Tap and Grill downtown. How can you go wrong with a restaurant that offers biscuits as an appetizer! Their menu was full of tempting items and I hope we can get back there again to try out more. Farmhouse Tap and Grill on Urbanspoon

On our way out of town we stopped into local favorite Penny Cluse Cafe for a hearty breakfast. I enjoyed a hearty omelet full of fresh vegetables. The hubby opted for the special french toast and we had a gigantic fresh fruit bowl to start us off. The coffee was fresh, hot and refilled often. A great start to our day. Penny Cluse Cafe on Urbanspoon

Next stop....Montreal!


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