Chef Richard and Chef Katie

Archive for January, 2013|Monthly archive page

Charceuterie and Grapefruit

In At Home on January 29, 2013 at 7:34 pm

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Lately we seem to be getting the random urge to cook things out of nowhere. It used to be that we’d study our nerdy notebooks filled with things we wanted to try, study it and think about if for days before letting loose. I’ve had the urge to make Charceuterie for a while but never got around to it and knew I wanted to do it myself especially with all the harm fast food can cause. Maybe it was inspiration from Katz’s or I was just “in the mood” sort to speak, but after trying my hand at homemade Corned Beef, I knew I wanted to venture out a little further. Corned Beef and Pastrami are essentially the same thing with a few minor tweaks. Both are brined for a few days (so plan ahead) with similar ingredients, but the Pastrami is ultimately smoked then braised, whereas the corned beef is only braised until tender. We have an indoor smoker, which is a fantastic tool that we like to use for smoking salt, vanilla beans, potatoes and everything in between. The pastrami fit snugly in the smoker before we put it to the heat in a combination of Alder and Hickory woods. After an hour or so of our apartment starting to smell like a campfire (in the best way possible) it took a bath in water and more pickling spices for a couple of hours until it was barely tender. We let it sit in the braising liquid all week and happily sliced, diced and chopped the pastrami in every which way imaginable, finding its way into simple dinners, egg-based breakfast dishes and late night cravings with friends. Of course we had plenty of rye bread and spicy mustard at the ready too, you know, just in case. Read the rest of this entry »

In The Kitchen With… Carolyn Johnson of 80 Thoreau

In In the Kitchen with..., Restaurant on January 23, 2013 at 8:39 pm
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Chef Carolyn Johnson

It’s always most interesting to hear the paths that people to take to get to the kitchen. Some know from the start and head right to Culinary School or to gain experience in a kitchen, others simply fall into it either through family or just naturally, and yet others start out on a very different path before winding up on the line. Carolyn Johnson belongs to the latter of the three, graduating from Wellesley College with a degree in Economics before eventually discovering her passion for food and the kitchen. “I don’t like to make fussy food” she says as she gracefully moves around the open kitchen, “no tweezers in my kitchen” she jokes, “My style is a bit more rustic”.

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Prepping the Lamb Belly

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Sauteed Spinach and Butter Beans waiting to be plated

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Kitchen Labels

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The Skinny Beet made the prep list!

Carolyn built an impressive background before taking on the Executive Chef position at 80 Thoreau, working at such famous spots as Icarus (formerly located in the South End) and Arrows in Ogunquit, ME before spending seven years at Rialto. “I never got bored because it just seemed as soon as I felt I had gotten the hang of something, there was something new to learn” she says of her lengthy stay at Jody Adams’ famed Harvard Square restaurant. Now she runs the show, and what most impressed us was the versatility and ease in which she prepares her dishes. Forget nose-to-tail, Chef Johnson takes it further than anyone we’ve encountered, literally using every component of produce, seafood and the like in every way possible.  Read the rest of this entry »

Honey, honey

In At Home on January 9, 2013 at 7:20 pm

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Here we go! Another year. We thought a lot about what we wanted our first new post of 2013 to be about. We decided we’re not really into food predictions (I guess we like the suspense) and since you can read a little about what we’ve been up to over here, we were sort of left scratching our heads. We could talk about what a big year this will be for us (we’re getting married!) but we figure there’s plenty of time to share the details of our upcoming nuptials. So let’s skip all the formalities and get right to talking about an ingredient that we can’t seem to get enough of: Honey.

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We’re not sure where this new obsession started but we also don’t see an end in sight. Actually, on second thought, maybe it first started with a simple jar of artisan honey from Vermont. Yes, I think that was our gateway honey. Complexly sweet and pale in color but not opaque and thicker than traditional honey, one taste made us think of this seemingly humble ingredient in a different light. Gradually over the span of a couple of weeks, new jars of honey have been popping up in our cabinet. Chestnut honey, with it’s intense earthiness and slightly bitter notes, Lime tree honey, powerful and floral and Acacia honey, simply sweet and pure. Our addiction keeps growing from there and we seek out the honey section of every grocery and specialty store we’re in, trying to get our hands on whatever we haven’t tried. Our new found treasures have found themselves happy giving new flavor to soups, sauces, gracing our cheese plates, coating our breads and really anything else we can think of. We’ve got fancy little jars with golden honey, large jars of deep, almost brown colored honey and some that are so light in color they appear to be clear.

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We never considered ourselves to be “honey people” but here we are obsessing over and waxing on about it and to us that’s what makes this world of food so damn exciting. There’s so much to discover, learn about and get to know. We’re really looking forward to getting to know honey further this year, not to mention whatever other ingredients we’ll meet and get to know. It’s an exciting year ahead and we can’t wait to get started. Here’s to 2013!

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