Tuesday, November 6, 2007

10 Minute Cooking School: Puerco Pibil

I found this video on YouTube that I thought was a really good and entertaining cooking video made by filmaker Robert Rodriguez. In the clip Rodriguez teaches you how to make the Mexican dish, Puerco Pibil, and also provides some useful tips about learning to cook in general. On the plus side, girls will especially enjoy this video because he mixes it with images of Johnny Depp from the movie "Once Upon a Time in Mexico." That note aside, Puerco Pibil sounds delicious!

Somerville's High School Restaurant

My friend recently sent me this article and I thought I would share it with you, because I think it is really cool that high school students are running a restaurant. Looking back, I wish my high school had the vision to do something like this. Who knows I might have been a chief! Here is a clip from the article in Boston Now...

"Call it an exceptional vocational program and call it Somerville High School's best kept secret. Both can be used to describe the student-run Ray Izzo Highland Restaurant (81 Highland Ave.), which was started 24 years ago as part of the culinary arts division for the Center for Career and Technical Education at SHS.
In the classroom, students are taught various cooking methods and baking. Then, they apply their skills to the restaurant under teacher supervision.
"People have no idea how wonderful these kids cook," culinary arts teacher Sandy Zenga says."

For the rest of the article check out this link...http://www.bostonnow.com/news/local/2007/11/02/finding-a-recipe-for-success.

Gramma's Fried Chicken

I used my Gramma's recipe to make this fried chicken, but added a little twist of my own to the recipe. There are probably a million ways to make fried chicken (especially in the South) so experiment with it and make some variations of your own.


2 Boneless Chicken Breasts
3 Eggs
Olive Oil
Spices (Whatever you like on your chicken)

First prepare your dipping plates for the fried chicken. Put flour on one plate.

Scramble three eggs in a bowl until they are evenly blended.

Place the breadcrumbs on a plate and add spices to the breadcrumbs. Mix the two together. I did not have any spices of my own in my apartment, so I used my roommate's Indian spices. This is pretty unusual for fried chicken and I suggest you use garlic powder or other more traditional mixed spices to add to the breadcrumbs. My Gramma actually does not add any spices at all and just relies on the breadcrumbs, but I think the extra flavor gives the dish a bit more of a kick. The choice is up to you.

Next lightly coat the chicken in salt and pepper and then slice up the chicken into small chunks. I prefer to slice it up because it is easier to cook the chicken evenly this way but, if you want one big piece of fried chicken then use a meat tenderizer to even out the thickness of the chicken. If you do not have a meat tenderizer then the back of a frying pan will work just as well. It's a little bit crude but it gets the job done as my Gramma once told me.

Then follow these three steps for each piece of chicken.

1. Dip each chicken piece in flour, evenly coating the chicken on all sides.

2. Then place the chicken in the egg dish, covering the entire piece.

3. Finally, roll the chicken in the breadcrumbs, evenly coating it.

In a frying pan add olive oil until it is a little less than once centimeter deep in the pan. Turn the stove on at low heat. Wait until the olive oil begins to boil slightly and then add the prepared chicken pieces. One way to test if the olive oil is ready, is to dip a piece of bread into the oil and see if little bubbles appear around the edges of the bread.

Cook the chicken thoroughly by continually flipping over the pieces so they do not burn. The breadcrumbs should be a rich brown color when the chicken is ready to be removed from the pan. To double check that the chicken has cooked through completely poke a few pieces with a fork or cut a piece or two in half in the frying pan to check for pink spots. If the fork goes through the chicken smoothly it is cooked, if it does not give it another few minutes to cook.

Lay the cooked pieces on a plate with paper towels on top of the plate to sap off the extra olive oil from the chicken. Wait a few minutes for the chicken to cool.

Put the fried chicken on a plate and add ketchup and you're done! Enjoy!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Upper Crust

I'm not a big fan of pizza, but I love this place. They serve Neapolitan-style pizza, which is thin pizza with chunky tomato sauce, and you can order just about anything you want for toppings. I usually order one of their specialty pizzas and my personal favorite is "The State House" for meat lovers which comes topped with hamburger, pepperoni, and Italian sausage. I have visited their locations on Newbury Street and on Charles Street in Beacon Hill, but I know they have five other locations in Brookline, Salem, Lexington, Hingham, and Waltham. Try out The Upper Crust for some tasty pizza!

I know this is not in Boston but...

So, I know this chocolate place is not in Boston but I absolutely had to tell everyone about it. I wish to god it was in Boston, I would visit it every week!!!!! Yesterday I took a trip to NYC with NUCALLS and the International Affairs Society to visit the United Nations and I was lucky enough to come across "Chocolate By the Bald Man Max Brenner" in Union Square. This is a famous chocolate place my sister told me about a few months ago but I never had the chance to visit it until yesterday. Customers can buy chocolate gifts and goodies or they can sit down in the cafe and order off of an all chocolate menu. I ordered Swiss Milk Chocolate Hot Chocolate (literally made out of chocolate) and a Chocolate pastry complete with a scoop of rich vanilla ice cream, blueberries and strawberries, and a vase of melted chocolate to pour over the pastry. I do believe that is the best dinner I have ever had!

Our Addis Red Sea Adventure

I like all the restaurants I have posted on my blog thus far but I think some of them are more mainstream, so I decided it was time to travel off the beaten path. I have never eaten Ethiopian food before and as I have mentioned in a previous post, I have always wanted to try out Addis Red Sea. So, one Saturday evening I got a few friends together and took the green line to the Arlington stop and then walked several blocks to Tremont Street where the restaurant was located.

My first impression was that the outside of the restaurant was really cute with its glowing yellow sign, small gated rose garden, and downward steps leading to the entrance of the restaurant. Unfortunately, Saturday is one of their busier nights and we waited outside for half an hour until we were called inside by one of the waiters. This was all good and fine by us, because it was an unusually warm fall evening and none of us had ever really spent much time on that part of Tremont Street before.

Finally we were ushered into the restaurant where we sat down on carved wooden chairs around a brightly colored round weaved basket table. Addis Red Sea had a beautiful interior, so I began taking a few pictures of the paintings on leather skins hanging on the walls near our table, while we waited for our waitress. The prices seemed reasonable so my friend and I decided to order two appetizers and split them. After much consideration we finally decided on Sambusa and Ye-Awaze Dabo.

According to the menu, the particular type of Sambusa we ordered was a "pastry filled with spiced ground beef flavored with cumin, garlic, onions, with a touch of nutmeg." And Ye-Awaze Dabo is a "thick Ethiopian bread with a dip of red pepper sauce, spiced with Ginger root and berbere (hot pepper sauce)." For our main meals my friend choose a lamb dish and I ordered Doro Wot, a "tender chicken marinated in lemon sautéed in seasoned butter and stewed in a red pepper sauce, flavored with onions, garlic and ginger root with a pinch of cardamoms and nutmeg."

We assumed we would receive our appetizers shortly, and relaxed into our chairs as we waited. Forty-five minutes later, after we had exhausted several conversation topics, we began to get very impatient for our food. An hour had passed, and we still did not even have our appetizers and our waitress was nowhere to be seen. Finally, we began to ask other waiters and the bus boys where our food and waitress had gone. It was not until an hour and a half after we had ordered our food that we finally got our appetizers. But still, our main course was MIA.

It became almost comical as we were forced to ask different attendants for water refills, napkins, and our main meal. Eventually our waitress came out with our meals. She laid out three pieces of bread on the round table and then placed the contents of the bowls on top of the bread. My friends and I had never eaten Ethiopian food before, so we did not realize that there are no plates or silverware involved, and when we asked the waitress about the eating customs of Ethiopians, she just smiled at us blankly. I am sympathetic to people that do not understand English, but I thought it was a little bit ridiculous that she was a waiter in a Boston restaurant and did not speak a word of English, especially considering that Ethiopian food is not traditional fare for the average American and people are bound to have questions about the food and the restaurant.
Then we played a game of musical chairs as we switched places once we realized that she had not given us the correct meals. By the time we were finished with our food the restaurant was empty and they were closing the place down. When our waitress returned with dessert menus we promptly turned them down.

Apparently other people have had a good experiences with this restaurant, but after waiting for our food for two hours I don't think I will ever go back. The cuisine had an interesting flavor, but in my opinion was not as good as food I have eaten from other cultures. Still, I am glad that I have at least had the opportunity to try Ethiopian food.