Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ten Tables Provincetown

So much to celebrate! Finals are over, Rafe and I celebrated another anniversary, and I finally cashed in my fantasy baseball dinner!!


For a little background, I hate Rafe's fantasy baseball obsession. He checks his team what seems like a zillion times a day, all he talks about with friends are trade deals and stats....and have you noticed how long the baseball season is?

Well, last year I told him that I'd complain about it much less if there was something in it for me. We agreed that if he won he needed to take me out to a dinner of my choosing. Well, he won last October and I've been waiting for the perfect opportunity to celebrate his winning. So when he suggested an impromptu trip to Cape Cod after the close of the semester, I cashed in my dinner for Ten Tables Provincetown.

A third outpost of what was originally a Jamaica Plain restaurant (there is also a location in Cambridge) Ten Tables bills themselves as a neighborhood restaurant with inventive yet accessible food and drink.

On Bradford street, parallel to Commercial street, Ten Tables is a small, cozy dining room. I loved the atmosphere in the dining room, clean lines, black and white photos on the wall, and simple placesettings.  The day we went was overcast and rainy - however it looks as though Ten Tables Provincetown will accommodate diners on their patio in the summer when weather permits.

Rafe and I both started with a Grapefruit Moon cocktail (house infused grapefruit and fresh ginger vodka with lillet blanc - $12). The drink was strong (in a good way) and really refreshing.

While we contemplated the menu we were served rolls - they came with an incredible butter infused with cayenne, honey and sea salt. It was addictive and rich with just a hint of spice on the back of our throats. I definitely plan on recreating this at home - such a simple combo, yet so surprisingly delicious.

We decided to split an appetizer of steamed clams (with fregola, celery, and pickled shallots $14). I was a little dissapointed with the size of the appetizer though still impressed with the flavor. I am an avowed celery hater, but somehow I finished my portion of this app deciding that celery tops are seriously underutilized in my cooking. They lent a fresh, lightly aromatic component to the briny clams. 

For my entree I decided on the shrimp and anson mills grits with soft-poached egg, chorizo ragout, and fine herbs ($23). I was relieved when the portion was MUCH bigger than the appetizer. 

To say that I enjoyed my meal was an understatement. Rafe and I both agreed that we had never had grits so creamy. I loved the flavor and texture of the ragout which was rich and spicy, but didn't overshadow the flavor of the shrimp. And the poached egg? The delicious runny yolk mingling with everything was so decadent....I was definitely in the clean plate club that night!!

For his entree Rafe ordered the marinated meyer hanger steak with fried potatoes, roasted romaine and salsa verde. The menu didn't mention anything about the sauce, which we determined to be some type of holladaise, but it was quite delicious. Though Rafe was a bit undecided about the roasted romaine, I thought it was a perfect accompaniment to the grilled steak and salsa verde.

Though Rafe generously offerred a trip to Ben and Jerry's in lieu of dessert, I explained that my restaurant experience would not be complete without sampling at least one dessert...And that Megan might kill me if she didn't have some idea of their dessert menu.

We ordered the chocolate terrine with thai basil ice cream and sea salt ($8). Since it was a terrine I was expecting more of a layered dessert, and when I tried my first bite it was a little too rich. Then I tried the ice cream, and it was good and creamy, but something about the thai basil made it taste a little too vegetal. But then, I gave it a third go and tried a bite with the two together (clearly as the chef intended) and it was incredible. I loved the way the salt and basil set off flavor nuances in the chocolate. Instead of tasting flatly rich, the terrine began bursting with flavors of vanilla, coffee and cinnamon. Very creative combination and excellent execution.

I am so glad I chose Ten Tables Provincetown to celebrate our anniversary. Rafe and I are at that point in our relationship where a fine dining experience can oftentimes be more of a burden than enjoyable. When we feel like we need to dress up in our fancy best just to eat good food, we get a little annoyed.  Ten Tables was our perfect spot - delivering excellent, well executed, flavorful dishes without the any kind of pretense or snobbery you usually find at a fine dining establishment.

I can't wait to go back....I'm going to have to think of another way - since Rafe's fantasy team is 2nd to last in the league this year!

Ten Tables on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday Farmer's Market

One of the fringe benefits of having a puppy, besides the tail wags and snuggling of course, is the early rising. On some mornings I will admit it feels like an absolute curse, especially with the rain and gloom we've been having. But on farmer's market mornings I am so happy that Roscoe wakes me up with plenty of time to spare for the opening of the market - specifically since the best produce goes fast.

I picked up some beets which I plan on cooking up along with their vibrant greens, some asparagus, leeks, and a cucumber (the biggest I've ever seen).

Any suggestions for out-of-the-box ideas for the asparagus and one of the leeks? 
The other leek, beets, and cucumber are already spoken for!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thanksgiving in May?

Whenever Thanksgiving dinner comes to a close and I've eaten my fill of delicious turkey and sides, I wonder why the meal graces our table only once a year. When you're only cooking for 2 people the meal doesn't require the same pageantry, but it is still delicious. So what's my excuse?

Well, when Whole Foods had a sale on whole turkey breasts, I decided it was high time I realize my dream. On a particularly cloudy Monday I cooked up my turkey breast basted with my standard herb butter.

Roasted with carrots, potatoes, and green beans and served with gravy and a mushroom and onion bread pudding (stuffing stand-in) inspired by a guest post from Kathy.

The meal was just what I needed on a chilly spring day, and reminded me of one of my favorite holiday dinners. 

As is the tradition, we enjoyed turkey sandwiches and leftovers for a few days - and we were thankful.

Tell me, what is your favorite holiday meal? Do you roast turkey after Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

CT Bites-Gmonkey Mobile

Just checking in to let you know that my review of the GMonkey Mobile food truck is now live on 

So head on over and check it out!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Blog Bake Sale- Carrots N Cake

Hi All - just wanted to let you know that I am contributing my olive oil and salt granola to Tina's Blog Bake sale. 

It's on page two, and for a great cause....so head on over to Carrots'n'Cake and make a bid on my granola!!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Malaysian Chicken

My posts are about my kitchen triumphs...but rest asured that my kitchen does not exist in some vacuum where meat is always perfectly seared, pasta always al dente, and toast is perfectly golden brown.

My cheesecakes crack, sandwiches get soggy, and cheese gets moldy in my fridge too (just scrape of the gross bits and move on). The way you handle these mini kitchen disasters is key....that is once you've thrown your tantrum, laid down on the floor in you kitchen and declared NEVER AGAIN. Then you dust yourself off, whip up some sort of frosting and nobody will EVER know that the cheesecake had a crack.

Except you. But a couple of glasses of wine and you'll forget too.

So this dinner of Malaysian Chicken started out with the best of intentions. Using up the leftover chicken thighs from this meal that had been sitting in the freezer for almost too long. Fine Cooking magazine, which generally does not let me down, did an entire spread on 1 pot dinners. Malaysian chicken and rice? sounds yummy and exotic....and kind of easy.

I started the rice as directed, then threw my chicken into the mix.

I happily made my sauces and garnishes

And in my excitement I even whipped up an asian inspired sauce for my steamed green beans.

Everything laid out and ready to eat....you can almost feel the excitement of a well composed meal...

Looks just like the picture in the magazine!!

So here is where dinner went all wrong. Right when Rafe and I dug into the chicken....Pink all over the place. It was RAW
I followed the directions to the LETTER.

UGH. I put the chicken in the oven, rather than the stovetop as the recipe instructs, then PROMPTLY went to the website to see if there were any comments of similar experience to try and mend my bruised cooking ego.

There were, so I felt slightly better - but we ate about 40 minutes later than planned. It was a bummer, but I probably would make this dish again. The flavors were great. The crispy rice made a great texture, ad the spice of the jalapenos were the perfect accent....

Next time, though,  I'm using chicken breasts or searing the chicken first and cooking it longer - then finishing in the oven!!!

Ugh, what was your last cooking disaster?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Pike's Place Alaskan Salmon

I think Rafe's mom enjoys being my dinner muse. She has inspired many a meal on this blog....and she shows no signs of stopping yet.  

While visiting Rafe's sister Aliza in Seattle, she alerted us to a birthday gift that she had shipped from Washington state (Rafe's birthday was last Saturday). She had it sent overnight, which made me think it might be food.

When the Pike's Place Market box showed up at our doorstep, my hunch was confirmed: she sent us the biggest piece of Alaskan salmon she could get her hands on: beautiful, fresh, and more perfect than any fish I've seen in the market in recent memory. 

I knew I didn't want to season this fish in any way that would compromise its natural flavor or texture.  A simple preparation was preferred so we would be able to enjoy the fruits of the Pacific (and Lee's generosity) to their fullest.

Since the fillet was so huge, I cut it into two pieces, and froze one for later. Rafe and I were decided that we wanted to bake the fish with a really simple sauce. In a small ramekin I mixed together a little whole-grain mustard, some maple syrup, grapeseed oil, and a little grated garlic.

I seasoned the fish lightly with a little salt and pepper and basted the fish with the sauce.  When it was nearly cooked through I added another coat of sauce and put the salmon under the broiler for just a few minutes to caramelize the sugars in the maple syrup.

I served the fish with broccoli and couscous - and it was easily one of the best pieces of salmon I've ever had. I can't wait for the other piece!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Black Bean Burgers

 I have finally figured out how to cook with this fur ball under foot!  

The key is to play tag with him and chase him around the apartment until he is totally wiped out and takes a nap. Then I buy myself a couple hours of kitchen time!

Like some of my best recipes, this was born out of some leftover black beans and cilantro from a Mexican meal. Again, trying to incorporate meatless meals into our diet, I settled on black bean burgers.

In a food processor I combined:

1 can of drained black beans
1/4 cup of salsa
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
a generous handful of cilantro (or parsley)
a few shakes of chili powder
some cumin

I pulsed until the onion was chopped and the mixture is roughly combined

I then transferred the mixture to a bowl and added some of the quick oats (yes I'm still trying to get rid of them!) until it formed a cohesive mixture. Then I put it in the fridge to get the mixture to firm up enough to form into patties.  

Then came the question of buns. I didn't want to go back to the store and buy burger buns just for this recipe. I had just stocked up on flour and decided I should just make them myself. The puppy was fast asleep so I had some time. I went to King Arthur's website and settled on this recipe

They were very easy to make -- I made a few large buns and some small for a future recipe for sliders. The only thing I would change on this recipe next time is to add a little white-wheat flour. They are very tender so I think they can handle a bit of wheat flour without becoming too heavy.

While the rolls were proofing I formed the beans mixture into patties and then put it onto a cookie sheet in the freezer. If you freeze the patties for about 30 minutes before cooking them it keeps them from falling apart when they're flipped.

I also used up some of the leftover cilantro to make a sauce for my burgers: I mixed some plain yogurt with the juice of half a lime and some chopped cilantro.  I put this on the bottom half of the griddled bun, and then topped it with salsa.

After pan-frying the burger, I topped it with some cheddar and covered the pan to encourage the cheese to melt. Then I placed the burger on top of the salsa and yogurt.

Rafe is VERY skeptical of meatless meals - assuming that they will not fill him up the way that a traditional dinner can. He happily ate this 2 nights in a row! Although they were meatless they were incredibly hearty and flavorful. He's a sucker for anything with Mexican flavors so I think the chili powder sold him on these.

And the fact that I made fresh buns.

What's your favorite way to cook beans??

Monday, May 2, 2011

Around My French Table - Mushroom and Shallot Quiche

This is the 2nd time I prepared Dorie's tart dough in Around My French Table. The first time, Gerard's mustard tart, was delicious - but I found the dough a bit difficult to work with.

And, I think I figured out why...

You see, we are no longer living with Rafe's mom, so I decided (with all the tarts and quiches to make in this cookbook) that it was high-time to purchase a tart pan of my own. My office is a short drive from Sur la Table, so I raced down there the week before Easter - and grabbed what I thought was a 9 inch tart pan - based on what I had used at Lee's.

It was 11 inches. No wonder the dough didn't work!!

The 9.5 inch pan fit the dough MUCH better....with some leftover scraps that I may or may not have eaten. In addition, I'm also thinking that I omitted an ingredient the last time as well, because the dough was so much easier to work with this time.

If you have the courage to get past the tart dough, I highly recommend this recipe (which also appears on epicurious). The remaining steps are extremely easy, and the filling of sauteed mushrooms and shallots flavored with thyme and topped with gruyere, is simple yet delicious. It was the perfect compliment to our Easter ham. In fact, I have spent the last 29 years of my life thinking I don't like quiche....this particular recipe has pretty much changed that. Buttery tart dough with an eggy filling? sign me up!

Served hot or room temperature this would make a great side dish, brunch dish, or light dinner!

What are your feelings on quiche?