Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The New England Kitchen By Jeremy Sewall

It was the first time I have accepted a blog invitation in almost two years as life intervened and priorities changed. However, having had delicious meals at Lineage and the Island Creek Oyster Bar (oh, the biscuits!) (oh, the oysters!!), I couldn't pass up a recent opportunity to attend an event to celebrate the release of chef Jeremy Sewall's first cookbook, The New England Kitchen. 
I arrived at the Island Creek Oyster Bar to find that we were being treated to a taste of some of the recipes in the book. The lobster rolls were fresh meat on sweet, brioche buns. The crab cakes were light and full of crab, rather than filler. Their richness was cut by the pickled pepper that sat on top and sweet squash puree as a base. A similar pairing worked with the fried oyster that was topped with a tangy green tomato relish.
And the tacos were a mix of textures: sweet mango, chunks of lobster, and the fresh crunch of hte shell. That being said, it was hard to drag myself away from the raw bar, full of Island Creek oysters, huge shrimp and littlenecks. 
The cookbook itself, The New England Kitchen was co-written with Erin Byers Murray, author of the wonderful, "Shucked." The book itself is beautiful and is full of updated twists on classic New England dishes.  I haven't yet had a chance to book any of the recipes from it, but as the cold weather has set in, I am looking forward to making the Cauliflower Soup, the Sea Scallops With Creamy Turnip Puree and the Sugar Pumpkin Salad with Whipped Ricotta, Toasted Seeds and Curry Oil.  But perhaps the recipe I am longing to make most is the obvious one: Buttermilk Biscuits. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Treat of Mother Juice

Despite the fact that I actually love whole grain breads, organic berries and kale, I balked when I was once offered the taste of a green smoothie. The color was just too off-putting.  Then, on one hungry morning in Maine, I tried a smoothie with kale, mango, banana, and apple cider. I loved it. I have been a convert since then, but haven't quite made the leap into investing in a Vitamix or similar smoothie maker. And, as I live twenty minutes from Boston, it is nearly impossible to find a cafe that cold-presses fresh juice.
So, when I was offered the chance to sample some of the items on the menu at the new Mother Juice cafe in Kendall Square, I happily said, "Yes!"  The two owners, Ellen Fitzgerald and Laura Baldini were kind and welcoming. I enjoyed the tang of the greens, pineapple and ginger in the "Kale Ya", the tart and sweet blend of the "Hangover Cure" which was a mix of apples, orange, beet, celery, and lemon juices. A Cocoblue smoothie was creamy from berries mixed with coconut yogurt, coconut water and orange juice. I appreciated the freshness of all the juices, which are pressed daily in-house.
My favorite, though, was the overnight oats. My one attempt at this dish created a crunchy, mealy snack that I could barely eat. However, Mother Juice's version was so delicious, that I had to ask for the recipe. They blend bananas, almond milk and oats and let the mixture sit overnight. It becomes silky and creamy. In my parfait, they topped it with carob and fresh berries, as well as granola. It was the perfect afternoon snack. I don't live close enough to make this a habit, but for those commuters that work nearby, Mother Juice is a perfect find.

Mother Juice, 625 W. Kendall Street Cambridge

Monday, October 13, 2014


In retrospect, my love of jam making seems inevitable. It combines my love of seasonal fruit, gift giving and preserving (pun intended!) memories of picking fruit with my sons. 

But I actually just arrived here. It started when I hoped to emulate an incredible blackberry jam that my brother picked up in Ireland. He actually bought it for my mom, but I confess, I ate almost half before I caught myself! After a bit of on-line research and obsessively reading as many jam-making books as I could, I realized that what I loved most about that jam was its lack of pectin. In fact, "European style" jams are often made with less sugar and lemon juice. So, instead of an almost jello-like jam, you end up with a spread that tastes like the essence of fruit.

So, after my sons and I picked pounds of blueberries and peaches, together we began to mix and stir. I relied most heavily on the Blue Chair Jam cookbook by Rachel Saunders. I made thick preserves from wild plums at the farmer's market and a delicious spread with sour cherries at Russos. My favorite, to my surprise, has been a simple, thick rhubarb spread as well as blackberry that was close to the Irish jam that started it all. 

Soon, the kitchen was piled high with small ball jars filled with luminous jam. I have been giving it away to friends and family as thanks for all their incredible support during the challenges of the past two years.  My sons and I have been savoring it, too, feeling lucky to be together and to enjoy this.