Watermelon Tomato Salad

I think I am in denial.  I am in denial of the end of summer. I am not ready to accept it’s over, and I’m trying to figure out how to slow everything down. First, I am ignoring all the obvious signs—the fact I need a sweater at night, Juan starting school soon, and people buying pumpkin beer at the grocery.  Second, we are squeezing in another short trip to the Midwest just so we can have an asado, eat ice cream, and go on a picnic.  We have successfully stuffed this summer full of dinner parties with friends, traveling on many mini-weekend vacations, soul-moving concerts, and so much good food I’ve lost track.  Why stop now? And third, we’ve been eating this watermelon tomato salad as often as we can because it just shouts “Summer!”  Now that the beautiful tomatoes are popping out at farmer’s markets, this salad is a perfect way to bring your summer to a glorious end or hold on to every delicious bite—whichever way you want to think about it.

Watermelon Tomato Salad  

Although this isn’t much of a recipe and not to far off from a normal salad, it’s the idea that counts! This salad was inspired by a brunch trip for my birthday to Sportello.  As with most of our recipes, this is all about the ingredients so splurge on this and make sure you get the tomatoes with flavor! This salad couldn’t be simpler so there are now measurements—just add as much and as little of everything as you’d like.

Tomatoes cut in bite sized pieces (preferably a mix of colors)
Watermelon, cut into big cubes (we used yellow here but any kind will do!)
Feta cheese, cut into small cubes
Handful of basil leaves, chopped (you can also use mint)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt


Put the tomatoes, watermelon, feta, and basil in a large bowl. Pour over the olive oil and sprinkle a bit of salt.  Gently mix together the ingredients, taking care to not crush everything! Taste and add more salt and olive oil if desired. Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Oh, Canada!

We went to Canada for the weekend.  It’s kind of amazing that you can get in a car and just go to another country, but Boston is closer to Montreal than it is to DC.  It’s kind of magical, you cross an arbitrary line decided upon a couple of hundred years ago and all of a sudden everything changes. The language, the culture, the people, all of it is different.  And yet, in many ways it stays the same.

Here are some of our favorite places from the trip. We stayed at amazing AirBnBs in both cities, so if you are headed that way, please let us know and we will send the information along! And we made you a little road trip anthem to dance to all the way there. Take a listen here. Enjoy!

Montreal:

Dolecetto & Co.

Montreal Public Bikes

Jean-Talon Market

St. Viateur Bagels

Mt. Royal Park

Quebec City:

Paillard Bakery

M0851

La Fudgerie

River Promenade and Lookout Tower

A Paper Party

One year has come and gone since our wedding. It seems like just a little while ago we were getting things ready for the big day; working on the barn, making decorations, and running around to make sure everything would be just right for the celebration. It was an amazing wedding and an incredible first year. We traveled the country, moved in to our apartment in Cambridge, hosted lots of dinners, and started new jobs.

So it seemed only fitting that we would cap it off with a dinner to celebrate our anniversary. And of course, since the first anniversary is paper, we thought it appropriate to create the whole dinner around paper. We cut the food into paper thin slices, cooked it in paper, served it on paper storyboards, and covered our tables with paper so people could draw. We invited lots of friends, and almost all of them made it, so we packed ourselves tightly into the dining room to enjoy the feast! We are so thankful to have such an amazing bunch of people to start our new life with here in Boston. We dearly miss all of the other people we danced our hearts out with just one year ago, but we are so glad to have another family here. THANK YOU!

If you want to throw your own Paper Party, here is the menu we served…

Salad with Summer Greens, Shaved Fennel, Pea Sprouts, Endive, & English Cucumbers with lemon dressing

Paper Thin Crisp Potatoes

Shrimp & Vegetables with Orange and White Wine in Parchment Paper

The Best Carrot Cake in the World (with Lime Mascarpone Icing)

Spoonfuls of Creme Brulee

Dad’s Blueberry Pancakes

PS- The secret to our paper thin party? Our new favorite tool. Beautiful and so easy! 

Claire - Quelcy- Thanks so much! It was a great communal celebration!

Quelcy - I love me a conceptual dinner party, and you two nailed it! What a wonderful way to celebrate your love and friendship. Congrats!!

Claire - It’s next on our list. You’ll be the first customer. :)

Claire - Thanks, Erin! You should definitely try it!

Erin P - What a cool dinner and such creative ideas! I would love to do something like that. Great pictures too.

Anna - Quit your jobs and open up a restaurant already… ha.

Yogurt Panna Cotta

Practice, practice, practice.

That’s what your mother always used to tell you.  Well, I’ve been practicing a lot of things lately. Going through transitions in life tends to make me practice things—patience, making bread, design, yoga.  Sometimes, when things aren’t going just the right way, that little voice in your head starts creeping in saying “Hey you! You don’t know what you’re doing! You should be doubting yourself right now.”  But recently, I find myself taking a deep breath and talking back to that little voice. “Well, you know what? I’m just practicing.”

I have recently run across lovely reminders from here and there of practicing, for practice sake, not in search of perfection.  I often need reminded of this. I am just gathering, sharing, and learning about the current, the now.

When you practice, you realize you need to learn from those who already know. Today, we are thankful for our mothers because they are the ones that know.  They have practiced patience, kindness, and love.  They have practiced coping with crises, standing tall for others, and accepting help when they need it most.  They became experts through many years of practice and are now coaches for all of us.  As a thanks to all our mothers, here’s something sweet for their special day. Thanks, Moms. Happy Mothers Day! 

Yogurt Panna Cotta

Because this recipe is so simple, the quality of the ingredients makes all the difference! For our panna cotta, we used Crescent Ridge milk from Sharon, Massachusetts and the light and flavorful Pepperbush Honey from our friends at 13 Colonies Apiary in North Dighton, Massachusetts.  Many thanks to these fantastic local makers!

Barely adapted from the extremely talented Smitten Kitchen. Thankfully, this lady does a lot of practicing, and we get to enjoy the finished result of amazing recipes. To see instructions on making this in a dish to unmold, please see her recipe.

makes 7 individual servings

4 tablespoons water
2 1/2 teaspoons (1 packet ) unflavored gelatin
2 cups plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
1½  cups milk
½ cup heavy cream
¼ granulated sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, about ½ lemon
 
toppings:
1/3 to 1/2 cup honey
1/2 to 3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted or honey roasted almonds from Trader Joe’s
 

Place water in a small bowl. Stir in gelatin and set aside until the gelatin softens, about 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk the yogurt and ¾ cup of milk and ¼ cup of cream. In a small saucepan, bring remaining ¾ cup of milk, ¼ cup of cream, and sugar to a simmer. Stir in water-gelatin mixture (it will dissolve immediately) and remove from heat. Whisk this mixture into the yogurt mixture, then stir in lemon juice at the end. Ladle the mixture into small cups and chill in fridge for at least 2 hours. It’s best to do this the night before you need it, but it also tastes great after 2 hours, too.

Right before you serve the panna cotta, drizzle it with honey and sprinkle it with almonds. Don’t put the honey on long before because it changes the texture of panna cotta!

Do ahead: Panna cottas can be made two days ahead. Keep refrigerated.

 

 

Claire - Ines, we are so glad that you found us! How great to find other architects with such a strong passion for food. Hope to see you back here soon! Enjoy!

Claire - Maria, thank you so much for always reading. I’m glad you like the post. It’s always nice to know others are sometimes in the same boat!

Inês Oliveira - Great name and logo (the logo is quite like mine but for different reasons!), beautiful pictures and recipes… how come I’ve never seen this place!?
I’ll be following you :)
Have a nice weekend!

Maria - Thanks for your thoughts on practicing, Claire! I’ve been having some of those thoughts recently … and it’s good to know it’s not just me. The panna cotta looks lovely, too! Enjoy Spring.

Grilled Peanut Butter & Jelly

We are really forcing spring around here. It’s the kind of forcing that happens in the mornings, right when you wake up, sun shining in the windows and birds chirping.  It’s Spring! You throw open the windows for the fresh air and breathe in.  You pile on layers of sweaters and sip your tea, shivering. But ten minutes later, you wimp out and regrettably shut the windows because it’s still only 50 degrees no matter how much you want it not to be.

Hopefully this week is the last of it, but we are still in this half-way stage of spring. On one hand, we want our drinks to be fresh and light, like the gin mint lemonade cocktail we are hooked on. On the other hand, when the sun goes down, we still crave the comfort food of winter. And this week especially, in our beautiful city of Boston, we need a lot of comfort.  The ultimate comfort food for me is a grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  It brings back lovely memories of my dad cooking this sandwich for my brother and me.  So go grab your skillet and some friends, and share some comfort food with the people you love.


Grilled Peanut Butter & Jelly

You can make this on any bread, but homemade would be the best! We use crunchy, unsalted peanut butter, but it tastes best with whichever kind is your favorite. My all-time favorite “eat the whole jar with a spoon” jelly is Trader Joe’s Cherry Preserves. 

Makes 1 great sandwich

2 slices of your favorite bread (the less holes the better!)
Your favorite crunchy or smooth unsalted peanut butter
Your favorite jelly or preserves
1 teaspoon unsalted butter


Preheat a cast-iron skillet of low-medium heat. Spread the peanut butter on one slice of bread and the jelly on the other. Put the two slices together to make the sandwich.  Drop the butter in the skillet. Once melted, put the sandwich in the skillet and let it grill for about 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and toasted.  Carefully remove the sandwich and cut in half. Serve and enjoy immediately!

What is your favorite comfort food? Do you usually enjoy making it or does it always taste better when someone else makes it for you? We’d love to hear your thoughts and recipes!

If you’d like to add more comfort to people’s lives, you can donate to the One Fund Boston to help those affected by the tragic events this week. 

Claire - Em, muenster cheese and raspberry sound like a great combination! Glad to share the idea with you! -Claire

Em - Looks delicious, I will have to try it. We have a restaurant that does a similar one with banana. But I haven’t tried it.

I love it when my dad makes a grilled cheese (or any, really) sandwich for me.

If making my own, I’ll sometimes use muenster cheese with raspberry preserves, or grill pimiento cheese.

Thanks for sharing.

be good to yourself: green tea | Crystal & Company - [...] a sweet & savory note, i’m dying to make this grilled peanut butter & [...]

Chocolate Covered Cranberry Coconut Macaroons

Last week, we were invited to our friend’s house for his annual Seder dinner. Although this was only my third Seder dinner, it has become something I look forward to every spring. I don’t know many of the stories or the symbolism in the religion, but I love how the meal is filled with rituals that are designed to bring people together.

At the Seder, we all took turns reading from the Haggadah, while big bowls of fresh salads tempted us. Some people knew the prayers, some people didn’t. Often I felt a little awkward because of my ignorance, but this is exactly the intention of a ritual meal.  It brings you out of the patterns of everyday life, makes you feel slightly uncomfortable, and creates a common experience between you and your neighbors.

I revel in the reading, the rhythm of everyone’s voices, and the slowness of the meal.  I hope the details of this rich tradition are not lost in the hustle and bustle of our busy lives.  It is such a nice event that brings strangers and friends together and makes them feel connected to something larger than themselves.

Do you know of other ritual meals that focus on the intersection of storytelling and food?  Are they religious or based on life stages? Or have you created a unique ritual meal with your family? I would love to hear your stories and thoughts about these ritual meals in our culture today. Until I hear from you, here’s a recipe for the delicious treats that concluded our wonderful Seder celebration!

Chocolate Covered Cranberry Coconut Macaroons

Slightly adapted from The New Best Recipe  (an amazing cookbook!)

Makes about 36 macaroons

1 cup cream of coconut
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
4 large egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
 3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut (available at health food stores)
3 cups sweetened flaked or shredded coconut
1¼ cups chopped dried cranberries (Trader Joe’s has really good ones!)
10 oz semisweet or dark chocolate


Adjust the oven racks to the upper and lower-middle positions and preheat the oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together the cream of coconut, corn syrup, egg whites, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl.  Combine the unsweetened and the sweetened coconut in a large bowl, breaking up the chunks with your fingers.  Pour the liquid ingredients into the coconut and mix with a rubber spatula until evenly moistened.  Mix in the chopped cranberries until evenly distributed.

Drop heaping tablespoons of batter 1 inch apart onto the prepared sheets.  Form the macaroons into loose haystacks, ensuring that all are the same size. Bake until cookies are lightly golden brown, about 15 mins, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom hallway through the baking time.  Cool the macaroons on the baking sheets until slightly set, about 2 minutes. Remove to a wire rack or aluminum foil with a spatula. Let cool for at least 30 minutes.

Line the 2 baking sheets with new pieces of parchment paper.  Chop the chocolate and melt 8 oz of it in a small heatproof bowl set over a small pot of almost-simmering water, stirring once or twice, until smooth.  Remove from heat and stir in the remaining 2 oz of chocolate until smooth.

When adding the chocolate, you can choose to do just the bottoms or half like the ones pictured.  Carefully dip the macaroons in the chocolate, taking care not to let them break. If they continue to break, just use a spoon or a small spatula to spread the chocolate on.  Place the macaroon on the prepared sheet. Refrigerate until the chocolate sets, about 15 minutes. Store in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature for serving.

Thank you, Dave, for an amazing meal and for sharing your traditions with us!

Ryan Callahan - You can’t go through with this; it will be cranarchy!

Claire - Thanks, Ashley! If you get the chance to go to a dinner, I highly recommend it!

Ashley - these look amazing, claire! as does the seder spread… i haven’t participated in a seder dinner, but I want to learn more about it.

Sweet Potato Pile

In our house, we tend to go in phases with our meals. Sometimes, it’s because of the season, like when we are surrounded by baskets and baskets of squash. Other times, it’s because we found a recipe that we just can’t get enough of. Often these phases get intrinsically linked in my mind to the feeling and place where we cooked that recipe. Making that meal again makes all of those memories rush back, bringing smiles or sadness and a bucket full of nostalgia.

This recipe is exactly one of these meals. I used to make this this stack of veggies topped with a perfectly cooked fried egg in my tiny apartment in Cincinnati. I savored each bite while I sat at my desk overlooking the park, planning the menu for the next big ritual dinner. When cooking for myself, I don’t like to prepare meat, so I always reverted back to eggs and veggies for an easy protein. This dish was the perfect combination of fancy and easy, flavorful and healthy.  

Now, as I spend hours working on my portfolio, looking at all the work I created last year, I crave this meal again. Magically, maybe some of the creative energy of that time came from the crispy kale. Maybe the idea for an installation came while enjoying the buttery baked sweet potatoes. Maybe, just maybe, a little bit of my strength came from the spiced black beans.

Today in a new city and a new phase, I start to make this recipe again, but this time I make it for other people. As I layer all of the ingredients, there is a special meaning for me, but now, I’m helping to create a new memory for them.

Sweet Potato Pile

As the first recipe post of 2013 (I know, I know, but we’ve been busy!), we have a simple recipe, inspired by a recipe by the one and only Sprouted Kitchen.

Makes 2 hearty portions

2 medium sweet potatoes, washed and dried
1 can of black beans
2 cups chopped cake, washed & big stems removed
handful of grape tomatoes, sliced in half
2 eggs
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder (add as much as you like!)
olive oil
dab of butter


Preheat the oven to 400°F, then poke some holes in the sweet potatoes and put them on the middle rack. (A piece of aluminum foil underneath helps to catch the juices.) Bake these for about 45 minutes to an hour or until a fork pierces them easily.  To save time, you can also wrap the sweet potatoes in plastic wrap and microwave them instead!

After cooking the potatoes for 45 minutes, heat a cast iron skillet on medium heat. Add a glug of olive oil and throw in the kale with ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Sauté the kale for about five minutes or until slightly browned. Remove the kale and set aside.

Leave the heat the same and add a little more olive oil to the skillet.  Carefully crack the egg open onto the skillet. Sprinkle on salt and pepper and fry for about five minutes or to your preferred consistency.  Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, mix the can of beans with the rest of the spices. (You’ll have leftover beans for your breakfast eggs!)

When the potatoes are done cooking, carefully remove them from the oven and cut them down the middle so they open like a book.  Put a little dab of butter on each side. Now pour on a heaping spoonful of black beans, followed by ½ of the kale, and drop some tomatoes all around.  Finally, remove the egg from the skillet and put it right on the top! Serve immediately!

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