New England Cranberry Bog

The white monotone sky and the grey trees without leaves provided a blank canvas that contrasted the bright red berries, floating in perfect circles.  The individual berries were so small, but together with the small green flecks of leaves dotting the surface they made an ever-changing composition in the water.

Recently, we had the opportunity to visit the beautiful Tidmarsh Farms in Plymouth, Massachusetts for a relaxing afternoon of picnicking and cranberry harvesting.  When we arrived, Glorianna showed us around the fields and explained the entire process of flooding the fields and processing the berries.  After exploring the grounds and filling our bellies, the truck arrived for the last collection of the day, and we got to work.

Juan stepped up and helped the entire time to get the cranberries from the pump into the truck, shifting and adjusting the machine to ensure their safe arrival. Meanwhile, the rest of us were able to pull on some waders and lend a hand to corral all the berries into the pump.  Their current crop is only a small portion of what their farm used to do, but it still takes the community to harvest it. Everyone came to learn, to help, and to enjoy the work of harvesting the cranberries.

Many thanks to Tidmarsh Farms and Nomeda and Gediminas and the rest of the MIT crew who made this trip possible!

The Last of the Tomatoes

Here in New England, we are now reaping the benefits of a summer that took her sweet old time to warm up. We’ve got pounds and pounds of tomatoes! When the tomatoes finally showed up in stores and our CSA share, they surprised me! Some look so picture perfect—bright, saturated colors, with shiny, smooth skins. But then you bite into them, and they are mealy and flavorless. Others have some bruises and cracks—scarring the bright colored appearance—and they end up tasting like you just picked them out of your own garden. So for those of us who can’t resist that ten pound box of ugly, beat up tomatoes from the farm stand because it’s “just such a good deal!” this one’s for you.  This simple recipe doesn’t need anything special, just really good tomatoes. Come to think of it, we never really need much more than that.

Tomato Tart

Makes about 6-8 servings

If your tomatoes are damaged, just cut out the bad pieces and leave so whole slices for the top layer! Although this recipe uses plain, savory crust, you could also add spices or use an almond meal crust like this one for a stronger flavor.

Adapted from Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food

Tart Dough:
½ ice cold water
3 cups all purpose unbleached flour
½ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons cold butter cut into small ¼ inch cubes 
Tart:
3 medium tomatoes, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Sharp White Cheddar Cheese
Oregano, dried or fresh
 
*special equipment: tart pan, rolling pin (or mad skills with a wine bottle), cheese grater

Work the butter into the flour with your fingers for about 1 minute, leaving large irregular pieces. Take care to handle the dough as little as possible to keep the butter cold.  Slowly pour in ¾ of the water, stirring with a fork until in begins to form large clumps.  Keep adding water as needed and form into a ball. Smash the ball into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap, refrigerate for 1 hour or longer.

While the dough is resting, slice the tomatoes and chop the onions. In a large skillet, sauté the onions in olive oil until they are golden brown, adding a sprinkle of salt & pepper.  When they are almost done, throw in the garlic and sauté until it is slightly browned.  Remove and set aside.

When you are ready to make the tart, take the dough out of the refrigerator to soften for 20 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 375°F. Sprinkle your surface with flour and roll out the dough to about a 1/8” thick.  Close up any cracks that appear in the dough.  Gently lift or scrape the dough off the surface and lay in a large tart dish.

To assemble the tart, grate a layer of cheese, sprinkle the oregano, and spoon on the about 1/3 of the sautéed onion. Fill the layer with tomatoes. Continue to layer the grated cheese, oregano, and onions followed by a layer of tomatoes until you fill up your tart dish! Finish the top layer of tomatoes with some more grated cheese, oregano, salt & pepper.  Carefully roll and twist the edges of the crust into a rope along the edge of the dish!

Bake the tart in the oven for about 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Let rest for 5 minutes to allow the juices to set. Slice and serve warm! Enjoy!

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 & [...]

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