Monthly Archives: March 2011

In the Kitchen with Andrew (part 2 AKA the Bonus Round)

So as much as I wanted to include both these in one post I thought better since they don’t really seem to have much in common. Plus they occurred weeks apart. I wanted to share an impromptu creation story. So a few days back while remarking on the facebooks that all I had eaten that day was blood oranges and pistachios my nephew Dan, an awesome chef and honorary Gastronaut, said I should make salsa. As soon as I read that my brain exploded. I suddenly got really excited. I had endeavored to make salsa a year or so ago at christmas kind of as a gag gift to give out. I ended up making several jars of it and surprisingly everyone really liked it. Since then i’ve always wanted to try my hand at it again. I had even gotten one of those silly chopping implements you always see being sold on TV. The only difference was I got it for only one easy payment of five bucks at a store down the street. I only ever got to enjoy chopping the heck out of poor helpless veggies once. I wanted to get my monies worth so of course I was going to do this again. Seeing as I had planned to have some friends over for St. Pats I decided it would be a perfect opportunity to test out my creation. Wether it was good or bad I would find out from several of my closest friends because they’re honest and I trust their opinions.

Surprisingly everyone really seemed to like it, and I dare say it was the hit of the party. The only thing that could have made it any better was if it was more green to match just about everything else that night. I’ve seen other citrus or fruit based salsas and in fact I absolutely love mango salsa, but this was totally different. I was surprised with how it came out and especially surprised with how easy it was to put together. It made just about the perfect amount for a handful of people. I think what scared me away from making salsa for so long was that I made like a metric ton of it the last time and by the end of that process I never wanted to look at/eat salsa again. This time around it was quick and easy like a sleazy track star and I was more excited to actually try what I had just created. I think what won me over specifically was the combo of salty and sweet between the oranges and the pistachios. I’ve mentioned before I love the salty/sweet combo and it really shows here again, and you can definitely taste it with the right balance of both ingredients.

Because I love you all so very much I am going to share with you the super top secret recipe that I sort of cobbled together. I give Dan the credit for inspiring me to bring this to fruition, but I embellished a little on his original salsa starter ingredients. So here it is:

The Boston Gastronauts Blood Orange and Pistachio Salsa:

2 Blood Oranges

2-4 handfulls of Pistachios

1/2 a Red Onion

1/2 a Green Pepper

3-4 Jalapeno Peppers (I can’t remember if I did 3 or 4)

1 Medium Tomato

Some simple syrup

Aaaaand last but not least just a pinch of AWESOME!

Everything’s pretty much diced and thrown together and mixed up at the end, and there ya have it. A whole bowl fulla’ yummy!

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In the Kitchen with Andrew! (part 1)

So this week for something different I’ve decided to document a  recent culinary endeavor that was new to me. I hadn’t really gotten my hands dirty in the kitchen in a while and I missed it so I took it upon myself to go out and find something that looked like trouble. It didn’t take me that long to serendipitously run into a random cut of meat that didn’t look like anything I’d ever seen before. That’s right I had the exciting experience of prepping and cooking a cow tongue that I found at the local grocery store. That kind of makes it sound like I found it behind the store in a ditch or something, but no they actually had it cleanly packaged in the meat section next to the livers and kidneys and other goodies. On a side note I thoroughly enjoyed the little stickers stating that the quality and freshness were guaranteed.

While unfortunately it wasn’t the whole tongue it was still a pretty decent cross section of bovine lolly licker. If you look at the picture it’s hard to imagine the whole tongue being like three times the size of the chunk I had. There’s a lot to look at when dealing with a tongue. There are a lot of “what the hell is that?” moments. I didn’t realize until I got it home that I had no idea what I could even do with a cow tongue. I eventually went to the vast emporium of knowledge that is the internet to scope out what I could do with the hunk of meat and find out how I could cook it. Surprisingly enough the tongue is a lot more complicated then you’d think. The most involved part of the preparation of the tongue would be skinning it. That’s right you need to skin this bad boy. I had no idea there was tongue skin. I don’t know why, but it just didn’t occur to me. Skinning a cows tongue or at least the part of a cows tongue that I had was probably one of the weirdest experiences of my life. I’m not usually squeamish with things like that but the process made me slightly uncomfortable plus the texture of the tongue skin is already a little strange if you think about it. It’s oddly scaly.

So the whole process of getting this guy ready takes about two to three hours. You start by scrubbing the tongue down to clean it off with some cold water. Then your going to let it sit in some cold water for about an hour changing the water once or twice to drain off the excess salt. After the tongues bath your going to want to chop up some vegetables. In my case I had carrots, onions, and some celery sitting around. Pepper em up and throw them and the clean tongue into a big pot with some water and put em on to boil. When it comes to a boil your going to want to bring it back down and let it simmer like that for another hour or so. Every once in a while you might want to check and skim some of the muck off the top of the water. I don’t know exactly what that muck is. I probably should have tasted some for the blog but the thought didn’t cross my mind. maybe next time.

After the tongues done boiling for an hour or so. You quickly drop it into some more cold water and let it sit for a while. This is apparently supposed to help make it easier to snatch the skin off. Like when you skin tomatoes and the transfer from hot to cold so quickly makes the skin just slip right off. It didn’t work out so well for me I kinda had to dig at it with a knife for a while. It was more like peeling a really stubborn meaty potato. I eventually got it all and the tongue was good to go. I let it sit overnight in the fridge cause at that point I had already eaten dinner and didn’t want my cow tongue experience be tainted by a ruined appetite.

The next night was perfect. I had stayed out late with friends and hadn’t gotten anything to eat so by the time I headed home around 2AM I was starved. Cow tongue to the rescue. I sliced some extra thin and piled it on a roll with some mayo and banana peppers. It was amazing midnight snack food. it was like a really good roast beef sandwich, The texture of tongue is a little bit different although you can definitely tell it’s beef. It’s softer like almost “melts in your mouth”, but slightly different. I also tried it again fried the next morning with some eggs. It was a lot like a strange combination of scrapple and beef bacon, but that didn’t bother me at all. If we could cross breed foods that would probably be on my list of things to do. So I totally say go out and get some beef tongue and have a blast. Make sandwiches, make tacos, make whatever the heck you want it’ll be freakin’ delicious. Here’s to makin’ out with cows!

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Happy Anniversary + Saus: Belgian Street Food in Boston!

The Resturant:

Saus

33 Union Street

Boston MA 02108

617 248 8835

Yelp

So here we are a year later and the Boston Gastronauts surge forward into a new year of gastronomical adventures. Most recently I had the privilege of attending the soft opening of a neat new restaurant in the area. It’s called Saus and it brings a unique blend of American and European styles to two very familiar food stuffs. They serve Belgian pommes frites and Liége waffels. Can’t say I’ve seen many french fry and waffle places in my time, and this being my first exposure to it it left quite the impression.
A new friend from work had invited me along to check out his friends new restaurant. Sharing the fact that I was a food blogger he quickly filled me in on the details of what I could expect from Saus. We got a little turned around on the train but eventually found ourselves at the Haymarket stop and walked right over. It’s located right near the Union Oyster House just down Union street. We walk in and immediately see that the space itself is unique. It’s small but tall so its a nice cozy space. A long dark wooden bench lines the far side of the restaurant. The design is pretty cool. There are mirrors, which really open the space up, and the far wall is decorated in a grid of Tin Tin comics, which is an awesome touch. Then there are photos of Bruges and Boston on the other side. So far I haven’t eaten anything and I’m already impressed. It just looks so cool!
I’m introduced to Chin, Tanya, and Renee, three of the big brains behind this operation. They give me a quick run down on a few things but they’re all really busy getting things together and keeping things running smoothly, so they were running all over the place. I order some fries and a waffle and prepare for my mind to be blown. There was a pretty quick turnaround from my order so I didn’t hafta’ wait long, which is always awesome.
With my fries I get the vampire slayer sauce. This place is all about their gourmet sauce selections if you didn’t already gather. The vampire slayer is a mayo based sauce infused with a whole buncha’ garlic-y goodness. I was also given some of the Cheddar and Duvel Ale sauce, which is like a beer and cheese sauce. That was also pretty amazing. With both of those I also snagged some house ketchup. I mean what are fries without ketchup really? I’m a secret ketchup crazy, too, so don’t tell anyone. I was one of those kids who put it on everything growing up. I’m not as bad nowadays but this ketchup that they make from scratch right there in house might just have re-ignited a tomato based psychosis. Heinz best look out cause this stuff is good with a capital “G”. I find most ketchups off the shelf are either too salty or too sweet, but theirs finds a really good balance of both.
Fries: crispy, golden, and delicious. Check! Sauce: above and beyond any other sauce I’ve encountered in any restaurant in my twenty three years on this planet. Check! Now I’m about to dive into my waffle. I had no idea what I was in for, and nothing could prepare me for what I was about to taste. I got my waffle with the salted caramel sauce. It was incredible. Pretty much easily the most delicious waffle I’ve had in my entire life. I know I’m saying a lot of really bold things in this blog entry but I honestly need everyone reading to know I’m serious. After a long time having fries and waffles they become one of those things you tend to take for granted. You might even get sick of them after a while. Even if you did though I have no doubt in my mind that coming to Saus and trying their food will rekindle a deep love for both. This waffle, my god, it was like the perfect combination of salty and sweet. It’s like the most perfect chocolate covered pretzel but more like a creme brulee.
So yeah it was pretty darn good. Now I just gotta’ find the time to get back there and try some more of what they have to offer. They have a bunch of different sauces, and rotating weekly special sauces which is neat cause there are so many different combos to try. I was also psyched to see they are also going to be having Poutine. I myself have never seen that anywhere outside of Canada. Now that it’s only a hop on the T away I’m worried at the potential of gaining back all the weight I’ve lost recently, but it just might be worth it.

On a side note Boston Restaurant week is coming up. It’s more like two weeks (March 6-11, and 13-18 2011), but yea if anyone would like to join us in possibly checking out/ reviewing some of the participating restaurants just give us a headsup and shoot us an e-mail at thebostongastronauts@gmail.com! You could possibly land a guest spot on your very favorite Boston food blog, and who wouldn’t jump at the chance for that right??

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Crepes in Brookline

The Resturant:

The Paris Creperie

278 Harvard St
Brookline, MA 02446

(617) 232-1770

Yelp

Andrew’s Take:

Crepes! Sweet Jesus, how have I, a founding member of the Boston Gastronauts, never  engulfed them before? I’ve been told possibly as a wee child crepes may have in fact once graced my mouth hole, but I really can’t recall. So flash forward to twenty something years later. A new friend introduces me to Paris Creperie in Brookline. Before this I’ve only ever watched someone eat crepes, and that person was in fact Ché. For I had already eaten or had other dinner plans, I can’t rightly remember, and was just there to enjoy the wonderful company of a man called Ché. Sustenance enough for some, or so I hear.

So here I am at the creperie with no idea what to expect. I’m told they’re like pancakes. This is another case where I see one thing in my head and am presented with something wholly different. We came to the conclusion that they’re kind of like the unholy love child of a pancake and a tortilla. In essence a French burrito if you will.. Now I’ve encountered the classic Mexican burrito, the Greek burrito, and even Indian burritos, which are all quite tasty, but French Burrito feels like some kind of oxymoron. Yet they are indeed quite tasty.

I myself had the steak and cheese crepe which, as you can imagine, was filled to the brim with deliciousness. (I don’t know if they technical term for the edge of a crepe is “brim” but just go with me on it for now.) This included steak, cheese of an unknown yet awesome variety, green peppers, onions, and mushrooms all neatly presented in one of these nifty crepes. Everything in the crepe was extremely fresh. Even the mushrooms looked like they had just been cut to order. The unique thing about this take on the wrapped sandwich is I feel like I was able to easily taste each individual ingredient included without having to go out of my way to separate them. It’s the polar opposite of our experience with the Fat Sandwiches we’ve encountered before where it becomes one big cheesy, greasy, fried mess in your mouth. With the crepes I could in fact tell what I had in every bite.  Now this might not be as bizarre as some of the fare we usually encounter on here and some of you loyal readers might go out for crepes every day of the week, but for some this might be considered a unique and foreign taste in, on , or around the city of Boston. Especially for me being my first time devouring crepes it was a new experience, and that’s what the Boston Gastronauts are all about!

So in conclusion I want to say thanks to my friend Nell for finally introducing me to crepes and I say crepes = awesome, and would definitely recommend them to anyone looking for something different but not too whacky. I mean we’re not talking about more cat food here people, but then again there’s technically nothing stopping me from making my own crepes to fill with cat food, and mailing one to Ché. A crepe could probably fit in one of those flat rate envelopes right?

 

(Special note: Stay tuned in March for our one year anniversary blog extravaganza where in I get to review a cool new restaurant in Boston!)

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