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Oysters & White Wine – A Guide to the Perfect Pairing

Amazing Matriarch is here to help you host the perfect oyster & white wine paring be it for your next party, or a night in with your special someone.

The Oysters

The best way to pick oysters is to do a taste test; whether it be with a marked, mixed dozen at home or at a local raw bar (check out the 10best oyster bars in Boston or search 10best.com  for ideas in your city from other local experts) a sampling will hep you decide what you want to serve.

There’s been a battle between east and west coast oysters for years, personally I find oysters from each coast equally enjoyable, while my husband prefers the more mild flavors and smaller since of west coast oysters. The difference between oyster from each coast is that you’ll find large, firm, meaty morsels of high salinity in the shells of east coast oysters and a slightly sweet melon and cucumber flavor in the smaller, more delicate west coast oysters.

A mix of both is always nice, but  as an east coaster with easy access to briny delights from local waters year-round; who buy into the fresh is  best when it comes to food (especially raw seafood) movement, I recommend sourcing oysters from local farmers and seafood shacks.

Popular east coast oysters, that are easily accessible and worth shucking at home include:

Oysters on the half shell at home
Oysters on the half shell at home
  • Wellfleet – large, meaty, clean tasting with excellent salinity
  • PEI, Malpeque– tender, the brininess and sweetness are in balance
  • Island Creek– rich, fatty meat with a buttery finish in a deep cup
  • Blue Point– medium in size with a mild ocean flavor, meaty and from in texture

Popular west coast oysters worth seeking out include:

  • Kumamoto– cucumber flavor, deep cups, small in size
  • Fanny Bay– strong cucumber flavor, meaty and firm

Serve shucked on a platter of crushed ice or alongside shucking knives and gloves (oven mitts work well) for a more casual “shuck your own” event.

The Sauces

Meeting Chef Justin Shoults
Meeting Chef Justin Shoults

Whatever oysters you choose to serve and however you choose to serve them, be sure to have a sampling of sauces on hand:

  • Tabasco: the watery nature of tabasco allows for a hint of heat without too much bulk to overwhelm the oyster’s texture
  • Lemon wedges: technically not a sauce, just a squeeze of lemon over your oyster is all you need to counterbalance the salinity of what’s in the cups
  • Cocktail sauce: “beginners” eat oysters with cocktail sauce, but those who truly enjoy the oyster prefer to eat it without as the heft of the this sauce. It’s strong flavor and dense texture can overwhelm the oyster (do not even think of putting on west coast oysters) so use sparingly.
  • Mignonette– this vinegar based sauce is easy to prepare and can be altered using various add in (herbs, type of vinegar, & flavoring agents like ginger). My favoirte, simple mignonette to make is from Ina Garten and Food Network.
  • Herbed Creme Fraiche– This is delightful on both east and west coast oysters where the mild flavor enhances the oyster; a sorel laced version I tasted at a seminar presented by Brine’s Chef, Justin Shoults at the 2015 Nantucket Wine Festival was perfect, but other herbs can easily be subbed in, just be sure to puree the herbs as to avoid a chunky sauce.

 

The Wine

Sampling of whites with oysters
Sampling of whites with oysters

I typically pair my oysters with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot. Luckily, when participating in the Flight of the Oyster tasting at The Nantucket Wine Festival there was an expert (Philippe Newlin) on hand to create a perfect pairing with  dry to sweet Bordeaux; changing how I look at my at home raw bar drink selection forever.

Six that worked well:

  • Sirech Les Deux Terroirs Blanc 2013, Pessac-Leognan
  • Chateau Marjosse 2013, Entre-Deux-Mers
  • Chateau Carbonnieux Blanc 2013, Pessac-Leognan
  • Chateau Cos d’Estournel Blanc 2013, Medoc
  • Hauts de Smith Blanc 2012, Pessac-Leognan
  • Chateau Suduiraut 2007, Pessac-Leognan

Pour your sips and savor the oysters finding the combination that calls to you and filling that glass to the top.

-Helping you rock the raw bar, Jess

What’s your favorite oyster pairing? Tell us via Facebook: Amazing Matriarch, Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Twitter: @AMatriarch;  Tag us on social using#amazingmatriarch

 

 

5 Minute Ice Cream Sandwiches- A Recipe

There’s one thing I dread about pot lucks-being assigned dessert. I’m a great cook, but I’ve never been much of a baker so I typically try to avoid bringing dessert to any soiree. That was until I started making ice-cream sandwiches using Dancing Deer’s creative cookies and fun flavors of various brands of high end ice-cream. Now, I look for excuses to share a dessert that I can say I (kinda) made, following a simple recipe.

No matter how kitchen illiterate  you may be, you can make these easy to assemble at home treats to take wherever you may go.

Here’s how:

IMG_2104

Buy Dancing Deer (or your favorite pre-made cookie) and a pint of high end ice cream that pairs well, open both packages, place cookies on a plate, flat side facing up

IMG_2105

Scoop ice cream onto cookies, cover

IMG_2109

Press

Clean edges with a butterknife

Wrap in max paper or plastic wrap

Store in Freezer

Serve & enjoy!

-Taking the stress out of what dessert to bring to your next potluck, Jess

Share your ice cream sandwich creations with us via Facebook: Amazing Matriarch, Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Twitter: @AMatriarch;  Tag us on social using#amazingmatriarch 

Saucy Secret Revealed: One Sauce, Several Uses

This sauce is must add to your regular rotation. It acts as a marinade for grilled meat (pork, beef, bone in chicken) or even vegetables. Then, instead of being discarded, it can be boiled down to use as a sauce to serve over the main course or incorporated into side dishes (I love it mixed into rice, quinoa, or bulgur w/ grilled vegetables, chopped scallions and a few toasted sesame seeds).

Developing an umami packed sweet flavor, this sauce is sure to be a hit with your family. It’s also elegant enough to serve at a dinner party.

Basic Recipe:

  • 1/4 cup Soy Sauce
  • 3 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Maple Syrup
  • 1 to 2 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 head of smashed garlic
  • Salt and pepper

Additional Options:

  • 1 tbsp crushed ginger
  • 1 thinly sliced hot pepper (seeded for less heat) OR
  • 1tbsp Sambal olek OR
  • 1tbsp Sirarcha
  • 1 thinly sliced onion or shallots

Replacements:

  • Agave syrup in place of brown sugar
  • canola oil in place of sesame oil
  • eliminate the rice wine vinegar
Photo via Flciker, Courtesy of Steven Depolo
Photo via Flickr, Courtesy of Steven Depolo

Mix all ingredients in a sealable bag, add meat or vegetables, shake to coat and refrigerate at least 2 hours(the flavor intensifies the longer it sits).

While meat/vegetables grill (a grill pan works in place of an outdoor grill), pour remaining sauce into a pot, bring to a boil and reduce until you reach your desired thickness. Serve atop meat or vegetables or mix into your favorite side dish.

You can play with the quantities in a large bowl to reach the flavor you desire. Or transform this sauce into a salad dressing by mixing the same ingredients in the following quantities.

Salad Dressing Adaptation:

  • 1/4 cup oil (canola, vegetable, olive)
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 to 2 tsp maple syrup or brown sugar (to taste)
  • Chopped scallions (optional)

If additional heat is desired add a pinch to 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes or a squirt of Sirarcha. Use to top green salads, or as a dressing (increase recipe to accommodate amount) for coleslaw or mix with your favorite grain.

Now you have one sauce that will pass the kid test, impress your significant other and wow your friends.

-Sharing a saucy little secret weapon to transform you into a kitchen pro, Jess

Share your final product with us! Find Amazing Matriarch on Facebook: Amazing Matriarch, Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Twitter: @AMatriarch;  #amazingmatriarch. 

A Tasting Fit For Kids With Jelly Belly

My foodie cousin always comes up with some really creative ways to entertain my kids when she sees them.  Often involving food, Saturday’s activity was no different.  She came to our house equipped with an assorted pack of Jelly Belly jelly beans.  As soon as she asked them if they wanted to play a game that involved eating jelly beans, both kids, without hesitation, ran to the table and patiently waited for the game to begin.

As a sensory based activity, she encouraged the kids to pay attention to each flavor they were tasting and describe it in their own words.  I couldn’t believe that my 2 and 4 year old sat there at the kitchen table engaged for over an hour (this is unheard of especially when there is sugar involved).  Their excitement and anticipation over what jelly bean flavor was next in line really was fun to watch.

My 4 year old son correctly guessed at least 90% of the flavors that he tasted. I didn’t realize his palette had already matured so much (clearly this was a learning experience for me as well).  My 2 year old daughter wasn’t quite there yet but she was thrilled to join in on the fun and get a new jelly bean when everyone else did.

body photoWhy not put your kids Easter candy to good use this Sunday?  All you need is an assorted pack of Jelly Belly jelly beans and your kids.  With 50 distinct flavors (49 included in the assorted pack), this game is something you can do with your kids more than once. The kids get a treat, they learn about their sense of taste and you are able to keep their attention for an entire game.  What’s not to love about this simple activity.  Game on!

National Pi Day Specials in Boston Tomorrow

Tomorrow is National Pi Day and Boston area restaurants are serving up pies in all shapes and forms in honor of this smart day.  Put on your smartie pants and take advantage of these delectable specials (3/14/15 only) in and around the area.

Salvatore’s – All Salvatore’s restaurant locations including  Boston’s Seaport & Theater District as well Medford, Andover and Lawrence  will serve up their signature flatbread pizzas for $3.14.  This special offer is only available on March 14th, 2015 from 12:00pm to 5:00pm. 

The handcrafted pizzas include Bruschetta with tomato, basil, garlic and red onion, fresh mozzarella and balsamic reduction, Rabe and Bacon with braised broccoli rabe, bacon, pepperoncino and mozzarella, Sweet Orchard with sweet Italian sausage, spinach, caramelized apples and gorgonzola, Salvatore’s take on the traditional Margherita, and Sweet Chili Chicken with roasted chicken, sweet chili sauce and mozzarella.

Salvatore’s will also offer specialty cocktails to pair with the many flatbreads including:

  • Basil Berry Martini ($11) with New Amsterdam vodka, St. Germaine, lime juice, and fresh strawberries.
  • Boston Sunset ($9) with New Amsterdam red berry and orange vodkas, Bacardi dragon berry rum, peach schnapps, orange juice and a splash of grenadine.
Brass Union - Apple Pies resized
Photo courtesy of Brass Union

Brass Union is serving up some special all american apple pie : three mini apple pies, burnt sugar, ice cream, cinnamon, apple compote for the low price of $6. Brass Union is located at 70 Union Square, Somerville – 617.623.9211 – www.brassunion.com

Photo courtesy of Cask ‘n Flagon
Photo courtesy of Cask ‘n Flagon

Head on over to Fenway for one last pre-season look at this soon to be bustling area, and bite into a slice of Oreo Cookie Pie at Cask ‘n Flagon; this cake batter ice cream and Oreo cookies creations adds special touches like raspberry swirls and chocolate fudge for 62 Brookline Avenue, Boston – 617.536.4840 – www.casknflagon.com.

Photo courtesy of The Tip Tap Room
Photo courtesy of The Tip Tap Room

The Tip Tap Room at 138 Cambridge Street, Boston, has a very special sweet treat Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Pie on the menu in honor of Pi DayChef Poe’s family recipe, this $8 delight is the ideal end to a fulfilling meal.  857.350.3344 – www.thetiptaproom.com

Photo courtesy of Legal Seafoods
Photo courtesy of Legal Seafoods

All of Legal Sea Foods locations  will be serving up an area classic, Boston Cream Pie. Making it a little extra special they’ll be incorporating a chocolate sauce, rum caramel sauce, and toffee almond crunch  into this $7.95 must try dessert. 

Photo courtesy of Legal Sea Foods
Photo courtesy of Legal Sea Foods

They’ll also transport you to the tropics with the sweet/tart combo of their Key Lime Pie. Served with a side of lime cream, and pomegranate sauce for $7.95 this is one dessert you won’t want to skip. www.legalseafoods.com

Give Amazing Matriarch a shout out on social media by using the #AmazingMatriarch with your best pics on this or any National Pi Day Adventure.

Find our Facebook page: Amazing Matriarch; Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Twitter:@AMatriarch

Boston Restaurants Invite You to Dine Out

Running March 1-6 and March 8-13, 2015, Dine Out Boston is the perfect opportunity to support Boston’s service industry.  It’s been a long couple of months in the Northeast. With storm after storm piling snow on top of snow, and keeping diners out of restaurants who are in need of their patronage. Transition into March with a great deal at many of Boston’s top dining establishments and help these hurting business owners get back on track.

If you’re in tune with social media, share your Dine Out Boston experiences and be entered to win a $100 Gift Card to a participating restaurant.  Snap a photo of your meal, tag your location, and share. Use the #DineOutBoston on  Facebook or Instagram and you’ll have the chance to win one of the two (one via Facebook, one via Instagram) $100 gift cards each day.

Selections vary from restaurant to restaurant as does pricing. Options include lunch for $15, $20 or $25, and dinner for $28, $33 or $38. Additionally, restaurants can choose the number of courses offered at their set price point so you’ll find variety in what you get from spot to spot.

If you can’t take part in Dine Out Boston, you can take part in the  charitable auction. This year, all proceeds go to ArtsBoston, Inc. Get in on the action at the auction to win gift certificates (provided by participating restaurants) starting March 2.

Find participating restaurants at: www.DineOutBoston.com. Like Dine Out Boston on Facebook: www.facebook.com/dineoutboston; follow on Twitter: www.twitter.com/dineoutbos, and Instagram: www.instagram.com/dineoutboston.

Then Dine Out, Boston.

-Sales, steals and deals are even better on meals, Jess

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A Foolproof Pairing to Impress Your Friends: Italian Wine and Cheese Part 2

Pairing wines with cheese is an art form mastered by some and a mystery to others. When you master a few pairings you’re armed with an arsenal of appetizers that will impress any guest.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piave_cheese
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piave_cheese

Serve the nutty Paive Stravecchio cheese with an Italian red or two, and a few simple accompaniments, and you’ll be asked to repeat this pairing at every party.

Paive Stravecchio has a grainy texture that is best enjoyed on cheese board with a dollop of mostarda and a glass of Italian red. From the Veneto region in Italy’s northern area. Manufactured from cow’s milk this cheese takes on the flavor of the land that the cows graze upon.

http://castellare.it/eng/chiantiClassico.html
http://castellare.it/eng/chiantiClassico.html

Two classic Italian red wines that pair nicely are the fruity, full-bodied, smooth, 2005, Tasca d’ Almerita, Lamuri, Nero d/’Avolo Sicilia and the dry, 2013 Castellare di Castellina Chianti Classico.

Add a salumi of arista di maiale (roasted pork loin) and you have the makings of a full Italian style lunch or a lovely American style appetizer. Encourage your friends to try each piece alone then mix.

First, sample the cheese along with a bit of mostarda (an Italian condiment made from candied fruit and a mustard flavored syrup that take son a consistency somewhere between honey and jam) and enjoy how the two compliment one another. Then, try the cheese with the arista di maiale and enjoy how the subtlety of the pork loin pairs with the sweet almond flavors of the flaky cheese. Finally, enjoy all three together and you’ll find the making of an excellent broiled sandwich when you top a slice of bread.

Then relax and finish the plate before moving onto your next course.

-“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.”, W.C. Fields

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The Breakfast Club Serves Up A Monthly Special this Spring: Breakfast for Dinner

A reservations only event you won’t want to miss is coming your way each month at Allston’s Breakfast Club. This 80’s pop culture icon brings lines of locals waiting outside the doors for plates of comfort breakfast specialties.

Sign up for their seatings starting at 6:00pm featuring seasonally themed menus on the first Monday of the month this spring and dig into four courses of creative breakfast specialties during dinnertime.

Add breakfast inspired specialty drinks like mimosas made with freshly squeezed oj, and Narragansett Autocrat coffee milk stout and you’re breakfast is truly a dinner.

Best of all, this dinner is a deal at $35/person (including tax & gratuity) and includes your four-courses along your choice of with mimosas or Narragansett Autocrat coffee milk stout.

Order tickets at: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/breakfast-for-dinner-series-tickets-15498852485

The Breakfast Club is located at 270 Western Ave, Allston, Breakfast for dinner is from 6-9pm on 3/2, 4/6 and 5/4, 2015

Boston Heats Up for National Margarita Day

Saturday February 22nd is National Margarita Day.  Head out for a night (or day) on the town and follow this special Boston margarita crawl to pay homage to this sacred cocktail of tequila, triple sec and lime.  For some extra fun, slip into character by wearing your best sombrero and poncho.

Legal Harborside in the seaport district is featuring 2 extra special margarita’s:

  • Top Shelf Margarita – Patrón Reposado Tequila, Cointreau, lime cordial, lemon juice ($13; available on the first floor)
  • Top Deck Margarita – LSF barrel-selected Corazon Anejo Tequila, triple sec, lime (single – $10; small – $28 large – $55; available on the rooftop)

One of each, please!

Mango MargaritaWalk across the street to Legal Test Kitchen (LTK) and try the Mango Margarita.  For $10 you can wet your pallet with Pueblo Viejo Blanco Tequila, Bols Triple Sec, mango nectar, lime, agave.  This delicious mango concoction will be also be featured at all Legal Sea Food locations.

A little taste of the tropics in the middle of winter.

Green Tea MargaritaGrab a ride across town to Haru at the Prudential.  Sip on the Green Tea Margarita ($13) consisting of Patrón Silver Tequila, Cointreau, sweet green tea powder and sour mix.

Indulge in this delightfully different drink on National Margarita Day.

Cranberry Jalapeno MargaritaFinsh the day with a quick walk over to Poe’s Kitchen at the Rattlesnake on Boylston Street.  Sip on their spicy winter spin on the day’s drink of honor- a Cranberry Jalapeno Margarita for $12 which consists of Patrón Añejo, muddled jalapeños & cranberries, Drambuie, Rattlesnake margarita mix.

Cheers!

Give Amazing Matriarch a shout out on social media by using the #AmazingMatriarch with your best pics on this or any National Margarita Day margarita crawl (or margarita) you create. 

Find our Facebook page: Amazing Matriarch; Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Jess on Twitter: @10bestjess

“I drink to make other people more interesting.”   – Ernest Hemingway

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A Foolproof Pairing to Impress Your Friends: Italian Whites with Asiago Cheese & Speck

The Italians know how to live the good life. They sip fine wines, and eat rich foods, and turn their meals into events that could last all day. All you need to recreate the spirit of an Italian celebration is a good hunk of Asiago, a bottle of white, a hunk of crusty bread and a little salumi.

http://www.caputosdeli.com/products/asiago-fresco-dop.html
Agriform’s Asiago Fresco DOP

Asiago Fresco is a spongy, creamy. Italian cow’s milk cheese that has a mild flavor and makes an excellent addition to a cheese pizza. But a piece of this cheese on a plate alongside a a few slices of Speck makes for a an appetizer you’re friends won’t soon forget.

http://www.librandi.it/en/
http://www.librandi.it/en/
Photo from: http://wine.mastroberardino.net/en/Show.aspx?idElemento=16
Photo from: mastroberardino.net/en/

Pair it with an oaked 2013 bottle of Librandi, Efeso-Val di Neto Bianco or an un-oaked Mastroberardino, Radici Fiano di Avellino and the flavors will come to life. These simple wines are elegant, allowing the flavors of the food to shine. The Radici also pairs well with seafood and chicken so you can easily follow up your appetizer with a meal calling for the same wine.

Or keep some on hand to enjoy solo. Top a slice of Italian bread with a slice of speck, a piece of Asiago and a drizzle of honey alongside your glass of wine and call it a meal.

Either way, this pairing will have you living la dolce vita.

-Vowing to serve wine and cheese to please, Jess

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