Ofrenda, New York, NY

There are good days and bad days. Good meals and bad ones. Truth be told, I don’t mind when the two intersect. We spent the last weekend in New York and packed a lot into the trip- a film festival, brunch, dancing, and coffee, before heading home. A good trip, but an anxious one, as exams are this week and the next and I’m up to my ears in writing assignments. But it was a good trip. I was hard-pressed to pick a highlight as we were heading home, but my stomach growled otherwise. We’d just finished a meal up at Ofrenda, an excellent new-ish Mexican restaurant in the West Village, and though I was stuffed, I was already looking forward to the leftovers.DSC_6524 Continue reading “Ofrenda, New York, NY”

Old El Paso Frozen Beef Enchiladas

The internet bought me dinner. Thanks, internet. It’s been a long few days. I’ve discovered that I’m like a hydrophobic substance- terrified of bonding, and that I have a lot of work to do before I’m actually an attorney. Did you know that law school is not simply a sixteen-minute montage of uplifting KC & The Sunshine Gang songs and pretty power suits that fit perfectly in the bust? It gives an entirely new definition to the term ‘qualified privilege,’ which is funny to maybe three people here. I feel oddly content, though, despite that I have impending exams and papers deciding the fates of imaginary clients. It feels good to accomplish things in the real world- cooking being the sole omission of said accomplishments. 

DSC_6533 Continue reading “Old El Paso Frozen Beef Enchiladas”

Paragon at Foxwoods, Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, CT (II)

I rarely do repeat visits to restaurants- not for lack of desire, but ultimately, there are just so many new places to go that I rarely think of returning to places that aren’t within walking distance of my apartment, or are actually in my apartment. But I often wish there was enough time for me to go back to some of them– I wonder how they’ve developed and what their menus are now like. I watch over them with the wistful distance of an ex-lover on Facebook.DSC_6429 Continue reading “Paragon at Foxwoods, Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, CT (II)”

Red Lantern at Foxwoods, Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, CT

I’m not good at date nights. My small, mammalian brain tends to associate them with work nights, as most of my face-stuffing tends to be ‘on the job,’ so to speak. Sometimes, though, I pull it off effortlessly, and manage to convince the Bedfellow that I am taking her on a lavish junket, away from the humdrum of suburban Northampton, into the exotic and posh world of the elite. This, unfortunately, was not one of those nights.
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75th Annual March of Dimes Gala, Simsbury, CT

One question I commonly receive by querulous passersby on the road is, “Foodette, what did you do before you were a food writer?” they say, their eyes quivering with the anticipated thoughtful brevity of my response. “Before your brilliance was unleashed upon the masses, what was your life like?” they utter, fingering my fine dress shirt and sniffing my potent, curated combination of Comme des Garcons and Diptyque.

“Well,” I tell them, exuding pure swag,

“I was a baby.” Continue reading “75th Annual March of Dimes Gala, Simsbury, CT”

Annie’s Rice Pasta and Cheddar

Today is just a good day to celebrate being an adult. What’s that, you ask? Well, over my carefully prepared lunch of gluten-free Easy Ma-er, Annie’s Rice Pasta and Cheddar in individual cups, I’ll tell you. It all started this morning, when I woke up after a mild-mannered evening of Thai food, Riesling, and more backepisodes of Pokemon than I care to mention, with the Bedfellow. I woke up realizing that not only had I planned early enough to get some early notes done for class that morning, but that I’d also spent the better part of the evening cleaning my floors and ranting about party etiquette. Why don’t people know how to RSVP? Adult problems, people.

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Besito, West Hartford, CT

In a brief editorial by ‘First We Feast,’ the author decries the classic stereotype many people have about ethnic cuisine- we want it, but we don’t want to pay high premiums for it. In assuming that position, the food and the culture creating it is cheapened, relegated to a lower premium than steak or more European restaurant fare. The worth of Asian and Mexican cuisine can be just as high as that of Italian or French, as seen especially in restaurants like Shang Palace, with a level of authenticity as high as their less expensive counterparts. With this in mind, I was curious to try Besito, a John Tunney restaurant in West Hartford based on high-end, but authentic Mexican cuisine.
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Sweet Potato Gazpacho with Tomato-Basil Granita

I’m a childless adult! I have valiantly eschewed a life rife with diapers, fiscal responsibility, and listening to others. Was I surprised to be chosen for the Campbell’s Wisest Kid campaign? I most certainly was. But secretly, I’ve always wanted to be the cool aunt. Auntie Mame of the 21st century, if will. And despite my hedonistic lifestyle, I do have an ace up my sleeve: my little sister. She’s fairly wise, maybe Tootsie Roll Owl on a scale of infant to Einstein, and I figured that, while testing out recipes incorporating the soup, I’d ask her for some puerile wisdom. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Would you eat chicken noodle pot pies?
Julia: Idk!
Me: Would you eat purple onion and golden tomato soup?
Julia: probably not
Me: Would you eat sweet potato gazpacho with granita?
Julia: maybe

As you can see, Julia is a most discerning critic. All she needs to do now is grow a beard and she can effectively replace Campbell’s bearded mascot with her rapier wit and consistency. A girl after my own heart. In any case, the only recipe Julia expressed any remote interest to was the sweet potato gazpacho, with tomato and basil granita on top. It’s extremely simple- one box of Campbell’s Sweet Potato and Tomatillo bisque, one can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup, and ¼ cup of julienned basil. I froze the tomato soup, spices, olive oil, and basil with some water for two hours, then fluffed it with a fork for instant granita.

When I was ready to serve it, I heated up the bisque until it was warm, but not boiling hot, ladled it into bowls, and served it with a few spoonfuls of granita on top, serving it with a boorishly handsome sandwich, thick and shiny with maple butter and slices of jamon Serrano and roasted turkey jutting from the sides. I promptly forgot to take photos. I spread melting slices of Camembert, fresh via Great Barrington vis-a-vis France, atop the meat, garnished with a bit of jam and a cornichon out of sheer habit. It’s a summer sandwich, a last-resort and boundless sandwich, a meal for one or three. You don’t even want it toasted or hot so much as you just want the ingredients to sweat in the heat and bind together, ever so gently. The ideal temperature for this is on a plate, outside on an August day, the bread and soup absorbing the summer air and the filling creeping closer. It’s teen and adult-friendly and it’s extremely tasty. The Wisest Kid may soon change his name to the Kid with the Best Lunch.

Disclosure time! Campbell’s and BlogHer are paying me to write about this, but the baller recipe development is my own, as are the pithy comments from sissy.

Applegate Farms Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets

I miss McDonald’s. They tweeted me the other day and I didn’t have the heart to tell them how much I loved them and wanted them back. I’ve been pulling up to the local franchise on North Beacon, standing outside with my trusty Sounddock cued up to ‘In Your Eyes.’ The neighbors really didn’t like that, but it’s for love, y’know?
I have also scared The Bedfellow on two occasions when she was eating a McDouble, the first culminating in the screamed repetition of ‘BREEEAAAADDDDDD’ along with an accusatory finger point, and the second was a little more subtle, the silent but ever-powerful ‘Hungry Dog’ look.

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Please note that this also happens with real cupcakes. But I’m getting help. I’m looking for solutions. One of those may or may not be the scarily reasonably-priced chicken nuggets from Applegate Farms. I get them from the Stop and Shop that has all of the gluten-free things, and then go to the Stop and Shop with the wide array of tortillas and better sauces. For a mere $5, I have the power of 16 chicken nuggets. They’re about 75% smaller than Mickey D’s, almost closer to popcorn chicken, and come with a selection of zero dipping sauces, but work out pretty well in the price department.

In fact, they actually remind me of my own homemade nuggets, may their recipe rest in peace. Rest in pie. Ress in pee. I give up, there’s no joke there. They are coated in a mixture of corn starch and rice flour, which could be pretty easy to replicate. I dipped them in hot mustard. Because the breading is somewhat yellowed to begin with, it’s difficult to tell when they are finished. I tested one for quality assurance and found that the breading was somewhat sticky when they were undercooked, but eventually crisped up with no trouble at all. And while I’m happy to flip over the nuggets to ensure maximum crunch, doing so with such delicate breading is frustrating.

Despite the slight fumbles, though, these are an amazing substitute for nuggets or any breaded chicken, if you’re patient and can get the breading very crispy. The chicken is tender and moist, with a thick, crispy coating, heavy on the black pepper. Dipped in hot mustard, there’s nothing better.
Also, because I’m an adult, I ate them on top of my recently paid insurance bills, hashtag classy, like a boss, or comparable bill-paying figure. I’m curious to see how these would be if I fried them, too. Ultimately, it’s something I would buy again. It’s easy to eat a box as a meal when you’re not in the mood to cook.