The Sweet Sweet Salty Pig

Is there anything better than a lazy Sunday brunch with best friends? If there is, please let us know because the only thing we can possibly think of is a smorgasboard of food from all sections of the menu spread from one side of the table to the other. Well, we found THAT at The Salty Pig on the line between the Back Bay and the South End in Boston.

The Cured Board

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We don’t want to say too much here…because words cannot do this meat, cheese, pickled, veggies display of glory justice beyond the picture above. It includes: Salame Milanese from Utah, Speck from Italy, aged 22 Weeks, Pecorino Fresco, made from sheep in Italy and aged 45 days, Eggplant Sott’Aceto, and Seasonal Greens tossed in a roasted shallot vinaigrette.

But because we cannot help ourselves, can we just say: the cheese. More and more of the pecorino fresco is needed in this world, especially on all of our plates.

 

Panzanella Salad

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Panzanella, heirloom tomatoes, parmesan crema, market cucumbers, and tomato vinaigrette. We can stop at tomato vinaigrette. But we won’t. We’ll stop at panzanella.

The Sandwiches

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The favorite around the table by far was the Grilled Lamb Shoulder sandwich. Equipped with market beans, cloumage (don’t worry, we had to look it up too), aleppo, and mint, the lamb shoulder may have been the stand alone star of the entire brunch meal. It was succulent; the meat was dripping in melting fat; and yet it had a fantastic fat to meat ratio. And the sandwich was a perfect balance of crunchy mint, soft cheese, juicy meat, all between Iggy’s bread.

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On its own, the Pork Belly BLT was delicious. Again, stacked inside Iggy’s bread, it was teaming with heirloom tomatoes, smoked aioli, and little gem lettuce. The pork belly was large and in charge, which was re-assuring. But up against the lamb shoulder, it just couldn’t compete; which is no fault to the Pork Belly BLT, not much can compete with the lamb shoulder.

The Cotto Pizza

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Among the many of our shared loves with the best looking couple in Boston, is ricotta on pizza. We are suuuuuckers for white pizzas covered in ricotta cheese. The Salty Pig, knowing the four of us were coming not only obliged with the ricotta, but had the bright idea to also add patty pan squash, prosciutto cotto, and mint, and call it a Cotto pizza. Although we ordered the pizza for the ricotta, you will not miss the squash. Through the pizza cooking process, it gains a delicious sweet char flavor that is irresistible.

http://www.thesaltypig.com/

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Il Canale – A Taste of Italy in Georgetown

We have our ups and downs with Georgetown eateries. Some….actually, scratch that. We generally have our downs with Georgetown eateries. BUT. While running errands on a Saturday afternoon in Georgetown recently, we were HONGRY (in the words of Tyrese), and so we landed at Il Canale because it happened to be in front of us. Turns out, it was a great decision.

We had limited time, but not limited appetites. So we strategized with a quick cold (and salty) appetizer to devour while we waited for our meaty (and salty) pizza. It was perfect.

Bresaola: We wanted light, leafy greens as part of our lunch….but couldn’t quite resist meat and cheese also. So we ordered the Bresaola: thinly sliced, air-dried cured beef, Grana Padano shavings, arugula.  The grana padano shavings were the star of this dish. Drizzled with some olive oil, each bite was a salty treat, while simultaneously adopting the flavors of the meat. The meat was plentiful and had bold flavors that were not overpowering, but unique nonetheless. And the arugula gave us our light leafy green fix, which, with the squeezed lemon juice was a refreshing summer treat.

braesola, arugola, parmesan

Italia:

With a quick glance at the walls of Il Canale, it is clear that the pizza reigns supreme.  Covered with magazine covers, photos of world leaders, and a personal letter of guarantee from the owner, Giuseppe “Joe” Farruggio, including his personal email and phone number.  When someone stands behind his product this much, we pay attention.

The Italia pizza, at least, did not disappoint.  The Italia is strategically smothered in imported Buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto di Parma*, baby arugula, grana padano shavings, and fresh basil (we know, we’re sensing a theme with this meal too).
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The Buffalo mozzarella mixed well with olive oil to create a melty base for our white pizza.  The fresh ingredients were added at an appropriate time–soon enough that the arugula, grana padano, fresh basil, and prosciutto wilted, melted, and cooked ever so slightly while also maintaining a desirable texture.

To the important part:  the dough.  The crust.  The PIZZA part of the pizza.  As two extremely pizza-picky New Englanders, we like to think that we know good pizza.*  Il Canale does a good job.  These wood-fired Napoletana pizzas are legit.  Farruggio imports his flour from Italy and aims to meet D.O.C. standards (if you’re a wine drinker, see that pink label on your next Italian bottle as an example of some good stuff.  Apparently pizza ingredients face the same rigor).

Without talking your ear off, just understand that this pizza works.  At the risk of making a bold proclamation, we have not found one better in D.C. to date.

http://www.ilcanale.com/#/about

*As to not offend any New York readers:  we have also had our fair share of New York pizza and do not plan on stopping our New York adventures any time soon.

 

Spicing Up Our Salads with Sriracha & Balsamic Dressing

We’ll admit it.  We’re on a kale kick.  It’s growing rampant in the garden, it’s a great leafy green, and it’s versatile–we’re sautéing it, eating it raw, making chips out of it, the whole deal.

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This quick dinner is kale mixed with a bunch of leftovers.  For this particular bowl, we sauteed the kale, heated up the diced pork and rice with the kale, and  then added diced cucumber.  What made this bowl even more worth eating is the dressing that we’ve been playing with.

Sautéing the rice, pork, and kale–use a lot, it will wither–with olive oil and balsamic vinegar just until it is warm is tasty but gets a little tired.  This time, we tossed our entire bowl with a light sriracha, balsamic, and oil dressing.  Because we already had some vinegar and oil on the kale, pork, and rice, we used just enough to create a thinner dressing.  The end product?  Refreshing with a spicy bite.  Just how we like our summers.

Sriracha Dressing:

  • Sriracha
  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper

All done to taste.  It’s that easy.

Lookie Lookie – We Gotta (James) Hookie

The summer in New England requires very few things to achieve pure happiness but 2 things very high on the list: lobster and live music. Looking for an exciting solution to our hunger while waiting to head to a summer concert at Fenway Park (item 2 on the summer checklist), we decided to ball out to also cross off item 1: DIY lobster!

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We ventured to the popular James Hook & Co. in downtown Boston to procure a few live 1 1/2 LB lobsters. The  market price was $10.99/pound, which at 1 1/2 LB, still puts the price per lobster far below the $25 it would cost to have the same priced lobster in the shack. On the way home, we stopped by Stop & Shop to also collect a few ears of corn and some small red potatoes.

Ingredients

  • LIVE lobster
  • Corn (husked)
  • Small red potatoes (washed and whole)
  • Butter (1 stick)

Directions

The beauty of DIY lobster: the ease.

Lobster

 

  • Bring about 2 inches of water to a boil in a large pot (or if you have a steaming insert, that works even better and fill the pot with water appropriately).
  • Place as many lobsters into the pot as you can.
  • Steam the lobsters for about 12-14 minutes.

Potatoes and Corn

  • Have a separate pot ready on the stove with some water in it. After the lobster has steamed for several minutes, use a ladle to transfer some of the “lobster water” to the separate pot.
  • Once the separate pot with the lobster water is at a boil, place the potatoes in the pot (to eventually cook for about 15 minutes).
  • Then, place the corn in the pot (to cook for about 7-10 minutes).

Butter

  • Heat a smaller sauce pot over low to medium heat.
  • Place the stick of butter into the pot and let it fully melt.
  • Once melted, pour the butter through a small strainer several times.
  • In the past, we have crushed garlic and placed it in the butter during the melting phases to steep the garlic flavors into the butter.

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We highly recommend enhancing the DIY Lobster Bake meal with salad and other veggies. But most importantly, sling on that bib and get cracking from the comfort of your own home!

Veggie & Goat Cheese Toast

In under 30 minutes!

This vegetarian thing has its perks:  new recipes, fresh veggies, we didn’t give up cheese…

It also has some downsides.  During February, at least.  Finding fresh veggies is a little more difficult (expensive), it’s the season of stews and chili cook-offs, and it’s a little hard to walk into a bar during happy hour and just say “No” to wings.  BUT we’re trying to take advantage of the root, winter veggies and it’s working.

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This meal is especially easy.  If you have 30 minutes, some bread, cheese, and any assortment of veggies, you can make this dish in a lurch.  To achieve our hearty dinner, spend an extra 20 minutes at the grocery store on the way home.  And, we do admit, we couldn’t help ourselves from grabbing some non-winter veggies….

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Ingredients:

  • Mushrooms
  • Sweet Onion
  • Asparagus
  • Carrot
  • Zucchini
  • Loaf of crusty bread
  • Goat cheese
  • Garlic

Preparation:

Preheat broiler.  Place angle-sliced bread on a baking sheet and set aside.

Slice mushrooms, julienne carrots (cut them on an angle), cut off ends of asparagus (you can save these for a delicious stock) and slice tops on an angle, quarter onion.

Place bread under broiler for 1-2 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat oil and garlic.  Once fragrant, cook vegetables until just beginning to brown.  Add 2 Tbsp. water and cook until crisp over medium heat for 5 minutes.  Salt and Pepper.

While the vegetables finish cooking, remove the bread.  Spread goat cheese on one side of each slice.  Heat under the broiler for 1-2 more minutes.

Top cheese toast with vegetables, drizzle with olive oil and your spice of choice.  … We definitely put some Frank’s on these bad boys for the acidity and because it’s Frank’s.

Portobello Egg Boat

We think it’s fairly obvious that we love eggs.  We love scrambling eggs, we love dropping eggs on top of things, we love putting eggs in different things.  Well, we’ve done it again.  We found another veggie that an egg will fit inside.  Fortunately, its one of our favorite foods — we know, we know, everything is our favorite food; deal with it.– a portobello mushroom.  Meaty, earthy, savory, yet still fresh with a little bit of bite.  A portobello mushroom is a great vehicle for a vegetarian meal or as a complement to your meatiest dish.  So here we go, your gourmet breakfast, solid dinner, or Sunday afternoon experiment … an egg in a portobello mushroom.*

portobello egg boat -- on lettuce

Getting Started:

  • Ensure that you have a mushroom large enough to house the ingredients that you want to pile in there.  The average – large size at our local grocery store fit a “jumbo” egg, 1/2 roasted red pepper, and about 1 tbsp. of goat cheese.
  • Picking your “mix-in” ingredients.  We used roasted red peppers because we already had them in the fridge.  You should do the same!  Use whatever you have in the house already.  Unless, of course, you have a craving…in that case, treat yo’ self.
  • Be aware that your “mix-in” ingredients may affect how your egg cooks …
  • As you are cooking, be aware of the moisture that your ingredients introduce to the mushroom.  Baking the mushroom will dry the ingredients but you also do not want to overload the mushroom with liquid so that it overflows.
  • Choose how you want to eat your mushroom.  We put ours on a bed of greens but we’ve heard that it’s great as a side, on pasta, on its own, pretty much whatever your heart desires!

Mushroom with goodies pre-cook

 

 

*huge shout out to the Pinterest community for bringing this idea to our attention; we’re only as creative as some of our resources 🙂

 

We’re Back!

And vegetarian.  For Lent.  Well, for the most part.

Thank you to everyone who stayed with us for our first stint of blogging!  We hope that you hung in there during our hiatus and will keep up the support.  We will not let you down.  Promise.  We’re trying out some great new recipes — mostly vegetarian, for the next 31 days (but who’s counting)– and some great new restaurants in spectacular Shaw, DC.

We are looking forward to hearing from all of  you with tips, tricks, and ideas!

First up — our portobello mushroom boat!