Recipe: Braised Monkfish with Bacon and Tomatoes (modified)

I made this recipe from my Williams Sonoma Fish cookbook, but changed it a bit.

Before you head to the recipe,  here are my modifications.

I used a handful of cherry tomatoes per person.  I used pancetta instead of bacon because that is what I had in the fridge.  You could also try to use proscuitto and crips it in the oil, just allow less time.  Oh and I didn’t have any basil so I just left it out.

Once the dish was done, I left a little of the sauce in the pan after plating our dinner and added

Recipe: Pease Porridge Hot, Pease Porridge Cold

Pease porridge hot
Pease porridge cold
Some like it hot
Some like it cold
Some like it in the pot
Nine days old.

It has come to my attention that among other things this month, such as President Obama’s inauguration, January is Oatmeal month.  Growing up, my mother would often make oatmeal porridge in the winter.  It was so delicious and warm.  It’s not that grey drippy stuff in those little packets that you shake, pour and add water to.  That oatmeal is just not worth it.  Her porridge would have dried apricots and figs and would be thick and delicious.  We would melt brown sugar into it and pour a dash of cream on top.  Sometimes maple syrup would be drizzled over the porridge instead of the sugar.

I confess that I have yet to make my own batch of porridge, but the other day my daughter and I made some delicious oatmeal bread and I am going to share that recipe with you.  I love making bread.  It’s a perfect weekend activity on a cold winter’s day.  It takes very little hands on time but has this nice way of pacing your day slowly and deliberately.  You mix the dough, wait a couple hours and do a little activity with your children, perhaps clean up a little.  Then you peek under the cloth and when it’s ready you punch it down, always a great stress reliever and a lot of fun for children too, as it’s rare they get permission to hit or punch something.  (Jen perhaps you need to start making bread.)  Then it rises again until perhaps just before bedtime a nice warm slice of oatmeal bread with butter and a drop of honey make the perfect bedtime snack.

So here it is Norene Gillitz‘s slightly modified Wholesome Oatmeal Bread:


1 tsp. sugar
1/4 c. warm water
1 pkg of yeast
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
(We don’t buy margarine as I was brought up in a household that considered it to be too unnatural to be any good.)
2Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 c. molasses or honey
(We did one batch with molasses and one with honey.  I love molasses but my daughter liked the honey since it was milder.)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. oatmeal (rolled oats, not the quick-cook variety)
1 cup boiling water
2 3/4 c. flour (approx.  We did 1/2 cup whole wheat and the rest unbleached white)

Dissolve sugar in warm water. Add the yeast and let it stand for 8-10 minutes.  Isabelle had the urge to stir it, which is fine, but just note that the yeast will stick onto the spoon so be sure to get it all off when the time comes.

In a food processor with the steel knife:

Place the remaining ingredients except the flour into the food processor and pulse to mix.  Let stand until cool, otherwise you will kill the yeast.  Add the yeast mixture plus 1 cup of the flour and process for 4 or 5 seconds.  Add the remaining flour and process until the dough forms a ball.  Keep mixing for another 30 seconds or so to knead the dough.

On a lightly floured board or counter:

Turn out the dough and knead for 1 or 2 minutes. The dough should feel smooth and elastic.  If it is a bit too sticky just add a bit more dough to the kneading surface and continue kneading until it is smooth again.  Place the dough in a greased bowl.  Turn the dough over in the bowl and cover with a damp, warm towel.  Let it rise for 90 minutes to 2 hours until doubled in size.  Punch down and let it rise again until doubled in size.  Shape the dough into a loaf pan.  We had one loaf pan and one round 9 inch pie pan.  Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled again another 2 hours.  (I told you this paces your day out nicely).

Preheat oven to 350°F for about 45 minutes.  The bread will sound hollow when tapped.  We didnt’ do this, but you can brush the top of the crust with a little butter when you take it out of the oven.

Bon appetit.  ttyl your BFF (Boston Family Foodie)

This is dedicated to Jen K. and her broken hand.  Happy New Year Jen!

For more oatmeal recipes: Oatmeal Cookie Mix,Homesick Texan’s Oatmeal BreadOatmeal Cookie Pancakes (Rachel Ray), PorridgePorridge with fruit(Annabel Karmel), Chocolate Oatmeal

Start the Year Off With a Little Help From “Your Friends”

Perhaps you’re planning to organize your kitchen cabinets this year.  Maybe, you want to start your children’s scrapbooks this year.  You might be commiting yourself to a weekly workout at the gym with a personal trainer this year.  Whatever your plans are, you might need to take some time from somewhere to put it towards something new.

For a little help with this, maybe you can start getting some groceries delivered to your door.  I am starting off the new year with a nice bi-monthly delivery from Boston Organics.  This is a service we used when my daughter was quite young, but it didn’t quite have what we wanted.  Now that our CSA is done and Boston Organics has added more to their “menu” of delivery items, we’re excited to be back with them.  I can’t wait to open my first green box.  I wonder if my daughter will remember emptying them with me when she was only a year old.

I wrote about several delivery options in the past and here is a review of what those options are.  The only one that may not be useful until next spring is In Season (since we’re out of season at the moment).  I definitely recommend visiting the site and getting on their email list so you will have the details once they start up again.  So enjoy a little less time shopping for groceries and a little more time on something new.  Here are some of your options:

  1. Grocery Store Delivery
  2. Boston Organics
  3. In Season

Bon appetit.  ttyl your BFF (Boston Family Foodie)

Here’s to having time for the new you in the new year!

Celebrating Not Just Surviving New Year’s Eve With Young Children

Staying up for midnight on New Year’s Eve was never a problem for me.  We celebrated at parties with friends.  We went out to First Night in Boston, and Stamford, CT.  We stayed in for a fabulous home cooked dinner with friends in Maine.  We had large celebrations and small parties.

Then, I married an early bird.  Okay, so night owl and early bird doesn’t always work, but we would just have parties that ended very close to midnight or duck out early and watch the ball drop in NYC on television in our jammies.  Then came children…

Now by the time we’ve done all our Chanukah, Christmas, and Boxing Day celebrations, I’ve had a good many nights of exceptionally bad sleep.  The children sleep poorly at home and much worse away from home.  I unpack our bags, get the wonderful new toys put away and donate the toys the children no longer use, open the rest of the Christmas cards, read through the holiday newsletters, sit down ready to collapse, turn on the Food Network and see chefs whipping up delicious appetizers and meals for New Year’s Eve.

I look at the calendar and see that we have two days before New Year’s Eve.  I have no plans.  I’m not exactly a party girl, but I love to throw a good party and have participated in a good many as well.  Most of my friends with young children have vague plans if any.  So what do we baggy-eyed parents with children still unwinding from the sleepless, sugar-full state of the holidays do?  We celebrate New Year’s Eve in Paris.

Last year, we celebrated New Year’s Eve in Paris, with many of our French friends who are living in the US.  We don’t celebrate New Year’s Eve in Paris because we have many French friends.  I would celebrate it if we had no connection to France at all.  However, we celebrate New Year’s Eve in Paris because it is midnight six hours earlier there.

New Year’s in Paris is a perfect solution for families with young children.  If you happen to be a francophile, even better.  You can play French music.  We had some great French wine, Champagne and cheeses.  I’m not for overdoing a theme, but you really can’t go wrong by having French food for a New Year’s Eve party.

So, if you have no plans this year, send out an evite.  Have a New Year’s in Paris celebration and ring in the New Year at 6 p.m. Eastern Standard time.   Have a selection of good French wines and real Champagne.  You can head over to Formaggio Kitchen for some great French cheeses and some French-style baguette from the wide range of bakeries in the Boston/Cambridge area (see the information box).  Everyone will be home just in time for dinner.  If you’re lucky you might even be able to find some good gourmandises, such as les papillottes, from Cardullo’s for a special treat.  Keep the menu simple, olives, cheese bread, perhaps some warm appetizers.  My daughter and I love to make crepes and they can be filled with savory or sweet filling.  A frozen sheet of puff pastry, some good gruyere and mustard can also go a long way.  I made this savory palmier recipe for a Solstice party and it was a huge hit.  They are also very simple to prepare.

Bonne année et bon appetit.  ttyl your BFF (Boston Family Foodie)

For more info: Hi Rise BakeryIggy’s Bread of the World,Clear Flour BreadSel de la TerreB & R Bread

Hearth ‘n Kettle Celebrates the Holidays in Traditional New England Style

While we were on Cape Cod for the weekend, we had the pleasure of good, simple, family meals.  TheHearth ‘n Kettle is a local Cape Cod chain of restaurants that I had known only in name until recently.

I’m not a snob, but I’ve definitely been spoiled when it comes to food.  I grew up in Canada where we got a great deal of our food at the nearby, primarily Mennonite, farmer’s market.  My mom made almost everything from scratch, and she shopped to get the best quality ingredients.  I don’t mean that she shopped at little foodie boutiques and high end stores, but she got the best quality for the best prices she could find.  We often drove out to get our meat from a farm’s meat coop.  We went to the health food store for a lot of our bulk flour and other ingredients.  We went to one grocery store for produce and another for meat.  I have also lived in France, when I was 7 and when I was 12 as well as travelled throughout Europe during my junior year abroad.  So I have eaten well in many a place.  I live in Cambridge now and continue to be spoiled.  Though I am definitely a foodie, I am not a food snob because I can appreciate a good grilled cheese sandwich with Kraft singles (my parents are rolling their eyes at this I know).  I enjoy a drippy, assembly line Burger King burger every once in a while.  I’ll even admit I like theChik-fil-A salad, hold the chicken, when I’m shopping at the Mall.

So, when we went to Cape Cod for the weekend, I’ll have to be honest I didn’t expect much.  When I think of the Cape, I think of ice cream stands that sell friend food, I think of sandwiches on white soft bread.  I think I’m miles away from my culinary home of Cambridge with my crusty Iggy’s bread and my Hi Rise sandwiches.  I know there are some fabulous restaurants sprinkled across the Cape.  Portuguesebakeries and other hidden jewels have built a name for themselves.  Most of the restaurants are on the “high end” side and tend to be not particularly family friendly.  With our kids, we love going to the Wicked Oyster in Wellfleet and when they were babies we even dined outside at Winslow Tavern.  I wouldn’t want to try to take the kids to some of the other gems of the Cape like Black-Eyed Susan’s on Nantucket where the wait with a reservation can be a while and the restaurant is a bit too intimate for young kids. The other thing that you have to remember is that during late fall and many restaurants are seasonal and I know that.  During our weekend of family time on the Cape, we had our meals at the Hearth ‘n Kettle(H’nK). I was pleasantly surprised.  The menu had a a wide variety of choices.  I always like to get whatever “makes sense” for where I am. If I’m by the water I’m going to get some fish. The seafood was cooked well as was the prime rib my husband ordered.   The best dishes to get are New England classics:  Cape Scrod, Fisherman’s Platter, Traditional roast turkey dinner.  You aren’t going to get the updated gourmet version of these.  You’re going to get the classic rendition.  I can get “modern, nouvelle, updated, fusion” food at home in the city.  When I eat somewhere like the H’nK I want simple, classic and comfort and that’s what they serve.

As I was flipping through the menu, I noticed that they had started to include organic ingredients.  This was more than I expected from such a restaurant, but it just goes to show the influence that huge grocery chains such as Whole Foods Market have had on the food we eat and are served.

When I met with Debra Catania, VP of the Catania Hospitality Group, we talked about how important our family is to each of us.  Love, tradition, and family are at the core of both our our lives, mine as a stay at home mother of two little ones, hers as a working mother of grown children.  This is something that you feel at the restaurant.  It is a well run restaurant, not a well-run money-making machine.  The staff are extremely nice and genuine.  The quality of the food is very good, they go the extra step to make the dining experience a good one and the portions are more than generous.  They had local high school students caroling while we dined.  This brought me back in time to where I grew up, before I lived in New York and Boston.  It was nice to have the small town experience.  Live music doesn’t have to be the Boston Symphony Orchestra, I had wanted to take my daughter to hear Elgar but couldn’t coordinate schedules, any live music is an experience for them.  Both kids appreciated a few simple carols sung by the students.  They asked questions about the pitch pipe, their outfits and about the singers.  They got so excited when a familiar song was sung.

So if you are lucky enough to escape and carve out some family time this winter, I definitely recommend a weekend on the Cape and you can rely on the Hearth ‘n Kettle for a friendly, family feel with good, classic New England style cooking.

Bon appetit. ttyl your BFF (Boston Family Foodie)

For More Information:  Classic New England Recipes(Yankee Magazine), Hearth ‘n Kettle

The First Night of Chanukah: A Latke Recipe or Two

I made these latkes last year and have had a special request to serve them again. I am not a huge fan of variations on a theme, except perhaps in classical music, because I love tradition and tend to be a bit of a purist.  So to get around this, I usually prepare the classics and then try one new thing.

Last year, I made the No-Fry Potato Latkas (the Sweet Potato variation).  The con is that No-Fry kind of goes against the whole point of latkes and the story of Chanukah and the oil.  The pros are that you can prepare them in advance, they bake in the oven all at once so they are good for a party, and they are healthier.

So from now on, I make this recipe to have ready to go and then I have a batch of traditional latkes and some gluten-free ready to cook and serve fresh to our guests.

This no-fry recipe is from Norene Gilletz‘s Meal Lean I Yumm! I believe my bubbe bought it for me one year.  It was kind of an I love you and “have you put on more weight?” kind of gift that so many good Jewish mother and grandmothers buy for their children.  It’s the classic Jewish dilemma of “What you’re not eating?  You don’ t like my famous (name food here).  Have some more!” followed by “It looks like you might have put on a little weight.  Have you been eating too much chocolate?  I know it’s the noshing.”  The pros are: I love everything my grandmother cooks and no I can’t eat the quantity she offers, yes I like to nosh, and yes I put on weight.  The cons are:  I don’t really feel like talking about this right now in front of all these people and I’ll just take my cook book and get myself a glass of water…okay and perhaps a little nosh and find a quiet corner.  The reality is that once I flipped through the cook book I found a lot of good ideas and tips for healthier cooking and some great recipes.  This is one that’s a real crowd pleaser.

No-Fry Potato Latkas

I will list the ingredients, in case you need to make your shopping list and also because when I made the recipe I modified the ingredients slightly.

4 tsp. canola or vegetable oil, divided
1 large sweet potato (I prefer the white ones as they are less sweet)
Idaho potatoes (I think these are Russets)
1 medium onion
(if you still have some left from the farmer’s market this year…good for you!  If not buy more and store next season)
1 clove garlic, if desired (I don’t use garlic)
1 tbsp. fresh dill ( I don’t use dill either)
2 eggs plus 2 egg whites (or 3 whole eggs)
1/4 cup of flour (white or whole wheat)
1/2 tsp of baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp pepper

For the cooking directions you can visit the recipe link here.   If you want you can also make some greatapplesauce with this simple method explained in the second to last paragraph of a post on making food approachable for my very picky son.

Bon appetit. ttyl your BFF (Boston Family Foodie)

For more info: No-Fry LatkesLatkes on Chowhound,Gluten-free latkes (we serve these too), Chanukah Dinner Menu ideas (Food Network), traditional latkes

Last Minute Gift Ideas: Forgot the Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Maker

I can say it is officially crunch time.  As we walk to the car around the puddles, there are little tiny ridges of crunchy white snowy ice.  School is having it’s all-school sing and pot-luck.  In a couple days the children will be home for the holidays whatever they may be in your home.  Some people have already started there travels and it sends off a domino effect of families hopping in trains, airplanes, cars, and bicycles traveling to a party somewhere.  Others are pulling their blankets up around them and staying put.

If you’re not a naturally gifted shopper or you’ve had a busy year then perhaps you’re not quite where you’d like to be on the shopping and/or making gift front.  Perhaps you forgot about your favourite librarian, the man who serves you coffee every day, the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker.  So here is a quick list of last minute gifts.

Get a gift certificate to a favourite restaurant.  Some suggestions might be:  Rialto, Chez Henri, Oleanna, the Blue Room, Ole, Craigie on Main, Upstairs on the Square, Small Plates, T. W. Food, EVOO, the Elephant Walk among many others.  If you want some guidance you can check out chowhound, ask someone at your favourite foodie market or store.  You may be able to get some great deals on restaurant gift certificates at  You don’t have to go to the restaurant, as mentioned in this thread on Chowhound, you can often call the restaurant and have the certificate mailed to you or to the recipient.

You can also get gift certificates to boutique foodie stores such as Formaggio Kitchen, Savenor’s, even local little stores.  Just make sure that it’s not a drag for the recipient to go to said store and that they actually would use the certificate otherwise it is not much of a gift.

If you’re feeling creative, you can put together a gift basket.  I purchased some baskets from China Fair this week and my daughter’s classmates all contributed something special to put in it store bought, home-made, hand-sewn and hand-written.  I think this would be a perfect gift from any group.  If you don’t feel like making your own, Wilson’s farm makes some great food baskets, as do Winston Flowers, and Pemberton Farms

Finally, for the chocolate lovers you can’t beat the offerings at local chocolaterie L.A. Burdick.

For more info:, Formaggio Kitchen
Petsi PiesWilson’s Farm ,  Winston FlowersSavenor’s MarketBakers’ BestFlour BakeryVicki Lee’s,
Verill FarmPemberton FarmsCardullo’s L.A. Burdick Chocolate

Kendall Square Ice Rink: All You Need is Hot Cocoa

The perfect winter day for me requires three main ingredients:

  1. snow
  2. an outdoor activity
  3. hot chocolate

Well the snow has made a few appearances.  As my daughter says, “Jack Frost was here!”.  We have finally unearthed all the winter hats, scarves, mittens and under layers.

There is not enough snow for great skiing, but surprisingly you can (x-country at the Weston track).  There are, however, some nice skating rinks open.  The outdoor rink at the Charles Hotel is open.  TheKendall Square rink will be opening on Wednesday, December 10th.  They will have an opening ceremony and performance on Saturday.  If you are not a fan of the ice, then a winter walk is always nice.

Hot chocolate is great.  Hot chocolate after playing outside in the cold winter air is even better.  If you ask my kids, hot chocolate with marshmallows on top is the best.

I think the best hot chocolate in the area is the one they serve at L.A. Burdicks.  It reminds me of the hot chocolate I had once in Italy as a child that I have never forgotten.  At home, we like to make Ovaltine.  It is what I grew up with and it’s supposed to have lots of vitamins and minerals.  I haven’t checked the label lately to verify that though.  For some more opinions about where to get your hot chocolate in the area you can read The Beantown Blogger’s review and this thread in Chowhound.

For the marshmallows, there are always the Kraft mini marshmallows.  Those are my personal non-foodie favourite.  My mom and kids love the marshmallows from Trader Joe’s.  My foodie favourite are the marshmallows from Formaggio Kitchen.  They come in a long rectangular shape and have subtle flavours:  raspberry, lemon, and several more.  They are over by the cookie display in a basket on the floor if you’re looking for them.

Bon appetit. ttyl your BFF(Boston Family Foodie)

For more info:Kendall Square Ice RinkBest Gift Hot ChocolateThe Great Hot Chocolate Search,