Thursday, April 29, 2010

matcha mochi cupcakes

A high school friend of mine, Azusa, has a wonderful food blog called Humble Bean. She takes some amazing food photos, y'all! Anyway, as I was browsing through some of her posts one day, I came across this one about Matcha Mochi cupcakes. I really didn't know what matcha was at the time (err, that green tea was called that), but I did know that I love mochi so I decided to give it a try. Since the recipe calls for Mochiko rice flour, this is what originally initiated a trip out to the new H Mart Asian grocery store in Burlington (read all about that hellish trip for my husband excursion here).

I ended up making a test batch of these before we had a baking contest at work and I had the hardest time figuring out what to use as a topping (or if I even needed one - these are delicious on their own). I decided to go with a lemon and plum glaze with some crystallized ginger on top. I scored this huge bag of ginger from Christina's for less than $4!

I noticed in Azusa's photos that she uses those little silicone (?) mini cupcake cups in the pan before she pours the batter in, which I think would've been very helpful. The little papers I used stuck to the mini cupcakes pretty tightly and so I decided to peel them off before presenting them. I filled them up almost all the way to the top and that produce a nice little domed cake.

The recipe says to let them bake for 30 to 40 minutes so don't be afraid of leaving them in the oven for that long! You want them to get a little toasted and browned on top because it leaves a nice crunchy exterior.

And the inside is so nice and soft and has the slightest hint of green tea flavoring. Yummmmm! My husband and I love them and quite possibly ate half the batch in one night (hence the inability to sleep later), they are that good! So give the recipe a try if you want to try baking with the rice flour. It's a super easy recipe and the cupcakes are irresistably delicious. :)

Thanks, Azusa!


Matcha Mochi Cupcakes
(makes approximately 24 mini cupcakes)


1 (1 lb.) box mochiko (rice flour)
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. matcha
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup oil (I used canola oil)


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Whisk all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.

3. In a large bowl combine the eggs, milk, and oil. Add dry ingredients and stir until well mixed.

4. Spoon batter in a muffin pan lined with baking cups (optional) and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until slightly browned on top.

5. Top with an optional lemon and plum sugar glaze by mixing some powdered sugar with a couple of drops of lemon juice and a teaspoon of plum jelly.

Friday, April 23, 2010

i heart wine wednesdays

But I think you already knew that, right?

This past Wednesday my husband and I met our friend, Stephanie, and her coworker at Rialto for their weekly wine tasting. Brad let us try the Soave (La Cappuccina, Verona 2008) as the white wine, and the Valpolicella (Villa Erbice, Ca’Panvinio, Verona 2008) as the red wine. We all liked both of them a lot, but I was more in a mood for red so I had a couple of glasses of the Valpolicella with the appetizers that night. It was nice and light even though it was quite dark in color (you'd think it would be heavier) and I think it went perfectly with everything we ate.

Speaking of what we ate ... my oh my, they sure make dining at a bar deliciously fun.

Pictured above: local buratta (mozzarella) with braised tomatoes; fried olives with salami and parmesan; Pat and Barbara's perfect littlenecks served with andouille and toasted garlic bread; and Parma Prosciutto.

What a wonderful way to end a Wednesday work day. Ahhhhh. It certainly makes facing Thursday a little bit easier when your tummy is happy. :)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

limoncello liqueur cupcakes

Once in a while at work we have a baking contest. And boy, do I have a lot of coworkers who are talented bakers! I made these limoncello liqueuer cupcakes for a liqueur themed contest we had at work today, and the seemed to be liked by a lot of people, although it didn't win first prize in the contest. Here's the recipe for the limoncello cupcakes, just in case you feel like whipping up a batch!

I should preface this by saying that I ended up tripling the recipe for the cupcakes after realizing that it yields only 12 cupcakes. I filled each cup about 1/2 way and I ended up with 44 cupcakes total. Some came out rather peaked, and some came out rather level on top. I don't know why ... I'm just sayin'!

Ingredients for cupcakes (my measurements for triple are in the brackets):

3/4 cup all-purpose flour [ x 3 = 2 1/4 cups ]
1 teaspoon baking powder [ x 3 = 3 tsps ]
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda [ x 3 = 4.5 tsps ]
1/2 teaspoon salt [ x 3 = 1.5 tsps ]
zest of one lemon [ x 3 = zest of 3 lemons ]
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar [ x 3 = 1 1/2 cups plus 3 tbsps ]
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened to room temperature [ x 3 = 1.5 cups ]
2 eggs at room temperature [ x 3 = 6 eggs ]
3 tablespoons limoncello liqueur [ x 3 = 9 tbsps ]
juice of one lemon [ x 3 = the juice of 3 lemons ]
1 tablespoon milk [ x 3 = 3 tbsps ]

Directions for cupcakes:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Line the muffin pan with the paper muffin liners.
3. In small mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in lemon zest and set aside.
4. In large mixing bowl, beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition to fully incorporate. Add the limoncello liqueur, juice of the lemon and the milk. Beat for one minute.
5. Divide the batter up evenly into the 12 muffin liners. [Note: I filled them up 1/2 way]
6. Place the pan on a center rack in the oven and bake for 15 - 20 minutes, until the cakes have risen and are golden-brown on top. Test one for doneness by inserting a wooden pick into the center. The cupcakes are done when the wooden pick comes out clean.
7. Remove cupcakes from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Ingredients for the frosting (I made just one batch and it was more than enough to cover all 44 cupcakes):

8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened to room temperature
2 teaspoons limoncello liqueur
zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 - 3 cups powdered sugar (I ended up using a whole 1 pound box of powdered sugar)

Directions for the frosting:

1. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the limoncello liqueur, zest and lemon juice.
2. Add two cups powdered sugar and beat on low speed until mixed, then beat on high speed until smooth. Beat in additional powdered sugar as necessary until the desired spreading consistency is achieved.
3. After the cupcakes have completely cooled, frost the tops of each with a icing tube and star shaped tip.

Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

south end buttery

Sometimes, my husband and I can be the most indecisive people. Seriously. One example: a wonderfully sunny Sunday afternoon and we're both hungry. Starving. Where should we go have some lunch? It'll be a late lunch. Where can we go where we can sit outside and enjoy a nice glass of white wine? Hmmmm. Put our thinking caps on. Thinking caps don't work all that well when you're hungry starving.

I remembered how a couple of my friends said that Rocca has a nice patio area in the summertime, plus I remembered how they have a parking lot, and that I wanted to take Tony there sometime after dining there during restaurant week. So I convinced him to drive to over there, but by the time we got there the sun had moved just enough so that there wasn't any shining in their patio area. Argh. Then we decided to try to find a parking spot on Tremont Street in the South End, and after about ten minutes, our parking angel found us one. But then we walked up and down the street in search of an outdoor table to no avail: it seemed like everyone else shared our idea of enjoying a cold libation outside under the beautiful sun too. Bummer.

So we got back in the car and drove back to Rocca, only to find out that by now (it was 4:30 pm) the kitchen was taking a break until 5:00 pm. (Did I mention that we were starving at this point?!) We decided to get drinks anyway and wait it out, so Tony had a nice tall glass of Peroni (he wasn't in a wine mood anymore ... hunger ...) and I had a glass of Prosecco. The bartender that helped us the last time I was there for restaurant week recognized me (insert husband's comment about being famous here). But it was like a club scene in there with super loud disco-tech music playing, so we opted to find another place for dinner.

And the point to my long story is that we finally ended up at the South End Buttery after finding a parking spot on Washington Street. We parked near the park and it was packed with people and dogs in the dog park, people playing basketball and tennis, and little kids running around everywhere. The cafe is located on the corner of Shawmut Avenue and Union Park Street, just a short walk down Bradford Street from the park.

We [obviously] didn't have a reservation so they seated us downstairs which, since by this point the sun was setting a little more, was dark but nice and cozy.

Tony ordered the meatloaf dish ($16) which was served with sour cream mashed potatoes, haricot verts, a piece of bacon on top, and a pearl onion gravy. It was delicious and surprisingly not tomato sauce based. The portion was quite large so we ended up taking some of it home.

I had the Chatham Silver Hake ($19) which was served with lobster mac and cheese, parsley-lemon bread crumbs, and braised leeks. It was also delicious but the lobster mac and cheese kind of overpowered the flavor of the Hake (fish). I think either components on their own would be great. There were some nice large chunks of lobster meat in the mac and cheese, and the Hake would've been great on something like a bed of arugula or mashed potatoes.

Alas, I wasn't that critical at the time because I ended up eating everything on the plate. (Remember, I was starving!) But with so much food, there was absolutely no room for dessert.

Oh and we both had a glass of wine with our food. Tony had the 2006 Silver Palm Cabernet Sauvignon ($10) which he said was quite nice, and I had the 2008 Pine Ridge Viognier Blend ($8) which was excellent (note to self: must find a bottle for home sometime).

In the end, it was a nice dining experience but it's not a place I would go out of my way to go back to anytime very soon. I had been wanting to try it out for about a year now, and if anything, I'd like to go back and experience their pastries and coffee one morning or even their brunch menu. I'm glad that we finally got to try it out though; I'm sure if we ever won the lottery and bought property in that section of the South End then we'd probably be there frequently.

South End Buttery
314 Shawmut Avenue
Boston, MA 02118

Monday, April 12, 2010

flatbread is coming to davis square

On our way to getting coffee last Saturday morning, Tony and I drove past Sacco's Bowl Haven and noticed that The Flatbread Company had something that looked like a dome parked outside the door and that they were giving out pizza. Seriously, right? This was all B.C. (before coffee), so it could've been an illusion for sure.

Sure enough, Flatbread is coming to Somerville and they were holding an oven building party for their new location today. We were able to walk into the building to witness people working with mud and hay, and to see two of the earthen ovens being built. It was quite a sight!

On our way out, a man pulled two freshly baked pizzas out of their mobile oven and all I could hear him say was that it had mushrooms and herbs on it. I grabbed us two pieces and tried to hang onto the paper plate as the wind tried to knock it out of my hands.

We were walking back to our car and I just kept staring at the pizza and thinking how delicious it looked. Obviously the coffee hadn't really woken up my brain yet because I forgot for nearly two or three minutes that I am allergic to tomatoes! And it wasn't until Tony said, "I think there are tomatoes on this, you can't eat it" that it had sunk into my mind that duh! This was pizza! Of course it has tomatoes on it. Sigh.

I went ahead and took a small bite anyway, and we agreed: it was extremely delicious pizza. Wow, two new pizza places in Davis Square. We definitely can't wait to try out this one when they finally open up in June. Stay tuned folks.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

city girl cafe

There's this little place called City Girl Cafe in Inman Square that we've driven by a countless number of times in the past ten years we've lived here in Somerville, and I'm so embarrassed to say that we've never stopped to visit up until now. So finally, I got to go and check it out. And I'll admit, this was after one of my friends and coworkers came back from having lunch there and raved about their paninis.

My friend, Kathleen, and I decided to face the cold, windy, rainy weather and escape from the office for lunch on Friday. We found a parking spot right out in front of the cafe which was awesome (thank you, parking angel!). We got there around 1:15 pm and there was plenty of seating, so we sat by the window.

Kathleen ordered some of the olives appetizer for us to share, but I was bummed because we think there were cracked red pepper flakes in them. I did have one and it was quite delicious, but I was too afraid to eat anymore.

I ordered half of a PLT panini which was a pancetta, lettuce, and tomato panini with asiago cheese and a basil aioli (of course, mine didn't have the tomato) and it was served with a little bag of Cape Cod potato chips ($4.50). I also splurged and ordered a cannoli for dessert ($2) and a bottle of Pellegrino sparkling mineral water ($3). It was Friday for Pete's sake! I had a long week, so I felt I deserved a little treat. :)

I did think the sandwich was a little bit small in portion, but then again, it was just enough since I had the dessert and a full bottle of the sparkling water. It was absolutely delicious! I had it served on foccacia instead of the seven grain bread. Yummy!

Kathleen had the egg salad and asparagus sandwich with sun-dried tomato, romaine, and aioli on a baguette and she said it was delicious too.

We were both excited about sharing the cannoli that I forgot to take a photo of it before it was literally inhaled! LOL Needless to say, it was wonderfully yummy. :)

This place isn't that far from our office building, so I can definitely see it becoming a new regular stop for lunch. A couple of my friends have said that they do an excellent brunch, too.

City Girl Cafe
204 Hampshire Street
Inman Square
Cambridge, MA 02139

Saturday, April 10, 2010

pizzeria posto (somerville)

There's a new pizza place in Davis Square called Pizzeria Posto. It's in a building that Tony and I think is jinxed though, because it has been so many different things in the course of the ten years we've lived in Somerville. It used to be a Boloco, and then it was something called The Green Tomato 2 before now.

We went after work on Friday, their second night in business, and managed to get the last two seats at the bar around 6 pm. They did a nice job with the space: the kitchen is completely open, there's ample bar seating, lots of tables, a private function room, and a huge brick oven.

They have a pretty extensive wine menu and offer some of them as either a glass, half carafe, or as a bottle. We were a little thrown off by how pricy some of the selections were but decided to go for a half carafe of a red wine that was priced at $12 (it's $5 a glass). [Note: I don't remember the exact name of the wine and I was hoping I could look it up on their website as I wrote this, but alas, they haven't posted that info online yet. I'll try to update with specific info once it becomes available.] It was an excellent wine despite the lower price point, so I'm glad we didn't feel pressured to order something more expensive.

There was a man going around the entire time we were there, and by the looks of it, he was either a manager or perhaps one of the owners. He helped our bartender with our wine selection and poured it into the carafe for us, and said that their mushroom pizza would pair really well with it. Since it was one of the non-tomato pizza options on the menu, we decided to try his suggestion and split the shiitake mushroom pizza ($17).

And man, it was delicious! The crust was nice and thin, and the mushrooms were thick and juicy. Tony, someone who has been known to say, "I don't really like mushrooms" thought it was amazingly good too. We both agreed that the pizza itself was a bit on the smaller size for the price point, but it was excellent pizza.

Since we were both not full yet (LOL), we both ordered a dessert (gluttons, I know, huh?! Shoot, it was Friday and it had been a long week, so ... ). Tony ordered the cannoli ($5) and I ordered the gelato affogato ($5) after we Googled it on his Blackberry. We were happily surprised when they brought two cannolis on one plate, and with how they presented the affogato by pouring the shot of espresso on top of the gelato. Wow.

We also ordered a couple of aperitifs to enjoy with our desserts. Tony had a glass of port ($5) and I decided to try a glass of sherry ($3). Both were delicious (the port was a little too strong for me) but had I known that the espresso shot in my dessert would be so plentiful, I probably wouldn't have ordered the sherry. But of course, I didn't let it go to waste (ha ha).

Overall, it was a great dining experience, even though it was only their second night in business. It was interesting to hear some of the conversations between the wait staff, bartenders, and Eric (the guy I think is one of the managers or owners) because you could tell that there are things that they still need to iron out. I had the nerve to tell Eric that I had a complaint: no hooks underneath the bar to hang purses! Hee hee ... he kind of sort of laughed and said that it was something they just didn't get to yet, but that they should be installed by the next time I visited. I think we'll definitely go back for a nice date night and for just a drink at the bar during the summertime too. It's nice because it's also family-friendly, and it was packed by 6:30 pm (there were a lot of people standing around waiting for seats). To see more pictures, click here.

Pizzeria Posto
187 Elm Street
Davis Square
Somerville, MA 02144


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