Snacking Tokyo-Style: Plum Onigiri

riceAre you looking for an easy way to jazz up your weekday lunch?

All over Tokyo, food courts and convenience stores sell triangles of sticky rice filled with all sorts of wonderful goodies. Called onigiri, these snacks fit easily in the palm of your hand, are quite filling, and are very affordable – many cost the equivalent of $1 or less. Our whole family enjoyed sampling onigiri filled with pickles, plums, smoked salmon, and even hard boiled eggs. Our favorite were the plum-filled snacks, which we are creating today.

rice mold

Onigiri mold

You can Continue reading

Best Lobster Roll in Salem!

dotty-ray-s-lunchFirst things first. A few hours after arriving in Salem, we ventured into a cute little restaurant right off of the touristy Essex Street pedestrian mall. We were able to escape the bright sun while still enjoying the open air, grabbed a quick bite to eat (grilled cheese with fries) and listened to some really excellent live music.

However…

If we weren’t jet lagged, we might have realized before we asked for a table that restaurants in touristy areas also have touristy prices! We passed on the $25 lobster roll. Seriously – who charges $25 for a lobster roll when you can practically see the ocean from the restaurant kitchen? I digress.

Time to contact my good friends GOOGLE and UBER!

A quick web search for the best local lobster roll and where do Salem locals eat pointed us squarely in one direction – Dotty and Ray’s Restaurant. Located about a mile from The Hawthorne Hotel, Dotty and Ray’s is across the river from the touristy town center in residential Salem, where locals live and eat. Google says it’s a 16 minute walk. Uber says it’s a $4 ride. Take your pick, but GO!

For $12.95 you’ll get a lobster roll that’s so generously portioned and delicious, I dare you not to go back the very next day for more (we did!). Look! Look and imagine how delicious this is!
lobster

Casual, delicious, regional home cooking with great service and very reasonable prices -what more does a hungry tourist need? It was fun to watch the staff visiting with other diners in a familiar way; Dotty and Ray’s is clearly the place to catch up on local news over lunch. Even as outsiders, we were welcomed and enjoyed a bit of conversation with our server. It felt a bit clandestine to be the only tourists in a beloved local establishment, as if we’d discovered something too magical to share.

scallops

Scallop Roll

(Magical… Salem… see what I did there?)

Their scallop roll was amazingly sweet and also generously portioned. We substituted the fries for mashed potatoes, which were buttery and wonderful. If you’re in the Salem area, don’t miss out on lunch at the tucked away gem that is Dotty and Rays.

Stay Tuned for Salem!

Here at Crowded Earth Kitchen, we’re busy unpacking after a festive trip to Salem, Massachusetts. Everyone knows that Salem was the infamous site of the 1692 Witch Trials (those witch hunting Puritans were a kooky bunch!). Fast forward 325 years, and modern Salem offers visitors myriad ways to learn a bit of New England history, breathe in a bit of salty sea air, and be happily well fed.

Very happily well fed!

Over the next few days, Crowded Earth Kitchen will feature a few culinary gems from the Northeast. Stay tuned!

Happy traveling, and happy eating! Blessed be!

Bookworm Bundle

cookbook-cover-imagesoufflebakeryValentine’s Day is approaching, and we have the perfect token of affection for the food lovers in your life! From now until February 14th, Crowded Earth Kitchen is pleased to offer our Bookworm Bundle for only $19.99 – that’s a savings of over 30%!

Each Bookworm Bundle contains the following items:

  • One copy of The Global Recipe Project cookbook, featuring delicious recipes and photographs from around the world!
  • One author-signed copy of How to Bake a Chocolate Soufflé, Carly Ellen Kramer’s highly reviewed food fiction novel!
  • One high gloss European Bakery notecard (with envelope) for writing your affections to your Valentine!

Simply click on the PayPal link below to place your order. Bookworm Bundles will ship within 24 hours of purchase.

BOOKWORM BUNDLE!

French Chocolate Éclairs

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If you know of a gooey, chocolaty baked confection more fabulous than a French Chocolate Éclair, do let me know because I can’t think of one! They’re so decadent, they must be difficult to make, right? Au contraire! If you can stir a few ingredients together and squeeze a plastic bag (more on that later), you can make this heavenly dessert.

Fun variation: Instead of the French vanilla cream filling used below, consider filling these decadent treats with English Lemon Curd. Either option is delicious! Let’s get started!

Ingredients (Makes 30 mini Éclairs)

For the éclair shells:

1/2 cup real butter

1 cup water

1 cup flour Continue reading

Simple Beef Bourguignon

WIN_20160815_185525“Simple” and “Beef Bourguignon” are not words we see paired too often, but perhaps we should! French food does not need to be mysterious, and this spin on classic French beef stew is really a snap to prepare. Also, it’s versatile. Feel free to add or subtract vegetables as your taste buds desire. Suggestions are given in the recipe below. Bon Appétit!

WIN_20160815_150511Ingredients (Serves 6)

2 pounds good quality beef stew meat

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup real butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 (750 ml) bottle burgundy or cabernet sauvignon wine

2 cups French Braised Onions (optional)

2 cups roasted root vegetables (optional)

1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives (optional)

Directions

Step 1) In a large plastic bag, toss together beef stew meat, flour, salt, and pepper. Shake the bag until the meat is evenly coated with the flour mixture.

Step 2) Combine half of the butter and half of the olive oil in a heavy skillet. Melt butter and oil together over medium heat. Add half of the meat from step 1 to the skillet, and cook until browned on all sides, turning occasionally with a metal spatula.

Step 3) Transfer browned beef to a slow cooker (such as a Crock Pot). Repeat steps 2 and 3 with the other half of the butter, oil, and beef.

Step 4) Add 1/4 cup of red wine to the skillet and continue cooking over medium heat while scraping vigorously with a metal spatula to deglaze the pan. Pour the contents of the pan into the slow cooker over the beef.

Step 5) After all of the beef has been browned and transferred to the slow cooker, pour the remainder of the bottle of red wine over the beef. Cook the beef on “low” for 8 – 10 hours (preferable) or on “high” for 4 – 5 hours, until most of the wine has been absorbed and the beef is very tender.

Step 6) Approximately 30 minutes before serving, gently stir any combination of French Braised Onions, roasted vegetables, and Kalamata olives into the slow cooker with the beef, to heat through. Serve with potatoes, sautéed yellow squash, and/or French bread.

 

 

French Braised Onions

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I’ll be honest, friends. While I adore most vegetables, onions have never ranked really high on the list. I don’t “dislike” them, they just aren’t a favorite. Or rather, they weren’t a favorite until I made these amazing French Braised Onions. It all started a few days ago, when I pulled these lovely little onions from my backyard garden. Aren’t they cute?

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Alas, they are also a bit slow to clean and peel! It seemed a waste to just chop them up and toss them in a recipe as if they were big, store bought onions. I wanted to showcase these little cuties. The recipe below is incredibly simple, you just need to be patient with the slow cooking required. The end result is worth the wait… onions infused with broth and wine, sweet and savory, with a silky texture. French Braised Onions are delightful as an accompaniment to meaty dishes such as beef bourguignon, or can be served as an appetizer on thin slices of baguette.

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Onions before braising

Ingredients (Makes about 3 cups)

30 – 40 small white onions (1/2 inch to 1 inch in diameter)

2 tablespoons real butter

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary

1/2 cup chicken stock

3/4 cup dry red wine

Directions

Step 1) Melt butter in a 9 inch skillet. Sprinkle rosemary evenly over melted butter.

Step 2) Lightly trim the bottoms and tops of the onions, removing only about 1/4 inch from each end. Arrange onions, top sides up, in the buttered skillet.

Step 3) Pour the chicken stock and wine over the onions.

Step 4) Bring the skillet just barely to a boil over medium heat, then immediately reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

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Onions after 90 minutes of total braising time

Step 5) After 15 minutes, cover the skillet and continue cooking over low heat for an hour or longer as needed, until almost all of the liquid is absorbed. Gently shake the skillet every few minutes, to prevent sticking and evenly distribute the liquid. Don’t rush this! It really should take at least an hour for most of the liquid to absorb. If the liquid is disappearing quickly, reduce the heat.

Step 6) When almost all of the liquid has been (slowly!) absorbed, your French Braised Onions are ready to enjoy!