Tuesday, January 31, 2006

haley house bakery cafe


the haley house bakery cafe is an inspiring blend of all things that i love and care about - good people bringing greater good to society through good food. over the weekend, this unique little cafe, which opened in roxbury's dudley square last september, was selected as one of the "best of the new" in 2005 by the boston globe.

"Best of the New", Boston Globe Magazine

the haley house bakery cafe is a social enterprise run by boston's nonprofit organization, haley house. this retail and wholesale bakery cafe runs a training program that teaches underemployed individual basic job skills in the baking industry. the goal is to help trainees obtain and succeed in full-time jobs upon graduating from the 6-month program.

while the program has been in existence for 10 years, this expansion of the enterprise from a little corner bakery in the south end into a full-scale business and training program is recent, and i spent much of my time in 2004 and 2005 working on the business plan that stood behind this transformation process.

chef didi emmons now runs the Bakery Cafe. you may know her as the owner of Veggie Planet in harvard square, or for her stints at Pho Republique, Centre Street Cafe, Delux Cafe, and Hamersley's Bistro, among other well-known Boston restaurants. she has also authored cookbooks Vegetarian Planet and Entertaining for a Vegetarian Planet. didi has infused her passion for the creative use of locally produced and organic ingredients into both the bakery and cafe. vegan berry muffin anyone?

when you visit, you may hear sous chef rod singing opera as he tosses fresh mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, and grated carrots with anything else that arrived earlier that morning - beets, red onion, arugula - then shaking in a generous drizzle of thick balsamic vinaigrette. he caps the end of your plate with a square of warm, buttery cornbread, made with whole bits of corn kernels.

others who i love to see at the Bakery Cafe are bing and kathe, and christian, whom i miss dearly (after doing so much for Haley House, she has gone on to seek good beyond all the baked goodness).

2139 Washington Street
Dudley Square, Roxbury
(617) 445-0900
Monday to Saturday 7AM - 4PM


by the way, you can also find haley house baked goods at a variety of cafes and specialty markets throughout boston, cambridge, and somerville - like toscanini's, 1369, diesel cafe, and b. good.


Monday, January 30, 2006

stewing like there's no tomorrow


on TV, they've made their first course and have dessert in the oven before the first commercial break. in my reality, at that point, i generally have half an onion sliced and one foot in a sneaker, ready to head out for that stick of butter i could have sworn was in the fridge yesterday.

when it comes to cooking, i have yet to master any of the skills that actually matter when it comes to daily survival, that is, planning ahead, ensuring that i have the necessary ingredients, peeling and chopping efficiently (the veggies, not my fingers), etc. thus, i am actually completely helpless when i arrive home hungry at night. and that is why cafe podima, the whole foods salad bar, and tony the tiger are my friends.

so there, i've said it. since blogs are supposed to be all about confessing one's true selves to the world, i here fully admit to you that i have no idea how to cook dinner for myself at the end of the day.

fortunately, i have found a temporary solution in soups and stews. they are the perfect food to make the night before and feast upon the next day, paired with a fresh loaf of crusty bread. they also, for the most part, get better the longer they simmer.

and so moroccan vegetable stew was what i chose to make for potluck night with my college roommates. we had courses ranging from rachel's salad topped with apple, walnut, and goat cheese to feng's mexican corn to joanna's dream bars (did i get those names right...?). juliana's hot and sour soup is the only other dish that i managed to capture on film (i have learned that it is not the best party activity, asking people to hold their hot food really still while i try to capture it without using a flash). oh yes, and rachel brought yummy wine (an awesome pick, though i cannot recall anything about it, besides that it was a cabernet).


spices (cloves. cinnamon, cumin, tumeric, chili powder, nutmeg)

root veggies in spice


Thursday, January 19, 2006

meyer lemons

I have in my possession four precious meyer lemons. they grew on a tree in berkeley, ca and arrived at my desk by way of chris, my friend and manager of my current "air" project at continuum. the tree is his grandmother's.

meyer lemons are fragrant and petite, a cross between the lemon and mandarin orange, according to katharina, another fellow colleague and lover of all good things to eat. katharina and i once steamed artichokes in our company kitchen, dabbing the prized leaves in a blend of meyer lemon juice, olive oil, and sea salt.

as i have been told, i need to make good use of all parts of these lemons - rind, zest, juice, everything. and so i am currently searching for all good dishes infused with lemon. just as the eskimo appreciate the whale, i will appreciate my meyer lemon.

(thank you, chris and chris's grandmother!).

Friday, January 13, 2006

peking toast

so i know this guy who has been spending the first year of his early retirement in beijing.

while he did make magnificent creations in college using only sandwich bread and chicken parm from our dining hall, i never quite remembered him to be a cooking-inclined type of guy.

well, i am proud to see that china has done him well. rendered penniless by "bank complications" he has been forced to survive off scraps from his fridge. the result: french toast with eggs and bacon! jwei, i am impressed. goes to show just how incredible the egg can be. and edible (except for that bird flu stuff).

mulligatawny soup

when i was in high school, my guy friends were really into words. we traveled a lot by bus back then, and our waiting time at the stop provided ample opportunity to riff. "this really is an antiquated means of transportation..." one would say. [thoughtful pause among the four] "primordial", another would contribute. "antidiluvian." yes, they agreed. it was antidiluvian.

and so they would continue until a new synonomous challenge presented itself.

i never got into words as much as they were, and whether or not buses are truly antidiluvian, i still do not know. but one bit of vocabulary that i will always remember from those days is "procrustean". "procrustean" is a word Sam used to describe something "producing or designed to produce strict conformity by ruthless or arbitrary means".

but i heard "procrustean" as something "with the potential to taste really bad". "crust" conjured up the thought of bread. "pro", well that was obviously the latin root for "before". and "-ean"? that made me think of pre-historic eras, like the archaen period. bread before the archaen period? that couldn't be good.

anyway, it occurred to me a few days ago that words have a lot to do with our experience of food. "i'm on a quest for garlic," i informed my friend John over the phone. "what are you making?" he asked. "mulligatawny soup." i relished in saying it. "moo-lee-gah-TAH-ny? mulli-GA-tanee? i'm not sure."

"hmm..." he said. "you know what soup i like? bouillabaisse. BOO-yah-basss."

"ooh. that's a good one." actually, i had never tried bouillabaisse before. but just hearing the name made it sound damn good.

there are a lot of things i like to eat because i like the way they sound. think greens. radicchio. endive. mache. [who is the marketing genius behind all of these?]

anyway, my mulligatawny delivered on its promise. mulligatawny means "pepper water" in Tamil, a language used in southern India. i added apples, tomatoes, onions, ginger (lots, finely minced), and coconut milk. i have become a huge fan of chicken thighs (i swear i will never go back to chicken breast, ever). the spice came from the last little packet i had left from my visit to the veggie food festival with tim and juliana last year. i need to get my hands on more curry. if anyone has any suggestions...please help.