Sunday, October 18, 2009

Vodka Infusions

What's better to warm you up than chai tea and cinnamon infused vodka? Not even an electric blanket can compare! Use your imagination to come up with other infusions: throw some apples into the cinnamon vodka for a cider style drink, use lavender to make a lavender martini, any fruit, or even vegetable infuses nicely, black pepper vodka for a Bloody Mary...there are endless possibilities!

A semi-decent vodka, I used Svedka. The better the vodka, the better the result.

Whatever else you want! As an example I'm using Chai Tea bags and Cinnamon Sticks
Cheese Cloth/Coffee Filter if you choose to use loose leaf tea or smaller particle infusers

1.  You'll need a jar that seals tightly, make sure they're clean. For the chai tea infusion use 2 tea bags, for the cinnamon use around 6 cinnamon sticks (which are usually actually cassia sticks but we need not worry) per 16 oz. of vodka. Add ingredients in jar and cap tightly.

2. Here's the tricky part -- deciding how long to let your concoction steep. For tea infusions you only need to wait a couple of hours at most, for the cinnamon 2-3 days is better. You'll see a color change which will help clue you in to how far along the infusion process is, compare the picture at the top of this entry to the photo below as an example. It is also recommended that you do periodic taste tests (this helps things in more ways than one). If you use fruit you'll see the fruit change color as well as the vodka.

3. Once the flavor is to your liking remove the infuser ingredient, and enjoy!

Serving Suggestion:
Pour equal parts of the chai tea vodka to cream and top with a sprinkle of nutmeg for a Chai Martini. Add the cinnamon vodka to hot cider. 

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Brown Butter Balsamic Sauce

Our first attempt at pasta...result...great success! Our venture into gnocchi makin' was a joint effort starring a Mr. Andrew Kennedy (gnocchi kneader and roller), Ms. Larkin Kimmerer (gnocchi forker), and the off the wall peeps (gnocchi kneaders, forkers, and rollers)... Roasted butternut squash, some fine 00 flour, and some aged balsamic... and some "friendly's"...'nough said! :)

For the Gnocchi
2 cups 00 flour
2 cups roasted butternut squash, pureed (roast cubed-up butternut squash with olive oil and salt and pepper for about 35 minutes at 375 degrees).
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbs. salt
1 tsp. nutmeg

1. On a flat surface, mix flour, salt, and nutmeg together and form into a mound.

2. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the roasted butternut squash puree and 1 cup parmesan cheese.

3. Mix the flour, squash, and cheese together and knead for about 5-10 minutes. Add a bit of flour to the board as you need to keep the dough smooth. Continue kneading until smooth.

4. Shape the mixture into a ball and cut into four pieces.

5. Roll each quarter of dough into a ropes about 1 inch thick (might be easier to but into eighths instead of quarters to do this).

6. Cut each rope into about 1-inch pieces.

7. Gently press a fork into the surface of the gnocchi to leave a slight indentation.

8. Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil and add the gnocchi. Cook for about 3-4 minutes until the gnocchi float to the top.

9. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain excess water and add directly to the sauce...

For the Brown Butter Sauce
1. 5 Tbs. Butter
2. ~1 tsp. salt
3. ~1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

1. Melt the butter in a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Cook butter for ~5 minutes over medium-high heat until foam dissipates and butter begins to brown. Add the balsamic vinegar and salt and cook an additional 2 minutes.

3. Add the gnocchi directly to the pan with the butter sauce and toss together. Toast the gnocchi for a few minutes in the pan and serve warm with freshly grated parmesan!


Kelly Kut Rating: This is a really fun recipe to make and pretty simple in terms of homemade pastas. It takes time, but I would definitely recommend gettin' some friends together to help...shout out to Larkin (forker), Andrew (roller, kneader, forker), Renee (sue chef), and Stephanie (roller)...great success!

Renee's Mmmmm-gasm Scale: When I studied abroad in Italy I had some of the finest food of my life while living with an absolutely amazing Italian family. I was lucky enough to gain an undying appreciation for the Italian cuisine, and I am being completely honest when I say that this butternut squash gnocchi was Italy status. The texture was just right, as it wasn't doughy or too hard, and the butternut squash flavor and hints of nutmeg were magnificent. The balsamic butter sauce was excellent, as well, adding just enough of flavor yet still allowing the gnocchi to hold its own. 10,000 mmmmm-gasms, 'nough said.

Stephanie's Hotty Hot Hotness Rating: The precooked gnocchi looks like giant Captain Crunch cereal because of the orange tint from the butternut squash in the dough, but the finished product was nothing short of elegance. The "pillows" of pasta were nicely complimented by the glaze of the balsamic butter sauce; a lovely presentation that would qualify for the finest of authentic Italian restaurants!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Great Day, Great People, Great Meal...Sun-dried tomato Pesto Pasta and Grilled Vegetables

This post is not simply a recipe. Rather, this post is the outcome of perhaps one of the finest days we have had during our short duration in New England. It all started with a bicycle ride on the Minuteman Trail from Cambridge to Concord...the ring of our bike bells to call out the foliage...the brisk New England air that froze our Californian and Texan frames...graceful bicycle collisions in tribute to the battles fought near this revolutionary trail :) ...a trip to a Concord farm... and an amazing meal. This meal was a collaborative effort on the part of some of the finest New England has to offer including Mr. Kennedy, Miss Viskin (and her amazing parents), Mr. Mizell, and the ladies of 51 Porter Road. Beautiful Place...Great Company...and Amazing Food.

1. Grilled homegrown zucchini, eggplant, onion, and peppers
2. Sun-dried Tomato, parsley, and spinach pesto pasta with creamy goat cheese

-For the Veggies
1. Zucchini, sliced in rounds
2. Eggplant, sliced in rounds
3. Onion, sliced in rounds
4. Olive Oil
5. Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder
-For the Pesto and Pasta
1. ~1 cup packed parsley (flat or curly)
2. ~2 cups spinach
3. ~3/4 to 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
4. 4 garlic cloves
5. Sliced almonds, toasted
6. 1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil (depending on how thin you want can always thin it out with a bit of the pasta cooking water).
7. 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
8. 3 oz. crumbled herbed goat cheese
9. Salt and pepper to taste
10. A dash of lemon juice

For the Veggies:
1. Toss all the veggies in olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

2. With the grill on medium-high the veggies on and grill for about 3-4 minutes on each side, until tender but not mush. Get some good grill marks too!
For the Pesto and Pasta:
1. In a dry skillet, toast the almonds over medium heat for about 5-10 minutes until golden and fragrant.
2. In a food processor, combine toasted nuts and garlic.
3. Add spinach, parsley, olive oil, salt and pepper, cheese, and sun-dried tomato to the food processor and pulse until a thick even consistency is reached. Taste for seasoning and drizzle a bit of lemon juice over the top.
4. In a pot of boiling, salted water, add 1 pound of pasta and cook according to package directions. (Use a short pasta).
5. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water before draining and then drain the pasta.
6. Return cooked pasta to pot and add about 1/2 the pesto and the reserved pasta cooking water. Stir to combine and coat all the noodles (add more pesto if needed).
7. Stir in about 1/2 the goat cheese till melted and creamy.
8. Pour the pasta out into a big serving bowl and garnish with additional chopped parsley, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, slivered almonds, the remaining goat cheese, and a sprinkle of lemon juice and parmesan.

Serve and enjoy... especially the company!

Kelly Kut Rating: No cuts!!! However, I did have an amazing team who did a lot of the choppin'...(Note: minor bike injuries were suffered and mouth burning courtesy of a Mr. Kennedy's peppers).

Taste? Renee's Mmmmm-gasm scale: Aw man, my taste-buds were sure in for a treat this crisp autumn afternoon. The wide array of flavors from the slightly sweet, yet spicy pesto to the utter deliciousness of the grilled vegetables, satisfied me to the very core. Overall, this meal evoked 9,5000 mmmmm-gasms. The pesto was very unique and distinct with the addition of sundried tomatoes, and the goat cheese was a very pleasant addition as well. The only issues I had were the hot as hell peppers that Mr. Kennedy roasted. (He did a stellar job with the grilled veggies otherwise!) I had no idea how hot those would be, and they burned both my and Kelly's lips for a good portion of the beginning of the meal. I was honestly transported back to Italy; sitting at the table with my amici, savoring a delicious meal, talking, and enjoying each other's company was just amazing.

Stephanie's Hotty Hot Hotness Rating: Hmm, this one's tough because the pasta was so damn good. The sun-dried tomatoes in the pesto made the usual bright green delight turn to a burnt brown color...not the most appetizing of colors. This statement must be followed with the fact that the dish of extra pesto sat next to me at the table and I kept trying to find new things on the table to eat just to have a vector to get that pesto into my mouth. Bread, zucchini, crackers, spoon! Whatever it was, it was better with this pesto! Definitely a recommended dish, regardless of the color!

Speaking of color...this New England place knows how to put on a show in the autumn. What beautiful leaves! Bravo trees, bravo.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

White Chocolate and Nutella Tartlets

Cloud like waifs of white chocolate mousse + the smooth, nutty creaminess of nutella, combined with the crunch of a buttery phyllo cup makes this dessert a great success!

Sunday is for Sports and Tater-Tachos

Ok. This is not the girls. This is Andrew 1.0.

As a male guest at 51 Porter I am required to watch, and then eat, all of the amazing food seen on this website plus some, all the while milling about the kitchen and contributing very little. So, it is my privilege to present tonights update, an update illustrating one way to eat at home yet feel like you are at a sports bar.

This meal is being made between the Angels spectacularly finishing off the Red Socks in three games and Denver's overtime victory against the Patriots. If you Tivo'd those games and I just ruined it for you... go ahead and watch anyway, I might be lying.

First things first: Wherever you are, find a local beer. Here in New England I chose Burlington, VT's, Magic Hat #9. It's a pale ale with a little
sweetness to compliment the frigid October air. I recommend a six-pack and that you drink at least one before cooking.

Once you have your drink sorted out pile the rest of the stuff you're going to need for this on the counter.


1. A Bunch of Cheese
2. Some Beans
3. Frozen Tater-Tots
4. At Least Two Handfuls of Chips
5. Plenty of Green Onions
6. A Tomato
7. A Dollop Sour Cream
8. Guacamole
9. Love (lots of love).


1. Preheat the oven to 450° and find two oven-safe, flat, dishes. Fill one with chips and one with tater-tots, only as much as you want to eat during the football game.

2. Once the oven is hot, throw the tater-tots in there for 7 minutes.

3. While the tater-tots are getting crisp, cut up the green onions and tomatoes into little tiny pieces and top the chips with them, the cheese, beans, and a little more cheese.

4. After 7 minutes move your tater-tots around in their pan so their bottoms can get crisp and wait another 5 minutes, but this time put the chips in with them. I know, it's getting crazy... don't worry, for the next 5 minutes you are free to finish your beer, check the score, and start another beer.

5. At the end of 5 minutes, pull the dish out of the oven. Put the tater-tots on top of the chips and add some more of everything. Bake it in the oven for 3 more minutes or until stuff starts melting.

6. Feel free to put the sour cream and guacamole on the side or on top, it doesn't matter! What matters is that you're done and you can go back to the game... just like before, except now you are prepared for the overtime with beer and tater-tachos.

7. Enjoy responsibly, this meal is probably not good for you.

Kelly Kut Ratio: The delicate knife work of the green onion chiffonade combined with the intricacy of opening the frozen bag of delectable tater tots elevated the risk in the preparation of this delicacy...However, the grace displayed by our guest chef, Andrew 1.0, was simply a wonder...

Taste: Ok, so you're thinking nachos? Really? On the Off the Wall blog? Hells yes! These babies were freakin' amazing. I came home after a Colbie Caillat concert (it was awesome), and I was starving. When I saw that dish of nachos sitting on the counter, I had an mmmmm-gasm right then and there even before eating. As the nachos had to be re-heated in the micro, the taste did suffer a tad, but on the whole, they enticed 8,999 mmmmm-gasms. Delicious.

Stephanie's Hotty Hot Hottness Scale: Just the sight of this dish made my arteries scream.

The feast is about to begin:

Roasted Vegetable Salad with Pesto and Homemade Croutons

This recipe can be varied in many ways and this version is just a starting point. This salad is great served for dinner or lunch or, as we had it, on the go!

Ingredients (Makes about 4 salads):

1 small eggplant cubed
~20 asparagus spears
1 cup chopped roasted red/yellow peppers (homemade or jarred from Trader Joe's!)
2 zucchini chopped
1 medium red onion chopped
4 Tbs. Pesto (recipe to come)
3/4 cup feta
2 medium tomatoes chopped
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
4 cups chopped spinach (chopped in ribbons)
4 slices of whole wheat bread cubed in large pieces
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 ripe avocado, sliced

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
2. On a baking sheet combine the cut zucchini, red onion, eggplant, and asparagus with about 2 Tbs. olive oil, about 1/2 Tbs. salt and black pepper. Add a sprinkling of garlic powder and toss it all together.
3. For the veggies: Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the vegetables are lightly golden and tender (but not mushy). Sometimes eggplant cooks faster so you may want to do the eggplant on a separate sheet and remove from the oven earlier.
4. For the croutons: Toss the cubed breadwith olive oil, salt, pepper, and the crushed garlic clove.
5. Place the bread on a baking sheet and bake in the oven 10 minutes checkin' every few minutes and giving them a quick shack. You want them to be golden and toasty so about 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees.
6. To assemble: On each of 4 plates or salad bowls, start with 1 cup of the chopped spinach. Add 1/4 of the chopped roasted red peppers to each. Next, add 1/4 of the roasted veggies (zucchini, asparagus, onion, and eggplant) to each. Next add 1 Tbs. of pesto and about 2 Tbs. of feta to each salad. Next, add the 1/4 of the diced tomatoes to each salad and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add 1/4 of the sliced avocado to each salad and top with the homemade croutons!

Feel free to vary it up with different seasonal veggies such as roasted butternut squash, arugula, and goat cheese! mmm...

Kelly Kut Rating: Minor injuries from vegetable cutting but otherwise simple and blood free!

This salad garnered 9,000 mmmmm-gasms. The only issue for me was the eggplant...I didn't fancy the chewiness of it. Otherwise, the flavor profile was very nice with bursts of different vegetable flavors--a bit of zucchini in one bite and then waves of pesto with red pepper...YUM. (The orgasmic noises had to actually be restrained as I was eating the salad while attending a student forum on the "Smart Choices" food labeling. This was indeed a challenge!)

Stephanie's Hotty Hot Hotness Rating: The artistic curvature of avocado slices atop the thick and juicy chunks of colorful roasted vegetables pleases the eye. The flavor combination of the various vegetables and garlicky pesto flavors, and the texture brought by the croutons please the tongue!

Nutella Cappuccino

My roommates and I constantly marvel in the deliciousness of cappuccino, and we are extremely excited by the thought of experimenting with different variations. Our first experiment was Nutella cappuccino, which combines the sweet, chocolaty taste of our favorite Italian hazelnut spread and the dreamy-ness of Lavazza espresso.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Macaroni and Cheese: The Classic vs. The Experiment

Macaroni and cheese...a classic comfort version and an "off the wall" experiment...result...great success! We adapted the Barefoot Contessa's recipe for a classic macaroni and cheese and made a bubbly dish with two versions: a classic comfort of gruyere and sharp white cheddar vs. an experiment of feta and homemade basil pesto!

For the base-sauce of each version you will need:
1 pound Cavatappi pasta (or elbows)
4 cups milk (skim is fine)
7 Tbs. butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 Tbs. salt

For the classic gruyere and cheddar (2/3 of the dish) you will need:
3 cups grated gruyere cheese
2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese
1 medium tomato sliced

For the experimental feta and pesto (1/3 of the dish) you well need:
3/4 to 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 Tbs. pesto (recipe to come)
1/2 cup chopped red onion

For the topping you will need:
4 slices of whatever bread or baguette you have around. You want about 2 cups of fresh bread crumbs.
1 Tbs. butter


1. Boil a large pot of lightly salted water and cook the pasta according the package directions (6-8 minutes). Drain and set aside. (You can add a splash of oil or cooking spray to prevent sticking).
2. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
3. Heat the milk in a saucepan over low heat.
4. In a separate pan, melt 6 Tbs. of butter and whisk in the flour. Cook for about 2 minutes and then slowly add the milk while continuing to whisk. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce gets thick, whisking every minute or so.
5. Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
6. Measure out a little over 1 cup of the milk/flour mixture and set aside.
7. To the remaining sauce, add your gruyere and cheddar and melt off the heat. Add 2/3 off the cooked pasta to this mixture and stir to coat all the noodles. Pour the mixuture into a 13x9 baking dish.
8. With the ~1 cup reserved milk/flour mixture, add the feta cheese, pesto, and red onion and whisk allowing the heat from the sauce to melt the feta slightly. Add the remaining 1/3 of the pasta and stir to combine.
9. Using a piece of doubled-up aluminum foil to separate the two versions, pour the feta/pesto into the last third of the 13X9 pan. See photo if this sounds confusing :)
1o. Spread the sliced tomatoes over the top of the white cheddar and gruyere side.
11. Combine bread crumbs and 1 Tbs. melted butter and scatter over the entire dish.
12. Bake for about 30-40 minutes in a 375 degree oven until the top is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly. mmm....

Classic Comfort + "Off the Wall" Experiment = Great Success! :)

Kelly Kut Rating: Mild bloodshed (3 cuts, mostly from grating cheese). This recipe takes time but is definitely worth the effort!

Mmmmm-gasm scale: This delicious cheesy classic was a flavor explosion and party in my mouth. The food orgasms would not stop coming. A solid 9,500, baby.

Hotty Hot Hotness: Even the photos of this dish make my mouth drool. I wish there was an endless surprise of this Mac N Cheese in the house for my belly.

51 Porter Chai Latte: A Simple Pleasure

The inspiration for our Chai Tea latte came from our beloved milk frother. It's so simple, but it delivers unwavering satisfaction.

1 Chai Latte tea bag (we use Bigelow Spiced Chai)
1 tsp honey (more or less to your liking)
Approximately 1/2 cup 2% milk
A sprinkle of cinnamon

It's as simple as...
1. Heat 1 cup of water (in tea kettle, over the stove, or in the microwave).

2. Steep the tea for 2-5 minutes depending on your desired strength.

3. Froth the milk (see cappuccino post for appropriate frothing method) and pour over chai tea, sprinkling with some cinnamon.

Difficulty? Kelly's Kut Rating: No knives means no cuts!

Taste? Warm, slightly sweet, and full of spice...oh so many mmmmm-gasms, I'd say 9,200.

Looks? The creamy froth and cinnamon dusting make this drink a heavenly delight.

Baked Apples and Homemade Granola

This was a make shift recipe for baked apples, feel free to switch things up and make this your own!

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup (with a creamy flare from feta)

So my rooms...Renee and Steph...ventured out apple pickin' one fine Massachusetts day...the result... bushels and bushels of apples. This recipe sprouted out of our need to use up these delicious fruits and warm our little California bodies, shocked by the Massachusetts weather...

Around the Table

Around the Table
We love good food, get excited for Market Basket & Trader Joe's, serve salad out of a pasta pot, marvel in food photography, and love to laugh. You're always welcome at our table. Click on this photo to view our "People Around the Table" album.