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  1. Chicken Pad Thai

    March 7, 2012 by Eddy

    I didn't think to take a photo until I was half way done eating!

    So you think that Pad Thai has nothing to do with New England, right?  What if I told you that my favorite little hole-in-the-wall Thai place to get take out from was located around the corner from my house, which is clearly located within the borders of New England?

    A bit of a stretch, you say?

    Pfft! Stop being so closed minded, I say!

    Now that that is out of the way – a little background.  I attempted to make Pad Thai once, a number of years ago.  It was terrible.  It tasted like a strange fishy sour mess.  Really, it was gross. It didn’t have a single redeeming quality.  Since that time, I’ve shied away from even attempting it.  Call it lazyness.  Call it fear.  Call it what you will.

    Last night, in a spur of the moment decision, that all changed.

    I needed a Pad Thai fix & I felt like spending the time in the kitchen.  The result, a dish that was actually pretty close to my favorite take out place.  The next time I make it, I’ll make a few small changes.  More on that later.

    After work, I was off to store to get a few of the ingredients that I didn’t already have at the house – namely the fish sauce, tamarind paste & noodles.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 eggs
    • 8 teaspoons fish sauce
    • 5 cloves minced garlic
    • 1.5 teaspoon chili powder
    • Pinch of red pepper flakes
    • freshly ground black pepper
    • bean sprouts
    • 1 lime
    • 1 minced shallot
    • 4 tablespoon sugar*
    • 4 tablespoon tamarind paste*
    • 1 package Thai rice noodles
    • 1 – 1.5 lbs. of Chicken Breast – cut into 1/2″ pieces
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 1-1/2 cup green onions
    • Roasted peanuts – crushed

     

    Prepare your rice noodles according to the ‘stir fry’ instructions on the package.  Typically, it requires little more than soaking them in hot tap water for about 10 minutes.

    In a medium sized bowl combine your fish sauce, chili powder, lime juice, sugar & tamarind paste.  Mix thoroughly, until most all of the sugar has dissolved.  Taste, and make any necessary adjustments.  If the fish sauce is a bit over powering, try adding a some more lime and a small amount of tamarind paste to balance it out.

    *Note: I went to two different grocery stores and couldn’t find Tamarind paste at either of them.  You should have no problem finding it at any Asian or Indian market but I was being lazy and, instead, settled for a can of Tamarind Nectar.  If you do this, I’d recommend cutting back on the amount of sugar that you use in the recipe.  I didn’t & I think it’s what caused my dish to be a little stickier than some others that I’ve had.

    Preheat your wok (or large skillet) on high heat.  Get it good and hot before you add the oil.  Once it’s hot add your oil and heat it until it’s just about at its smoking point.  Add your shallots and sauté them for a minute or two, just to remove some of the rawness.  Add the garlic and wait about 30 – 45 seconds before tossing in your chicken. Add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to the pan.  Stir fry these ingredients together until the chicken is almost done.

    Push the contents of the wok to the edges and crack your eggs into the center.  Once the eggs start to set, begin the scramble them.  Once the eggs are just about cooked, give the pan a good toss to mix everything together.

    Add a handful of bean sprouts to your wok, followed by your hydrated noodles.  It probably goes without saying but make sure that you drain the noodles first!

    Add in the sauce and give everything another few tosses to ensure that it’s all mixed well. Let everything cook down until most of the sauce has been absorbed.

    Top with crushed peanuts, green onions & garnish with a couple of lime wedges.  As you can see from the photo, I totally forgot about the scallions….

    Adapted from: http://www.thaitable.com/thai/recipe/pad-thai

  2. Newport Storm Blueberry Ice Cream

    May 13, 2011 by Eddy

     

    Newport Storm Blueberry Ice CreamI’ve been wanting to try my hand at making ice cream from scratch, but I don’t have an ice cream maker (and, truth be told, the last thing we need floating around our house is another small appliance).  I found this method, that involved freezing the ice cream and vigorously mixing it by hand every 30 minutes or so, to break up the ice crystals that form during the process.  Seemed simple enough, so I figured that I’d give it a shot.  As a starting point, I used a recipe from Food Network’s, and native Rhode Islander, Emeril Lagasse.  The original recipe was for Guinness ice cream, but I wanted to try and keep things more local, so I went to store and picked up some Newport Storm Blueberry beer, along with some Little Rhody eggs.  Here’s the slightly modified version of the recipe that I used:

     

    Ingredients:

    • 1 bottle Newport Storm Blueberry BeerNewport Storm Blueberry beer and Little Rhody Eggs
    • 2 cups heavy cream
    • 2 cups skim milk (it’s all that we had in the house.  I’d recommend using whole milk.)
    • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
    • 6 egg yolks
    • 1/2 cup frozen or fresh blueberries

    Directions:
    In a large saucepan, reduce the Newport Storm Blueberry beer by about 3/4 in volume.  This will take about 8 – 10 minutes. Combine the cream, milk, and sugar in a medium, heavy saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half, lengthwise, and scrape the seeds into the pan.  Toss in the vanilla bean halves. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat.

    Beat the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Whisk 1 cup of the hot cream into the egg yolks. Gradually add the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream, to the hot cream. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon and reaches 170 degrees F. on an instant-read thermometer.  This should take about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and strain through a mesh strainer into a clean container. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing down against the surface to keep a skin from forming.  Chill in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

    Once the mixture has cooled to at least room temperature, add in the Newport Storm Blueberry beer reduction and mix well.

    Pour the mixture into a shallow baking dish (make sure that it’s safe for freezer use!) and place it back into the freeze.  After about 45 minutes, take the mixture out of the freezer and mix it well with a spatula.  Make sure that you really work out any lumps and scrape along the edges to break up any ice crystals that have formed.  Repeat this process every 30 minutes.  The end result is a vanilla ice cream, with a hint of blueberry!

    Scoop, and enjoy!


  3. Review: Wendell’s Pub & Buffalo Wings

    September 3, 2010 by Eric

    Wendell’s Pub
    30 West Main Street (Route 123)
    Norton, MA 02766
    Phone: 508-285-5555
    http://www.wendellspub.net/
    Menu: http://www.wendellspub.net/Wendells_Menu.pdf [PDF]

    Wendell’s Pub has the plain exterior of a local pub – and the aged interior that can only bring tons of character.  We’ve found that their fan-owned Facebook group sums it up best as a “Classy joint in Norton, MA that serves the best 3.5s on the bone, crispy-crinkle fries and stale pitchers of beer.”

    And yes, they do in fact have a jukebox containing multiple “Journey” tunes.

    A view of Wendell's Pub's front entrance.

    When I first brought Eddy to Wendell’s, I didn’t know what to expect from him. I did know what to expect from Wendell’s, though. From the wood paneled walls to the shaky booths and tables edging the pub’s eating area, Wendell’s delivers a predictable atmosphere that puts you at ease.

    If you’re looking for a low-key local bar to watch a Sox or Pats game, the semi-circle shaped bar in the back room is a great place to be. Flanked by a couple of high-top tables and a new arcade version of Golden Tee – Wendell’s bar area may be small, but it certainly is comfortable. Remember, you won’t be ordering up martinis or cosmopolitans here… Your decisions on what to drink typically revolves around bottles or pitchers of your favorite domestic beer.

    Wendell’s menu offers up a number of items ranging from sandwiches and appetizers, and rounding out with some entree style dinners like fish ‘n chips, steak tips, smoked ribs and even shepard’s pie. The truth is though – they’ve built their reputation on their buffalo wings.

    In fact – I’ll say they’re famous in Southern New England. That’s a claim I’ll back up by the fact that friends as far west as California and as far south as North Carolina know and apprecaite the wings.

    Locals though simply love them.

    So here’s what you need to know about Wendell’s wings.

    "Sassy" or "Regulars" from Wendell's Pub - Just look at that great texture... Is it the perfect blend of crunch and sauce!

    #1 – It’s the Texture, Baby

    A great wing experience starts the moment you taste that first wing, and with Wendell’s, you’ll be amazed by the texture. They’re fried up enough to maintain a great crunch while still soaking up the flavors in the sauces they come swimming in.

    #2 – Dine in if Possible

    In our experience, its simply best to dine in and allow yourself plenty of time for a leisurely lunch, dinner of snack. Wendell’s does offer take-out, but we’ve tried calling in before and been hung up on without hearing a word on the other end of the line. Don’t take it personally though – its a testament to how busy this place can be.

    Good food for patrons in the pub seems to be the #1 priority.

    That’s not to say the take-out food is bad, either. The wings are still world-class, but you miss out on the ambience that creates the full experience. They have however proven to be great game day staples.

    #3 – Try Different Sauces

    Wendell’s buffalo wings come in any of seven different sauces – ranging from buttery garlic “Sissy” to the “Double Dare”.

    Somewhere in the middle, we expect you’ll find your comfort zone. The most popular (judging by online discussion and having sat within earshot of dozens) is the “3.5” which combines their “Sassy” sauce with their “Extra Spicy” sauce for a great blend of flavor and taste. Here’s a look at the sauces across the heat scale ranging from the most mild to the hottest:

    Sissy
    Sauce with buttery garlic flavor.

    Sissy Suicidal
    Sissy sauce with a touch of spice.

    Sassy (or “Regular)
    Classic Buffalo-Style wing sauce.

    3.5
    Combination of Sassy and Extra Spicy sauces.

    Extra Spicy
    Hot sauce blended with spicy seasoning.

    Suicidal
    Extra Spicy sauce with added spicy sauce and seasonings.

    Double Dare
    Wendell’s hottest and spiciest sauce.

    Bonus Tip: If you find the 3.5’s either a tad too hot or a tad too mild, we’ve heard you can order up wings with “3.75” or “3.25” sauces, too.

    "Double Dare" buffalo wings from Wendell's - These are the hottest available!

    #4 – Order Some Fries

    Eddy and I differ in our opinions here. He sees the crinkle-cut styled fries to be basic at best. I see them as a weapon for soaking up more sauce. You can decide for yourself what you think of the fries, but if you’re into hot sauces and a classic wing flavor – the fries are a dirt cheap way to make the experience last longer.

    Portions
    As is the case with most great food we’ve had, the wings at Wendell’s are good enough to make you feel like you’re not getting enough of them.  We’ve been known to order up a second batch, especially if we’re leisurely dining in the pub area. If that’s the case, just take your time – enjoy good company, great atmosphere and good friends.

    Closing Thoughts
    Wendell’s knows what they are, and they’re not afraid to show it. If you’re looking for a great tasting order of buffalo wings, you’d be hard-pressed to find them elsewhere in Southern New England.

    Their pub service is good, but eating at Wendell’s takes some time. On the front page of the Wendell’s menu is another great line – and we’ll leave you with that:

    “Two fryolators, one grill, and only one cook – this is the our tiny kitchen’s fate. So although we may take some extra time, most will agree – it’s worth the wait.”


  4. New England Clam Bake

    September 2, 2010 by Eddy

    Looking for a good meal idea for the long Labor Day weekend – assuming that we don’t get washed away by Earl? How about a traditional New England Clam Bake?

    First – go out and gather up some seaweed at the shoreline. Make sure that you keep it fresh by keeping it in a large container of sea water!

    Next – Go out and find several round medium-sized stones. You’ll heat these in the fire and use the ramp up the heat when necessary.

    Finally – Since you are going to be steaming all of the ingredients, you’ll need a cover to trap in all of that steam! You can use a large piece of canvas for this but make sure that you soak it in sea water for a good long while to make sure that it doesn’t burn up during the cook. Soaking it will also help release some extra steam.

    Once you’ve got all of the above items, you’ll need to create your fire pit. Dig out your fire pit and place your round stones in the center. Start a wood fire on top of these stones. You want to make sure that the stones are super hot before you move onto to the next step.

    Once the fire has burned out, and your stones are nice and hot, layer some of your seaweed over the hot stones. Next, fill up the pit with your ingredients of choice! Steamers, mussels, quahogs and lobsters are typically used as the main course. You can also through in some potatoes, corn on the cob, sausage and onions if you’d like! Make sure that you alternate layers of food with layers of seaweed to ensure even steaming.

    Once you’ve got all of the ingredients in there, cover the entire mound with your canvas and steam for several hours!

    Do you do anything different? Have any suggestions? Tell us about them!