Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Biscotti (Attempt #2)

So after tasting the almond biscotti from Mike's Pastry, I decided to alter the recipe I used before. This biscotti tastes sort of like gingerbread (Mike's Pastry biscotti tastes of ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and other holiday spices) to me. One thing that is a major difference this time is that I mixed everything by hand. A few websites I read on the subject said to never use a mixer when making biscotti (if you are attempting my first recipe on here, then by all means, use the mixer since those biscotti are more like anisette toast anyway). Another thing I learned is how to shape the dough into rolls better. Before, I was making the dough into small "loaf" shapes. This time, I shaped the dough into a neat,wide and low-profile rectangle, patting down the top and making the sides straight. This produced wonderfully traditional shaped biscotti. I think this is as far as I can take my own recipe. I really want to see if Mike's will sell their biscotti recipe...there's just something about the texture and taste that you can't replicate at home. Below is my very own recipe

Peter's Biscotti

Dry Ingredients:

2 2/3 cup flour
1/2 t salt
2 t baking powder
1 T ground cinnamon
1 t ground nutmeg
1/4 t allspice
1 T ginger

Wet Ingredients:

3 eggs beaten well
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 T vanilla extract
2 t almond extract
2 T dark molasses
1 stick melted butter


Sift together dry ingredients except the almonds in a bowl, set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients together.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring with a wooden spoon.

After batter is mixed, add the almonds (about 2 handfuls)

On an ungreased cookie sheet (I use a silpat), scoop batter out and form into wide-rectangles (recipe will make about 2), make sure to flatten the top and not make them too high (you should put flour on your hands so the batter doesn't stick to them too much).

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes and baste with an egg wash. After egg wash appears dry, cut the now-puffed up rectangle into slices and lay the slices cut side down on the cookie sheet (if you are using a silpat, remove the silpat for this second baking).

Bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Remove from oven and let cool.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dunkin' Runs on iPhone

If you haven't already heard, Dunkin' Donuts has released a new website and iPhone app, allowing someone going on a coffee-run to easily collect his friends'/co-workers' orders.

I haven't used it yet but know some caffeinated friends who—I can imagine—will be very happy to see this. You must say, this is pretty cool...

Click here for Boston Herald the article.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Café Fixe

About a month ago, before moving back to Brookline, I noticed a cute-looking café that struck me as a new fixture to the hustle and bustle of Washington Square while driving by - Café Fixe. After a friend gave a great review of their coffee, I was quite excited to see for myself what they had to offer.

Walking in to the café the atmosphere is very modern and ikea-like. There are a number of high tables for two, a table for four, some seats along the front window, and then a couple of stools at the bar. The equipment all looked quite shiny and new. Unlike the quick-paced and sometimes careless drink preparation found at coffee chains, each drink is made with care - that being said this place may not be the place for a super quick coffee on-the-go.
The menu is simple and to the point - french press, pour-over, latés, cappuccinos, etc. A number of teas are also available - I recommend a hot chai - it's full of delicious spice! Most drinks are available iced as well. The coffee is truly delicious - very smooth but certainly packing a punch.

As to other tasty treats, Café Fixe has a number of offerings from muffins to Macaroons. I particularly enjoy the crispy tortas de aceite imported from Spain - they have a delicious anise-flavor and have the perfect amount of caramelized sugar on top.

Prices are very reasonable for the quality of product, and cash is preferred if possible. All in all, if you find yourself in Brookline or are a resident looking for a chill atmosphere to enjoy a book or get some work done, definitely give this place a try!

Café Fixe on Urbanspoon

Super Shawarma in the South End | شاورما في سوث إند

We were greeted warmly by our gracious hostess for the evening. She quickly sat us at a table for four and brought us menus. She was very excited to tell us that they’d just gotten their license and that beer and wine were now available. She went away, and we sat looking at our menus, very excited that we’d taken the short walk in the rain to Pita.

The atmosphere was clean and warm, and we especially liked the mural of a Moroccan desert village they had painted above the counter.

I asked a few questions, and we gathered that, in fact, Pita is a new establishment as we had thought. It is a family business which opened about a month ago. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner and have a nice (reasonably priced) catering menu. As mentioned, they also have a beer and wine available.

We decided upon our food—and a glass of wine each. The wine came; it was a Mirassou Sauvingnon Blanc. We received a generous pour of this nice, fruity, not-too-dry wine; and, at $6 a glass, we were very happy.

For food, Jeffrey and I chose Pita Roll-ups, Chicken Shawarma and Kafta, respectively. (Pita Roll-ups are on special for $5 on Mondays!) They come with diced tomatoes, cucmbers, and tahini sauce. Peter chose the Chicken Shish Kabob combo plate, which comes with Moroccan rice and “Mediterranean salad.”

When the food came, there was a slight mix-up with the order (Peter ended up with Kafta—pictured below—instead of the Chicken Kabobs). This was quickly rectified, and P was told to enjoy the Kafta while he (briefly) waited. 

My Kafta shawarma, was really delicious. The katfa were very nicely seasoned and char-grilled. The accoutrements went very nicely, and there was just the right amount of tahini sauce to give that nice flavor yet not be soggy. Jeff also enjoyed his very much: "I really liked the sauce and thought the bread was super good." Before bringing the roll-ups to the table, they were placed on a panini press to warm the bread and give it a subtle brown.

Peter enjoyed his chicken shish kabobs and the combo plate very much. The chicken was extremly tender and moist and seasoned well. (He was not as huge a fan of the kafta as I was, though. While he very much enjoyed the seasoning and flavor, he thought they were a bit dry.) The rice and fresh Mediterranean salad that came with the combo plate were delicious; the star was the salad dressing itself, though. It was like a French vinaigrette, yet it had a wonderful Maghreb herbs-and-spices twist.

I will definitely go back for the friendly service, tasty food, and reasonable prices to boot.

Pita on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Lookout Farm

This weekend, Marco wanted to go strawberry picking for his birthday so we made out way to Natick, MA and stopped off at Lookout Farm owned by the Belkin Family. Established in 1651, Outlook farm is one of the oldest working farms in the country. The farm has apple, peach, pear trees as well as strawberries to pick! For strawberry picking, it'll cost you 8 bucks per person plus $5.99 for a pint or $10.99 for a quart basket. To get to the strawberry fields (forever...ha ha) you have to hop on a "train" and ride for about 5 minutes, you'll get a tour along the way and get to see a lot of fruit trees too.

The strawberry fields are decently sized but not too much to look at at first glance. Once you get off the train and start to actually inspect the plants though, you'll find a ton of ready-to-eat, ripe strawberries that are so juicy they explode in your mouth. Store-bought berries don't compare.

After we went picking, we came home and made the Barefoot Contessa's Strawberry Country Cake which everyone seemed to really enjoy. You can get the recipe here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pita in the South End

I just came across a (new?) restaurant as I was taking a walk in a part of the South End I rarely go to--until now.

I was headed to Zapatos on Albany street (an awesome shop for amazing deals on shoes and various articles of clothing), when I passed this place called simply "Pita." Well, I was both intrigued and excited since I love Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food. So, I walked in and got a menu.

It was, unfortunately completely void of customers at 10:00-ish when I walked in, but the restaurant was nice and clean and seemed fairly new or newly remodeled.

The menu looked great, and the prices were very reasonable. They serve typical breakfast fare from 6am on weekdays, and the lunch and dinner offerings made my mouth water: salads, shawarma, falafel, stuffed grape leaves, baklava, etc.

I can't wait to try them out. (I didn't yesterday since I already had lunch plans.) I'm so glad to have found it, and I plan to become a regular (assuming it's good!).
Does anyone know anything about this restaurant? Know how long has it been there?


Les Gourmands finally made it there. Here's what we thought. 


473 Albany St at Union Park St.
Pita on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 8, 2009

Awesome Easy Cheesy Bread

Jeffrey recently shared his family's summertime cheese bread recipe with us and it's as delicious as it is easy to make! This bread goes great with steak or serve it up at your next brunch! It'll be gone in seconds!

Cheese Bread

2 twin loaves of french bread (or one long one)
1 brick sharp cheddar cheese sliced thinly
1 brick monterey jack cheese sliced thinly
1 softened stick of butter
2 TBSP olive oil
3 TBSP chopped fresh chives
garlic salt to taste.

Make a mixture of soft butter, chives, olive oil and garlic soft. It will be like a soft paste. Slice the bread down every 1 1/2 inches or so - not all the way. Into these slices insert one cheddar and one Monterey Jack cheese slice. Spread the mixture all over the top and sides of the bread.

Wrap in foil completely (Use heavy duty foil and make sure everything is sealed well.). Bake at 375ºF for 20-30 minutes.

Happy Anniversary!

We've been so busy we almost forgot! This past Monday marked the one year anniversary of Les Gourmands du South End. It's been a busy year of eating, baking and cooking! We've thoroughly enjoyed bringing you all of our restaurant reviews and delicious recipes! We've had a blast updating and hope you'll stay with us as we bring in another great year! Bon Appétit!

Peter's Favorite Ice Cream Flavor for Summer 09

For the past two summers, my favorite ice cream has been the cinnamon ice cream from Picco's in the South End.  This year however, we have a new winner!  If you haven't had it yet, you MUST run out and buy it asap.  My favorite new ice cream flavor (for summer 2009) is....(drum roll please):  Mission to Marzipan.  A new Ben & Jerry's flavor this ice cream is a must for anyone who loves Marzipan (and for those who aren't too sure, it's still delicious, I promise!). 

(image courtesy of