Fredrick’s Purple Velvet Cake – A Purple Pleasure

Frederick's Pastries Purple Velvet Cake
Frederick’s Purple Velvet Cake

 

This week the blog took a turn toward food and drink, so it seemed fitting to finish off with something sweet.  Food Network has a show called “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.” If I were on this show, my best thing would undoubtedly be Frederick’s Pastries’ Purple Velvet Cake. My mouth waters for this supreme confection.

I do consider it a special occasion treat, since whenever we’ve had it for a birthday or otherwise, I find myself hovering over the leftover portion with a fork and an endless appetite for more.  It is honestly so good that I can’t stop myself and I don’t want to. However, I can’t do that on a regular basis. Instead, I hold out and crave it until the next reasonable time I can find cause to celebrate. Hmmm, what shall my next excuse be? Mother’s Day of course – just a week away! I’m counting the minutes. Frederick’s does offer it’s purple velvet creation in cupcake form, if you choose to indulge more frequently.

What Makes Fredick’s Purple Velvet Cake So Delicous?

At first I thought it was the frosting that had something particularly special about it. But when we last enjoyed it for Julia’s birthday, I slowed down a bit to dissect the flavors. A mouthful of frosting alone assured me that the frosting was second to none.  It’s sweet, but not overly so. A bite alone of the pretty purple velvet cake then made me realize that the spongy perfection was really as delicious as the frosting. At that point I just dove in and continued to enjoy the full combination of flavors.

If you’ve never tried this divine dessert, go for it – it’s worth every bite.

 

slice of Frederick's Pastries purple velvet cake
A sweet slice.

 

Frederick’s Pastries has locations in Bedford, NH, Amherst, NH and North Andover, MA.

Not new to Fredrick’s amazing creations? Share your favorite cake or dessert in a comment below.

 

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Sancerre Wine is the New Pinot Grigio

Cuvee des Moulins Bales Sancerre wine - Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Cuvee des Moulins Bales Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc 2014

 

In keeping with Monday’s food post, I thought it might be nice to share with you what accompanied my meal. It was a nice, crisp glass of Sancerre wine that has become a new favorite.

As you may have guessed from the name of my blog, I’m a martini drinker. My go-to order is Grey Goose with, you guessed it, 3 olives and a twist of lemon. That’s just the way I like it.

On Monday, however, I was craving something with a little less punch and what better to go with a tasty chicken stew than white wine.

When it comes to white wine, Chardonnay is often the popular choice, but no matter which one I try – I just don’t like it. I’ve always preferred Pinot Grigio.  It’s light, crisp and easy for me to drink. The problem is; when I’m out and I order my Pinot Grigio, while every other lady at the table orders Chardonnay, I feel a bit unsophisticated.  Damn Ramona Singer of the Real Housewives of New York for giving Pinot Grigio a bad name! Let’s face it, there are a lot of wine snobs out there and Pinot Grigio is one they love to hate. I guess the fact that you can drink it like water is kind of the problem – it’s more like water than wine. Whatever, I’ve always liked it and still do.

Even though I enjoy Pinot Grigio and feel no need to conform, I challenged myself to try something new. With Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio out, my obvious next choice was Sauvignon blanc.  I like the sound of that, so I stopped into my favorite local wine shop, Wine Connextion, to see what they’d suggest for white wine. I was shown a bottle of Sancerre wine, a French variety of Sauvignon blanc.  I’d heard this name tossed around – is it a place, is it a grape? I think Sancerre is the place and Sauvignon blanc is the grape, but to read up on it is like diving into a full set of encyclopedia. I just can’t.

Wine knowledge aside, Sancerre rolls off my tongue even better than Sauvignon blanc, so this seemed like the perfect choice. I picked up two bottles and gifted one to my friend, Lisa, who’d helped me out with my schnauzer, Sir Oscar. Just yesterday she mentioned how much she’d enjoyed it. She’d never tried it, and neither had Tony (hubbie) or I. We all gave it a big thumbs up, which led me to the conclusion that Sancerre wine is now my new Pinot Grigio. But don’t worry my Pinot friends, I’ll still happily be part of the PG club when a bottle is poured.

For more wine, food, and fun, follow me on Instagram – @3OlivesandaTwist. Hope to see you there!

What’s your favorite wine and why? Comment below and tell me about it. Cheers!

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Delicious Chicken Stew Recipe for a Chilly Day

chicken stew recipe with vegetables

I’d like to think I’d be craving ice cream by now, but with a nip still in the air, my go-to chicken stew recipe is on my mind. I love this stew at any time of year, especially when I’m hungry, but want a healthy option. This variation of Giada De Laurentiis’ Chicken Spezzatino is hearty, yet fresh and light at the same time. I recently shared the recipe with a friend and she gave it the thumbs up, so I thought you all might like it too.

While Giada uses split chicken breast on the bone (which I’ve done and it does add flavor) I opt for the easier alternative – boneless chicken breast and lots of it. I also prefer to use only white kidney beans (cannellini) vs. red. I think this adds to the lighter essence of the chicken stew which I favor. My final adaptation is that while the original recipe calls for ½ cup of fresh basil leaves. I load up with one, maybe even two cups. I just love the fresh basil taste and aroma.

Hear it goes…

Chicken Stew Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-4 stalks celery, cut
  • 2 carrot, peeled and cut
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 28oz. chopped, crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 1 14.5oz. can low-salt vegetable broth
  • 1-2 cup fresh basil leaves (I leave them whole)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 2-3 boneless chicken breast
  • 1 can Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Directions

Warm oil in a pot. Add onion, celery and carrot until onions are translucent. Add salt, pepper and thyme.

 

Chicken Stew ingredients - sauteed onion, carrot, celery
Mirepoix – onion, carrot, celery

 

Add chicken breast and brown slightly.

 

Boneless chicken breast with chicken stew ingredients
Boneless chicken breast

 

Add tomato and chicken broth. Press chicken to submerge and bring to a boil. Add tomato paste (I skip this if I don’t have any in) and bay leaf. Lower heat to a simmer. Allow chicken to cook through until tender and breaks apart relatively easily with a fork. Once cooked through, remove chicken to slightly cool.

 

Chicken cooking in for chicken stew recipe
Cook chicken until tender

 

Add cannellini beans and basil to the broth.

 

Basil and white kidney beans - cannellini beans
Basil and beans

 

When chicken is cool enough to handle, break apart into bite size pieces and add back to the stew.

 

chicken stew recipe
Break chicken apart and add back in

 

Let all of the ingredients in the chicken stew simmer together for 10 minutes. Take off burner and let sit for 15 minutes before serving. Remove bay leaf. Great with rice or crusty bread, but also perfectly filling on its own.

Enjoy!

 

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Sous Vide: My Kind of Cooking

Sushi by C. Ross
Sushi by C. Ross

 

I love to cook. That’s a lie, but I do love to watch other people cook. I’ve been watching cooking shows since the days of Julia Child and Jacques Pepin on PBS. Today I’m obsessed with The Food Network – especially “Chopped.” I could watch that show for days.

But since we all need a little less screen-time, I decided to go live with my cooking curiosities. Last week The North Andover Country Club put on a cooking demonstration led by their knowledgeable and charming sous chef, C. Ross. I was accompanied by a few friends – a good thing since otherwise I might never have dragged myself out the door on a weeknight (2 teenage daughters=tired=old=I don’t care, I love staying in).

C. Ross opened with a beautiful serving of sushi. He shared that mastering sushi rice at home involves three very important ingredients: rice vinegar, salt and, to my surprise, sugar. It was delicious.

He upped the presentation by showing us how to make the prettiest wasabi shell.

Wasabi sea shell by C. Ross
Wasabi style.

 

Even my friend Maureen, who typically doesn’t eat sushi, enjoyed her tasting. Way to go Mo!

How to cook sous vide

For the entrée, we were enlightened about a cooking method called sous vide. It involves food placed in air-tight plastic bags, then submerged in a temperature controlled water bath. The end result is food cooked to an ideal temperature with ultimate moisture retention. Imagine flawless sous vide steak, salmon, chicken, eggs or veggies. No more hockey-puck filets for this girl! The concept behind the sous vide technique is that you heat the food just enough for it to reach the desired doneness, essentially eliminating the risk of over or under cooking.

The Menu

On this night we were having sous vide chicken flavored with blood orange, thyme and a touch of salt. Once out of the water bath, C. Ross gave it a quick sear to give it that crispy exterior we all love, meanwhile the center remained juicy and full of flavor.

Sous Chef C. Ross searing
Sear following sous vide

 

Served with tender, sous vide carrots and the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever eaten; I figured I couldn’t possibly ask for more.

 

Sous vide chicken and carrots with mashed potatoes
Dinner is served.

 

But then out came my absolute favorite dessert, crème brulee. This was again prepared sous vide and although I was already stuffed, I savored every last bite.

 

Sous vide Creme Brulee
Creme Brulee – yum!

 

This was an entertaining night that made me happy I’d gotten out, enjoyed a great dinner and learned something new. By the end, I declared C. Ross to be the next Food Network Star!

Interested in a Sous Vide machine?

I researched sous vide equipment online and found that Williams-Sonoma has a device that may just make my 2016 Christmas list.

Who knows, between all of the Tasty videos on Facebook and fun nights like this, I may end up loving cooking after all!

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Maggie’s Farm: Beth’s Best Bites

Maggie's Farm Tater Tots and bacon sour cream dipping sauce
Maggie’s Farm Tater Tots – gone in minutes! OK, seconds!

A Regular at Maggie’s Farm

There are very few restaurants I enjoy enough to frequent.  However, Maggie’s Farm in Middleton has been a favorite for a while. Their farm to table philosophy hooked me in, and their tasty burgers, pizzas, comfort food entrees and even sushi keep me coming back. I like the ambiance too – casual and rustic yet current and lively, and the bar is always hopping. Their cocktails aren’t too shabby either.

Entering Tater Tot Heaven

I’ve tried a variety of things on the Maggie’s Farm menu, but only recently did I try their tater tot appetizer. Holy yumminess. These little numbers were more like creamy arancini (Italian, cheese stuffed rice balls) than what I know as a tater tot.

I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve prepared and enjoyed my fair share of Ore-Ida tater tots. That said, Maggie’s Farm’s tots were in a category all their own. Served with a bacon sour cream dipping sauce, the crunchy exterior and deliciously creamy center could have easily been my meal.  Fortunately, I was sharing, so I treated myself to two and went on to enjoy the rest of my dinner.

If you’re in Middleton, stop by Maggie’s Farm and give these diet-crashers a try. They are totally worth it.

Visit Maggies Farm for their location, hours, and menu.

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