Plough in the Stars Farm!

New farm share with Plough in the Stars Farm started yesterday and I am having a lot of fun with local, delicious greens!

North Shore Farm Fresh

Plough in the Stars Farm

                                   Plough in the Stars Farm

This year, my CSA is with Plough in the Stars Farm in Ipswich. Caitlin Kenney operates her one acre farm on her father’s land at The Ascot Riding Center. Her produce is absolutely gorgeous! Caitlin and her crew pack a bag for each CSA member every week with organically grown vegetables and herbs. This week it was overflowing with all sorts of delicious lettuces: head lettuce, arugula and mesclun greens, plus dill, chives and chive blossoms, radishes, bok choy, kale, swiss chard and a thyme plant. We also got beautiful fresh eggs and some arugula pesto!

bag csa

eggs in basketfarmsahre

Farm Share as Still Life

This share is screaming out “dress me!” So I’m sharing a couple of the salad dressings that I have tried and loved. For the head lettuce, which is mild and buttery, a citrus or champagne vinaigrette is nice but last night, I tried…

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Russo’s Food Market in Watertown!


On Wednesday, Elizabeth Canny, Cyndy Tallett, Lauren and I all met at Russo’s food market in Watertown. Russo’s is incredible: There’s a bakery, meat, a huge cheese section, prepared foods, flowers (cut and live), nuts, dried fruits and more, but the real star of the show is the outrageous selection of fresh fruits and vegetables. This is a trip that will perk you up while we wait for the ever-illusive “Spring in New England”. I came home with all kinds of treats: fresh guacamole, fresh salsa, fresh pickles, vegetables chips, olives, herbs  and of course, lots of fruit and vegetables!

Working on putting this slide show on the more current blog.

Bon Appetit,

Robin and Lauren

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Dear Friends,

We  have moved our blog to….

We will not be updating this page, so if you would like to continue to follow our blog, please go to the above link and sign up for email notification of new posts there. Nothing else has changed. Thanks for reading!

Lauren and I just got back from a trip to Clear Flour Bread in Brookline. D E L I C I O U S!!!

Thanks for following along and Bon Appetit!

Robin and Lauren

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Recipes for a Ski Weekend and Bootstraps’ Best Chef Competition!

I have a lot of friends who love to ski, and although I tried it for a number of years while my kids were growing up, I’m not one of them… I don’t really like doing things that I’m really bad at. For me, the eating part is really the best part of a ski weekend. Here are some quotes I found on the subject of skiing ( I tried to cover all perspectives) …..

I do not participate in any sport with ambulances at the bottom of the hill.~Erma Bombeck

Skiing combines outdoor fun with knocking down trees with your face.  ~Dave Barry

Turn right, turn left, repeat as necessary.  ~Author Unknown

Snowboarding is an activity that is very popular with people who do not feel that regular skiing is lethal enough…. I now realize that the small hills you see on ski slopes are formed around the bodies of forty-seven-year-olds who tried to learn snowboarding.  ~Dave Barry

The sun is bright and the powder bitchin’.  ~Author Unknown

I love skiing. – Lauren Swayze

Anyway, if you are going skiing or just want something warm to eat,  here are two of Elizabeth’s ideas for portable and delicious winter fare.

Vegetarian Lasagna

Serves 8

10 lasagna noodles                                         1 1/2 t dried oregano

1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce                                    1 c. grated carrots

2 pkg. frozen chopped spinach                            2 c. cream style cottage cheese

1 can (6 oz) tomato paste                                      1/2 c. sliced mushrooms

1/2 c. chopped onion                                             1 lb. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1/2 c. chopped black olives                                    1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

1 T. olive oil

Preheat oven to 375°
Lightly oil a 13x9x2 – inch pan. One hour before preparing lasagna, thaw frozen spinach, drain. Place noodles in a pot of boiling, salted water and cook al dente for approx. 8 min. Drain. You may also use uncooked noodles if you’re going to cook this meal later. Meanwhile, heat olive oil and saute onion until soft.  Add carrots and mushrooms; cook until crisp-tender.

Stir in tomato sauce, paste, olives and oregano. Layer one-half of noodles, cottage cheese, spinach, sauce mixture and 1/3 of the Monterey Jack cheese. Repeat, placing remaining 1/3 of Monterey Jack on top along with parmesan cheese.
Bake approx. 30 -45 minutes. I cover with foil (spray oil on underside of foil) for the first 20 minutes; remove foil the last 20+ minutes. It should be done when it is bubbling on the sides. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Notes: I usually make my own tomato sauce and often add a handful of chopped walnuts to the tomato sauce mixture. Also, I serve extra heated tomato sauce for those who prefer more sauce. I often prepared this in the morning (anything to procrastinate going out in the cold) and baked it after skiing.  It can also be prepared the day before.

Escarole and Orzo Soup with Turkey-Parmesan Meatballs

4+ main course servings

1 large egg                                                                           ¾ t  kosher salt
2 T water                                                                             ¼ t black pepper
¼ C plain dried breadcrumbs (I use Progresso)        8 C (or more) low-salt chicken broth
12 oz lean ground turkey                                                  2 C chopped peeled carrots
¼ C freshly grated Parmesan cheese                             1 C orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
2 T chopped fresh Italian parsley                                   4 C coarsely chopped escarole (1 head)
2 garlic cloves, minced

Whisk egg and 2 T water in a medium bowl to blend. Mix in breadcrumbs; let stand 5 minutes. Add turkey, Parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper; gently stir to blend. Using wet hands, shape turkey mixture into 1 ¼ -inch diameter meatballs.  Place on baking sheet; cover and chill 30 minutes.
Bring 8 cups chicken broth to boil in large pot. Add carrots and orzo; reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered 8 minutes. Add turkey meatballs and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in chopped escarole and simmer until turkey meatballs, orzo* and escarole are tender, about 5 minutes longer. Season soup to taste with s/p. (Can be made 2 hours or so ahead. Rewarm over medium heat, thinning with more broth, if desired).

Notes: This is a great soup to take on a ski weekend and is easily doubled! To make the preparation easy, I chop carrots, parsley, escarole ahead of time and make the meatballs in advance. I freeze the meatballs and put them in containers.  When it’s time to make the soup, I just drop them into the chicken broth as described above. *Also, unless a soup with noodles/orzo/rice is going to be eaten within an hour or so, I recommend adding them to each serving one at a time rather than incorporating them into the pot of soup. Noodles, orzo and rice expand while sitting in broth and lose their al dente bite!  Lastly, I usually serve this as a meal with a salad and crusty bread and/or corn bread.


Many thanks to Elizabeth for sharing her recipes with all of us. We are having a lot of fun cooking together and my family is enjoying some delicious meals!

It’s a gorgeous day in New England- perfect for snow shoeing or cross-country skiing! Hope you get a chance to enjoy it before the rainy weather comes.

Just a reminder that Beverly Bootstraps’ Best Chef Competition is coming up on February 7th! This is a really fun event for a great cause.

In the vein of the Iron Chef Television series, this event will feature four local chefs battling it out for the esteemed title of Bootstraps’ Best Chef. What makes this competition unique is that the chefs must use 75 percent of their ingredients from the Bootstraps food pantry. The chefs will prepare the food live at the event, with the cameras rolling and the winner named on the spot. Prior to the chef competition, six local bartenders will test their skills in the cocktail realm. They will use their creativity to design a new cocktail and the judges will crown the winner.   Judges for the evening will include Andre Robert of Maison Robert, Bridget Lancaster of America’s Test Kitchen/Cook’s Illustrated, as well as the winning chef from 2010; Brenden Crocker of Brenden Crocker’s Wild Horse Cafe.

Last year’s competition was a huge success for Beverly Bootstraps Community Services,  raising more than $28,000 that directly benefited families in need. Fundraisers like this one allow Bootstraps to stock the shelves of the food pantry, provide heating and rental assistance to families in transition, and offer education and counseling to adults and teens seeking greater self-sufficiency.

The event will be held at Bass River Tennis Club with TV Diner’s Billy Costa serving as the Master of Ceremonies. Entertainment will be provided and heavy hors d’oeuvres will be served by an array of local restaurants and caterers. Cash bar.

Let me know if you would like a ticket. General admission is $40 to $6o. “Food Critic” tickets are $100 each and there is an opportunity to sit at the judges table for $300. Hope you can join us!

Bon Appetit!


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Stir! Cooking Classes and Demonstrations!

Here we are on Friday night practically running into Barbara Lynch’s Stir location next to The Butchery on Waltham Street in the South End.

Back in early December, I went into Boston on the appointed day to sign up for seven spots in one of Barbara Lynch’s Stir Classes. The schedule is announced about a month in advance of the next series, and classes are first come, first serve. They fill up quickly!  Not knowing everyone’s interests, I decided on one of the Friday Night Chef’s Tables. The format of the Chef’s Table is more demonstration than instruction and I loved it. I also can’t wait to go back and try a class that is more hands on. Here’s a small sampling of some of the classes they had in the current session…

  • Cassoulet a la Julia
  • Eating Well for Life with Chef Barbara Lynch and Nutritionist Julie Starr
  • Scotch
  • Gluten Free Pasta (and more)
  • No 9 Park Classics
  • Yankee magazine’s Best New England Recipes with Annie Copps

There are lots of choices and they are expanding their schedule. The next class list goes out on January 22nd at 10:00. Here is the link to the Stir website

So, here’s the scoop on our class. We had Chef Ralph Fiegel and Kaitlyn Hannegan who shared information on the wine pairings as well as general information on Stir. They were both very personable and fun. The evening flew by and the food was incredible!

Chef Ralph and Kaitlyn

Here’s what Chef Ralph demonstrated for us….

Equinox Farm Mesclun, fennel, citrus monte veronese

2009 Trimbach Muscat d’Alsace

Jonah Crab Tortellini, butter poached lobster, baesetra caviar

2008 Cogno Nascetta Anas-Cetta

Roasted Elysian Farm Lamb Saddle, cauliflower, persillade

2006 Qupe Syrah BobCat Cuvee

Corsu Vecchiu, Antons Liebe, marcona almonds, cherry compote

I don’t know how to describe this meal without using the expressions, “melt in your mouth”, “incredible combination of flavors”, “beautiful presentation”, and “perfect with this wine” over and over. It was all fabulous and I can’t wait to go back. Here is our very happy crew at the end of the evening.

This evening and the beginning of the New Year gives me the opportunity to think about how much fun I have had with the last year of eating with Lauren, family and friends. I am truly grateful for everyone’s enthusiasm and encouragement and look forward to another year of great meals and great friends!

Bon Appetit and many thanks!



Douzo! Great Sushi in the Back Bay

Having done a first rate job of eating my way through the holidays, I wanted to go to a Sushi restaurant for my birthday dinner this past Thursday. Lauren and I have been to a couple of good ones, I would have loved to go back to Oishii, but we’re always on the lookout for something new, so… Lauren called O Ya (popular and expensive near South Station) and made a reservation and they asked for her credit card and said that if we didn’t cancel within 72 hours our reservation, they would charge her card $75.00!!! What? That’s over the top, so we canceled it ASAP!

I found Douzo in the Back Bay because they were named “2010 Best Affordable Sushi” by Boston Magazine. That’s just what we wanted; really good Sushi at a reasonable price, but definitely not cheap sushi (that sounds dangerous). Douzo has a very sleek, contemporary urban feel to it. The service was good, the sushi was terrific, but the desserts were just okay.

The sushi was beautifully presented.  My photos didn’t do it justice, so you will have to use your imagination or go to their website where there are photos of everything on the menu.For starters, we tried the Edamame with Kosher Salt and Lime, the Seaweed Salad, and Soft Shell Crab Tempura. Next we had three Maki Rolls: The Back Bay Roll (asparagus, cucumber, avacado, wrapped with seared tuna, touch of wasabi sauce), The Torch Roll (avacado, cucumber wrapped with seared yellow tuna and a touch of yuzo sauce and black tobiko), and the Red Spider Roll (soft shell crab wrapped with tuna, tobilo and a touch of unagi sauce). We also tried the Red Snapper Sushi from the Special Menu which was simple, but good. I think we all had our favorite, and they were all decicious and fresh. That’s my idea of a great meal for that January “blah and bloat” feeling! What’s next? Exercise?

Another great thing about Douzo is it’s central location right next to Back Bay Station and Copley Plaza and right next to 131 Dartmouth parking garage where you can park for up to four hours for $5.00- bargain!!! This is especially nice with all the snow flying around! Hope you get a chance to try it if you like Japanese food!

Coming up….I made a trip to Barbara Lynch’s Stir with a group of friends! Stay tuned it was really fun!

Bon Appetit and Happy New Year!

Robin and Lauren


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Christmas in Sevilla, Spain!

Whoooa! Just back from visiting Charlie in Spain! Charlie is in Zaragoza for the year, so we went there first to see his school (SYA) and meet his friends and then took off for Sevilla for a few days. It was a really fun trip with a few logistical challenges, but then, what is life without the struggle? Delayed flights, luggage lost for a few days, then found, trains missed, plans changed, but we were happy to be together and it was truly great to see Charlie. Communicating was difficult when Charlie wasn’t around- Gary and I speak absolutely no Spanish and I am currently searching for the warranties on the AP and college level Spanish courses that Lauren and Graham have taken??? Hmmm, they  must have expired! We were relieved to find Charlie healthy and happy after four months and sad to say goodbye for another five.

Charlie loves Italian food (read Pizza and pasta), so we spent a fair amount of time exploring some of the Italian spots in Zaragoza and Sevilla, but on Christmas Day in Sevilla, we went to a place called Taberna Miami. I think this was my favorite meal.

We all thought Charlie was a wizard for picking this place. It was away from the Cathedral in a less touristy neighborhood.  Decorated with lots of bull fighting accessories and at least a couple of boars heads, this place was packed with locals and the food was fantastic. Here’s what we had….

Olives, Fried Shrimp, Tomato Salad, Calamari and Paella- all great!

About where we stayed:

In Zaragoza, we stayed in a place called Apartmentos Sabinas Bayeu. I found this spot on Trip Advisor and it was GREAT!! We paid 140 E for a clean, well-appointed apartment right across from the Basilica. The people at the front desk worked relentlessly on getting our baggage back – we were so grateful.

In Sevilla, we stayed at Apartments Puerta Cathedral which was recommended by a friend whose two children spent a semester in Sevilla, so I was pretty sure we would like it and we did. Another perfect location and again the people were so nice. These apartments are  right across the way from The Cathedral of Sevilla. By the way, if you don’t like church bells, neither one of these apartments is the place for you! We had to spend an extra day in Zaragoza while our luggage caught up with us, so we ended up arriving in Sevilla late on Christmas Eve. When we arrived there was a long line of people at the train station looking for taxis and not one taxi. When I called the apartment manager at Puerta Cathedral she said “Do you see the white car across the street? That is a friend who has agreed to bring you to the apartments because the cabs have all gone home!”. We couldn’t believe it! Thank you to Julia and Javier!

All in all a great trip. Hope everyone has a safe New Years Eve and is ready for a very Happy New Year!

Bon Appetit and Buen Provecho!


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Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Torte

Finally, the Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Toret! Didn’t mean to leave you hanging!

Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Torte

Serves  8 – 10

The crust:

1 package of graham crackers
¾ c almonds
3 T granulated sugar
6 T unsalted butter, melted

The filling:

1 lb semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c light cream
2 c whipping cream, whipped into soft peaks
2 c fresh or frozen raspberries

Place graham crackers, almonds and sugar in bowl of food processor and process until crackers and almonds are finely ground.  With machine running pour in melted butter and mix well. Press into a 9-11 inch tart pan with removable bottom.  Bake in a 300˚F oven for 10-15 minutes, or until golden and set.  Cool completely.

Place chocolate in large bowl. Place light cream in a medium saucepan and bring to boil. Pour hot cream over chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Spread one-third of chocolate mixture into bottom of cooled crust. Chill. Let remaining chocolate cool to room temperature and fold it into whipped cream. When chocolate in the crust has set,  sprinkle it with the raspberries (I prefer using fresh because frozen often create too much juice) and top this with the chocolate mousse.  Allow tart to set in refrigerator a few hours before serving. Garnish with finely chopped chocolate and place extra raspberries around edge of tart.

Special Notes:

This is an easy, delicious and pretty dessert that can easily be made a day ahead of time!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Bon Appetit,

Robin, Lauren and Elizabeth


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Cookin’ it up with Elizabeth: A Holiday Meal!

This Week I watched and took photos while Elizabeth cooked up the most delicious pork roast that I have ever tasted! Along with the roast came two fantastic vegetable dishes topped off by a Raspberry Chocolate Torte! This is a great holiday meal; lots of flavor and gorgeous on the plate. Here we go!

Pork Roast with Winter Fruits and Port Sauce
Serves 8


¼ lb dried apricots, cut into ½-inch pieces
¼ lb pitted prunes, cut into ½-inch pieces
2/3 c Ruby Port
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small shallot, finely chopped
¾ stick unsalted butter
1 tart apple – Granny Smith, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces


1 (6-lb) bone-in pork loin roast (10 ribs), frenched, at room temperature 1 hour
9 or 10 bacon slices

Port Sauce

1c Ruby Port
2 small shallots, finely chopped
3 c water, divided
4 t arrowroot (or flour)

Make Stuffing:
Simmer apricots, prunes, and Port in a small heavy saucepan, covered, 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand 10 min.

Cook onion and shallot in butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4-5 minutes. Add apple and ½ t each of salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until apple is just tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in apricot mixture and cool.

Stuff and Roast Pork:

Preheat oven to 500˚F with rack in middle.

Make a pocket in center of roast by making a horizontal 1 ½-inch-wide cut into 1 end of roast with a long thin knife, repeating from opposite end so pocket runs all the way through. Then make a vertical cut through center (forming a cross) to widen pocket. Push about 1 cup stuffing into pocket using a long-handled wooden spoon (you may need to stuff from both sides if roast is long). Reserve remaining stuffing for sauce.

Season roast with 1 ½ t salt and ½ t pepper and put in a large roasting pan. Wrap with bacon, between rib bones, tucking ends under roast. Roast pork 20 minutes, then reduce oven to 325˚F and roast until thermometer inserted 2 inches into center of roast ( do not touch bone or stuffing) registers 150˚F – 155˚F, 1 ¼ – 1½ hours total. Make sure not to overcook!

Transfer roast to a cutting board (one that can catch the drippings), reserving pan, and let stand, loosely covered with foil, 15 to 20 minutes (Temperature of meat will rise to about 160˚F, meat should be slightly pink).

Make Sauce:
Skim fat from pan drippings and reserve 3 T fat. Straddle roasting pan across 2 burners and add Port to drippings, then deglaze pan by boiling over high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 1 minute. Strain pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding solids.

Cook shallot in reserved fat in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in pan juices, 2 1/2 cups water, and reserved fruit stuffing and bring to a simmer. Whisk together arrowroot or flour and remaining ½ c water until smooth, then whisk into sauce with any juices from cutting board.

Simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with s/p.

Carve roast into chops by cutting between ribs, then serve with sauce.

Sauteed Haricots Verts, Red Bell Peppers, and Pine Nuts

Serves 8

2 lbs haricots verts (slender green beans), trimmed

1 ½ T olive oil
2 medium-size red peppers, seeded, cut into ½-inch dice, approximately 2 cups
3 T butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ c pine nuts, toasted

Cook green beans in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes – be sure not to overcook! Drain; rinse with cold water to cool quickly and drain again.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add peppers; saute΄ until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add butter to same skillet; melt. Add garlic; saute΄ until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add green beans. Saute΄ until heated through, about 5 minutes. Mix in nuts; season with s/p. Transfer to bowl.

Note: The key to this recipe is to make sure you don’t overcook greens or red pepper – better to undercook!

Roasted Potatoes, Butternut Squash with Bacon, Onions, and Sage

This recipe has a Tuscan feel to it.

1 lb. thick-cut bacon slices, cut crosswise into ¼-inch-thick strips
5 lbs assorted baby potatoes such as red, purple,
white-skinned, and rinsed, dried, halved
1 lb butternut squash, cut into cubes
2 large red onions, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
3/4 c small torn pieces of fresh sage leaves (about 2 bunches)
2 T (1/4 stick) butter, melted
Kosher salt

Preheat oven 375˚F. Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat ‘til crisp and golden. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Reserve 4 T drippings from skillet.

Combine potatoes, squash, onions, ½ c torn sage leaves, melted butter, and reserved 4 T bacon drippings in very large bowl. Sprinkle generously with salt and fresh pepper. Toss to coat. Spread potato mixture evenly on large, edged cookie sheet (approx 18x12x1). Roast 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Do Ahead: Can be made 2 or so hours ahead. Let stand on baking sheet at room temperature.

Increase oven temperature to 400˚F. Stir bacon into potato mixture and continue to roast until potatoes are tender and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes longer. Transfer mixture to large serving bowl. Season to taste with more salt and pepper. Sprinkle with remaining sage leaves and serve.


Okay! That’s it for now…I’m under a little time pressure, so please excuse any typos. I will have to get the Chocolate Raspberry Torte recipe to you tomorrow or the next day!

Bon Appetit!

Robin and Elizabeth

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The Gallows in the South End

Last night Lauren and I met our very good friends Ellen and Megan for a South End, mother/daughter, Christmas and “I am done with college” celebration! Megan suggested The Gallows on Washington Street. Lots of people have asked  us for a spot that won’t break the bank, is fun and has good food and this is one of those places. On their website (, owners Rebecca Roth and Seth Morrison describe their restaurant as “The Gallows: Genuine Food and Drink” and that’s what they deliver. Here’s a photo of Lauren and Megan with the “Angel’s Share” which is a red wine, campari, and maraschino cocktail. This concoction gets “two thumbs up” from Lauren and Megan!

We tried a whole lot of things.. For appetizers we had the Bacon Carmel Chex Mix- I don’t know how to describe this…hoping Megan will chime in. It’s a kind of curious mixture of bar snacks, but I think Megan loved it!

Anyway, next was “The Farmer” which is Buggy Meadow Baby Swiss, Coastal Cheddar, Walnut Chutney and fig preserves- this is good, but I liked the Baked Brie in Pastry better- here’s a photo…

I had the Classic Wedge Salad and Lauren and I shared the Semolina Dumplings with Mushroom Bolognese and Grilled Radicchio. The Semolina Dumplings are rich and delicious and probably the best thing I tasted at The Gallows, but unfortunately, they do not photograph well.

Ellen had the Scrod Special. She loved the crunchy breadcrumb topping. Lauren and Megan both had the Arugula Salad with Seckel Pears, Roasted Squash and Smoked Cheddar which is also good. Here is the Arugula Salad….

For dessert, we tried two of their “Pots”. Lauren and I shared the Chocolate Pot and Megan and Ellen tried the Vanilla version. Both are delicious. Maybe next time, if we save room, we could try the “Bananas Foster Fluffernutter Brulée”! Yikes!! Anyway, all in all, we think The Gallows is a fun spot with affordable and interesting comfort food. Yummm.

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New Address!

Just quick post to tell you that I am in the process of changing the address of our blog. For awhile, both addresses will work. The new address is If you want to be able to print out Elizabeth’s recipes, this feature is set up at the bottom of each post at the new address. If you want to watch it snow, then stay where you are.

Tomorrow, Lauren and I are hoping to try The Gallows in the South End. We have also been to The Hungry Mother in Cambridge and Lauren will be writing that one up. Elizabeth is making a Stuffed Pork Roast, Roasted Vegetables and a Raspberry Chocolate Mousse Torte, so we have a lot to do in the next week or so. Stay tuned!!

Bon Appetit,


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