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Posted on: Monday, July 27, 2015

The travel bug in both of us led us to Paris. Fortunately, our parents were renting a beautiful, artist’s loft in Le Marais, so we used it as base for our Twin Tastes travels. We spent a week filled to the brim walking along the Seine, picnicking in the Place des Vosges, frequenting daily street markets, lounging at cafes overlooking the Eiffel tower, basking in art and culture, drinking Rosé like it was water, and of course, sampling some of the best cuisine in the world. Here are some of our favorite highlights:
Cappuccinos and people watching at Café Hugo.
Warm croissants and baguettes from La Tradition du Pain. Madeleines at La Cure Gourmande.
Daily groceries like roasted chicken, Niçoise olives, Camembert, fresh figs, macaroons and picnic fare from the Marché de la Bastille.
Onion soup gratinée, and steak frites at Restaurant Chez Paul.
Coq au vin, frog legs and shredded artichoke salad at Auberge de la Reine Blanche.
Croque monsieur (grilled ham and cheese sandwich topped with béchamel sauce) and smoked salmon crepes in the St. Germaine neighborhood.
Art fixes at the Musée de l'Orangerie for Monet's expansive water lilies, the world renowned Louvre, the Centre Pompidou for crazy post-modern and contemporary installations, Museo de Orsay for extensive impressionist collections in a converted train station, and Au Palais de Tokyo for some more innovative post-modern contemporary collections.
Retail fun on Rue de Rosiers.
The ultimate meal at Gregory Marchand's renowned Frenchie. We will relive our time at this modern bistro and its stunningly crafted dishes in the next post.
Merci to our parents for hosting a trip of a lifetime and for also capturing some shots of the two of us!

Shrimp Bruschetta

Posted on: Thursday, July 9, 2015

This summer, I say goodbye to the countryside of Connecticut momentarily and find myself spending much of my time by the sea. My daily routine shifts from morning walks with Shiloh down wooded paths to seaside streets. I beach hop from Manchester to Beverly Farms, toting a bag with artisan sandwiches from Half Baked in Beverly Farms, a frisbee or equivalent type of activity, and an enticing summer read which at the moment is Shotgun Lovesongs. Sun-kissed, I enjoy returning home early evening ready for a refreshing cocktail and some fun and flavorful bites.

Marni and I have made numerous variations on the fresh and visually enticing summer appetizer, bruschetta. It’s quick and easy to assemble, beautifully adaptable and always a crowd-pleaser. The other night, I added my own twist to the Italian classic using some of my favorite Greek flavors. I sauteed shrimp in mounds of garlic and lemon and tossed in ripe, bursting tomatoes, some fresh herbs, and of course, lots of feta. Everything tastes betta with feta! 

Shrimp and Feta Bruschetta

2 T EVOO for sauteeing plus 2 T EVOO for dressing
1 lb medium-sized raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cloves minced garlic
1 clove garlic cut in half
4 vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
1 t fresh thyme
1 t fresh basil, chopped
1 t fresh oregano
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/3 c chopped kalamata olives
2/3 c crumbled feta
salt and pepper throughout
1 baguette sliced into 1-inch pieces (I used Iggy’s sourdough) 

In a saute pan, heat 2 T EVOO on medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until slightly golden, about thirty seconds. Next add the shrimp and cook until pink and opaque, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool slightly. 

Add the chopped tomatoes, herbs, lemon juice, remaining EVOO, kalamata olives, and feta to the shrimp bowl, toss and let meld for at least twenty minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. While I like the filling at room temperature, feel free to let the mixture meld in the refrigerator for a chilled version.

While the topping is marinating, heat the grill to medium-high heat. Brush the baguette slices with remaining EVOO. Grill the bread until slightly charred, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Remove the toasts from the grill and arrange on a platter. Rub both sides of the baguette slices with the halved garlic clove. Spoon the shrimp mixture generously over and into each baguette slices. Garnish with extra feta and serve!
While the grilled baguette smothered in toppings is delectable, you could also toss the flavor-packed topping in pasta or serve it atop bigger cuts of toast for a starter or lunch entree.

Spiced Up for the Fourth

Posted on: Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Later this week, we'll be heading up to Manchester-by-the-Sea for our hometown’s most celebrated holiday. On the 4th of July, the day starts with an impressive and festive parade, transitions into spreads of tantalizing barbecues, and ends with a standout fireworks display. We always enjoy seeing old faces and nibbling on some classic all-American fare.
The 4th is also the one day of the year where we indulge in a crispy hot dog straight off the grill. Classic mustard, ketchup and relish are a stellar trio, but this year we’re going to step up our condiment game with some inspiration from last summer. Our close college buddy, Katie, is a grilling connoisseur and resource for all that is beachy and nautical. Before a weekend trip to the Hamptons last year, she grilled up hot dogs covered in a sweet and tangy slaw and drizzled with sriracha. They were pretty unforgettable.
We’ve tweaked the recipe a bit and are also planning to kick the hot dogs up another notch by spiral-cutting them. We first saw this new trend for summer in Food and Wine which allows for a better crisp and more crevices for all your yummy toppings. We cannot wait to share these this weekend!

Spiral-cut Hot Dogs with Sweet and Tangy Slaw and Sriracha

6 all-beef hot dogs
1 skewer

Sweet and Tangy Slaw
1 T creamy peanut butter
1/3 c vegetable oil
1/4 c red wine vinegar
the juice of 1/2 a lime
1/2 t granulated sugar
salt and pepper throughout

4 c chopped slaw mixture (red cabbage, napa cabbage, carrots)
2 T chopped cilantro
6 hot dog buns (we prefer Martin’s)
Sriracha for drizzling

Preheat gas or charcoal grill to medium high heat.

To spiral-cut the hot dogs: Insert a grilling skewer into the middle of the hot dog and slowly push the skewer through the center. Place the hot dog on a cutting board and using a paring knife, start at the tip of the hot dog and cut down at a diagonal until you hit the skewer. Continue cutting at a diagonal, spinning the hot dog as you go, until you hit the bottom of the hot dog. Pull the hot dog off the skewer, and they are ready to grill. 

In a large bowl, mix the peanut butter, oil, vinegar, lime juice, sugar, salt and pepper and whisk vigorously. Add the slaw and toss, making sure the dressing coats every veggie piece.

Place the hot dogs on the hot grill and turn them occasionally to get grill marks all around. Grill the buns to your liking as well.

To assemble, place a spiral-cut dog into each toasted roll. Cover with a liberal amount of slaw, and top with a drizzling of sriracha- the more you add, the spicier it will be! Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Happy 4th!

Irrisistable Icebox Cake

Posted on: Tuesday, June 16, 2015

In the spirit of Father’s Day, we’re planning to make a wow-worthy dessert for Dad. Our father appreciates dishes that evoke memories and hold a thoughtful meaning. In the past, we opted for nostalgic Root Beer Floats one year and classic Strawberry Shortcake another. This year, we are whipping up a dessert that features one of his favorite flavors, malt. In college, Dad would add malted milk powder to glasses of milk and sometimes eat it by the spoonful. As youngsters, we remember finding his cardboard carton of malted milk balls in the kitchen cabinet and were instantly intrigued by the distinct flavors of barley, wheat flour, milk powder, sugar and chocolate.
For Father's Day, we are planning to layer a dessert that showcases one of Dad’s favorite treats. When we think of layers, we think of Icebox Cake which has tiers of flavored cream and cookies. The whipped cream infused with the caramel, almost nut-like malted milk powder pairs perfectly with rich, chocolate, Nabisco wafers. As the cookies and cream chill in the refrigerator, the layers transform into a soft, cake-like magic!
Malted Icebox Cake (Adapted Razzle Dazzle Recipes)

Malted Whipped Cream
3 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 c malted milk powder
1 t vanilla extract
1 t salt
1/4 c confectioners sugar

24-30 (2 packs) chocolate wafer cookies (we used Nabisco Chocolate Wafers)
1 5 oz. box malted milk balls, roughly chopped (we used Whopper’s)

To make the whipped cream, In a medium bowl, whip the heavy cream with an electric mixer on high. When the cream starts to thicken after a couple of minutes, add the vanilla extract and sugar. Add the malted milk powder and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Set aside. 

Arrange 8-10 chocolate wafer cookies to form a thin, circular layer on the bottom of a round serving dish. Break up the cookies to fill in some of the gaps. Spread ⅕ of the malted whipped cream in a thin, smooth layer atop the cookies. Add another layer of 8-10 cookies, filling in the gap with broken cookies. Continue layering the cookies until there are five layers of cookies and end the last layer with an additional dollop of cream. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least six hours. Before serving, sprinkle the top with an even coating of chopped malt balls. Slice and serve! Serves 6-8.

While our dad enjoys malt, the Icebox Cake trend of layering whipped cream and cookies can be adapted in many ways. If your dad likes mint, try forming a cake layering mint chocolate wafers and cream with mint extract and crushed Andes. If your dad likes a punch, layer ginger snap cookies with a cream filling with specks of crystallized gingers. The combinations are endless!

Sweet Feta

Posted on: Thursday, June 4, 2015

I have yet to try Kara’s Pimento cheese and the suspense is killing me! This past weekend, with twin sis in mind, I whipped up my own cheese spread for a late afternoon gathering on my apartment’s patch of green. Kara and I share an obsession with Feta cheese (the whole being Greek might be why), and find any reason to add it to a dish. I decided to think outside of the box and transform the savory, salty cheese into a sweet snack.

I blended feta, whipped cream cheese, a touch of honey, lemon and cinnamon together. The resultant smooth and creamy spread added a pungent tang to spring’s first batch of strawberries. Paired alongside glasses of hot pink Rosé, this appetizer set the tone for balmy days ahead.
Whipped Feta Dip

8 oz feta cheese, crumbled and at room temperature
4 oz whipped cream cheese, at room temperature
1 T honey (add more if not sweet enough)
1 t fresh lemon juice
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
1 lb fresh strawberries

Place the feta and cream cheese in a food processor and process for 20 seconds. Add the honey, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt and process for about 30 more seconds until the spread is combined and smooth. Pour spread into a bowl and serve with fresh strawberries for dipping.
If you find yourself with leftover dip, I encourage you to slather it atop toast with with sliced apples and a drizzle of honey. A quick and intensely flavored breakfast treat!

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