Thursday, April 30, 2009

Saliva Inducing NH Restaurants


Or so I hear!

Lately, the restaurant landscape in NH seems to change as frequently as the seasons. By the time I hear a good buzz about a new place, it has closed or moved by the time I can get there. Bad location, fickle customers, poor management, or the crummy economy? There are million reasons for restaurants to disappear overnight but after having my little heart crushed with seeing "For Sale" signs on several semi-local spots in the last two years, I'm committing myself to a list of NH restaurants I want to visit here in the hopes that I might be more likely cross them off my list if my "list" is written down somewhere (and not just a passing thought in my head!). And yes, there is a restaurant that is not in NH but my curiosity is piqued thanks to a flurry or good reviews and word of mouth.

This is just a starter list and I may add to it as I think of more. I hope to cross all of these of the list before 2009 is through and come back to this post and update it with my thoughts!

In no particular order:

1 Cava - (Portsmouth, NH): relatively new tapas and wine bar. Right up my alley!

2 Damians on the River (New Boston, NH): Not much happens in New Boston but I've heard lots of good things about Damian's. They specialize in fresh food and every meal is made from scratch.

3 Brazzo (Portsmouth, NH): been here for drinks but not yet for the food. J is not a huge fan of the Cuban / South American menu offerings so I'll probably have to go with one of the girls.

4 San Francisco Kitchen (Nashua, NH): I have lived 20 minutes from Nashua for the last 3 years and spent a lot of time in Nashua prior to that and I can't believe I still haven't eaten here. The buzz about San Francisco Kitchen has always been good.

5 Pepperland Cafe (South Berwick, ME) - The link to the restaurant has never worked properly so instead I'm offering you a link to a Seacoast Online article about the Cafe by Rachel Forrest, the resident food writer of the NH Seacoast. Constantly hearing good things from friends about dinner and brunch here.

6 Firefly American Bistro (Manchester, NH)- Almost brand spanking new, their menu offers "Get Fit" healthy options. Entrees range from $9.99 - $15.99 making this place pretty gentle on the wallet.

7 Gills Indian Restaurant (Manchester, NH)- I love me some Indian food. The assortment of veggies, beans, fragrant spices and variety of breads totally appeal to my need to balance health with good flavor and there is only one Indian Restaurant near me that I love. I'm always on the lookout for more.

8 Eden (Amherst, NH)- Nestled in the Salsburg Square shopping plaza, I actually wouldn't have known there was a restaurant there except for stumbling upon frequent reviews of it. The menu is laced with a variety of international influences, from Lebanese, to French to Thai and Italian.

All text and photographs (except where noted otherwise) © 2008, 2009 Food is to love / Andrea Quigley

Monday, April 27, 2009

Walnut Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

It seems like every other food blog I stumble across is nothing but baked goods with cupcakes seemingly holding rank at #1, so I felt it was time to post a sweet just so I could fit in! As I've mentioned before, I have some trouble with dough (making it, working with it etc.) and while I may occasionally have a craving for a cinnamon roll, it's not strong enough for me to even attempt to make my own dough! So that's where store bought raw pizza or bread dough comes in handy. It cuts the work load in half so you can have warm gooey cinnamon rolls on the table and in your belly in about an hour and 15 minutes!

Makes 9-10 rolls


1 lb defrosted pizza / bread dough
flour to sprinkle on work surface
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons brown sugar (packed)
3 tablespoons white sugar

For the Icing

4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of milk or cream

In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, white sugar, cloves, cinnamon and walnuts. Put aside.

On a lightly floured work surface, and using a floured rolling pin, roll out the pizza/bread dough into a rectangle that is at least 10 inches long by 7 inches wide (larger is ok but smaller and it will be hard to cut enough rolls). Use a pastry brush to brush melted butter all over the surface of the rectangle and then sprinkle the sugar and walnut mixture on top. From one of the long sides of the rectangle, roll up tightly and press on the edge to form a seam. Using a sharp knife, cut into 9 or 10 equal pieces and place on a greased cookie sheet (I save my pastry brush and brush the leftover melted butter on the sheet).

Let the cinnamon rolls rest in a warm area for 25-35 minutes. They will puff up a bit (don't expect an enormous size change. You'll be waiting all day if you are!). While you are waiting for your rolls to rise, make the icing by beating together the softened cream cheese, confectioners sugar, vanilla and cream until smooth.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until tops are slightly brown and gooey. Be careful not to over cook because the dough will get really tough! Let cool for a few minutes and frost each one before eating.

All text and photographs © 2008, 2009 Food is to love / Andrea Quigley

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tortilla Pot Pie

It was 85 degrees today in NH. Earlier this week it was in the 40's. New England weather likes to keep you on your toes. I certainly did not cook Tortilla Pot Pie today (but I did bake cinnamon rolls for J tonight because he's sick and sweets make him feel better-that post will probably be up in a few days) but I've had a draft of it in my blogger dashboard forever and it was screaming to finally be published.

I was going for a Mexican style lasagna but it came out a little too sloppy. I was pissed and almost threw the whole thing in the trash (anger management issues, I haz them!) but then I realized it didn't have to be a lasagna. It could be pie! Why pie? Just because I said so. It's not pretty (at least on the dish) but it tastes good, is inexpensive to make and will fill you up for days and ultimately that matters more to me than how nicely it comes out of the dish.

**If you have leftovers and eat it the next day, miraculously by the power of the fridge it will have turned to lasagna overnight!**

Serves 4

4 8-in diameter flour tortillas
1 can black beans, drained but not rinsed
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup vegetable stock
2 cups frozen corn
1 1/2 cups frozen loose leaf spinach
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon of ground coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon minced garlic, or garlic powder
1 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup mild enchilada sauce
2 tablespoons low fat sour cream
a handful of chopped cilantro
nonstick spray

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the onion and bell pepper and cook for 3 minutes. Add the cumin, coriander, garlic, red pepper flakes, chili powder and a 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt. Cook for a minute. Add the stock and zucchini and bring to a simmer. Add the frozen corn and spinach and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes, or until corn and spinach are warmed through. Turn off the heat and stir in the cilantro, sour cream and enchilada sauce.

Coat a square or round casserole dish lightly with non-stick spray. Press two of the tortillas into the bottom of the casserole dish, top with 1/3 of the cheese, 1/3 of the veggie bean mixture, then top with 1 tortilla, 1/3 of the cheese and 1/3 of the veggie bean mixture. Finally add the last tortilla, the last of the veggies and beans and finish off with the last of the cheese. Bake for 15 minutes and then turn the broiler to 450. Broil for 3 or 4 minutes (watching carefully so it doesn't burn!) or until the cheese browns.

Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with a little sour cream if you want.

All text and photographs © 2008, 2009 Food is to love / Andrea Quigley

Sunday, April 19, 2009

100 Foods to Try Before You Die?


(I'm no longer posting on this blog - enjoy the recipe but if you want to see what I'm up to, visit me here.)

I've stumbled across this list probably 20 times on various food blogs in the last few months. I have no clue where it originated or who the author is but I think it weighs a little too heavily on typical (for an American) gross out foods- fugu, insects, durian, head cheese? Road kill?? Really? No thanks. I really don't think I need to taste those before I die. The other half of the list are boring foods like p&j and jello shots. Tasting jello shots never did anything for me, except make it acceptable to do or say things I wouldn't say while sober. Not sure if I absolutely needed to try them. And sure, I love pb & j sandwiches as much as anyone else but I don't think your life is incomplete if you haven't tried one. Chocolate? Red wine? Baked Brie? Apple Crisp in the fall? Bacon? Yes, missing these foods WILL make your life incomplete. Never tasting a Big Mac Value meal is not going to take anything away from you, except maybe a little indigestion.

Anyhow, instead of listening to me whine about how I don't think it's the essential list (when I'm posting it on the blog anyway until I can come up with my own!), how many of these have you had? And what ones would you not eat? You couldn't pay me to eat black pudding. There's just something about cooking blood until it solidifies that turns my stomach.

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros - yes
4. Steak tartare -yes
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush - yes
11. Calamari - yes
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich - yes
14. Aloo gobi - yes
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes - yes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream - yes
21. Heirloom tomatoes - yes
22. Fresh wild berries - yes
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans - yes
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters - yes
29. Baklava - yes
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas - yes
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl - yes
33. Salted lassi - I've had a sweet lassi, not a salted one!
34. Sauerkraut - yes
35. Root beer float - yes
36. Cognac with a fat cigar - not at the same time
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O shot - yes
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat's milk
45. Single malt whisky - yes
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala - yes
48. Eel - yes
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut -yes, thanks to MB!
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer - yes
55. McDonald's Big Mac Meal - yes
56. Spaetzle - yes
57. Dirty gin martini - yes
58. Beer above 8% ABV - yes
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S'mores - yes
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs' legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake - yes
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain - yes
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie - yes
78. Snail - yes
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini - yes
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict - yes
83. Pocky - yes
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash - yes
88. Flowers - yes
89. Horse
90. Criollo
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish - yes
95. Mole poblano - yes
96. Bagel and lox - yes
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta - yes
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee
100. Snake

All text and photographs © 2008, 2009 Food is to love / Andrea Quigley (except when noted otherwise)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Potato Leek Soup

Yum, Yum, Yum!!! This is the first time I've decided to blog about someone else's recipe but this was so delicious and easy that I couldn't resist! My friend Maribeth sent this to me and she got it from her dad, but is unsure of where he got it. I'm telling myself it's an old family recipe of theirs that they're just passing down generation to generation for everyone to enjoy. Regardless of where it came from, it's awesome and I'm grateful that Maribeth was willing to let me post it.

It's sweet and creamy and incredibly filling. I totally thought I'd have room to scarf down some bread and veggies with it (as usually is the case when I eat soup!) but I only had a few bites when I decided to forfeit the other parts of the meal. Pardon my lack o' pictures-I decide mid-bowl that I may want to post the recipe so I didn't take any pictures of the steps to make it.

I followed Maribeth's recipe pretty closely and made just a few substitutions (and added measurements where there was none) based on what I had in the house. Also, if you are looking to add a little something extra, I tossed some smoked oysters in (2 cans, rinsed well and chopped) since J seems to have a stockpile of them growing in our cabinets but otherwise followed her recipe. Rockin! It's a little time consuming (cooking time as well as cleaning the leeks) but it's packed with so much flavor and took so little effort that I think this is something I will make again and again.

Now what to do with all that extra buttermilk in the fridge???

4-6 servings


3 - 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 leeks, dark greens and roots discarded
3 large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup cream or half & half
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon white or black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
(optional: 2 cans smoked oysters)

Cut the white and light green part of the leeks in half lengthwise and then slice each half into semi-circles. Put all the cut leek pieces in a large bowl and fill with water. Leeks collect lots of dirt and grit and if you don't wash the layers carefully you're going to end up crunching on something you don't want to. Use your hands to move and break up the layers of the leeks. The dirt will fall to the bottom of the bowl and the leek pieces will float. Remove the leeks, drain the water, rinse the bowl of sand and repeat. You may have to do this in batches.

Once your leeks are clean, drain well and melt the butter in a large dutch oven. Toss the leeks in when the butter is melted and sweat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the kosher salt and cook leeks on low medium heat for 20 to 25 minutes or until tender. Add potatoes and vegetable broth and simmer for 35 minutes. Puree in a blender or food processor and then add back to the pot. Add the cream (or half and half), buttermilk and pepper. If using smoked oysters, stir them in when you remove the pot from heat. Serve with crusty bread.

All text and photographs © 2008, 2009 Food is to love / Andrea Quigley

Monday, April 6, 2009

Garlic Hummus with Rosemary Pita Chips

I'm always amazed when I meet someone who doesn't like hummus. There are so many different ways to make it, so many things you can add to it for extra flavor and it can be eaten with almost anything. You are bound to find one that you like.

Every couple of years I go through a new hummus phase. In college, it was homemade hummus eaten with lime tortilla chips, at Pearl St (a house I lived in with friends for years in Portsmouth, NH) it was pita bread or pretzels, these days it's with pita chips or sliced veggies. Every store brand differs in texture and acidity so I guess that could be a factor in why some people don't like hummus. Make your own and you won't be able to stop eating it.


For the Hummus

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup tahini
2 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons water
2 - 3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)

Put the chickpeas, tahini, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse several times then slowly add the lemon juice and water while the machine is running till the mixture becomes creamy and mostly smooth. Adjust salt/pepper and lemon juice is needed. Pour into a bowl and stir in olive oil if using. Serve with Pita chips, tortilla chips or sliced vegetables.

Get comfortable with this master recipe and then try adding additional ingredients for flavor and variety. Add roasted red peppers, extra garlic, spinach and artichoke hearts, jalepeno's, roasted veggies, sun dried tomatoes and different seasonings (not all at the same time of course!)

Pita Chips

4 Pita pockets
olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper
dried rosemary*
*you'll need a mortar and pestle for this

You don't need a real recipe to make pita chips. Cut the pita pockets into as many triangles as you like. I cut the pockets in half (as if you were going to make two sandwiches) and then cut each half into 6 or 8 pieces. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lay the cut pieces of pita on a cookie sheet and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. In the mortar and pestle put 1 tablespoon of dried rosemary and a pinch of salt and grind to a powder (the salt helps create friction and the rosemary will crumble faster). Sprinkle the rosemary on the pita triangles. Bake for 6 minutes, flip and bake for 5 minutes more. Let cool. EAT!!

All text and photographs © 2008, 2009 Food is to love / Andrea Quigley