Jul 29, 2014

The Good Ones Boston: Grecian Roof Top Celebration

This past week I had the pleasure to attend a fabulous event, a third in the series of Top Secret Top Chef battles, host by the talented team behind The Good Ones, Boston.  The event boasted passionate culinary enthusiasts and seasoned industry professionals at a roof top penthouse in the Seaport area. The theme for the evening was a modern interpretation of Greek Gods and Goddesses, which was enjoyably displayed by all the attendees. 


Among the talent for the evening was super mixologist Tenzin Conechok Samdo from Trade restaurant who prepared specialty libations exclusively for this event.  The unique drink menu consisted of concoctions such as Titan's Punch, Gaia Punch, Aphrodite DTO which all incorporated Crop Organic Vodka!  Motto sparkling matcha tea, much to everyone's liking was also used in the first of it's kind cocktail, the Olympian Collins.  Other beverage sponsors included Cisco Beer, Naragansett Beer, Hint Water and Zoos Greek Iced Tea.   

And as the sunset over the beautiful Boston skyline, the competing chefs prepared the Greek inspired feast for the evening.  The colorful culinary cast of characters included three teams of the area's best chefs: Brendan Burke and Tico Huyn of Bastille Kitchen, Jonathan Moriera of Post 390, and Brendan Smith of Uni Sashimi Bar. 

                      Brendan Burke                          Jonathan Moriera                     Brendan Smith

 Food and drink was celebrated throughout the evening by the guests and hosts.  In addition to the gorgeous seasonally inspired menu being prepared by the three fantastic teams,  nibbles were available throughout the roof top venue. With a focus on healthy eating and an organic lifestyle, Krave Jerky and Organic Living Super Foods supplied a variety of delicious snacks.

Krave Jerky is gluten, nitrate, MSG, and corn syrup free, making it the healthier jerky! Made in sunny California, these all natural meat snacks take things to the next level with the hand sliced cuts marinaded for 48 hours then baked for a tender jerky unlike any other. The extensive variety of jerky includes: pork, turkey, and beef, a couple of my favorites were the Sweet Chipotle and Chili Lime Beef Jerky,  moist and packed full of flavor.

"Health is essential for happiness" this is the philosophy Organic Living Super Foods lives by and I couldn't agree more.  Their range of  organic, raw, vegan, gluten free, and dairy free, living superfoods is impressive! Locally made by the passionate hands on owner, these products were created on the premise that allowed superfoods into ones diet to naturally aid in curing and preventing diseases such as cancer, heart disease, depression, inflammatory diseases. It really is as simple as that, take care of your body, and it will take care of you! The organic coconut fig superfood energy squares and raw organic sprouted pomegranate pistachios & almonds were some of my top picks from the uber healthy selection.


The evening was eventful all around and as the crowd began to stir, the appetites began to grow. The smells, sights, and sounds from the kitchen excited the guests as the anxiously waited in anticipation for the food to come.  The chefs were meticulously in the zone as they prepped and cooked all the wonderfully fresh produce, seafood, and cheese supplied by The Bees Knees and Mozzarella House, and Cape Ann Fresh Catch a culinary trifecta.  

The first course of the evening was served by Chef Jonathan Moriera of Post 390.  He started off the night with a Scarmoza wrapped with grilled zucchini ribbons served with balsamic marinated strawberries, an eggplant puree, and pistou (pictured left) and completed his set with this oven roasted haddock topped with an olive caponata (pictured right).  Both dishes were prepared well and set the bar high for the remaining two competitors of the evening.   

Chef Brendan Smith of Uni Sashimi Bar was up next. He took advantage of the gorgeous seasonal stone fruit and paired the grilled peaches with a delectably creamy Burrata and a squid ink reduction (pictured below).

His second dish tapped into his culinary seafood skills as he prepared a skillet fried monkfish with oven roasted salsify paired with grilled zucchini and a hazelnut crumble.  An interesting approach in execution and distinct flavors inspired by the modern Japanese cuisine he prepares at his respective restaurant.

Last up was the reigning champ from the previous battle, Brendan Burke and his sous chef Tico Huyn of Bastille Kitchen. Also known as the silent chef, when Brendan is in the kitchen he is focused and driven.   His culinary vision can be seen on the plate when he delivers gorgeous food balancing subtlety of flavors in a memorable way. His first dish (pictured below) is the Grilled Japanese eggplant stuffed with stracciatella cheese, dill and lemon. zucchini and sunflower seed pesto, fennel and pickled cauliflower salad.
His second dish and one of my favorites of the evening was the Striped bass crudo, olive oil, tarragon. apricot creme fraiche, grilled peach and cucumber relish (pictured below).

 The Good Ones were the perfect hosts for the evening and not only threw a fabulous party, but allowed each competitor to shine in their own light.  The guests had no complaints as the evening went from great to greater as they noshed and drank all the original event inspired food and drink. The results of this battle are yet to come.....we look forward in anticipation to hear about the winner and the next exciting culinary event!

Jul 4, 2014

Club Noor: Cumin Crusted Eggplant with Spicy Tomato Sauce and Savory Yogurt Topping


This dish is inspired by culture, history, and regional ingredients. The traditional name for this dish is  Borani, which refers to the eggplant with a garlicky yogurt topping.  It has ties to Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and India, so the origins are vague.  However, because of the use of local flavors and easy preparation, this is a dish that can be consumed on a regular basis, as a filling snack or meal.

My version of this dish incorporates a little extra protein by introducing the chickpea element to the tomato sauce. This makes it more substantial, but also adds texture and color in the presentation. The element of nigella sides also enhances the rich deep flavor of the tomato sauce, which pairs so beautifully with the cumin crusted eggplant.  The medley of spices also enhance each element of this dish to the next level, it’s one of this meals that will become a staple part of the menu, and one you will enjoy preparing as much as eating.

               Cumin Crusted Eggplant
               1 large eggplant
                sea salt
               cumin seeds
              1 TBL Noor Oil
Spicy Tomato Sauce
3 large local tomatoes
1 medium white onion finely diced
1 clove of crushed garlic
1 TBL crushed ginger
1 ½ tsp nigella seeds
pinch of garam masala
1 tsp. coriander Powder
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp. chili Powder
½ crushed red chilies
1 cup of chickpeas soaked, seasoned and cooked through
Salt to taste
5 fresh curry leaves
fresh chopped coriander
1-2 TBL Noor Oil
Yogurt Topping
1 medium container low-fat yogurt
2 tsp cumin powder
1 clove of crushed garlic
1 tsp dried mint leaves
salt and pepper to taste

Serves:  3-4 ppl  Preparation Time: 1 hour (+ a couple of hours to1 day ahead of time for the eggplants to drain)


First step is to slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch Rounds sprinkle with salt and set aside for a couple hours or overnight. This will bring out all the bitter juices in the eggplant and result in a tastier eggplant.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 C, After you’ve patted the eggplant dry, place in a bowl cover with Noor Oil, sea salt, and cumin seeds. Bake for about 20-30 minutes depending on thickness of eggplant. Turn once during the baking process. Remove from oven and keep warm. 

While the eggplant is cooking prepare the tomato sauce. In a medium sauce pan heat 2-3 TBL Noor Oil. Once it reaches a medium high temperature, add the nigella seeds to release all the aromatics and oils. Now add the onions, ginger and garlic cook until soft and all the flavors have melded. Now add the tomatoes and seasoning (coriander powder, chilli powder, turmeric powder, garam masala, crushed red chillies, salt). Stir until mixed thoroughly, If it starts to dry out, add a little water. Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat to low add the curry leaves and chickpeas. Simmer for 5 minutes and lastly add the fresh coriander leaves, stir, and remove from heat. 

Now make the yogurt topping by emptying the yogurt to a medium bowl. Add garlic, mint leaves, cumin powder, salt and pepper. Mix and keep in the fridge until ready to use. 

When you’re ready to serve place all the cooked eggplant slices on a large platter, then top with tomato sauce, and last with a dollop of yogurt. You can also garnish with fresh coriander or mint of you like.

Club Noor: Chocolate Banana Samosas with Chai Spiced Creme Anglaise


Desserts are a weakness for most people, especially after eating a spicy wholesome meal. There’s no better way to cleanse the palate than with a bite of a little sweet something.  When entertaining guests, it’s always best to plan ahead, which means taking the right steps to save time during the party.  These easy samosas are quick to make and store easily in the fridge or freezer for a crowd pleasing dessert everyone will love.
The key to making these delicious little desserts is using the right ingredients.  Over ripe bananas (when the skin is almost black) are the best to use, because they will mash easily and they are super sweet.  The chocolate will also make a difference in this, so I go a step above and use Lindt milk chocolate, but it’s really personal preference. 

I came up with this dish when I wanted something fun for the whole family to enjoy.  It takes the best of the east and west and puts it all together into the perfect little bite. 

2 Ripe Bananas
1 Lindt Milk Chocolate Bar, broken into small square/rectangle pieces
pinch of chai spice
1 package frozen samosa wrappers
1 tsp sugar
1 Egg (whisked)
Noor Sunflower Oil (for frying)

Chai Spiced Crème Anglaise
2 cups heavy cream
½  tsp vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
½ tsp *Chai Spice Mix
     *combine the following ingredients
       (reserve the remaining)      
 1 tsp Cinnamon
1/3  tsp Cloves
 1/3 tsp Ginger
 1/3 tsp All spice
 1 tsp Cardamom

Servings: 4            Prep Time: 1 hour


Make samosas ahead of time and chill.  Remove the springroll/samosa wrappers from the package, and place under a damp paper towel.

In a medium size bowl mash up the banana into a paste, add the dash of chai spice and the  1tsp of sugar.
Take the samosa wrapper, one at a time and fill with 1 tsp of banana filling and a small piece of chocolate towards one end of the strip.  Fold over one corner to form a triangle; continue to fold the wrapper all the way through.  Repeat until you have used all the filling. (You will have about 8 samosas per banana) Chill until ready to use or freeze for future use.

Next make the crème anglaise.  First, place a medium size ceramic/metal bowl into the freezer. Now in a sauce pan combine the cream, 1/8 cups of sugar, and the vanilla extract, bring almost to a boil.
In a separate heat proof, non-reactive bowl whisk the egg yolks, chai spice, and remaining sugar until smooth. 

Next temper the eggs with a tablespoon at a time of the hot cream. Then pour the egg mixture back into the pan with the cream and stir constantly at a medium temperature until thick.
Pour through a strainer/sieve into the chilled bowl to stop the cooking process and allow to cool.

When ready to serve, deep fry the samosas in medium hot Noor Sunflower oil, drain and serve with chai spiced crème anglaise.