A Personal Story: Meet Anthony from the Boston Rescue Mission

>>  Saturday, December 31, 2011


This article is part of a larger series of articles about the Boston Rescue Mission, and organization for which I am raising money this winter. Other posts in this series discuss 1) why I decided to start this fundraiser in the first place 2) Why the Boston Rescue Mission 3) The meals we cook and serve while volunteering 4) The recipe for the delicious bacon wrapped pork loin that we cook and serve to the homeless, and 5) A Personal Story from Billy O, a former client

 Happy New Years Eve!

To close out 2011, I've decided to share stories about two people who actually spent some time at the Boston Rescue Mission.

Yesterday we heard a little bit from Billy O, a former client who now runs the kitchen at the Boston Rescue Mission.

Today, I'd like to introduce you to Anthony.

Anthony is one of the nicest guys around. He's sweet, friendly, and funny. He's gone through some pretty tough times in the past, and it's super encouraging to see how far he's come.

I visited the Boston Rescue Mission earlier this year to meet him and hear his story so I could share it with you.

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A Personal Story: Meet Billy O. from Boston Rescue Mission

>>  Friday, December 30, 2011


Billy O. - the guy in charge of food at BRM

This article is part of a larger series of articles about the Boston Rescue Mission, and organization for which I am raising money this winter. Other posts in this series discuss 1) why I decided to start this fundraiser in the first place 2) Why the Boston Rescue Mission 3) The meals we cook and serve while volunteering and 4) The recipe for the delicious bacon wrapped pork loin that we cook and serve to the homeless.

I got the best news this past week.

It was a perfect early Christmas present from an unexpected source.

Out of the blue, while I was in California for the holidays with Bryan's parents, I got an email from Eric, an organizer at the Boston Rescue Mission (BRM), telling me the Tiny Urban Kitchen fund had raised $3094.19 so far this year!!!

My jaw almost dropped. 

I had initially been really, really discouraged. Two and a half weeks after my initial post about the fundraiser, Eric told me that the fund had only raised about $200, (a chunk of which came from Bryan's parents - thanks Mom & Dad!).

I remembered my quote "I will be over the moon if we reach our $10,000 goal" and wondered whether I had been dreaming a bit too big. $200 felt so so far away from that goal.

Last week's email totally gave me renewed hope. 

Thank you so much, all of you generous donors, for contributing to the fund. It takes a lot to give up a bit of your own comfort and luxury in order to help some pretty needy people. Thank you so much.
Boston Rescue Mission's tiny urban kitchen  
I am thrilled to be 30% of the way to my goal. 

As a way to end 2011, I will spend the next two days sharing about some really special people from BRM and their stories. 

These are people whose lives came upon hard times. Through the perseverance of the individual, the hard work of the BRM staff, the support of volunteers and donors, and lots of grace from God; these people have been able to turn their lives around in incredible ways.

Today, we'll meet Billy O, who is the official "acting food service manager" at the Boston Rescue Mission, but who I like to call "Executive Chef of the BRM Kitchen."

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Abigail's

>>  Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Abigail's Cambridge
Have you been to Kendall Square lately?

Within 2 years it’s transformed from being an office-building heavy tech area that was dead at night, to one of the hottest spots for new restaurants! Being a Cantabrigian who went to MIT and used to work at One Kendall Square, I’m thrilled at these new developments.

Abigail’s is one of several new restaurants that has opened in Tech Square this past year. Abigail’s aims to serve familiar, American fare with a slight upscale twist - "blue collar bistro" as they like to call themselves.

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Butagumi

>>  Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tonkatsu
This is part 5 of my latest travel series: Post Quake Japan. Other posts in this series: KagoDaisan HarumiTempura Kondo, and Sushi Mitani.

In a residential part of Tokyo, far from the hustle and bustle of typical Tokyo life, lies a little whimsical house with a crescent moon cut into the side of it.

The journey here is idyllic – step off the beaten path, meander through some lovely parks, and emerge in a little neighborhood to discover Butagumi, a restaurant that arguably serves the best tonkatsu in all of Tokyo.
Butagumi

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Merry Merry Christmas!

>>  Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011
Merry Christmas!

Hope you're all having a wonderful holiday.

I look back at my Christmas post from last year and I'm tickled at how familiar the food offerings are. I guess we are creatures of habit and tradition,enjoying similar dishes year after year.

This year, we get to carry home our own batch of CHE family savory pumpkin cakes. Before we head on our red eye flight back to Boston, we will enjoy a hearty, warm hot pot with the family.

As always, we enjoyed a fantastic dinner at Din Tai Fung (though the wait was painfully long!).

I come closer to my goal of visiting every single Bouchon Bakery by buying some Snowman TKOs (Thomas Keller Oreos) from the Bouchon Bakery in Beverly Hills. Sadly, the family dog ate my cookies before I had a chance to eat them. :(
5 spice tofu and celery
celery and tofu

At our annual extended family potluck, we chowed down on all sorts of delicious Chinese food made by the relatives.
homemade scallion pancakes
Homemade scallion pancakes!
scallion oil chicken
Bryan's mom's scallion oil chicken

Pork and Vegetable Pan Fried Dumplings (10 for only $7!!)

We visited our favorite local Beijing style restaurant which makes amazing homemade dumplings and handmade noodles!

Bryan and I also did a bit of restaurant hopping. We partook in a 21-course tasting menu at Jose Andres' Saam as well as tried the omakase (29 pieces!) at Sushi Zo in Los Angeles. Definitely look out for an LA food series soon!
BOSTON RESCUE MISSION UPDATE

I was thrilled to find out just a few days ago that the Tiny Urban Kitchen fund for the Boston Rescue Mission has so far raised $3094.19 this year! I am aiming to raise $10,000 in total. If you're interested in donating to the fundraiser, just click here or on the image above.

 
Gingerbread people from Bouchon Bakery, Beverly Hills

Have a wonderful Christmas! 

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Braised Lamb Shanks

>>  Wednesday, December 21, 2011


After a freak snowstorm in October, we've actually be enjoying unusually warm weather throughout November and even into December.

In fact, we got so used to the warm weather that when temperatures actually reached the twenties a few days ago, everyone complained about how cold it was. Funny thing is, that's sort of normal for December here in Boston!

With the inevitable cold winter arriving, warm and hearty meals begin to look really, really inviting.

I've just recently started experimenting with using the oven more and learning some pretty traditional Western dishes I never made before. I guess most of my life I've cooked simple Asian stir fry, which almost never involves the oven and typically only requires quick cooking of meat.

I'm slowly discovering the amazing flavors that can come from simply cooking meat for long periods of time at low temperatures with certain, key "magic" ingredients.

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Easy Saffron Rice

SaffronOil-2
I love shortcuts and saving time.

Perhaps it's because I like to do many things at once. Or perhaps it's because I value efficiency and hate waste. Or perhaps it's because I am naturally a procrastinator and therefore am always pressed for time!


Whatever the reasons, I've discovered a favorite easy way of making saffron rice with a rice cooker when I'm preparing it to serve with either veal osso bucco, braised lamb shanks, or any other dish that goes really well with this beautifully fragrant rice.

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Inakaya

>>  Tuesday, December 20, 2011


This is part 5 of my latest travel series: Post Quake Japan. Other posts in this series: KagoDaisan Harumi, Tempura Kondo, and Sushi Mitani.

One thing I love about visiting Japan is seeing (and trying!) all the unique aspects of the cuisine that I don't get to appreciate in the States.

Most Japanese restaurants in America serve a generalized sort of conglomeration of all things Japanese, sort of like a "greatest hits." Sure, you may have a few dedicated sushi bars and ramen joints. By and large however, most Japanese restaurants in the US have diverse menus that include noodle soups, tonkatsu, sushi (and even Korean food sometimes!) all under one roof.

In past trips to Japan, I've had the luxury of experiencing all sorts of dedicated, specialty restaurants, like shabu shabu, tonkatsu places, countless different sushi bars, ramen joints, dedicated tempura bars, as well as curry houses.

I really think I've barely scratched the surface when it comes to experiencing all that this amazing country has to offer.

This past trip to Japan, I encountered yet another, new style of dining I'd never seen before.

Welcome to Inakaya, a robatayaki located in Roppongi, the most gaijin (foreigner) friendly part of town.

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Chinese Eggnog Tarts

>>  Monday, December 19, 2011


This post is part of a larger series: An Asian Twist on a Traditional Holiday Meal. Other posts in this series include Chinese Oven Roasted Duck, Keroppi Cookies,Totoro Cookies, Taro Fries, Chinese Long Beans with Garlic, and Kabocha Pumpkin Mochi Cake

I’m a huge, huge, huge custard fan.

I love French crème caramel and the Japanese version “pudin”. I cannot get enough of those Portuguese egg tarts that are slightly burnt on top. I have a weakness for custard-based ice creams (in fact, that’s the only way I make ice cream!), and I’m a huge fan of Chinese egg tarts.

As the holidays are just around the corner, what about taking your traditional Chinese egg tart and spicing it up with some bourbon? The result is this delicious egg tart with a kick – eggnog tarts!

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Holiday Gift Ideas

>>  Friday, December 16, 2011


It's that time of year again.

For people like me, who leave things to the last minute. It's time to think really hard - what gifts can I get for that difficult-to-shop-for [insert name]?

Of course, I don't claim to have all of the answers, but through the years I've amassed some pretty cool kitchen & photography things. I thought I would share with you some of my favorite (and perhaps more unique and unusual) things I've gotten over the past few years. Perhaps it can be the perfect gift for some food-loving friend or relative you know.

:)

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Sushi Mitani

>>  Wednesday, December 14, 2011


This is part 4 of my latest travel series: Post Quake Japan. Other posts in this series: KagoDaisan Harumi, and Tempura Kondo.

Following your husband on one of his business trips has both positive and negative aspects.

On the up side, the lodging, his airfare, and his meals are paid by the Company. This particular flight, my million miler husband even used his points to upgrade me to business class with him.

On the down side, however, I'm left to fend for myself for most of the working day and (occasionally), even during the evenings. Sometimes I'll use the time to do some serious clothing (or shoe!) shopping. Other times, I'll visit my favorite kitchen supply area in all of Tokyo.

It was during one of these rainy, working weekdays when I stopped in for lunch at Sushi Mitani.

OK, admittedly, "stopped in" is hardly the right term to use. I had made a reservation, partly based on a few glowing reviews online about this place. In fact, I sought out the restaurant, and it was surprisingly difficult to find.

A simple wooden door and a sign written in kanji were my only clues.
I entered a serene, modern, yet intimate dining space. Like many high-end sushi places, the entire restaurant is merely a sushi bar, manned by the namesake sushi chef himself.

The next two hours were definitely an adventure, both in concepts and in flavor. Instead of your traditional sushi meal consisting almost entirely of unadulterated, fresh seafood with rice, the omakase at Sushi Mitani comes with no shortage of little surprises along the way, many which deviate from the traditional sushi model.

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Kabocha Pumpkin Mochi Cake

>>  Wednesday, December 07, 2011


This post is part of a larger series: An Asian Twist on a Traditional Holiday Meal. Other posts in this series include Chinese Oven Roasted Duck, Keroppi Cookies,Totoro Cookies, Taro Fries, and Chinese Long Beans with Garlic

I've found that baked mochi is almost always a universal crowd pleaser at potluck parties, especially if many of the party-goers are Asian. Asians (including me!) have some sort of addiction to the chewy-sweetness of mochi desserts.

The classic baked mochi dessert involves red bean, which I make all the time. This fall, however, I decided to put a slight autumn twist on the traditional mochi cake for my Thanksgiving meal, sort of as a replacement for pumpkin pie.

This mochi cake is inspired by my Project Food Blog Round 8 entry from 2010, which included three different pumpkin desserts. Instead of using normal pumpkin like I did last year, this year I made the dessert even more Japanese by substituting Kabocha Squash (still one of my all time favorite squashes!).

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Stir Fried Chinese Long Beans with Garlic

>>  Tuesday, December 06, 2011


This post is part of a larger series: An Asian Twist on a Traditional Holiday Meal. Other posts in this series include Chinese Oven Roasted Duck, Keroppi Cookies,Totoro Cookies, and Taro Fries.

Have you ever seen Chinese long beans? It's got a ton of alternate names, such as the Snake Bean, 豇豆 (Chinese), or even the long podded cowpea (?!).

Though similar to the American green bean, this bean is actually a different species and typically grows about 1 1/2 feet long! It's less "crunchy" than normal string beans, but more dense, and I think has a sweeter and nuttier flavor.

As part of my Asian-inspired Thanksgiving, I decided to replace the traditional green bean casserole with these lovely, garlic stir-fried long beans. These long beans are so easy to make, and give a huge bang for your buck in terms of cost, time spent, and nutrition.

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Taro Fries

>>  Monday, December 05, 2011


This post is part of a larger series: An Asian Twist on a Traditional Holiday Meal. Other posts in this series include Chinese Oven Roasted Duck, Keroppi Cookies, and Totoro Cookies.

I have a horrible weakness for any sort of fried "potato." Whenever I go to Garden at the Cellar, I can't help but finish a whole order of their addictive rosemary truffle fries (ahem, with Bryan's help, of course). I have an awful weakness for potato chips, home fries, tater tots . .  .

I think it all started when I was young. A favorite snack of mine growing up were these pan-fried taro "chips" that my mom used to make. She would thinly slice taro into 1/8 thick discs and pan-fry them in vegetable oil until golden brown. She always made sure to put plenty of salt on both sides.

The other day, I decided to make my own version of these taro "chips". I did two versions - duck fat fried taro "home fries" and canola oil fried taro fries.

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Roasted Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin

>>  Thursday, December 01, 2011

Roasted Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin
This is part 3 of the Post Project Food Blog - What's Next? Series. Other posts in this series: Why Boston Rescue Mission, Boston Rescue Mission: Sunday Community Dinner

This bacon wrapped oven roasted pork loin is the home version of a dish that I make (with lots of help, of course!) for > 100 people at the Boston Rescue Mission during their Sunday Community Dinner.

The nice thing about making just a single serving at home (as opposed to making 10 times the amount in commercial ovens), is that I can actually cook the pork a lot less (compared to at the shelter, where we essentially have to cook everything well done). Here, I decided to cook it to a perfect medium, just slightly pink in the middle.

It was juicy, tender, and absolutely fantastic.

Why, if given the choice, would anyone cook pork any more than this?

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Boston Rescue Mission: Sunday Community Dinner

Boston Rescue Mission
This is part 2 of the Post Project Food Blog - What's Next? Series. Other posts in this series: Why Boston Rescue Mission?

Have you ever cooked for 150 people?

Welcome to the Sunday Community Dinner at the Boston Rescue Mission.

Every Sunday afternoon, the Boston Rescue Mission invites volunteers to provide a special meal for both the residents at the Mission as well as hungry people on the streets. Volunteers have free reign of the entire meal, everything from designing the menu, shopping for the ingredients, to executing and serving the meal. All in the span of about 3 hours!

It's challenging, laborious, and stressful at times. However, it's also super fun and tremendously rewarding. There's something really special about being able to personally serve the hungry people who come here looking for a hot meal. Many of the diners are very gracious and personally thank the volunteers for their efforts as well as the delicious meal.

Here's an inside look at the flurry of activity (sometimes mildly chaotic!) that happens in the 3 hours preceding one of these crazy meals!

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you can contact me at: jen[at]tinyurbankitchen[dot]com
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