Friday, November 21, 2014

Sweet Potato Cauliflower Soup

As fall transitions into winter and the days become longer (and colder), I find myself craving the warm, comforting tastes of soups.  And admit it, so do you.

For almost a year, I've been getting bi-weekly deliveries from Boston Organics (whom I adore). Not only do I get fresh organic produce delivered right to my door but this influx of delicious veggies has forced me to get creating with my cooking.

What's a girl to make when you have 3 pounds of sweet potatoes in your house?

Get thee to Pinterest, I say!

That's were I found a version of this soup, which I adapted slightly.  The recipe says it yields 6 to 8 servings but if you are often cooking for one or two people (like I do), it is very easy to have.  You should expect a halved recipe to serve about 4 ppl.  My batch lasted me about a week.

The unique component of this soup is the garam masala, a blend of spices like pepper, cinnamon, cloves and cardamon, common in North Indian and South Asian cuisine.  Garam refers to "heat" in the Ayurvedic sense of the word - to heat the body - as the spices elevate body temperature.

My roommate, Sailing Foodie, and I happen to love Indian food so it this was already in our pantry. The garam masala add an exotic spice and mild heat to the soup which in my humble opinion just send it over the edge.

The edge of deliciousness.

My version of the recipe includes meat but the soup can easily be made without the meat for those vegetarians out there.  It also doesn't have any cream in it but still manages to be creamy.  Amazing how that works, huh?

But seriously, this soup was mega delicious. In keeping with the Indian theme, this soup is great served with a slice of Trader Joe's Garlic Naan.  Or if you prefer, a good old fashioned grilled cheese works just as well.  Add in a little tomato too, if you're feeling funky.

Perhaps it'll be the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table.


Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Soup
adapted from 

1 large head of cauliflower
olive oil for drizzling
few dashes of garam masala
1-2 TBL of butter
good quality Polish Kielbasa (a 3"to 4" piece, diced should be enough.)
3 medium to large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
1 sweet onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic
7 cups of water
S + P

  1. Preheat your oven to 400F
  2. Cut cauliflower into florets (bite sized)
  3. Place cauliflower florets on foil lined, ungreased cookie sheet and lightly drizzle with olive oil and garam masala.
  4. Roast in oven for about 20-30 min, or until tender and golden brown on tops (want them to be cooked but not mushy)
  5. Remove from oven and let cool.
  6. In a large stockpot or Le Creuset, melt butter and bit of olive oil and saute kielbasa, onions, garlic, and potatoes, until onions are translucent.  Add bit of salt and pepper.
  7. Add water and bring to a boil.  Then reduce heat to simmer and let cool until the sweet potatoes are tender.
  8. Add in the cooked cauliflower and stir to combine flavors.
  9. Transfer 1/2 of the soup to a bowl and blend the rest with an immersion blender.  (This is what gives the soup its faux creamy look)
  10. Add the reserve soup back into the pot and adjust seasoning to taste.
  11. Serve and enjoy!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Caramelized Onion, Potato and Goat Cheese Pizza

I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

My sincerest apologies for being away for so long.  Between a full-time job, running the uber-popular hockey website What's Up, Ya Sieve?, and my actual real life, I've been neglecting this little side project.

But no more!

I've got some things in the pipeline - starting with this deliciousness.

When I was a kid, my mom would sometimes caramelize a giant skillet of onions and we'd sit at the kitchen table, scooping them out right out of the pan, with using pieces of delicious, soft Polish rye bread instead of forks.  The smell and, most importantly, the taste of that oniony goodness is something that I've always loved.

For the last couple of weeks, I've been using Boston Organics and getting delicious fresh, local produce delivered directly to my house.  I had begun to amass a collection of onions so it was only natural that I start thinking of ways to use them up before they rotted.

A quick look in my fridge garnered a package of goat cheese and pizza dough and the decision was made.  Some of the potatoes that I'd also gotten from Boston Organics became part of this culinary adventure.

I happen to think this recipe is super easy and while it did take a little bit of time to prepare the onions and the potatoes, the result was well worth it.  I'd recommend this recipe for movie night, paired with a nice glass of pinot noir (I recommend Goldeneye or Scribe) or for a cocktail party, cut up in small squares as an appetizer.


Caramelized Onion, Potato, and Goat Cheese Pizza
(serves 2-3 people, or 1 person if you're feeling hungover, heartbroken, or especially gluttonous)

1 packaged Trader Joe's pre-made pizza dough
italian-blend shredded cheese
crumbled goat cheese
2 red bliss potatoes, sliced thin and blanched
herbs de Provence
garlic powder
3 medium onions, sliced
balsamic vinegar
olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a stainless steel skillet, heat olive oil and butter on medium-low heat. Slice up 3 medium onions and add to skillet. Slowly caramelize onions (about 30-40 minutes).  When onions are caramelized, add dash of balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan and pick up all the good bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Salt to taste and set aside.

Thinly slice the potatoes on a mandolin slicer. They should be thin but not so thin that they will fall apart when you blanch them. Place sliced potatoes in cold water and rinse twice. Transfer to medium pot and cover with cold water. Bring to boil and cook for minutes. Drain and place into cold water to stop cooking process. Remove from water and pat dry.

Remove pizza dough from fridge, place on flour covered board and bring to room temp (Dough will be easier to handle). Lightly oil a pizza pan (like this one) and sprinkle with cornmeal.  Work dough into a round-ish shape (It doesn't have to be perfect.  It'll be delish no matter how it looks) and place on pizza pan.

Drizzle dough with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder. Start layering ingredients - shredded cheese, potato, herbs de provence.  Top with caramelized onions and goat cheese.  Sprinkle edges with cornmeal and herbs de Provence.  Bake about 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden brown.  Slice and enjoy!


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bake It!: Polish Soft-Baked Pretzels

This weekend, Boston got slammed by a blizzard. A real life blizzard. Two feet of snow, whipping wind, snow drifts, the whole nine yards.  There is something about snowy or rainy days that inspire the baker in me.  Maybe it is the cold outside that inspires to create something warm and comforting inside.

Pretzel Baking Weather
As a first-generation Polish-American, I often find myself gravitating toward recipes that reflect my heritage.  My grandfather was a baker in Poland before he came to America, so perhaps I inherited some of my inspiration from him.  I imagine that these pretzels are something he would have made and sold in his bakery in the 1950s.

These Polish homemade pretzels are called precle domowe (PRREHTS-leh doh-MOH-veh).  They are delightfully golden brown on the outside and soft, tender, chewy on the inside.  A baking soda-water bath takes the place of the lye bath common used on German pretzels.

After two hours of shoveling out my driveway, I rewarded myself with a Long Trail Ale and started my Polish pretzel making adventure.

Precle Domowe (Polish Homemade Soft Pretzels)
Yield 12 pretzels

For dough:
1 1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
4 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled

For boiling:
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda

For topping:
1 large egg, beaten + 1 tablespoon water (aka egg wash)
coarse salt or seasoned salt like Borsari
sesame seeds (optional)

Making the Dough:

  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine water, sugar, salt, and yeast.
  • Wait 5 minutes until the mixture starts to bubbly.
  • Add flour and melted butter.
  • Using the dough hook attachment, mix at low speed for 5 minutes, then increase to medium speed and mix another 5 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic and cleans the sides of the bowl.
  • Transfer dough to greased bowl and cover with a cloth.  Let stand in warm place for 1 hour to allow it to rise.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Divide risen dough into 12 equal parts.
  • Roll each piece into a rope about 24 inches long and form into pretzel shape.
    • Longer the rope, the thinner and more traditionally the pretzel will look.
    • Shorter the rope, the thicker the pretzel. And if its especially thick, you can use it as a sandwich roll
  • Place parchment paper on a baking sheet and lightly coat the paper with cooking spray.
  • In a large stockpot or dutch oven, bring water & baking soda mixture to a boil.
  • Drop as many pretzels as will fit comfortably into the boiling baking soda-water mixture (my dutch oven held 4 pretzels at a time).
  • Cook for 30 seconds on each side and transfer to prepared cookie sheet.
  • Brush with egg wash and sprinkle on coarse salt, seasoned salt, or sesame seeds
  • Bake 12 minutes or until golden.
  • Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

Of course, these pretzels are best warm right out of oven.  You can store the extra (if there are any left) in a air-tight container.  Reheat by warming in the toaster oven.

Tried this recipe? Leave a comment or tweet me at @lostinlaliland

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Restaurant Review: Back Deck Boston

On Sunday, January 20th, I was one of the select few selected to enjoy brunch at Back Deck Boston, courtesy of the Boston Brunchers.
Now, I know that brunch is all uber trendy and the "thing" to do, especially on a Sunday, when you've been partying all weekend and your liver is screaming at you to just knock it off already.  There is something to be said for the hungover genius that invited brunch and brought the best of breakfast and lunch together for one meal.

God bless that man.  (Or woman.)

Back Deck Boston is located on the corner of Washington and West Streets in Downtown Crossing.  This bright, light restaurant is decorated to invoke the feeling of relaxing in a friend's backyard on a warm summer night.

Their brunch is a good balance of fare, focusing on the restaurant's theme of using a charcoal grill to prepare their foods.  I was especially excited by the bar menu, including several drinks that sounded delicious.

I started off with a Bloody Mary, because let's be honest, no brunch is truly complete without one. 

Back Deck makes theirs with Absolut Peppar, which give it just the right amount of HELLO to your palate.  Nice way to wake up those tastes buds from their slumber.  I prefer my bloody Marys made with GrandTen Distilling's Firepuncher vodka, but Back Deck's version was perfectly delicious.

With ten girls there for the brunch, we made the exceptionally wise decision to order a bunch of appetizers for the table to share. 

Chicken livers with watercress salad - I'm not particularly fond of livers of any sort (with the exception of liverwurst pate from my Polish store), however these were flavorful and the lightly-dressed watercress salad was a fresh compliment.

Grilled pink grapefruit, drizzled with honey - Without a doubt the most unique appetizer on Back Deck's menu. The honey, along with the grilled preparation balanced out the tartness of the grapefruit.  It was exceptionally juicy, but was hard to eat given the softness of the pulp.

Creamy Eggplant Spread - While tasty, this dish was not "eggplanty" enough for me.  I craved more eggplant mixed in to balance out the overwhelming flavor of the cream cheese.

Grilled vegetables with garlic aioli - a fairly standard offering for an appetizer.  The Brussels sprouts were great though.  But let's be honest here, when are they ever not?

Butternut Squash Soup - topped with sour cream and pipitas (pumpkin seeds), this soup everything you'd expect.  Thick, warm, comforting, and very delicious.  Perfect for all these cold New England days we've been having.

Next, we were on to entrees.  I went with the Eggs Diablo.

I tend to be more of a savory vs. sweet breakfast sort of person - especially if someone else is making the poached eggs.  I also have a weakness for huevos rancheros, so my eyes was immediately drawn to this on the menu.

The pork was sliced like a slab of Canadian bacon.  Personally, I would have loved to have the pork shredded  carnitas style, as I think this would have added to the overall presentation of the dish.  The eggs were poached nicely and had just the right amount of ooze that I like. The habanero drizzle added a punch of heat.

I ordered a side of the green apple coleslaw to share with the table.  I'm a big fan of coleslaw but this one was just okay.  I couldn't taste the apples and it could have benefited from having more dressing to hold it together.

If you are a sweet breakfast person, I'd recommend the Challah Bread French Toast.

Seriously, how good does that look?  Nice thick slices of toast, warm bananas, and a carafe of maple syrup to douse it in.  

After we'd devoured our entrees, our waitress asked us if we'd like some dessert.  After moment of hesitation and thought to determine if our stomachs could handle it, we went for it.

I tried the Grilled Pound Cake with pineapples and whipped cream

A for presentation, but a B for taste.  The pound cake was drier than I wanted it to be and didn't have that butter pound cake taste that you expect. It was too crumbly that even the moisture from the pineapples did nothing to help.  The flavor was fine but I was disappointed. 

As for my brunch buddies, they were all raving about the homemade graham crackers for the S'mores   Many of the dessert items are chocolate-based so if you're into that, you'll be satisfied.  The drunken 3 Musketeers ice cream was deliciously boozy, as if made by Porthos himself. An adult root beer float or milkshake made with it would be something I could get behind. 

Bar area is nice, if small. If you're looking for a easy relaxed atmosphere for a pre-movie or pre-theater meal, this is good, moderately priced option.  The service was friendly and prompt.  

But you know what the BEST THING about Back Deck is?  Their soundtrack!

Seriously, they played all of my favorite songs out of the 80s & 90s - exactly what I would play at my own back deck parties.  The songs would come on and each time, I would exclaim "This is my JAM!"  It made me quite happy.

Back Deck is located at:
2 West Street, Boston
(corner of West St. and Washington St. in Downtown Crossing)

Like them on facebook at
Follow them on twitter at @backdeckboston

Note: This meal was provided to the Boston Brunchers free of charge. I was asked to write a review of my dining experience. All of the opinions expressed here are my own.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New York State of Mind: Day 1

One of my favorite things about traveling is about sampling the best of what the city (or country) I'm in has to offer.  Perhaps no other city in the US has more offer than New York City.

New York is a city that I enjoy visiting but one I find very overwhelming.  Boston is a big city, but pales in comparison to NYC.  In NYC, there is just so MUCH going on - the people, the traffic, the lovely aromas of the subway. It's a place that I can take in small doses. Just like Las Vegas.

Recently, a friend and I traveled down to NYC for a weekend.  Just a little break from work and Boston to spend some time in the City that Never Sleeps.

This time, I decided to take the train down from Boston to NYC.  Price was a bit more expensive than a plane ticket but the total travel time worked out to be about the same, if you factor in airport security, actual flight time, cab from the airport, etc.

Plus the train is comfortable and has free wi-fi, people. Oh and large windows, which for a gazer like me, is great.  I could just pop in my headphones, gaze out the window, and watch the New England coast fly by me.

After arriving in NYC, I made my way to the Hilton New York, where I had booked a room for $133 a night through Priceline's Name Your Price tool.  If looking for a 3 or 4-star hotel in a certain area (and not a specific chain of hotels), then I highly recommend this option. I've used it twice (NYC and San Francisco) and each time the hotel has been great, both in location and price.

While waiting for my friend to arrive on her train (and to escape the cool weather), I dashed in between the raindrops to Bar Americain, one of Bobby Flay's restaurants, for a bowl of French Onion Soup.

After my friend arrived, we made our way out to explore the city.  Stops included:

Times Square - oh the tourists.  Everyone needs to visit Times Square at least once in their life. But that is it.  Otherwise, it will just annoy you with the tourists and the lights and the commercialism.

Forgive the hair. Humidity is evil.
Union Square

Strand Book Store - I'm a book nerd. I love books and bookstores and if left on my own, could probably spend hours wandering the stacks.  Strand is a bibliophile's heaven.  Books from (where book nerds like me could spend HOURS)


East Village & The Redhead NYC ( read my review [here] ), with a photo op in front of a restaurant of my people!  

Glass of wine Bar Veloce with its funky sunglasses lamp.

We ended our night by walking to the nearest subway station and navigating the labyrinth that is the NYC subway system back to our hotel. After a night cap at the hotel bar, we collapsed into our beds to get a good night's sleep, ready to explore the city the next day...

To be continued...

Scotch, scotch, scotchy scotch scotch...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Restaurant Review: The Redhead NYC

Two words.  Soft pretzels.  Two more words. Beer cheese.

Put them together and you have one of many culinary gems at The Redhead in New York's East Village.  This small, bustling eatery with a very understated store front is anything but understated when it comes to the food coming out of its kitchen.

On a recent visit to NYC, I was determined to try this place, which I'd first seen featured on the Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.  After walking the four long city blocks down E. 13th from Union Square, I was greeting with this.

So, of course, I had to go in. 

My friend and I arrived about 6pm and although we didn't have a reservation, we didn't have to wait long for a table.  The bar was busy but not crazy, although I would think that making a reservation for a later time is definitely recommended.

The restaurant is small, mostly with tables of 2 or 4, with seating for a larger party across from the bar or in the back corner. The decor is warm with wood and deep red cushions.

We immediately ordered the homemade soft pretzels with the Kentucky beer cheese - this is the reason why we came, after all.  This little pieces of heaven were warm, chewy, simple delicious.  Everything you want a soft pretzel to be.  Just the right amount of salt too.  And the beer cheese was creamy and cool - the perfect accompaniment to the warm pretzel.

hello gorgeous

My friend ordered the fried chicken, which she promptly proclaimed to be the "best fried chicken" that she'd ever had. I tried the cherry lambic-braised pork ribs.  The ribs were tender and fell of the bone.  I wasn't crazy about the taste of the whole cherries, but the meat itself was well complimented by lambic.

For sides, we order the traditional biscuits and honey and fried green tomatoes, and the not-so-traditional watermelon with chili and lime.  

The biscuits and tomatoes were excellent but it was the watermelon that really caught us off guard.  The coolness of the watermelon paired with the tartness of the lime and heat of the chili was delightfully unexpected and refreshing.  Although summer is almost over, I definitely recommend trying this dish for your next BBQ or party.  

The aftermath....

Slowly, we began drifting in a blissful food coma.  To avoid the embarrassment which would come from us curling up on the velvet cushions and nodding off to sleep, we decided to skip dessert in favor of an after dinner walk.  The Redhead does offer a few options for your sweet tooth, including a bacon peanut brittle, which is quite popular and available for purchase to take home with you.

Next time you find yourself in the East Village and in search of a warm, inviting restaurant with delicious comfort food, you know where to go.

The cool peeps will be waiting for you.

The Redhead is located at 349 E. 13th (at 1st Ave)
Follow them on twitter at @theredheadnyc

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Back in the Saddle

In the 6 months (six!) since my last post on "Lost in Laliland", lots has happened in my life.  

I graduate with my master's degree after 3 years of working full time and going to school part time. (am now offically wikkid smaht).  

I got a promotion at work and a raise.  (It's all about the benjamins, baby.)

But probably most significant was the success of my other blog, What's Up, Ya Sieve?. Things really took off for myself and my friend, co-creator, and co-writer Shannon and our little hockey blog.  

In addition to writing content for WUYS, we started writing for THE premier hockey blog, Puck Daddy on Yahoo! Sports.  Our readership skyrocketed and we surpassed 600,000 hits in the almost 2 years that we've been blogging.  

Needless to say, the success of WUYS has been flattering, surprising, and awesome.  I am very proud that people find it insightful, funny, and worthy of their attention.  

With WUYS blowing up, the mad crunch to finish my degree, and additionally responsibilities at work,  it didn't leave much time to write about the other things that interest me - movies, music, tv, makeup, food, wine, books, etc. 

But that is all about to change, people.

Starting today, I am making a commitment to LiL and post more frequently about the other things that inhabit my life.  So for those of you who read this blog (all 3 of you), expect to read more about my travels, my city, my hobbies, my obsessions, and my non-hockey passions.  Now that I have the time, there is no telling what might end up on here.

I sincerely hope you enjoy.