Savory Sisters Entertaining Recipes – Baby Shower Edition

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This past weekend us Savory Sisters had an absolute blast hosting a baby shower for our older sister Rachel in beautiful Hampden, Massachusetts. For us, there is almost nothing better than hanging out with friends and family while eating delicious food and watching our sister open up the most adorable baby gifts. We received a lot of compliments on the food at the shower so we decided to share some of the recipes here on our blog. While we made these dishes for a baby shower you really can make them for almost any sort of get together or party:

Overnight French Toast

Overnight French Toast

(Moist and delicious, this is the perfect dish for a breakfast or brunch for a large group. Serves 15.)

Ingredients:

2 Loaves of Challah or Brioche Bread (no crust)

12 Eggs

2 Cups Whole Milk or Half & Half

1/2 Cup Maple Syrup

Sugar

Cinnamon

8 oz Cream Cheese

2 to 3 Apples OR 2 Cups of Blueberries

Night before:

In greased 9 by 13 glass or ceramic dish, fill with cubes of either Challah or Brioche.

Whisk eggs, whole milk or half-half & maple syrup.

Pour mixture over bread, and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.

Dot with cream cheese

Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Morning:

Preheat oven to 375F.

Slice thin 2 – 3 apples and spread on top with cinnamon (we used blueberries at the shower since they were in season)

Bake 30 to 40 minutes til puffy and not loose. Serve with maple syrup.

Summer Orzo Salad

Summer Orzo Salad

(Light, colorful, flavorful and fresh, this is a great dish for a lunch or BBQ. Can be made the day before and transports well. Serves up to 20.)

Ingredients:

1 Box Orzo Pasta

1 Small Red Onion, Chopped

1 Small Jar Sun-Dried Tomatoes or Fresh Cherry Tomatoes

1 Package Tomato Basil Feta Cheese

1/2 Cup Toasted Pine Nuts

1 Package Baby Spinach Leaves

1 Cup Girard’s Champagne Dressing (or make your own homemade champagne dressing with honey, olive oil, Dijon mustard and champagne vinegar or apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper to taste).

1 Bag of Shrimp (defrost, remove tails, toss in lemon juice and salt)

Cook Orzo according to box, rinse with cold water, drain for 30 minutes.

Put Orzo in Ziploc bag and toss with Champagne Dressing. Leave in fridge for 1 hour or more.

Mix in remaining ingredients.

Raspberry Mint Lemonade

Raspberry Mint Lemonade

(A refreshing summer drink, we made this as a mocktail so w/o alcohol but feel free to add a liquor of your choice such as rum or vodka. Serves about 12.)

Ingredients:

8 Cups (2 quarts) Ginger Ale

1/4 Cup Powdered Lemonade Mix

4 Cups Frozen Raspberries

1 Cup Fresh Mint Leaves

1 Zest of a Lemon & Juice of the Lemon

4 Cups of Ice

Mix all ingredients together and serve!

The Savory Sisters are always looking for new recipes to check out. If you have any you think we would enjoy please let us know :).


#5 of Top Cheap Eats: Pho 14

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#5 Pho 14 (Washington, DC): A new countdown begins that is the polar opposite of our last top 5 – best cheap eats!  Our number 5 spot goes to Pho 14 in Washington, DC for its fresh authentic Vietnamese food that doesn’t empty your wallet.  During my first five years of living in Washington, DC I searched high and low for a great Vietnamese restaurant within the District limits without success. I even tried the pricey options in Georgetown but those restaurants also left something to to be desired.  It wasn’t until after I moved up to the devoloping neighborhood of Columbia Heights that I finally discovered Pho 14, the perfect hole in the wall Vietnamese restaurant that met my Vietnamese food cravings with utmost satisfacation.

Fresh Rolls

Fresh Rolls from Pho 14 (photo courtesy of Yelp.com)

There is nothing fancy about Pho 14. They simply know how to make delicious cheap Vietnamese food. Their fresh rolls are some of the freshest I have ever tried, seemingly made to order.  If you’re unfamiliar with this typical Vietnamese appetizer, it is usually rice paper filled with a combination of rice noodles, bean sprouts, lettuce, cilantro, shrimp and sometimes pork. Pho 14  serves their fresh rolls with a peanut-hoison dipping sauce that perfectly complements the ingredients in the roll.  Pho 14 calls these Spring Rolls but I like to call them Fresh Rolls since Spring Rolls at other restaurants often mean fried rolls.

Pho 14 is known for their Pho, a popular Vietnamese soup that is a meal in itself, but for my main course I prefer to get the Bun Bowl with Lemon Grass Pork – a combination of vermicelli rice noodles, pork, assorted vegetables, peanuts and herbs served with a fish sauce.  The pork is grilled to perfection and the lemon grass adds a flavorful sweet undertone.  The fresh vegetables and peanuts give the dish a nice crunch while the herbs just further excite your taste buds.

This meal, which is almost guaranteed to provide leftovers or serve two, rings up to $12.90 without tax. And for a fresh flavorful meal in the district, that is pretty darn cheap.  (Reservations not required although it does fill up quickly.  1436 Park Rd NW, Washington, DC 20010)

Must-Eats of NYC

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French Onion Soup Dumplings at Stanton Social

It has become a recent tradition for the Savory Sisters to meet up in NYC each year with our third sister for a weekend of shopping, exploring and, of course, delicious food.  There are a few go-to places that are a part of the tradition and a few others that we had the pleasure of trying for the first time on our recent visit.

Our Traditions:

Magnolia Bakery: Tucked away in a little corner of Greenwich Village is this small bakery specializing in cupcakes.  Featured in an episode of Sex in the City, this little shop has had a huge amount of success and is known to have spurred what is now known as the “cupcake craze”.  As avid Sex and the City fans, we tried out this cupcake shop after the episode premiered years ago and have been addicted ever since.  The cupcakes are nothing out of the ordinary but their simple pastel buttercream frosting on top of moist vanilla cake is, to us, perfection.

Stanton Social: The setting of this restaurant truly epitomizes the New York City scene with trendy music and pretty people, but what’s special about this place is the unique food.  Our favorite is the French Onion Soup Dumplings. Bite into one of these and the most amazingly delicious french onion soup bursts into your mouth.  The dumplings are topped with melted Gruyère cheese and a crouton so you get all the flavors of your typical French onion soup in a creative de-constructed presentation.

Places we’ve tried and loved:

Granola at Max Brenner

Max Brenner: Attention chocoholics – this place is for you!  If Willy Wonka took a trip to New York he would definitely stop here for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Max Brenner is all about chocolate with pipes pumping chocolate throughout the restaurant and creative chocolate creations such as chocolate syringes and chocolate pizza with marshmallows. Just about everything on the menu has chocolate on it or somehow incorporated into it. We tried Max Brenner for brunch and ordered the granola fruit bowl.  Although this dish sounds healthy, the granola is still topped with a generous scoop of dark chocolate shavings.   It is also served with a flask of honey that makes for a great presentation (keeping with the chocolate factory theme) and allows you to control the sweetness of granola. Order anything with chocolate at this place and you won’t be disappointed.

Cafeteria: A 24/7 diner located in Chelsea, this place is known for comfort food and yummy drinks. Almost everything on their large menu is delicious but some of the highlights for us are their Trio of Mac and Cheese including a smoked gouda with bacon and truffle oil (we can’t get enough of this stuff) and their Deep Fried Oreos served with mint chocolate chip ice cream and a chocolate shake shot. In the mood for lighter fare? No problem, Cafeteria offers a great variety of fresh salads and sandwiches.

The Savory Sisters Cape Cod Food Picks – Wellfleet Edition

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Mac's Seafood Market in Wellfleet

Cape Cod holds a special place in the Savory Sisters’ hearts. Ever since we were little girls, we’ve headed to this Massachusetts vacation spot with family to enjoy its beautiful beaches, picturesque towns and, of course, its food.  Are you headed to Cape Cod this weekend or at some point this summer? If yes, or if you just want to read about mouth-watering food, check out these Savory Sister food picks for the Wellfleet/Upper Cape area:

PB Boulangerie BistroThis is the best bakery we have ever been to outside of France, no joke. Recently opened in 2009, this French bakery serves a wide variety of delicious breads and pasteries, including a chocolate croissant that is truly out of this world with its crispy buttery crust and warm gooey chocolate center. If it happens to be a chilly day, treat yourself to their to-die-for hot chocolate. Next to the bakery is a sit down bistro with indoor and outdoor seating where you can enjoy yummy French fare, wine and refreshing cocktails. Forget about calories, go  here. You are on vacation after all :). (15 Lecount Hollow Rd, Wellfleet, MA. Closed Mondays & Tuesdays)

Mac’s SeafoodLocated in the picturesque Wellfleet harbor, this popular joint consists of a takeout restaurant and ice cream parlour in the front and a seafood market in the back where you can find some of the freshest local seafood such as Wellfleet oysters, Eastham mussels, littlenecks and lobster. If you want to pull a Savory Sister, get a french baguette at PB Boulangerie Bistro and fresh lobster meat at Mac’s to make a delicious homemade lobster roll. (265 Commercial Street, Wellfleet, MA).

Baked Oysters with Cilantro Pesto at Pearl

PearlAlso located in the Wellfleet harbor, this popular spot knows how to do local seafood with dishes such as baked oysters with cilantro pesto, pan steamed mussels with coconut milk, pineapple & basil, and a fisherman’s platter with perfectly fried cod, scallops, oysters, clams, shrimp & calamari. The restaurant can get crowded so after putting your name in head up to their rooftop deck for a cocktail and breathtaking view of the harbor. (250 Commercial Street, Wellfleet, MA. Open May thru September).

ArnoldsSituated just outside Wellfleet in neighboring Eastham, this seafood shack is a Cape Cod institution. There is almost always a line but its worth the wait. Nothing fancy here, just solid fried seafood and lobster. If you are hungry, order the Ginormous Lobster Roll, which is three times the size of a normal lobster roll. We also highly recommend their World Famous Homemade Onion Rings. After your meal, head to their ice cream window and/or test your golfing skills at Arnold’s Adventure Mini Golf (3580 Route 6, Eastham, MA. Cash only, ATM inside).

#1 of Top Food Experiences: Chatham Bars Inn Chef’s Table

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Chef's Table at Chatham Bars Inn

#1 Chatham Bars Inn Chef’s Table (Chatham, MA) – After reminiscing about some of the best food experiences of our lives (and salivating while doing so) the Savory Sisters have finally reached our #1 food experience of all time. Located in the historic Chatham Bars Inn in beautiful Cape Cod, the Chef’s Table takes the top honor with its private yet fun interactive atmosphere and to-die-for 7 course meal with 7 excellent high quality wine pairings. The Chef’s Table is truly a foodie and wino’s paradise.

The Chef’s Table is a private room that consists of enough seating for 30 diners and a kitchen with two televisions so you and your guests can watch the chef prepare the most delicious meal of your life. My husband’s parents hosted our rehearsal dinner for our October wedding at the Chef’s Table and ever since then our families, bridal party and the savory sisters have been in agreement that this was one of the best food experiences, if not the best food experience, of our lives.

The evening began with our party being led to a gorgeous wine cellar located below the Chef’s Table. There we were greeted by our sommelier (wine expert) for the evening who gave us each a glass of champagne and informed us of the history of the popular celebratory drink. After given some time to mingle with guests we were led to the Chef’s Table and introduced to the master behind the most amazing food experience of our lives – Executive Chef Anthony Cole. Cole is a humble yet extremely talented chef who has the ability to create elegant, flavorful, rich yet not too heavy dishes that truly take you to food euphoria. Some of the highlights:

Waygu Strip Loin at Chef's Table

Halibut – Steamed and served with fresh corn polenta that melted in your mouth and a truffle emulsion that was light and airy yet full of rich buttery truffle flavor, this dish was truly unforgettable. We still have dreams about it today.

Waygu Strip Loin – Butter-poached and served with gold potato puree, caramelized mushroom and cranberry cabarnet demi-glace. Everything in the dish was cooked to perfection and packed with simple and yet delicious flavors.

Fruit Roll Up – Not like any kiddy fruit roll up, this wasn’t a course but simply an introduction to dessert from the pastry chef. Fun and creative!

Pumpkin Pot de Creme at Chef's Table

Pumpkin Pot de Creme – Basically a pumpkin creme brulee served with brown sugar mascarpone and salted pumpkin seeds, this dessert had the perfect amount of sweetness and fall warmth.

Unfortunately, the Savory Sisters recently heard through the grapevine (aka Facebook) that the Chef’s Table is now closed and a sushi bar has opened in its place. We didn’t learn about this until after we had already started the Top List and we thought long and hard if we should make a different food experience #1. However, in the end, we decided to stay true to ourselves. We both agreed that the Chef’s Table is hands down our #1 food experience and to not give it the honor it deserves would simply not be right. So RIP Chef’s Table and thank you for giving us our most delicious food euphoric moment to date. And maybe, just maybe, the sushi craze will die off, the economy will bounce back to the good old days, and the Chef’s Table at Chatham Bars Inn will be reborn. We can only hope :). (Photos courtesy of Kory Wilcox & Timothy Valenti.)

UPDATE: (September 24, 2010) Chatham Bars Inn has informed us that the Chef’s Table is open and available for booking! WOOOHOOO!!! So if you are ever looking to celebrate a special occasion with family and friends definitely check out the Chef’s Table. It is truly amazing and worth every single penny. We will  surely be back!