Mamma Maria, Boston

For Mother’s Day, I treated my mom to a wine tasting tour of the North End. My whole family ended the tour with a spectacular dinner at Mamma Maria, which is one of my parent’s favorite restaurants. This was my first visit and from the impeccable service, to the fabulous food, I can’t wait to go back. We were seated in a private dining room, since my mom had called earlier that week requesting a table near the window. They ended up seating us in a small room with just a four-person table–an awesome surprise.

The bread was fresh, and the pesto homemade:

We ordered the Antipasto Tower, which was a hefty $56, but oh-so-worth it. I tasted my first oysters ever, which were mind-blowing. The mozzarella is imported from a farm in Italy. The cheese was the creamiest, most delectable piece of mozzarella I’ve ever eaten.

Scallops cooked with blood orange were also a favorite part of the “antipasto tower.” Perfectly cooked, with a little crunch and citrus flavor.

My entrée was wild-mushroom ravioli:

My parents both ordered the Clam and Crab pasta:

The take-away message: wow.

If you are in the North End (and are willing to spend some dough on a meal), eat here. You will not regret it.

Peanut Noodle Bowl

I left the United States for Australia with the presumption that I wouldn’t see peanut butter, and instead only Vegemite for five months. And so, I stuffed my face with creamy Jif in preparation for peanut butter withdrawal. Peanut butter on rice cakes, peanut butter with vanilla ice cream, peanut butter cookies, peanut butter by the spoonful. You name it.

Much to my surprise, I found the supermarkets stocked with peanut butter (even crunchy!). I bought a jar and at the end of a long day, I prepared this super fast, filling and delicious meal. It could have used more vegetables or sources of protein, but some nights I just want a bowl of carbohydrates. I also forgot to buy peanuts to garnish the dish. A little crunch would be looked favorably upon. Did I mention it doesn’t require an oven or a stove?

Peanut Noodle Bowl

2 servings of rice noodles (cooked as directed on package)

2 tbs Peanut Butter (plus more if you’re a PB aficionado like me)

zest and juice 1 lime

2 tbs hot water

2 tsp soy sauce

1/4 cup scallions, chopped

 

Whisk peanut butter, hot water, soy sauce, scallions and half of the lime juice and zest. Add cooked noodles to mixture. Toss well. Garnish with more scallions and spritz with remaining lime juice.

 

 

 

 

Smoked Mozzarella and Sundried Tomato Ravioli

I have an unreasonable obsession with farmers’ markets. I enjoy the good food, colorful produce, free samples, people-watching, and knowledge that is spread. The past few days of rain wiped out the strawberry crops. And while that is unfortunate, it provides a good lesson of following mother nature and determining what you eat based on what is in the garden. So I bought some tomatoes.

And some Sundried Tomato and Smoked Mozzarella Ravioli from Nella Pasta. Made in Jamaica Plain, MA, this pasta was phenomenal. The two women owners suggest serving the pasta with just a bit of butter or extra virgin olive oil. The pasta cooks up in mere minutes, so this is the perfect solution for a scrumptious, quick meal. I ended up making a small side of Homemade No-Oil No-Nut Basil Pesto. My dad had a baked chicken breast as well, and I served a simple cucumber, tomato, onion salad with vinegar.

I made half of the recipe for Homemade No-Oil No-Nut Basil Pesto because I only needed a small amount to serve next to the pasta. Pesto without pine nuts is a different taste, with more emphasis on the basil flavor. This was garlicky and full of basil, a perfect complement to the pasta. I suppose a store bought pesto would be tasty next to the pasta, but fresh basil is just so satisfying.

When I volunteered at the farmers’ market, I learned about the oxidation of basil leaves in pesto. If your pesto looks dark, as mine did, it can be attributed to both the tomatoes and also oxidation. Over time as the pesto sits in your refrigerator, the color will deepen. With a good stir, you should see more green appear. This is a good sign of how fresh your pesto is: if your store bought pesto takes a while to darken, there may be additives.

1/2 cup fresh basil, well-packed

1/2 cup chopped tomatoes

1 clove garlic, minced

pinch of salt

1/8-1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated

In a small processor, blend all ingredients including the cheese, which can be added to your preference. Blend until smooth. Keep refrigerated.