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Homemade Half Sour Pickles

When I was 18, I spent the summer working at the Human Genome Center at MIT in One Kendall Sq. Sammy was a NY style deli in the basement level where a faux hipster dive bar is now (I'm looking at you, State Park). They had barrels of complimentary half-sour pickles and there were days that I would just have pickles and potato chips for lunch.

I honestly can't believe I've never tried making them before. I think it's because there's always the danger of botulism if you can or jar wrong. But, guess what? These are fresh refrigerator pickles, so there's no threat of death! It's super easy and it took 5 days to get perfectly crisp, snappy, garlicky pickles. We had them last night with burgers (and chips, of course). I bought more cucumbers to start a new batch already.

The following recipe is from The Midnight Baker


Sorry, the picture is not that exciting. I forgot to take one last night, so this is from lunch today.

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Classic Coffee Cake

I have recently found out that my daughter is allergic to eggs and peanuts, so in addition to epi-pens and general paranoia about everything she will come in contact with, I also have to avoid eggs and peanuts, since I am nursing.

Giving up peanuts is not that hard for me, but eggs is devastating. What has eggs? All the delicious things: most cookies, cakes, brownies, pancakes, waffles, custards, breaded items like fried chicken, meatballs, dumplings, premium ice creams, fresh pasta, mayo and much much more.

So, it is with a heavy heart, I write about the last recipe I made before we found out. It is the best coffee cake I've ever had. The recipe is from thekitchn.com and is excellent. The cake is so moist and tender; the strudel topping was large and ample (after all, it is the best part!). I didn't even bother with the icing drizzle. It was extra work and the cake does not need it.

I made it for my last Babies and Breakfast playdate; so that's two things I miss – eggs and my mommy friends.


Thai Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango

My last pre-baby hurrah was a trip to Southeast Asia a year and a half ago. Christine and I ate so many delicious bites, it is hard to pick a favorite, but the coconut sticky rice stands out in my memory. The dessert is simple, yet complex: the rice is sweet and salty, the ripe mango is tender and fragrant. It is a symphony of flavors, achieved without any gluten or dairy!

I have been waiting for mango season, to finally replicate this dish. Did you know there are over 400 varieties of mango? It’s a travesty that only 2 or 3 are available to us in the US. Ataúlfo mangos are easily the best of the limited selection.

This recipe from serious eats is fussy, requiring a steamer for the rice. It also requires advanced planning, since the rice needs to soak. Oh, and you will also need to make a special trip to the Asian market to find the Thai sweet sticky rice. But, if you do all of that, you will be rewarded with a dessert that transports you to Thailand, without a 20 hour plane trip.

Thai Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango RecipeCollapse )

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

My love of biscuits is well documented, and I have a go to recipe from America’s Test Kitchen. It uses cream as a shortcut so there’s no need for cutting in the butter and all that kneading. But, I had a lot of buttermilk left over from the cinnamon rolls and decided to try a new recipe, from Food.com.

The biscuits come together easily with the help of a food processor. The recipes says it makes 10, but I got 6 generously sized biscuits. I also brushed the tops with a little buttermilk and a sprinkle of sea salt before they went in the oven. The biscuits were tender and fluffy - delicious with a pat of butter and dollop of jam. They were still great the next morning, when I made an egg, bacon and cheese biscuit sandwich.

I’m still loyal to the ATK recipe, simply because buttermilk is not a staple in my household, but when I do have buttermilk, I’ll be making these again.

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Alton Brown’s Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

One of the best and most unexpected consequences of becoming a mother is the community of local moms that I have found through a new parent support group. They have been an unending font of support, advice, information, experience and friendship. We are constantly going for walks, out to lunch, hanging out at a café and over each other’s homes for play dates. What do playdates look like when then kids are all under one? Lots of babies on the floor, adjacent to each other. I used to think that the playdates were really for the benefit of the moms to have adult company, but when Kayla had her daycare trial day, the teacher remarked, “She is so good with other kids; she must have lots of cousins,” Nope, just lots of baby friends. I guess the babies benefit, as well.

I have been using my playdates as an excuse to try out new recipes, and this week I served Alton Brown’s Overnight Cinnamon Rolls. The recipe is straight forward and the dough is soft, supple and easy to work with. I’m not sure why I did not get a great 2nd rise from the dough, but it did not seem to affect the final product. I love that I was able to make these the night before and pop them in to the oven the next morning.

The cinnamon rolls were tender and flaky. The warm cinnamon smell permeated the whole house and I loved the cream cheese icing. I saw another blogger use this recipe as a basis for her sticky pecan buns, which I may need to do next time. After all, caramel and nuts can only make this even better.

Alton Brown’s Overnight Cinnamon Rolls RecipeCollapse )

I'm Back! (And Pecan Macaroons)

I’m back! It’s been exactly a year since I took a hiatus from Flogging, and a lot has changed since last May. My daughter, Kayla, was born in December and life as a new mom has been all consuming. It seems that parenthood is 80% worrying about their eating, sleeping and pooping - not exactly Flog-worthy material. But I miss writing and she is going to start solids soon, so all the more reason to return to the Flog! But, be forewarned, the content of the Flog may look a little different; We are eating out less and baby friendly recipes may appear more often. But, loyal reader, I have missed you and I hope you will come along for a new ride.

I have made a brunch of new mom friends and we are frequently getting together for playdates. Some of the babies have different allergies and that means finding recipes for alternative diets for snacks. Here’s one of my new favorite cookie recipes, that happens to be dairy-free and gluten-free. Plus, it’s super easy to make, if you have a food processor.

The recipe is from Rachael Ray Everyday Magazine. I did not bother to beat the egg white beforehand – I put it in the food processor instead and let it rip for a minute. I also like the ginger notes, so I doubled the amount of ground ginger.

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G's newest recipe: A bun in the oven

Hello Dear Readers,

As you may have noticed, I have not been posting to the Flog for a while. I'm happy to share it is because Steve and I are expecting a baby in December 2016! I am officially in my 2nd trimester, and all tests have shown little baby McTsoi to be healthy. We are elated and feel so blessed.

Although I love the Flog, I am going to be taking a bit of a break from it. There is a world of new stuff to learn for me (who knew there are so many different options when choosing a stroller?!?!) and so my focus need to be preparing for the baby the best way I can.

I hope to be back after the little monkey gets here.

Love to you all! I hope you find some delicious eats and tell me all about it.


It was a surprise birthday party for my friend Jes and I volunteered to make the cupcakes. With some super stealthy help from her cousin, I found out her favorite was gold cupcakes with white frosting. I did not have a go to yellow cupcake recipe so I did some copious research and decided on the Taste of Home recipe.

It was simple to put together and the cupcakes had a moist and tender crumb. They held up well to frosting and the cake went well with the vanilla frosting, as well as a Nutella frosting I created.

The vanilla frosting is from Cook's Illustrated and is super simple to put together. The frosting was thick and creamy, with enough vanilla flavor. The secret is let your stand mixer do all the work. I hope you have better decorating skills than I do. Thank God for sprinkles.

As for the Nutella frosting, I don't have a recipe - I just winged it. I beat together equal parts softened butter and Nutella, added Confectioners' sugar till I got a thick frosting and drizzled heavy cream in until it was the right fluffy texture. I generally don't recommend winging it, but I was feeling experimental and it turned out amazing. Let's hope I can replicate it for next time.

Happy Birthday, my old friend!

Gold Cupcake recipeCollapse )


Cook's Illustrated's buttercream frostingCollapse )

Shanghai Village, Arlington

Shanghai Village is in Arlington center, making it convenient for a pre-bridge game bite. Nate and I were seated immediately at 5:30pm. The Chinese restaurant has been around for ages but last fall they closed for renovations and added a new sushi bar. There is a banner advertising their "Grand Re-Opening!"

I was there once, in 1999, I remember it serving average American Chinese food. Nate had a Groupon to use, specifically for the sushi menu, so I had the chirashi ($18). The word "chirashi" means "scattered," and is basically any assortment of fish and vegetables on top of a bed of sushi rice. It's like lazy man's nigiri. My version came with salmon, tuna, escolar, hamachi and imitation crab meat. The sushi rice was seasoned correctly and was even the right temperature. The fish was cut well, but the tuna and escolar were watery and bland.

Nate got the Spicy Roll Combo ($18): spicy tuna, spicy salmon and spicy yellowtail. Despite the "spicy" title, Nate deemed all the rolls bland. He did not finish his meal.

There were only 2 waitresses and they were harried. We had to wave her down each time we wanted more water, more diet coke, or the bill.

Luckily, the Groupon gave us a $12 discount; the prices are high for the quality of what you are getting. It might be another 17 years before I return.


Cha Yen Thai Cookery, Watertown

People have been raving about the "delicious, authentic" Thai food at Cha Yen Thai Cookery since it opened in 2014. I attempted to go with some friends after a recent bridge tournament, only to discover the restaurant is primarily takeout; there is one table for 4, and a few high stools at a counter. My friends left for another restaurant, but I determined and waited in line for take out. When I finally reached the counter, they told me it was a 25-40 minute wait for takeout, so I gave up.

2 weeks later, I convinced my co-workers to try it for International Thursday. Luckily, the lunch wait was far more reasonable (10 minutes). I had the pork pad Thai ($8.50). It was a solid rendition; the noodles were the right texture and the sauce was fresh, not too sweet. I liked the crispy friend shallots on top. My pork was a tad overcooked. I wish they had mango coconut sticky rice; I have been hunting for some since I got back from SE Asia.

It's a fine option in the area, but not worth a 40 minute wait. Go next door to Sevan and pick up some baklava while you are there.


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