National Margarita Day, celebrate with EVOO’s Jalapeno Margarita

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Thursday, February 22 is National Margarita Day

One of the added benefits from all of the preserving we do at EVOO is we have these great locally sourced in-house-made flavor bombs that we can add to our cocktails.  Our specialty drinks are often flavored with things like apple butter, peach butter, berry jams, preserved cherries and pickles, which we use to flavor a multitude of our specialty drinks. The most popular of these drinks is our Jalapeno Margarita, made simply with just the finest ingredients: Jalapeno Tequila, fresh squeezed lime juice, agave nectar and EVOO’s sweet pickled jalapenos all shaken together with some ice and then strained into a salted rimmed cocktail glass.

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EVOO’s Jalapeno Margarita:

2.5 ounces   Tanteo Jalapeno Tequila

1.5 ounces   fresh squeezed Lime Juice

.5 ounces   Light Agave Nectar

4 each   slices of EVOO’s sweet Pickled Jalapenos, plus 1/2 ts of the Jalapeno Pickle Brine

Shake well with ice, strain into a salted rim cocktail glass, garnish with a few additional slices of jalapenos.

note: most likely you won’t have a jar of EVOO’s jalapenos in your cupboard.  You can substitute your favorite brand; most brands are not sweet, just add an extra squirt of agave nectar if desired.

 

 

What’s Cooking: Keeping it local in January

Okay so it’s late January and nothing is growing in the fields of New England. What does a restaurant that prides itself on really being farm-to-table do to maintain a menu that is true to their ideals during a long cold winter?

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Local cellared roots

Well, fortunately for us more and more local farms either have, and are now using or they have installed root cellars.  These farms are able to supply us with all the root vegetables, winter squashes and cabbages we need.  Great local carrots, beets, turnips, parsnips, radishes, kohlrabi and potatoes are easy to come by.  Many farms also have have heated greenhouses that provide us with lettuce, arugula, spinach, pea greens and even some herbs.  Getting local  sustainable livestock is not a problem, all of the land-based proteins used at EVOO year round are from independent small family-owned farms.

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A greenhouse at Red Fire farm in Granby, Ma

However, the most important thing we do is plan for it.  Throughout the local growing season starting in the late spring and finishing well after the hard frost we pickle, can, preserve, dehydrate and freeze.  This is a lot of work and it comes at great expense to us.  But, we made a commitment to ourselves and our community, to be as local and sustainable as possible.

Some of the items we pickled this year include: asparagus, rhubarb, fiddlehead ferns, garlic scapes, cucumbers, onions, garlic, okra, beets, green beans, peppers, jalapenos, cauliflower and green tomatoes.  Some of the pickles are sweet, some are dill and some are fermented.  Many pickles are canned in glass mason jars, while others are in big buckets finding their way to the inner depths of our walk-in refrigerators.

 

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We make gallons upon gallons of apple butter, which we use in our apple crisp at EVOO, on a winter squash pizza at Za and whatever other way(s) we can come up with.  Big vats of jalapeno and habanero hot sauces are made, processed and put-up. Many flats of local berries and grapes, at the peak of their ripeness are made into jellies and jams, and we canned more cherries than anyone would ever want to pit.

 

 

We oven-dry and vacuum seal cases of plum tomatoes, so that in the dead of winter we are still able to have local tomatoes on our menu.

 

 

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We shuck, vacuum seal and freeze bushels of corn. We had local corn salsa on our menu last week with a pastured MA beef empanada.

 

 

 

 

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Kohlrabi Kimchi

We also make buckets of kimchi, some using the traditional napa cabbage, while others are made with kohlrabi and still others are with zucchini or butternut squash.

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Dried mint and basil from our Rooftop garden

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Dried chives from our Rooftop Garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our rooftop garden often provides us with more herbs than we can use, so we dry them for use in the winter months.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We dry and grind locally grown chile peppers, using them wherever a little bit of heat is needed.

Running a sustainable restaurant in Massachusetts has its challenges and we have been taking them head-on for years.  During our 20 year tenure it has gotten a whole lot easier, the local movement has helped us immensely.  Farmers who used to look at winter as a time for a short break and planning for the upcoming season are now figuring out ways to grow, store and sell more to restaurants and at winter farmers markets.  We have also learned how to plan better for the winter, making sure we take the time to preserve our short growing season’s bounty for use throughout the whole year.

If you’re into root vegetables, pickles, preserves and greenhouse greens, come on in and see how we are serving them, at the same time you will be supporting us and your local farming community.

A link to our menu:

http://evoorestaurant.com/#menu

Employee Spotlight: Ryan Krystoploski

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January’s Employee Spotlight is Ryan Krystoploski, he is someone who I have a great bond with.  Ryan first joined EVOO in 2010, soon after we moved to Kendall Square; while he was still in culinary school and not yet old enough to drink.  Ryan had a brief reprieve from working with us, he was a sous chef in a north shore Italian restaurant, fortunately for us he decided to EVOO was the place to be.  He was very green, with limited experience in real food cookery.  Through his hard work, perseverance, and some guidance Ryan has become a very good cook.  Ryan is hard-working, conscientious and well liked by his co-workers.

One of Ryan’s best attributes is how much he cares, he really wants to do a good job; making great food, keeping the kitchen clean and organized.  He helps us strive to ensure every guest has a great experience.

Ryan, even with his poor taste in music, think adolescent female pop, is a pleasure to work with. He has become a big part of the core team here at EVOO.  His efforts are greatly appreciated, I look forward to watching Ryan grow as a cook and as a person.

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As is the new custom, Steve Kurland, EVOO / Za general manager and co-owner came up with the following list of questions for Ryan to answer.

January 2018, Spotlight Questions

How long have you worked at EVOO and in which jobs?   On and off for about 5 years, starting off as the fry guy going to culinary school and worked my way up to lead line cook with aspirations to be sous chef one day.

What’s your favorite food item on our current menu?   I’m a big guy so I always go for the studded beef tenderloin. In late summer, when we have the heirloom tomatoes I like to substitute the vegetables for a creamy tomato and onion salad; delicious!

What have you learned working at EVOO?   I could write a 15 page paper on what I’ve learned at EVOO. This place has taught Me how to care, cook, plant, think, and become an overall better person. This place has helped me reach goals I never thought I could obtain. The best part is I’m still not done learning, even after knowing Pete for seven years!

If you received $1,000,000 tomorrow, what would you do with it?   Tell Peter [McCarthy-chef/owner] and Randy [Platt-sous chef] I’ll be back in a month!

What’s the last book you read?   I am currently reading It by Stephen King.

What was your favorite class in high school?   My favorite class in high school was Art and Animation. I took 3 years of that class and enjoyed every minute of it.

Do you have a pet?   I personally do not, but the rest of my family does. Combined they have 5 dogs and one cat. My sisters puppy Max is my best bud though.

What do you do on your time off?   I try to stay active as well as visit new restaurants and catch up with family and friends. Life is too short to let it pass by.

What was your first car?   ‘91.5 Acura Integra 3 tone crapbox; drove that bad boy to the ground.

Do you speak any languages other than English?   Thanks to my friends in the back kitchen and prep room, I can carry on a conversation in Spanish.

What is one thing you are passionate about?   I’m passionate about cooking and I can attribute that to Peter, Randy, and Anthony [Mazzotta], the old sous chef. They continue to show me what it means to be a chef and not a plain old line cook.

What’s your favorite song right now?   Anything but Wilco…[Peter’s favorite band-always on the EVOO music playlist].

 

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Don’t diss Wilco or I will post photos like this.

 

 

 

Ryan is looking for an apartment in the Medford, Somerville area, if you know of any availabilities, comment to this blog.

Za final cooking instructions

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1/2 cooked, not cut ‘za

As many of you know Za is EVOO’s sister restaurant with two locations, one in Kendall Square, Cambridge, abutting EVOO and the original Za is on Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington.  When the timing is not right for you to dine at either restaurant, you can still enjoy ‘za on your own schedule.  Below is the best way I have found for finish cooking or re-heating ‘za. So, if you are not sure what time you want to eat, but you know you want ‘za, don’t serve it soggy and cold.  Follow these simple instructions to eat crispy crusted hot pizza whenever you want with little effort.

The first thing you need to do is order a stack of za from either location.  They are 10″ pizzas that will serve one hardy appetite or two can share one za paired with one of Za’s amazing salads.  Order a bunch and finish cooking on your time.  I tend to order them early in the day, asking for them to be 1/2 cooked, not cut and refrigerated until pick-up. There is no need to take them home hot.  When I get home I refrigerate the pizzas until I’m ready, whether it’s a few hours or a few days it doesn’t matter.

When it’s time, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Once your oven reaches 375, place a heavy duty cookie sheet on the middle rack in your oven and heat the cookie sheet for 5 minutes, this will ensure a crisp bottom.  If you have multiple racks and multiple sheet pans you can finish cooking several pizzas at a time, however, be careful the temperature on the bottom and top racks can vary greatly from the middle one.

Now add your pizza, I have found it takes between 8 and 12 minutes to get the crust crispy and the cheese to gooey.  Use a burger flipping spatula lifting the ‘za in the middle.  The sides of the ‘za not being held by the spatula should not droop, the topping should be hot and bubbling in spots. Remove the Za from the oven place on a big cutting board, cut into eight equal sized pieces and serve.

 

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Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

 

 

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Step 2: When oven reaches 375, place sheet pan on the middle rack in the oven for an additional 5 minutes.

 

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Step 3: Place ‘za on hot sheet pan.

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Step 4: Look at doneness, brown edges, bubbly cheese.

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Step 5: Check bottom, za is nicely browned and not droopy.

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Step 6: Cut and enjoy your za.

 

Employee Spotlight – Alex gladwell

Each Month we are going to spotlight one of our employees.  I hope these segments show what a wonderfully diverse workplace we have at EVOO.  This month being the first in the series we choose Alex Gladwell to be our first victim.  Alex is one of our long-term EVOO employees who has worked as a server, bartender and a supervisor.  I also keep trying to get her to work in the kitchen as well; I think she has the right temperament and work ethic to be a very good cook.

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Alex working a recent shift at the bar

Steve Kurland, EVOO’s general manager and business partner, put some questions to Alex, here are her responses-

EVOO’s Employee Spotlight Questions

How long have you worked at EVOO and in which jobs?

I have worked at EVOO since 2013, as server, supervisor, and bartender.

What’s your favorite food item on the menu?

The beef tenderloin and, when in season, the bluefish.

What’s your favorite drink that we serve?

Catcher in the Rye! (Old Overholt Rye, St Elder – Elderberry Liquor, Lemon Juice, Cava)

What’s your favorite app?

Oh man, this is a tough one. Think it’d have to be the Country Pate. That, and the rabbit confit salad. And all things charcuterie.

What’s the last book you read?

 “Bad Feminist” by Roxane Gay. And I just picked up Barbara Lynch’s “A life of Playing with Fire”. Both books by strong, inspirational women.

What’s your favorite music?

 Can’t really choose a favorite, per say. Love jazz, R&B, folk, old school country, hip hop. I would say most genres, except for maybe heavy metal and techno—not so much my jam.

Do you have a pet?

No.

What do you do on your time off?

 I love to hike, hang with friends/family, and travel as much as possible. This year I was fortunate to travel to Cuba as well as New Orleans. Hoping 2018 also consists of some adventure, as I’m hopeful it will.

What was your first car?

 Mazda 626

Now that you have gotten to know Alex a little bit better, if there are any other employees that you would like us to spotlight, as well as questions you would like us to ask, just add comments to this blog.

Mason Jars

During the local growing season we fill a great quantity of Mason jars.  In an effort to prolong the local growing season, we pickle, can and preserve a variety of local ingredients; keeping us stocked-up with locally grown produce through New England’s long winter.  We make sweet pickles, dill pickles, pickled cauliflower, pickled peppers, pickled onions, pickled garlic, pickled okra, pickled rhubarb, pickled fiddlehead ferns, pickled ramps and pickled scapes.  In addition to all of the pickles we make a variety fruit jams, this year we made grape jelly, raspberry jam, strawberry jam and plum jam.  We also canned cherries soaked in spiced red wine, and we finish our canning season with many jars of apple butter.  Having all of these pickles and preserves available to us allows us to add locally grown sweet, spicy, acidic and interesting flavors to our menu.  Making all of the pickles and preserves is no small feat, many man (or woman) hours are used every week to stock up our inventory.

At the end of September when habanero pepper season is in full swing, and carrots, onions, garlic and tomatoes are all still readily available, we make enough hot sauce to last us the entire year; this year we made 15 gallons.  We use the hot sauce in our habanero coleslaw, it often finds it’s way into hollandaise, tartar sauce and wherever we need to add some heat.

EVOO Habanero Hot Sauce

Habanero Hot Sauce

Our most popular and most utilized Mason jar fodder is jalapenos.  We fill more than 200 quart sized Mason jars with our sweet – spicy pickled jalapenos.  During the local growing season, which runs from July through first frost, Kimball Fruit Farm in Pepperell, MA, supplies us with a bushel or two each week.  Fredy, our prep cook extraordinaire slices the peppers, rinses them with cold water to remove excess seeds; which contributes to the spicy heat, and then he prepares the brine.  He sterilizes the jars, fills them with the rinsed peppers and hot brine and finally he processes them in a hot water bath.  We set them up in hopes that we have produced enough for the full year, until we can make more.  I don’t want to run out of these peppers they are too popular.  At every family or friend  gathering I get hounded for these peppers.  I make sure a bring several jars with me to keep everyone from twitching.  I get it, I personally go through three to four Mason Jar quarts a year. They are really that good.

At EVOO we always have our pickled jalapenos on our lunch menu, served on our chicken sausage sandwich.  At Za our sister we use them as a pizza topping and in as an ingredient in our avocado salad.  Any recipe that I write that calls for jalapenos we use our home made pickles. Just like any of the other pickles you find on our menu they are all made in house, with recipes that we have spent a long time perfecting. We never use store bought pickles.

 

 

Pie in the Sky

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We are proudly baking pies for the twentieth consecutive year in support of Community Servings’ annual fund raiser Pie in the Sky.  Every year since EVOO opened in 1998, we bake 25 to 30 pies, for pick-up a couple of days before Thanksgiving. Many of the areas best restaurants, bakeries and caterers bake a total of 2500 pies to support Community Servings.

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Fredy getting ready to par-bake some of the pie shells

Each pie costs $30, which provides a week’s worth of nutritious home-delivered meals to a Community Servings’ client and a tasty Thanksgiving treat to the buyer.

 

Follow this link to find to buy a pie.  https://pieinthesky.org/buyflow/cart.cfm

 

EVOO’s Sweet Potato Pie Recipe

Ingredients:

1 each      pre-baked Pie Shell

¼ cup      Dark Brown Sugar

2 cups      Sweet Potato Purée

(from 3-4 baked sweet potatoes)

2 TB        Unsalted Butter

3 TB        Bourbon

1 TB        Molasses

3 each      Eggs

2 each      Egg Yolks

1 cup       granulated Sugar

½ ts         ground Nutmeg

¼ ts         Salt

1 ts          Vanilla Extract

2/3 cup    Milk

 

Method:

Find your favorite pie shell recipe make and pre-bake it.  Evenly spread the brown sugar inside the pie shell.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Bake the sweet potatoes until cooked, while they are still hot, scoop out the pulp, measure out 2 packed cups. Place the sweet potato pulp in the bowl of a food processor and add the butter, pulse until butter is melted and sweet potatoes are a smooth puree. Add the remaining ingredients, pulse until smooth. Pour the sweet potato mixture into the prepared pie shell. Bake until set 45 minutes – 1 hour, until set.

Cool at room temperature for 2 hours and serve with top quality apple butter and lots of whipped cream.