Thursday, December 31, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
I can't take credit for this one and neither can my step mom. She told me where the recipe came from, but, oddly enough, I don't remember. Whatever- it was good, tart, not too sweet and went well with our Baked Cinnamon-Apple French Toast!
It's pretty easy:
1 part Prosecco
1 part Pomegranate Juice
1 part Orange Juice, freshly squeezed
Here's the only pain: It has to be freshly squeezed OJ. We tried this at Thanksgiving with store bought and it turned out a freaky gray color, I'm guessing from preservatives.
Hope everyone had a good holiday!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
There's nothing like taking a vegetarian classic and adding bacon to it.
Prep and saute Bacon.
Prep and saute Veggies.
Add Stock and Beans.
3 slices Bacon, chopped
1 Onion, chopped
2 medium cloves Garlic, minced
2 tsp dried Oregano
1 Tbsp Chili Powder
1 Tbsp Salt
2 tsp black Pepper
2 cups Chicken Stock
2 cans Black Beans, rinsed
1 Tbsp hot sauce
Saute chopped Bacon until crispy in a large pot on medium high heat. Remove Bacon and reserve.
Place Onion to the pot and saute until translucent. Add Garlic and cook until fragrant. Season the mixture with Oregano, Chili Powder, Salt and Pepper. Cook for another minute.
Add Chicken Stock, stirring well. Incorporate the Black Beans. At this point I know some are cringing at the idea of using canned beans. If you feel inclined, go the extra mile and soak some beans over night. I usually want my Black Bean soup "right now!". So it's hard for me to plan ahead.
Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes. Add hot sauce (Krystal is my preferred!) and more Salt and Pepper to taste, if needed.
The usual suspects: Sour Cream, Onion, Cheddar Cheese. I used Green Onion because I had some. Oh! And don't forget to top with the crispy reserved Bacon. Unless you ate it while the soup was simmering. Not that I did or anything.
Monday, December 21, 2009
- Make marinade/sauce.
- Marinate fish.
- Make Pa Muchim and keep in fridge until dinner.
- Prep veggies.
- Cook Salmon.
- Cook veggies.
- Boil noodles.
Salmon Marinade and Sauce
2 Salmon Fillets*
2 Tbsp Sugar
¼ cup Sake
3 Tbsp Mirin
3 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
¼ cup White Miso
¼ cup Sesame Oil
1 Tbsp Ginger, grated
1 tsp Sriracha
Combine Sugar, Sake, Mirin, Rice Vinegar and Sesame Oil and stir well. Add Miso and stir until mixture is smooth. Add Ginger and Sriracha.
Marinate 2 Salmon Fillets for at least 4 hours with half of sauce and reserve the other half for the noodles.
To cook Salmon, preheat oven to 350F. Heat a medium sauté pan on medium high heat. When pan is hot, spray with Pam or another cooking spray. Place the fish, presentation side down (that’s the good looking side) in the pan. Sear until fish loosens from the pan and then flip the fish. Do NOT play with the fish! Leave it alone and let it cook! Continue cooking fish in the oven until it is done. (Otherwise known as 14oF. It'll take about 10-12 minutes.)
1 bundle Soba Noodles**
2 Tbsp Sesame Oil
1 Red Pepper, sliced
2 cups Carrots, sliced
2 cups Green Beans, snapped
¼ Cup Soy Sauce
Cook Noodles according to package.
Heat Sesame Oil in the medium sauté pan on medium high heat. Add vegetables and cook until just beginning to soften. Add Soy Sauce and continue to cook until vegetables are tender but still firm. Whatever that means-if you like softer veggies, then cook them longer!
Combine noodles, veggies and reserved sauce. If you want it spicier, add more Sriracha!
Pa Muchim (Scallion Salad)
3 Scallions, sliced very thin
2 tsp Sugar
3 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
3 Tbsp Sesame Oil
1 tsp Sesame Seeds
Soak Scallions in a bowl of ice water for about 20-30 minutes prior to preparing the dish. This will allow the Scallions to curl and become pretty. Meanwhile, combine all the other ingredients. Add more Vinegar is you want some extra tanginess! Dry Scallions thoroughly and combine with sauce.
Noodles with veggies/Salmon/Scallions
Pinot Gris from Alsace. The floral notes brought out the ginger flavor like it's nobody's business!
*If you can deal with Salmon that still has the skin on, go for it. It will prevent the fish from drying out and adding extra flavor. If it grosses you out, skip it.
**You can get Soba noodles (also known as Buckwheat or Udon noodles) at any Asian store. I know "bundle" sounds off-putting, but you'll see what I'm talking about when you buy them. Three bundles to a package.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
I'm gussied up: dress, heels, tiny purse.
I stare at the pouring rain from the backseat of a cab.
Anxiety is building as I am heading to one of my most dreaded destinations.
I've been invited to a holiday party....at the airport!
Atop the Hyatt Regency at the Orlando Airport lies what can only be described as a tiny culinary gem of Orlando. I understand if some of you are confused or bewildered at the thought of this. When I first saw the dinner menu for the holiday party at Hemisphere, I felt exactly as you do now. How could an airport hotel restaurant possible provide such a fun and interesting menu? And more importantly, how could I ever feel relaxed in a dining environment while watching planes take off and land??
I don't have any pictures...but here's some of what we dined on:
*Goat Cheese Lollipops dusted with Pistachios with a Raspberry Gelee
*Lobster Risotto Spheres with a Citrus Aioli
*Bacon Wrapped Scallops with Rosemary Maple Syrup
*Oysters on the Half Shell with Pink Grapefruit Salsa
*Canaveral Royal Red Shrimp Cocktail with Orange Fennel Remoulade
*Bay and Citrus Roasted Turkey with Farro Butternut Squash Risotto
*Seared Sea Bass with Three Cheese Polenta and Tomato Vinaigrette
*Petite Filet Mignon with Cognac Cream Sauce, Puff Pastry, Roasted Shiitake and Oyster Mushrooms with a Foie Gras Butter
Multiple desserts with my favorite being:
*Petite Four Brandy Snap Basket filled with Orange Ganache
Yes, I sampled all of the above. All were outstanding but I had one favorite from each course. The Goat Cheese Lollipops were perfect with the creamy cheese, slight crunch of the Pistachios and sweetness of the Gelee. The Sea Bass stood out for it's creamy and cheesy Polenta with the flavorful Tomato Vinaigrette. And lastly, the Orange Ganache was almost over the top but a perfect pairing for the Chardonnay.
And yes, the view was amazing. Surprising I kept my cool about being at the airport and, well, near planes. The hotel and restaurant are so insulated that you can't even hear them! While the food was excellent I do have to comment that this was a private party with passed hor d'oeuvres and stations. The servers were all pleasant, but there was no sit down service.
Realistically, I know it's a pain to even think about driving out to this restaurant and dealing with airport traffic. Plus, I just read on their website that they do not have dinner service on Saturdays and Sundays. But the next time your flight is delayed, head on up and grab a bite while you're waiting!
Check out their menu here:
Monday, November 30, 2009
I've probably been to Adriatico a half dozen times since it opened a few years ago. So this one is long overdue.
Thinking about this restaurant brings two things to my mind: fantastic food and great wine. We had family dinner at Adriatico last week a few days before the holiday to get ready for the mass amount of food we were about to consume over the next few days.
Sitting down we were immediately presented with three apps: Bruschetta al Pomodoro, Calamari alla Napoletana and Mozzarella Caprese. Sounds like your standard fare of Italian apps, right? But the first bite will make you realize why Adriatico stands above the rest. It's all about the seasoning. Anyone can make bruschetta: bread, olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and basil. Same goes with Caprese. But what I find in restaurants is that most are afraid to season. In my mind, salt and pepper do not belong on a table because, well, guests should not have to use them to season food. Most people do not realize that salt should not be utilized to make food more salty, but to enhance and accentuate the flavors already present in the food. It's the same with acidity in wine: too much can be overwhelming, but not enough will lead to a flat and one dimensional wine.
Point being, the apps popped with flavor and were delicious. And it's probably worth the trip just to try the Neapolitan sauce that is served with the Calamari.
I ordered the Filet with Artichokes and Barolo reduction for my entree. (See above.) And you know what? They also cook a great steak! Perfectly medium rare in another flavorful sauce, I literally ate everything on my plate. My only negative comment is the inconsistent knife cuts that made the carrots look odd and the potatoes either over or undercooked.
We also enjoyed our favorite wine offered at Adriatico-the Zenato Ripassa. Quick wine lesson: Ripassa is from the Valpolicella region in Italy (near Verona). Translated as "re-passing", the wine is passed over the lees (solids) of a wine called Amarone. It leads to a very rich wine with stewed dark fruit flavors that really compliment full bodied Italian entrees.
So next time you're near College Park, I'd recommend that you drop by and have dinner. The restaurant itself is comfortable, non-pretentious and always dependable.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Here's my favorite dish from the holiday:
4 pounds Brussels Sprouts, cooked
6 slices Bacon, minced
1 Red Onion, diced
4 Tbsp Butter
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 cup dried Cranberries
Heat medium saute pan on medium high. Add Bacon and cook until crisp. Remove Bacon and reserve.
Add Red Onion and butter to pan and saute until translucent. Add Red Wine Vinegar and deglaze pan. Add Brown Sugar and cook until mixture has slightly reduced.
Combine Bacon, Red Wine mixture, Brussels Sprouts and Cranberries.
*Adapted from Robert Irvine
Monday, November 23, 2009
It had been so long since I last visited TRP that I think I was beginning to forget how much it, well, rocks.
Having recently completed my online mixology "certification", I was pleasantly surprised at the drink offerings. I keep saying that Orlando needs it own version of a Speakeasy....going back to classic cocktails with fresh house-made mixers. If I was ten years younger and made of money, I would totally quit my job and do so. (And yes, I've told my bosses this.) But, this certainly isn't a fantasy world and to be honest, I've had my fair share of good luck recently. So better to not temp the fates. Regardless, I was quite happy to sip my Sidecar as I perused the wine list and menu. (And yes, it was house-made sour mix.)
We started, as usual, with an order of the house-made soft Pretzels served with whole grain mustard and a Taggelio-porter fondue. It was perfect, and one of my dining mates suggested utilizing the fondue as the base for a soup! Which sounds a lot better that my proclamation that I would want to bathe in it.
I ordered what I had been thinking about all day-the Steak Frites. The Porcini marinated Flat Iron Steak was cooked perfectly and was extremely flavorful! And the Truffle Fries with the Aioli were really out of this world.
I've already decided to become more of a regular at TRP. Everything there is really all in it's place: ambiance, service, food and drink.
Note: The picture above is my half eaten Steak Frites. I took the rest home and had it as a wrap for lunch the next day (with the leftover caramelized onions from one of my dining partner's Pub Burger). It was one good sammie!
Sunday, November 22, 2009
1 cup uncooked Farro
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 large Shallot, minced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 lb Green Beans
2 cups cooked Corn
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
2 oz Goat Cheese
2 Tbsp Green Onion, sliced
Salt and Pepper to taste
Soak Farro in water in the refrigerator for six to eight hours.
Cook Farro according to package.
Heat 1 Tbsp Olive Oil in a large saute pan. Add Shallot and cook for one minute. Add Garlic and cook until fragrant. Add Green Beans and cook until bright green but still al dente (about 5 minutes).
In a small bowl, combine Dijon Mustard and remaining 2 Tbsp of Olive Oil. Mix until ingredients are well combined.
Combine Farro, Green Bean Mixture and Dijon Mustard mixture. Add Goat Cheese and mix until incorporated and creamy.
Top with Green Onions.
Tip: I also added two poached and shredded Chicken Breasts for some protein.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
I'd been looking forward to a beautiful afternoon of food and wine all week. And today all the cards were in play: great weather, freaky fantastic parking, the best company I could imagine, and well, I looked good. But the fest really lacked that "world-class culinary event" that I was promised on the brochure.
I won't bore you with details about the stalls I did not approach: PF Chang's, Pei Wei, Panera, Funky Monkey, etc. And the ones I did sample really did not blow me out of the water. The only highlights were Black Olive with a tasty Artichoke and Olive Crostini and Prima with their Arincini (fried balls of risotto). I haven't been to either restaurant but they are both officially on the list of places to go.
I'd also been soaking some Farro all day so I came home and went ahead and cooked the salad I'd been planning for the week. Had a few bites and realized it was better than anything I'd tried this afternoon! (Recipe to follow!)
At this point I probably won't go next year, but if for some reason my selective memory kicks in and I only remember Primo, I'll make sure to buy my ticket early and only pay $10.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Reading my last entry from Luma, I'm not surprised at all to have the same feelings about their food! Delicious, innovative and smart all come to mind. I had the Snake River Farms Flank Steak served with Farro, Fingerling Potatoes, pickled red onion and an onion ring. I did some quick research and found that Snake River Farms is home to the infamous American Wagyu Beef I referenced in my last entry. Long story short, they breed a hybrid of Japanese Wagyu and American Black Angus Beef.
My meal was fantastic. The flank was perfectly cooked and seasoned well. The earthiness of the Farro (an Italian grain) and potatoes were an excellent contrast to the mouth puckering pickled onion.
My dinner companion had the Maple Leaf Farms Duck with Forbidden Black Rice, Pineapple Marmalade and Passion Fruit Jus. Yet another quick search revealed that Maple Leaf Farms is located in Indiana and is known the "family owned company (that) dominates the North American duck market...". The meal was quite tasty and the sweetness of the marmalade and jus paired well with the tender duck.
For dessert we split a Chocolate Lava Cake served with Popcorn ice cream and homemade caramel popcorn. I'll admit we got it for the ice cream and I only wish there had been more on the plate!
We also had some great wines. I really appreciate the organization and creativity in the wine list. My favorite was a Melon de Bourgogne (ironically from Oregon) that surprised me with it's forward simplicity yet complex ending.
I love the fact that Luma has been consistently putting out great product for quite some time and I hope that they continue with their success.
I think I'm going to head to the Food and Wine Festival downtown this weekend. I skipped it last year, but haven't been to a fest for awhile so I think it's time!
Monday, November 9, 2009
4 cups Barley, cooked
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 medium Shallot, minced
2 small Garlic cloves, minced
2 cups Portobello Mushrooms, sliced
1 lb Green Beans, snipped
2 cups Chicken Stock
¼ cup Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Cook Barley al dente. Reserve.
Heat Olive Oil in a large pot on medium high heat. Add Shallot and cook until translucent. Add Garlic and cook until fragrant. Add mushrooms and cook until soft, about five minutes. Season with Salt and Pepper.
Add Green Beans and Chicken Stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until liquid begins to reduce, about five minutes.
Add reserved Barley and continue cooking until some of the liquid is absorbed. Add Parmesan Cheese.
Salt and Pepper to taste.
Quick Tip: You can find Barley at Whole Foods or Fresh Market. I used the quick cooking kind to save on time. Make sure to cook it al dente as it will continue cooking after you add it to the Mushroom mixture. This dish is even better the next day!
Also, I served this with seared Sea Bass. It really added a fantastic richness to the Barley!
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
I was really tired when I was at the grocery on Sunday afternoon. I spent last weekend in New Smyrna drinking Pina Coladas and Lemoncello between rumbling and tumbling in the surf. Exhausted and standing at the seafood counter deciding on a pre-packaged sushi dinner, I made the decision: I most likely won’t be cooking this week.
So on my way home from work the other night, I decided to do something I rarely do at all, none the less on a Monday evening. I stopped for takeout. I’ve driven by Soups and Stews by Lea numerous times since I moved to this side of town a few months ago. My impression at first glance was to make fun of the name. Kinda like the new Steak and Salad up on Mills. But after a few more drive bys, I started to appreciate the simplicity. Soups. Stews. Paninnis.
Midway through my day and after checking out their website, I decided that fresh soup and half of a paninni was definitely the cure for the Monday-after-a-weekend-at-the-
The space itself is clean, well lit and seemingly comfortable although I ordered and received my food in a number of minutes.
I was offered samples of any of the daily soups and started with the Three Bean and Cabbage (which, ironically I had homemade at a friend’s house a few weeks ago). But it was bland and flat with some seriously undercooked beans. I ended up getting my second sample: Pumpkin Soup. I love the pumpkin time of year. Some of the best beers, soups and breads are available. This soup was definitely no exception. When I first sampled the soup I was struck by an unusual earthiness that accompanied the sweetness of the pumpkin. So much so that I asked about the ingredients. I was floored to learn that my arch enemy cilantro was the culprit! My favorite thing about the soup was the generous helping of black pepper. It really gave it a perfect sweet yet savory yet spicy flavor.
I’m a huge fan of the Panini and was pleasantly surprised by my options. I choose half of a Turkey Trot to go along with my soup. Again, simplicity: Turkey, Fontina, Argula, Pear. The freshness of the turkey was enhanced by the spiciness of the arugula and the creaminess of the Fontina cheese. The pears gave it just a touch of sweetness, which is why I originally ordered it with pumpkin soup. The sandwiches are pre-made and they simply press them to order. My only complaint is that the sandwich was very greasy from the butter on the Panini press. Next time I visit I’m going to try the vegetable wrap: Mascarpone cheese with dill, tomatoes, zucchini, red onion, artichokes and apples.
Check out their website at:
Sunday, November 1, 2009
4 cups Chicken Stock or Broth
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 large Shallot, minced
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 cup Arborio Rice
½ cup dry White Wine
2 cups Corn (fresh or canned, depending on season)
¼ cup Parmesan Cheese
1 Tbsp Butter
Salt and Pepper
(If using fresh Corn, remove kernels from cob with a sharp knife. Heat a large sauté pan on medium high and spray with pam. Add Corn and roast until al dente. Don’t forget to season with Salt and Pepper.)
Place Chicken Stock or Broth in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer.
Heat Olive Oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add Shallot and Garlic and sauté until soft, stirring often. Add Arborio Rice and stir to coat Rice with Oil.
Add White Wine. Keeping pot on medium heat, stir often. When all liquid has been absorbed, add another ½ cup of Chicken Stock. Repeat until all Chicken Stock has been used. Stir often to avoid sticking.
Remove from heat. Add Corn, Parmesan Cheese and Butter.
Add Salt and Pepper to taste.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
I also went up to Ohio for a few days!
And, I've been drinking a heck of a lot of wine.
Check back soon for some of my culinary adventures!
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
I had a great time attending this event a few years ago-plus it benefits the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Florida!
Saturday March 7th
For more info and to buy your tickets:
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Try this one with some older strawberries that might have gone forgotten in your fridge!
Strawberry Balsamic Pepper Jam
1 Quart Strawberries
1/4 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Salt
2 tsp Black Pepper
Stem and cut the strawberries then combine all ingredients into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes (or until desired consistency) stirring often. Remember that the jam will thicken when it cools.
This will certainly be on the peppery side....so remember you can always add more pepper....but you cannot take any away!
Friday, January 30, 2009
I remember a few years ago, when HUE was opening, it was really the talk of the town. I think I may have even made fun of it-there were rumors abound claiming the name was an acronym for "Hip Urban Environment". (I still have no idea if this is true!) And, quite honestly, I don't even remember the first time I went for a meal. I think it may have been for a birthday dinner. But it wasn't for another year that I became a (semi) regular for brunch.
While one can describe the restaurant as being Hip and Urban, those two words have never been used to describe me. Which is why I've always been so surprised that whenever I eat at HUE, I usually feel comfortable and well catered to. And yes, it is a great location for sitting outside and people watching; but at the same time the inside decor is a perfect combination of comfort and sophistication.
My favorite brunch item is the infamous HUE Scramble 2-scrambled eggs with ham, spinach and cheddar cheese served with a sweet potato hash. I can fully admit that the sweet potato hash was the item that initially sealed the deal on HUE being my favorite brunch. For those of us watching our consumption of carbs and refined sugar, sweet potatoes fair much better on the list. Not surprisingly, HUE was one of the very few restaurants in Orlando that was mentioned in the 2005 South Beach Diet Dining Guide. Regardless, the hash is a perfect not too sweet, not too salty side for brunch. And the sauteed mushrooms give the dish a fantastic element of earthiness.
This past week at brunch I broke tradition and had the turkey croissant sandwich. The ultra flakey yet not greasy pastry was filled with turkey, brie, brandy poached pears with a honey creole mustard sauce. I would highly recommend this sandwich...but hold the pile of fries and go for the sweet potato hash instead.
Lastly, with all good brunches come good drink deals. I usually do the flavored mimosas (peach being my favorite) but the Bloody Mary bar is also a big hit. It's hard to describe the giddiness I feel when faced with a buffet of drink mixers. And, let's face it, there really is nothing like being handed a glass with an inordinate amount of vodka in it at noon on a Sunday.
In the end, thanks HUE. I'm sorry I used to make fun of your name. You have proven yourself to be a perfectly nonjudemental friend and are always there when a girl just needs some sweet potato hash. And a mimosa.
Monday, January 26, 2009
I was at a baby shower this weekend weekend when a friend walked in with this cake!
It was so detailed that at first glance I thought it was a giraffe statue from Pier One. It was a chocolate cake with rice krispie treats to give it shape. The fondant was then airbrushed for color.
Cake Credit: Chef JR Kawczak
I've written about Fifis before and actually have had an enjoyable time there. But I was shocked when the hostess told us (after we had already waited 20 minutes) that the kitchen was backed up and they were no longer seating people for brunch. We offered to sit and order drinks and relax while the kitchen caught up, but that offer was turned down. On our way out, a quick look back at the restaurant confirmed our belief when we saw new customers taking a seat at an outside table.
And, for the record, we are certainly not the "Santuary" crowd that adorns the streets on Sunday afternoons. But we were all dressed very respectably, and lets face it, I go to the farmers market almost every weekend. I've read that Fifis will actually be closing soon to change it's concept, so maybe they were just really overwhelmed. And, maybe it's just as well that we did not spend our money there.
The brunch was not lost however. The good old standby brunch over at Hue welcomed us with open arms and two dollar mimosas.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
We also started a new holiday tradition: Ableskivers! Ableskivers are a Danish spherical pastry that are described as a hybrid between a pancake and a popover. My great uncle who recently passed had made these for years, and my Dad got a new pan this year to make them for us on Christmas morning.
Ableskivers are not overly sweet, but he filled them with either a berry jam or a chocolate espresso cream. They were served with both syrup or (my preferred) whipped cream.
Rich and decadent, they were the perfect start to the holiday!
1. Charleston, SC
Very cool place! Make sure you check out SNOB (Slightly North Of Broad) a fantastic restaurant downtown. I had the local Triggerfish with Farro and it was fantastic! Ok, not just fantastic. Amazing!
2. Boston, MA
Got stuck in Boston one night while trying to get to Bermuda. Instead of wallowing in my hotel room by the airport, I took a cab downtown and went to the infamous Union Oyster House where I had the perfect Boston meal: Clam Chowder (for the record, the best I've ever ever had!), Lobster and of course my fav Sam Adams.
3. After my brief stop on New England I finally made it to Bermuda for Luci's wedding!
Yes, it really is this beautiful!
And yes, this is the only picture you'll see of me in a bathing suit!