Thursday, December 31, 2009


Off to Savannah for a few days! Meals are planned and ressies are made. Will report when I return!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

They Don't Eat Penguins!

Check out this blog about a chef cooking in Antarctica. It makes me want to cry, laugh and visit all at the same time.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Morning Cocktail

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

Really Good Black Bean Soup

There's nothing like taking a vegetarian classic and adding bacon to it.

The Plan
Prep and saute Bacon.
Prep and saute Veggies.
Add Stock and Beans.

The Ingredients
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 Presentation
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.

Vitis Labrusca, Kate

He laughed at my inscription.

Monday, December 21, 2009

(Samoan) Salmon with Soba Noodles

Game Plan:
  • Make marinade/sauce.
  • Marinate fish.
  • Make Pa Muchim and keep in fridge until dinner.
  • Prep veggies.
  • Cook Salmon.
  • Cook veggies.
  • Boil noodles.
Don't panic. This seems harder than it really is.

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.

To Present:
Noodles with veggies/Salmon/Scallions

To Drink:
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

Hemisphere Restaurant

Picture this:
Friday night.
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 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:

Hemisphere on Urbanspoon