Monday, June 28, 2010

Sweet Potato Pie

I'm not the biggest fan of pie.

As far as desserts go, I could probably list an array of others I'd choose before pie, with ice cream definitely taking the lead.

I don't really like Sweet Potatoes either.

But I've always wanted to try Sweet Potato Pie since it opened near my house. I just needed an excuse, a reason to buy a pie. So when I was nominated (at the last minute) to bring a dessert to a pool party over the weekend, I figured the time had come. To buy pie.

And now I can't stop thinking about it. Located on Michigan near Orange, Sweet Potato Pie is crammed in an old school shopping center and if you blink while driving by, you'll probably miss it. The shop itself is small, clean and inviting.

The pie itself is a show stopper. Flaky crust? Check. Creamy Sweet Potato filling? Check. Hints of Orange and Nutmeg? Um, Check.

Yep, what really stood out for me was the unusual citrus flavorings that melded perfectly with the Sweet Potato. It made the pie unique and exotic in a Southern way all at the same time. I should probably add that there were a few Pastry Chefs at the party....and all agreed with me that this is the Best Sweet Potato Pie in Orlando.

Great. Now I can't wait for the holidays. Just another excuse to eat pie...from Sweet Potato Pie, of course.

PS Don't forget to use your Buy Local Orlando card and get 10% off your purchase.

Sweet Potato Pie on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Corn Souffle

The Plan
Cook Veggies.*
Cook Cornmeal.
Bake.

The Ingredients
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Shallot, minced
4 ears Corn, shucked and kernels removed
1 Jalapeno, minced
1/4 cup Chives, minced

2 cups Milk
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
3/4 cup Cornmeal, yellow, fine
Salt and Pepper to taste

3 eggs, separated

The Method
Preheat oven to 350 F.

Heat 2 Tbsp of Olive Oil in a large saute pan. Add Shallots and cook until soft. Next, add the Corn kernels and minced Jalapeno. Cook until Corn is just soft, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in Chives.

In a medium sauce pot, heat the Milk and Cream over medium high heat. Stir often to avoid scorching the milk. When the dairy is boiling, slowly add the Cornmeal in a steady stream while whisking constantly. You really want to avoid clumps. Reduce to a bare simmer (and be SUPER CAREFUL! This mixture will spit like crazy) and cook for about a minute. Again, stirring constantly. The mixture will be quite thick. Like oatmeal.

Combine the Corn and Dairy mixtures in a large bowl. Let the mixture cool. (Think about it. Do you really want to add Eggs to a hot batter? Scrambled eggs are not in the indredient list.)

While cooling, multitask. Grab the 3 Egg Whites, put them in a bowl and grab your hand mixer. Mix until the Egg Whites have stiff peaks. If you don't have a mixer, use a whisk. But it'll take some time.

When batter mixture is cool, incorporate the Egg Yolks. Stir well. Add the Egg Whites. Stir until just combined.

Place into a 9x11 pan that has been prepared with spray. Cook at 350 F for 30 minutes or until just golden brown.

*During the summer months I cannot encourage you enough to use fresh corn. If it is unavailable or if you're lazy, feel free to use canned.







Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sad News.

Just heard that Habana Grill in Altamonte is closing after this weekend. Ack.

I'm gonna head up for one last Media Noche sammy (and probably get one to go, too) and some Mojitos. And maybe I'll buy a t-shirt. Because, after all, when you're at Habana Grill, "Everything is Bueno!".

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Social Chameleon and Milk Bar

Yikes. I had wayyy too much fun last night. Seriously.

We ended up heading over to Lake Eola for the Wine Barn event. And I can fully admit this was one of the most fun vino events I've attended. There wasn't too much of a crowd, and while it was crazy hot, some of the tents did have misters. I was a good girl, picked one color and stuck with it. (For the record, it was white. Like I said, it was crazy hot, so cold white wine seemed like the logical choice.) Anyhoo, it turned out to be the Day of Viognier (Ha! Get it? It rhymes...) with selections from all over the globe. My favorite was the Curtis from the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara. The vineyard specializes in and only grows Rhone grapes, so it's no surprise that this Viognier rocked.

Also ran into some friends who scored us some extra VIP passes to get into the exclusive tent with it's couches and multiple misters. The tent also had the Fermin Jamon Serrano (translation: Spanish ham) that was a-mazing. Not quite sure how much wine I had, but straight up I wasn't even counting. I also ran into more old friends, old students, and even a Master Sommelier who I (gulp) even had the courage to go up and talk to. Or stammer to. Put me in front of 50 people and I have no problem lecturing. But one on one with a Master? Yikes.

After the event we headed over to The Social Chameleon for a bite to eat and to switch over to beer.

That's right. Honey Basil Ale from Bison Brewing outta Berkley, CA. It was quite tasty, rich and well spiced.

If you've never been to The Social Chameleon before, get off your you-know-what and head over. The food is excellent and not overly priced. They actually focus on Flavors and not mass produced food. (Interesting concept, huh?) I've always loved the restaurant itself-cozy, comfortable and hip. (And now very cool! Hooray for additional a/c units!) They also have a super cool outdoor seating area with a funky garden.

Here's what we ate:

Stuffed Grape Leaves. Don't be turned off by this picture, the leaves (and I, for the record) were not having a good photogenic day. The Curry Cucumber Yogurt dipping sauce is perfectly flavored, delicious and goes well with the minty rice stuffing.

The Four Play for Some. My favorite was the Black Bean Salsa with hints of Cilantro. (Yep, you should be proud. I'm slowly but surely starting to appreciate cilantro.) It rocked. The Black Bean Hummus was also quite tasty with the perfect hints of Garlic. The Baba Ghanouj was overly acidic, and the traditional Hummus was on the dry side.

We also split the Crab Flatbread and a small Athenian pizza. All I have to say is: Holy Crab that Flatbread is fantastic. Crab, Goat Cheese, Shitake Mushrooms and Red Onions topped with Sesame Ginger Sauce and a side of a sweet Chili Sauce. Perfectly seasoned with great flavor profiles of all the ingredients, this is one delicious flatbread. I LOVE the combo of the Crab and Goat Cheese. If I gave out stars or forks or whatever, this would be five out of five. Or two thumbs up. Your choice. The Athenian was also nice with Roasted Chicken, Spinach, Feta, Tomatoes and Artichoke Hearts. But it didn't have the bold flavors of the Flatbread.


Here's Captain America himself, Chef Bret. Kudos, yo. Your food is creative and tasty.

After dinner we headed 67 steps to the east and hit up The Milk Bar for more beer. In case you've been living under a rock, The Milk Bar is essentially solidifying this area as being The Milk District. It's located just across the street from the TG Lee milk plant or processing center or whatever you call it.

This bar is super cool, not too large and has a great selection of craft beers and microw brews. And, in contrast to the other craft beer bar located near by, the people here are NICE and interested in discussing beers with their customers. So I think I have the 'green light' to go ahead and name this one of my favorite bars in Orlando. The have cool music, games and a great beer selection.


Here's a picture of Brian, the cool bartender. He sucks at Scrabble.

Just kidding. He kicked my Scrabble ass.

And just in case you were wondering, I roasted a gigantic chicken while I was writing this.





The Social Chameleon on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 18, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Wine Event

The Wine Barn is presenting The World Winery Tour this Saturday at Lake Eola. The event is from 4pm to 7pm and I've heard rumors that there will be over 350 wines to be sampled. You can buy tickets here:
www.thewinebarn.net/

Monday, June 14, 2010

Summer Farro Salad



I know what you're thinking. I'm quickly becoming a one-stop farro shop. But I recently came into a good supply of the grain. And what am I supposed to do? Let it sit in my cabinet and look pretty?

The Ingredients
1 cup Farro, rinsed
2 cups Water
2 Tbsp Olive Oil,
1/2 Onion, chopped
1 clove Garlic, minced
4 ears Corn, cooked any way you chose*
3 medium Zucchini, small chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded or shaved
Salt and Pepper to taste

The Plan
Cook Farro.
Prep Veggies.
Cook Veggies.

The Method
Bring Water to a boil in a large pot. Add rinsed Farro and simmer until done. About 20 minutes.

Add Olive Oil to a large saute pan. Add Onions and cook until tender. Throw in the Garlic and cook until fragrant. About two minutes. (*At this point, I added my corn kernals. I cut them off their ears while raw and decided to saute them. It smells a-mazing. If you decide to boil or roast your corn, no biggie. Or if you're super cool, then grill the corn. That rocks. Regardless, if you've already cooked your corn, just toss it in at the end of the recipe. Phew.)

At this point, you need to cook the Zuchinni. So throw it in the pan with the Onions and Garlic. Add some Salt and Pepper for flavor at this point. When the Zuchinni is done (aka soft), take the pan off the heat.

Mix together the cooked Farro, all the Veggies and the Parmesan Cheese. Taste. Add more Salt and Pepper if needed. Eat.

PS I made this Sunday night for my lunches all week. I ate it as a cold salad today, and I have to admit I really enjoyed it cold as much as I did warm.

PPS If you haven't realized it yet, Corn and Zuchinni are fresh and cheap during the summer months.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Brunch at HUE

Bloody Marys and Tater Tots. With a side of Whoopie Pie Cake.

I celebrated my actual birthday this year with the fam at HUE for brunch. I'd had a party the night before at my house, and even contemplated being an ass and reviewing my own party. But I realized that in doing so I would quickly start writing about decor and paint colors, and who really wants to read that anyway.

When it comes to HUE, I rarely have any complaints. For all of my experiences at this restaurant, I've always had consistently good food and service. While having that "Urban" environment feel, I've never felt uncomfortable at all while dining there.

And then there's the infamous Bloody Mary bar. I'm not gonna lie. I had two of the make your own cocktails before 12:30pm on my 34th birthday. That's right. Two. Each with Horseradish, Olives and extra Lime Juice.

I also seriously enjoyed the Steak and Eggs. Two perfectly cooked Filet Medallions, Scrambled Eggs and Tater Tots. (Urgh. After typing that sentence I just realized I've had red meat THREE times in the past week. Filet Sunday, Flank last night and Filet again today for lunch at work. Guess next week is going to be Seafood Week.)

After brunch we headed over to my place after for some left over Whoopie Pie Cake and to discuss my new paint colors.

And thus ends the birthday celebration of 2010. And the illustrious Whoopie Pie Cake.


Hue Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Ceviche and The Dessert Lady Revisted.

I'm still detoxing from my birthday-party-weekend.

Friday night was an old school tribute in many ways. We started off the night at Ceviche. Because I wanted to. (And yes, it feels good to say that.) I've been a happy camper with Ceviche. The restaurant is super cool, and although I've never been to Spain, this is pretty much how I imagine it to be. Here's my big issue. I had a realization that I could probably go for dinner, order only the Patatas Bravas and be good. I love this side dish way too much. I'm not the biggest potato lover, but these little potato wedges coated in a spicy Aioli make me go all gooey inside.

We also shared a variety of other tapas: The Filetito (Tenderloin with Onions and Peppers), Tabla de Quesos (Cheese Plate that included an amazing Blue Cheese and Quince paste), Gambas Romesco (large Shrimp in a spicy Romesco Sauce which, for the record, is not nearly as good as mine), and the Fritura de Mariscos (basically a giant plate of fried Fish, Shrimp and Calamari. The only let down of the evening.). This sounds like a crazy amount of food, but remember-this is a Tapas restaurant! Small plates galore!

We also enjoyed a bottle of 2008 Muga Rosado-a fantastic dry Rose blend of Garnacha, Viura and Tempranillo. If you are a fan of Roses, I have good news. I think we're really on the cusp of a huge influx of Roses from Spain and even Southern France. I encourage you to explore-my personal favorite is the Garnacha grape, otherwise known as the Grenache in France. Dry and fruity, these are always a hit during our freaklishly hot Florida summers.

Skipping out on the Spanish dessert options, we headed across the street to the indulgent Dessert Lady. Again, because I wanted to. We split a bottle of Prosecco (which, for the life of me I cannot remember the producer. I'm lame. But this kinda stuff happens when I drink Sparkling Wine.) and a slice of my favorite Peanut Butter Pie. Seriously, the ultimate, over the top indulgence. But whatever, you only turn 34 once.

The evening was capped off with a few games at the History Museum and their quarterly Retro Game Night. I won our single game of Clue during my third turn. But I seriously lost at Operation. Again, I'll blame the Prosecco.


CevĂ­che Tapas Bar & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

The Dessert Lady on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 7, 2010

Ack.

I really want to buy a new camera. For food pictures as well as a variety of subjects. Does anyone have any suggestions? I'm not an idiot, I know my pictures on this site suck. I'm working on it!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Happy Birthday to me.

The best thing about being a chef? Having other chef friends. Who bring you things like this:


A giant Whoopie Pie Cake. Happy Birthday to me!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Noodles)


The Indredients
1 package Soba Noodles*
2 Tbsp Sesame Oil, separated
1 pound Ground Turkey/Chicken/Pork**
2 large Shallots, minced
2 large cloves Garlic, minced
1 large Red Bell Pepper, thinly sliced
1 Jalapeno Pepper, small diced
1/2 cup Thai Basil leaves, chopped***
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp Fish Sauce
3 Tbsp Oyster Sauce
2 Limes, juiced

The Plan
Prep veggies.
Make sauce.
Cook noodles.
Cook veggies and protein.

The Method
Cook Soba Noodles according to package.

In a small bowl, mix together: Fish Sauce, Oyster Sauce and Lime juice.

Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat. Heat 1 Tbsp Sesame Oil in pan. Place desired protein in pan and cook until done or no longer pink. Remove protein from pan.

Place remaining Tbsp of Sesame in same saute pan. Add Garlic and Shallots, cook until soft. Add Red Bell Pepper and saute for about a minute. Add Jalapeno and saute for another minute.

Move veggies to one side of the pan and add beaten eggs to the empty side of the pan. Scramble eggs until just soft. Add Basil and incorporate.

Mix sauce in with the veggies and eggs. Toss together Noodles, Protein and Veggies/Eggs.

*Tradionally Drunken Noodles are made with Wide Rice Noodles. But I really like the health benefits of Soba Noodles. Use which ever you prefer!
**I used ground Turkey for my protein. It was tasty, but a bit dry. Next time I'll probably try Pork or Tofu.
***You can find Thai Basil at any Asian supply store. Substitute regular Sweet Basil if you prefer.

PS You can find both Fish and Oyster Sauce at Publix.
PPS As usual, this Asian recipe looks hard and difficult. It ISN'T. The hardest part is prepping the veggies!


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Johnny's Fillin' Station

When I moved into my new place last year, (actually, a year ago this weekend!) I moved to a whole new side of town. I've lived in many hoods in Orlando: Winter Park, College Park, MetroWest, Downtown, Colonial Town, and now SODO. Each location has their benefits (well, maybe except MetroWest), but by far I LOVE living in SODO. The neighborhood is quaint and there are some great restaurants in the area.

Such as Johnny's Fillin' Station. Holy Hamburgers, Batman.

Known for their burgers, Johnny's is a true Orlando favorite. These are colossal burgers made with 1/2 pound of beef. My usual is The Mini...a 1/4 pound burger. Because, really, I don't need to eat a 1/2 pound of beef. But, because I knew that this entry was long overdue, I strayed from the norm and got the Texas Toast Melt. (The things I do for this blog.) I literally forgot to take a picture because I couldn't wait to eat. So picture this: Texas Toast, a 1/2 pound of beef and Thousand Island Dressing. Yum. I even had to eat it with a knife and fork. And I ate the WHOLE thing. Which is why I usually order the Mini.

We also split a side of the freaky huge Onions Rings. One other suggestion: if you're a fan of corn, get the Corn Nuggets appetizer. Basically fried Creamed Corn dusted with powdered sugar. I've only let myself have these little nuggets once. Because they are soooo bad, yet soooo good.

Johnny's also has a fun rockin biker bar atmosphere going for it. If you're into that kinda thing. It can be on the loud side, and if you're a sports fan, there are TVs everywhere. Whatever. It's a great neighborhood joint that will certainly fill your burger quota.


Johnny's Fillin' Station on Urbanspoon