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New Orleans (Appetizer)

My first cooked oyster from Felix's as per the Roosevelt's concierge recommendation! Broiled to perfection in a butter sauce. The creamy oysters melted in my mouth and bursted with flavor. I only ate the borderline stale bread to sop up the butter.

Red fish at Mr. B's. Grilled simply with asparagus and roasted potatoes, it was bland and not satisfying. Considering how much I paid, it was a major disappointment.

Linguini pasta tossed with fresh spinach and garlic in a garlic scampi sauce. well-seasoned fried oysters were perfect when eaten with the pasta.

No. I do not want a foot massage. I feel like when one asian starts a business, the rest have to follow suit. There are tons of these in NOLA

Napoleon House invented the Pimms cup. The restaurant looks like an 18th century home with a beautiful outdoor square. The Roast beef Po'boy with debris was the first thing in my life that I enjoyed because of its messiness.

Beautiful. Right? And to think people are nibbling on bruschetta a few steps from bourbon st.

The only problem I had with Napoleon House. He's no longer living so it's time to update the Napoleon-size bathtub

I get to work here? I think I'm gonna like it here, Annie. Italian mosaic by the way. It also took two men 18 months to polish the chandeliers

I'm spending time here by the way. August treats salads like the Buckingham Palace Gardens

Can I have fries with that?

There are many ways to make roasted chicken and, because of its simplicity, it makes a difference which one you choose. My roasted chicken has a skin that cracks under your teeth and a juicy interior swells with herby flavors, yet still tastes like unadulterated chicken. I’m noshing on it right out of the fridge. This recipe also features Jordan’s Million Dollar Potato Dollars, the name of which, grossly discounts them.

Ingredients:

  • Whole chicken
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Losher salt
  • 1 lemon
  • Sage
  • 1 stick of butter
  • Garlic cloves
  • Black pepper
  • Red Potatoes (you can also use yukon gold)
  • Thermometer, tin foil, non-stick cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Pull the giblets out of the chicken and pat the whole thing dry with paper towels. With half the thyme sprigs, pull the leaves off the stem and roughly chop. Do the same with half the rosemary sprigs.

1. Sprinkle kosher salt inside the chicken’s cavity. Stuff in half a lemon and a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme. Put most of the sage in whole. With Butcher’s twine, wrap the legs so that the bones are touching. Cross around the back  and tie the wings in nice and tight. There is no set formula like origami.
2. Take room-temperature butter and warm it in a pan while mixing in the chopped herbs, a few cloves of minced garlic, and the rest of the lemon juice. Sprinkle kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper on the entire bird—don’t miss any nook or cranny. Drizzle half the herb butter on the bird and rub it in gently.
3. Thinly slice the potatoes (about 1/8 in.). Chop the extra sage and add it to the remaining butter and coat the potatoes in a mixing bowl with salt and pepper. We put some lemon zest in too. Might as well.
4. In a large pyrex casserole, roast the bird for about one hour and 10 minutes, until the internal temperature in the center of the thickest part of the breast reaches 160 degrees (while you are checking temperatures periodically, use a spoon to baste the chicken with its own juices). I also put chopped carrots in as well. Your thermometer should not read a lower number on any part of the chicken.
5. Cover a sheet pan with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Cook the potatoes for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through.
6. Remove the chicken from the oven and allow it to rest so the juices redistribute. The internal temperature will rise to 165 degrees. If your chicken is the desired brown color before it’s done and you have time, turn down the temperature and allow it to cook low and slow on 350 degrees.

The Cherry Blossom

Photo by Jordan Emont

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Want a refreshing change to the dull weather? Usher in the spring weather with a Cherry Blossom. The aroma of coconut allures you from the rim, the sparkling blood orange juice tingles your taste buds and the pomegranate-flavored cultured milk provides a rich, tangy finish. If the color doesn’t get you hooked, the taste certainly will. The cherry blossoms are pretty, but, in all honesty, I prefer mine in a cup.

Ingredients:
3 shots of Italian Blood Orange Soda (33.8 fl oz bottle)
2 shots of Zico coconut water (11.2 fl oz)
1 ½ shots of lowfat Kefir pomegranate cultured milk (32 fl oz bottle)
1 small bag of coconut sugar from Spice and Tea in Georgetown
Raspberries

1. In a tall glass, combine the blood orange soda, coconut water and Kefir milk. Feel free to change the ingredient proportions to your taste. Mix well.

2. Wet a towel or a napkin and moisten the rim of a short glass. Pour the coconut sugar on a napkin or plate and coat the glass rim. Add a few ice cubes to the glass and pour in the drink.

3. Garnish with raspberries.

If you really want alcohol in it, try a splash of vodka or Malibu coconut rum. I make no promises on the result, but post a comment if you have any success deflowering the Cherry Blossom.

 

Meringues

I decided to make a baked treat while I was waiting for friends to arrive. I had wanted to try meringues; to play around with different flavors and just “wing it” to avoid the tediousness of following a recipe (this is why I’ll never be a great baker). My mother convinced me to follow a recipe and not mess with it. She’s right; baking is an exact science and you can only experiment if you really  know what you’re doing.


The recipe couldn’t have been easier. There were only two ingredients! Yet the meringues, made in the French style, are light and airy, with a complex flavor resulting from the gradual caramelization of the sugars.

Ingredients:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar

With an electric mixer on medium, beat the egg whites until they are stiff (They have to hold their shape when you pipe them). Slowly incorporate the sugar, a little at a time. Cut the tip off a plastic bag and pipe the mixture into dainty little swirls onto parchment paper on a sheet pan.

Bake at 200 degrees with a wooden spoon stuck in the door, so it is left ajar—this keeps the oven even cooler than the minimum oven setting. Bake low and slow for 2.5 to 3 hours (it depends how large the meringues are). You can eat these right out of the oven!

Photo by Karen Knauff

I like to think outside the box when it comes to food; this dish has Thai and Indian elements. One might not expect flavors from across the Bay of Bengal to marry well, but seared salmon rubbed with garam masala was delicious when paired with jasmine rice cooked in coconut milk with mangos, cilantro, and peas. I finished the dish finished with a rich curry-coconut sauce.

Ingredients:

  • Box of jasmine rice (white rice will work)
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • salt
  • ¼ cup of chopped dried mangos or fresh
  • 1 lemon
  • Cilantro
  • Frozen peas
  • 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of curry powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Salmon filets (Follow Trader Joe’s thawing directions)
  • Garam masala (my version had coriander, chilies, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, and cloves—The five Cs)
  • Cooking oil

Pour the contents of a box of rice into a medium saucepan. My jasmine rice called for two cups of water, so I used a cup of coconut milk, a cup of water, and a pinch of salt. Follow the cooking direction and start rehydrating the dried mangos in a pan with a ½ cup of water, over medium heat. Remove from the heat when they are soft. This is not necessary if you have fresh mangos.

When the rice is finished, add the juice of half a lemon, mangos, chopped cilantro, thawed peas, and salt to taste.

For the sauce, sweat the minced shallots and garlic in butter with salt and pepper. When they are fragrant and soft, add the remaining coconut milk. Finish with curry powder, lemon juice, and cinnamon. I chose to strain out the garlic and shallots for a cleaner looking sauce. Reheat when the salmon is finished.

For the salmon, salt and pepper the flesh and massage with plenty of garam masala. Get a nonstick pan very hot and pour on a thin layer of canola or olive oil. Sear the filets skin-side down first. Also, start the thick piece first and watch the side until almost all the flesh has lightened in color. Flip and cook the spiced side for a minute, being careful not to burn the spices.

When the fish is firm and flaky, serve immediately over a mound of coconut rice and spoon over the coconut curry sauce. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve right away.

Indian—ish Food

With this dish, authenticity was on the back-burner, but taste and creativity was on full heat. My no-curry curry features the flavors of indian spices and techniques, while a few twists, like coconut milk and lemongrass, give a subtle element of thai cuisine. Served with basmati rise, the dish is indian food without the fat cholesterol and you can control the spice. Best of all, it’s as easy as 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9… Okay, it may not be as simple as shake-n-bake, but the results are well worth it.

Ingredients: (Spices should be used to taste)

  • Basmati rice
  • Can of Coconut milk
  • 2 lemongrass stalks
  • 4-5 thick ginger slices
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large white/yellow onion
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Coriander
  • 2 teaspoons Garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric
  • About 10 mini peppers (red, yellow, orange)
  • 1.5 teaspoons of tomato paste
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 5-7 garlic cloves
  • A small bag of snow peas
  • 1/2 bag of pre-cooked lentils
  • 3 whole chicken breasts (about 3 pounds) cut into bite-size pieces.
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon or 1 stick early on
  • cumin seeds
  • frozen peas
  • fresh parsley

Follow the directions to start cooking basmati rice. It takes about 20 minutes. I’m keeping this simple since it will be under the sauce.

Start heating a can of coconut milk in a small sauce pan with the lemongrass and ginger. Keep it at a calm boil until the flavors merry.

In a large pot, sauté the onion with salt and pepper, coriander, garam masala, and turmeric. After the onions have a head-start, add the peppers. Stir in the tomato paste, and the bay leaves. Press or mince the garlic, and make a paste by smearing the garlic against the cutting board with your knife, salt, and olive oil. Add the snow peas.

Hold a strainer over the pot and pour the coconut milk through it (the coconut milk will join the party and lemongrass will have to leave. Ginger’s pon the list, so pick that out and add it back to the pot. Add half the lentils.

Quickly sauté the chicken in olive oil, salt, and pepper (it may take multiple batches) until it is opaque and pour into the pot. You may also cook it completely in the sauce which will take longer, but could turn out very well. Add the cinnamon. If you want, add a little yogurt at the end for some healthy richness.

Fluff the rice with cumin seeds—toasting in a pan until fragrant is a nice touch. Microwave some frozen peas and fold in for great color. To serve, build a mound of rice, ladle the sauce over, and garnish with chopped parsley leaves. Serve with some naan.

My below-par photography skills will no longer be featured on this blog. Since Jordan Emont is not with me this week, you’ll have to imagine the appearance. Even though a picture says a thousand words, this dish will leave you speechless. The bechamel allows my sauce to be thick and rich without being heavy and fattening. Subtly sweet Marsala wine offsets lemony thyme which is a perfect counterpoint to the woodsy flavor of mushrooms. I loaded the dish with spinach and onions and roasted grapes give a surprise of texture and sweetness.

Ingredients:

  • Onions
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic cloves
  • Salt, pepper
  • Mushrooms (I used brown baby bella)
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Marsala wine/Beef broth opt.
  • Spinach/Arugula
  • Milk (I used 2%)
  • Butter (I used unsalted)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Red grapes
  • Pecans
  • Lemons
  • Fresh parsley
  • Penne pasta

Sauté onions in a large pan with olive oil, adding garlic after a few minutes. Salting is important here or your onions will stubbornly resist softening. Add the mushrooms when the onions are translucent. Be generous with thyme leaves and chopped rosemary. Salt and pepper here as well.

Add Marsala wine—the real stuff, not the sweetened kind with barely any alcohol. Beef broth wouldn’t hurt too although I didn’t use it. You can choose to make this dish with spinach or arugula. Spinach should be added here, but arugula should be added  à la minute.

Bechamel: In a sauce pot, heat milk until it starts to boil. In a sauté pan, melt about a half stick of butter and whisk in plenty of butter. Whisk until you have a slightly brown color (this will add an extra dimension of nutty flavor). Slowly whisk in the scalding milk, while keeping the heat up. Just troubleshoot until you reach a very thick sauce. I added a handful of parmesan cheese and a splash of heavy cream. Hey, we’re being much healthier with the milk-based sauce. Keep in mind that it will thin out when mixed with the marsala, which is the next step.

Roast some halved red grapes in a hot oven with some pecans or walnuts. The nuts are done when they are fragrant and crisp. The grapes should still have they’re texture. Add lemon juice and chopped parsley.

Mix with penne pasta or whatever you prefer.

I normally write a blurb here about the dish, but this would only be redundant. The picture says it all.

Red Quinoa

  • 8 oz. box of quinoa
  • 1 ¼ cups of water
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 orange
  • 1  lime
  • 2 teaspoons of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of grated ginger
  • A drizzle of agave nectar
  • Salt, pepper, and chopped cilantro leaves
  • Sunflower seeds

Follow the directions on the box to cook the quinoa. In a bowl, whisk together the garlic, orange juice, orange zest, lime juice, soy sauce, grated ginger, agave nectar, salt, pepper and cilantro. Toast sunflower seeds until fragrant and incorporate them. Allow the flavors to marry in the refrigerator for a few hours (it only improves with time). gently warm in a covered pot before serving.

Cod

  • 2 cod filets
  • 1 container of crab meat
  • mayonnaise (béchamel optional)
  • sherry (optional)
  • Worcestershire
  • Hot sauce
  • Paprika

In a hot non-stick pan, sear the cod in olive oil with salt and pepper until browned on both sides.  I topped mine with a mixture of crab, béchamel, mayo, sherry, Worcestershire and hot sauce. Dust with paprika and bake in the oven. You know it’s done when the fish is completely opaque and white.

You can make this dish without béchamel or sherry, but here’s the recipe for béchamel. It’s a very simple sauce.


Bechamel recipe: (From Epicurious)

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/4 cups scalding milk
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but don’t let it brown — about 2 minutes. Add the hot milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring it to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste, lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat. To cool this sauce for later use, cover it with wax paper or pour a film of milk over it to prevent a skin from forming.

Try adding cheese and mixing with pasta or whole grain mustard as a sauce for meats.

Winter Caprese Crostinis

I love a good Insalata Caprese; succulent mozzarella, vibrant tomatoes and fresh basil with a drizzle of fruity olive oil. However, tomatoes this time of year certainly aren’t from Jersey—unless they’re Newark’s finest. Plus, floods inundated basil fields all over the country, and I don’t want my basil grown in a test tube. Therefore, I replaced mozzarella with goat cheese, tomatoes with marinated beets, and basil with sage, to make a crostini that screams Caprese without compromising flavor.


Ingredients (Makes approximately hors d’oeuvres)

I finally found a measurement style that GW students can relate to

  • 2 shots of olive oil
  • 1 shot of balsamic vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Agave nectar to taste
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper
  • French Baguette
  • Long stick of goat cheese
  • Fresh Sage

Scott’s Steps:

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lime juice, agave nectar, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Slice the beets and allow them to marinate for at least 1 hour.

Slice a French baguette into thin, 1/8 in. slices. Arrange on a foiled sheet pan in an even layer and brush/drizzle on olive oil. Lightly sprinkle with salt and bake at 325° until they are crunchy.

To assemble, slice thick slabs of goat cheese and place on each crostini, resting one beet slice on top with a sage-leaf garnish.

The goat cheese has an unparalleled, rich creaminess and a tang that is complemented by the sweetness of the marinated beets. The lime and balsamic brighten the mellow flavor of the beets while the cinnamon adds a subtle complexity. Finally, the sage leaf provides and earthy aroma and an amazing sweet-savory flavor that ties everything together.

Vegetable Stoup

My roommate and I wanted to cook something cheap that would last for many meals. Nothing saves better than soup, which is satisfying, yet healthy and inexpensive.

Our stoup is heartier than a soup, but not as thick as a stew.

 

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 white onion
  • Salt and pepper
  • 5 stalks of celery, chopped
  • Similar quantity of peeled and chopped carrots
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 5 potatoes, chopped in ¼ in. pieces
  • Red wine
  • 1 carton of chicken stock
  • 1 large can of tomatoes
  • Thyme, onion powder, red pepper flakes
  • Cilantro
  • 1 lime
  • Basil
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat a pot on high and coat with olive oil. Sweat the onions and salt them (salt pulls out moisture and flavor from the onion). When translucent, add the celery, carrots and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Next, add the potatoes soon after.

At this point, the veggies deserve a splash or two of red wine—or anything you have. Simmer with a whole carton of good quality chicken stock and a large can of chopped tomatoes.

Season with dried thyme, onion powder, black pepper, and red pepper flakes for some heat. Stir in lots of chopped cilantro and continue to cook, covered until the potatoes are soft. Finish with the juice of a lime and plenty of chopped basil. Garnish with parmesan cheese and chiffonaded basil.

I served mine with a sourdough crostini. This was the best vegetable soup we have ever had.

Plus, this recipe will make a ton of stoup, so you will never feel the need to say “No stoup for you!”

Inspired by Good Stuff Eatery, this burger holds true to the name. If you like flavor in your food, you can’t go wring with horseradish mayo, a sweet onion marmalade, an arugula salad, blue cheese crumbles and parmesan-rosemary oven fries.

Ingredients:

Parmesan and Rosemary Oven Fries:

 

  • Russet potatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh rosemary, chopped
  • Grated parmesan cheese

 

Preheat the oven to 450°. Wash the russet potatoes, cut each in half and each half into four wedges. In a mixing bowl, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake on aluminum foil for about 30 minutes, flipping occasionally. Add more oil if they start to stick. Coat with rosemary and parmesan, cooking until soft on the inside and crispy-brown on the outside.

Really Good Burger:

  • ½ onion, chopped
  • Red wine
  • balsamic vinegar
  • Brown sugar
  • Blue cheese crumbles
  • Ground beef (80/20)
  • Salt, pepper
  • Standard burger buns
  • Sesame seeds (optional)
  • Horseradish
  • Mayonnaise
  • Arugula

Sauté chopped white onions in a pan with olive oil until they are soft and browned. Deglaze with a pour of red wine and a splash or two of balsamic vinegar. Reduce for about ten minutes and add about two handfuls of brown sugar. Add more wine/vinegar if necessary. It is ready when the onions are soft and the sauce is thick. Fold in blue cheese crumbles and turn off the heat.

Gently form the beef into patties without pressing too much. I make a depression in the top of the burger—this prevents the burger-beach-ball effect. Pepper and heavily salt both sides. I cooked mine in a cast-iron grill pan. You can also cook them in a regular pan. The pan should be very hot and coated with olive oil. You may finish the burgers in the oven if the room becomes smoky, but they should be pink inside.

I butter both sides of the buns, scatter on sesame seeds and toast them in the same pan.

For the condiment, just mix mayo with a little bit of horseradish to taste. Add salt, pepper, and a touch of olive oil. Make extra as a dip for the fries!

For the salad, simply hand toss the arugula, dressing it lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper.

To compose the burger, take the toasted bun, spread on the horseradish mayo, place the burger on the throne, spoon the onion marmalade, sprinkle some more blue cheese crumbles, and crown with the arugula salad and the bun top! Serve with the parmesan rosemary fries.

WARNING: this dish is not for the sensitive palate. Like I said, it’s a really good burger.


Fish is not off limits for a college student. In my mahi mahi, the sesame seeds add texture and a nutty flavor to the fish while enhancing the presentation. The glaze is sweet and pungent and the peas are crisp and complimenting.

  • ½ cup Soy sauce
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • honey or agave syrup
  • lime and/or orange
  • fresh garlic
  • fresh ginger
  • mahi mahi (TJs)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • Black sesame seeds
  • White sesame seeds
  • Snap peas

1. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the soy sauce, the sugar and a good squeeze of honey or agave. Add in the juice of a lime and/or some fresh orange juice. Don’t forget to stir!

2. Add minced garlic and plenty of grated ginger when it starts to thicken. Taste for balance. When it has thickened, cool in the fridge and it will set even more.

3. Thaw the frozen mahi mahi completely (in the fridge or in warm water) and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Coat and rub with olive oil and salt and pepper both sides.

4. Press one side of the mahi mahi on a plate, enveloped in sesame seeds until no flesh is visible. Get a nonstick pan hot, pour in olive oil and sear the seed side for about one minute, just to slightly toast the seeds.

5. Flip and allow the bottom to cook until you see a faint pinkish-hue left on the side of the fish. Pop them in the oven until the hue is gone and the side is completely white and opaque.

6. In the meantime, sauté snap peas with olive oil, minced garlic, and grated ginger. Use soy sauce for seasoning. When the peas have a bite, but no raw taste, add plenty of white sesame seeds.

Serve the fish over the snap peas with the glaze drizzled on top.

I garnished mine with petals of sliced ginger.

Adour

Amuseing our Bouches

The carpet felt like velvet on my feet as I walked toward our table and, when I sat down in the ivory-colored leather armchairs, I knew that this was the fanciest restaurant I had ever been in.

Wine bottles lined immaculate glass cases like those in jewelry galleries. They seemed to look down at my awestruck face saying, “I am way out of your league. It’s D.C. tap for you, kid.”

A waiter presented the amuse-bouche or “mouth pleaser”, which was a seafood dip served in a tiny cup. Regretfully, pleasure was not the word to describe the dull sensation in my mouth. Nevertheless, we found pleasure in cracking amuse-bouche jokes like “This chair is really amuse-ing my bouche!”

Lobster soup with tarragon was poured a la minute into a bowl over bits of lobster and croutons at the table. Although the tarragon was unrecognizable, the soup was soothing and complex, with strong lobster flavor.

The rainbow beet and endive salad was beautiful in the modest way the beet slices rested on the plate, intricately patterned and simply dressed. The candied walnuts were definitely mouth pleasing.

The roasted monkfish dish made me realize that all the fish I have ever eaten had been overcooked. It was simply prepared with peewee potatoes and a surprisingly delicate creamy mustard sauce.

Contemporary chicken breast parmesan was exquisite, proof of the fact that it doesn’t take an ill-mannered, Italian, mafia-involved chef to cook the dish. The elements were deconstructed; the chicken had a crispy-crumbly crust and was served with a béchamel-based cheese sauce, spinach that wilted as you ate (as did I), and a tomato marmalade.

Not just any tomato sauce, but one that could make single hundreds of old-world, Italian mothers. I asked the waitress for the secret and she replied, “I don’t know. They don’t tell us how they make it.” Although it tasted like pure tomatoes, the kind grown with the attentiveness of expensive wine, it’s possible that they used sugar to heighten their sweetness, while erasing all evidence of the clever trick.

I was never a dessert enthusiast, but I now realize why the course is served at the dénouement. A milk chocolate dome was filled with a luxurious moose and served with a quenelle of coffee-infused ice cream. A tian of silky, whipped cream and a fresh Clementine marmalade was both refreshing and comforting.  We swept these off the plates with the voraciousness of a Dyson. Thankfully, we too didn’t lose suction, popping in the petit fours which made those thin, chocolate-mint squares seem like gerbil food by comparison.

Adour is named after the river that Alain Ducasse grew up near, where he developed a love for cooking. And from the enticing appetizers to the seductive entrees and to the calmative desserts, we flowed out of the river and back on the streets, figuring that we probably wouldn’t have the chance to be amused again.


Orange-You-Glad Mojito

Recipe by Scott Figatner and Jordan Emont

This twist on the traditional mojito will impress any libation-loving guest. By replacing mint with basil and substituting lime with orange, our mojitos are sweet and vibrant with a more subtle herb flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 3 orange slices
  • 15 leaves of basil
  • sugar
  • ginger ale
  • 1 shot of rum (to taste)

1. Put two halved orange slices in the bottom of a tall glass and top with ten leaves of basil. Sprinkle with a little sugar, an abrasive, and pour in a splash of ginger ale. Club soda is a good substitute provided that you add a little simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, boiled and cooled).

2. Muddle the ingredients thoroughly. If you don’t have this handy gadget, use a wooden spoon to release the oils in the basil and the juices in the orange.

3. Stack ice cubes to the top of the glass, sprinkling chopped basil in between every layer. Pour in one shot of your favorite brand of rum and two shots of ginger ale. Stir with the back of a wooden spoon and serve with an orange slice. To make the orange garnish, simply cut a thick slice out of an orange and make a slit that almost reaches the center.

This drink will surely bring happy hour to your home.

 

 

Ingredients:

  • Store-bought ravioli (pumpkin or butternut squash is best)
  • ¼ stick of butter
  • Frozen peas
  • Fresh button mushrooms, sliced
  • Fresh Sage
  • Olive oil
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • cinnamon

There is no shame in using store-bought ingredients, as long as you elevate them to something exceptional. With these techniques, you can use the most simple of ingredients by getting the most out of them.

1. For the ravioli, salt a pot of water until it tastes like ocean water and heat to a boil.

2. With a drizzle of olive oil in a pan over medium heat, sauté the mushrooms with thin slices of garlic and season with salt and pepper. When the mushrooms are almost finished, add about five leaves of chopped sage (slapping the leaves in your palm will help release aromatic oils)

3. Add thawed peas in a few minutes later and, when the mushrooms have softened and browned, deposit the vegetables into a bowl.

4. Add the ravioli. They should take about 3-4 minutes. When they are cooked, strain thoroughly, but start the brown butter in the meantime.

5. For the brown butter, clean the pan and heat to medium-high. Whisk or stir pieces of butter in one at a time. The water in the butter will cook off, resulting in foam. The foam will subside and the hot fat will brown the milk solids in the butter.

6. When the butter has a golden brown hue and there are fine flecks of brown, the butter is finished. Congratulations! You’ve made a beurre noisette! I like to add a pinch of cinnamon for an earthy sweetness. For an extra sweet twist, add a touch of maple or agave syrup. Immediately mix the butter with the vegetables to prevent further cooking.

7. To serve, I just scatter chiffonaded (shih-phone-ODD-ed) sage  leaves (stack the leaves, roll, and slice into very thin strands) and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

“Out-FREAKIN’-standing” my father said as he spooned the luscious mushroom gravy over his veal. The brown-red sauce had the color of rich soil, with a much better flavor; sage, marsala wine, and figs amalgamate into a sweet and earthy sauce. My mother was caught up in her lamb chop bone, grazing on the lean herb-coated meat and gnawing down until only the tendons and bone remained.

Ingredients:

Lamb:

  • 1 rack of lamb
  • 3-4 sprigs of Rosemary
  • 1 handful of parsley
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • olive oil
  • thyme or oregano make good additions

1. When you bring the rack of lamb home, salt it generously and cover it in the refrigerator. When given time—anywhere from ten minutes to a few hours—the salt will draw out flavorless moisture. Your lamb will still be moist from the fat, but the meat will have a more concentrated flavor.

2. Roughly chop the herbs and garlic and grind in a food processor with olive oil, salt and pepper. Keep adding oil until you have achieved a loose paste with small pieces of herbs. Slather on both sides of the rack and, if you have time, let the flavors merry. Cook in a 350º until it reaches an internal temperature of about 120º, anticipating carry-over cooking while it rests.

3. Stand the rack vertically (frenched bones up) and cut the chops. You can cut every one or every two bones.

Veal:

  • 2 cuts of veal (No idea what cut. I rarely have veal.)
  • About 6-8 baby bella mushrooms (about 1/2 a container) substitutions are fine
  • 4-5 dried figs chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • A handful of sage, de-stemmed and chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 2/3 cup Marsala wine
  • Red wine
  • flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter

1. With a damp paper towel, clean the mushrooms and slice them. In medium-high heat, sauté the shrooms with sliced garlic cloves in olive oil. Sprinkle in chopped sage, salt, and pepper and add a tablespoon of butter. Simmer with the marsala wine and the figs to reduce.

2. Season with veal liberally with salt and pepper as early as possible. Heat a large metal pan (and only a metal pan will work) on high heat. Drizzle in enough olive oil to coat the entire pan and sear the veal without crowding the pan. Brown both sides and also the thin sides if possible with tongs.

3. Envelope the veal in the sauce with a little wine and bake in the oven, covered, until it reaches an internal temperature of 130º. It will continue to cook while resting on a plate.

4. In a small saucepan, melt two tablespoons of butter with a hefty pinch of flour. Whisk the roux to create a gluey paste. Incorporate some cream as well. Add the gravy, bring to a boil, and simmer. You can add cream to reach your desired color. Pour some over the veal and reserve the rest for the table.

My dad said he would pay fifty bucks for the meal at a restaurant. He also said that he’d much rather eat it at home for free.

-Thanks to my Aunt and Uncle for sending the meat-

-Thanks to my parents for not raising me a vegetarian-

This shepherds pie is authentic because it is made with lamb; however, I put a twist on the usual by substituting mashed potatoes with a sweet potato purée. A great way to use leftover lamb, this stew has a complex and slightly sweet flavor. The tarragon-studded sweet potatoes add great color and effortlessly meld with the spices and herbs in the stew.

Ingredients:

  • leftover leg of lamb (ground lamb may be used)
  • 1 small bowl of green beans cut in thirds
  • 1 small bowl filled with diced onions
  • 1 small bowl of chopped carrots (I used baby)
  • 1/2 bowl of peppers (I used mini red, yellow, and orange peppers)
  • handful or two of Succotash mix (frozen limas, corn, peppers) I used Trader Joes
  • 1 cup of red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • tomato paste (the tube’s great)
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 7 sweet potatoes (mine were small-medium sized)
  • cinnamon, turmeric, salt, pepper
  • fresh oregano, sage, tarragon, and rosemary (use what you got)
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • a little flour

1. Preheat the oven to 350º. On a sheet pan, generously coat the sweet potatoes in any oil and sprinkle with salt. This will make them easy to peel. Cook for about 30-40 minutes—until the potato is tender all the way through and the skin is wrinkled. These will be mashed and whipped with a hand mixer to incorporate salt, butter, and light brown sugar to taste. Finish by folding in chopped tarragon.

2. Get a  large pot (preferably not non-stick) nice and hot, drizzle in olive oil, and sauté diced white onions and chopped carrots. I used rosemary-infused olive oil♣. Season with salt and pepper and toss in five sprigs of oregano and sage—stemmed and chopped. These are called aromatics—you’ll see why when you smell the kitchen. Add the fresh green beans too with about five garlic cloves, pressed.

3. When the onions just begin to brown, add the succotash and the wine. Bring to a boil and pour in the beef stock. Bruise two sprigs of rosemary with the back of your knife and bring them to the Jacuzzi. Bring this to a boil and change to low heat. A dash of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric, and more salt to taste complete the flavor profile. Don’t forget to remove the rosemary.

4. Melt 2-3 tablespoons of butter in a pan until it takes on a hazel hue. Incorporate a hefty pinch of flour to make a slurry and add to the stew. Heat until it bubbles and pour the mixture in a casserole dish. Spread on the mash and bake to warm through♥.

This dish is naturally sweet from the cinnamon and tarragon. It’s also very appealing to the eye with vibrant vegetables and bright sweet potatoes. It’s not your average shepherd’s pie.

A square meal.

♣ To make rosemary oil, just let fresh rosemary sit in a jar of oil for a week.

♥ To go above and beyond, pipe the mash on and broil the top, so it is slightly browned.

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,000 times in 2010. That’s about 7 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 93 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 270 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 744mb. That’s about 5 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was July 15th with 56 views. The most popular post that day was Food News: It’s Me!.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, informationlossweight.com, en.wordpress.com, android-vs-ipad.co.cc, and statistics.bestproceed.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for diary of my stomach, oxtail stew, ristorante battibecco, flanken short rib pieces, and battibecco restaurant.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Food News: It’s Me! July 2010
2 comments

2

Penne with Marsala Cream sauce June 2010
3 comments

3

Ristorante Battibecco July 2010

 

4 Pain In The Butt Oxtail Stew August 2010

5

Roti Mediterranean Grill: A Taste of Intelligence October 2010

Stewpendous

My mother purchased stew beef and I said “I feel like I always make stews”. Nevertheless, after making it, I now remember three main reasons why I love to cook stews.

1. I don’t have to worry about multiple components being finished at the same time.

2. If dinner is delayed for some reason, the dish doesn’t become overcooked if reheated.

3. Stews are filling and nutritious, with lean meats, various types of vegetables and the antioxidants of red wine.

This recipe is based on Danielle’s

Mise en Place:

I don’t know how many it serves, but trust me, you’ll have leftovers.

  • 2 packages of stew beef from supermarket
  • 1 bowl filled with chopped white onion
  • 1 bowl filled with chopped celery
  • 1 bowl filled with chopped carrots
  • 1 bowl filled with quartered button mushrooms (Also try baby bella or cremini)
  • 5 cloves of diced garlic
  • 3 small chopped potatoes
  • 1/2 cup madeira wine
  • 2 cans (14 oz. low sodium beef broth)
  • 1 bowl filled with cut green beans

Herbs (In package together at the supermarket):

  • fresh thyme (de-stemmed)
  • fresh rosemary
  • fresh sage

1. Get a large pot nice and hot, drizzle olive oil, and add the onions and celery, seasoning with salt and pepper. When the onions are translucent, add the carrots and about ten sprigs of time, de-stemmed and chopped. When the onions start to caramelize and the bottom of the pan shows brown bits of fond—I just love that word—, add about a cup of red wine and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon. Turn the heat down to a simmer.

2. In a separate sauté pan, start cooking the mushrooms with olive oil, garlic, sage, salt and pepper until the mushrooms start to turn slightly golden—just 2-3 minutes. Add Madeira wine and continue to cook for a few minutes. Pour the contents into the pot and add the beef broth. Don’t forget to finish with the green beans.

3. Dredge the beef in flour and sauté with oil (olive/vegetable/canola), salt and pepper for about 6 minutes. It may take two batches for all of the meat to join the party.  As an optional step that will really impress people, cut off a piece of cheese cloth and tightly tie three sprigs of rosemary inside. This will flavor the stew without the needles falling off of the stems. It’s alright if you don’t have cheese cloth, but it is a great investment for making sachets.

4. Bring the stew to a boil and simmer with the lid for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. For another two hours, cook with a lid that is slightly ajar. This allows the stew to get hotter without a stronger flame, yet allows moisture to escape the stew. Thus, you’re left with ultra-tender meat and a stew with concentrated beef flavor, notwithstanding a better consistency.

5. The stew is finished when the consistency of the sauce and the tenderness of the meat is to your liking. I like my stew beef to be tender, but still chewable. Serve over whatever rice you prefer. The only garnish you need is a fork.

Please wipe the drool off your keyboard. That’s really disgusting.

Poached Eggs


Poached eggs look so much nicer than any other type and they are the most pure in flavor. Without ever touching a pan, they can be cooked more evenly without tasting bitter and turning brown.

1. Boil water in a sauce pan and add a teaspoon of white vinegar; this causes the egg whites to congeal faster. Crack the eggs into individual ramekins, so that one bad egg doesn’t spoil the lot.

2. Bring the water to a simmer and add the eggs without crowding them. Sometimes, I use a ladles to hold my egg, so fewer whites can escape, but they seem to turn out well drifting unchaperoned in the water.

3. Time for 3 1/2 minutes; this will be sufficient to completely cook the whites, but leave the yolks completely oozy. The safe zone is 3-4 minutes.

4. I prefer mine on a bed of spinach, mushrooms, and onions sautéed in olive oil with garlic—add a dab of butter at the end. Use any toast you have on hand, it’s fun to make new combinations.

My sister said: “What’s the point of eating poached eggs. They’re mushy and disgusting”. That may be true for some, but to others, poached eggs mean a new level of sophistication, compared to over-easys. In the former, a  gently swipe of the fork will open the purse of yolks instead of sawing to puncture the unyielding whites of the latter. Plus, the silky yellow yolk flows down into the spinach and toast rather than pooling on the plate, causing one to chase after it with bread in hand. Finally, just the appearance of the egg: sitting with dignity on a throne of spinach raised even higher by a toasty foundation. However, some do prefer to have their egg flat against the plate, shunned to the side by a preeminent slab of home-fries.