Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I must have adult ADD because I have grown weary of the other blog and now feel that I must post here instead. I have stared at my blogger dashboard hard every time, I am there because I am feeling drawn again towards Maine Foodie. I have been cooking and baking a lot over the winter months and suddenly realized that I am not cooking too much right now, but I have had some triumphs and some near misses and some incredible failures in the food making department since I stopped blogging here over a year ago.

A friend gave me several bags of greens from her garden recently...some incrediblly tender baby chard and beautiful spinach. There was nothing in the house to eat last night and so I took some ground turkey and made meatballs, dropping them in some hot, canned chicken broth. To that I added a dose of rice noodles and let the whole boil for about four minutes...then I added the fresh baby kale, let it wilt down a might and a bit of sea salt and ground pepper and I was good to go for dinner. I was an awesome way to keep the old addage: "Keep it simple, stupid"

I have a quart of lobster stock left over from last week's shellfish stew. I simply broke up two hardshell lobsters and put them in a soup pot with celery, salt and pepper, some sage and some thyme, and about two cloves of garlic and covered the shells with five cups of water and 1 cup or so of Brandy. On high, I let the whole boil for about 20-30 minutes and then simmer for about an hour. Pour broth through fine mesh or cheesecloth to strain and then boil down by 1/2 again. The stock should be delicate, but flavorful. It really is to your own tastes.

I need to try the stew again before I post the recipe as I mistakenly added far too much cayanne and it completely changed the flavor of the broth overnight. Whereas Greg told me right after I made it that it was perhaps the best seafood soup base he had ever had. The next day it was almost inedible....so I added milk to tone down the flavor, thus masking all the rest of the very subtle flavors of the soup.

It is a challenge to make something that you cannot taste...I am allergic to seafood, so I needed a taster to guide me. I made the soup for a party, and will try again, probably with summer visitors, before I post it.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Thats a Wrap!

I think its about time that I wrap this blog in butcher paper and put it in the freezer. Sorry folks, time is getting away from me and I am kind of over the food phase of my life. I don't take myself too seriously as a cook and NEVER have my camera around when I do make something new and different.
Reality is that my job and other responsibilities take me away from home too much these days to have time to keep up two blogs for now.

On the rare occasion that a new place to eat opens up within the 20 minute dinner drive from our house, rest assured that I will rip the place a new one on the other blog www.mainecliffdweller.blogspot.com

Til then, catch you there. Thanks for sticking with this one for so long and through such a long, lame posting period.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

We had some excellent meals while in Palm Springs this last week. Our last dining experience was at The Tropicale, a relatively new restaurant located just across from the Post Office downtown. Its done up in a Mid Century Modern decor with oversized banquettes on the inside and a nice big bar that runs from inside the restaurant to outside on the terrace. The terrace is where we had dinner, and our table was right where the photo below was taken.

What we all loved about the restaurant was the lighting and the paint colors. The wall around the terrace is painted a beautiful coral color and is planted out with small fan palms and desert bushes. When the sun goes down and the lighting comes on, the wall turns this deep, deep coral that just glows and really sets the mood. The chairs are comfortable and there is ample space between diners. The decor inside is very sexy with clean lines and lots of stone pillars. Bathroom is done up in black marble tiles and it seems that no expense was spared to give the diners a full atmosphere of chic 50s Palm Springs. Its a place where you expect to see William Holden and Dezi Arnaz holding court at one of the large banquettes.

The food didn't disappoint either. Large portions of delectable food at good prices in a fine dining atmosphere made all of us quite happy. For starters, I went for the Charred Filet Mignon Fajita Rolls with Sweet Onions and Pasilla Chiles, Guacamole and Salsa Fresca. It was beautifully presented and bursting with flavor. So good. Our hostess had the Chilled Lump Crab Louis Salad wedge with Hard-Boiled Egg, Avocado & Louis Dressing. It was enormous with about 1/2 a pound of crab. She loved it. Greg had Crispy Angel Hair Crab Cakes with a Sesame Mustard Sauce and Gingered Tomato Relish. He said they were excellent, but less crab and more filler than he usually likes. the cakes were made with corn and other veggies and then breaded. They were quite large and he said he should have stopped there for all the food there was.

For our entrees: I had a boneless Southern fried chicken with corn mashed potatoes with red-eyed gravy, and sauteed collard greens. If I liked smokey bacon flavor, this dish would have been awesome, I think. As it was, the red-eye gravy was loaded with bacon flavor, which spoiled the whole meal for me. I got down a piece of chicken, but couldn't eat the rest...that was my bad and not the restaurant's cooking. Our hostess had fish tacos which she said were some of the most delicious she had eaten. There was enough there for two people to share and she could only eat about a quarter of what they served her. The fish was paired with a crispy shredded cabbage, black beans and vegetables. She was in heaven. Greg had Grilled Butteflied Idaho Trout with Toasted Pecan Butter, Corn, Wild Rice & Chipotle Salad Stir-Fried Vegetables which he said was outrageous. The corn and wild rice dish was very spicy, which he loved.

All the food was beautifully prepared. and the service was excellent. Only our hostess had one of the speciality drinks, a Desert Pear Margarita with PatrĂ³n Silver Tequila & Desert Pear Juice Fresh Lime and a splash of Grand Marnier. It arrived in a tall glass encrusted with salt and was a deep purple color. Very tasty!

All in all, we loved this place and would certainly return. Our hostess said it was going to become one of her new favorites in Palm Springs



Sunday, April 06, 2008

Dinner last night was a spontaneous invitation to friends to come to dinner rather than us all going out somewhere. I was in cook mode. First, I had to use the leeks up in the fridge. I had a few small Yukon Gold potatoes and a large sweet potato, so I made Sweet Potato and Leek soup with curry and rosemary and it was pretty good. The color was awesome!! I made a nice loaf of Tuscan Flat bread sprinkled with black sea salt and olive oil to go with it.
The next course was a stuffed pork roast with the fig sauce that I made with a veal roast several weeks ago. Both it and the pork roast were frozen, so I thawed and then stuffed and marinated. Interestingly, I trimmed all the fat off the roast to make it leaner (a good 1/4 lb of fat came off) and the roast was perfectly moist. I cooked it until about 160 degrees and then let the roast sit, covered in its pan for about 20 minutes and it was perfectly juicy and tender. I served couscous and pan seared wilted Swiss Chard. when I plated the meal, each diner had some nice juicy figs to accompany their meat. I thought it was delicious.

Last week we made a chocolate grand marnier fondue to bring to a dinner and we got the leftovers to bring home. I froze that and reconstituted it to pour over ice cream for dessert. It was great not having to go to the store to pick up anything to make this sumtuous dinner for four.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

We rewarded our swim yesterday with breakfast at the Elm Street Grill, what used to be the Cedar Crest Motel restaurant. Its apparently under new ownership and while we had a good meal there last time we went, I am changing my opinion of it now. It was awful!! I ordered tea and got a luke warm cup of water with a Lipton tea bag and those half and half cream containers that are about as big as your thumb...well the cream was sour...I have never had that happen cause the shelf life on those babies must be years...well, these were sitting in the sun for too long most likely.
The place was a mess! The server was filling up her salt and pepper containers right next to us at the next table. She was so busy that she kinda missed our food order and it sat on the server shelf for a while. Greg had eggs benedict and when it came, I thought the sauce looked a bit thin.....it was a yellow transparent sauce that just made me kinda sick to my stomach. I had an omlette with spinach and sausage...it came with two slices of yellow american cheese, some frozen spinach, and sliced breakfast sausage links. The toast was covered in "melted butter" and it was a bit gross.
I am not going back for a while, the place has started to give me the heebie-jeebies!
I cribbed this from the New York Times today. Interesting Reading

The book, “Eat This, Not That!” by Men’s Health editor-in-chief David Zinczenko, has become one of the hottest selling nutrition guides in book stores. The diminutive volume is filled with pictures of what not to eat and photos of better substitutes. It compares food choices at favorite restaurants, supermarkets and holiday items. The comparisons are always interesting and often surprising. Who knew a Starbucks Black Forest Ham, Egg and Cheddar Breakfast Sandwich is a better choice than the chain’s Bran Muffin with Nuts?
Chances are you won’t agree with every item. For instance, in a comparison of choices for a child’s Easter basket, I can’t figure out why Jelly Belly Jelly Beans, with 150 calories, are an “eat this,'’ while Marshmallow Peeps, with 140 calories, are a “not that.'’

The book includes a clever ranking of the country’s 20 worst foods in various categories. Here are some of them:

Worst Fast Food Meal: McDonald’s Chicken Selects Premium Breast Strips with creamy ranch sauce. Chicken sounds healthy, but not at 870 calories.

Worst Drink: Jamba Juice Chocolate Moo’d Power Smoothie. With 166 grams of sugar, you could have had eight servings of Ben & Jerry’s. Gimme 5 servings of Ben and Jerry's and we can call it even!

Worst Supermarket Meal: Pepperidge Farm Roasted Chicken Pot Pie. One pie packs 64 grams of fat. I was pretty surprised by this one. Not that I have ever eaten it, but WOW

Worst “Healthy” Burger: Ruby Tuesday Bella Turkey Burger. With 1,145 calories, not a very healthy choice.

Worst Airport Snack: Cinnabon Classic Cinnamon Roll. Packed with 813 hot gooey calories and 5 grams of trans fats. I LOVE these!! I swear that Cinnabon has made a perfume that they inject into the air circulation system

Worst Kids’ Meal: Macaroni Grill Double Macaroni ‘n Cheese. With 62 fat grams, it’s the equivalent of 1.5 full boxes of Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese. Yeah, where is the obesity trait coming from???

Worst Salad: On the Border Grande Taco Salad with Taco Beef. A salad with 102 grams of fat and 2,410 mg of sodium.

Worst Dessert: Chili’s Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream. At 1,600 calories, it’s like eating the caloric equivalent of three Big Macs.

Monday, March 17, 2008

You are looking at the start of my latest soup. Who knows what it will taste like, but its damn healthy. We ran out of onions, so its red lentils, Kamut berries, apples, snow peas, and carrots with garlic, salt and pepper, 1/2 a capfull of curry powder, and low sodium chicken broth. Once its tender, I will puree in my blender for a lovely, tasty treat for lunch. mmmmm

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I made a soup today that I think will be a tasty alternative to a high fiber lentil soup that has been a standby for a few weeks, with variations. I think the best of the lentil soups was a puree of lentil and lima bean soup. It was thick and lovely and froze really well. I used a homemade chicken stock for it, but one could use a vegetable stock for a vegetarian soup.

The one I made today is a varient on a cream of chinese celery soup that I saw online. Since I didn't want to go back to the store for more ingredients, I muddled through with what I had here.

Its a puree of leek and cabbage soup ##Note that the photographs here are of this soup made with onions instead of leeks...sorry no photos of the puree as Sebastian ate this batch before pureeing

I sauteed two chopped leeks
then added about three cups of diced nappa cabbage (I used the part more towards the bottom and reserved the top of the leaves for steamed pork dumplings as a main course)
Then I found about 6 small Yukon Gold potatos that were on their last legs and looking a bit green and chopped those up for the sautee.
I added a small portion of water at this point to help the cooking process along.
A handful of dried sage leaves that I had lying around were next into the pot
along with two small sprigs of fresh rosemary
and of course a dash of curry powder for good measure.

To that went enough chicken broth to cover the vegetables
cover and let simmer until everything is tender

Let cool and marinate for about an hour
then in batches, puree in a blender

force through a sieve and discard the solids

The soup should be a gorgeous celedon color and from here you can salt and pepper to taste, serve in small bowls with a garnish such as a bit of yogurt or some parsley leaves on top.