Saturday, March 11, 2006

We happened to be down in Rockland the other night and so decided to cruise the strip for dinner options. What I like about Rockland at night is that there are dinner options available for almost any taste buds. We looked into Amalfi, but the menu wasn't what we had in mind that night, so we bee-lined it to the Black Bull Tavern and sidled up to the copper bar where we proceeded to have an excellent dinner. The bar side of the tavern reminds me of places we frequented as youngsters straight out of place in particular comes to mind: John Barleycorn's in Chicago where we used to go for all you can eat Lasagna on Wednesday nights.

I digress again. We ordered and I had pork potstickers and an excellent ceasar salad..perfect mixture of cheese and tangy lemon dressing. Greg had the fresh dipped and deep fried haddock with crispy fries and thank god the fries were perfectly done! He loved the haddock, but said it was a bit dry (I pointed out that he asked for it extra crispy, which tends to dry things out a bit) The place was just what we were looking for, that is until the drunk came in for dinner at the bar and kept making no sense. We left soon after his arrival. The black bull is a tavern experience. Its a better interior than, say Rollies in Belfast...more of a Boston or other big city pub with big windows out to the street.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Got called for Jury duty today in Belfast. The way it works here is that you are required to serve for no longer than 15 days at a stretch every 5 years. They call in 150 potential jurors and we sat there all day while they picked six juries to handle the six cases they were hearing this month. I have not getting picked down to a science. I got dressed in casual chic (something that I NEVER do) goldtone cufflinks, buttondown shirt, nice pants and nice shoes (no tie) and a blazer. I also bring a big book to read and sit in the front row. I was called to potentially sit on four of the juries and never got picked for any of them....I've served my sentence for the next five years.
During our lunch break, I decided to try the Belfast Soup and Sandwich Shop in Post Office Square. Now it was 12:30 and the guy who runs the place was sitting at a table reading the paper....not a good sign. I hope for his sake that he isn't the owner of the shop, cause I recognized him from working behind the deli counter at Hannaford and I would want him to do really well if it was his place of business.
That said, I ordered a stuffed turkey sandwich which came with cranberry sauce, stuffing, turkey and cheese on chewy middle eastern bread. I have to say, the concept is great, but put some mayo on the sandwich and add more stuffing. There are a lot of restaurants that serve this sandwich and they are reallllllllly good when done right. I loved the bread on this one, but that and dry turkey were the only ingredients I tasted. Too bad. At $8.95 for a sandwich and an ice tea, I can go back to Bell the Cat and get a similar sandwich melted, with better cheese and pesto along with chips or pretzels..for 50 cents less. The guy has a great location downtown, he just needs to bump up his quality a notch or two.
The interior tries to be quaint with old repro photos of Belfast from the 19th century that you can't quite see when you are sitting at your booth. Booths are really small and hard to get in and out of if you happen to be 6'6" I didn't try the soups, and I might go back if only to give this struggling place another try.

Enjoy, Seth
Turkey Sammiches
On our way to Augusta yesterday to test sit cars (being 6'6" makes car shopping quite a different experience, I test sat in about 40 cars and actually drove just one, the Saab 9-3 sport-combi wagon which gets 32mpg on the highway!) we stopped for take out lunches in Belfast....Greg to McDonalds of course and me to Bell the Cat where I had a roasted turkey and munster melt with pesto mayo and lettuce and tomato on rye. It was delicious, but cost me almost $9.00 with a bottle of water. Great place for complicated sandwiches and nearby shopping at Reny's, our favorite. Greg says that he got a kick ass fresh made turkey sandwich at Jack's on High Street for about $3.50 the day before...Jeez with the savings, I'll be able to afford that Saab in just about 10 years, or at least be able to afford to fill up my hugh honking SUV !

Monday, March 06, 2006

I've been asked to provide the recipe for my sausage puffs. I know the recipe is on here somewhere, but who knows where that might be! They are always a crowd pleaser and are super easy to make, if you like folding hundreds of little pieces of puff pastry over mounds of ground sausage....

1 sheet puff pastry (available in frozen food section)
1 roll of Jimmy Dean Sausage (50% less fat version so the puffs won't be so greasy)
1/2 cup yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspn cayanne pepper
couple of pinches of dried thyme
perhaps some rosemary or oregano

Thaw 1 sheet puff pastry. Preheat oven to 350

Saute onion and garlic together until transluscent (about 7 minutes)
add sausage and brown and then add spices. Cook sausage until done
allow mixture to cool completely.

Roll out puff pastry until thin and pliable. cut into squares. Take square and add heaping teaspoon of the sausage mixture into the middle and then fold corner over top, completely sealing mixture, place seam side down on baking sheet.

Bake in the middle of the preheated oven until pastry is golden brown. Serve with a mustard sauce or on their own. Makes about 3 dozen


Sunday, March 05, 2006

We had a fabulous Mardi Gras party last night and Greg made seafood jambalaya and a sausage chicken jambalya that were fantastic. Everyone raved and I was a little jealous that he made everything.
I was given the task of the appetizers, so I found a recipe on Epicurious that really seemed the say New Orleans. Apparently it is from Emeril's kitchen. I couldn't eat it because of the crabmeat, but I got my own raves last night for it. A friend who is originally from New Orleans said that it tasted just like aligator pie she used to get in her favorite restaurant. Another friend said we should open our own restaurant. I toyed with the recipe and added more of the goodies like mushrooms and crabmeat and sprinkled in some cayanne for a bit of a bite. It makes an enormous amount of food, so have extra bread around. Here is what I came up with.
Crabmeat and wild mushroom cheesecake
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion1 cup chopped red bell pepper
4-5 coarsely chopped assorted fresh wild mushrooms (such as crimini, oyster and stemmed shiitake)
32 oz of cream cheese softened
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayanne
4 large eggs
1/2 cup whipping cream
12-14 ounces crabmeat (about 2 cups), drained well, picked over
1 cup (about 4 ounces) grated smoked Gouda cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2-3 French bread baguette, sliced, toasted

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and bell pepper and sauté 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté until liquid evaporates and mushrooms begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Cool.
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese, salt and pepper in large bowl until mixture is fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then whipping cream. Mix in vegetable mixture, crabmeat, smoked Gouda and chopped parsley.
Pour filling into 9" springform pan. Bake until cake puffs and browns on top but center moves slightly when pan is shaken, about 1 hour 30 minutes. Transfer pan to rack and cool. (Cheesecake can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Run small sharp knife around pan sides to loosen cheesecake. Release pan sides. Transfer cheesecake to platter. Serve cold or at room temperature with baguette slices.
Serves 16 to 20 as an appetizer.

I also made my special sausage in puff pastry nibbles and those were gone on the first round.