Friday, April 30, 2010

New Orleans :: Days 1-2

drinks ::
Carousel Bar
Monteleone Cocktail

dinner ::
Many review books refer to this as a restaurant that could almost be called the best in town. And perhaps because of that expectation I was disappointed. The staff were friendly, and the menu was well planned, but it was lacking that extra umpphff that would have bumped it from 85% to 100%. But I'm a picky audience.
  • shrimp napoleon, with fried mirliton
  • (husband had) pork belly - after having michael symon's a few weeks ago, was not impressed.
  • duck confit leg, seared duck breast, drizzled with an oregano-lemon sauce (needed more of this intensity and acid on the plate), sat on a warm white bean and frisee salad
  • housemade praline ice cream (nice intensity- but again nothing to push it over the top)
breakfast ::
Cafe du Monde
  • cafe au lait
  • traditional beignet

lunch!!! ::
Jazz and Heritage Festival

(click on the link above, then the food tab at the bottom, then the 2010 Jazz Fest Food List. prepare to be amazed. and hungry)

  • shrimp and grits
  • sausage and chicken gumbo
  • boudin balls - with tabasco and creole mustard
  • crawfish beignets *** a clear favorite
  • cracklins (had to try them once - despite my love of pork that'll probably be enough for me. or maybe i just need to try another thinner warmer version.)
  • sweet iced tea
  • pralines

I wanted to keep trying other things, but between the heat and the crowds, I was feeling a little bit queasy, so I had to stop. Or it would have been ugly.

dinner ::
Commander's Palace

  • artichoke salad
  • spring vegetable tart - layers of seasonal vegetables, soft brie-like cheese, puff pastry, surrounded by a savory tomato based sauce
  • creole bread pudding souffle - more like a bread pudding topped with a delicious meringue, drizzled with a whiskey cream sauce.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cornman Farms :: Yolks extraordinaire

A gift of Cornman farms eggs directed dinner this evening. Once I cracked the beauties I knew that they had to be the centerpiece of our meal. As often happens, a last minute throw together becomes a new favorite. The technique and flavor of this is similar to a carbonara dish, but without the guanciale or bacon. You could certainly add the pork, but in this case it might mask the delicacy of spring asparagus.

  • Six gorgeous eggs yolks. Saved the egg whites in a ball jar for another time.
  • One pound pasta, boiled in salted water.
  • Hand snapped fresh asparagus from Plum Market, blanched in the last two minutes of the boiling pasta.
  • 2 cups of reserved pasta water
  • One-two cups grated parmigiano reggiano. (start with one. add more to taste)
  • Two tablespoons freshly cracked black pepper.

Place yolks in large serving bowl. Pour drained pasta and asparagus on top of the yolks. Immediately toss. Toss again. Keep tossing, so that the yolks slowly coat the pasta. As you're tossing, slowly add 1/2 cup hot pasta water, watching the yolks then become a creamy yellow sauce instead of scrambled egg yolks. I admit that the timing and touch of this is a little bit difficult. You might have to add another 1/2 cup or more, and you will certainly need to use some gourmet intuition. Just put on your chef hat. Once you've noticed a sauce-like texture, it's time to add the parmigiano and black pepper. And toss gently until combined.


A meal without cheese
is like a beautiful woman
who lacks an eye.

~Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

they're baaaaaack!

The thing about morels is that they're much prettier raw than cooked. That is, if you consider this ugly mug a thing of beauty.

Final preparation - a cream sauce drizzled over roasted chicken.

Monday, April 26, 2010

a recipe for spring asparagus

I have always been a Jamie Oliver fan. Jamie's Food Revolution gig is only the most current step in the line. It's not a fair weather or trendy popularity thing for me. I loved him as the still-wet-behind-the-ears Naked Chef, and even more passionately when he made the Jamie at Home series. Still photos were edited in with video clips of the man in his garden, then retreating inside to cook the fresh produce.

Not only was the information in the Jamie at Home shows phenomenal, the production was so artistic; it was certainly an aspect that was not overlooked. And of course, a stunning cookbook followed. My dear sister waited in a long line at the Short Hills mall in NJ, just to get a "big love" signature from my favourite Brit.

The concept behind Jamie at Home what it's all about for me. So to have a public advocate, and a handsome British one at that, makes me pretty excited. The ability to grow food and then care about cooking it well, not to mention caring to teach others the importance of this kind of cooking is a very sexy combination to me.

One of the best recipes from this series and book is the crispy asparagus and potato tart. A must try for the seasonal eater. It combines the crunchy filo dough, creaminess of a cheesy mashed potato, topped with blanched asparagus. A fabulous spring dinner, perfect served with a lightly dressed salad.

For a laugh, check out this ad that Jamie made for the at-home show in 2007. I can't seem to get it to embed, so click this link to go to YouTube.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Roast - Detroit

Despite working a long hard work week, my husband agreed to spend 7 of his only 12 free hours this weekend out of the house. Saturday night from 7p-7a is technically the only 12 hours he has off when he's on call. Going out is a huge commitment and means there's not a lot of resting/down time. I'm very thankful that he humored me.

We've been long time fans of Jerry Seinfeld; something about the New York Jewish humor has always struck a chord with us. Not to mention that we started watching this show as our relationship began, a few years ago. Was that really almost 20 years? Yikes.

Jerry was in town last night. And when I say in town, I mean the big town. De--troit. We couldn't do 7pm show because of the work schedule. So we stayed up a little past our bedtime for the second 10pm show. Sure, Jerry was funny (my cheeks were hurting from the continuous laughter), but Michael Symon topped it with the preceeding meal at Roast right around the corner from the Fox Theatre.

This is what we were greeted with upon entering.
So we knew we were in for a treat. Any menu that lists "Beast of the Day" is not messing around.

If you've read this blog before, you know that I could easily slide into the vegetarian camp if it weren't for prosciutto, speck and the like. But that doesn't mean that I can't appreciate the carnivorous treats. That's what this menu did -accentuate the beauty of meat.

When I saw roasted marrow on the menu, I knew that it was a must try. How often have you seen that one? I've never. I thought since I was going whole hog, I might as well make it memorable. This dish was interesting. The waitress suggested a hearty squeeze of lemon, which did make a huge difference. That acidic element, and the slivers of pickled hot peppers provided a contrast to the "meat butter" (thanks, waitress). Considering the fact that I have never eaten straight marrow before, I don't feel like I can critique the preparation, but something in it left me wishing that it was a little hotter, perhaps a little deeper or darker roasted, but again maybe that was how it was supposed to be.

The other starter we tried was the fresh bacon, and what can I say? Bacon -it was great. Perfectly crispy, a good balance of meat and fat. Sat upon thin slices of haloumi and was topped with a small salad of pickled tomatoes and almonds.

The entree was a porterhouse for 2. I told you we were going all out! T-bone accompanied with fried brussel sprouts and a spinach feta gratin. Here's where I can tell that there is a depth to Michael Symon. I've been to other steakhouses where the sides were an afterthought. It's painfully obvious sometimes. However, each of these could have stood on it's own for a typical meal.

Fried brussel sprouts. I love brussel sprouts, so for me it's not really a stretch. But these were fabulous. I wish I could get the recipe. You think he'd give it to me? As far as I could tell, these were fried, then tossed hot with roasted walnuts, thin scallions, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and some form of anchovy (maybe a paste in the viniagrette) as a background note. My kids devoured the leftovers at lunch today. So either I figure out how to make them at home, or go back to roast, just for these suckers.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Ad Hoc

I will not accept any excuses. Make this -

Leek Bread Pudding
courtesy of Thomas Keller @ Ad Hoc

It is phenomenal. Even more so when topped with a poached egg and hollandaise. But that's just because I don't know when to call it quits.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Saturday, April 10, 2010

New York City, (contd)

Last Thursday, I tackled two of my favorite NYC food institutions.

for bagels, cream cheese, and coffee

for cannolis, lobster claws, tiramisu, and gelato

Friday, April 09, 2010

NYC food diary

I'm writing not to report about my Easter weekend meal successes::

A. Good Friday
  • salad of mesclun greens and grapefruit sections, topped with fried goat cheese medallions and grapefruit viniagrette
  • pan seared halibut with fennel fronds
  • quinoa with roasted cherry tomato, roasted fennel bulb slices & pine nuts
  • creamed wild mushrooms
B. Easter Sunday
  • grilled zucchini and feta mesclun salad with lemon garlic viniagrette
  • asparagus coins with roasted red pepper cream
  • russet potato cambozola gratin
  • crown roast of lamb with rosemary rub and stuffed with red onion
  • fresh hot buttermilk biscuits with roasted garlic butter
  • caramel flan
But instead, this is meant to serve as my food diary of NYC, a little bit for your sake, but even more for mine, in order to help me to remember all of the loveliness. This list is why New York is New York. I have grown to adore Ann Arbor and its foodie gems, but when it comes down to it, there is a reason New York is the culinary capital of the country or maybe even the world.

I think that I did pretty well, considering the fact that I had four kids in tow the whole time. I did not see any other parents as brave (read: crazy stupid) as me.

lunch :: salmon burger & greens @ Orsay
dinner :: foie gras, celery, capon terrine, then black sea bass with syrah sauce -- two courses of three prix fixe before a family hiccup @ Daniel (full disclosure - kids were not at this)

breakfast & lunch :: large Dunkin Donuts iced coffee (it was a long night in the ER - plus they say America runs on it!?)
snack :: french macaroons from Bouchon Bakery (thanks to Whitney)
dinner :: (phenomenal) vegetable antipasti & truffle-guanciale-egg pizza @ Batali's Otto
dessert :: red velvet cake ice cream and cream cheese frosting ice cream swirled (A.M.A.Z.I.N.G) @ Milk Bar - Momfuku

breakfast :: cappuccino at small shop on pier 16 before Circle line boat ride
lunch :: straight up authentic dim sum @ Oriental Garden (Chinatown)
snack :: various treats for the kiddos @ Dylan's candy bar
dinner :: cornbread madelines, boston lettuce salad with poached egg and blue cheese, and gulf shrimp and grits appetizer, hot potato chips with blue cheese dipping sauce, various desserts @ Bar Americain (Bobby Flay was IN DA HOUSE - I thought I could taste something extra special)

breakfast :: real friggin' NY bagels @ Zabars
lunch :: spiedini romano & caesar salad @ Pellegrino (Little Italy)
dessert, otherwise known as even more lunch :: cannolis, tiramisu, gelato all around @ Ferrara's Cafe
dinner :: better than average take out pizza from Serafina back to hotel room; kids have now been away from home for too long and are starting to show vacation fatigue

I would love to go on eating like this forever, but know that after only a couple more days I'd be able to feel my pants tighten. So I'll gracefully take my leave of the big city, and drive my clown car of little ones back to the midwest tomorrow, and dream about my next culinary adventure...