Archive for November, 2007

Nothing Like a Bowl of Chili on a Chilly November Day.

Except when its 63 degrees outside, and we’ve just come in from playing tennis in shorts. But still, a spicy bowl of chili sounded good, so we made a big pot. I used a pound of the ground beef from my meat package from Otis Family Farm, and for the first time in my life, the groundness didn’t freak me out.

So a sizzling pan with onions, green peppers, carrots (my addition) and the beef. The adding beef (or chicken) stock, tomatoes, black beans, garlic and handful of spices and let it simmer. Fifteen minutes later, we had a pot of hot, steamy chili. Looked like there was enough for a few days, but after a hearty dinner and the next day’s lunch it was gone.

Husband asked if it was hard to make, and the answer is simply, No. there’s some dicing and some waiting, but overall Chili is one of the easiest things to make. He thinks we should make it every week so its always around. Not a bad idea. It would go even faster if two people were dicing 🙂

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Yes, I had Cheese for Dinner.

So, the other night was Husband was out with the guys, I had what every foodie really wants to have for dinner. Yep, wine, cheese and bread. Yum. I ran over to Lund’s and asked the cheesemonger what she would recommend. The bottom one in the photo was a double cream brie. It was oozy, even right out of the cooler. Spread on warm bread, it melted. And even better straight off the knife. The top cheese in the photo was Beecher’s Flagship Handmade Cheese. It had a hard, but flaky texture, and again was almost better alone than with the bread. But a dinner of just cheese is silly, so I threw in some bread.

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Burgers, Beets and Birthday Cheesecake?

Part 2 of my great-aunts birthday celebration at W.A. Frost included a whole lot of burgers. My beautiful niece devoured a lovely cheeseburger and I had a plate of beautiful beet risotto with mushroom sauce and broccolli.

The burger looked great. H got the portebello burger, which she absolutely loved. My biggest fear about a portebello burger is that the mushroom would be too much to handle. But this one looked great. There was avocado and pepperjack cheese as well, and I definitely know what I’m ordering next time. Oh, the the fries I kept stealing off plates had to be hand-cut. Maybe a plate of those next time, too.

But the beet risotto was darn good as well. The broccoli was a nice contrast to the rich risotto, and makes for a very pretty plate as well. The risotto had a great beet flavor, without knocking me over the head with the earthiness. The mushroom sauce was all mushroom, and I would love to know how they made it. I think it would be great on just some short pasta and a lot of parmesan cheese. Yum…

For dessert I ordered my aunt the caramel apple cheesecake. I wanted something that could hold a candle and the banana fritters didn’t sound like the thing. And it was beautiful. I can’t remember Frost putting so much effort into their plating on past visits, but I have to say it really was a nice surprise. Although not a cheesecake fan, the star-shaped cookie that came with the cake had a beautiful clove/cinnamon/ginger flavor. Yum.

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Birthday Pumpkin Scones

It was my great-aunts 94th birthday last week and its been our tradition (since her 90th) that all the ladies in the family take her out to tea. This year the tea house was booked, so we took her to lunch at another favorite historial site, W.A. Frost.

Frost has a beautiful patio out back and its a favorite of mine for a mid-summer cocktail. Or brunch, or lunch like we did today.

To begin with, my aunt loves her sweets, and she deserves them because she’s one of the most amazing, inspiring women I’ve ever met in my life. At 94 she’s sharp as a tack and her sense of humor keeps all of us rolling. For her birthday, I borrowed a recipe from Morning Coffee & Afternoon Tea, and baked her pumpkin scones. She’s a fan of Pumpkin Pie and her building does not provide breakfast, so it was a no-brainer.

When I opened the tin at the restaurant, the warm, autumn scent of pumpkin filled the room. I hope she enjoys them.

More on lunch tomorrow.

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A Cute Holiday Idea

If you’re like me and like to give homemade gifts for holidays, these paper pans are perfect. I spotted them in the local newspaper yesterday, and I can’t stop thinking about them. There are many shapes and sizes out there. There are even really great wood pans…. the ideas for homebaked goodness are flowing in!!

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Cozy, warm stew.

We whipped up a tasty seafood stew (Southwest Cilantro Fish Stew from November 2007 CL) last night from the current issue of Cooking Light. A bit of chopping and 20 minutes of waiting, and dinner is served. I would make a couple changes next time, though. More spice to begin with. The recipe calls for one sliced jalapeno, but next time I’ll add two. It also called for 1/2 pound shrimp and 1 pound halibut. I would double the shrimp and go with smaller ones. Then the final five minutes of cooking time would probably be shorter as well. And maybe skip the celery. JT from my office would require it as she hates celery. As for Southwest, I didn’t catch much of that flavor. It needed more spice, more southwest. Maybe some chipotle or crushed red pepper.


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(Almost Great) Dinner and (Not So Great) Drinks

A group of us went to the new restaurant Temple the other night. It was S’s 31st birthday and we joined up after she and J went to dinner at nearby Capital Grille. Husband, Jen and I also wanted to eat, so we made an earlier reservation at Temple since we had to be there anyway.

We should have ended the experience after we put our forks down.

Dinner was nice. Our server was friendly, knowledgeable, non-intrusive. The food was great and good, depending on the dish. The Tuna Tataki appetizer was great, thin slices of seared tuna served with a spicy sauce and slivers of roasted beets. The Beef Bulgogi wasn’t as successful. the beef was chewy and the noodles were slippery. The Kim Chee that came with it was a treat, and actually made the beef taste better.

Entrees were about as even. Husband had a steak with wasabi mashed potatoes.He said the steak was good, the sauce was really amazing, and the potatoes had no hint of wasabi. What a disappointment, that was the reason he ordered the dish. Jen and I both had the Pine-Nut Crusted Sea Bass with Squash Dumplings and Long Beans, and I haven’t been able to think of much else since. The Sea Bass took on a light, but dense texture, the dumplings were properly squashy and garlicky, and the long beans were just fun to look at and cut apart. The plating was also beautiful, but didn’t keep me from digging in. So dinner was good, the wine was good, the company great, and then we moved into the Bar, or Shinto Lounge as they call it.

Our friends were sitting in a corner with a couch and ottomans and a coffee table, next to a plasma television. The bar was full, but not crowded, and the service seemed to be good enough, until our server walked out. Without filling our drink order. There were only seven of us, and two of us weren’t really drinking, so I don’t think we were a tough or confusing crowd.

A second server came by, took the drink order again and brought the drinks. After all the glasses were bone dry, she came over again and as soon as we said, “We’d like our…” She was gone. Literally ran away. I waited about 10 minutes (I was getting impatient) and went to find her. Missing, totally, completely missing. Finally, I grabbed the only employee (besides the Koi) I could find and begged for our tab. This guy was nice, and actually looked me in the eye. A few minutes later, a tiny little man came running by with our tab, set it on the table, and while running away, mentioned it included a 20% gratuity because we had more than six people. But, but, but….

We never had service? Hello?

A phone call to Temple a couple days later did nothing to make me feel better about the situation. But I loved the Sea Bass, and will hopefully find something similar, somewhere else.

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