Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My Day at the Great American Food and Music Festival


I have the best kids on the planet. My son-in-law and daughter got Dr. Food and me into the "Great American Food and Music Festival" that was being held at the Gillette Stadium. This meant lots of great food from all over the U.S.

Lets start off with what we stuffed our faces with first. This is Wood Grilled Maine Raised Hangar Steak with Chimichuri. It was from Harding Lee Smith. This dish was fantastic. I now have to travel back to Portland, Maine to go to one of his reastaurants. I wish this blog had taste-o-vision on it.


Next off was a Fried Scallop Po'Boy (Lettuce, Tomatoes, Sweet corn/mango remoulade on Ciabatta). This was from All Star Sandwich Bar in Cambridge, MA. I had a couple of bites of this and decided to move on. It was not my favorite.

This is a Freshly grilled Philly Beefsteak from Jim's Steaks in Philadelphia. Um, I don't think I get the point of eating this. It wasn't my favorite either. Ok, wait! My favorite IS coming up.


Meantime we were drinking Mikes Hard Lemonade. It was about 85 degrees outside and humid. Luckily we were in the VIP lounge where runners went and got you any of the food you wanted.

So, I just need to tell you that we ate this throughout the day and not at one seating. In between we were watching "Ace of Cakes" from Food Network yap while his crew built a cake.


Sorry about tall dudes head in the picture.



This was fun to watch. Duff Goldman is "not my favorite"


Here he is at the "Meet and Greet" and I have to say that he was downright obnoxious to a couple of people that went up for an autograph.


More food. This is the Fried Shrimp BOOM BOOM from Harding Lee Smith. This was one of my very favorites.


And being the good blogger that I am I even took pictures of OTHER peoples food. This is a Caprese (Buffalo Mozzarella, Ripe Tomatoes, Pesto on Parmesan Focaccia) and it was from the All Star Sandwich Bar.


Lousy picture ... sorry. I was sitting there in a food coma when a nice gentleman from Johnson's Boucaniere walked in and handed me a Pork Boudin. This place is from Lafayette, Louisiana. Yum, I had never tasted this before. It was spicy and delicious.


This is "The Grill Room" (Maine Raised Beef Tartare in Savory Cones) and it also was from Harding Lee Smith. I guess I had the most stuff from this place because everything was different enough to want to taste more than one thing. I think the only 2 things I missed from here were House Made Rigatoni with Wild Boar Ragut and Duck Confit, Goat Cheese, Grilled Onion Jam Grilled Cheese on Brioche. Ok, so I couldn't eat EVERYTHING.


Meanwhile, we went up to the VIP lounge in the Gillette stadium to go do some wine tasting. I have to say that by the time I got up there I didn't feel like wine. I was so full that I just wanted to walk around.


This was MY favorite thing of the day. It was from Hells Kitchen in Minneapolis. I wish I lived there just so I could go to this restaurant. Just for the record I was told that he had the name before Gordon Ramsay used it. I bought Mitch Omer's cookbook because this guy is great.


So when Mitch Omer walked into the VIP lounge he was wearing his tag around his neck and it said "Ask Me About Paula Deen". When I asked him why it said that he said because he was signing cookbooks and everyone kept asking him about when Paula Deen was going to be there. So, now that I am like madly in love with this guys food I decide "the hell with Paula Deen" this guy is god of the BBQ and I ask to take my picture with him

Matt and me

I look sweatie and gross because after walking around in 85 degrees and 75% humidity feeling like a stuffed pig from eating so much you would too...ok, shut up... maybe not.


Oh wait. One more thing. Churros. These were by Goldie's Churros from Los Angeles (my home town!). I don't even like Churros but everyone was raving about them so I decided to give it a try. All I can say is the ravers were right. These were fantastic.


And right before we left Paula Deen walked in for a Meet and Greet. What a sweet woman she was. She was as friendly as she seems on TV to the throngs of people that were dying to see her.

I got both Paula Deens and Duff Goldman's autographs. I have never gotten anyones autograph before. Not because I haven't run into famous people but because I never saw the point. What the heck, I was there for the experience of it all. Oh, I also got Paula Deens husband Michael's autograph because he was sitting next to her signing too. I actually did see the episode of them getting married so I figured "What the hay?"



So we had a great time. It was all sorts of fun. The highlight was still my new BFF Mitch.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I love summer and Quinoa


I love summer. I love quinoa. So, I decided to post about why. First off I have to say that there is no better feeling than being able to go out to the garden and pick what you need for dinner. So when I saw this quinoa recipe I was really happy. Of course I didn't grow the quinoa itself or the chicken stock (which isn't even homemade... Sorry Martha).

Just to brag for a minute because really, I don't have a green thumb but the produce gods must be in my corner this year. They must know that I have suffered enough having moved from the Bay area to the land of no vegetables.


These are my cranberry beans.


First tomato (ok, I know that you already have yours and you are ahead of me but us "New Englanders" have to wait longer).


Banana Pepper.


Oh and I am growing Shiso. It is also known as Perilla, and is a perennial herb in the mint family. I love this stuff.


This is a little embarrassing because I don't know if it is a weed or something that is for real. I marked it in case someone got confused (uh....me)


I am also growing lots of other things. I am growing 2 kinds of eggplant and padron peppers, and blackeyed peas, and kale and basil and oregano, and lemongrass (well I think that it is growing but not sure. I just stuck one in the ground)


Oh and a sunflower!


So, on the subject of loving quinoa. I decided to make some so I went out to the garden to get parsley and chives (see? one thing DID have to do with the other).


Poured myself a little wine.


Put on more of the music I love oh so much.


Then started the quinoa.


I really liked this a lot. Now the protein that I made was really less than exciting since it was left over BBQed chicken that I dug out of the freezer. I am not proud. I took a picture to share with you so that you can see that *I* am also only human.


Herbed Quinoa
Martha Stewart

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups Homemade Chicken Stock, or canned low-sodium chicken broth, skimmed of fat
1 large bunch flat-leaf parsley, (about 4 ounces)
1 bunch chives, (about 1/4 ounce), snipped into 1/4-inch lengths
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. In a medium saucepan, combine quinoa and stock; bring to a boil. Cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer until all liquid is absorbed and the grains are translucent, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat.

2. Meanwhile, pick 1/2 cup parsley leaves from stems, chop leaves coarsely, and set aside. Place remaining parsley leaves, parsley stems, and 1/4 cup water in a food processor; process until pureed. Transfer puree to a double layer of cheesecloth laid over a small bowl. Squeeze all liquid from the puree, discard solids, and set parsley juice aside.

3. Add snipped chives, butter, and reserved parsley juice and chopped parsley into cooked quinoa, and mix until combined. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, and serve.


I also have 2 Topsy Turveys so there!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Cajun BBQ Shrimp a blast from the past

I would have to say that my serious cooking addiction started back in the 80's when my kids were small and I got a bug to cook. I remember my first real cookbooks and among them was "Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen" by Paul Prudhomme. Cajun cooking was all the rage back in the day in Los Angeles. So, I worked my way through this cookbook and "Husband v1.0" loved the stuff as much as I did. So, imagine my surprise when Dr Food ("Husband v2.0") asked for BBQ Shrimp for Fathers Day.


There might be a little butter in the dish but it is ok for a special occasion. Yeah, like Fathers Day, Groundhogs Day, um...tax day, Flag day, uh...well you get the idea.


Well yeah, did I mention that there is a "little" butter? Oh, Mr. Purdhomme I love you!


Behold a thing of beauty. Oh, and don't forget lots of bread to sop up the sauce.

BBQ Shrimp
Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen

1 pound of shrimp (we got Gulf Shrimp at Whole Foods)

seasoning mix:
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp dried rosemary leaves, crushed
1/8 tsp dried oregano leaves

1/4 pound butter (one stick) PLUS 5 TBS total
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp Worcerstershire sauce
1/2 cup shrimp stock ( I usually get heads on, and boil the heads and use that)
1/4 cup beer, at room temperature


1. mix seasoning together.

2. In pan: One stick of butter, the garlic, the W sauce and seasoning mix in a large skillet over high heat.
3. Melt butter, add shrimp-cook for 2 minutes, shake the pan don’t stir.
4. Add 5TBS of butter and stock cook for 2 more minutes.
5. Add beer and cook for 1 more minute.
6. Remove from heat.

In the book it is stressed not to stir the butter and shrimp but to shake pan back and forth so that the butter does not separate.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Another day Another Paella!


Our friends Kerry and Terry were coming over for dinner and it was going to be a humid and hot day. I wanted to make something that wouldn't heat the kitchen and would be summery (is that a word?) and festive. Paella fits the bill perfectly for this criteria. I usually make my stand-by paella but I wanted to try something different this time. I used the basic paella recipe that I always use and added different ingredients.

I am getting ahead of myself though...


We started off with Strawberry-Mint Sangria. It was really good.


For appetizers I bought some Spanish Cheeses (uh oh, I forgot what they were called...bad blogger!). We also had olives and an artichoke dip and the dip I posted yesterday.


I browned up some chicken drumettes and some country style ribs that the butcher cut into 2 inch pieces.


Added the other stuff and continued drinking and talking.


And it all came together! I used scallops, mussels, gulf shrimp, spanish chorizo, chicken and green beans. How could it be bad?

Adapted from Recipe from the Spanish Table
1/2 cup uncooked valencian rice (per person) or 1/3 cup bomba rice
1 cup chicken stock (per person)
5 saffron strands (per person)
4 tablespoons olive oil, to cover the bottom of the pan
10 pieces Split Chicken Wings or Wing Drumettes
1/2-1 soft chorizo sausage (Bilboa or Palacios, per person)
1/2 teaspoon spanish sweet paprika (per person)
1 garlic clove, minced (per person)
1/4 cup chopped onion (per person)
1/8 cup grated tomato (cut in half, grate & discard the skin, per person)
1 Lb Pork Country Ribs (have your butcher cut the ribs into 2" sections, crosswise cutting the bones)
½ Lb Shrimp (with shells)
3 large Scallops cut in half (or 6 small)
1 Lb Mussels
red peppers, cut in strips (piquillo)
artichoke heart, green beans or peas

1. Heat stock in a separate stock pot. Crush saffron and add it to the stock or a little bit of white wine. Heat paella pan over medium heat, add olive oil and fry chicken until it begins to brown. Next add garlic and onions and saute until translucent. Add chorizo and cook until heated. Add the rice, stirring until well coated with oil. Add the paprika and grated tomato. Stir while cooking for a few minutes.

2. Add saffron flavored wine and hot stock. Bring to a boil while scraping the bottom of the pan. Now the rice should be level and you will not need to stir from this point on. Adjust heat to maintain a nice simmer. When the rice has absorbed a good amount of liquid but still has a soupy appearance add the mussels or clams. Once the rice is cooked add the shrimp or prawns tucking them down into the rice, then the piquillo peppers, artichoke hearts, green beans, beans and peas. During this time the rice should be carmelizing on the bottom of the pan or creating what is called the socarrat. It will make a faint crackling sound and smell toasty sweet but not burnt. Set aside to "rest" for 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, garnish with lemon wedges and serve.

3. OVEN: You can also use an oven if you find that your pan is too large to cook on the stove top, even with occasionally moving the pan around on the burner(s). Begin your recipe on the stove top but after adding the liquid carefully move your paella pan into the oven (350-400 degrees). Once rice is done return it to the stove top to create the caramelized layer of rice on the bottom of the pan.

Strawberry Mint Sangria
Sangria: Fun and Festive Recipes by Mittie Hellmich
2 cups strawberries (hulled and sliced)
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves (about 20 leaves) plus extra sprigs for garnish
1 1/2 ounces brandy
1 bottle dry white wine, chilled
12 ounces club soda, chilled

To Make: In a large glass pitcher, combine the strawberries, mint leaves, and brandy. Slowly pour in the wine, then refrigerate for two hours. When ready to serve, add the club soda and stir gently with a long wooden spoon. Pour into ice-filled glasses and garnish each glass with a mint sprig.

Boy oh boy do I miss the Spanish Table in Berkeley. As a matter of fact, I am missing California and its "No Humidity" policy.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Scapes are my friend


We went to the Farmers Market for the first time since we have been in New England. Normally I go to different farms for my produce but we decided to check out the Farmers Market in Sudbury at the Wayside Inn There wasn't very many stands there but I can not tell you how excited I got when I saw a man selling scapes. I never have had these before but I sure knew what they were. We also brought home some Grass fed beef that a farmer was selling from his farm. Pretty cool.

So, I got the scapes home and wanted to try them. I looked on the internet to see how others have used them. In my search I found this recipe in the New York Times for white bean dip. Yum. I had to make some.


White Bean and Garlic Scapes Dip

1/3 cup sliced garlic scapes (3 to 4)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, more to taste
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt, more to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling.

1. In a food processor, process garlic scapes with lemon juice, salt and pepper until finely chopped. Add cannellini beans and process to a rough purée.

2. With motor running, slowly drizzle olive oil through feed tube and process until fairly smooth. Pulse in 2 or 3 tablespoons water, or more, until mixture is the consistency of a dip. Add more salt, pepper and/or lemon juice, if desired.

3. Spread out dip on a plate, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with more salt.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups.

Give this a try. It is really good. Now I have to chop up the rest and freeze them for a later time. I will have to search for more stuff to do with them. Shouldn't be difficult.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Ancho and Honey Truffles - Sweet Heat


I decided that I was once again going to join the Foodie Fight and try to conquer the battle. This battle is Ancho chili and Honey. I thought about what a great combo this makes but there was one drawback. That drawback being that I wanted to be a bit more creative than a marinade or glaze that I could do with meat. I have done that often and although tasty it just wasn't exciting enough for this challenge. I thought of other really weird things to do but I wanted this to be something that people really wanted to eat. Chocolate... Ancho goes with chocolate and so does honey. I decided that I would do a Chocolate honey truffle with Ancho. I started off with a favorite recipe for truffles that an old friend gave me years ago. I then went crazy with it.


First off was processing the chocolate. I used Callebaut because quality of ingredients is everything. I wanted Valrhona but didn't find it until it was too late and I already had bought the Callebaut (which is a very fine chocolate as well).


Next was the honey. When I said to Dr Food "I don't have any honey left" I thought he was going to choke. He proceeded to go to the pantry and pull out my collection that I had um... forgotten about? I really had to decide what to use. Honey is one of my favorite ingredients.


I went with a honey that I had gotten in British Columbia at Tugwell Creek Honey Farm and Meadery


So, the cream, honey (lots of it) and ancho got simmered together.


Next it was added to the chocolate.


This puppy was now put into the refrig for about 2 hours. Meanwhile we were planting flowers and it turned into an archeological dig. Besides not being able to find Valrhona chocolate easily little did I know that there were boulders everywhere you go around here. Hence, the name of my blog.


We had to get a little help from our neighbor who then was the recipient of truffles (see? it does have to do with my foodie fight). Just so you don't worry about the outcome of this sidebar...


The flowers got planted. Ok, I digress. Lets get back to time lapse photography 2 hours later.


The fun begins and now is the time for chocolate rolling. The ganache is rolled into balls.


They then go back into the refrig for a couple of hours. Ready for another sidebar? You want to know what I was doing in THOSE two hours don't you? Ok, I was still planting flowers and digging boulders and going back and forth to damn hardware stores for dirt and mulch AND THEN....I went swimming! I knew you wanted to know.

Ok...whew...out of the refrig the ganache balls come and it is time to dip 2nd layer. For this layer it was the Callebaut melted in a double boiler and then cooled to 90 degrees (didn't get a picture of this but it looks just like the other melted chocolate that I showed you.


I then mixed ancho chili with cocoa powder and rolled the truffles in it to finish them off. They then got refrigerated for about 2 more hours. I have to say that they tasted really good. The honey was definately there in the taste and the ancho did not overpower at all. I would definitely make these again.


Chocolate-Honey-Ancho Truffles

1 lb 12oz Callebaut Chocolate (this is what *I* used but you could use any semisweet chocolate that you like)
1 C Heavy Cream
1C Good quality Cocoa (I used a local cocoa from Vermont)
1 tsp + approx 3 heaping Tbl Ancho Powder (I added more for more of a kick so you have to decide for yourself how much)
1/2 C Honey
Powder sugar

1. Chop 12 ounces chocolate into chunks. Put the chocolate into a food processor and process until finely chopped.
2. Bring cream, honey and 1 tsp Ancho powder to a boil, stirring constantly so it doesn't scorch.
3. With processor running , add cream to chocolate and process until cream is completely mixed into chocolate.
4. Refrigerate chocolate mixture until chilled.
5. Mix ancho powder and cocoa together in a bowl.
6. Using powder sugar on your hands to prevent the chocolate from sticking, roll teaspoonful of the chocolate mixture into balls.
7. Refrigerate until chilled.
8. Melt 1lb chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Allow chocolate to cool to about 90 degrees. Take each chocolate ball and dip into the melted chocolate and then dip into cocoa mixture.
9. Refrigerate until truffles are hard. Serve at room temperature.

So that was MY sunday. Now please vote for me at Foodie Fights on June 22. OK? I made these AND lifted a boulder all in the same day. Ok, I didn't lift the boulder but I did plant the flowers and made truffles.