Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Seafood Feast!

One of the few culinary tradition we have in our family is a seafood feast the night of Christmas Eve. I'm not Italian, I'm Polish but I tend to refer to this meal as "Seven Fishes" because it's a more familiar term than our Polish "Wigilia". It's basically a meatless meal that consists of 12 dishes. My mom and grandparents had a smorgasbord that included some less desirable things like eel and herring. Growing up we always had stuffed shrimp, stuffed flounder, fried scallops, twice baked potatoes and a couple of vegetables (we didn't really follow that 12 dish thing!).

I wanted to have an early "Wigilia" with my Philly friends this year and for an added challenge decided to make seven different fishes. It was a bit of a cultural combo - we had everything from vegetarian gulumpkis to calamari in red sauce over linguini! Here's the menu:


Not bad right? I've admitted this before - when I'm entertaining I STINK at taking pictures. Luckily Ron was around to snap a few of the appetizers.

Deviled Eggs with Crab:

Stuffed Clams:

Flatbread with Anchovies, Olives, Tomatoes & Caramelized Onions:

And this delicious Salmon Rillette:
We changed this recipe a touch by using Ron's home smoked salmon in the spread and lined the bowl that we were using as a mold with store bought smoked salmon.

Then I stopped taking pictures - you'll just have to believe me that the rest was delicious! I'll be posted a recipe for veggie gulumpki soon - it was a crowd favorite.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Best Bay Scallops Ever & A Dinner Party

I've mentioned before that I'm from the North Fork of Long Island and that means that I'm occasionally blessed with awesome seafood. Remember this clammy feast? A few weekends ago my parents were in town and they brought me some peconic bay scallops that were so fresh and sweet that I couldn't stop popping raw ones in my mouth. I normally only get to eat them once a year - Christmas Eve when we deep fry them (yeah - yum) so this was a really special treat!

We had a few friends over for a dinner party - 8 people altogether including me and Ron and my parents. I wanted to make something that didn't require any last minute cooking - the star (besides the scallops - I'll tell you about those in a second) was a giant pork roast that I slow cooked in lots of white wine and herbs until it was fall apart tender.

While that cooked away in the oven I prepared the rest of the meal. Side dishes included white beans and greens:
I made these with dried beans, someone please tell me how to make them taste as good as the ones out of the can. They're always half undercooked, half overcooked. In spite of that these still game out pretty tasty. Amazing what salt, pepper, lots of tomato paste and a couple ladles of that pork cooking liquid will do!

I also made my absolute favorite salad - mixed greens with roasted butternut squash, paper thin red onions, goat cheese, pepitas and a maple vinaigrette. So good.

Oh, what's that in the bottom left you ask? That's the scallop dish I made - did you think I was gonna leave you hanging? Talk about how awesome it was and then not give you the recipe? Don't you worry. First thing you should know is that it's a Ina Garten recipe so you know it's gonna be awesome and second, just listen to the name "bay scallop gratin". GRATIN - I'm in. You puree delicious thing like butter and garlic and parsley and lemon juice all together and smear them on top of scallops that have been splashed with white wine (I didn't have the pernod that the recipe called for) and top them with panko bread crumbs (the recipe called for mixing them into the butter mixture, I thought that was weird so I threw them on top) and bake. What comes out of the oven is a dish that people will RAVE about. Take a look:
Oops! I almost forgot the last ingredient that puts this over the top - prosciutto! See it under the bread crumbs mixed in with the butter? Yup, PROSCIUTTO mixed with BUTTER.

And of course there was dessert - but that's for next time. Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Brined Chicken

I used a recipe similar to this Mark Rhulman brined chicken recipe from this fantastic charcuterie book to make the most delicious and good-looking chicken I've ever made. Although there is one thing that really, really stinks about it - I'll never be able to make a un-brined chicken again. It's not that it's difficult to brine a chicken, throw the ingredients in a pot and simmer until everything is dissolved and let cool before dunking in your whole chicken or start with a small amount of water and simmer the ingredients and add a ton ice like they do in the recipe linked above.


See, easy right? It's just that it requires a bit of planning - you have to know the night before that you're having chicken for dinner the next day, no grabbing one on your way home from work. But luckily I have a feeling that planning ahead to have chicken for dinner won't be an issue when the results look like this:


And even better than the look of the chicken was the taste. Soaking in the salty/sweet/herby water leaves the meat seasoned all the way through. It's a taste I could never achieve just by seasoning the outside. Oh and if you have time after you pull the chicken out of the brine leave it uncovered in your fridge to really let the chicken skin dry out - then you'll have crispy chicken skin, what's better than that?

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Pumpkin whoopie pies with cream cheese frosting - need I say more?

I followed this recipe from Bon Appetit for the cake part, using the pumpkin flesh I talked about in my last blog instead of canned pumkin. The only other change was that I didn't grease my parchment and the bottoms got a little golden and didn't stick - I'd definitely go parchment-less.

The filling is a standard cream cheese frosting recipe from Martha Stewart.

Bake the cookies, make the filling, stuff, taste test, feed to friends.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pumpkin Season!

Oh hey there - remember me? I went and got a job that left me too busy to post on my blog. Sorry about that. Good news though - the gig is over. Bad news? I'm once again be on the job search.

Anyway...since my last post the weather has gotten chillier, the leaves have turned color, and it's officially become the holiday season. Which means pumpkins! We got giant pumpkins from our CSA. The kind that I'm afraid to cut into for fear that I'll slip and lose a finger. I mean look at these things:


That green one - it's still sitting in the window. I'll get to him soon enough. The crooked neck pumpkin seemed a bit easier to tackle! I (carefully) cut off the crooked neck, sliced all the pieces in half and scooped out the all the guts and the seeds.


I roasted the pieces flesh side down in a 350 degree oven for about an hour until you could easily pierce the flesh with a knife and looks like this:


Then since I didn't really have something to do with all this pumpkin I decided to freeze it by the cup in plastic bags. Then...when my next recipe (hint it included cream cheese frosting) calls for pumpkin I can just grab a bag from the freezer.


And in the mean time there are roasted squash seeds to munch on! I roast them with salt, pepper and olive oil along side the squash until they're golden brown.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Caramelized Leek Scramble - Our New Favorite Breakfast!

We have a new favorite breakfast. It take about 20 minutes to make and 30 seconds to eat and it's a little fancy and a lot delicious.

I LOVE caramelized onions and if those onions are in leek form? Oh man, I would happily eat an entire bowl of them with a spoon.

For this dish I chopped up the whites of two small leeks and put them in a bowl of water to rinse off the grit. I sauteed the leeks in a bit of butter with a salt and pepper until they turned soft and sweet. Whisk 3 eggs with about a tablespoon of sour cream, salt, pepper and the sauteed leeks.


Put a couple pieces of your favorite bread in the toaster - we used rye. Slowly scramble the eggs until they are just cooked. Butter your toast, top with the scrambled eggs and a little bit of shredded parmesan cheese.


After I took this picture and we were several bites into breakfast Ron said "No cheese this time?". I practically sprinted to the fridge to grab the block of parmesan - it puts this simple breakfast over the top.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Surprise Party Birthday Cakes!

Store bought cake generally doesn't interest me - the frosting is always too sweet and the cake is always too dense. At a party it's the thing I skip so I can eat more potato chips. But homemade cake? That, I'll take a slice of. Even when the mix is out of a box and the frosting is out of a can it's somehow so much better.

But if you're going homemade you might as well make it from scratch and you might as well make it interesting. As you can tell by previous posts, I prefer things like pink lady cake, carrot cake, and root beer cake. Why go plain old vanilla and chocolate when you can add things like root beer and cream cheese frosting?

Our friend Mark just turned 30 and his girlfriend, Jackie, was throwing him a surprise birthday bash. I was asked make cake! I ended up making two - first was the root beer cake then in a last minute holy-crap-this-isn't-enough-cake panic I made a peach cake with brown sugar cream cheese frosting (I know, yum!). I doubled the root beer cake recipe to make a two layer 9x13 cake and turned the peach cupcake recipe into a 9 inch 2 layer cake. I had white peaches, regular peaches and nectarines on hand from the CSA so I used a combo of all of them in the batter.

Here's the before:

Here's the after:

Mark was VERY surprised, everyone liked the cakes and I only had one mini-meltdown so I consider this a successful baking venture!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Eggplant "Caviar" and Tuna Tonnata

When Ron and I were in Paris we ate at an amazing restaurant called Les Cocottes de Christian Constant. DSC_2016
It was one our favorite meals in Paris, the food and service were both completely unpretentious - something we didn't always find while dining in Paris! See Dave Lebovitz write up about it here. Ron started with an aubergine "caviar" dish - probably because he thought it was going to have actual caviar in it. When the dish arrived, there was no caviar but neither of us were disappointed! It was served in a cute glass jar and had layers of eggplant and great olive oil packed tuna - served with french baguette, this starter was simple and perfect. I've been meaning to try to replicate it forever!

We got our first eggplant at the CSA this week and I immediately thought of this dish. I ended up combining an Eggplant Caviar recipe from Food and Wine magazine with a Tuna Tonnato with Eggplant salad from Gourmet magazine.

Split and roast the eggplant until it's deflating in the oven. Mix the scooped out eggplant with sauteed, finely diced, red pepper, onion and garlic, chopped parsley and lemon juice.


I pureed one can of water packed tuna with some mayo, olive oil, capers, anchovies and more lemon juice - then I mixed the pureed tuna with a can of drained olive oil packed tuna. I really liked the puree and it would be even better if I was more generous with the olive oil!

Tuna + eggplant + cherry tomatoes:


With a good sprinkle of kosher salt equals something very delicious!


Here I spread it on a wasa cracker but a good whole grain baguette would have put this over the top.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Vegan Enchiladas

My friend Mike is dating a vegan and asked me to prepare a dish that she could actually eat for a get together last week. Like I've mentioned many times before on this blog, I don't eat a ton of meat and I think I could pretty easily go vegetarian. But vegan? That's a lot more difficult and I imagine that at a party there's often not a whole lot a vegan (in a circle of non-vegan friends) can actually eat. I really wanted to make something tasty and I eat enough vegetables, fruits and grains to know that it's possible.

My first thought was a grain salad with chunks of marinated roasted tofu and lots of veggies but I imagine that vegetarians and vegans get sick of salads! My next thought was Mexican food - probably because it's been so hot that I've been stuffing leftovers into corn tortillas and calling it dinner for days now. I make a good enchilada and I've got no problems leaving off the cheese. Inspired by this recipe I decided on a combo of sweet potatoes, red potatoes and kale for the stuffing.

I boiled the potatoes and added the kale for the last few minutes. I diced the potatoes and chopped the kale and added everything to a pot where I had started sauteing some thinly sliced onion. Next addition? Lots of flavor. I think potatoes need a lot of salt so I added a good bit of that along with chile powder, cumin, dried oregano, adobo from a can of chipotles, red wine vinegar and enough veggie stock to bring it all together.

For the sauce I stuck to my go to enchilada sauce from Last Night's Dinner.


I microwave my tortillas before I dip them in the enchilada sauce to keep them pliable - a lot of recipes call for frying the first but this method always works for me and I save myself a few calories! Ladle some sauce into the bottom of a 9x13 pan, dip, stuff, roll, repeat, layering the enchiladas tightly next to each other.


Top with a bit more sauce. Bake at 375 covered for about 35 minutes then uncovered for another 10, until the edges start to get brown.

I didn't take a photo of the finished product - oops. These were good, not great - and adding sour cream and queso fresco really made them better, although not vegan! But I'm sure guacamole and vegan sour cream would be great. Luckily, everyone made a vegan dish (including a polenta pizza with vegan sausage crumbles - something like this, that was really tasty) so no one went hungry. The leftover filling made great veggie tacos.

Monday, June 28, 2010

French-ish Salad

Ron introduced me to this salad a long time ago. REALLY! Ron introduced me to a SALAD. It's a salad he'd eaten in France and it was topped with both meat and cheese - now do you believe me? This is a lighter version - although a few pieces of prosciutto and a side of buttered baguette wouldn't hurt this!

Mixed greens, steamed potatoes, green beans, not-so-hard boiled eggs (all from the CSA), grape tomatoes, a bit of blue cheese and a simple vinaigrette made from course grain mustard, lemon juice, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper.


The different textures and temperatures of this salad are what make it so great. Warm potatoes, creamy cheese and egg yolks, sweet tomatoes and cool crisp green beans all tied together with a slightly tangy dressing. Ooh - know what else would make this good? Foie gras - remember this?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Asparagus, Spring Onion and Barley Salad

Our CSA has been giving us a ton of asparagus and spring onions. For this salad I grilled the asparagus and onions - putting the spring onion greens on the top rack and the onion bulbs and asparagus on the bottom.

I made a simple vinaigrette with lemon juice, whole grain mustard, olive oil, a touch of maple syrup, salt and pepper - the veggies got chopped up and tossed with the vinaigrette and some cooked barley.


These are the kind of meals that are perfect for the hot weather - nothing heavy, nothing hot. Next time I make this I'll add a some cheese (crumbly goat cheese, maybe?) and toasted nuts.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Too hot to cook! Shrimp with Arugula, Pea Pesto

When the weather is sweaty and your AC is in the basement turning on the oven is not an option. Grilled shrimp, grilled polenta and a no-cook pea and arugula puree seemed like the perfect dinner to not heat up my kitchen and use the quickly wilting spicy greens in my fridge!


Before I get into the how-to let me tell you that, yes, I understand that what looks like pureed green mush might not appeal to everyone. But this isn't mush - the spicy arugula, sweet peas, and walnuts when properly seasoned with a good pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper and whirled in the food processor with a drizzle of olive oil turn into something YUMMY.

The shrimp was simply grilled with salt and pepper. I made the polenta last night and spread it on a small pan to chill so I could grill it today. If your shrimp and peas are defrosted this meal could come together in 20 minutes flat.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Strawberry Rhubarb Gin Fizz

I know, I don't need to write any fluff. You just want to know how to make this right?

Well here it is:

1. Go in your fridge and take out your shriveling strawberries and you limp rhubarb.
2. Hull the berries, chop the rhubarb and throw in a pot with a touch of sugar and a bit of water (these are precise measurements - I hope you're taking notes)
3. Simmer, simmer, simmer until everything is super soft
4. Smash, smash, smash
5. Push through sieve (you could probably skip 4 and 5 and just throw everything in a blender!)
6. Chill
7. Put ice cubes, gin, a teaspoon of sugar (depending on how sweet you made your puree you could leave this out) and lime juice in a shaker.
8. Shake, shake, shake
9. Poor into a glass, top with club soda.
10. Enjoy

This would probably be extra tasty with the addition of some herbs like mint or basil. If I had some ginger I would have simmered it with the strawberries and rhubarb and pulled it out before I started smashing and sieve-ing. It certainly doesn't NEED anything else though - it's pretty delicious as-is.

PS - Don't feel like simmering and and smashing and waiting for the whole thing to get cold? I don't blame you. Instead skip the rhubarb, take a few of those strawberries and muddle them with a tsp of sugar and some lime, shake with ice and gin, pour into a glass, top with soda and drink up. Mmm.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Use-Up-Your-CSA-Veggies Pizza

Our CSA has been pretty good this year and I've been making a lot of use-it-before-it-goes-bad meals! So far I haven't really minded, it helps to have what's in your fridge dictate what I make for dinner. Less decisions and with so many vegetables I'm eating close to no meat which I really like.

I love the idea of using whole wheat dough for my homemade pizzas but it generally leads to soggy pizza that gets stuck to pan. So this time around I rolled the dough out into 8 pretty thin rounds, put them on a nonstick sheet pan sprayed with nonstick spray (just to make sure!), drizzled them with olive oil, sprinkled them with salt and pepper and baked them at 450 until they were just light brown. Now I have 8 dough rounds in the fridge ready for fixins.

For dinner tonight I had zucchini, mushrooms and a bit of swiss chard to use up. I sauteed the veggies in a bit of olive oil with salt, pepper and a pinch of crushed red pepper. I topped of one of my precooked doughs with canned crushed tomatoes, the veggie mixture and a bit of ricotta. The pizza went in the oven for about 10 minutes at 400. Then...I took a picture with my iphone. Boo.

I know, it's hideous. But I decided I need to blog more and I already have two blogs waiting to be posted because the pictures are sitting on my phone because my card reader is MIA. So, I bit the bullet and posted this awful photo.

But it tasted great! And after I ate half of this way too slowly I popped the other (now cold) half in the toaster oven* to reheat and the crust got even crunchier! Can't wait to have more for lunch tomorrow.

*I just made a correction on here that tells me no one reads my blog - at least no one that likes me. If I ever write "I popped the over half in the toaster over" again - someone please tell me.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Potato Chips AND Runny Eggs - Uh Oh

I don't normally do this...I stumbled upon this recipe via tastespotting and looked to awesome to keep to myself. I haven't tried this recipe. Truth be told, I'm scared. I'm scared that this dish, being the combination of two of my very favorite foods, would mean the end of single digit pant sizes forever. I'm scared that after trying this recipe I will no longer be satisfied by accompanying my eggs with healthy things like a few slices of tomato or whole grain bread.

Please go see this FRIED EGGS ON POTATO CHIPS recipe over at Monica Bhide's "A Spice of Life" - just go, there's no way in the world it's not going to be awesome. I already know I love chilaquiles, the mexican version of chips + eggs. Now this? Oh man.

Maybe I'll make this recipe this weekend and update this post with a picture? It's not like I need to fit into a wedding dress anymore. Watch out Ron - slippery slope, here I come.

Monday, June 7, 2010

My New Favorite Drink

Chelada - Ice, lime, beer, salt rim. That's all, easy right? I tried the Michelada and was grossed out, but the plain old Chelada now that's one refreshing cocktail.

I drank more than a few in Mexico.
One Chelada:

Two Chelada:

Now I need to go buy Margarita salt so I can drink them on hot days while sitting on our stoop. I have no doubt that they're just as delicious in Philly as they are in Tulum.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

El Tacoqueto

Our buddies Carla and Gerry had been to Tulum before and we took a lot of their suggestions including where to stay and where to eat. Carla let me know that the food in Tulum Pueblo was a good bit cheaper and really good. When we were driving through town Ron spotted El Tacoqueto and after we ate their we realized that this was the place that Carla and Gerry had raved about - and rightfully so. Looking back on C&G's photos - we actually have embarrassingly similar photos of ourselves inside! Good find guys, very good find!

Ordering goes like this - walk up to the window to the kitchen and the women open the pots of what they made that day and you pick what you want. They don't speak any english (a very good sign to us - yay, not a tourist trap!) luckily, our knowledge of the spanish language pretty much includes only food items. We can read a menu with hardly any problems - but street signs? Not so much.

Generally if I hear the word "mole" I'm in! So we went for the chicken mole served with rice (note my spanish dictionary in the background!):

And the abondigas (meatballs) in a spicy tomato sauce served with black beans and rice:

Ron also ordered a melon Agua Fresca - fresh melon, water (bottled of course, stay FAR away from the tap water!) and sugar blended and strained into this massive glass:

This was probably one of our best meals and definitely one of the cheapest - I think we payed around $10 for everything! When we were waiting for our check a man who must have been one of the owners came over to talk to us - since our spanish was limited he was more like talking at us as we played the role of stupid americans. He asked where we were from, we told him and he jumped up to grab a magazine that they'd been featured in. A little magazine called Food & Wine! What a good place to stumble upon, huh? I'd agree with Food & Wine - it's definitely a "spectacular hole-in-the-wall".

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Eggplant Parm - lightened.

I just stumbled upon a recipe I had made a while back and it reminded me that soon we'll be getting boat loads of eggplant from greensgrow CSA. Last year we made supped up tomato mozzarella salads and we're definitely going to make them again this summer - but we'll also be making this eggplant parm rolls - it's a perfect dish to make on a Sunday and bring to lunch all week long. The recipe is from Bon Appetit and it's a bit time consuming but makes a ton and it's way better for you than the standard fried eggplant parm - especially when you sub in some part skim ingredients.

First you slice and salt the eggplant, put it into colanders until the water beads on top of it - rinse and dry the eggplant then broil it for about 3-4 minutes per side until it starts to brown. While the eggplant cools make the stuffing - blanched, chopped greens (recipes calls for swiss chard, I think I used kale), egg, parmesan, mint and pepper. Pour tomato sauce on the bottom of a greased pan then start stuffing!

Once all the eggplant is stuffed top the eggplant with more sauce and mozzarella.

Bake at 350 covered for about 40 minutes then uncover and cook for another 15-20 minutes until the top start to brown. Then eat, and eat, and eat.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Greensgrow CSA!

So...our CSA starts tomorrow. This year we're splitting a full share with a couple of friends so we'll get fresh, local goodies every week. I'm hoping to share a lot of it on my blog! Although it's too late to sign up for the CSA you should still visit Greensgrow for local fruits, veggies, and dairy. They also have tons of great plants.

I mean you're not going to find carrots like this at the grocery store:
Should I blur this photo?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mexican Honeymoon

Wedding planning is exhausting! The day after the wedding we had an early brunch with our out-of-town guests then went home to "pack". Packing turned into hours of napping, all the wedding craziness finally caught up with us - this might have been my best nap ever.

Anyway - the next day we were up bright and early for a flight to Cancun followed by an hour and a half drive to Tulum, Mexico. We stayed at Hotel Nueva Vida de Rimero - the hotel consists of 20 cabanas, ours was just steps of the beach. Check out this view:
Not awful, right? Our first day there we did as close to nothing as possible - more napping and a low key dinner across the street at the hotel's restaurant.

Continental breakfast was included with the room. I'm not talking make your own waffles and boxes of cereal, this was sliced fresh fruit (pineapple, watermelon, banana, the good stuff!), yummy toasted bread with jam, strong coffee, and fresh squeezed orange juice. You could have it delivered to your cabana for a next-to-nothing charge or dine at the restaurant. But...for our first morning in Tulum we wanted something a bit more hearty and we definitely wanted it delivered! We went with Chilaquiles and Huevos Rancheros (two of my favorite foods!). Yum.

This is a great way to start a vacation!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Wedding!

I'm officially Mrs. Eatin' Good in the Hood! Doesn't is seem like yesterday that this happened? Or is that because it's only a couple of blog posts ago? Well...sorry about that. The wedding planning was a bit time consuming. But, I'm happy to say that all of the work that went into the big day was totally worth it and I don't think there is a thing I would have done differently!

I know what you want to hear about...the food! Well, my caterer, Day by Day, and my catering manager, Stephen, where incredible. We wanted to serve the food that we like to eat so we went really simple and really flavorful - not quite your typical wedding food but simple and delicious enough to satisfy all of our guests. Here's the menu:

Hors D'oeuvres
Antipasto display that as I type this I realize I never saw (we were out taking photos!)
Pulled chicken sliders with pepper slaw
Assorted flat breads
Mini crab cakes with chipotle mayo
Asian duck salad in endive

Mixed greens with strawberries, goat cheese, almonds and balsamic vinaigrette

Entree Options
Bass with bean mash and sauteed baby vegetables

Skirt steak with israeli couscous salad and sauteed baby vegetables
Vegetarian Phyllo wrapped roasted vegetables with goat cheese, couscous salad and baby veg

Banana cake with vanilla buttercream and caramel drizzle (bottom layer)
Lemon cake with lemon curd and vanilla buttercream (top two layers)
Whipped Bakery made the cake and it was REALLY tasty!

AND - lots of homemade cookies! I made a ton of cookie dough, rolled it into balls, froze it, then handed it out to some fabulous friends that were willing to bake them for me and bring them to the wedding. My mom and mother-in-law also made some and brought those along. I printed my own stickers and put them on a bunch of little brown bags for people to take as favors but I think a lot of them got eaten early! They went VERY quick - I loved this personal touch. Hopefully there is a photo of the display around somewhere. Anyone??

I didn't take my own photos of the food - I was a little busy doing the whole getting married thing! So...I "borrowed" some photos from friends. Thanks Re and Rochelle!

More photos to come AND the honeymoon! We went to Tulum, Mexico and had some incredible meals. But now I'm off to city hall and get the official marriage license - woohoo!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Hi All - I'm sure you're thinking "really? She hasn't posted in months and this is what she's giving us". Well, in short, yes. I need some help readers!

I'm working on a new project for a national Cable channel. We're searching for some restaurants that could use a pick me up, restaurants that are in danger of closing and are willing to throw some of their old menu, decor and theme out the window and start fresh in hopes of getting back on the path to success. The more willing to change, the better!

The restaurant owners and staff will be taking the advice of a celebrity chef and his or her team. Mom and Pop, family run restaurants would be best but at this point I'll look at anything! The owners and management team have to have big personalities.

Know any restaurants that might fit the bill somewhere between Boston and DC? Email me at casting.restaurants (at) gmail (dot) com. Fellow bloggers feel free to repost!

I'll post food soon! I got a new laptop so I'm back up and running. My only excuse now is that I have that whole wedding thing happening in (gulp) less than 6 weeks!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Balsamic Braised Chicken Thighs

This may not be pretty but it's sooo good and so easy. A while back Ron and I went out to dinner with my mom and Ron ordered...chicken. Gasp! We're not chicken orderers because we make it at home and it's easy and it's good and, well, it's just chicken. But this chicken was different...Mr. Martino's had a chicken special that was just about as far from a crappy boneless skinless chicken breast as you could get. This was a chicken leg slowly braised in balsamic and it fell right off the bone - I'm sure that whatever was on the side was great but I can't remember anything other than the chicken. I've been meaning to make a homemade version of this forever but was reminded of it when a friends told me about a vinegar braised chicken entree she had at Supper.

I seared boneless skinless chicken thighs that I'd seasoned with salt and pepper in olive oil, pulled the chicken out and sauteed some sliced onions and chopped garlic in the fat that was left in the pan. Once the onions were soft I added about 1/4-1/3 cup of balsamic to deglaze the pan. Once all of the brown bits were up from the bottom I added the chicken back in the pan along with a cup or so of chicken stock - I covered the pan and let the chicken simmer on low for 20 minutes on each side. Meanwhile I cooked gigante beans in some of the liquid that the chicken was simmering in, when the bean were heated through I added some chopped kale just until it was wilted. When the chicken was finished I pulled it out and reduced the sauce, it was sweet and syrupy and the chicken pulled apart - no knife required. This dish also made for awesome leftovers.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Brooklyn BBQ

Ron and I have been taking advantage of the short time he's living in NYC by spending about every other weekend there - I still make him come home to Philly the other weekends! A couple of weeks ago we wanted to get out of Manhattan and do a Brooklyn bar crawl. One of Ron's coworkers gave him a list of places for us to check and at the top of that list was Fette Sau (that's German for fat pig). We got to Brooklyn a bit before they opened so we had a beer and a pickle plate at Spuyten Duyvil, an awesome little bar right across the street.

So back to Fette Sau - this is serious BBQ, beer, and whisky. The menu is a constantly rotating array of smoked meat and awesome sides. Ron went to the bar to order a couple of beers while I waiting on line to order our meat by the pound. We went for 1/2lb brisket, 1/2lb pork shoulder, brussels, broccoli salad and baked beans. You pay for everything then find a seat, we were there early so we didn't have any problems but soon after we sat down the line was out the door.
There are a few different options for BBQ sauce - some sweet, some hot, some mustardy...all good. The meat was a little bit sweet, just smokey enough and perfectly fall apart-y (that's a word, right?). Mmm.
We washed it all down with a couple of Blue Point Oatmeal Stouts and had a hearty base to continue on our bar crawl!