Sunday, January 31, 2010
For the bowl, about 25 or so restaurants bring out their best chilis in four categories: traditional, vegetarian, spicy and unique. $11 in advance got you six samples (in something like 3 to 4 oz. cups) and bringing two cans for the Hunger Task Force (the event is a benefit for the nonprofit)got you two more samples. Plus, someone handed Nate and I some extra tickets on our way in.
-Durango--this one had whiskey and Guinness and a good amount of heat. It was the first one we tried and by the time we went back for seconds (about an hour later) it was all gone.
-Motor (at the Harley Davidson Museum)--for some reason, I can't remember what this one all had, but I know it was good!
-Hinterland's elk chili--I had never had elk before, but this had a really nice taste and they put some great, crunchy crackers on top.
The good ones
All of these were really pretty good, but nothing about them really stood out to us. Some were better than others--I liked the shredded beef in the Bistro Bar chili and the Baja Grill's had a nice, little bit different flavor.
-The Soup House
-Hooter's (yes, they were there. The only chain, thankfully)
-Rip Tide's seafood white chili (more like a chowder, but it was really good)
-Cafe Tarragon's veggie chili
-Baja Grill/Karma's chili
-Hyatt's Bistro Bar 333
The OK ones
These all seems to be pretty standard chilis (besides the one from Iron Horse). I didn't really like the Hofbrauhaus one, but it was better than the not-so-great ones.
-Brocach's meaty and veggie chilis
-The Iron Horse Hotel's red deer and blueberry chili (yes, you read that correctly)
-Brat House's brat chili
-Solly's chili (I said it tasted like the chili you would get at George Webb's)
-Hofbrauhaus' brat chili
The not-so-good ones
-Molly Cool's seafood chili--it was very thin, way too fishy tasting and had chunks of burnt somethingorother
-Sake Tumi's seafood or something chili--there was way too much going on in here: squid, octopus, scallops, tofu .... it was really not good
-John's Sandwich Shop's fennel and barley chili (I would not call this chili--I'm not sure what it was)
This year's bowl was at a room at the Harley Davidson Museum. It was a nice location to have it, but the room was pretty small and crowded when we arrived. There weren't many tables, and it's hard to eat and drink while standing. All in all, we had a great time, and we waddled out of there about an hour later.
America's Favorite Brand Name Light Cooking. Not long ago, Nate and I made Spicy Pumpkin Soup with Green Chili Swirl from it and it turned out really well. I decided to tackle one of the appetizers for a recent get-together. This recipe combines bread, feta cheese and spinach--some of my favorite things. It turned out well for the appetizer, and even worked well as leftovers this morning with scrambled eggs.
Greek Spinach-Cheese Rolls
1 loaf (1 lb.) frozen bread dough
1 package (10 oz.) frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/4 cup (3 oz.) crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup (2 oz.) shredded reduced-fat Monterery Jack cheese (I didn't use reduced fat ...)
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 teas. dried dill weed
1/2 teas. garlic powder
1/2 teas. black pepper
1. Thaw bread dough according to package directions. Spray 15 muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray; set aside (I just realized now, reading this, that I only used 12 muffin cups! Oh well--it turned out fine!). Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 15x9-inch rectangle (if dough is springy and difficult to roll, cover with plastic wrap and let rest 5 minutes to relax (I had to do this)). Position dough so long edge runs parallel to edge of work surface.
2. Combine all other ingredients in large bowl and mix well.
3. Sprinkle spinach mixture evenly over dough within 1 inch of long edges. Starting at long edge, roll up snugly, pinching seam closed. Place seam side down; cut with serrated knife into 1-inch-wide slices.
4. Place slices cut sides up in prepared muffin cups. Cover with plastic wrap; let stand 30 minutes in warm place until rolls are slightly puffy.
5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden. Serve warm or at room temperature. Rolls can be stored in fridge in airtight container up to 2 days.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
And for the heck of it, a picture from Ireland! The Cliffs of Moher:
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Nate and I tried to make it once from a box of Fareast falafel mix. I had high hopes, but we pan fried it in too much oil so the patties were soggy.
This time, I found a Cooking Light recipe for baked falafel with a yogurt sauce. It turned out pretty well. The patties certainly didn't look like typical falafel patties or balls. But the flavor was pretty good. They reminded a bit more of a veggie burgers rather than typical falafel.
Here is the recipe from Cooking Light. I didn't make any adjustments to the recipe, other than for platting. We used some pita bread I got at a Greek grocery store. And we topped the sandwiches with shredded lettuce and some feta. We had to eat ours with a knife and fork. They were too top-heavy to roll up and eat!
We made one of my favorite side dishes with the sandwiches--homemade sweet potato fries.
The fries were a little bigger than I usually cut them, so they weren't as crispy. But they were still good! I mix them with olive oil, garlic powder, pepper and spicy curry powder, and bake them for 20-30 minutes (depending on how big they are) at about 375.
In the future, I think I'll try pan frying falafel patties again. And if it doesn't work, I'll stick with Aladdin and Casablanca. Sometimes (OK, often) fried is just that much better!
Monday, January 25, 2010
Sunday, January 24, 2010
For a recent girlfriend get-together, I decided to make my own tres leches from a recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, an old standby, Betty Crocker Cookbook.
This recipe is more or less what my cookbook says. There are a few differences: I made the yellow cake from scratch (also a Betty Crocker recipe) and, as my recipe calls for, I added rum (Barcardi Gold)--add a 1/3 cup when you mix the milks together and pour it over the cake (you can also use rum extract plus enough water to measure 1/3 cup, but what fun is that?).
Also, I made my frosting from scratch: In a chilled large bowl, beat 1 cup whipping cream, 2 tbs. rum and 1/2 teas. vanilla extract with electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Frost cake with whipped cream mixture. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans. Store covered in fridge.
I wish I had a photo to share, but this was eaten pretty fast!
Saturday, January 23, 2010
We started with summer rolls, which are served cold, and they came with pork, shrimp, herbs and "bún" (rice vermicelli) in rice paper with a really good peanut sauce. We also had some Vietnamese beer--33 and Saigon. I'm pretty sure what Nate had was banh xeo, which looked like an omelette with shrimp and herbs. I had something I've been wanting to try for a long time: pho, which is a soup made with rice noodles, beef broth, beef and lots of great seasoning and spices. It comes with lots of garnishes you can add as you want, such as cilantro, basil, bean sprouts, jalapenos and lime. And of course, there was Sriracha sauce to add to it. I ordered the large bowl, and I didn't realize just how large it would be. Nate and I both ate a lot of it, and we probably brought three or four servings home.
Afterward, we went to see Bourdain at the Riverside. We had a great time. The theater was packed, and we lucked out with pretty good seats--first row of the balcony, the first seats in the row. (My pictures didn't turn out too well--I had to turn the flash off and he kept moving so it's blurry.) He was on stage for about two hours.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
The recipe is Chipotle Meatballs with Cilantro from the cookbook The Good, the Bad & the Yummy.
There is some crazy-good sounding stuff in this cookbook, like Tater Tot Bake with Mozzarella and Spicy Marinara. How fantastic does that sound?!
Anyway, so the meatballs. The recipe calls for store-bought regular or mini meatballs, but I figured making turkey meatballs from scratch would be a better bet. The recipe had a nice amount of heat and lots of great flavor from the cumin and cilantro. We had Mexican rice with pinto beans on the side.
Chipotle Meatballs with Cilantro
makes 3 to 4 servings
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until just golden, then quickly stir in the cumin and oregano and cook for a few seconds. Add the tomatoes, salt and chipotles, and crush tomatoes with a spatula. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add the meatballs and cook for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the sauce is reduced. Top with cilantro before devouring (yes, the recipe says "devouring." I like that!).
Through this blog, I hope to share what I cook at home--often with the help of my husband, Nate, and my essential kitchen fixture, my dog, April--as well as thoughts on restaurants I try and the foods I sample. Every now and then I'll likely share cooking ideas, pose questions and ask for feedback.
As long as I can remember, I've loved to cook--and loved to eat (my baby pictures can prove this). I used to help my parents--both excellent cooks--when I was younger. My mom even trusted me to cook dinner once a week during my formative years. Growing up, I was a pretty picky eater. The list of things I wouldn't eat--wouldn't even try--was pretty long. I used to have to sit at the dinner table until I finished my meal--this meant I was at the dinner table, picking at my food, until a good hour after my parents finished their meals. Luckily, we had a dog that would eat almost anything.
Sometime, between then and now, things changed. I started liking those foods I used to hate (still don't like pickles though, although I do try now and then). I also started getting a little more adventurous, trying new and different foods like Indian, Thai, Ethiopian and sushi. Not only did I try tasting these new and different foods, but I tried making them, too.
Here, with this blog, I hope to share the recipes and experiences of trying these new foods, mixed in, of course, with some classic comfort foods. And there will be photos. I love food photos, and I hope you will, too.
Please feel free to comment at any time, share suggestions or give me your honest opinion on something I post. I hope you enjoy my blog!