Sunday, August 7, 2011

I pity da foo!

Great summer treat! I just made a blackberry fool. Super easy and delish. I made what will be about 2 servings worth, and wasn't really measuring anything. So here's a rough guide:

Using a fine mesh sieve, puree the following:
8 plump blackberries
1/3 of a chipotle pepper (the type in the can with adobo)

To the puree add a squeeze of lime juice and about 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Mix until thoroughly combined.

In a separate bowl combine 1 cup of heavy cream with 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1.5 tablespoons powdered sugar. Beat on high until soft peaks form.

Fold the blackberry mixture into the whipped cream. Scoop into bowls and serve with a handful of fresh blackberries for garnish.

SO light. So refreshing. Dee. Licious.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Restaurant Review - Hotel Hershey

Had fabulous brunch at the gorgeous Hotel Hershey on Sunday. I'll start from the start. The building is incredibly beautiful. And Sunday brunch is held in the circular dining room, which has beautiful frescos painted on the ceiling, and pretty great views of the ponds and fountains behind the hotel. Very elegant.

Which, to maintain that elegant air, you'll be expected to get fancified. Jackets required. No jeans, no flip flops, otherwise you'll get no brunch. Pretty straight forward.

I thought the food was very good. And, actually, one of the most memorable things was the coffee. It was medium bodied and nutty. I'd be willing to say it was better than Dunkin Donuts, and I love their coffee! This brunch had a nice mix of different foods. Lots of seafood, numerous meat dishes. I thought the dessert could have been a little better done. In part because a lot of the desserts were just too big! I wanted to try a little bit of everything, but I ended up with a giant piece of cheesecake. Chocolate peanut butter cheesecake, mind you. Yes, please cry for me now.

This was a very good brunch, and worth the money. It wasn't as amazing as the brunch at Rittenhouse, but that brunch was twice the price. So, if you're in Hershey for a weekend, hit up the Hotel Hershey for a classy time.

Restaurant Review - Eastern Standard

Went to Boston a few weeks ago, and I've been meaning to post about this restaurant since then. So so SO fantastic! Chris picked the restaurant, and it was the perfect low key high brow local. Nice ambiance, crowded as all get up, but a place you could feel comfortable being dressed business casual or classy casual. I wouldn't wear flip flops or anything, but a jacket wasn't required either.

I decided to force a little adventure Chris, so we started with the marrow (tip of my hat to Mr. Peifer here, who a few years ago forced my first marrow adventure upon me). OMG. Amazing. It was served with toasted baguette slices, which there could have been more of, minced garlic, herbs, and rock salt. It was like my tongue had been raptured. Although, to be fair, I wouldn't have described it like that at the time, because I didn't realize the rapture was coming then. I learned that a week later. But it was a really wonderful starter. Marrow is kind of gross to look at, but tastes great. Its buttery and fatty and just a wonderful treat. And you get to scoop it out of the bone with a cool little spoon!

For entrees we split the rib-eye, which was served with a bleu cheese sauce over potatoes and lightly sauteed spinach, and the lobster gnocchi with meyer lemon brown butter sauce. Do I really need to go into the details? Both of these dishes were hands down delicious. I don't usually order rib-eye, but this one was excellent. And the gnocchi! OH the gnocchi! It was soft and squishy, but was apparently pan seared so that at least one side of every perfect little dumpling was crispy. It gave it such a unique twist. Loved it. Lovelovelove.

Dessert was surprisingly unremarkable. We had profiteroles (they are sort of like mini brioche (which are sort of like mini round croissants (which are...just kidding!))) that were toasted, filled with ice cream, and drowning in caramel and chocolate syrup. Good, but seemed pale in comparison to the rest of the fabulous meal.

Must take a moment here to tip my glass to the great bartenders at Eastern Standard. The cocktails were fabulous. Whiskey Smash will surely be a hit. I also had a fruity froufrou girly drink that involved pineapple and ginger. It was great. But very girly. The cocktail list will overwhelm you, so plan to have (at least?) two!

If you happen to be in Boston, go to Eastern Standard. I promise you won't regret it. Thanks taking me, Chris!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Best Pancakes Ever?

I received a recipe via email last Sunday. It was entitled "The Best Pancake Recipe." I thought it sounded promising, and looked easy. I could BAKE the pancake!

Turns out, the thing that came out of my oven was not at all a pancake in the traditional sense. Given the composition (lots of sugar, not much flour, lots of eggs) I should have recognized it for what it would end up being: a custard. Yes, a slightly more meaty custard than something like creme brulee. But certainly a custard. I do think this would have been lovely as a light dessert. It really isn't a breakfast item. So, I'm kind of disappointed.

Pros: This was super easy. And it looks really pretty once its done.
Cons: None, if you wanted a dessert.


1 large or 2 small ripe pears (I used anjou)
1/2 cup sugar (set 1.5 tablespoons aside in a small dish)
1/4 cup flour
3 eggs
2 tsps vanilla
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 400. Spray a 9" cake round with vegetable oil.
2. Peel, core, and slice the pear into thin wedges. Layer on the bottom of the pan.
3. In a food processor, combine the large portion of the sugar, flour, eggs, vanilla, butter, and the pinch of salt. Process until combined, about 30 seconds.
4. Pour the liquid mix over the pears. Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is springy.
5. Remove from oven. Turn the broiler on. Combine the remaining sugar and the cinnamon in a small dish, then sprinkle the mixture over the top of the pancake. But in the broiler. Broil in 1 minute increments until the top is a beautiful golden brown color.

Word to the wise: be careful with the broiler. My broiler has two settings, so I put it on low. It was taking forever, and I was getting impatient. So I put it on high AND left it for two minutes without checking. Mistake. Big mistake. Definitely ended up with a little bit too brown top. Oh well.

Another word to the wise: Let this set for a bit before trying to plate it. The custard needs to cool and settle. You can always plate it and reheat it a bit. But if you try to cut it and put it on a plate just a few minutes after it comes out of the oven it will crumble into a pile of mush.

Definitely a dessert. Not a breakfast dish.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Stuffed French Toast!

So, this may sound strange, but I had never made french toast until I tried this recipe. Its not like I haven't done elaborate breakfast dishes before. But, for whatever reason, I've just never been inspired to make french toast. And I don't know why I decided to make french toast on this occassion, either! But I spent a week trying to decide what I wanted to do, and I ended up with a delicious decision. I was going to make french toast stuffed with pecan mascarpone filling. I had some mascarpone that was fast approaching (or passing!) its best by date. And I'm really into pecans right now. Its a phase.

This recipe may sound like it might be kind of complicated and fancy-shmancy-pantsy. But it was much easier than I had expected.

Anyways, here's what you'll need to make this recipe: (Serves 4)
Day old bread. I went with challah, but I think brioche would have been a nice choice as well.
6 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 an orange, juiced
1.5 tsps orange zest
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 container (8oz) mascarpone
1 cup pecans, chopped (plus a handful for garnish, if you decide to go that way)
2 tablespoons butter

Whisk together the eggs, cream, orange juice, zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, sugar, and salt in a bowl. I actually used a pyrex dish for this.

Combine the mascarpone and chopped pecans. Spread the mixture on the pieces of bread. Make a sandwich with two pieces of bread, and then let them sit in the cream mixture for about 1.5 minutes on each side. Heat a nonstick skillet on medium heat, and melt half of the butter. Once the butter is melted, cook two of the sandwiches at a time until golden brown on both sides. This may take about 5 minutes per side. Once the first sandwiches are done, set them on a plate, melt the second half of the butter, and cook the rest of the french toast.

I put homemade whipped cream on my french toast and garnished with some pecans and segements of orange. And, of course, maple syrup. Delicious!

Don't get intimidated. This is actually pretty easy, and as long as you've had a cup of coffee before starting, I'm confident you can make delicious french toast at home.

Herb Roasted Shrimp

This is a great little recipe. Requires almost no effort, very little time, and turns out looking elegant and tasting delicious. My kind of recipe!

What you'll need:
6 tablespoons olive oil
6-10 sprigs thyme
3 large sprigs of rosemary, halved
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1.5 lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 tsp salt
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar

Preheat your oven to 400. Combine the olive oil, rosemary, thyme, and pepper in a 13x9 pan. Bake the oil in the oven until the herbs are aromatic, which should take about 12 minutes. Remove the oil from the oven, and add the shrimp to the mixture. Toss the shrimps with tongs until they are coated with oil. Bake for another 8 to 10 minutes, or until the shrimp are just a bit pink.

Remove the pan from the oven and immediately mix in the salt and the vinegar. Toss the shrimps again, and then let them stand for about 5 minutes.

And that's it! I served this over some quinoa that I made in a rice cooker. I tossed the quinoa with a little salt and champagne vinegar to give it the same notes, and used some of the excess oil as a sauce. On the side I served sauteed spinach with roasted tomatoes and garlic. Everything was very simple, really tasty, healthy/wholesome, and safe for my guest (she is lactose intolerant and allergic to gluten). As Charlie Sheen would say: Winning.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Quick Curry

I'm slowly learning how to use my slow cooker. This recipe was awesome, and I could even do this one during the week because it was so easy to put together, and takes about 7 to 8 hours in the slow cooker. Perfect timing!

What you need:
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger (I cheated and bought a jar)
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 medium onion, chopped (I used red onion, because my friend said they are healthier)
2 lbs boneless/skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup plain whole milk greek yogurt
Salt and Pepper
Scallions, thinly sliced (for garnish)

Whisk together the garlic, curry powder, cumin, ginger, tomato paste and 3/4 cup water in the slow cooker. Stir in the chopped onion. Place the chicken on top of the mixture. Cover the chicken with 1 teaspoon salt and a 1/4 of a teaspoon black pepper.

Cover and cook on the low setting on the slow cooker for 7 to 8 hours. I turned the chicken midway through, but that probably wasn't required. Just before serving, stir in the greek yogurt, and an additional half teaspoon salt.

And that is it. Really. Super easy. Super delicious. Serve over long grain rice and garnish with scallions.