Sunday, February 28, 2010

Finish February Strong With All Your Favorite Cheeses!

Seeing this sign outside of Di Bruno Brothers inspired me to make a meal with my favorite cheeses. Di Bruno Brothers in Philadelphia sells over 400 types of cheese from around the world.

Blue Cheese Roasted Broccoli

1 lb broccoli florets
1 cup baguette crumbs (I love whole wheat)
4 oz blue cheese
1/8 cup olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees

In a bowl mix together bread crumbs, blue cheese, lemon juice and salt and pepper.

Place broccoli on a cookie sheet and drizzle olive on florets and toss to coat. Sprinkle blue cheese mixture over broccoli and roast for 25-30 minutes, turning once.

Parmesan & Garlic French Bread

If you love garlic as much as I do you will love this garlic bread recipe!

1/2 whole wheat baguette
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tbsp dried basil
4 cloves garlic, mashed
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Slice baguette lengthwise and place on a cookie sheet.

Crush garlic and sprinkle kosher salt over garlic. Starting at one end of the pile of chopped garlic, press down with the flat side of the knife. Move the knife a little further into the pile of garlic and continue until the garlic becomes a paste.

In a small bowl combine butter or margarine, garlic, and herbs. Spread butter mixture on both pieces of baguette. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over baguette.

Close baguette and wrap in foil. Bake for 15 minutes, remove foil and bake for 5 more minutes or until butter is melted.

Slice and serve warm.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

El Vez

2 Stephen Starr restaurants in 2 days! We went to
El Vez the morning of my flight for what we thought was going to be a quick lunch. We had such a good time with their friend Dr. Grey that we lost track of time and almost missed my flight back to Kansas!

El Vez is self proclaimed "Mexican-American meets LA in a Tijuana Taxi". Items on the menu range from fresh salads and tacos to heartier, more traditional Tex-Mex dishes. They have four different types of guacamole with the goat cheese & pistachio being the most popular. The restaurant is filled with natural sunlight from the floor to ceiling windows. Pictured above are the Crispy Mahi-Mahi Tacos with red cabbage and a chipotle remoulade that Jon ordered.

I had the Mexican Chopped Salad (Above) with pumpkin seeds, queso fresco and a cumin-lime vinaigrette.

Marybeth had the Black Bean Enchiladas (above) with caramelized onions and smoked yellow tomato sauce.

Dr. Grey had the Queso Fundido De Hongos (Above) which had truffled wild mushrooms with chihuahua cheese and huitlacoche

I was able to re-create the goat cheese and pistachio guacamole and I will post the recipe soon!

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Let me start off by thanking my wonderful friends Marybeth and Jon Paul Uritis for showing me around Philly! I had such an amazing time I hope to visit again soon!

(Jon, Marybeth and myself out on my last night in town).

For my last night in Philly we decided to go to one of Stephen Starr's restaurants, Buddakan. Buddakan is an Asian inspired restaurant with an eleven foot gold Buddha in the middle of the dining room.
The dim lighting and top notch table service was the icing on the cake to an amazing meal.
*These photos were taken with Marybeth's iPhone, so they are a little dark!*

First Course:
Edamame Ravioli
Steamed Chicken Dumplings
Lobster Fried Rice

Pictured above is Buddakan's Edamame Ravioli. This is quite possibly the best thing I ever ate. These raviolis are filled with a puree of edamame, cream and truffle oil. The raviolis are covered in a light shallot Sauternes sauce and garnished with whole edamame and green onions. I am determined to recreate this recipe!

While I was blown away by the ravioli, I was not very impressed with the Chicken Dumplings, I felt that my recipe for pork dumplings have a more flavor and texture. We also had Lobster Fried Rice and it was a great addition to the ravioli.

Second Course:
Asian Barbecue Pork Tenderloin with chinese broccoli and giant panko crusted onion rings

The pork was very tender and was laying atop a bed of Chinese broccoli and was covered in a sweet and tangy sauce. The panko fried onion rings could have been omitted, they were served in a bowl on the side.

Marybeth had the Pan Seared Chilean Sea Bass which had sauteed haricots verts, butternut squash, maitake mushrooms and a sake truffle jus (Pictured Below)

Jon Paul had the Grilled Lamb Chops with chinese eggplant in a garlic sauce with thai basil pesto. The lamb was my second favorite dish of the evening! (Pictured Below)

Third Course: Trio of Sorbet

From left to right: Passion Fruit, Dark Chocolate & Raspberry
Both fruit sorbets sat atop a mixed berry salsa of sorts and the chocolate on top of cocoa nib.

Truffle Heaven

Teuscher Chocolates

Teuscher Chocolates is located in the historic Bellevue building in Phildelphia. Teuscher makes copious amounts of Swiss chocolates including my favorite, dark chocolate truffles. The Triple Dark Chocolate truffle contains 77% cocoa cream ganache. (Pictured below)

I also tried Nama for the first time at Teuscher's. Nama is Japanese for "fresh", it is very delicate and literally melts in your mouth! (On the lower right side of the picture above the stripped chocolate).

Friday, February 19, 2010

Philadelphia Adventures Continued

National Mechanics

I have been drinking Bloody Mary's for some time now, so I feel that I am somewhat of an expert. Hands down the best Bloody Mary is at Louise's West in Lawrence Kansas. While I know it will be hard to top the Louise's West Bloody Mary, I am always open to trying others. With that being said, I came across a bloody Mary that was so bad I had to send it back!

While I was disappointed with the drink, the food and atmosphere made up for it. National Mechanics is a restaurant and bar located in Old City where neighbors gather weekly to play Quizzo. They also infuse their own liqueurs. Black Pepper Vodka, Jalapeno Tequila and Bacon Vodka were just a few displayed in large class jugs behind the bar. I was excited to try the bacon vodka in a Bloody Mary but with the combination of clamato juice I found it repulsive. The bacon infused vodka sounded promising but was executed poorly.

Our team did very well in Quizzo except for the random 5th team member who continually tried to sabotage our team with her stupidity. The Erin Isles in Ireland are not a county, they are islands! And last time I checked "The King and I" was set in Siam NOT Vietnam!

Philadelphia Adventures cont.

Yard's Brewery

Yard's Brewery is not any ordinary brewery. They not only provide hand crafted beers, but also brew ales that are reminiscent of simpler times. They use recipes that were handed down from our fore fathers... literally. The Porter was from George Washington's personal recipe. Benjamin Franklin's Spruce Ale is a popular choice, as well as Thomas Jefferson's Tavern Ale. Despite who your favorite fore father is, these Revolutionary brews are magnificent.

Philadelphia Adventures

So I have spent the last few days in Philadelphia, city of hoagies & cheese steaks. And much to ones surprise, the best cheese steak (so far) is at a corner deli is Manayunk called Sorrentino's. Sorrentno's is the epitome of grease and cheese and yumminess. You are welcomed with warm smiles and with the help of a local friend I am able to order my cheese steak without looking like a tourist. Onions. Mushrooms. Hot Peppers. Sure, they offer any toppings under the sun, but these toppings are what make a cheese steak king. This hole in the wall on Cresson St takes the cake compared to the ones you see on tv.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Peanut Sauce: Reinvented

My love affair with peanut butter began at an early age, and I have become extremely picky over the years as to the brand, texture and taste of it. So much so that when I started Weight Watchers again I knew that I needed to find an alternative to my Jiff Peanut Butter. I tried different varieties of peanut butter and I found one alternative that has 85% less fat calories! And much to my surprise, it is great to cook with!

PB2 is powdered peanut butter made by Bell Plantation. If you choose to use it strictly as a peanut butter, you can add water to it until you have reached your desired consistency. Bell Plantation has great recipe ideas on its website, including PB2 Thai Dipping Sauce

Thai Peanut Noodles with Baby Bok Choy

7 oz medium-width rice noodles
2 baby bok choy heads (If you are unable to find baby bok choy, regular bok choy will work)
2 green onions, sliced
1 tsp sesame seeds

6 tbsp PB2
3 tbsp reduced- sodium soy sauce (I prefer Kikkoman)
3 tbsp water
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp chili sauce (I prefer Samba Olek, but Suracha would would great)
3 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp sesame oil

Boil water in a medium sauce pan. Once water is boiling, turn off heat and add rice noodles. Place baby bok choy in a microwave-save bowl with 1/4 water. Cover bowl with lid or plastic wrap. Cook in Microwave for 3 minutes or until tender.

To make peanut sauce whisk together ingredients and set aside.

Once noodles are tender strain and add to peanut sauce. Mix to combine. Server with bok choy and garnish with sesame seeds & green onion.

Serves 2

Thai Peanut Noodles with Sautéed Vegetables

7 oz medium-width rice noodles
2 baby bok choy heads, quartered (If you are unable to find baby bok choy, regular bok choy will work)
1 cup sliced button mushrooms
1 green bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 roma tomato, cut into chunks
2 tbsp low- sodium chicken broth or water

10 tbsp PB2
6 tbsp reduced- sodium soy sauce (I prefer Kikkoman)
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp chili sauce (I prefer Samba Olek, but Suracha would would great)
3 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp sesame oil

Boil water in a medium sauce pan. Once water is boiling, turn off heat and add rice noodles. While water is boiling, sauté vegetables in medium-sized skillet with 2 tbsp reduced-sodium chicken broth or water until tender. Add peanut sauce and stir until combined. Add cooked rice noodles to vegetables and sauce and todd to coat.

Serves 4

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Comfort Foods

I have been tossing around the idea of a blog for sometime now and what a better way to begin then with recipes that remind me of home.

French Onion Soup

For me, french onion soup is one of the best comfort foods. Breaking through the layer of melted Gruyere reminds me of digging into crème brûlée.

2 1/2 lbs yellow onions, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3 tbsp olive oil
2 bay leaves
Salt & Pepper
1 1/2 cup red wine (I prefer a Malbec or Syrah but any dry red wine will work)
8 cups (64 oz) low sodium beef broth
1 Baguette, sliced
12 slices of Gruyere cheese (I prefer smoked)


Heat Olive oil and butter in a large stock pot. Once butter is melted, add onions, garlic and bay leaf.

Cook onions until caramelized, about 30 minutes. Remove bay leaves and add salt & pepper to taste (about 1/2 tsp of each)

Sprinkle flour over onions and stir to combine. Cook flour and onion mixture for about 2 minutes so that the raw flour taste cooks off. Add wine and continue to cook until the liquid is cooked off. Add beef broth and bring soup to a simmer.

Once soup reaches a simmer turn heat down and cook at medium-low for 30 minutes

Pre-heat oven to broil or highest setting.

Ladle soup into oven-save crocks.
Place two pieces of sliced baguette in each bowl and place 3 slices of cheese on top of the bread.

Place crocks in oven and broil until cheese is melted, brown and bubbly. I like to place crocks on a cookie sheet in case of spillage. It is also easier to remove from oven when on a cookie sheet.

Remove crocks from oven and serve immediately.

Sometimes I will toast extra pieces of baguette to serve with soup.

Serves 6