Saturday, April 19, 2014

Oldie But A Goodie (and it works with the Easter decor)

The Last Word is a drink worthy of its' name.  It covers the gamut -- herbal, dry, sweet, and sour.  It's got it all.  Made of simply equal parts green chartreuse, fresh lime juice, gin, and maraschino liqueur, it's an easy one to put together.  The herb-y flavors from the Chartreuse are balanced by the maraschino and lime, and gin notes rest at the back.

The cocktail was created in the early 1920s in Detroit, where it was first served at the Detroit Athletic Club.  Thank you Detroit.




The Last Word

0.75 fl. oz. Gin
0.75 fl. oz. Green Chartreuse 
0.75 fl. oz. Maraschino Liqueur
0.75 fl. oz. Fresh Lime Juice

Shake until very cold; strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Soooo good, no need for a garnish.

ps. with 3/4 ingredients being booze, this drink is no lightweight, but in my opinion pretty light on the palette and very drinkable.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Crispy Baked Bacon

Crispy Oven Roasted Bacon

C has noted on several occassions that I don't do well with cooking anything that requires close attention to timing, so cooking the bacon is normally out... but a recent experiment has cleared me for bacon cooking duty. Oven roasted crispy bacon:

Instructions:

Line a baking sheet with foil. Arrange bacon slices on the foil and place on the center rack of a cold oven. Close oven door and turn the oven on to 400°F.

Crispy Oven Roasted Bacon

Start checking around the 15 minute mark. The exact time will depend on the thickness of the bacon slices, and also on how quickly your oven reaches the target temperature.

Remove the pan from the oven. Transfer the bacon to another sheet pan lined with paper towels to absorb the fat.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Soft Opening @ Cola's Restaurant

20120620 Colas 05 Mural

Please keep in mind that this is NOT a full review of Cola's.  C and I attended their soft opening last week and believe that it is only fair to do a full review once they officially open. I simply want to post some photos and give everyone a little sneak preview of whats in store. (Grand Opening: TBD)

Cola's (http://www.colasrestaurant.com) is a spacious restaurant with a sweet location on Assembly Street right before Gervais. This is the fifth restaurant opened by the owners of Jeff Balish and family (they also own one of our longstanding favorites, Garibaldi's in Five Points) .
   
20120620 Colas 01 Menu

The Good - Location, Presentation, Appetizers

  • The location is prime.  We parked on Assembly with no issues.
  • The space itself is beautiful.  Exposed brick, high ceilings, and a LONG bar.
  • I'm a HUGE fan of appetizers, and often find them more interesting than entrees.  Cola's was no exception.  I went with the Shrimp Dumplings.... absolutley wonderful (see pic of half eaten portion below) I would have liked a little kick in the dipping sauce, but that's a personal preference.
  • Only downside of appetizers... C has a shellfish allergy so his choices were limited.
20120620 Colas 03 Dumplings

The Bad
"Bad" is a bit harsh, but you get where I'm going.
  • Not sure if the menu is final, but best I can describe it is seafood heavy, non-seasonal, American, with Asian dishes sprinkled throughout.
  • Re: Non-seasonal.  Craig ordered the braised shortrib with grits and gravy. While the rib was extremely tender, it's just not what you expect to find on the menu when it's 90 degrees outside (and to be really picky, needed a bit more salt).
The Ugly
The one big issue we ran into was the bar, and what we assume was a lack of experience.  The good news is that can certainly improve with training.

Below is a pic of my cucumber lemonade and C's "glass" of wine.  We're still not exactly sure what happened, but C's arrived in what appeared to be a cordial glass. When we questioned if these were the red wine glasses they would be using at opening, our server said yes, because it was an "import."   First, the wine he ordered was a cuvee from California, and second, even if it was an import, $9 for a 2oz pour?

20120620 Colas 04 Cocktails












Our guess is something was lost in translation at the bar.  Maybe port and import?

At the end of our meal our very friendly server (Piper) informed us that "we were right" and the manager took the wine off the bill.  While it was appreciated, that wasn't the point.  We gave feedback not for a free glass of wine, but because we're foodies and want them to be wildly successful.

I felt disappointed that the manager didn't at least pop by.  When I think of a soft opening, I think of a restaurant looking not just for guinea pigs, but looking for constructive feedback.  We were one of only a handful of tables, but never saw a manager, an owner or chef.  No survey, no questionnaire, not even a request for our email address for a newsletter or how we could connect on social media. 

[Maybe we've just been spoiled by places by Terra (@TerraSC / Facebook: Terra) and Baan Sawan (Facebook: Baan.Sawan)... where attention to detail and care regarding customer experience is simply amazing]

Overall, I think Cola's has HUGE potential.  We'll certainly be back, and hope to soon have a new restaurant to add to the usual rotation.

Duh. Griddle Stirfry.

Ever have a breakthrough "duh" cooking moment? Well that happened last week when I pulled out our griddle to make a beef and snow pea stirfry.

C makes a mean breakfast, and up until now the griddle has been in breakfast-only mode.  Not any more!

Give it a try!



Sunday, January 22, 2012

Korean Roasted Pork Ribs

20120122 Pork Ribs

I headed to the supermarket with a plan to make Korean style short ribs for dinner, but was thrown a curve when the short ribs were no where to be found. So, after standing in the meat department for way too long, I decided to stop making the staff feel uncomfortable and just grabbed a pack of pork baby back ribs. While not what I originally planned, what resulted was pretty good.

Ingredients
1 rack pork baby back ribs, divided into two pieces

Marinade
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
dash ground ginger

Sauce
½ cup honey
6 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sake
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoons sesame oil
1 scallion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper seeds

Directions
In a small bowl, mix together marinade ingredients. Wash pork and pat dry. [Note: I prefer to take off the tough membrane on the back of the ribs. If you haven't done it before, here's a short video demonstration I found on YouTube.]

In a gallon ziplock bag, rub marinade all over rib racks, massaging them well. Refrigerate and allow ribs to rest with marinade. (Ours went for almost 6 hours, but I'm sure more or less would work.)

20120122 Pork Ribs 01

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line roasting pan with tin foil (If you haven't tried the new "non stick" foil, this is a great recipe to try it with).

20120122 Pork Ribs 02

Roast ribs for 50 minutes. While ribs are baking, in a small bowl, make the sauce by simply whisking together everything on the list.

Once ribs are cooked, remove from oven and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, cut racks into individual rib pieces.

Increase oven temperature to 500. Brush sauce onto each rib, coating fully. Return ribs to the oven, cooking for 3 to 5 minutes or until sauce begins to caramelize. Continue basting with sauce and flipping ribs until sufficiently coated.

20120122 Pork Ribs 03

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Pulled Brisket Taco with Hoisin BBQ Sauce



This summer, C and I have enjoyed many a lunch at Bone-In Artisan Barbecue on Wheels. They park and work in tandem with one of our favorite restaurants Baan Sawan. Bone-In provides the vittles, and Baan serves insanely great cocktails crafted to go with. This past Saturday, we had their smoked brisket with hickory-hoisin sauce. With no plans for Sunday, we decided to give it a try for ourselves. Since we don't have access to their awesome focaccia bread, we went the taco route.

3 pounds beef brisket
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 jalepeno peppers, halved
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, with their juices
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup molasses



Season the beef generously with salt and pepper. Heat a large, heavy dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the oil and heat just until beginning to smoke. Add the meat and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer the meat to a plate and leave the pan on the heat.



Add garlic, onion, jalepenos, chili powder, coriander, and cumin to drippings in the skillet and stir until fragrant, about one minute. Add vinegar and boil until it’s almost gone (CAUTION: a vinegar steam facial is a bad idea), scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in water.

Return the brisket to the pan and pull some of the onions on top of it. Crush the tomatoes and add them and the tomato sauce to the pot along with the bay leaves and molasses. Cover and braise in the oven for 3-4 hours.

Gently remove brisket from the pan. Pull the brisket apart with two forks and set aside.



For the sauce, we cooled the braising liquid slightly, then blended with an immersion blender. We then seasoned with a small bottle of prepared hickory bbq sauce and 1/4 cup hoisin sauce.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup



Only my sister would send me a gift basket.... of mushrooms. Yep, you heard me right, out of the blue two pounds of lovely wild mushrooms showed up at my door. Included were Trumpet Royale, Forest Nameko, Alba Clamshell, Brown Clamshell, and Velvet Pioppini.



With so many mushrooms on hand, and C's love of cream-based soups, I decided to make a cream of wild mushroom soup. Since I hadn't made it before, I first searched out a recipe. My go-to is Ina Garten, and her mushroom soup is where I started. I then added and subtracted to use the flavors C and I like best.

Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

In a large pot, melt 4TB butter

Add:
2 leeks, roughly choped
1 stalk celery, chopped
Salt/pepper
Sauté until the leeks begin to brown

Add ½ cup brandy
Cook until slightly reduced

Add
1 lb mushrooms, roughly chopped
Stir occasionally until softened



Add
6 cups beef broth, bring to a boil
Cook 20 minutes

Turn off the heat and puree mixture using a hand or stand blender.

A few minutes before serving, warm over low heat, but do not bring to a boil. Add a handful of chopped fresh parsley. Slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup cream, salt and pepper to taste. Add additional cream (and a drizzle of truffle oil in your bowl) if you'd like.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lamb Flatbread Taco

After a very late night visit to Paco's Tacos in Five Points on Saturday night, we were inspired to make more taco-y goodness on Sunday.

Marinated, grilled lamb shoulder in a warm flatbread with grilled peppers and onions, and fresh pico de gallo.

lamb taco_blog

Lamb Marinade

Blend in a food processor:
1/2 onion
3 garlic cloves
1 small tomato
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp chili powders
1/2 tsp cumin
2 whole dried chilis
Add fresh rosemary and oregano

Marinate lamb should chops for at least four hours, grill, and the cut into bite size pieces.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Blueberry Pie

Apparently the cooking gods wanted me to play with blueberries this weekend.

First, Chef taught us about mini blueberry tarts at last week's class at Let's Cook, then one of C's co-workers sent him home with a gallon size ziplock bag filled to the top of fresh picked berries.

Don't you love when a plan comes together.

Prepped and ready for the oven...


Ingredients:
Homemade or pre-packaged pie dough (top & bottom crust)

Filling:
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
dash vanilla extract
6 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried

Topping:
Milk or half & half
2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Served a la mode. We couldn't wait for the pie to fully cool to dive in, so the juices didn't have time to thicken. Who can wait?


INSTRUCTIONS

Prep Pan -- Line a 9 inch pie pan with the bottom pastry. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate pie shell until firm, at least 30 minutes.

Prepare Filling:
In a medium mixing bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg; stir to combine. Add the blueberries and toss to coat them with the sugar mixture. Let the filling sit for 5 to 10 minutes to let the berry juice develop and the cornstarch dissolve.

Assemble Pie:
Spoon the blueberry mixture into the chilled pie shell, mounding the berries slightly in the center. Add top crust, cover the pie loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes to chill.

While pie is refrigerating, preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Remove pie from refrigerator. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the pie rim and stars with milk or half and half cream. Sprinkle with sugar.

Line a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Place pie on the baking sheet and transfer to the oven.

Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven to 350 degrees F. Bake an additional 40 to 50 minutes, or until the juices are thick and bubbling and the crust is a golden brown.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

The unofficial start to summer is here, and while guests wait for the grill to heat up, might I suggest a make-ahead antipasto tray.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Dinner, Roasted Cornish Game Hens



A few years ago, C and I got in the routine of roasting a chicken every Sunday. While we don't do it every weekend anymore, a roasted bird is still a fairly common Sunday night dinner. Today, after browsing the meat department, we decided on roasted cornish game hens.

Here are the hens ready for the oven...



My usual preparation is a simple garlic-thyme-butter. For two hens I make a paste of 1 tbsp softened butter, 1 clove minced garlic, minced fresh thyme (or any other fresh herbs you have on hand), salt and pepper. The paste is simply slathered on the skin and then the hens are roasted in a 400° oven for 1 hour.



Despite the name, game hens are not game birds at all... they're actually a typical chicken that is just slaughtered at a young age. For that reason they command a higher price, but they are still quite affordable.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Light Banana Muffins



An overcast Saturday morning, and a bunch of over-ripe bananas, lead to this yummy batch of cakey light muffins.

Ingredients:

2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup quick cook oatmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter, melted
4 ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp honey
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Optional Garnish: chocolate jimmies



Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. Line a 12 cup muffin tray with muffin cups.
2. Sift the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into a large bowl.
3. In another bowl, beat the mashed bananas, sugars, honey, eggs and melted butter together.
4. Stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture until combined.
5. Divide the batter into the muffin cups - top with garnish if desired.
6. Bake in preheated oven on the middle rack for 20 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Easy Grilled Pork Roast

While browsing the local Publix meat department, I found the cutest 1lb pork roast (yes, I said cute).



Since I had the time, I gave it a full days soak in a sweet and savory marinade of whatever I had on hand:

8oz can crushed pineapple
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup worcestershire
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

mix everything together in a ziptop bag and add the roast



Squeeze all the air out of the bag, give it a twist so the entire roast is submerged, and throw it back on the fridge for a few hours.



Light up the grill. Drain and discard marinade, and sear the roast over direct heat on all sides. Move the roast to one side and cook with indirect heat until a meat thermometer reads 160° (around 30 minutes per pound). Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Philadelphia, ps. I love you.

Growing up with a view of the NYC skyline, Manhattan will always be a special place for me, but over the years another city has found a place in my heart - Philadelphia. Like NYC, Philly has great sports, restaurants, museums, art, music, and public transportation, but there's something sweeter about this town. Even in the heart of downtown there are trees and green space, most things are walk-able (as PE would say, "it's just another block"), beautiful architecture, dogs EVEYWHERE and just an overall family friendly vibe.

(yes, yes NYC rules when it comes to fashion, but once you move to South Carolina, you automatically lose the right to speak of fashion)

Anywho, two weeks ago C and I flew up to Philly to visit his bro who just bought an amazing condo downtown. We quickly took him up on the offer to come stay for a few days, catch a Phillies game, and eat our way across town.

While there were many highlights (and memorable meals), this post will focus on one breakfast, one cocktail spot, and one swank dinner.

Our first morning in PHL started with breakfast at Mixto (1141 Pine St)



This cuban and latin american inpired restaurant is located amongst antique shops on an unassuming street. The interior is beautiful dark woods, exposed brick, and the front wall is made entirely of glass doors, which to my delight were wide open when we arrived.





While we sipped on mango bellini's and mimosas, PE pulled out the agenda... literally. (note the patented Sipala-finger-point)



You can check out Mixto's menu online, but a few highlights included Argentinean Steak and Eggs (grilled outside skirt steak with two eggs any style, homefries, and mixed greens, $11.00); Huevos Rancheros (two eggs any style topped with a creole sauce served with refried beans and tortilla chips $8.00); Colombian Breakfast (top round steak served with white rice mixed with red beans, corn meal patty and two eggs any style $9.00).

Now on to one of my favorite meals of the day - late night cocktails. For this we headed to a fairly new spot,The Franklin Mortgage and Investment Company (112 S 18th St)




I can't describe this watering hole any better than they have...

"In the late 1920's, The Franklin Mortgage And Investment Company served as the front for the largest alcohol ring in the country... The Franklin celebrates both the golden age barrooms of the pre-prohibition era, and the skilled bartenders who fled their homes to pursue a noble craft banned and demonized in its country of origin.

We welcome back to our shores the art of a fine mixed drink. The franklin is a place where a stiff drink and a tuneful horn co-mingle, and where bartenders are artists. above all, the Franklin is a beacon for those who feel that a dram of alcohol is not meant as merely a vessel for intoxication, but a sensory experience all its own."



I highly recommend the Southside, centered in photo (gin, fresh lemon juice, mint, and Angostura bitters), but everything is artfully crafted, and from what we ordered, delicious. While the drinks may be a of a different era, don't fear, this isn't a gimmicky room full of girls in flapper dresses.

Last, but not least, dinner at James (824 S. 8th Street)



For a weekend trip, you only have one shot at a "fine dining" restaurant experience. Upon stepping foot inside James, I knew we had chosen correctly. Modern decor, crisp lines, rich earth tones (the female waitstaff even wore sleek warm green dresses), delicate glassware, and candles candles everywhere.

As my photos illustrate, the restaurant is extremely dark. Bad for photography, great for an intimate dinner to talk sports, politics, office politics, life and love.

I started the evening with a glass of bubbles... their Cava Cocktail '88' to be exact (dry sparkling spanish wine, rivesaltes 1988, & peach bitters).



We ordered three starters for the table.



In order of awesomeness...
(1) salt roasted beets, leek-black walnut fonduta, grapefruit & duck crackling. (For me, this was hands down the best of the three... but then again, how can you beat duck cracklins.)
(2) hand cut tagliatelle, duck ragu, shaved chocolate & orange. (Sounds like a strange combo, but it really worked.)
(3) pasta e fagiole. (Disappointing for two reasons... this was really just a play on pasta e fagiole - think chicken broth with mini wontons and white beans - then to make matters worse, someone was heavy handed on the salt.)

For our main plates, we savored (again, in order)...
-grass fed veal loin (This was a special, and I can't remember what it was served with... but it doesn't matter, the veal itself was the star and out of this world)
-wild striped bass, barely warmed heirloom tomatoes & chick peas
-slow roasted poularde, tender spinach, porcini mushrooms & apple scented pan sauce

Dessert -- make your own cheese plate:



Well, there you have it folks. Sorry for the lack of photos. Will hopefully be back north soon and will happily make up for it then :)

PE, thanks again for the hospitality.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Thank You Terra!

First let me say thank you to Chef Mike, Howard, and all the whole crew at Terra. For the second year, they hosted and sponsored our Slow Food Columbia fundraiser. As expected, the food and staff were unbelievable, and the event a complete success.

Of course let's not forget our generous sponsors...


Five Leaves Farm * Little Creek Plantation * Spanish Vines
Anson Mills * All Local Farmers' Market

... and all of our members and friends who came out to support the group. The night was filled with wonderful food, wine, conversation (and some sweet shoes).











Special thanks to Josh of Spanish Vines for the fantastic vino.












Chef pops out the magic door to say a few words.








(EW - can't wait to meet the newest little member of Slow Food Columbia, congrats again!)


Huge thanks to Cerelle, our fearless leader, for all her hard work in pulling this together. Here she is ready to draw the lucky door prize winners. Each walked away with a gift certificate for Terra.


We have a winner!


obligatory portrait for the fam... "Hi Mom!"