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.


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

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!"

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Food & Wine Tasting

For my food and wine loving friends in the Columbia area. Join C and I (and the who's who of the Columbia culinary scene, lol) at Terra next month...

Buy tickets here:

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Garlicy Crisps

On more than one occassion (including one just a few weeks ago), C and I ordered an appetizer that included housemade crackers. Each time, the "crackers" were thick and doughy, and pretty disappointing.

Before passing judgement, I decided to try and make some at home. I went with a recipe from one of my favorites - Cindy Pawlcyn. While slightly time consuming, I was very happy with the results. Now, if I can do it, why can't they?? hmmmm.

1 1/2 teaspoons active dried yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup warm water
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon cold water
2 cups flour, or more as needed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut up
2 teaspoons kosher salt or sea salt
1 egg
seasoning topping of your choice (CP uses sesame seeds, I went for italian dipping oil seasoning)

1. Combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Let rest for 8 to 10 minutes, until foamy. Add the 1/3 cup cold water, then add the flour, butter, and salt. Mix to combine on medium speed until smooth and elastic, pulling the dough down off the hook if necessary. If the dough is sticky, add a little more flour.

2. Gather into a ball, place the dough in an oiled bowl, turn to coat lightly, cover, and set aside in a warm place to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until doubled in size.

3. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

4. Roll them out as thinly as possible into 6-inch-wide, 3- or 4-inch-long strips. (I used a pasta roller to make paper-thin sheets).

5. Lay the strips of dough on a nonstick baking sheet or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Beat the egg and the 1 teaspoon cold water, and brush the crackers with the egg wash. Sprinkle with salt and seasoning, then score the strips of dough to make triangular shapes (they’ll break apart into individual crackers when they bake).

6. Bake for 5 minutes, flip and bake for 2 more minutes or until golden brown.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

C's BLT+

In case there was any question regarding C's ability to make a sandwich...

+ Lettuce
+ Tomato
+ Cheese
+ Egg Over Easy
+ Your Weight in Mayo

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Kitchen Funnies

How great are these kitchen towels... thanks T!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

pasta with zucchini and tomato

As temperatures heat up, C and I look to lighter dinner dishes -- luckily the veggies of summer are here.

I recently found there is a farm stand on my way home from the gym, and now I'm absolutely addicted. I just love the way you never know what they will have that day, and the challenge of coming up with a meal from whatever looks and smells best.

Here's the latest - pasta with zucchini and tomato.

While you wait for your pasta water come to a boil...

Roughly cut a few tomatoes and put them over medium heat with some olive oil, a few cloves of minced garlic, and some fresh basil and oregano. Here'a what it looks like after it's had some time to break down:

While the tomatoes cook, prepare the zucchini. I used a mandoline slicer and julienned into spaghetti shaped pieces.

Throw in your pasta and cook until al dente. Right before you drain, pull out a cup of pasta water and add to your pan of tomatoes. Add drained pasta and zucchini shreds to the tomatoes and mix over low heat until well combined. Salt/Pepper to taste. Serve with grated Pecorino Romano cheese.