Posts for June 2009
Although I hold appreciation for foie gras bon-bons and osetra caviar, haute cuisine isn't the only food I'll open my heart (and stomach) to: Since I've never been able to outgrow my love for Americana staples such as processed cheese and the McDonald's Egg McMuffin, I simply embrace them.
Another big-chain menu item I crave? The enormous bowl of garden salad that's a part of every visit to the Olive Garden. On the rare occasion that I find myself dining at the restaurant, there's something about the ultracrisp lettuce leaves, the mildly earthy black olives, and the pickled juice that squirts out of the pepperoncini that calls to my senses. So when I recently came across a test kitchen attempt to replicate the salad, I couldn't resist trying it at home. For a crunch-quenching side that's perfect for a 4th of July celebration, keep reading
From Real Simple
Grilled Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas
1 2- to 2 1/2-pound rotisserie chicken, meat shredded
4 cups baby spinach (about 3 ounces)
1 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack (6 ounces)
4 large flour tortillas
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup store-bought fresh salsa
1/4 cup sour cream
- Heat grill to medium. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, spinach, and cheese.
- Dividing evenly, place the mixture on one half of each tortilla. Fold the other half over to cover.
- Grill the quesadillas until the cheese has melted and the tortillas are crisp, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Serve with the avocado, salsa, and sour cream.
Veggie Burgers With Lime Mayonnaise
1/2 cup chopped onion, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil plus additional for brushing
1/2 cup bulgur
1 cup water
1 cup canned pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
3/4 cup walnuts (2 1/2 ounces)
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup packed cilantro sprigs
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon grated lime zest
1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice
4 slices multi-grain bread,toasted
lettuce, sliced tomato, for serving
- Cook half of onion with 1/4 teaspoon salt in oil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add bulgur and water and cook, covered, over low heat until water is absorbed, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and stir in beans and soy sauce.
- Pulse bulgur mixture, walnuts, garlic, cilantro, cumin, cayenne, a rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and remaining onion in a food processor until finely chopped.
- Form rounded 1/2 cups of mixture into 4 (31/2-inch-diameter) patties. Chill at least 10 minutes.
- While patties chill, stir together mayonnaise, zest, and juice.
- Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium heat for gas). Put perforated grill sheet on grill and preheat 10 minutes.
- Brush patties all over with oil. Oil grill sheet, then grill burgers on grill sheet, covered only if using a gas grill, carefully turning once, until golden brown, about 8 minutes total.
- Serve burgers open-faced on toast with lime mayonnaise.
Expert Red, White, & Blue Parfaits
4 1/2 pounds fresh red currants, stemmed
3 cups sugar
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin (about 6 3/4 teaspoons)
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
3 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 pounds fresh blueberries
2 ounces fresh currants, on the stem
- Make the currant gelatin: Put currants and sugar in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until currants are very soft, about 10 minutes.
- Put 1/3 cup cold water into a small bowl; sprinkle with gelatin. Let soften 5 minutes. Add to currant mixture; stir until gelatin has dissolved, about 5 minutes.
- Pour through a fine sieve into a bowl set in an ice-water bath, gently pressing out liquid with a spoon; discard solids. Remove from water bath, and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cool but not set. Pour 3 to 4 tablespoons currant gelatin into each of twelve 8- to 10-ounce glasses; set remaining currant gelatin aside. Refrigerate glasses until gelatin is completely set, about 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, make the panna cotta: Put 1/3 cup cold water into a small bowl; sprinkle with gelatin. Let soften 5 minutes.
- Put milk, cream, and sugar into a medium saucepan; bring almost to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Add gelatin mixture, and stir until gelatin has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Pour through a fine sieve into a bowl set in an ice-water bath. Remove from water bath; let stand, stirring occasionally, until cool but not set.
- Spoon 3 to 4 tablespoons panna cotta over currant gelatin in each glass; set remaining panna cotta aside. Refrigerate glasses until panna cotta is set, about 1 hour. Repeat with another layer of currant gelatin and panna cotta. If either mixture becomes too firm, set over a pot of simmering water until softened.
- To serve, top each parfait with blueberries and currants, dividing evenly.
Beginner Red, White, & Blue Parfaits
1 8-ounce carton vanilla lowfat yogurt
1/4 teaspoon almond extract or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 of an 8-ounce container frozen light whipped dessert topping, thawed
3 cups fresh raspberries and/or cut-up fresh strawberries
3 cups fresh blueberries
- In a large bowl, stir together yogurt and almond extract or vanilla. Fold in whipped topping.
- To serve, in six 12-ounce glasses or dessert dishes, alternate layers of the berries with layers of the yogurt mixture.
Makes 6 servings.
Nutritional information per serving: Calories 129, Total fat 3g, Fiber 8g, Protein 3g, Carbohydrate 21g
You may feel like Summer is already almost over, but there's still plenty of time to get in some quality food festivals. This week, that would include the classic Taste of Chicago (full of reliable Windy City staples like the Rainbow Cone and Vienna Beef hot dogs), the Naperville Ribfest (hands-down, the best ribfest I have ever been to), and the ultimate celebration of tart cherries, the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, MI. For those of you who can't attend one of the food festivals below, just remember: every 4th of July party is, indirectly, a celebration of food in itself.
Know of anything that's been left off the list? Don't hesitate to chime in below.
- Chicago, IL: Taste of Chicago — June 30-July 5
- Detroit, MI: Comercia Cityfest — July 1-5
- Lombard, IL: Taste of Lombard — July 1-5
- Naperville, IL: Naperville Ribfest — July 2-5
- Mandeville, LA: Mandeville Seafood Festival — July 2-5
To see the rest, read more
Yesterday after reading San Francisco restaurant critic Michael Bauer's blog, I started to think about why and when I order dessert. According to Bauer desserts don't sell: "Many people fill up before dessert, and they either skip the course or split a dessert among several people. That means a customer will take up the table for an extra half hour and spend only $8 or so. Waiters would rather turn the tables; desserts make them linger. In the end desserts aren't high-profit margins for restaurants." His rational makes perfect sense.
And, I'm the first to admit that I rarely order dessert — especially during bikini season! How do you feel about the matter? When dining out, do you purchase dessert?