Odds and Ends

Hi Everyone!

So sorry that I have been away for so long. It’s just been a busy summer. I have no excuses.

So here are some random odds and ends. I have been thinking of you guys and trying to take pictures for you…

Where oh where to begin?

Ok let’s start with @5ChurchCLT. If you recall, I reviewed this a few weeks ago. I went back for a friend’s birthday and had the most amazing special. It was an herbed cannelloni pasta, filled with braised pork belly, chicken and turkey. I am a dumbass and didn’t take a photo but man was it good. I was encouraged, and I didn’t sit in those leucite chairs that weren’t made for girls w/ bootys.

Next…my Dad’s 70th birthday. He is a planner like me and made his own reservation at the Capital Grille. They were having a wine pairing special for $25 a person for wine they would pair with what you ate. Since we are all wine aficionados in our family, this was a perfect plan.

As some of you may have seen on Facebook, he called ahead to make sure he could wear shorts. I think that’s awesome.

Here’s a photo of my parents.

Also, mad props to the Capital Grille for the decorations on the table…

He had the lamb chops…he loves him some lamb.

A great time was had by all. The next morning I made them a breakfast casserole. It was so easy. Here is what I did.

I shredded some red potatoes, put some cooked sausage I had made the day before…

I scrambled 7 eggs…they were medium eggs from the farmer’s market. Put them on top and added some cheese and baked it for about 25-30 minutes at 375.

YUM!

After, I took the parents to the Super G Mart for produce…and they totally dug it. Dad was fascinated by all the frozen foods. They have every kind of dumpling or egg roll you can imagine.

Ok…what’s next. I have been attempting to grow tomatoes this summer. A work colleague who has a greenhouse gave me a plant in April and I’ve been nurturing it ever since.

This week I finally got a tomato off of it…

it got a little bit cracked because of the extreme heat we’ve had this summer so we only ate the bottom but it was very good and I can’t wait for more tomatoes!

Last but not least…I made some chicken tacos recently. If you ever find yourself w/ out taco seasoning…you can get by.

This is something I learned from the Pioneer Woman when I made some tortilla soup about a year ago.

Mix together some cumin, chili powder and garlic salt…boom taco mix. Sprinkle your chicken w/ some olive oil, spread the mix and put it in the oven for about 25-30 minutes on 400.

I used this for tacos, a quesadilla, and even gave some to my houseguest and dog brother, Jameson Davis, and he loved it.

Last thing…I am in Indianapolis this weekend for work and as is tradition…went to St. Elmo’s for a shrimp cocktail. If you have been there…you know. If you haven’t, you need to go. It’s an iconic steakhouse in downtown Indy, where the who’s who have dined for decades, and their shrimp cocktail is awesome. It’s spicy! They make their own sauce w/ fresh horseradish and it’s lethal. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

YUM!

Going to look for some gluten free recipes for my buddy Lisa next week. Stay tuned!

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Chimichurri Flank Steak, Roasted Potato Salad and my version of a caprese

Greetings,

As you gear up for the 4th of July (my favorite holiday as my birthday is on the 6th), consider this easy breezy menu for your cook out. I made this for Father’s Day for my family and some friends and it was so easy and so delicious.

One of my staple recipes here at the house is Chimichurri Flank Steak. I saw Emeril make steak sandwiches with this sauce once and I salivated. I made them for an outdoor concert/picnic and they were a hit. Now I make this probably once a month in the summer time months.

I try to marinate the steaks over night if possible, but it can be done for just a few hours as well. Here is his recipe, sometimes I put different amounts of different herbs in…but you can’t go wrong following this recipe.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/skirt-steak-with-chimichurri-sauce-recipe2/index.html

Also a tip…set aside some of the marinade before you put the meat in (and I use a gallon ziplock) and use it as a sauce. DO NOT use the sauce you had the meat in. Gross.

I also made a very simple roasted potato salad.

I chopped up some red potatoes and put them on a cookie sheet.

I added some red onion, olive oil, chopped garlic, salt and pepper and some chopped rosemary…

and put it in a 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes and let them cool.

I added in about a quarter of a cup of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard and wallah…roasted potato salad. It was a big hit on Father’s Day and fairly healthy.

The last thing I made was by far the easiest. I took a few tomatoes, some buffalo mozzarella, and some basil and chopped it. Added in some salt and pepper and some balsamic vinegar. Done. Caprese Salad. When I make it for a group like this I just throw it in a bowl. Sometimes when it’s just a few people I stack it like in a restaurant.

Here was a photo of my plate before I dove in.

Oh and look at that I forgot the asparagus!

So easy! So trim the ends of the asparagus…drizzle some olive oil and salt and pepper on them and put them under the broiler for 10 min or so. You don’t want them to be mushy still a bit crisp.

A good time was had by all…even Mr. Jameson Davis. The best part of this meal was I was able to make everything ahead of time and just had to grill the flank steaks so I was able to spend time with my guests!

Happy 4th of July everyone!

My favorite city…New Orleans

I fell in love with New Orleans in April of 2005…approximately 4 months before Hurricane Katrina. I went for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, with my friends Debbie and Megan upon the recommendation of my friend and then boss Ramsey.

It was love at first sight.

There is so much to love about New Orleans. The people. The food. The music. The soul.The fact that you can walk around w/ an open container.  I just love it.

I have been back several times since Katrina, including the first jazz fest after it, in 2006. Each year a little bit more of the city comes back but there is so much to be done there. It still breaks my heart to think about the people who have been, and continue to be, affected by that storm and it’s aftermath. It’s pathetic that we let that happen to one of our best American cities and it’s amazing people.

Ok off my soap box now and to the food!

I recently went back for a conference and here are some of my food tales. I’ll also share some of my favorite things, that I just didn’t get a chance to eat this time.

One of my favorite restaurants in Nola, is Stella. I had tried and tried to get in there during a few jazz fests and finally got in last spring with my friend Kristine. We had the best dinner that night, alongside Mario Cantone (from Sex and the City) and the legendary Tom Jones. It was also the night that President Obama announced Osama bin Laden was dead. A momentous evening indeed! I vaguely recall taking a few photos, but I wasn’t food blogging then and the camera on my blackberry was not so good. I did take this photo of my dessert from that night (and I had it again recently) of the bananas foster bread pudding.

I know I know, that is a terrible photo. But the banana chips on top looked like Princess Eugenie’s hat at the Royal Wedding and I remember it making me laugh. It was FANTASTIC by the way. A great way to cap off a memorable night. I don’t remember anything else I ate last night. I just remember Kristine and I ordered a $300 bottle of Groth that we thought was the $80 bottle. A memorable night all around!

So when I went back to Stella recently on a business trip I tried to take better photos for you.

The first one, was the amuse bouche. If you don’t know what an amuse bouche is, it is typically a one bite teaser from the chef to show you what is in store for your dining delight! Here is the wikipedia definition:

An amuse-bouche [amyzbuʃ] or amuse-gueule [amyzɡœl] is a single, bite-sized hors d’œuvre.[1] Amuse-bouches are different from appetizers in that they are not ordered from a menu by patrons, but, when served, are done so for free and according to the chef’s selection alone. These, often accompanied by a complementing wine, are served both to prepare the guest for the meal and to offer a glimpse into the chef’s approach to cooking.

Right wikipedia…that’s what I said. 🙂 So this evening’s amuse bouche was a red pepper, goat cheese and crispy rice noodle delight.

YUM! I am a firm believe that you should always try the amuse bouche.

I ordered a halibut that was phenomenal. It had some edamame and some asparagus and a lobster hollandaise. The food at Stella is impeccable and looks like art.

Additionally,  what is so fantastic about Stella is the story. And for that…you need to go to their website and click on video. You won’t get why the restaurant and the city of New Orleans is so fantastic until you do. It’s because of the PEOPLE!

http://restaurantstella.com/

Another one of my favorite people in New Orleans, although I have never met him, is Chef John Besh. I’ve been to two of his restaurants, Restaurant August and Domenica. I had hoped to get to another Besh place, Luke, this trip but didn’t make it.

John Besh, was also one of the first chefs to re-open his place in New Orleans after the storm. A James Beard award winner and one of Food and Wine’s Best New Chefs in 1999, Besh has become a philanthropist, giving loans to local farmers to stay afloat. For more here is a NY Times article. He also has a show on PBS. Check it out.

http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/john_besh/index.html

Domenica is for now my favorite of his places because it’s casual, hip and the food is amazing. I took a group of folks here on a Friday night and the place was packed. The pizza chef welcomed us personally, it’s just a great fun casual spot.

I split a pizza with a colleague to start and so sorry…but we didn’t take a photo until um…

We had the basil pesto pizza…and she added mushrooms to her half. SO good.

I also had a small plate (they have large and small on some dishes…love that) of the White Truffle risotto with pancetta crutons. Jealous? You should be!

Last, we ordered some crispy baby artichokes for the table that were so delicious. I’m going to try this at home.

Also, how do you know you are at a great spot…when you see your media friends from The Grio and the president of MSNBC when you walk in. 🙂

Here is the link for Domenica. I highly recommend it. http://domenicarestaurant.com/restaurant-bar.html

Now for some equally delicious but more traditional Nola spots.

Everyone should go to Mother’s for a Po’ Boy at least once. There’s nothing like it.

http://www.mothersrestaurant.net/

Also, you have to have some beignets at Cafe Du Monde.

http://www.cafedumonde.com/

And make it over to Oak Street in Uptown. It’s a cab ride but it’s a great street with two of my favorite spots on it.

The first is Jacques-Imo’s. A recommendation from Ramsey, this place has alligator pie, fantastic fried chicken, and many other southern delights. Jacques, the chef/owner is almost always there, in shorts and clogs, with a cocktail in his hand. However, be prepared to wait, especially when it’s festival time. Those who know me, know that I will not wait an hour to eat at a chain restaurant, but I’ve waited here over two hours, sweaty in my Jazz Fest clothes, with my backpack and chair, for this fried chicken. It’s that good.

http://www.jacquesimoscafe.com/index.html

And when you are done with dinner, sans chair, head on over to the Maple Leaf bar next door. Regulars there that perform are Papa Grows Funk, The Iguanas, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, and the Rebirth Brass Band to name a few. It’s a great bar.

http://www.mapleleafbar.com/

So that’s enough to get you started in my hands down favorite city in the US…says the girl who grew up near the amazing city of San Francisco. 🙂