I am a Foodie

My motto about food is: "I'll try anything 3 times, and if I don't like it...I'll try it again."

How to build great salads

This is not a salad recipe but rather away of thinking about the construction of a salad.

When I put together a salad I’m not thinking about the ingredients exactly but about flavors and textures.

Here is the blueprint:

Start with the Base:

Something green and leafy (typically), though you can use anything really : asparagus, green beans, artichokes, rice, steak…whatever. But for simplicity, stick with green and leafy.

Next, add the following…

Something sweet
Something salty
Something creamy or soft
Something crunchy or crispy
Something tart or bitter

You should look to add at least two of the above elements, though the ideal combination will often include all five. Look for opportunities to double up by finding things that are soft and sweet, or crispy and salty.

So, an example :

Arugula (base: leafy), prosciutto (salty), Buffalo mozzarella (soft), toasted pine nuts (crunchy), lemon vinaigrette (tart)

Another example,
Romaine (base: leafy and crunchy), avocado (creamy), bacon (crispy and salty), orange segments (sweet), balsamic vinaigrette (tart)

You get the picture.

A good exercise is to make a list of salad ingredients you like by the different categories: sweet, salty, crunchy, etc

Go forth. Make salads.

And come back to let me know about your creations in the comments!

Double Decker Cheat Day Grilled Cheese

Today was cheat day…or as I call it: Faturday.

So I chose to make myself an obscene sandwich.  Don’t judge me, I ran nearly 4 miles before taking on this beast of a sandwich.

Normally I don’t eat bread or anything with gluten, or grains.  So on my cheat day, I go full force.  Today I made a Double decker grilled cheese with ham, cheddar, fried eggs, and fried shallot mayo.  I was pleased with the result.

Ingredients

  • Three slices of bread
  • Four slices of ham
  • Two handfuls of shredded cheddar
  • One shallots
  • One tablespoon of Japanese mayonnaise
  • A generous slather of salted butter

Instructions

First thing I did was make the fried shallot mayo.  So I finely diced a large shallot, and fried it in a little bit of olive oil.  Once the shallots were nice and carmelized, I removed it with a slotted spoon (to remove as much oil as possible), and mixed it with Japanese (Kewpie) mayo.  I set it aside.

Next, I buttered all three slices of bread (liberally) and seasoned with salt and pepper.  I set it aside.

Next I got my other ingredients ready.  I fried my ham in the same pan as the shallots after adding a little butter.  I set my eggs aside, I set my cheese aside and as my ham finished frying in the pan, I put the slices of bread, butter-side-down in a hot pan.  Next, I turned on the broiler.

While the bread grilled in the pan,  I topped two slices of bread with a generous handful of shredded cheddar.  After about a minute of grilling the buttered bread in the pan, I threw the pan under the broiler to melt the cheese.

Meanwhile, I put a non stick pan on the stove and started frying two eggs.

As the eggs reached 75% done, I pulled the pan out from under the broiler.  The cheese was melted and gooey.  I topped the third slice of bread with the shallot mayo and my fried ham.  I topped the other two slices of bread with my fried eggs.

 

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Next, I put the whole thing together.  The ham covered bread goes face up in the middle, and the other two surround it.

Voila!

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Christmas Dinner

Today, my friend Naomi and I made Christmas dinner for 6.

We made a salad: arugula, baby spinach, baby chard, craisins, candied walnuts, goat cheese, lemon-thyme vinaigrette.20131225-145843.jpg

 

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Mirai – Chicago

Mirai is what Nobu would be if it wasn’t so impressed with itself.  Mirai is a remarkable blend of casual and upscale, presenting high quality fish in a comfortable relaxed setting.

There is no reason to leave the restaurant without having some of the following:

  • Ask in advance (when making the reservation) for the Aji (pronounced Ah-Jee).  It is a gorgeous spanish mackeral served whole as sashimi.  Fish lovers will sure appreciate it.
  • The Spicy Mono roll and the Kani Nigiri (Spicy Crab Sushi) are both winners…get it.
  • The Shrimp Togarashi was also delicious.  Butterflied shrimp in a creamy, spicy sauce.

The service was invisible but attentive, friendly but not too casual and not too formal.

Mirai is a standout sushi restaurant in a city that already presents a ton of great places to eat.

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Moto – Chicago

Having eaten at Alinea twice, I was prepared for the molecular gastronomy, modernist cuisine at Moto.

Though Alinea was a tough act to follow, Moto had plenty of dishes worth remarking about.  Though some of the portions were noticeably tiny, I think the intentions were in the right place.  If you can appreciate modern art, the kind where there is simply one red square on a white canvas, you can appreciate Moto. The food is more than just taste, it is also smell and thought.  The process that goes into dishes is part of the experience.

Whether it is the house grown salad greens or the conceptual recreations of classic dishes, Moto is a carefully designed experience.  If you can afford the $175 per person that this restaurant requires, it is worth it to experience the intersection of modern art and modern cuisine.  I would talk about specific dishes, but by the time you arrive, it’s likely that the menu has changed.  Just go experience it.

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Cauliflower Pizza

Since going Paleo back in October 2012, I’m been craving some of those fine gluten filled treats, like pizza, bagels, and pasta.  I used to be able to have gluten on my cheat days, but no more, the intolerance is here in full force.

So now I have to find alternatives.

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Today, I made cauliflower pizza…I mean that the dough is made of cauliflower, not that I put cauliflower on a pizza.

Before I give you the recipe, I need to give a HUGE shout out to Ellie Hoffman Breslin who introduced me to this idea in the first place.  She walked me through my first pie.  So, a HUGE thanks goes to her for finding this concept.

The following is a base recipe and technique to make the crust.  You can alter this however you want with seasonings, or additional ingredients, but this makes a nice crust.  Put whatever you want on top.  I shaved about 1/2 cup of truffle cheese on mine.  I used Moliterno Al Tartufo.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 5 tablespoons of grated romano cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • salt
  • pepper
  • seasons to taste

There are plenty of recipes out there to make cauliflower pizza, but most seemed too cumbersome to make.  Some recipes call for cooking the cauliflower first, I learned that this is not necessary.  I’ve made this a few times now and worked hard to simplify the process.

Here we go

Start by preheating the oven to 450 degrees.

Next, take your raw cauliflower, throw it in a food processor and pulse until it is a fine rice texture.  Don’t puree it, but pulse it down substantially.

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Empty your cauliflower into a large bowl and set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat 2 eggs and add salt, pepper and whatever other seasonings you want.  A little garlic or oregano never hurts.

Add the eggs, and romano cheese to the cauliflower and mix thoroughly with a spatula.

Next, we spread the “dough.”

I used a cast iron pan, but you can use a sheet pan or cookie tray, if you’d like.

  • If you use a cast iron pan, add a little vegetable oil, and just put it right in the pan about 1/2″ thick.
  • If you use a cookie sheet, line it with parchment paper and spread it on top of the paper about 1/2″ thick.

The reason I used a cast iron pan, is that I wanted to cook the bottom of the crust before baking it and cast iron has nice evenly distributed heat.  I put it on the stovetop on high for 2-3 minutes.

Next, beat the last egg and brush the top of the “dough” before putting it in the oven.  Bake for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes check to see if the crust holds together.  If it does, flip it, brush with the egg wash and bake the other side.  If not, return it to the oven and check every few minutes until it is set enough to flip, then flip, brush with egg wash and bake.

Bake the other side for 5-10 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and add toppings.  Put back in the oven to bake, or under the broiler to brown.

That’s it!

1 food processor, 2 bowls, 1 spatula, 1 cast iron pan (or sheet tray).  Pretty easy to make and definitely good pizza substitute for your gluten-free friends.

 

 

Whipped Foie Gras at Ela

Foie Gras can take a multitude of different shapes, textures and temperatures.  I’ve had pan seared Foie Gras with sweet jams, jellies and fruit accompaniments.  I’ve had cold Foie Gras pâté.  I’ve had Foie Gras Torchon.  I’ve even had Foie Gras Flan and Foie Gras Soup.

The Whipped Foie Gras at Ela in Queen Village, Philadelphia is undoubtedly a perfect preparation.  The Foie Gras is light and airy.  It’s typically accompanied by a crunchy bread, biscotti or cookie, some form of fruit, and a tiny dash of bitter greens.  The way each flavor and texture compliments one another is astounding.

For the Foie Gras lover…go get it.