Sunday, May 31, 2009
I am told that this small bar and tapas restaurant has made a complete turnaround from the year before. The drinks were acceptable but I hear the food was not terribly good. None of that is reflected now. After fighting down a lawsuit calling for the change of their name (they don't serve much real champagne) they turned their menu and ingredients around. Today, they have a large bar menu of various types of red and white wines, sparkling wines and champagne, old fashioned and new fashioned cocktails. Their food is made from high quality ingredients and is well executed.
In the times that I have been, I have tried several of their drinks. The first time, we all split a bottle of Cava, a Spanish sparkling wine. It was a bit dry, crisp and was lovely with our food. The next time I went, it was after a long day at work so I treated myself to a Dry Martini. It was good, though not great. This last time I went, I had a Whiskey Sour, and it was sour! Sadly, I tasted little of the whiskey. I am intrigued by their list of old fashioned cocktails such as the Sidecar, Old Fashioned, and Gimlet. I am not certain they are made in the same way as the states since I've never had those cocktails before but I am definitely curious to try them.
So my review of the drinks is fairly lukewarm and you're probably wondering why I bother to go back so often. I go back for the food. The tapas they have aren't traditional Spanish tapas, but more of a collection of small plates to be shared in the style and fashion of tapas. They are extraordinary. My favorite, by far, is the cooked chevré. It is a generous round of goat cheese that I think is sandwiched between 2 very thing slices of bread, or bread crumbs, and lightly pan fried resulting in a creamy cheese with what looks like a thin crust on both sides. The final result is then drizzled with a generous amount of good honey. It is nothing short of delicious. If only I could get my hands on that recipe....but then again, I don't need additional incentive to cook more goat cheese at home. Another favorite is their lamb filet. They use Norwegian lamb and cut thin slices, season it, and lightly pan saute the lamb until it is just medium. They serve it with a red wine reduction, though in my humble opinion, the lamb is good enough to stand alone. It was tender, juicy and perfectly seasoned. Another staple at our drinking table is their bread and aioli. Though the seasoning of the aioli changes each time we go, their bread is always lovely (and helps to soak up the booze). Their menu also features some traditional Spanish tapas: slices of manchego cheese, marinated olives, chorizo, patatas bravas and tortilla. I am excited to try them all. The quality of the dishes now show no trace of the past problems they have experienced with their food service.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
- The mix of light and full fat creamed cheese plus the sour cream made for a lighter and fluffier cheesecake which is exactly what I hoped for.
- The raspberries will be quite juicy and can sog up the crust so baking the crust before putting the batter and berries on it will help keep the integrity of the crust.
- This recipe is a pain if you do not use a stand mixer or if you don't have 4 arms.
- The cheesecake is quite dense so it takes YEARS to completely cool. Prepare yourself.
- The cheesecake tastes best if it is allowed to rest and set overnight in the refrigerator.
- Raspberries + white chocolate = divine.
400 grams regular cream cheese (14 oz)
½ cup sour cream (about 50 grams)
4 whole eggs
Friday, May 22, 2009
2 strips of bacon, minced – I minced mine in the food processor
Half yellow onion, minced
1 jalapeño, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
½ cup minced cilantro/coriander
2 tbs tomato paste
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp fresh ground pepper
¾ cup fresh bread crumbs (if you don't have fresh, you can use dried)
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Fast forward 1 year. Those biscuits are still on my mind. I go to Glas Magisinet and I see the Le Creuset cast iron pans and think of those biscuits. I thought about those biscuits again when I saw an Ina Garten recipe for chive biscuits. I thought I’d try them and see how they turned out. The result was good. The chives added a nice savory flavor to the biscuits. The texture was a bit dense but very rich and definitely satisfying. Instead of having the goat cheese inside, I made a goat cheese spread scented with lemon zest. But what if…? What if instead of taking the pansy route of serving the goat cheese on the side, I mixed it all together? The next weekend, I made it happen. The result was a more dense and less buttery version of the Art Smith as they were cut and baked instead of baked in a cast iron pan with dollops of butter. This version, while not as buttery had all the taste. The biscuits were oniony and savory from the chives and had the subtlest bit of tang and creaminess from the chevre. The buttermilk added tenderness to the biscuit and the butter them nice and flaky. They were beautiful and tasted delicious. I’d serve them with a bit of softened creamed cheese mixed with a bit of lemon zest. Make these!
Chive and Chevre Biscuits
Adapted from a recipe by Ina Garten
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/3 cup creamy goat cheese, cut or broken into chunks.
3/4 cup half-and-half or buttermilk (I prefer the buttermilk)
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, 200 degrees C.
Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a tall mixing bowl. To the mixing bowl, add the butter and the goat cheese. Mix the flour and the butter and cheese with an electric mixer until the butter is the size of peas. Start slow as the flour will probably fly. When the butter is the size of a pea, add the buttermilk and mix until the buttermilk is just absorbed. Add the chive and mix it a little bit more until the chives are mixed through, about 15 seconds. Not all of the flour will be part of the big dough ball in the bowl and that’s ok. Knead the dough in the bowl a couple of times until the flour has all been gathered into a ball. Put the dough onto a floured board and knead it again a couple of times until it’s formed into a rectangle. Flatten out the rectangle until it’s about ¾ inch thick. Using a 2 to 2 ½ inch round cookie cutter, cut out rounds of dough. Place the biscuits on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Brush each biscuit with a little bit of the egg wash. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes until the tops are golden brown and firm. Serve warm.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
2 slices of toast
1 tbs vanilla sugar (or regular sugar works just fine too)
½ tsp cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, 175 degrees C.
Mix the cinnamon and the sugar in a small bowl. Butter your bread. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the bread slices and place the toast on a lined cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet in the middle of the oven. Toast for 5-6 minutes.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Saturday, May 2, 2009
1 c. diced cucumber
1 ½ cup diced chicken breast (I cheated and bought a roasted chicken from the grocery store)
2 scallions, finely chopped
½ cup dried cranberries
1 cup roughly chopped toasted pecans
2 tbs champagne vinegar (or a white wine or sherry vinegar would be fine too)
3 tbs fresh squeezed orange juice
2 tsp honey
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tsp salt
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Cook the rice in a large pot of well salted water. To salt the water, add 1 tsp of salt for every quart. While the rice is cooking, dice the cucumber, chicken, scallions and pecans and add them to a large mixing bowl.
Put the salad into the refrigerator and let it sit for at least an hour before serving. This allows the rice to absorb the dressing and makes the flavors all come together. I like to take the rice salad out of the refrigerator about half an hour before serving to take the chill off. At this point, I also add the remaining dressing and check for seasoning once more. This can certainly be made a day in advance. In fact, it will probably be better that way.