Euro Fare

I've been meaning to do a post after my dining experiences; I think I started one during NYC Restaurant Week but whatever, I'm here now.

What spurned this is the spot I went to last night.

backstory, I was starving and everybody at school knows I need to eat or everyone dies. I mentioned Sushe Samba in Man but one person knocked it down saying a friday night in USQ was asking to be waiting for at least an hour. Good point.

Next thing to know:
The people I went out with are beer drinkers. Like, one girl dates an actual brewer and Lish is from Iowa where there's nothing better to do than drink beer. The other two were just your average WGs and which WG doesn't like beer?

So since Man was shot down, let's find a place in BK that serves alcohol and food. They bring up this bier garten.

I got a brat that was the size of my palm on a toasted roll and a paper cup full of spicy mustard. Everyone else was excited about their saurkraut and pretzels but I was not amused. It just confirmed for me that Euro food doesn't excite me. There is nothing about german food I'm attracted to, nothing about all the pork polish people eat that's appetizing, nothing in Amsterdam, Rotterdam or The Hague that I want to try.

I remember one weekend in Hollywood, I was watching the episode of No Reserv.ations when Ant was in Ireland. That was the only episode I watched and felt none desire to pull out my AmEx and passport. Nothing stirring about the pubs and nothing moving about the food.

As a matter of fact, watching Jacques Pepin has me a bit worried about French food. During RW, I was looking into French cuisine but the online menus did nothing for me. I want to look at a restaurant's menu and go, "Ooh! I want to try that!" Or have a serious internal battle over which dish to try and make a mental note to come back and get what I didn't decide on that night. Yeah, none of the above for the German spot or any of the french rests.

All I know is that we should've gone to get sushi.


2011, Recipe 120: Gingerbread Baked Oatmeal

Since I started running last fall, I've been on the constant search for good pre- and post-workout meals. I love oatmeal but I get tired of the tried and true methods (raisins or craisins, nutmeg, cinnamon, sugar) and start looking for some new ones. Beth M at Budget Bites has been on a baked oatmeal kick for a while and I wanted to see my way inside the hype! This is a slight variation on her recipe. AND my first time doing step-by-step photos.

Somehow in more than 20 years of oatmeal consumption I've never had baked oatmeal. Granted, it takes a lot longer than regular instant oatmeal so it's not something I would make on a week day morning BUT it lasts a lot longer. I'm not a big fan of leftovers. No matter how good the meal is, I don't want that same leftover more than once. I probably get that from my dad. He's the same. But at least his was a part of his upbringing. He's one of 9 children so there weren't exactly a whole lot of leftovers in their house growing up! To the oatmeal!
  • 1/3 cup dark molasses
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (I bumped it up to 1 1/2)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (I bumped it up to 3/4)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (my addition)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, whisk together the molasses, brown sugar, eggs, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Once everything is well combined, whisk in the milk.

2) Stir in the oats. Coat an 8x8 (or similar sized) baking dish with non-stick spray and pour the oat mixture in. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes or until the oats have soaked up all of the moisture and the center of the dish is firm to the touch.

3) Serve hot or refrigerate and eat cold.

The ingredients playing in the bowl

Whisking in the milk. I love this shot!
Whisking in the oatmeal. It should be very wet at this point.
This is about the consistency of a slurry. It's quite liquid.
I tapped down a few errant oats poking up in clumps in the dish before I put it in the oven.
I liked the cracks in the top. It should have a cake bar-like (more on that in a minute) consistency on top and be almost gooey and thickly wet on the bottom (more on that, too).

Beth's recommendation to put it in a bowl like cereal with milk.
Result: Mixed. I forgot to prepare Rashan for the mixed textures. Oops. He HATED this warm. Like took one bite, barely chewed it and said no. I said, "Oh wow." Then he tried it without the milk and still didn't like it. It was like feeding a child. He's usually not picky and he likes oatmeal so this was surprising. I tried it and thought it was just okay. The molasses was more pronounced than I would have liked. I almost felt like molasses was all I could taste. That makes sense for a gingerbread-style recipe. I just wasn't mentally ready.

The next day, things changed. I tried it cold. The molasses had calmed down to a reasonable level (LOL) and there was one texture. This time I liked it! As a matter of fact, I ate it pre-run with some peanut butter and felt like it would have gone perfectly with a glass of milk. I could also see myself taking this as a small bar on a run and eating it in place of one of those nutrition supplements. It was cool! I would make this again with less molasses.


2011, Recipe 119: Catfish and Grits with Chardonnay Cream

Recipe courtesy of Darius at Everyday Cookin'

This is one of my favorite fish recipes EVER!! I can't believe it's been almost two years since I last made it. Just a crying shame! I decided to health it up just a little (sauteing instead of deep frying) to see if it would still be yummy. I put all of my changes in parentheses. Stay tuned...

For the catfish:
  • 2 catfish fillets
  • Sazon by Goya (2 packets)
  • 1 tablespoon of kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • Olive oil, for sauteing (my change)
Liberally season fish with Sazon, salt, pepper, and paprika. Allow to sit for up to 30 minutes to marinate. Heat oil. Sauté until golden brown and flaky. When done, remove from oil and drain on paper towels.

For the grits:
  • 2 ½ cups of low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 ½ cups of stone ground grits or polenta
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ½ cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese (you could eliminate to make it even healthier)
  • ¼ cup of heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
Bring chicken broth to a boil. Add salt and grits and stir continuously. Once grits have thickened and cooked through add in butter, cheese, and cream. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook through until thick and creamy. Remember, you can’t rush this process – you will need about 30 minutes to cook grits properly.

For the sautéed spinach:
  • 3 cups of fresh spinach
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
Combine everything in a sauté pan over medium high heat. Cook through until spinach has wilted to your desire. Be sure to mix well to ensure all seasonings have been thoroughly incorporated.

For the Chardonnay Cream Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 medium shallot minced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tablespoon of flour (my add to help it thicken)
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
  • ½ cup of Chardonnay (or any white wine)
  • ½ cup of 2% milk (my change)
  • ½ cup of Asiago cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
In a medium sauce pan sauté shallots and garlic cloves in the butter until soft. Start sauté on medium heat and be sure not to brown too much. Mix in flour and cook for a minute or two to get rid of the raw taste. Add Chardonnay and let reduce by half. Turn heat to low and add in cream, parsley, and cheese and stir until sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper to taste and spoon sauce over entire dish.

Result: JUST AS DELICIOUS!!!! Darius is a genius. Also last time I made the sauce with a sauvignon blanc and this one with a pinot grigio. Still awesome. The chicken broth is marvelous with the grits. Rashan though the spinach was the best thing EVER!! It was really funny. How about this spinach is the one that made me realize once and for all spinach makes my teeth feel AWFUL. Chalky and dry. :((( I love spinach. I shant stop eating it. But yes, everything about this recipe is marvelous! Do yourself a favor and try it!


2011, Recipes 116-118: Roast Chicken, Mushroom Soup and Chicken Liver Paté

 Roast Chicken
Recipe courtesy of Anthony Bourdain
  • 1 whole chicken, about 4 lbs (1.8 kg), giblets reserved
  • Salt (preferably sea salt) and freshly crushed black pepper
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary (do not get that dried trash anywhere near my bird!)
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme (What did I just say?)
  • 2 tbsp (28 g) herb butter (see recipe at bottom of post)
  • 3 tbsp (42 g) butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup (340 ml) white wine
  • A little chopped flat parsley
The recipe is incredibly long thought not terribly complicated so just use the link shown above if you want to make this.

Results: Yummy! But a pretty basic herb-roasted chicken.

 Mushroom Soup
Recipe courtesy of Anthony Bourdain
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 12 ounces button mushrooms, halved
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 sprig parsley
  • 2 ounces sherry
  • salt and pepper 

In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons/28g of the butter over medium heat and add the onion.  
Cook until the onion is soft and translucent, then add the mushrooms and the remaining butter.  
Let the mixture sweat for about 8 minutes, taking care that the onion doesn't take on any brown color. 
Stir in the chicken stock and the parsley and bring to a boil.  Immediately reduce the heat and simmer 
for about an hour.

After an hour, remove the parsley and discard.  Let the soup cool for a few minutes, then 

transfer to the blender and carefully blend at hight speed until smooth.  (Do this in batches).  When blended, return the mix to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and bring up to a simmer again.  
Add the sherry, mix well, and serve immediately, garnished with chives, if desired.
Result: Delicious! I think next time I'll leave some of the soup unpureed to get the chunkiness of the mushrooms. But it was a wonderful soup.

Chicken Liver Paté
Recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence
  • 1 pound chicken livers, trimmed of any membranes or fat
  • 6 tablespoons Port wine
  • 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus 1 nice-looking sprig for garnish
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • baguette slices, toasted
  • red grapes (optional)
  1. Rinse the livers and pat them dry. Put them in a small bowl, pour the Port wine over them, cover & refridgerate for 2 hours.
  2. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a medium skillet. Add the shallots, garlic, & chopped thyme and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until softened but not brown (3-4 minutes).
  3. Add the livers, reserving the Port, and cook without browning until the livers just change color (3-4 minutes). (Browning would toughen the exterior of the livers & the pate would not be smooth.)
  4. Add the reserved Port to the pan and simmer for 2 minutes.
  5. Put all of that in a blender and puree until smooth. Add 3 more tablespoons of butter and process again until smooth. Now pour in the cream and pulse just until incorporated. Season with salt & pepper. (Note: It looks & smells horrid, but don't be alarmed! It's much better once it's cooled!)
  6. Spoon the mixture into a 3-cup terrine or dish and smooth the surface. Refridgerate for 1 hour, or until the pate just firms up.
  7. Then, melt the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter (1 stick) and pour it over the top of the pate to cover completely (this will seal the top & keep from discoloring). Press the thyme sprig into the butter and chill overnight (or up to a week).
  8. Serve with toasted baguette slices & red grapes.
Result: Surprisingly sweet. I'm quite sure it was the the port I used. It wasn't sticky sweet but it was sweet. You don't have to eat the butter on top if you don't want to. My family thought it looked gross. Just scrape it off. I really liked this recipe! It made me feel quite fancy!

Now on day two, I put paté on toasted baguette with Dijon mustard and an egg over medium. It was AMAZING!! I could also see eating this the same way with a little frisée lettuce or arugula like some recipes say. I want this for breakfast regularly now!!