Sunday, March 25, 2012

I Scream, You Scream: Ice Cream

For Ben's birthday last year, Elizabeth got him an ice cream maker.  We had been talking about getting an ice cream maker for a while, so we were excited to get this bad boy.

We had a somewhat disastrous first foray into ice cream with an avocado ice cream that didn't initially set (possibly because the core was not fully frozen - yay impatience!) and then froze like a solid block in the freezer.  Also, it tasted kinda bland.

This vanilla ice cream we made, though, was SO rich and creamy, Elizabeth could feel the fat being added onto her Insanity abs.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Fish Friday: Salmon with Lemon Caper Butter, Garlic Asparagus and Basil Couscous

Some point last semester, we decided to eat more fish.  For one, we found that we were eating a ton of beef and chicken, which was getting a little boring.  But also, fish is healthier, and if you saw our earlier series on the cleanse, we begrudgingly care about this.  So we decided, completely coincidentally with Roman Catholic tradition (both of us are Protestants), to make our Friday dinner a fish dish. It was actually the alliteration that berthed Fish Friday; Fish Tuesday just isn't that much fun.

So it's our tradition to go to Whole Foods on Friday afternoons (we're high rollers) to get fresh fish - whatever's on sale - and whip up a new, relatively healthy fish dish. We've had fish and chips, which we pictured earlier, and a whole variet of steamed, grilled, fried, deep-fried fishes, including tilapia, cod, branzini, salmon, tuna and chilean sea bass (for you old timers, the Patagonian toothfish).

This Friday we decided to make some salmon with lemon caper butter, garlic asparagus, and basil couscous.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Chicken Tabaka with Green Bean Borani

Elizabeth found this recipe for chicken tabaka in the Wall Street Journal, so we decided to try it.  We wish we had a more compelling backstory - kinda like the backstory in the actual article involving bribery and dining behind the Iron Curtain - but we don't.  We needed something to eat for Tuesday dinner, and this dish seemed like a winner without too many new ingredients.

Of course, we could lie to you - after weeks of hiking through the thick jungles of Costa Rica, foraging on berries and tree bark, we finally reached our destination: the long-lost Temple of Viastu.  When we arrived, we walked in the foyer and saw a copy of the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal.  In it, we saw the recipe for chicken tabaka and decided to make it when we got home.  Better?

We had never made or even eaten Cornish game hen before, so this was a learning experience for us.  For your convenience, we'll reprint the recipe here (with some modifications) and give our thoughts on the dish afterwards - thanks Wall Street Journal!  (Note: we only used two hens, but we'll post the full recipe that uses 4.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Another Blog to Check Out

If you needed more evidence that 3L year of law school should be a time for cooking and blogging, not for reading cases and studying, then check out the blog that one of our classmates recently started called Legal Tines.  Coincidentally, she wrote a blog piece taking advantage of the same eggplant sale that we saw and used for our own entry, and both of us made eggplant parmesan.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Annapolis: Lunch at Sam's at the Waterfront

On our way back from Delaware, we made a stop for lunch in Annapolis.  We don't know a ton about the city (probably because it's in stupid Maryland), but using some combination of Yelp, Google Maps, and a bit of chance, we stumbled upon Sam's at the Waterfront.  Sam's is randomly located at Chesapeake Harbour Marina.  We initially thought it would be in the downtown area of Annapolis (Ben thought of the Georgetown waterfront).  Oops.  In any case, we had a nice lunch.

This is the calamari with sriracha mayo. We always order
calamari as an app, and this mayo was extra special.
We started with the calamari, as is our habit (see our previous post).  We don't really understand why, though.  Ben wasn't a particularly adventurous eater growing up, though he wasn't picky - in either case, he steered clear of calamari until sometime after college.  Elizabeth was grossed out by squid as a kid, to the dismay of her parents.  She remembers one day when she went out to eat with her brother and dad; her dad ordered "onion rings" for the table and Elizabeth loved onion rings.  These were chewier than normal but still delicious.  When her dad told her that it was actually squid, she didn't believe him.  Tricky dads. 

In any case, now it's a staple for us when we go out, and this one was a winner.  The calamari itself was light, crispy, and well-seasoned.  But the sriracha mayo was the real hero of this dish.  It was tangy and sweet, and it had just the right amount of heat.  We have not yet attempted to make calamari ourselves (if only because we have it so much when we go out).  But when we do, we will definitely be trying to recreate the sriracha mayo.  We'll let you know how it turns out.

Elizabeth's first lobster roll.  Glad it wasn't at Quizno's.
For our entrees, Elizabeth had the lobster roll.  This was Elizabeth's first lobster roll, and it won't be her last.  Pretty much all of the seafood we had during our stay in the Chesapeake area was incredibly fresh and delicious, and the lobster roll was no exception. We're pretty sure that the lobster didn't exactly come from the harbor, but still.  Maybe they just have higher standards since so much good seafood does come from Chesapeake Bay.  Either way, it was a pretty good lobster roll.  The shoestring french fries were a hit as well.

This burger is so photogenic. Too bad it was overcooked -
more medium well than medium rare.
Ben ordered the Kobe beef burger (it was on special) with bacon, blue cheese, and sauteed mushrooms.  The flavors were all fine, but sadly, Sam's committed a cardinal sin in Ben's book - though Ben asked for the burger to be cooked to medium rare, they sailed clear past that, almost to well done.  Ben hates sending food back unless it's inedible, but his general rule is that he never orders that item from them again.  And if the same restaurant overcooks a different meat or other menu item, they are blacklisted.  It's a real shame too because, if the burger were cooked to medium rare, it would have had the potential for true greatness.

C & D

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Rehoboth Beach: Dinner at Lupo di Mare

Cape May - a day trip from Rehoboth Beach.  Darn!
Forgot to take pictures of Rehoboth.
Spring break is upon us!  That means sunny beaches, warm temperatures, tropical beverages, and all the rest, right?  Well, we decided that, because of the unseasonably warm winter, we didn't have to head south to enjoy the sun, and as a result, we ended up in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.  Sadly, the weekend we were there was marred by chilly weather and even some snow flurries.  Even so, we had a pretty nice trip.  We also had a little day trip to Cape May, New Jersey, which was cute.

While in Rehoboth Beach, we went to a couple of good restaurants, including Lupo di Mare, which has a pretty good Sunday dinner deal - 3 courses for $19.  We decided to pay them a visit, and we weren't disappointed.

This was the cauliflower bisque with truffle oil.
After the customary bread and olive oil, we got our starters.  Elizabeth had the salad, and Ben had the cauliflower bisque with truffle oil.  We also ordered some fine meats and cheeses to go along with the starters.  The cauliflower bisque was pretty yummy, though the truffle oil didn't add a ton to the dish.  Elizabeth's salad was not the best or worst salad ever - it lay somewhere in that range otherwise known as "forgettable."  The two starters - actually, everything we ordered except the meat and cheese - came from a set menu from which the special deal was available.  We probably wouldn't have ordered those two dishes without the special, but hey, it was a good deal, and the starters weren't so bad.

This bread was so yummy, and the olive oil had a
delightful saltiness that Elizabeth loves.
The bread was a nice treat, though.  Also, the pecorino and bresaola were pretty fantastic.  A little while ago, we bought some pecorino because we thought it was a substitute for parmesan.  It was definitely a bit sharper, perhaps since it's made from sheep's milk or some other reason (we admit we don't know a ton about cheese).  This one was quite smooth, though, with enough of a bite to make it interesting.  The honey and almonds rounded it out quite well.

We enjoyed making little sandwiches with pieces of bread, pecorino, and bresaola (and a touch of olive oil).  We could probably get used to those sandwiches.  If there's a picnic post at some point in the near future, look out.

3-4-year-old bresaola and baked pecorino

Our entrees were pretty standard and standard-looking - we just had a seafood pasta dish and chicken marsala.  Sadly, we didn't take pictures of them.  Now it just seems kind of empty not posting our entrees.  It's as if we had dessert and snacks for dinner only.  You'll have to take our word for it.  Speaking of dessert, we both had the tiramisu.  We brought it home with us because we were stuffed, but it was a good one.  Elizabeth ranks it quite high on her all-time rankings.  And this means something because tiramisu is Elizabeth's all-time favorite dessert.

Elizabeth liked the tiramisu - that's high praise, as Nicolas
Cage (via Andy Samberg) might say.
It was a good meal for the right price.  If we come back to Rehoboth Beach (perhaps when it's warmer), we could come back here.

Though we didn't take pictures, we also went to Pig & Fish for a happy hour that turned into an impressive meal.  We started with the andouille mussels and fried green tomatoes, which were both pretty delicious.  We've been suckers for mussels for a while - there's about a 50% chance that we'll order either mussels or calamari whenever we order appetizers with dinner.  There's were hard to beat.  The fried green tomatoes were also pretty good.  Elizabeth had never had them before, but she was a fan.

For our entrees, Elizabeth had the pork belly with white cheddar grits and collard greens.  The pork belly was not quite as good as what we had at Orzo in January, but it was crispy and delicious.  Ben had a nice salad and one of the specials: a flatbread pizza with speck, ham, smoked mozzarella, and some other goodies.  Though Ben can't remember exactly what else was on it (why oh why do we wait a week to post?), it was one of the better pizzas he's had in a while.  This place definitely seemed like a dime-a-dozen bar when we walked in (our plan was just to get some drinks and find someplace else for dinner), but it definitely got the job done in the end.  We may or may not go back to Lupo di Mare the next time we're in Delaware.  But we'll definitely go back to Pig & Fish.

C & D

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Eggplant Parmesan

There's nothing like a good sale to prompt attempting a new dish.  We saw eggplant on sale at Kroger at 10 for $10.  Thus we decided to try our hands at a classic, eggplant parmesan.

Fresh out of the oven.
We borrowed from this Food Network recipe - primarily the part where you salt the eggplant slices and let them hang out for an hour.  Instead of the quick marinara in the recipe, we made our own sauce.  We sauteed half an onion, half a yellow bell pepper, celery, and carrots, added it to a couple of cans of diced tomatoes, added some salt, pepper, and olive oil, and simmered it for maybe 20 or 30 minutes.  After that, we stuck the sauce in the blender to make it nice and smooth.  From there, we assembled the final product, layering the sauce with mozzarella, parmesan, and the eggplant slices (which we, of course, breaded and fried).

Gooey, cheesy, and delicious.  The way it should be.
When Ben has had eggplant parmesan in the past, it's frequently been kinda soggy and sad.  This one happily did not fit that description.  The cheese was nice and golden brown on the top, and the eggplant was fantastic.  This one is definitely making it into our dinner rotation - that is, whenever eggplant goes back on sale.

C & D

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Adventures with Empanadas

Some of you, especially in our massive fan base in New York, may have heard of Empanada Mama.  When Ben was last in New York, he went to a party that was catered by them.  Most of their food was straightforward, if not tasty, Latino cuisine, but it wasn't until the dessert round that Ben discovered their caramel and cheese empanadas, which were just the best thing ever.*  The host of the party refused to allow anyone to leave until all the empanadas were out of her apartment - Ben was happy to oblige and took as many caramel and cheese empanadas as he could fit into a paper bag.

Crispy, delicious empanadas.
A little while ago, Elizabeth discovered that the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board was celebrating cheese with their blog, whose theme this year was 30 different ways to make macaroni and cheese in 30 days.  First of all, congratulations to the WMMB for a fabulous idea.  Second, there were some pretty awesome recipes featured there (at some point, Ben really wants to try the breakfast mac and cheese).  The recipe that really stuck out, submitted by Always Order Dessert, was the one for guava mac and cheese empanadas.  How could two foods from such different worlds come together in fried doughy goodness?

Was it coincidence that we discovered empanadas we'd like to try months apart?  Ben likes to think it's fate.  Either way, we decided to try our hand at some empanadas of our own.  We had a recipe for the guava mac and cheese empanadas.  We also decided to make some basic shredded beef empanadas, using the filling recipe found here.  And finally, we decided to try to recreate the caramel and cheese empanadas as best as we could.  (For simplicity's sake, we just used the empanada wrapper recipe for the guava mac and cheese empanadas, tripled.)

The guava mac and cheese empanadas were a real winner.  For one, the mac and cheese, made with gruyere, was pretty spot on.  But the combination of guava and mac and cheese worked really well.  Ben used to eat guava paste with queso blanco growing up (because his mom, from Puerto Rico, ate it growing up).  The total package, reminiscent of that except with a flaky crust to boot, was just sublime.

The shredded beef empanadas also turned out well.  We enjoyed these with a bit of guacamole (the remainder of which was annihilated by some friends after a night of drinking), which gave some creamy balance to the salty, savory empanadas.

Sadly, our iteration of the caramel and cheese empanadas was not as successful.  Since we did not have a recipe (we emailed Empanada Mama, but they would only tell him that the cheese used was mozzarella), we had to improvise.  We used a dulce de leche recipe from Alton Brown (Ben's non-mother cooking hero) and added it plus some shredded mozzarella to the empanada shells.  Though all the flavors were definitely there, they just didn't seem to come out right.  We didn't seem to have added enough dulce de leche, but it was hard to add much more without it all escaping before we could seal the empanada.  Maybe it wasn't thick enough.  In any case, we'll try them again soon.

C & D

*That is, until the next time we say the "best thing ever" on this blog.