Friday, July 31, 2009

Cube Steak Mania!

To give you a idea of why this was such a big deal...I haven't eaten a cube steak in over three years. But I had this recipe, and I couldn't resist trying it out, and so I made it. My fiancee was convinced that I'd lost my mind, asking him to buy cube steak when we went to the store, but he obliged.

Cube Steak Dijonnase

2 12 ounce cube steaks
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
1/3 cup dry vermouth
1/2 cup whipping cream or half and half
2 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard

Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy, large skillet over medium-high heat. Add steaks in single layer and cook until browned, turning once, about 3 minutes per side.

Transfer to work surface; cut each steak in half.

Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sage, saute until soft, about 30 seconds.

Add vermouth; boil until slightly reduced, about 30 seconds. Stir in cream and mustard.

Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.

Divide steaks among plates, spoon sauce over top, and serve.

Busch's Market Recipe Card

I won't lie to you. I substituted my butt off for this recipe. I couldn't find sage, so I substituted thyme. I forgot to get Vermouth. Google recommended that I use a dry white wine, white grape juice or chicken stock. I didn't have any of the three, so I substituted Bourbon. I didn't have half and half, so I substituted milk with a generous amount of butter. And I didn't have whole grain Dijon mustard either.

So basically, I took the idea, and made it my own. :D

First time I've eaten a cube steak in three years! It actually gave me a little bit of anxiety, but I did it!

And the sauce makes good pan gravy for mashed potatoes too!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Playing With The Wendy's Nutritional Information. Feel A Little Ill.

So, just as I'm about to suggest burgers for dinner, I see a blog that lists Wendy's Coffee Toffee Twisted Frosty as being a high calorie item. I scurry to Wendy's website, to find out the calorie requirements for my usual choice, a number one, no cheese, and one of these frosty treats. I've only had the coffee toffee frosty once, but you know...

My usual? With the frosty? Runs me a tally of ONE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED AND NINETY CALORIES. Really? Is it that tasty?

If your on Weight Watchers, that's roughly 32 points. In one sitting. Last time I was on Weight Watchers, that was like two days worth of points. In one sitting!

Pardon me while I scrape my jaw up off the floor. Holy jeeze.

Just to see what it'd take to tap this thing out, I did a little Wendys math - the fully customized burger, which includes cheese, cheese sauce, 4 strips of bacon, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, honey mustard, dill pickle, onion, lettuce, tomato. Large fry. Large sprite. Large Coffee Frosty.

One thousand seven hundred and eighty calories.

For only a slightly larger amount of calories, you can have (and stay with me here):

A grilled chicken Caesar salad
A order of Sweet Asian Boneless wings
Broccoli & Cheese baked potato
A cup of mandarin orange slices
A small cup of chili
A junior vanilla frosty
A medium light lemonade

Which is quite a bit more food then I think anyone would want to eat in one sitting. All that weighed in at one thousand eight hundred and ten calories.

Wendy's math. A little gross. lol!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Middle Of The Week Farmers Market!

So, thanks to the wonder that is Vacation Bible School, I got to make it out to the Ann Arbor Farmers market in the middle of the week this week!

Gorgeous eats this week - lots of fresh fruits and vegetables to be had, everywhere you looked. Made me a little sad I was doing Farmers Market on a budget. :D The snow cone lady, who is a customary stop when I've got my two year old with me, had fresh blueberries with her this week. Between snow cones and blueberries, he would have been her best friend!

So I made a couple of my usual stops, and added in one new friend. When I get to the Farmers Market, I usually make a cruise through once, scope the sights, and then go back to the stuff that looked interesting.

Roos Roast

This was my first stop, the really cool people at Roos Roast coffee. They make free trade coffee, with funny names like "Lobster Butter Love" and "Rich French Neighbor". If you order in an area where it's possible to do so, they deliver your coffee on bike, and all their stands are set up off the grid. This is my first experience with the cool people at Roos Roast, but I hope to make it back to see them again!

Because I don't drink caffeine, I'm a bit of a tough coffee customer. Most places only have one coffee I can have, if even that. Wednesday was kind of a dippy, dreary day, and so Roos Roast was running a special that you could get a hot coffee for only $2.

The guy running the stand (who I learned later from their twitter was named Brian. Shout out to Brian!) forever earned a soft spot in my heart for a few reasons:

1)Not only that he had decaf (their decaf is called "Decalf". Hah!), but he acted shocked that I dared to think they wouldn't. And

2)He patiently allowed me to stand there while I doctored the coffee up. I'm a coffee doctorer, I admit it.

Like I've been saying this whole time - I love the people at Roos Roast! Smooth, mellow, delicious coffee. My cup was filled to the brim, and as I happily walked away, Brian told me if I needed any more ice (I got an iced coffee) or anything like that, to just pop on by, and he'd be happy to help me out. Shout out to the people at Roos Roast! I'll probably be back this week for another! :)

My next stop was my main man, one of the reasons I go to the Farmers Market at all - the Zingermans cheese guy. Aah, Zingermans. How do I love thee?

Zingermans Creamery

Zingermans Creamery hand makes fresh cheeses that they sell at Farmers Markets all through the area. They are always really good to you when you stop by their booth - they generally have a few cheeses out that you can sample to, and they are always ready with a recommendation if you want to try something new, like I did on Wednesday. I usually run in, get my City Goat, and split. I told the guy that I wanted something new, and he suggested the Sharon Hollow.

Sharon Hollow isn't totally new to me, I've had it before, but I wanted something different, so I was game. He said that they'd made a really good batch of cheese that day (yes, THAT day. I was buying cheese at 9 in the morning that had been made the same day. Hows that for service?!), and I had to try it.

Man, he wasn't kidding. Smooth, mellow, with a nice creamy flavor. Delicious! I got the Sharon Hollow rolled in chives, which was really good - every time you bit into a chive, it offered a little spike of peppery goodness to offset the creamy goodness from the cheese.

He's also quick to offer suggestions on how to use the cheese. I think he said that the ways he liked it the best were over a crusty baguette, or crumbled into a pasta salad. I won't lie - their cheese is so good, I just sit down with the cheese and a sleeve of Ritz crackers. :D

My last stop was the street cart of Pilar's Catering.

Pilar's Catering

I am a total convert to the ways of Pilar's. I made my first stop there a few months back, got just a order of plantains, came home, and went "I don't get it!", and kind of wrote it off.

Oooh, no, no, my friends! I had to get the whole deal!

The next time I went back, I got the "Farmer's Market Special", which is a tamale, a little salad, some rice and beans, the plantains, and a drink. Oh man. My life was changed forever!

They use everything as natural and organic as they can get it, and the recipes are really authentic - their website says they do "traditional Salvadorian cuisine", and their head chef, Chef Sylvia Nolasco-Rivers is from Salvador!

I've tried the Vegan Tempeh tamale, and the JalapeƱo and Cheese, and their both delicious. I'd actually be hard pressed to name a favorite! And the plantains, in the context of the entire meal, are fantastic! I wish I could figure out which of their salads listed on the website is the street cart salad, because it's a knock out.

And the hibiscus tea is delicious as well. It's an acquired taste - the first time I had it, I took my first swallow, and went "What is happening in my mouth right now?!", it was a little sweet, a touch tart, and had a little bit of a woody note on the back of my tounge.

By the last swallow, I was ready to get back in the car and drive back to Ann Arbor for more! Hibiscus tea is an acquired taste, but try it - you'll love it!

So here's to my tasty adventures at the Farmers Market! :) I met my son at Vacation Bible School, and we went out, and got ice cream! As you can tell, Wednesday was a very good day to be a foodie at my house! :D

Monday, July 20, 2009

It's Time For Everyone's Favorite Game Show...

...thanks, Bobby Flay!

I've long been on the quest for all the necessary ingredients for Bobby Flay's 16 Spice Rub, with one mythical ingredient escaping me. Pasilla Chili Powder. I don't know why it seems so illusive, but it does.

I just googled pasilla chili powder, and found this most excellent little store, Dean & Deluca.

Dean And Deluca

And they've got EVERYTHING. It's kind of out of control. It must be an amazing store in person! They've got black truffle barbeque sauce, pure foie gras, brillo de treviso cheese, and a million of other things. If you've always wanted to try something you saw on Food Network or Top Chef, but it was never anything your market carried, chances are Dean & Deluca has it - and they ship!

I'm positive that I'v seen Bobby Flay in this store on his show Boy Meets Grill. I like that show alot, because he shows lots of cool shops around the city, in addition to the cooking.

Pasilla Chili Powder, $6.25 for 1.9 ounces. Thanks, Bobby Flay!

Joes Crab Shack...Oy, Vey...

Yesterday, I convince my fiancee to take me to eat at Joes Crab Shack. I've been seeing their delicious looking steam pots whirl around my TV for a while, and I wanted one like WOAH.

So, we go. And to eat at our local Joes, it's quite a trek - it's not anywhere you'd just go - you have to make a pretty specific trip.

We get seated by a hostess that I can only assume was under the influence of something, because she was looking at the restaurant like she'd never seen it before. Kid you not.

We put in our order. And we wait. And we wait. And we bloody wait some more. Eventually, a manager turns up to explain that because we've waited more then 20 minutes, he'll "take care of it", but offers no explanation for what that actually means.

The food eventually turns up from around the corner.

My steam pot? I won't lie - I got the West Coast steam pot, and the crab legs were so hot that I could hardly touch them, and I probably could have played basketball with the shrimp. And as for the delicious looking pot full of seafood? Don't be fooled. They bring a normal, regular size plate inside the pot. It's just like any other entree, just a little more gimicky. Like I mentioned - the crab legs were so hot I could hardly touch them, everything else temperature? I ate the majority of it (the "majority of it") pretty much consisted of the crab legs and shrimp. And a ear of corn on the cob, which is a food you just can't screw up, even if you serve it cold, which they did)

My sons food was freezing cold. He's pretty temperature sensitive, so it wasn't an earth shaking tragedy, but really? That's pretty gnarly. If I sat there for 20 minutes, the very least you can do is serve me hot food.

The bill comes, it's $58. We were pretty rattled. Food that was OK if you were being optimistic about it, a server that I'm not sure remembered we were there, and cold shrimp - that weren't supposed to be cold?! And you want $60 for that!?

The managers offer to "take care of it" meant my fiancees dinner was free. Which brought the meal down to $31. Which isn't bad. Crab legs for 2, and a kids meal shouldn't be $60.

Every time I go eat at Joe's, it kind of just serves to remind me why I don't go there more often. Something ALWAYS happens - the service is lagging, the food is weird, or like in the case of yesterday, the quality control takes a bit of a holiday. For families in this economy (I mean really. Two adults and a kid, it was $60. I come from a family with five kids. There's no days that we could have afforded to eat at Joe's), Joe's just isn't a practical buy. People these days don't have alot of extra money or time, a fact the good people at Joe's apparently don't understand.

Battle Pineapple The Follow Through

So I guess I was reading the room wrong. Chef Symon won Battle Pineapple pretty handily, with a score of 50 to 41.

Incidentally, he used Speck, which makes this the second time I've seen that on a food show this week. The impression Top Chef Masters left me with was that it was some kind of breading technique, but apparently according to AB, it's actually a form of proscuitto?

Guess what that means it's time for!

According to our friends at Wikipedia:

Speck is a distinctively juniper-flavored ham originally from Tyrol, a historical region that since 1918 partially lies in Austria and partially in Italy. Speck's origins at the intersection of two culinary worlds is reflected in its synthesis of salt-curing and smoking.

...and there you go. Apparently, if your going to google Speck, you gotta be a bit more specific. That was the 6 or 8th result down. But Speck Electronics (shout out!) is doing great. lol!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Because I Can't Edit...

I have an Iron Chef follow up...

One of the dishes was especially interesting to me - they took fresh tuna loin, cored out the center with an apple corer, cored out a slice of pineapple, and then inserted the pineapple into the center. Then they took some Thai basil, and wrapped the basil and the pineapple and tuna loin in this big thing that sort of looked like a fajita, but it was thin like a piece of puff pastry. The name is entirely escaping me right now. Grr...

At any rate, they then pan seared it, unwrapped, sliced and served. So you get this delicious piece of bright red tuna with this perfect little spot of yellow in the center. It looked delicious and fun - I'd love to try it!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

New Iron Chef!

I've made little secret of my entirely in my head love affair with Michael Symon, and guess who was on Iron Chef America in an all new episode this past Sunday?! My boy, Chef Symon!

His competitor is Chef Akhtar Nawab, the executive chef at elettaria in NYC, and he comes to elettaria via Louisville Kentucky, San Franscisco, and a Indian mama. Aah, the mama! :)

They are in Battle Pineapple, and I was kind of hating it for Chef Symon because I often feel like they stack the ingredients for or against one chef or the other, and I didn't feel like pineapple looked that great for my boy, but he seemed pretty stoked. So maybe I'm reading the room wrong here. We'll see.

If your FAST, turn on Food Network right now, and you can see it. If not, check out elettaria online:

Elettaria NYC

ETA: Follow up. I was reading the room wrong, because Chef Symon won the battle, 50 to 41. There you go.