Monday, March 25, 2013

March 24, 2013 - Special Guest

The day arrived!  The day when Chef Glenn actually sat at the dinner table and not behind the stove and let us cook for him!  When we have guests join us, we tend to ask them to pick an ingredient so we can fashion a menu around it.  Jokingly, he said chicken livers and I promptly gave him a dirty look and told him to go eat somewhere else.  (You will never see me make liver or pate or anything like that... sorry.)  So then he told us halibut. Halibut?  Really?  A little salt and pepper, throw it on the grill, and you're done!  How can we fancy up halibut and make it something worthy for an executive chef?  Well... I'd like to think we did...

Cocktail - Melon Prosecco Cooler

Juiced honeydew melon, Midori, vodka, splash of prosecco.  Yum!  Garnished with melon balls and mint!

Appetizer - Cucumber Noodles Topped with Lobster, Mango & Mint Nori Rolls and Shrimp & Pea Gyoza

Delicious!  The cucumber noodles are easy and a perfect back drop for the little finger foods!  The rolls originally called for crab, but let's be honest... who doesn't like lobster best?  Once Jennifer got the hang of it (and after watching a few videos on You Tube) she was mastering sushi making!  The gyoza were slightly different.  I followed the filling recipe exactly, but instead of steaming (we didn't have a steamer), we wrapped them into little rectangles, fried one side down in oil for 2 minutes, flipped, added 1/4c water and covered with a lid until the water evaporated.  (About 5 minutes.)  Then you remove the lid, let them fry for another minute and you're done!  They were delicious!  The gyoza (and all accompanying sauces) can be made in advance and refrigerated before cooking.  The cucumber salad can also be made in advance!

Appetizer Wine - Mura Mura Junmai Ginjo Sake "Meadow"

A very mellow sake that is slightly sweet with a light melon flavor.

Entrée - Seven-Herb Crusted Halibut with Tamarind Sake Sauce over Roasted Garlic Coconut Cream Risotto with Stir-Fried Garlic & Ginger Bok Choy

Bam!  I know... the flavors sound crazy but they are awesome!  Truly a spectacular recipe!  Let's break it down.  The risotto takes about 20 minutes, follow the recipe.  The bok choy is about 15 minutes, cook it after you put on the risotto.  The fish itself needs about 2 minutes stove top and then approximately 10 minutes in the oven.  Start it when you start the risotto, because you'll need a few minutes for the sauce to reduce and you can just keep the fish warm.  The herb crust can be made in advance.  (And it's yummy!)  The tamarind puree sauce can be made in advance.  Once you take the fish out of the oven, add the tamarind puree, cook it down for 5 minutes and add the butter.  The recipe originally calls this a beurre blanc, but I wouldn't really call it that.  Where the heck do you find tamarind puree?  It took me six different grocery stores before I realized Whole Foods had it.  And no, there is no substitute for tamarind, so don't try!  Amazing!
Entrée Wine - 2011 Dr. Heidemann's Bernkastel Kabinett Riesling
This was surprisingly good stuff for a semi-dry Riesling.  It was very plush with scents and flavors of cream, baked peach, and dried apricot.  It had a nice crispness to it and a slight gingersnap at the end.  A very nice pairing with the insane flavors of the meal.
Dessert - Green Tea Panna Cotta & Honeydew Mint Granita
Amazing!  Let's take them in turn.  We made the granita without the sake and with mint (there was a non-drinker in the crowd.)  It was light and fabulous!  (Could absolutely go as something to eat between courses!)  The only difference in the panna cotta was that I used all half and half cream because that's what was in the fridge.  Now the panna cotta was lovely, but not a big green tea flavor like I was hoping for.  The other recipe I found used green tea powder, and I'm sure that would have been a stronger flavor - but at $15 for a bottle the size of my lip balm... I passed.  But a very simple, pleasant, and light way to end the evening.
So the overall verdict?  We think we knocked it out of the park!  A huge meal with a huge flavor profile, but definitely something that impressed our guests!  Next week... not sure.  Stay tuned!
Next Week - Duck Breast Meets Salad Greens

Monday, March 18, 2013

March 17, 2013 - Veal Scallopini

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  "I thought you were cooking something for St. Patrick's Day."  I hear it now.  Unfortunately, we just couldn't find any fabulous Irish recipes (besides last year's) that was blog worthy.  (And we are NOT fans of corned beef and cabbage.)  So... sorry, all!  Feel free to send us your favorite Irish recipe and we'll give it a shot.  Instead, veal scallopini was on sale at Stew's, so there you go.

Side note - we had a HUGE amount of hits on last year's Irish menu... if you did end up making any of those dishes, please comment or email us and let us know how they turned out!!!

Second side note - we had a few hits from Iraq over the last week.  That's a first for us.  I'm assuming they are from soldiers.  If you did visit us.. thank you for everything you do every day.
Cocktail - Mango Pomegranate Madness
Pureed mango, POM mango-pomegranate juice, vodka, mango rum.  Yup.  And it was good!
Appetizer - Cauliflower Souffle with Brown Butter
I told you this one was coming!!!  Delicious!  Other reviews had sad it was slightly bland, so we kicked it up a notch and added about 1/4c parmesan cheese to the cauliflower mixture and almost doubled the cauliflower.  Great texture, great flavor, and a divine way to make people eat their vegetables!
Appetizer Wine - ? Chateau de Nages Costieres de Nimes Blanc Vieilles Vignes
Yeah, I forgot to include the year in the picture and now the bottle is in recycling, so we have no clue which vintage this was.  Regardless, a tasty French white.  Lots of melon, peach, and apricot with a lingering buttery finish. 
Entree - Cornmeal Crusted Veal Scallopini with Pepper Jelly Relish
Wow.  Okay, let's take this step by step.  First off, just make the relish in advance and let it hang out.  Cornmeal crust is super easy.  Use a nonstick skillet.  You're done.  (Do not skip the flour step... this is a critical step ANYTIME you make something with breading... it ensures the egg adheres to the meat, and therefore the crispy crumbs stick better.)  The veal itself was ok.  I mean, it's just cornmeal and parmesan.  However, the relish was insane!  I'd put that on tortilla chips!  (Side note - perhaps over bruschetta???)  Make this just for the relish!
Side Dish - Swiss Chard with Roasted Garlic
This is a foolproof recipe!  Roast the garlic in advance.  Use drained canned petite diced tomatoes, and we subbed 1 jalapeno for the serranos.  Also, cook time is almost half of what the recipe stated.  Swiss chard is bitter, though!  So while it matched perfectly with the sweetness of the red pepper jelly, I would recommend you make it with dishes that have a sweet aspect to them.
Side Dish - Mashed Cauliflower
So we were looking for a creamy side dish, and I hadn't been able to find polenta at the grocery store.  In a pinch, we boiled up the leftover cauliflower from the appetizer, smashed it with milk and garlic, and wham!  FYI - you would never know this was cauliflower.  I bet if you serve it to someone they would think it's potatoes.  Trust me.
Final Plate
Entree Wine - 2009 Domaine de la Renjard Cotes du Rhone
A lighter red with great flavors of plum and red berries.  Easy to drink and a great "everyday wine".
Dessert - White Russian Cupcakes
See?!?!  Irish butter cream!  We didn't disappoint... haha.  Jennifer was all over these, and mastered these fabulous cupcakes!  Delicious, decadent, and a great way to top off a lovely meal.
Okay, next week is SPECIAL!  Chef Glenn has agreed to sit at the table and leave the cooking to us!  So he picked his "special ingredient" (hint.. it's almost too easy that the meal planning is now harder), and we are going to prepare a feast!
Next Week - Special Guest

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

March 10, 2013 - Braised Spareribs

I know, I know.. I'm super late with this post.  See.. what happened was that when Sunday rolled around, we were all too fat and sleepy to make dinner.  And then Monday I had movie plans (Oz 3D... pretty cool).  Sooo... Tuesday we cooked.  But there were a ton of posts this week, so we'll call it even.
I love all things BBQ.  It's not a secret.  However - I've never cooked spareribs, always baby back.  So we decided we'd try spareribs, and then we changed it up even more by choosing a "non-BBQ" recipe.  What the heck, right?  Fabulous!
Cocktail - Brandied Apple
Freshly juiced apples (I told you Jenn's hooked on the juicer!), brandy, lemon juice.  Simple and fantastic!
Entree - Blue Cheese Souffle with Spiced Figs
Isn't it pretty?!?!  This was superb!  The only change is the cook time - we had to add about 10 minutes but perhaps our ramekins were a little larger than in the recipe.  We also didn't have an orange, so we used dried orange zest and triple sec in the fig syrup.  (When in doubt, add alcohol I guess.)  The only thing I would say is that the blue cheese definitely mellowed in this souffle.  We were expecting more of it to come out in the flavor, especially with 3/4 cup... but it was surprisingly mild.  Don't be shy with the blue cheese!
Appetizer Wine - 2009 Lucien Albrecht Pinot Gris
What a great white wine!  On the nose, you get strong scents of peach and grass.  When drinking, it bursts with honey, peach, and earth, leaving a slightly acidic finish that helps cut the sweetness.  A perfect combination with the spiced figs and the tangy blue cheese!
Entree - Braised Spareribs with Fennel
Oh.  My.  Goodness.  Let me start with the easy stuff.  We obviously added some quickly sauteed carrots in butter on the side.  We followed the spaetzle recipe exactly, using parsley, thyme, and oregano.  (If you've never made spaetzle.. do it!)  When sauteeing the spaetzle, we sauteed in some shallots, and next time, we'll add some minced garlic.  The ribs!  First off... this meal is surprisingly light.  And because it was a weekday, we used my favorite dish - the Crock Pot!  I made the onion/fennel/garlic the night before.  The morning of, I browned the ribs, browned the mixture, added wine and let it reduce.  Once it was reduced, I transferred to the Crock Pot, added the stock, and let it cook on low for about 10 hours.  Fall off the bone goodness!  And just wait until you see what we do next week with the leftover onion/fennel mixture!  Amazing!
Entree Wine - 2010 Acacia Pinot Noir
This is another Pinot Noir that really took us by surprise.  It has intoxicating aromas of spice and dark berries, and on the mouth, it was smooth and initially heavy with ripe flavors of plum and berry.  As you drink it, the smooth tannins mellow the wine out and it ends up lighter than initially expected, which just created a fabulous drinking combination.  Great find!
Dessert - Honeyed Panna Cotta with Dried Figs and Sauternes
Delicious!  If you're not familiar with Sauternes, its a sweet dessert wine that has strong aromas of peach and honey.  We made the panna cotta a day earlier, and then just reduced the figs, topped it, and bam!  Delicious dessert (although slightly too sweet - and we skipped the extra sugar in the fig topping!)  If you haven't experimented with panna cotta, I highly suggest giving it a shot!
Dessert Wine - 2009 Chateau de Cosse Sauternes
Fabulous dessert wine!  Very sweet with ripe flavors of honey and tropical fruit, but that is what is to be expected from this wine.  So tasty!
So overall, a lovely experience.  We made a fantastic meal that ended up being a snap to prepare!  I hope you all enjoyed!
Next Week - St. Patrick's Day

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Chef Glenn Round 2

This daylight savings thing is really messing with me.  At least that's the excuse I'm using when people ask why I slept so late.  It wasn't the fact that I stumbled into bed after eating an insane meal and drinking an ungodly amount of wine.  (Side Note... Stew's Chocolate Truffle Coffee is amazeballs... just picked it up yesterday, and I can't stop drinking it!)  For your viewing pleasure...
First Course - Poached Octopus Topped with a Thai Mango Cucumber Salad with Blackened Tuna, Avocado Puree, and Edamamme Wasabi
First Course for the Vegetarians - Same Thing Minus the Octopus and Tuna with Tofu
First Course Wine - Sake
Second Course - Chicken and Garlic Sausage over Quinoa and Kale with a Chicken Demi-Glace, Gremolata and Chicken Croquettes
Second Course for the Vegetarians - Swap the Chicken for Potato-Gouda Latkes
Second Course Wine - 2011 Marie De Beauregard Vouvray
Third Course - Roasted Shrimp over Crispy Pumpkin Polenta Cake
Third Course for the Vegetarians - Swap the Shrimp for Veggies
Third Course Wines
2010 Chateau le Neuthe Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc
2010 Dashwood Pinot Noir
Fourth Course - Braised Red Cabbage Puree with a Smoked Bacon White Bean Ragout Topped with Domestic Lamb and Hudson Valley Duck Pate
Fourth Course for the Vegetarians - Swap the Lamb for Black Bean Sliders, and Bean Ragout Minus the Smoked Bacon
Fourth Course Wines - 1978 Chateau Belair Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classe
Fifth Course - Chocolate Truffles with Orange, Pistachio, and Coconut
Fifth Course Wine - We Just Finished Up All the Other Bottles
Oh yes... this is how we eat!  And we're going to do it again tonight!  Talk to you all tomorrow!!!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Some More Random Facts About Our Little Blog

Okay, its 1pm on a Saturday and I'm being rather lazy.  My house looks like a homeless person lives here, I have laundry for days, and my car needs to be washed - BUT why would I do any of that?  I haven't had a Saturday off in what feels like months, and instead I'm going to waste hours tooling around the internet.  (Does it count that I was tooling around looking for recipes for future blog posts?)  So I compromised... there's a load of laundry running now.  (Towels... I ran out and will need them to shower later.  Still... at least I'm doing something.)

So I'm killing some time before I need to take Ozzy down to the dog park and then go to another Chef Glenn wine pairing dinner.  (It's a rough life but somebody needs to live it.)  So I figured I'd update everyone on some more fun stats and some more FAQ I've gotten.  Here goes.

-  As of 12:49pm on 3/9/2013 - we have 4434 page views

-  The top 3 most viewed posts have slightly changed and they are now:  Baby Back Ribs (9/24/12), Lobster Thermidor (5/13/12), and Filet Mignon (4/15/12)

-  Following very closely behind are the posts for Cornish Game Hens (the first one), John's Birthday, and Beef Wellington 2.0

-  Our top referring sites are now,,

-  The US, Russia, and Germany are still our top viewing countries

-  We've had unexpected hits from places like the United Arab Emirates, Belarus, Nigeria, and Ecuador

-  We have been viewed by every continent with the exceptions of Antarctica (obviously) and Australia (what's up with that?!)

-  We get the majority of our page views on Sunday mornings and Monday evenings  (I tend to post on Monday mornings)

-  63% of you use Windows, 15% use your iPhone, 8% use a Mac


Any new favorite meals since we last read your "random facts" post?
We have a new found obsession with anything that's a souffle.  Also, I've discovered that salted caramel or salted chocolate is quite possibly the greatest thing on the face of the planet.  And just because someone (you know who you are) questioned me on it last night - fried pickles!

Is there anything you still feel like you haven't perfected?
We're still trying to master a homemade BBQ sauce that we all love.  None of us really understand the difference between Kansas vs. Texas vs. N. Carolina, etc style BBQ, so maybe we'll have to make that a blog night.  Pulled pork sandwiches with a different sauce from each "region" of BBQ cooking?  I don't know - send me your favorite recipes, people.

How's that juicer working out for you?
Freaking fantastic.  Just wait until summer.  Think of all the fresh fruit margaritas we can make!!!

What type of camera do you use to take your photos?
My trusty iPhone 4 in its beat up purple case.  And no, I've never had any professional photography lessons.  Haha.  (Okay, we need to do some work on lighting, but whatever.)

What can we look forward to in the coming spring and summer season?
Okay, well, we're trying to be a little healthier.  So expect a lot more fish, more greens, and more fruits.

Do you get paid for your endorsements of places on your blog?
Nope.  However, if Stew Leonard's feels like throwing a gift card my way, I'm the blond girl there at 7am on Sunday mornings mowing people down with my shopping cart while child armies stop to stare at the fake cow and get in my way.  And Romanacci's can feel free to comp my pizza next time if they want.  (We didn't blog about it, but their pizza is insane!)

Are there any other local places you will be reviewing?
We haven't really decided on any yet, but if you know of anywhere you'd like us to check out, please email us and we definitely will!

You guys live in Norwalk, CT.  For those of us that are local, what are some of your favorite restaurants?
Oh geez.  There's a lot.  A few of them include Tintos Tapas Bar, Barcelona, BANC, Osteria Romana, Match, Burger Bar & Bistro, Valencia, Red Lulu, Wild Rice... I could go on.  John and Jenn live at BJ Ryan's for lazy lunches, too.  Also, I'm a huge fan of Rizzuto's in Stamford for their reverse happy hour.  It's delicious. 

Why are there less mentions of Harry's Wine Shop? 
It's not intentional.  We just don't always have the time to head up there.  They also did such a fantastic job educating us in wine that we've been trying to match our meals on our own now. 

Did you give up on Steak Frites?  There hasn't been mention of them in a long time.
Give up?  You crazy?  Pretty much any time we cook anything that involves butter (like the garlic king crab legs, garlic oil for dipping, garlic tequila marinade for the flank steak tacos), we look at each other and go "this would taste great on steak frites."  The problem is that steak frites isn't really going to work with this "healthy eating" thing we're trying to do. 

Okay, that's enough for now.  My laundry just buzzed, and Ozzy is getting on my nerves, so we're going for a walk.  I'll update tomorrow morning with pictures from Chef Glenn's dinner, and then update Monday morning with our standard blog post.  Have a great weekend, everyone!

Monday, March 4, 2013

March 3, 2013 - Cornish Game Hens 2.0

Good Morning, CS followers!  2013 is turning out to be a fantastic year so far when it comes to food, because we had another superb meal last night!  We didn't find anything interesting on sale this week, so we took out the little baby chickens sitting in the freezer and creating another menu based on our new favorite poultry.  (Side note: you need at least 2 days to defrost.)  Enjoy!
Cocktail - The Novice's Old Fashioned
So we have made plenty of old fashioneds before, but we wanted to make this cocktail because it included the cherries in it (like our meal); so we lightened it up for those who may be only starting their venture into stronger cocktails.  Whiskey, grenadine, club soda and ginger ale topped with slices of orange and cherries.
Appetizer - Cauliflower Soup
Yum!  Instead of using English Muffins for the "dippers", we cut up a fresh round loaf and baked that topped with garlic and Parmesan cheese.  They were perfect for dipping in this soup!  The only changes to the soup was following the reviews and adding more salt and a little hot sauce for some kick.  This soup was slightly bland, so the hot sauce really helped pep it up!  Overall, a delicious soup that will make a great lunch today!
Appetizer Wine - 2011 Cave de Lugny Macon-Villages Chardonnay
This white wine from the Burgundy region of France is a great find!  It has fresh and crisp notes on the front, with a clean mineral-taste and hints of yellow fruit.  It's unoaked and not too "buttery" as some chardonnays can be, but has a strong lasting finish. 
Entree - Roasted Hens with Caramelized Root Vegetables and Dried Currant Sauce
Another home run!  Let's start with the chickens.  We followed the instructions (minus the juniper berries) and then left them whole as we roasted.  (Why cut in half?  That detracts from the presentation in our opinion.)  So we roasted whole, covered in foil, at 350 for about 1 hour and 20 minutes.  Then uncovered, put a tab of butter over each breast, and baked another 15 minutes.  Then broiled about 5 minutes to get it crispy and brown.  Moist, tender, and full of flavor!  The vegetables were incredible!  Who doesn't like caramelized goodness?  We simply threw them all in the saute pan, followed the directions, and voila!  Fantastic meal.
Entree Wine - 2006 Broccato Dievole Toscana
So this wine came from the stockpile and I cannot find any information on it on the web, so you're stuck with just our review.  Delicious.  This Italian red was bursting with red berry flavors, which matched perfectly with the currant sauce on the chicken.  It had a lingering finish with light tannins, and was not just enjoyable with the meal, but also for drinking during the clean up.  Great wine.
Dessert - Manhattan Floating Islands
Oh wow.  Basically this is a whiskey flavored mousse topped with a meringue and fresh berries.  Let's start with the meringue... make them small (tablespoon) and watch the cook time.  Ours were slightly undercooked but then we dropped heaping tablespoons.  Secondly... if you think 4 Tbsp isn't enough whiskey, put the bottle away.  We added another "splash" or so of whiskey.... wow.  This dessert alone will get you buzzed.  But it's sooooo good!  Definitely an impressive dessert when you're cooking a special meal!
So all in all, a lovely dinner to add to our 2013 collection!  I hope you all enjoyed our journey, and I sincerely hope you give little cornish game hens a shot.
Next weekend is rather special.  First, we have another wine pairing dinner with Chef Glen and Enologist Jordan on Saturday.  We'll make sure to take photos and blog that adventure!  Then we will cook a meal on Sunday... just not sure yet what it will be!
Next Week - Pork Spareribs (not BBQ for a change)