Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I'm a Teetotaler

tee-to-tal-er [tee-toht-ler, tee-toht-]
a person who obstains totally from intoxicating drink

This story really begins in April, 2008. At that time, Rachel and I went on a trip to the deep south states of Georgia & South Carolina. It was a fabulous adventure full of sites, relaxation and most importantly, food. While staying on St. Simon's Island in Georgia, we ate at Barbara Jean's Restaurant. To sum it up: it was heaven. If you love southern food & seafood, you will not be disappointed.

I can't even remember my entree (although I'm sure it was fabulous) but I do remember my appetizer: She Crab Soup. This was the first time I had tried such deliciousness. "Rich, creamy and full of crab and a little bite." is the menu's description. "A little bite" is an understatement; I believe that Mace is an ingredient.

Until recently, I had not thought of she crab soup for a while. Was I clinically depressed? Not to my knowledge; Busy? Yes! Our good friends had recently purchased their grandparent's home. As they were giving us a tour, I noticed a recipe for she crab soup in the kitchen window. Come to find out, the grandparents had lived in South Carolina for a time. I studied the recipe and promptly forgot about continuing the tour of the home. Our friends still hold this against me.

Upon studying the recipe, I found that sherry is one of the ingredients. Not having much experience cooking with wine, sherry or any other alcohol, I wasn't sure how to obtain this. I guess that I could go to the liqour store when no one was watching.

Having shelved this idea for a while, I went grocery shopping at Smith's last week. While in the aisle for balsamic & red wine vinegar I noticed "Sherry, Cooking Wine." What? I thought that I would have to go to the liquor store for this. Quickly turning the bottle to read the ingredients, I never saw the word "alcohol." I put the bottle in my cart & immediately thought of how wonderful it will be to tell Rachel about this.

Upon arriving home, I unloaded the groceries and then proceeded to tell Rachel about my amazing karma. "It was right in front of me; just meant to be there" I said. She read the bottle and then showed me on the front label where it reads: "ALCOHOL BY VOLUME 17%." Then she read the first ingredient: "WINE." By now you are probably wondering how I ever graduated high school given my attention to detail. High school was the best ten years of my life.

I was a little embarrassed about my apparent lack of literacy. But I am even more excited about the upcoming opportunity to cook she crab soup. My mouth is watering already.

Happy Eating.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

How I follow Recipes

Warning: This post may be irritating to some. If you are the type of person who likes to follow a recipe exactly, it is likely this post will frustrate you. Even my version of following a recipe is adding more of what I feel works and adding less of what I think does not work. For this reason, much of my cooking is done on the stove top. I do very little baking, which I interpret as being more precise. 

Last fall, my wife's friend requested a recipe for these, grilled pizzas, we made her one afternoon to munch on while watching football. She loved these pizzas, and, wanted to re-create them. Unfortunately I was a little disorganized as I had to figure out approximately how much olive oil, balsamic vinegar & garlic was in the drizzle, as well as the quantities of other ingredients. Due to this (and other) experiences, my wife has encouraged me to write down every recipe that I create; I am begrudgingly complying.

This past Sunday, we had dinner at a relative's home and we, were asked to bring a vegetable dish. After looking over what we had, I decided that we could do a corn & black bean salad. Having never made this before, I went to work. Here is my version of the adventure: Take four ears of corn & slice off the kernels. Why four ears of corn? Because that is how many we had. Add a can of black beans, rinseoff the sludge. Add vinegar in this order: spoonful then taste, spoonful then taste; repeated over 10 times until it tastes just right. Add salt, pepper, and cumin to taste. Grab a handful of fresh cilantro leaves, chop finely and add. Slice some juilienned green cabbage. Why green cabbage? Because it was in the fridge and the salad needed more substance. Up to this point, the salad looked more like a dip.

For those who prefer a recipe (or those not satisfied with the dialogue in my head), here you go:

Four ears of raw corn; slice off kernels
1 15 oz. can black beans
1 1/2 cups vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 cup cilantro
3/4 green cabbage.

This salad, was wonderful and received great reviews. It was so good that I had a number of requests for the recipe. Even Ruby liked it. Note the cilantro leaf on her forehead.

Lesson learned: I intend to keep track of new creations in a recipe book. If I procrastinate, you may get a slightly different version of the dish but hopefully just as delicious.

Happy Eating.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Finn's Cafe

Last week my Aunt & Uncle from Scottsdale were in town. Anytime I visit them we go to fabulous restaurants as Scottsdale is a culinary mecca. I had anxiety initially about where to take them for breakfast. I usually don't eat much breakfast & Village Inn has long since dropped off my list. Thankfully Finn's Cafe came to mind. It's within walking distance to my house; and I am ashamed to admit that I have only had breakfast there twice.

It was a beautiful morning on the patio at Finn's. Breakfast was served & everyone was happy. It is hard to go wrong with a food choice at Finn's. The norwegian waffle, classic french toast, & sourdough pancakes will leave you full & delightful. The Omlettes are heavenly & fluffy. I had the eggs benedict. It was delicious. The english muffins were perfectly toasted & the eggs cooked to perfection. My only small complaint is that the hollandaise sauce was a little lumpy & needed more salt.

Finn's is open for breakfast & lunch. The lunch menu is equally as wonderful.

Finn's Cafe
1624 S. 1100 E.
SLC, Ut, 84105

Happy eating.

Finn's on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Food Lover

For the past few years I have had a love affair with food; no, not an overeating problem but a love of cooking, tasting, critiquing & experimenting with food. My wife says that I am a food snob.

In 2009 I decided that I really wanted to take my cooking to the next level. I registered for cooking classes at Sur La Table & in 2010, found the "Fine Art of Cooking" series at Orson Gygi taught by Chef Shawn Bucher. This course taught me the fundamentals of cooking. It's not a "follow this recipe" class but a foundation on how to be a fabulous cook. I am not a great recipe follower so this really fit. I have since taken other classes, gleaned any knowledge I can along the way and have done a great deal of my own experimenting.

What will follow will be my adventures in cooking. I will also be a food critic (albeit a nice one) for restaurants.

Please follow me on my journey.
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