Friday, August 31, 2012

Summer Squash & Zuccini with Garlic & Butter

Every other Sunday, it's family dinner at my Parent's house. We rotate bringing different items such as salad, rolls, dessert and other side dishes. Two weeks ago, my Sister-in-Law, brought some squash & zucchini from their garden. She steamed them in a pot, added a few other ingredients and it was fabulous. I asked her how I might recreate and she shared with me. Thankfully, I had most of the ingredients from our Borski Farm share.

Summer Squash & Zucchini with Garlic & Butter

1 large zucchini, thinly sliced
1 large squash, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 cup Parmesan
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup fresh herbs.

Add the water, garlic, and butter to a pot on medium-high heat. When boiling, add the squash & zucchini. Stir occasionally. When soft, add garlic salt, sprinkle with Parmesan and fresh herbs (I used Sage & Parsley). Stir, transfer to serving bowl, Enjoy!

The freshness of the herbs and vegetables will empower you. You will definitely find a new love for veggies if you didn't have it before. I loved this because it if wasn't for Borski, I wouldn't likely be eating much squash & zuccini. What a wonderful Summer dish.

Happy Eating

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Salad, Glorious Salad: Appetizer or Main Course?

Due to popular demand, I am re-posting our most delicious salad recipes. I have been guilty of eating a few bowls of each prior to a meal. This left me full and not participating in the main course. Oh well, leftovers are nice.

Roquefort Pear Salad: Mouth Tingling Goodness!

Enjoy the fresh ingredients and the wonderful taste. Whether it's an appetizer or main dish, that is up to you.

Happy Eating

Monday, August 27, 2012

New Flavor Chinese: Might as well be "No Flavor."

Last Thursday I met my wife & daughter for lunch. There wasn't much time to research so I blurted out a restaurant that I had been to three years ago, "New Flavor." It's a Chinese restaurant which I couldn't remember much about. Some friends had said that they frequented the place often, so I thought it might be worth the effort.

Their lunch special prices had dropped from $5.79 to $4.99. Sometimes this isn't a good sign. Oh well, feeding everyone for just over $10.00 is nothing to complain about. I was wrong.

You start out with either Hot & Sour or Egg Drop Soup. I chose Egg Drop. It was creamy and was actually the first egg drop soup with cabbage that I remember. After the third bite, it didn't have much taste. For my main dish, I ordered the Mongolian Beef with Steamed Rice. There truly was no flavor. I poured sweet & sour sauce all over it just to taste something.

The best way to describe it is like it's a cheap Food Court dish from the Mall. You need something quick and don't really care what you put in your stomach. You also feel gross after since the food was likely cooked with random chemicals and preservatives.

The best part of the meal was the two cooks yelling at each other. They only have a partition wall separating the dining area from the kitchen. It was pretty entertaining.

My advice if you want Chinese and are in the Brickyard area of Salt Lake City, drive to Dragon Diner. You will pay a few bucks more and be much more happy about it.

Happy Eating

 New Flavor on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 24, 2012

Tickles; Didn't leave me laughing!

Often, I eat at a restaurant based on the feel of the place. For years now I have driven by Tickles. It's definitely a dive and is located not far from my home. As my friend and I were discussing where to eat for lunch, I thought, "it's time to try Tickles."

The place looks like with a huff and a puff, you could blow it down. It's obvious that nothing has been updated for probably 20 years. Maybe that is how the owner likes it; keeps the overhead down. There is still the menu board from many decades ago, the run down tables & chairs. One table even had a folded wad of newspaper under the leg to keep it stable.

As for the food, I ordered the Gyro combo. It's pretty much that or a cheeseburger. They said that they had spaghetti but I wouldn't dare. When the gyro & fries arrived, it was painfully small; maybe because I was really hungry.

Like a school lunch gone bad

In addition to the small portion size, the food was awful. The fries were freezer burned, and the Gyro had a large glob of vanilla yogurt sauce; far too much. Maybe it was to drown out the flavorless meat. The only thing that was good were the little bits of parsley in the yogurt sauce.

The price is cheap, $6.95 for the gyro combo but keep your money. This place seems to imitate Yanni's but don't go for imitation. Drive to Yanni's or Greek Souvlaki.

3872 South 900 East
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84106

Happy Eating
Tickles on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Roasted Tomato Bisque: Creamy with just a hint of Fire!

This is a reprint from a post in January. The soup was so popular that I decided to share it again.

Ruby's 2nd Birthday was yesterday. We had a great party with family, friends and food. Rachel mentioned last week that she would be doing a star themed party for Ruby; star shaped grilled cheese sandwiches included. She said that it would be great to have tomato soup with the sandwiches. I got excited about making a tomato bisque that we made in class. I thank Chef Todd Leonard for the lesson.

It seemed to be a hit and I had some requests for the recipe. Even Rachel's Dad liked it; he doesn't like tomato soup. After all these years I am finally winning him over.

Roasted Tomato Bisque:

1/8 pound whole butter
1 large yellow onion, large diced
1 rib celery, small diced
1 large carrot, peeled, cleaned and diced
1/8 cup garlic, minced
1/8 cup shallots, minced
1 tablespoon italian seasoning
1/2 cup red wine vinegar, to deglaze
3 beef steak tomatoes, char grilled and quartered
1/2 cans #10 diced tomato
1/2 cans #10 tomato puree
1/4 can #10 chili sauce
2 quarts vegetable stock
1 quart heavy cream
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar (add just enough to give it a kick)
1 tablespoon kosher salt, to taste
1/2 tablespoon fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Cut and prepare mirepoix (onions, carrots and celery) and other ingredients as recipe follows.

Sweat the mirepoix with the butter, garlic, shallots, and italian seasoning until starting to brown.

Deglaze with the red wine vinegar and reduce.

Add the grilled tomatoes, canned tomatoes and reduce.

Add the puree, chili sauce and stir well.

Add the vegetable stock, stir well and bring to a simmer.

Reduce the soup until thick and hearty, make sure veggies are cooked soft.

Puree the soup with a hand mixer until smooth.

Temper the cream, add to pureed soup, continue to mix while adding balsamic, salt and pepper.

Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

For an extra touch and to bring out the flavor, add some Worcestershire sauce, and a dab of tabasco. Let it simmer to allow flavors to further develop.

Serves: 15

It has a delicious, creamy bite to it. I love spicy food but kept it tame for the crowd.

Enjoy the deliciousness.

Happy Eating.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Penny Ann's Cafe: Mom & Pop Establishment with Homemade Food

While I was out of town last week, a good friend texted me that we needed to go to Penny Ann's Cafe; and soon. Typically, he and I go to lunch about once a week. He has gotten into the rhythm of what is a "Jeff" place. Upon sitting down at Penny Ann's, he knew that this would be one. I truly appreciate his surveillance on my behalf.

As I drove up, I knew that this would likely be a joint that I would enjoy. Most often, I go by the feel of a place. Penny Ann's Cafe had some temporary banner signs advertising their hours. Not the type of place to draw in tourists but you are not going to find tourists on this block of Main St. anyway. This is a joint for locals. It's very close to another great restaurant, Grove's Market.

The food here is homemade and you can definitely tell it is good quality. I ordered the Corned Beef Grill: corned beef, caramelized onions, cole slaw & Swiss cheese on grilled sourdough bread. I was in Heaven. The corned beef is thinly sliced, tender, and very moist & flavorful. The cole slaw is creamy, crunchy, but not overpowering as you find with most cabbage. They put a very lite amount of Swiss cheese in the sandwich. This was perfect as you got just enough Swiss taste, but didn't feel like you where choking on a glob of cheese.

As a side, I ordered the Caesar salad. The dressing was amazing. It's easy to tell that it was homemade as you could taste the anchovies in the dressing. This gives it an "earthiness" component; absolutely delicious.

I was stuffed but my friend ordered a slice of Key Lime Pie for dessert. I took a bite. The pies are also homemade and taste as if they were made in a fancy bakery. It was fabulous: sweet & tart.

I will be back soon. The question is, who is coming with me?

1810 South Main Street
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84115

Get a free slice of pie at Penny Ann's by texting "PIE" to 42828. Well worth the effort.

Happy Eating

Penny Ann's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 17, 2012

Thai Basil: Curry worth the Drive!

The search for fantastic Thai Food continues. Some places, Pawit's Royale Thai, and Tasty Thai have been wonderful; Siam Orchid, not so much. For about a week now, I was desperately craving some Thai Hot & Sour Soup. I saw a groupon e-mail for Thai Basil. Thinking that there was a location near my office in Cottonwood Heights, I immediately purchased one. After purchasing, I noticed that the location is in Riverton. I don't go out there much, except when I went to Bombdiggitys last month. No worries, a good friend lives out there and is always available for a last minute lunch.

The restaurant is located in a newer strip mall. The interior is very nice: upscale decor, lights, and dishes. It's almost as if they are trying too hard. You also notice that it's not entirely Thai food on the menu. Aha, it's advertised as "Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese Fine Cuisine. You definitely have a lot of options.

Fried Rangoon

Being very hungry, I decided that an appetizer was in order. Fried Rangoon it was. This is ten deep fried wonton wrappers with cream cheese. Not the healthiest option but very tasty. For my main dish I waffled between the curry choices. My favorite (and the safest option) is the Masaman Curry. Craving something new I went with the Thai Green Curry: Green curry with coconut milk, bamboo shoot, bell pepper, mushroom and basil. And for my side of soup,definitely the Tom Yum: Thai hot and sour soup with tomatoes, fresh mushrooms, onions, lemongrass, cilantro, lemon and lime leaves.

Tom Yum Soup

The soup arrived first and my mouth began watering at the sight of it. Thai hot and sour soup has been one of my greatest finds over the past few months. I immediately indulged and scooped some into my mouth. While scooping more, I must have alerted my friend while going "hmm" and looking at the wall. He asked how it was. I searched for words. Finally I uttered, "it's missing something." It was good enough to eat but ultimately a letdown. Having been spoiled by the fabulous Thai Hot and Sour Soup at Tasty Thai and Pawit's, my expectations were very high. This soup was definitely milder and didn't make your mouth water for more. Likely more vinegar and stronger chili peppers are the answer.

Thai Green Curry

The Thai Green Curry arrived and the presentation was flawless-a small square bowl filled overflowing with chicken, peppers, mushroom and basil in a creamy sauce. Some curry arrives with a broth, others in a sludge, this was the perfect creamy consistency. I crave spiciness with the soup but I like the curry more tame. This was just the right amount of fire. The freshness of the peppers, mushrooms and basil came through extraordinarily. The bamboo shoots gave it a bitter edge matched nicely with the fresh veggies. This dish was done to perfection. Green curry is now on my radar everywhere I go. What ultimately wrapped this up as a dish for the ages was the sticky rice. You would think that by drowning a dish in vegetables, chicken, and sauce, that it wouldn't matter what type of rice. Not true, the sticky rice gave it an extra edge; just a hint of sweetness.

Thai Red Curry

It was worth the trip to Riverton. So far it's the only restaurant out there that is worth the trip. I will return but next time, I will order the Tom Kha Gai (creamy coconut soup) with my entree.

2778 West 12600 South
Riverton, Utah, 84065

Happy Eating

 Thai Basil Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Northern-Italian-Style Braised Chicken Thighs

Let me give a shout out to Chef Adam Kreisel. He is a master at braising and taught a great class at Orson Gygi. Braising is a "low & slow" cooking process with the layering of flavors.

Northern-Italian-Style Braised Chicken Thighs

1 tablespoon cooking grade extra virgin olive oil
6 good-quality natural chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
1 large white or yellow onion, small diced
4 cloves fresh garlic, sliced thin
6 good quality cured anchovies in oil
3 good sized carrots, peeled and cut small dice
2 whole ribs of celery, rinsed and cut small dice
2 sprigs fresh thyme or summer savory, leaves picked and stems discarded
2 fresh bay leaves, slightly hand torn but still whole
1 cup Marsala wine
1 medium can (28 ounces) whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes in juice, juice and tomatoes separated and both reserved
1 quart good quality chicken stock
2 tablespoons capers, non-pareil, with brine, split
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat an oven to 275 degrees. Season the chicken thighs nicely with salt and pepper and allow to rest/temp-up on the counter for 15-20 minutes. You may remove the skin from the chicken thighs but it adds flavor & moisture by leaving it on.

While the chicken is resting, gather and chop the rest of the ingredients. Place an enamel-coated cast-iron braiser on medium-high heat. When hot, add the oil and quickly spread it around the bottom of the braiser. Sear the chicken thighs on both sides until they are nicely golden brown. Remove the thighs from the pan and set aside. Add the onion, garlic and anchovies and sweat them in the oil until they are soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, thyme, and bay leaves and sweat briefly with the onion mixture, 2 minutes. Add the Marsala wine and allow it to reduce by half. Add the chicken thighs back to the pot, skin side up, and add the reserved tomato juice, chicken stock, and 1 tablespoon of capers. Bring the entire mixture to a simmer and taste the liquid. Adjust the seasoning as necessary so that the broth is flavorful, but not salty.

Turn off heat, cover your vessel tightly with a heavy lid and place it in the oven to braise for approximately 2 hours.

When finished, remove the chicken from the oven and allow to sit on the stove top with the lid slightly ajar for 20 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of capers, as well as the reserved San Marzano tomatoes. Crush the whole tomatoes by hand while adding them to the dish and stir gently into the mix.

Allow dish to cool. Serve over rice, polenta or pasta.

We served this over rice and it was very delicious. My daughter had multiple servings. The layering of the flavors, the freshness of the ingredients all make this a wonderful entree. If you don't like anchovies, do not worry. You will not be able to taste them; it adds an "earthiness/background" to the dish. I am very excited to make this dish again soon.

Happy Eating.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Siam Orchid Restaurant

For my birthday lunch it was my choice of restaurant. Craving Thai food at the time of decision, I picked "The Thai Garden." Upon arrival, we noticed that "The Thai Garden" no longer exists. The sign had been un-delicately altered to show that the new name was "Siam Orchid Restaurant."

The atmosphere is inviting and the staff are truly wonderful. Some of the nicest, most helpful people I have met. My one year old nephew loved the orange slices so they kept bringing him more. To complete the trifecta you would hope that the food would be as great as the atmosphere and service. Sadly it was not.

The salad was okay but it's always a disappointment when they use creamy dressing that you could buy in a grocery store. Some Thai restaurants use a fabulous homemade peanut dressing on their salads.

For my 2 dishes in addition to the salad I had the Tom Kha (coconut soup) and the char grilled chicken breast marinated in yellow curry, served with peanut sauce.

All of this for $6.95 is not a bad price. However, the food is not worth the price. The soup is a little watery and the chicken looked like it had been left out for days. It was wilted & dry. I didn't eat much of it and then headed out to an appointment. After the appointment I stopped by a gas station and got a soda and candy bar to ease the hunger pains.

If you are craving Thai food in the Murray area, drive straight to Holladay and go to Pawit's Royale Thai; definitely worth the extra 2 miles and the extra $1.00.

Siam Orchid Restaurant
4410 South 900 East
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84124

Happy Eating Siam Orchid on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 10, 2012

Thai Chicken Skewers: More Grilling Bliss!

While searching for more delicious recipes for the smoker, we came across a recipe for Thai Chicken Skewers on the Traeger site. I was sold immediately on the name alone. Rachel encouraged me to research further, but research and my personality do not mix. More on that another day.

Thai Chicken Skewers

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Your favorite Asian peanut sauce for serving

Slice the chicken lengthwise into 3/8-inch wide strips; easier if chicken is partially frozen first. Place the chicken strips in a Ziploc bag. In a food processor, combine the cilantro, coconut juice, lime juice, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, curry paste, cumin, and pepper; blend until smooth. Pour over the chicken strips and refrigerate for at least one hour. Drain the chicken and discard the marinade. Thread the chicken strips onto bamboo skewers. When ready to cook, turn grill on high. Arrange skewers directly on the grill. Slip a piece of aluminum foil under the exposed end of the skewers to prevent them from burning. Grill the chicken until cooked through, turning once, about 4-6 minutes per side.

You notice that even though this is a Traeger recipe, we did not cook this on the Traeger grill. This is due to the short cooking time which is not conducive to the smoker. Each time we would open the lid to re-arrange the skewers, all the heat would escape and it was 10 more minutes to get back up to cooking temperature. After one batch, we switched everything to the propane grill.

This dish received rave reviews. One party attendee even had more chicken skewers for dessert. The marinade was perfect but I did tone it down. I gave Rachel a taste test and it was far too strong. We added some brown sugar and more unsweetened coconut milk.

The absolute best part of the skewers: when you make 75 of them, you get a lot of leftovers for breakfast, lunch, brunch and midnight snack.

Happy Eating.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Smoked Cabbage with Bacon

Since I received the Traeger Smoker for a birthday gift, I have been searching for delicious recipes. Having little experience with smoking meat (or smoking much else for that matter), I am learning the basics and expanding from there. It is the turning out to be the best education of my life.

Rachel came across a grilled cabbage recipe on Pinterest from, which we decided to cook on the smoker. Having just received a fresh cabbage from our CSA, the timing could not have been better.

Smoked Cabbage with Bacon

1 green cabbage, quartered
4 teaspoons olive oil
4 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 package bacon, baked

Wrap each quarter of cabbage in tin foil with 1/4 of each ingredient. Smoke at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. When finished cooking, spread chopped bacon on top.

This dish is very delicious. The bitterness of the cabbage is married perfectly with the lemon & Worcestershire sauce. The bacon adds some depth and crunch. We had two full plates and they both went quickly. Sous Chef Sam even took some home to have for breakfast.

Happy Eating

Monday, August 6, 2012

Bombdiggitys: Definitely not "The Bomb"

A good friend invited me to lunch at a new burger joint that had been generating a lot of hype. Anything with the name "Bombdiggitys" is sure to garner some attention. But would the food be the bomb? You can order a 5 pound burger and, if finished, you will get your name on the wall of fame. I didn't dare attempt myself.

The meat they use is called Beefalo; mixture of beef and buffalo. There is actually not a lot of taste to it due to it's leanness. They do have a "sweet fire sauce" which you can add to your burgers. It was delicious and without it, the burger would have been a dud. The fries were dipped in batter which give them an extra crispiness. The texture is perfect but the fries themselves were a little overcooked.

The one item that is "The Bomb" at Bombdiggitys is the frozen custard. We arrived at 11:15am and they only had vanilla and chocolate ready. I had the vanilla and it was fabulous. It had a perfect creamy texture with a very natural flavor. It was absolutely delicious.

Maybe this bomb is more of a dud. The definition of "Bombdiggity" written on the wall there is: "A description of something that is better than excellent, great, good, amazing, etc." If there is one thing that will carry it through, it will be the frozen custard: that is what is "better than excellent, great, good, amazing."

1481 West 12600 South
Riverton, Utah, 84065

Happy Eating
Bombdiggitys on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fresh Homemade Cole Slaw; A Borski Farms Product

On July 11th, I posted about our weekly share of produce from Borski Farms. They have some delicious, fresh food. With a cabbage and 5 ears of corn, we created the following:

Fresh Homemade Cole Slaw

5 ears corn, kernels sliced
1/2 green cabbage, sliced thin
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 can (15 ounce) black beans
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup cole slaw dressing
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt & pepper to taste

Mix all together in a bowl. Enjoy!

This was very popular and had the most incredibly fresh taste I could imagine.

Love the Borski Farms produce.

Happy Eating

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bacon Fettucini: Delicious: Yes; Healthy: I plead the 5th

Last Wednesday evening I was eager to cook but was coming up short on inspiration. Upon looking in the fridge, I saw cream and Parmesan. Aha! I then found bacon and my culinary visions began to flow.

I started with a roux; added cream to make a bechamel sauce; added cheese to make mornay sauce; then added bacon to make a heart attack sauce.

Bacon Fettucini

3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 Pints heavy cream
3/4 Cup Parmesan
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon white pepper
1 Package (16 slices) bacon
1 Pound fettucini

Boil fettucini in salted water. Cook bacon in oven on foiled cookie sheet-375 degrees for 20 minutes. In a separate ban, melt butter, add flour, add cream 1 cup at a time, whisk vigorously, add 1 tablespoon Parmesan at a time until melted, add chopped bacon, salt & white pepper to taste. Sprinkle with fresh parsley. Enjoy!

This dish received some very good reviews. I haven't heard yet about any heart problems.

Happy Eating
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