Monday, January 30, 2012

Your Recipes and Restaurant Reviews

Some of the greatest times I have each week are experimenting with recipes and enjoying delicious restaurants. I love finding what works in a recipe, what can be changed, and what restaurants are the best kept secrets.

I want to hear from you about which recipes you love, your recent cooking adventures, and which restaurants keep calling to you. Please share. I am looking forward to trying many of these. Just yesterday, a friend commented on facebook that he tried the Sage Pork Tenderloin and it was delicious. This made my day.

Happy Eating (and Cooking).

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sage Pork Tenderloin

I am a lover of all things grilled: burgers, brats, and wings. This past 4th of July however, I found an ever greater love for food off the grill: Sage Pork Tenderloin. A fabulous home chef from Rachel's work was the master of this creation.

With burgers or dogs, you can buy them at the supermarket, open and immediately put on the grill. Not this culinary marvel; it takes preparation, massaging, and a whole lot of love. But it's definitely worth it. How can you ever go back to a simple hot dog or overcooked hamburger? Answer: you can't, but figure it out for yourself.

Sage Pork Tenderloin:

2 one-pound pork tenderloins


2 Tablespoons leaf sage (dried)
1 1/2 Teaspoons kosher coarse salt
1 1/2 Teaspoons brown sugar
1 Teaspoon black pepper
1 Teaspoon garlic (minced)

Mix all Rub ingredients in a bowl; sprinkle over all areas of pork tenderloin; massage well, and I mean well; at least 30 minutes. This will tenderize the meat and allow the ingredients to penetrate, increasing flavor. 

Drizzle/Finishing Sauce:

1/2 Cup fresh packed sage leaves (cut finely)
6 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 Cloves garlic (thinly sliced)

Place tenderloins on a hot grill (500 degrees). Sear the outside to seal in the juices. Turn the meat throughout the cooking process. When outside is firm (approximately 25-30 minutes), check internal temperature with a meat thermometer; if 160 degrees, you are ready to eat. Put drizzle/finishing sauce ingredients in small pan. Place on grill until butter is melted (1-2 minutes). Cut pork on a bias, pour sauce over the top, enjoy!

I made this delicious dish at a college reunion; and made it again at a retreat in Bear Lake. For the Super Bowl next week, it's not so much the game I am looking forward to, but the sage pork tenderloin.

This will make you the most popular person at the BBQ, which is always my number one goal.

Happy Eating (and Grilling).

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Kathmandu

For my Mom's Birthday on January 3rd, we took her out to lunch. She ultimately left it up to us as to where we would go, but she did hint that Indian cuisine is one of her favorites. Thankfully my sister thought of The Kathmandu on Highland Dr. as she had been there before. Ten of us met there for the lunch buffet.

The Kathmandu promotes itself as "Indian and Nepali Cuisine" but for all intents and purposes, it could be classified as Indian food. Nevertheless, it is very good. I am not sure which dishes are exclusively Nepali; most of the food here can be found in other Indian restaurants around town. What sets this place apart is definitely the flavor. This place rivals Tandoor in goodness. Everything from the Naan, Rice Pudding, Vegetable Coconut Korma and Butter Chicken has a stronger, more distinct flavor than I have experienced at other places.

If there was a bad dish in the lunch buffet, I didn't find it. The location on 3142 S. Highland Dr. was incredibly convenient, and the price was hard to beat: $10.75 for the lunch buffet. That is all the food you can eat. I finished two plates and would have loved to go back for three, but could barely move.

If you are in the area, go here for lunch. If you are not close by, it's worth the commute. Since I have not eaten here for dinner, please let me know if you do and what you ordered.

Happy Eating.

The Kathmandu on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 20, 2012

Christmas Present or Murder Weapon?

Often in life, we don't know how wonderful something is until we have it. Rachel got a Orbital Hand Sander for Christmas from me and I received two very nice All-Clad Fry Pans from her. Laugh all you want but she loves house projects and I love cooking. It's a great balance.

Rachel thought that I was on to her plan to get me the pans for Christmas. I actually had no idea. She even told me that as she was pulling out of the Trolley Square parking lot after leaving Williams Sonoma with the pans, I was driving west on 500 S. and passed her.

Her brother asked what fry pans I would recommend for a gift for his wife. I have only used all-clad pans once and they were wonderful. We cooked Indian food at our house with a fabulous home chef from Rachel's work. I wrote about the delicious creations here.

Eggplant and Tomato dish cooked in All-Clad Pans
Rachel and her brother colluded and both myself and Tim's wife got the All-Clad Fry Pans. They are heavy, tough, durable, and they heat up very fast; so here is where I ask: does she want me to use the pans for cooking or it's it for her comfort knowing that with one swing of the pan I am left for dead?

On Christmas morning I found out just how wonderful they really are. In my excitement to use my new toys, I made french toast for Rachel and Ruby. I burned the second batch of french toast and my hand. Painful but worth it. The "wonderful" part is how uniform everything cooks and how quickly. I am still giddy inside.

Happy Eating and Cooking.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tasty Thai

Not far from my home, at the corner of 1300 S. 500 E., there is a delicious Thai restaurant. It has been there for about a year and replaced some shabby looking joint. I drive by here daily and probably avoided the  place due to the stigmatization of the previous occupant. However, I do love Thai food and the nagging temptation finally pulled me inside.

Most of the Thai restaurants I have patronized in the Salt Lake area, Sawadee, Thai Siam, and Pawit's Royale Thai, all have you choose two options for lunch in addition to salad and a spring roll. Tasty Thai has you pick one large item in addition to a soup or salad. 

I chose the salad with peanut dressing to start and Gang-Mas-Sa-Man (massaman curry) for the main dish. Wow, was this a lot of food for $6.99. The bowl of curry was very large and hard to finish.

The peanut dressing the salad is deliciously addicting. I will attempt to reverse engineer it but, if I fail, I'll grab money out of Ruby's college fund and go back out to eat. The curry was pretty good. It was hearty, lot of potatoes, onions, and chicken. It's creamy with a mild spicy bite. Massaman curry is the sweetest of the four (red, yellow, green, and massaman). Yellow has a sharper taste while red and green are definitely the spiciest.

The other Thai places mentioned above seem to have an extra edge. This food was good but the other places were delicious. The two best being Thai Siam and Sawadee. In addition to tasting better, the option of have two smaller dishes is much better than one large dish. You get overwhelmed. Nothing goes better with massaman curry than tom-kha-gai (coconut soup). In the end I was full, but still craving tom-kha-gai. Sound delicious?

Due to the proximity I will likely return. But then again, if I drive five more blocks, I am at Thai Siam.

Happy Eating.

Tasty Thai on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 16, 2012

Florida Sunshine

What a better time to go to Florida than in January when it is cold & dreary in Utah. It also helps when your cousin invites you down for a week. The sunshine and warm weather do wonders in getting me back into a mindset of focus and motivation.

In addition to sunshine and relaxation, we will be participating in one of the best vacation activities: Food.  There is something about finding great restaurants and relaxing that makes my day. I do not like packing vacation days with endless activities. I actually like filling my vacation days with few activities. Laying low, and enjoying long, great meals is heaven to me.

There are great restaurants here that I will look forward to sharing with you upon our return.

Enjoy your week and most importantly, Happy Eating.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Roasted Tomato Bisque / Birthday Bisque

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 even like tomato soups. 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.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Hector's Mexican Food

You might remember this place by it's former name: Molcasalsa; or it's name prior to that: Alberto's. Dive Mexican restaurants are places that I have sought out on vacation. The experience is usually positive.

Hector's Mexican Food is located on 2901 East 3300 South in Salt Lake's Canyon Rim neighborhood. I grew up close by. Back then it was called Alberto's and was open 24 hours. Those late nite food runs consisted of large carne asada burritos covered in guacamole. It was delicious, filling, and inexpensive. It is still filling and inexpensive but the food has taken a turn towards nasty. The meat is tough, the guacamole looks and tastes as if it came out of a play dough container, the tortillas taste like they were soaked in oil but never fried, the rice is dry and the beans were clumpy and bland.

Indigestion and Regret

Usually I have something good to say about every restaurant that I try. Not this time. If you get off of I-215 on 3300 South looking for food, stop at Wendy's, Five Guys, Wing Nutz, Cafe Rio, Shiver's, Cafe Silvester, or Millcreek Cafe. If you get to Hector's, you have gone too far. Either turn around or keep driving.

Happy Eating (or fasting if it's between that and Hector's).

Hector's Mexican Food on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ruby loves good food

A couple weeks ago some friends from the neighborhood came over for dinner. I made grilled pizzas. Grilled Rosemary-Crust Pizzas with Spicy Italian Sausage, Bell Peppers, Onions, Tomatoes, Cheese, and Garlic with a Balsamic drizzle to be more precise. They are quite popular. So much so that once my nephew said that if he were on death row, he would prefer these grilled pizzas as his last meal. To his credit, if any of my relatives are to be on death row one day, I have no doubt that it would be him. And if that brings some notoriety to my homemade grilled pizzas, then I would accept that.

Now to the moral of the story: Our friends that came over have a 4 year old boy. He comes over once a week to play and Ruby goes to their house once a week. He loves corndogs and chicken nuggets and we keep some in the freezer. Most kids love to have corndogs and chicken nuggets any chance they can get. What kid wouldn't? Our friend warmed up a corndog each for both her little boy and Ruby. I couldn't help but be so happy when Ruby would not touch her corndog but was chowing down on my pizza instead.

What a proud Papa moment.

Happy Eating.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Pagoda

In the Avenues neighborhood of Salt Lake is a delicious Japanese restaurant that has been around so long it's almost an institution. Rachel and I first ate here a few years ago. The location can make parking a challenge but, once inside, it's worth the hassle.

The Pagoda was recently sold, interior renovated and the menu updated. Thankfully the deliciousness of the food did not change. We found this out two weeks ago when Ruby was with Rachel's Sister so we had a chance to go to a quiet dinner.

I am normally a pretty frugal person. I save money, wear my clothes until they are hanging by a thread (partially it's because I dislike shopping), and shop in bulk. That is until I go to a restaurant and see the appetizers, entrees, and desserts. I love the food and the experience. It's worth the money.

For appetizers we got a Fire Cracker Sushi Roll and Edamame. The "Fire" in Fire Cracker was a little too much for Rachel but I enjoyed it. For dinner she went with the Vegetable Tempura Sushi Roll and the Vegas Roll. The Sushi was good. From what I understand it has been a recent addition to the menu selection. It's hard to beat the sushi at Happy Sumo but it will do. She even let me eat all the ginger, which I love.

Fire Cracker Roll
I ordered the Chicken Teriyaki and Shrimp Tempura. It was a lot of food and was great. Always good to have leftovers for breakfast (no joke). The chicken was good but the tempura was great; everything tempura: shrimp, carrots, sweet potatoes, zucchini, onions was delicious.

Chicken Teriyaki and Shrimp Tempura

The atmosphere was wonderful. I am glad we got there right at 5:00pm when they open. There aren't a lot of tables and by 6:00pm the place was full. It's the type of place where you could enjoy a long quiet dinner. There was even a "secret room" at the top of the stairs. A large dinner party kept disappearing up there. I mentioned to Rachel that this is likely where the $10,000 poker games happen. Sounds tempting.

Until I am invited to the poker game, I will stay in the dining room and enjoy the delicious food.

Happy Eating.

P.S. For those of you who enjoyed my Sugarhouse BBQ Post, I went there again this evening with Rachel. She had never been there and loved it. The dinner experience is a little different from lunch. At dinner you are seated and waited on; lunch you go through a line. Same great food however. Tonight for me it was a half rack of Memphis style ribs. I added plenty of the mustard based sauce. Delicious! Ruby also loved dancing to the live music.

Pagoda on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Red Butte Cafe and Bakery

Just off Foothill Dr. towards the University of Utah is one of the greatest food experiences in Salt Lake. For many years, Red Butte Cafe and Bakery was in the shadow (literally but not in taste or experience) of TGI Fridays as they shared a building. Fridays was upstairs and Red Butte was downstairs. For anyone passing by on Foothill Dr., you would never see it unless you were looking for it. Fridays had all the frontage and exposure. The processed, microwavable food served upstairs could never compete with the fresh, delicious food downstairs; So much so that Fridays is now closed.

Why does this make me happy? It wasn't likely that I would go to Fridays anyway so why should I be concerned? Because it's now easier to get a parking space for Red Butte Cafe in an already crowded Foothill Village Shopping Center.

Rachel had the great idea last Friday of dropping Ruby off at her Sister's house so we could go out to eat. We did ask her Sister's permission beforehand. It had been a long time since we had been to Red Butte and it sounded delicious. Rachel was already giddy about the steak sandwich.

The restaurant was crowded but with a party of 2, we were seated in 15 minutes. Reviewing the menu only took about 2 minutes. Rachel was definitely going with the Herb Marinated Top Sirloin Sandwich. It's served open faced on Fococcia Bread with Crimini Mushrooms, Caramelized Mushrooms, Gorgonzola, and Basil Aioli. I will have to take Rachel's word that it was delicious. She put a piece of sandwich for me to taste on my salad plate. When I was finished with my dish, I looked down and it was gone. I took too long!

I can tell you for certain however, that the Beer Battered Fish Tacos were wonderful. They are served with Jalapeno Remoulade, Roasted Salsa, Cabbage, Black Beans and Spanish Rice. A Remoulade is a mayonnaise based sauce. The Chefs here don't hold back when the add the Jalapeno. You had better have a large glass of water nearby. Each bite of taco requires at least 2 swigs of water.

Each taco is served with a hearty amount of fish wrapped in 2 corn tortillas. The Salsa has a sweet, addictive bite to it. I was becoming obsessed with figuring out what ingredient was in that "bite." No luck but no problem; this is a great reason to return. Only way to make it better: crispier tortillas. They fall apart very quickly.

Another reason to return is to try every item on the dessert menu. The Bakery has definitely become a larger part of their business. How do any of the following sound: Three Layer Chocolate Cake, Bourbon Pecan Pie, European Cheesecake, Fresh Fruit Tart, Turtle Cheesecake, White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake, Chocolate Decadence, Chocolate Aztec Tart, Seasonal Fruit Poppy Seed Cake, Orange Chocolate Mousse Cake? I can hear myself gaining weight but also gaining happiness.

We were going to get some dessert but the waiter never returned. We already had the check so we paid up front and picked up Ruby. As Rachel was describing the goodness of the individual ingredients in her sandwich she asked: "What more could you ask for, chocolate?" After eating at Red Butte Cafe and Bakery, there isn't much more you could ask for.

Happy Eating and a Happy 2012 to all.

Red Butte Cafe on Urbanspoon
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