Wednesday, February 29, 2012

La Fuente: Truly Authentic Mexican Food

In a previous post here, I have written about my quest to find authentic Mexican food. This obsession started on a vacation to Southern California. Obviously there are a few more options down there. In many of attempts in Salt Lake, I have failed in this endeavor. Hope has been found however!



At the corner of 2000 East and 3300 South in Salt Lake, you will find a run down looking restaurant named La Fuente. Don't let the look of the building scare you off; the food is fabulous. On my first visit here a few years ago, my friend recommended the smothered burrito from the ala carte section of the menu. The price was $4.57 and my reply was "but I am really hungry and that won't be enough food." I was wrong. It was a large burrito, very filling, and very delicious. The inflation epidemic has also hit La Fuente, but not by much. You can still get the same burrito for $5.54.

Last Tuesday while driving, I had one of those uncontrollable food cravings. While looking for a Mexican restaurant downtown, I was coming up empty. My memory saved me and I jumped on the freeway and sped to La Fuente.

On each table is a list of the specials for each day of the week. On Tuesdays, the special is two quesadillas with your choice of beef, chicken, or chile verde, smothered in cheese and enchilada sauce with spanish rice and refried beans on the side. All of this for the fabulous price of $6.99 including a soda, chips and salsa.



The chips and homemade salsa are a treat in and of themselves. The chips are also homemade with a delicious crispiness. Make sure you get your soda and your water before you start dipping the chips in the salsa. There is some fire there for sure as they use hot peppers and plenty of them. Despite the fire, you won't stop until the bowl of chips is empty.

About the smothered quesadillas: they were wonderful, filling, and addicting. It's not just a sprinkling of cheese on the top; it's almost a meal itself. The enchilada sauce is spicy and, like the chips, leaves your mouth craving fluid. The chicken was moist, tender and delicious. The only downside to the meal: the spanish rice. It was dry and tasteless. But after the chips and quesadillas, it didn't matter. There was plenty of food; even enough for breakfast on Wednesday morning.



All of this for $9.55 with tip. Definitely an inexpensive meal. They don't have the same specials for dinner but you won't spend much more for that meal either. Overall: delicious, inexpensive, and (for me) close by.

Happy Eating.

La Puente on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 27, 2012

Double Tomato Bruschetta: A Tasty Hors d'oeuvre



Rachel has made this great appetizer at many get-togethers. Last week, as I was wolfing down my 3rd or 4th tomato bruschetta in a couple of minutes, she mentioned that I should review it. They are delicious and very simple to make. I believe that all of these ingredients were meant to go together. What really brings it all together is the balsamic vinegar. It's the perfect mild but powerful "wow" factor.

Double Tomato Bruschetta:

6 Roma Tomatoes, Chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 Cup Fresh Basil
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1 French or Sourdough Baquette

Mix all ingredients (minus baquette) in a glass bowl. Slice baquette and brush with olive oil (not the same olive oil as above), broil for 2-3 minutes until slightly browned. Top with mixture, serve, enjoy.

My only recommendation is to double the recipe. Don't worry, you will not have to wrap many up as they will all be devoured.

Happy Eating.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Goodwood BBQ

Recently an old friend wanted to meet up to discuss selling his home. Since he works in Draper, I thought that it would be nice to try Goodwood BBQ again. I had not been there since June 2010 and was craving BBQ when we arranged the time and location; the food at Sugarhouse BBQ was fresh on my mind.



I ordered the Two-Meat Barbecue Platter with 1/2 rack of baby back ribs and apple-smoked sliced turkey breast. For my two sides, creamy coleslaw and house barbecue beans. It looked pleasant enough until I began eating.

If you had never eaten BBQ before in your life, this would be okay. I remembered the place as being pretty decent in the past. Having been spoiled with great BBQ at such places as Sugarhouse BBQ in Salt Lake, Blues City Cafe in Memphis, TN, and various establishments in the Carolinas, Georgia and Tennessee, I had high expectations. I guess what my wife says is true, I am a food snob.

The only flavor in the ribs were in the sauce; no flavor in the meat. They actually brought me out Texas hill country beef brisket instead of the apple-smoked sliced turkey. The brisket was my favorite part of the meal. It was tender and had a great smokey flavor. She did bring me some turkey, but it was dry and tasteless. The beans were okay; unfortunately nothing will likely ever compare to the delicious baked beans at Sugarhouse BBQ.



I wouldn't be surprised if the meat was already delivered to the restaurant cooked and they warm it and pour sauce over the top. My friend seemed to be happy with his dish. He is either more content in life than I or he picked a better dish.

If you are looking for a good restaurant at the south end of the Salt Lake Valley, go somewhere else. There are plenty of options in that area. If you are craving BBQ, spend the 30 minutes to drive further north to Sugarhouse BBQ or Pat's.

Happy Eating.

Goodwood Barbecue Company on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Goat Cheese and Mango Quesadillas



Every Valentine's Day since 2003, I have a tradition of cooking Rachel dinner. It started as a way to save money and avoid the crowds, but has become something that we both really enjoy. Since I love to cook, this works out well. It also keeps me from having to be part of the mass of men wandering through the store looking at cheesy valentine's balloons, flowers, and chocolates. Yes, you can tell that I am a romantic.

Each year it is a dish that we have not eaten before. I always do a lot of research looking for a dish that is very "Rachie." She loves fancy cheeses and breads, so when I came across the Goat Cheese and Mango Quesadillas dish, I knew that I had found the Valentine's dinner for this year. Here it is:

Goat Cheese and Mango Quesadillas:

4 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
6 whole wheat tortillas
1 large ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Directions:

1. Spread goat cheese on tortillas. Divide mango, onion, jalapeno, and cilantro on one half of each tortilla. Fold tortilla over filling.

2. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook quesadillas until cheese softens and tortillas are crisp and browned in spots, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and cut each into 4 wedges. Serve it and Love it.



These were a huge hit. Once Rachel found out that goat cheese was in the dish (even before she knew the entire recipe), I was a hero. The creaminess of the goat cheese really mixed well with the other ingredients. The red onion added a sharpness that makes your mouth water.

Try it soon; you will love it also. You know where I found this recipe: Everyday FOOD magazine. There are quite a bit of good recipes here.

Happy Eating.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Yanni's Greek Express




I am a lover of all junk foods; well I use to be. Years ago I would go to places like McDonald's often and wolf down a supersized value meal with a bucket of soda. A few things have changed since then. One of which is my metabolism. In the past I could eat this type of food, play sports, and it didn't seem to affect me. I was immortal. Now if I eat a large fast food meal, I feel horrible and become lethargic. Yes I am a little older, but since I cook a lot of fresh food now, I definitely notice a difference. I am no longer hopped up on preservatives, chemicals and additives and it feels great.

Although the cravings for fast food have subsided, they haven't completely gone away. I have found a happy balance with places like Yanni's Greek Express and Greek Souvlaki. Yanni's is located at the corner of Highland Dr. and 1300 E. in Sugarhouse. Yes they do have burgers and fries on their menu but I have never actually seen anyone order that. Stick with the Greek food: souvlakis and gyros. And since this is Utah, they even make their own fry sauce.



Chicken Souvlaki

A gyro combo will run you under $8 and there will be enough food for later. I personally love the gyro combo with white sauce, onions, french fries and a salad (you can substitute the salad for a drink and lemon rice for the french fries). This was my lunch last Saturday as I was running errands and feeling the hunger pains of not eating breakfast (I do this a lot actually). Yanni's was in the area and solved that problem quickly. Ruby helped me with the meal, she is also a big fan of their food.


Gyro combo (minus the salad)

If you haven't been to Yanni's, drop in soon. Please let me know what you ordered and your review of their food. I will definitely be back again soon.

Happy Eating.

Yanni's Greek Express on Urbanspoon

Friday, February 17, 2012

Grilled Pizzas: The dish that I am loved for the most



The popularity of Grilled Pizzas at our home has led my nephew to proclaim that this would be his final meal should he ever be on death row. Having no doubt that he is headed there in a few years, I decided to make this yesterday and invite them over.

There are a lot of ingredients and instructions but keep going; it's well worth it in the end.

Grilled Rosemary-Crusted Pizzas with Spicy Italian Sausage, Bell Peppers, Onions and Cheese

Dough:

Save yourself a lot of time and purchase the Rhoades roll dough. These will pound out into the ideal size of 9-inch round. Sprinkle fresh chopped rosemary leaves into the dough.

Toppings:

3/4 cup olive oil
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 pound johnsonville mild italian sausages
2 yellow or red bell peppers, cored, quartered lengthwise
1 large onion, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch-thick wedges

Whisk first 4 ingredients in medium bowl. Let vinaigrette stand 15 minutes at room temperature or refrigerate up to 2 hours.

Prepare grill on medium heat. Arrange sausages, peppers, and onion on baking sheet. Brush with some of vinaigrette. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill sausages until cooked through (about 15 minutes turning occasionally). Grill peppers and onions until slightly charred and crisp-tender, turning and basting once, about 8 minutes.

Transfer sausages and vegetables to cutting board. Cut sausages into 1/2 inch pieces and peppers into thin strips.

Final Preparation:

2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups crumbled chilled soft fresh goat cheese (such as Montrachet; can also use Feta)
4 plum tomatoes, halved, seeded, chopped
3/4 cup chopped green onion tops

Place dough rounds on grill over medium heat until top of dough puffs and underside is crisp, about 3 minutes. Turn rounds over. Grill about 1 minute. Transfer to baking sheet with well-grilled side up. Sprinkle each with mozzarella and Parmesan. Top each with sausage, peppers, onion, goat cheese, tomatoes, and green onions. Drizzle each with 1 1/2 tablespoons vinaigrette. With large metal spatula, return pizzas to grill. Close grill and cook until cheese melts and dough is cooked through and browned, about 5 minutes. Enjoy.






I have to thank Chef Kyle Nicholson for teaching this to me. He was the Chef Instructor at Sur La Table 5 years ago when I first began taking cooking classes.


Happy Customers. Sorry for the glare. Can you guess which one is headed to death row?

Happy Eating.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Gandolfo's



Not far from my home there is a sandwich shop that I have fallen in love with: Gandolfo's. I use to go here only when we had a flight that day or the next morning. It made for a great meal while on a long trip. Since Ruby came along two years ago, I found myself frequenting this place more often as there was less energy and time to cook. But over $30 a week just in sandwiches adds up. For a while I went cold turkey but relapsed a few months ago. I no longer have the desire for sobriety and have found a more moderate pace of sandwich indulgence.

It's quite a sight in people watching when you enter. People aren't necessarily in line but scattered about with their heads looking up at the huge menu wrapping around two areas of the restaurant. You soon do the same and realize that you will be there for a few hours if you read the description of each sandwich. Thankfully you can pick a column a research from there: Specialty Sandwiches, Pastrami Sandwiches, Turkey Sandwiches, Chicken Breast Sandwiches, Roast Beef Sandwiches.



This past Thursday I went with the Dagwood in the Specialty Sandwich section. The delicious combination of roast beef, turkey, ham, corned beef, Swiss, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, mayo, and spicy mustard leaves you needing two hands to eat it.


The Dagwood - Delicious!

I have also indulged in the Carnegie Hall (loved it), Rockefeller Reuben, I love New York, Pastrami on Rye, Central Park, King of Queens, Sicilian, Hampton, Bridge Hampton, Gandolfo, and Holland Tunnel. They are all delicious but I would highly recommend sticking with the Specialty and Pastrami Sandwiches; you can't go wrong. Some of the workers, upon recognizing me as a regular, begun recommending sandwiches that weren't even on the menu. Love this place.



Be warned: you will spend more money than the more ubiquitous chains; no $5 footlong here (I know this is a chain also but the focus is on quality not quantity), but you will never go back to those other joints as you will have found a truly authentic sandwich.

Happy Eating.

Gandolfo's on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 13, 2012

Roasted Chicken with Potatoes, Onions, Garlic, and Thyme (maybe I am a Baker)



When I first made this dish, Rachel didn't believe that I actually put something in the oven. I don't follow recipes well; I like to improvise. Anything you put in the oven, needs to be more precise than on the stove top. It fits my charming personality; depending on who you ask.

This dish was a hit from the start and we make it often.




Uncooked: beautiful but do not eat yet-unless you don't like your Guests
 Roasted Chicken with Onions, Potatoes, Garlic and Thyme:

3 chicken breasts (halved crosswise)

1 pound yellow potatoes (halved, quartered if large)

1 large red onion, cut into 1-inch segments

1 head garlic cloves, minced

6 sprigs fresh thyme

1 lemon quartered

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Coarse salt and ground pepper

Preheat over to 450 degrees. Arrange chicken, potatoes, onion, garlic, thyme, and lemon wedges (squeeze over all ingredients first) into a 12" by 16" roasting pan (or glass casserole dish). Whisk together oil and vinegar and drizzle over chicken and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until chicken is browned and cooked through, about 50 minutes.

For best serving results, whisk 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar with 1/2 cup sour cream and pour over top. Enjoy. 



I originally found this recipe in FOOD Magazine. Since then I have altered it many times but it still gets fabulous reviews.

Happy Eating.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Chile Pepper Gloves



Not long ago I learned a painful lesson: handling chili peppers should be done with caution! Thinking that I would hold and cut quickly did not work as I was left with very itchy and irritated hands. It takes a few hours and lots of hand washing to go away.

Solution: pepper gloves from IKEA. They are fabulous and inexpensive. I used them last Sunday on anaheim and serrano peppers and was pleasantly surprised. No more spending the rest of the day muttering obscenities.



Just a hint: hide them from your young kids. I had some a year ago but before I could use them, Ruby relocated them. That pair of gloves has still never been found.

Happy Eating

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Pawit's Royale Thai



On a previous post here, I mentioned that I am a lover of Thai cuisine. If you can make it to most Thai restaurants during lunch, you get a good variety for a great price. Last Friday, on impulse, I had a craving  and immediately recruited my mom & sister to join me at Pawit's Royale Thai in Holladay. It's located right next to what was formerly known as the Cottonwood Mall; now mostly a dirt patch. For all my growing up years, the building was occupied by Hong Kong Cafe.

They really work hard to make you feel that you are in Thailand. The Asian style design, large water tank with exotic fish, large screen TV promoting Thailand tourism. All of this is nice but what really matters? The food of course.



For $7.95 you get your choice of two dishes, served with jasmine rice, a house salad, and a fried wonton. It's hard for me to turn down curry, especially massaman curry so I ordered Tom Kha (coconut soup) and Gang Massaman.

The salad is served with the creamy house dressing. I wouldn't have thought twice about it except that I was at a Thai restaurant and it didn't really fit. At Thai Siam, Sawadee, and Tasty Thai, the salad is served with a peanut dressing; delicious and authentic.



The coconut soup was fabulous. I had been craving this for quite some time. It has chicken, kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass, galangal, mushrooms, cabbage and cilantro. They know how to make this into the perfect soup. It has the right amount of kick and creaminess. It is beyond delicious and I only wish I could have taken a gallon of it home with me.

The massaman curry has chicken, coconut milk, tamarind juice, potatoes, carrots, and shelled peanuts. It was good but I believe that my expectations were too high. When I reviewed Tasty Thai, I remembered that massaman curry at Pawit's being wonderful. It was okay but bland compared to Tasty Thai. The wow factor was missing.



Given the variety, the delicious coconut soup, and the price, I will definitely be back but will try something other than the massaman curry.

Happy Eating.

Pawit's Royale Thai Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 6, 2012

Super Bowl Food

My love for football is great but the Super Bowl can be a long game if your team is not playing. The Philadelphia Eagles have not been to the big game for 7 years. In that time, I have usually watched the second half. The first half and a few hours prior are spend preparing delicious eats for friends and family. Yesterday did not disappoint. Here are but some of the culinary delights we enjoyed:



sage pork tenderloin
hot habanero hot wings
taquitos
quinoa with onions and parsley
tomatoes with fresh mozzarella, basil, and homemade italian dressing
salad
chips
artichoke dip
red pepper hummus dip
guacamole (my nephew tells me that 70% of the guacamole eaten in America is on Super Bowl Sunday)
lemon bars



I was careful to fill my plate with small portions of each dish so that I could return many times. It was difficult to make it back for even a second plate; I was stuffed.

Whether your team won, lost, or even played, I hope that the culinary bowl at your home was delightful.

Happy Eating.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Balsamic and Onion Pot Roast

Rachel and I have been in this quandary many times: it's 5:30pm and you wonder, "what should we make for dinner?" Typically, the meals I make have a lot of prep work. If I am proactive, I do the prep work early that morning or the night before. Without the proactive prep work, there are a lot of blank stares inside the fridge and cupboards. Rachel looked up some attractive-looking crock pot recipes, and this morning we put one to the test.



Balsamic and Onion Pot Roast
courtesy of: www.accoksquest.blogspot.com

3-4 pound boneless chuck roast
Seasoning Salt
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder
black pepper to taste
1-2 T olive oil (depends on your pan)
1/4 cup water to deglaze pan
2-3 large onions, peeled and thickly sliced
1 cup beef stock, reduced to 1/2 cup (can use a can of beef broth, but be sure to reduce it)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup tomato sauce


Rub meat well with seasoning salt, onion powder, garlic powder and black pepper. Heat heavy pan with small amount of olive oil and brown roast well on both sides. This will take a few minutes; don't rush the browning step.

While roast browns put 1 cup beef stock in saucepan, bring to a boil and cook until reduced to 1/2 cup, then let cool slightly and mix in balsamic vinegar and tomato sauce. Peel onions and cut into thick slices. Deglaze pan with 1/4 cup water and add to sauce mixture.

Place onions in bottom of slow cooker. Put meat on top of onions and pour beef stock mixture over. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, until beef is tender. The meat might be partly submerged in liquid after this much time.

Remove meat from slow cooker and cover with foil to keep warm. Drain liquid from Crockpot and remove as much of the fat as you can with fat separator or skimmer. Cook down liquid by about 1/3, and serve sauce with meat and onions.
 
 
Of course (Rachel laughs), I altered the recipe some. Not much, I actually followed the cooking process with discipline. Where I made changes was in the last step. Rather than serving the meat with the liquid, I made a gravy. To do this, start with a roux (cooking equal parts by weight, butter and flour), then adding the liquid a little at a time until you find the right consistency. Just for trivia: a sauce/gravy made out of dark stock and a roux is called Espagnole and is one of the five mother sauces. From the five mother sauces, you can make any sauce.
 
 
 
Final Verdict: Not that great! It wasn't inedible but was too strong. I thought it interesting that the ingredients were going to be braised (cooked low & slow) in both a beef stock and balsamic vinegar. Vinegar of any kind is an acid and acid is the only liquid added to a crock pot dish; maybe with a little water. Beef stock is already strong in flavor and when added to balsamic vinegar, packs quite the punch. During the cooking process, the meat creates a broth. No need for a broth and a stock (broth is made from meat, stock from bones and vegetables). 
 
The gravy was delicious by itself but, with the meat, added another punch to a dish already overloaded with flavor.
 
Next time I will try it with the balsamic but no beef stock. Please let me know of your crock pot creations.
 
Happy Eating
 
 



Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Kyoto

Since moving into the Sugarhouse area in 2002, Kyoto has been an occasional treat for me. Located on the corner of 1100 E. 1300 S., it's a venerable institution that has always served delicious food. The setting is unique in that you can sit in a Japanese style booth; but please remove your shoes of course.

My first memory of dining at Kyoto was in March, 2003. Rachel and I ate there on a Saturday night, just one week before we got married. The bill was $35 and that was painful for a poor college student. Soon I found that the lunch menu was just as delicious and much less expensive. My friends and I have met there a few times since for lunch.




For under $9 you can get Chicken, Beef or Shrimp Teriyaki. It comes complete with miso soup, salad with house dressing (honey mustard), your choice of meat, rice, tempura onions and sweet potatoes. It's almost worth ordering one of the teriyaki dishes for the tempura vegetables alone. They are plentiful, sweet, crunchy, and have the perfect amount of batter.

For those of you not interested in the teriyaki or tempura, there are other authentic Japanese dishes to enjoy. The Sukiyaki is also delicious. It's brought out on a sizzling platter and contains thinly sliced beef, vegetables and noodles. Typically the ingredients are dipped in a bowl of raw, beaten eggs before being eaten.

The Donburi is a Japanese rice bowl dish with ingredients on top. Types include: Oyako Donburi where the main ingredients are chicken and eggs; Katsudon Donburi: served with tonkatsu (deep fried pork cutlet), eggs and onions; Gyudon Donburi: a more simple serving of cooked beef over the rice; and Eel Donburi: eel is grilled and prepared in a thick soya based sauce before being served on top of the rice.

Yesterday's choice: Beef Teriyaki with a California Roll for an appetizer. They also serve sushi. Having been spoiled by the world's best sushi at Happy Sumo, I was reluctant to try it. I know that the California Roll is the most generic of the rolls but I was pleasantly surprised. The meal was delicious except for the beef. That was a little tough which was the first time that has happened. No worries, there was plenty of other food to enjoy. Since I am within walking distance of Kyoto, I will have to discipline myself on the number of visits.


Gluttony! But don't worry, I didn't get a Dr. Pepper. That would have been over the top. I waited until I got home (3 minute walk) and pulled one out of the fridge.

Dinner is great also but you pay more for less food. If you decide to go there for lunch, get there before noon; the place fills up fast.

Happy Eating.

Kyoto Japanese on Urbanspoon
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...