Monday, July 30, 2012

Caputo's Deli on 15th



After picking up Rachel's birthday present, we had less than an hour to get some lunch. Since it was her birthday, it was totally her choice (as if it isn't any other time). She wanted a nice sandwich so that eliminated any chain joint; not that we would go there anyway.

Caputo's on 15th & 15th came to mind. I had never been there before but had just driven by earlier that week.


The Caputo

It was a fabulous choice. I ordered The Caputo: A taste of Cosenza Italy, prosciutto, mortadella, salami, provolone, lettuce, tomato, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  It was delicious. Sometimes I forget that a sandwich doesn't necessarily need mayonnaise and mustard. The olive oil and balsamic vinegar give this just the hint of seasoning that it needs. All the other ingredients are fresh, high in quality and packed in abundance. It's $8.25 for a full sandwich and definitely worth it.


Roasted Peppers on Focaccia

Rachel ordered the Roasted Peppers on Focaccia: Roasted sweet red peppers, arugula, Manchego cheese, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I'll have to take it word on it that it was delicious. It definitely looked so.

Just like I wrote in my review of Gandolfo's, Caputo's also does not offer a $5 footlong that you hear in the big chain advertisements. But after you order a sandwich from Caputo's, you will never go back to the imitations.

1516 S. 1500 E.
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84105


Happy Eating
Caputo's Market and Deli on 15th and 15th on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 27, 2012

El Mana in Midvale, Utah; formerly El Taconazo




Often, I get food & restaurant recommendations from people that I know. It's like when you are on a trip and want some good, non-touristy food, you ask the locals and rarely do they disappoint. Last Fall, my brothers, Dad and I were on a road trip through Tennessee and Mississippi. In Lawrenceburg Tennessee I asked two different locals about what place they would recommend for dinner. They both said "The Brass Lantern." We did not second guess and yes, the food was fabulous.

A good friend recommended El Taconazo in Midvale. This is one of those joints where the building isn't exactly updated but the food is authentic cooking. Thankfully I was to meet this friend there because I could not find El Taconazo. He texted me that it was now El Mana.



They bring out chips and salsa as an appetizer. The chips are homemade; very thick, crispy, and tasty-just the right amount of salt. The salsa was mild but had a very deep, rich, fresh flavor. It was wonderful.

For lunch I ordered the Enchiladas Mole: 2 chicken enchiladas covered in mole sauce, cheese, and red onions served with rice and beans. The chicken was cooked perfectly, the cheese had a nice texture but was pretty mild, the mole sauce was great but very spicy.



I believe that this is the second time that I have eaten Mole; and I like it. Some are tame but not this one. After you took a bite, you immediately gulped some water. I asked the waiter how it was made and he said that he had no idea. One recipe I found included 5 New Mexican chilis, 2 Guajillo chiles, 3 Chipotle chilis, and 4 Ancho chilis. You get the picture; it's not for the faint of heart (in the spicy category).

The portions are large (or they seem that way after filling up on chips & salsa), the atmosphere is very relaxed and the prices are great. Each dish was around $8.00. If you are driving down State St. in Midvale, Utah, stop by.



El Mana
7962 S. State St.
Midvale, Utah, 84047



 Happy Eating
El Mana on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Smoky Meatball Subs

As the Fourth of July approached, I fretted about what to cook. Since my Traeger grill was only 4 days old, I definitely needed to utilize it. The "Smoky Meatball Subs" recipe on the Traeger website lept out at me. It's something delicious, something that wouldn't take a long time (as most smoked meats do), and something that would put me in the center of attention, J/K.


Sorry, Bad picture

There is actually more preparation work involved than actual cooking time. No fear, I had Sous Chef Sam to help me.



Smoky Meatball Subs

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 large egg
1/3 cup milk or buttermilk
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup dry seasoned bread crumbs or crushed croutons
1 tablespoon Cajun rub
1/4 cup onion, finely minced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Marinara Sauce (the recipe said jarred marinara sauce but that's insulting). Use my recipe minus the meat.
4 6-inch hoagie rolls
Thinly sliced or grated provolone cheese

In a mixing bowl, use a whisk to beat the egg. Whisk in the milk and Worcestershire sauce. Stir in the bread crumbs and Cajun rub. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes.

In another bowl, combine the ground beef, onion, garlic, and black pepper. Add the egg mixture to the meat mixture and combine well. (Your hands work best for this). If the mixture seems dry, add a bit more milk. If wet, add a few dry breadcrumbs. Roll the mixture into balls about the size of a golf ball.

When ready to cook, start the grill on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes). Se the temperature to 325 degrees and preheat, lid closed, for 10 to 15 minutes.

Arrange the meatballs directly on the grill grate. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.

Brush the hoagie rolls with olive oil, place 3 to 4 meatballs inside, spoon marina sauce over top, place as much cheese as desired over top (the more the merrier), place back on grill until cheese is melted. Enjoy.


Sous Chef Sam placing the meatballs on the grill

Quite a sight: 82 smoked meatballs

If you do not have a Traeger grill, this can still be done. You might not get your desired smoke flavor but can still cook a fabulous meatball.


A Fourth of July favorite. The pink edge of the meatball is actually the smoke ring

I quadrupled the recipe and there was plenty of meatball subs to go around. They were delicious with flavor at every level. How grateful I am that I decided to purchase the larger grill. It fit 82 meatballs.

Happy Eating.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Whisper's Cafe: There is a reason for the name "Whisper."



One morning last week I had a lot to accomplish. My daughter was being a little too helpful so I needed to find a place to escape. My requirements were: a place that was close and a place that had Wi-Fi. Whispers Cafe was right in the neighborhood so I headed over.

It appeared to be exactly what I needed: a place to work. There were tables, couches, a patio; all very welcoming. I found a table in the corner large enough for my laptop and folders and I went to work.



At about 10:00am I realized, as I often do, that I hadn't eaten breakfast. It took a minute for me to find the food menu on the wall. It's on a separate wall from the coffee and tea menu and takes up less space. The Croissant Sandwich with Bacon sounded good. I also ordered their homemade lemonade-it looked wonderfully refreshing on an already hot day.



Back to work and the food came about 10 minutes later. The Croissant Sandwich was okay, nothing special. The croissant was flaky and buttery; the bacon was good but minimal; the eggs were drowned out by a large glob of cheese. Pretty much you could taste cheese and bread. It was a very heavy sandwich. The lemonade however, was very delicious and refreshing.

As I mentioned, the drink menu is larger than the food menu. There are a lot of coffees and teas. This must definitely be their speciality. I do not drink either so I must trust that this is how they stay in business. They must "Whisper" about the food, but promote the beverages heavily.



Even though the breakfast sandwich will not be something I return for, I will definitely be back. I do want to try the Spicy Jamaican Chicken Panini. I will also come back for the atmosphere. It is very inviting and comfortable. Two gentleman in the lounge area were solving the problems of the world from before I got there until after I left. A few others trickled in but primarily it was very quiet. They do have a drive thru which received some customers.

It is nice to have a place like this so close; even if it's just an escape but not necessarily a Foodie Escape.



1429 South 1100 East
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84105


Happy Eating

 Whisper's Cafe & Coffee House on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sweet & Sour Dressing with Artichoke and Olive Salad

At the second stop on Hometown Slop's worldwide tour, we cooked for the masses in Draper, Utah. Okay, 35 people may not be the masses but it was a lot of food and a lot of fun. I worked the grill and the side dishes and condiments were delegated out. One Lady brought a fabulous salad which I then remade and felt inspired to share with the world.



The dressing comes from "The Southern Living Cookbook."

Sweet & Sour Dressing



1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup fresh minced, sweet or vidalia onion
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon paprika

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Whisk vigorously. Chill several hours. Whisk again before serving over salad.

Salad



Spinach
Red Leaf Lettuce
Cherry or Diced Tomatoes
Olives, sliced
Salami, quartered
Artichoke Hearts, chopped
Pepperoncini, sliced
Red Onions, thinly sliced
Feta Cheese

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, toss with about half the dressing, add more as needed.

The dressing is the perfect marriage of sweet and sour. It truly makes your mouth water. The recipe originally called dehydrated onions. I wouldn't have been able to serve it with a straight face knowing that I had introduced an impostor. Hence I used fresh onions. Usually at my family's Sunday dinner, there are leftovers. Not this time. The salad was gone; and gone early. It's popularity was even greater than the Go-To Salad.


Happy Eating

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Apple Rosemary Smoked Turkey

As you have probably heard by now, for my birthday I received a Traeger Smoker from my wonderful wife. It's one of those gifts that you truly cherish, unlike gifts received that we wish we could take back and keep the cash. In the first week of having the grill, I used it three times: ribs, smoked meatballs and smoked turkey.



Rachel's birthday was last Friday. The day to smoke the turkey had arrived. Admittedly I was a little nervous as this was my first time cooking a turkey. What if it did not turn out? You can't serve poultry medium rare-despite what I told my nephews.

The best way to alleviate fear is to take a step forward. I cleaned the bird, semi followed a Traeger recipe, and made it up from there.



Apple Rosemary Smoked Turkey

1 fresh or frozen thawed turkey (15 lbs)
3-4 tablespoons poultry rub
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 Gala apples, thinly sliced
4 sprigs fresh rosemary

Wipe turkey surface and cavity with wet paper towels. Lightly rub oil over the surface and cavity of the turkey. Sprinkle a light coating of poultry rub on the surface and in the cavity of the turkey. Place sliced apples and rosemary sprigs in cavity of the turkey. Start grill on smoke with lid open until fire is established (about 5 minutes). Switch to "medium" or 300 degrees on the digital thermostat. Place turkey on the center of the grill, close lid and cook for 3 1/2 - 4 hours or until internal meat temperature is 160-165 degrees in the thickest part of the breast. Allow to rest for 20-30 minutes before carving.

Since it is July, the likelihood of finding the size of turkey that you want is remote. I went to the store and had my choice of 4 turkeys; 19, 20, 21, and 22 pounds respectively. It took 2 1/2 days to thaw out. No worries however; a larger turkey means more leftovers.

Rachel's party was fabulous. It was a small gathering with lots of wonderful food. We had a very spicy, very delicous chip dip, a tasty pasta salad, and a green salad that was exploding with flavor. I am also grateful to some wonderful friends who took care of dessert when I realized that I couldn't make it happen.



The turkey turned out great. It received rave reviews and we ate it for the next 2 days. I probably won't eat turkey again for a couple of weeks. It was moist and the hickory smoke flavor came through. Anytime you can get a flavor on a white meat, you are doing good. One thing I won't do again is smoke the turkey in a foil pan. It helps collect the juices but the underside does not get as crisp.



I was a little worried when I cut into the turkey and the outside looked pink. How could the inside be cooked more than the outside? It is actually the smoke ring; very interesting to see how far the smoke works it's way into the meat.

The Traeger Smoker sure is paying off.


Happy Eating

Monday, July 16, 2012

Curry in a Hurry

For my birthday dinner, I got to pick where we would eat (since the ribs wouldn't be done until late). I was craving something authentic and wanted to try a place where we had never been. Curry in a Hurry came to mind and Rachel was equally as happy. Since I was tending the ribs, she went down and got some food to go.



Rachel ordered the Chicken Curry Combo with Spinach & Potatoes as her side. I had the Lamb Curry Combo with Curried Potatoes as my side. Lamb has been a new experience for me lately and I am really taking to it.

This particular dish was wonderful. The lamb was tender and resembled a beef tri-tip. It definitely had a kick to it with the curry spices. Rachel's dish was sweet and delicious. Her spinach & potatoes had a little bitterness to them but not too strong. What was overpowering were the curried potatoes. You could barely take one bite without gulping water. They must have put all the spices in that they were going to be getting rid of soon.



The only disappointment was the Naan. After having such great homemade Naan at places like Tandoor and Kathmandu, this stuff was obviously pita bread purchased at the grocery store.

This is definitely a place that I will try again. Rachel said that the people there are wonderful. The menu is not extensive but seems to have enough great options. Just stay away from the curried potatoes.


Happy Eating

 Curry in a Hurry on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 13, 2012

6 Pounds of Ribs

For my birthday last week, my wife took me to Costco and had me pick out a Traeger grill. Originally I was thinking of the Little Tex Elite but ended up with the Texas Grill. I liked the size and portability of Little Tex but then I found out that it uses the same amount of wood pellets and has almost half the rack space of Texas. I knew by the second time I used it, I would want the larger model. Why smoke 2 turkeys at once when you can smoke 3?


I could be a Model for Traeger; except then I might have to wash my hair and shave

Saturday morning was spent assembling the smoker. Not my favorite thing but a necessary evil in order to get you closer to smoking-smoking meat that is. Quite a sight when it was complete. It looked like it could swallow our other grill whole.

To break in the grill, I smoked some ribs. Having never cooked ribs before (except in class), I was a little lost. I made a rub with some Cajun spices and a lot of brown sugar. I was anticipating a sweet glaze on the ribs. My In-Laws had purchased a quarter cow and gave me the spare ribs.


First time cooking on the grill

To start, I smoked the ribs for 2 hours with hickory wood pellets. I then cooked for 3 more hours at 225 degrees. Yes, the grill has temperature settings. It was truly a work of art to watch the cooking process. The hickory smoke blowing in the air created the most beautiful aroma. When complete, I carved them and was amazed at the sheer amount of meat.

The final verdict: the meat was moist and tender but the flavor was missing. It seemed like none of the spice rub flavored the meat. I did learn a valuable lesson: attempting to flavor over 6 pounds of meat will take a lot more seasoning then what I am use to. A simple rub of spices on a steak or breast of chicken will suffice but not on this. I also should have placed the ribs in foil with some flavoring liquid with an hour to go.


5 hours later, the ribs are ready

So the meat did not turn out liked I had hoped but I love the grill. It's truly one of the best presents ever. Word had definitely spread overnight as the next morning, most people that I spoke with knew about the grill. Sounds like there will be many mouths to feed.


Happy Eating.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Borski Farms: Weekly produce share = recipe goals

For the past 3 years, Rachel and I have bought a share of Borski Farms. It's a Community Supported Agriculture program where you get a weekly share of produce in the summer from a local farm. The food is fresh, delicious and only $220 for a weekly share from late June to early October.

There is everything from salad greens, cooking greans, peas, beets, garlic, summer squash, cherries, apricots, tomatoes, onions, and more. Each week you do not know what you are going to get until you pick it up. It's quite exciting and always fun to figure out some recipes based on what you received.



Yesterday was our first pick up for the summer. It included english peas, mixed lettuce greens, spinach, bing cherries, and Anasazi beans. I have already been munching on it and it's very delicious.

Each week I will post the recipes I made from that week's share. It will be exciting. Since I still have the bag of Anasazi beans that we received last year, that may need to be my first post. Here is a recipe for the beans.

Refried Anasazi Beans
(from the kitchen of Joyce Waller)

1 pound dried Anasazi Beans®
6 slices of bacon, chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon chili powder


Add 6 cups fresh water and cook beans 1.5 hours or until tender at a gentle boil. Drain beans, save liquid. Saute onion, green pepper, garlic and bacon. Mash beans together with sauteed mixture, adding liquid a little at a time, until bean mixture is smooth.


Happy Eating

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sharon's Cafe: The Local's Joint in Holladay

East of the Cottonwood Mall near Downtown Holladay is a little establishment well known to the locals. There were two restaurants at this location previously but neither lasted long. Sharon realized her dream of opening a place and it know seems like it's a community meeting spot. While eating there earlier this week, the waitress seemed to know every patron by name. Holladay's own little version of Cheers; without the alcohol.



Sharon's is open for breakfast & lunch and you may order breakfast dishes anytime. That is what I was craving so that made me happy. I am always on the search for something unique, something that will hit the spot. I noticed "The Greek Way" under the breakfast entrees. Asking the waitress about this she said that they sell more of that than any other dish. It must be good I thought.


Love the red & white tables from TGIF's.

The Greek Way is their version of a skillet. It has cheesy potatoes, two eggs, and your choice of ham, bacon or sausage. The plate seems small when it comes out (disappointing for me as I was really hungry) but do not fret, The Greek Way is some serious stick-to-your-ribs comfort food. I could not finish it.

Overall the dish was great. The potatoes could have used a little more seasoning-they were the majority of the dish and even with the cheese, were pretty dry. With a stronger cheese, pepper jack or sharp cheddar, the flavors would have stood out more. The sausage however, was amazing. It was a thick, spicy patty; very moist and delicious. The eggs were great-cooked to perfection. I love skillets, especially since you can mix all of the wonderful ingredients together. As my side, I chose sourdough toast. It wasn't the greatest. My friend got the biscuit though and he raved about it 3 or 4 times. It is homemade and (apparently) wonderful. Next time that is what I will have also.


The Greek Way

There is also a good selection of omelets, sandwiches, and burgers. I have had the club sandwich before and it is really delicious and filling.

Deviate from your traditional lunch routine and head to Sharon's Cafe. Even if you aren't a regular, you will feel like one. A neat tidbit about the joint is that you will notice many red & white striped tables and think to yourself, "these look like the tables at TGI Friday's." They are those tables. When the TGIF at Cottonwood Mall closed, Sharon was able to purchase them. The tables may be the same but the food is much better.


Happy Eating.

Sharon's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 6, 2012

Salmon with Tangy Avacado Sauce



This past Saturday we had a BBQ at our home. It was a get together of divine Foodies and we did not disappoint. Craig made about the best chicken caesar salad ever. His homemade anchovy dressing is something that should be etched in history. Penny did bleu cheese sliders-ground beef stuffed with basil and bleu cheese. They were so good that time seemed to stand still for a moment. She also brought a insalata caprese as her side.

My first thought when finding out that these were going to be some of the dishes was, "do I dare cook anything?" How do you keep pace with that? I put on a BBQ Friday night so I was consumed with that. It was Saturday afternoon before I had fully put my dish together. A couple of days prior, I had purchased a Sockeye Salmon Filet from Costco. The big question was what to do with it from there? Do I do an herby/summer salmon with grilled corn, cherry tomatoes, balsamic and basil? Since I knew herbs would flow freely that night, I was looking for a more tangy sauce that hits your mouth and makes it water.

Thank you Pinterest; or thank you Rachel for researching Pinterest. On there she found a "Salmon Sliders with Tangy Avacado Sauce" recipe from http://www.dineanddish.net/. We decided that since Penny was bringing sliders, we would grill the whole filet of salmon and drizzle the avacado sauce on top.

Tangy Avacado Sauce



1 ripe California avacado, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon milk
1 1/2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

In a medium sized bowl, mash the avacado

Stir in mayonnaise, sour cream, milk and vinegar until smooth. Add Kosher salt and cracked black pepper and stir until incorporated.

Spoon Tangy Avacado Sauce over salmon. Top with slices of fresh avacado.



Sous Chef Jesse grilled the salmon to perfection and Sous Chefs Sam & Tai made the sauce; all under my strict supervision of course. Those guys are fabulous. Right after we put out all the food, my sprinkler guy showed up. With a dying lawn, I wasn't about to send him away. I spent about 30 minutes outside with him; most of it thinking about the food. Thankfully Jesse brought me out some food because when I came back in, much of it was gone.



In business books they say to surround yourself with those who make you better. This group certainly does that. I am always grateful for the wonderful Food knowledge that they so willingly share.

Happy Eating

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hometown Slop: The Tour continues!



Well we sold out our event in Cottonwood Heights, and last week we put on a show in Draper. Next up: Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Manila, Berlin, and New York.


Sage Pork Tenderloin

This event was for about 35 people at my Bother & Sister-in-Law's home. The menu was left up to me and of course I wanted to impress. We went with Sage Pork Tenderloin, Bratwurst, Cheeseburger of Champions, and Juicy Lucy Burgers. No simple burgers & dogs here.



Happy Grilling

For the majority of the event, I was outside at the grill. Rachel told me that I received rave reviews and people came back for seconds & thirds. It was a lot of fun. Biggest lessoned learned: grilling is the fun part, the preparation is where you do all the work. And the preparation takes a lot longer when your two Sous Chefs are out of town. Oh how I missed them.

Thanks Kim & Todd for the opportunity.

Happy Eating

Monday, July 2, 2012

Firehouse BBQ: It's like I am back in the South!


Sous Chef Jesse loving his choices

Anytime you see a restaurant with a full trailer-sized smoker in front and in back, you know the food is going to be good. It reminds me of when I traveled through Tennessee and Mississippi last fall. I met some people for whom BBQ is a way of life. One guy, a big Ole Miss fan, told me that they might not win the ballgame, but they will always win the party.


The front yard. All the advertising they will ever need

The back yard. I have plans to mimic this

In Utah, it's been rare in the past to see one of these large smokers. Just in the last year however, I am noticing more of them. This particular smoker that I saw was at Firehouse BBQ on 2100 S. in Salt Lake City. Having just eaten dinner, I made a mental note to come back soon. Within a week, I was there.

The people there are so friendly (they must be from the South). I asked them how long they had been open. It was one year to the day. Admittedly I was embarrassed that I hadn't noticed them before. It was probably because the smoker wasn't out front yet.

Sous Chef Sam and Sous Chef Jesse accompanied me. They are aspiring Foodies and wonderful cooks. Sam got the rib sandwich. I did not taste it but I know it was good; when he was done, he stood up, looked at me and while pounding a fist on his heart said, "I love you from my soul." One of the best compliments I have ever received.



I got the beef brisket sandwich with a side of potato salad. They drown the sandwich in their homemade BBQ sauce. It is delicious and tangy-lots of vinegar; just like the South. The meat is very tender and moist and is a work of art. The potato salad was okay, a little rustic but that is what Cajun cooking stands for. It did need a little more flavor. I also tried some Asian Cajun Slaw. Now this will make your mouth water.

The menu is small but no one went away complaining. Watching them rotate the meat in the smoker was breathtaking; an artist truly at work. I would have stayed all day but responsibilities called. I had to get ready for dinner at another joint so I could have some material for next week's post. A food blogger has places to be.


Truly Majestic

Firehouse BBQ
565 E. 2100 S.
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84106


Happy Eating

Firehouse BBQ on Urbanspoon
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