Archive for the ‘Small Plates’ Category
Editor’s Note: Please give a warm welcome to AMF’s good friends and newest contributors, Sparkles (Allison) and Master P (Paula). Being the wine drinking, sunloving, danceaholics that they are, I’m really pleased to have them share their culinary adventures and cocktail making hotness.
To be clear, we are not divorced (from each other or otherwise). Excluded from a college boys weekend, unable to convince two other bffs to join us and desperate to leave our respective cities (DC and NYC), we are vacationing just the two of us on the small, quaint island of Anna Maria, Florida. Hence, we feel like divorcees and intend to drink, eat and sun bathe accordingly.
Once you get on the island, it’s hard to leave (and not a good idea after wine in the afternoon) so we make sure to shop for the whole trip. Brilliantly, we acquire ingredients that can be re-used in innovative ways (ie if you buy enough different cheeses, you are pretty much set for days.)
Cocktail Hour Menu:
Libation – Mojitos with pineapple infused rum and coconut water
Appetizer – Grilled, halved peaches with honey vanilla ricotta
We begin our late afternoon with a cocktail “project.” Located in the fruit aisle, next to the peaches, we found coconuts, silly, fury little guys, just begging to be taken home (despite the obvious question: what does one do with a whole coconut?) Before we do anything, we slice up pineapple and throw it in a bowl and cover it with rum to let the rum seep in. (Snacking on rum soaked pineapple is pretty fantastic, as well.) We then take our coconut into the garage and discover a power drill! We hold the coconut over a bowl and drill! until we pierce through the shell, then add another hole for air flow and drain the coconut juice into a bowl to be thrown into a mojito with rum soaked pineapple, fresh crushed mint, more rum, simple syrup and a little club soda. Perfection!
Onto the appetizers! We preheat the grill on medium heat, then take a peach and half it, pulling out the pit and coat each half in olive oil, then throw them face down on the grill and close the cover. We mix ricotta with honey and a little vanilla while we wait. Once grill marks appear on the peaches, after about 10 minutes, we brush balsamic vinegar on them and then add copious amounts of the ricotta mixture and devour with a fork and knife. The result is as warm and delish as peach cobbler without as much guilt. (It is just the appetizer, after all.)
Cocktail Hour Recipes
2 parts chunks of pineapple
1 healthy pinch mint leaves
1 part simple syrup (1 cup water to 1 cup sugar)
1 part rum
1 part coconut water
Splash club soda
1 peach (pitted)
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
Balsamic vinegar mixed with honey for drizzling
Olive oil for brushing
Soon to come: Chorizo and BlueCheese Brandy Burgers..
You know, there are days when I question the merits of running a food blog. It’s a time consuming, frustrating, often unappreciated process. Juggling HTML code, photography, cooking and writing can consume a considerable amount of one’s time. Sometimes it’s bit too similar to real job than I’d prefer my hobbies become. This is natural I suppose, especially when you have to turn down a happy hour with friends. But then, once and a while, you have a day like last Sunday. Or more specifically, when Foodbuzz hooks you up with free tickets to check out an event you’d normally wouldn’t be able to afford. So from here on out, when I start balling up my fist and shaking it furiously my computer, I’ll just lean back in my chair, close my eyes and think back to Cochon 555.
Cochon 555 got it’s start down in Atlanta as a benefit to showcase local chef skills, ecofriendly farm raised animals, and to help raise awareness for ICompassion. I was really lucky to have a chance to attend as well as bring a few friends. With a $125 price tag per ticket this was a luxury all of us would probably pass on despite the fact FIVE different top notch DC chefs compete with a whole pig Iron Chef style. Oh and did I mention wine? Well, that’s intentional. After Vintage Virgina I was a bit drained on wine note taking, but I took more issue with the fact that most of the wines were flown in from California. What the fuck?! This fact was made all the more annoying given that I had just spent the entire day before surrounded by 50 local wineries. But this event was all about pig, and by god Cochon 555 did not disappoint on that promise.
Featuring Brian McBride’s team from Blue Duck Tavern, RJ Cooper of Vidalia, Nicholas Stefanelli of Mio, Jamie Leeds from Commonwealth Gastropub and John Manolatos of Cashion’s Eat Place, Cochon 555 very much delivered on showcasing some diverse, local culinary talent.
Well, actually that may not necessarily be accurate. My mom loves tomatoes so I know any dish with tomatoes as the centerpiece is going to be a hit. I myself am not a big tomato fan, but I must admit the Provençal variation is pretty damn tasty. And it pairs brilliantly with roasted read meat or a simple white fish. Snazzy, simple and dare I say.. elegant? All you really need to Provençal anything are the trifecta: tomatoes, garlic and olive oil so tinker with these ingredients. What follows are the classic stuffed variety, but there’s no reason why the mix can’t contribute to other dishes if your looking to add a little acidity and garlic.
Well some of you may have noticed a little drop in posts this last week, and for that I’m sorry. What was expected to be a quiet and relaxing vacation visiting the folks for the first time in many years ended up turning into a bit of a shit show. Oh don’t worry, I cooked. I cooked my heart out and was never short of people to feed, but the writing just never got done thanks in part to comments at 4:00 pm like my Dad saying, “Did you want to try some of the ‘87 Napa Valley Cab we opened last night? We saved you a few glasses.” Or my mother offering to take me to the local resturant supply warehouse to pick up a few new toys. Or an old friend that I haven’t seen in years, is unemployed and calling to see if I want booze, pre-happy hour. It was a great trip but glad to be back home and settling back into my routine of work, blog, eat, drink.
I did however get a little work done. Made friends with the gang over at Endless Simmer, and they were even nice enough to put one of my posts on baby octopus on their site. It’s a solid crew of food aficionados and I’m really looking forward to trading recipes, talking shit about Food Network and geeking out about weird ingredients with them. No doubt plenty of delicious food to come.
Also, Nuts and Bolts is continuing to grow with some updated walkthoughs and techniques so check it out.
Finally, I found this little article a little while back. It’s as amusing as it is troubling, but when Judgment Day – Terminator style, finally does arrive, just remember that we taste like one of the best substances on Earth to robots… so there’s that. Pleasant dreams.
Ok, let’s clarify that title. A French chef, makes a Chinese dish that is similar to Italian cuisine. This is a recipe I had to try after picking up a copy of God’s Jacques Pepin’s Fast Food My Way. The dish is actually called pillows of scallop and shrimp mousse, or a bit more accurately, scallop and shrimp stuffed Chinese pot stickers. Thinking this was something like a dumping, and loving the concept of a scallop/shrimp mousse, I busted the dish out for a few friends. Another aspect I really liked, was that you can pretty much use your wrappers to form any shape you want. Folding over like triangles or wrapping into actual wontons should work just as well. Like most new recipes out of a new cookbook, there were a few ups and downs, but the final product was solid and fresh and delicious.
The prep work for this one is pretty easy. You do need a food processor of some sort though, even a tiny, $10 will do, otherwise you have to mince the scallops very finely and be sure to defrost your shrimp if frozen. Also you need to get your hands on some wonton wrappers. I’d also recommend using them a few at a time since they tend to dry out so keep them in the bag till you’re ready to use them. The only tricky part is the pan searing/steaming process, but we’ll get to that in a bit. I would also definitely not skip out on adding a splash balsamic vinegar which pairs with the soft/crispy pot stickers perfectly.
Man, I love shrimp. There’s something about the texture about these bite sized, fleshy little crustaceans that always has me coming back for more. Sauteed, grilled, fried, steamed, peeled, unpeeled, there’s a lot you can do with these guys. I also love garlic, especially if I have an extra 10 minutes to roast the cloves whole first and bring out their nutty, soft flavors. Garlic goes with everything, but I think shrimp is one of the best combos. What’s that citrus? Oh yes, yes, you’re part of the BFF team as well.
This is not a dish you probably want to be making for a first date however. Garlic and seafood are two ingredients plenty of people have problems with. This is one for those long term couples that are appreciative (or at least tolerant) of one’s complete addiction to garlic and/or seafood. In my case, it’s just one more item on an already long list of traits my future wife with have to be patient with me regarding.
The first time I ever tried papas rellenas I was on a first date at a Cuban restaurant. The date started well when we agreed to share appetizers; she ordered the ceviche, I spotted the papas. After we tried each other’s dishes I exclaimed, “This must be what an orgasm wrapped in bacon tastes like!” once I tried the papas. She was not amused. I became more interested in the food. The crispy,breaded crust, soft mashed potato casing, and savory/spicy beef in the center was really blowing my hair back, while my date picked at her squid ceviche suspiciously. There was never a second date. Turns out making quasi-inappropriate food comments is a great way of screening women for me. Lesson learned.
So that’s where the inspiration for today’s post originated from. I haven’t had papas rellenas since that date so I figured I try putting the dish together myself using a few ingredients I had on hand and glancing over a few recipes online. It’s a solid dish that can be served just was an appetizer/snack or if you want to make the balls bigger and include a sauce it makes for a nice main coarse. I’m just going to cover the basic method of putting this dish together as a snack today.