Saturday, May 31, 2008

What I've Been Eating

Well, I haven't been cooking anything for the past couple of weeks, so this stuff wasn't in my kitchen. But it was certainly in my belly. The Professor and I drove up to Canada and puttered around the Great Lakes for a few days. We ate some great food, drank some great beer and had an all around great time. So, because I'm too lazy to write out recipes and enchanting chatter for the 3 posts that I have pictures for, I'm going to just show you some of what The Professor and I have been eating and drinking for the past couple of weeks. And maybe throw in a little enchanting chatter. If I feel enchanting, that is.

We ate at a Big Boy on the way up, so just imagine a picture of a greasy, soggy Patty Melt dripping with cheese. And a Mountain Dew. Or three.

On Mackinac Island, we stopped and had a beer at this fun little cafe at Fort Mackinac (it's run by the Grande Hotel). The Big Porch Ale was perfect for cooling down after our exciting fort tour.

Later that night, we went to a great restaurant called The Lighthouse (it wasn't really a light house), and I had two firsts: Escargot and frog legs. The escargot were inside mushroom caps (so I didn't have to wrestle with the shells, thank goodness), and there was a little cheese on top. VERY YUMMY. The frog legs were part of the Seafood Platter I had for dinner - and they were fried. I picked the breading off of one so I could taste the meat by itself, and...I was underwhelmed. It wasn't bad, it wasn't good. It most certainly did NOT taste like chicken. But I have no pictures of those, because I was starving. And forgot about the camera.

This is the Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie and Spanish Coffee that The Professor had for dessert. He had the pie half devoured before I could get the camera turned on. And Spanish Coffee (coffee with brandy and Khalua) is his new favorite after-dinner drink.

The next night we were at a lovely place on Batchawana Bay on Lake Superior. The Salzburg Hof Resort is just awesome. Unless you want 50 TV chanels and internet and no bugs. Luckily, even I can deal with no TV, no internet, and a few bugs for a few days.

The resort has a restaurant (which is good, because there's not much to eat around there) and this was my dinner our first night: Natur Schnitzel, which is like Weiner Schnitzel (which is what The Professor had) except it's topped with some yummy carmelized onions. I had a choice of pork or veal, and gueess which I chose? :) I had already eaten about half my veal when I remembered to take a picture.

Fast forward a couple of days, and we've arrived in Midland. After a tour of Discovery Harbour, we stopped for...wait for it...a nice cold beer.

That night, we went to dinner at a place right on the Bay. I posted a picture of the sunset that night on my other blog - it was the perfect place for dinner that night.

I had the Fish & Chips (The Professor ate the Potato Salad because...ewww!). It went well with that beer in the background.

The Professor had some Crab/Lobster Cakes which came with the most amazing sauce - slightly smokey, slightly spicy and all awesome.

Fast forward a couple more days, and we're in Niagara Falls in Canada. After doing the Maid of the Mist experience, we stopped for ... wait for it...a beer. And the next thing I knew, I had ordered an appetizer!

I highly recommend this: It's Shoeless Joe's Lobster, Crab & Shrimp Dip. If we had been alone, we would have licked that bowl up there.

A few hours later we headed to CoCo's for dinner. And once again, we dug in before I remembered I had a camera.

I don't remember the name of the pizza, but it had "quatro" in it. (UPDATE: Kittie reminded me: it's Quattro Stagione - which she helpfully translates for us all into "Four Seasons"). 1/4 had pepperoni, 1/4 had mushrooms, 1/4 had bacon, 1/4 had artichokes. I don't know how I escaped the heartburn, but I had to combine some of the toppings on a few slices - no way could I eat that whole pizza! The Professor ordered some ravioli that I completely forgot about in my love affair with bacon.

The next night we were in Columbus, Ohio, visiting some friends. They took up out to a Turkish restaurant - a first for me. And Holy Lamby Goodness, but was it ever yummy. I'm going to warn you that this is a HORRIBLE picture, but it was by far the best thing I ate on the entire trip - so I have to share. And of course I waited til the last few bites to remember to take the dang picture.

The restaurant called this "Sultan's Favorite"; it had the Turkish name on the menu, but A) I don't speak the language, and B) I didn't write it down. That stuff on the bottom that looks like hummus is actually eggplant. There was a plate full of it, topped with little bite size pieces of lamb in a smokey sauce. I would call it a Turkish bbq sauce, but I don't like bbq sauce.

Update: I found it! It's called Hunkar Begendi; Much Better Picture here.

The Professor had something that I have completely forgotten the name of; that's basically a lamb kebab with some Greek-type yogurt (shh! Don't tell the Turkish restaurant I called it Greek yogurt!) on top. His was good...but mine was better.

Tonight, we go out to celebrate The Professor's birthday. We're going to a Brazillian restaurant and have been starving ourselves all day in anticipation.

I think I'll be on a lettuce and water diet for the next month.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Parmesan Crusted Potato Wedges

Remember the Great Potato Pile of 2007?

Well, I didn’t. Until I came home with 5 pounds of potatoes last week and started thinking up things to do with them. And I can’t do potato soup, or potato casserole, and really – is there a need to post about a baked potato? So I came up with a sister recipe to the Sweet Potato Fries, which is really nothing like the Sweet Potato Fries at ALL now that I’m done with it.

Luckily, potatoes are pretty low-maintenance. They’re the low-key member of the vegetable kingdom. You don’t have to plan menus around them; you don’t have to woo them with soft music and pretty flowers. They’re easy that way. You don’t have to even really think about them. I’m pretty sure you could half-way cook a potato, change your mind about what you want to do with it, and then continue on your way with the new recipe, and it would all work out in the end. If they could speak, Potatoes would sound like Leo from That 70’s Show just after he inhaled. “Whatever, Dude, I’m cool with that”.

Before I go any farther with that, I think it’s time for a recipe. You?

Parmesan Crusted Potato Wedge

3 russet Potatoes, cut into wedges*
½ cup butter or margarine, melted**
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp dried basil
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup Italian flavored bread crumbs

Preheat your oven to 425F.

Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray.

In a bowl, combine garlic powder, dried basil, parmesan and bread crumbs.

Working a few at a time, toss the potato wedges in the butter, then the bread crumb/Parmesan mixture. Make sure to get them thoroughly coated!

Lay the wedges in the bottom of the dish.

If there are bread crumbs left over, sprinkle them on the potatoes.

Bake for about 30-40 minutes, turning one halfway through cooking. If they’re not done enough for you, leave them in another five minutes. Or until they’re done.

*I left the skin on mine, and cut them (lengthwise) into eighths.
**If you want to do an experiment for me, use butter-flavored cooking spray instead. I’ve read that if you’re trying to cut out fat/calories, it works – but I’ve never tried it. And if The Professor saw me spraying his dinner with butter-flavored non-stick cooking-spray, I would NEVER hear the end of it.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

This Dip Needs Help

Last weekend, my parents were in town. Becaue I'm an overachiever, I attempted to fix a "dippy type thing" for us to munch on while we watied for my sister to arrive.

It was not my finest hour.

I thought I had a Knor vegetable soup mix in my pantry. I didn't. But I didn't let that stop me!

I had sour cream in the fridge. I have a cabinet full of spices. I decided I could make my own dip.

Let this be a warning to you: "fat free sour cream" + "mini food processor" = "very runny dip".

I think the flavor was very good, though. Which is why I am imortalizing the process here.

You're welcome.

Sour Cream Dip That Needs Help

16 oz fat free sour cream
1/4 cup low-fat 3 Cheese Ranch Salad Dressing
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp celery salt
2 tsp dill

I put everything in a food processor; I suggest you just mix it all together in a bowl - the food processor made the dip very runny.

My dip was very runny - as I've mentioned, I blame it completely on the food processor. I think it would also be awesome made with cream cheese instead of sour cream (or even half sourc cream and half cream cheese).

Experiment away, my pretties - and let me know how it turns out.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

That Cookbook Thing II: Julia's French Onion Soup

Back in January, after a group of us finished our review for Where Flavor Was Born, one of us decided that it wasn't time to let go. That a special group had been formed, full of highly trained tasters with an uncanny ability to get right at a recipe and then raise a ton of question about it. Questions that must be answered with many emails.

That person was Mike. And he knew there were still many questioned to be raised.

So, not being the sort to let a thing like that pass him by, he decided we needed another project. This time, we set our sights on an icon.

Try this on for size:

Yes, my friends, we are now tackling Julia Child's The Art of French Cooking. Because we aren't completely insane, we're sticking with volume 1.

The Chosen Bloggers are:
Mike from Mel's Diner
Sara from iliketocook
Mary the Breadchick from The Sour Dough
Ruth from Once Upon A Feast
Mary from Cooking For Five

First Challenge: Julia's French Onion Soup.

But even that wasn't enough - we decided to go all out with one of the variations and cooked "Soupe a l’Oignon Gratinee des Trois Gourmandes" (click for the recipe at Mike's place). That's basically "Really-Extra-Special Onion Soup With Multiple Forms of Alcohol" for those of you (like me) who don't speak French.

We were allowed by our gracious dictator to make some variations. I was scared enough of the recipe not to try. I did (*gasp*) use half canned beef stock, because I didn't have enough of the homemade variety. Which probably makes me unworthy to cook a Julia Child recipe, but... you know what? I don't care. Because the soup was freaking good.

Well, it was freaking good the second day. The first day it had too much of a "soup that will make you an alocoholic" taste for my tastebuds. The first day it was just extremely good.

But any day I get to broil cheese and yummy bread that is soaking up a cognac-infused broth is a good day.

Now, this recipe is not something you just throw together to impress someone. You have to work at it a little - and that means reading the recipe ahead of time, which is sooo not my forte.

My humble suggestion: Do the last step (the cognac-egg yolk-worcestershire step) as the second to last step, and let it hum along for a while before putting the bread and cheese on top and putting it in the oven. I think the cognac needs some time to really meld with the beef stock. But that could be because I'm not a huge fan of cognac.

And really - who am I to question Julia Child?