Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Meal Planning - week two

So, I ended up planning meals again for the week and went to the grocery store last night and farmer's market today. I got all kinds of goodies - like a beautiful whole chicken and bosc pears and some HUGE sweet yellow onions. I also got some heirloom tomatoes and an avocado for sandwiches along with this oatmeal bread that I really love.

So... This week I've planned 4 meals again - mostly based around a roasted chicken. I'm thinking about maybe doing some homemade pizza on Saturday night if I'm around.

Tuesday (tonight) - Roasted salmon with a maple glaze served over garlicy grains and rice along with broccoli with olive oil and lemon zest.

Wednesday - Roasted chicken with fresh herbs (rosemary and thyme) and roasted bosc pears and shallots served with a spinach/arugula/radicchio, apple, and goat cheese salad and a honey balsamic vinaigrette.

Thursday - Open-faced roasted chicken, apple, and provolone sandwiches on oatmeal bread along with spinach, heirloom tomato, and cucumber salad with apricot/honey white wine vinaigrette.

Friday - Roasted chicken, fresh strawberry, goat cheese, and spinach salad with honey and shallot balsamic vinaigrette.

Yup, I really love making salad dressings from scratch. I mostly end up making a vinaigrette of some sort, but usually go with a balsamic vinaigrette that I love. When I was at the store I almost got a blackberry ginger balsamic vinegar for dressings and noticed an apple balsamic as well... Maybe next time. They both sounded really good.

Here's to good food.
- Cait

Meal Planning - week one

I've been busy actually doing things - so I haven't been updating this blog at all. Oops! Last week I started actually doing some meal planning... I wrote down what I wanted to make in a little pocket calendar and it went over pretty well... Sometimes my meals are planned, but it's usually a last minute - oh I need to run to the store to get _______ to make whatever it is for dinner. I guess I got a little inspired and decided to plan meals for most of the week. I only planned until Wednesday figuring there would be leftovers.


Sunday night - Shrimp and corn chowder served with corn bread along with a spinach/arugula/radicchio salad with apple, goat cheese, and a balsamic fig vinaigrette.

Monday night - Meatloaf served with baked macaroni and cheese and sauteed green beans.

Tuesday night - Pear, sharp cheddar, and ham panini on fresh baked country bread along with a baby romaine and roasted beet salad with a balsamic honey vinaigrette.

Wednesday night - Old school chicken cacciatore served over creamy polenta.

So far, there isn't anything left over - the shrimp and corn chowder went over super well and the pot was scraped clean!

I used leftover meatloaf in amazing sandwiches - which my boyfriend loved and said how they were actually moist. I used fresh country bread sliced semi-thick which was toasted and rubbed with a garlic clove along with meatloaf slices, a pile of caramelized onions, topped with provolone cheese and placed under the broiler until the cheese was nice and gooey. I threw on some sliced heirloom tomato after the cheese was melted and topped it off with another slice of garlic rubbed country bread.

It was a good food week!

Here's to delicious food.
- Cait

Monday, April 27, 2009

Strawberry Festival - Peddler's Village - May 2 and 3, 2009

Peddler's Village hosts many different festivals throughout the year. I used to go to them when I was younger and always loved going to their Apple Festival. They had all kinds of apple goodies, my favorite being a warm apple dumpling served with vanilla pudding. Every strawberry season they celebrate the lushes fruit with a festival of it's very own. Yum.

Strawberry Festival 2009
Saturday May 2ed
Sunday May 3ed
10am - 6pm both days

Strawberry Festival plays host to delicious strawberry treats like pastries, strawberry shortcake, strawberry fritters, and strawberry jam but it's also a showcase for juried artisans. There's going to be live entertainment, pie-eating contests, and artisans demonstrating their trade. There will be great strawberry goodies to bring home too.

Peddler's Village is a great food and shopping destination. There are all kinds of little shops selling everything from kitchen goods (pots, pans, knives), a shop selling lamps, a wonderful toy store, hobby shops, and places with one of a kind artisan jewelry, woodworking, glass, and ceramics. There's also a nice coffee shop, a store with some beautiful cut flowers and flowering plants, and Giggleberry Fair (with a carousel, games, and obstacle course). It's a great place for the whole family on a normal weekend, but it's even better when there's a festival going on.

Peddler's Village is located at...
Routes 202 & 263
Lahaska, Bucks County, PA

The festival is going to be a great thing to check out and a nice way to spend a Saturday or Sunday. If you're traveling from out of the area, there's an inn right in the village - Golden Plough Inn. The inn has 71 rooms and is in a great building.

Below is a YouTube video of highlights from the festival...

Here's to berries and full bellies.
- Cait

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Went to Shad Fest Today

This is gonna be a quick post because I'm tired from being out in the sun all day today. By tired, I mean I keep falling asleep!

Okay! I went to Shad Festival for the first time today. I've gotta say, it's worth the drive. I walked around, got a gourmet dog cupcake for my dog, went on a steamboat ride, and ate. There were big blowup slides, and this bouncing flipping thing, and another blow up ride for kids to play on. There were bands playing and people drinking. There were activities for kids like sand art and fishing games... Tomorrow is gonna be the rubber duck race. I'm not sure how they release the ducks in the river, but that could be fun to watch. There are cash prizes for the winning ducks and the money raised from buying the ducks go to children's education.

The location is dog friendly. Tons of people were walking around with their dogs, which all the little kids around loved. There's even a "get your picture taken with a wolf" tent.

There were some things going on over at the River Horse Brewery in Lambertville. I'm pretty sure that's where most of the bands were playing and of course there was drinking going on. My boyfriend and I were gonna check it out, but there was a long line to get drink tickets and we had his son along. What 2 year old wants to wait in line so the grown-ups can check out so locally brewed beer? There were people with strollers and kids at the River Horse so if your kid is napping or in the mood to hold still for a bit - don't let it hold you back.

We ate grilled london broil sandwiches, fries, my boyfriend had a pulled pork sandwich, and I had a sandwich from No. 9 Restaurant. I gotta say, my favorite was the braised beef and horseradish creme. I'm pretty sure it was made with the braised shortribs, or prehaps they braised some other cut. The beef was just and tender as their braised shortribs though (my favorite dish I've had there). They also had an oyster poboy sandwich (which I would have also liked to try), some kind of seafood chowder (lots of people were getting it), and of course Shad. There was a blackened Shad sandwich (saw other places serving that up too) and a Shad po boy sandwich. The only problem was that they ran out of the Shad by the time we got around to eating. Hopefully they'll get more for tomorrow! We also enjoyed lemonade and Wild Bill's soda, both of which were great treats on a hot day. The soda was EXTRA cold (my favorite flavors? root beer and birch beer).

There were also hot dogs, burgers, mexican food served up by a local mexican restaurant, flavored nuts, taco salad, fried oreos, japanse food, and a few other things - all served on the street! If you live in the area - it's worth going just for grabbing lunch or dinner. If you don't live in the area, it's still worth going to enjoy the food and the rest of the activities. If you're looking for gifts for upcoming birthdays or Mother's day, Father's day, or maybe a graduation there are artists and crafters selling their goodies.

Oh, and if you wear out Lambertville, you can walk across the bridge into New Hope to explore there too!

Seriously, GO!

Here's to the Delaware River and the towns that sprang up along side it (and full bellies too).
- Cait

P.S. I took a bunch of pictures, so I'll be blogging some later.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Reminder - Shad Fest

Shad Festival banner. Roe is a delicacy, The Hamilton Grill is going to be doing a shad roe cooking demonstration.

Well, I said I'd post again before the weekend festival as another reminder...

April 25th and 26th
12:30-5:30 both days
Lambertville, New Jersey

These are the banners and Welcome to Jersey sign right after you cross the New Hope / Lambertville bridge. It's the main street through Lambertville.

To view my previous posts on the festival...
Shad Festival - Lambertville, New Jersey - April 25th and 26th
Shad Festival 2009, Lambertville, New Jersey

Fishermen fishing for Shad under the New Hope / Lambertville bridge.

To check out information about the festival on the Lambertville.org site.
Entertainment Schedule
Art and Crafts

Chamber Member Businesses
General Information

New weekend weather report, as of tonight!

Here's to festivals with food and full bellies.
- Cait

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Magazine Wednesday - Martha Stewart Living - Sauteed Peas and Scallions

I have a ton of food magazines, but Martha Stewart Living is one of my favorite magazines to find food inspirations and recipes. One thing I really love about Martha Stewart Living is the pull out recipe cards. It has been years since I started collecting them and I'm still going strong. Every time I get a new Martha Stewart Living magazine I read through the whole thing once, then remove the recipe cards and put them in a safe place.

Peas are great. This past early fall I had amazing split pea soup at a restaurant in New Hope. Peas are simple to cook, especially if you use thawed frozen peas. Fresh peas are going to be popping up in markets before you know it. I think fresh peas would be well worth the time and effort shelling them. I can't wait to be able to pick some up at one of the farm stores by my house. Maybe I could even find a place to pick my own!

This recipe for sauteed peas from Martha Stewart Living is simple and could be done with pretty much any vegetable you could thing of. It would be great with fresh green beans, sweet corn, even asparagus or summer squash. I think the scallions just add something a little special to something as simple as a sauteed vegetable.

Photo from Martha Stewart Living

Sauteed Peas and Scallions

via Martha Stewart Living, April 2005
prep time: 5 mins. total time: 10 mins

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups shelled fresh peas or thawed frozen peas
3 scallions, white and pale-green parts only, thinly sliced diagonally
course salt and freshly ground pepper

Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add peas and scallions. Cook, stirring, until heated through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

I love how this recipe takes something as simple as a vegetable sauteed in butter and adds something a little unexpected in the scallions. I'd even try this with a mix of fresh vegetables, like peas, corn, and red bell peppers. To really heighten the the flavor you could grill sweet corn on the cob before sauteing in butter with the scallions.

Here's to spring showers and full bellies.
- Cait

Monday, April 20, 2009

Shad Festival 2009, Lambertville, New Jersey

So, Shad Festival 2009 weekend is coming up FAST! It's actually this weekend!!! Shad Festival will be taking place April 25th and April 26th from 12:30 - 5:30 PM both days. It's rain or shine but I looked up the local weather forecast for Lambertville, New Jersey anyway (I included a screenshot).

Above is a photograph that I took from the New Hope side of the Delaware River. The bridge connects the "sister" towns. You'll likely be walking or driving over the bridge at some point during Shad Fest if you go. It's a great place to stop and take photographs of the river. You'll probably even get to photograph fishermen fishing for The Shad! That's what the men are fishing for in the lower right-hand corner of my photograph of the bridge.

One of the first things you'll see is the "Welcome to New Jersey" sign once you cross the bridge. Right now a bunch of Shad Festival banners and flags are hung by this sign. I'm sure you'll notice it!

Here's some information about the festival so you know what to expect once you get there (pulled from the lambertville.org site).

In The Food Court: everything from taco salads to fried Calamari! There will also be the tried and true favorites: Hot dogs, hamburgers and fries and fresh lemonade for the traditionalists! And Shad of course!Also featured: beer tasting and wine tasting.

Shad Roe Cooking Demonstration: at the famous Hamilton's Grill on Saturday and Sunday - samples for everyone!

Entertainment: Rock out to the best of local talent, with entertainment throughout the weekend: Check back soon for the schedule for your favorite type of music, there's everything from jazz, and R&B to funky pop rock.

Family fun: Check out the North Union Street Parking lot for the Kid's Bazaar, where you'll find everything haloes to wear, airbrush temporary tattoos, sand art, and kids will also have the opportunity to print their own T Shirt designs and make their own candles. Face painting too! And this year down in Lambertville Station's parking lot -- kids will go crazy for the rides because they're back!

Shad Festival Poster Auction on Sunday at 3 pm at the First Presbyterian Church on N. Union St. Over 130 original works of art will be on display throughout festival weekend. Register to bid at 2 pm on Sunday, and at 3 pm, the auction begins. Proceeds will go to local students pursuing a collegiate career in the arts. There will be both a silent and live auction of posters. All live auction posters MUST BE original works of art. Minimum starting bid at the live auction is $50. Minimum starting bid at the silent auction is $20. All entries are eligible to receive poster prizes!

The Lambertville.org website actually updated their Shad Festival page to include information about the festivals parking situation. It gets really crowded in the Lambertville/New Hope area on normal nice weekend days, let alone during a festival.

"Sections of Lambertville's main streets will be closed for the festival, so do not try to drive all the way into town. Follow the parking signs to our lots and park the entire day for a fee. Shuttle buses will transport you to the festival from the lots located on Route 179. There are other lots located at the Diamond Silver Complex on N. Main St. (Rte. 29) and Arnett Ave. Proceeds from parking support our many civic and volunteer organizations. Throughout Lambertville metered parking with be in effect and violations carry a minimum fine of $25. Cars parked illegally along Route 29 or in "no parking" zones are subject to a minimum fine of $45. Please park in our lots!"

The weather for Shad Festival Weekend is going to be nice!!! The high for both days is in the low 80s and there's only the slightest chance of rain as of today. I'm excited that the weather is going to be nice because yesterday and today have been wet and rainy thus far. Remember to bring sunblock! Even though it's early in the season, the sun is stronger than you expect it to be. I got burned Saturday afternoon and I was only outside for a few hours.

I have some more photographs that I've taken of the Shad Festival signs and fishermen fishing for Shad, so I'll make another post later in the week to remind you all again!

Here's to digital cameras and full bellies!
- Cait

*All photographs in this posting were taken by me, including the screenshot of the weather.com page.

Spotting Dinner - Pasta with English Pea Pesto

I saw an episode of Giada at Home the other day where she made pesto using spinach and arugula instead of basil... When I was checking out TasteSpotting and came across dianalynn's posting of pasta with pesto made from peas, I was inspired. What a great take on pesto, especially with fresh peas becoming available.

Photo from southernfood

Pasta with English Pea Pesto

via southernfood


  • 1 pound spaghetti or linguine
  • 8 ounces diced ham
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil or butter
  • 1 cup frozen petite green peas, thawed or lightly cooked
  • 3/4 cup packed torn basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, optional
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Cook spaghetti or linguine following package directions. Drain and rinse with hot water.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, brown the ham in a few teaspoons of olive oil or butter.

Meanwhile, for pesto, combine in a food processor the peas, basil, Parmesan cheese, garlic, and walnuts, if using. Run the food processor, adding olive oil a little at a time. Taste and add salt and pepper, as needed.

Toss the ham and pesto with the hot pasta. Serve with more Parmesan cheese.
Serves 6.

To really "bulk" out the pasta, I'd serve this with a simple grilled chicken breast (or grilled chicken tenders). I've always prefered chicken tenders to a whole chicken breast.

Here's to fresh produce and full bellies.
- Cait

Spotting Lunch - Crab Melt on Wholewheat English Muffins

For as long as I can remember my mother's choice sandwich was a tuna melt. A summer or two ago I remember her bringing home half a tuna melt sandwich from The Summer Kitchen in Newtown, Pennsylvania that looked so good every time I go to that restaurant I see if it's on the menu. We'd also make tuna melts at home for a quick lunch of dinner. I like it better than the average tuna salad sandwich (although I did make a tuna salad with grilled ahi tuna - AMAZING)... When I was on TasteSpotting looking for something for lunch and found cafenilson's crab melt - I was sold! I'll probably be trying this recipe out for my mom for Mother's Day - I know she'll love it!

Photo from cafenilson

Crab Melt on Wholewheat English Muffins

via cafenilson


  • 1 cup crab meat (you can use the real thing or the imitation crab, either way it still tastes good)
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 tbs flour
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, fat -free half and half or milk (I use whatever I have in my refrigerator)
  • 1 cup monterey jack cheese, shredded and divided into two or 4 portions depending on size of muffins used (see below)
  • paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 halves english muffins or 2 large ones


  1. Melt butter in a medium hot sauce pan. Add flour to make a roux. Add cream (or milk) and cook until thick. Add more or less cream to make a thick enough white sauce. Add crab meat pieces, stir carefully and season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.
  2. Place muffin halves in a baking sheet. Divide the crab mixture in half (or four if using regular sized english muffins.)
  3. Add crab mixture on top of muffin, enough to cover. Add the cheese on top. Cheese need not cover the muffin as it will melt and spread so watch out how much you put. Sprinkle with paprika on top.
  4. Broil in the oven until cheese melts and top is crusty golden brown, usually 10 - 15 minutes.
  5. Remove and serve with salad of choice.

The serving suggestion from cafenilson is that you serve the crab melts with a salad and I agree. This would be great with almost any kind of salad that you could think of. I came across a cucumber salad in Barefoot Contessa "Back to Basics" which would be a nice along side this. But a simple red onion and heirloom tomato salad would be equally as nice. Ina's tabbouleh salad (minus the pitas) would be a great choice too!

Here's to Alaska and full bellies.
- Cait

Spotting Breakfast - Mushroom, Asparagus, Gruyere and Egg Casserole

I love eggs for breakfast and I always love finding something different to do with them. When I was looking for a few breakfast dish on TasteSpotting I found inn cuisine's egg casserole. One thing I really loved about the dish is that it uses asparagus. Spring is the time to enjoy fresh asparagus, and this is a great way to use up asparagus you may have left over from dinner. I never cook a whole bundle of asparagus since I'm usually only cooking for one or two.

Photo from InnCuisine

Mushroom, Asparagus, Gruyere & Egg Casserole

via InnCuisine

  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus (approximately 1 pound), rinsed, trimmed and cut into 1 & 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3-4 ounces (about 1/2 cup) sliced mushrooms
  • 3 ounces grated Gruyere, divided
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 controlled splash of dry white wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

to prepare

Gently steam asparagus pieces for approximately 3 minutes, remove from heat and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F for baking. Spray your favorite casserole dish (approximately 9&1/2″ x 9&1/2″ x 1&1/2″ in size) with non-stick cooking spray.

to make the casserole

In a large bowl, break eggs and whisk gently. Add 2 ounces grated Gruyere (reserve remaining for garnish), minced shallot and garlic, splash of dry white wine, Herbes de Provence, salt and freshly ground black pepper; whisk until ingredients are thoroughly combined. Stir in steamed asparagus and sliced mushrooms. Pour egg mixture into prepared casserole dish and place on center rack of preheated, 350 degree F oven; bake for approximately 30-35 minutes (depending on size and depth of your casserole dish and accuracy of your oven). Casserole is done when eggs are set in the middle, i.e. eggs no longer jiggle when casserole dish is moved back and forth.

When eggs are set, remove casserole dish from oven and and sprinkle with remaining ounce of grated Gruyere. Cut into 4 large wedges (or 6-8 smaller ones) and serve warm.

Pair with warm, crusty bread and a mixed green sald or fruit. Optional—top bread and salad with a slight drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a bit of grated Gruyere if desired. Enjoy!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Birthday Nightcap

Okay, not really a nightcap as in a drink - but a little ending to my birthday day. I hope you all enjoyed my birthday edition food picks from TasteSpotting - and yes, I did end up with lobster today, but it was for dinner.

I had a really nice day starting with my boyfriend taking me to lunch in New Hope, Pennsylvania. We ate outside practically on the river. It was so nice and sunny and warm out today. We were joined by ducks and got to watch fishermen fishing for Shad. We walked across the New Hope/Lambertville bridge and stopped at Lilly's for a slice of Coconut Dream cake to take home with us and I took some photographs.

Later I went out to dinner with my mom and then we did some errand type shopping (buying shampoo). But hey, I love beauty products and since it takes a lot of hard work to keep my red locks red - I love finding specialty shampoos and conditioners. Our night ended with birthday cake eatting, sharing cake with my dog - Ginger (my cat - Princess - got some icing), then I opened cards and gifts.

I had one of the best birthdays today than I've had in a really long time. Since I'm super tired from good food, great people, fun times, shopping, and drinks - I'm going to bed early tonight. I will be posting more about my birthday tomorrow or Sunday. I'll be needing to share food details and photographs. I'll also be making another post about Shad Festival, because it's coming up next weekend.

Heres to feather pillows and full bellies.
- Cait

Spotting Birthday Cake - Coconut Cake

Who has a birthday without cake? This is a special edition to the daily "Spotting" series of posts in honor of my birthday today.

I love coconut cake. It's probably something I would have turned my nose up at as a child, but for the last few years it's been my "thing". Sometimes I'd even try to think up reasons to have dinner at Lilly's on the Canal in Lambertville, New Jersey just so I could order a slice of their Coconut Dream cake with raspberry syrup to either eat there or take home. Yes, if I eat there and I'm not having dessert I at least get a slice of that cake to take home with me. I found Tartelette's coconut cake with cream cheese buttercream on TasteSpotting and thought it looked amazing.

Photo from tartelette

Coconut Cake:
via tartelette
Seves 8-10
Printable Recipe

For the cake:
6 large eggs, separated
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut liqueur such as Malibu for soaking in the layers

Separate the egg whites from the yolks in 2 different (well cleaned) bowls.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl or over a piece of parchment paper that you can easily pick up when the time comes to add the flour to the batter in progress.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream 1 cup of the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla.
In a small bowl, or a measuring bowl with a spout (easier to pour), combine the buttermilk and the coconut milk. Set aside.
Turn the mixer to low speed and alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture to the butter, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.
If you have only one KA bowl, pour this mixture into a large mixing bowl while you whip the egg whites.
In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until foamy. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar until you get nice stiff peaks. Stop before the meringue becomes dry.
Gently fold the egg whites into the flour/butter mixture.
Pour the cake batter into 2 separate 9X9 square inch pans and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes at 350F or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Place the cakes on a wire rack to cool, in their pans, for about 10 minutes. Invert onto a greased cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Buttercream:
3 sticks butter at room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, softened
5 egg whites
1 cup sugar divided
1/4 cup water
2 tsp. coconut extract
1 cup coconut flakes

In the bowl of stand mixer, whip 5 egg whites until they have soft peaks. Slowly add 1/4 cup of sugar until you get a glossy meringue. In the meantime, combine 1/4 cup water with 3/4 cup sugar to a boil in a heavy saucepan and bring the syrup to 250F. Slowly add the sugar syrup to the egg whites. If you use hand beaters, this is even easier and there is less hot syrup splatter on the side of your bowl and in the whisk attachment of the stand mixer. Continue to whip until the meringue is completely cooled. Slowly add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. The mass might curdle but no panic, continue to whip until it all comes together. Add the cream cheese, the same way, a little at a time until everything is smooth. Whisk in the vanilla extract.
Slice each cake square into 2 pieces horizontally. Brush the bottom layer with some coconut liqueur, spread 1/3 cup of the buttercream over and add another layer of cake and repeat the soaking and layering. Finish by frosting the entire surface of the cake and sprinkle coconut flakes all over.....and eat!

Maybe if I give this recipe to my mom - she'll take to baking coconut cakes for me...

Here's to really big nuts and full bellies.
- Cait

Spotting Dinner Birthday Edition - Filet Oscar

On special occasions, like birthdays or when I had some artwork in a school gallery show my family and I go out to a nice dinner. My sister and I usually order filet mignon in some form - usually wrapped with bacon. When I found foodiebride's Filet Oscar on TasteSpotting, I thought that would be perfect. I love crab meat, I love asparagus, and who doesn't like bearnaise sauce?

Photo from jasonandshawnda

Filet Oscar Style

via jasonandshawnda

2 Alaskan King Crab legs
Tips from 1 lb asparagus, blanched
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
4 beef tenderloin steaks
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup shallot, finely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh tarragon
3 eggs yolks
1 stick butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 tsp lemon juice

Steam the crab legs:
Preheat oven to 375. Place the king crab legs in a loose-fitting foil pouch. Before sealing tightly, add a small amount of water. Place in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Using a fork or a crab-leg-meat-getter-outer, remove the meat from the crab legs and place in a medium bowl along with the blanched asparagus tips. Gently break up any overly-large pieces with your hands.

Cook the steaks: In a large, oven-safe saute pan, melt butter and olive oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Pat the steaks dry and season both sides liberally with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Place the steaks in the pan and sear 3-4 minutes. Flip, sear for 3 minutes more and place the pan into the oven. Cook to an internal temperature of 135 (medium rare), remove from oven and tent with foil while you finish the sauce.

Make the Béarnaise sauce:
Boil wine, vinegar, shallots, and fresh tarragon in a small heavy saucepan until liquid is reduced to 2 tablespoons, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve set into a medium bowl, pressing on and then discarding solids.

Whisk the yolks into the vinegar mixture, and then set bowl over a double boiler and cook until hot, whisking constantly until yolks have thickened slightly. Whisk in butter 1 piece at a time, adding each piece before previous one has melted completely. Remove from heat and whisk in lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper (or to taste). Keep warm, if necessary, by leaving it on the double-boiler but make sure to turn off the heat.

Assemble: Add about 1/3 cup of the sauce to the bowl of crab and asparagus. Lightly toss to coat. Plate the steaks and top with a generous portion of the crab-asparagus mixture. Top with additional Béarnaise sauce and serve.

Serves 4
Béarnaise Sauce: Slightly adapted from Gourmet

Originally uploaded by Confections of a Foodie Bride.

The great thing about this recipe, even though it's elegant, there aren't many needed ingredients. So, it makes the dish completely "do-able". I'd love this served with a small serving of whipped mashed potatoes and perhaps some simply cooked carrots.

Here's to Alaska and full bellies.

- Cait

Spotting Lunch Birthday Edition - Lobster Roll and Lobster Bisque

I love lobster... I never actually get to eat it though. I think today being my birthday is the perfect excuse to enjoy a lobster filled lunch. While on TasteSpotting I found timelessgourmet's traditional New England lobster roll and thought it would be a great alternative to a salad or everyday type sandwich. I also found peabody's lobster bisque garnished with chives. What's more special than a lobster packed birthday lunch?

Photo from timeinthekitchen

New England Lobster Rolls
via timeinthekitchen

New England Lobster Roll recipe one:

  • Meat from half of one small (1 1/4 pond) Maine lobster, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 stalk peeled celery, minced
  • A few grates of freshly ground black pepper
  • New England style hot dog bun, toasted

Mix the first three ingredients together and add to the bun.

New England Style Lobster Roll recipe two:

  • Meat from half of one small (1 1/4 pond) Maine lobster, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise

Mix these two ingredients together, and serve with:

  • 1 wedge fresh lemon
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

Squirt some lemon on top, and use the melted butter as a dipping sauce!

Photo from northwestnoshings

Lobster Bisque

via northwestnoshings

2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 tsp tomato paste
8 ounces unsalted butter
1-1/2 lbs Maine lobster
32 ounces water
2 cups heavy cream
2 bay leaves
½ cup dry sherry
Salt and pepper to taste

Steam lobster in water until done, about 8 minutes. Save stock. Remove lobster meat from shell; set aside. Break up lobster shells, then place them back into the water; simmer over low heat until reduced by half.
Heat half the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic and celery and saute until soft, about 10 minutes.
Add bay leaf, tomato paste and sherry and simmer for 10 minutes or until reduced by half.
Add cream and lobster stock and simmer over low heat (Do not boil.) for 30 to 40 minutes or until soup begins to thicken.
Season with salt and pepper. Remove lobster shells and bay leaves. Chop up lobster meat and add to bisque. Stir in remaining butter.
Serve hot with a little crème fraiche and fresh chives.

I think I'd wash all that lobster down with a simple green salad and my favorite white wine. I think I'd fall into a food coma after this lunch, but hey - it's my birthday!

Here's to Maine and full bellies.
- Cait

Spotting Breakfast Birthday Edition - Eggs Benedict

So, it's April 17th... which happens to be my birthday! Today isn't just any other day of the week for me. I decided that I'm going to be picking out meals that are more on the extravagant side in honor of today. It took awhile of poking around on TasteSpotting to come across something I found suitable for today's post. I settled on eggs benedict because it's something I rarely ever have. There are a bunch of different versions of this dish on TasteSpotting but I chose doesnttaztelikechicken's.

Eggs Benedict
via doesnttaztelikechicken

To make the hollandaise sauce, you will need:
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tbsp of lemon juice
- 1/4 cup of melted butter

Fill a quart pan with water up to 1/3 of its height. The glass bowl will sit on the quart pan later so make sure the water just comes below, and not touching, the bottom of the glass bowl. Bring water to a simmer.

Put the egg yolks and lemon juice into the glass bowl. Whisk the yolks until it increases in volume, about 3 minutes.

Place the glass bowl on the quart pan. Continue to whisk quickly and slowly drizzle in the melted butter. Whisk until the sauce is thicken, about 5 minutes. Add in salt to taste. Remove the bowl from the quart pan and keep it in a warm area.

To make the eggs benedict for 2 people, you will need:
- 2 eggs
- 1 English muffin , sliced in half.
- 4 pieces of English bacon

Bring water in a quart pan and bring to a boil. When water is boiling, bring the heat down to a simmer. Put a sieve in the water and carefully crack an egg into the sieve. Let the eggs cook for 4 minutes and this will give you a runny yolk. Repeat with the second egg.

Pan fried the bacon in a non stick pan until they are slight brown on both sides.

Toast the muffin in a toaster until they are slightly brown.

To assemble:

Place half of a muffin on a plate. Place 2 pieces of ham on top and then carefully slide the poached egg from the sieve onto the ham. If you find the hollandaise sauce too thick, mix a few drops of warm water into the sauce. Spoon a good amount of the sauce onto the egg. Sprinkle with parsley and a few dash of cayenne pepper.

Eggs benedict is one of my favorite things to order if I'm going out to Sunday brunch. My family and I usually go to The Waterwheel in Doylestown if we're going to brunch, but that only happens once or twice a year. Besides the eggs, I usually end up getting a freshly made waffle with berries. All the food is great there and it would be nice to have a bit of that brunch experience on my birthday.

Here's to favorite brunch spots and full bellies.

- Cait

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spotting Dinner - Braised Chicken with Scallion Purée

It's a bit later than I've been posting the "Spotting Dinner" post, but I had a busy day today. I checked e-mails, messed with Google Analytics, checked out Etsy, had some sort of sneezing fit in the shower (oh my, was that terrible!), did my hair, checked out my birthday gift from Patty, stopped at Starbucks, went out to Newtown to visit two teachers of mine - Cris Martino (jewelry) and Caren Friedman (printmaking), talked to some previous classmates, traded fixed earrings for a print, went to Doylestown to try and find special shampoo or colour glaze to keep my red hair SUPER red.... and if I came home to Terry B's braised chicken that I found on TasteSpotting I would have been in heaven!

Photo from blue-kitchen

Braised Chicken with Scallion Purée

via blue-kitchen

Adapted from The Cook and the Gardener

For Terry’s doctored broth:
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic
4 black peppercorns

For the chicken and scallion purée:
1 tablespoon canola oil
8 pieces of chicken—4 drumsticks, 4 thighs
salt, freshly ground black pepper
24 scallions, trimmed [leaving as much green as possible], sliced into 1/4-inch pieces, divided
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 medium to large potatoes [about 1 pound], peeled and cut into large chunks
3 cups Spring Stock or Terry’s doctored broth [or homemade stock or water]
3 tablespoons heavy cream

Make the broth. Combine broth and 1 cup of wine in a medium stock pot and bring to a boil. While it’s heating, “bruise” the rosemary sprig by rolling a rolling pin or the side of a glass over it to release its flavorful oils. Add to pot. Lightly bash the garlic clove with the side of a knife, remove the skin and add garlic clove to pot, along with the bay leaf and peppercorns. When broth comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool slightly, then strain into a bowl and discard solids. You should have about 3 cups of wonderfully fragrant broth.

Cook the chicken. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large lidded skillet over medium high flame [I used a 5-quart sauté pan]. Add oil to pan, then add chicken, skin side down and sauté until it is very brown, but not burned, about 10 minutes. Swirl the pan occasionally to make sure oil is in contact with all chicken to avoid scorching. Toward the end of the 10 minutes, reduce heat to medium. Turn chicken and scatter two-thirds of the sliced scallions over and around it [this is why you reduced the heat a moment ago, to not burn the scallions]. Brown second side of chicken for about 5 minutes.

Transfer chicken to a plate. Spread scallions around pan and cook for another minute or so. Add 1/3 cup of wine and stir, scraping up browned bits. Reduce wine by half. Return chicken to pan, along with any juices. Add potatoes and enough broth to come about two-thirds up the side of the chicken [if you don't have enough broth, add water]. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, braising chicken for about 45 to 55 minutes, until potatoes are completely cooked.

Make the scallion purée. Heat oven to 175ºF. When chicken is done, transfer it to a plate and place in oven to keep warm. Strain the braising juices and reserve. Transfer potatoes and scallions to food processor and pulse a few times until potatoes are just crushed [as Hesser says, "pulsing any longer will turn the mixture into a starchy goo"]. Remove blade from processor and stir in cream with a spatula. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover processor with dish towel to keep purée warm.

Transfer juices to sauce pan and reduce over high heat to a concentrated, highly flavored jus, about 1 cup of liquid. Lower heat to medium, add remaining sliced scallions and simmer until just wilted, 1 to 2 minutes.

To serve, spread purée on serving dish and top with chicken. Spoon some of the jus with scallions over chicken. Serve, passing the remaining jus and scallions separately. You can also plate individual servings.

I love scallions... I've never used them as a main part of a dish before - but I'll use them to add an onion flavor to salads or top off an omelet or add to scrambled eggs... Of course scallions are good with sour cream on tacos or the like. I usually don't use them often enough to use a whole bunch before they start to go "funny". So this recipe is an awesome surprise with its use of scallion as a main ingredient.

Here's to scallions and full bellies.

- Cait

P.S. Keep on the lookout for an upcoming post about scallions vs. green onions!

Spotting Lunch - Caribbean Steak Wraps

When I was checking out TasteSpotting for a lunch idea I came across cheesypoof's wrap. It's got prefect island flavors which would surely brighten up my mood. It's been raining here so much, you'd think I was in Seattle! Not to mention that I watched a Bobby Flay's Throwdown tonight that involved Miami kind of flavors. It got me into some kind of warm weather food mood.

Photo from deestroyer

Caribbean Steak Wraps
via deestroyer

3 T. olive oil
3 t. jerk seasoning (purchased, or make it as follows)
1 t. salt plus more to taste
1 lb. thin steak (flank or carne asada cut)
2 cloves garlic
1 can black beans
1/4 cup water
1 ripe mango
1 ripe avocado
1 T. lime juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 T. rum
4 large flour tortillas

Preheat the broiler.
Combine 1 T. of the oil with 2 t. of the jerk seasoning and 1 t. salt in a small bowl. Rub this mixture into both sides of the meat and place the meat on a baking sheet. Broil until medium rare, about 5 minutes per side for flank steak (less for carne asada cut). Let it rest until ready to serve.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 T. oil in skillet. Add the garlic and remaining teaspoon of jerk seasoning and saute for a few minutes. Add the beans and and water and simmer gently for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, dice the avocado and mango and place in serving bowl. Drizzle with lime juice and add chopped cilantro. Toss with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the rum to the beans, and increase the heat to cook off the alcohol for a couple minutes. Season the beans with salt and pepper.
Slice the steak into thin strips. Serve fajita style with each component laid out, or roll everything into a burrito for your lucky guests. I also added a dollop of sour cream because I thought it was lacking in sauciness.

Easy Jerk Seasoning
1 T. brown sugar
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 t. ground allspice
1/2 t. ground black pepper
1/2 t. dried thyme
1/4 t. ground ginger

After reading what's in the easy jerk seasoning, I thought it was funny. I often make spice combinations that use these kind of ingredients - so I'm sure the mixture will taste great! I absolutely cannot wait to try this recipe out. Now all I need is a few people to make this for.

Here's to Miami and full bellies.
- Cait

Spotting Breakfast - Orange Vanilla Bundt Cake

Sometimes I crave something sweet for breakfast... In my house, if there's leftover cake from a birthday or occasion of some sort - it often becomes a morning treat. I don't know how that habit started, but my whole family does it and we've done it for as long as I can remember. When I found uptowngirl's bundt cake on TasteSpotting, I thought that would be perfect. Why? Because it has orange in it! Yeah, I know... Cake that is flavored with orange doesn't count as a serving of fruit, but it would be amazing WITH fruit. Orange is a wonderful flavor to go along with something like fresh strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries. So yes, orange cake with a cup of coffee or strong black tea and fresh fruit would make a nice sweet breakfast.

Photo from erinsfoodfiles

Orange Bundt Cake
via erinsfoodfiles
from Taste of Home

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 Tablespoon grated orange peel
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 cup milk

2 cup powdered sugar
2 1/2 Tablespoons orange juice (I used freshly squeezed)

In a bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy; beat in the eggs, orange peel and extracts. Combine flour and baking powder; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk.

Pour into a greased and floured 12-cup fluted tube pan. Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool. For glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and juice until smooth. Spoon over cake. Yield: 12-16 servings.

Bake up this cake and brew yourself some french press coffee or a espresso. Enjoying this outside in the morning on a sunny day would definatly be a great days beginning.

Here's to Florida and full bellies.
- Cait

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Magazine Wednesday - Martha Stewart Living - Haricots Verts with Pecans and Lemon

I have a ton of food magazines, but Martha Stewart Living is one of my favorite magazines to find food inspirations and recipes. One thing I really love about Martha Stewart Living is the pull out recipe cards. It has been years since I started collecting them and I'm still going strong. Every time I get a new Martha Stewart Living magazine I read through the whole thing once, then remove the recipe cards and put them in a safe place.

I love green beans. They are one of my favorite vegetables and probably the green vegetable I serve most in my kitchen. They are simple and delicious and I'll often eat a bunch of them before I even get them to the table. Green beans are kind of like really great french fries to me. I usually cook them very simply - blanching them for a few minutes to get the "raw" taste out, a tiny bit of butter, salt, fresh cracked pepper, sometimes fresh garlic or garlic powder.

One year I used the recipe for haricots verts that I found in Martha Stewart Living and thought it was just great. It really dresses up your average green bean into something worthy of a dinner party. Plus, it's insanely pretty!

Haricots Verts with Pecans and Lemon
via Martha Stewart Living, October 2004
prep time: 10 mins. total time: 20 mins
serves 4

coarse salt
1 pound haricots verts or this green beans, trimmed
½ cup pecans
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
freshly ground pepper
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 425°. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add salt and haricots verts. Cook beans until bright green and crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes; drain. Transfer to a serving dish.

Meanwhile, spread pecans in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Coarsely chop nuts when they are cool enough to handle.

Whisk vinegar, sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt in a small bowl; season with pepper. Whisking constantly, pour in oil in a slow, steady stream; whisk until emulsified. Just before serving, gentaly toss beans with vinaigrette and chopp nuts; sprinkle with zest. Serve warm.

The vinaigrette could easily be used on other vegetables - like asparagus - and be equally as great.

Here's to Martha and full bellies.
- Cait

Spotting Dinner - Carnitas Soft Tacos

When it comes to tacos, I love soft ones. I think they hold their stuffings much better than hard taco shells. I don't eat tacos very often, but sometimes I get a bit of a craving for them. With all the upcoming wonderful seasonal vegetables expected to show up in markets in the next few months, tacos would be a delightful treat. When I was poking around on TasteSpotting I found cookingontheside's soft tacos and knew I'd be trying this recipe out.

Photo from cookingontheside

Carnitas Soft Tacos
via cookingontheside
Adapted from the National Pork Board’s Arizona Carnitas with Green Chiles recipe on a pork shoulder package

Serves 8-10


  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into thin slivers
  • 1 4-oz. can diced green chiles, undrained
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • Flour or corn tortillas

Recommended Toppings:

  • Shredded Cheddar cheese
  • Chopped tomato
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Guacamole
  • Sour cream


Heat oven to 350° F.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in ovenproof heavy large covered pot over high heat. Add half of the pork cubes; sprinkle with half of the salt and half of the black pepper. Cook pork until starting to brown, stirring often. Remove pork. Repeat with remaining pork cubes, salt and black pepper, adding more oil if necessary. Drain drippings from pot.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the same pot over medium heat. Cook onion in hot oil until tender. Stir in undrained chiles and garlic; cook for 2 minutes. Return pork to pot. Add chicken broth. Cover and bake for 1 hour. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Serve pork in tortillas topped with toppings.

You could definitely add some fresh hot peppers like jalapenos or habanaros depending how spicy you like things and of course salsa.

Here's to peppers and full bellies.

- Cait

Spotting Lunch - Red Lentil Soup

Sometimes I crave a good bowl of soup. Something rather new to me (my parents weren't too adventurous with foods when I was growing up) are lentils. I had lentil soups several times thus far and greatly enjoy it. When I was looking up some soup on TasteSpotting and found rhyleysgranny's soup, I was rather excited. I saw a dish with lentils cooked on Barefoot Contessa the other day, and finding another recipe for using them is going to inspire me to try cooking with lentils.

Red Lentil Soup
via tea and wheaten bread


250 gms/8 oz smoked streaky bacon
1 medium sized onion chopped
1 medium potato chopped
2 or 3 carrots chopped
2 red/orange/yellow pepper chopped (The more wrinkly they are the sweeter they are)
225g/8oz red lentils
1 teaspoon of paprika
A good pinch of cayenne pepper
A 400g/14oz can of tomatoes
900mls/1 1/2 pints approx. chicken stock (Keep some more to the side in case you find the soup too thick)
Black pepper
A little oil

Add any veggies around that need using up.


Cut up the bacon and fry gently in the oil.
Add onion and spices and cook slowly until soft.
Add the carrots potatoes peppers and tomatoes then the lentils.
Give it all a good stir.
Add the stock and simmer until the lentils are nice and soft.

Using a stick blender, purée the soup.
Add more stock if you find it too thick.

It freezes well too if you are like me and incapable of making a small pot of soup.

I love how simple this recipe is - a great thing for trying a new major ingredient! One of my favorite ingredients is crème fraîche, which would be perfect to top the soup off. I'd have a simple salad and some bread with this bowl of soup to make a nice lunch.

Here's to new ingredients and full bellies.
- Cait

Spotting Breakfast - Scones with Honey and Dried Fruit

Sometimes I'm not in the mood for a full blown breakfast. That feeling really kicks in after something like a holiday weekend filled with all kinds of food goodies. I often enjoy a muffin or scone and a cup of tea or coffee instead of a whole meal, so when I saw carina's scone with honey and raisins on TasteSpotting I thought it would be the perfect addition to a morning checking e-mails or editing photographs. Not only did the scone itself look amazingly yummy, but carina's photography is breathtakingly beautiful. The only downside is that carina's website "carina-forum" isn't in english. The recipe is kind of "funny" looking because of the google translation, but it looks simple enough to mess around with to figure out.

Photo from Carina-Forum

Scones with Honey and Dried Fruit
via Carina-Forum

400 ml wheat flour
2 st.l. honey
50 g cold butter
2 st.l. orange liqueur
200 ml natural yogurt
70 g dried fruit
50 g chopped walnuts
1 ch.l. baking powder
1 ch.l. baking soda
dried peel of half an orange
1 egg
pinch of salt

preheat oven to 200 degrees C (392 degrees F)

cut dried fruit into pieces and put into orange liqueur

toast nuts in frying pan until golden

mix flour with baking powder and baking soda

cut butter into flour mixture

add orange peel, lightly beaten egg, yogurt, salt, honey and knead dough

add fruit and nuts last

sprinkle work surface with flour and roll dough to 3cm thickness

use circle cutter to cut scones

line baking pan with parchment powder, and put scones in a single layer

bake for 13-15 minutes until golden brown

slice and serve with butter or jam

* carina's notes - The amount of flour depends on the thickness of the yogurt you use. It's better to use very thick yogurt.

I'm not super sure about the tempature. I'd probably choose to round it up to 395 degrees F and make sure to keep an eye on the scones. I'm going to have to experiment with this recipe... It was disappointing to find out the website wasn't in english, but I couldn't use that as an excuse to not post about the scones.

Here's to google translations and full bellies.
- Cait

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Weekend

This past Sunday was Easter, so my sister was visiting from college. I had posts planned for the weekend but didn't get around to them because of the holiday. My sister went back to school today, so the rest of the week will be running smoothly. I did get a dessert post up on Saturday - Delicious Desserts - Chocolate Overdose Cake. I didn't post as much as I wanted, but I did cook a ton. So as a treat I'm going to edit my food photographs tonight and make a lovely post about what I made for Easter. We had brunch and dinner, both were great.

Here's to holidays and full bellies.
- Cait

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Delicious Desserts - Chocolate Overdose Cake

Since I've been posting meals all week long without adding desserts, I thought a dessert post would be the perfect treat for the end of the week. When Annie posted a recipe for chocolate cake and I came across it in my reading list on my dashboard, I fell in love. I'm not usually a huge chocolate fan, but when I do want chocolate - I want a ton of it. This cake has all kinds of chocolaty heaven in it - brownie, mousse, actual cake, and ganache. This would make an amazing surprise for any chocolate lover you may know...

Photo from Annie's Eats

Chocolate Overdose Cake

via Annie's Eats

For the brownie base:
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. cake flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
1 1/8 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the chocolate mousse filling:
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, broken into 1/2-oz. pieces
1 7/8 cups heavy cream
1 tbsp. sugar

For the chocolate cake:
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/8 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
1/4 cup hot water
7/8 cup sugar, divided
7/8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, soft

For the ganache:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
18 oz. semisweet chocolate, broken into 1/2-oz. pieces

To make the brownie base, line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with a round of parchment paper and spray the sides with nonstick cooking spray. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, salt and baking powder. Stir with a fork to mix. Melt the chocolate and butter in a large heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth.

When the chocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove the bowl from the saucepan and gradually whisk in the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition until thoroughly combined. Whisk in vanilla. Add in the flour mixture in two additions, folding with a rubber spatula until completely homogenous.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula. Set aside, prepare the cake batter, and bake the two layers at the same time.

To make the cake, line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with a round of parchment paper. Grease and flour the sides of the pan. Combine the chocolate, cocoa and hot water in a medium heatproof bowl; set the bowl over a saucepan containing 1-inch of simmering water and stir with a rubber spatula until chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes. (Note: at this point, my mixture was pretty thick and I thought I had ruined it, but mixing in the sugar was like magic and it made it smooth and liquidy again.) Add 1/4 cup of sugar to the chocolate mixture and stir until thick and glossy, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool.

Whisk flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Combine buttermilk and vanilla in a small bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs and yolks on medium-low speed until combined, about 10 seconds. Add remaining sugar, increase speed to high, and whisk until fluffy and lightened in color, 2 to 3 minutes. Replace whisk with paddle attachment.

Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the egg/sugar mixture and mix on medium speed until thoroughly incorporated, 30-45 seconds, pausing to scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add softened butter one tablespoon at a time, mixing about 10 seconds after each addition. Add about one third of the flour mixture followed by half of the buttermilk mixture, mixing until incorporated after each addition (about 15 seconds). Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk mixture (batter may appear separated). Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at medium-low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour. Pour into prepared pan; smooth batter to edges of pan with an offset spatula.

Bake the brownie and cake layers at the same time: the brownie for 25-30 minutes and the cake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire cooling rack. Allow the brownie to cool completely in the pan. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert onto the wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Once the brownie layer has cooled, run a knife around the edges to separate it from the pan. Remove the sides of the springform but leave the brownie layer on the springform base. Form a ring of parchment paper around the brownie layer and extending up the sides of the springform pan - reclose the springform so that the parchment is fitted tightly to the sides.

To make the chocolate mousse filling, place a stand mixer bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer or fridge. Heat 1-inch of water in the bottom half of a double boiler over medium heat. Place the semisweet chocolate in the top half of the double boiler. Tightly cover the top with plastic wrap and allow to heat for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth. Transfer the melted chocolate to a stainless steel bowl and set aside until needed.

Place heavy cream and sugar in the well-chilled bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the chilled whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 1 1/2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the mixer. By hand, whisk to combine 1/4 of the whipped cream into the melted chocolate until smooth and completely incorporated. Add the combined whipped cream and chocolate to the remaining whipped cream and use a rubber spatula to fold together.

Spread the mousse over the top of the brownie base evenly. Use an offset spatula to smooth the top. Place the cooled cake round over the mousse, pressing down lightly. Chill for at least 1 hour.

To make the ganache, heat the heavy cream and the butter in a saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil. Place the semisweet chocolate in a 3-quart stainless steel bowl. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Chill 1 cup of ganache for 1 hour. Allow the remaining ganache to come to room temperature (about 40 minutes).

Remove the springform ring and parchment collar from the assembled cake. Carefully transfer the cake to a serving platter, removing the springform base and parchment round. Use a spatula to smooth the room temperature ganache over the cake top and sides, covering evenly.

Place the chilled ganache in a pastry bag fitted with a shell tip and pipe a shell border around the base of the cake. Pipe 12-16 rosettes around the top of the cake to indicate servings. Serve chilled and store leftovers in the fridge. Cut the cake with a hot, dry knife.

I'm actually thinking about making this cake but in a bunch of mini single serving versions. So kind of like fancy cupcakes - but better. Now, I just need a reason to try it out. Would anyone like to come over for chocolate cake and super cold milk?

Here's to cocoa beans and full bellies.
- Cait

Friday, April 10, 2009

Spotting Dinner - Coffee Braised Bison Shortribs

I love shortribs. I've only ever had them at one restaurant - No. 9 Restaurant in Lambertville, New Jersey. Their shortribs are AMAZING. That's what I order every time I eat there. I did have equally amazing braised lamb shanks with polenta and vegetables there in the winter last year, but the shortribs weren't on the menu that night. Why do I get the same exact dish every time I go to that restaurant? Because it's probably one of the best tasting things I've ever put into my mouth! So when I was looking for dinner inspiration and searched for "shortribs" on TasteSpotting and foodwoolf's coffee braised bison shortribs came up - I was sold. I love shortribs, I love coffee, and bison is oh so yummy.

Photo from foodwoolf

Coffee Marinated Bison Short Ribs
via foodwoolf
Adapted from the February 2008 Bon Appetit issue

This is a start-the-day-before dish, that requires 6-8 hours of marinating. I suggest doing this before you go to bed or do it first thing you wake up the day you're going to make the short ribs.


* 4 cups water
* 3 cups chilled strong brewed coffee
* 1/2 cup coarse kosher salt
* 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons (packed) dark brown sugar
* 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
* 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
* 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
* 2 cups ice cubes
* 4 pounds bison (often labeled buffalo) short ribs, cut between ribs to separate

Short Ribs:

* 1/4 cup chopped bacon (about 1 1/2 ounces)
* 2 cups chopped onions
* 1/2 cup chopped shallots
* 6 garlic cloves, chopped
* 1 tbsp Siracha chili sauce
* 1 cup strong brewed coffee
* 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
* 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
* 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
* 1 tablespoon soy sauce


For marinade:

Stir 4 cups water, coffee, 1/2 cup coarse salt, and sugar in large bowl until salt and sugar dissolve. Add syrup and next 3 ingredients; stir until ice melts. Add ribs. Place plate atop ribs to keep submerged. Cover and chill 4 to 6 hours. Drain ribs; discard marinade. DO AHEAD: Drained ribs can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.

For short ribs:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Sauté bacon in heavy large wide ovenproof pot over medium heat until beginning to brown. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to plate. Increase heat to medium-high. Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper. Working in batches, cook ribs until browned on all sides, about 7 minutes per batch. Transfer to large plate.

Add onions, shallots, garlic, and Siracha to pot. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook until vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Add coffee and broth; stir, scraping up browned bits. Add chili sauce and all remaining ingredients; bring to boil. Add bacon and ribs, cover, and transfer to oven. Braise until meat is tender, about 2 hours 15 minutes. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm in 325°F oven until heated through, about 20 minutes, before continuing.

Transfer ribs to plate; tent with foil to keep warm. Spoon fat from surface of sauce. Boil sauce until reduced to 2 cups, about 5 minutes. Pour sauce over ribs.

The recipe seems a bit complicated since there are different steps to it... It's well worth the effort though. I was once told that the shortribs at No. 9 Restaurant are watched over for 24 hours... As for the bison - bison is quickly becoming available at major grocery stores these days. You might be able to find it at a specialty butcher in your area... and if you can't you could substitue traditional beef shortribs for the bison ribs.

This dish served with your favorite mashed potato recipe and seasonal vegetables would be a great surprise for a special family dinner.

- Here's to bison and full bellies.
- Cait

Spotting Lunch - Pasta Salad Niçoise

When the weather is warm, I love pasta salads. I probably associate warmer weather with pasta salads because my dad would always make them in the warmer weather for dinner. My dad never made a pasta salad quite like the one I found on TasteSpotting posted by Gastronomer (Sorry Dad).

Pasta Salad Niçoise
via gastronomersguide

6 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
12 ounces cavatappi
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 6-ounce cans solid white tuna in olive oil, drained
1 red bell pepper, trimmed and cut into 1-inch slivers
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

Make garlic oil by heating 2 tablespoons oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; saute 1 minute. Let cool.

To a pot of rapidly boiling, liberally salted water, add green beans. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl and rinse with cold water. Drain.

Cook pasta in the same pot until al dente, a few minutes short of package directions. Drain.

In a large bowl make vinaigrette by combining garlic oil, 4 tablespoons oil, mustard, lemon juice, lemon zest, vinegar, salt, and pepper; whisk well. Add pasta, beans, bell pepper, tuna, olives, and capers. Toss gently to coat all ingredients with vinaigrette.

Yield: 6 servings.

To make this pasta salad even more special, you could get a nice fresh tuna steak at your local seafood counter and grill it. I love grilled tuna with just a bit of salt, pepper, maybe some lemon zest, and olive oil. Tuna is nice with any of your favorite herbs though.

Here's to fishes and full bellies.

- Cait