Trouble With Toast

Recipe: Curried Pea Frittata

June 30, 2008
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I have extolled the virtues of frittatas on this blog before, so it should come as no surprise that when I saw this recipe in Bon Apetit magazine, I was going to try it out. To be perfectly honest, I liked my impromptu version better than this one. The frittata itself was good, and the curry gave it great flavor, though next time I’ll use a creamier tasting cheese (like my new go-to, Gruyere) instead of the tangier, crumblier Parmesan–AND, I won’t forget to add the green onions. D’oh! My main problem really was with the chutney, which called for WAY too much ginger (a little bit of the fresh stuff goes a LONG way) and was a little too sweet due to the brown sugar. Perhaps a simpler, more salsa-esque tomato relish would work better, maybe also accompanied by a dollop of sour cream?

  • 1 12-ounce container grape tomatoes
    1 tablespoon (packed) dark brown sugar
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 small garlic clove, peeled
    1 1/8-inch-thick round peeled fresh ginger, chopped
    8 large eggs
    1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    2 teaspoons curry powder
    1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    2 green onions, chopped
    1 cup frozen peas, thawed

Preheat broiler. Place tomatoes, brown sugar, cumin, garlic, and ginger in processor. Using on/off turns, blend just until tomatoes are coarsely chopped. Transfer chutney to small bowl; reserve processor bowl. Season chutney to taste with salt and pepper.

Place eggs in processor. Add cheese, curry powder, and salt and blend well. Heat oil in large broilerproof nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add green onions and peas. Sauté until onions wilt, about 1 minute. Add egg mixture. Cook until top is almost set and bottom is golden, lifting edges to let uncooked egg flow underneath, about 7 minutes. Place frittata in broiler until top is set, about 1 minute. Run heatproof rubber spatula around frittata to loosen and slide out onto plate. Serve warm or at room temperature with tomato chutney.


Recipe: Turkey Burger

June 27, 2008
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Not to jump on Miss Lemmonex’s coattails, but I made some pretty tasty turkey burgers the other night. This recipe came from the aforementioned Martha Stewart-affiliated cookbook, and I gotta tell ya, I am lovin’ it. The cheese and the mustard (combined with the fact that I used 93% lean meat instead of 99%) kept the burgers nice and moist and also added great flavor. The only thing I might do differently next time is add some red pepper flakes for kick.

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
    1/2 cup finely grated Gruyere
    4 thinly sliced scallions
    1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs
    1/4 cup Dijon mustard
    1 minced garlic clove
    Salt and pepper
    Hamburger buns

Heat grill or skillet (I used a nonstick indoor grill pan). Combine turkey, Gruyere, scallions, breadcrumbs, mustard, garlic, and salt and pepper (I always mix burgers with my hands). Form into 4 patties, whatever thickness you prefer. Grill over medium-high heat for about 10-12 minutes per side, depending on thickness (just make sure the meat is cooked through). Chow down!

Oh, and the reason there are no pretty burger pictures with everything all stacked up nice-like? We may or may not have scarfed them down too fast. They were THAT good.


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Recipe: Fish Tacos

June 25, 2008
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I admit, I was skeptical about purchasing anything with Martha Stewart’s name on it. Nonetheless, when I saw Great Food Fast (from the kitchens of Martha Stewart Living) in the bookstore, I was intrigued–after all, the cookbook promised to deliver “250 recipes for easy, delicious meals all year long” (the pages are organized by time of year, using seasonally available ingredients). These fish tacos were really delicious, and while I could have definitely composed a similar meal without a recipe, it was nice to have a guide and a sort of starting point for flavor and texture combinations. The crunch of the slaw was a great compliment for the soft tortillas and fleshy fish, and the kick of the jalapeno was just enough to spice the dish up a bit and make it interesting. There were smiles all around the table–I’ll definitely make these again!

  • ¼ cup reduced-fat sour cream
    2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    Salt and pepper
    ¼ small red cabbage, thinly shredded
    4 scallions, thinly sliced
    1 jalapeno chile, seeded and minced
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 pound tilapia filets
    8 flour tortillas
    ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

In a large bowl, combine the sour cream and lime juice; season with salt and pepper. Transfer half of the mixture to another container; set aside for serving. Toss the cabbage, scallions, and minced jalapeno with the remaining sour cream mixture. Season again with salt and pepper.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper, and cook until golden brown on all sides, 5-6 minutes each. Meanwhile, warm the tortillas.

To make the tacos, fill the tortillas with fish, slaw, and fresh cilantro leaves. Drizzle with reserved sour cream mixture.


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Thinking of DC: Komi

June 24, 2008
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As I mentioned in a previous post, I was fortunate to dine at Komi before I departed for points south.  I wasn’t planning on writing about it, as I was more concerned with spending quality time with my sis and her boyfriend than I was about formulating a restaurant review.  Luckily, my sister’s boyfriend is far more dedicated to haute cuisine than I am, so he took gobs of pictures and drafted a pretty exhaustive recap.

I don’t agree with all of his assessments (those who know us will not be surprised by this), but here it is for those who may be interested.  It was definitely one of the best meals I’ve ever had.


Eats on Ponce

June 24, 2008
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This restaurant is a prime example of why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Eats resides in a busted old building on Ponce de Leon, but don’t let that scare you away. There’s a reason the place has been open for 15 years and is a pride point for many long-time locals.

Eats is famous for their “meat and three” plates. It was lunchtime, so I opted for a “meat and two” plate with jerk chicken, mac ‘n cheese, and black beans (it also came with cornbread, but I’m not a huge fan). It cost under $7, and this is what I got:

Yeah, I wasn’t hungry again for a while. The HALF chicken was literally falling off the bone, and it had an awesome kick–it definitely didn’t taste like any commercial, mass-produced, powdered jerk seasoning. The mac ‘n cheese wasn’t a revelation or anything, but it was a solid rendition and had plenty of cheese. The beans were really tasty, with a chili-infused flavor and a creamy texture (without being mushy or mealy).

There are tons of other meat and veggie choices, and there’s also a pasta bar where you can customize your noodles, sauces, and toppings. Beer is available, and they’re open from 11-10 every day. It’s nice to know that I can get belly-filling, soul-satisfying grub without breaking the bank–right down the street from my place!


Recipe: Salmon “Bulgogi” with Bok Choy and Mushrooms

June 23, 2008
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Normally, bulgogi is made from thin slices of beef (most often sirloin). I love the flavors of the traditional Korean marinade, but I’m not always in the mood for red meat. So, when I saw a recipe in June’s Bon Apetit magazine that featured salmon instead of beef, I decided to give it a try. I adapted the recipe a bit to fit the equipment I had on hand, but it turned out really well. The salmon was perfectly cooked, and the marinade had amazing flavor. The bok choy could have used a bit more oomph, so next time I think I’ll make extra marinade and then reduce it down for a sauce. I was even able to eat this salmon left over at work the next day–and no one complained, because the aroma was so intoxicating. Enjoy!

  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled, divided
    1/3 cup chopped green onions
    1/4 cup soy sauce
    1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry Sherry
    1 3/4-inch cube peeled fresh ginger
    2 teaspoons sugar
    1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
    3/4 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce
    4 6-ounce center-cut skinless salmon fillets
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 large bok choy, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch strips
    4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps sliced

Blend 1 garlic clove and next 7 ingredients in mini processor. Arrange salmon in 11x7x2-inch glass baking dish. Spoon marinade over. Let marinate 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500°F. Roast fish until just opaque in center, about 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil in large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add bok choy and mushrooms; using garlic press, press in 1 garlic clove. Stir-fry until mushrooms are tender and bok choy is wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

Divide vegetables among plates. Top with salmon.


TWO urban licks

June 19, 2008
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In celebration of moving into our fabulous apartment, Jason and I decided that a nice dinner date was in order.  How convenient, then, that right across the street from our loft is TWO urban licks, a staple of the hot, hip, happenin’ Atlanta dining scene since it opened in 2004.  We made reservations for 9 PM on our first Saturday night in our new place, got gussied up, and headed on over.

Located in a revamped warehouse, TWO urban licks definitely keeps up with the industrial aesthetic that permeates this part of Atlanta (the restaurant is located on Ralph McGill Boulevard, near the Freedom Parkway intersection).  The ceilings are incredibly high, and various chandeliers and colorful light fixtures hang and give the large room a warm glow.  On the “main” wall of the dining room, there is a gigantic painting of a girl surrounded by a pack of wild animals; the other enormous walls feature rows and rows of flickering lanterns.  Even with all the accent lighting, however, the space as a whole is fairly dark and the tables necessitate individual candles in order to illuminate the menus.  Also, because of the setup, it is quite noisy, particularly in the center of the restaurant.  In the bar, a live blues band was playing, as it does every Tuesday through Saturday night.  In the middle of the restaurant, the open kitchen was bustling.  At the far end of the space, the doors to the outdoor courtyard opened to lovely views of the downtown Atlanta skyline (which I’d actually missed—skyscrapers can be quite beautiful at night).

Oh, you want to hear about the food?  That’s right, this IS a food blog!  In terms of opening beverages, Jason ordered a top-shelf gimlet ($10) and I had a glass of cava ($6).  For appetizers, we shared the oxtail empanadas with roasted garlic aioli ($10) and the sweet and spicy calamari with basil and cilantro ($10).  The empanadas had a very healthy helping of queso on top, which, when combined with the aioli, greatly overpowered the dish.  However, when I scraped off the excess toppings and got a bite of just oxtail and pastry, the flavors really sang–the meat was insanely tender from braising and incredibly well-seasoned.  The calamari was fried perfectly–not chewy, not greasy, just crispy and tender–and the chili glaze delivered the as-promised one-two punch of sweet and spicy.  I could have used a little more cilantro to cool things down, but overall, I thought it was a delicious version of the ubiquitous squid starter.

Before our main courses, we decided to order some vino (we splurged on a $75 bottle of chenin blanc, and it was superb).  In terms of wine, TWO urban licks has an interesting program; the restaurant has special relationships with certain wineries that allow it to buy in large quantities and then store the wine in temperature-controlled stainless steel barrels.  While it all sounded nifty, I wasn’t thrilled with any of the by-the-glass selections, and we were there to celebrate.  So, a bottle it was–and, like I said, it was really excellent (thanks to our server for the recommendation).

Entree-wise, Jason opted for the bronzed scallops with gouda grits and smoked tomato broth ($20).  He said they were quite possibly the best scallops he’s ever had–very high praise!  I’m not sure I agree that they were superlative, but they were nicely cooked (bordering on underdone, which is how I like them) and subtly seasoned.  The accompanying grits and broth were very tasty as well and did a good job of complimenting and highlighting the bivalves.  I opted for the braised pork with baked cheddar macaroni and pork jus ($19).  Let me just get this out of the way: that macaroni and cheese may have been the best I’ve ever had.  Ever.  Served in a mini cast-iron pot, the cheddar cheese on top was perfectly browned and just a tad crunchy, and the macaroni underneath was rich, creamy, tangy deliciousness.  The waiter said that the secret was bechamel sauce.  Drooooooool.  The pork was a HUGE portion, and it was definitely well-braised (it fell off the bone), but it was waaaaaay too heavy on the fennel, which surprised me all the more because the menu didn’t mention it as a component of the dish.

For dessert, we ordered port, coffee, and the chocolate mousse rice crispy treat with chocolate malt ice cream ($7).  Basically, it was like Atlanta’s take on the Michel Richard “Kit Kat Bar,” the praises of which I’ve sung on this blog before.  However, I sometimes found Richard’s version to be a little heavy (i.e., not enough air in the mousse), and TWO urban licks corrected that problem.  The mousse was light in both flavor and texture, and the “rice crispy treat” bottom was delicately crunchy.  I didn’t get a lot of malt flavor from the ice cream, but Jason really liked it.

At the end of the meal, in addition to our bill (which came out to $187, without tip), we were presented with a $25 gift certificate to each of two other Concentric (the hospitality group that owns TWO urban licks) restaurants, Trois and STATS.  I thought it was a nice gesture, and VERY smart–in this economy, even popular restaurants need to make extra efforts to encourage diners to eat out.  Service was very good, and the experience as a whole went much more smoothly than I was expecting (since it’s such a “see and be seen” place, I anticipated more waiting and certainly more aloofness).

In sum, though the kitchen could use a lighter hand with certain seasonings, and though the atmosphere is more clubhound than chowhound, I am thrilled to have TWO urban licks right in my backyard.  Oh, and it’s been voted “Best Place to Take Out-of-Towners”…so whenever you want to visit (ahem, Lemmonex), I’ll have a table reserved!


Steak and ‘maters

June 16, 2008
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One of the happiest days I’ve had so far in Atlanta was the day I went to The Fresh Market (my favorite upscale grocery store in the area) and got a whole rib loin for $5.99 per pound.  Did I mention that the meat was Australian free-range grass-fed ribeye?  And that the loin yielded EIGHT gorgeous, perfectly marbled, two-inch thick steaks?  Nom.  Naturally, I marinated them only in worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.  However, I needed a nice compliment to the simple, hearty meat–something that would enhance its freshness and not overpower its fabulousness.  Enter an heirloom tomato and red onion salad, topped with this AMAZING homemade salad dressing from Cooking Light magazine.  The steaks were incredibly tender and flavorful (also, please note the perfect grill marks–dad would be so proud), and the dressing was awesome as well–it actually went as well with the meat as it did with the veggies.  All in all, a very satisfying summer meal.  Enjoy!

  • 1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
    1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
    1 tablespoon reduced-fat mayonnaise
    1/2 teaspoon grated lime rind
    1/4 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
    Dash of ground red pepper

Put all ingredients in a blender and process till smooth.  Voila!  And, just so’s you know, we didn’t consume these huge hunks of cow all in one sitting–they made wonderful leftovers in the form of steak salads (with arugula, beefsteak tomatoes, and goat cheese).  I’m nothing if not resourceful!


Recipe: Grilled Peaches over Arugula with Goat Cheese and Prosciutto

June 10, 2008
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After eating a heavy lunch at Ted’s Montana Grill (don’t judge me for eating at a chain–the bison burgers are actually damn good), I didn’t want to go overboard for dinner. However, as I only have a few more days to cook in my parents’ massive and well-stocked kitchen, I wanted to be a little creative. Specifically, I wanted to find a way to use the grill without having to deal with a major protein source. This lovely summer salad was the perfect solution! The balsamic reduction was VERY sweet, so I think next time I’ll skip the honey and the reducing and just drizzle some good vinegar on top of the whole shebang. The peaches were also a little under ripe, but it worked out well, since they probably would have been too sweet if they were any more developed. The grill softened them up and gave them a great charred flavor–yum. Oh, the recipe is from Cooking Light magazine, and all of the ingredients (save for the pantry staples) came from the Dekalb Farmers Market.

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
    2 tablespoons honey
    3 peaches, pitted and each cut into 6 wedges
    Cooking spray
    1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    Dash of kosher salt
    10 cup trimmed arugula (about 10 ounces)
    2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 1/4-inch strips
    2 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese

Bring vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer until vinegar is reduced to 2 tablespoons (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in honey. Cool to room temperature.

Prepare grill to high heat. Place peach wedges on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 30 seconds on each side or until grill marks appear but peaches are still firm. Remove from grill; set aside.

Combine oil, pepper, and salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add arugula, tossing gently to coat. Arrange arugula mixture on a platter. Top with peach wedges and prosciutto. Drizzle with balsamic syrup; sprinkle with cheese.


This is my new kitchen!

June 9, 2008
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Ain’t it pretty?  Can’t wait to start cooking in it, especially since I now have a shiny pink Kitchen-Aid mixer (a housewarming/birthday present from mom) and this lovely set of pots and pans.  Soon, this little food blog won’t know what hit it…


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