Saturday, May 2, 2009

blueberry scones and the beer companion

The start of May has been a month of new beginnings for me- new apartment, new opportunities and my impending 24th birthday on Cinco de Mayo! It's also been a week of yummy food...

Tuesday evening, a group of us headed to the Ginger Man for happy hour. I sipped on my Sunshine Wheat (I'm not into the dark stuff) while we snacked away at the beer companion- an array of cheeses (cheddar, pepper jack, smoked gouda), salami, green apples, stone ground mustard and baguette.

After our drinks, we headed across the street for an outdoor dinner at Winslows. Although it was a bit chilly outside, we cozied up with blankets and their outdoor fire. To begin, we started with the bruschetta trio- tomato, cranberry bean and mint and a baba ganoush (roasted eggplant dip). I liked the baba ganoush but wasn't a huge fan of the mint and bean. The beans were undercooked and underseasoned.

Next, our table ordered soups and salads. Amongst our picks were the wedge salad, spinach salad with grilled pineapple, house salad with a quail egg, roasted tomato soup and vichyssoise. Thankfully, my favorite was exactly what I ordered- the roasted tomato soup. The bacon added a nice smokiness and there was also a warming heat at the end.

Our entrees were the Spanish pie with chorizo, chicken pesto pizza and bacon-wrapped sea scallops with a honey-thyme tartar sauce. I really wasn't crazy about the pizzas but the scallops were well cooked and the sauce was really delicious.

The next evening, I broke in my new apartment and cooked my first meal in my tiny, yet quaint little kitchen. Although I'm usually veggie-crazed, the menu was a little more Rustic and heavier than I'm used to.

My menu was:

Salt and pepper crusted filet of beef

2 6-ounce filets of beef (take out of fridge to remove chill about 20 minutes before cooking)

Sea salt

Fresh-cracked pepper

Olive oil

3/4 cup red wine

2 Tbl butter

First, remove filets from packaging and dry both sides with paper towels. Next, liberally coat both sides with a mixture of the coarse sea salt and fresh-ground pepper. Sear the first side with olive oil in a smoking hot pan until a nice, brown crust has developed. Flip filets, deglaze pan with red wine and finish beef in a 350 degree oven with a pat of butter on top. I cooked mine medium rare (5-7 minutes in the oven). To serve, top filets with pan sauce.

Gnocchi with a roasted garlic and sage cream sauce

1 package potato gnocchi (I'm too lazy to make my own)

3 heads roasted garlic
(Cut garlic bulbs in half, drizzle liberally with olive oil and roast about 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven until browned. Squeeze cloves out, let cool and mince.)

1/3 cup fresh chopped sage

1 quart heavy cream

4 Tbl butter

1/3 cup milk (Whole would be ideal but I used skim because that's what I drink)

salt and pepper to taste

Boil water and cook gnocchi according to package directions. After draining, return gnocchi to pot. Add cream, butter, minced roasted garlic and sage. Add salt, pepper and milk if mixture is too thick. Simmer on low for a few minutes until sauce reduces a bit then serve immediately.

Sweet and spicy pan-fried okra

2 cups fresh okra sliced vertically

1 Tbl olive oil

2 Tbl honey

1 tsp red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

Saute okra in olive oil for a few minutes. Add honey, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

The following rainy weekend evening, my girlfriend Cat and I snacked on an antipasto tray and a bottle of Riesling at my apartment then headed to Ferre for dinner. We split:

My antipasto platter:

Green grapes, blackberries with fleur de sel and honey, brie, parmigiano reggiano with a honey glaze, dry salami, marinated feta with olives and fresh baguette

Once at Ferre:

Martinis (I went for Grey Goose Poire straight-up and Cat ordered the Pink Heart with vanilla vodka and pomegranate liquor)

Crab cakes with a scallion puree and Fuji apple slaw

Housemade pasta with beef tenderloin, mixed mushrooms and a cognac sour cream sauce

Creme brulee with berries and Sambuca

Dinner was delicious and the service matched the food. My favorite dish was the crab cakes with the apple slaw. The crab cakes were light, almost all lump crab and the apple slaw was a delicious match.

My week ended with a visit to the Artisan Baking Company- specializing in fresh, seasonal and local bread-making. After a delightful interview with owner and chef, Gwin Grimes, I found some yummy goodies for breakfast and snacking- multigrain bread, spiced nuts with sugar, cumin and cayenne, mango spread and blueberry scones fresh out of the oven...what could be better?

My mom, aunt and cousin are coming in this weekend and it should be one full of shopping, delicious food and good company. More foodie details to come...


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