Friday Favorites

Some food-related (mostly) things we enjoyed this past week:

TV purge

We finally got around to disposing of several old, outdated, heavy and giant-backed TVs cluttering up our garage.  We haven’t used them in years, and I think one of them may even belong to my brother (sorry J!), but didn’t really know what to do with them.  I discovered that the city of Dallas has a free “e-cycling” program for old TVs and computers, so we loaded up the car and dropped them off.  We also got rid of an old desktop computer that hadn’t even been turned on in maybe 10 years.  Kind of makes you wonder what will eventually replace the super-slim HD TVs and lightweight laptops, iPads and smart phones we currently use.  Microchips in our brains maybe.

Pizza leftover better than fresh

The end of summer means the beginning of football season, which also means fantasy football drafts.  Dan had his first one the other night (he’s in two leagues) so I was solo for dinner.  We happened to have a couple slices of leftover cheese pizza, which I topped with some prosciutto torn into small pieces, then re-heated in a dry skillet on the stove (best method for getting a crisp crust on leftover pizza.)  It tasted even better than the original pizza, and Dan drafted a pretty decent team.  Win, win.

Lobstah roll

Dan’s fellow lobster-loving friend (Hi Chris!) and superstar-restaurant-sleuth has discovered the hands-down best lobster roll in Dallas.  Chris is great at finding and recommending all the best eateries around town, and 20 Feet Seafood Joint is right up there with some of his other quality finds.  Dan says the lobster roll was so authentic that if it hadn’t been 102 degrees at lunch that day, he would have thought he was in Maine.  He also said the clam chowder was equally authentic and amazing.  With a food friend like Chris around, Dan’s going to have start working out more.

F the BT

This week marked five years since Dan’s dad passed away after battling a brain tumor.  Since then, the National Brain Tumor Society is a charity that has become important to us, as it fights brain tumors through research, advocacy and patient services.  Thursday seemed like a good day to honor the Big Guy and help us feel empowered against this terrible disease by making a donation to the NBTS.  Cancer sucks, but we will always have an anchor of hope that someday there will be a cure.

Karen’s Stew

We’ve never met Karen, but she is a friend of my aunt and uncle, by way of Albuquerque.  And we’ve always heard really good things about this easy and delicious stew recipe she made up using ground turkey, chicken breasts, green chili salsa and white beans.  My aunt and uncle made it for my parents, who liked it so much that they make their own version all the time (omitting the chicken breasts for more of a chili texture than stew.)  My parents have raved about this dish often enough that we finally had to try it for ourselves, and it will become a regular in our recipe rotation as well.  This chili / stew is healthy comfort food that is also light enough to serve during the heat of summer (especially garnished with fresh avocado and a squeeze of lime) and could not be much easier to make.  We adapted the recipe a bit (of course we did), but will continue to foster the shout-out to the Karen who created the original recipe by continuing to call it “Karen’s Stew,”  even though our version is a little different and is really more of a chili than a stew.  It’s the right thing to do.

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Friday Favorites

Some food-related (mostly) things we enjoyed this past week:

Lake beach

We had a really quick trip to Evanston, IL last weekend.  Evanston is the first suburb north of Chicago located on Lake Michigan.  It’s also the home of Northwestern University.  It has a cool little downtown with a couple of high-rises, lots of shops and tons of great restaurants.  Beautiful public beaches are just a short walk from downtown.  It’s a great little city and we had fun exploring it.

Lunch date(s)

The eating portion of our Evanston tour began with lunch on a patio (the weather was glorious there last weekend — we ate every meal outside) at a tapas place.  Dan researched the restaurant before we went, so we felt compelled to follow reviewers’ recommendations to try the bacon-wrapped dates, even though it’s not something we typically would order.  The perfect match of savory and sweet, they were our favorite bite of the entire lunch.

Meatball appetizer

The next stop on our food tour was a charming little Italian “trattoria.”  Although we both enjoyed our entrees (Dan had the bronzini and I had the shrimp risotto), the hands-down best food of the evening was the homemade meatballs appetizer.  Rich (but not too rich), meaty flavor with a sweet (but not too sweet) tomato sauce — the meatballs were just right.

Burger

Even though we were still full from a late breakfast, we couldn’t leave Evanston without trying the highly-recommended Edzo’s burger.  In addition to the regular (fresh, never frozen) beef that is cut and ground in-house each morning, Edzo’s offers beef “upgrades” of locally-raised and/or grass fed beef that you can order either “griddled” (thinner patty cooked on a griddle) or “char”  (cooked on a grill.)  We split an upgraded char burger with classic garnishes (cheddar, lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion.)  It was one of the best (if not THE best) burgers we’ve ever had.  Perfection.  We’re just bummed we didn’t have the time or belly room to try one of their many varieties of fries (garlic fries, “angry” fries, buffalo fries, “crazy” fries, oh my!) or hand-dipped shakes (nutella, oreo, peanut butter, as well as other specialty and seasonal flavors.)  I just noticed on their menu that they also have hot dogs and sandwiches that are probably pretty amazing too.  No wonder this little burger joint is touted as one of the best restaurants in town.

Okra

We arrived back in Big D to find our first crop of home-grown okra so far this season.  A couple of them should have been picked a little earlier (you can tell they are over-ripe if they make a loud crunch when you cut into them, which means the texture will be too woody to eat), but the other two were still good and made a nice (tiny) addition to our zucchini and tomato medley that we cooked with our parchment-roasted tilapia this week.

 

 

Chicken w/ Wild Mushrooms

What is it about poultry and mushrooms that makes them pair so well with each other?  We’re not sure, but we certainly seem to enjoy the pairing a lot, considering how many recipes we’ve posted featuring these ingredients in the same dish (including turkey pot pie, chicken cacciatore, turkey and mushroom risotto, and turkey tetrazzini, to name a few.)  Although we may disagree with Ina Garten’s statement that “[c]hicken and mushrooms can be boring,” we’re glad she came up with this decidedly-not-boring recipe that brings out the best of these 2 ingredients together.  The dish creates its own sauce — flavored with garlic, thyme, sherry, white wine, chicken stock and a bit of butter — that cooks in the same pot and transforms chicken and mushrooms into perfectly delicious BFFs (Best Food Friends.)

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Friday Favorites

Some food-related (mostly) things we enjoyed this past week:

Le Petit Creusets

Inspired by this post from Michael Ruhlman, we tried a new (to us) method of preparing eggs for breakfast.  We are fans of Le Creuset and use our Dutch oven at least twice a week, so we couldn’t resist purchasing a set of these mini cocettes.  (In case you’re curious, “cocette” means small fireproof dish in which individual portions of food are cooked and served.  It also means prostitute or promiscuous woman.  Insert bad dirty joke here.)  The dishes are stoneware and oven-safe.  Cooking the eggs this way was really easy — we just put some thinly sliced ham in the bottom, cracked 2 eggs over the ham, added a bit of green chile sauce leftover from dinner the night before, topped it all off with grated cheddar cheese and baked it in the oven heated to 325 degrees for about 15 minutes.  The cocettes cool down surprisingly fast, so there is no need to transfer the finished eggs to a plate — just serve them in the cocettes.  The eggs were really good, although there was a bit of extra liquid in the finished dish, perhaps from the green chili sauce.  The cocettes came with a cookbook, so we plan on trying other recipes in these tiny one-pot-wonders, in addition to other variations of egg dishes.

Hatch season!

Speaking of green chiles, it’s one of our favorite times of year again — Hatch green chile time!  As usual, our Central Market goes all out, hosting their own Hatch festival, complete with recipes, specialty foods made with Hatch chiles, and of course, the chiles themselves — hot and mild, fresh and roasted.  You may have noticed from our weekly menu last week that we incorporated Hatch chiles into just about every dinner, and we didn’t get sick of them at all.  The chiles will be available from Central Market through August 20, so we’ll be back to stock up on our supply to portion out and freeze for use throughout the year.  And if there is a Chuy’s restaurant where you live, be sure to stop by for Hatch green chile food (and drink!) specials during their festival from August 19 to September 8.

Sunshine and palm trees

Dan had a quick trip to San Jose, CA this week for work.  Any time we go to that area of the country, we are always impressed by the perfect weather, picturesque scenery and laid-back vibe.  The distance from our family and friends, as well as the high cost of living preclude us from ever seriously considering a move there, but we always enjoy visiting.  And “trying on” a different city in another part of the country to wonder whether we could love living there is a fun thing to do.

Mediterranean nachos

While out and about last weekend, we stopped by Gordon Biersch for a late lunch and discovered a new favorite “small plate” offering called Mediterranean nachos:  flatbread chips topped with artichoke spread, tomato, olives, cucumber, roasted red pepper, pepperoncini, feta cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.  Creative AND delicious.

 

 

 

Firecracker Salmon

As much as we have tried, and want to, love (or even like) grilled salmon, we’ve yet to find a recipe that musters anything more than a “good-not-great” reaction from us.  But we very much enjoy smoked salmon, and often have it for a weekend breakfast with cream cheese on a toasted English muffin, some finely chopped red onion or shallot, and maybe a little bit of diced hard-boiled egg and/or tomato.  Dan will sometimes order salmon in a restaurant, but only when it is Copper River Salmon, which is only available for a limited amount of time once per year.  So why don’t we like salmon?  Mostly the taste.  To us, salmon has one of those love it or hate it flavors, which is tough to describe, other than “it tastes like salmon.”  I also have issues with the texture of salmon, which is a meaty fish.  Grilled salmon will flake, but the texture is still pretty dense, which I don’t really prefer.  So why do a post on grilled salmon if we don’t love it?  Because salmon is amazingly healthy for you (with loads of protein and omega-3 fatty acids), and if you like salmon even a little, this recipe is a tasty way to prepare it, with a lightly spicy Asian marinade and good grill flavor.  In the meantime, our quest for the perfect salmon dish — preferably one that doesn’t taste like salmon — continues.

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