Monday, October 26, 2009
One of the things I love about Hawaii is the way things are adopted, and then changed just a little to make them Hawaiian.
While Jean was in the hospital, I spent the night there with her, and came back to Tony and Michelle’s each morning to get a quick shower. One morning, Michelle fixed me the classic hearty breakfast with a Hawaiian spin. Yep, I’m talking steak and eggs. First she cut the steak in strips and sautéed them in just a little oil. Then she prepared two perfectly fried eggs, over easy. Classic, so far, right? Now what would come next in Ohio? Hash browns and OJ, at least at our house. Not here in Hawaii – a big mound of steamed rice and POG, a blend of passion fruit, orange and guava juice, along with some great Maui grown coffee. Let me tell you, it was good!
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Hey blog readers, it’s Bob. Many of you know that Jean and I have been in Hawaii for a while, and that Jean came down with a nasty kidney infection and ended up in the hospital for a week. So, her plans for restaurant reviews and stories of cooking with our friends from Maui have been cut short. But, I haven’t been going hungry, so I thought I would fill you in on some of the meals I have enjoyed. I have to admit, looking after Jean was my first priority, so I don’t have all the great photos you have come to expect from Jean’s posts, but I will do my best.
One of Hawaii Chef’s requests when we came was for chicken meatball mix and San Marzano tomatoes from Carfagna’s in Columbus. We brought a cooler full of frozen food, including the meatball makings. The dinner I am about to describe was the reward for the transport.
For dinner one evening early in our vacation Tony made fantastic spaghetti and meatballs. Here is the secret – he started in the morning, making meatballs from the lean chicken mix, then browning them on all sides in extra virgin olive oil. Then he added slivered garlic to flavor the oil, sautéed it briefly, then started building the sauce. He added the San Marzano tomatoes, and some fresh basil, salt and pepper. Before we left for the day he added enough water to the sauce so it could simmer for six hours. That day we went to visit a winery in Ulapalakua, on the side of Haleakala, the huge dormant volcano in the middle of the island. (BTW, don’t you love the sound of those Hawaiian names? And, oh, the winery visit will be another post.)
When we got home that evening, the sauce had simmered slowly and the consistency was perfect. Tony corrected the seasoning and finished it with a splash of red wine to brighten the flavor even more. We added the pasta al dente, freshly baked garlic bread, parmigiano reggiano, and a wonderful Merlot that Tony had been saving. It was fantastic! Simple ingredients, treated with respect, by a chef worthy of the name -- wonderful!
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Jean is in Hawaii and I am in the land of Morning Calm- Korea!
This is a short little post as I am having a bit of a technology issue.. (I need to stop taking picture with my phone and start using my camera!) But here is a little tease..
Duk is what they call rice cake in Korea. Think mochi but even chewier, and in a variety of flavors. The pink ones in the picture are cherry flavored, the white and black is sesame, and the brown.. Coffee! The powdery looking one had a sweet bean filling with lots of cinnamon and soy powder coating the outside. There was also one with kimchee in it but.. I ate it :)
Tomorrow I'm attending a Korean cooking class so I'll make sure to use my camera for those pictures! Stay tuned..
Monday, October 12, 2009
Yesterday was a beautiful day in Hawaii. But then again, when isn’t a day in Hawaii beautiful?
Tony and Michelle wanted to take us to a Sunday brunch at a restaurant called “Monsoon”. They serve an Indian buffet. This was one of Michelle’s go to places when she was pregnant with Camryn.
I’m thinking to myself, “Indian?” Uh, I don’t really like Indian. It’s the whole curry thing. Way too much and I just don’t care for the taste. But what are you gonna say to someone who is hosting you and wants to share a favorite place with you? So okay, I’m game. I’ll try anything. I may not eat it twice, but I’ll try it once.
Off we went. The restaurant is beautiful. It has just been redone and the ambiance is fantastic. Look at that view! The front of the room is open and the ocean breezes float through. It is heaven. The owners greeted Tony & Michelle and were so gracious and attentive. We were a tad early so all of the food hadn’t been set out yet. That was okay. It gave us a chance to take pictures and get settled before the feast began.
We watched a kite surfer as he rode the waves. It was just awesome. The smell of the ocean is one of my most favorite smells in the world. And the breeze coming through the room was amazing.
It was time. Let the games begin! We headed up to the buffet and looked down the line. Everything was fresh and piping hot. It was all labeled, which was a huge help for me. And the owner was right there to answer any questions. He was so encouraging about trying the dishes.
Here is my plate! I know, I know. What a pig. But hey, it’s a buffet! And I was told to try a little of everything. And this wasn’t even everything. I was really surprised. According to Tony, good Indian food will turn your head. And he deemed this as “good”! I was finding that I liked Indian food!
I really liked the naan, potato pakoras, chicken tika masala, tandoori chicken, lentil daal, vegetable korma, spinach, and something else I don’t know the name of that had mushrooms in it. The dish I loved the most was the rice pudding. It is more of a milk and rice with raisins. I followed Michelle’s example and added a big spoonful of a dish that was sitting beside the pudding. It was dark brown and looked like it was shredded. I mixed it in the pudding, just like Michelle did. It was amazing! It had a wonderful spicy flavor; cinnamon, cardamom and other flavors similar. It was heaven.
The owner came over to check with us and I had to ask him what was in the dish with the pudding. He looked puzzled. I held up my bowl to show him and a look of shock passed over his face. He burst out laughing! He said that it was pickled. Like a relish. No way. It was delicious with the pudding. I asked what was in it and he said carrots, eggplant, other vegetables and pickled ingredients. This couldn’t be! It was sweet. He called the chef over. His wife had made the relish. It turned out that the relish was made of carrots, dried milk, butter, cashews, almonds, cinnamon, cardamom and some other spices. It was a different relish than the owner was thinking of. Whew! We didn’t feel quite so stupid.
And because I told them how much I loved it, they brought me a dish of it to take with me. What a wonderful experience. Except for one thing. The four of us could barely walk to the car the car because we were so stuffed. What a meal.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Coming to you from Maui! Woohoo! How cool is that? I just had to say that :-)
We're visiting "Hawaii Chef" Tony, wife Michelle and baby Camryn. Only been here a day but we are having a blast! We got in late last night after a very exhausting day of travel. But it is so worth it!
Today we went to Ahihi-Kinau beach. It is a natural reserve so there is no fishing allowed. This means that the reef is beautiful and the fish are incredibly plentiful. And so many kinds! My favorite of course is the humuhumunukunukuapu'a. That is the state fish. It is so cool to see these for real and up close. Some others that we saw were parrot fish, puffers, goatfish, papio, surgeon fish, thread fish and more. I can't wait to go out again tomorrow!
We were so hungry that we couldn't even wait to get home to eat. We stopped at a really cool store, Whaler's General Store and picked up a few things to snack on til dinner. When we got home we packed a cooler and headed down to the pool. The pool at Tony & Michelle's condo is lovely. And they have two areas with grills. So we took our dinner with us to the pool and after about an hour and a half of pooltime Tony and Bob fired up the grill and cooked dinner!
Here you have it! And it was delicious! Tony grilled all natural beef burgers and served it with a sauce he made of mayonnaise, ketchup, bread & butter pickles and wasabi oil. Oh my goodness was it good! We had penne pasta with pesto and parmesan cheese and potato salad. It was delicious! Or did it just taste so good because we're in Maui?
And look at that smile! I think he might be happy we're here. And that's the reason we're having such a great time.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Kathy & Donald Padova brought dinner on that Saturday evening. By that time I was able to really start tasting food again. And am I glad I was! What an awesome dinner! Let me tell you about it…you’ll be jealous. It was an Italian feast!
It was wonderful weather, so we decided to sit out on the deck and enjoy the beautiful evening. Kathy started us off with sweet ripe melon slices wrapped in salty prosciutto. Classic. And there is a reason why they are classic. It is such a great combination. The prosciutto plays so well against the sweetness of the melon. And the combination just whets your appetite for the delights that lie ahead.
With the melon she served us crusty olive bread that was a perfect foil. Bits of the kalamata olives could be seen throughout the slices. For dipping there was a light olive oil with Italian herbs and Kathy’s very own homemade pesto. I simply could not stay out of the pesto! The balance of ingredients was just right. Holy cow was it good! Kath said she had gotten the recipe from Giada.
The salad course was an Ina Garten recipe. It was a green salad with creamy mustard vinaigrette. Another winner! Champagne vinegar and Dijon mustard combine with garlic and a few other ingredients to make a tasty dressing for the mixed greens. So far I was loving this dinner. Why oh why does it take surgery to get something like this? Why, I think we should just take turns making our friends dinner every weekend….yeah, right. Back to reality.
Now for the piece de resistance, penne pasta with five cheeses. Sweet Mother Mary…words fail me. Okay, not really. I have plenty to say about this dish. Kathy got the recipe from Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa Family Style” cookbook. Ina says it originally comes from George Germon & Johanne Killeen’s cookbook “Cucina Simpatica”. I say it is simply fabulous! This is the kind of dish that just captivates me. When I tasted it, it was so incredibly good that I immediately started thinking about all of the people that we could fix this for; people who would just be as totally wowed with it as we were. The four of us oohed and aahed and moaned and just practically hurt ourselves over this pasta. Except for maybe Donald. I’m not sure he actually came up for air for about 5 -10 minutes. We lost him for a while. The man knows good food and he was certainly enjoying it!
Kathy had made this dish so that we each had our own individual casserole. Good thing, too. ‘Cause if someone had crossed the line into my territory I might have become just a bit ugly. I wanted every last ooey, gooey, delicious, cheesy bite of this dish. The blend of the five cheeses is stupendous, but then add in that bit of tomato goodness and it just puts it over the top. I wanted to just keep eating and eating. I swear it is one of those dishes that when you finish it, it is so darn good you just wish you could start all over!
I love these people. And I love good food. Put the two together and it was an evening made in heaven.
But wait! There was dessert! And O.M.G. it was Jeni’s ice cream. Jeni’s Salty Caramel ice cream and Jeni’s Bourbon Pecan ice cream. Oh good lord Kathy! I think this is illegal!
But wait! There's more! I slipped out of my seat and pulled out a box of my coveted Girl Scout Shortbread cookies. I know! You can hardly believe it, can you? Girl Scout cookies in September? I had a very good hiding place from Bob! (You know you’re special if I pull out Girl Scout cookies for you!) Why not just put the earrings on the elephant? I don’t plan on having any more surgery for a very long time….if ever! So let’s go all out!
But wait! Bob was not to be outdone. He brought out the homemade limoncello with a fresh lemon. Now it was a party!!!
Wow. What an evening. I was such a happy girl.
Thank you, Kathy and Donald. You’re the best!
Giada’s Basil Pesto
2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
1 garlic clove
½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
About 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
In a blender, pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic, ½ teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon of pepper until finely chopped. With the blender still running, gradually add enough oil to form a smooth and thick consistency. Transfer the pesto to a medium bowl and stir in the cheese. Season the pesto with more salt and pepper to taste. (The pesto can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Green Salad with Creamy Mustard Vinaigrette
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature (see Note)
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup good olive oil
Salad greens or mesclun mix for 6 to 8 people
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, garlic, egg yolk, salt, and pepper. While whisking, slowly add the olive oil until the vinaigrette is emulsified.
Toss the greens with enough dressing to moisten and serve immediately.
Note: If you’re worried about raw egg, substitute 1 tablespoon mayonnaise.
When you’re serving a salad for a dinner party, put the vinaigrette in the bottom of a serving bowl and place the greens on top. This can sit for an hour or two until you’re ready to toss and serve it.
Penne with Five Cheeses
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup crushed tomatoes in thick tomato puree
½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano (1 ½ ounces)
½ cup shredded imported Italian fontina (1 ½ ounces)
¼ cup crumbled Italian Gorgonzola (1 ½ ounces)
2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
¼ pound fresh mozzarella, sliced
6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 pound imported penne rigate pasta
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
Bring 5 quarts of salted water to a boil in a stockpot.
Combine all the ingredients except the penne and butter in a large mixing bowl. Mix well.
Drop the penne into the boiling water and parboil for 4 minutes. Drain well in a colander and add to the ingredients in the mixing bowl, tossing to combine.
Divide the pasta mixture among 6 shallow ceramic gratin dishes (1 ½ to 2 cup capacity).
Dot with the butter and bake until bubbly and brown on top, 7 to 10 minutes.
This is a very versatile recipe and can be made with lots of variations. Ina states she likes to double the Gorgonzola and add ½ cup of grated Parmesan cheese.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Woodhaven Farm is the brainchild of Tami Cecil, ex-corporate type, stock broker, etc., and now chef and owner of the farm. She runs a cooking school and does cooking parties as well as the team building through cooking. Take a look at their website for more info: www.woodhavenfarm.com.
We started the evening with wine and beer (the Farm doesn’t have a liquor license, so we brought our own) and some simple snacks on the patio, chatting and plotting our strategies for the competitive events to come. We had 20 people, with a wide range of cooking skills and experience, divided into 4 teams.
After running us through some basic cooking and kitchen safety pointers, Tami told us that we were going to be doing a little Iron Chef action, with each team responsible for putting together an appetizer to serve 20 from a list of mystery ingredients, all in 15 minutes!
My team very quickly focused in on the beautiful big Portabella mushrooms that were part of the basket of ingredients. We sliced them and dropped them in a pan with some olive oil for a quick sauté, then deglazed the pan with red wine for some more flavor and color. After arranging the slices on a plate we spiced up the already excellent pesto in the basket with some chopped jalepenos and spooned a ring of it over the mushrooms, following that with a ring of roasted red peppers. Meanwhile, one team member was slicing up a baguette to run under the broiler, while another readied some fresh garlic to rub the on the toasted slices. Let me just say, these guys were on a mission! We called our dish “BTR”, sharing an acronym with a new product we are developing, but in this case it stood for Better Than the Rest! And, sure enough, when we came to Tasting and Judgment, Tami chose our dish as the winner!
We then moved back into the kitchen to prepare the rest of the meal, with each team responsible for two items. The menu included marinated, grilled chicken breasts, garlic smashed potatoes, sautéed French green beans, a lovely salad with mixed greens, bleu cheese, pecans and dried cranberries (along with some herbed croutons, freshly prepared by my overachiever team!). For dessert, one of the teams made individual molten chocolate cakes, garnished with whipped cream and a fresh strawberry!
The meal was great, and it seemed even better because we had put it all together. The conversations and interactions were also made even better by the teamwork and the friendly competition. This was a great evening -- I am already trying to figure out how we can get a group of friends to enjoy a visit to the farm. Maybe a cold winter night, with some hearty food and a fire in the fireplace!
11401 Woodhaven Rd.
Johnstown, OH 43031
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
We did try to get things we have not had before. Because Banana Bean offered all their brunch items on the Restaurant Week menu, it gave us a lot of leeway.
Here were our appetizers-Both were absolutely wonderful! Along with these we had an order of the plantains, too.
Beach House Nachos - White Corn Tortilla Chips with Traditional toppings, Quesadilla Cheese, and your choice of Seasoned Beef or Grilled Shrimp
Fried Green Tomatoes (Seasonal) - Habañero Pepper Jelly, Goat Cheese
Our choice of entrees were also great! Only comment I can make is that the chicken and waffles could benefit from additional syrup.
Sweet Corn & Lobster Bisque - Sweet Corn and Butter Poached Lobster in a Sweet Cream and Sherry Velouté
Eggs Del Mar - Two Poached Eggs Atop House-made Creole Cornmeal-Dusted Crab Cakes,Seared Spinach & Roasted Tomato Hollandaise
BB Omelette - Roasted Vegetables, Goat Cheese, and Load'sa Herbs
Grandaddies Chicken And Waffles - Buttermilk Fried Boneless Chicken Breast with an Almond Scented Belgian Waffle and Apricot Honey Syrup
Enchilada Omelette - Seasoned Ground Beef with Fajita Vegetables, Quesadilla Cheese, Sour Cream, and Red Hacienda Sauce
Another successful meal at The Banana Bean Cafe. And friends that are now fans of the Bean!!!
Banana Bean Cafe
340 Greenlawn Ave Columbus, OH 43223
Let’s start with Mezzo. If you can remember back to the time of Restaurant Week!
Mezzo is a gem in the Gahanna Creekside complex. It sits on the Big Walnut Creek. Sitting on the lovely patio, you can watch paddle boats, the fountains, hear music, enjoy the gorgeous flowers, and the awesome fireplace. We just love it.
So we were very excited to take our friends there for dinner. We all arrived and took a few moments to enjoy the beautiful flowers before we went in.
Because I have written in depth before about Mezzo, I will go straight to the Restaurant Week dinner.
Mezzo offered a couple of choices for each category. The salad course offered a choice of "La Casa Insalata"-mixed greens, poached apples, spiced walnuts, tossed with a Gorgonzola vinaigrette, or "Wedge Salad"-iceberg lettuce, smoked bacon, diced tomatoes, with a peppercorn ranch dressing.
Both of the salads were delicious. I ordered the wedge, simply because I rarely do. It was yummy! The chunks of bacon were so good against the peppercorn dressing. I also tasted La Casa Insalata and it was totally delicious! The poached apples and spiced walnuts with that gorgonzola vinaigrette? Oh my :-)
The Entrees offered were "Seafood Linguine"-scallops, shrimp, and mixed vegetables served atop linguine with a white wine butter sauce, or "Lasagna al Forno"-veal, beef, ricotta, mozzarella, and marinara.
My choice of entree was the seafood linguine. Okay, this is really hard to say. But it was a disappointment. First the presentation of the dish was not up to what I have come to expect from Mezzo. And the taste matched the presentation. It wasn't awful. It was just bland. And sometimes that can be worse than awful.
But the lasagna rocked. I kept dipping into Bob's plate. Poor Bob. He's so tolerant of an errant fork slyly slipping in when he is engrossed in conversation. He acts just as if he is oblivious. And I know my dear husband is rarely oblivious to anything; especially me!
Dessert was a slice of cheesecake.
Little needs to be said of the cheesecake. This is Brooke's favorite dessert in the world. And she indeed, was happy!
We all were!
Mezzo Italian Kitchen
130 Creekside Plaza
Gahanna, Ohio 43230
Friday, October 2, 2009
And it was personal to me. I guess I couldn’t have been much more than a year to a year and a half old when Mom was diagnosed with cancer the first time. Obviously, I remember nothing of this time. But I know that with seven children ranging from age 14 to 1 ½ years old, it could not have been easy. She went through a mastectomy and a hysterectomy, followed by radiation. From what Dad told me, it was pretty awful. Much different back then than it is now.
What I do remember, is a woman of such beauty and grace that I could not help but want to be like her. She was funny and talented and crafty and just plain fun. And could she cook! My dad would boast that Mom could taste something once and go home and recreate it. (What fun she’d have today!) She had loads of friends and lit up a room when she walked in. She bowled and was a mean (in a good way) euchre player. And she taught second grade.
She was also a woman of deep and great faith. Not just religious, but incredibly faithful.
My father adored her. She was the love of his life.
What I remember was that to know my mother was to love her.
I had just turned eleven. I knew she was sick. But my childhood to this point had been storybook. Little did I know that my life was about to change forever. All of our lives changed forever.
On March 8, 1970 Mary Jo Bayly passed away at age forty five.
And her family grieves to this day.
This blog is dedicated to my mother and is part of American Cancer Society's More Birthdays Blog Chain.