Sunday, August 30, 2009

Flip Burger

Tonight, I tried a restaurant designed by Richard Blais. The Top Chef Chicago runner up who is known for his adventurous culinary gastronomy style. No, Richard Blais was not in the kitchen.

The design of the restaurant is ultra modern with white tables, silver chairs, and bright red accents. This is not your normal burger joint. I would not recommend going to FLIP with non-adventurous eaters. The menu is very creative however, there is a basic beef burger. Just in case.The milkshakes come with dry ice and in bakery fun flavors like krispy kreme.

Though the milkshakes looked so yummy as they came out of the kitchen, I decide to keep my calorie count reasonable. I ordered the Steak Tarte Burger with the parmesan fries and a diet coke. Hey, I skipped the milkshake. My date ordered the lamburger with tempura fried okra. Then we did one of my favorite things, shared.

The steak tartare burger was my first steak tartare. That is right, I have never had the raw beef dish before. The burger was served with a raw egg on top. Needlessly to say the burger was messy. Thank goodness my date was my boyfriend, otherwise I would have been a little embarrassed. The combination is very rich and surprisingly not tough. The texture of the steak reminded of me of sashimi. So, my verdict of raw egg with raw beef…..WONDERFUL. The beef was seasoned with capers which added the perfect amount of salty tang which compliments the smoky mayo. The smoky mayo tastes just like normal mayo, but has a hickory warm aftertaste. The aftertaste gives the steak more of a burger feel.

I must admit the fries were good but nothing amazing. I could not taste the parmesan. I guess after the wonderful burgers, I expected more from the fries.

The lamburger was moist accented with an olive relish and a raisin ketchup. I have never had raisin ketchup before. The sauce is the same texture and consistency as tomato ketchup , but it tastes like raisins. The olive relish with the cucumber yogurt added classical Mediterranean flavors. Overall, the burger was a success.

I have never had fried okra before. Please try to hide your shock. I lasted over two years in Atlanta, the south, without trying okra. This was sliced long ways to look more like fries. The sauce, srirachi ranch, was the perfect combination of creamy and spicy to compliment the salty crispiness of the tempura batter okra. After this, I am an okra fan, who would have guessed.

If you find yourself in Atlanta, I highly recommend trying this fun trendy burger joint that many people are raving is the best burger in town. Check out the website, for more information.
FLIP Burger Boutique on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 28, 2009

Sugar Free Cookies..............

Over the weekend, a friend's mother moved into the next building over. She is a diabetic. So, I decided I would make sugar free cookies to bring over!!! There are many problems with this idea. One, I am not big on cookies!!!! I won't turn a warm gooey chocolate chip cookie down. However, I don't have self control problems when I walk through a bakery. The second problem is probably the biggest. I have this little dilemma when it comes to baking. I just cannot follow a recipe. It is great when I cook because I am always improving and changing dishes. With Baking, there is this chemistry part that does not work when changed.

Yes, Buying sugar free cookies would have been easier. However, I think the thought counts.

I looked online for sugar free recipes. I did not find many that sounded good!! I wanted to be careful not to use chocolate which has sugar. My decision limited my already limited options. I decided on one recipe- banana oatmeal nut cookies. The other recipe I decide to wing it. I used a variation on a basic chocolate cookie recipe(can you guess which one). I switched out the chocolate chips for pecans. I used splenda instead of brown sugar and sugar and added a little extra. I through in 4oz of applesauce to make the mixture extra moist.

Don't laugh- The banana Oatmeal turned out Okay. I followed the recipe I swear. I guess it just was not my taste. I chose a vegan friendly recipe!! So no eggs or milk. I mean the cookies were edible.

However, my pecan cookies tasted great. They were not too sweet like a pecan pie can be. The cookies tasted delightfully yummy. I figured it might do some good to post a GOOD sugar free recipe. These cookies would be a nice addition to any party. Now if you are a cookie lover, I am not saying these are better than chocolate chip. I am saying this is a great option when you are have a party or a girls night in. It is always nice to have a healthy or sugar free option, in case someone is on a diet or diabetic. I notice when I don't have a backup that is always when I need one. So here is the recipe

Pecan Sugar Free Cookies

· 2 1/4 cup of all purpose flour

· 1 tsp baking soda

· 1 tsp salt

· 2 sticks of butter softened/left out of the frig for 20 minutes

· 2 cups of chopped unsalted pecans

· 2 1/2 cups of splenda (I know it seems like a lot but trust me)

· 1 tsp of vanilla extract

· 2 large eggs

· 4oz (one individual container) applesauce

Preheat oven to 375.

Mix dry ingredients, flour, salt and baking soda in a bowl. Mix butter, splenda, and vanilla extract together until thick and creamy. Add the eggs to the creamy mixture. Slowly, mix in the dry mixture a little at a time. Lastly stir in the pecans. Now the cookie dough is ready to by dropped onto the baking sheets and cooked for 9-11 minutes.

Monday, August 24, 2009

To Salt or Not to Salt

I am not the stereotypical woman. When I get upset, I don’t crave cake, cookies, and ice cream. Instead, I rummage through the refrigerator for cheese and bread. I scavenge through my pantry for chips and Cheez-Its. I gorge on movie popcorn with tons of butter. For dessert, I would rather have a cheese platter than chocolate cake!!!! Needless to say, I like my food salty.

Now, you would think that my craving preferences would have nothing to do with how I cook. Oh, no!!!!! I learned very fast the way I like food is not always the way other people like food. Though strangely, my brother likes food as salty as I do. My poor mom would slave away in the kitchen for hours only to have her children fighting over who could use the salt first every night.

This is a small problem that leads to over seasoned foods and unhappy guests. I tried not adding salt but that leads to unseasoned foods, unhappy guest, and an empty salt shaker. I am a fan of moderation. I put little salt in my cooking. However, I ask everyone who enters my kitchen to taste test everything. I am getting better with my sodium quotient but not perfect. Every once and awhile, I create something inedible to the average person. Please don’t ask my friends about the Asian Salmon catastrophes of 2005.

I do wonder if people who like extremely spicy foods have the same problem of over seasoning. I definitely have been to a few parties where the food was to hot for me to handle.

Overall, I learned that everyone has a different palate with different preferences and dislikes. The trick to create satisfying food is knowing who I am cooking for. If I cook for my brother, then I add copious amounts of salt. If I am cooking for a large party go with moderation. And if I cook for my Grandfather I always use ketchup…..That is another story for another blog!!!

I guess everyone has a demon in their pantry ….mine just happens to sit in cute little shakers on my dining room table!!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Heirloom Tomatoes...Now what???

I promise, not all my blogs will start talking about my boyfriend, just the first two. My boyfriend returned from his trip to Washington DC with heirloom tomatoes. Now, I would love to type I am sophisticated, elegant and use heirloom tomatoes all the time. When in truth I buy whatever tomatoes are on sale each week.

I have NEVER cooked with Heirloom tomatoes before. I have eaten heirloom tomatoes once or twice at a fancy restaurant, so I had no clue where to start. I decided to consult my library of cookbooks… I have a large variety of cookbooks; Nigella Lawson, Rachel Ray, multiple cultural books, wine and food cookbooks, and so on. However, none of my cookbooks gave recipes SPECIFIC to heirloom tomatoes.

What do you do when you can’t find recipes for a specific ingredients?

Wing it! (Yes, I do know I could have Googled it but what fun would that be!!!)

I took classical food profiles like red tomatoes and balsamic or fried green tomatoes and goat cheese. Here is what I came up:

Fried Heirloom Green Tomatoes with goat cheese on Filo Parmesan crisp.

Heirloom Green Tomatoes
Peanut Oil
Filo Dough
Cooking spray/oil/melted butter
Parmesan Cheese
Goat Cheese

Preheat the oven for 400 degrees

I diced the green tomatoes then cooked them in peanut oil on medium to medium high in a sauté pan for 10-15 minutes.

While the tomatoes cook, roll out the defrosted filo dough. Cut into bite sized portions. I made squares, but feel free to experiment with the shapes for your presentation. Spray the top with cooking spray or drizzle oil or melted butter, then top with parmesan cheese. Place on cookie sheet/pan and put in oven for 8-12 minutes. Cooking time varies with every oven. You are looking for a light, tan, crispy flakey texture.

Plate the dish by starting with the filo crisp then add the tomatoes. Lastly, dress the tomatoes with goat cheese.

This dish is simple but could be an appetizer on any menu. It also, looks pretty on a plate without trying.

PS- Feel free to switch out the Filo for toasted baguette or crackers.

Gourmet Roasted Heirloom Tomato Salad

Arugula/ Lettuce/Spinach/ a green of your choice
Fresh mozzarella (HEY, if I can find it affordably so can you)
Red Heirloom Tomatoes
Balsamic Vinegar
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat your oven for 400 degrees

Slice the Heirloom tomatoes than place on cooking sheet/pan. Drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and salt to taste.

Place in the oven for 30 minutes or until caramelized, juicy and dark red on top.

Toss the green of your choice in a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Place cooled roast Tomatoes on greens. Add mozzarella. Lastly drizzle with Balsamic.

Again, this is a simple recipe that you can find on many menus, but it is cheaper at home. Plus, both of these recipes easily lend themselves to entertaining.

Somewhat Gourmet....I think

I started this blog at the urging of my boyfriend. He kept nagging so I finally gave in. I do not have any formal training in the kitchen. I have no experience in a restaurant or professional kitchen. Though, I did work in a coffee shop but I don’t thinks that counts.
That why this blog is “Somewhat gourmet.”
My big qualification is I love to cook and eat!!!! I tend to be that friend in the group who is always cooking and giving out recipes. I love watching food tv, reading about food, and trying to recreate recipes I have had. Basically, I spend most of my free time playing with my food.
I know…I know… my mother is so disappointed…..
I do have a lit degree but that is as far as my food qualifications go. So, I was not sure how this blog would pan out.
To be honest, I am not even sure what I am going to talk about…well, besides food…..
I figure I will write and see what comes out.
So please comment, ask questions, and let me know what you think.