Archive for December, 2010

PLEASE Bring Me Some Sticky Pudding, And Bring it Right Here!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010
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OK, OK.

I know the song goes “bring us some FIGGY pudding” — and Christmas has passed anyway — but you gotta hear about this …

A good friend just sent me a gift of Sticky Toffee Pudding made by The Crazy Baker (Hall Hitzig) of Greenbrier County. If you’re  not familiar with Hall, you should be. He’s a great guy who turns out some really fantastic, rustic, European baked specialties from his small bakery in the beautiful Greenbrier Valley. You should try his creations every chance you get …

I do (and sent several of his incredible panfortes to co-workers this Christmas) but have never tried the Sticky Pudding. In describing this dandy dessert, his website (www.thecrazybaker.com) says “Bring out the exclamations!” Truer words have never been spoken.

Essentially a dense, dark bread pudding drenched in hot toffee sauce, it’s a soul-satisfying end to any meal. Or, as I discovered today, a darn good breakfast too. You take a bite, sigh and savor before digging in for  more.

The site goes on to say: “The Crazy Baker has a treat guaranteed to satisfy your desire for a high-quality dessert and bring a bit of England to you at the same time. In England, pudding refers to dessert. In this case, the pudding is a yummy date cake served with an unbelievable hot toffee sauce poured over it.”

A few spoonfuls of this rich sauce alone could kill you dead. But what a way to go!

Ring in the New Year with free (FREE!) Champagne

Monday, December 27, 2010
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Charleston’s Bridge Road Bistro is offering a pretty sweet dinner deal this Friday for New Year’s Eve. If you start enjoying the South Hills restaurant’s special multi-course dinner between the hours of 5 and 6:30 p.m., you’ll receive a complimentary 375 ml. bottle of Canard-Duchene Brut French Champagne.

On the menu …

APPETIZERS:

  • BRB Crab Cakes with Corn and Edamame Succotash, Smoked Tomato Buerre Blanc
  • Bacon-Wrapped Carolina Quail Breast with Sweet Potato & Shitake Mushroom Medley and Red Wine Gastrique
  • Grilled Atlantic Jumbo Prawns with Bistro Cocktail Sauce
  • Maine Lobster Bisque with Vanilla Chantilly

SALADS

  • Baby Bibb with Toasted Walnuts, Oven Roasted Tomatoes, Grilled Pears & Blue Cheese with Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette
  • Baby Lettuces with Fresh Chevre & Mushroom Strudel, Roasted Beets, Dried Cranberries and Pickled OSO Sweet Onions with Aged Balsamic Vinaigrette

ENTREES

  • Seared Alaskan Halibut with Lobster and Baby Leek Ragout, Yukon Golden Whipped Potatoes and Lobster Buerre Blanc
  • Grilled Petit Filet “Oscar” with Lump Crabmeat, Asparagus, Sautéed Wild Mushrooms & Dauphinoise Potatoes, Hollandaise Sauce and Natural Demi
  • Grilled Double Lamb Chops with Kalamata Olive Tapenade, Truffle Scented Pancetta Risotto, Fried Artichoke Heart & Baby Carrots, Balsamic Roasted Shallots and Rosemary Jus
  • Portobello Mushroom & Grilled Vegetable “Wellington” with Baby Winter Vegetables & Parsnip Puree, Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

DESSERTS

  • Warm Chocolate Truffle Cake with Espresso Ice Cream and Raspberry Coulis
  • Morgan Orchard Apple Tart with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce
  • Bistro Cheese Selection of Irish Cheddar, Hudson Valley Camembert & Mountain Gorgonzola 

And in addition to free bubbly and always-awesome food, Ryan Kennedy and Co. will play live music in the bar area. The cost is $85 per person, plus 6% tax and 20% gratuity. For reservations, call (304) 720-3500.

Highlight on New Blossom Deli Menu is a Real Killer

Thursday, December 23, 2010
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If you missed my review of the newly revived Blossom Deli in today’s Daily Mail, well, shame on you. But you can still check it out here: http://charlestondailymail.com/foodandliving/TheFoodGuy/201012211394?page=2&build=cache

In the story, you’ll notice that I wrote about an unbelievable sandwich that’s now offered on the menu. Here’s what I said:

“There’s also this frighteningly intriguing new creation called “The C-A-B-G.” You can’t make this stuff up, so in the menu’s own words …

“Only a select few truly know what it stands for, so please keep it to yourself. All you need to know is that after only one bite your heart will literally skip a beat. We begin with a classic Blossom grilled cheese on Texas toast, any style you like. Next, we top it with four Buzz Buttered Steaks, Applewood bacon, a fried egg, lettuce, tomato, mustard and mayo before we finish construction with another Blossom grilled cheese on top.”

As if four burgers stacked between two grilled cheeses weren’t enough, you can also “double” or “triple” it for a few bucks more.

Is this some kind of joke? The C-A-B-G must stand for Calling All Big Guys. Or Croak At (Once) By God.

But wait, there’s more!

One of the new owners, Jim Nester, wrote in to say: ”I have to say you’re stab at the CABG acronym made me laugh out loud…you should hear some of the guesses we’ve had.  You did forget that it has a fried egg and slices of thick bacon ;)   While we expected to sell one a week given the grandeur of the CABG, we’ve been surprised that we’ve sold at least one every day we’ve been open – including a few doubles.”

All of that and fried egg and bacon, too??!! I’m not sure if I’m horrified — or marching right down there tomorrow to get one!

Yo! Don’t Throw Out Those Used Coffee Grounds!

Monday, December 13, 2010
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It’s hip to be green these days, not to mention the fact that you’re actually doing something worthwhile in the process. (I’d say “Saving the Earth” justifies the few extra seconds it takes to reuse instead of adding to your refuse.) That goes for your old coffee grounds, too.

So once your all caffeined up from killing that morning pot, consider these five unexpected uses for used coffee grounds or beans – courtesy of the folks at www.coffee.org:

  1. Removing Odors From Your Hands:  After cooking with certain foods such as garlic or fish, you might have a strong odor on your hands that regular soap won’t removeRub a few coffee beans in your hands and the oils being released from the beans will absorb the foul smell.
     
  2. Kitchen Drains:  Drains tend to get smelly from having leftover food put down them.  Slowly pour a cup of coffee grounds, mixed with boiling water, down the drain and the odor will disappear.
  3. Cleaning Around the House:  Coffee grounds can be used to clean any stain resistant surface.  They have a mild and gentle element and smell super fresh.  This technique is particularly useful for cleaning greasy kitchen surfaces.
  4. Gardening:  Adding coffee to the soil used for your plants can be an effective way of helping them thrive.  This is best done in small amounts of soil and by simply adding the coffee grounds onto your compost pile.
  5. Freshen Your Breath:  If you’re all out of Altoids, suck on a coffee bean and your mouth and breath will smell clean and fresh.

Yeah, OK, so I’m not to sure about that last one.

Rock Your Ugliest Sweater for Great Snacks – and a Good Cause

Tuesday, December 7, 2010
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How fun is this?

Bridge Road Bistro is hosting an “Ugly Sweater Party” this Thursday to help collect food donations for the Covenant House food pantry. Just come to the restaurant at 6:30 p.m. that night – sporting your most hideous cold-weather cover – and bring in your non-perishable food items to donate to the cause.

Besides the warm-and-fuzzy you’ll feel inside for helping out, you can also enjoy complementary appetizers at the bar and a special “Mothball” Martini!

So, c’mon … It’s time to dig out those old, ugly sweaters. (You know you’ve got one; we all saw it last year.)

I’ll Take the Hot Ham ‘n Cheese … Risotto?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010
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I have a love affair with risotto – that rich, starchy, satisfying dish of Arborio rice that has soaked up so much stock and flavor that it’s nearly bursting at the seams. When it comes to soul-warming comfort food, it doesn’t get much better than this.

But I don’t make this dandy little dish very often. It’s not that it’s hard – quite the contrary, actually – but it does take a good 25 to 30-minute commitment of standing at the stove, stirring the pot, almost non-stop. Seriously. You can’t just check on it every few minutes, but literally have to stir the rice almost non-stop (adding a half cup of warm stock at a time) to ensure it cooks properly and soaks up every last bit of liquid.

It’s a chore, but the results are worth it. The finished product is delicious – and so immensely satisfying.

I usually prefer risottos flavored with more high-class herbs and accoutrements, but my motto in the kitchen is also: “Use what you got.”

Tonight I “got” ham and smoked cheddar cheese, so that’s what went into the pot. Oh my, was it ever good! I finished my hearty bowl of the stuff, then started dipping into the pot itself. This flavor combination worked great, but you can substitute any manner of herbs, spices, vegetables, stocks and more to your liking.

BASIC RISOTTO 

  1. Heat 6-7 cups of stock in a medium saucepan and keep warm on the stove.
  2. In a large heavy pot, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil or butter over medium-high heat. Add a clove of minced garlic and one-third to one-half cup chopped onion or shallots, plus salt and pepper to taste. Sautee until soft and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add two cups of Arborio rice and stir until coated, but not browned, 2-3 minutes. Add one cup of the stock and stir constantly until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add another half-cup of stock and keep stirring.
  4. Each time the liquid is nearly absorbed, add another half-cup of stock and keep stirring. Two cups of rice will absorb approximately 6-7 cups of stock in about 30 minutes.
  5. Once the last of the liquid cooks up, remove from heat and stir in a half cup of Parmesan (or other) cheese and any desired fresh herbs or other cooked ingredients (shrimp, chopped grilled asparagus, you name it).
  6. Ladle into serving dishes and prepare to be wowed!      

Searching for a Good Recipe? You’re Not Alone

Thursday, December 2, 2010
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Ever wonder what other folks are up to? Of course you do, it’s human nature! 

Well if you want to know what other folks are looking for online, the folks at Yahoo can help. The company just released its annual “Year in Review” naming the top-searched topics (under various themes) that were requested online during the past 12 month. When it comes to food-related searches, here’s what America wants to know about: 

Top Searched Recipes on Yahoo! in 2010

  1. Chicken
  2. Crockpot recipes
  3. Summer salads
  4. Healthy recipes
  5. Chili
  6. Halloween recipes
  7. Lasagna
  8. Cake
  9. Cheesecake
  10. Cookies

When we weren’t hungry, our attentions were predominantly on the BP oil spill, pop culture’s leading ladies, gadgets starting with “i” and a newfound fascination with soccer. Just for fun, here are …

Top Overall Searches on Yahoo! in 2010

  1. BP oil spill 
  2. World Cup 
  3. Miley Cyrus 
  4. Kim Kardashian  
  5. Lady Gaga 
  6. iPhone  
  7. Megan Fox  
  8. Justin Bieber  
  9. American Idol
  10. Britney Spears