Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Song of the Week: Swordfish Hotkiss Night

Quote of the Week: Grits in Madison, NJ

"Feasting is also closely related to memory. We eat certain things in a particular way in order to remember who we are. Why else would you eat grits in Madison, New Jersey?"

--Jeff Smith

Roasted Cornish Game Hens and Morel Mushroom Sauce

When I decided to have a Maya Monday Funday a few weeks ago one of my first orders of business was to make dinner for my parents. I figured I’d incorporate some backyard morel mushrooms into something tasty and delicious, but I wasn’t sure what exactly that would be. Then I opened the freezer door and discovered Cornish game hens. I love Cornish game hens but haven’t cooked them in a while—immediately the wheels in my culinary mind starting turning and I knew what to make. Roasted Cornish game hens with a morel mushroom sauce sounded like a plan to me!

If you want to recreate this dish, here is what you’ll need:

2 Cornish game hens
½ cup white wine
½ cup chicken or beef stock
lemon juice
morel mushrooms (sliced)

First rub the Cornish game hens in olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. 

Meanwhile, heat up some olive oil and butter in a cast iron pan around medium to medium-high and right after the butter bubbles sear the birdies in the hot oil.

Place pan in oven at 450 with a few cloves of garlic scattered about the pan.

While the bird roasts take the opportunity to create a liquid mixture of a half-cup of white wine, a half-cup of beef or chicken stock (I was all out so I used a box of French onion soup), and a splash of lemon juice.

After a half hour pour the liquid mixture over the hens and reduce the heat to 350. Be sure to baste every few minutes to make sure the meat stays nice and moist.

While the hens finish cooking slice up mushrooms and sauté them in butter. When the hens are done, remove the liquid and add it to the buttery mushrooms to reduce into a nice gravy. It will take about ten minutes. You can also add a little flour to help it thicken up.

When you take the hens out cover them in foil to keep them warm. They need to sit for about ten minutes, which is the perfect amount of time to make the morel mushroom sauce.

I served the game hen with fiddleheads (recipe coming soon) and baby red potatoes that I roasted whole with olive oil, garlic, sea salt, rosemary, and a little red chili pepper. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Song of the Week: Mushroom Hunting

Quote of the Week: Bread

"Bread is the paper of the food industry. You write your sandwich on it."

--Dwight K. Shrute

Saturday, May 21, 2011

So What Do You Think the Apocalypse Tastes Like?

Nosh (or Tasting the Apocalypse)

Portland, Maine, is filled with amazing restaurants serving up superb food, creative cocktails, and delicious microbrews. One such exceptional restaurant is Nosh, located at 551 Congress Street.

We hit up Nosh the other night for some drinks and eats. Since the rapture is upon us we decided to try the Apocalypse Now burger. This ridiculous burger consists of a pork and beef patty, American cheese, crispy pork belly, bacon, foie gras, house mayo, and cherry jam, served on a brioche bun. This burger may be the most over-the-top decadent and indulgent food I’ve ever eaten. We split it three ways and that was plenty satisfying—eating the whole thing would have probably been too much, although if you’re having a hard time sleeping it might be good to just devour one of these Apocalypse Now burgers. It’ll put you right to sleep, for sure. 

Because the burgers have pork in them they need to be cooked throughout, which sounds unfortunate but the burger really doesn’t suffer much. And while I might be wary of putting jam on a burger it worked out perfectly—it wasn’t intensely sweet or anything and it added a nice flavor. You really can’t go wrong with the Apocalypse Now burger. Seriously. When a piece of foie gras falls out of your burger while you’re eating it, you know you’re in the foodie capital of the world.  

As if the Apocalypse Now burger wasn’t enough, we also ordered the Pork Belly Poutine. The poutine was a combination of fries, gravy, melted cheddar cheese curds, and strips of pork belly. How absurd is that? Think about it—you’re sitting there eating your fries, enjoying yourself immensely, when all of a sudden you pop a fry in your mouth and realize it’s actually a piece of pork belly. How can you not be happy in that situation? The fries were nice and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and the gravy and cheese curds tasted phenomenal and didn't load down the fries too much.

In addition to the burger and fries we each had an oyster shooter. These shooters had an oyster swimming in vodka, clam juice, bloody mary sauce, and Sriracha, with a smoked salt and pepper rim. They had a really nice spiciness (how can you go wrong with Sriracha?), but it did overshadow the flavor of the oysters and was a bit overpriced.

For drinks I ordered a glass of Malbec, Sonya went for a Tempranillo, and Pat got Allagash Black. Allagash Brewery is located in Portland, Maine, and they make fantastic beer. The Allagash Black is a Belgium strong dark ale that is malty and chocolaty. I was perfectly satisfied with my Malbec, but after I had a taste of the Allagash I was a bit jeally—it was quite delicious.

Whether you are in the mood for tasting the apocalypse or just want some pork belly with your fries, Nosh is a great spot to hit up for on a night out. It’s one of the many must-eat-at restaurants in Portland that you’ve got to try if you’re in the area.

Nosh Kitchen Bar on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Steak Sandwiches

The last time I was in Maine I accumulated so much material for this blog...and then got caught up in this whole getting a doctorate thing and had to set aside my food writing. Well, I'm sitting in Maine once again, so I figure I'd better catch up a bit on the Maine food blogging before venturing out into the great city of Portland to devour more delicious food and beverages. 

One of the highlights of my last trip was enjoying steak sandwiches for dinner made by the lovely Susan. I don't know what it is about her kitchen, but there's magic in the air. It's the perfect place to cook, eat, and talk, and somehow photographs of food are always stunning when taken there. One night she prepared these simple yet superb steak sandwiches. They were made with ciabatta, melted cheese, fresh greens, roasted red peppers, dijon, and very rare steak. 

These sandwiches were truly a treat, and the photographs below will hopefully excite your taste buds and motivate you to make them yourself. Bon appetit!

Home-Made Double Downs

Earlier this year my friends and I made the decision that we had to experience Double Downs. If you're thinking "that's what she said," then get your mind out of the gutter--it's a sandwich!

Well, it's sort of a sandwich. Double Downs are a product of KFC where they place bacon, cheese, and sauce in between two fried chicken fillets. Whaaaatt? Now, we're all a little bit too pretentious to actually go to KFC, so instead we decided to make them from scratch.

My friend Billy was put in charge of creating the Double Downs. Not everyone can be lucky enough to have a friend from the south like Billy who knows how to make amazing fried chicken. Seriously...it's ridiculous. And the chicken is obviously a key aspect to the perfect Double Down experience, so we had to put that job in the hands of an expert. 

He started off by pounding the meat. Hard. After pounding the chicken into cutlets he rubbed them with salt, white pepper, paprika, and cayenne. Next the chicken was dipped into an egg wash and battered with flour. Then he fried them to perfection in vegetable oil.

With the fried chicken "bread" ready to go, bacon, pepperjack cheese, and this cilantro mayonnaise I had made earlier were sandwiched between the fillets and placed in the oven for about ten to fifteen minutes so the cheese could melt and meld all the ingredients together. 

I had actually made the mayo as a dipping sauce for shrimp earlier in the day, but there was a lot leftover and it seemed perfect for the Double Downs. Basically it was a combination of mayonnaise, olive oil, lemon juice, cilantro, crushed red pepper, and sea salt, all blended together. I bet horseradish, pesto, or red pepper mayo would also work really well with this recipe.

I was so excited when the Double Downs were finally ready. I don't even know if I can describe how ridiculously amazing they were. First you've got the crispiness of fried chicken, which knows no match. You know what I'm talking about--that beautifully crispy exterior that gives way to juicy meat on the inside. And not just one piece of fried chicken, but two! Talk about over the top. Next you've got the bacon, and you all know how wonderful bacon is. Combined with the fried chicken it's a double dose of decadence. But then the pepperjack cheese melts all over the sandwich, adding yet another rich quality to the already divine flavors. And mayonnaise! Come on, you know it's the perfect comfort food. What else could you want to put you in a food coma?

These are a perfect late-night snack when all you want to do is get the itis and lie around watching movies. I wish the photos came out better, so you can see just how delicious they were, but I think that at least the picture of me with the Double Down conveys how much happiness these little fried chicken-bacon-cheese "sandwiches" can create. As much as I'm not a fan of KFC, I've got to admit they came up with a great idea with the Double Downs. My recommendation--make them at home and experience one of the most amazing, crispy, and gooey things you can put in your mouth. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


The last time I was in Maine we headed over to District, located at 45 Danforth Street in Portland, for some fantastic fare. 

The main incentive for going to District was oysters (surprise, surprise). It turned out that they have a great deal on oysters. Winterpoints from West Bath, Maine, and Blue Points from Connecticut were both available at an affordable price. The Blue Points are only $1 each, but the $2 Winterpoints are definitely superior. Nice and salty—a delightfully briny embodiment of the northeastern shore of the Atlantic Ocean.

To accompany the oceanic oysters I ordered a French 75 cocktail. This drink was concocted with Tanqueray gin, lemon juice, and prosecco, served straight up. The citrus of the lemon juice and the lightness of the gin and prosecco made for a great combination and was delightful with the briny oysters.

We also ordered some seared foie gras, which was soft and luscious—like butta. I don’t know what it is about foie gras. It’s simply amazing and you really only need a bite or two to enjoy it. Foie gras is definitely the silky smooth goddess of elegant appetizers. 

Other dishes we sampled included baby back ribs with a cider glaze and served with fennel slaw; steamed local mussels with fennel, crème fraiche, and served with grilled bread; mixed green salad with duck fat croutons and sherry vinaigrette; and roasted beet salad of local greens, feta, fried shallots, and rosemary red wine vinaigrette. 

All the food was fresh, delicious, and executed perfectly. I’ve also been informed that they have amazing burgers that are simple and straightforward without all the trappings that some restaurants use to try and elevate burgers into the realm of gourmet. 

District is a nice place to sit back and have a drink, eat some oysters, or try some excellent dishes. I’ll definitely be hitting it up the next time I’m in Portland.

Update: Be sure to check out my review of Districts amazing burgers! http://sliceofearthlydelight.blogspot.com/2011/07/district-burger.html 

District on Urbanspoon

Garlic Rose

Earlier this year my parents visited me in Jersey and we hit up Garlic Rose, a restaurant I'd been dying to try for far too long. Located at 41 Main Street in Madison, New Jersey, Garlic Rose is BYOB, so we brought along a nice bottle of French malbec (my favorite type of wine). This cute bistro was packed to the brim on this Friday night and the scent of garlic filled the dining room, whetting our appetites for dinner.

First off, I just have to say that lots of restaurants bring out bread and oil or butter before your dinner begins, but at Garlic Rose this simple snack is taken to a new level. The bread was soft and warm and the dipping sauce was exceptional. It’s basically a super garlicky pesto sauce, and it tastes phenomenal when drizzled over the bread. I could have been happy just eating this standard fare.

But of course there were many more dishes to try! For one of our appetizers we ordered the Garlicious Escargots—snails served out of shell and sautéed with onions, shitake mushrooms, and basil in a red wine garlic veloute sauce. The snails were cooked perfectly and melted in the mouth with the delightful flavors of the accompanying sauce. 

We also tried the Artichoke Hearts Del Destino, which are egg-battered hearts sautéed with capers and red peppers in a roasted garlic lemon and veloute sauce. These were thankfully not battered too heavily and were perfect for sharing between us although I did prefer the escargot.

From the specials menu my mom ordered Shrimp Oreganato. This entrée consisted of shrimp topped with garlic orgenanato breadcrumbs that were broiled in a white wine, lemon, and butter sauce and was served with seasoned yellow rice. Also from the specials menu my dad ordered St. Peter’s Fish Fra Diablo, which consisted of Tilapia topped with a spicy garlic tomato sauce with hot cherry peppers, roasted red peppers, onions, fresh basil, and oregano. It was also served with seasoned yellow rice. This dish had a really nice level of intense heat and spiciness.

I opted for the Center Cut Frenched Rib Pork Chop. This 12 oz. center cut frenched rib pork chop was broiled to medium doneness in a garlic marinade, topped with a red wine demiglaze, and accompanied with caramelized Fuji apples and Gilroy potatoes. I thoroughly enjoyed this entrée. The pork chop was cooked just right, but the real gem of this dish was the caramelized apples. They added a slightly sweet delightful accompaniment to the pork that was all tied together with the red wine demiglaze. In fact, the sauces on all the dishes we tried were phenomenal—Garlic Rose must have a superb saucier.

Although we were full and satisfied after these appetizers and entrees we couldn’t resist trying the Garlic Ice Cream from the dessert menu. I’ve heard that such a thing exists but had yet to try it. This ice cream was exploding with garlic flavor. There was a very interesting play between the heat and intensity of the garlic juxtaposed with the cool sweetness of the ice cream that made this dessert particularly addictive. It was surprising that the most garlicky item we tasted was the dessert, but it was delicious and any garlic lover should definitely try it out at some point.

I’d been waiting quite a while to eat at Garlic Rose and it definitely lived up to my expectations. If you find yourself in the town of Madison then it’s well worth it to try out this garlicious bistro.  

Garlic Rose on Urbanspoon