Sweet Potato Mushroom Roast

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You won’t miss the marshmallows in this one!

Sweet Potato Mushroom Roast

3 Sweet Potatoes  (about 2-2.25 pounds)

4-6 Ounces Mushrooms, coarsely chopped (I used “Gourmet Blend” baby bella, shitake and oyster)

1/2 medium Onion, chopped

D’Avolio Cilantro and Roasted Onion EVOO

1/2 Amber Agave

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush olive oil into a 3 quart oven safe roasting pan. If the oven is hotter reduce the cooking time by about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.

Put a large pot of water on to boil. Peel potatoes and cut into 1’1 1/2″ chunks. Boil for about 5 minutes. Drain.

In heavy skillet heat 1 tablespoon of EVOO and saute onion for about 5-7 minutes until caramelized. Add mushrooms and toss with onions. Cook for about a minute and remove from heat. Add drained potatoes and toss. Add agave and toss.

Evenly place them into the prepared pan and roast for about 30 minutes until they are soft.

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It’s Fun to Eat at the Bar!

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I travel a lot, often by myself. While I am not averse to eating alone with a book or my iPad, I most often enjoy sitting among my soon to be friends at the bar. You usually get served more quickly and you often have small plate options not available on the full menu.

Twice in New Orleans I ate memorable meals at the bar. The first was at the Acme Oyster House where I watched a highly skilled oyster shucker open hundreds of oysters an hour. I settled in my seat after only a few minutes waiting outside in a line that went around the block. A simple question of availability at the bar afforded me the chance to eat an oyster po boy and it was one of the best sandwich bites of my life. I am not sure what the sauce was but the combination of the fresh bread, perfectly fried oysters and sauce makes my mouth water as I write.

The second time was at K Paul’s on Chartres Street in the French Quarter. Again, there was a large crowd waiting for tables but I spotted a spot at the end of the bar. I asked the bartender his specialty and he boasted he won the award in New Orleans several years in a row for his original twist on the New Orleans Hurricane. I must admit, it was a tasty drink.

When it was time for dinner I asked him my usual question: “If I never return, what is the one dish I must try while visiting your city?”

His answer was the stuffed pork chop. It was a very large pork chop filled with herbs and cheese. It has been a while so I cannot remember the particulars but it was a delicious dish. The meat was very juicy, which is no easy task on a cut so think. When a gentleman sat at the bar a few seats over he asked about the specialty that evening. The bartender asked me to let the man know my thoughts and he ordered the same thing. As we chat with the others at the bar we talked about home. He said he was traveling north to New York to attend his niece’s high school graduation. A few more minutes of conversation determined he grew up in Kenmore, NY and was attending Lewiston Porter’s graduation.

It truly is a small world as Lew-Port is my alma mater, as well. You just never know who you will meet.

I twice dined at the bar this past week. On Saturday we had some wine and watched the Master’s at Hops N Vines in Lewiston. We enjoyed the mussels in white wine sauce and lobster bisque mac and cheese brought down from Casa Antica.

Another wonderful bar dining experience happened last week when I suggested to my friend Amy we grab one drink after work. We settled on Oliver’s where we met at Christmastime and enjoyed a chocolate martini expertly created by bartender Mike. I sincerely love watching a bartender mix a drink and interact with the crowd.

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We enjoyed a French 75. This gin and lemon drink must be making a major comeback because it was new to me just a few weeks ago and I now have several ones to compare. Mike offered it with gin or vodka and since reading about it when I wrote my Town Hall review I wanted to try one with gin. He used fresh lemon juice and simple syrup. He added ice and gin to a shaker and shook to chill the liquid. He poured it into chilled martini glasses and added champagne to the top. I may have a new favorite drink.

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I was hungry and I talked Amy into splitting a a bowl of parsnip soup with crispy pancetta. They were kind enough to actually split the soup into two bowls. If you are watching your waistline and your wallet it is a great idea to share. Some restaurants charge a fee for this but it is still worth it because no one needs the portions served at most restaurants.

We also shared a pizza. It was no ordinary pizza, either. It was called a Cuccidati Pizza, bitter greens, fresh ricotta, walnut & fig pesto. I am a big fan of figs and this was really good.

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Mike barely suggested dessert and I pounced on the idea . Yes, the lady may have appeared too eager but the offerings were so yummy who could resist? This was a chocolate torte with a butter crunch ice cream and a toffee crisp on top. There apparently was caramel on the plate but I talk too much and Amy took complete advantage and ate most of it. I forgive her because I ate most of the toffee. It all evens out.

Next time you find yourself alone at a restaurant, I highly recommend sitting at the bar. You will enjoy the camaraderie, learn about the area and never dine alone.

Have a yummy day!

Brunch Is Back! Town Hall – Lewiston NY

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20130324-201513.jpgThis pretty and delicious drink is the perfect testimony that brunch has come a long way from the long silver chafing dishes filled with dry scrambled eggs, over cooked potatoes and bowls of fruit cocktail fresh from a can.

Town Hall, an upscale bistro in Lewiston, opened during the USA Today/Rand McNally Best of the Road mega food tour last June. Their addition gave us all yet another option for dining on Center Street. I love talking to folks from around Western New York talk about Center Street like they would talk about Chippewa or Hertel or Maple. People know that a drive over bridges and down a hill takes them to shops and restaurants like nowhere else in the area.

Lewiston may not have won best of the road but being named one of the 10 Best Small Towns in America was not a coincidence.

We made 11:30 AM reservations for Brunch and I’m really glad I did. When I arrived the bar was already busy with folks waiting for friends to arrive or to just hang out after church. The tables were filling up and we were seated at one of the booths along the side. The high backs made for a private dining experience although the room is not large and the noise level pretty high.

Brunch is back in a big way all across the country. My son and his friends go to brunch almost every weekend in New York City. Silly mommy thinks it’s for the delicious food at reasonable prices where, in reality, the fact he calls it “Drunk Brunch” should tell me that the reason is the inexpensive drink specials.

Town Hall brings that party theme to Lewiston. A friend of mine told me about the $1 Bloody Mary’s and Bloody Caesars so I was ready. Unfortunately, New York State does not allow beverage service until 12:00 PM.

What to do?

Sydnee, our capable, busy and very sweet server told us about their brunch specials so we decided to enjoy some sliced cinnamon rolls slathered with a not too sweet cream cheese frosting and sprinkled with a little powdered sugar and a cup of coffee while we waited to order our adult beverages. It’s the first time I have ever ordered an appetizer at brunch. Very civilized.

When noon rolled around Sydnee quickly visited all of her tables where the people were just as anxious as us to order one of the interesting beverage options. Check out their menu online to see their brunch offerings. We ordered a Bloody Mary and a drink called a Berries and Basil. It was a wine glass filled with lemon juice, sparkling wine and simple syrup with sliced strawberries and mulled basil. It was refreshing in a sort of wine mojito way. If you like mojito’s and basil you will enjoy this drink. The Bloody Mary was well made and the size you would expect for $1. Still, you could not drive if you spend $5 so it is a great value.

There are a lot of breakfast/brunch/lunch options on the menu and they are all reasonably priced. I also appreciated the portion sizes. They were perfect not just at noon but all day long. I had a hard time deciding what to have. I waffled (not on the menu and you won’t miss them) between the Lobster Frittata ($10) and the Eggs Benedict ($8) and eventually chose the Duck Hash ($9)

20130325-065152.jpgServed in a cast iron casserole dish, the combination of duck confit, potatoes, onions and a poached egg topped with a Tabasco hollandaise was the perfect choice. Duck confit? That takes two days to prepare and I thought the duck had good flavor. The dish had a great balance and the poached egg was cooked just right so that when I put my fork into the yoke it ran happily to over the spicy potatoes and onions.

We also had the Pulled Pork Quesadilla ($8). It was a crispy tortilla filled with slow roasted pork, Chipotle BBQ sauce, peppers and onions with Jack cheese I liked the crunch and flavor. It was not too spicy and I would not have minded more heat.

When we ate every last morsel on our plates we decided to order another beverage sampling. The BLT was surprisingly good. Usually when I get one of these funky drinks I love the first few sips, like the next few then regret the order. The flavor of bacon in a beverage is unusual and not unwelcome. It was a pretty presentation and good to the last drop.

20130325-070043.jpg I ordered the French 75 with vodka. Had I known the original was made with gin I would have had it that way. It was a light wine spritzer with vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup and sparkling wine. It is the kind of drink I would enjoy on a summer day over ice.

If you go, be sure to make a reservation and remember that it may be noon somewhere but it’s not until 12:00 PM in Lewiston.

Have a yummy day!

Easter Cookies…Hop to it!

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20130326-131402.jpgEaster Cookies? Why not?

Simply make your favorite drop sugar cookie (I made a ricotta lemon cookie) with yellow food coloring, frost with sugar glaze and sprinkle with pastel sugar.

The secret to any cookie is consistent shape and size. I use my smallest cookie scoop for this task.

The glaze is two cups of confectioners sugar, the zest and the juice of one lemon plus water to get to 4 tablespoons.

To glaze the cookies, line a few cookie sheets with parchment (easy clean-up) and invert the cookie quickly in the glaze and roll around to coat. Set glazed cookies onto the lined sheet. Much of it runs off onto the parchment (you’ll be glad you lined the sheet) so don’t over do it. Only do 5-6 cookies at a time or the glaze will dry and you won’t be able to sprinkle. Sprinkle with colored sugar and let dry. They package easily and you can stack them.

Have a yummy day!

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Corned Beef and Cabbage Bowl

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First this…

20130320-114242.jpgCorn Beef and Cabbage from Bandana’s Bar and Grill

It was the very best corned beef and cabbage I have ever had. All they would tell me is that it was beer, sugar and pickling spices. There was a decided clove/cinnamon/nutmeg flavor…so delicious! Made me forget it was Monday and I didn’t order their famous mac and cheese.

Then this…

20130320-114346.jpgChopped up all the leftover corned beef, cabbage, carrots and red skinned potatoes. Added some of the spicy mustard and mayonnaise.

And ended up with…

20130320-114545.jpgCorned Beef and Cabbage Salad Bowl.

 

Have a yummy day!!!

All My Old Stuff…

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20130303-185140.jpgA few weeks ago I baked a cake. I looked at these pans and I thought, “how did I get old enough to have pans older than my mothers?” Then I really started to think, when I started baking I was about 12 years old. By then my mother had been married for 21 years and, of course, 21 year old anything to a 12 year old is really old.

YIKES! My pans are 32 years old. How did this happen?

Remember juice glasses?

20130303-184420.jpgThey were proper serving size glasses for a 6-8 ounce serving of orange juice. We used them every morning for our perfectly measured portion of juice. Everything is ginormous now, isn’t it?

What we used to use as dinner plates when we were kids are now called lunch plates. Cereal bowls when we were kids are now called snack size. But I have news for you, friends. The proper serving size has not changed. We just eat 3-4 servings at a time now because, hey, they call them cereal bowls.

I was at my mom’s recently when she was mixing waffles for the kids and had these bowls out on the cupboard.

20130303-184152.jpgI even recognized the sound they made when she was stacking them. Just the sound of the bowls brought me back. They were old when I was a kid but they are actually still beautiful today.

Here are my bowls. They were so modern, with their handle and pour rims when I got married back in the day. But looking at them now, heck, they are just old, like I thought my mom’s stuff was years ago.

20130303-185254.jpgPerspective is an amazing thing.

Wedding season is upon us and bridal showers are frequent. I love to sit up front and watch the bride open all her new things. I really laughed a few weeks when one of my mature woman friends did her own brand of bridal shower stand-up.

“Oh look, matching dish towels. I still have matching dish towels…yeah, they all have faded grey stains on them!”

“Isn’t that great? She is starting with a full set of flatware. She should put GPS on her teaspoons. What happens to all of my teaspoons?”

“Oh my God! Someone gave her red towels. I just cannot think about that one.”

If youth is wasted on the young, I say bridal showers are wasted on the engaged. It’s too bad that by the time all of our teaspoons disappear we cannot grab one of those scanning guns at Bed Bath and Beyond, invite everyone’s mothers and throw ourselves a shower.

Have a yummy day!

Sunday Dinner Musings

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Sunday dinner means a lot to me. It’s not just my memories of dinners when I was a kid but its the memories I know I am making for my family today that motivate me to make a pot of sauce on a Sunday. Last year I posted “Musings While Making Sauce”

My son was home for the weekend and along with a Sabres game with his dad we gathered family and friends for a dish of macaroni.

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Sunday dinner is the extra effort meal. Sunday dinner does not need to be sauce and macaroni but in the middle of the winter it was a natural choice. I think that any dish that takes a few more minutes and you would not have the time nor the effort left in the tank after a long work day to prepare is a worthy Sunday dinner meal.

My mother often used to make a rib roast or roasted chickens on the oven rotisserie.

Sunday dinner smells good. I love how the house smells during these cooking sessions and sometimes for days after. If you make something with bacon it’s a gift that keeps on giving for days to come.

Sunday dinner is not complete without dessert. I talk a lot about how my mom used to bake every Saturday and how I remember watching her bake pies. I have some sort of a pastry deficit but still give it a try when peaches are in season.

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I baked a red velvet Bundt cake from a box cake on Sunday. To make it Sunday special I creamed on brick of cream cheese and about 1 cup of confectioners sugar. I added about a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract and slowly added half and half (I didn’t measure but I think it would have been about 2-3 tablespoons) until the frosting was creamy. I put it on the cake by heaping a spoonful on the top and gently guiding it down the sides. It looked pretty and tasted amazing…

…just like Sunday dinner should…

Let’s talk some more about Sunday dinner. Please feel free click the email link below and give me your story. What do you cook? Who is at the table?

When the meal is special and you’re surrounded family and friends, any day is Sunday. I know folks who work in different service industries who have Monday evening Sunday dinner.

Yesterday I invited my family and as is usual custom in our home there were a few friends I had never met before they came to my home.

That is why I would like to write a book titled “If It’s Sunday Dinner, We Must Be Family.”

Have a yummy day!

Grilled Zucchini Caprese Sandwich

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Servings: 3-4
Prep time: 0:20
Total time: 0:25
Categories: Sandwich
Source: JudeTheFoodie.com

Ingredients

• 1 medium Zucchini
• 1 Fresh Ciabatta Bread (or other flat loaf)
• D’Avolio’s Tuscan Herb Olive Oil
• 1 Garlic Clove
• 6-8 Fresh Basil Leaves (spinach is a good substitute)
• 1 8 oz ball Fresh Mozzarella, sliced thinly 1 Ripe Tomato, sliced thinly Lettuce
Italian Seasoning

Directions

Slice zucchini in 1/4 slices longwise. Brush olive oil on both sides and grill until beginning to brown.

Slice bread in half length wise. Toast under broiler until slightly brown. Remove immediately, brush with olive oil then rub with peeled garlic clove. Season with Italian seasoning.

Put basil then zucchini on bottom half of bread. Cover with half the tomato and mozzarella slices. Layer top half of bread with remaining tomato and mozzarella. Put under broiler until the cheese starts to bubble but not burn.

Remove from oven, sprinkle with more Italian seasoning and layer one half with crispy lettuce. With a hand on each half, close the sandwich quickly and press down on a flat surface to marry both sides. Slice and serve. Feeds two hungry college boys or 3-4 adults.

Have a yummy day!

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Another IHF Cooking Class In The Books

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Once again this evening I had the opportunity to spend a few hours with some new friends from Independent Health teaching a Healthy Options Cooking Class at D’Avolio Kitchen in Williamsville. It was great fun and I’m so glad folks laughed along with me as I over toasted the bread.

A special shout out to Dan and Karen from D’Avolio who made sure everything went smoothly and to my sister who unexpectedly popped in from out of town to assist me, photograph the event and made me an original JudeTheFoodie.com apron.

Here are the links to our evenings menu.

Balsamic Fig Bruschetta With Goat Cheese

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Grilled Zucchini Caprese Sandwich

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Sautéed Sea Scallops over Arugula, Baby Spinach and Parsley

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Fusilli With Tuna Tomato Sauce

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Sautéed Bananas With Toasted Pecans and Grilled Angel Food Cake
Camera shy!

Have a yummy day!!

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