I was born and raised in Kansas and learned to cook alongside my mother. Now, along with my wonderful husband, I have taken the plunge into the city life in New York. These are my food adventures: in my own tiny kitchen, and in the many restaurants of the city.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Blue Smoke BBQ

Monday was a beautiful fall day. Joe and I both had the day off so we decided it was time for another stroll through Central Park to see the changing leaves and to enjoy the crisp, clear weather. And enjoy it we did--unlike the little boy we saw in our wandering: His mother kept saying, "Do you see the colors? That's called fall foliage. Isn't it Pretty???". I think he was more concerned with playing than admiring the changing seasons.
To help keep me warm on our walk through the park, we stopped at the newest Jacques Torres (http://www.jacquestorres.com/default.aspx) location and I picked up one of my new favorite winter treats: a wicked hot chocolate. It's their version made with some allspice, cinnamon, sweet ancho chili peppers and smoked ground chipotle chili pepper. The extra spice makes you stay extra warm.

After working up an appetite, we set out on a mission to find dinner. I had been craving oysters, but we didn't want a place that only served seafood so that Joe would have some options as well. Our hunt led us to Blue Smoke (http://www.bluesmoke.com/) a bbq restaurant with a jazz club in the basement.

Even with the amazing day we had already had, going to Blue Smoke was one of the best decisions we made. As soon as we walked in the smell of barbecue made us fall in love. And then we ate. We started off with cocktails: Joe had an Old Fashioned and I had a Hayride: a mixture of pear, cider, and something else. I don't remember everything it had in it but I do remember that it was delicious and tasted just like fall should.

While working on the cocktails we nibbled on 1/2 dozen oysters, BBQ chips and a blue cheese and bacon dip. Then for our main course Joe had the KC Ribs with a side of corn on the cob and I had Seared Sea Scallops with Blue Corn Grits and Herb Apple salad. The ribs, though not quite as good as some real Kansas City BBQ, were great. The KC barbecue sauce had some great flavors, but the ribs were a little too dry without the addition of extra sauce that was on the table. The scallops were tender and sweet with a slightly spicy tinge. And I was a huge fan of the Blue Corn Grits.

I really had no room for dessert but could not pass up the Ice Cream float made with cream soda, chocolate sauce, and Jack Daniels. Even though it was really too chilly to be eating ice cream, I think the Jack Daniels made up for that.

Our server wasn't spectacular, but the rest of the staff was really friendly and helpful and we had a good time anyway. We had a great meal and I'm really looking forward to heading back to the jazz bar downstairs, Jazz Standard, where we can get the same good food and some good music to go along with it!

Garlic Roasted Pork and Beer Cheese Soup

I hate the days when I really feel like cooking and can't decide what to make. Most of the time when this happens I hem and haw all day until it is too late to actually make anything that I really feel like making and then just end up doing something easy. Or getting take-out.
Well this time I actually figured something out in plenty of time to pull off a tasty dinner. I decided to make Garlic Roasted Pork and then came up with a simple sauce to make it even more garlicky and served it alongside of one of my favorites: a Beer Cheese Soup. I also made some french style green beans and garlic bread (because you can never have too much garlic) to round out the meal.

Beer Cheese Soup
(from Allrecipes, changes in italics)
1 Tbs butter
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/2 t. minced garlic (I used 3 large cloves)
(I also used 1 TB minced shallots)
3 Tbs cornstarch
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
1 bottle beer (12 oz)
1 (14.5 oz) can chicken broth
2 c. Half and half (I have used half and half, but forgot to buy it this time and instead used 1 c. heavy whipping cream and 1 c. 2 % milk)
2 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I used 3 c. shredded cheese. I strongly recommend the 3 c. because it makes a much creamier, tastier soup)

Melt butter. Add onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and saute. Add the beer and boil for 3 minutes. Add chicken broth, return to a boil, then lower heat medium/low and simmer. Combine cornstarch with 3 Tbs water and blend until smooth. Set aside. Add the half and half and cheese to soup. Stir constantly until cheese melts. Then stir in the cornstarch mixture. Stir until the soup is thick, about 2 minutes.

Garlic Roasted Pork and Garlic Cream Sauce
1 pork tenderloin (I couldn't find a tenderloin and used a shoulder--any piece large enough to roast will work, but I suggest a tenderloin)
1 stick butter
4 cloves garlic, very finely minced
salt and pepper

for sauce:
3/4 c. heavy whipping cream
salt and pepper
1/2 t. cornstarch
1/2 t. water

Preheat oven to 325. Melt butter and mix with garlic. Sprinkle roast with salt and pepper and place into roasting dish. Coat roast with the butter and garlic mixture and pour remaining mixture over top of the roast. Cook uncovered until meat thermometer reads 160, basting with the garlic butter from the bottom of the pan every 20 minutes.
After removing tenderloin from the oven, allow to sit for 10 minutes before slicing.

For the sauce:
Pour the garlic butter from the bottom of the roasting pan into a small saucepan. Add whipping cream and salt and pepper and cook over medium high heat for 5-7 minutes. Mix together cornstarch and water and add to saucepan. Stir sauce constantly for 3-4 minutes or until thickened. Serve drizzled over slices of the pork tenderloin.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A Chili Halloween

I hate being cold. I hate the way the wind makes my ears feel like they are going to explode and makes my head throb. I hate bundling up to go out because I feel really restrained and uncomfortable--it's like my scarf is trying to choke me. Every year I dread the coming winter. But then I remember how much I love being holed up in my house cooking soups and baking things just to warm up the kitchen. I think cooking helps me make it through those cold months. Plus there are so many things to make that just don't taste as good in the summer.

For Halloween it was time to make the first chili of the season. I love all of the different variations on chili, but sometimes nothing is as good as basic, simple beans and hamburger. I used to use chili seasoning mixes that I bought at the grocery store, but I figured it was time to make a homemade seasoning blend. I wasn't sure of everything to put in, so I found a recipe on allrecipes.com and used it. It was a great blend and I will be using it to base my chili mixes on in the future. I also found a recipe for homemade cornbread on allrecipes (after dining at the Delta Grill last week I needed corn bread). And to finish it all up I made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, which I saw on ...And a Cookie for Dessert (www.brooke-cookiejar.blogspot.com/). I did half chocolate chips and half butterscotch chips. These cookies are amazing. I think now that we are out of them I may need to make some more!

(seasoning mix from allrecipes)
seasoning mix
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I didn't use the flour at all)
4 teaspoons chili powder (I added extra chili powder)
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
1 tablespoon dried, minced garlic (I used garlic powder)
2 teaspoons white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
for the chili
1 lb. hamburger, cooked (with some seasoning mix) and drained
1 (15.5 oz) can red kidney beans
1 (16oz) can diced/stewed tomatoes
1 (16 oz) can tomato sauce
1 small onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
Mix together the ingredients for the seasoning mix. Use 1-2 TB to sprinkle over ground beef while cooking. Drain the beef and then put into slow cooker. Add beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, onion, pepper, and the rest of the seasoning mix. Cook chili on high for 3 hours or low for 7-8 hours.

Corn Bread
(from allrecipes)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup shortening (I used butter instead)

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the milk, eggs and shortening; beat for 1 minute. Pour into a greased 9-in. square baking pan. Bake at 425 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until bread is golden brown and tests done.
Pumpkin Chocolate chip Cookies
(from ..and a Cookie for Dessert)
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I used 1/2 a bag chocolate and 1/2 a bag butterscotch chips)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional) (I didn't use)

Combine pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, and egg. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt. Dissolve the baking soda with the milk and stir in. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well.
Add vanilla, chocolate chips and nuts.
Drop by spoonful on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for approximately 10 minutes or until lightly brown and firm.