Friday, August 31, 2012

A Monday Night Cassis Quickie

I wanted to share this now, in case you have no plans for this coming Monday... Happy Labor Day All!!

What to do on a Monday night when you want a delicious meal and at not a huge cost? 

Go to Moules Monday at Brasserie Cassis in Plainview! I'm going to tell you about our last Monday evening there - but by no means is this a full rave... that will come when I have more pictures (Yes, D.. its just another excuse to go back!)

Moules Monday - A choice of a variety of different cooking styles of Mussel Pots, Pommes Frites and either a glass of wine or a beer for $18.00.

Dave got the white wine and garlic variety....Oh so good!  The shellfish is cooked to perfection and that broth! We always save some of the baguette that you get (more on that in the full rave) just to dunk into the sauce. If I thought it was proper, I'd simply ask for a straw...but honestly, the baguette is so good I wouldn't want to give that up!

Fresh Pomme Frittes are so delicious, that Dave will also use them to dip into the broth, but I prefer the aiole that comes with it!

I, on the other hand, got a tried and true favorite of mine...Fricasee de Coquille et de Gambas "shrimp and scallops, oyster mushroom, sweet corn, potatoes and leeks with truffle sauce"
Oh, and tastes as amazing as it looks!  The scallops are so tender, the shrimp cooked so perfectly, but its the corn, potatoes and sauce that enrich the dish and give it a depth of flavor that is amazing!

We always end our meals at Cassis with the baby Madeleine's with the marscapone whipped cream and caramel* sauce!  Like I said...more pics to follow in the full rave...this is just a mini Monday rave!

*Pet Peeve... I hate when people say 'car-mel' for this word.. (and yes, I fully know Webster's condones both pronunciations, but this isn't Webster's...and in the world of Em - there is only ONE way to pronounce this word!) This word is "Car-a-mel"... there is an additional A in there for a reason.   'nuff said.

Well friends, D and I are off to some well needed vacation time in upstate; Keuka Lake, here we come!  You know what that means in terms of the blog, right?  Grilling meals, BBQ tips, 'smores galore, mountain pies and oh, so much more!  Stay tuned!

Until Next Time...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Good Home Cooking

So, what’s the next best thing to going out to dinner?  Having someone else make it for you!  And what’s even better than that?  Having that someone (who she herself says she doesn’t cook much) be excited to try out on her friends some new recipes she’s learned from her trip to Italy!

Meet Coreen:

From our trip to the Sculpture Gardens in NJ - Peek-a-boo!

And see what she made us!

Involtini di Prosciutto con Arugula e Pecorino
(Prosciutto Rolled with Arugula and Pecorino Cheese)

2 dozen slices of prosciutto
2 dozen shavings of pecorino/parmesan or any other cheese to create a long rectangular piece to fit the width of the prosciutto
3 bunches of arugula (washed with hard stems removed)
¼ cup olive oil
Juice of 1 fresh lemon, strained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Stuffed olives or other marinated antipasti vegetables

Mix arugula with olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper.  The arugula should be quite wet and tart.  Place a piece of prosciutto on a flat surface and add a small bunch of arugula to it together with a piece of cheese.  Roll tightly.  Arrange as an appetizer on a plate with 2 rolls of the prosciutto with marinated olives and other vegetable antipasti.  Drizzle with olive oil. 
You can add a piece of hard boiled egg or try blue cheese or gorgonzola to the roll.

All put together with some artichoke hearts, olives and Red Pepper
And as delicious, fresh and bright the flavors were in the rolls…I mean, the nuttiness of the Parm, the peppery bite of the arugula, the butteriness of the prosciutto – it really was a light, flavorful appetizer… My absolute favorite of the night was the sauce she made for the Pasta! 

Now, keep in mind…I can make a pretty mean tomato sauce (and I promise, the next time I make it… I’ll actually take measurements, write down my recipe and post it…Well, truth be told, I’ll probably post it many, many times as I never make it the same way twice!), but this was the first time I had seen a sauce made with Cherry Tomatoes. 
Yes, friends, I do know that tomato sauce is made with tomatoes.  I’m just saying… it’s usually the bigger tomatoes that are used…so it really flipped me out that it was made with the baby tomatoes.  Don’t ask why. I don’t even know why. Maybe the fact that cooking with baby anything kind of freaks me out.  Didn't I tell you not to ask why??

Tomatoes aside… or inside in this case, this was such a fantastic sauce…just the right amount of spice to make it sassy, the salami gave such a depth to the flavor, the ricotta – a touch of creaminess…It was the quickest most flavorful sauce I’d ever seen made!  It was so delicious that I forgot to take a picture first and just dug right in…so pardon the half eaten plate!

Carrunchio Sauce

Olive oil
Chopped garlic
1 cup Ventricina (Abruzzo spicy salami with sweet red pepper)
Bay leaf & sage, if desired
2 lbs cherry tomatoes cut small
Pinch of salt
Black pepper (if there’s no pepper in the salami)
½ lb fresh ricotta
Parmesan and grana cheese

Saute garlic and salami in olive oil for about 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes and herbs and cook for about 10 minutes to soften it.   Add ricotta to sauce and stir.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook for about a minute.  Add torn basil to the sauce.  Add to cooked pasta  (directly from the boiling water).  Add parmesan and grana cheese; stir to combine for 1 minute.  

Keep in mind, that lovely meal happened in April!  Yes, it was so delicious that I'm talking about it four months later.  It was a beautiful meal with fantastic company...and I can't wait to do it again (hint, hint Coreen!)

Many, many thanks Coreen!  And for the luscious Lemon infused Olive Oil you bought home for me... I use it every time I make my zucchini carpaccio (a recipe for a future blog!) and think of you!!

Until Next Time...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

And Away We Go!

I've been talking about starting a food blog for at least two or three years.  Why?  Duh.  Because I love food.  I love to eat, to try new things and discover new flavors.  I love to cook too.  I love describing tastes of dishes, I love to recommend places to all of my friends (who also have told me that I should be writing a blog). 

So - Hello!! Here is the first post of my blog.  Will it always be about food?  Will it always be a restaurant rave? Or a restaurant rant? Hell no! 

It will be my random thoughts, which mostly revolve around food, wine, my husband, my furbabies (referred from here on out as my kids) and my family and friends.  And I'll apologize now (well, not really apologize, but more to explain) for the fact that I'm a very wordy, opinionated person - so my blogs may be much longer than you'd care to read.  So? This is my page and I'll be as wordy as I want!  

Lets start with a basic intro:  My name is Emily... Married to Dave... Where upon marriage and changing my name, I got the initials that would have made my life more of a hell in grade school, and no fat girl ever wants to get...EAT! =)   <wonder why I'm doing a food blog? lol>

And Mom to these guys!  



Sam (white) and Lilah

Bored yet?  I'll leave all the dog and cat antics for another post... We'll keep this one strictly food related...I promise! 

 In this first post, I will start with a restaurant rave...Finding this place with Dave and having a fantastic meal is what prompted me to sit down and say to myself "Em, it's time to do this".  Plus, it's the excuse I needed to go back again just to I could taste more and more of the delicious food!  

Friends, I'm talking about Left Coast Kitchen and Cocktails in Merrick, NY.
Upon being seated, we were immediately served a pail of herbed popcorn.  I don't have a picture of that, as Dave and I pounced on it so quickly, there wasn't any left!

We perused the menu and decided to have an appetizer listed under their "Share" section - The Mediterranean Nosh "Hummus, California Capponata, Spinach Pie, Warm Pita, Olive-Feta Salad"

The Hummus was just about the best I've had.. very nutty, smooth, just the right amount of garlic...The Feta was divine, with a bit of spice but not enough to overpower...and the California Capponatta was so full of flavor and texture... While the spinach pie was good, it simply wasn't a thought in the presence of the other wonderful flavors on the dish.

Dave, my carnivore, ordered the Root Beer Glazed Pork Chop..."Double Cut Pork Chip, Berkshire Pork Belly, Harvest Yam and Rice 'Salad', Onion Rings"

You'll get to know that I'm not usually a fan of Pork (or many cuts of meat or things served on bones), so I was a bit reluctant to try this; however the look of utter and pure joy on my husbands face prompted me to take a small bite. 

Ever have pork so moist that when you bit into it, pork juice shoots down the back of your throat?   That's what you'll get with this dish.  I can hardly remember the delicious sweet glaze on the pork, as the pork is such the star here.  Yes, I would order this again, just for me and NOT let Dave take a bite!

But my dish...(I just had to take a moment and sigh) Pan Roasted Sea Scallops "Sweet Corn 'Pudding", Shiitake Mushrooms, English Peas and Truffle Brown Butter"

Yes, my friends, if I had a vat large enough and it was filled with this corn pudding, I would bathe in it.  I would swim around with my mouth open and eat as much as I could possibly hold.  The sweetness of the corn and peas is so balanced by the earthy mushrooms...and the Scallops were perfectly cooked with a nice crust and the most amazing flavor.  I loved this dish so much that I couldn't pass it up the next time I was there.  And when I go back, I'm not sure I could say no!

Best thing was, I had enough left over to have for breakfast the next day, which just conjured up so much good memories of a perfect dish!


So, when I recommended this to a group of friends - they agreed and I went back...  Yes, I did get my scallops again for dinner and we did get the Mediterranean Nosh to share... but we also got two other appetizers to try:

Fried Green Tomatoes "Chopped Romaine, Sundried Tomatoes, Olives, Roasted Tomatoes and Creamy Parmesan Dressing"

This was my first Fried Green Tomatoes experience, and it was a good one!  The salad was crisp and full of flavor...the Fried tomatoes were so nice and crunchy (and of course anything served with that much cheese gets my complete vote of confidence!).  It was a lovely appetizer, but it - in no way - compared to our other selection...

From the Shared section:  Surf n' Turf n' Mac n' Cheese  "Our famous Short Rib, Lobster Meat, Mushrooms, White Cheddar, Truffle Oil and Bread Crumbs"

Yes, this and that corn pudding are on a level playing field for me! Pasta cooked al dente, the cheese sauce, truffle oil (I mean, who doesn't like truffle oil??) was absolute perfection and as odd as Short Rib and Lobster together sound... let me just say "Hello, Lovers".  This dish screamed flavor and even looking at the picture as I write this, I hear it talking to me..."come and get me tonight".   (I have to add...the Short Ribs were so good.. that I completely believe their boast that they're Famous!)

I had a taste of the other two dishes that my friends ordered as their main entrees and they too.... didn't disappoint!

Paparadelle du Jour "Florida Rock Shrimp, Chorizo, Sweet Corn, Tomatoes, Roasted Garlic Cream"

You would think...or rather, I would have thought that the roasted garlic cream sauce or the spicy chorizo would overpower the sweet rock shrimp, but no! Such a delicate balance of flavor and texture in this dish.

Lastly, Shrimp and Grits "Scampi Style Rock Shrimp with Green Beans over Creamy Lemon Mascarpone Grits"
Those grits were fantastic...just the right amount of lemon flavor to bring out the brightness of the shrimp. The mascarpone gave the grits such a creaminess and added nicely to the tang of the lemon.  Just fantastic!

So, do you think I liked this place?  No.  I LOVED it.  (duh!)  Chef Christian Randell knows what he is doing in the kitchen, that's for sure. 

So - my ratings:
Food: Duh.  A+ 'nuff said.

Price:  moderate.  Apps/shared range from $7 to $15... Entrees from $17-26.  Wine menu is diverse and well priced as well. 

Service: A  (you'll get to know that I'm a stickler for service, so an A is not an easy get from me!) Every time I've been there, our servers have been friendly, attentive, easy going, open to giving suggestions (and actually what they like, not the most expensive item on the menu!).  Even the Bussers are quick to wrap your dishes and clean up.  Well done!

My next visit to LCK will be for my other favorite meal... Brunch!

Until Next Time....