Sunday, September 27, 2015

Eating Kansas City

We motored to KC this weekend with good friends, the Kavans. Our main mission was and IKEA run and visiting the boys as well as the annual Art Fair.

I asked Ben for some mom and pop places for BBQ this trip and settled on Woodyards. Great place, smokey, picnic tables and great BBQ at a fair price. The special tonight was a full slab of baby backs for $16.99. We had a 3 meat platter with burnt ends , pulled pork and sausage. Yum,  and with the sides, so much food! Great atmosphere and great company for sure. I will definitely hit this place again.
Of course we went for the Art Fair and it was great with a lot to look at.

Drinks with the kids at the hotel lobby after hitting the liquor store to pick up Brenda's Bluecoat Gin and some Hard Root Beer!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Potato Crusted Fish

A while back Ann Burrell on her TV show made a Potato Crusted Halibut.  I made this version using Mahi Mahi from Trader Joe's. A much more available fish in these parts but I think the result was about the same.

Basically you sliced the spuds as thin as possible with the mandolin and then laid them out in overlapping layers on parchment paper, place your fish in the center and wrapped it all up like a package using the paper to help roll the fish. Yukon Gold potatoes were used and on her show she used an infused olive oil to brush the potatoes. The infusion was made with bay leaf, garlic, thyme, lemon zest and fennel seed. This was brought to a boil then set aside for an hour to infuse.

The picture here tells the story and I need to try for a thinner cut in the spuds but overall this worked well.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Weekend in Des Moines

We spent a relaxing weekend in DesMoines with good friends Matt and Lori just to catch up and make future plans. They are great travel buddies and we are talking about doing another domestic adventure next year late spring, early summer.

Of course, I couldn't show up empty handed so I made a couple of batons to take with us. Light and airy, I think I am getting the hang of this crusty French loafery(?)

I also made some Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls late Friday and froze them to take with us for Sunday morning.  Here is the problem with taking fresh french loaves on a road trip early Saturday morning....I got up several times in the wee small hours to manage the dough and I was really beat the next day, all day. It is well worth losing a bit of shut eye but....

Lori made some quick meals that were really tasty but this dressing on the romaine really caught my attention. She used Demaris Phillips recipe from the show Southern at Heart. I liked the spicy end notes and the unusual combination of capers in the mix.
  • Dressing:
  • 1 ounce drained capers (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, depending on how spicy you like it
  • Small pinch ground cloves
  • 1 lemon, juiced (about 3 tablespoons)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
    For the dressing: Mince the capers and the garlic; add the salt and use the back of your knife to grind into a paste. Add the paste to a medium mixing bowl along with the mustard, mayonnaise, sesame oil, cayenne and cloves. Whisk to combine. Stir in lemon juice, and add pepper to taste.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Using What You've Got.....again

Stuff just seems to pile up in our fridge and Brenda is a tough task master, literally expecting a hot meal when she comes home! Please someone,  rescue  Seriously she gets a little miffed if I haven't cooked something and trust me, it's tough coming up with a meal every night. We do not eat out much at all.

So I had a 1/4 sliced flat iron steak cooked medium, about 6 large Cremini mushrooms leftover from another project, a little bit of Blue Cheese and Parmesan and a boatload of tomatoes. What to do?

A while back there was a great eatery called 'Ryan's Bistro' in Omaha and it was fantastic but short lived as the owner was a restless yuppie and soon sold the restaurant to decay. One thing remained in my head from that place though was the Steak Pasta dish with lovely tender chunks of tenderloin and mushrooms laced with cherry tomatoes and served in a light cream sauce flavored with chunks of blue cheese.

Ok. I got this. I have a fully stocked pantry of staples so cream, butter and pasta was on hand.

First I chunked up the mushrooms and sauteed them in a bit of butter and olive oil. Next I added the tomatoes, about 3 2 inch ones cut up and let them hang a bit before adding about 1/2 cup cream, 3/4 cup of skim milk and 2 ounces of left over cream cheese. I placed 2 crushed garlic cloves in the sauce to steep a bit. I added about 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. The whole thing thickened up surprising well to the point I had to add a bit more milk to thin it down.  I added the steak at the end with the crumbles of Blue Cheese just  heated through and served it all over our favorite pasta (Fiber Gourmet). It was really good.

And my lovely bride? Happy wife, happy life. Of course she complained about the way it is making her fat (it is not) but really with the sensible servings and lo cal pasta, watered down cream it turns out to be a bout 500 calories per serving. Not bad.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Eating Omaha...Le Voltaire

It is Restaurant Week in Omaha and a lot of local eateries are offering Prix Fixe menus to showcase some of their fare.

We are taking advantage of several of these with friends and our first foray was to a local French eatery called 'Le Voltaire'. This is an established French cuisine that is simply off our radar for some reason. We haven't been here in years. It has a a great bakery and pastry shop next to restaurant run by the chef. 

Our menu included a choice of

FIRST COURSE (choose one of the following):
  • Escargots de Bourgogne: a french classic | parsley | garlic butter
  • Goat Cheese Toast | blueberry chutney
  • Bowl of French Onion Soup
SECOND COURSE (choose one of the following):
  • Red Wine Braised Beef Cheeks
  • Petit Tender: balsamic onion confit | blue cheese
  • Papillotte of Salmon | tarragon-capers butter
THIRD COURSE (choose one of the following):
  • Crème Brulee a la Vanilla
  • Bread Pudding | caramel sauce
We all had a fair sampling of most of the menu. The Baumer's were in tow so each of us had a different appetizer. The big winner was the soup. Brenda deigned it the best she has had. I had a taste and it was delicious. Very cheesy, a lot of bread and the broth was just great. I had the snails which were tender and loaded with butter and garlic. Plenty to soak up with the slices of French baguteet on the table. Cindy had the goat cheese toasts and they were good as well but not my first pick for a savory meal.

Next,  the main course. None of us ordered the fish but it looked fantastic served at other tables. Mike and I ordered the Beef Cheeks and were not disappointed with the tender meat and vegetables in a red wine gravy. A lot like my version of Beef Bourguignon, a lot like it. The ladies each had the steak which turned out to be a thick cut of Flatiron and it was quite tasty. Interestingly, they were not asked how they wanted it cooked so it came to the table rare to medium.

The desserts were fantastic. The bread pudding being made with leftover croissants and a delightful caramel. I missed the creme anglaise I get at The Upstream though.  All and all a five star night with great company.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Art Collecting Weekend

We were invited to a Pottery Show in Ft. Calhoun this past weekend. I was looking forward to a nice drive in the country and some great woks of art. We were not disappointed and I wound up purchasing a nice piece for the house. I have been interested in the last few years to add some Art pieces to our house and this would be my first  major purchase.

It's a rather large vase with a horse theme lid. The artist, Pam Daly was present (the show was at her home) and explained the significance of the horses (therapy for having to put hers down after 30 years) and the work was impressive and fit with our general ambiance.  I was a potter at one time in college and fondly recall the High Fire 'parties' we held as we fired up the Raku kiln once or twice a year and made a grand day of it. It was hot, sweaty and exhilarating work with the occasional disappointment as a piece imploded upon impact with the damp straw or whatever burnable medium we fired with.  Pam was kind enough to show me around and let us see the kilns and talk about firings. The ladies were bored to tears I am sure but didn't let on.

We met some nice folks, looked at a lot of great art and admired a beautiful country home. I was tripping down memory lane and Brenda...well not so much but its always wonderful to spend time together anywhere we go.


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