The Simple Joys of Eating

Sometimes I get so caught up in cooking and concocting new recipes food to try, I sometimes forget what really matters: the joy you get from biting into that food and really savoring the taste. I think that’s true of any food, no matter how simple or complex it is, whether you labored for hours or tossed it in the microwave. There is something so enjoyable about sinking your teeth into something that you had a part in creating. Even if it was only for 4 to 5 minutes on HIGH.

I remembered, too, how much I love simple comfort foods. Instead of laboring for hours to make homemade delicacies, I made some Kraft mac & cheese with Morningstar “chicken” tenders for lunch. I haven’t had real chicken tenders in almost 8 years, and it was always one of my favorite foods. Especially the ones from Arby’s. Maybe I’m a little rusty on what chicken tastes like, but it must be as delicious as these. And what can I say about mac and cheese? We didn’t cook in my household, so many nights, Kraft mac and cheese was our main course with a side of bread. (Oh, the culinary delights of growing up with a single dad.)

So after minimal preparation (boiling some water, cooking some noodles, heating the oven, etc.) we took our plates back to the bedroom and ate in bed while watching some crazy movie (I think it was called Brazil.) I scooped up the cheesy goodness, and dunked my “chicken” into a glob of bbq sauce, and I couldn’t think of any better meal I could have made (of picked up) for lunch today.

1oo

I hit 100 views today 🙂

This is probably much less than anyone who has had a wordpress as long as me, but I didn’t realize I could view the site views until about three weeks ago.

So.

I celebrated with a post that has nothing to do with food. Ha!

My OMG moment while deveining shrimp

I have been cooking for about six years, and as a seafood-only type of gal, I have prepared my fair share of shrimp. I can’t stomach the prices for pre-shelled, deveined shrimp at grocery stores (it’s always several dollars more per pound than if you do it yourself,) so I’m quite familiar with prepping my own shrimp. But for some reason tonight, I had the most amazing revelation about how easy it is to devein shrimp.

At least, I think it’s amazing. If you’ve already figured this out, don’t rain on my parade!

My shrimp were being pesky this evening, and the veins were particularly . . . excrement-filled? Right. And that meant that when I tried to rip out the vein, it was just kind of blobbing poop excrement all over my shrimp. Now this is frustrating when one shrimp does it, let alone twenty. Even the ones that I had deveined were still not entirely clean, and that’s why it hit me.

Wash the shrimp.

Like, really wash them so that the pressure of the water just swooshed any extra excrement right down the drain. It sounds too easy, but it worked. A simple slice down the center of the shrimp and a good rinsing under the sink washed away all the dirty little veins. Washed them right down the sink. And best of all, my hands weren’t covered in shrimp poop afterwards.

Salmon & Chive Fritters from “Crisp”

I have the most fantastic little cookbook by Marie Claire called Crisp. What I really love about it is how many of the recipes are filled with veggies and seafood. The book covers everything from appetizers to meals to drinks and sweets. They also discuss basics like pie crusts and walnut bread to use in some of the main recipes. I’ve only tried out a few so far, but I love these salmon & chive fritters.

Here’s the ingredients/recipe:

  • 9oz salmon filet
  • 1tbsp finely chopped lemon zest
  • 2 lightly beaten eggs
  • 1cup all purpose flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 2tbsp plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced garlic chives
  • 1cup thinly sliced scallions
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • lemon wedges, for serving
  • vegetable oil for cooking

Cut the salmon into 1/2 inch dice. Set aside and refrigerate.

Put lemon zest, eggs, flour, baking powder, and yogurt in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Just before cooking, fold the salmon, garlic chives, and scallions through the batter until evenly mixed. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and add 1tbsp of the oil into the pan. Put rounded teaspoons of the mixture into the pan and press down to form flat fritters. As each fritter becomes golden on the bottom, turn it over and cook the other side. Remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat the process, adding a little more oil to the pan as necessary. Serve warm with the lemon wedges.

 

It’s a really simple recipe, and that’s why I love it. You can make the fritters any size, so this recipe can be used for an appetizer or main course. I served these last night and increased the amount of salmon to about 16oz (using the same measurements for everything else) to make 12 large fritters. (The recipe says it makes 36 – which is totally possible! I did this as an appetizer before, too!!)

These delicious little fritters taste a bit like potato pancakes, but meatier. They go really well with sour cream (just like potato pancakes!) or any number of cream sauces. Last night we tried it with Ina Garten’s Green Goddess dressing. Really delicious. If you try and make these, be sure to use all the chives/scallions, because it really helps flavor them. I skimped a bit last night, and they were lacking a bit. I’d also add a little extra salt and pepper.

If you like this recipe, or if you just like entertaining and throwing dinner parties, definitely look into the getting this book. It is filled with delicious recipes!!

Thank you, Marie Claire!

Crabby crabs at Wasabi’s and the Crab Shack

So apparently I’ve been on an absolute crab binge as of late. In about 48 hours, I gorged myself with a crab tartine , crispy soft shell crab, crab stew and a seafood platter with two kinds of crab legs. I could keep going (California roll, anyone?) but instead, I decided to blog about it. Go figure.

Let me say that I am a sucker for soft shell crab. A friend told me when he was young, he used to call it crunchy crab, which makes me wonder: Am I the only person who didn’t try soft shell crab until my mid-twenties?!? I don’t really think you can go terribly wrong with fried crab meat, but I will say the soft shell crab I had at Wasabi’s was pretty delicious. Lightly crisped, and an ample amount of food, served with rice, ginger salad and miso soup make this a pretty awesome deal at $13. They serve it with a really tasty, warm soy-based sauce.

Last night, I got a craving for some steamed seafood, so we headed over to the Crab Shack on Tybee Island to continue my crab binge. I will say that they are skimping a bit on their seafood platter (for $40, 2 people get a platter filled with steamed mussels, shrimp, crawfish, snow crab legs, stone crab legs, corn, potatoes and sausage,) but the food was nonetheless well-prepared. We also ordered a cup of their homemade crab stew for $4, which they say is an award-winning, homemade recipe. I suggest you pass on the stew because it’s mostly cream and filler, with very little crab. The steamed platter is always delicious, and served with drawn butter. Each person gets one set of snow crab legs and one set of stone crab legs (including claws,) so it was quite a crab-filled evening. This place, aside from having the best atmosphere in Savannah, always prepares the crab properly. Because nothing kills steamed crab like overcooking it. That’s not the case here.

No ratings this time. Just a declaration of my love for all things crab.

Bistro-Style French at Papillote in Savannah, GA

Recommended: YES!

It is very rare that I rush home directly after eating somewhere and need to post a blog post right that very moment, but that is the case with Papillote in downtown Savannah. This quaint little cafe is located on Broughton Street between Barnard and Jefferson, and is so unassuming it is easily passed by for the plethora of restaurants clustered in City Market. However, this cafe is definitely worth a visit (or several!)

I’ve been to Papillote once before, but only got a cheese plate because they were out of most of their main dishes. (I came about 30 minutes before it closed.) The cafe has peculiar hours, but it fits with the light meal style of menu they feature. They are open Tuesday-Saturday from 10:30am until 7pm. Sunday’s hours are 12pm-5pm, and they are closed on Monday. Since everything is made fresh, they do stop preparing hot dishes a bit before closing, and the daily specials often sell out fast.

We went for a late lunch today and I finally got to try the Crab and Mango Tartine, which is served open face with a slightly tangy dressing, avocado, radish slices, and a few bits of grapefruit and tomato. I was a bit worried that for $10, I might not be getting a very large portion, but I was more than pleasantly surprised. I ended up not being able to finish my tartine, so I scooped off the crab meat, avocado, and mango and left the bread. All the sandwiches seem to come with a bit of mixed greens and house-made ginger vinaigrette, in case there wasn’t enough food to begin with.

My tartine was delicious. The lump pieces of chilled crab are well complimented by the sweet but not-overpowering mango, and it all melts together with the fresh and fatty avocado. Yep, I said fatty, and I mean it in the best possible way. I really love avocados because they are good for you (because of the fat) and add just the right amount of rich texture to dishes like this one. Even the thinly sliced radishes added to the dish, giving it just a touch of crispness. This flavors in this dish really exude a fresh, summer taste.

My boyfriend tried an open face sandwich they call the Melted Angel, which consists of freshly smoked brisket (sourced from the local bbq Angel’s) atop toasted brioche, smothered in pepperjack cheese and red wine shallots. He took one bite and told me it was delicious. I can’t comment on the sandwich, but I will say that the shallots are perfectly caramelized since I snuck a few off of his sandwich. Again, the portion size is huge making it a great value for $10.

The only thing I can really find wrong is that they charge 50 cents for cups if you choose to get tap water instead of a drink from their refrigerated case. Perhaps its because they serve your tap water in a fancy glass bottle that you get to keep at your table, but who knows? Next time, I’ll probably bring my own water, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay for such delicious food.

Another great bonus about our visit was that they sampled their Mango Passion Fruit Mousse while we waited for our food. It’s very sweet in a fruity sort of way, and creamy so that it melts in your mouth. A bit too fruit-sweet for me, but my boyfriend loved it. I’ll stick to the creme brulee myself.

One last piece of advice: The place is small, so if it gets busy, there may not be seating. If you’re planning on going, make sure you have a backup plan (as to where you plan on eating your food) unless you want to eat outside at one of their two tables in the suffocating heat. It might be nice in the fall, but summer is no time to eat outside in Savannah. It’s a counter-service restaurant, but it’s pretty speedy considering everything is made fresh. Just don’t expect it to be an in-and-out type of meal. So if you’ve got a bit of time to spare, this is a must-try place for authentic French cuisine, particularly of the lunch variety.

 

Overall Rating: 9/10

 

 

Simple Alfredo Sauce (and a few modifications)

I love alfredo sauce, but I never realized how simple it was to make. I know sauce basics, but I found a recipe for reference:

http://www.copykat.com/2009/05/27/how-to-make-alfredo-sauce/

How easy is this?! The recipe calls for 3 ingredients: butter, heavy cream, parmesan cheese. And pasta, of course. They suggest some salt and pepper to taste, but that’s it. So how easy was it to do?

Amazingly simple.

The recipe simply directs you to melt down the butter and half the cheese with the cream at low to medium heat. Now the only problem with this is that the sauce doesn’t get too thick doing it this way. OK, it’s a bit runny thin. So I added a bit more butter and an extra ingredient, flour. That, added with a bit of extra parmesan thickened it up nicely. I actually used the parmesan cheese in a can like the recipe says not to use, but the sauce turned out delicious. It may be better with the shredded cheese, I don’t know; however, the grated parmesan makes great sauce, too.

Another great thing suggested in this recipe is tossing the pasta and sauce together and mixing in extra parmesan cheese, Italian style. It coats all of the pasta evenly, and it works well with the sauce’s consistency. I added a bit of dry basil to give the sauce a touch of sweetness, but it’s also delicious without!

Anyway. I definitely recommend giving this recipe a try. It’s a very basic recipe, so it’s perfect for adding your own touch to it, or suit the needs of your dish. Here’s the recipe if you can’t go to the website:

 

Simple Alfredo Sauce from CopyKat.com

1 1/2 C. Butter
2 C. grated Parmesan Cheese
1 1/2 C. Heavy Cream plus 2 Tbsp.
1 lb. dried pasta

Prepare pasta according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter, heavy cream, and half of the Parmesan cheese, cook over low to medium heat. When the pasta is done drain and pour into a bowl. Then add the melted cheese mixture to the pasta. Combine and then add the remaining Parmesan cheese. If you like you can add some salt, and white pepper to season.

Mixing the sauce with the pasta is an Italian way to serve up this particular dish. It coats the pasta well, and gives you a delicious bit of sauce in every bite. You do not need to rinse your pasta. Following these directions you can make delicious Alfredo sauce at home.