Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Italian Sausage Burger

By: The Food Hunter

With summer just about over, everyone is in the mood for a BBQ. This year, rather than serve the usual burgers and dogs at your next backyard event, make these Italian Sausage Burgers. A version of my favorite sandwich, the Grilled Sausage with Peppers & Onions, this burger is bursting with flavor. Just one savory bite and you’ll wonder why you’ve ever made anything else.

Don’t get me wrong I love the traditional all beef patty topped with lettuce & tomato as much as the next person, but there’s something about the combination of ground sausage with sautéed sweet onions & red bell peppers topped with melted provolone and broccoli rabe that appeals to me more. Juicy, mouthwatering and delicious is how I would describe this burger variation.

The Italian Sausage Burger
Makes 2

For the Sausage Burger
12 ounces good quality sausage, ground
Sharp Provolone cheese, shaved
2 ciabatta rolls

Shape the meat into burger-shaped patties 3/4 inch thick and grill 5 mins per side.

For the Peppers and Onions

1 tablespoon oil
1 large red onion, sliced thin (about 2 cups)
2 red bell peppers, stem and core removed, sliced into 1/4-inch strips
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in a large skillet, over medium-high heat. Add onions and peppers and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and browned in spots, about 8-10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the Broccoli Rabe
1 bunch broccoli di rabe, trimmed (see directions below)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
¼ cup water, or as needed

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic over to the oil and cook, shaking the pan, until golden brown, about 1 minute. Carefully lay the broccoli rabe into the oil, season lightly with salt and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper. Stir and toss to distribute the seasonings.

Pour 1/4 cup water into the skillet and bring to a boil. Cover the skillet tightly and cook, lifting the lid to turn the stalks occasionally, until the broccoli rabe is tender. Taste and season with additional salt and crushed red pepper if necessary.

**To trim the broccoli rabe, cut off the tough ends of the stems. Then, holding a stem with the florets in hand, nick a little piece of the end of the stem with a paring knife and pull the little piece of the stem towards you, peeling the steam partially. Continue working your way around the stem until it is peeled. As you peel the stem, some of the large tough outer leaves will also be removed; discard those as well. Repeat with the remaining stems. Next wash the trimmed broccoli rabe in cold water, to remove all dirt from between the leaves. Drain in a colander.**

Monday, August 25, 2014

Grilling Recipe Round Up

By: The Food Hunter

In anticipation of Labor Day and the perfect end of summer feast I've gathered up some grilling recipes from around the web to share with you. Happy Grilling!

Grilled Peaches with Mascarpone from The Organic Kitchen

Garlic & Herb Greek Grilled Lamb Kabobs from And Here We Are

Grilled Asparagus with Lemon Butter Sauce from Montana Homesteader

Grilled Lemon Oregano Chicken from The Happy Health Nut

Grilled Corn on the Cob from The Happy Homesteader

Grilled Pears from It's a Love Love Thing

Green Tomato Bacon Jam Burgers from Farm Fresh Feasts

Grilled Pineapple From It's a Love Love Thing

Grilled Mushrooms from Farm Fresh Feasts

Friday, August 22, 2014

Cheddar Cheese Ice Cream

By: The Food Hunter

The summer season isn’t over yet and Pastry Chef Audrey Enriquez, from Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain, has concocted a sweet and savory treat to help you beat the heat. The classic combination of apples and cheese is the inspiration behind this dessert found on the menu at The Sanctuary.

When it comes to serving this pair, Enriquez says she’s seen everything from cheddar in the pie crust, to serving the pie with a slice of sharp cheddar melted on top. She’s created her own take on this with her apple pie tart and homemade cheddar ice cream.

Enriquez’s passion for food was sparked during her early childhood travels around the US, where she experienced an eclectic variety of foods. She infuses this passion into every one of her dishes and it shows. If you can’t make it to Sanctuary this summer you can still enjoy a little Cheddar Cheese Ice Cream in your own kitchen.

Cheddar Cheese Ice Cream:
Makes 1-2 quarts
 (printable recipe)

4 cups half and half
4 cups milk
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 tsp white pepper
18 egg yolks
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 lbs. cheddar cheese, shredded

Heat half and half, milk, vanilla bean and pepper in a medium sauce pot. Stirring occasionally, bring mixture to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes to let the flavors infuse.

In a separate bowl, whisk together yolks and sugar. Temper the hot milk mixture into the yolks and pour back into the pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thick.When the mixture is ready, remove from heat and stir in cheese.

Pour the mixture through a chinois into a stainless steel bowl and rest bowl over an ice bath until completely cool. Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator about 24 hours. Process in ice cream maker according to manufacture directions.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Eating Whole Foods: The Best of the Best Chocolate Cake

By: The Food Hunter

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that chocolate cake with chocolate frosting is pure comfort food. There’s something about biting into a thick rich piece of chocolate cake that makes me fell downright cozy and comfortable. Evoking memories of times gone by, it’s one of the few foods that I could eat repeatedly.

There are plenty of claims for the best chocolate cake recipe and I’m sure they are all really good, but after only one bite I think I’ve found the best of the best. It’s moist, dense and extremely rich, everything you could possibly want in a piece of chocolate cake.

Treat yourself to a slice…you deserve it!

***Scroll down to enter the Whole Foods Giveaway***

The Best of the Best Chocolate Cake
(adapted from Hershey's Black Magic)
(printable recipe)

1 cup sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Cocoa Powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup strong black coffee
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a bundt pan.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl.

Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes (batter will be thin).
Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost as desired.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
3 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract 
4 tablespoons heavy cream

Cream butter in a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Add powdered sugar and cocoa.Mix on the lowest speed until the sugar and cocoa are absorbed by the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add a little more sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add additional cream 1 tablespoon at a time.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Delicious Italian Cuisine, Fine Wine & Attentive Service Are What You Can Expect Dining at Il Terrazzo

Located on the 1st floor of the magnificent Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale is Il Terrazzo, a contemporary Italian restaurant known for its hand crafted breads and pastas. Guests can dine in the main dining room, or when the weather is welcoming, on the adjacent patio overlooking the resort pools.

There is also a working wine cellar, The Praying Monk, which seats up to 16 people for a more intimate private dining experience. Exposed brick walls and low ceilings give this room a rustic old world feel.

My husband and I recently had the chance to dine at Il Terrazzo and both agreed that it was an enjoyable experience from start to finish. We were greeted by the hostess upon arrival and led to our table in the main seating area. The menu, as expected, was a nice mix of Italian options. Our server  was extremely knowledgeable and spent a lot of time providing us with wonderful in-depth descriptions of each item. My mouth was watering just listening to her.

After perusing the menu, sampling the delicious bread, and discussing our wine options with the Master Sommelier, we were ready to order. We decided on a cocktail with appetizers and a nice red to pair with dinner. To our surprise and delight the bartender was able to craft our favorite cocktail perfectly. It's been our experience in the past that when asking for the classic Americano you're never quite sure what you will receive. Not the case this time.

We ordered the crab & artichoke bruschetta to start, which was 4 pieces of lightly toasted bread topped with a mascarpone base mixture that resembled artichoke dip. In the center of the plate was a Tempura fried squash blossom stuffed with Parmesan cheese.

Next we shared a delicious octopus salad, which was a plate of mixed greens topped with tender marinated octopus and Corona beans (large white beans that are common throughout Italy).

As enjoyable as the appetizers were they took second place to the entrees, and rightly so. The pasta carbonara was just as you would expect it to be; rich, creamy and full of flavor. As tradition would have it, the raw egg was served on top and when mixed throughout created a creamy sauce that coated the fresh pasta perfectly.

Osso Bucco, which translates to bone with a hole, is a reference to the marrow hole at the center of the cross-cut veal shank that is traditionally braised with vegetables and served over risotto. After filling up on the pasta course I appreciated and enjoyed the chef's version which included cannellini beans instead of risotto.

We finished our meal with a summery fruit flan. The whole bean vanilla custard which was topped with a seasonal fruit mix of mango & pineapple and adorned with pieces of meringue was just enough to satisfy our sweet tooth and not leave us overly stuffed.

Our evening ended with a leisurely stroll through the Orchard & Casita Lawns; where we got to admire more of what makes the Phoenician resort so spectacular. If you're in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area I would suggest a visit to the Phoenician and a dinner at Il Terrazzo.

Cuisine Type: Nouveau-Italian
Price Range: $21-40
Atmosphere: Casually elegant; family-friendly
Additional Information: Il Terrazzo offers a diverse menu, highlighted by a hand-crafted bread service showcasing numerous artisan loaves baked every day on property. A premier collection of signature beverages includes an award-winning, multi-million dollar wine list presented by Arizona’s only Master Sommelier, Greg Tresner. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily; Sunday Brunch weekly.

Il Terrazzo
The Phoenician, A Luxury Collection Resort
6000 East Camelback Road, Scottsdale, Az. USA. 85251

This meal was provided complimentary. However, all opinions and comments are my own.