Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
Our first stop was Vincent’s Saturday Market located in the parking lot of Vincent’s restaurant. The market, only opened on Saturdays from 9-1, has a definite French flare. Although there wasn’t much fresh produce to pick from there was an abundance of food to enjoy. There were made to order omelet, crepe, and Panini stations. Also available were things like lamb chops and paella. Prices seemed to be reasonable and portions large. We had a mozzarella and tomato crepe and a ham and mozzarella omelet. Both were $8 each. There were other vendors at the market selling fresh honey, cookie mix, jewelry and pottery.Old Heidelberg German Bakery. If you like German food I would definitely recommend a trip to Old Heidelberg for their selection of breads, pastries, brats and German grocery items. We bought some pretzels and pretzel rolls both of which were just as good as what we had in Germany. I'm planning a trip back around Christmas to try some of their homemade stollen with marzipan ($14).
The Middle Eastern Bakery and Deli was our next stop. Entering this small grocery/restaurant is like stepping into another world. There is a mural of Bethlehem on the wall and Middle Eastern music playing over the speakers. One of my favorite things about this store is the Feta cheese. They not only carry the Greek variety but also the French and Bulgarian; all of which have distinctively different tastes. They also make homemade pita every morning that you can purchase. The dining area is small, about 10 tables. Menu items include such things as kebabs, humus, baba ganoush and baklava.
We headed next to the Phoenix Ranch Market, an Hispanic grocery and prepared food market. With Thanksgiving just around the corner I was hoping to stock up on some ingredients for my dinner. Although what I needed was not Hispanic I knew from previous visits that I would be able to find some good quality, cheap produce and the odd chicken parts I needed to make stock. For those of you that have never been to the market it is a very large grocery store with tons of produce, a bakery, a butcher and a fish monger. There’s also a tortilla factory and a small food court (for lack of a better description).We ended up at Niccoli's Italian Deli cheese, also for Thanksgiving. were we purchased some ricotta, provolone and pecorino. Their ricotta cheese is a much better quality than what you get in the grocery store and it really makes a difference when cooking. We've been going to Niccoli's for about 5 years now and Joe and Peppy are like family. They know their products and have always given us good advice about our purchases. Looking for something sweet to end our day we got some fresh filled cannoli's. The ricotta filling, all homemade, was so creamy and delicious. A perfect ending to a perfect day.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
So last week, when I had a small dinner party for my mom’s birthday to plan, I was determined to come up with a new vegetable appetizer to go with my standard meat and cheese plate.
After much thought and several trips to the market to see what looked good I finally decided on two recipes: Marinated Zucchini and Fried Eggplant both found in Molto Italiano a new cookbook by Mario Batali. I know you’re probably thinking fried eggplant? Did I really need to follow a recipe for that? But this recipe is truly something special. I think the secret was the touch of butter added to the frying oil and the balsamic vinegar drizzled over the finished dish.
Both appetizers were winners and now I have two more options to add to the mix.
1/2 cup flour 3 large eggs 1 cup bread crumbs 2 lbs small young eggplant, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/3 inch thick half-moons 1/4 cup olive oil 1 Tbs unsalted butter 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar Spread the flour on a plate. Lightly beat the eggs in a shallow bowl. Spread the bread crumbs on another plate. Dredge the eggplant in the flour and bat it against your hand to remove any excess, then dip in the eggs, turning to coat completely, and dip in the bread crumbs, coating completely. Set aside on a sheet of wax paper. In a 10 inch saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat just until smoking. Add the butter and heat until it foams and subsides. Add the eggplant, in batches, and cook, turning occasionally, until both sides are dark golden brown. Remove from the pan, season with salt and pepper, drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Transfer to a platter and drizzle with balsamic vinegar, serve immediately. Marinated Zucchini
1/4 cup olive oil 3 medium green zucchini trimmed and cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick slices 3 medium yellow Zucchini trimmed and cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick slices 6 medium cloves garlic, finely minced 2 tsp red pepper flakes 1 cup fresh basil, cut into chiffonade 2 Tbs Kosher salt 2 Tbs freshly ground black pepper 1/4 cup red wine vinegar In a deep 10 inch saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat until just smoking. Add 5 or 6 zucchini slices and cook, turning once, until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining zucchini. In a small bowl, gently stir together the garlic, red pepper flakes, basil, salt and pepper until well mixed. Line the bottom of a deep dish pie plate with one quarter of the zucchini slices. Sprinkle evenly with one quarter of the herb mixture and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the vinegar.
Continue layering the remaining zucchini and herb mixture, with the remaining vinegar. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Serve chilled or at room temperature.