Thursday, January 28, 2010

Silly Conversations That Come Up When You Decide to Cook a Goat....

Conversation #1
Me: Do you sell goat shoulder?
Butcher: We have a bunch of goat; you come in; take a look around; pick out the goat you like, I cut you the shoulder.

Conversation #2
Uncle: We’re having goat for dinner.
Young Niece: No, you can’t!
Uncle: Why not?
Young Niece: You just can’t!  I read somewhere it’s not good for you.

Conversation #3
Me: We’re cooking goat tonight.
Mother: What sound does a goat make?
Me: I don’t know. Can’t wait to try it.
Mother: What sound does a goat make?

Conversation #4Me: If I can find a goat can you take me to the butcher to pick it up?
Carpooler: Please tell me I’m misunderstanding this. I assume you mean the butcher is going to do what he has to do with it and that you aren’t asking me to have a live goat in my car??

Conversation #5
Husband: I’m going out early tomorrow.
Me (1/2 asleep): Whatever floats your goat.

Conversation #6
Crazy girl in Pilates class: Are you have a bahhhd day?

If you haven't figured it out by now....yes, we cooked our first goat this past weekend.  It was delicious; very tender and tasty.  I loved the cinnamon in this recipe.  I can't wait to eat it again...which will probably be real soon.  A 51/2 lb goat shoulder for 2 people yields lots of leftovers.  I'm looking forward to goat sandwiches.

Braised Goat with Tomatoes, Rosemary, Cinnamon and White Wine (adapted from A16 Food +Wine)

51/2 pounds bone-in goat shoulder cut into 4-8 ounce pieces
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, smashed with the side of a knife
2 cups dry white wine
2 sprigs rosemary
1 (28 ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes with juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Season the goat with salt. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 275.

In a heavy bottomed pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, or until softens and starts to turn golden. Add the wine and rosemary and boil for about 8 minutes, or until the wine has almost fully evaporated.

Meanwhile, place the tomatoes and their juice in a bowl and crush with your hands or the back of a wooden spoon. Once the wine has reduced, stir in the tomatoes with their juice and the cinnamon. Bring the sauce to a boil, then remove from the heat.

In a large roasting pan, evenly distribute the goat pieces. Carefully pour the sauce over the goat. Cover the roasting pan with aluminum foil and transfer to the oven.

Braise the goat for about 31/2 hours or until the meat pulls away from the bone.

Remove the pot from the oven when done and let the meat cool in the braising liquid. Lift out the goat from the sauce and pull the meat from the bones, removing it in large chunks if possible. It should come away easily from the bone and the connective tissue. Skim off most of the fat from the sauce, remove and discard the rosemary, taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed.

To serve, return the meat to the sauce and bring to a simmer. Ladle the meat with some of the sauce into warm bowls and finish with a drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately.

Tim Tam Winner

Ok, this it the moment you've all been waiting for. The winner of the Tim Tam cookies is:

Velva from Tomatoes on the Vine.  

Congratulations Velva and thanks to everyone that participated...especially my taste testers!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Tim Tam Review & Giveaway

I have a great group of friends at work that I rely on a lot. They’ve been there for me through all of my food adventures; good and bad. They trust in me and are available whenever I need taste testers…no matter what the product might be. So when I found myself having to review Tim Tam cookies for the 2nd time I knew I could count on this group to help me out. (you can read my first review here)

I explained to them the requirements. It wasn’t going to be easy but they were up for the challenge. Some were going to have to break their diets; some would be required to eat chocolate and others caramel; and I needed all of them to tell me their inner most thoughts. I knew I was asking a lot but that’s what friends are for right?

The cookies were passed out and the tasting began almost immediately. Initially there was some bickering over who liked which flavor better (chocolate vs caramel). I even witnessed a small scuffle when a Tim Tam was grabbed from the hands of one friend and eaten by another. Helping to preserve your diet was the “grabbers” excuse.

In the end everyone agreed that both flavors of Tim Tam’s were delicious; though most favored the chocolate over the caramel. Words such as crunchy and crisp were used to describe the cookie; creamy and not too tough the filling. They tasted so good in fact one taster offered to run out and get more.

As you can see I am lucky to have such a great group of friends; willing to sacrifice everything for me. In honor of them I’m going to give away a package of Tim Tam’s to one lucky blog reader. Just leave a comment by midnight Wednesday, January 27th, telling me who you turn to in these sticky situations…cause let’s face it we’ve all been there. I will randomly pick one winner.  Follow me on twitter  for an extra chance to win.

A Message From Our Sponsor:
Tim Tam cookies have been a favorite in Australia for decades, and last year, Pepperidge Farm brought them to the US for the first time ever. Pepperidge Farm also introduced a new flavor, Classic Dark, that is totally amazing and only available at Target stores. Best of all, Tim Tam cookies will be back every year from October to March!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My One and Only Craft Services Job

If you’re a regular reader of this blog you know that my husband does video production for a living. Most of his shoots are done out of town but this past weekend he shot a short film in our house; our guest bedroom to be exact.

Over the past several weeks our spare room was slowly transformed into an extremely messy teenage boy’s room. Complete with dirty clothes in the corner; an unmade bed and posters along the walls; it's no longer my guest room. But I’m digressing; this is a post about my role in this production; as Head of Craft Services.

“What exactly is craft services?” I asked. “You’re in charge of food,” was my husband’s reply. Ok, I thought, I can do that…no problem. And so it began; my first and last catering/craft services gig.

Of course, like everything else, I dived into this head first. I made a plan; started browsing recipes; created menus and formulated shopping lists. I was so excited. On Monday I was squeezing lemons for lemonade. Tuesday I made ricotta muffins. Thursday I did the food shopping and Friday I was putting on the finishing touches. By the time the crew arrived 7am on Saturday I was ready; or so I thought.

I had a pot of coffee brewing by 6:30 on Saturday morning; this I soon found out was my first mistake. "Why is the coffee on already?" my husband barked. “In case someone shows up early,” was my reply. Little did I know several of them would be late. This left the crew that did show up on time with nothing to do but wait and eat. No big deal really except for what they decided to eat.

I had made homemade lemon ricotta muffins and had bought some doughnut holes just in case we ran out of muffins. By the time the late comers arrived the complete opposite had happened; we were almost out of doughnuts and only a few muffins had been touched. This should’ve been my first clue. Seriously, when given the choice of eating a home baked muffin vs a store bought doughnut...would you really choose the prepackaged food? I just don't understand; but I took a deep breath and put on another pot of coffee.

Did I mention how much coffee they drank? I assume it’s a habit that comes with the job…working long crazy hours… the coffee is needed to keep you going. I have to admit that even I found myself drinking more coffee than usual just to keep up my stamina.

For lunch I made Italian hoagies. Ham, provolone cheese, salami, lettuce, tomatoes and a drizzle of olive oil on loaves of Italian bread. Within minutes of serving the sandwiches I was asked: "Do you have yellow mustard?" I thought to myself: "yellow mustard??? Are you serious? Who puts yellow mustard on an Italian hoagie." Of course, I didn't actually voice this; I just went and got some yellow mustard. Cringing as I watched him destroy my lunch I worked so hard on. Ugh!

It wasn’t long before I realized that craft services/catering was not my thing. Between running up and down the stairs all day stocking water and refilling coffee; prepping food that pretty much got eaten thoughtlessly (again I think this comes with the territory) and having to do everything in complete silence I was frustrated.

By Sunday I had definitely had enough and was happy to find out that they would be shooting outside for several hours. This gave me some time to cook that evenings meal without worrying about the noise I was making. Trust me you don’t realize how loud chopping garlic is until you’re trying to do it on a movie set. The minute they left I turned up the radio and started cooking. My final meal, as head of craft services, was baked pasta with sausage, spinach and fontina cheese.

All in all this weekend was good experience for me and I have a whole new appreciation for people in the craft services/catering business. And although I like to cook I know that I will not be leaving my day job anytime soon.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Heirloom Restaurant Scottsdale

"One restaurant; 12 menus," that is how Chef Michael DeMaris describes his nearly year old restaurant in North Scottsdale. The concept behind Heirloom is the use of farm fresh ingredients; which means the menu changes monthly depending on what's available at the local markets. The Heirloom menu is broken into 5 "courses." The theory behind this is that you can order several small plates from various "courses" mixing and matching to build your own meal depending on how hungry you are. Being a "foodie" there are often several things on a menu that I want to try. But some restaurants would frown on you ordering all appetizers...with no designation on the Heirloom menu it’s perfectly ok if you want several items say all from course one

This past Saturday night my husband and I made the 40 minute trek out to Heirloom. I know that to most of you it might seem ridiculous to travel so far for food; but living here you get use to it. The place was packed when we arrived and we ended up having to take a table right inside the door. At first I'll admit I was a bit disappointed by this but it turned out to be a rather pleasant experience. Feeling our initial discomfort, the hostess, who I later found out was Mrs. DeMaris, made every effort to make our night memorable. In the end our location turned out to be the prime spot for seeing Michael in action and provided us the opportunity to talk with him and Chef Taylor personally.

On to dinner. Like I said, there were so many things I wanted on the menu, so my husband and I decided we would split several courses in order to try as much as possible. We started with the Heirloom tomato soup. The waiter brought us out a small croc of chicken stock based tomato soup. At first glance you might think it was your typical tomato soup; but upon proper inspection you soon realized that it was anything but. Anointed with fresh pesto and tiny pasta balls I thought it was stellar.

Next up we shared the warm rabbit terrine topped with whole grain mustard. Accompanying the terrine were some honey roasted carrots; two slivers or grilled bread and some perfectly dressed baby lettuce with a single slice of Maui onion. Put together this was an amazing course...probably my favorite of the evening.

Course #3 consisted of a scoop of risotto swimming with whole roasted garlic cloves, sun-dried tomatoes and sautéed calamari. The flavors of this dish blended nicely; especially when you smashed the garlic and incorporated it into the risotto. (note to self...don't eat so much of the garlic if you don't want garlic breath the next day). The one disappointment came with the calamari; being such tiny pieces some tended to be on the tough side. However, having made calamari at home and knowing that this happens to the best of us I did sympathize.

A 5 ounce lamb T-bone was next. Cooked rare; just the way I like it, the T-bone was amazing. It came with a small side of eggplant and olive caponata that complimented it well. We also ordered a side of the bacon and thyme baby potatoes which are a must try. Heirloom potatoes sprinkled with sea salt and mixed with small chunks of bacon; how could you go wrong.

Our last course was dessert. Since they were out of their famous custard filled doughnuts (yes, it was a huge disappointment) we decided to try the coffee cake bread pudding with caramel gelato. Although, it wasn't custard filled doughnuts it was really good.

I love everything about Heirloom; the farm fresh food; the small plate multiple courses and the friendly owners and staff. I can't wait to see what's on next month's menu.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Black Garlic Review & Recipe

One of the blogs I monitor on a regular basis is Purveyors of fine bulk foods for home chefs and restaurants, their blog offers quality information on their products along with tips and recipes for use. Right before the holidays was featuring black garlic and offered to send me some to review. I had never had black garlic; nor did I have any idea how to use it in recipes but I was up for the challenge.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with black garlic it’s basically regular garlic that has gone through an intense fermentation process which mellows the flavor and changes the color. Hence the black sticky sweet cloves.

Black garlic is said to be loaded with antioxidants; nearly 2x more than regular garlic. It also lacks the bite and after taste of regular garlic. By that I mean no garlic breath even when you eat a raw clove. And yes, you can eat them raw. The taste is similar to balsamic vinegar; slightly sweet and savory all at once.

The first recipe I tried was for a black garlic tapenade; smeared on some crusty Italian bread this was a big hit at a dinner party I hosted.

After that I just started experimenting. I used it as a substitute in recipes that called for regular garlic and even added it to recipes that didn’t have any garlic. It went really well in a balsamic vinaigrette I made and added a delightful sweetness to a warm lentil salad. I also sautéed it with mushrooms and used it as a topping for grilled chicken. I even mixed it into my scrambled eggs. Yes, that's right I put it in my eggs and I loved it.

I know it’s somewhat hard to find, although I’ve seen it recently at Whole Foods, but I would definitely recommend trying it if you ever have the chance. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. I know I was.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon

In between courses on Christmas day we decided to watch Julie and Julia.  Being a food blogger, I have to admit that I found this movie somewhat inspirational.  And except for a few slow moments in the middle I thought it was done well.

I've never really been a follower of Julia Child but I actually do have one of her cookbooks.  Awhile back I had come across "The Way To Cook" at a used bookstore for $10.00 and figured why not.  I've glanced through it over the years but nothing ever jumped out at me.  I definitely don't get the same feelings going through her book as I do going through let's say a Mario Batali book. But I've kept it in my collection anyway.

As I mention above Julie and Julia really inspired me. I wanted to cook a Julie Child recipe bad. So I dusted off my cookbook; started browsing and there on page 237 I found the recipe for beef bourguignon; the main dish in the movie.  And although, our family tradition is pork on New Years; as it's believed to bring good luck I decided to tempt fate and make beef bourguignon.

Three pounds of top round is simmered in a bottle of red wine with bits of bacon and chopped vegetables for about 3 hours.  Combine this with browned braised white onions and mushrooms sauteed in butter; how could it not taste delicious.

The aroma throughout the house had us salivating by dinner time.  Served with garlic roasted potatoes glazed carrots and popovers this was a meal that I will remember forever.

Thanks Julia.