Thursday, March 31, 2011

Prado Tapas & Tongue Sandwich

Going to dinner with me is always an adventure (Let's face it sometimes just knowing me can be an adventure; but that’s another story). I will typically order the most unusual/over the top menu item. My husband says I do it for the shock factor but in reality I do it because I love trying new things and let’s face it by now there’s not much left for me to try besides the truly unusual. Ok, so maybe there is a small part of me that likes the look on people faces when I tell them I had _ _ _ _ for dinner (you fill in the blanks).

Take this past Saturday night for instance. My husband and I met a few friends at Prado to share some small plates from their newly designed tapas menu. Unfortunately, I don’t think our friends realized what they were getting themselves into.

There was a beef tongue sandwich on the menu and I was just dying to order it. I know that tongue isn’t really all that unusual but it is kind of gross when you really think about it. So my suggestion is just don’t think about it; which is what I did.  Thankfully, our friends were able to not think about me eating it either. Or at least that's what they told me. (Funny I haven't heard from them since then)

Did I like the beef tongue? I did

Would I eat it again…At Prado for sure.....Chef Deruvo does a great job combining the meat with pickled vegetable slaw and Srirachi sauce. On it's own...I'm not so sure I would .

Other outstanding Tapas we ate:

Fried Shishito Peppers...lightly salted these were really good until you got a hot one.  Don't let the waitress try and tell you they aren't hot because they sure can be.

Fried calamari..served with a paprika garlic aioli dipping sauce.

Antipasti plate...included salami, mortadella, headcheese, marcona almonds, olives and 3 really good varieties of cheese which unfortunately none of the staff could identify. 

Baby back rosemary ribs...which I am told were delicious. (I was too busy with the tongue sandwich at this point)

We finished the night with a wonderful vanilla gelato sundae.  Topped with Amarena cherries, caramelized bananas and crumbled biscotti...this was the perfect way to end a wonderful evening.

Prado Restaurant
4949 E. Lincoln Dr
Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book Review: Day of Honey by Annia Ciezadlo

I’d like to share with you a wonderful new book I was given the opportunity to review. I knew nothing about "Day of Honey" when I was sent a review copy and normally this would not have been my first choice of things to read.  But Annia Ciezadlo is such an engaging writer that I was hooked from the start.

“Day of Honey,” by: Annia Ciezadlo is a riveting memoir about an American journalist covering the war in the Middle East and her extreme passion for food and food related traditions. The book brings day to day living during wartime to the forefront and provides insights into the role that food plays in people’s lives all over the world.

A quote from Ciezadlo sums it up best, “Food is part of war. People can find tremendous comfort in food during wartime, especially when they can eat it together. It’s calming, especially if you’re making comfort food. It’s something you can share with others. And when your life is turned upside down, a meal can capture the essence-the flavor, the fragrance-of the ordinary life that you’ve lost.”

I read this book from cover to cover in just a few short days. I was instantly hooked and immediately hungry with the way Ciezadlo vividly describes the food she encounters.  I very much appreciate that Ciezaldo also thought to include recipes at the end of the book. I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to gain a better understanding of day to day living in the Middle East.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Irish Potatoes for St. Patrick's Day

My family doesn’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day the way most do; with corned beef & cabbage or Irish soda bread.

Instead our family tradition is Irish Potatoes. These little treats have nothing to do with potatoes or being Irish but they sure are yummy.

Is there a particular food you eat in honor of St. Patrick's Day?

Irish Potatoes

1 stick butter
1 tbsp vanilla
2 tbsp water
1 lb powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
1 bag coconut flakes (optional)

Melt butter over medium heat. Stir in vanilla and water.

Pour over powdered sugar, salt and coconut if using. Mix well until thickened.

 Refrigerate until slightly firm.

Shape into balls and roll in cinnamon until coated.

Allow to set in refrigerator over night.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Individual Fiery Chocolate Bread Puddings Topped with Coconut Saffron Scented Ice Cream

How does a girl go about choosing just one recipe out of 14; when they all sound equally delicious? Well let me tell you it’s hard. But level three of the Ridiculously Delicious Challenge sponsored by Marxfood is making me do it.  I am to choose one recipe to “makeover” as my own using three ingredients supplied by Marxfoods.


I decided that this challenge was all about trying new things and was able to narrow my choices down to the two dishes I had never made before: bread pudding and scones. Ultimately, I went with Leslie’s Coconut Creamy Bread Pudding with Cherries. My second choice being Brian’s Chocolate Cherry Scones with Saffron.

So what can one do to make over something that sounds this good…add chocolate and ice cream of course.

Individual Fiery Chocolate Bread Puddings Topped With Coconut Saffron Scented Ice Cream

Bread Pudding
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp dried tepin pepper
1/2 vanilla bean
6 ounces dark chocolate
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbs Kahlua
1/2 loaf of Challah bread 2 days old and cubed

Butter four 1-cup oven proof dishes and set aside.  Preheat oven to 350.

Bring milk, cream, chilles, cinnamon and vanilla to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat.

Place chocolate in a heat proof bowl.  Pour warmed milk mixture through a strainer over chocolate to melt. Stir until smooth.

Whisk egg yolks with sugar and salt in medium bowl until pale and thick.  Whisking continuously add chocolate mixture in a slow stream.  Whisk in Kahlua.

Mix bread into chocolate stirring to combine.  Evenly distribute between the 4 bowls.  Allow bread to soak up liquid. 

Place your bowls in a roasting pan and fill with enough boiling water to reach halfway up side of the bowls.  Transfer to middle rack in the oven and bake until set about 25-30 minutes. 

When down transfer bowls to a wire rack and allow to cool at least 15 minutes.  Serve warm topped with ice cream.

Coconut Saffron Scented Ice Cream
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/2 tsp saffron

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Let simmer for 10 minutes; stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and chill in the refrigerator overnight.

Once chilled process in your ice cream maker being sure to scrape the saffron threads from the side of the machine.  Chill in freezer until ready to eat.

Monday, March 7, 2011

King Cake for Mardi Gras

I do love a good King Cake but the traditional way of making them can be pretty time consuming.  I've had so many things going on the past few weeks that I just couldn't commit to several hours of baking so I decided to go the nontraditional route. 

I was able to find a great recipe on the food blog Baking Bites;  I made a few changes & viola: 

The Deliciously Easy King Cake
(adapted from Baking Bites)

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk (I used skim), warm (100-110F)
1/4 cup canola oil
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon

12-oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp flour
1 egg yolk
1 jar strawberry preserves (optional)

Combine in a small bowl...whisking until smooth.  Apply liberally to cake. While icing is still wet top with colored sprinkles.

Grease a 10-inch bundt pan well with butter or cooking spray.

In a large bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine 3/4 cup flour, sugar, yeast, cinnamon, nutmeg  and salt. Stir to combine.

Add in warm milk and oil, then beat mixture for 2 minutes at medium speed. The paddle attachment works the best for this recipe. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, waiting until each has been fully incorporated to add the next. Add in the vanilla extract and an additional 1/2 cup of flour and beat for 2 more minutes at medium-high speed.

Stir in all remaining flour (creating a thick batter, rather than a standard dough), then cover the bowl and let rest for 10 minutes while you make the filling.

For the filling, mix together all ingredients in a medium bowl at high speed until smooth and fluffy. (not the preserves if using)

Pour half of the dough into the prepared bundt pan. Using a spoon, add dollops of cream cheese filling to the pan to create a ring in the middle of the bread dough. Top cream cheese with preserves if using. Pour remaining batter into pan, trying to cover most or all of the cream cheese filling. The batter will not be very high in the pan at this point. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F.

Bake king cake for 30 minutes. Bread will be golden and should spring back when lightly touched.

Turn cake out of pan onto a wire cooling rack and let cool completely before frosting.

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp water
various colored sprinkles

Combine first three ingredients in a small bowl...whisking until smooth. Apply liberally to cake. While icing is still wet top with colored sprinkles.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

It's Time To Vote

Voting has begun for:  Ridiculously Delicious Challenge: Round 2 

Please head over to MarxFoods  and vote for my:

Cherry Chocolate Almond Rugelach Seasoned with Grains of Paradise


4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1 stick of butter at room termperature
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp grains of paradise
1 1/2 Tbs sugar

2 Tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp grains of paradise
1/4 cup chopped tart cherries, plumped
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled

egg, beaten

Mix flour, salt, sugar and grains of paradise in the bowl of a food processor. Add the vanilla. Add cream cheese and butter in chunks. Pulse the machine about 8 times. Then process until a crumbly dough forms.

Turn it out on your work surface and gather it into a ball. Divide in half, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-24 hours.

In the meantime you can make your filling. Pulse all of the filling ingredients together until a thick paste is formed.

When ready remove the dough half from the refrigerator and roll it out into a 12 inch circle. Spread filling over the circle all the way to the edges. Cut the cicle using a pizza cutter into 16 wedges. Starting at the large end of each wedge roll the dough towards the point. Place cookies tip point down on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Slightly curve each cookie into a crescent shape. When finished repeat with other half.

Brush the tops with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 350 for about 30-35 minutes or until they've turned a nice golden color. Transfer to wire racks for cooling.