Monday, August 27, 2012

Boating, A Cookbook Review & A Give Away

A silly fact many people don't know about me: I don't swim.  Ok, I do swim; but I don't like the water. Well actually I love the water; I just don't like getting wet. There I said it:  I don't like getting wet. My hubby jokes all the time about how I will constantly say "don't wet me" when we are in the pool.

Hilarious, I know but I just have this thing about water and getting wet.  Which of course makes the fact that I initiated an outing on our friends boat this weekend unbelievable.  Their response:  "YOU want to go out on the boat?"  "You realize you will probably get wet at some point?"  "Are you sure you want to do this?"

Yep!  I'm good...I want to do this...or so I thought until I got the following message from my friend:  Ya know, you're going to have to jump in at some point, pretty much head first"

Uh Oh.....Another interesting quirk....I don't jump. Sounds strange; I know.  But I just don't jump. And I certainly wasn't going to jump into WATER.

Talk about being nervous. So I decided the only way around this was to do what I do best; focus on food.  I figured if I brought enough food there wouldn't be time to jump in the water. Yeah right.

Which brings me to the reason behind this post a cookbook review and giveaway. Sugar and Salt: A Year At Home and At Sea, by Annie Mahle.  As much a cookbook as it is a story of a life style; both seasonal and sustainable. It contains over 75 recipes and the thoughts behind those recipes; making for some very interesting reading about life off the coast of Maine.

I truly loved browsing through this book and tagging recipes I plan to make. Like the Potato Spinach Salad with Lemon and Mustard and the Melty Gouda, Artichoke and Spinach. But for my little boating adventure I thought I would give the Cinnamon Pecan Granola a try.  I decided to mix it with yogurt and strawberries...what a combo.

Want to win your own copy of Sugar and Salt...all you have to do is leave a comment on this post by midnight Sept. 3, 2012.  Want more entries?  Well this is a Virtual Potluck event so be sure to check all the VP round up for additional chances to win.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Eggplant Patties

While surfing the blogaverse last week one recipe in particular caught my attention.  Marie from Proud Italian Cook had posted some irresistible photos of Eggplant Patties.  It might sound odd: eggplant patties…but I knew immediately I was going to make them.

So on my weekly visit to the farmer’s market I picked up a few eggplant, a red bell pepper and some corn on the cob.  Mixed with fresh basil and parsley from my garden and a handful of grated Pecorino these patties are super simple to make and super yummy to eat.  So simple that you really don’t even need a recipe…just sort of go by taste.  But for those that need one here’s what I did.

 Eggplant Patties

2 eggplants, diced small
2 garlic cloves
1 bell pepper, diced small
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
½ cup of bread crumbs
1 egg
Fresh basil, chopped
Fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup grated Pecorino cheese

 Place your eggplant and peppers on a baking sheet along with the garlic cloves, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in a 425 degree oven until soft with a little color, around 20 minutes.  Let everything cool.

When cooled place in a bowl along with the rest of the ingredients.  Mix altogether and form into patties.  Place patties on baking sheet drizzle top with olive oil and bake in 425 degree oven until browned, flipping once.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Flight & Flatbread at Seasons 52

A few months back I had the opportunity to sample the Spring menu at Seasons 52 and loved it. (you can read my review here) For those of you that aren't familiar Seasons 52 is a casual yet sophisticated fresh grill restaurant and wine bar with menus that are inspired by the seasons and what's available at the farmers' market. 

With summer well under way the restaurant has unveiled a new personalized wine tasting experience that will run through the end of August. (and with any luck for us diners even longer) For only $15 per person guests can enjoy a customized wine flight consisting of three pours from 8 varietals hand selected by Master Sommelier George Miliotes.

After sampling diners will receive a full pour of their favorite to enjoy with a flatbread of their choosing.  Oh and if you've never had the flatbread from Seasons 52 you will definitely want to try them.  These thin crisp pizzas are served on a wood board and topped with the most delectable combination of ingredients.  On this visit I sampled the Garlic Chicken and the Gyro (which is the special of the season). Topped with just the right amount of meat, cheese and veggies...I enjoyed both very much.

Although not part of the $15 flatbread and flight special it's almost impossible to resist ordering a mini indulgence.  A little taste of heaven in a glass cup; for under 325 calories who can resist.  I found it intriguing that the one sugar free treat included a mini Oreo cookie. But our waitress, Sally, explained that these are made special for Seasons 52 and do not include sugar.

I have to admit that I'm normally not a fan of chain restaurants but Seasons 52 is definitely not your typical chain. Owned by Darden Restaurants the fact that they cook fresh and buy local is what makes them different from other chains. During this past visit I had the pleasure of meeting managing partner, John Barbosa.  Hailing from Brooklyn John was a funny guy with lots of great stories about his acclamation to Phoenix.  He spent some time with me explaining the concept behind the restaurant and how buying locally means that there are slight variations in the menu across regions. For example there's a Cuban flatbread on the menu in Florida that is not available here in Phoenix. 

I like the idea of Seasons 52 and what they are doing this month with the flights and flatbread. I hope they continue to bring in more of these specials throughout the coming year.  For $15 it makes a great happy hour deal or light summer meal.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Women Lie: Size Does Matter

I am a firm believer in the fact that portion size is important if you want to live a healthy lifestyle. With all of the “super-sized” products out there it’s easy to lose track of what the “standard” portion size should be.

My grandparents. Look at the amount of pasta in their dishes.
Research has shown that people tend to eat more when the food is given to them on larger plates/containers. In other words a 4 ounce piece of chicken would be plenty of food if served on a 6 inch plate but when served on an 8 inch plate people tend to think it's not enough.

I’m not sure why this is but I’ve seen it happen plenty of times with our dinner guests. More so with pasta than anything else. The size and shape of the pasta affect how it’s perceived by people. Since 2 ounces of rigatoni looks a lot less than 2 ounces of angel hair our guests always expect more. So I plan accordingly when I know certain people are coming to dinner.

Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes, Sausage and Veggies

4 oz. pasta
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
2 roasted tomatoes, chopped
1 Italian sausage crumbled.
Crushed red pepper to taste

Boil water in a large pot and cook pasta until al dente.

In the meantime heat olive oil in a large pan, add sausage. Cook until sausage is browned.  Add garlic and crushed red pepper.  Cook until soft. Add bell pepper and mushrooms sauté until softened. Mix in roasted tomatoes.

Season with salt and pepper.

Drain pasta and reserve some cooking liquid.

Pour pasta and reserved liquid into pan with veggies. Toss to coat.