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Friday, October 29, 2010

Garlic Steak and Fried Bananas - the dinner experiment

I love it when experiments turn out good!
I ran across this recipe while browsing my foodie-friends' blog, and was intrigued from the get go. Steak and bananas? Garlic and cinnamon? Oh yeah. It had to be tried!
Although the original recipe had a NY strip in it (I believe), I used a couple of  T-bones. And about 2x more garlic :)

Oh my,  this steak had an unbelievably satisfying, rich flavor. But of course, it's not just the steak I was sampling, it was the whole deal, with bananas and all. And let me tell you, it was very well worth the anticipation. I really liked the combination of sweet fried bananas and tender garlicky meat! But don't listen to me. Try it for yourself! :)

BTW, the recipe can be found here:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Delight: Rich's Apple Strudel French Toast

Now and again my husband likes to surprise us with a tasty treat for a weekend breakfast. It's typically quite spontaneous, and always a great delight. Today we were treated to a wonderful, rich and moist French Toast made out of scrumptious apple strudel bread from the Sunrise Bakery.

With just the right amount of cinnamon, and with chunks of apple, this bread makes for a perfect french toast. All you need to add are eggs and milk, along with a couple of other staples, then dress it up with some butter and the REAL maple syrup - voila! Heaven is here.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Breakfast of the Champions :)

This great little hash was inspired by a terrific place in Hood River, Ore. called Sophie's. I was very impressed by their herbed creme frache, and how nicely it tied all the flavors in their smoked salmon hash. So I set out to make my own.
There are two spices, which are the main staple of this dish: smoked paprika (for the hash itself),  and fresh tarragon (for creme frache).

For my smoked salmon hash I fried in a cast iron pan (in small amount of olive oil):
  • potatoes, cubed
  • onions, diced
  • red bell peppers, diced
  • corn kernels (I used canned)
  • smoked salmon lox
  • smoked paprika
  • freshly ground black pepper and salt
For creme frache I whipped together:
  •  Table creme (I usually buy the Nestle brand)
  • Sour creme (just a tsp. or so - depending on how much table cream you use)
  • Fresh tarragon, finely chopped
And of course, perfectly poached eggs - courtesy of my husband, who is a semi-professional egg poacher! :)

A few shreds of smoked gouda added a wonderful touch. I think I'll make this one again! :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How about some fish?

Fried fish was quite a staple of Mom's summer cooking. She fried them all: the carp, the cod, the halibut. Cat fish. Mmmmm.
I'm not much of a fish fryer, but once in the blue moon, when the mood strikes right, I don't mind a nice fried fish fillet. Here's to you, Mama! :)

  • 1 lb white fish ( such as cod, snapper or halibut)
  • 0.5 c. flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • salt/cracked black pepper/parsley flakes or fresh
  • 1 c. panko crumbs
  • 0.5 c. fresh Parmesan (shredded)
  • 2 TBS oil
Prepare three bowls: #1 - flour; #2 - beaten egg with spices (above); #3 - panko and parm mixed together. Preheat your frying pan (I like to use my trusted iron one), add oil, we're ready to dip & fry!
Coat the fillet in flour, dip in the egg mixture, now coat with crumbs, and throw on the pan. Fry on medium heat until crust turns a beautiful golden color (about 2-3 min. per side). Done!
What's on the plate? Fish that's moist, yet not greasy. Crust that's flavorful, yet not overwhelming. It's a perfect combination of textures. Go ahead, break it open with a fork. You should hear a gentle crunching of the panko crust as the tender, flaky fillet is revealed. Mama dunnit right! :)  Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

No More Boring Spaghetti!

What's the fastest, cheapest dinner besides mac & cheese? Spaghetti, right? I mean, you get a package of ground meat, a jar of sauce, a box of noodles - how hard can it be?
For a while, our family had spaghetti dinners weekly! If you've tried this, you know how fast one can "spaghetti out". :) I did!
But I'm not about to urge you to start making all-from-scratch slow-simmer spaghetti sauce, or to start making noodles in your kitchen. Not that it's not worth it. But c'mon - who's got time for this?!
You can, however, turn an ordinary, "everyday" spaghetti into a "superstar" spaghetti  by adding just a couple of extra ingredients. For mine, I've made a sauteed mushroom-garlic-peppercorn topping, and substituted ground beef for sweet basil Italian sausage from our local butcher shop. Oh, what a glorious plate of pasta I got!

To make mushroom topping I used:
  • 8 oz fresh button mushrooms, finely diced
  • 2 big cloves of fresh garlic, minced
  • about 1/4 tsp of freshly-ground black peppercorns
Add about 2 TBS of oil to a skillet, then, once hot, add mushrooms. Sautee on med-high heat just until they start turning golden.

Next add garlic and pepper. Mix, and take off the heat. This will go right on top of your sausage and sauce, followed by freshly grated cheese, and some fresh basil. Super fast, super easy, and MMMMMM.. super good!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Hood River, OR: eat, love, and be merry!

We love Hood River. It has a certain spirit that none of the other local small towns have: it's active, it's vibrant, it's alive. A perfect place to celebrate our love for each other, for good food, and for people.
We stayed at the little place called The Oak Street hotel. What a lovely place! Although tiny by some standards, our room was fabulously romantic, with great views of the Gorge, and offered everything we needed.

Hood River boasts in its ability to offer some of the best prized food, wine, and beer around. And we agree. But truly, it's the people who make it memorable: the girls serving food at the Full Sail Brewery, eagerly sharing everything they know about the place;  a clerk at the Toy Shoppe, graciously going beyond the expected service; a cashier at the souvenir store, extending her hospitality and knowledge of the locale; a couple at the winery, treating each person there with a sincere desire to get to know them; a restaurant owner, humbly offering her very best. At times like this is when I realize that this broken world is full of great people, and I love it!  :).

Here's a short recap of some of the best food experiences:

  • Full Sail Brewery

A spunky little dessert called "Session Black Float" - vanilla ice cream topped with exceptionally creamy black lager. O.M.G.!!!

  • Big Horse Brew Pub

A definite highlight for us was their Kentucky Common brew. We have never tasted anything like this before: a sour beer. It reminded me of the handcrafted brews from the Gorbachev-prohibition-era: 75% barley, 25% corn, and a tad of sour mash :). I can't say this beer wins a taste test for me, but certainly a first-place winner for originality.

A Northwest Steak Sandwich from the Big Horse. Smoked, thinly sliced prime rib, sauteed onions, roasted poblano peppers, melting pepper jack, and horseradish. I won't say anything more. Just look at the picture.

  • Cathedral Ridge Winery
What a great, cozy place, and oh so generous! We especially enjoyed their French Oak barrelled 2008 Chardonnay, and the Bronze-winning 2007 Syrah.

  • The 6th Street Bistro
A super-casual little spot, tucked away off, yes, 6th St., offering seating on the outside loft, as well as inside. Their Grilled Salmon Wrap made for a tasty and filling lunch.

  • Sophie's
And finally, the winner is.... Sophie's.  This place was, hands down, an absolute winner of all culinary delights we've indulged in while on this trip. Located outside of the main downtown dining strip, this humble and unassuming place holds a BIG surprise for those who enter.

We had  the pleasure to experience some of the most pronounced flavors from Sophie's' brunch menu, and of course, were not left disappointed.

If the Food Network came to me, asking what's the BEST thing I've ever had for breakfast, I would, without slightest hesitation declare it was Smoked Salmon Hash from Sophie's.
A rather generous serving of cold-smoked salmon, with wonderfully seasoned cubed red potatoes, a great variety of garden veggies, topped with two poached eggs, and finished with herbed creme frache. With this dish you get the combination of textures, and a flavor that's practically bursting to come out of that plate. No grease, no mush, just right. THE BEST. EVER.

Rich, being on a quest for the perfect eggs benedict, was very happy with another one of Sophie's treats: their Classic Eggs Benedict, which features house-made English muffins, topped with a poached egg, Canadian bacon piled high, and covered by rich, boldly-flavored brown butter Hollandaise. Simple and phenomenal. We will be back - hungry, and looking forward to Sophie's dinners!