The Cool House: food and drink
Showing posts with label food and drink. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food and drink. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Blend it

Now that the kitchen is up and running there is one small appliance I miss. About a zillion years ago I tried to make some margaritas and my KitchenAid blender could not cope with the task, it stalled and died. I was very negative about the whole experience and didn't want to spend a couple hundred dollars on something that couldn't even make a drink so I got an immersion bender for sauces, soups and purees and gave up on the whole crushed ice thing. I've since heard that it isn't just me mistreating the appliance - others have had the same experience. Now I'd like to make the occasional smoothie and figure this would be a good time to go ahead and splurge but I want to make sure I'm buying the best heavy-duty blender out there. Amazon has a couple of 900 watt models that should be able to mash bananas and crush ice and a super expensive one that I would expect, for that price, could mix concrete! Do you have any recommendations?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

In Vino Veritas: Verace

photo courtesy Nadine Bouler

We were very excited to meet the stylish Nadine Bouler and her husband, leading Long Island "green" architect James of Bouler Architecture, at Verace in Islip New York, the latest addition to the Bohlsen Family restaurant group. We had read such great things about it and knew that the design - by Bouler Architecture - was going to be stellar but we had no idea how exceptional it was going to be on both fronts.

the Architect looking over the second-floor balcony

The restaurant has a mix of traditional architectural details - lots of reclaimed wood, brick exterior, mahogany window frames - with cutting-edge elements: oxidized steel wall surrounds, a concrete patio water feature and a swirling, abstract vaulted ceiling. Retro orange tiles in the open kitchen and mushroom pendant lamps in the bar give it a groovy vibe while the softer elements, an upholstered wall on the second floor dining room and long drapes in the main room reduce the noise level and add a warm, cozy ambience. It's a knock-out. We were lucky enough to get a guided tour of the place by the architect himself. For the project history and all the before-and-after photographs - a de-facto virtual tour - visit Nadine Bouler's site.

photo courtesy Nadine Bouler

As for the food, Italian chef Francesco Torre is in the kitchen and here, too, there is a mix of rustic and modern. My Crab Ravioli on a Green Chard puree not only matched my shirt but had the right balance between the sweetness of the crab and the tart tang of the chard. Both The Guy and I opted or the Roasted Pork with Sweet Italian Fruit and Mustard Sauce as our "Secondi", which was deliciously moist with a real pork flavor. Props too for the authentic bolognese sauce and the better than traditional crunchy tiramisu! The wine, from both Italian and New York vineyards is custom-blended and stored in eco-kegs, then pushed with nitrogen to deliver a pure, unspoilt glass or carafe per order; no danger of corked wine here. Verace is also committed to delivering the best tasting, most environmentally-sound table water. To this end they offer only their own state of the art filtered water - flat or carbonated - served form reusable bottles.

Artist & Author Nadine Bouler, Manager Joe, The Architect, The Guy

Verace is a fabulous restaurant and I'm planning a return visit for one of the regular Monday Wine Dinner Events. And if they ever start a Facebook Fan Page, I'll be the first to join!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Market Sunday

Huntington Farmers' Market on Sunday morning - a gathering place for good food, chatty neighbors and friendly dogs

Lots of samples and a few unexpected items

Cheesecake Souffles - a sweet treat for breakfast

and red wine starter bread - yeast-free but without the sourness of sourdough.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Peter Piper Picked...

a peck of pickled peppers

and a pint of Maine blueberries

and made spicy peppers, ice cream.... and picalilli

The part of Peter Piper was played by modernemama

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Almost as addictive as twitter

It's summer and in spite of the thunderstorms and pouring rain I have been making a batch of ice cream every week. Last week it was a refreshing blueberry that turned out the most amazing shade of purple. Today's gelato recipe is a sweet vanilla ice cream with cream cheese for stabilization and texture. It's rescued from boring blahness by

the addition of a handful of roughly chopped Sea Salt and Turbinado Sugar Dark Chocolate Almonds from Trader Joe's. These are the most addictive bonbons ever to land on the supermarket shelves. I decided to make this gelato just to limit the number of times we pass by the kitchen cupboard and sneak a couple. Buy 'em, try 'em but be warned, you may have to give them away to save yourself!

The Recipe
2 1/2 cups of cream and whole milk (or half and half)
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4oz cream cheese
2 tbsp sour cream
Handful of chopped chocolate almonds. (If you can't get the salty ones you could add a 1/4 tsp gray sea salt)

Heat the cream, milk and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Cook stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Add vanilla and cream cheese. Whisk gently until the cream cheese has melted into the cream mixture. Take a bowl and fill with ice cubes, place the pan in the bowl and allow to cool. Whisk in the sour cream. Meanwhile chop a handful of the almonds. When the cream mixture is cool to the touch pour into an ice cream maker and add the nuts.
There you have it, almost every tastebud is tickled: Creamy, Crunchy, Sweet, Sour and Salty Gelato. Enjoy!

Monday, July 06, 2009

If You liked KC You're Gonna Love Kansas

So by now you have realised that I was in Kansas City for a couple of days. The raison d'etre for the midwest excursion was a little business and a visit to the renowned Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art but I grabbed the chance to take a side trip into Kansas to meet with home builder and food blogger Marilyn of Simmer Till Done in the "coolest college town in the US".
I've been following Marilyn since her house blogger days, admiring her design aesthetic and vicariously enjoying the thrill of the chase as she tracked down plumbing fittings, vintage hardware and decorative items on ebay. What kept me reading was her writing; her turn of phrase and wry humor that permeated every post. Towards the end of construction she began to post the recipes and mouth-watering photographs of food that eventually became Simmer Till Done.
Let me tell you that in real life she doesn't disappoint. Meeting Marilyn was like catching up with an old friend; so many stories to share, experiences to expand upon, blogs we love and bloggers we know. We talked as we toured the town, I learned the history and fun facts (the town grid is made up of numbered streets crossed with states in the order they joined the union); we chatted as I explored her beautiful house and met her lovely family including the famous Cleo and wandered back into town for coffee. Five hours later we were still talking. Here's just a taste:

Perfect bites of happiness: She baked Rugelach and sent me home with a doggy bag full.

She's a bit of an alchemist, turning simple ingredients into homemade Limoncello and other flavored liqueurs - smooth and sweet with an unexpected kick at the finish

She showed me this breadboard in real life

and took me to a bank to eat artisanal antipasti and salad. A side note: Do you know how difficult it is to eat when you just can't stop talking?
Another fun fact to finish? Her town has some 90,000 residents. Marilyn seems to know each and everyone personally - either that or it is also the friendliest town in the midwest!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Guess Where I Was: Part II

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art


Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

Louise Bourgeois Spider

Kansas City kicked my butt, culturally and culinary-wise.

Martini with olive and a twist

Jack Stack Barbecue smokey BBQ ribs

Pulled Pork and Hominy Pizzole with Carrot and Cauliflower Salad and a Sandwich at Café Sebastienne at the Kemper Museum

Inside-Out Burger at Blanc Burgers and Bottles

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Panna Cotta with Caramel Sauce

It's been a while since I posted anything food-related on the blog. A combination of laziness, greed (do you realise we have to wait to eat while I take shots?) and twitter. Blame twitter. It's so much quicker to post 140 characters online than mess around with html.
Anyway, I am actually inspired by this lack of summer to make some dishes rather than the usual "Go to store, pick up salads, cheese and pate, open wine and call it a picnic" meals we eat this time of year. Yesterday I used up leftover polpo, peppers, rice and tomatilla salsa with frozen prawns, sauteed garlic and 1/3 bottle of white wine for a simple, summery lunch and made a Panna Cotta with fresh berries for today's dessert. I had planned to serve it with red berry coulis and fresh cherries but then I saw something that made me think why not drizzle it with a little Caramel Sauce? Heaven.
Panna Cotta is one of the easiest desserts to make. Really! It's just cream jelly (Jello). I'm not even going to bother to write out a recipe, there are hundreds around, each as simple as the last. Try David Lebovitz's below. And if you have any doubts about making your own caramel sauce go and see Marilyn at Simmer Till Done. She will hold your hand, mop your fevered brow and guide you through the process for perfecting sweet, buttery and slightly salty caramel. You'll never go back to a jar again!

Panna Cotta
David Lebovitz has a perfect recipe with tips
(If you oil the molds as he suggests you won't have to do what I did and ease them out with a knife, see photo. Do as I say, not as I do!)

Caramel Sauce
I told you: Go see Simmer