Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Movin' On Up.........

Follow this link for more Urban Eater fair.

I'll continue posts, per the norm, at my new home. This site will remain up but dormant.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Single Man's Guide To Kitchen Survival: Installment #1

Cross posted at THe Urban Eater
Once upon a time, Single Men were notorious for having refrigerators stocked with Chinese take-out boxes, ketchup packets, pizza boxes, hot sauce, leftover Ramen noodles still in the bowl they were prepared in, moldy sandwich bread and copious amounts of beer. This was the norm from roughly 1977 to 1999.
But times, they have-a-changed.
With the invent of Food Network, Celebrity Chefs, organic lifestyles, Atkins, and South Beach, single Men are utilizing their dusty stove tops. They are opting for a good bottle of Red instead of a high carbed Brew.
One of my single guy friends’s approached me a few months back.
We’ll call him, Chris.
Chris was having a Lady friend over for dinner. He wanted to impress her for a few reasons. One, he liked her. She was a good girl. Two, he was low on funds and didn’t have the money to take her out to an upscale restaurant, and finally and probably most importantly, because he wanted to get laid.
Chris asked if I could show him how to make an upscale dinner that would impress without the impressive price tag.
I happily accepted.
This got me thinking. “Chris”, I asked, “would you like me to put together an easy Cookbook geared for single guys from a woman’s point-of-view?” Chris replied,” I would be forever in debt if you did.”
So, until money falls from the sky or a publisher notices my little blog (cough, cough), I’ll be using The Urban Eater to assist all of you Single Guys. Need help? Just ask. Got a culinary dilemma? I’m here for you.
Until then, I’ll be doing some of my normal postings and mixing in my Single Guy friendly cooking how-tos. From impressive dinners, to Gym maintenance foods, to low budget survival. I’m here. I’ll even be including Girlie pics to lure you to read on.

Chicken Roulade stuffed with Chevre, Sun dried Tomatoes, and Capers served with Lemon Scented Green Beans.
Roulade = A piece of meat, pounded thin, and stuffed with something.
Chevre = Good Goat’s milk cheese
Capers = Pickled Flower buds.
Price = $$
Goal = Getting Laid.

1-pound Boneless, Skinless Chicken Cutlets (Turkey may also be used)
2 oz Chevre Cheese (Go to the deli. It will not be next to the Kraft singles)
1 jar Sun dried Tomatoes (get the smallest jar possible)
1 jar Capers (get the smallest jar with the smallest buds possible)
1 Lemon (should be all yellow and you should be able to squeeze it without pressure)
1 bag fresh, cleaned, trimmed Green Beans (1 pound for 2 people)
Olive Oil (Just buy Extra Virgin. Choose the one that is not the most expense or the least expensive.)
Plastic Wrap
Aluminum Foil

A sharp knife
A cutting board
A non-stick skillet
A pasta-sized saucepot
An oven safe container
Something to stir with

Read all steps before starting to cook.
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
Place a chicken cutlet in between two pieces of plastic wrap. Make sure the chicken is completely covered. With a meat mallet, pound the chicken so that it is about 2 cm thick. Start in the center of the chicken and work your way out. Use a bean can if you do not have a mallet. Do not use a hammer. Repeat for second chicken cutlet. Make two for you and two for your guest.
Place one piece of the pounded cutlet on a cutting board. With a butter knife, spread ¼ of Chevre into center of pounded cutlet. Take one sun-dried tomato. Dice it as small as you can. It doesn’t have to be microscopic. Sprinkle over spreaded Chevre. Sprinkle about 8-9 capers onto Chevre. Roll the pounded cutlet, just like you would roll a burrito. Secure the roll with as many toothpicks as you feel necessary. You want it to be completely closed. Sprinkle with a lady sized pinch of salt and a lady sized pinch of pepper (about 4 grinds of a pepper grinder). Repeat with all pounded cutlets.
In a pasta-sized saucepot, boil 3 cups of water. Add 4 tablespoons of salt to boiling water. When water starts to boil, add green beans for 2 ½ minutes and NO MORE. Drain water from green bean pot, place pot in sink with Green Beans still in the pot, turn cold water on and fill pot with cold water. Add a hand full of ice to pot. This is called blanching.
Heat a non-stick skillet to med-high. Add 2 tbsp of Olive Oil to hot pan. If it smokes, it’s too hot. Remove pan from heat and let cool a little. If it doesn’t smoke. Add all prepared roulades to pan. Let brown on each side. You are not cooking the roulade all the way. You’re just searing the meat, so that the juices stay in the chicken. You’ll brown each side for about 1 ½ - 2 minutes per side.
Put browned roulades into an oven safe container and cover with foil. Roast for 20 minutes.
In the meantime, wash non-stick skillet. Heat clean skillet back up to med-high. Drain green beans of all water and ice. Add 2 tbsp of Olive Oil to hot pan. Is the oil smoking? It’s too hot. Remove pan and let cool down a bit.
Add green beans, one lady sized pinch of salt, one lady sized pinch of pepper, and juice from lemon. Squeeze the lemon in your hand. This will prevent any seeds from getting into the pan, which you do not want. Using any kind of utensil that will not melt in the skillet, stir green beans occasionally. Cook green beans for about 7 minutes. They should have small brown spots, but no black spots. That would be called burning the green beans.
When the timer goes off for the roulade, remove from oven. On a cutting board, remove all toothpicks from one roulade. Cut into half on a bias (think carpentry). Is it white or pink on the inside? If it is pink, put all roulades back in the oven for another 5-6 minutes. If it is white, cut all roulades on a bias. Remove all toothpicks first.
Pick the best looking roulade. Put it on her plate. Place about 8-9 green beans on the same plate.
Light some candles; turn on Sade, Leonard Cohen, or Cold Play, and have condoms hidden and out of sight. That would be a mood killer. Get a halfway decent Pinto Grigio (no more than $10-$15 per bottle) and serve with dinner. White wine should be served cold.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Another Type of Urban Eater

Here's some helpful hints on how to be a healthy, hip Urban Eater.

When did Crock Pots become hip? This whole article sounds like a 65 yr old man wrote it for his 20 something yr old kids, trying to be hip and cool and relate.

Robert Irvine's Demise?

Cross posted at The Urban Eater

My hat is tipped to Ben Montgomery and the folks over at the St Pete Times for uncovering the truth about Dinner Slightly Difficult, oh, I mean Dinner Impossible Food Network Star, Robert Irvine. Irvine was set to open, not one, but two restaurants in St Pete, Ooze and Schmooze.
You can read the full article here, but I would like to spotlight some of my favorite exerts:
"We went out one night and hit several restaurants," said Paul Guillaume, of Professional Restaurants in Sarasota. "He was flat-out rude. At one of the restaurants, he told the waiter, 'That was absolutely horrible! Get me the chef! What is this?'"

"Irvine's resume notes he has received a Five Star Diamond Award (not to be confused with AAA's five diamonds or Mobil's five stars) from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences for several consecutive years. But as Radar magazine pointed out last year, the "academy" is housed in a Manhattan apartment, and recipients pay for the honor."

Walter Scheib (Executive Chef of The White House): "Irvine's ONLY connection with the White House is through the Navy Mess facility in the West Wing ... never in the period from 4/4/94 until 2/4/05 did he have ANYTHING to do with the preparation, planning, or service of any State Dinner or any other White House Executive Residence food function, public or private."

"It's almost like I'm being held hostage," Irvine said. "I get a pain in my gut any time I hear this woman's name." (Referring to St. Petersburg socialite Wendy LaTorre).

I can't comment on the man's ability to cook, I've never eaten his food. I did spot him last year during the Food & Wine Fest. It was at Beverly's, a little breakfast spot. I didn't pay attention to him, so I cannot comment on his behavior towards the staff. What I did notice was how very friendly he was with his Breakfast companion. An Barbie-like brunette. I cannot verify whether or not it was his wife.

I will say this; I wouldn't want to be on Wendy LaTorre's bad side.

I can't imagine that the man would still open the restaurants. This article isn't a little bit humiliating; it's out right, gloves off, spit in your face, caught with your pants around your ankles and a chicken in your hands, humiliating.

It will be interesting to see if Scripps Network (owns Food Network) cancels his show.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Mom, I Am A Pornographer.

Cross Posted at The Urban Eater

I recently got these photos from Ryan Joseph, an amazing Bridal and Portrait photographer, who was doing some Ad work for his friend's wholesale seafood company. He hired my company to do the food styling.
It was a fun, but long day.
The outcome, glorious food porn.
So, what is a food stylist, you ask?
Food stylists (sometimes called food dressers) make food look attractive in photographs and videos for advertisements and menus.
I prefer this definition:
Food stylists prepare and create the forms of glossily lush photographs of voluptuous and sinfully rich foods, or of fantasy recipes and lifestyle images that, in the words of Molly O’Neill, are “so removed from real life that they cannot be used except as vicarious experiences” similar to that of Pornography.

Oh, by the way. The picture in the Title Bar on The Urban Eater, oh yeah, I did her.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Reminiscing Cupcakes

Cross Posted at The Urban Eater

I’ve been seeing a lot about cupcakes in the news lately. They have apparently made a revival.
Funny, I never knew they left?
With that said, my cravings began to grab hold, but I just could not reason paying $30 for 12 cupcakes. I yearned to make a big beautiful batch of creamy, dreamy cupcakes. How could you not after seeing this perfect example?
Oh the lushes frosting and supple cake.
I have a found memory of my Mother making cupcakes for my kindergarten class. She pain stakingly made all 25 cupcakes from scratch and decorated each individual cupcake with every student’s name. Pink frosting for the girls with little red sugar hearts and Blue frosting for the boys with little blue sugar circles. The cake was chocolate and the frosting was a luscious butter cream.
We, the children, grabbed any cupcake we could find regardless of whose name was on it. I guess she didn’t think about whether or not kindergarteners could read their own name. It didn’t matter. The cupcakes were delicious and we loved her for them.
As I sat watching my morning news program, the urge grabbed a hold of me once again.
Most of us are not afforded with the time to bake from scratch. This does not mean we are bad people, we’re just busy. Were this a Sunday, it may be another story.
Making cupcakes from scratch is a worthy, worthy art. Making anything from scratch is notable; however, Time was not my friend today. So, I stared down Time and quietly but firmly stated, “I am making cupcakes.”
I call these cupcakes Love Muffins. They are part Black Forest, part Devil’s Food, and 100% addictive. I call them Love Muffins, because I put all of the goodies my Hubby and I so love in them.
The first bite reminded me of being a little girl, sitting on the steps of the playground, eating the Cupcakes my Mother had made a long time ago.
The Cream Cheese frosting swirls with the Cherries and the Chocolate cake is super moist and decadent, bursting with bits of Milk Chocolate and Toffee. Enjoy licking your fingers.

Love Muffins
1 Box Devil’s Food Cake Mix
3 Eggs
1 ¼ cup Water
½ cup Vegetable Oil
1 12oz bag Mini Milk Chocolate Morsels
1 10oz bag Toffee Chips
1 jar Cream Cheese Icing
1 block Cream Cheese
1 jar Cherry Pie Filling

Mix Cake Mix according to directions, minus ¼ cup water. You will use the eggs, water, and oil at this time according to package instructions. Mix in ½ cup Morsels, ½ cup Cherry Pie Filling and ½ cup Toffee Chips. Mix well. Insert paper Cupcake Cups into a greased muffin tin. Greasing the tin will allow you to remove the paper cups with ease. Fill paper cups to the top with Cake Mix. Bake according to Cake Mix directions, about 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 1 hour or until completely cool. Don’t frost these babies to soon or your frosting will melt off.
In a clean bowl, mix Cream Cheese frosting, ½ block Cream Cheese, and 1/3 cup Cherry Pie Filling. Mix at high speed until completely incorporated. With a rubber spatula, generously frost each Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting. Place 1 whole cherry from Pie Filling onto each Cupcake.

By the way, I spent less than $5 to make 12 cupcakes.

Monday, February 11, 2008

I'm In The Mood For Love

It’s February again and it has been for 11 days. That means you have 3 days to find the perfect V Day gift.
If you are like me, this can be tricky. I’ve been with my Hubby for 8 ½ blissful years. We have just about everything we want (with the exception of the yacht) or can afford at this point in time (not like we can afford a yacht).
So what do you do?
Valentine’s Day often becomes lost in the married life. “It’s just another day.” we often say.
Well, I am here to revitalize our old, married butts.
Once upon a time, butterflies filled our bellies every February 14th.
It started in grade school with who would get the most Scooby Doo V Day notes in our doily donned V Day, red construction paper mail boxes. Then, High School brought forth, single stemmed roses stuck in our locker vents. College brought candle lit dinners of Ramen noddles and hand picked (stolen from the Agriculture dept.) daisies.
Valentine’s Day was special and was far from “just another day.”
So, I have decided to do something really special for my Hubby this V Day. Of course, I will not divulge my plan just yet, because, well, he reads this blog daily, but I will share a few ideas with you.
I’ve always thought making your own gourmet Dinner was far more romantic than waiting for a table at a crowded restaurant with little to no intimacy. So, I set out to see where Tampa was making reservations and hands down, Bern’s was the big winner.
I’ve complied the most popular recipes from Bern’s. Feel free to pick and choose.
Is it original? No, but it never fails to please. Go to the dollar store, buy lots and lots of candles, set them all through the house, put iTunes on to your favorite music, open a bottle of wine, and enjoy each other’s company.
A lot of these recipes can be made ahead of time, so that you are not stuck in the kitchen when you should be in the Dining room getting’ your lovin’ on.

Tuna Tartare (Cox’s Seafood has the freshest tuna you will find in Tampa)This is the BEST tartare recipe from a restuarnt in San Fran called Aqua.
This can be made a few hours ahead of serving.
Fois Gras with Pineapple and Pistachios (The Outdoor Kitchen Store carries foie gras)
The Pineapple compote and toast points can be made a day ahead. The Fois Gras should be made just before serving.

Asparagus Vichyssoise
Can be made a day ahead of time.
Lobster Bisque
Can be made a day ahead of time.

This should be made just before serving.
Chicken “Bern” Style
Prepare just before serving. I recommend to use fresh Crimini instead of Button mushrooms. For the dried, use Chantrelles. Fresh Market has them right now.

Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee
Can be prepared the day before. Caramelize the sugar just before serving. Do it at the table!
Chocolate Cheese Pie
Can be a day ahead of time.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

More Changes.....

In the effort to streamline the new Blog name, The Urban Eater, I'll be making a slow transistion to the new home of The Urban Eater, theurbaneater.blogspot.com
This will be a slow transistion as I know so many hate change. I'll be double posting and one day, will kill seminoleheightseats.blogspot.com
Don't worry, all will remain the same, it will just make more sense.

Mal Carne Joins The Ranks

You gotta read this one, Bad Meat.
Amusing and educational.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Ode To Gnocchi

There is something truly amazing about Gnocchi.
To me, it is the quintessential pasta. Oddly shaped pasta, dumpling-like, tender ovals of love. You don’t need any special flour to make it. You don’t need a special machine or an old world Grandma.
It is simplicity at it’s best. It is the perfect Urban Pasta.
It can be made from potatoes, (and most commonly is) squash, semolina, or ricotta.
An over abundance of flavors can also be added. The minds imagination is truly the limit.
Not surprisingly, a lot of people are afraid to make their own little dumplings of joy. As are many of the worlds most simplistic creations feared, so is the Gnocchi.
Luckily, I have an in-home Executive Chef who just so happened to study his craft in Italy, the home of the wondrous Gnocchi.
He gets a lot of calls requesting Cooking Classes for this little 8th Wonder of the World. In being so, he spends a lot of time developing new and exciting recipes for the heavenly Gnocchi.
So, today, while he is away in his kitchen, I have stolen one of his scrumptious Gnocchi recipes to share with all of you.
Make this for Valentine’s Day instead of waiting over an hour for a table at an over priced, mediocre restaurant. Trust me, you will be very happy.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Wild Mushrooms and Gorgonzola Cream
By: Chef Greg Baker

Serves 4 as an entree

1 tsp kosher salt
2 ea Russet Potatoes (1 ½ lbs)
1 ea Sweet Potato (1 lb)
2 ea egg yolks
1 ½ Cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 Cups heavy cream
2 oz gorgonzola cheese
1 tsp fresh basil
2 ounces wild mushrooms, sliced
4 ounces Portobello mushrooms, sliced
1 ea shallot, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the gnocchi:
Bake the russet and sweet potatoes in a 400-degree oven for 1 hour, or until fork tender
Cool and peel the potatoes
Place the potatoes in a bowl and mash well with a potato masher or mixer
Using a spoon or rubber spatula, force the potato mixture through a mesh strainer to remove lumps
Mix the flour and egg yolks with the potato mixture and work into a smooth dough (this may take a little more, or less flour)
Bring 1 gallon of water with the kosher salt to a boil
Take about ¼ of the dough and roll into a 1” thick rope on a floured cutting board
Cut the rope into 1” slices to form the gnocchi
Drop the gnocchi into the boiling water and cook until the gnocchi float
Remove the gnocchi and place in a bowl of cold water
Repeat this until the dough is all formed into gnocchi
Add the butter to a large skillet over medium heat
Return the gnocchi to the boiling water, when they float again, drain
Add the gnocchi to the skillet and sauté over medium heat, allowing the gnocchi to brown slightly

For the cream sauce:
Add the heavy cream to a saucepan over medium high heat
Allow the cream to boil, being careful not to let it boil over, until the volume is reduced by ½ and the cream is a sauce-like consistency
Whisk in the Gorgonzola
Add the fresh basil, and add salt and pepper to taste

For the mushrooms:
Heat a sauté pan with the olive oil over medium heat
Add the shallots and mushrooms, and sauté until tender
Season with salt and pepper

To finish:
Toss the gnocchi with the wild mushrooms and drizzle with the Gorgonzola cream to your liking. (This is quite rich, so start with a small amount of the Gorgonzola cream and work up from there)