Farro Risotto

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I was watching a show on the cooking channel the other day and they were making a risotto with farro instead of arborio rice. I have never heard of making a risotto with this healthy grain and was instantly intrigued. My mom reminded me that we had a package of farro that we bought a while ago and never used... so last night I experimented with this farro risotto!

Farro Risotto with Roasted Asparagus over Portobello
1 cup farro
-4 cups chicken stock
-1/2 cup white wine
-2 T. olive oil
-1 small onion, chopped
-1 small bunch asparagus, cut in small pieces
-1/2 cup grated parmaggiano reggiano
-salt and pepper
-2 portobello caps
-grated pecorino romano

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the asparagus on a baking sheet with 1 T. olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan bring the chicken stock to a simmer and have it on standby for the risotto.
3. In another medium saucepan, heat 1 T. olive oil over medium heat. Sweat the onion until translucent. Add the farro and toast for a couple of minutes.
4. Add the wine and cook until absorbed. Add in the chicken stock 1 ladleful at a time, constantly stirring. Once the stock is absorbed, add another ladle. Continue until the farro is cooked (it will still be a little chewy, as farro has a bit of a different texture than rice).
5. Season with salt and pepper and add the parm (off the heat). Stir in the roasted asparagus.
6. Spoon out the gills in the portobello caps and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes.
7. Spoon some risotto in each of the mushroom caps and top with pecorino. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Enjoy your risotto with the rest of that white wine :)

Restaurant Review: Hotel Tides

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Another hidden gem in Asbury Park: The restaurant in The Tides Hotel.

My parents and sister discovered this restaurant last week and raved about it. They loved it so much, that they were dying to take me there so I could see for myself. As we walked a few blocks away from the beach in some of the sketchier areas of town, I was hesitant about where they were leading me! Long and behold, we showed up at the hotel... it was not what I was expecting. The outside decor seemed rundown and unimpressive. However, as soon as we walked in, I realized my parents wouldn't steer me wrong. The dining room was exquisite and we were led to a cozy booth off to the side. The lack of crowd at 7:30 on a Friday night was a bit discomforting, but the quiet atmosphere was quite enjoyable.

Naturally, we checked ahead to see if we could bring our own wine. You all should know by now that we are wine snobs and would rather bring a nice bottle from home and pay a corkage fee than have to choose from a short selection of overpriced wines from the restaurant wine list. My dad surprised me by bringing my favorite.. Cask:
My mom and I started off with a lovely beet salad. It was served with lightly dressed arugula and ricotta salata.
My dad started with cornmeal crusted calamari served over greens and a smoked paprika remoulade. It was out of this world!!
For our main dish, my mom and I both ordered the cod that was served over white beans, artichoke hearts, and a sage butter sauce. It was a very light dish with a lot of flavor. I loved the sage flavor that really came through in the beans!
As much as I enjoyed my meal, my dad's meal is seriously worth mentioning! It is pretty clear that I'm not the biggest meat eater and I rarely order meat out at restaurants. However, I would go back to this restaurant and order this dish.. the rack of lamb:
This was the most tasty meat I have ever eaten! The seasoning was incredible and every component to the dish was wonderful. I especially loved the vanilla-scented fennel slaw on the side.. so unique and flavorful! The chef even came out to greet us as we were eating our dinner. I was gnawing on a lamb bone as he came up to our table... that's how good this lamb was. I don't gnaw on bones! My mom, who doesn't eat red meat at all, even had to try a bite..and agreed that it was incredible!

Overall, it was a great night of wonderful food, service, and atmosphere. The restaurant should really work on its marketing to get more customers in. If more people knew about what they have to offer, they would have a packed dining room every night!

"Vegan" Spinach Quiche

Monday, July 12, 2010

Lately my mom and I really enjoy vegan food (even though we are definitely not vegan). I started reading the book Promises to Keep by Jane Green (a fun beach read). Coincidentally, one of the main characters in the book is a vegan chef. After every chapter there was a fun recipe. I particularly noticed one recipe for a "vegan spinach quiche" and showed my mom. She begged me to make it ASAP! And so I did....

For the crust:
1 cup cooked quinoa
2 T. quinoa, rice, spelt, or whole wheat flour to bind (I used whole wheat)
2 T. flaxseed
Small bunch of basil and thyme, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

For the filling:
1 package firm tofu, drained
Juice of 1 lemon
10 oz fresh spinach
1 clove garlic, minced (I threw it into the vita-prep whole)
1/2 tsp. tumeric (I used paprika because that's all I had)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (I'm a dummy and forgot to get this, so I made this quiche non-vegan and added pecorino romano)
1 T. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup toasted pinenuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix quinoa, flour, flaxseed, herbs, salt and pepper. Grease a flan tin with a removeable base and press the mixture firmly and evenly over the base and up the sides (I forgot to grease the tin, but it still came out fine!!)
3. Combine the tofu with lemon juice in a blender (I used the vita prep) and puree until smooth. Add the spinach and pulse until blended, then add the garlic, turmeric, salt, nutmeg, yeast, and mustard, blending briefly until combined. Pour into the crust, sprinkle the pine nuts on tops and bake for 30-40 minutes. (I also sprinkled the top with halved cherry tomatoes).
4. Serve hot or cold. I sprinkled my slice with crushed red pepper and extra pecorino!

This was so delicious and healthy! My mom and I really enjoyed it :) We're especially excited about how the crust turned out and brainstormed some other ways to use this crust for other recipes! Stay tuned!

Vegan Bean Burger & Summer Vegetable Cous Cous

Last Friday I wanted to make a little something special to bring to a tailgate before the Chicago concert. We bought wraps from our local health food store and I made a summer vegetable cous cous salad that was easy to transport and very light and tasty!

(From Clean Eating)
3 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. dijon mustard
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil cooking spray
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 yellow squash, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 8-oz package sliced baby portobello mushrooms (I used a mixed blend of mushrooms)
4 cups cooked whole-grain cous cous
1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
4 sprigs fresh basil, chopped (I used about double this amount--I love basil!)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, dijon, oil, salt, pepper, and garlic. Set aside.
3. Spray a large shallow roasting pan (I used 2 baking sheets). Arrange vegetables in single layer on the pan. Drizzle with vinegar mixture, tossing gently. Cook vegetables in oven for about 15 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
4. Combine vegetables with couscous, tossing gently. Top with cheese and basil.

Last night, my mom enjoyed some of the leftovers with a vegan black bean burger. I got the recipe from a blog that I regularly read called "The Front Burner". You can find the recipe here.

(The lighting was horrible in my kitchen.... )

Grilled Romaine Salad

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My family had some 4th of July weekend! We had fabulous dinners starting at the ever popular Langosta Lounge on Thursday. It was fabulous as always. My mom, sister, and I all got a Mahi Mahi special that was incredible! My dad ordered the baby back ribs that came with the best sweet potato fries I have ever had in my life!

On Friday, we had to try out The Trinity and the Pope, which is a new restaurant in Asbury that is owned by the same owner as Langosta (Marilyn Schlossbach). While the cuisine was a bit different than we're used to (Creole/Louisiana-style), it was out of this world! We were immediately given some spicy kettle chips with a Remoulade sauce. I have never tasted anything like it! We all went crazy over it! My dad ordered a short rib in puff pastry appetizer that we all had to try... It was so rich and decadent. I would have ordered it as a main meal! I had the barbecue shrimp with jalepeno andouille grits as my entree. The spice and flavor was incredible! Everybody was very pleased with their meals! Marilyn has done it again... made my very picky family extremely happy with a unique dining experience!

On Sunday night, I cooked for a my family. I made crab cakes yet again, as requested from the rest of the group. I tripled the recipe for Ellie Krieger's crab cakes and made a few small changes. I sauteed the red pepper and green onion before adding it to the mix. I also mixed in whole wheat bread crumbs and then coated the cakes in panko.

For the side-dishes, I made some sweet potato fries, corn on the cob, and a grilled romaine salad. I was inspired by a TV shoot I helped out with at Good Housekeeping featuring Guy Fieri. He grilled romaine hearts and topped it with a sauteed onion and bacon mixture and some crumbled blue cheese. It looked soo good, so I had to make my own recreation of the salad.

I started by halving 3 romaine lettuce hearts and washing them thouroughly. After patting them dry, I grilled them a few minutes per side, until they were slightly charred and wilted. I sauteed 2 large vidalia onions and spooned it on top of the romaine. I also sprinkled on some dried cranberries, gorgonzola, and topped it with a balsamic vinaigrette:

For our last day of the holiday weekend, my parents, sister, and I layed on the beach until the early hours of the evening. We didn't make it out to dinner until around 8:00. We walked on over to Stella Marina, hoping for a delicious, relaxing dinner that we usually always recieve. Unfortunately, Stella was slacking on Monday. Not sure if it was the aftermath of a crazy weekend or what, but there shouldn't be any excuse for the service that we recieved. We arrived at the restaurant and were not seated for another 20 minutes, despite the availability of tables. It took longer than usual to recieve our bottle of wine. The waitress brought over some bread, which we were delighted to see because we were starving. However, upon first bite we realized the bread was unebile..stale and clearly very old. We kindly asked our waitress if there was any fresher bread available, but she regrettably told us they ran out from the weekend (couldn't they have at least revived a loaf by popping it into the oven?!). We got over it quickly and anxiously awaited our salad and vegetable appetizers. Well, those never came. We were waiting over an hour before we had to complain and beg for an explanation for the ridiculously long wait. The manager came over and said that the salads would probably not be out any time soon because of a back up in the kitchen. We asked for the check, paid for our wine, and left. Stella Marina is off our list of favorite restaurants for a while. Unfortunately, because I have always enjoyed it there. Our night ended with pizza on the boardwalk and a late night walk home...

Crab Egg White Omelet

I'm a bit behind in my blog updates, but I wanted to share with y'all another wonderful lunch that I made for my mom and I a couple of weeks ago. Clearly, we were trying to use up the wonderful lump crab meat leftover from the deviled eggs on Father's Day... So, I decided to make us some egg white omelets with crab meat.

I started by heating a nonstick skillet with a bit of coconut oil spray on medium high. Once it is nice and hot, I added in 1/2 c. egg whites (or about 3 egg whites). When that starts to set around the sides, tossed in some crab meat, halved cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, snipped chives, and salt & pepper. I folded over the first half once it looked almost completely set and then slid it on to the plate. I garnished the omelet with some sliced avocado, extra chopped chives, and a few drops of siracha and organic dijon. Best omelet I have ever had!

For my dad, I made a crab salad sandwich by mixing the rest of the crab meat with some mayonaisse, dijon, old bay crab seasoning, salt, pepper, and a no-salt seasoning mix. Piled that on a roll with a bit of cheese.. he loved it!

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