Sunday, October 24, 2010

I'm Saucy - Mastering the Beurre Blanc - Inspired By Blue Ribbon All American

{Salt and Pepper Shrimp}



{Halibut in a Beurre Blanc Sauce with sundried Tomatoes, 
a side of Mashed Potatoes and Collard Greens}

Blue Ribbon All American's Salt and Pepper Shrimp were the perfect appetizer to cut the creaminess of the Halibut with the Buerre Blanc Sauce. I highly recommend them. The shrimp have a natural sweetness that is contrasted beautifully by the Saltiness of the ginger soy sauce, the salt and the black pepper.

The Halibut was flaky and cooked to perfection. You can see the nice browning on the fish that gives a wonderful crunch. The halibut crumbled with the slightest touch from the fork and the beurre blanc sauce coated each delectable bite. The collard greens added a nice freshness and the sun dried tomatoes added a tart acidic note to the dish. The fluffy mashed potatoes coated my mouth and the only way I can describe it is with this song by Sade.


Overall this dish's subtle glam and light comfort had me craving more and more. But if you can't get to Blue Ribbon All American you can replicate this dish at home. Because sometimes it's necessary to get a little saucy.



Mastering the Beurre Blanc Sauce

Like most culinary traditions the origins of beurre blanc sauce are not entirely agreed upon. One popular train of thought says that chef Clémence Lefeuvre (née Clémence Prau) was preparing a complex dish for a head of state, and she accidentally left both the egg and the tarragon out of the bernaise sauce she was making. Since she did not have time to fix the food, she sent it out as is, and much to her surprise, the dish was huge a success. 


A traditional beurre blanc sauce, meaning "white butter in French", starts by reducing very finely minced shallots in an acidic solution like vinegar, lemon juice, or white wine.  You can also switch it up and make a buerre rouge sauce by adding red wine or vinegar instead of white. 

Once the acidic reduction is made, chunks of slightly softened butter are added and briskly whisked in. It is important to reduce the sauce first and then add in the butter so you can make a stable emulsion. You want to whisk the sauce rapidly, so you can create as many small air bubbles as possible in the sauce so it disperses the fat therefore, creating a delicious sauce that will hold up well. Beurre blanc sauce is usually used immediately, and cooks differ on whether or not to strain it.

Some cooks add cream to their beurre blanc sauce, to keep it stabilized for a longer period of time. This deviation from the traditional ingredients can not technically be called a beurre blanc sauce, since the cream dramatically changes the composition and texture of the sauce but is common practice in restaurants with long dinner services. Other ingredients such as tarragon or dill can be added as well, for additional flavor.




To make a basic beurre blanc sauce, use two thirds of a cup of wine, vinegar, lemon juice, or some combination of these ingredients. Heat it on a medium temperature setting along with two finely chopped shallots until the volume of the liquid has been reduced to approximately one quarter of a cup. Allow the mixture to cool before placing it over low heat and quickly whisking in three quarters to one cup of unsalted butter broken into chunks. Strain, if desired, and add salt and pepper to taste.


Below is a great and in depth video describing how to make the perfect beurre blanc sauce.



----- These Are A Few Of My Favorite Chains ----- The Cheesecake Factory at Perimeter Mall






After a fabulous day of shopping at Perimeter Mall, I was feeling great. I felt like a fairy in Sleeping Beauty, dancing down the rows of beautiful costumes, pirouetting into each new design.  I managed to find some super cute outfits that were all on sale. It was one of those lucky days where everything fits, looks awesome on you and the price is just right. But after all of the hunting and trying on clothes I was starving. So my dad and I went to The The Cheesecake Factory.




 The Cheesecake Factory is one of my favorite chain restaurants. But unfortunately not all are created equal.  The location in Buckhead is one of my favorites. I also like the one in Boston at the Cambridge Side Galleria. But the one in Perimeter is not consistent. Sadly, I have given the Perimeter location a few chances to the point where I wasn't even going to try it this time. I was going to go to Maggiano's Italian Restaurant which is in the same restaurant row. Nevertheless, after waiting 20 minutes we were seated. I started with the Strawberry Lemonade. It is super sweet with an after note of tartness and the best part is free refills. 

My dad decided to order the Hot Spinach and Cheese dip, which we shared. It was really good on top of the warm sourdough and pumpernickel bread they provide. 



Hot Spinach and Cheese Dip

Spinach, Artichoke Hearts, Shallots, Garlic and a Mixture of Cheeses. Served Bubbly Hot with Tortilla Chips and Salsa. Enough for Two.




Ahi Tartare

Raw Tuna with Avocado and Soy-Ginger Sesame Sauce.

I  wanted something a little light and fresh so I ordered the Ahi Tuna Tartare. It was delicious. At first sight I was drawn in by the colors and presentation. 

As I slid my fork into it and took my first bite it was the perfect balance of all the taste senses. The creaminess of the avocado, the savoryness of the soy- ginger sauce and the crunch of the pickled ginger. I wanted to order two of these!




Spicy Chicken Chipotle Pasta

Honey Glazed Chicken, Asparagus, Red and Yellow Peppers, Peas, Garlic and Onion in a Spicy Chipotle Parmesan Cream Sauce.




Cajun Jambalaya Pasta

Our most popular pasta dish! Shrimp and Chicken Sautéed with Onions, Tomato and Peppers in a Very Spicy Cajun Sauce. All on Top of Fresh Linguini. Also available over Rice.

Then came the entrees my dad ordered the Spicy Chicken Chipotle Pasta. It was very scrumptious, cooked exactly right. The pasta was perfectly al dente. The Penne absorbed the spicy flavors and sweetness of the sauce. My dad really enjoyed it. On the other hand, my Cajun Jambalya Pasta, which is one of their most popular pastas, was a different story. In short I had to send it back. The pasta was shamefully overcooked. I did not want to waste the chicken which was fine so they said they would just bring back a new pasta. In retrospect, I probably should have had them re-make the entire dish. When I got the pasta back again it was still overcooked. Instead of sending it back again I suffered through it and  mainly just ate the chicken.



Cheesecake Case

The Most Popular Cheesecakes - Housed in one case. Oh la la. 



After the pasta incident, I was ready to go so we got the check and headed over to the Cheesecake counter. I decided to get my favorite the Snickers Bar Cheesecake. It never disappoints and the Chefs at the Perimeter location don't make it, so I knew it was going to taste just the way I am used to.

My mother has always said to me that "Change is the only thing you can count on in life." And she's right. Things are always changing. I believe when you stop changing and growing you're basically dead. But there's one area where universally we don't like change; and It's kind of sad, but a fact of life that when people go to restaurants they do not like the dishes to change. When I worked as a Sous chef in restaurants it was a well known fact that you needed to keep the food consistent, or else!!

 I have seen a lot of restaurants fail in my time because their food was inconsistent; and even though The Cheesecake Factory Perimeter Location is part of a chain they need to get with it. If they can make one dish delicious they should be able to make everything that way.



Snickers® Bar Chunks and Cheesecake

Snickers Bar Baked right into Our Creamy Cheesecake and Topped with Fudge and Caramel.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Last Unicorn - Spaghetti Night


People always ask me what my favorite food is and for some that question is really hard but for me it isn't. As simple as it may seem, my favorite food has always been Spaghetti with Meat Sauce. If there was only one meal I could eat for the rest of my life that would be it. 





When I was a kid, my mom or dad would ask my what I wanted to eat and 9 times out of 10, I would respond Spaghetti with Meat Sauce. When my parents would refuse to make it because they wanted me to select something else, I would resort to begging, then pouting and then maybe up the ante with some crying. I was the same way about watching my favorite movie which, when I was a kid, was The Last Unicorn. 

Sidenote: I watched this recently as an adult and it's pretty tripped out. I can't believe I used to watch it as a kid. 







One day my mom came up with a solution. On Fridays me and brother could stay up and watch a movie  (which pretty much was always The Last Unicorn) but we had to alternate what we ate. One Friday my brother got to choose and the next week I would get to choose. My brother always picked Pizza and I always picked Spaghetti. 

As time progressed with this new system, my brother and I began to barter for Friday Selection Night. I would play with him and his Ninja Turtles and he would let me choose on his Friday. He would play Barbies with me and I would let him choose on my Friday. I know kind of a weird trade off but we wouldn't have changed it for the world. 

So in honor of this wonderful food memory I decided to re-create Friday Selection Night in my own house with a Grown and Sexy Twist. So, I invited some of my friends over to watch The Last Unicorn and enjoy Spaghetti Night. It was a huge hit and a lot of fun. 





{Orange Cilantro Compound Butter on Top Of Baguette 
with Baby Mozzarella marinated in Olive Oil and Balsamic}


{Spaghetti with Meat Sauce - Just How I Like It}








Orange-Cilantro Compound Butter Recipe (adapted from chow.com)






INGREDIENTS
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh Cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Place butter in a mixing bowl and use a rubber spatula to soften until it is very spreadable. Add remaining ingredients, and mix until thoroughly combined.
  2. Place compound butter on a sheet of plastic wrap. Shape into a log, and twist the ends to seal. Place butter in the refrigerator to harden, at least 30 minutes.







The Last Unicorn - Spaghetti With Meat Sauce (adapted from food.com)






  • 2 lbs. of Ground Sirloin





  • small onion, chopped (optional)
  • 3 -4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • cups water (for a long period of simmering for flavors to meld. If you don't want to simmer it as long, add less)
  • teaspoons basil
  • teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons  sugar
  • teaspoon salt
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh coarse ground black pepper
  • lb thin spaghetti
  • parmesan cheese

Directions:






  1. 1In large, heavy stockpot, brown ground Sirloin, breaking up as you stir.
  2. 2Add onions and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until onions are softened.
  3. 3Add garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce and water.
  4. 4Add basil, parsley, sugar, salt, crushed red pepper, and black pepper.
  5. 5Stir well and barely bring to a boil.
  6. 6
      
    Simmer on low, stirring frequently for at least an hour. A longer simmer makes for a better sauce, just be careful not to let it burn!
  7. 7      Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
  8.  8     Spoon sauce over drained spaghetti noodles. Sprinkle            Parmesan Cheese and Enjoy.           

Copeland's - Atlantic Station - Atlanta, GA

Copeland’s Cheesecake Bistro located in Atlantic Station is a nice alternative with a menu that is sure to please everyone’s appetite.

I started off with an icy cold glass of pink lemonade (which comes with free refills), and their Bistro Salad with a Spicy Thousand Island dressing. 


{Salad With Thousand Island Dressing}


For my entrée I ordered the most unique dish I’ve ever seen, the Crawfish Ravioli. Fried Ravioli. That’s right fried! It was filled with ricotta cheese in a delicious, slightly spicy, cream sauce topped with tender crawfish.  It was both different and delicious. 





{Crawfish Ravioli}



{Crawfish Ravioli}


{Seafood Sampler with Fried Onions Strings and Mashed Potatoes}

My Dad ordered the Seafood Sampler with Catfish and extra Shrimp since he doesn’t like fried oysters. He also substituted French fries for Garlic Mashed potatoes. The platter came with spicy, horseradish ketchup, which was perfect for dipping the shrimp and a Tartar Sauce that was to die for. The Seafood Sampler was topped with onion strings and surrounded by Garlic bread and for $22.99 it was a steal. You will definitely have leftovers.



{Dessert Case}


**Now keep in mind there normally is a wait, especially for larger parties, so my advice would be to send someone in to put your names down in advance. Once they put you on the list they give you a buzzer that will go off once it’s time for your reservation. **

Overall we had a very pleasant experience; the wait staff was attentive and helpful. The food was tasty and had great value.  Copeland’s is a great place to take a date or the kids. But I want to hear what you think about it. So let me know. Have you been there before? What did you try?


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