Archive | April, 2009

Rack of Lamb and Creamed Spinach Gratin

29 Apr

A lovely sale at Fresh Direct on Frenched Australian Rack of Lamb inspired Mike and I to cook another thing we had never cooked before.  I searched for recipes and found one that sounded tasty.  Mike suggested we make a creamed spinach, and I found one that sounded a little fancy and delicious. 

The meal turned out ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC.  One of the best in our cooking history if I do say so myself.

The leftover spinach made for a FABULOUS brunch the next day when paired with an omelet and bacon.  The whole meal was easy every step along the way.


Rack of Lamb for Two

2 tablespoons coarsely ground cornmeal1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves1 clove garlic, minced1/2 teaspoon coarse (kosher) saltFreshly ground black pepper, to taste1 rack of lamb for two (8 or 9 chops), cut in half1 to 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1.Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2.Combine the cornmeal, rosemary, garlic, coarse salt, and pepper in a small bowl, and mix well.
3.Lightly brush the fat side of the racks with the mustard. Then coat the mustard with the cornmeal mixture.
4.Arrange the racks on a baking sheet, and cook 25 minutes for medium-rare. Slice the chops apart and serve immediately.

Creamed Spinach Gratin

From “Real Simple Magazine” Hands-on time: 25 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

Serves 6 to 8

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the dish1 clove garlic, halved5 shallots, thinly sliced crosswise 5 10-ounce boxes frozen spinach, thawed (it’s a whole lotta spinach, be prepared)8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature 1 cup heavy cream 1 cup whole milk1 cup grated Gruyère or Swiss cheese 1 teaspoon kosher salt1/2 teaspoon black pepper 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Heat oven to 375°F. Rub the sides and bottom of a buttered 8-inch baking dish with the garlic; discard garlic. In a skillet, over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the shallots and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat; set aside. Squeeze the spinach to remove any excess liquid. In a large bowl, combine the spinach, cream cheese, heavy cream, milk, Gruyère or Swiss cheese, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and shallots. Transfer to dish. Bake, uncovered, until bubbling and lightly golden, about 25 minutes.
Tip: To make the gratin ahead of time, assemble it but do not bake it. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Heat as directed, allowing an extra 30 minutes of baking time.
CALORIES 362(76% from fat); FAT 31g (sat 19g); PROTEIN 15mg; CHOLESTEROL 97mg; SODIUM 425mg; FIBER 6g; CARBOHYDRATE 12g

Cooking class at ICE

29 Apr

For our anniversary, I gave Mike a gift certificate to The Institute of Culinary Education (AKA ICE) since we have been enjoying cooking together so much. He was nice enough to take me with him to learn how to make “Great New York Restaurants’ Signature Dishes.”

From ICE’s website: “Thanks to Chef-Instructor Loren Banco, enjoying your favorite dishes from some of New York’s best restaurants is only a class away. You will learn the following signature dishes and desserts: from Balthazar, Salad Balthazar; from Babbo, Mint Love Letters; from Craft, Hanger Steak with Bordelaise Sauce; from Le Bernardin, Roast Monkfish on Savoy Cabbage and Bacon-Butter Sauce; and from Gotham Bar and Grill, Warm Chocolate Cake.”

Mike and I had a great time making the recipes, and we specifically focused on making the filling for the raviolis (“Mint Love Letters”) and the fish.  Everything was delicious and I learned quite a bit.

The teacher was a bit… militant, however.  He stressed everyone out by yelling at them for odd things (like keeping a single piece of fish in a pan for the moment in between transferring in a new one).  I wanted him to teach us more about techniques that I can use every day and less about “well this ingredient is impossible to find for regular people so you can try to substitute xyz but it won’t be the same.” 

We also met some fun people there and overall it was really fun.

Unfortunately my camera battery was dying (and I seem to have misplaced the charger, which is the reason I haven’t been posting as I have no pictures), however, I managed to get a shot of the steak (the sauce was incredible) and the fish (bar blanc sauce is amazing) right before the camera fully died.

NYCNomNom goes to Disney World

12 Apr

I spent 5 days and 4 nights nomming my way around Disney World. We spent 3 days in the parks themselves, and the most enjoyable nomming experience, by far, was eating and drinking our way “around the world” in Epcot. Overall, however, we had great dining experiences just about everywhere we went.

Even on Friday, when we took a side trip to Outback Steakhouse, we thoroughly enjoyed our meal. I can’t help but love that place, even if it is a national chain. The sweet potato is always a highlight of any Outback meal.

Earlier in the day, we landed and went to Downtown Disney, where we decided to stick to our foodie-ish enjoyments and went to Wolfgang Puck Express. We had two of the pockets and the parmesan chips were definitely the best part of the meal.

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That night we barely caught the fireworks at Magic Kingdom from outside the gate, and then took a walk to the Contemporary Hotel for a drink, dessert, and to take in the view of the entire park all lit up. Our waitress didn’t want to be bothered, and the dessert looked a whole lot better than it tasted, but the drinks hit the spot.

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On Saturday, we went to Epcot for the entire day. Spending 13 hours in the park made for a great day. For lunch, we went to England and had some fish and chips while sitting on a bench overlooking the water. We then completed the front part of Epcot and began our tour around the world. We enjoyed some child acrobats in China before picking up some Margaritas in Mexico. They were good, but not nearly as good as the beer in Germany. Unfortunately, it was just called “German Beer,” so we may never know what exactly it was. We enjoyed a few other entertaining countries and had a tough time deciding where to go for dinner. The Japanese restaurants smelled amazing, but living in NYC gives us a lot of exposure to Japanese, so we decided to go with the Restaurant Marrakash, especially due to the live music and belly dancing. We were absolutely not dissapointed. We both went with the Taste of Morocco: Royal Feast which featured Harira Soup, Beef Brewat Rolls, Roast Lamb Meshoui, Lemon Chicken, Couscous with seven veggies and assorted Moroccan pastries. Every single morsel on the plate was rich in flavor and tasted unique. You could tell someone put a lot of effort into the recipes and preparation. And it was certainly not wasted on us! I ate so much that I felt sick, but it was absolutely worth it. We also had a great bottle of Moroccan wine called Amazigh.

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On Sunday, we spent the day in the Magic Kingdom. We left at lunch to go to the Polynesian Hotel for The Kona Cafe. Some people at the table had the sticky wings, which we heard were great (but I avoided due to the peppers). I had the Beef Teriyaki Bowl which was VERY good. Overall I think everyone really enjoyed their meal. We were still pretty full for dinner time, so instead of a real meal, we went with a good dessert as the park was closing. Mike had a cherry cheesecake and I went with the cinnamon buns that smells amazing (a la mode).

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The next day we went to Animal Kingdom in the morning. We had lunch at Flame Tree BBQ, which came highly recommended. It was easy to see why! While the prices were a little high, there was a LOT of food. We had the BBQ Ribs and a pulled pork sandwich. It was REALLY tasty. You can also eat on the water with some friendly ducks, which added to the ambience.

That evening, we went to Hollywood Studios and managed to snag last minute reservations to one of the places I remembered loving when I first went to Disney World (about 13 years ago). The Primetime Cafe is a restaurant set up to look like a family kitchen in the 1950s. Even the waitresses call themselves “mom” or “aunt” and yell at you to keep your elbows off the table. We had great (glowing) drinks and then sat down for some good old fashion food: Steak and potatoes/spinah au gratic as well as (my favorite) meat loaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans. While I enjoyed it very much, I had some green beans left on my plate when we were ordering dessert (which you decide on by using a Viewmaster). Turns out, my waitress/mom didn’t like that I didn’t finish my beans, so she fed them to me. It was quite a laugh. I also got the dessert I remember loving all those years ago, smores. They were delish! Mike also managed to spike his coke float with rum and then ate an old fashioned ice cream sundae. The whole meal was absolutely delish!

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Our last day in Disney we decided to take advantage of the rule that there are no calories while on vacation and went to the Ghiradelli Cafe in Downtown Disney for a desserty lunch. I had a brownie butter pecan sundae and Mike had a banana split. It was probably one of the best sundaes I have ever had. Totally worth it.

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Overall, I give Disney World 8 out of 10 Nom Points