Squeaky Peanut

"Dot takes on the Domestic Diva"

Keats and Kidney Beans September 15, 2010

Filed under: Recipe Review — squeakypeanut @ 11:06 PM
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Meal No. 36:  Tender Shredded Pork; Mexican Corn Cakes; Red Beans with Cheese; Tequila-Soaked Lemon Sorbet  (From Martha Stewart’s Dinner at Home)

I was looking forward to this one, as I love Mexican/Tex-Mex food, and the photos led me to believe that lovely delights awaited me.

Pork:

Sigh.

A tenderloin was poached in chicken broth with an onion, a  jalapeno, a half bunch of cilantro, cumin, and a bay leaf. Sounds like it has potential, right? No, it was boring, just like all the other pork we have made. Even after the meat was shredded, then tossed with olive oil, butter (weird), and another onion and broiled until the edges were crispy, it had little flavor. I tried putting some unauthorized garlic powder on it before popping it in the oven, and yet, it evoked nothing but desolation and melancholy.  In fact, Keats once wrote an Ode to Melancholy Pork:

Veil’d Melancholy Pork has her sovran shrine,
       Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
   Can burst Joy’s grape against his palate fine;
His soul shalt taste the sadness of her might,
       And be among her cloudy trophies hung

  (more…)

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Pugilistic Soup, Wine Jello, & Some Other Food September 3, 2010

Filed under: Recipe Review — squeakypeanut @ 10:18 PM
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Menu No. 34: Blender Gazpacho; Grilled Steak and Blue (sic) Cheese Potatoes; Spinach and Grilled Corn Salad; Blackberry -Red Wine Gelatin

In which my tongue was assaulted and not in friendly ways….

Gazpacho:

I don’t like gazpacho. It’s usually like eating liquefied salsa without the fun of the tortilla chips.  I thought I was the only one, but several fellow gazpacho-haters have come out of the closet to me when I mentioned having to make this. I didn’t have high hopes, and I am not sure why I didn’t just make a half batch or quarter batch, even. This recipe made a bucketful. 

The recipes calls for pureeing garlic, red wine vinegar, water, day old bread, roasted red peppers, tomatoes and half an English cucumber with a bit of oil. While it didn’t taste like salsa, it wasn’t good. The first day I tried it, it tasted odd–one bite would be tomato-y, the next would taste like bread. By the second day, the red pepper taste took over and it was so acidic it burnt my tongue!  Yeouch. 

Salad:

Super simple: baby spinach, grilled corn, red onion, and a dressing of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. What, no Dijon mustard? Unthinkable!

Lucky for me, I didn’t even have to grill the corn. Earlier in the summer I was a bit of a corn hoarder. One day, my giant pile of corn fell over and I was missing for a week.

For real,  I did somehow end up with 17 ears at one point, so I grilled them all up and then cut the kernels all off and froze them. So that is what I used for the salad, which turned out well. The flavors really paired nicely with the steak and bleu cheese.

Steak:

The cookbook says to marinate skirt steak in Worcestesrhire sauce, garlic, rosemary, and olive oil for 15 minutes or overnight. I marinated ours for about 12 hours, then grilled it. Our grass-fed skirt steak was super thin on one end, and nearly an inch thick on the other.

The first piece I tried was from the thin end and I hated it! Hated. It. All I could taste was the Worcestershire sauce, which might as well have been A-1. As you might remember, my people don’t believe it mucking with a nice piece of meat. The Husband, on the other hand, thought it tasted good. (He has no cattle rancher relations, so his naivete is forgivable.)  The thicker pieces of meat were less atrocious, as the sauce marinade hadn’t totally overtaken the beef flavor. I still would never do that to the meat again.

Potatoes:

I boiled some red skin potatoes until they were tender (which, by the way, took twice as long as Martha says it should), cut them in half, brushed them with olive oil and tossed them on the grill for a few minutes. After they had some nice grill marks we spread them with blue cheese. By the way, is anyone else irked that everyone seems to be spelling it “blue” nowadays, including Ms. Stewart?! Hate. 

 I thought these were tasty, but The Husband thought the cheese overpowered the rest of the meal, while the potatoes themselves were bland.  The bleu I got did have a lot of POW.

Gelatin:

Finally, some more booze desserts! This concoction is devised of unsweetened apple juice, water, unflavored gelatin, a full-bodied red wine, sugar, and a pint of blackberries.

Guess what? The Husband actually made this several years ago, when I saw it in MS Living magazine! It was sooo boozey that I couldn’t eat it. The Husband, however, really liked it. Needless to say, I excused myself from making it again.

OVERALL:

Did you notice that this meal involved five dishes? I could have done without the soup, for sure. And the gelatin. If she had  not marinated the meat, and paired it all with a nice peach cobbler* it would have been so much better.

*I made one the other day I may post about.

SOUP:    F   It was weird and burnt my tongue with its acid, but was it as bad as the raddichio horror of last winter? The flavor was not as bad as the salad, but it caused me bodily harm. It’s a toss up as to which is worse.

STEAK:   B-   We were split vastly on this one– Mr. SP gave it an A, and I thought the thin, over-marinated parts were horrible, but not as offensive as the star anise beef recipe of winter.

POTATOES:  B

SALAD:  A

GELATIN OF MEMORIES:    C

 

Amour Wine Bistro September 1, 2010

Filed under: Restaurants — squeakypeanut @ 8:47 AM
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This post is to alert the locals about this new-ish place in Carytown.

The Husband decided that he wanted to celebrate the end of his birthday month (yes, month) last night by going out for a drink after work. We popped into Secco for a glass of wine, then moseyed down the street, on the way to our next stop. On the way, we stopped to look at the menu for Amour Wine Bistro, and the waiter came out to tell us how they do things.

The owner, a native of France (the Alsace region, to be specific), picks a region of France each month and features wines from that area. Starting yesterday, it’s the Loire region, Mr. Squeaky Peanut’s favorite. The wine list offers half and full pours, and tasting flights ranging from $10 to $39. We were sold as soon as we saw that, and practically knocked the waiter over trying to run into the bar.

The restaurant also features an ingredient each week, with all the dishes built around it. This week it’s broccoli, so there was a broccoli salad, soup, sides, etc.  If you want dinner with table service, the only option is the prix fixe, which includes three courses (a choice of two for each, plus a cheese course supplement option) and three glasses of wine for $39. If, however, you sit at the bar, as we did, you can order some of the dinner offerings, plus a couple of appetizers, individually.

We were the only ones there when we arrived, so we had a lovely chat with the owner, who regaled us with stories of 200 year old Riesling, among other things. I had to try the grilled smoked trout with orzo and broccoli, which I paired with a Pascal Jolivet pouilly fumé. The Husband got the pissadaliere, and a glass of Pastis. When the owner heard he liked Pastis and Pernod, he said he knew they would be good friends.

The house-smoked trout was amazing! It had a nice smokey flavor but wasn’t salty and it was perfectly cooked. The dish is priced at $12, which I think is more than fair for the size of the fillet. It came with some steamed vegetables, and orzo with broccoli. The Husband enjoyed his pissadaliere, too.

We calculated that there are enough wines on the list to try one a day through the month of September. If you need to find us you know where we’ll be!