Sunday, March 31, 2013

Twitter, Second Blog

Surprise! I'm on Twitter. When Twitter first rolled out, I was reluctant to get on the bandwagon because, really, what's worth saying in 140 characters? However, I've found that I can provide real-time snapshots of what I'm doing or making, which is very appealing. Also convenient. As a plus (!), I try to provide different material across the social media spectra. [Try is the operative word here.] Sometimes there is overlap, but at least you're getting it NOW instead of ... er, one week later... or more. 0:oD

Also, I am quite passionate about personal finance, so I've started a blog about that topic. Personal finance encompasses money, yes, but primarily what you do with it. I wouldn't call it an advice column, it's more like a commentary on what's going on today. Like food blogs, there are several variations of personal finance blogs out there. I don't aspire to be the next Suze Orman, Dave Ramsey, or (for you locals) Clark Howard. But I do want to share with you the articles that I read and the topics I'm interested in - aside from food.

Hope you enjoy.

Twitter handle:
@serinarinas

Personal finance blog:
http://serinarina.wordpress.com/

Everything Bagel Vinaigrette

I had the good fortune to meet Richard Blais and get a copy of his cookbook signed! I'm going to start with the small (easy) stuff and work my way up to large (difficult) dishes. The Everything Bagel Vinaigrette immediately stood out to me because (1) I love vinaigrettes and (2) the ingredients sounded awesome. I always have a vinaigrette with salad, so why not start with this?





Makes about 1/2 cup
Ingredients:
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp sherry vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp poppy seeds
1/2 tsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp dried onion flakes (I omitted this.)
1/2 tsp chopped fresh oregano or 1/4 tsp dried
1/4 tsp garlic flakes
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
1. In a medium bowl, whisk the red wine and sherry vinegars, Dijon, poppy and sesame seeds, onion flakes, oregano, and garlic until well combined.

2. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until emulsified and thickened. Season with salt and pepper and whisk again.

3. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

I did keep the vinaigrette in the fridge and the ingredients thickened into a more solid state, so I have not kept the dressing refrigerated since then. I think it's fine... really. >.>

Richard Blais cookbook, Try This At Home

Friday, March 29, 2013

Roasted Chicken

I met up with some friends at H-Mart and we all decided to share a shopping cart. Despite having grown up in the South, in my book, it's a cart, not a buggy. Out of a habit of making chicken soups, I picked up chicken, celery, and carrots. (I already had potatoes at home.) Because I didn't want to make another chicken soup, I browsed the Internet for another kind of chicken recipe. I stumbled upon an easy roasted chicken one that I thought would turn out well. Umm... Let's just say that my first attempts at following recipes are always fraught with peril. And mistakes.

Unlike previous posts, I'm not going to list the ingredients and directions. You can find the link to the recipe at the bottom. I can tell you from this experience I'm pretty sure I didn't place the veggies close enough to the coils in the oven. That's what did me in. Did I have patience to keep the dish in the oven longer? Nope! The veggies weren't cooked enough and the chicken was cooked but dry. Maybe next time...




 

 


Recipe: http://www.workitmom.com/bloggers/orderingdisorder/2008/01/24/roasted-potatoes-carrots-and-chicken-breasts/

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Second Chances

This Mint.com blog is apropos since restaurants are technically businesses. :oP Most of my restaurant outings have been all right; it's rare for me to have an "OMG" moment where I must go there again. It's also easy for me to write-off the few places that I absolutely don't want to return to like Uncle Julio's (Sandy Springs). For practicality's sake, there are always places popping up and closing down in Atlanta that it's hard to keep track of that activity. Sometimes there's no time for second (restaurant) chances!

That being said, if there's a place that I've blogged about that you think I should try again for another menu item (or the same), please let me know. I only have one set of eyes and ears, you know, so I could use some help! ;o)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Cream Biscuits


I had leftover heavy whipping cream that I wanted to use in a recipe but I didn't know what to make aside from soup. -__-" Thanks to Google, I found a quick biscuit recipe that used up the rest of the cream! I used an egg round to make the awesome shape - it felt like a cookie cutter.



Sifted looks prettier than plain. 


Middle "round" was the excess that I fashioned into an almost-biscuit shape. 

Parchment paper is one of a baker's best friends. 




Ingredients:

3 Tblspn melted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 Tblspn baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tblspn sugar (optional) [I left this out of the mix.]
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt butter in a small pot or microwave dish, and set aside.

2. Sift two cups flour, the baking powder, salt and (if using) sugar into a large bowl. Fold in 1 1/4 cups cream. If the dough is not soft or easily handled, fold in the remaining 1/4 cup cream, little by little. Turn the dough onto a floured surface, mound it into a ball and, using your hands, press it to a thickness of about 3/4 inch.

3. Cut into rounds, 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Gather dough scraps and continue to make rounds. Dip the top of each round in melted butter and arrange on baking sheet. Bake until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately, or flash freeze for future use. [Biscuits can be baked straight from the freezer, and additional few minutes baking time will be needed, usually around 3 to 5 minutes.]

[I did not dip the top of each round in butter. Instead, I placed the rounds on the parchment paper and brushed each round with the melted butter. That made more sense to me than the given instructions though, in the end, it gave me one more item to wash.]

I rolled the dough on the thin side, so the bake time was approximately correct. For thicker rounds, I suggest baking at least 5-10 minutes longer to ensure the whole biscuit is done.

Recipe: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2009/12/cream-biscuits/

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Foodie Pen Pal

I found about Foodie Pen Pal from a friend of mine, who discovered it through an Atlanta Journal Constitution article. The concept is simple: Create a food care package to send to someone (max: $15) and you'll receive one, too. It has a "pay it forward" feel to it, no? The person you're sending a package to will not be the same person who will mail a package to you. Confused?

Person A sends a package to Person B
Person B sends a package to Person C and so on...

It's like a chain of packages! ^_^

Versus

Person A sends a package to Person B
Person B sends a package to Person A

Well, that's fun too but not nearly so!

The deadline to sign up is April 4 by 9 pm EST. I already signed up! When I get the list of preferred food items, I'll write another post about what I'm going to send. And, of course, I will talk about what kind of package I receive. I'm a huge fan of receiving snail mail (non-bills, natch), so I'm looking forward to a different type of food adventure!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

An Ode to Food Blogs

Happy Pi Day! Instead of writing about my food adventures (this time), I thought I'd promote my friends' food blogs. It'd be interesting to provide 3.14 blogs to you but I'll stick to a round number instead. ;o) I know one friend who has graciously led some readers to my site, so I'm paying it forward... and, um, back. ^_^

Imaginary Beginner Chef
Currently based out of Boston, Lindsay throws together meals without measuring cups or recipes. She imagines these meals - almost daydreams, really - and then actively brings them to life. I wish we lived closer if only to be a guinea pig for her creations. She's stepped away from the blog for a while but plans to pick it up again soon. Feel free to peruse the mouth-watering posts from days past!

My Pig Me Up
Tram created this blog out of her passion for pork products. There's also a MeetUp group and Facebook fan page. This blog is not solely dedicated to food, either. You'll find various pig articles, comic strips, memes, videos, and the like in her posts. It's a veritable pork platter of information!

No Time for Pie
Run by three ladies, I heard about this blog from Aly - a friend, former classmate, and 1/3 contributor. Topics range from baking to upcycling, so it's more of an "everything but the kitchen sink" type of blog instead of a food-specific one. Still, it's highly entertaining and maybe you'll learn something about life in the process. ;o)

One Happy Vegetarian
Marisa switched to vegetarianism a while ago and started a blog to share her kitchen experiments. It's hard eating out as a vegetarian (Sweet Tomatoes, anyone?), so it only makes sense to make food at home. Cooking at home has many benefits, including knowing the ingredients that go into your meals and keeping food costs down (though goods have increased in price, it's still more economical to shop for groceries than to eat out). Like Lindsay, Marisa has stepped away from the blog for a bit but plans on picking it up again.

If there are other food blogs you'd like me to be aware of, please leave a comment. Thanks!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Richard Blais @ B&N GT




Need I say more? I subscribe to Richard Blais on Twitter (@RichardBlais), so I'm happy to say I heard about this book signing from one of his tweets! I happened to be catching up on tweets (I'm @serinarinas, btw) the night before the book signing. So glad I was able to make it!

It was a rainy day, so I took Marta to the bookstore. First, I stopped at Midtown station and walked to the GT Publix to grab a bite to eat. Then I walked from Publix to the GT Bookstore. It's not a bad walk... unless it's pouring. I was glad I brought sneakers! Much better footwear option than flats. O_o

I went into the bookstore and immediately purchased 3 of his cookbooks - one for me and two for friends. The discussion and book signing was upstairs, so I took the escalator up. There were already a few people there, sitting in the second row. (The first row was reserved.) I took a seat in the third row and saved a set for a friend who was coming later. The book signing was at 7 pm; I had arrived there at 5:45 pm. Yep... I had a lot of time to kill. Fortunately, I bought his cookbook! I spent a good chunk of time reading through the text and skimming each page for recipes. The book starts out with simple items like aiolis and butters and then moves to heftier food items like entrees. I glanced at the ingredients and each recipe seemed to have a handful of ingredients to them, which was nice. Though Blais is known for out-of-the-box creations, I'm happy to report that his recipes seem do-able for the average person. :o)

He arrived around 7 pm and spoke for about 30-45 minutes before the Q&A portion. I can't recall any really good questions but one of the first ones had to do with the balance between nutrition and time. It was a legitimate question! I recorded it, so hopefully I'll remember to edit this post to include it. He invited everyone in the audience to The Spence (@TheSpenceATL) afterwards; I didn't take up that offer, so I'm not sure if anyone else did.

After the Q&A was the book signing. I ended up near the end of the line. When I finally got to him, he mentioned someone else had bought 6 books! Craziness. I got a picture with him (obviously); he's a really down-to-earth guy. He showed up in jeans and a hoodie, for goodness' sake! He mentioned in the cookbook that he wants to do a fish-and-chips concept soon - I CAN'T WAIT!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Chicken Corn Soup








I found a recipe that was for chicken corn chowder, and I improvised A LOT of the recipe to get what's pictured.

Ingredients:
1 chicken carcass [Substituted 2.5 lb bone-in chicken breast.]
1 bay leaf
2 Tblsp butter
1 onion, diced
3 shallots, diced [omitted entirely from recipe]
2 cubes chicken bouillon, crumbled [Substituted at least 4 cups of chicken broth. I eyeballed this.]
2 Tblspn dried parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
2 Tblspn heavy cream [Substituted heavy whipping cream - my mistake.]
1 carrot, chopped [my addition]

Directions:

1. Place chicken carcass (and any leftover skin, meat, and other bones) in a large pot and cover with cold water. Add bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 60 to 90 minutes. Remove from heat, cool slightly, and strain. Remove chicken meat from carcass and chop into bite-size pieces.

2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Cook onion and shallots in butter until translucent. Pour in strained broth and chicken meat and stir in bouillon, parsley, salt, pepper, potatoes, and corn. Simmer 15 minutes until potatoes are cooked and corn is tender. Remove from heat and stir in cream.

My directions:


1. Boil chicken breasts in a pot for 20-30 minutes until cooked through. You may have to skim the top of the pot to remove fat and oils. Once cooked, drain and add cold water to bring down chicken temperature. Using latex gloves, remove and trash skin and peel meat from bones, tearing into bite-size pieces. Set aside.

2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine chicken broth, potatoes, carrot, corn, parsley, bay leaf and salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes. In a separate saucepan/pot, melt butter. Cook onion in butter until translucent.

3. Combine peeled chicken and translucent onions into broth mixture. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, then remove from heat. Add whipping cream.

^ I messed up somewhere with the broth mixture - I don't think I let it cook long enough. You are free to test different cooking times in your own cooking adventure! Further, I didn't add in the cream when I should have, so I had trouble getting a chowder-y consistency. I'm not 100% sure I used the right type of cream at that. I tried cornstarch; I tried eggs. I definitely messed something up there. :o\ It came out like a soup instead of a chowder. It still tasted good... but it wasn't what I wanted. You live, you learn.


Recipe: Http://m.allrecipes.com/recipe/26378/chicken-corn-chowder

Cheesecake Factory

Fried Avocado and Zucchini (there was one more thing - maybe mushrooms)

Renee's Special - One-half of a Fresh Turkey or Chicken Salad Sandwich (Chicken!), a cup of soup (Chicken Artichoke), and a small green salad

Cheesecake was a late lunch for my sister and I. Initially, I wasn't going to order anything but the food smells lured me. I couldn't believe how many people were eating there on a Saturday afternoon. Unbelievable! I need to get out of my non-chain-restaurant-bubble more, I guess.

My sister ordered an appetizer, which we split, and a pasta dish. The appetizer, though fried, was delicious. The two aiolis (ahem, sauces) made it taste better. O_o So bad.. but so good. I opted for Renee's Special, which was phenomenal. You get soup, salad, and a sandwich for one price. Since I was meeting up with a group of friends soon for dinner, I only ate the appetizer and soup. The chicken artichoke soup was really good. I was pleasantly surprised; it was almost like a chowder! (You know how much I love chowders.) There was chicken, artichoke, red bell pepper, corn, potato, ... so many ingredients that I want to make my own version soon.

I found a similar recipe for it online: http://mrsmonaghan.blogspot.com/2011/03/cheesecake-factory-recipes.html. I'm adding this to the queue of recipes I intend on making at home. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Tap, Krog Bar

Black Bean Burger (100% vegetarian) - Gruyere cheese, avocado mayo, pickled radish, lettuce leaf, sprouts, sesame bun with mixed greens


I went to Tap for a friend's going-away party. She's lived in Atlanta for about seven years and recently decided to return home to Houston, TX, to be closer to family. We're all going to miss her!

I don't know if the Black Bean Burger is what I would recommend at Tap because there are several (and possibly better) alternatives available. But, my conscience keeps telling me to choose more wisely when I eat out. I opted for this burger with a salad (instead of fries), and I'm glad I did though the patty itself was not holding together very well. I had to finish it with a fork. It was a filling meal, but that didn't stop me from stealing other people's fries and trying some fried pickles someone else had ordered. O_o So... maybe my conscience isn't working full-time!

Instead of the usual coffee shop, we went to Krog Bar [112 Krog St NW #27, Atlanta, GA 30307] afterwards. I'm not much of a drinker, so I nursed a cup of water for the rest of the evening while others partook in wine/beer. It has a sophisticated vibe to it, possibly because of the alcohol offerings. Valet parking is available; I lucked out and found a "visitor" spot. There's indoor and outdoor seating available, with heat lamps for chilly days and nights. It's a small venue. I know Chef Kevin Rathbun has his hands all over the food menu, so I'll have to go back one day for a meal. For now, it was nice to check out something new.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Shout


Top to bottom: Spicy Tuna Roll, Crunchee Roll, Crispy Kani Roll, Fresh Salmon and Avocado Roll

Top: Spicy Chicken Roll
Bottom: Tempura Fresh Salmon Roll

Shout has a lunch deal during the work week - $10 unlimited sushi. There's a room specifically devoted to this deal, which is accessible through the Colony Square doors between Shout and Chick-fil-A. I'd known about this deal for quite some time, so I happily suggested it when a friend wanted to meet up with me for lunch. I'm not sure if the rolls rotate at any time, but we liked the Crispy Kani and Crunchee Rolls the best. The worst rolls for us were the Spicy Chicken (why would you want chicken as sushi?) and the Tempura Fresh Salmon (the sweet chili sauce was a major turn-off). In addition to the rolls, you get a bowl of miso soup and ginger salad. This is one of the best lunchtime deals midtown has to offer, in my opinion. Typically, you can spend upwards of $15 to $20 on lunch in the area. [Even a Chick-fil-A meal costs $10 now, which is ridiculous, fyi. I love Chick-fil-A but I'll only eat there with a coupon. And don't get me started on those calorie-fattening milkshakes!]

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Corn Casserole





If it seems random that I would make corn casserole, it kind of is. I can't remember what inspired me to make this but it turned out all right! I enlisted my youngest brother to help mix everything together and pour into a baking dish. I think I would let it bake a little longer next time. My sister remarked that the consistency is similar to mashed potatoes. -____-" Her version of mashed potatoes includes cheese and corn kernels, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised. 

Ingredients:

2 whole eggs, whisked
1 cup sour cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cans 15 oz. sweet whole kernel corn, undrained
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow corn meal
3 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp extra salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1.Mix the wet ingredients and the dry ingredients in separate bowls, and then combine them. Add fresh cracked pepper and more salt to taste.

2. Pour into a greased baking dish. Top with small dabs of butter (about 2-3 Tbsp). [I neglected to add the dabs of butter on top, fyi.]

3. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 50-55 minutes, or until golden brown and set in the middle. (Give it a shake - it shouldn't jiggle too much in the middle when it's ready.)

Recipe: http://tastykitchen.com/recipes/sidedishes/corn-casserole-from-scratch/