Monday, November 22, 2010

Mama's Comin'...

and I can't bake.


She does have a taste for ice cream, though.

What if I combined Punk'n Pie with ice cream...



Punk'n Pie Ice Cream

2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 15 oz can pumpkin
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 Tbl maple syrup

Combine ingredients in a bowl and mix reeeeeeaallly well.  I recommend using a food processor or an immersion blender.  Pour mixture into ice cream maker and mix that goodness up for 25 minutes (or according to the manufacturers instructions).  Spoon into a separate container and freeze for at least 30 minutes.

Serve with ginger snaps.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Aneeda Baker

I am very susceptible to suggestion.

Once I see something, I have a tendency to glom onto it and not let go until I have either obtained, mastered, or exhausted it.  For two solid weeks I have been whipping my hair back and forth thanks to Willow Smith.  When I saw Iron Man, I flew around the hallways at school "shooting" students with imaginary blasters.

And anything Ina Garten makes, I must make as soon as possible.

I can roast a chicken with the volume turned up.  I can whip up a fabulous pavlova.  I can even make an elegantly simple floral arrangement grouping like colored flowers of varying sizes suitable for the entire gay population of the Hamptons.

But for some reason, I cannot bake.

I have tried to make Ina's friggin Gingerbread Cupcakes with Orange Frosting, and each time they turned out like delicious little undigestible hockey pucks guaranteed to stove you up for at least a three days.   I have used the paddle attachment as the Ina has instructed.  I have used an electric mixer. I have even mixed the entire concoction by hand to ensure I don't over mix the damn things.  And still, tiny little ginger scented doorstops.
Gastroterrorism in cupcake form.

I have decided that the improviser in me refuses to bow to the rigid constraints of the baker's regime and have abandoned all hope of ever winning the dessert round on Chopped.

If you have any tips on how to make these things edible, I would love to hear 'em.

Please note that I would never besmirch the name of Ina Garten and take full responsibility for my failure.  I am not worthy.

But I would love to live in her barn.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Back to life


Earlier I stated that in my "other life" I am a high school theatre teacher.  Given my two month absence from my haven of cooking on the interweb, it has become painfully clear that my other life has taken over my other, other life.

Tonight, I walked in from work, journals to grade, scenes to evaluate, end of term comments to write, a (gulp) middle school play to cast, and said, "Screw it."

And I decided to cook.

So I made a bee line for my Gourmet Today cookbook to find my fave fall recipe, Chicken with Black Pepper-Maple Sauce (p. 409), and I dove right in to spatchcoking the $#!* out of that chicken.  Shoulders fell as autumn aromas filled my tiny kitchen.  Anxiety left as I roasted potatoes with fresh rosemary, garlic and lemon wedges.  And, spirits lifted as I finally perfected a squash soup recipe (all previous attempts looking like something akin to gravy).

And I remembered that my soul is always brighter when I'm dancing around a soup pot.

Curried Acorn Squash Soup

This soup is a fantastic combo of sweet and savory.  If you've got it, top off each bowl with a bit of black salt. It cuts through the sweetness of the apples and makes it look real purty like.

2 cups onion, chopped
1 carrot
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium acorn squash, peeled and chopped into cubes
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
3 Tbl olive oil
2 Tbl curry powder
1 tsp galangal
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp groung corriander
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup apple cider
salt 'n pepper

In a large stock pot, heat oil and curry powder for about 1 minute.  Add onions, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper, and stir until coated.  Cook for about 5 minutes.  Add carrots,garlic, and remaining spices, and cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Stir in squash and apples, cover, and cook for 5 - 7 minutes, until squash begins to become tender.  Add stock and bring to boil.  Reduce heat, add cider, and simmer for ten minutes.  Off the heat, puree soup with an immersion blender until smooth.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Life with Snow White

Oh my God!  You cook like one of the seven dwarfs!

This is what my Valentine exclaimed as he entered the kitchen.

Naturally, this made me Happy.  Clearly J understands how joyous my time dancing around a soup pot makes me.  However, I quickly felt Dopey when I realized he was talking about the disastrous state in which I had left the kitchen.  I became a little Grumpy for surely he knows that I am never Bashful when I am concocting culinary delights for us.  I may be a little Sneezy from being heavy handed on the pepper.  Maybe I should see a Doc and get my head looked at.


You can whistle while you clean up the kitchen, Snow White, Sleepy's going to bed.

J exclaimed this with a loving smile in his voice.  He has also described me as a crafty whirling dervish who scurries about gathering up everything I see and throws it all up in the air expecting fireworks.  When I get fireworks, it's sublime.  When no fireworks occur, I harrumph and start all over again in hopes of making an even bigger light display...which I think is pretty swell.

Beet and Caramelized Onion Tarts

2 beets
1 yellow onion, sliced
4 Tbl butter
2 Tbl chili oil
3 sprigs rosemary
1 tsp ground sage
1 1/2 cups water
2/3 cup sugar
salt n' pepper
1 sheet puff pastry
Shaved pecorino (or crumbled bleu or goat cheese)

For the onions
In a small sauce pan, heat butter and oil over low heat until butter melts.  Stir in sage and add rosemary sprigs.  Add sliced onions and stir to coat.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Cook over low heat, stirring about every five minutes until onions are nice and caramelized (about 30 minutes).  Remove rosemary stems and discard.

For the beets
In a small sauce pan, bring water, sugar, 1 1/2 Tbl salt, and 1 Tbl freshly ground pepper to a boil.  Wash and peel the beets.  Using a mandolin, slice beets into thin disks.  Add beets to the pot and cook for 3 minutes.  Turn off heat and allow beats to remain in the hot liquid for an additional 2 minutes.  Strain beets and separate them to dry completely.

For the tarts
Preheat oven to 400. Defrost puff pastry according to directions.  On a lightly floured board, cut pastry into four rectangles and roll out into approximately 5" by 4" tarts.  Using a knife, create a 1/2" border around the edge being careful not to  slice all the way through.  Inside the border, prick a gazillion holes with a fork to prevent pastry from rising.  Place on baking sheet

Layer beets into pastry, slightly overlapping.  Each tarts uses about 6 to 8 slices.  Using a spoon, spread a thin layer of the onions on top. Throw those suckers in the oven for about 20 minutes.  Take tarts out of oven and top with your choice of cheese.  Return to oven for an additional five minutes until cheese has melted.  Drizzle with a SMALL amount of balsamic.  Serve with wilted spinach and beet greens or a simple arugula salad.

Monday, September 13, 2010

An EndSummer Night's Panic

Last week, in response to the "official" end of summer that is Labor Day, I went into a full on panic.

I was mourning the loss of free time, a dip in finances, and solemnly lamenting the transformation into "Mr. Duff" and bid "Scott" a fond farewell for the next nine months.

My response:  to cook up a storm.

I made pesto and green goddess dressing.  I made minted grilled eggplant to incorporate into couscous and paprika covered roasted chicken.  There were fennel and caramelized onion turkey burgers, sweet potato fries with curried mayonnaise, and mango and strawberry fro yo with basil.  And J was in Mississippi celebrating his parent's 50th wedding anniversary.

It was nothing less than manic.

When J returned to Memphis, two days later, I had wanted to make something special for him.  His request:  pasta.


Well...I had some ground turkey still on hand, some spinach penne, tomatoes, and the bounty of the past few days in the fridge.

Here is what I made.

Okay, so this is with chicken and not turkey balls,
but it's still tasty.
Spinach Penne with Sauteed Tomatoes and Turkey Meatballs

1 lb spinach penne
1 lb cherry tomatoes
2 Tbl chili oil
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/3 cup pesto
5 oz fresh spinach
Turkey Meatballs (recipe follows)

Get that water boiling for the pasta.  Once it comes to a rolling boil, add a bunch of salt (do you like the exact measurements?) and let that penne cook.  Roughly 13 minutes.  After six minutes, in a large preheated saute pan, throw in the 'maters. Do that fancy chef tossy thing and let those bad lads release their juices.  After four minutes, add garlic.  Cook for an additional two minutes.  Throw in parsley.

Before draining pasta, reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water.  Drain pasta and return to the pot.  Add pesto and tomatoes and toss to coat.  Add spinach and hot pasta water to help wilt.  Spoon into a bowl and top with Turkey Meatballs.

Turkey Meatballs

Taking the time to caramelize onions and fennel not only give the meatballs tremendous flavor but adds the necessary fat to prevent them from drying out.  'Cuz no one likes dry turkey balls.

1 lb ground turkey
1/2 large Vidalia onion, sliced
1/2 funnel bulb, sliced
1/2 stick butter
1 tsp olive oil
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup Parmesan
1/4 cup bread crumbs

In a small sauce pan, heat butter and oil over low heat until butter has melted.  Add onions and fennel and season with salt and pepper.  Cover with a lid to speed up the caramelizing process.  That's right...we're caramelizing these suckers.  Stir occasionally and be patient.  This takes about 30 minutes.  Once they have turned a lovely golden color, transfer mixture to food processor and puree until a smooth consistency.

Preheat oven to 400.  In a large mixing bowl, combine turkey, egg, cheese, bread crumbs, and onion/fennel mixture with your hands, until all ingredients are incorporated.  Using a small ice cream scoop to portion, roll turkey into meatballs and place on parchment lined baking sheets.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Annoyingly Annoyed

I know I have to be the most annoying person in the world right now.

"Why," you may ask?

Because I am filled with the smug, self-satisfaction of not only being visited by Genius who enabled me to figure out which play my students will take to the American High School Theatre Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, but, through my diligent work ethic and proper preparation, I have simultaneously created a brilliant dinner AND lunch for tomorrow.

And my camera...died.

No photos for you.  But use that little movie camera inside your noggin and live the fantasy.


Rosemary and Thyme roasted New Potatoes
Oven Roasted Trout with lemon and dill
Sauteed Spinach


A delightful salad of the Perfect Chicken breast, Minted Grilled Eggplant, peas, and baby spinach soon to be tossed in homemade pesto.

I know.  Even I want to slap myself.

Oven Roasted Trout with Lemon and Dill

1 dressed Rainbow Trout (with head keep it interesting)
1 lemon, sliced into rounds
4-5 sprigs of dill
a healthy drizzle of Chili Oil
a liberal salt 'n peppering

Preheat oven to 400 (perhaps you are roasting potatoes already).  Place trout on baking sheet and oil that bad lad inside and out.  Season the cavity with salt and pepper.  Layer lemon and dill inside cavity.  Add any extra slices on top.  Pop that baby in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.


Saturday, September 4, 2010


I've had a hell of a week.

The beginning of the school year is always filled with challenges:  learning students' names and getting them excited about classes, meeting with parents and discovering their expectations for you and their kids,  getting your brain into "school mode," grading, emailing, fundraising, driving, teaching, smiling, working out, cooking, cleaning, ironing, and casting the fall show...which always gives me heartburn as I crush the dreams of aspiring young actors with the posting of a cast list.

I look forward to Saturday.

It's the one day when I drink coffee out of a coffee cup and not a travel mug.  I get to sleep past 6 a.m. I can sit on my butt and watch cooking shows or that America's Next Top Model marathon.  I can go to the gym.  Or not.  I can take a long walk with the pup.  And I can concoct culinary creations.

But sometimes, it's best to keep it I can take a nap.

Herb Baked Eggs

These eggs are so simple to make and are beyond tasty.  Feel free to mix it up with the herbs.  Rosemary, oregano, cilantro, whatever you have on hand.  Add some toasty bread and a simple salad and you've got a meal!

3 extra large eggs
1 Tbl butter
1 Tbl cream
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp parsley, chopped
1 tsp basil, chopped
1 tsp tarragon, chopped
1 green onion, green parts only, minced
a little parm
a little salt 'n pepper

Preheat oven to 450.  In an oven safe dish, place butter and cream and pop in the oven.

Crack eggs into a small bowl and set aside.  Combine herbs, onion, and garlic and set aside.  Once the butter and cream starts to bubble, remove from oven.  Immediately pour in eggs, salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle the herb mixture on top.  If'n you feel like it, sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top.  Pop it back in the oven and cook for 5-7 minutes, until whites are firm yet the yolks are still runny.

If you have a little bit of the herb mixture left over, toss into a salad of fresh spinach and drizzle it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Twirl It Up

So if the whole teaching thing doesn't work out...

Or the whole acting thing...

Or the Next Food Network Star thing...

Or the Being Famous Just For Being Fabulous thing...

J and I will start our catering company.

I will call it Twirl.

Here is some of our handy work from tonight's Dash and Dine event.

Very Dramatique, no?
The Spread.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Shameless Plug

We interrupt our fascinating "Chicken Bonanza" series for this important, late-breaking news.

If'n you are in the Memphis area, like food, and want to support a fantastic theatre company (of which J is the Artistic Director), the check out Voices of the South's Dash and Dine event this Saturday 8/28.  Live music, amazing silent auction items, a groovy Backbeat Bus Tour, and an amazing spread of Southern inspired creations (a few of which will be prepared by yours truly, The Improvised Chef).  

Check out the menu! 

Kale and Mango Salad with honey vinaigrette

Blue Cheese Walnut Terrine with dried fruits

Homemade Pimento Cheese and baguette

Watermelon and Cucumber salad

Roasted Potato Salad with bacon

Black-eyed Pea Hummus with pita *IC creation

Mixed Bean and Corn Salad
with queso fresco and lime vinaigrette

Award-winning Memphis Barbeque on Rosemary Biscuits
with assorted condiments and pickled relishes *IC BBQ Sauce

Barbequed Gravlox with fresh peaches *IC creation

Homemade Strawberry Cake

Homemade Chess Squares

Featured Beverages include

Homemade Lemonade
Summer White Wine Sangria

So eat, drink, and be merry (or Mary as the case may be).  It's good and good for you (and tax deductible)!

For more information, check out their website.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day 3: Lunch with GLOBO

I hear horror stories of working with absolutely insufferable people.  Fortunately, I work in an extremely collegial environment with folks who genuinely make me laugh and want to be a better teacher and person.

Such is the case with A, L, B, and A or, as I like to refer to them, GLOBO:  the Glamorous Ladies of the Business Office.

These ladies are good ol' Southern gals who occupy a tiny corner of the campus far, far away from my room.  In this magical place of business daring do, they deal with mysterious things like numbers and math all day and generally ensure the school keeps on keepin' on.  They are a delightful group of people who tend to travel in a pack and collectively have sunny and cheery dispositions.  Case in point:  they let me call them GLOBO without punching me in the throat.  Now that's sunny.

I enjoy having lunch with them because, for all of us, it's taking a trip somewhere strange.  For me it's interacting with business minded people.  For them, I assume, it's dealing with...well...the strange.  After all, if you whittle it down to its bare essence, I teach teens how to play make believe in front of people.

And I 'm a total spaz.

So we strike up conversations about bowling and Italy, the crazy antics of students and, of course, food laughing and spending our lunch (half) hour with lively chatter and good friends.  A couple of them even follow this blog (Hi, B and A!).  One of GLOBO, who has proclaimed that she "refuses to work with strange produce," has said that because of my blog she would even try jicama.

So, ladies, thanks for the sparkling conversation and company, and enjoy your jicama!

Spicy Slaw Wrap

Spicy Slaw with Jicama (see Feeling Famous)
1 perfectly cooked chicken breast
1 Sun Dried Tomato Flatout Flatbread

Slap on the slaw.  Lay down some sliced chicken.  Roll it up, and chow down!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Day 2: Spinach Love

The salad days of summer are over for this teacher and foodie.

Those bygone days of languishing in the kitchen, concocting delicious creations for friends and family are through.  Now is the time of angst, drama, homework, and stress.

And the kids have issues, too.

So my salad days have now turned into salads for lunch, simply because I have figured out the administration's evil plot to fatten up the faculty with donuts, cookies, and cakes:  one cannot make a break for it if one is schlepping around considerable heft.

Today I offer up a delightful spinach and arugula salad with chicken.  It satisfies and keeps you spry if, in the words of Ally Sheedy, "you gotta jam."


Spinach and Arugula Salad

ummm...let's see...

1 delicious chicken breast
some sliced red onion
a few pistachios
some dried pomegranates
crumbled blue cheese
Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette, recipe follows

Dump all of that goodness into a Tupperware container, and toss with the dressing when it's chow time.

Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 Tbl Dijon mustard
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dried basil
pinch of crushed red pepper
3/4 cup olive oil

Combine mustard, vinegar, basil, red pepper, salt, and pepper in a bowl.  While whisking, slowly drizzle in oil.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Day 1: I Love Aarti

As stated earlier, I want to be the next Next Food Network Star.

In the meantime, I am truly thankful that our gal Aarti Sequeira has joined the ranks of the culinary superstars.  Or at least, the ranks of the televised superstars.  Aside from the fact that she makes Indian food sound safe and easy and that she is so gosh darn ah-dor-ah-blay you just want to slap on a sari and chow down on some palak paneer with her, she, like your dear Improvised Chef, is a fellow Northwestern Wildcat.  What's not to love?!

And you would be stupid not to try her Massaged Kale Salad from the debut episode of Aarti Party.  Super easy to make, this simple salad of kale and mangoes is full of flavor and simply screams out summertime goodness.  It's so tasty in fact that I turned my regular batch into a double as soon as I tasted it, serving it with last night's grilled salmon.  The remainder became my lunch with the addition of the grilled chicken.

I apologize for no food photo.  I got so excited about lunch that I forgot to take one.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Spice Up Your Life

One of the easiest ways to add a little flavah to your food is using infused oils.  They are simple to make and have roughly a gazillion uses.  Once you get the method down, have fun experimenting with different flavor infusions.  I make them as gifts during the holidays:  when one is low on resources one must be high in creativity and heart.

Chili Oil

I use a wine bottle to store the oil.  Pour oil into the wine bottle and then add it to the pan to ensure you have the right amount.

Olive Oil
2 Tbl crushed red pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper

In a large skillet over low heat, warm up oil, red peppers, and cayenne for roughly ten minutes.  Do not let it boil.  Allow to cool completely and funnel into a cruet or wine bottle.

A Teacher Prepares by Scottislavski

Stanislavski says "An Actor Prepares."

The Boy Scouts say "Be prepared."

And, Lettuce Entertain You, the restaurant conglomerate in Chicago tells its servers, "Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance."

Well, the same holds true for teachers...and their daily lunches.

When one thinks of cafeteria food, visions of rotund, ashen-faced, hairnet-clad ladies donning grey uniforms and white aprons scooping out globs of mystery substances onto sectioned trays dance in one's head.  Fortunately, this is not the case at my school.  These unsung heroes of culinary and nutritional fortitude are a vital part of our school community and genuinely enjoy working with our students.  Daily, they offer up a wide variety of choices of entrees with a wink and a smile.

That being said, like many institutions facing the challenge of feeding 600 plus people daily, they rely on a food service which provide many items semi-prepared or in ginormous bulk quantities.  They also have to stay within a budget.  It's fun to watch the progression of food throughout the week.  Inevitably Monday's grilled cheese sandwiches become Wednesday's croutons on the salad bar.  In college, I had to suffer through the strange journey from Sausage and Pepper Hoagies to Sausage Pizza Soup.

No offense to the Lunch Ladies, but in order to stay true to my creed, "Food is not Feed,"  I bring my lunch to school each day. This is wear the Scouts, Stanislavski, and Rich Melman come into play.

Each Sunday I set aside a couple of hours to do some prep work for the week, so that, when I finally return home from work 8:00, I am able to put together a tasty lunch that doesn't come out of a box or off a truck.  The menu changes weekly.  I usually make a dressing or two, or perhaps I'll make a pesto.  I may grill and marinate some veggies or make homemade beet chips as a slightly healthier option for my love of potato chips. But I always prepare chicken breasts to use throughout the week.

This week I will show you how to transform your regular ol' chicken breasts into tasty, mostly healthy lunches.

The Perfect Chicken Breast

8 chicken cutlets
Chili oil (recipe follows)
A boatload of paprika

Heat oven to 400.  Drizzle chicken cutlets with oil and season with salt, pepper, and paprika.  Turn those suckers red!  Heat two oven safe skillets (I use a cast iron skillet and a grill pan) over medium high heat.  Once hot, place chicken seasoned side down. While chicken sears, generously season the other side.  After five minutes, flip chicken and transfer to the oven.  Roast in oven for 13 minutes.

Allow to cool and place in a container and refrigerate.

You now have chicken for the week.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Food for the Road Weary

So here is how I did it.

Vietnamese Frittata

2 eggs
yo' left over rice noodles
4 green onions, chopped into 1/2" slices
1 tsp wasabi paste
salt and pepper

In a large bowl, beat eggs and wasabi paste together.  Add onions and noodles.  Combine ingredients well.  Heat 1 Tbl olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add noodle mixture and mush around until flat.  Yes...that is the technical term.  Mush it.  Cook for about 4 minutes until brown.  Carefully flip frittata (or grab another skillet of roughly the same size and turn out frittata).  Cook for an additional 2 minutes.  Serve with spinach tossed with a dressing of 2 parts hoisin sauce to one part red wine vinegar.

Please forgive my appearance.  It has been my last week of summer vacation, and I refused to shave.  Plus, how hot do you look after traveling for 18 hours?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A brief respite

Dear friends,

Ye olde IC is headed to Scotland for a week, and I'm not quite sure if the posts will be coming as fast and furious.

But fear not!  I will be back soon to regale you with tales of meat and potato stuffed sheep guts and just what exactly is in "brown sauce."

What should I try while I'm there?

When one has a few hours to kill in Newark, one plays with oneself.  Wait!  That's not what I meant!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Looks Like Christmas, Tastes Like Summer

I very rarely get so excited by something that I cannot stop thinking about it.

Okay...that's a total lie.  Quite frequently I become obsessed with something I tend to annoy the hell out of everyone around me.

There was that video by Florence + The Machine with the blue go-go girls and Florence herself looking so totally BA that I dressed my high school aged Titania in the same hot pants, flowy white dress situation for my production of Midsummer.  There was that brief yet all-encompassing love affair with that tickle kitty on YouTube I kept showing my classes.  And how can I ever forget that glorious time during the mid-90s where every thought was of Ricky.

And is pickled onions.

Yes, those tasty little treats I made as gifts for my mother and sister have taken hold of my brain.  I think of them constantly, and I have made them twice already this week.  The benefit of making a gift of food is that, inevitably, you are the lucky beneficiary who gets to make short work of the presents.  The ginger blueberry preserves were fantastic, and the strawberry rhubarb jam is awesome on toast.  But the big hit in my mind were those gorgeously neon pink, pickled onions.  Tart yet slightly sweet they make the perfect addition to green beans which works beautifully as a salad for a red wine marinated flank steak.  The colors look like Christmas, but the bright, fresh flavor is pure summertime love.

Give them a try, and I promise you won't be able to get them out of your head.

Pickled Red Onions

If you are planning on eating them as quickly as I do, there isn't need to sterilize the jar.  If you are gonna keep them around for a while, sterilize the jars and process the onions by placing them in simmering water, almost to the lid, for ten minutes.

1 red onion, sliced into rings
3/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp allspice
5 whole cloves
3 tsp sugar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 dried chilies

In a small sauce pot, bring vinegars, spices, sugar, and honey to a boil.  Reduce heat, add onion, and simmer for five minutes.  Allow to cool.  Place onions in jars and cover with vinegar mixture.  Refrigerate before serving.

Green Bean and Onion Salad

1 lb green beans, trimmed
2 oz fresh dill
Yo' Pickled Onions
drizzle of olive oil

In a large sauce pan, bring...oh let's say...3 cups of water to a boil.  Toss is the green beans for about 3 minutes, until they are a vibrant green.  Plunge beans immediately into ice water to shock.

In a bowl, combine cooled beans, dill and onions with a drizzle of olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Easy, peasy, cool breezey.

Wine Marinated Flank Steak

1 2lb flank steak
1/2 cup red zinfandel
3/4 cup canola oil
3 garlic cloves, smashed buy intact
1 Tbl toasted cumin seeds, coarsely ground
2 Tbl soy sauce
Juice of 2 limes
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp fresh ground pepper

Combine marinade ingredients and...umm...marinate the steak.  (at least 2 hours in fridge)  Remove steak from marinade and pat dry.  For medium rare, grill steaks for 10 minutes on one side, flip, and grill an additional 5 minutes.  Allow to rest before slicing that delicousness up.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Adventures in the STL (The Final Chapter): Shrimp Smackdown

I come from an extremely competitive family.  In fact, everything is a competition.  And none of us like to lose. A board game with my family is an ulcer inducing event usually ending in one party shedding bitter tears of frustrated defeat, hurt feelings, and another round from the bar.

I'm not sure exactly why we are like this.  Perhaps we were all collectively dropped on our heads.  Perhaps mom didn't hug us enough.  Perhaps we are still processing being shoved into the bottom of a sleeping bag and carried around the house by one's brother like a parcel in Santa's bag and the residual emotional trauma now manifests itself in heart-racing panic attacks brought on by small, confining spaces, flashing red lights, and/or the smell of green apple bubble gum.

But I digress.

So, as we gathered in St. Louis to celebrate the 9,000 July birthdays in my family, it came as no surprise when another opportunity to crush the familial opposition arose.

My brother, K, made a birthday request for the bacon wrapped shrimp I had made a couple of Christmases ago.  The problem was, in true Improvised Chef fashion, I made up the recipe and never wrote it down.

"Umm...sure.  Do you remember what was in it?"  Attempting to save face, I chimed in with, "I could make some Buffalo Shrimp instead."

Unbeknown'st to me, K and his girlfriend (and major pot-stirrer in the best possible way) G kept a close eye on me that particular yuletide season and remembered the recipe, making their own adjustments to make it their own.

"I know," G chimed in, using the devilishly sweet tones reserved exclusively for one with mischief on the mind.  "Why don't you make yours, K will make ours, and we will have a cook off!"
K, G (the Innocent Bystander), and yours truly. 

And the birthday meal transformed into Battlefield Shrimp.

The grill was otherwise occupied so I roasted these bad lads.
Grilled Buffalo Shrimp

So simple.  So tasty.  Serve with celery stalks and Blue Cheese dip (recipe follows)

1 lb 21-23 count shrimp
1 cup hot sauce
1 Tbl butter

Heat up ye olde grill pan, and clean yo' shrimp (leaving tails intact).  Place those babies on the hot grill pan - 2 minutes on one side, flip 'em, and cook for one more minute.  Place in a bowl.

In a small saucepan, heat hot sauce and butter, until melted.  Pour over grilled shrimp and toss.  Serve hot or at room temp.

Blue Cheese Dip

2 oz blue cheese
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 green onions, finely chopped (white and green)
1 Tbl horseradish
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper

Throw that in a bowl, and mix.  Vi-Oh-Lay!  You have dip!

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp

This is best served with a side of defibrillator.

1 lb. 21-23 count shrimp
1 lb thick cut bacon
4 oz cream cheese (room temp)
2 oz goat cheese (room temp)
1 small shallot, chopped
1 tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 400.  Place a cooling rack on a baking sheet and lay slices of bacon on rack.  Cook in the oven until almost done (about 10 minutes).  Remove from oven, place on paper towel to cool.

While bacon cooks, combine cheeses, shallots, and pepper in a bowl and set aside.  Clean and peel shrimp leaving tail intact.  Butterfly the shrimp by making a small cut along the backside of the shrimp.
Spoon a small amount of the cheese mixture into the incision and wrap with bacon.  Secure with a skewer or toothpick.  Place wrapped shrimp on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast in oven until shrimp is fully cooked (about 8-10 minutes).

So bad for you.

I totally win.

By the by, since these are both basically my recipes and this is my blog, I totally won the Shrimp Smackdown.  Suck it, K!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Adventures in the STL (part 2): Ted Drewe's

God exists, and makes Himself known in small and wonderful ways:

in the laughter of a baby,

in the promise of a rainbow,

 and in the form of delicious frozen dairy treats provided by Ted Drewes.
Attractive, no?  But all vanity goes out the window once you step away from their window.

Ted Drewes Fozen Custard is a miracle.  Like Soulard, it has been around for eons.  It's a small, free-standing building (well actually a couple of buildings now) that serves up the most incredible concoction that is the embodiment of all things summer:  The Concrete, a shake made from frozen custard that is so thick you can turn it upside down and nothing comes out, even in the middle of a hot St. Louis August day.  It comes in a variety of flavors ranging from chocolate marshmallow to peaches to, my personal fave, abaco mocha.  This stuff is soooo good, I can even overlook the fact that they have a concrete called the Frisco because it's full of fruits.  (This is the actual explanation you will get if you ask about the name).

Slightly homophobically named treats aside, if you are any where near STL in the summer and you don't are a stupid person undeserving of love.

Or you are lactose intolerant.

Notice how Father Beth is wasting no time to get in line.

Adventures in the STL (part 1): Soulard

Me and (one of) the Birthday Girl(s).

I never really appreciated St. Louis until I moved away from there.

I grew up, like many folks I suppose, in a suburb of a metropolitan area chock full of minivans and pleasant sounding street names.  It was the ‘80s:  HBO was new to the neighborhood, Duran Duran posters covered my wall, and summers were filled with going to the mall or wearing out my season pass to Six Flags.  In fact, my mom still lives in the house that I called home from kindergarten through my senior year of high school.

And all I ever talked about was getting out of the STL. 

A view of the market.
It wasn’t until I returned home to celebrate my mom’s (gulp) 70th birthday with J that I truly gained an appreciation for the city.  We spent the weekend dining in outdoor cafés in the Central West End, touring through Forest Park (home of the 1904 World’s Fair), hitting up the new Museum of Modern Art, and paying a visit to the amazing Soulard Farmers' Market.  If I recall correctly, that particular visit yielded a birthday dinner featuring fresh asparagus, bright red cherries and a particularly tasty grilled plum salsa served over salmon.

Soulard has been around for eons it seems and is a St. Louis tradition.  Open Wednesday through Saturday, it’s open air stalls are filled with merchants and local farmers selling their wares and freshly grown produce, herbs, and flowers.  It is a veritable paradise for Locavores:  those who attempt to eat exclusively from products grown locally.

Father B and niece, T
 I have returned to St. Louis for yet another round of birthdays and my (bigger gulp) 20th high school reunion, and this morning, accompanied by Mom, Father Beth, and my niece, I made another trip to that Old Faithful of Marketplaces.

T, P Dizzle, and Father B with birthday flowers.

If you find yourself visiting the Gateway to the West and are fortunate enough to have a kitchen at your disposal, I highly recommend paying a visit.  The sights, food, and smells will not disappoint.

Homemade pasta from Fazio's Bakery and Pasta.  J, I'm bring home some spicy red pepper linguine!

You can even buy glass that make you look and feel like an Italian model.

Incense that smells like...whuck?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

In a pickle? Pickle!

Clockwise from left:  blueberry/ginger preserves, grapefruit marmalade,  strawberry/rhubarb jam, pickled green beans, and pickled red onions.
I am the youngest of three kids, and each one of us couldn't be more different than the other.

Eldest child, Kevin, is the former Marine turned golfin', cowboy mechanic living in Vegas.  You know...that old story.  The middle child, with an incredible family of her own in Iowa, is an Episcopal priest lovingly known as Father Beth.  And then there is me...the artsy fartsy one living in the South with his big gay Valentine.

Certain accommodations have been afforded me due to birth order and financial status.  As the aforementioned artsy fartsy member of the family, my career choices have been of a more...spiritually gratifying nature as opposed to anywhere near financially satisfying.  I'm not living in a card board box talking to my pet shoe, but owning a house and jetting off to exotic lands at a minutes notice I ain't.

Which is why July is a challenge.

It is this month in which every single member of my immediate family celebrates a birthday.  It is definitely Christmas in July in terms of gift buying and spending.  So, during these economically trying times...which I call my twenties and must become inventive when money is not at hand. a gift giving pickle?  Pickle your gifts!  In a jam about what to give?  Give jam!  If we are to believe what our mother's tell us, it is better to receive something that is hand made and thoughtful than another tchotchke or bauble to clutter up your house.

At least, that's what I'm bankin' on.

I am not going to publish recipes that aren't mine without permission (I'm nice that way).  I floated around on the interweb, borrowed from recipes, and added my own twist to them.  Now is the perfect time to play with pickling, canning,  So get out those mason jars and tongs and play with your food!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Waxman Challenge

Last night was the premiere of a new show called Master Chef.

The conceit is simple:  home cooks strut their stuff for a shot at $250,000 and a book deal while dealing with the snarky critiques of Gordon Ramsey and a couple of highly respectable, yet terribly egocentric, guest judges.  I am totally hooked, and I am wondering why I am not on it.

During last night's episode, I actually was quite tearful.  Here were a group of stay at home moms, software programmers, and everyday Joe's risking national ridicule all because each share a common passion: food.  They shared their "signature dishes," prepared with varying degrees of success and finesse all with the hopes of taking one step closer to winning the coveted prize.

Of course, I was inspired.

Flashback to Barbuto.  J and I were having our perfect New York al fresco dining moment:  I was desperately trying to figure out how to snap a photo with Obi Wan KaWaxman, and J was attempting to fashion a tranquilizer dart out of a bottle of Pelegrino and some chili peppers to keep me from bum rushing the man to get a hug.  And then the chicken came.

This was no ordinary chicken.  Succulent, juicy, and filled with a verdant freshness that made you understand that this man had been touched by God...or had spent some serious quality time figuring out how to cook barnyard foul.

So...inspired by the Zen-like Grill Master and the hopeful everyday cooks on a reality show, here is my interpretation of Waxman's Herb Chicken

Herb Chicken a la Duff a la Waxman

1 4lb chicken
1 yellow onion, quartered
1 lemon, quartered

For the Slatherin' Goodness

3 garlic cloves
4 anchovy filets
1 Tbl capers
1 tsp fresh thyme
2 Tbl fresh parsley
2 Tbl fresh basil
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
salt 'n pepper

Preheat oven to 400.  Combine all of the Slatherin' Goodness ingredients in your trusty mini food processor.  Whir away until it becomes a green, fragrant pool of love.

Place chicken breast side up in a cast iron skillet.  Stuff cavity with onion and lemon.  Now slather that chicky with the Slatherin' Goodness, making sure you get underneath the skin as well as covering the entire bird.  Cover with foil and roast for 50 minutes.  Remove foil and cook for an additional ten minutes to crisp up that bird.

Allow to rest for a bit before carving.  Picture yourself sitting outside in the Meat Packing District with your Valentine and enjoy.

The carnage.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Kabob: Revisited

Some plastic wrap company keeps telling me that I throw away over $500 worth of food a year.


What's is the fridge:  left over kabobs, grilled eggplant, homemade pesto, arugula, grilled chicken breast.

A simple yet, delicious solution:  Grilled Chicken and Veggies on Ciabatta with Pesto Mayonnaise.  Feelin' Fancy is great, but sometimes a good sandwich does the trick.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Kabob Diversion

I am fully aware of the daunting task ahead of me.  I'm just refusing to do anything about it...yet.

In my other life, I am a theatre teacher.  For the past three years, I have been charged with creating a theatre program at a pretty groovy little school outside of Memphis, and, over those three years, my students have worked their booties off to create something wonderful.  We have tackled classic American plays, Shakespeare, narrative theatre, musicals, and have even generated a couple of original scripts developed through ethnographic studies and interviews.  Not too shabby for a program with roughly twelve extremely active participants and no formal performance space.

Perhaps our crowning achievement was when we received an invitation to take a show to the American High School Theatre Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.  Yea, us!

Now, I have to pick a show suitable for young actors with little or no set that can travel across the pond to the world's largest theatre festival and raise an obscene amount of money to do so.  This summer should be dedicated to pouring over scripts, devising fund-raising possibilities, and working with designers to have everything ready to go.

Instead, I went to the grocery store.

If you have any ideas about which play I should take, I would love to hear them!

Yogurt Marinated Chicken Kabobs

This marinade made me soooo happy!  The chicken is beyond juicy and flavorful.  This made eight skewers, plus two that were just with the veggies.

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup plain yogurt
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup fresh mint
2 Tbl fresh rosemary
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Veggies, sliced into sturdy wedges

yellow and orange peppers
red onion

Combine yogurt, garlic, herbs, lemon, oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and set aside.  Cut chicken breasts into 1 1/2" cubes and place in marinade.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Soak skewers in water to prevent burning.  While skewers get waterlogged, slice veggies into wedges and create an assembly line.  Once you start skewerin' the chicken it gets a little messy.  Assemble skewers alternating chicken and veggies (about three pieces of each per skewer).

Preheat grill pan over medium heat and turn on the fan.  It's gonna get smoky in here!  Place skewers on grill and char those suckers.  About 5 minutes on each side.  Transfer to a baking sheet and finish cooking in a 350 oven for about ten minutes.  Serve over Minted Eggplant Couscous.

If you have extra veggies, make a couple of skewers with them.  Just drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Delish!

Minted Eggplant Couscous

This is a great dish to bring as a side for summer get-togethers, and it gets better the longer it sits.  More than likely you will use less vinegar.  I don't really measure out each ingredient, so start with a couple of shakes and add until it tastes good to your pie hole.

2 cups chicken stock
2 cups couscous
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small eggplant, grilled and marinated with mint
1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
1/2 cup currants
1/4 cup pistachios
1 red pepper, chopped
3 carrots, diced
7 green onions, diced
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
a ton of fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbl fresh mint, chopped
Salt/pepper to taste

Grill and marinate the eggplant as we talked about in an earlier post, except this time use mint as your herb and forget about the capers.  Let sit for a couple of hours so flavors can combine.

In a medium sauce pan, bring stock and garlic to a boil.  Stir in couscous, cover, and remove from heat.  This will be done in five minutes!

While the couscous is couscousing, chop your veggies and apricots into bite sized pieces and drain the garbanzos. 

Using a fork, fluff the couscous and transfer to a large bowl. Add in veggies, pistachios, apricots, currants, and herbs.  Dress with lemon, vinegar and olive oil. Toss to combine.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Dinner: Improvised - Help the Cootie Laden

Ever have a friend who is havin' a bad week, and you're not quite sure what to do to cheer them up?

A good friend of mine has Cooties.  It's actually kind of serious, terribly annoying, and, sorry Tugar, not very pretty to look at.  Couple this affliction with the swamp-like summer heat of Memphis, and you have one unhappy camper on your hands.

Mission:  provide comfort (or at least distraction) through food using what I have in my kitchen and bring a smile to a friend's face.

What's in the fridge:  a whole chicken, spinach, red cabbage, some tired turnips, carrots.

Cootie Boo's fave is Thanksgiving food, and I just saw the movie Salt.  Why not brine the chicken?!

Spice Brined Chicken

I usually brine a turkey for Thanksgiving, but I have used this method with chicken or pork throughout the year.  It's time consuming, but so worth the effort.  It gives the meat an incredible spicy flavor, and keeps it moist and juicy.  I tend to raid my spices and throw in what sounds good at the moment;  just stick to your earthier spices.

1 4 lb. chicken

For the brine

1 medium yellow onion, unpeeled and quartered
1 head of garlic, slice in half
2 turnips, cut into thirds
2 carrots, cut into thirds
1 2" piece of ginger, sliced
1 1/2 cups kosher salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 Tbl whole black peppercorns
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
3 cups water

In a large stock pot, combine ingredients and bring to a boil.  (I like to give the mixture a good stir to dissolve the salt and sugar a bit before turning on the heat, otherwise you will have some crustiness on the bottom of your pot that is a bee-otch to get off.)  Let the brine cool completely.

Once the brine is at room temperature, place your chicken breast side down in the brine and add enough water to cover.  Cover and put it in the fridge for six hours.

Preheat oven to 400.  Remove bird from brine and rinse thoroughly under cold water.  Pat dry and place in a cast iron skillet.  Here is where you can play around.  I make a butter mixture to rub over the little chicky with a half a stick of butter, cumin, cayenne, orange zest, and pepper.  Again, play with whatever you think sounds tasty.  Slather the bird with the butter, under and over the skin.  Shove an onion in the cavity with maybe some citrus and fresh herbs.  Cover with foil and roast for 45 minutes.  Remove foil and roast for an additional 20-25 minutes uncovered to brown that sucker. 

Let that baby rest for 10 minutes and carve.

Sauteed Red Cabbage and Spinach

The balsamic make this side tangy and slightly sweet, and it looks kind of like Christmas with the bright red and green.

1/4 head of red cabbage, shredded
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 oz baby spinach
2 Tbl balsamic vinegar
2 Tbl olive oil
salt/pepper to taste

In a saute pan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add sliced onions and cook for 5 minutes.  Add cabbage and saute until it begins to wilt, about 7 minutes.  Add garlic and vinegar, and cook until vinegar reduces by half.  At the last minute, add in spinach and stir it around until just wilted.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

I am not a dessert man, but what sort of Thanksgiving-ish dinner is complete without a sweet bite?!  I made a Rhubarb Tart with Orange Glaze (thank you, defunct Gourmet magazine...we miss you!) and I added some fresh figs I had picked up at the Memphis Farmer's Market.  A fantastic dessert that was super easy to make!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Requiem for an Immersion Blender

"Honey...should this be making this sound?"

Dearly Beloved,

We are gathered here to celebrate the brief but productive life of Kevin, the Kitchen Aid Immersion Blender.

I remember when we first met.  It was a beautiful fall Saturday afternoon, and I was mourning the loss of another dear friend, Steve - the Braun Hand-held Immersion Blender, with whom I had had a serious relationship for quite some time.  I was working through the rich tapestry of emotions oft accompanied with grief:  anger, confusion, denial.  How could you leave me this way?  Is there something I could have done to prevent this disaster?  If I use a different outlet, perhaps you will whir once more.  But, alas, Steve was gone.

And then I laid eyes on you.  Your nine speeds, your easily detachable wand for cleaning, your clever design for convenient storage were seductive and thrilling.  I was filled with excitement and feelings of betrayal.  Was it too soon after Steve to move on?  Will he understand?  Wiping a bittersweet tear of remembrance away from my glistening eye, I took Kevin in my arms and the rest became history.

Kevin stood by my side as we courageously created soups and dips and the pedestrian smoothies.  We were a great team: dazzling dinner guests and drawing an envious eye at the lunch table with our delectable culinary creations.  Like all perfect relationships, I knew it wouldn't last.  That it couldn't last.

But who knew you would go down in a blaze of glory while preparing avocados to enter a delicious bath of yogurt and cream before moving on to chilled perfection! 

To answer your question, J:  No. It should not make that sound.

I shall miss you, dear friend.

Forgive me if I meet another.

In honor of Kevin, please enjoy these soups and remember to cherish each moment with your loved one.  You never know if it will be your last.

Buster:  A Study in Grief

Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Soup

If you don't have a gas stove, you can roast the peppers in the oven with the eggplant.

1 large eggplant
4 red peppers
2 Tbl olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
6 cups chicken stock

Preheat oven to 450. On a baking sheet, toss that eggplant into the oven...whole!  Roast for about 40 minutes until it looks kind of like a deflated balloon.  While eggplant roasts, turn on your burners and place peppers directly on the flame, turning frequently to char each side.  Once charred, transfer peppers to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Once peppers are cool enough to handle, remove skin and seeds. 

Over medium high heat, saute onion until tender about 7 minutes and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add garlic, cumin, and cayenne to the onions and stir to coat.  Cook for about one minute.  Add peppers and flesh scooped from the eggplant.  Cook one minute.  Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Simmer for about 15 minutes.

Using your *whimper* immersion blender, puree soup until smooth.  Serve warm with crostini and goat cheese.

Chilled Curried Carrot Soup

This is a great starter for lamb!

1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2" pieces
1 Vidalia onion, chopped
2 Tbl olive oil
2 Tbl curry powder
1 tsp salt
6 cups chicken stock
1 can of coconut milk
zest and juice of one lime

In a stock pot, heat oil and curry over medium heat, stirring for about one minute.  Add onions and saute until tender.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add carrots and stir to coat with curry infused oil.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Add stock and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 15 minutes.

Using your perfectly functioning immersion blender, puree until smooth.  Pass soup through a sieve, discarding all of the solids.  Stir in coconut milk and lime juice and zest.  Chill completely.  Serve with a wedge of lime and chopped scallions on top.

In lieu of flowers, please send me money so I can buy a new immersion blender.

Friday, July 23, 2010

My Dinner with Amy: a video experience

My first video dining experience:  a delightful evening in Chicago with my good friend Amy: Professional Lesbytarian.

Please forgive any "up the nose" shots. it ends a tad abruptly.
To sum up:  In Fine Spirits is a fabu place for simple, clean, seasonal food from local farmers.
If'n you enjoy the vino, it's a great place for small plates and wine pairings.

And, by the by...
our waiter's name was Anders.
What I tell ya...Lesbians and Ligonberried.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Heart Chicago

Hog Butcher for the World,

Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:

the opening lines from "Chicago" by Carl Sandburg

I would like to think of myself as a spontaneous person.  You know, they kind of guy with a devil-may-care attitude who throws caution to the wind and listens intently to the ceaseless whispers of his Id.

But, I am not.

So it was a big surprise when I found myself in my car yesterday, headed North to my old stomping grounds:  Chicago.  I love this city, particularly my old neighborhood.

Located on the north side of Chicago, Andersonville was primarily a Swedish neighborhood which experienced a big infestation of the gays in the '90s.  I like to say that it is the Home of Lesbians and Lingonberries.  The residential section features tree lined streets with a variety of homes, brownstones, and walk-ups, and people are always bustling around with their pets in crazy collars and babies strapped in with some stylish, ergonomically designed baby sling.  You can see every walk of life here.

Cutting through this mini-melting pot is Clark Street, home to several boutiques and fantastic restaurants.  All of the businesses are locally owned and, with the exception of a lone Starbucks, there are no chains from Catalpa to Lawrence.  In lieu of recipes, I submit for your viewing pleasure, and my reminiscence, a culinary stroll through Andersonville.

Please hum, "This Used To Be My Playground," quietly to yourself while viewing. 

Jin Ju
Love this place!  Great Korean food...perfect for small bites.

Ann Sather
An Andersonville staple with cinnamon rolls the size of your head!  Perfection!
And, no...that's not Ann at her car.

Taste of Lebanon
Total hole in the wall with the best (and cheapest) falafel evah!

It's been there for years.  Yummy, but for some reason, you have to eat it there...the take out is odd.

Kopi Cafe
Groovy little coffee house with tasty plates and a little boutique with "world gifts". 
Just found out they got a liquor license
...not sure how I feel about that.

Swedish Bakery
With a real live Swedish Chef!  Best pastries ever!

T's Bar and Restaurant
Come for the mixed crowd...stay for the fries with curry mayo!

m henry
Good luck getting a table here on the weekend, because this breakfast place is AMAZING!
Don't miss the Blisscakes or the Black Bean cakes with your choice of eggs...which is what I had for breakfast today.

Martini's the size of fish bowls...proceed with caution.

A great hot dog joint, but don't pass up their Bacon Blue Cheeseburger.

Fab Swedish deli!

Kabobs and dill rice.  'Nuff said.

Until the remodeling, eating here was like entering into a joint on a Jersey strip mall.
Great I-Tal-Ee-Un food and steaks.

In Fine Spirits
Wine shop attached to a restaurant with a cool patio.
I'm eating here tonight!  Will give a full report tomorrow!