July 29, 2010

Cozy Into a Seat at the Dressing Room



By this point everyone has heard great reviews about the Dressing Room now a Westport staple and feeder to the Playhouse crowd.  Founded by beloved Westport native Paul Neuman as a place for great food with friends that's not overly dressy... With this said, I think it's often forgotten how great sitting at the bar can be for a date night dinner or girls night out for cocktails and dessert.  We went the other night for a late dinner.  There are almost always 2 seats at the bar, given a play isn't beginning within the next few minutes.  Bottles of organic wine and liqueur sit in front of glowing amber glass that casts just the right kind of light.

I've never had a bad meal at this little gem.  Always organic and local whenever possible, the menu lets you know what farm or town the food is coming from.  The small plates are great to sample a few types of dishes and still have room for dessert (which are ALWAYS fantastic).

Pardon the grainy pics I was inspired to chat about the Dressing Room after having a great dinner there last week.  The food has inspired a few dishes I'd like to make in the next few days.

Above was a GREAT combination! It was like a bloody mary Greek salad fest!  First of all the martini I ordered under the pretense that if I didn't like it I could have something else.  It was a dirty cucumber martini described as a Greek salad in a glass.  And yes it was exactly that & oddly delicious!  So I thought the local tomato salad would be an awesome compliment to my cocktail & yes it was!  Fresh local heirloom tomatoes, served with fresh local goat cheese, ripped basil & salt and pepper - that's it.  Perfectly fresh and cooling to have on the scorcher of a night we dined!



I'm going to make this.  I know it looks terrible in my pic but bear with me.  This is one large "ravioli" filled with a lemon herb ricotta mixture.  On top is like a succotash, with peas, mushrooms, corn and zucchini!  All of this rests in a lemony, oliveoily, parmeseamy sauce served not hot but warm.  I think this will be very easy to make at home especially for guests because the parts can all be made ahead of time. 



I admit I was a bit envious of Chris's dinner.  This was a local organic, grass fed beef burger served on a fresh bun with smoky cheddar, smoked bacon and a fried egg.  Ladies & Gents it really doesn't get much better!  The portion size is great, it's not overwhelming and leaves you wanting 1 more bit of smoky goodness.  Well you'll just have to go back for it some other time!



My favorite part of most any dinner is dessert.  I have even been known to eat dessert first.  I ALWAYS have room for a bite of sweet goodness.  Some have even said I have a little dessert compartment to hold a couple of bites.  Eating at the Dressing Room I'm a little extra vigilant to save room.  There's not one thing that I would not order.  In this case it's the Naughty Angel.... Angel food cake pan seared in butter, homemade vanilla ice cream on a drizzle of local golden brown honey...  It's really heavenly and just the right amount of sweetness.  I actually ended up topping it with the peaches from Chris's dessert (He doesn't do peaches).  

Go on give it a try, you won't be sorry... 

July 21, 2010

Garden Chicken Salad with Summer Beans


Quite the hodge podge all of the flavors came together by adding a bit of goat cheese.  This chicken type of salad always gets RAVES even for guests.  The breading is so light and complimentary to the chicken.  Adding the chicken makes this salad hearty enough for a dinner.

Serves 2-4 people
Beans - clean and blanch cool immediatly so they do not continue cooking
Corn - quickly blanch and set aside
1/2 sweet onion
4 cloves garlic
cauliflower 
salad greens
4 - 6 chicken cutlets thin
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. breadcrumbs seasoned with salt and pepper
1/4 c. parmesean
2 eggs beaten
goat cheese crumbles 
Dressing
1 part vinegar I used raspberry wine vinegar
3 parts good olive oil
dash mustard
salt and pepper to taste
shake until dressing comes together

Blanch beans, corn and cauliflower separately
Caramalize onions and add the garlic toss in blanched veggies and set aside
On separate plates spread out flour, bread crumbs & parmesean, and eggs
Dredge chicken in flour then eggs then breadcrumbs
Drop into skillet over medium heat with an olive oil coating
Brown each side of chicken
Add greens to salad bowl and toss with dressing
Top with onion and vegetable mix
Slice chicken into strips 
Top with cheese
Serve!!


It's Beans this Week!!

It's beans this week!!  My pole beans have finally come out in all different shapes, colors and sizes.  As with all of my plantings I try and get as much color as I can out of my little 4'x12' garden.  I thought I was amazed by the peas, I'm truly amazed at the beans.  Their height, wildness and color draw me in!
I opened one of the pale yellowy green pods to find the most beautiful pink beans!  I was even more amazed at the color change when they were blanched.  The beautiful aubergine pods turned bright green and the pink beans turned lavender... who knew!

Tonight I made another salad using all local in season veggies (including my beans).
 
Quite the hodge podge all of the flavors came together by adding a bit of goat cheese.  This chicken type of salad always gets RAVES even for guests.  The breading is so light and complimentary to the chicken.  Adding the chicken makes this salad hearty enough for a dinner.

Serves 2-4 people
Beans - clean and blanch cool immediatly so they do not continue cooking
Corn - quickly blanch and set aside
1/2 sweet onion
4 cloves garlic
cauliflower 
salad greens
4 - 6 chicken cutlets thin
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. breadcrumbs seasoned with salt and pepper
1/4 c. parmesean
2 eggs beaten
goat cheese crumbles 
Dressing
1 part vinegar I used raspberry wine vinegar
3 parts good olive oil
dash mustard
salt and pepper to taste
shake until dressing comes together

Blanch beans, corn and cauliflower separately
Caramalize onions and add the garlic toss in blanched veggies and set aside
On separate plates spread out flour, bread crumbs & parmesean, and eggs
Dredge chicken in flour then eggs then breadcrumbs
Drop into skillet over medium heat with an olive oil coating
Brown each side of chicken
Add greens to salad bowl and toss with dressing
Top with onion and vegetable mix
Slice chicken into strips 
Top with cheese
Serve!!








July 16, 2010

Mother Nature At Work - Happy As A Bee In A Flower

My pole beans are just starting to emerge.  I LOVE how TINY these little beans are! They are like tiny drop of goodness on their way to be full grown.  Every time I go out to my garden I'm amazed at Mother Nature's process for getting things done!

This morning I followed this bee around, he was LOVING all of the bean blossoms.  I don't think he could be any more happy!

When he first started out he didn't have any pollen collected and by the time he was finished pollen covered his little hairy body.

In my tiny 4' x 12' garden I also make sure I have flowers.  Just enough to add some color.  Hopefully I should have color from now until September!  There are enough to always have a fresh blossom at home as well as left for nature.
This is where all the magic happens.  Right now there are quit a bit of things going on! Carrots both burgundy & orange, beets both golden and red, shallots, onions, cauliflower, beans, tomatoes, chard, green peppers, herbs and I'm sure a few more things that I'm missing.  How is your garden growing?

July 14, 2010

EASY & TASTY Peasant Dinner

I realize a lot of the food I make is kind of like peasant food.  I hate to throw away food in my fridge just because I don't have enough of something to make an entire dish just with that item.  This dish came together because I had small amounts of a lot of different food.  If I didn't use them up they were sure to go bad.  In a way it's like a European stir fry.  Even better the second day - cold!

Israeli cous cous
1 cup chicken stock
1 red onion loosely chopped
lots of garlic chopped - about 5 cloves
1 ear of corn cut off the cob (or frozen if you have it)
1 can of beans - I used red but any would work
1 package mushrooms
1/2 package spinach
tomatoes chopped rough -  1 or 2 depending on taste
olives - whatever you have pitted kalamata or black
lots of fresh herbs chopped - basil, parsley, oregano and chives
chopped cheese  - I used mozzarella but feta would have been great

-cook cous cous according to instructions (I cook mine with chicken stock, olive oil & 1 clove garlic)
-sauté garlic and onion until caramelized over medium heat
-toss in mushrooms until wilted
-toss in herbs & everything else except tomatoes, beans and cheese - let the spinach wilt
-turn off heat add remainder of ingredients and serve over cous cous
so easy and so full of flavor!

July 13, 2010

Cocktail Mixers - They beat me to it! argh


Every time I make a cocktail (up until now) I've wished for this product - Ripe mixers - I've especially wished for the Margarita mix... I've always said, if I made a product to sell it would be fresh mixers... Well for all of you cocktailistas out there this is a find.  AND they are made right in my backyard (well CT - it's a big back yard).  Pure fresh squeezed juices in the all the right proportions for a drink.  So next time instead of reaching for a sugary Bacardi mixer try on of these!  I found them at WholeFoods!

July 8, 2010

Luscious Ginger Pineapple and Mango Martini


Luscious Ginger Pineapple & Mango Martini
Makes 2 Martinis
ice
1 can pineapple juice (the small individual can size)
1 scoop mango sorbet
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger plus ginger strips for garnish
4 ounces vodka
1 tray ice

In a blender add all ingredients and blend until velvety smooth
serve in a martini glass

**NOTES**
Fresh ginger makes this cocktail sing.  It's a beautiful drink to serve at the start of an evening.

July 7, 2010

It's Too Hot To Cook! So Here's Some Jewelry!!

When I'm not cooking I'm usually designing or styling one thing or another, visit my other site to see my creative side!.  Since I don't see many people cooking today due to some heat issues, I thought I'd share some jewelry I've been working on.   I think they are going to be posted on Etsy once I get my shop up and running.  
This one has blue topaz and aquamarine rough cut beads along with sterling, gold and Czech glass on three strands.  Since I live on the water the colors remind me of the water and moon at dusk.
This one is a Rutilated Quartz stone that I set in a sterling bezel and accented with a pom-pom of Swarovski Crystal beads in black, slate and ice.  I loved the graphic quality of the stone.
I had so much fun choosing all of the beads for this bracelet.  The beads are a combination of natural, glass and Venetian beads on a sterling handmade bracelet.  It's so girly and so much fun to wear!
I dreamed about this ring before I made it.  The stone is a London Blue Topaz that I set and a 22k gold bezel mounted on a thick sterling band.  I know I use a lot of blues, I just can't get enough of that color!
Fun drop earrings for day or night. Sterling and crystal, they are so light weight you don't even know you have them on (until someone give you a compliment).
I love mixing materials.  Again, these are just fun and go with so many different types of looks.  I combined coconut disks with gold chain and gold crystals.  So lightweight they are great for summer.
I made a ton of the "Drops" series with different colors and different stones.  Sterling set with beautiful turquoise and crystal beads.

July 6, 2010

Southern Style Fruit Shortcake




It seems like EVERYONE has there own version of strawberry shortcake.   I've had shortcakes with ice cream, sponge cake, and cookies.  I grew up liking the southern style that features fresh whipped cream, fruit and a biscuit style cake.  I've doctored this one with other fresh fruit I had on hand, fresh orange zest and ginger.  Be sure not to overwork the biscuit dough because it will become tough the more you touch it.
Biscuits - makes about 10
2 cups flour sifted
1/4 cup sugar plus more for dusting tops
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons butter chilled and cubed
2/3 cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk ice cold
Zest of one orange
1/2 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

Preheat ovento 375
Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Add butter and blend with a fork or pastry blender until mixture resembles course meal
slowly stir in butter milk orange zest and ginger while mixing with a fork and forms large clumps
Gather dough into a large ball and roll out to 3/4" on a board well dusted with flour
Cut into 2-3" rounds (I use a glass as my cutter) and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchement
Sprinkle tops with sugar
Bake for about 20 minutes and cool on a rack

Fruit
I had a combination of fresh peaches, strawberries and mango on hand so that's what I used

Peaches - I boiled 5 peaches for 1 minute and allowed to cool.  Then I took the skin right off and cut into pieces. My peaches were so juice I did not have to add any sugar.
Mango - I cut 2 mangoes into small pieces and drizzles with agave nectar since they were a little tart
Strawberries - I cut up 1 large container of strawberries and topped with 1 tablespoon of confectioners sugar, stirred and let sit for a few hours before serving.  The strawberries make their own juice

Whipped cream - let a bowl sit in the freezer with a container of whipping cream for 30 - 40 minutes.
Whip cream with a mixer or a whisk.  Mix in 1/2 - 1 teaspoon high quality vanilla and 1 tablespoon confectioner sugar.

Biscuits can be either topped with fruit and cream or split and topped with fruit and cream... enjoy!!

July 2, 2010

Greens and Beans Served Hot or Cool

On Fridays I always end up with a mash-up of food in my fridge, garden & cupboard.  Food I hate to throw away.  This week I made a brothy dish of Greens & Beans over whole wheat pasta that tasted divine and was oh so healthy.  I got to use what I had left of my own swiss chard and the rest of the amazing green beans I bought at the farmers market this week!  It looks like a lot of ingredients but it comes together quickly.  It's also a dish that could be served hot or room temperature on a hot night.

olive oil enough to coat skillet
1 bunch swiss chard
1/2  to 1 package baby spinach
2 big handfuls of green beans washed picked and cut in half
1 can red beans
6 cloves garlic chopped
1 onion chopped
lots of fresh herbs I used a huge handful of basil and parsley
salt and pepper
red pepper
3/4 of a box of chicken stock
whole wheat pasta - any kind
parmesean
large croûtons

In a deep skillet sauté garlic and onion until lightly browned
Wash and separate the swiss chard into leaves and stems, chop stems into bite size pieces
Add just the stems to the garlic and onions 


Sauté until tender 
Chop greens into bite size pieces and add to tender stem mixture


Let greens wilt and become tender and add spinach & chicken broth
Let mixture come to a simmer and add green beans.  Let cook for 3-4 minutes or until beans are tender.  The more fresh the beans are the less cooking they will need.  Once tender add the red beans.  
Season with salt, pepper & red pepper to taste.  
I don't ad too much salt (if any) because the stock already has salt and so will the parmesean & croutons.
Scoop over pasta and finish with breadcrumbs and parmesean.  This dish would be great hot or room temperature on a warmer night.

July 1, 2010

My Culinary Toolbox




It's hard sometime to be an apartment dweller in an urban environment & a lover of all things green.  I'm fortunate that my place gets GREAT light for plants.  Herbs on the other hand never do well for me inside.  Each year I crave the day, usually around June 1st that I can put out my herb box on our small balcony.  Since we are on the water and it's very windy on most days, I try and pick flowers and plants that will hold up to heat, bright sun and wind.  I also like herbs that are going to spill over the edges.  Here's a taste of some of what I have growing.  Everything is a small scale perfect for an accent or a cocktail.  The 2 basil plants Siam Queen and Lemon Basil  go well with savory and sweet dishes and cocktails.  They also have great unexpected flavor.
The larger more hearty herbs I keep up at the community garden.  These include mints and balms.  I plant them in their own pots that are sunk into the ground. I've found that they overtake my small boxes as much as I like to have them around.
I pack the herbs and trim often to encourage new growth.  I love how the thyme creeps over the edges.