June 29, 2011

Veal Marsala

(For those of you who don’t eat veal for ethical reasons, my apologies for my cruel, carnivorous tendencies. Please ignore this post.)

Somewhere in the maturation of my taste buds, my dad’s most requested special occasion dinner became my own: tender, flour-coated veal cutlets topped with a mushroom-marsala wine sauce. I was lucky to inherit his good taste in food, be it by nature or nurture.

I’ve tried the dish in many a restaurant that makes it taste good but never on par with my mom’s recipe, which is funny now that I have learned how (relatively) simple it is to make: dredge veal in flour, cook in butter, add wine, cook wine with mushrooms and beef broth for a while, the end.

So for Father’s Day last week guess what I made for dinner, for the first time by myself? I am happy to report that I proved the taste of my mom’s veal is replicable, so it will certainly be on my own special occasion menus to come, even if I have to make up special occasions.

 The veal marsala tasted fancy and, together with pasta with marinara sauce, Italian salad and garlic bread, took just about an hour, with some breaks for present opening in between. Win and win.

Note: I used cooking marsala. It’s cheap, and you can buy it on Sundays in counties that are Sabbath-day dry like ours. Real marsala wine would have been nice for drinking too though.

June 22, 2011

Five-Ingredient Smoothie

I don’t buy smoothies from those smoothie chains. They claim it’s all-natural, but I don’t believe them. Once you get used to homemade ones with pure fruit and yogurt, you’ll become a smoothie snob like me. They don’t need sugar or supplements, just the real stuff.

My go-to recipe is simple: ripe banana, berries or other fruit (like peaches on this photo shoot day), ice, juice, and plain yogurt. Blend. Sip. Enjoy.
I know there are fancier combinations out there. Maybe I’ll try them one day. But for now, when my fruit starts to get too ripe for my uber-sensivity to the slightest bit of mushiness, I throw it in my smoothie maker for breakfast or a snack. It’s worth cleaning the blender afterward, especially if I actually clean or soak it immediately so the fruit pieces don’t get all annoying and stuck to the sides.

 A blend of fresh (or frozen) fruit taste especially wonderful when it’s hot outside and the last thing you want to eat is something heavy or hot.

How do you like to make smoothies?

June 14, 2011


Succotash is summery Southern combo of  beans, corn and other fresh goodness. With sherry vinegar, butter beans, cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil, this version from Gourmet  transforms veggies into something you something you can't help but eat every bite of, even if you're a meat and potatoes guy like one of my taste testers. 

Maybe it was the bacon grease in the cast iron that worked the magic, true Southern style? Maybe it was how I accidentally tweaked the recipe to include more bacon grease than called for and  cooked the veggies to still be crisp and hence fresher tasting than true, true Southern style?

Whatever it was, it on plates with grilled (err, slightly charred but still not dried out on the inside) salmon for a Friday night lake house dinner. There was some wine and some talk. And then it was gone. 

The succotash inspiration came from the Stone Throw Bar & Grill chef who keeps the "simple and Southern" side on his menu served with fish all summer. I had the pleasure of chatting with him about how he prepares locally grown produce for a casual-fine dining hybrid menu for an upcoming issue of 280 Living a few weeks ago, and I left with determination to make just that, succotash with my favorite piece of seafood, salmon. 

The end product confirmed that restaurant inspiration with magazine recipes cooked in the company of friends with no time table is quite the perfect way to spend a night, one I prefer to eating out or grabbing a meal that requires no prep and cleanup work.

June 7, 2011

How to Reheat Pizza

You're probably thinking, "No duh, you reheat pizza in the oven." But do you it this way?

1. Put pizza in the oven before you turn it on.

2. Then preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

3. Right when the oven beeps or otherwise notifies you that it has preheated, the pizza should be at the perfect temperature with a nice, crisp crust.

Note: This tip assumes you like pizza reheated like most of the world. If you are in my club, where we prefer it fresh or else cold, then this post is not for you. I do reheat pizza for the rest of the the population out there.

Bonus: Reheat the pie of a pizza that comes from DeVinci's in Homewood (pictured)—best tasting, most filling meal of pizza slice I've ever had. Really not much compares with it except Mellow Mushroom's grainy, spring water dough crust.

Do you have any pizza leftovers tips?