Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Muffaletta Tartlets with Olive Salad, Cajun Chips, & Hibiscus Lavender Lemonade for the May 5 Star Picnic Makeover

I am not a fan of the sort of picnic where people have to sit on the  ground getting leg cramps and wishing there was a place to wash their sticky hands, all the while having to swat away nasty stinging bugs and crawling things.  No, thanks! I prefer my nature to be cultivated. I like civilation and cities and sinks and flushing toilets. But that's not to say that I don't love picnic food. Quite the contrary!

So when I found out that the challenge for the May 5-Star Makeover cooking group - led as ever by the lovely and talented  Natasha of 5 Star Foodie and the prolific Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks! - was to come up with a a gourmet version of picnic food, I immediately knew the direction I would take, if not the specific dishes I would make. I would create a lovely picnic that one would want to eat at a comfy table, in a garden, mere steps away from hot and cold running water.  And that's exactly how Poppa Trix and I enjoyed this little feast. (You can have a picnic in your own backyard, right?)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

North Vietnamese Cuisine (and a Little Taste of Italy) in Prague

A fragrant bowl of pho at the Sapa market complex in Prague ...
... and a garlicky bowl of al dente pasta with shrimp at Una Bella Canzone in a quiet residential section of the city
Prague is city that is filled with surprises - at least if you go expecting to find only sausages, ham,  and beer, though there is plenty of that to be had. Many residents we spoke with, for example, were unaware that some of the best Vietnamese food you'll ever find anywhere was just a short metro and bus ride away from the touristy center of town. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cajun Chicken and Sausage Gumbo for the International Incident Gumbo Party

International Incident Gumbo Party
In a completely uncharacteristic move, I am tardy for the International Incident Party, hosted as ever by the lovely and talented Penny aka Jeroxie. Late for a gumbo party no less! This is a truly shocking move given my love for all things Gulf Coast, particularly New Orleans and the surrounding Cajun country. I was married in a New Orleans voodoo temple after all, not to mention that last year I even made gumbo z'herbes in a guest post for none other than Penny herself!

But better late than never, right? And anyway, gumbo is even more delicious the next day.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Spinach, Pancetta & Goat Cheese Crustless Quiche for French Fridays with Dorie

 It's been an appalling two whole months since I did a French Fridays with Dorie post. This is due to a number of factors: my trip to Prague, Krakow, and Vienna (which I've been posting about here, here, and here); the fact that I really haven't been terribly inspired to make the Dorie dishes lately (except the pepper steak - I wish I had found time to make that!);  and, finally, the fact that I just started a job cooking in the kitchen at the Desert Cafe, a Middle Eastern restaurant in Baltimore. I love it! But frankly,  I don't feel much like cooking when I get home.

And by the way, if you live in the area, come by on a Tuesday or Friday lunch or Wednesday dinner, and make sure to order the Trixie Truffle or the Mango Tango, my very own dishes that the owner put on the menu. Fun! And yes, I am still the online food and drink editor at a local magazine and I do other freelance writing projects ... so  ... whew, to say the least.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Chef's Table at La Degustation Boheme Bourgeoise in Prague: A Tale of Seven Courses (with wine pairings), Seven Amuses Bouches, and Two Very Full Bellies

The view into the kitchen from the Chef's Table (Poppa sneaked this photo of me as I intently watched the chefs at work)

All dressed up and ready to eat. and eat ... and eat ... and eat
So far in my tales of Prague, I've talked about the traditional Czech cuisine I sampled (lots of sausages and ham!) and my adventures consuming copious amounts of beer and raw meat at a U Zlateho Tygra, (At The Golden Tiger). But now it's time for something completely different: an incredible multiple course feast of haute cuisine at La Degustation Boheme Bourgeoise.

Those of you who watch Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations may already be familiar with this place. Here, each night Chef Oldřich Sahajdak presents a seven-course gourmet tasting menu based on Czech recipes from an 1880s cookbook, proving wrong anyone who says that Czech food and gourmet are incompatible terms. In addition, an alternate chef's  tasting menu, inspired by more modern international cuisine, is also on offer. Nearly every course comes with its own amuse bouche, making for a long, leisurely, and absolutely unforgettable experience.  Did I mention the menu changes daily?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Lavender Whoopsie Cookies with a Lemon Mascarpone Filling for National Cookie Week

When the fabulous Michael of the Gay Gourmet asked me to participate in his first-ever National Cookie Week event, which he is co-hosting with Schmackary's Cookies of New York, I enthusiastically said "yes" for two reasons. For one thing, I would never say no to any request made of me by any of my gay friends - they are all simply too marvelous for words. And besides, my gay bffs always accommodate me, and I certainly wouldn't want to do anything to buck that trend.