Emily’s Food and Recipe Blog

Recipes, menus, cooking, restaurant reviews – All about food!

Archive for September, 2007

Restaurant reviews – Dallas and NYC

Posted by moderndaygourmet on September 28, 2007

I decided that I may also use this blog to talk about restaurant reviews. I have been to a few places worth writing about in the past few days and will visit more in the future, which I’ll also blog about.


Sambuca is in the Uptown area of Dallas. I went there awhile back when it was in Deep Ellum and it was more of a Mediterranean feel. The menu is somewhat different now than I remembered, and it’s not quite as Greek as it was. However, we did have a great meal there. We started with martinis. I got a bellini martini, which was tasty but not too remarkable, and my coworker got a key lime martini which tasted exactly like key lime pie. It was delicious. Not too tart, not too sweet, and the similarity in flavor to the actual pie was remarkable. I definitely want to order one of those on a return visit. Then we ordered two appetizers. One was calamari, which was light and not too greasy, and not rubbery like calamari so often is. We also had the beignets, which were savory, not sweet. They were filled with prosciutto, mozzarella, and jalapeno basil, with a balsamic glaze. These were terrific. I ate two, but could have put away some more as well. The proscuitto and cheese were the perfect blend of flavors and the glaze really added a nice touch. I am not always a fan of balsamic reductions but this one worked really well. Then I ordered the petite filet mignon, which was a nice 6 ounces (most small filets tend to be in the 8 oz range). This was the perfect size, really. It was cooked exactly right and came with some tasty au gratin potatoes and green beans. For dessert, we ordered the sticky toffee pudding to share. It was a toffee bread pudding that came with a candy cup (brown sugar, really) filled with ice cream. This was not what I would have chosen, since toffee isn’t often something I crave, but it was surprisingly good. I would order it again. It tasted rather like a spice cake with toffee sauce.


This is a Southwestern place on Seventh Avenue in Manhattan, in Greenwich Village. I had looked forward to trying it for quite a while. First I ordered a mojito, which was perfect. Just perfect. It had exactly the right blend of rum, lime, mint, and sugar. Next I ordered the guacamole for an appetizer, which came with three salsas and blue corn chips. It was fresh and had a nice hint of cilantro in it. However, it did have a little much onion for my taste, but I am not a fan of onions in guacamole. The flavor of raw onions is too harsh, I think. Also, it was served on a bed of shredded lettuce, which to me is reminiscent of cheap Mexican places which serve you frozen premade guacamole slopped on a bed of lettuce. Why do restaurants do this to perfectly good guacamole? It gets all muddled in the lettuce and gets wasted. Good guacamole needs no lettuce or garnish, just the bowl it’s served in. Anyway. The tomatillo salsa had a good flavor and plenty of heat. Then I ordered the blue corn enchiladas stuffed with chipotle chicken breast. These were quite a disappointment. The tortillas had not been oiled, which was nice because they weren’t greasy, but this caused them to be very dry and tough and even crunchy. Not what you expect with enchiladas. The chicken was dry also. There wasn’t a ton of cheese in these, which I did appreciate. I liked the cilantro scented rice on the side. This place came highly recommended and I think I would return and maybe see if I should have ordered something else. In general I love Southwestern food and rarely find some I just don’t like. Some would say that New Yorkers can’t make good Southwestern food, but I disagree. Hello? Bobby Flay? Now NYC barbecue on the other hand…well, stay away is all I have to say about that.

John’s Pizza

I had been to John’s Pizza on 44th before but this is the original (I think!) John’s on Bleeker St., again in Greenwich Village. I had the pizza with mozzarella, sauce, and mushrooms. That’s it. I usually eat meat or other veggies on my pizza but I thought I would be a purist with this meal and see what I could tell about the basics of the pizza. This did not disappoint. I know that “what’s the best pizza” is a subject hotly debated among New Yorkers, and I don’t intend to get in the middle of that, but this pizza was extremely good. Nice crispy crust from the brick oven, fresh tasting tomato sauce and mushrooms, and nicely dispersed cheese that was just the right amount. Not Cheese City like some pizzas. Now I love cheese, but there is a limit and John’s has it down just right. I love the feel of this place too. Small, with old booths and carving on the walls. It’s a dive with really good food. My kind of place.


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Fried Ice Cream

Posted by moderndaygourmet on September 25, 2007

Okay, may I just say that this recipe is one of the biggest pains ever invented. It takes forever, is messy, and you are stopping and starting literally all day. However, if you are having a small group over for dinner, it’s really pretty and impressive and, I have to say, very tasty. It’s worth the trouble for a special occasion. I’m excitedly looking for a reason to make it again. We had this on Valentines Day a couple of years ago. I found it on epicurious.

1 quart super-premium vanilla ice cream such as Häagen-Dazs
1 1/2 cups macadamia nuts (about 7 ounces)
3 large eggs
6 cups cornflakes (about 7 ounces)
about 5 cups vegetable oil for deep-frying
confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Accompaniment: chocolate macadamia nut sauce (see below)

Line a shallow baking pan with wax paper and put pan in freezer 5 minutes. With a 1-ounce ice cream scoop (1 1/2 inches in diameter) scoop out 12 ice-cream balls and transfer to pan. Freeze balls, covered, until very hard, at least 3 hours and up to 8.
Preheat oven to 350° F.

While ice cream is hardening, in a baking pan toast nuts in one layer in middle of oven until golden, about 10 minutes, and cool. Finely chop nuts and transfer to a shallow bowl.

Roll balls in nuts, pressing lightly, until well coated. Freeze balls, covered, until very hard, at least 1 hours and up to 8.

In a bowl lightly beat eggs and in another bowl crumble cornflakes. Dip balls in egg, letting excess drip off, and roll in cornflakes to coat. Freeze balls, covered, at least 1 hours and up to 8. Reserve remaining egg and corn flakes, chilling egg.

Repeat dipping and coating procedure with reserved egg and cornflakes. Freeze balls, covered, until very hard, at least 3 hours and up to 8.

In a 3-quart heavy kettle heat 2 inches oil over moderate heat until a deep-fat thermometer registers 375° F. Working in batches of 2 or 3, fry balls, turning them, about 20 seconds, or until golden and crisp. With a slotted spoon transfer balls to paper towels to drain. Make sure oil returns to 375° F between batches.

Dust ice-cream balls with confectioners’ sugar and serve immediately with sauce.

Makes 12 balls, serving 4.

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Sauce:

2/3 cup macadamia nuts (about 3 1/2 ounces)
1 ounce fine quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream preparationPreheat oven to 350°F.
In a baking pan toast nuts in one layer in middle of oven until golden, about 10 minutes, and cool. Finely chop nuts and chocolate separately.

In a dry heavy saucepan cook sugar over moderately low heat, stirring slowly with a fork to help sugar melt evenly), until melted and pale golden. Cook caramel, without stirring, swirling pan, until deep golden. Remove pan from heat and carefully add cream down side of pan (mixture will bubble and steam). Simmer mixture, stirring occasionally, until caramel is dissolved. Stir in chocolate and nuts. Cool sauce 10 minutes and in a food processor blend until smooth.

Serve sauce warm. Sauce may be made 1 week ahead and chilled, covered. Reheat sauce to warm before serving.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

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Squash Cornbread Casserole

Posted by moderndaygourmet on September 19, 2007

I got this from a friend today. It looks great. She said that even squash haters like it because the squash is sort of hidden. I thought immediately of my dear husband and his squash hating self. LOL. Perhaps this will make him a convert.


3-4 yellow squash chopped into quarter slices
1 med. onion chopped (I chop in my mini-processor)
2 eggs
½ c. milk
1 t. salt
12 oz. cottage cheese
1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix
½ c. margarine, melted

Mix all ingredients together.
Pour into a greased oblong baking dish (9×13”).
Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes.
Casserole should be a golden brown on top.

Posted in Vegetables | 1 Comment »

Lowfat Hash Brown Casserole

Posted by moderndaygourmet on September 19, 2007

Who would have thought such a thing existed? Of course, everything is relative; this is supposed to have 273 calories and 11g of fat per serving (vs. 624 calories and 50g fat in the “original” version, although really is there any one original version?). I’ll make this tonight and edit the entry with my comments.

2 pounds frozen hash browns, thawed
3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese made with 2 percent milk
1 cup light sour cream
1 can Campbell’s Healthy Request Cream of Chicken soup, undiluted
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup minced onion
1/4 cup butter, melted
Cooking spray
1 cup corn flakes, crushed

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine first seven ingredients in a large bowl. Spoon into a 13×9-inch baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle crushed corn flakes evenly over the potato mixture. Bake for 1 hour or until bubbly.

Makes 9 servings.

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Weekly menu

Posted by moderndaygourmet on September 12, 2007

This is really for next week, but I am not too busy at work today, so I put this together. I’m on a quest to finish up food we have in the house, as much as possible. This will require very little shopping. I’ve given myself a “freezer and pantry challenge” to use food that we already have, to reduce waste and save money besides.

Chicken piccata, egg noodles, green peas (chicken piccata is pre-made from Sams and is in the freezer)
Pork chops (preparation TBD), rice, broccoli (pork chops in the freezer we need to use)
Soft tacos or enchiladas (have some seasoned taco meat in the freezer)
Smoked chicken/corn chowder (again, waiting in the freezer, do we see a theme here?)
Almond tilapia, baked potatoes, green beans (fish in the freezer)
Grilled catfish, grilled corn, grilled zucchini (once again, big bag of fish from Sams in the freezer)

I should only need to buy fresh produce: broccoli, corn, zucchini, potatoes, green beans (might use canned). And tortillas for the taco/enchilada night. Maybe an avocado if they are on sale.

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Weekly menu

Posted by moderndaygourmet on September 4, 2007

Here is what we’re having this week.  Don’t necessarily have it organized by day (I often don’t but just make a list of what we’re having) but at least I have put some thought around it:

Roast sticky chicken, sauteed zucchini and yellow squash
Baked potatoes with barbecue meat
Chicken caesar salad
Marinated pork loin with grilled corn and peas
King ranch casserole
Mini pizzas (I’m cheating and using the Boboli crusts)

See how useful the sticky chicken is? Three dinners in one and there will probably be more left over besides.

Posted in Menus - weekly | 1 Comment »

Texas Sheet Cake

Posted by moderndaygourmet on September 4, 2007

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
2 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups white sugar
1 cup water
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter
6 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 pound powdered sugar
1 cup chopped pecans

Grease a 13×9 cake pan. Combine 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup shortening, 2 ounces chocolate, and water in saucepan and heat until chocolate is melted.

In a separate bowl, combine flour and soda. Set aside.

In a separate large bowl, combine sugar, buttermilk, eggs, cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add to flour mixture and mix well. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until cake tests done.

Five minutes before cake is done, prepare frosting. Combine 1/2 cup butter, 2 ounces chocolate, and milk in saucepan and heat until bubbles form around the edge. Remove from heat and add powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and nuts, beat until combined. Frost cake while still warm. Allow to cool totally before cutting

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Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole

Posted by moderndaygourmet on September 4, 2007

I got this from my friend Tammy at church. You can make this the night before and then pop in the oven to bake in the morning – great for brunches, company, and holidays.

1 package frozen shredded hash browns
2 pounds breakfast sausage
2 cups shredded cheese
9 eggs

Brown sausage in skillet. Beat eggs in large bowl and add hash browns, cheese and cooked sausage, stir to combine. Pour into 13×9 pan and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. Top with a little more cheese after 30 minutes.

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Sopapilla Cheesecake

Posted by moderndaygourmet on September 4, 2007

This one has been passed around among our friends at church. We have it a lot for breakfast on Sundays but it would also be a good dessert, especially with fruit.

16 ounces cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 packages crescent rolls
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar

Place 1 package crescent rolls in the bottom of a 13×9 pan and press perforations to seal. Combine cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, and vanilla and pour over rolls. Lay second package of crescent rolls on top of cream cheese/sugar mixture and seal perforations. Melt butter and combine with 1/2 cup sugar and pour over rolls. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes until browned.

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Cookbook recommendation

Posted by moderndaygourmet on September 3, 2007

I picked up this cookbook a while back and I love it.  It has tons of recipes of very classic, delicious desserts. And lots of baking tips. And pictures – lots of gorgeous dessert pictures.

You can find it at Amazon here and I also have seen them at Williams-Sonoma.

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