I always like going out to restaurants and I love the whole experience of it. From dressing up to sitting down at the restaurant table, ordering, relaxing and enjoying flavorful meals cooked by amazing chefs plus sharing a nice bottle of wine along with great company and conversation, to me this is a lovely way to spend an evening! I’m very social and this is something I really enjoy in my life.
Back in the 80s’, on average I would say that I was going out for dinner 4 nights a week. I was definitely a “Restaurantaholic”! – if this word doesn’t exist, I just created one… lol! I always love trying new dishes from the menu, new wines while wearing a new outfit – did I ever mention that I love shopping? The same scenario in the 90s’ with me and restaurants but much lesser since the turn of the century and definitely less since I’m on the West Coast unless we’re travelling.
One dish that appeared in a lot of restaurants was Chicken Cordon Bleu. For some strange reason, restauranteurs removed it from their menus and I don’t remember seeing it since the late 90s’. A few years ago I got a flashback from that dish and decided to replicate it at home. My first attempt was pretty good but I wanted more flavor so I thought outside the box by adding a few new ingredients and with humbleness (… lol!), I have to admit, this is the best Chicken Cordon Bleu I ever had!
If you like classic dishes and want to impress your guests with a flavorful and well-presented dish, this one is absolutely perfect! I like to serve this recipe along with my Moroccan Couscous – click here for the link: Moroccan Couscous Salad– and some veggies. You can prep your roulades ahead of time (1-2 hours), tightly wrap them and when you’re ready to cook, bread them, sear them and transfer them to the oven… voilà! If you’ve never tried this dish, I highly suggest you do… you’ll be amazed how incredibly tasty it is!
If I was financially able to, I would be travelling 10 months of the year visiting foreign countries and discovering things beyond the usual tourist hot spots. I would integrate myself into a countrie’s culture by staying for a long period of time… a couple of months at least. I would also visit areas that are not specifically tagged as “touristy”, try to speak some of their language, discover their traditions and of course, taste and learn how to cook their food.
I have my top 10 countries on my dream destination list and one of them is Thailand! This country is so fascinating I could easily spend 6 months visiting and I would barely scratch the surface of its culture. For generations, the day to day traditions have been well integrated and preserved and this also applies to their food. Thai cuisine uses aromatic ingredients along with spices and herbs. The complex philosophy behind Thai cuisine and its preparation is to use a minimum of 3 fundamental taste senses which are; sweet, sour, salty, spicy and bitter. Besides rice and noodles, another popular staple in Thai food is curry paste which differs greatly from one region to another.
I’ve been working on different Thai recipes for a while as well as on my curry pastes – I have a few. This one has some interesting flavors to it. It is hot & spicy but yet, it doesn’t overpower the taste of a dish. Although I could’ve gone off the wall with unfamiliar ingredients, I’ve decided to stick to a more Westernized version of it so people can make it more easily at home.
If you are unfamiliar with Thai cuisine, I highly suggest you give it a try! Open your phone book (do we still have phone books???) or log on the internet and look for a Thai restaurant in your neighborhood. Try different dishes – some might be slightly on the spicy side – and you might be surprised just how delicious, tasty and colorful it can be. You’ll understand why Thai cuisine is so popular worldwide!
For those of you who know Thai food and want to experiment with new dishes at home, here’s a good food staple to have around. I realize that Birds Eye chilies are not for everyone. If these little guys are too spicy for you, substitute red pepper flakes at your discretion. That way, you’ll still have that “zip” in your recipe without having things too hot! I never had any curry paste leftovers but I would presume you can store the curry paste either in the refrigerator for a couple weeks or in the freezer for a couple months.
When I was living in Toronto, there was one thing a few of my girlfriends and I loved to do. It was to go out for “tapas” and a couple cocktails/wine for Happy Hour on Wednesdays around the entertainment district and downtown core. Besides being very social, what I really liked about these little plates was to sample a few all at the same time. Of course, we tried not to order the same things so we could have a wider range to try. That was fun!
Most appetizers are fun to share and calm your hunger until the main course. It also sets the tone for dinner. Every time I have a dinner party at my place, I can’t imagine not serving an appetizer to my guests. It’s somehow brakes the ice, brings people closer and opens conversation more easily. Although we don’t need these reasons, once in a while David and I like to share one during mid-afternoon with a chilled glass of Chardonnay or Pinot Gris.
Whatever the reasons are for serving an appetizer, the quicker and easier the better… after all you want to focus on the main course more than on your appy, right? On the other hand, you still want to serve something tasty and yummy. I’ve got the perfect recipe for you. From start to finish, this chip dip is ready to enjoy either with tortilla chips, bread or crackers. The flavors are very Californian; crab, artichokes and roasted red pepper!
Next time you’re hesitant about what to serve your guests for an appy, don’t search any further and serve this delicious simple dish. You’ll see how fast it disappears.
FOOTNOTE: If using a can, drain well before adding to the cheese mixture.
KITCHEN TOOLS: The Le CreusetStoneware 1 1/4-quart Rectangular Baker can be purchased in the "SHOP" section of Club Foody
Crab Artichoke Pepper Dip
The combination of ingredients gives this dip a wonderful flavor! It's a delicious appetizer that is quick to make and sure to please your guests! Served with tortilla chips, bread or your favorite crackers, this is a fun dish to share!
This coming weekend, many countries around the world will have Easter as a public holiday. Many places will be closed on “Good Friday” as well as on Easter Monday. I’m not sure how other nations enjoy this particular holiday but I’m sure all those will have a couple things in common: a long weekend to rest and an occasion to get together with family and friends.
If you are hosting dinner over this weekend, you might want to make something easy, delicious and doesn’t require that much attention… after all you want to spend time with your guests. The best answer that checks all the boxes is a roast!
When it comes to this particular cut of beef, there are many options to choose from. The prime rib with bone-in, also known as rib roast, is the best cut you can get. It has nice marbling and some fat. The next best one is a top sirloin roast which the cut is from the butt and is absolutely tender. Both of them are quite pricey but definitely worth every penny. You can also go with cheaper cuts but if you are hosting a dinner, spend the extra money and get a nice tender one!
Prepping a roast is definitely not complicated. To make it tastier, you’ve got the right recipe right here! With fresh herbs, this roast will turn out to be not only juicy but also flavorful. To me Easter is pretty much a holiday that welcomes spring and summer and by adding fresh herbs to this recipe it’s a good teaser for all the freshness ahead of us.
FOOTNOTE: The cooking time may vary depending on size, actual oven temperature, etc. Using a probe is a smart way to cook your roast perfectly each time. For a rare to medium-rare roast, the internal temperature should reach 140ºF. If it's too rare for some, quickly sauté a slice on both side in a hot pan with a little gravy for up to 2 minutes. Also keep in mind that a bone-in prime rib will take more time to cook in the oven.
KITCHEN TOOLS: The Cooper-Atkins Digital Probe Thermometer can be purchased in the "SHOP" section of Club Foody.
Roast Beef with Fresh Herbs
This recipe is easy to make and yet incredibly tasty! The mixed flavor from the herbs and the caramelized smell from the roast, give this dish a beautiful savory aroma! This is a perfect succulent meal to serve when hosting a dinner party!
Mmmm…mushrooms! There’s such a wonderful variety of sizes, shapes, colors and flavors. They are so versatile; you can use them in soups, salads, as a side dish or a main dish. Don’t you just love them? Since I can remember, I’ve always loved mushrooms and things haven’t changed.
The first time I tried Mushroom Risotto, it was love at the first “bite”! I was in an upscale restaurant in New York City and when I saw that dish on the menu, as a mushroom lover, of course I ordered it. As much as I expected a very delicious meal, I never thought it would exceed my expectations…it was heavenly!
I never thought to give it a shot at home until a couple years ago. Being disappointed many times and by failing to find a great place that could make it well, I decided I should try to make it myself. The very first time, it wasn’t perfect. I overcooked it and instead of being creamy, it turned out to be mushy…yuck! This first attempt didn’t discourage me to try it again and thankfully, my second time was a triumph. I was so pleased with the results and now it is a regular item on my kitchen menu.
I know it takes time to cook and stirring consistently for over 20 minutes can be exhausting BUT in the end this is such a lovely dish, you will be proud to serve it. Some chefs would say that it takes years to make a perfect risotto. I’d say it takes patience, accuracy, more patience and love. Just follow these steps, certainly don’t rush anything and you will get an amazing Mushroom Risotto.
FOOTNOTE: It uses around 5 cups of broth but it depends - you might use slightly less or more. It is wise to add another cup just in case more is needed. For a vegetarian/vegan version, use vegetable broth.
KITCHEN TOOLS: The Calphalon Cheese Plane can be purchased in the "SHOP" section of Club Foody.
I can proudly say that I’m a person who likes almost everything. I don’t have a narrow mind and I’m willing to try food, ingredients, etc. that I’ve never had before. Some people without trying it, will lift their nose and refuse to taste it – can’t understand them… sorry! At least try it and if you don’t like it THEN you can make a legitimate comment about it.
Although as mentioned I like pretty much everything, there are certain dishes, food that I’m not crazy about. That doesn’t’ stop me from giving them another try until perhaps I might eventually like it. Well here’s a perfect example… Between David and I, I am the most adventurous one although he came a long way since we’ve met and now, we both try “new stuff” together. Though there is one dish that I never really enjoyed and it is David’s fav! It’s Tiramisu! WHAT? Yes… I’ve never been a big fan of that classic Italian dessert even though I like all the ingredients in the recipe. It reminds me of “baby food”. You know that big round cookie that moms pour hot milk over to make it soft for babies without teeth (or barely any). This is what the texture reminds me of and for some reason, it was not enjoyable in my mouth.
One of the rules of thumb for a healthy relationship is to not be too self-centered, selfish and compromise once in a while. So having said that, one day I decided to make David’s favorite dessert – I’ve been procrastinating to make it for years but it was the decent thing to do… I have to say, the guy is patient… lol! Each time David ordered it, he always wanted me to have a taste and as a good sport, that’s exactly what I was doing “A” taste, not more just one taste! I knew which ingredients I would need to make it so opening up my memory box located somewhere in my brain, I put ingredients together and adding my favorite liqueurs in it which were Tia Maria and Marsala Wine. A little confession to make – I was drinking Tia Maria in my coffee while making it and truly hoping this dessert will turn out okay. It is hard to have confidence about something you’re making when you don’t like it…
Well, well, well what a surprise this Tiramisu was! Not only was it amazingly delicious BUT I LIKE IT! Okay, I like it more – I’m still working on the “baby-cookie-mushy-texture” issue, it’s a work in progress! Is it because I used Tia Maria or because I made it and somehow the “ego” department of my person decides it was more acceptable? Who knows! The important thing was that David really loved it and since then, I’ve been making it more often.
The moral of this recipe is don’t lift your nose to something you never had before until you try it and if after that, you still don’t really like it, keep trying, your taste buds might surprise you!
FOOTNOTE: Please don't spend the money buying powdered sugar when you can save so much by making it at home. To know how, click on this link:
This decadent classic Italian dessert is sure to please everyone! With beautiful layers of yumminess, this scrumptious tiramisu is delectably delicious! This is the perfect dessert to serve for special occasions.