Sunday, June 22, 2008

Kitchen 64

It's taken me almost a year, but I finally headed over to the North Side to visit Kitchen 64 for brunch. It's a happening spot on Sunday's, so my word of advice is to get there before 11!

Luckily, today was temperate and they had fans as well as a tent over the outdoor seating area. So, our party opted to dine al fresco.

Today was also Eggs Bene Day for everyone. I had the regular, the 2 other friends with me had the Smoked Salmon Bene and Crab Cake Bene. Each comes standard with perfectly blanched asparagus and crisp, golden-brown homefries.

I will have to say unequivocally, this is the best Eggs Benedict I have had in the last 5 years of living in Richmond. The VA ham is flavorful and the hollandaise well balanced. And yes, they passed my coffee & potatos "test." ;) Not to mention, you just can't beat $7.95 for Eggs Benedict!

I had a highly enjoyable Sunday Brunch experience and am looking forward to going back sometime soon for dinner. Two enthusiastic thumbs up!

Kitchen 64
3336 North Boulevard
Richmond, VA 23230
(804) 358-0064
*photo from

Just Because.........

I feel somewhere along the way that I am residually French, whether by gene pool or personal fancy. Reason being, I have a hard time resisting buying fresh cut flowers. Especially when I manage to zip by Fresh Market. I mean, look at these gorgeous, raspberry colored Peonies! Could you have resisted? ;)

Grilled Chicken with Roasted Garlic-Oregano Vinaigrette

It's taken a while, but Bobby Flay has finally won me over. A friend kindly gifted me his newest cookbook, Grill It! Which, I can not wait to work my way through this summer.

I tried my first recipe from this book on Saturday and was just blown away by the flavor. Can you say, Drop-Kick-Your-Dog-Delicious? I can! This now officially my new favorite summer "For Company" dinner. Not to mention it looks beautiful on a plate!

My chicken breasts were 16oz each vs. Bobby's recommended 8oz in this recipe. Therefore, they took a bit longer and I was standing ready with a probe thermometer. Your chicken should be between 160 and 165 degrees before pulling it off of the grill.
Grilled Chicken with Roasted Garlic-Oregano Vinaigrette and Grilled Fingerling Potatoes
Recipe courtesy Bobby Flay, 2007

For the roasted garlic-oregano vinaigrette:
8 cloves roasted garlic
1/4 cup white wine vinegar (I used champagne vinegar)
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes

For the grilled chicken and potatoes:
12 fingerling potatoes, scrubbed
Kosher salt
Olive oil
4 (8-ounce) bone-in chicken breasts
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh oregano sprigs, for garnish

For the roasted garlic-oregano vinaigrette:
Combine garlic, vinegar, oregano, parsley, honey and salt in a blender and blend until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the oil and process until emulsified. Stir in the red chile flakes.

For the grilled chicken and potatoes:
Place potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with cold water and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until a paring knife inserted comes out with some resistance. Do not cook the potatoes all the way through because they will continue cooking on the grill. Drain well and when cool enough to handle, slice in half lengthwise.

Heat the grill to medium.

Brush the chicken and potatoes with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken on the grill, skin-side down and grill until golden brown and slightly charred, 6 to 7 minutes. Turn the chicken over and continue grilling until just cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes. A few minutes before the chicken has finished cooking, place the potatoes on the grill, cut-side down and cook until lightly golden brown, about 2 minutes. Turn over and continue grilling about a minute longer. Remove the chicken and potatoes to a platter and immediately drizzle with the roasted garlic-oregano vinaigrette. Let rest 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with oregano sprigs.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Jean-Jacques is one of my favorite places in Richmond, VA. After moving here from a larger city, where in my neighborhood alone there were 5 mom & pop bakeries, the discovery of J-J made me happy indeed!

I'm typically not a baker, thus I need a good "go to" for desserts or brunch sweets. So J-J is my pinch-hitter for all things sugar-laced that I might serve my guests. The cannoli's are seriously to die for. Crispy, melt-in-your-mouth homemade cannoli shells stuffed w/chocolate chip cannoli cream and chocolate dipped on each end.

Thus, I convinced a friend who was in town this last weekend to pop into J-J with me for a cannoli (also HER fav!) And she concurs w/my opinion that their cannoli's are the best she's ever had. I stepped out of my usual and had the cream horn, which like everything else, melts in your mouth and leaves you wanting more. :)

If you haven't checked it out, I highly encourage you to do so!

Jean Jacques Bakery
3138 West Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23221
Tel : (804) 355-0666
Fax: (804) 354-6935

Monday, June 16, 2008

Firecracker Salmon

Found a new salmon recipe we're crazy about- Firecracker Salmon, courtesy of Whole Foods. It's a lot sweeter than our normal Asian Grilled Salmon. But, delicious all the same!
Firecracker Grilled Alaskan Salmon
Serves 4

A blend of sweet and spicy, try this salmon next time you light up the grill. Since it has some sugar in the marinade, make sure to oil your grill well or wrap each fillet loosely in heavy foil and place directly on grill to avoid sticking.

4 Alaskan salmon fillets, 4–6 ounces each
1/4 cup peanut oil
2 tablespoons Soy sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/8 salt (if desired)

Place salmon fillets in a glass dish(I use a zip top bag). Whisk together remaining ingredients and pour over salmon. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in refrigerator 4–6 hours.

Remove salmon from marinade and place on a well-oiled grill 5 inches from coals. Grill for 8–10 minutes per inch of thickness, measured at the thickest part. Turn halfway through cooking. (You may also wrap and seal with foil to form a packet). Cook covered, 20–25 minutes on medium-hot grill or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Nutrition Info
Per Serving (170g-wt.): 260 calories (120 from fat), 14g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 29g protein, 4g total carbohydrate (0g dietary fiber, 4g sugar), 80mg cholesterol, 800mg sodium

Grilled Pizza

If you ask me my favorite thing to grill, I'll always say pizza, hands down. It's the closest I can get to brick oven at home. Not to mention easy, tastier and cheaper than take out.

I do make my own sauce, but you can certainly keep it easy and buy prepared sauce. I also make my own dough, which I'll be providing a recipe for here. But, you can purchase a store bought dough and use it just as easily. The trick is lightly oiling your grates, really cranking the grill to get things started and making sure to oil up the dough. I also think making "personal" size pizzas keeps things manageable and moving right along.

Typically, I will make the dough the night before and let it rise in the fridge so it's ready to go when I am. (I do let it come to room temp for about 45 minutes to an hour before handling).

I use a pizza cheese mix that I throw a little oregano into as well. When I'm ready to top the pizza, first goes on the sauce, then I top w/ meats (we used canadian bacon and pre-cooked sweet turkey italian sausage) and then cheese.

This is the recipe that I've found so far to work best:

Grilled Pizza Dough
Gourmet June 2003

Chris Bianco, the owner of Pizzeria Bianco, in Phoenix, makes our favorite pizza dough. He showed us his technique for our October 1999 issue, and we've been building on it ever since. Here, we've adapted his recipe slightly to make it work on the grill. This recipe is an accompaniment for Grilled Pizza Margherita.

Makes 1 lb dough, enough for 2 (9-inch) pizzas. (I make 4 from this)

1 (1/4-oz) package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 3/4 to 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus additional for kneading and dredging
3/4 cup warm water (105-115°F)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Stir together yeast, 1 tablespoon flour, and 1/4 cup warm water in a measuring cup and let stand until mixture appears creamy on surface, about 5 minutes. (If it doesn't, discard and start over with new yeast.) Stir together 1 1/4 cups flour and salt in a large bowl, then add yeast mixture, oil, and remaining 1/2 cup warm water and stir until smooth. Stir in enough of remaining flour (1/4 to 1/2 cup) for dough to come away from side of bowl.

Knead dough on a work surface with floured hands, reflouring work surface and hands when dough becomes too sticky, until dough is smooth, soft, and elastic, about 8 minutes. Divide dough in half and form into 2 balls(I did 4-- 2 a piece inside of oiled gallon zip top baggies), then generously dust balls all over with flour and put each in a medium bowl. Cover bowls with plastic wrap and let dough rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/4 hours. Dough can be allowed to rise, covered and chilled, 1 day. Bring to room temperature before kneading.

Form pizza rounds:

Do not punch down dough. Gently dredge 1 ball of dough in a bowl of flour to coat, then transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Holding 1 edge of floured dough in the air with both hands and letting bottom touch work surface, carefully move hands around edge of dough (like turning a steering wheel), allowing weight of dough to stretch round to roughly 7 inches in diameter.

Lay dough round flat on floured surface and continue to stretch by pressing dough with your fingertips, working from center outward to edge, stretching it into a 9-inch round. Transfer to a large floured tray and make another round in same manner, then place it next to other round. Lightly rub a long sheet of plastic wrap with flour, then invert loosely over pizza rounds and let them stand to puff slightly while preparing grill, 10 to 20 minutes.

To prepare gas grill:

Preheat burners on high, covered, 10 minutes, then reduce heat to moderate.

To grill pizzas:

Remove plastic wrap from both rounds of dough and lightly brush dough with some oil. Carefully flip dough rounds, oiled sides down, with your hands onto middle of lightly oiled grill rack and brush top of each with oil. Grill crusts, uncovered, until undersides are golden brown (rotate them if 1 side of grill is hotter than the other), 2 to 3 minutes on gas grill or 4 to 6 minutes on charcoal grill.

Flip crusts over with tongs and a spatula and top each crust with half of tomato sauce, spreading evenly over dough and leaving a 1/2-inch border around edge. Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over sauce and grill pizzas, covered with grill lid, until undersides are golden brown and cheese is melted, about 3 minutes on gas grill or 5 minutes on charcoal grill.

Scatter basil over pizzas. (If using meat-- place pre-cooked meat on pizza after sauce and then cover w/cheese).

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Barefoot Blogging: Pasta, Pesto & Peas

My second assignment as a "Barefoot Blogger" was to make Ina's Pasta, Pesto & Peas. And I came to a conclusion as a result of trying this recipe. I've decided I really don't care for pesto.

I mean, I know I should. I love all the ingredients in it- fresh basil, good parmesan cheese, peas, pasta-- I mean, how could you go wrong? Yet, alas, it does not make my soul sing or make my tummy smile. But, it did make a lot friends happy when I brought the shedooby-load of leftovers to them. ;)

I made half of this and it was still enough to feed a whole baseball league, so beware the amount this makes! :)

Pasta, Pesto, and Peas
Copyright, 2001, Ina Garten, All rights reserved

3/4 pound fusilli pasta
3/4 pound bow tie pasta
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 cups pesto, packaged or see recipe below
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/4 cups good mayonnaise
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
1/3 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cook the fusilli and bow ties separately in a large pot of boiling salted water for 10 to 12 minutes until each pasta is al dente. Drain and toss into a bowl with the olive oil. Cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree the pesto, spinach, and lemon juice. Add the mayonnaise and puree. Add the pesto mixture to the cooled pasta and then add the Parmesan, peas, pignolis, salt, and pepper. Mix well, season to taste, and serve at room temperature.

1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Place the walnuts, pignolis, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.

Notes: Air is the enemy of pesto. For freezing, pack it in containers with a film of oil or plastic wrap directly on top with the air pressed out.

To clean basil, remove the leaves, swirl them in a bowl of water, and then spin them very dry in a salad spinner. Store them in a closed plastic bag with a slightly damp paper towel. As long as the leaves are dry they will stay green for several days.

Yield: 4 cups

Monday, June 2, 2008

Life does not get any better.

Meryl Streep is playing Julia Child in an upcoming film based on the book Julie & Julia.

Details here.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


I have to say that I love the recent trend of salvaging names of old businesses downtown on Broad Street, even while turning the old spaces into restaurants. First was Popkin's, which used to be a furniture store, now an awesome lofted space that serves as bar, pool hall and restaurant. They even kept old furniture ads, framed them nicely and have them hanging about the place. And now, Tarrant's, an old converted drug store.

Tarrant's has been open for a while now, but I had hung back. Mainly bc. around this town, when something first opens, it's swarmed. And newer restaurants, partic. locally owned, will take a while to find their "legs." And as expected, I heard mixed reviews from friends.

Well, this quiet Sunday morning, after a relaxing weekend, offered the perfect opportunity to venture down Broad to Tarrant's for a taste of their brunch. Parking, for those that don't know, is always a little tricky around this area of town. But, on a Sunday, it was plentiful. I think esp. so b/c VCU etc. is out for the summer, so that lightens up the population downtown.

We rolled up, were immediately greeted and seated. At noon, the place was barely half full and the atmosphere subdued. It's a long and narrow space with a vintage mirrored wood bar to the right as you enter and a tall, 3-section server/wait station to the left. As you move to the back, the restaurant is flanked with carved wooden booths on each side. 4-seaters on the left, 6-seaters on the right. I have to say my fav piece in the place is the preserved and framed "Prescriptions" sign over the bar! ;)

We opted for the brunch menu. Hubs customizing his omelet (which was a monster) that came w/home fries and fruit. He also ordered a side of pancakes that carried a yummy, heavy hit of vanilla. My eggs benedict also came with the home fries as well. The eggs bene. were delicious, the eggs almost a little underdone, but the hollandaise was generous and well balanced (too much lemon can kill it for me).

I have to share with you that the 2 things that can make or break a breakfast/brunch place for me are the coffee and the potatos. One hard potato and I'm never going back. These home fries were perfect. Red bliss potatos, creamy on the inside, crispy and well seasoned on the outside having been fried up with some bacon! I mean, how can you go wrong w/bacon? And I got a freshly brewed cup of hangover curing coffee. :)

All in all, we had a pleasant, laid-back brunch experience. The menu beyond brunch, looked monstrous and left me wondering how they kept up with all of their offerings. I guess I'll have to stop back in sometime for dinner to find out!


Friday night found us out at Avalon with friends. This is a place I've been wanting to try for as long as I've lived in Richmond, but for some reason, never found the occasion.

To those that are unfamiliar, Avalon is a long standing fan restaurant along Main Street. If you didn't know any better, you might almost think it were a spa or some kind of antique store due to the unique remnant plate glass store windows that flank the entry way.

And even upon entering, it feels like a bit of a maze to find where you're going. :) I loved the interior. It has the old school tin ceiling, a bit low slung compared to a lot of vintage places in the fan. And what I think saves it from being too dark and feeling like a cave is a lovely sky light on the bar side of the restaurant. Overall, just very cozy, comfy and welcoming.

I should also explain that they have a very unique menu. You can order courses (salad, main course, dessert). You can order tapas. Or you can do a combination of both, which is what our party opted to do. Our server worked strategically to build all of our choices into "courses" so that no one in our group would be without a plate at any time.

We ordered a smattering from the menu (the online menu is not updated yet with their spring/summer offerings):

Watermelon cubes w/a balsamic and basil reduction
Hummus w/veggies and crostini
Israeli couscous w/garlic and parm
Filet w/mash
Roast chicken w/mash & their "world famous" brussels sprouts
Duck confit pizza
Watercress salad w/blood oranges & goat cheese (mine, of course! :) )
Cheese plate - danish bleu, aged/smoked provolone, herbed goat

The watermelon was spot on and made my mouth very happy. All the flavors surprisingly complimentary and refreshing. The hummus was creamy and rich, I will def. be back for this in particular. The chicken a bit dry, but flavorful. Watercress salad was nicely balanced and one of my favorite items. Cheese plate-- the goat was actually kind of sweet and that was not what I was looking for, so I was not a fan. The provolone, however, was piquant, bold and my favorite on the plate. (Hubs was digging the danish bleu)

My fav item by far and away was the duck confit pizza w/goat cheese and fresh tomatos. Killer. Seriously amazing blend of balanced flavors. The crust was crispy with just enough chew to it. I could order this over and over again and never get sick of it!

For dessert, they offer the usual suspects (creme brulee, cheesecake etc.) which, according to those in our party who ordered them, were good. However, I and my friend opted for their house made chocolate ice cream w/ancho chili. The only way I can describe it to you is that it was a roller coaster in my mouth! LOL! Really creamy & chocolatey, you swallow and about 2 minutes later it would punch you in the back of the mouth/throat. Very fun!

The experience overall was relaxed & fun. The service, while kind & helpful, was markedly slow. I'm not one to notice this type of thing too much if I'm w/good company and a great cocktail. So, it was more my counterparts noticing than myself. It certainly will not deter me from going back!

I would say this is a great joint to visit if you want a light, but excellent bite at the bar with a really good imported beer. :) Def. worth a visit!