Sunday, November 22, 2009

Chicago - Pizza Pot Pie

So, we're in Chicago, visiting family for Thanksgiving. We decided to take the weekend prior to make a mini-vacation for ourselves. And what an action packed vacation it's been!

We've been in the city less than 48 hours and have hit Millenium Park, seen the Thanksgiving parade, eaten dinner at Prosecco (Chicago's Diner's Choice 2009) w/dear old friends, taken the architectural boat tour, run through my old haunts and eaten some Pizza Pot Pie at Chicago Oven Grinder's.

I'm here to tell you that you haven't lived until you've had a triple P-- warm and buttery, the mozzerella just melts in your mouth. The spicy, saucy meat sauce explodes with flavor and is balanced out by the crispy, chewy crust. I can't believe in all the years I lived here, I had never had one of these. Not sure it's a good thing that I've had one now, b/c I will certainly have mad cravings that will not be easily sated.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Craving something warm, delicious and not too terrible on the waist line this weekend, I came across these enchiladas. The recipe for which, I immediately had to tweak and bend to my own tastes.

adapted from Tyler Florence

3 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken breast w/skin
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon Mexican hot chili spice blend
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
5 canned whole green chiles(or one whole small can), seeded and coarsely chopped
2-4 canned chipotle chiles, seeded and minced
1 (28-ounce) can stewed tomatoes, chopped
1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
16 corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce, canned (go for something a little more authentic and try to avoid Old El Paso if you can)
1 cup shredded Cheddar and Jack cheeses (or queso fresco if you can find it)

Garnish: chopped cilantro leaves, chopped scallions, sour cream, chopped tomatoes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover a large cookie sheet with foil. Rub chicken w/olive oil and season with spices, salt and pepper. Roast for 35-50 minutes (depending if the chicken is fresh or frozen) - should have an internal temp. of 165 when you pull it. Wrap up in the foil and place in fridge to cool. If you can do this earlier in the day or the night before, I recommend it, b/c wonderful flavor will develop.

Once chicken is cool, shred by hand and take juices, spices and olive oil that have collected in the foil and pour into a large frying pan. Saute onion and garlic in chicken drippings until tender. Add corn and chiles. Stir well to combine. Add canned tomatoes, saute 1 minute.

Add shredded chicken to saute pan, combine with vegetables. Dust the mixture with flour to help set.

Microwave tortillas on high for 30 seconds. This softens them and makes them more pliable. Coat the bottom of 2 (13 by 9-inch) pans with a ladle of enchilada sauce. Using a large shallow bowl, dip each tortilla in enchilada sauce to lightly coat. Spoon 1/4 cup chicken mixture in each tortilla. Fold over filling, place 8 enchiladas in each pan with seam side down. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes in a preheated 350 degree F oven until cheese melts. Garnish with cilantro, scallion, sour cream and chopped tomatoes before serving. And if you're using queso fresco (which I would recommend) instead of cheddar, sprinkle this on as well once you take the enchiladas out of the oven. Serve with Spanish rice and beans.

Monday, November 2, 2009


If you haven't been to The Bottom in a while, Lulu's will make it worth your while. My girls took me here as a birthday surprise last Saturday. They all knew I hadn't tried it yet and had been dying to go.

Having a reservation w/a larger party (6+) is advisable. Typically it will score you a quiet(er) table in a more private section in back. Note- they do not take reservations past 7 pm, it then becomes first come, first serve. Also, make sure to bring $5 cash for parking in case the streets are full.

Our table of 7 opted for a wide variety from the menu including:
  • Perciatelli Pasta with mushrooms and hot Italian sausage, ricotta marinara, and toasted points
  • A Rockfish special that included an insanely good basil cream sauce
  • Grilled Angus Beef Loin w/ mashed potatoes and vegetable du jour in a mushroom demi-glace
  • Orechiette Pasta with lump crab, tomatoes, shitake mushrooms, and roasted garlic in parmesan cream sauce
  • Pan Fried Cornmeal Crusted Carolina Trout stuffed with dirty rice, and tasso ham gravy

I tried a taste of everyone's dish except for the orechiette (shellfish allergy) and enjoyed it all. Alas, it was my own trout meal I did not find palatable since it was over salted.

I'm generally not one to complain or send things back. I will give a restaurant a few tries before forming my opinion or assuming anything negative. Everyone has a bad day or one bad plate. It happens! And I don't consider it to be the end of the world. But, I might sit a pout. Just a little.

Our generously patient and observant waiter actually noticed that I had barely touched my fish and I reluctantly confessed to not enjoying the over seasoning. He offered to bring me something else, but I told him it was not necessary. The owner took it upon himself to personally come talk to me (charming, lovely man) and took the fish off of the bill.

That, my friends, is how a restaurant should be run. Someone was paying attention and actually cared. Because of this, I definitely will be back. And also for the hope that they will be serving that rockfish special again. Did I say it was insanely good? Because I meant it was cuckoo, bananas, spinning in circles delicious.

Dessert was the best- a spicy, satisfying pumpkin creme brulee served in a mini pumpkin w/a candle. (creme brulee is typically served in a traditional ramekin).

Lulu's- you have got it goin' on! Thanks for making my bday special. :)

21 N 17th St
Richmond, VA 23219-3607
(804) 343-9771

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Demi Glace -

Lately I've been playing around with the joy and gift to (wo)mankind that is demi-glace. I've added it to beef stew, shepherd's pie and just about anything requiring a viscous, beefy base.

Tonite, I had 2 marvelous filet mignons on hand that I had picked up from Tom Leonard's. For filets, I usually massage w/olive oil, season, sear on the stove top, finish in the oven and call it a day (3 min. on med-high heat per side, 8 min. in oven at 375 for medium/med-rare).

As a steak purist, I generally believe that a great piece of meat is paid no higher compliment or is enjoyed more thoroughly than to stand on it's own with help only from a little seasoning. However, tonite I felt the urge to throw together a sauce for the steak b/c I have beef demi glace lurking in my fridge just begging to be used.

After perusing the internets, I sort of threw together what appealed to me. It worked out, thus I want to pass it along to you because it's worth trying. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

B's Steak Sauce-
1 medium shallot, minced
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 c. red wine (I prefer pinot noir or whatever you're drinking w/your steak)
Fresh cracked pepper (telicherry)
1/4 c. beef demi glace
3/4 c. warm water

Mix demi glace and water until well combined, set aside.

In a sauce pan over medium high heat, add 1 tbsp of butter, add shallot and cook for 1-2 minutes or until translucent. Add wine and reduce until wine is very thick, dark and almost gone. Add demi-glace mixture and simmer over low heat until sauce becomes more of a thickened gravy (coats a spoon). Add cracked pepper to taste and finish sauce with last tablespoon of butter.


Last Monday, the hubs and I took the newest addition to the Richmond restaurant scene for a spin on my birthday. We were not disappointed.

The interior is cozy and softly lit. Relaxing jazz mixed with contemporary musics plays softly in the background. Exposed brick walls are covered with bold modern art in muted colors. Bistro chairs, white table cloths, and banquet seating complete the overall laid back, yet sophisticated vibe.

We started with the truffled cheese ravioli and arugula salad with goat cheese rostido (toast). The ravioli that came with a thick and cheesy bechamel sauce in a small cast iron staub casserole was addictive and could be eaten by itself as a meal with a side of salad. The arugula salad surprised and charmed my palate with hints of tarragon. I especially loved that the dressing actually enhanced the salad instead of drowning it (novel idea!), which happens more often than not these days in any given restaurant.

For the main course, hubs and I both got the peppercorn steak, but opted for different sides. I chose pommes frites and he the truffled mac and cheese. The frites were crisp and delicious, served in a parchment paper lined stainless cup. The mac and cheese used ditallini and a mixture of gruyere and a few other cheeses I couldn't quite place, was altogether pleasing. Our steak was cooked medium rare to perfection and melted like butter on the tongue, the peppercorn sauce coating it providing a fitting compliment.

For dessert, the hubs and I also both ordered the profiterole. Which is funny, because we always strive to order different things so that we can both sample a wide variety of what's on the menu. But this profiterole dessert called to us and we found out that it was for good reason! Wine soaked, spiced figs lined the outside of the plate. In the center, a single glorious cream puff stuff ed with vanilla bean ice cream hit with a hint of pernod, topped with a rich house made chocolate sauce. The combo of rich chocolate, vanilla, pernod(anise) and the spice of the figs literally made me food drunk. There really are no words, you must try this for yourself.

Bouchon is only now starting it's 7th week with us and I would love to see them stay. So, please go see them and enjoy the love and care they put into the whole experience!

PS- I've been seeing some blogging comments/tweets giving them a hard time about their name and I wanted to tell those folks that there is life and food outside of Thomas Keller. A bouchon is actually a TYPE of restaurant found in Lyon. Check it out here on Wikipedia.

PPS- I was also told by one of the owners, WendyKalif (her husband is the chef), that they are putting together a Bouchon Bar Bite Menu, just $4 an item as well as starting a prix fixe menu on weeknites from 5 -6 pm, $20 for 3 courses.

1209 E Cary St
Richmond, VA 23219-4146
(804) 225-9116