Savory Three Mushroom & Kale Pie

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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Today would be my father’s 69th birthday.  Actually, I guess it still is, even though he died at 45.  But – one of my dad’s favorite foods was a mushroom pie my mother would make for him.  It is a savory pie – not sweet.  I only point this out because, after my avocado ice cream recipe, my boyfriend (Miles) was genuinely freaked out that I was going to make a dessert out of mushrooms.  He hates mushrooms.  But Miles isn’t here to eat dinner and I wanted to make this pie as a little shout out to my father.

So – I pulled out the old index card with my mother’s recipe on it & updated it a bit & this recipe is the result.  It is kinda tricky to photograph because the mushrooms can begin to look meaty but, trust me, if you like mushrooms, you will like this pie!

Also – this recipe calls for a roux of flour & butter but I happened to have leftover white gravy from my smashed baked potato recipe so I just used that!

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Savory Three Mushroom & Kale Pie

INGREDIENTS

For the pastry crust

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

16 TBS ice cold (even frozen) butter – or vegan alternative

1/4 cup or more of ice water

For the three mushroom & kale pie

1 1/2 – 2 lbs mixed mushrooms (I used white & oyster & shitake) – chopped

1/2 head kale

3 celery stalks – chopped

1 small onion – diced finely

1 tsp fresh thyme

olive oil

S&P

1 egg white whisked to glaze the crust (optional)

For the roux

1 cup milk – or vegan alternative

4 TBS butter – or vegan alternative

4 TBS flour

1 DEEP pie pan

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DIRECTIONS

For the pastry crust

Put the flour, salt & sugar in a food processor.  Pulse to blend.  Then, 1 TBS at a time, pulse in the cold butter until it is all incorporated.  Add a few TBS water & pulse until little balls of dough begin to form & it falls away from the bowl of the processor.

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Remove from the bowl & press into two balls – one a tad larger than the other.  Press flat, wrap in plastic wrap & chill for about an hour.  Let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before you roll it out.

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For the three mushroom & kale savory pie

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Remove the large ribs from the kale & tear the leaves into pieces.

Heat 1 TBS olive oil in a large frying pan.  Saute the kale for a few minutes & be sure it all becomes a little oiled & turns bright green.  Add about 1 TBS water, cover & steam for another few minutes.  Set aside in a bowl.

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In the same pan, add another 1-2 TBS olive oil & saute the mushrooms, celery, onion & thyme with some S&P over high heat.  Saute until everything softens & the mushrooms reduce in size quite a bit – 5 minutes or more.  Set aside.

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Heat the butter in a stock pot & add the flour.  Whisk them together & heat for a minute or two.  Add the milk 1/4 cup at a time & whisk to incorporate it.  When it thickens repeat with the rest of the milk.  It should have the consistency of a thick chowder.  Add S&P to taste.  Add to the mushrooms & stir to thoroughly combine.

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Roll you dough out large enough to fit your pie pan & line the pan with one of your crusts.

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Layer the kale in there & then the mushroom mix.

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Put the other crust on top.  I like a THICK crust at the edges so – I folded the top over the bottom & tucked it in all around (you can see how thick it was at the edges in the pics).  You might prefer to cut away the excess dough & press the edges to seal.  This is only a matter of personal preference.  Pinch the edges into waves or use a fork to press the seal tight.  Poke some vent holes in the top of your pie.

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If you like – you can whisk an egg white & brush the egg wash over the top of the crust.  It helps add a bit of shine & aids in the browning but is completely unnecessary.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the crust is the color you like.  Remove from the oven & allow to settle for about 10 minutes before cutting in.  Serve with a nice salad & a box of wine & you are set for the night!

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Spicy Southern Fried Cauliflower and Delta Dipping Sauce with Smashed Baked Potatoes and White Gravy and Buffalo Mac & Cheese

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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In my hunt for other recipes meant to provide a cauliflower version of fried chicken, I ran into THIS post about Popeye’s Fried Chicken.  Here is a picture from that site:

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I have never eaten at Popeye’s or any other fried chicken joint (except KFC & Dinah’s here in Glendale) and I haven’t tasted ANY fried chicken in over 25 years – but my boyfriend Miles eats it all the time.  In fact, he eats it weekly now that the famous Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken opened a few blocks away from him in downtown Little Rock.  Miles is always sending me (at my request) pictures of the food he eats & I find myself looking at fried chicken so much – I have developed an undeniable craving for it.  And – that blogger that spoke of an incredible meal at Popeye’s didn’t help.  And that Delta sauce?  I liked the sound of it & a few clicks here & there revealed that Popeye’s discontinued it.  In fact, there seems to be quite a bit of hand-wringing going on about the now-unavailable Delta Sauce and that piqued my curiosity.  Fortunately, the blogger who loved the Delta sauce posted a copycat recipe for it & I could not resist.  So – I made it & I include that recipe here.  It is like a spicy Thousand Island dressing & it is INCREDIBLE on my – wait for it – Southern Fried Cauliflower!

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Doesn’t that look just like a fried chicken plate?  I was so Goddamn happy with myself yesterday – you have no idea.  If you make any of my zillions of cauliflower recipes – I have to say – it should be THIS one!  So easy & so delicious!  And if, like me, you don’t eat meat but the reasons for that do not include any distaste for meat products – this might really satisfy any existing fried chicken craving you might be in denial about.

That plate above includes yesterday’s recipe for Buffalo Mac & Pepper Jack Cheese.

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It also includes some smashed baked potatoes & a vegetarian white gravy.

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This is quite a decadent meal & the perfect fix on those days when the hole in your heart is bigger than your ass & you just don’t give a fuck.  You wanna eat & you wanna eat something bad.  This is as Paula Deen as I am likely to get but even with this dish – the fried chicken is really cauliflower & there is no bacon (or other meat) fat in any of it (excepting egg & milk) & the potatoes were made with a minimum of butter & WATER – because I’d run out of milk.  So – seriously – AT LEAST try the southern fried cauliflower & Delta dipping sauce.  I am certain you will enjoy!

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Spicy Southern Fried Cauliflower and Delta Dipping Sauce with Smashed Baked Potatoes and White Gravy and Buffalo Mac & Cheese

(This feeds about two (very well) so increase the recipes if you are feeding more.  The mac & cheese recipe feeds at least 4.)

INGREDIENTS

For the Southern Fried Cauliflower

(depending on the size of your cauliflower – you may need more or less of the other ingredients – so maybe have extra on hand)

1 head cauliflower

2 eggs

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce

2 cups flour

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp each of S&P

1 tsp chipotle chili powder (or smoked or regular paprika)

1 tsp garlic powder

Lots of vegetable oil for frying

1 gallon zip lock baggy (not necessary but it makes life easier)

For the Delta dipping sauce

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 tsp lemon juice

1/8 cup vegetable oil

1/8 cup sambal oelek (or other chili sauce)

1/8 cup ketchup

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp mustard

1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2-3 dashes hot pepper sauce (Tabasco or another brand)

1 garlic clove – minced

For the smashed baked potatoes

2 large potatoes

olive oil

2 TBS butter

S&P

For the white gravy

2 TBS butter

1 large shallot – minced

1/4 cup flour

1 1/2 cups milk

1 vegetable bouillon cube

1/2 tsp dry sage

1 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp salt

For the Buffalo Mac & Cheese

See HERE

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DIRECTIONS

For the Delta dipping sauce

Whisk the ingredients together & chill.

For the Smashed Baked Potatoes

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Rub olive oil on the potatoes & sprinkle with salt.  Bake them – DIRECTLY on the oven rack – for about 45 minutes.  Remove from the oven & allow to cool a bit.  Peel the potatoes (I left bits of skin & browned spots for some color) & mash them up with the butter & some salt & pepper and as much milk or water (I used water as I was out of milk) as you need to get to a texture you like.  I used an old school hand masher & left them chunky & on the drier side.  I smashed them a bit more at the end with an immersion blender.  You do it however you like.

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For the white gravy

Heat the butter in a sauce pan & add the bouillon cube & the shallots.  Cook a minute or two until the shallots soften & the bouillon cube is dissolved.  Add the flour, sage & salt and pepper & stir constantly for about 2 minutes.  It should be quite dry.  Add the milk 1/2 cup at a time & allow it to thicken.  Continue until all the milk is incorporated and heat until the gravy is at your desired thickness.  Add milk if it is too thick.

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For the Southern Fried Cauliflower

In a bowl – whisk together the eggs, water & hot sauce.

In a zip lock bag or in a deep bowl – blend the flour with the rest of the dry ingredients.

Cut the cauliflower into the largest “drummettes” possible so they resemble chicken thighs & a few wings.  I sprayed my cauliflower with water so the flour mix would stick.

Put the cauliflower in the flour mix & toss to coat.  Dunk into the egg mix until covered & then back into the flour.  Coat again with the flour.

I do not have a thermometer to measure oil temp but I think 350 is the correct temperature for frying.  I just let it get hot, put one drummette in there & once that started bubbling pretty rapidly – I added a few more pieces

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Turn a few times & fry until they are a golden brown all over.  Drain on a paper towel.  Repeat until all the cauliflower is cooked.  Now – just divvy up the goodness & fill up that whole in your heart with some old school home cooking!

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Vegan Buffalo Mac & Pepper Jack Cheese Cupcakes

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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I woke up dizzy & light-headed & (oddly) filled with a dozen ideas for soul food or otherwise southern menu options.  I had all kinds of aspirations involving chicken-frying something & biscuits & gravy & mashed potatoes and mac & cheese.  I am really excited about the chicken-fried recipe but I only got as far as this mac & cheese idea.  I have enough of just these things to survive here for a week.  And I really shouldn’t eat mac & cheese cupcakes every meal for a week or I might develop type-2 Diabetes.

You can opt to make the cupcakes out of this recipe or just stop at the mac & cheese level.  It is a no-bake mac & cheese but I am certain 20 minutes at 375 wouldn’t hurt it.  Here it is right outta the pan – no baking at all.  If you are not baking it or making cupcakes – this mac & cheese comes together in just a little more time than it takes to boil the pasta.

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That is a little smoked paprika on there.  Pretty, no?

I used this wacky, large shell pasta for my recipe.  Regular macaroni or other small, shaped pasta would work, too.

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Vegan Buffalo Mac & Pepper Jack Cheese Cupcakes

INGREDIENTS

1 lb dry pasta – cooked

4 TBS flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp dry mustard

1 tsp ground pepper

1 pinch cayenne pepper

4 TBS vegan butter

2 celery stalks – diced (plus more for garnish)

3 scallions – diced (plus more for garnish)

1 jalapeno – seeded & diced

3 cups non-dairy milk

1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

4 cups vegan pepper jack cheese (grated)

Crumbled vegan blue cheese as garnish (optional)

Wonton skins (2 per cupcake)

Paprika (as garnish)

Breadcrumbs and/or extra grated cheese to top the cupcakes (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Cook the pasta according to directions.

Heat the oven to 375.

In a bowl – whisk the dry ingredients together: flour, salt, dry mustard, pepper & cayenne.  Set aside.

In a large stock pot, melt the butter & saute the celery, jalapeno & scallions for about 2 minutes.  Add the flour mix & saute over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes.  Add the milk – 1/2 cup at a time – and stir it in until it thickens.  Then add the rest of the milk in the same fashion & in 1/2 cup increments.

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Stir in the hot sauce & the pepper jack & heat until melted & combined.

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Stir in the cooked pasta.  You can serve it at this point with blue cheese crumbles, celery & scallions as garnish – and maybe a drizzle of more Frank’s sauce – or a brightly colored paprika!

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OR –

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Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray.  Place two wonton skins in each cup.  Fill them with your mac & cheese.

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You might want to add more grated cheese or breadcrumbs here – or not.  I only added breadcrumbs to half to see how they came out.  No big difference.  Bake at 375 for about 12-15 minutes or until bubbly & browning.

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Let them rest for about a minute & then serve garnished with blue cheese crumbles, scallions and/or celery.  Maybe sprinkle some paprika on them or drizzle more Frank’s sauce.  Then get a shoe horn & force feed yourself these things like they do a pate goose.

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Fig, Fennel, Blackberry & Goat Cheese Pizza

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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If you live even remotely near Glendale, California – you simply MUST check out Super King – the grocery store near there on San Fernando Road by the 2 freeway.  It is so friggin’ CHEAP to buy produce there AND they have lots of unusual seasonal items like squash blossoms & sour grapes & grape leaves etc.  I bought kale there this week – 3 for .99 cents.  Kale costs $2.50 a bunch at my local Gelson’s.

Anyway – on my last trip to Super King – I got a litle container of blackberries for about .79 cents and I bought a container of green figs.  I wasn’t sure what I would do with either (as I find blackberries always to be disappointingly sour and I have never purchased a fig before) but they were practically free & offered new culinary avenues to explore.  As it turned but, I didn’t explore very far – in that – I just made another pizza but it was a delicious & uniquely flavored pizza with a lot going on.  As it turned out, I again found all but a few of the blackberries to be sour & I found myself picking them off of this pizza as I ate it.  And I did eat it.  ALL of it.  But not the blackberries.  So – if you make this pizza – be sure to use very ripe berries or eighty-six them entirely.  They add a pretty color but there are so many other flavors vying for attention here – you won’t miss the berries.

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Fig, Fennel, Blackberry & Goat Cheese Pizza

INGREDIENTS

(I won’t list quantities here because that is a matter of taste)

Pizza dough of choice (mine is HERE)

1 fennel bulb – shaved very thinly

Blackberries

Goat cheese

Walnuts – crushed a bit

Figs – cut thin

Honey

Fresh rosemary – chopped finely

olive oil

S&P to taste

Crushed red pepper (optional)

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DIRECTIONS

Heat your oven to 450-500 degrees & be sure it reaches temperature before putting your pizza in there.

Roll out your dough & put it on the cooking sheet.  Brush some olive oil on there & maybe lightly salt it.  (I went a little heavy with the olive oil.  Oops!)

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Set the walnuts aside for now.  Then, simply layer the fennel & some rosemary & figs & berries & goat cheese & on your crust.  Top with more rosemary.

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Bake the pizza for 12-18 minutes or until the crust is browned & the cheese melted a bit.   When you think the pizza is about 3 minutes from being done – add the walnuts.  Finish baking.

When the pizza is done – drizzle all over with honey.

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Slice it up & eat it.  I added some crushed red pepper because that is how I roll.  Enjoy!

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Homemade Avocado Ice Cream

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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OMG.  I cannot believe I haven’t tried avocado ice cream until today.  It is insane!

I had 4 avocados that were all perfectly ripe.  But, like bananas, avocados have a very small window in which they remain perfect.  No matter how you like them – kinda hard or total mush – that window is a day, maybe two.   So – even a huge avocado fan like myself cannot eat 4 avocados in a day – without resorting to guacamole.   I didn’t want to resort to guacamole.

Earlier today, I considered breaking out an old & very low end ice cream maker I have had for about 20 years but never used.  I was going to attempt blackberry ice cream because – you guessed it – I have a bunch of blackberries that I need to use.  But then I thought – AVOCADOS!  I am going to make avocado ice cream!!!  And so I did and it was EEEEEEEEASY & a revelation.  You do need an ice cream maker – but – they can be had cheap.  I have two, actually – the counter-top appliance one by Oster that I used today & this old school bucket one that looks like this (image stolen from the internet).

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It makes amazing ice cream but it needs lots of ice & lots of rock salt & is a tad messy.  I was hoping the counter-top version would suffice – and it did!  Here it is.

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So – with the use of simply a food processor (or blender) to blend the ingredients & then an ice cream maker to freeze the creamy goodness – I had this incredible avocado ice cream.  Read the directions below & see how easy this was!

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Homemade Avocado Ice Cream

INGREDIENTS

4 medium avocados

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups milk

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

juice of 1/2 lime

pinch of salt

Rock salt & lots of ice for the ice cream maker

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DIRECTIONS

Scoop the avocado out put into a food processor.  Pulse to puree.  Add the other ingredients & quickly blend until completely smooth.

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Put into the ice cream maker & follow manufacturers directions.

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Here is a little movie!

Try not to eat it all before anyone else gets to try it!

TIPS: Freeze the metal canister from the ice cream machine before using it.  Chill the avocado puree for several hours before putting it in the machine.

Store the ice cream in a flat, shallow container & cover it with wax or parchment paper or plastic wrap before putting the lid on the container.  That will help ward off freezer burn.

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The Queen Mary, Sir Winston’s & the Starling Diner in Long Beach, California

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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I am a HUGE fan of the Queen Mary, that historic ship docked in Long Beach.  I’ve been there many times for many reasons – among them (I believe) a day or two of shooting for the original Beverly Hills 90210.  I think a 90210 prom occurred there or something.  At any rate – I was there for that & for that terrible, scandalously fake Marilyn Monroe exhibit which showed (among other hilarious things) a 1980’s blow dryer they claimed belonged to Marilyn herself.  I have been there for brunch with my parents.  Here is the proof – from 2009.

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We splurged for the underwhelming but costly brunch there which they host in this room

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Unless I am mistaken, I believe it is the largest room ever built on a ship.  Apparently, it could accommodate all 800+ first class passengers (back in the day) if it happened that they all desired seating at the same time.

I wasn’t blogging then so I took no shots of the food but you are not missing much.  Here I am with my stepdad – Alvan.

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At any rate – THIS time I went it was to surprise my boyfiend, Miles.  I picked him up at LAX around 4pm two weeks ago & pretended that I had discovered a secret – though circuitous – route that would get us home faster than trying to plow directly through the traffic.  I had to explain why I was driving so far south rather than east.  Unfortunately for my plan, traffic was worse on the 405 south than on the 105 east.  “Baby, I don’t think this is a faster way…” he offered, tentatively, once.  I said that I knew it seemed that way but that it was sure to open up.  It didn’t.  45 minutes later, we were in Long Beach.  “Are we in Long Beach, honey?” Miles asked, sounding equal parts confused & worried.  “Yes!” I admitted.  “I am going to kill Dave for suggesting this bullshit route.  (No Dave had suggested anything.)  But I have an idea how we can salvage this…” I said & I pulled the car into the Queen Mary parking lot.  “Where are we?” Miles asked.

“See that ship?  We are going on it for a drink!”  Thankfully, Miles seldom resists a suggestion that we get cocktails.  I got him seated at the bar (the one in the very top picture above) & begged off – claiming I had to use the ladies room while he made a phone call.  Here are a few more shots of that bar & here we are.  (Click on the panoramic images to see the image blown up.)

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I sneaked off & checked us into the room I had booked a few days earlier.  Here is the front desk.

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When I came back – he was still on the phone & I was SO excited!  He had no idea that I had a room key in my purse!  He suspected nothing.

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After a drink or two, I declared it was time we explore the ship.  I – of course – wasn’t meandering lost – as it appeared to Miles.  I was deliberately walking us toward our room.  Here are some views of the amazing hallways.  Very Barton Fink.

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And here are a few random (and poorly taken) shots of other areas of the ship.

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Those are my stepdad’s sneakers.

At any rate – as we wandered down the correct hallway, I kept musing about how great it would be to stay there.  Miles agreed.  “I wish we were in THIS room!” I said as we approached our room.  Key in hand, I walked down the little private hall that led to the door.  Miles couldn’t see me slip the key in the lock.  I opened the door & walked in.

“Hey!  Isn’t this somebody’s room?” Miles asked – though he followed me into this entry to the room.

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Of course, the bed was made when we walked in.  “Yeah, it is somebody’s room.”

“Are they here?
“They are now.”

Miles missed my point.

“Close the door, honey,” I said.

“OK – but…are there cameras or something?  Won’t we get in trouble?” Miles asked, worried, even as he closed the door & was going along with what he thought was MY plan – to seduce him in someone else’s room.

“This is OUR room, silly!  This is our room.”

Aha!  I had fooled him completely.  And kudos to Miles for just saying yes & going along with everything I suggested – from the wacky “faster” route home to impromptu drinks on a ship to exploring the ship to breaking & entering a guest’s room & defiling it (which we didn’t actually do).

So, I filled him in on the fact that I had planned this for days & that I had a bag & some wine in the car & that we had an 8pm dinner reservation at Sir Winston’s, on the ship.

We went & got our bags & the wine for dinner & got ready.  Here is the outside of the ship (shot poorly).

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And here is our amazing room.  Despite the very odd, blue vinyl headboard – the room was beautiful.

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This crank”push” thing is how you flush the toilet.

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Note the buttons to call a steward – beside the tub.  Hmmmm…

The bathroom was a tad run down but who cares?

Then it was time for dinner.  We walked on the upper deck at dusk.  It was gorgeous.

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We found Sir Winston’s & adjourned to the lounge there for a pre-dinner cocktail.

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It was dark in there – so pardon the portraits.

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At 8, we were seated in Sir Winston’s by an exceptionally friendly staff.  John Bowshewicz (JB) – the restaurant manager (a man originally from Brooklyn, I believe he said) – opened our first bottle of wine for us.

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The room was gorgeous.  We were by a window with a view of Long Beach.   It was all just so perfect & romantic!  I had, however, no hope that the food would be anything by adequate.  Having experienced the brunch & a lunch in another restaurant on board, I expected that this fine dining establishment would fall victim to the “tourist trap rule” – which is – if there is something else getting you into the restaurant (a view, for example, or the fact that it is IN Disneyland) – few restaurants deliver on any other level.   They just don’t need to.  As these restaurants rely on their novelty – not any desire to get folks to return.

So – when the waiter suggested I try the scallops over the ahi – I balked.  Scallops are a very difficult thing to get right.  Overcooked or fishy or rubbery or dried out – something always goes wrong – unless you are dealing with a really talented kitchen.  I said as much to our waiter.  He assured me that I would not be disappointed.  The fact is – I expected to be disappointed no matter what I ordered – so – I rolled the dice.  Miles ordered a Chateaubriand – something I have never tried.  AND – he pre-ordered a Grand Marnier souffle.  Crazy talk.  And we decided to share a Caesar salad.  They brought us bread.  It was reeeally good bread!

The salad came & Miles announced it was the best he’d ever had.  If you follow this blog, you might know that Miles is an extraordinarily finicky eater.  This was going well.  As was the wine.  JB opened our second bottle.

Then the steak & scallops arrived.  I popped off a quick picture of each, at which point, my phone (therefore – my camera) promptly died.  Maybe that was a good thing as it forced me to focus ENTIRELY on food & on Miles – but here are the two shots.

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And – let me tell you now – those scallops kicked ASS!  They were like butter.  And Miles was so impressed with his Chateuabriand, which they had succeessfully cooked perfectly to his request that it be “Pittsburgh-style” (charred on the outside – raw in the middle) – that I let myself try it.  I have not been a meat eater since the eighties but, sometimes, you gotta bend the rules.  I am not ashamed to report, I bent them two more times that night – as I snuck two more bites when Miles went out to smoke.  It was even more buttery & fall-apart-in-you-mouth delicious than the scallops!  Holy Batman!  This place was incredible.

I was so wasted on a food high – I can hardly report on the souffle.  Desserts are not my thing, anyway, but Miles seemed to enjoy it.  I was too busy plotting new ways I could “accidentally” eat Chateaubriand again to care about chocolate.

The next morning we poked around the ship some more.  Miles bought some caramels & I waxed nostalgic looking at this old Boston-made candy that I haven’t seen for years.

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And – I wanted to buy this coffee cup but I seldom drink coffee at home & I already have way too much stuff in my life – so I was good and kept walking.

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Oh – and here is some vintage workout equipment they have on display.

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Everything about this adventure was a complete success.  And know this – that room we stayed in?  $134 or something, on a Wednesday, with a AAA discount.  $134?  For a romantic adventure right in SoCal?  Yeah!  So – I recommend you do it & I recommend very highly that you try that Chateaubriand Pittsburgh style!   Get the blood lust & indulge!  And then get lusty – and indulge!  This ship has your back!  A++++ from me!  Check out the Queen Mary website for more info – HERE.

When we left, we decided to eat at a local place for breakfast & settled on the nearby Starling Diner.   Miles grabbed a smoke in an alley – cuz that’s how he rolls.  I eventually got a $50 parking ticket there – because THAT is how I roll.  😦

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Cute!  And here is the inside:

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Check out the incredible menu!

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Crab cakes & eggs?  YUM!   And they serve alcohol!

Miles got a screwdriver with his bacon & eggs.  I stuck with only coffee to wash down my Eggs Benjamin.    Isn’t the food pretty?  And look how delicately they used the Hollandaise sauce!

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Miles likes his “cheesy eggs” with the cheese scrambled INTO the eggs.   You would be shocked how few times restaurants get that right for him.  They got it right at the Starling Diner!  I wish this place was in Hollywood because I could eat there every day.  Really fresh & delicious food & an imaginative menu & a really cute interior – and WINE!  Perfection.

So – from the Starling – we headed home – just in time for rush hour traffic headed back to LA.  But if you ever find yourself in Long Beach – be sure to treat yourself to one or both of these gems!  You won’t regret it!

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Squash (Zucchini) Blossom Quesadilla

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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I made a trip to the incredible Super King yesterday & now I have more cheese & produce than I know what to do with.  A HUGE shopping cart full of awesomeness for $135.  But I live alone & usually eat alone – so getting through all that before it spoils will be a challenge.  Still – it is worth noting that I bought three bunches of curly kale there for .99 cents.  They cost $2.50 a bunch at Gelson’s.  So – $1 or $7.50?  Which sounds better to you?  Or – those little plastic containers of cherry or grape tomatoes?  Between $5-$7 at Gelson’s – for ONE.  Same thing at Super King?  SEVENTY-NINE CENTS!  So – with just those purchases – I saved at least $10.  At least.  On one package of cherry tomatoes & three bunches of kale.  I saved ten dollars.  I wince to imagine what the contents of my $135 cart would cost at Gelson’s!  I bought a one-pound wedge of Ricotta Salata for about $6.50.   I got that grillable cheese – Halloumi – that I blogged about HERE – see?  YUM!

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Anyway – they had several brands to chose from ranging in price from $3.50 – $9.  Gelson’s has only one kind and I think it costs $11.  So – you get my point.

Yesterday – I was bizarrely pleased to see they had squash (zucchini) blossoms for sale again at $1.49 a bunch.  Bizarrely – because I already posted a fried zucchini blossom recipe last week and, frankly, I don’t know what you can do with them beyond that.

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Still – I bought two bunches.  Then I came up with a few ideas.  Quesadillas!  I have quesadillas on the brain.  And pizza!  Pizza with squash blossoms – coming soon!

So – this is a simple & beautiful quesadilla using fresh squash blossoms.  They are very delicately flavored so I opted for the mild fresh mozzarella cheese rather than the fontina I was considering.  You might want to try a different cheese.  I added tomato for color & jalapeno for color & flavor & this guy was yummy!  I hope you try it!

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Squash (Zucchini) Blossom Quesadilla

INGREDIENTS

1 tortilla

6 or so squash blossoms – stem & pistils removed (the pistil is that little furry candy corn thing growing in the center)

some sliced mozzarella

some diced tomato

some diced jalapeno

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DIRECTIONS

Heat a dry pan or prep a grill pan with cooking spray.  Heat it up.  Assemble your quesadilla.  Cook it on both sides until the cheese is melted & the outside looks browned.

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Eat that delicate motherfucker.  Know satisfaction.

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