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February 2010

Katie Davis



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Archive for February, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010 @ 09:02 AM

46251_155If you’ve happened to wander into the ‘About’ section of ‘Pop Culture Cuisine,’ you know that in addition to loving to eat out and try new restaurants, I really enjoy experimenting with fun recipes in the kitchen.  This is not to say that my experiments are always successful, but as Adam can attest, we have had a few winners that are now on the Davis dinner menu.  I like to pull out recipes from various lifestyle magazines as I come across them, and I have even compiled my favorites into a book (although I must admit that it’s not a book I rarely to often cook from ;)).

As a newlywed, I’m only now beginning to find out what to cook that meets both Adam and my tastes (and if I left the cooking to him we’d have a steady diet of macaroni & cheese and tuna helper :)).  Admittedly, I am a bit nervous about tackling some of the more difficult recipes, seeing as it’s taken me awhile to get confident in “making up” my own creations by adding this and that to the simple dishes; and as Adam can attest, my least successful attempts usually come from when I follow a recipe to the letter and measurement.  Crazy I know!…, but I seem to do better by winging it.

Still, this blog is about famous foods, which means cuisine that is highlighted in all areas of pop-culture, not just on TV.  So, I thought it would be fun (and at least an adventure) for me to try out a new recipe each month.  Most of the recipes will likely come from a famous chef, but don’t be surprised if you see a dish from one of your favorite restaurants.  Just like with my restaurant reviews, I will give a TRUE and HONEST opinion of them.  I will let all of you in on just how easy the recipe is to re-create, if it’s a crowd pleaser, is it a practical dish for the home cook, and most importantly if it actually tastes as good as the chef claims.

For the first recipe, I thought I would start off slow and easy.  Rachael Ray is well known around the world for her easy “30-Minute Meals.”  Over the years I have tried a few of her recipes and always felt they were easy to follow, needed relatively few ingredients, and come out pretty darn tasty :).  However, I have also discovered after looking through many of her recipes, she often includes some rather odd ingredients, or ingredients I’m not a huge fan of and find that the recipe can typically do without.

For awhile I subscribed her magazine, “Everyday with Rachael Ray,” and a bunch of the recipes I have added to my book are from there.  So… for the 1st PCC ‘Recipe of the Month’ contribution, I give you…

Biscuit-Crusted Sausage-Egg Pie

Source: May 2009 Issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound bulk pork breakfast sausage
  • 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 4 pieces refrigerated biscuit dough, such as Pillsbury
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, sliced
  • 2 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large skillet, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and oregano and cook, breaking up the sausage, until just browned, about 5 minutes. Drain and let cool.
  2. Grease a 9-inch pie pan with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon olive oil. Place 1 piece biscuit dough into a large resealable plastic bag and, using a rolling pin, roll into a 1/8-inch-thick disk. Remove the dough from the bag and transfer to the prepared pie pan. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces, pinching the pieces together in the pan to form a crust.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the cooked sausage, onion, feta and olives; spread evenly over the crust. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, egg yolks, milk and 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the sausage mixture and bake until set, about 25 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

001Looks pretty tasty…,doesn’t it?  Well, it was, but it needs some definite explanation before any of you decide you might try it.  When I found this recipe, I thought it sounded easy and fun and volunteered to cook it for dinner date we had with some friends of ours (Hi Chad & Christina!!! :)).  First, the recipe says it will serve 4, basically each person getting 1/4 of the pie.  I figured this would be plenty, forgetting I was not just cooking for myself (I eat relatively small portions), but also two large hungry men.  Also, I figured the ingredients sounded hefty enough that a slice would pack a big punch.  In reality, we were lucky our friends had made a salad  or we would have all been left hungry (I even gave Adam half my slice because I felt so bad).  The problem was that it really did not require as much egg or sausage as I originally thought, which really cut down on the “filling up” power I was counting on.

Second, as I mentioned with Rachel’s tendency with ingredients, be wary if you are not an onion liker…or lover is more like it.  For what little protein this called for, it made up for in red onion!  I mean, it should have been named the ‘Biscuit-Crusted Onion-Egg Pie!’  I was shocked by how much onion it called for; and as I was filling up the crust, I even eliminated some because the onion was starting to over-power the senses (and as you can see from above, it still had a ton!).  So, needless to say, although I like onions, let’s just say they were a bit too overwhelming in this dish (we also chose to leave out the olives, since neither Adam or I are a fan of them).

What I did like about it was the biscuit crust.  It gave the egg layer a nice flaky portion that tasted great together.  Also, the feta really brought a nice robust flavor to the dish.  Finally, this dish was extremely easy to make, cooked fast, and all the ingredients were very inexpensive, less than $10.  I think with a few adjustments and additions, this dish could be a nice addition to a week of family dinners, or at least a breakfast/brunch.  My recommendations would be to use more eggs and the entire pound of sausage (or a mix of another meat), and cut the amount of onions in half.  If you want to beef it up with some other veggies, I think mushrooms or broccoli would also taste really good in this ensemble dish.  Overall, after making the adjustments I mentioned, I think I might eventually give this dish another try.  So with taste, cooking ease, practicality, serving size, and cost to make in mind…I give Rachel Ray’s ‘Biscuit-Crusted Sausage-Egg Pie’ 3 1/2 Little Piggies.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010 @ 02:02 PM

Giordanos As I mentioned in a previous post, the city of Chicago holds a very special place in my heart.  It will always be the city I got to visit when we went to see my mom’s side of the family; and I love all the memories I have of visiting the iconic windows at Marshall Fields during Christmas time.  It was also where I moved after graduating from college and was “starting out” all on my own.  And finally, it was where Adam and I cemented our relationship and started this crazy journey together. What I’m saying is that Chicago holds many memorable and fun experiences for me. 

Now, if you would had asked either Adam or I two years ago, we may not have had such nice things to say about “The Windy City.” At that time, we were going through a lot of life transitions and let’s just say that the hassles of living in Chi-Town were taking their toll (especially in winter!); and as we started out on our life together, it was just not the lifestyle we were after. However, now that we’ve been removed from the daily chaos that comes with living in the nation’s 3rd largest city, we look back at that time in our lives very fondly, and have even started to miss many of the things that we took for granted while we lived there and now can’t have. For starters, the bar and restaurant scene is amazing!  Chicago is world famous for its cuisine and the variety of restaurants that adorn each little neighborhood; and perhaps the most notable culinary feature that has put Chicago’s food scene on the map (and that we miss O’ SOOOOO much!) is without a doubt deep-dish pizza, or as it is more commonly (and appropriately) referred…,“Chicago Style.” 

pizza2 Deep-Dish is king in the 2nd City and you would be hard pressed to find any pizza places in town that don’t serve this hearty masterpiece; and because it’s so popular, it goes without saying that, of course, everyone has their own opinion on who’s pie is best, me included (but we’ll get to that much later). Well, I thought I’d try to uncover the truth once and for all…who makes the best “Chicago Style” pizza? Therefore, I’ve taken upon myself (with some help from my husband, of course) to finally figure out who’s deep-dish pizza reigns supreme! (I know…I have it rough, huh?:)). First up… Giordano’s, a Chicago landmark.

I have been eating Giordano’s for years, longer than I can even remember.  However, that being said, I have a confession to make.  Until very recently, I lumped Giordano’s in with all of the other deep-dish pizza joints. But, I’ve been mistaken. A few months back, Adam and I were watching Travel Channel’s “Pizza Wars” (from their series “Food Wars”) where we were informed that Giordano’s is not standard “Chicago Style” pizza, but rather is in fact “stuffed pizza,” a slight variation from your typical deep-dish.  You should have seen the look of shock on our faces.  It was as if you had told us our cat Lola was a boy after years of thinking she was a girl.  I mean SHOCKED!  However, after I gathered myself, I realized it really didn’t make much of a difference to me. I still love it just the same; and now I have a fun fact to share with others when we eat it, as I’m sure if you even asked many Chicagoans, I doubt many of them would know the difference either, which is why I still lump it in with its deep-dish cousins. 

Now, for those of you who are completely lost and have no idea what I’ve been talking about up ‘til now…deep-dish pizza (or “Chicago Style”) is a “backwards” or “reverse” pizza. Let me explain. Your typical Chicago deep-dish features a deep, almost pie like crust.  Next, the bottom is layered with cheese and the toppings are piled on top. FINALLY…LASTLY…THE SAUCE, which is layered over the top.  This “reverse” order of ingredients is usually what throws people off, but it is the signature style for deep-dish pizza; and if you ask anyone looking for REAL “Chicago-Style” pizza, that sauce better be on top!

All that said (as I mentioned earlier), Giordano’s is actually considered a “stuffed pizza.”  The reason is that there is another layer of dough placed on top of the toppings before the sauce is added.  So if you can imagine, it is almost a mix of calzone and pizza.  It’s hard to imagine that I went 26 years without ever noticing it. I must have been too busy stuffing my face with all that cheesy goodness! 😉

Well, I have comfort in knowing that I’m probably not the only one who was in the dark, and probably not by a long shot. Giordano’s has been feeding hungry Chicagoans their unique spin on deep-dish since 1974. They are known throughout the pizza eating world, and have been featured on a number of television shows. I already mentioned how we saw them on “Food Wars,” and they were recently ranked #88 in Travel Channel’s “Chowdown Countdown.” Also, they’ve been written up in many publications throughout the years, way too many to mention…just Google it!

One of the things I have always loved about going to Giordano’s is the fun experience that is associated with it.  When we lived in Chicago, we’d have it delivered from time to time, but I must admit, I always enjoyed it a lot better when we were with a group at one of their locations and savoring our evening together over a couple of pies. It really is an event!; and unlike other pizza joints, it’s a meal you can savor, a slice of pizza that gets better with each bite and often requires a knife and fork to tackle.

When the pizza comes out there is always the Ooo’s and Ahh’s of amazement when they place it on the table.  Then people are taken aback as to the size of the pie and utter astonishment sets into everyone’s face as they anticipate how they’re going to attack their slice, and if they’re hungry enough for two slices (yes…I said ‘two’ slice, as it is not uncommon for someone to only be able to finish one slice).  Finally there is the drooling that comes when they pull out that first slice and all that gooey cheese pulls with it.  Geez, just thinking about it is making my mouth water!:)

We were lucky enough to have a few extra days to add on to our trip up north over Christmas, and we thought it would be fun to spend them with friends in Chicago.  Originally, we had not planned to stop in at Giordano’s at all. Because we had a lengthy list of other restaurants we had never been to that we wanted to try, we figured we didn’t need to have pizza (let’s just say that it’s something we’ve had more than a few times :)).  However, one spot we were hoping to hit (Hot Doug’s) was closed over the Holidays, which gave us an opening in our eating extravaganza. So, where did we end up?…you guessed it! 

We settled in on that cold day and were able to fill our bellies with some awesome stuffed sausage & pepperoni deep-dish pizza (and a greek salad for us girls to share).  It was everything I wanted it to be…and more!


The minute they brought this lovely pie out, I knew I was happy we had the chance to stop in.  With each bite I was reminded of the love I have for their thick doughy crust, soft cheesy center, and sweet sauce on top.  However, as good as it was, I was only able to tackle one slice (Adam managed to put down two :)).


I mean come on!…I don’t care who you are…that gooey pile of dough, cheese, meat and sauce makes you happy, doesn’t it?  It sure does me!  One caveat, though.  While living there, I must admit, deep-dish in general was starting to get a little old (I know…the horror!).  But when the only real option for ordering or going out for pizza on a Friday night are Chicago’s hearty, thick deep-dish, your taste buds begin to scream, “Bring on the generic…(fill in the blank)…delivery place.  Living in Dallas now, I might make a different statement on that, but I’m glad I am once again at a place in my life where I can appreciate the deep-dish once more.

As far as ratings go, this one is a bit more difficult. Giordano’s has become a franchise in Chicago-Land and your pizza experience can vary completely depending on location, time of day, whether or not you are eating in., etc.  So, I will stick to rating it on our lunch experience over Christmas break.  We went at lunch time, which helped both the service we got, as well as the wait time.  Actually, I would say every time I’ve gone to Giordano’s I’ve had good service; and ours was just as good on this visit (Keep in mind that these pizzas take at least 45 minutes to bake. So if you are in a rush I would not recommend eating here). 

The ambiance is always fine, typical of a pizza place, but nothing out of the ordinary.  As far as a signature dish, I’m sure you can guess that they pass with flying colors on that one :). In fact, I can’t think of another place that serves a “stuffed” “Chicago-Style” deep-dish pizza. I’m not saying there isn’t any, but I don’t know of them if there are. If pizza isn’t your thing, they do have a full menu of other things (mainly Italian fare), but I can’t really speak to any of those items, as I always get the pizza. The pizzas start at around $15 for a small and tops off at $20-25 for a large.  This may seem a bit pricey, but when you figure in how many toppings are being jammed into each pizza and that a large usually feeding 4-5, I don’t feel that it’s exorbitant by any means.  Overall, I think Giordano’s is a must visit if you are in the Chicago-land area, and definitely a place I will continue to visit over my lifetime (hopefully take my children there someday ;).  In conclusion, I give Giordano’s 4 1/2 Little Piggies.

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…And stay tuned to see how they stack up against the other “Chicago Style” legends!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 @ 10:02 PM

083 078 Good Evening Pop Culture Cuisiners (or PCC-ers for short). I apologize that this post is getting to you late today, but like many of you I’m sure, life got in the way this week.  That being said, this week I’ve brought you a mouth watering new joint to wet your appetite.  So far we have sampled some tantalizing BBQ, some not so tantalizing BBQ, and fully loaded sandwiches.  What could be next you ask?  Well only something truly American…Hamburgers!  Now these ain’t yo mamma’s regular ol’ hamburger. These be Twisted Root hamburgers, and believe you me….they are TWISTED! (but in a good way ;))

Lucky for us, we did not have to travel too far this time (we happen to live right down the street).  This radical burger establishment was started by a couple of guys who ventured into the culinary world after getting fed up with the corporate day to day drone of their jobs; and it is easy to see where their true passions lie.  The original location is located in the unique warehouse section of Dallas known as “Deep Ellum,” a trendy and hip location perfect for a new take on the classic burger joint.  Last year they opened a location literally within spitting distance of Adam’s office in Richardson; and needless to say, we knew it wouldn’t be too long before he wandered over. 🙂 Not long after, he was insistent that I try it too.

As I mentioned, these are no ordinary burgers. Twisted Root Burger Co. boasts the freshest ingredients, no gross frozen patties, and everything is made from scratch… EVERYTHING!  Very Texas of them, there patties are a unique blend of chuck and brisket, which together combine into one juicy 1/2 lb. patty.  That alone might be something to write home about, but they don’t stop there. Remember, this place is “TWISTED” when it comes to their approach to burgers. They also serve buffalo, ostrich, turkey, gator, venison, and other wild game burgers that might be in season (including combinations of each).

Before they moved in across from Adam’s office, we first saw them featured on an episode of Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, shown below:

“Diner’s, Drive-Ins, and Dives” [Video].  (2009).  Retrieved February 10, 2010, from

After watching that, our mouths were watering and we knew a visit was in our future.  Of course, Adam didn’t wait long (and not for me of course…ASS! :)) before venturing over there one afternoon for lunch. Unfortunately, although he kept talking about his lunches there, it took me several months to make a visit (I tell myself that I was waiting for that “perfect” opportunity…hahaha).

Well, that “perfect opportunity” came after my graduation ceremony. I had a craving for meat, and Adam suggested we go there.  Finally free of school (and no job prospects ahead L), why not?  Bring on the gloriousness!

Since this was not Adam’s first rodeo with Twisted Root, he had been able to try some of their fun creations, such as the venison burger.  Naturally being the adventuresome foodie that I am, I was all set to give one of these daring meat creations a try. However, much to my dismay, they were all out!  (They do mention that some selections are subject to season & availability).  Not to be easily discouraged, though, I went with something I knew I would love…buffalo; but not just any ol’ buffalo burger — the buffalo cheeseburger with avocado…mmm!  Adam got one of their signature hamburgers with blue cheese and onion straws (which I may or may not have snuck a few of ;)).


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When I said before that they boast “all made from scratch,” they are not kidding.  Besides the burgers and other sandwiches, they EVEN make their own signature root beer (which Adam LOVES), ketchup, mustard, bbq sauce, and wait for it…PICKLES!  Now I‘ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I LOVE PICKLES; and if you are making your own, you know I am going to judge, because I have tried them all!  They serve 3 kinds: regular, bourbon bread & butter, & spicy. Being that I’m a spice wuss, I tried the other two; and these were perfect. They were large thick slices, crunchy, and not over the top on the flavor; like I said…perfect.  Also, they added a really nice complement to my burger as well as for munching on the side.

Their root beer is also very interesting in that it has hint of ginger (and Adam thinks cinnamon). Adam really likes it, but I was not a huge fan. To each their own.

This burger was nothing short of scrumptious; and with the high quantity of burger places around town, it is often hard to impress me beyond your average burger.  Twisted Root’s, however, are juicy, flavorful, and have a perfect ratio of bun to meat to cheese (I hate it when you get a burger and it’s some flat-thin patty on a huge thick bun).  Of course, they have fries and other side items (sweet potato chips, onion straws, etc.), but we were heading to a party later than evening, so we just stuck to the burgers.  This ended up being a good choice, regardless, since we both only made it through half our burgers seeing as they do not skimp on the beef…or bison in this case :).

The restaurant itself has a very fun and open atmosphere with a fun décor that is highlighted by hundreds of funny bumper-stickers; and the corrugated steel mixed with the brick and wood gives a more urban flair.  As for the service, there really is none. You order at the counter from a large chalkboard when you arrive, and they call you to pick up your order when it’s ready. One cool thing to note, though; everyone is given a card with a famous pop-culture figure’s name printed on it and that is how you are called over the loud speaker. It’s really fun; and the staff really gets into it…very funny. Adam was “MC Hammer” and I was “Yosemite Sam.” 🙂

Finally, a note of forewarning. Be prepared to spend a little extra dough when you visit. This is not McDonald’s or your standard burger cafe for that matter, so with their great taste and quality, comes great expense.  This is not to say that their prices are “Disney World” exorbitant, just don’t expect to find a dollar menu.  In all, Twisted Rood Burger Co. was a great experience and one I definitely want to have again…soon!  Aside from the cost, their signature burgers taste excellent and the fun atmosphere invites you back.  Therefore, I give Twisted Root 4 Little Piggies!

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