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Katie Davis

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Archive for April, 2010

Thursday, April 29, 2010 @ 08:04 AM

Here They Come (c) Dave Black www.daveblackphotography.comThis weekend marks the 136th running of the ‘Kentucky Derby,’ an event that carries a great deal of history, luster, and magic.  This event (and I do mean EVENT) has always been a special one for my mom’s side of the family.  Growing up in Louisville, this annual “Run for the Roses” was always a big deal, so much so that my grandma would host Derby parties each year and collected the commemorative ‘Derby’ glassware put out each year (which I now have in my possession ;)).  To be honest, until a few years ago, I really had no clue how special this event really was more so than any other horserace.  However, I’ve since learned the how grand of an event the ‘Derby’ truly is, and that includes the cuisine….mint juleps, thoroughbred pie, and this month’s ‘Recipe of the Month’…Kentucky Hot Brown.

This sandwich originated in the heart of Derby nation (Louisville) at the famed Brown Hotel (thus the name of the sandwich) in 1926 by Fred K. Schmidt as an alternative to the ham and egg late night suppers he regularly served his patrons, and is unlike any other sandwich you have ever seen!  It is big, gooey, cheesy, and one “hot mess”…but we’ll get to that.  It’s come to gain a lot of notoriety by Kentucky natives, and they’ll be sure to tell you the “right” way to make it and what exactly belongs on it.  That kind of notoriety alone makes this sandwich pop culture worthy.  However, when celebrity chef and all around “Food Network” icon Bobby Flay visited the famed Brown Hotel and challenged them to a Hot Brown Throwdown!, we knew that his recipe would be the pop culture cuisine item to try and recreate.

Therefore, without further adieu…I bring you Bobby Flay’s Kentucky Hot Browns, complete with a vintage “Louisville Stoneware” Hot Brown Platter.

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Kentucky Hot Browns

Recipe courtesy Bobby Flay, 2007

Prep Time:
15 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
1 hr 30 min
Level:
Intermediate
Serves:
4 servings

Ingredients

For the turkey:
  • 1 turkey breast, about 4 to 5 pounds
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted soft butter
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups grated sharp white Cheddar
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • Pinch freshly ground nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the egg bread:
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Salt
  • 8 (1/2-inch) thick slices good day old white bread (recommended: Pullman or Pain de mie)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
For assembly:
  • Egg battered bread
  • Roasted turkey breast, sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 3 ripe beefsteak tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices and griddled until slightly charred and just cooked through
  • 1 1/2 cups grated sharp white Cheddar
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 16 thick slices slab bacon, cooked until crisp
  • Finely chopped fresh chives
  • Finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
For the turkey:

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Rub entire breast with butter and season with salt and pepper. Place in a small roasting pan and roast for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 155 degrees F, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven, loosely tent with foil and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

For the sauce:

Melt butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk, bring to a boil and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened and the flour has cooked out, about 4 to 5 minutes. Whisk in cheese and cook until the cheese has melted. Season with nutmeg and salt and pepper, to taste.

For the egg bread:

Whisk together the eggs, milk and salt in a medium bowl. Dip each slice of bread in the mixture and let sit about 30 seconds, or until completely soaked through.

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat. Cook 4 slices of the bread at a time until golden brown on both sides. Remove and place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining bread.

For assembly:

Preheat broiler. Place the egg bread on a baking sheet, place under the broiler and heat on both sides for 20 seconds just to warm through.

Top each slice of bread with 2 to 3 slices of turkey and 2 slices of tomato, ladle sauce over the top and divide the cheddar cheese and Parmesan over the top of each slice. Place under the broiler and cook until bubbly and the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven, top each slice with 2 slices of bacon and sprinkle each slice with chives and parsley.

Source

*I chose to cut this recipe in half since it would just be the two of us and I knew this recipe makes a lot.

163The first task I had to tackle was cooking the turkey for the sandwich.  This required buttering and salting the bird and roasting that bad boy for about two hours.  Next up, while the turkey was roasting, I worked on prepping the other items required for the compilation of the sandwich itself.  This required cooking the bacon, whipping up the cheese sauce, and making the egg bread…

176I will admit while the turkey was in the oven, I was definitely busy.  When I am cooking a new recipe or one that I have not just improvised, it takes me awhile to both read all of the instructions and prepare the ingredients.  Although none of the pieces were necessarily hard to whip together, they all just required various ingredients, dishes, and prep.  Plus…I’m sort of a messy cook.  So while that turkey was cooking, I stayed pretty busy getting everything prepped so that when it was finished I would easily be able to assemble the sandwich and pop it in the oven.  I knew my man would be hungry when he got home from work and would want it ready! 🙂  2 hours later this emerged…

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Yes that’s right, I cooked a whole turkey.  One, we wanted the dish to be authentic; and two, I love it for leftover sandwiches!  However, given that I roasted that little 6-pound bad boy, I then had to tackle the art of carving, something I will continue to leave to Adam, as I do not seem to be gifted in that area (when I was all done I just ripped off all the remaining meat to save haha). 🙂

180…and as you can see, when my wonderful husband (Adam) got home, he was even kind enough to snap a few candid shots of me wrestling with the various ingredients.  Please disregard the fact that I am still in my gym clothes, sweaty and totally gross. But hey…that’s me…take it or leave it!  I am no Giada in the kitchen:)

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Nice shorts huh? 🙂  Anywho…after all that prep, it was time to assemble the masterpiece:  2 slices of the egg bread, 2-3 slices of roasted turkey, 2-3 slices of tomato (slightly grilled), then slathered with the special cheese sauce…

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Finally, I covered the monstrosity with more grated cheese and placed it under the broiler to get “brown” and bubbly; and that is exactly what it got…

182 183 At the end, you top this bubbly, hot, gooey, cheesy brown mess with 2 slices of bacon on each piece and sprinkle with chives and parsley.  When all is said and done, you present your eagerly awaiting husband with one “Hot Brown”…

184185 187Let’s say it all together…Cheesy Goodness!  Now, I will admit right away…I only took one bite of this dish and promptly ate my turkey over a spinach salad. 🙂  After spending all this time to prepare the dish I just was no longer interested in eating it, as well as we are headed to New Orleans in a week and I am saving all the room I have to enjoy that trip.  But the one bite I did have was very delicious.  Adam really enjoyed it, as well; and he was so full after just one slice of the sandwich, he decided to save the rest.  This half of the recipe actually would have created 2 more full slices, but we opted not to make them since he was the only one eating the dish.

So how do I rate Bobby Flay’s version of this Kentucky classic for all you home cooks out there?  For starters, make sure you get the right bacon…don’t scrimp to save a buck.  Evidently, you get what you pay for with bacon; and I will never again scrimp and buy the value brand.  it was all fat, cooked horribly, and although tasted fine, it did not look pretty.  So seeing that this dish was actually pretty inexpensive to put together (roughly $30 all together with the turkey; $5 per person based on the recipe), spend the extra “cheese” on some good bacon.  Additionally, I think the serving size was more than enough than what was mentioned in the recipe.  Adam could only eat half of a serving, so I think this recipe could easily feed plenty and even allows for left-overs.

As for easy this dish was to prepare…although Mr. Flay lists this dish as needing an intermediate cooking level, it required a bit of work for the first time out.  This is not to say it wouldn’t be easier my next time around; but for an initial recipe, be prepared for a bit more of a challenge that ‘intermediate.’  To help matters, I think the roast turkey could be easily subbed with deli turkey.  Beyond that, feel free to send some questions my way and I could give you an easy tutorial on the turkey part…which brings me me to practicality.  I knew I was prepping to make this dish, so I was well prepared for the task.  But on a night where one might be trying to “whip up” some quick sandwiches for dinner, this may not be the way to go.  It does require a bit more work, so for the average person on any given night, this may not be the right recipe.  Still, if you have time to plan it out and prepare Hot Browns for a special occasion, the taste is worth the work.  I think it is safe to assume with that combo of flavors and cheesiness, it was a win win in our book!  So with all that in mind…I give Bobby Flay’s Kentucky Hot Browns a 4 Little Piggies.  FINALLY…A RECIPE THAT WORKED! 🙂

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Thursday, April 22, 2010 @ 08:04 AM

Jasper's

It’s no secret that I love ribs.  In fact, I’ve made it one of my life goals to try as many of the “best” ribs this world has to offer; and living in the DFW area, there is no shortage of BBQ joints to try, and even some non-BBQ places as it turns out.  Jasper’s in Plano, TX (North suberb of Dallas) is one of those places. 

My dad is also a bit of a foodie and is always on the lookout for great new spots to try, often based on reviews he’s read in various publications.  So when my parents moved to Plano a few years back, he instantly heard about Jasper’s, which literally happens to be just down the street from their home; and when Bon Appetit magazine released it’s “Top American Restaurants” list in 2008, and Jasper’s was #2 on their list of ‘Best BBQ Ribs (Pork),’ we all knew it was an instant must visit. 

It just happened that Adam’s birthday fell right in the midst of our own move to Plano two years ago, and Jasper’s instantly came to mind as a fitting birthday dinner.  Well, let’s just say that first visit surpassed expectations and we have since been back a few more times, our most recent coming a couple of weeks ago, and happens to be the only visit since the beginning of PCC.  Therefore, I’ve chosen to primarily feature that visit in my review of Jasper’s this week. 

Located at the ‘Shops at Legacy’ complex in Plano, Jasper’s is the creation of well known Dallas based chef Kent Rathbun, whose first restaurant, Abacus, is also a popular dining attraction in DFW.  Jasper’s (along with Rathbun’s other restaurants) is well known for it’s gourmet approach to “backyard” cuisine…basically your go to BBQ & backyard grill-out favorites kicked up a notch for presentation, flavor, and creativity.  It is because of that unique factor that Esquire Magazine named Jasper’s one of its “20 Best New Restaurants in America” in 2003 (along with, as previously mentioned, Bon Appetit’s distinction in 2008).  In addition to his food being featured in a variety of publications, Rathbun and his brother (a chef in Atlanta) have also been featured on a variety of television programs, including competing against Bobby Flay on Food Network’s “Iron Chef America;” and HE WON….

HE BEAT BOBBY FLAY…CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT! 

Needless to say, I was pretty hyped up to try Jasper’s out the first time; and now after being there a time or two, and with it’s upscale location (Shops at Legacy), I always get excited when I get to dress up and go out for a “nice” meal.  This night was no exception, although I may have gone a bit overboard….whatcha think? 😉

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What brings such energy to Rathbun’s restaurants comes from his idea of how a meal should be enjoyed and his experienced background working for various high-end restaurants in and around Dallas; and having been there before, we both already had a sense of what to expect.  Being an extremely popular place, the only reservation I could get was at 9 p.m.! :(  Yes people…be prepared to wait or call ahead if you want to eat there during prime times, and you could be like us, make a reservation and STILL have to wait a bit for a table!  Oh well…gave us time to enjoy a little drinky-drink and do some people watching (which is ALWAYS a good time in Plano! :)). 

So by 9:30, we were one drink in (just look at my little Rico Suave :)), and getting a little impatient.  We were a little surprised that it was taking so long because in our past experiences, we had never had a problem getting seated on time, but they seemed especially chaotic that night.  Needless to say, although it was late, by the time we finally sat down to eat, I was really hungry; and after perusing the menu, I knew I wanted to start with Priscilla’s Sink Salad.  Also, luckily for Adam, they were featuring his favorite soup, Beer Cheese; and being a “special night,” we opted to order the Maytag Blue Cheese Potato Chips to share.

002 004 010 The salad was delicious!  It reminded me of a greek salad with a little more pizazz.  All the flavors came together so well, and I eagerly cleaned my plate.  Adam loved his soup, yet again, and was so happy that each time we have visited it just happens to be the feature soup.  Uniquely topped with popcorn, it is a rich, creamy, delicious cheesy goodness lovers dream!  And those blue cheese chips…I’m not typically a fan of bleu cheese, but these are down right yummy!  I sought out the ones not smothered in cheese, but they are salty, thin, crispy, chips with a hint of that bleu (feet) cheese flavor that is to die for…they didn’t stand a chance against us! 

We already knew that the ribs were legendary, but having ordered them on other occasions, I felt compelled to try something new (bad idea Katie!)…Texas Peach Barbecued Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon Creamed Sweet Corn.  Adam was not in the mood for changing up a good thing, so he went with the award winning Barbecued Baby Back Ribs and “Baked Potato” Salad.

016014 I have to admit that when they sat Adam’s ribs in front of him, I knew I was going to be disappointed. :(  There is just something about how they are presented and that potato salad…just plain awesome.  I just knew that nothing was going to come close to beating that for me.  Still, not one to judge before I take a bite, I happily dug into my meal; but being after 10 at this point and having devoured my salad and those chips, I have to say I was no longer all that hungry.  I did take a few bits of the pork, but as I feared…I was disappointed.  I was expecting more of a peach flavor, and frankly I had a really hard time finding any.  Also, the pork was a bit spicy for my tastes and I think actually distracted from the overall flavor.  Finally, the creamed corn was like no creamed corn I had ever had.  I’m not sure there was any cream in it at all (although once I told my mind what it really was, I actually really enjoyed it.  It is a whole melding of sweet and spicy and salty tastes that came together quite well).  I may have snuck a few bites of Adam’s Potato Salad too :), which he was actually disappointed with this time around. :(  Having had them before, I am not going to take away from the good review I have had of them, but I would agree with him that this time they were a bit overcooked. 

Now I mentioned that they seemed a bit overwhelmed that evening, and although I don’t know if that had anything to do with it, I won’t completely fault them for how the food was this time around.  Because as I’ve eluded to, the ribs have been fantastic every other time.  I’m talking about “fall off the bone” good, but still with that slight pull you want so they are not complete mush.  They are excellently seasoned and the sauce complements them perfectly.  I have tried a lot of ribs and so far I must admit, in my lifetime…Jasper’s have been my favorite!  So although we were disappointed with our meal that evening, I know we would go back again in an instant. 

Regardless, the main courses didn’t totally ruin our evening.  I still enjoyed my company tremendously (Wink, Wink), and the night ended on a very happy note…with the BEST chocolate martini I have ever had!  It is a work of art and dessert in a glass…

020022 I want to be fair for my review of Jasper’s, because it is truly a great restaurant that I’ve enjoyed on multiple occasions; and having worked in the restaurant industry, I know there are sometimes “off” nights.  Therefore, I chalk our last visit up to one of those. 

So for those of you wanting to visit Jasper’s and are looking for their signature dish, I would say it is definitely the ribs.  Even talking to people around town, these ribs are well known and well worth it.   Outside of the lone pork dish (which ultimately made an out-of-this-world Cuban sandwich the next day :)), their food is outstanding.  Between the ribs, sides, and starters, I am totally won over by their food. 

The ambiance….well, it’s superb.  Being an upscale restaurant, they’ve definitely put some effort into the decor, and it shows.  Most of the restaurant has a dark sultry feeling that is flanked by wonderful dim mood lighting for the seating areas.  There is a wonderful mix of at home comfort and high-end appeal; and for you ladies like me who like to get all dolled up and make the scene, this is the place to do it.  Their service is typically above and beyond and they make sure you are always taken care of.  That evening our server was sub par (a little TOO formal as well) and I would again chalk that up to them being swamped and possibly understaffed.  Still, typically be prepared to be totally taken care of. 

Finally…their prices (EEEKK!).  This is honestly where I think most people are thrown by Jaspers.  To say that It is a bit pricey is an understatement!  Their entrees, (although fitting for its location, the type of crowd it draws, and its ambiance) typically run between $20-30.  Definitely a little salty, huh?  That being said, I think for a special occasion where you still want a decent amount of food for your dollar, this is a great spot.  Also, there are special nights during the week where they offer some of their signature items at a reduced price…definitely something to look out for. 

So looking at Jasper’s as a whole for all our visits…I love this place!…and give them 4 1/2 Little Piggies.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010 @ 09:04 AM

Ted DrewesSpring has shown its pretty face; and when that happens, I began to crave certain items more than usual.  I know I’ve mentioned that it’s typically foods of the fresh variety that beckon me, but who are we kidding…warmer weather also makes me crave those frozen treats; and growing up in St. Louis, I was spoiled with a local frozen custard stand that just happens to be one of the most famous sweet tooth landmarks in the country…Ted Drewes

Located on the South Side of St. Louis, Ted Drewes has been serving its patrons fabulous frozen custard and Christmas trees for over 75 years.  Yes that’s right, I said custard AND Christmas trees!  First…the custard, which ain’t no regular ol’ soft serve.  For those of you who have not had the extreme pleasure, frozen custard is NOT ice cream.  Whereas ice cream is made from milk, custard is made with butterfat, and trust me…that fat makes all the rich, delicious difference.  It’s so good that I even will use a tiny spoon just so I can savor every last bite for as long as possible. :) 

As for the Christmas trees…they open up for the months around the winter holidays to provide a fun festive experience for their patrons…as well as the tree in case you need one.  In fact, I remember one year when my family actually purchased our tree from there.  We had a great time picking out the “perfect” tree and enjoying some custard.  What a Christmas combo! 

So, I figure that it’s no surprise that I hold Ted Drewes near and dear to my heart.  I have so many memories from my high school days of heading there to enjoy some custard and just hang out (we thought we were so cool).;)  It’s just one of those places that nostalgically hits home; and to this day my dad holds a very special place in his heart for their custard.  Definitely one of our favorites; and since moving away from The Lou (that’s what us natives call it ;), it has excited me when I would see Ted Drewes featured on TV.  I always get a bit giddy when it’s on a show, because I feel like they’re talking about one of my family members, or I’m this big insider on something that has been deemed “cool”…pun intended :)  Most recently, Ted’s was dubbed number 37 on Travel Channel’s “Chowdown Countdown.”  Additionally, it’s been featured on several programs on The Food Network (“Street Eats”) and The Travel Channel (briefly highlighted by Adam Richman on “Man vs. Food”).  Let’s just say…this place is famous! 

Ok…so enough about my nostalgia, and let’s get down to the yummy stuff.  If you’ve read the ‘About Me’ section of PCC, you’ve learned that I LOVE blizzards or the like.  Well, Ted Drewes has their own special concoction that puts them all to shame…the CONCRETE!  With a name like that, you know they must mean business; and what makes it so good is not just that they offer every topping imaginable, or the fact that it is perfectly blended, or even that you can choose chocolate or vanilla.  Rather, it is that when they hand it to you, they turn it upside down to show you just how thick it truly is…thick as concrete!

Concretepicture source: http://beinspireddaily.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/teddrews.jpg

 

That is some thick custard!  And, the name alone always made me laugh and I love how they tip it before they give it to you :)  What also makes the whole experience so fun is that Ted Drewes is literally just an outdoor ice cream (or custard) stand that you walk up to and order.  In other words…it’s old school.  So be prepared, once it start getting warm outside, people will line up at every window at least 20 or so deep.  That’s just how much people clamor for their custard, but it is always worth the wait. 

Now all this being said, I may have talked up Ted’s a bit too much for Adam.  2 years ago we had the chance to take a quick weekend trip to my beloved hometown.  In addition to some other famous St. Louis hot spots, I had told him Ted Drewes was a must stop.  Although excited to finally get the chance to try it, he was a bit skeptical, having had frozen custard before and was not sure that it would be anything that out of the ordinary (and he felt there was no way it would be better than his favorite home town “Flavor Freeze” ice cream stand…SHOUT OUT to all our Elkhart, IN peeps!).  However, willing to appease my wishes, and wanting to try another famous spot he had seen, we ventured there while we were in town.

417 Aww…doesn’t he look so cute!  We both ordered concretes, Adam got the Oreo and I got the “Special” which was pretzel bits, peanut butter and banana.  I must admit now I should have stuck with one of my standard flavors (like Oreo), because any time I try to be different or try something new I never like it as much.  In fact, I ended up switching with Adam cause I like his so much more, and it just so happened that he liked mine. :)  

Concrete 2picture source: http://www.roadfood.com/photos/7794.jpg

 

Well the verdict was this…Adam enjoyed it as a dessert, but was not overly impressed (it did not, in fact, measure up to his beloved “Flavor Freeze”).  As for me…do you even need to ask?  Still, as I mentioned, I was not particularly impressed with my order this time around; and although I enjoyed the Ted Drewes frozen custard experience, I must admit that after having it again after all these years, it was only just as good as other custard I’ve had since.  However, I chalk our less than stellar experience up to two things.  One, I had talked up Ted Drewes WAY too much.  I don’t think that it could have ever come close to meeting the lofty reputation I had set for it.  Two, I changed up my order and therefore it did not taste as good as I had remembered it.  I think the bottom line is that although this one time I did not enjoy it as much, it will always hold a special place in my heart; and as a “True Blue Girl from The Lou” ;), you will never hear me bad mouth it.  For me, it will always reign supreme! 

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Therefore, although completely biased from the nostalgia of my youth and memories with friends and family…I give Ted Drewes 5 Little Piggies!  (Although Adam says 3 is more accurate :().

Katiepig-icon pig-iconpig-iconpig-iconpig-icon                        Adampig-iconpig-iconpig-icon