Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hiatus FYI

Eating Local in Memphis is moving next weekend (farewell for now, sweet Cooper-Young! I'll be back) and then STUDYING ALL THE THINGS for the Tennessee Bar Exam after that.

I'll see you kids in August.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Roasted Potato Tacos with Creamy Cilantro Dressing

The flavors in these filling little tacos were incredible--cumin, tangy goat cheese, cilantro, yum! I saw this idea filed under some "cheap eats" category on The Kitchn and made a mental note to make it soon and often. I always have new potatoes on hand, and I can't get enough of cilantro in the spring and summer. Bonus, it was really fast and easy to throw together after the SO and I got back to my house after the gym. Throw the veggies in the oven, and make the sauce/slice the limes while they cook.

We ate about 7 soft tacos' worth of this recipe, plus I had leftovers for breakfast that would have filled a couple more.

Local veggies here include sweet onion from Flora at Bluebird Farms, red potatoes from a new vendor whose name I did not catch (sorry!), cilantro from Ly Vu's Produce, and goat cheese from Bonnie Blue Farms. As the original recipe suggests, many other veggies would also work well here.

Roasted Potato Tacos with Creamy Cilantro Dressing
Adapted from a recipe on TheKitchn

Taco Ingredients
2 large new potatoes, washed and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Dressing Ingredients
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/2 tablespoon goat cheese
2 teaspoons fresh cilantro, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice

Flour tortillas
Cilantro & lime wedges to garnish

Preheat the oven to 420 degrees. Combine the veggies, salt, spices, and vegetable oil in a bowl and and toss until veggies are well coated. Spread the mixture on a cookie sheet, roasting pan, or casserole dish, and place in the middle rack in the oven. Cook 30-40 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

Combine all of the dressing ingredients while the potatoes cook and let rest in the fridge until ready to use.

I like to turn off the oven and use the residual heat to warm up my flour tortillas.

Place the potato mixture on a warm flour tortilla, top with dressing, and serve with the lime wedges and cilantro. You could also use cheese or salsa, but I'm telling you guys, this dressing is really good. Go-back-for-seconds good.

Decent with an Acme Pale Ale, but I wish I had paired this with a hoppy IPA instead. Malty flavors didn't really go well with the spices and cilantro.

Leftovers were delicious scrambled with egg for breakfast.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Roasted Cornish Game Hen with Herb Butter, Mushrooms, and Shallots

First of all, Omicron Mu Gamma,* Cornish game hens are so darn cute, and they are just enough meat for two meals (at least, they are for me; I am a light meat-eater). Bonus, you have bones for a light chicken stock. But mostly the cute factor, as this hen fit perfectly into my new...

Le Creuset Dutch (or French, if you prefer) oven! Thank you, two years of hoarding Westlaw points.

I roasted the hen using some compound butter I made a few months ago, using chopped lemon balm from the U of M edible garden, dried thyme, and a stick of softened unsalted butter. Mash these all together, re-form into a log shape, wrap in plastic wrap, stick in a ziploc bag, and freeze. It will last a few months. (For some other fun compound butter ideas, check out Design*Sponge's recent post.)

This hen came from West Wind Farms.

Roasted Cornish Game Hen with Herb Butter, Mushrooms, and Shallots

1 Cornish game hen, cleaned and dried
3 tablespoons herb butter
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 cup button mushrooms, washed, stemmed, and quartered (mine were actually marinated mushrooms left over from the SO's birthday party. Repurposing!)
2 large shallots, sliced thin

Slide your hand between the hen's meat and skin to loosen the skin. Rub two tablespoons butter under the skin. Liberally salt and pepper the cavity, then throw another tablespoon of butter in there. Salt and pepper the outside. Tie the legs together loosely. Okay, good. Now stick it back in the fridge to rest for a little while, at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a dutch oven over medium heat, heat two tablespoons olive oil. Place the hen, breast side down, in the dutch oven. Sear until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Flip hen so that the breast faces upward and sear another 5 minutes. I then flipped the hen again to cook breast-side down, because I like my white meat to be all submerged and juicy like that. Cover the dutch oven and place in the oven. After 25 minutes, remove the lid. Roast the hen until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 170 degrees. I don't have this kind of a gadget yet, so I roasted until the juices from the thighs ran clear (not pink or red!) when poked with a knife. This took about an hour total (35 minutes more after removing the lid from the dutch oven).

The hen should be all nice and brown, and look vaguely like it's praying for its life. Remove the hen from the dutch oven, place it on a cutting board, and loosely tent with aluminum foil.

Now make the mushrooms! If you used the appropriate amount of butter, there should be plenty of melted butter left in the pan. Place the dutch oven over a medium flame. I deglazed mine a little with white wine and scraped up the brown bits, then added the sliced shallots. Saute the shallots until they become a little limp, then add the mushrooms. Saute until the mushrooms are soft, about 5-6 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Plate the mushrooms, place your carefully deconstructed hen parts on top, and also have a cream biscuit to soak things all up. Oh, yes, more white wine, too. The hen was so flavorful and, well, buttery. The leftovers reheated well for lunch the next day, too.

In other news, this year's garlic harvest is finally in and cured, and it's a beaut:

*either it's obvious or it's not.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Summer Roadtrippin' Continued: NOLA 2011


New Orleans is a mere 6 hours from Memphis, and it is rapidly becoming a favorite getaway spot for me and the SO. We are wanderers and eaters on vacation, and New Orleans has tons of good restaurants waiting to be discovered as well as plenty of things to see without paying a dime. This Memorial Day weekend, we took a little jaunt down.

It was wretchedly hot during the day, but the nights were cool enough to not want to die while waiting for the St. Charles Streetcar.

As soon as we got in, we made our way to the French Quarter for oysters. Feeling pretty delighted with ourselves, we ambled past the long, long line at Acme to plop ourselves down a the bar at Felix's Oyster Bar. My friend Jessica, who has legit cajun cred and intimate knowledge of the city, recommended Felix's, and it didn't disappoint. We split a half dozen chargrilled oysters. Delicious. I thought I hated oysters. No, I love them with butter and cheese and effusive bartenders.

I also had a soft-shell crab po-boy, a huge indulgence that was one of the tastiest, messiest (crab juices, y'all) sandwiches I've had in a while.

The first night we went to Boucherie, a restaurant in a tiny little house just off Carrollton and easily accessible via the St. Charles streetcar. This place was such a gem. Nothing on the menu was more than $15, and so we feasted: mussels, scallops (for SO, who couldn't stop raving about them), artichoke confit (me, so ridiculously rich), and a thai chili chocolate chess pie for dessert. Wish I had taken a picture of the dinner menu, but here's a pic of the cocktail menu:

Fun! And here's my Riverbend Martini -- Hendrick's, orange liqueur, muddled cucumber, orange, and lemon. Summertime means gin.

We'll definitely go back the next time we're there. Service was really slow -- it took at least 20 minutes just to get our drinks -- but it was nice to have a leisurely dinner. Call ahead for reservations; we didn't do that, but they were able to seat us on the porch (the porch! so cute) immediately.

We spent our next day exploring Magazine Street and stumbled onto Sucré, an impossibly precious gelateria/pâtisserie. Much oohing and ahhing over the pastries was had, as was gelato. Raspberry for me:

Super-intense flavors, but I couldn't finish it! The "small" was a pretty generous portion.

More wanderings around Magazine, amusing sign to we liti-GATOR types.

I debated going to Galatoire's that night, but ultimately decided it wasn't really our style. We ended up at John Besh's Lüke (inexplicable umlaut and all), and I'm glad we did. SO got a pot of mussels that were out of this world. I am kind of a mussel fiend and have rarely encountered them in Memphis cooked the way I like them. Back home in Florida, my dad makes them with nothing but butter, white wine, and garlic, and that's how I want 'em when I want 'em. Luke's did them right. Also, they literally came in this kind of pot, which was filled to the brim. I had... hmm, what did I have? Oh yeah, crab ravioli. Good, but I was happy to snipe mussels. Our waiter was very strange and didn't make conversation, or even eye contact for that matter. And banged things on the table. Luckily, the mussels were worth it. We also had the two house beers on tap, the Fru and the Alt, which were both decent.

Followed up Lüke with a trip to Cafe du Monde, bien sûr! Delicious, but note to self, one tiny cup of cafe au lait there at 10 PM=up til like 4 AM. And I am not normally affected like that.

On our last day, we ate a quick lunch at Cochon Butcher in the Warehouse District before heading out of town. This place is super tiny and makes everything on site, from the cured meats down to the pickles (which were excellent and tasted of cucumber still, by the way).

I had a smoky duck pastrami slider.

SO had the muffaletta, which had an olive salad lightly spiked with mustard. Sometimes I avoid the muff' for its heaviness, but I liked this one.

Awesome road trip/vaycay. We're back to reality now, and for me that means packing to move soon, a draining process. There will be some actual cooking on Eating Local in Memphis soon, though. In other news, *someone!* had a 30th birthday recently, and I hosted a beer party at my house, which you can read all about on FuzzyBrew.