Thursday, May 3, 2012

Brain Food

I'm in the midst of my final exam week. And by final I mean the very last exams I will ever take (that is unless I go to culinary school). I have trapped myself in a Starbucks and am attempting to study Intro to Human Counseling. I got through a single chapter before I found myself surfing the web.

Unlike most college students stalking one another on Facebook, I stalk culinary websites, looking at various recipes. I chose to search for ingredients deemed "smart food" making my procrastination feel semi-productive. These ingredients carry antioxidants that research says should assist me on my final exam come Monday morning. Whether or not this may be true, I am going to give it a shot in the next few days, given my track record studying for this exam thus far.

Here is my top ten list for "smart food".
  1. Coffee 
  2. Olive Oil
  3. Garlic
  4. Fish (Salmon is recommended)
  5. Nuts and seeds
  6. Spinach
  7. Blueberries/Blackberries
  8. Avocado
  9. Pomegranate
  10. Chocolate (not kidding)
So enjoy a café mocha and trail mix as an afternoon snack, with broiled fish and a salad for dinner. Then you will get that A+ you deserve!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Au Naturale

I was first introduced to naturally flavored water while we were in Phoenix for Easter. It seemed everywhere we went there was the option of cucumber, lemon or grapefruit water. I have always been one to squeeze a slice of lemon in my water, but experiencing this variety of tastes was simply delightful. The fruits and vegetables leave only a slight essence to the water. I have started thinly slicing an English cucumber and lining the edges of my glass before I pour ice cold water into it. I also suggest orange, lime, blackberries, grapefruit and lemon with basil. A little goes a long way especially when you serve it individually. Another idea: place the produce inside a water pitcher such as a Brita. Any way you choose to drink it, naturally flavored water is a chic refreshing way to hydrate.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Last Saturday I had a meal that changed my life. I can honestly say it was the most magnificent dining experience I have ever had. Sitting in the dining room of KAI in Phoenix, Arizona I felt as though the whole world stopped as I enjoyed every bite of the 5 course meal.

It began when we were greeted with cleansing lime, cucumber and passion fruit shots (no alcohol mind you). I immediately felt at ease. I relaxed even more as I sipped my vodka soda with a splash of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. I was dining with my boyfriend and his family. We were seated at a central table and immediately greeted by Feliciano and his team of waiters. He gave us a mesmerizing introduction to the restaurant and the dining experience as a whole. Then menus were brought to us, each decorated with its own hand-painted watercolor image. Every menu tells a story of the culture of the Native Americans that inspire the cuisine of KAI (which means seed in their language.)

The chef sent an amuse bouche of fruit gelee on a buckwheat cookie. Then Colin and I shared a magnificent appetizer, called the beginning at KAI. It was escargot, truffle, wild mushrooms and caramel goat cheese. When they served it they placed a frozen yogurt strip made of goat cheese on top. It melted into rich succulent goodness. Paired with a buttery french toast I gave the plate a moment of silence just to revere the chef and his magic. Colin's mom ordered the Lobster, Pumpkin and Mesquite Grilled Squash Bisque as her beginner. They did a table side presentation where they lit sambuca on fire to caramelize a marshmallow garnish and then poured the broth on top. Colin's sister did not order an appetizer but was brought a sugar cone with goat cheese, the perfect bite.

The beginning was followed with a light lavender sorbet which cleansed the palette. It was like swallowing serenity. I have never tasted food that calmed me as much as the cuisine at this genuine Native American restaurant. While we waited on our entrees, we ordered a bottle of Pinot Noir from Archery Summit vineyards in Oregon. By far, the most luscious wine I have ever tasted.

As our entrees came all at once, we were once again blown away by both presentation and service. Feliciano performed yet another table side presentation, ladling a rich Gruyere cheese sauce over my Potpourri of Butter Basted Lobster, Guaymas Shrimp and Diver Scallops. It was served over black threads of pasta, braised heirloom tomatoes, ham hock bits and crispy shallots. Then doused with cauliflower and leek butter. In one word, heaven. The sweetness of the shellfish was enhanced with the rich cheese sauce and complimented by the tang of tomatoes. Everyone's entrees were phenomenal, especially Colin's Grilled Tenderloin of Tribal Buffalo which had a spicy earthy rub and paired with smoked corn puree, cholla buds, Merquez sausage, scarlet runner bean chili and Saguaro blossom syrup.

The menu is so original and complex. Every ingredient of each item tells a story and reflects on the culture of the city. The dining experience truly felt like a journey, ending with sweet, succulent truffles that melted in your mouth. I had one dusted with chili powder and one simple milk chocolate delight.

We left the restaurant relaxed, satisfied and amazed at the meal we just experienced.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sunday Dinner

Sundays are meant for relaxation. A good sermon at church, a walk in Piedmont Park, a random movie on television, followed by a fantastic dinner. Cooking on Sundays should be minimal, using only the simplest recipes with the freshest ingredients. I have grown up always eating steak on Sundays. Back in Macon, Ga. my parents paired the juicy, tender meat with Caesar salad and baked beans. Now that I am older and do my own cooking on Sundays I like to serve the charred steaks with sauteed green beans or roasted asparagus and a baked potato. There is little prep work that has to be done and dinner comes together fairly quickly (depending on the potatoes- baked in microwave or oven). I love the tradition of red meat on Sundays and know I will continue this perfect, simple Sunday dinner the rest of my life.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Date Night

Everyone loves a date night. Especially when you get to enjoy fabulous food at your favorite restaurant with great friends. Last night my boyfriend came in to town and we headed to Last Resort with my roommate and her boyfriend. Because it was a Tuesday there was no wait. We sat right down and ordered yummy cocktails, a dirty martini was my drink of choice. Soon warm bread arrived that I love to dip in Last Resort's famous Vidalia Bacon Dressing. Salads were then served, mine topped with a rich balsamic vinaigrette. My main course was by far the best thing I have ever had at Last Resort, it ultimately could be the best thing I have eaten in 2012. I ordered the special, a cornmeal crusted tilefish served with a corn barley mash, balsamic kale and roasted beets. The fish was crisp and sweet, the mash was rich and succulent and the kale was just heaven. Altogether it made for a scrumptious bite. Plates were cleaned, but stomachs weren't full as we made room for their white chocolate cheesecake. I left completely satisfied. I think we need to plan another date night for next week, especially if I get to enjoy food like that.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Donna Hay

About a month ago, I visited Birmingham to work on a photoshoot for Oxmoor House. I was working with the most amazing food stylist, prop stylist and photographer. Working along side them was one of the best experiences I have had in college. I enjoyed getting to know each of them; they offered me priceless career advice while I was there. I forgot I was even working as we got carried away with conversation about amazing restaurants and must-try recipes. It was here that these three fabulous women introduced me to Donna Hay, the quintessential Australian foodie. Her magazines are filled with pages of beautiful photography and mouthwatering recipes. Each image is composed perfectly, creating a serene balance with style and sophistication. I discovered the website, magazine and most recently cookbooks. Her ideas make weeknight dinners a breeze with recipes requiring only a few ingredients and limited hands-on time. I can't thank my Birmingham friends enough for sharing Donna Hay with me, I am now a very loyal fan.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Eat Your Veggies

Second semester, senior year of college is priceless. Yes, some parts are stressful, but the amount of free time I have compensates my worries of the future. I recently took on a new project: going through all of my old magazines and cutting out recipes I want to try. I attempted to look specifically for healthy recipes with spring break approaching next week; however, I found my self clipping Pimiento Mac and Cheese and Mushroom Croque-Monsieur out of last year's Bon Appétit. Sorting through all the various starters, entrees, even condiments made me very hungry.

I found a cover recipe I knew I had to try. Roasted Vegetable Tart, the cover recipe for January 2012. It wasn't very labor intensive, only time consuming. Making sure veggies were going in the oven at the appropriate time so that they roasted into perfect yumminess. I tried a short cut using pizza dough (as opposed to the homemade dough), which was not a complete failure, but I would not recommend it. Perhaps I will try a premade pie crust next time. The filling needs a substantial crust to go along with it.

Flavors were right on point. Eggplant, red bell pepper, sweet potato and balsamic tomatoes made this dish sing. Considering I ate it for dinner 3 times this week, I would say it was a success.