Sunday, July 31, 2005

I was looking through the data from my old expense account tracking software and sure enough, there were some favorite restaurants listed. Quite a few actually…and one of those favorites isn’t even a restaurant, it’s a market. Larry’s Market is a small chain (6) of very good markets with a huge selection of food you won’t see anywhere else. Sort of like Trader Joe’s on steroids.

Whenever I was working in the Woodinville, Washington office, I would stay at the Silver Cloud Inn in Kirkland and right across the street was a Larry’s Market. As soon as I had checked in I would cross the street and go directly to the sushi department in the store. A sushi chef was right there, in the store, making fresh rolls and samplers. My favorite was the Larry’s Special Combo, with 4 different kinds of sushi, 2 pieces each, and all for just $5.69

If you’re ever in Washington, I highly recommend a visit to Larry’s. If you don’t care for sushi, they have a large selection of more typical take-out foods available. Or maybe you will want to fill your picnic basket with items from their great delicatessen. It’s all good!

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Don't like squash? Well, try this recipe and you may change your mind...

Squash Casserole

2 pounds of squash, sliced. I use assorted yellow, crookneck, zucchini etc. The more colors the better!
1 cup of water
2 small onions, minced
2 TBS butter, melted
1-1/2 cups shredded sharp (or extra sharp) cheddar cheese. I always use extra sharp.
1-1/4 cups Ritz cracker crumbs
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Combine squash and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until squash is tender. Drain well, and then mash. Drain again and set aside.
Sauté onion in butter in a large skillet over medium high heat until tender.
Combine squash, onion, cheese, 3/4 cup of the cracker crumbs, salt, pepper, bacon and the eggs. Stir well.
Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 2-quart casserole dish, sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup of cracker crumbs.
Bake uncovered, at 350 degrees for 40 or 45 minutes…until thoroughly heated.

This is a dynamite dish and I will often experiment with added or changed ingredients. For instance, I like to use some fancy sausage instead of the bacon. Trader Joe will have sausages, such as chicken pesto, at a pretty good price. Let your imagination be your guide. I also like to add Cholula hot sauce, maybe a teaspoon. For added color, you could throw in some cherry tomatoes, maybe a dozen.
Imagine, me, getting good reviews of my zucchini bread! Well, it's true and I have even been asked for the recipe. So here is the one I used.

Zucchini Bread
Serving Size : 2
3 Eggs
1 cup Oil
2 cups Shredded raw zucchini (I probably use close to 2-1/2 cups)
1 3/4 cups Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Baking powder
2 teaspoons Baking soda
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Vanilla
1 cup Chopped nuts (I use walnuts and pecans, mixed 50/50)
2 cups Flour
Put zucchini in strainer and press or squeeze with hands to get excess liquid out. Don't go overboard, a little moisture is OK. says, "excess liquid" not all liquid. Beat eggs, sugar, and oil together. Add flour, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, salt, vanilla, and nuts. Mix together by hand. Add zucchini (minus liquid). Beat mixture. Pour into 2 greased, floured, loaf pans.Bake 1 hr. at 350 deg. F. Recipe may be doubled.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Sorry...I forgot to allow anonymous "comments" when I set up this blog. I have it fixed now.
L&L Franchise, Inc.
How odd...I read about this franchise in the Sac Bee this morning. Too bad they don't have manapua!
Island delight! That's manapua...

Never heard of it? Basically, it's a steamed roll, filled with spiced pork, or some other equally tasty filling. Whenever I was working in Honolulu, we would have staff meetings on Tuesday mornings, with all of the office crew meeting in the small lunchroom. And there was always a large box filled with fresh pork manapua sitting on the table for us all to enjoy. Gloria (Branch Administrator) would buy them at a local "plate lunch" store. Oh, there were donuts as well...but the manapua would disappear first.

When you're in Hawaii, be sure to look for a place to buy some manapua and give them a try. You can usually find them in the small restaurants that serve "bento" and "plate lunch". They are usually found in the commercial districts, where the clientele is more likely to be working class rather than tourist.

Here's a recipe if you want to try making some...
1 yeast cake
1 1/4 cups warm milk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 cups flour
2/3 tablespoon sugar
1 cup roast pork
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
4 shrimp -- boiled and chopped
1 teaspoon soy sauce
6 water chestnuts -- chopped and salted
1 stalk green onion -- chopped

Combine filling ingredients; set aside. Dissolve yeast in warm milk. Add oil,salt and sugar.
Gradually add flour. Knead until smooth. Dough must be stiff.Then cut dough into
approximately 2 inch balls. Flatten in palms of hands andfill them with about 2 teaspoons of the
pork filling, placing then on whitepaper, 2-1/2 x 2-1/2 inch square. Let rise for about 1-1/2 to 2
hours. Lightlybrush with sesame oil. Steam for 20 minutes.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

I was wandering through my Journal this morning and ran across this recipe for Chili Verde. It's my own recipe, a blend of many recipes that I've tried, but it turned out to be a good one...

Use a 3-pound pork butt roast, cut into 1-1/2 cubes. Put them into a large pot and braise them. Chop medium 1 large yellow onion and chop fine 10 cloves of garlic. Remove meat from the pot and add garlic and onions, cook till just translucent. Add the meat back to the pot and add about a quart of vegetable stock. Heat a tablespoon of cumin seeds in a frying pan and then use a mortar to grind them, mixing them with a teaspoon of cinnamon as you grind. Add this to the meat/onion mix. Cook on medium for 45 minutes. Use the food processor to blend about a dozen medium tomatilloes and a handful of fresh cilantro. Add 4 Serrano peppers, being careful to remove most of the seeds, and blend. (More seeds=more heat) Add that mixture to the meat/onion mix. Cook for an additional 10 minutes. Thicken if necessary with a little bit of flour and water.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Good Eats. That was the name I wanted to use for this honor of that great television show, Good Eats, hosted by Alton Brown. But it was taken for some reason. So Eats it is.

So why am I here? My good friend Dennis said I should and that's good enough for me. I had mentioned to him that I had thought about doing a restaurant review blog and he said go for it!

Will it be all restaurant reviews? No. I will have recipes and stories as well as a few reviews. In fact, as I was thinking about this new blog, I realized that a restaurant review is a dangerous thing. We all like the various restaurants that we patronize on a regular basis. We're comfortable with them...and to have some stranger, some yahoo like me come along and criticize that restaurant, well, that's like declaring war! How dare he!

I guess I will dare...and I hope you will forgive me if I don't find your favorite restaurant to be my favorite restaurant.

In fact, to be safe...I will start with a restaurant that doesn't have a presence in the local area. The Palomino restaurant rotisserie and bar.

The one I visited was located in Indiana, 49 West Maryland Street, #189 Indianapolis, IN 46204 Phone:(317) 974-0400. There are 11 restaurants in total, located in Charlotte, Cincinnatti, Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Seattle.

Ambiance? Plenty. A very stylish, modern look dominates the large restaurant. No cutesy themes here. Lots of glass and chrome under subdued lighting. When you first enter the reception area you are greeted pleasantly, asked about reservations and then told that there will be a (the usual) short wait. Odd, but they don't ask for your name? And you sort of wonder about that...but you find a place in the bar area and are soon served. I had a Buckler's, while my dining partner, Jack Smith, had a Gray Goose martini. All served efficiently and quickly. Not 10 minutes pass and a young lady walks up and announces that our table is ready, "would you like to add the drinks to your dinner?" Or did we wish to close out the tab? We chose to add them and followed her to our table. (I like being asked that question)

As we sat down, I told Jack that I was still mystified as to how we were found in a crowded bar without our name being called or being given one of those idiotic flashing and buzzing pagers. That was when Jack told me the trick; they have a spotter with the hostess and that person's only job is to discretely observe where you go, what you look like and to make a note of it that will allow the hostess, who has never seen you, to pick you out of the crowd. A nice touch!

The waitperson...a waitress, arrived quickly and made us welcome. She had a great smile and knew the menu quite well. We asked her for some suggestions and she jumped right into it...not like so many that will hem and haw, making it obvious that they wished that you had never asked that question. We settled on a mussel appetizer and it was quite good, the garlic not at all overpowering and the tomato in the broth was surprisingly sweet. Surprising, because this was wintertime in Indiana and the usual tomatoes are hothouse variety, pretty but no flavor.

We both chose the lamb loin chop with fresh roasted vegetables. It was served promptly, just a few minutes after the appetizer had been cleared. And our waitress served it, not some faceless person whose only job is to serve the food. One of my pet peeves is the waitperson whose only job is to hand you a menu and take the order. You never see them again, except in passing, when, with menu in hand, they will walk by your table and quickly ask, "How is everything?" It's quite obvious that they don't want an answer, so you smile at each other and then they're gone. Never to be seen again until they decide to pay you one last visit and hand you the bill.

The lamb was perfect, not greasy, and served warm. The vegetables were probably a little underdone, but still pleasant.

After a satisfying dinner, where our waitress visited twice more...we were shown a dessert menu. And that's where Jack threw them a curve. He asked if it were possible to find some plain strawberries in the kitchen? And if that were possible, could he have a bowl of those with a topping of "real" whipped cream? That dessert didn't exist on their menu...but she made it happen! And she made it quite pleasant, as if she wished that she had thought of it herself.

Yes, the atmosphere in the Palomino is all about customer service. And you know what? We tipped big!

If you're ever in one of those cities listed above...give the Palomino a try. And check out the menu and prices on their website.