Friday, February 27, 2009

Food Fact Friday: I Want a Mudslide

Today is National Kahlua Day! Who even knew Kahlua day even existed? Kahlua is definitely my favorite liquor. You can use it in everything from
Frozen Mudslides to Espresso Kahlua Brownies.

Kahlua was created in 1936 in Mexico. Only hand picked, high quality Arabica coffee beans are used to make Kahlua. The coffee beans are grown at an elevation between 900 and 1400 meters in a semi-tropical environment that is ideal for this crop. The beans are grown under the shade of trees, allowing the beans to ripen slowly without the use of pesticides.

Kahlua is a rich, dark brown coffee liqueur made from Mexican coffee, a blend of rums and a hint of vanilla. It also contains sugar and vodka, and has a thicker body than most other alcoholic beverages. Kahlua is the 2nd largest single liqueur brand worldwide. It first made its way into the United States in 1962.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I'm Thinkin Arby's

Now through March 9th, Arby's is offering a free sandwich! It's their new Roast Burger. All you have to do is bring in this coupon and buy any size drink.

There are 3 different kinds, and all of them include cheese, lettuce and tomato (the one in the picture is the Bacon-Cheddar). They basically just substitute roast beef for a ground beef patty. Sounds good to me! I'm a huge fan of the Beef & Cheddar, but I will definitely be trying one of these when I get my next fast food craving.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Food Fact Friday: It's Cookie Time!

I was passing by Target and saw the sign..."It's Girl Scout Cookie Time!". I tried to resist but my steering wheel magically turned it to the parking lot. I wonder how that happened....well, I did end up buying a box of Samoas, which are my all time favorite, besides Thin Mint. A couple weeks later, I was checking out the ice cream aisle at Publix, and there was Thin Mint Ice Cream and Samoa Ice Cream (limited editions). I'm not sure how long I'll be able to resist those. Here is some history on this tasty treat...

The first record of cookie sales by an individual scout unit was by the Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, Oklahoma, in December 1917. In 1922, the Girl Scout magazine The American Girl suggested cookie sales as a fund-raiser and provided recipes. In 1933, Girl Scouts in Philadelphia organized the first official sale, selling homemade cookies in the windows of local utility companies. The first Girl Scout cookie recipe was a sugar cookie.

In 1936 the national organization began licensing commercial bakers to produce cookies. During World War II the Girl Scouts sold calendars rather than cookies, due to shortages of flour, sugar, and butter.

Licensed baking companies (there are currently two) can offer up to twenty eight varieties of Girl Scout cookies. The national Girl Scout organization reviews and approves all varieties proposed by the baking companies, but requires only three types: Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Sandwiches (Do-Si-Dos) and Shortbreads (Trefoils). The other kinds can be changed every year, though several popular favorites, such as Caramel DeLites (Samoas) and Peanut Butter Patties (Tagalongs), are consistently available. The best selling cookie is Thin Mint, accounting for about 25% of cookie sales each year.

Boys can be nice: The Boy Scouts had the original idea of selling food (popcorn) in 1914. Later, they invented Tagalongs (peanut butter patties) and gave the idea to the Girl Scouts in 1956.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Something I'm Working On....

I'm trying to develop some recipes for Ultimate Recipe Showdown and Pillsbury Bake-Off. This is a dessert that came out really well! I just want to make a few tweaks to it...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Tasteful Pursuit in Palm Beach

I was extremely lucky to be selected by Foodbuzz to attend A Tasteful Pursuit in Palm Beach . This event is a gourmet seven-course meal and auction to benefit Share our Strength. It was held at Café Boulud, which is owned by superstar chef, Daniel Boulud.

Share our strength is a national organization that works hard to make sure no kid in America grows up hungry. They weave together a net of community groups, activists, and food programs to catch children at risk of hunger and surround them with nutritious food where they live, learn, and play. There are many ways to help this great cause, Click Here to find out how to lend a hand to help end childhood hunger.

I arrived fashionably late to Café Boulud (darn that Monday night traffic!) and wandered around the silent auction displays. There was an abundance of items. The sommelier of Café Boulud, Jenny Benzie, has great connections in the wine industry and there were many bottles donated to the auction. I had a glass of Charles de Casanove Champagne and went inside to find my table.

The event was set up beautifully. The centerpieces consisted of roses and orchids, and were lit up by candlelight. The tables were covered with wine glasses, because each course was paired with a different wine.

1st Course: Salsify Panna Cotta
Chef: Bradford Thompson, Lever House
When I first saw this on the menu, I was slightly nervous. A savory panna cotta didn’t seem to appealing to me. But I took my first bite and I was in heaven. The flavor was rich and the texture was perfectly creamy. The spice of the crawfish tail complemented it perfectly.

2nd Course: Quail and Foie Gras Ballotine en Croute – paired with Domaine Weinbach Pinot Blanc
Chef: Olivier Muller, DB Bistro Moderne
I have some issues with eating foie gras (but had never tried it), and was happy when there was only a small amount in the dish. But I took a bite and was impressed. The ballotine was meaty but delicate, with a buttery pastry crust. It went well with the slight tartness of the beets, greens, and shallot vinaigrette, which took an edge off the richness.

3rd Course: Marinated Nantucket Bay Scallops – paired with Alphones Mellot La Moussiere
Chef: Wesley Holton, Daniel Boulud Brasserie
The dish looked like a deconstructed ceviche, with the scallops floating in citrus and creamy avocado in the center. The scallops were literally the best I ever had, and basically melted in my mouth. The citrus and avocado was a perfect combination.

4th Course: Slow Roasted Arctic Char – paired with Vincent Girardin Pouilly-Fuisse
Chef: Zach Bell, Café Boulud Palm Beach
I’m pretty sure this was my favorite dish of the night. I had never tasted arctic char before. It looks similar to salmon but has a more delicate flavor. It was cooked to perfection, moist and flaky. It was complemented beautifully with the curry sabayon and caramelized cauliflower (which is now my new favorite way to eat cauliflower).

5th Course: Spinach and Ricotta Raviolo – paired with Cecchi, Vino Noble di Montepulciano
Chef: Gavin Kaysen, Café Boulud NYC
Raviolo is basically one big ravioli. Besides the title ingredients it also had pork sausage and an egg yolk in the center. I do not like eggs at all (except a few bites of scrambled eggs covered with cheese and ketchup), so I was terrified. But I couldn’t believe how wonderful everything tasted together. The egg yolk really added a creaminess to the ravioli that surprised me.

6th Course: Tasting of Milk Fed Veal – paired with Atalon Cabernet
Chef: Jean Francois Bruel, Daniel
This was the dish that really had everyone at my table looking pretty frightened. It consisted of veal sweetbreads, braised veal cheeks and veal tenderloin. I thought I’d go for the gusto and try the sweetbreads first. I was shocked by how good the consistency was and the mild flavor. The cheeks were also delicious, with excellent flavor (grass/milk fed) and it just fell apart when you cut into it. The tenderloin was good, but was overshadowed by the sweetbreads and cheek.

7th Course: “White Mocha”
Chef: Matthew Petersen, Café Boulud
The dessert was well hidden in a chocolate tuile shell. I cracked it open and tasted the components…orange mousse and chocolate cream. Those were both perfect. But then I bit in to the orange marmalade and it overwhelmed the chocolate flavor. I pushed that aside and finished the rest of the dessert, which also consisted of a very refreshing mandarin sorbet.

This was really a wonderful event. Although it was 7 courses, the portions were perfect and left the event perfectly satisfied. I was so happy to try so many things I had avoided in the past. The chefs really know how to create amazing dishes, and balance textures and flavors. The service throughout the event was impeccable! There are many Tasteful Pursuit dinners scheduled around the country, so attend one if you can. The food is amazing and it’s for a great cause.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Starbucks pulling a McDonald's

Starting March 3rd, you'll be able to get a much better deal at Starbucks. Starbucks is calling these specials “pairings.” You’ll be saving around $1.20 per meal. The $3.95 meals include either a tall Cafe Latte or tall fresh brewed coffee with one of the following existing or new items.

For $3.95, you'll be able to choose from 2 coffee drinks...
- Tall Cafe Latte
- Tall drip Coffee

After you've chosen your caffeine fix, you choose one of the following breakfast items...
- Starbucks Perfect Oatmeal
- Reduced-Fat Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake
- Sausage Breakfast Sandwich
- Reduced-Fat Turkey Bacon Breakfast Sandwich (turkey bacon, reduced fat white cheddar, cholesterol free egg)
- Artisan Bacon Sandwich (parmesan egg frittata, smoked bacon slices and gouda cheese)
- Artisan Ham Sandwich, (parmesan egg frittata, Black Forest ham and mild cheddar)