Friday, May 6, 2011

Burger from Beef's

I eat at Beef O'Brady's pretty regular, but to be honest I usually stick with the turkey reuben or fish tacos.  The turkey reuben is definitely worth checking out, especially during football season.  Pairs well with Yuengling just like a burger.

But I was past due on a burger blog post, so I figured I would try the BBQ Burger with the new pub chips.  Listen, for those unfamiliar with Beef's, it's a chain.  So my expectations weren't too high, and I got what I was expecting.

The burger comes with bacon, rings, cheese, tasty mass produce BBQ sauce...oh yeah vegies on the side, so you can pretend you ate something slightly nutritious.  I was pretty happy with this burger up until any sauciness ran out.  It was weird, but about the time I had 3 or 4 more bites left, no more veggie, little sauce; just bun, burger and cheese.  It didn't stand on its own is all I can say.

All-in-all not a bad selection, if you prefer a burger instead of a wrap or salad.  Personally I think I will stick with the Reuben when I visit Beef's next.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Flexitarian Cooking

When I am trying to be healthy I try to cook 80% vegetarian.  Save the meat for the weekends with my beer and cheese consumption.  I found a cookbook, written by Dawn Jackson Blatner that is right in my sweet spot, called Flexitarian Cooking.  

Tonight I prepared (with my twist on it of course) 2 recipes that paired fantastically!  I prepared a salad with arugula and orange slices with a shrimp curry.  They received above average praise so I thought I would share.

Arugula Salad with Orange and Avocado
10 ounces baby arugula
1 cup fennel bulb, shredded
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
1 orange, sliced

1 1/2 Avocados
1 Lime

1/3 cup walnut oil
1/3 Cup 50/50 orange juice
Juice of 1/2 an orange

Juice of 1/2 a lime
Orange zest
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste

Prepare vinaigrette ahead of time to let flavors come together.  Add ingredients into a bowl and let sit.
Put fennel and oranges, into a bowl and add a little dressing.  Roll around and let it sit.  Cube avocado and squeeze half a lime over it. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Then to a bowl I add the Arugula, Fennel, orange slices, and avocado. Add dressing then mix.  Plate and add toasted walnuts.

Shrimp Coconut Curry

1 can (13.5 ounce) coconut milk
1 Tablespoon curry powder
1 Tablespoon minced garlic (optional)
2 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 Tablespoon Fl. honey
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 head cauliflower, chopped
1 red bell pepper, sliced (about 2 cups)
carrot chips
2 cups frozen peas
1lb. Shrimp (peeled)
1 Tablespoon oil or butter
2 cups cooked brown rice
Toppings: chopped green onions & lime wedges
Brown rice takes a good 40+ minutes to cook, so get it started early.  I prepared my salad next.  Then, I put the ingredients for the sauce in a small sauce pan, and let them get together.  While everything was getting happy, I chopped all the vegetables and removed the tails from the shrimp for the curry.  Once the rice was about finished, I fluffed and set aside.  I add a little oil to the pan, and sauted the cauliflower, carrots, and red pepper.  Once the vegies have a little color, I add the sauce, and let everything come together for about 6 or 7 minutes.  Then 1 add the peas and the add the shrimp.  Stir it around to coat with the sauce and cover with a lid.  After about 3 or 4 minutes add the brown rice, and stir together.  Let combine while you plate the salad.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Off the Beaten Path...

Found this tasty place in Key Largo yesterday much by accident.  Calypso Seafood Grill is good food tucked away in an unlikely place.

My daughter, Hannah and I, went driving around Key Largo to check things out, and found ourselves around a small commercial fishing district.  We had been driving around for a little over an hour, at the lunch time hour, and were in need of when we drove past this converted house with an 'Open' sign next to the marina; we decided to pop in.

We chose to sit out side on the back porch that backs up to the docks.  Local patrons boat up to the docks and come for lunch.  We saw a couple of groups in the course of our meal leave by boat.

Now the service was just OK.  Kinda seemed like it was a second priority for the lady, but I wouldn't say she was rude or forgot about us.  She just gave the appearance that she was still trying to get her side work finished...And oh yeah she could have mentioned before we ordered that there is no credit cards.  There are a few small signs posted about, but if you come in and keep your eyes facing the boats, you won't see 'em.  There is an ATM inside, but yesterday it chose not to work.  Thankfully my daughter had cash on her...

Any way the food...Food was definitely above average.  Not what I was expecting in this little hole in the wall.  1st off the menu's came in this blue leather bound book that you would expect in a high end place, and had a pretty decent selection.

Hannah had the Buffalo Shrimp, because the menu used the phrase:  Buffalo my Butt! I had the yellow fin tuna crusted in horseradish with a homemade horseradish sauce sandwich.

Hannah doesn't normally eat spicy.  But the sauce must of had Habenero based hot sauce in it, cause it did linger for a while. And even though it was spicy still had a unique flavor to it, more than just your normal buffalo drenching. The pinks were good size, fresh and butterflied, and then battered.  She made it a personal goal to eat all of 'em.  It took a good bit of the blue cheese and celery to cut the heat, but she tasted victory in the end.

Now my sandwich which came with fries, was tasty and I must confess a little runny and messy (just the way I like it).  The tuna was cooked medium rare, leaving the meat a with a good amount of the pink left, but not chewy and just enough time on the grill to leave the horseradish golden, not charred and bitter.  And the fries were homemade, just the way my grandmother used to make 'em.

It is definitely a place geared to the locals.  Wide selection of good food, and atmosphere that says come sit for a while.  If we make it back down to Key Largo again, I probably will.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Build a Better Burger Tips

While sitting in Paradise (on spring break with my girls in Key Largo) I realized I had not had a burger worth posting about since my original post from the Green Iguana.  Sorta wishing I could just fire up the grill and make my own.  But not having a grill at the moment, I decided instead to post about tips I have learned over the years, and hopefully I run into Jimmy or at least a 'cheesy' touristry burger joint...Until then here ya go:

  1. Alway start with 80/20 ground beef.  You want healthy start with turkey.
  2. You want fresh, so ask your butcher for it.  You should know your butcher, let him know you are a foodie, and you take these things seriously.
  3. Season your ground beef 4 - 6 hours before.  Save some for during the grilling, and don't add salt yet (or not much if you are using a store bought seasoning mix). Don't play with your meat too much, it makes it tough.
  4. Make patties right out of the fridge, the fat will be cold, and they will stick together better.
  5. Stack patties using wax paper between layers.  I usually stack them in those throw away aluminum trays.
  6. Let your meat come to room temperature before grilling.  I use charcoal a lot, so it has just worked out this way, but does seem to make a difference.  Don't worry about it with store bought frozen burgers though.
  7. Seasoning should always be done in intervals.  So as the burgers grill, add a little of what ever you put in the burgers. It adds depth...
  8. Flip only once!  It was a hard habit for me to break, but it is best.
  9. Now you can add salt.  I use finely ground sea salt or kosher salt.  But wait until you flip. And when the burger is finished flip it as you take it off, salt this side.  Meat has two sides! 
  10. If you are adding cheese (and who doesn't) instead of taking the burger off, I flip on the way to a part of the grill with little or no heat, apply your 2nd salt here, and then add cheese.  Cover with the aluminum pan or grill lid.  
  11. Use a good Mayo on the bottom bun; keeps the juices from making the bottom bun soggy.  Nobody likes a soggy bottom.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Yuengling Brewery Tour

Another 1st for Sumptuous Consumptions:  Florida Brewery Tour #1.  My girlfriend Terri and I, are committed to touring all the Florida Crafted Beer Breweries in the state and reporting back to you here.  We started with one of the larger breweries closer to home this past weekend: Yuengling Brewery.

Yuengling brews 7 beers on a regular basis with a few seasonal beers along the way.  There are 3 facilities brewing beers under the Yuengling name, the original in Pottsville, PA, Tampa, FL, and Mill Creek, PA. 
Janis, our tour guide, was knowledgeable and made sure the large group was well informed.  She pointed out that this brewery was originally built in 1958 as a Schlitz Beer brewer, and was bought by Yuengling from the Stroh's company in the 1990's, and was up and running in 3 weeks after the purchase.  The grounds and facilities still have that 1950's feel.  The color's, building materials and the lab equipment are still the original, as well as the hospitality house the tour starts from.

It just so happened that the day we chose to tour the brewery the Master Crafted Beer Association was meeting in the hospitality house, where they were voting on beers from around the state.  Randy the Tampa brewery chemist, made himself available to answer questions that you wouldn't normally have access to on a Saturday.  Between himself and Janis, we were able to learn about the brewing process from start to finish, to include QA, crafting new brews, and how Yuengling maintains consistency throughout their facilities.

Of course part of the tour is tasting the output of the brewery.  Now if you have been reading the blog regularly  you would know that I am already a fan of the Lager.  The other popular line is the Premium.  Janis made sure as a blog we were able to taste as much of the samples as we could. 
Now all the beers are tasty.  The Lager I could drink on a regular basis, and the Porter (a little heavier brew) is definitely my favorite, while Terri chose one of the seasonal beers, the Bock, as her favorite. 

I being a big fan of IPA's did enjoy the Chesterfeld Ale that I had heard so mush about, but it seemed like it would be better enjoyed with a meal than just on its own.

Janis and the rest of the Saturday staff were all very friendly and accommodating, and as an outing we had an enjoyable time.  The beer of course was tasty, and we wasted no time on the way home to pick-up greater quantities to more thoroughly familiarize ourselves with the Yuengling craft.  Stay tuned for our next entries to follow in the next couple of weeks.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Simple Cheese Omelet

Good morning.  Today's breakfast of choice given that I am headed to Yuengling Brewery is a low carb favorite:  Cheese Omelet.  Now I figure like my burger choices, that if you gonna do it, do it.

So I start by melting a little butter in the pan as I beat 2 brown eggs with Tobasco and salt and pepper.  Once the butter solids brown a little, I slowly pour the egg mixture in the pan.

As I let it firm up a little, lifting the edges to allow the mixture to ooze around and under, I add shredded cheddar, that's right 2 or 3 days of cholesterol all it once.

Slice a tomato for color, and find a favorite blog to catch up on (today was the Florida Beer Guild site) and breakfast was served.  You could see the browned bits slightly, adding color to the lightly browned outside.  Also influencing the taste, the melted cheese that stretches from the plate as I lift my fork to my mouth.  Nothing to fancy but definitely tasty!


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Got a little Tampa in me, well maybe that was Cuban

I had the best $3 Cuban I have ever had today.

Went with a buddy of mine in search of locally roasted coffee (future blog post coming) and on the way back he asked a silly question, "was I hungry?"  To which I replied, "I could eat."

So as we are driving down 50th street in Tampa headed towards the ports, he swings it into this blue low-frills 1950 looking general store. And then proceeds to take me in the back door, with blue-collar guys hanging around chewing the fat.

Turned out to be this Cuban family run place with all the standards listed on the placard.  The guy behind the counter recognized my buddy, and says whadaya having today Jim, and he spouted off his regular custom order. Turns to me and asks me for mine and I said all-the-way hot.  Next thing I know we were being handed bags and we were out the door.

The whole experience just made you feel the nostalgia that is old Tampa...a hole-in-the-wall place that only your buddy could take you to, to know about.

Took it home and man was that good!  It pays to know people who knows people...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Breakfast for Dinner

  This is a favorite recipe of my kids.  There are many ways to vary this recipe, sugar versus brown sugar, with or without sliced bananas, with or without powdered sugar.  But I have never had any complaints.

- Day old French loaf bread
- 1/2 cup (opt. Brown) Sugar
- 1 tsp. Cinnamon 
- 6 lg eggs
- 1/2 cup Half&Half (opt.)
- Philly Cream Cheese (flavored are best, although I wouldn't suggest the salmon)
- Butter/Oil for pan

Pre-heat oven to 220 degrees, with cookie sheet ready.  Slice the bread on angle about 1/2" thick. Spread liberally with cream cheese. Add a top to complete the 'sandwich'.  Pre-heat skillet or counter grill to medium heat.  Beat eggs, sugar, cinnamon and half&half together until the sugar looks like it goes into the mixture.  Depending on the size of your bowl, put a couple of the sandwiches into the egg bath, and allow to absorb the mixture.

Add a pat of butter to the skillet, and allow it to spread and slightly brown in pan. If using oil, give it a couple of minutes to come up to pan temperature.  Place sandwiches in the pan, and let brown for a couple of minute on each side.  Then place on the cookie sheet, which I have learned through experience that helps the cream cheese soften to a desired texture.  Once all the sandwiches have sat in the oven for a few minute or the bacon is ready ;) then you can serve.  Enjoy


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tasty Balance...

So after the lunch time burger, I needed something tasty but lite for dinner.  Chickpeas and cauliflower over brown rice served the need.

While I let the brown rice simmer, I sauted green peppers and onions, and then added the chickpeas.  I added a little salt, pepper, and paprika,

While everything was getting together in the pan, I sliced the cauliflower, and layered it on top, to let the juices steam the florets.  With about 7 minutes left on the rice, I stirred it all together.

Served with a little side salad, I felt the balance return to my day...


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The First of Many...

Everything in a balance right?  I try to eat pretty healthy most of the time, but I do allow myself 1 tasty burger a week.  Hence a lot of entries in my blog will be Burger of the Week type post.  I start this week with a respectable 1st entry from The Green Iguana, a local chain, that has a number of different 'specialty' burgers.

You don't hear it very often but burgers need mayo. It keep the burger juices from ruining the bottom bun.  The Smoked Burger, starts with a smoked chipolte mayo, then builds with smoked pepper jack and smoked bacon.

This burger was 1/2lb patty and was tasty all the way through.  I like mine done medium rare, and GI does a great job of being consistent with the meat, 80/20 and always fresh.  As you can see from the picture it comes with the standard lettuce, tomato, and red onion slice.  I threw 'em all on, because that's how they designed it, and I figured that's how I should eat it.  Add the kicked-up onion rings, and you have a great burger.

As a note, the fries are just ok, but a Yuengling Draft goes great.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Wines of the Time

While I drink wines from around the world, I am currently stuck on 2 particular wines.  An American blend, Menage-a-Trois and a New Zealand Chardonnay put out by Cupcake.  For the money if served at correct temperature both are solid choices.

Starter Post from a Foodie

This Blog is a new journey for me...I have always liked food.  From a young age I remember enjoying food.  Not in the way normal kids eat their bolognie and cheese sandwich, no I had to add Doritos to give it a 'nachoee' flavored crunch to 'kick-it up a notch'.  I just think about food differently than a lot of other folks so I have learned.  I was fortunate that my step-mom knew her way around the kitchen, which she learned from her mom, both who took time to let me help.  My grandmother on my Dad's side could cook too, but her kitchen was HER kitchen, and men were supposed to sit out on the porch and drink.  It's possible my grandfather established this early in their marriage...  

I'm sure someone out there will comment that I can't be a foodie, because I will eat cold pizza after it has been sitting in a box for a while or because yes, Bud Light is good enough when its hot outside.  But as I am eating that slice of Pepperoni Pizza, I am thinking:  you know their cold pizza isn't nearly as good as that other place we had the other day.  So maybe my discerning style although different, may still qualify.  Also, this might be a good time to tell you I don't come from New York or California.  I am from the South.  Not the Nouveau South either, but break out the pork fat, sweet tea, and grits, SOUTH.  I know, another strike i guess, but son I tell ya, we know about eating!

Actually someone else included me in the ranks of foodie before I was even aware that there was such a thing.  Mostly because I like to cook, drink wines that aren't on the bottom shelf, and know the differnce between a single-malt scotch and Jameson.  Where I don't consider myself a food snob, I do know that I ain't paying $14.99 for Tilapia at a restaurant when the local grocer has it for 6.99 a pound, and all they have done to it, is salt, pepper, paprika, and butter.  I mean really?!

So anyway, future posts that I am thinking about will cover breweries from around the state (I live in the sunshine state) and delving into restaurants that utilize grown local produce and meats.  Lot more foods than oranges are grown in Florida, and I am curious how they are being prepared.  I will also, have a spot for the things that I cook from time-to-time.  I promise to keep the simple or mundane to a minimum, but if there is an educational moment for me, then I will likely share.  

If you have made it this far, not sure I should thank you or recommend a psych eval, but none-the-less come back, I promise the topics to be more interesting and the site to get a little more sophisticated.