Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Restaurant Review: Lucio’s

Scott and I are huge fan of BYOB restaurants, we frequent Collina’s and La Vista on a regular basis solely because they are BYOB. Last year we discovered a new BYOB favorite, Lucio’s. This place doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the magic is in the kitchen. Both times we have dined here, the restaurant has been packed, the service excellent, and most importantly the food delicious. Lucio’s is what I will call an upscale BYOB restaurant, it’s a little pricier, but hey you can bring your own wine so you aren’t paying a markup. And my personal favorite detail is that Lucio’s uses nice wine glasses, instead of the short glasses I see at other BYOB places.

We brought two bottles of wine, a white and a red, to pair with the various courses of our meal.
Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Rancho Chimiles Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley
Silver Oak, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley

Jumbo Lump Crab Tower
Sliced avocado, pico de gallo, poblano coulis

The crab tower was the perfect start to the meal, the chunks of crab were huge and it was just enough to get our mouths watering for the rest of the evening.

Goat Cheese Apple Salad
Shallots, mix greens, candied pecans, chevre, apple, honey vinaigrette

This salad was an obvious choice for me because I love goat cheese. The only detail not mentioned in the description, which I consider to be a very important one, is that the goat cheese medallions are fried. We all know fried things are always better. The second reason I ordered this salad is that apples and pecans are in season so it had “Fall” written all over it.

California Tomato Salad
Fresh mozzarella, basil, mixed greens, balsamic reduction

Scott ordered this salad with thick slices of mozzarella and tomatoes, and it was loaded with fresh basil. I love the smell of fresh basil.

Grilled Jerk Quail
Potato hash, red pepper, onion & asparagus

The first time we dined at Lucio’s Scott ordered quail and the tiny bite I tasted was fantastic, so this time my decision was already made. The quail was so tender and delicious and the veggie hash was fantastic. I was asked 3 times if I had finished eating because I wanted to savor every bite. I will only order the quail from now on. Plus quail is one of those ingredients that unless you are a bird hunter, you don’t usually make at home or see on restaurant menus.

Rib Eye Au Poivre
Thyme cognac sauce, cheddar mash, haricot verts

Scott ordered the rib eye which is a true man’s meat and potatoes dish. I had a bite of the cheddar mashed potatoes which were of course delicious as is anything with cheese, and covering the potatoes was a rib eye so huge it took up most of the plate. The bite of rib eye I tasted was delicious, but my favorite is still the quail…I can make a mean steak at home, so I usually try not to order steak when I go out.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Poblano & Mushroom Tacos

The Fast Easy Fresh section of Bon Appétit is a great source for healthy, quick, and easy weeknight meals. These tacos are easy to make and very delicious. Scott and I both agreed this recipe is a keeper and I can’t wait to make it again. Maybe next time I’ll add some leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

Poblano Mushroom Tacos
Adapted from Bon Appétit, November 2009
Serves 2

2 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided
1 Poblano chile, seeded and thinly sliced into long strips
1/2 small red onion, sliced
3 ounces crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tsp ground cumin
4 corn tortillas
4 thin slices Monterey Jack cheese
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 roma tomatoes, diced
¼ cup Feta cheese, crumbled

1. Heat 1 Tbsp vegetable oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Add Poblano chile, red onion, and mushrooms; sauté mixture until brown, about 5 minutes.
3. Mix in ground cumin, and then transfer mixture to medium bowl.
4. Heat remaining 1 Tbsp oil in same skillet.
5. Add tortillas in single layer, draping up sides of skillet to fit.
6. Divide mushroom mixture among tortillas, placing mixture only on 1 side, and then top each tortilla with a slice of Monterrey Jack cheese.
7. Fold plain tortilla halves over filling and press firmly.
8. Cook tortillas 1 minute per side.
9. Transfer tacos to plates. Open tacos and sprinkle with chopped cilantro, diced tomatoes, and crumbled feta.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Spicy Cheese Straws

I love anything with cheese! I first made this recipe two years ago for my holiday open house. I recently made them again for a shower and I had forgotten how yummy they are. I love the spicy kick from the red pepper flakes as well as the crispy crunch. In addition to being an edible treat these cheese straws also became part of the tablescape. Cheese straws can be displayed in crystal glasses, short vases, or mint julep cups.

Spicy Cheese Straws
Adapted from Southern Living, December 2007

1 1/2 cups (5 oz.) shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese*
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces and softened
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon half-and-half

· Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
· Combine first 5 ingredients in a food processor; pulse in 5-second intervals until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add half-and-half, and process 10 seconds or until dough forms a ball.
· Turn dough out onto a well floured surface, and roll into an rectangle (about 1/8 inch thick). Cut dough with a sharp knife into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-wide strips, dipping knife in flour after each cut to ensure clean cuts. Place strips on ungreased baking sheets.
· Bake for12-14 minutes or until ends are slightly browned. Cool on baking sheets on a wire rack 30 minutes.

*I use cracker barrel sharp cheddar and grate the cheese using a hand grater. Trying to grate in a food processor makes the cheese too fine in turn making the dough too soft.

I like to make a double batch, if I can resist from eating the block of cheddar. Straws can be also be made ahead and frozen.

Puffy Pigs

These yummy appetizers are a twist on the classic pig-in-a-blaket. They are easy to make and guaranteed to be a hit. Small cookie cutters can be used to cut shapes for any occasion.

Puffy Pigs
Makes 40

1 lb chicken spinach asiago sausage (from Sam’s)
1 package puff pastry

· Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
· Cut each sausage link into 8 slices.
· Cook sausage slices in a skillet over medium heat, 4 minutes per side.
· Thaw puff pastry according to package directions.
· Use cookie cutters to cut pasty.
· Top each sausage bite with pastry shape and secure with a toothpick and place on a baking sheet.
· Bake for 20 minutes until pastry is puffed and golden.
· Transfer to platter and serve.