Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Custom Artisan Cereal: me & goji

Custom Artisan Cereal with reddish goji fruit

Cereal makes a terrific breakfast especially when it contains a tasty combination of grains, nuts and fruit. For foodies or those going organic, I found a custom artisanal cereal company with a fantastic product line-up: me and goji. 

What's goji?  A Tibetan superfruit from the Himalayas  that's packed with dizzying amounts of nutrients and phytochemicals; a fruit with a mild, tangy taste that is slightly sweet and sour.

Adam and Alexander, the owners, are two friends who played soccer together at Northwestern University. They were forced to live off dorm food while training multiple times per day and trying to perform at a very high level without the proper fuel.

So, they decided to combine their passion for healthy, good-tasting food in a way that would benefit social and environmental needs. Adam said, "We took America’s favorite breakfast food, cereal, added better ingredients, and gave you the power to cater it to your specific tastes and nutritional needs."

The company graciously sent me a canister of Adam's Apple cereal which consists of flaxed and flaked organic corn, amaranth, flax, sesame, ground cinnamon, apple, goji, golden raisins, cranberry and pumpkin seeds.  A bowlful of this pretty mixture not only delighted my palate, but kept me going all morning. I especially enjoyed it with additional fresh fruit, like blueberries, banana or peaches or snacking on a handful.

After munching my way through a canister, I decided to order more and signed on to the website: You pick the ingredients and put together your own blends or choose from their specialty combinations: one for expectant Moms, cancer survivors, heart healthy diets or a hot cereal mix. 

Now, the truly fun part- you can order a canister for a child, or anyone else for that matter, with their photo on the label. You can also choose to name your batch. I am sending an order to my grandson, Jonah for his second birthday!

So, if you need a gift that will be used and enjoyed, I suggest you consider cereal.  Sure, it's a little unusual but anyone with special dietary needs, athletes, growing kids or foodies will love it.

Disclaimer:  Although the company sent me a sample of their cereal, I am not being paid to say any of the above. I am being sinCEREALaly  honest when I say I loved this product.

Read this and other food blog articles posted on Wanderfood Wednesdays

Monday, March 21, 2011

Variations on The Inn On Charlotte Frittata

In February I had the pleasure of spending the night in one of St. Augustine's finest B and B's: the historic Inn on Charlotte.  (Read about that adventure here.)  They do a mighty fine breakfast and Rodney Holeman, the new owner, agreed to share one of his recipes.  

The great thing about this fritatta recipe is its versatility.  Rodney offers 5 alternatives for changing the cheesy delight to accent, say onions or olives.  He also gives quantities for various numbers of servings, very useful when you have house guests or are planning a brunch. Of course, the best way to taste this recipe to spend a night at the Inn.

Thanks Rodney.  

Read this and other food blog articles posted on Wanderfood Wednesdays.

The Inn On Charlotte Frittata
*and many of its variations!

 For  2 to 4 guests – 8’’ frittata skillet

3 eggs
¼ cup half and half
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 TBS chives
½ cup grated Swiss cheese
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup potato, cut into thin slices

For 10 quests – 8” and 10” frittata skillets

9 eggs
¾ cup half and half
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3 TBS chives
1 ½ cup grated Swiss cheese
1 ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 ½ cup potato, cut into thin slices

For 16 quests – 8”, 10”, 12” frittata skillets

18 eggs
1 ½ cup half and half
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
6 TBS chives
3 cups grated Swiss cheese
3 cups grated Parmesan cheese
6 tsp olive oil
3 cups potato, cut into thin slices

If using more than one skillet, divide evenly between them.

In a skillet, boil the potatoes until tender.  Spray the non-stick frittata skillet(s) with cooking spray (PAM) and spread the boiled potato slices over the bottom of the skillet(s).  Sprinkle ½ of the cheese onto the potatoes.  Wisk together eggs, cream, seasonings.

 Add egg mixture to skillet(s), sprinkle remaining cheeses over top.  Bake in 375 over for about 20 minutes or until top is nicely browned and the frittata has puffed up.  Cut into wedges and serve.

 Pepper Frittata:

 Add to the egg mixture: 1 small sweet green pepper, dices and 1 small sweet red pepper diced and lightly sauted in butter.  Adjust to meet the additional skillets as needed.  Example for three skillets you would need a larger peppers.

 Onion Frittata:

 Slowly saute a large chopped Spanish onion and add to eggs before cooking.

 Frittata Napolitana:

 Peel, deseed and chop (or get a can of chopped tomatoes), and sauté lightly in olive oil.  Add eggs along with a small can of sliced ripe olives.

Frittata Florentine:

 Saute a cup of fresh slices mushrooms.  Add a cup of fresh or frozen cooked spinach.  Add to egg mixture.

Spanish Frittata:

 Add a can of chopped green chilies, and substitute Monterey jack for the swiss cheese.  Serve with Salsa and sour cream.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hagy's Catfish Hotel Restaurant: Shiloh, Tennessee

The Catfish Hotel Restaurant

In 1825, Henry Hagy and his wife Polly docked their flat boat on the banks of the Tennessee River, claimed several acres and began to build a farm and family. Later their son John built a log shack next to the river. He used it to store items awaiting steamboat shipment. That shack was occupied by Union soldiers during the Battle of Shiloh.

The shack survived the tragic battle and during the early thirties earned the name "Catfish Hotel." Apparently descendant Novin Hagy used it to entertain friends. He was known for his cookouts, catfish, hushpuppies and storytelling. Guests often became so engrossed in his tales, and perhaps drink, they ended up spending the night. Thus, the origin of the nickname.

Eventually Norvin opened a restaurant on the site and Hagy's Catfish Hotel Restaurant became a success. Sadly, the structure burned in 1975. The present building opened a year later and remains one of the oldest family owned restaurants in the country. The third generation of Hagy's continue serving up catfish, coleslaw and their signature hushpuppies. 

Now, I admit I am not a fan of either catfish or hushpuppies, so I chose a fried shrimp. My plate arrived perfectly cooked- crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Many in my group ordered the southern house specialty which came breaded in cornmeal and fried golden brown. One described it as twangy, like plucking on a banjo. I liked that. They raved about the meaty pieces, eating up seemingly endless servings. Then, I realized they had ordered the All you Can Eat special for $11.95. Can't beat that.

Dessert beckons pie lovers featuring a Lemon Rub variety baked from grandmother's 1938 recipe. Mine was sweet yet a bit tart, but not sour. All pies are homemade and a slice costs $5.25. Pick from German chocolate pie, white chocolate banana cream pie and Jack's caramel pie.

One of the reasons the Catfish Hotel remains so popular is due to its location. It sits off the picturesque Tennessee river, just around the corner from the sacred grounds of Shiloh National Military Park and Battlefield. A perfect lunch or dinner spot for those making a road trip.

Shiloh Park is huge with over 4,200 wooded acres. The first large scale battle and one of the bloodiest in the Civil War took place there on April 6-7, 1862. The confrontation saw a staggering 23,746 casualties, almost one quarter of 109,784 men engaged. I don't know about you, but I can't quite wrap my thoughts around those numbers.

As the 150th anniversary of the Civil War gets underway, it seems time to reflect on the circumstances and emotions behind the conflict. Trips to battlefields become an ideal way to teach children history and visits are frequently remembered for a lifetime. I can certainly recall seeing Manassas- Bull Run, Richmond and Gettysburg with my parents and brothers. Chances are you remember one from your youth.

Read this and other food blog articles posted on Wanderfood Wednesdays

The Catfish Hotel
1140 Hagy Lane
Shiloh, Tennessee
731 689 3327

Shiloh National Military Park
731 689-5696

Shiloh Battlefield Grave Markers

Monday, March 7, 2011

Greek Walnut Cake made from Greek Olive Oil

A recent Los Angeles Times article, "Oliver Grower Pours Passions into Dessert Recipes," sent my head spinning.  Theo Stephan, the olive farmer, suggested using olive oil to bake a cake or make pies and cookies. 

"Just try it," she is quoted.

One of her recipes was for Greek Walnut Cake. "Hmm,"  I thought. I've got a bottle of that glorious extra-virgin Frixa olive oil that George Chryssaidis imported from Greece and sells in his restaurants in St. Augustine.

So, I gave it a try. The preparation was easy and entirely by hand; no need for an electric mixer.  However, I did not have ground walnuts, so had to get out my Cuisinart to take care of that job. The recipe make a large sheet cake with a moist and somewhat firm texture. The dessert would travel well. 

I ate it plain and un-frosted. Theo suggested a topping of cream franche with honey. Vanilla ice cream also make a great accompaniment and that's how I served it to others.
I proclaim the cake delicious, as did my friend, Chris. 

The fat grams are high but remember, it's heart healthy oil, much lower in saturated fat.
Next up? Chocolate sauce with olive oil.  Theo's directions are to pour about 1/3 cups plus a few more tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil  into a skillet over low heat, then toss in 1 1/4 cup of chocolate chips. Stir until it all melts into a velvety sauce. I see hot fudge sundaes in my future.

Read this and other food blog articles posted on Wanderfood Wednesdays.

Greek Walnut Cake
From Theo Stephan of Global Gardens Olive Oil
with adaptations from Debi Lander

2 cups sifted flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon allspice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup (3.5 oz) ground walnuts (I ground fresh whole nuts in a food processor)
3 eggs
1 cup milk (I used skim)
1 teaspoon Champagne vinegar  (I used white vinegar)
1 cup Frixa extra-virgin olive oil

1.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bow, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, allspice, cinnamon and ground walnuts.

3. Mix the eggs into the dry ingredients, 1 at a time, then whisk in the milk, vinegar and olive oil Beat until just thoroughly combined. ( I did all of the whisking by hand- did not use a mixer.)

4. Pour into a greased 13-by-9-inch pan.

5. Bake in the center rack of the oven until puffed and golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 30-40 minutes.

6. Place the pan on a rack to cool slightly. Cut on the diagonal into diamond shapes.

If using whole milk ,each of 16 servings contains (I used skim) : 309 calories; 4 grams protein: 32 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 19 grams fat but only 3 grams saturated fat; 41 mg cholesterol; 20 grams sugar and 112 mg sodium.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Texas Eat 'Em: My First Texas Barbeque

The definition of barbeque has nearly as many meanings as sauces. First, you can attend an event or outdoor party called a BBQ, which, in Texas is usually held on a ranch. The act of barbecuing is the process of preparing food with smoke, low temperatures and long periods of time. Don't be confused by the backyard griller who claims to barbeque, but simply heats food outdoors, often over a gas source. And, don't try to find the best BBQ recipe as everyone claims their secret method is the prize winner.

I recently found myself in San Antonio with an opportunity to attend and sample my first Texas BBQ. I was seated on the patio of the Palmer Grill overlooking the magnificent 18th hole of the La Cantera Resort Palmer golf course. Therefore, this was not a ranch party but a meal served family style at a Southwestern themed country club. I'm not sure what I expected, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Waiters offered three meat or protein selections: salmon, smoked turkey or beef brisket. Usually I'm not big on beef, but wanted to try the brisket as this was considered the real thing. The chef said he hand- rubbed the meat with his special spice mix and cooked it low and slow (225 degrees) for 16 hours the previous day. Then he wrapped and stored the roast overnight in the refrigerator. Before serving, the brisket was reheated. Barbeque or mop sauce was supplied in gravy boats and I poured some on top of my slice.

Now, I was ready to taste. Yahoo. I almost jumped up and danced a little two-step. This was the most tender meat; not tenderloin but not stringy like a ropa vieja. I'd say the forkful more of less crumbled on the tongue. Absolutely beefy, moist and super delicious. The BBQ sauce was neither sweet nor sour, just a tangy vinegar/spice blend with a little punch. 
Texas BBQ Sauce

Potato salad, green salad, borracho beans, green beans and grilled corn on the cob were served along side. Dessert was a tumbler of mixed berries with three cubes of creamy cheesecake. 

I've been told that Texas barbecue goes back to German butchers who settled in the hills of Central Texas during the mid-1800s. They apparently learned from neighboring Mexican vaqueros or cowboys who used beef rather than pork. The cooks worked near fire pits filled with available hardwoods like oak, hickory, pecan and mesquite. Quite different from what this southerner usually eats, like those saucy ribs in Alabama's Dreamland Restaurant
The Palmer Course at the Westin La Cantera Resort

If you go:
The Westin La Cantera Resort lies 14 miles from downtown San Antonio and is listed by Conde’ Nast on the “Gold List: Top Golf Resorts Around the World." The facility offers two fabulous 18-hole courses and fine restaurants including The Palmer Grill in the Clubhouse.

Please read this and other food blogs on:

Wanderfood Wednesdays.