feliz año nuevo

Happy 2011!
I love the part in Forrest Gump when Forrest and Lt. Dan are in a bar in NYC and the girls come up to them and the one says (in her dirty NY accent), “Don’t ya just love New Years… you get to start all over. Everybody gets a second chance.”

My humble little blog was good to me in 2010… lots of adventures were had. Hopefully 2011 boasts many more foodie funsies. I mean, looking back.. cmyfood did lots of traveling… Los Angeles, Texas, Napa Valley, Puerto Rico, Miami, The BahamasSan Francisco, New York City…  we were lucky.
I’m hoping 2011 will bring more eats in the way of international fare. But, unless I win the lottery….
One resolution is definitely to get out here in SoFlo and dig into the dining scene.
So, to start things off I am reporting about a restaurant my hubby and I just discovered in our neighborhood. I think I had heard of this place before in passing convo but we found it on our phones, looking up local mexican food restaurants in the Yelp app. Oh my god, smart phones for a food fiend like myself is a revelation. And to make matters even better – our new GPS tells us points of interest in proximity to our location… including food… by type of cuisine!
Ridiculous.
So anyway, the place: Margaritas. I’m sure lots and lots of people go here but there was hardly a butt in the dining room when we went. 

pineapple orange margarita @ Margaritas in Boynton Beach

Just some highlights: an all you can DRINK brunch (sound familiar?), add $9.95 to any entree. Happy hour 4-7 & 10-close, $1 tacos and drinks. Not only are the margaritas refreshing, the tacos are zesty. They have chile con queso on the menu and its actually yellow cheese. And avocado chips! We didnt try these but I was very intrigued, they caught my attention and will be had upon our next visit.

Its been quite the task finding a quality tex-mex joint, considering I’m from Texas and all I ate growing up was sloppy plates of enchiladas and queso dip. But, Margaritas is my new fave in SoFlo.

Enjoy your meals in 2011!

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florida cream cake

Besides red velvet, my favorite cake ever is the Boston Cream Pie. You know, I have no idea why it is called “pie” and not cake. Weird Bostonian lingo?

Anyway, I remember having my 18th birthday in the college dorms and my roommate surprised me with a BCP after falling in love with her mom’s cream pie she made for us when we went to visit her house and family a few weeks prior. 

Well, I’ve never made one, so having a dinner party at a friend’s house was my excuse to make my version of the cream pie I’ve had in my mental file cabinet for awhile now. I dont know about you but I love the dark chocolate and orange combo. That’s kinda how this came to life.
Florida Cream Pie!
My whole thinking behind this was to infuse every aspect of a traditional BCP with citrus elements. OK, I did take the short cut with a cake mix and prepared pastry cream, but I made the ganache myself.  Not gonna lie, I don’t make too many cakes from scratch because I feel like I can make a cake taste damn good with a box mix. I had about 4 or 5 citrus fruits (grapefruits, tangerines and oranges) on hand, just so I had enough zest and juice. I used the juices and zest interchangeably throughout making this. It was a little rando.
In addition to a dash of cinnamon, a tablespoon of creme fraiche and a tablespoon each fresh squeezed citrus juices, I added their zest to the cake mix. After the 9” cakes baked and cooled, I squeezed the juice of half a grapefruit over both cakes so the yummy juice could soak in. I bought pastry cream at work and added a teaspoon of almond extract, more zest and juice of the fruits and about a tablespoon of whipped topping. 


I bought a 1/2 pound block of high quality, dark chocolate and grated it, while heating up 7 oz. heavy cream on the stove with a dash of cinnamon, orange zest, teaspoon of almond extract and a splash of orange juice. Just before the cream came to a boil, I poured it over the chocolate and whisked until the chocolate was melted and smooth.
The cake was assembled and left in the fridge to set. After about 4 hours, the silky smooth blanket of ganache was poured on top. 


The cake did a little tilt as the night wore on. But, tasted good nonetheless! 

Enjoy!

tortilla soup

I’m still here! And cooking! I really will literally quit my day job and become a full-time writer. 2011, you know what’s up.
So, a fun thing for me to do is replicate dishes from movies. Ratatouille from ‘Ratatouille’, Thomas Keller’s sandwich from ‘Spanglish’ and…soup.
Well, I really love the movie “Tortilla Soup.” My husband rented it for me awhile back… back when we weren’t the Stephenson’s yet… and when I was dipping my toes into this whole cooking thing. He said I would really like all the food in the film. Lucky me, I found it for sale at Blockbuster a couple weeks ago – they have those 5 for $20 tables, you know. We have an addiction to those tables. But, seriously, sometimes you do find a few good ones. 🙂
Anyway, since watching it again I’ve had this itch to make tortilla soup.
Finally!:
Chicken, Tortilla & Cerveza Soup

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 jalapenos, diced (with seeds)
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups beer (I used Corona Light)
1 (14.5 oz) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz) can black beans, drained
1 (14.5 oz) can corn, drained
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
juice of 2 limes
s+p
handful of chopped cilantro
1 avocado, pitted + diced
tortilla chips

In a large saucepan/stockpot, heat the oil on medium. Add in the diced onion, season and let sweat for 2 minutes.
Once the onion is tender, add the jalapenos and garlic. Season with salt + pepper (1.5 tablespoon of each). Stir and let cook for 2 more minutes. Pour the broth, beer, tomatoes, tomato paste, beans and corn into the pot and bring to a roaring boil. (If you like, season again with salt + pepper, only about a teaspoon of each this time). Once it starts to boil, lower the heat to a mild simmer and add the chicken breasts. Cook for approx. 20 minutes, until chicken is done. When the chicken is done, remove it and shred on a cutting board using a fork (or your fingers — once it’s cooled!). Add the shredded chicken back to the pot along with the lime juice and cilantro; stir.
Serve piping hot! with diced avocado and tortilla chips. 

It was a record breaking dinner, I think we finished our bowls in under 2 minutes. Other comments: I think the beer was fantastico! It was a last minute decision. OK, confession, I didn’t buy enough chicken broth. I panicked, looked in the fridge and grabbed the 2 month old Corona we had and in it went. I am a firm believer in improvisation. When I can, I will. When I can’t, I still do.
¡Buen provecho!

meat parade

Buffet?

I know, they can be kinda sketch… but done right and you have a superb gluttonous meal that stands in the upper echelon of  all-you-can-eat restaurants. Take for example: Chima Brazilian Steakhouse.

We were introduced to this protein smorgasbord by a very awesome girl from… Brazil. We had a birthday to celebrate so off to Fort Lauderdale we hoofed and once we nestled our starving butts into the dining room, a pristine salad bar awaited. Just LOOK at that presentation:


The creamy vegetable soup was like butta and a favorite at the table:

No menu, just EAT. That is so my kind of place. After salads, soups and cheeses, we hesitantly flipped our laminated medallions and the meat parade began. It literally did not stop. The gauchos were floating among us like piranhas. The rodizio (meats) included: leg of lamb, flank steak, filet mignon, chicken, pork ribs, top sirloin and MORE! Pick your doneness and they slice up as much or as little as you prefer.


Dessert. Duh. Yes, that is strawberry syrup… I know. But, I strategically forked around it.

And who goes to a restaurant on their birthday and doesn’t get a loud serenade in front of the whole place? Nobody. And a Brazilian one!? I wouldn’t go so far as to say he was the happiest camper about this shenanigan but… tough. Happy Birthday! 🙂

And we all staggered out of there with 9 month food babies. I’m swearing off meats for at least 48 hours..
Thanks for dragging us to the Fort and letting the Stephenson’s eat their first Brazilian Steakhouse meal(s).


(Oh, and then Shayne dazzled us with his flaming head trick.)

enjoy your meals…

C

apples to apples

Really, have I mentioned I love fall?

Well, the 1st anniversary of cmyfood has come and gone… but I made some yummy apple cranberry tarts for friends who had us over for dinner. Dinner parties! Nice people who want to cook yummy food for us?! Mind-blower.

I literally took over their kitchen last week (going so far as to bring my own pan and every ingredient I needed, along with all my mise en place :)) and made cider-glazed chicken for them. Their retort? They insisted it was their turn to take back their surrendered kitchen and serve up the meal this past Sunday. Chicken cordon bleu….. yes, please.

So, for that I made these:


Little did I know (or have the decency to ask) dessert had already been made. Brownies. My fave! And some chocolate-covered strawberries….. but we all know how I feel about those. And they didn’t even know how I felt about those until that evening, minutes before dinner was served. Good timing I’d say – better late than never.

It’s holiday season…and that means for us in SoFlo: reckless driving snow birds, taunting snowy Campbell’s commercials and crisp warm weather. Ah….

enjoy your meals!
C

24 more

New York City! A melting pot of not only ethnicities but eats, yes!

I used to want to live in NYC. Be a hippie-ish collegiate, ruling the world from Manhattan. Now, I can’t imagine living in New York. For one, it’s too g-d crowded. And two, I would be broke. And three, I would be 400 lbs. There’s no way on this Earth I would cook or bake for myself. There are just too many restaurants. And they are all good. (Most). So, I’d be cooped up in my decrepit apartment in the Queens projects, broke because I’d have spent all my money eating my way through Manhattan.

It was kinda the perfect weekend, I must gloat. The weather was divine. It was like ‘hello, tourists from Florida, here’s more sunshine!’ Plus, we had an extraordinary food guide, Joeliperson, who steered us in the right direction of yummy eats. Thank god he is such a good eater. I am very impressed.

Our first meal was right before we saw the Broadway show American Idiot with Joeliperson in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen. A buzzing, bustling area of open air restaurants right around the corner from Broadway. I can’t remember too much beyond that because we had a bottle of wine and 3 shots of mystery potion post meal. (Seriously, our waiter came by with 3 glasses and filled them with amaretto? or port of some kind and came back 2 more times! It was so awesome!) Dinner at Basilica was a treat (excuse the grainy picts):


(btw, the show was soooo awesome. If you like Green Day. And that album).

Next!

Birthday breakfast at Balthazar. I read about this joint in our NYC travel guide book. (We are so those people. And not only do we get the book but we map out each day’s events. Including meals. Oh yes). Before I realized brunch was like the thing to do in NYC, I asked hubby to get us a breakfast rez. (Who makes breakfast rez’s? We do).

Since my tummy can’t handle eggs, the ham & gruyere croissant was my first choice:

Shayne ordered the buckwheat crepes with eggs, ham and gruyere:

That day was spent in Central Park riding bikes. Oh my god……. we probably biked 5 miles. I mean, I don’t even know. That place is too big. My head was spinning after we left… We didn’t even see everything. We didn’t even make it over to the Reservoir. I KNOW.

So that night after biking off 2 lbs, at least,.. we had dinner at Craft. Tom Colicchio? Know him? Well he’s this amazingly talented kinda famous chef who has restaurants peppered throughout the U.S. and he’s probably been seen on Top Chef doing his thing. Alright so I’m still an amateur and all and I haven’t been to that many epic restaurants yet but this was by far the best meal I have ever had. For the first time in my life, I can’t even form sentences to describe this epicurean experience. And these photos will not do justice (lighting was bad), but here’s what we enjoyed:

Even the BREAD was great:

We had a tuna tartare to start things off and get us salivating:

Main dishes included my roasted chicken (the moistest, tender poultry I have ever had), seared cod and ravioli:

But the sides were the stars. The creamiest, dreamiest mashed potatoes on the planet, fairytale eggplant (their name, not mine), corn & bacon risotto (the best risotto.. EVER), shiitake mushrooms to die for:




Ahh and I’m sure Tom threw together my little chocolate cracker surprise:
We couldn’t figure out wtf these had in them…fennel?

Upon turning 24, drunkenness ensued with greasy pizza and a late cab ride back to the Greenwich lair. Brunch called the next day…. with an all-you-can-drink-margaritas-&-bloody marys-for-1.5-hour happy hour. What!? I kinda love New Yorkers for this whole brunch thing. It’s so me. I am not a big breakfast eater. I can’t eat eggs and well, that pretty much dominates breakfast menus. And getting tipsy at 11 a.m.? Why not!

After brunch we headed over to Chelsea…. Chelsea Market is my heaven. I am in love. I wish we could’ve spent more time there but we had a Circle Line boat tour to catch.

Saturday night Joel walked us half a world away to a Middle Eastern joint, Moustache. Hummus, fresh pita, gyros…OUZI:


Red velvet & smore cupcakes and banana pudding from The Magnolia Bakery followed. Couldn’t go a birthday without a birthday cake.

Duh. We got bagels.

We hung out with our buddies we met in Puerto Rico the next day. They live in Queens and wanted to show us their neighborhood, drive us around, show us some sights and feed us and whatnot. We had some crazy Spanish/Chinese fusion in Spanish Harlem and a cheesesteak from their neighborhood corner store. It was ghetto but so GOOD!

Monday night’s meal was like butta. It was our last meal with Joeliperson and I can’t thank him enough for taking us to Alta. It was so damn good! It’s a lengthy, tapas-style menu, everything a la carte. I had browsed the menu online and, honestly, I was a little overwhelmed.  But, after scouring the catalog of selections I made up the table’s mind (:)) with 6 delicious dishes, (squinting may be necessary), including the seductive FRIED GOAT CHEESE with LAVENDAR infused HONEY UGH!:


Thank you Joeliperson for the cmyfood-worthy meals! 🙂

chili and pasta

I have a mighty yummy crock pot full of veggies simmering in tomatoes for chili that’ll be ready tomorrow night. Mmm-mmm. Nothing better than chili and cornbread, friends!

With all our vegetables we dug up at the farmer’s market last week, I made roasted pepper pasta. We don’t really eat a lot of pasta, which is kind of a good thing but I don’t do it any justice by inhaling massive amounts of bread. So when we do make pasta its usually with a really light sauce. Basil pesto…olive oil and garlic… I can’t stand thick, raunchy red sauces. Heartburn, anyone?

While pasta cooked, I diced an onion, yellow tomato, cut fresh basil & parsley and minced garlic. I preheated our broiler to 350, put about 4 medium sized peppers on a cookie sheet and let them roast for 10 minutes..give or take. When they start charring its a good indicator they’ve been roasted enough. After those sat in a bowl, covered, for 10 minutes we scraped the char off and sliced them. After draining the pasta liquid, I added a generous drizzle or two of olive oil, tomato, onion, garlic and herbs and let that marry on medium-low heat. Then for the finishing touch, right after you take the pot off the stove, add *fresh* mozzarella. It has to be fresh. Get the expensive stuff, its way better.

enjoy your meals!