From our wine maven Taylor Eason comes inexpensive wines with our inexpensive menus (bolded wines will work for the whole menu, if you don't want to go with course-by-course wines):
Sweet Potato Soup: Big Fire 2006 Pinot Gris, $15
Heirloom Tomato Salad: Columbia Crest 2007 Two Vines Rose, $10
Braised Lamb in Peach Gastrique with Sweet Potato Scallops and Baby Eggplant: Jaboulet 2005 Parallele 45 Cotes du Rhone, $15
Polenta with Sauteed Mushrooms: St. Francis 2004 Red, $12
Open-Faced Ravioli: Masi 2006 Masianco Venezie, $15
Seared Salmon with Green Beans: Beringer 2006 Pinot Noir, $20
Fruit Crepes: Banfi 2007 Rosa Regale, $18
Mashed Potato Salad: Bonny Doon 2005 Le Cigare Blanc California, $20
Lentil Soup: 7 Deadly Zins 2004 Zinfandel, $13
Lamb Tibs: Onix 2006 Priorat, $12
Grass Root Tofu Scramble: Sokol Blosser Evolution #9 11th Edition
Mushroom Medley: whatever red wine you use in the recipe OR Campo Viejo 2004 Rioja Crianza, $12
Ravioli: S.A. Prum 2006 Riesling, $12
Elements Global Cuisine -- my new heroes of frugal cooking -- have another $20 Menu Challenge dinner to serve up. This time, beef-eaters can get their nosh on, all for less than a double sawbuck. Recipes after the break:
Grass Root is by far the best vegan/raw restaurant in the Bay area. Ok, it's the only vegan/raw restaurant around these parts, but you'll still find a bevy of dishes that even an omnivore would love (especially that delectable miso soup). Owners Spencer and Sabrina Sterling "cooked" up this part vegan/part raw menu for a breakfast (or anytime) meal that they say will heal your body and help the environment just as much as it relieves your budget. Better yet, there is very little effort involved, since a lot of the ingredients are bought pre-prepared.
Check the recipes -- and the Sterlings' comments about the healthful nature of the dishes -- after the break.
In honor of this week's upcoming Food Issue -- The $20 Menu Challenge -- EatMyFlorida will have a recipe o' the day for the next ten days.
Our challenge to local chefs: Create at least three courses of wonderful food for two and keep the ingredients to under $20. Not too difficult for a home cook, maybe, but we wanted more. We wanted meals that are restaurant quality for all those being pinched by the economy who can't afford as many nights out at the bistro as they could a few years ago. Exquisite food, light on the wallet. Turns out, that wasn't too hard for most of the accomplished chefs who participated, either.
Today's offering is from Elements Global Cuisine in Gulfport. Chef/owners Catherine and Jose Luis Pawelek went the extra mile by creating four menus, one for vegetarians, and three for meat and seafood eaters. Most of the dishes are not only easy for the home cook, they're quick, with a lot of prepared ingredients bought from the supermarket. After the break is the first menu from Elements, an entirely vegetarian feast.
I also could have gone with It's Made Of People, or I'll Have The Long Pig.
James Beard said (according to rumor) - "I believe that if ever I had to practice cannibalism, I might manage if there were enough tarragon around."
If you do decide to partake in the new meat sensation that's sweeping the nation, here's a handy guide to butchering a human carcass, with a tasty barbecue sauce recipe. Yum-o!
Would you, could you, on a train? Would you, could you, eat some brains? And what would you make?
During a Memorial Day weekend packed with wholesome family activities, most taking place in the great outdoors, I reconnected with smores, that gooey fireside treat. Problem is, we were hanging out at the cabins in Myakka Park, where the AC blasts in the bedroom and the only fire comes from the charcoal grill cemented into the dirt out back. We all know that meat cooks best over glowing white coals, but marshmallows? That's another story.
3 tips for smore preparation and construction after the break.
I'm currently lining up chefs to participate in our Tampa Food Issue for June -- the $20 Menu Challenge. All they have to do is create a meal for two with at least three courses and keep the ingredient list to under $20. (We did this last year in Sarasota, without the course requirements. Jose Martinez' contribution was amazing.)
Not too difficult, in my opinion, but I had a chef yesterday who was shocked. "That's impossible," she explained, trying to wrap her head around the concept. "Maybe these people don't want to eat very much?"
I suspect that she'll come up with something after she thinks about it, but later that day I was telling China Yuan owner Peter Chan what she'd said. Maybe it's just a stylistic difference, but he had different take on the matter. "If a chef told me that, I would tell them to go to hell!" he said. "You want dinner for four I can do that. You want dinner for eight, I can do that for less than $20." Chan explained that he's had to feed his family for a lot less than that in the past and he knows how to stretch a dining budget.
He'll be providing us with some recipes for the issue, so if there's anything special on his menu you want the details on, just drop me a line. And, if you know a chef who could turn a $20 bill into haute cuisine, let us know. We'll add them to the list if they're willing.
What can you do with $20?
Shaka Zulu! It's Week 2!
I'm not sure how much longer I'll maintain this weekly re-cap of Cooking with Coolio (check out Week 1), but with lines like this, how can I resist?
It's also hard to argue with a man who puts a jar of mayonnaise in his garlic bread spread. Sure looks tasty, though.
Sarasota's Creative Loafing has a weekly podcast (subscribe now, yo) and this week I was rhapsodic about cooking a tasty turkey. You can find the podcast and recipe at the941, Sarasota CL's blog. There' s nothing new for the experienced Thanksgiving chef, but new turkey wranglers might pick up a tip or two.