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Archive for April, 2009|Monthly archive page

“I’ll bring the guac.”

In Events, food on April 29, 2009 at 7:47 pm
Fiesta for four

Fiesta for four

What do you do when your dinner guest insists on bringing his single specialty?  You create your menu around it.

Inspired by the adamant appetizer: guacamole; we went to work on a fiesta for four.

With the dicing of jalapenos we added our salsa (see archives: A Lesson in Salsa) to the appetizer list. Next, a spice-encrusted Asian basa with a mango puree, paired with sautéed plantains, and lime & cilantro infused rice made its way to the table. We finished the meal with a large slice of margarita cheesecake – a perfect ending (at least in our humble opinions).

While we’ll give you details on the cheesecake later, we’d like to share the secret to our sautéed plantains – orange juice and brown sugar. A little goes a long way in terms of the OJ and sugar, but with a little heat these cousins of the banana become a savory side. Cook until easily speared with a fork, serve warm and enjoy.

So next time your guests want to add their signature to the meal, go for it. It gave us the excuse to try some new recipes and taste the creations of others.

Until next time…Adios!

xoxo,

VTB

ViaTheBistro@gmail.com

***Special thanks to Jessica for her kitchen skills, recipes, and friendship.

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A Tart for Spring

In Events, food on April 25, 2009 at 1:06 pm

Spring show-stopper

Spring show-stopper

A simple but elegant way to take advantage of spring’s plentiful bounty of produce is to make a tart.

Today, our market bounty consisted of asparagus, small Yukon Gold potatoes, fresh buffalo mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Mouthwatering, eye-catching, and versatile—a tart like this could be served for brunch, a vegetarian dinner, or as a side to any spring meal.

Start out by preheating your oven to 400 degrees, and boiling your potatoes in salted water for 10 minutes until tender. Then, place your sheet of thawed puff pastry on a baking sheet, and lightly trace a rectangle inside the dough—about 1” in from the edges. Using a fork, poke the dough inside the rectangle (you should remember this step from our caramelized onion and goat cheese tartlets)—this will let the edges of the dough puff up while the filling stays in place.

First, layer your dough with slices of fresh buffalo mozzarella. Then, top that with slices of your boiled potatoes. Next, lay down the asparagus spears, sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese, and drizzle the tart with a mixture of crushed garlic and olive oil. Now, it’s ready to be baked in the oven for 25 minutes.

Serve immediately and enjoy the pure flavors of spring in each bite of this well-dressed tart.

Until next time,

xoxo,

VTB

ViaTheBistro@gmail.com

Take it easy

In Events, food on April 23, 2009 at 10:11 pm

 

Wholesome pasta toss.

Wholesome pasta toss.

Ah, it’s that time of year again…final exams—a time for cramming, no sleep and incredible amounts of caffeine. So, in order to preempt a week of unhealthy decisions, we thought we would end the week with something that requires little brainpower, but provides great nutritional stats. The whole-wheat penne gives you a dose of whole grains, tomatoes provide lycopenes and the mozzarella is a good source of calcium.

To make this effortless pasta dish begin by boiling your whole-wheat penne. While your pasta is cooking, slice your tomatoes into bite size pieces and do the same with buffalo mozzarella.

When the pasta has cooked until al dente, drain and toss it with the tomatoes and mozzarella, a bit of olive oil, and salt and pepper. To mix things up, you could also toss this pasta with a fresh basil pesto.

We chose to cook this dish “in bulk” so that we can eat it through the next week to save ourselves time and give our minds a rest. Just store it in a covered container in the fridge and it should hold for about a week. And, if you are truly in a rush, no need to reheat because hot or cold, it fills you up and tastes just right.

So, next time you’re looking for a quick fix, look no further than whole-wheat penne pasta.

Until next time,

xoxo,

VTB

ViaTheBistro@gmail.com

Not your typical flapjack

In food on April 21, 2009 at 10:15 pm
Your new go-to.

Your new go-to.

Stop! Put down that EggMcMuffin, PopTart, Toaster Streudel or whatever other offensive breakfast “food” you might be eating. If you really want to start your morning right, try an apple-molasses pancake with honey butter. These pancakes are heartier and better for you than those Bisquick mixes because they are made with whole-wheat flour and no added white sugar.

You can easily whip these up in the morning, but for a quick fix, we suggest making the batter the night before and storing it in the fridge so all you have to do is ladle ‘em into the pan.

Start by combining 3 peeled and grated Granny Smith apples, an egg, butter, dark molasses and milk in one bowl, and baking soda, baking powder, whole-wheat and white flour, and salt in another. Then, whisk the dry ingredients bit by bit into the wet, but don’t get overzealous with your stirring, the batter should still end up with some lumps.

When the wet and dry ingredients are combined, cook them on the stove like you would any other pancake, making sure to flip when the edges begin to bubble.

The honey butter is a great, sweet touch to these pancakes, and a little bit goes a long way. All you need to do is melt unsalted butter and mix it with pure honey—drizzle it over your pancakes and, voila! you’ve got a truly wholesome breakfast!

And remember, as they say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so get rid of that greasy, processed junk and start mixing!

Until next time,

xoxo,

VTB

ViaTheBistro@gmail.com

***To request a recipe, just shoot us an e-mail!

Blueberry Braised Beef

In food on April 20, 2009 at 9:29 pm

 

Inspired by Acqua al 2

Inspired by Acqua al 2

Wishing for the days we spent strolling the Ponte Vecchio, this evening’s dinner was a feeble attempt to bring back the months spent studying in Florence, Italy.  Inspired by the signature dish of Acqua al 2 (http://www.acquaal2.it/), blueberry steak, we cooked with longing for a seat in the elegant Tuscan restaurant. 

To create a blueberry mixture for braising, we combined frozen blueberries, chopped onion, molasses, red wine vinegar, ketchup, Dijon, and cracked red pepper.  Next, we focused on our beef short ribs, sprinkling both sides with salt and pepper before adding to a hot pan layered with melted butter and olive oil.  The meat was cooked until browned on both sides, and placed in a deep, square baking pan.  The blueberry mixture was poured over top and evenly distributed throughout.  Wrapped tightly in tin foil, the pan went into a 300 degree oven for 1 hour, however our beef was cut quite thin and time will need to be adjusted for the thickness of your meat. 

Once removed from the oven, the beef was set aside, and two cups of the blueberry mixture were puréed.  To finish, we spooned the purée over the beef and garnished with the remaining whole berries from the mixture. 

 While this dish doesn’t take us back to Michelangelo’s David, it does take us one step closer to a land filled with brilliant art, rich history, and extraordinary food.

Until next time,

xoxo,

VTB

ViaTheBistro@gmail.com

Here’s to the Hynsons

In Events, food on April 18, 2009 at 8:00 pm

The phyllo favorite.

The phyllo favorite.

We couldn’t have chosen a more beautiful day to cater the future Mrs. Hynson’s wedding shower—sunny skies, a nice breeze and a front porch packed with rocking chairs…what more could you ask for? (Besides great food, of course)

Our menu was small, but just right for a late-afternoon get-together. Phyllo wrapped asparagus, mini pumpkin muffins, deviled eggs, a cheese and grapes platter, and lemon squares provided a nice variety of savory and sweet.

Lemon squares

Lemon squares

To prepare these dishes for a party of twenty we started last night with the eggs, muffins and lemon squares, and finished up this morning with the asparagus bundles—which were the real hit of the party.

Always a perfect pair.

Always a perfect pair.

These dainty phyllo appetizers are both delicious and simple to make, because they only require 4 ingredients—asparagus, phyllo dough, butter and Parmesan. Just roll up three thin stalks in a layer of buttered phyllo, sprinkle with Parmesan, and pop them in the oven for 12 minutes at 375. They can be served fresh out of the oven, but are equally delectable at room temperature—personal preference is what matters here.

Pumpkin...not just for jack-o-lanterns.

Pumpkin...not just for jack-o-lanterns.

After a couple of non-stop days in the kitchen we’re ready to hit the sack early! But, on a final note, we’re so happy to have been a part of Janie’s shower and wish her and Warren all the best!

The finished product.

The finished product.

Until next time,

xoxo,

VTB

ViaTheBistro@gmail.com

It’s another late night with VTB

In Events on April 18, 2009 at 12:30 am

Soon to be deviled.

Soon to be deviled.

It seems we’re becoming more nocturnal by the day, but we welcome the night when it brings hours of cooking. We’ve been running around the kitchen prepping for the wedding shower, elbow deep in egg yolks and batter, and still managed to think of just one more thing to bake. Tomorrow we’ll put on the finishing touches, but for now, here’s a peek at what we’ve got cookin’.

Until next time,

xoxo,

VTB

ViaTheBistro@gmail.com

***To request a recipe, just shoot us an e-mail!

Pumpkin muffins fresh out of the oven.

Pumpkin muffins fresh out of the oven.

A Sweet and Nut-ritious Snack

In food, News on April 17, 2009 at 4:04 pm
Go nuts over these!

Go nuts over these!

Perfect for snacking, entertaining, or gift-giving these maple-glazed walnuts are an easy way to entice a crowd. While the sweet, nutty flavor needs no complement, adding them to a fresh salad with a tangy vinaigrette is certainly worth a try.

Begin by tossing several handfuls of walnuts into a hot saucepan. Then, add maple syrup and a dash of salt. Stir it all together until the syrup begins to caramelize and the walnuts are toasted to a golden brown. Remove the pan from the heat and spoon the nuts onto a square of parchment paper to cool. They’ll store for two weeks in a sealed, refrigerated container.

We love this tasty treat not only for its sweet crunch, but also for its omega-3 content. With only one handful you’ll enjoy your entire day’s worth and plenty of heart-healthy benefitssans those less appealing fish oil capsules. So join us in adding a little sweetness to a serious snack…but don’t spoil your dinner.

Until next time,

xoxo,

VTB

ViaTheBistro@gmail.com

Feeling crabby?

In food on April 16, 2009 at 6:06 am
Who says a cake has to be sweet?

Who says a cake has to be sweet?

Craving seafood, we ran over to Whole Foods and picked up a 1lb tub of fresh, North Carolina lump crab meat. We’re aware, this is an expensive item, but this recipe makes 8 cakes so it’s really just $4-$6 per person (depending on how many you eat)…and boy, is it worth it!

When making crab cakes, we prefer to keep it simplemaximizing the meat while minimizing the breading. After all, what’s the point if you can’t taste the crab?

To build your cakes, combine Worchestershire sauce, mayonnaise, yellow mustard, Old Bay seasoning, a beaten egg, black pepper, crushed saltines and the juice of a lemon in a large mixing bowl. Once combined, it is best to add the crab meat slowly. You want it to stay in “lumps” so add it bit by bit, stirring gently until well mixed.

Now all that’s left to do is shape them into cakes, put them on a baking sheet and cook at 400° for 20 minutes, flipping once halfway through.

These crab cakes go great with a homemade remoulade, but are moist enough to stand alone.

In lieu of using these for an entrée, you could also make the cakes a smaller size and serve them as appetizers.

So, the next time you’re craving something fresh, remember, with this recipe you can have your cake and eat it too!

Until next time,

xoxo,

VTB

ViaTheBistro@gmail.com

***To request a recipe, just shoot us an e-mail!

Polenta Party Pleasers

In Events, food on April 14, 2009 at 9:42 pm
Serve these at your next luncheon.

Serve these at your next luncheon.

Here’s a recipe to serve at your next luncheon. Quick and easy to make, these delightful appetizers feature polenta rounds topped with a cool salad of chickpeas, diced tomato, garlic, feta cheese, and fresh dill—to add some spring color.

Make the polenta flavored to your liking—we added sundried tomato and garlic. Next, spread it on a baking sheet while still hot in about a 1/4″ layer, and stick it in the fridge for around an hour to set. Once firm, use a cookie cutter (or if you’re feeling like MacGyver, a juice glass) to cut small rounds out of the polenta.

Cook the rounds in an oiled skillet over medium heat until lightly browned on each side—about 5 minutes. Toss together the salad ingredients, top the rounds and watch them disappear.

These polenta rounds are a surefire way to please any crowd.

Until next time,

xoxo,

VTB

ViaTheBistro@gmail.com

***When you feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day, many grocery stores have pre-made polenta in tubes which can be sliced into rounds and browned.