Saturday, March 22, 2008

San Pedro Cafe

On our way home from Minneapolis, we stopped off at one of our favorite little spots, the San Pedro Cafe in Hudson, WI. This is one place we keep coming back to. From flawless brunch on their patio with friends, to late-night dinners, this is one spot where we've never had a disappointing meal.
One of the best things about San Pedro is their wood fired oven, from which they produce some of the best breads, meats, and pizzas that you've ever tasted. Everything is made to order, and if you sneak a seat at the counter in the back, you can watch the chefs make their magic.

On this particular night, we chose a cozy booth toward the back of the restaurant, where we could relax and enjoy the view.

First, we ordered ourselves two of the best mojitos around.
And we sipped them in between bites of the duck nachos (Wood fire smoked duck with pico di gallo, monterey jack cheese, and tropical fruit salsa).

Then, we enjoyed two steaming bowls of roasted corn and conch chowder. Chock full of celery, corn, carrots, and plenty of tender pices of conch, the chowder really hit the spot. The corn had been roasted in the wood-fired oven, so the sweet creamy chowder had just a hint of smoky flavor. As if that weren't enough, the soup was garnished with some of the best wood-fire roasted tomatoes we'd ever tasted. Sweet, but pleasantly acidic, they were the perfect foil for the rich creamy soup.

To top things off, we sampled part of a wood-fired pizza. This was the Jamaican -- thin crust pizza with pomodoro tomato sauce topped with sliced jerked chicken breast, caramelized jerked onions, and goat cheese.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Peef & Lo's Favorite Corned Beef

It's hard to believe that we're celebrating our 10th St. Patrick's Day together this year. But, as you can imagine, that means we've had plenty of time to try our hand at quite a number of corned beef recipes. This one is now our tried and true favorite.

We love the slightly sweet braising liquid, and we heartily approve of what the dill, peppercorns, and clove add to the flavor of the beef. The flavor is not overpowering, but the savory smell is enough to drive you crazy during the last hour or two of cooking.

This brisket is delicious right out of the pot, but we often continue the braise for a bit in the oven, just to crisp things up a bit (try 45-60 minutes at 300ºF, with a bit of additional beer in the bottom of the pan).

Today, we'll be serving the brisket as part of our St. Patrick's Day feast:

Peef & Lo's Corned beef
Cabbage & Leek gratin
Roasted garlic mashed potatoes
Baby carrots
Guinness soda bread

And for dessert:
Irish whiskey cake
Baileys Irish cream custard (from Kopp's)

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Cheesy Colcannon with Leeks

As St. Patrick's Day approaches, we've been pulling out our favorite cabbage and potato dishes.

While not exactly health food, this is a lovely one-dish potato & veggie casserole. Boiling the garlic cloves with the potatoes mellows their flavor, and the leeks lend a lovely sweetness (although you can substitute sauteed onions if you like) against the bite of the Irish cheddar cheese. We like to eat the leftovers for breakfast topped with a couple of fried eggs, over-easy.

Cheesy Colcannon with Leeks

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Thursday, March 6, 2008

Pasta Night: Greek Pasta with Greens

It started on Friday with the usual question: "What's for dinner tonight?"

I didn't really know what to answer. I was craving pizza bigtime, but we were planning a deep-dish pizza feast for this Saturday. So, it was kind of a tough decision. But, after contemplating the contents of the refrigerator, we decided to concoct a pasta dish with collard greens & feta cheese. The addition of lemon & some lovely Thasos olives made this dish close to perfect. So, we're sharing with you.

Greek Pasta with Greens

3 T olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb collard greens
splash (1/4 cup or so) dry white wine - we used a nice minerally New Zealand savignon blanc
1 lemon -- zested and juiced (zest and juice reserved)
1/2 cup Thasos (or kalamata) olives
2/3 cup feta cheese
8 oz chunky whole wheat pasta (chiccole, penne, or other large shape)

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and a bit of salt and allow to saute for 5-10 minutes, or until beginning to soften.

While the onions are cooking, pull the stems out of the collard greens, and chop the leaves into thin slices. Add minced garlic to onion. Stir to combine and cook briefly. Then, add collard greens to the pan with a splash of white wine. Cover, and cook for about 10-15 minutes until collard greens are tender.

While the collards are cooking, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta. Pit the olives, if needed, and chop them in 1/2. Add the olives to the collard greens during the last few minutes of cooking time.

When pasta is ready, drain it and add to collard greens. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, and feta cheese and toss to combine.

This was lovely with some crusty garlic bread and a bit of white wine.

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Donut Burger?

Paula Deen is a sweet southern chef featured on the Food Network. She looks innocent enough. But, she does have a penchant for trying to deep fry just about anything. And she LOVES butter (you really have to check out this video... out of the mouths of babes...).

There is an amusing series on the Serious Eats web site entitled "Paula Deen is Trying to Kill Us," which is pretty funny.

Their latest is worth checking out. It features the Lady's Brunch Burger (a burger sandwiched between two doughnuts)...

Holy Heart Attack, Batman!

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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Linguini with Clam Sauce

What do we make on nights when we're UBER busy and need food fast? Or nights when we want a "no stress" feast that we can sit back enjoy with some crusty bread and a bottle of wine?

This is it. It's 20 minutes from start to finish. Perfect for meatless days during Lent. And the ingredients are cheap and easy to find. These days I keep canned clams & clam juice in the pantry, and we always seem to have a bottle of white wine (though you can leave that out, too, if you like). I usually drain my clams to remove grit, but I will sometimes use some of the clam liquor in the pasta sauce if it looks fairly clean.

Linguini with Clam Sauce

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Monday, March 3, 2008

Pear Burritos

This recipe was inspired by something I found in the Whole Foods Market Cookbook, and was enhanced by the roasting techniques I've picked up in one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, The Roasted Vegetable (Andrea Chesman). I adapted the original recipe by cutting down on the size of each burrito, increasing the amount of pear syrup slightly, and adding a lovely cinnamon sugar coating.

It turns out the recipe is really as delicious as it sounds. The pears caramelize nicely in the hot oven, and they pair beautifully with the marscapone, which melts into a lovely sauce inside the tortilla packets. The pear syrup is a nice accompaniment for the crisped burritos, flavored perfectly (and subtley) by the cloves, cinnamon, and orange peel.

Pear Burritos - Lo-style

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