Monday, August 11, 2014

48 Hours in New York City

It is an inevitable feeling, one that leaves me all twisted up inside every time we board a plane/train/automobile and make the trek back to Louisville from wherever our travels have taken us.  I don't want to leave.  I want to go back.  I need to go back.  This feeling was ever apparent on our recent trip to New York City.  Despite an unexpected third night to explore, my mind and soul were left parched, and the thirst to return is palpable, almost all-consuming.  The thing about New York City is that it is virtually impossible to scratch the surface in one weekend.  But do you even do so in a lifetime?  It's varied corners and pockets of people seem endless, the city moving forward at a rapid pace and remaining rooted in history all at the same time.  It is a beautifully overwhelming place to visit and the desire to return is a confliction I am happy to possess.  Z and I were inundated with recommendations of where to go, what to eat and what to drink.  Everyone has a strong opinion about New York City and everyone has an all-time favorite restaurant.  A spot that spoke to them the loudest, that left an indelible impression on their heart.  I wanted to go to all of these haunts and then some but alas that was impossible.  Instead we remained focused on a few key restaurants and would fill the time in between meals walking and absorbing our surroundings.  Since we couldn't be everywhere we resolved to be in the moment.  And we had some fantastic moments.  The first of which occurred as soon as we arrived in the city.  We landed at LaGuardia at 9pm, took a quick cab ride straight to our home base in the East Village, The Standard, refreshed and hit the pavement by 10:15.  Our first stop: Prune.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Foxhollow Farm Filet with Herb Butter

In my opinion, a good steak doesn't need to wear anything more than a dress of course salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Sure there are boldly flavored marinades and spicy rubs that shine a delicious light on a beef-centered dish.  However when you have humanely raised, grass-fed beef at your fingertips (such as you will find at Foxhollow Farm), show some restraint and let the meat and simple seasoning do the talking.  Oh - and add a large pat of decadent, garlic and herb laced butter on top.  It is a filet's ideal accessory.  A trick of the trade often used in the most classic of steakhouses, it's hard to imagine a dish that feels and tastes this fancy yet requires little to no effort.  The lean nature of this cut of beef falls quickly in love with the richness of the butter, soaking up the spice and herbs as they melt overboard.  It is a natural beauty and one that you will be proud to serve to your friends and family.  And don't worry.  The steak won't last long but this recipe will leave you with plenty of leftover herb butter to spread on bread, serve over pasta or to toss with your fresh summer corn.  It's simply one of those accessories that goes with everything.  Cheers!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Foxhollow Farm Sliders

What's not to love about food in mini-form?  Variety abounds when you can indulge in not one but two or more of a shrunken version of the classic burger.  Z and I had a delicious time tasting different toppings and accompaniments, a few of which I highlight in this month's Foxhollow Farm recipe.  A blend of Foxhollow's ground beef and ground chuck offers a clean and rich base and creates the perfect platform to showcase a plethora of flavors.  My immediate thought was pimento cheese.  It is one of my all-time favorite burger toppings and it's addictive power speaks for itself.  Bacon is also a sure-thing when it comes to burger accompaniments and I decided to push it over the edge with the addition of a fried egg, avocado and sriracha.  Our final slider is a celebration of caprese season.  A quick whirl of the food processor brings together a vibrant green pesto and slices of mozzarella gently melt into the warmth of the freshly grilled burger.  A bright red tomato is the shining star on this balanced and seasonal burger.  With grilling season well underway, now is the ideal time to hand-craft your own sliders.  There's really just one rule: always use good beef!  

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Foodie-Girl's Top Five Travel Planning Tips

Z & Me in Rovinj, Croatia

Travel; some call it a bug, others count it as a hobby and for the truly afflicted it is an obsession.  A simple dip outside the confines of our small world can illicit whispers from across the earth, promises of discovery, enlightenment and adventure becoming louder and more demanding as your experiences grow.  This is a state I've found myself in often over the past ten years, ever since Z and I left college and took a hard look at where we were and where we hoped to go.  When we married in 2008 we set off on a dream trip to Tuscany and spent two weeks getting lost in the hills and grapevines of this magical place, spoiled rotten by a local friend who made sure our experience was never anything less than exceptional.  We returned home with a serious travel hangover, the wistfulness for our Tuscan paradise almost painful.  We daydreamed out loud about returning to Italy, or Europe, or anywhere, for that matter.  It started innocently - "we should go to France next year" - and we'd smile and allow our minds to wander for a bit.  But we kept saying it.  And the mini-mental vacations took a deeper root.  Soon "we should" became "we are" and we found ourselves up late one evening wringing our hands as we pressed 'purchase' on flights to Paris and the South of France.  That was when we jumped off the cliff.  We were 'supposed' to go on a honeymoon.  We weren't 'supposed' to take a trip to France just because.  But I've found that just because can be the very best reason of all.

Six years and over a dozen adventures later we've refined our own version of the art of travel planning, an element of the travel processes that I enjoy immensely.  We were naive heading to France and we definitely had some missteps.  Here I outline my top five travel planning tips and share tricks that we have found to be helpful and balanced - allowing us to plan without over planning, to be confident but still maintain a fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants air.  And I hope they will help turn your "we should's" into "we are's".

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Foxhollow Farm Spaghetti with Meatballs

Given my love for pasta, I felt a personal obligation to have a recipe for spaghetti with meatballs in my repertoire.  I never have a shortage of Foxhollow Farm ground beef, chuck or sirloin in my freezer and it takes almost no time at all to blend this grass-fed goodness with a sweet and savory aromatic mix of carrots, shallots, garlic and oregano.  Worcestershire sauce from Bourbon Barrel Foods and balsamic vinegar are added to the mix to enhance the natural flavors of the beef and breadcrumbs soaked in whole milk promise for a perfectly succulent and tender final product.  Make it a trifecta and pair with my recipe for fresh pasta and my go-to, easy-as-pie marinara sauce and you will have a locally grown meal that is as wholesome as it is impressive.  Enjoy!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Four Roses Bourbon-Mustard BBQ Sauce

I am not sure why I have a penchant for mustard-based barbecue sauce but there is something about the tangy, bold nature of a sauce with a mustard backbone that acts as a defibrillator for my palate.   When I was posed with the challenge of creating a barbecue sauce utilizing Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon, I knew I would be bypassing the ketchup and reaching instead for the jar of yellow mustard in my fridge.  This was my first time dipping my toe in the world of barbecue and seeing as I live in a condo and do not have a grill, I wasn't quite sure where to begin.  Chef Levon Wallace of Proof on Main offered me loads of expert advice and the result was a beautifully roasted, impossibly juicy chicken bathed in a spicy and bright mustard sauce, one that took me three tries to finally get right.  In keeping with what I've found in most recipes, creating the sauce was all about layering flavors and the Four Roses Small Batch gave me a fantastic profile with which to work.  This bourbon blend brings strong notes of spice which are quickly quelled by a light sweetness and pleasant viscosity.  Brought to a boil with shallots, garlic and jalapeño, any bite from the alcohol is removed, the base flavors remaining and enhanced, pacifying the abrasive nature of the mustard and brightening the notes given by the cumin and red pepper flakes.  Local Kentucky sorghum and brown sugar, a near must for any barbecue sauce, match the natural sweetness of the bourbon nose-to-nose, finishing out a beautifully flavored, bourbon inspired sauce.  At Levon's advice, I had brined the chicken overnight to ensure the oven didn't take away any of the natural juices.  After roasting for a bit until almost cooked through, the sauce is drenched over the chicken and baked on for the last few minutes of cooking time, sealing in the flavor and finishing off some of the best chicken I've ever cooked at home.  I tip my hat to those who have spent years perfecting the craft of barbecue.  It is a complicated and delicious culinary road to travel and I look forward to exploring the path, my bottle of bourbon in hand.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Strawberry Shortcake á la Johnny Iuzzini

Johnny Iuzzini is to the dessert world what Shawn White is to snowboarding.  He is a master of this decadent craft and firmly solidified his place in the land of pastry after a decade of work at the renowned four star Jean Georges in NYC and countless accolades, including the prestigious James Beard award for Pastry Chef of the Year.  Add a touch of rebellion and a dollop of TV star power courtesy of Top Chef: Just Desserts (Johnny was the head judge) and one would likely feel a bit of nervous enthusiasm if given the chance to meet this rock-star of sweets, wouldn't you say?  This is the state I found myself in when I was presented with the fortunate opportunity to interview Johnny during his recent trip to the Bluegrass for the Kentucky Derby.  Johnny is a member Macy's Culinary Council, an acclaimed who's-who of star Chef's who are committed to sharing their knowledge with the home cook and to demonstrating how you can be a master in your own kitchen.  Macy's Culinary Council is known for their in-store cooking demo's and the stage was set at Macy's of Oxmoor for Johnny Iuzzini (if you have an opportunity to attend an in-store event I HIGHLY encourage you to do so - a full listing of upcoming demos can be found here).  And my goodness he does attract a crowd of admirers!  But before the seats were filled, the biscuits were baked and the strawberries were roasted slow and low, Johnny and I sat for a chat about what drove him to the world of pastry in the first place.