D.B.A – Not a Review

This is not a food review, per say. It’s just a simple journey of an amazing experience I had which happened to be at a restaurant.

Oh, I could include the details and critique the dishes we ate. I could even blah, blah, blah, blah, but then you wouldn’t get the point of my rant (rave).

Instead I want to paint a picture . . .

It was a fall evening, early in fact, about 6:30 p.m. and I was thrilled to be going out for the evening. I wore a simple black and white wrap dress along with a black sweater cloak and my brand new black high heel boots. My dining companion wore hues of brown, which compliment his skin tone and deep brown eyes.

We are an attractive couple and we were feeling good together, first stopping at an art gallery to browse around before sitting down to dine.

Upon entering the restaurant we are met by an attractive young woman, who is eager to greet us. Rock and roll music is playing

and the lighting of the main room perfectly compliments the contemporary tufted gray seating, black and metal accents.

We are escorted outside where we are seated at a small table vignette, metal with a contemporary design to it and surrounded by several six-foot tall slim triangle tower heaters. Welcomed by Rachel our waitress who immediately brought our elixirs of choice. We basked in the elegant ambiance, sipping slowly; we discussed the many songs on our albums.

You see, on our albums were printed the menu for the evening complete with an album inside. The cover side showing our

grandmaster host of the evening doing what he does best: using his electric guitar to stir the sauce. The back cover was the bill of fare or “songs.” I was giddy as I browsed the songs sipping on my something, something ginger beer mock tail. Rachel was equally giddy to tell us about songs we might want to play. I couldn’t decide so I let her pick a few for me and Rachel’s choice definitely struck the right chords.

Our palettes enjoyed the most delicate cavatelli with corn something, something on it, mussels with an Asian kick along with amazing bread to soak up the broth and other various songs that kept us listening closely to the details of the “lyrics.”

The sun was starting to set and the outdoor fireplace was ablaze. After dinner, we meandered to the fire to smoke cigarettes, chat with fellow diners and relax on the comfortable white couch.

We ended our evening sipping on something delicious that was neither a cappuccino nor an espresso and, had I not been so completely satiated with many songs we just played, would have been tempted to play yet another tune from the dessert menu CD case which we were invited to listen.

We chatted until our cups were dry and drove off into the autumn night.

Minestrone Soup of Winter

Warm, Cozy and made with the best of Winter’s vegetables
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound Swiss chard, stems trimmed, leaves coarsely chopped
  • 1 russet potato, peeled, cubed
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig
  • 2 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained, rinsed
  • 1 (14-ounce) cans  beef broth
  • 3-4 cups water
  • 1 ounce piece Parmesan cheese rind
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 bag frozen Cheese Tortellini
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, pancetta, and garlic. Saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the Swiss chard and potato; saute for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes and rosemary sprig. Simmer until the chard is wilted and the tomatoes break down, about 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, blend 3/4 cup of the beans with 1/4 cup of the broth in a processor until almost smooth. Add the pureed bean mixture, remaining broth, and Parmesan cheese rind to the vegetable mixture. Simmer until the potato pieces are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
  5. Stir in the whole beans and parsley.
  6. Stir in Tortellini. Simmer until the pasta is cooked through and the soup is thick, about 2 minutes.
  7. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  8. Discard Parmesan rind and rosemary sprig (the leaves will have fallen off of the stem.)

Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

This is quick and easy and can be made with left-over turkey or rotisserie
chicken.
Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups turkey or chicken – cooked & shredded
  • 1 (4.3 oz) box Long Grain and Wild Rice (Roasted Chicken flavor)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup milk
Directions
  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery and carrots and saute for 7-8 minutes.
  2. Add  broth, water and shredded turkey. Bring to a boil and add rice (save seasoning packet!). Cover pot and remove from heat.
  3. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add the seasoning packet and stir to combine. Slowly add the flour (in 1/4 cup increments) to form a roux and continue to stir.
  4. Add salt and pepper.
  5. Whisk in heavy cream and milk, a little at a time, until fully incorporated. Cook and continue to stir until thickened – about 5 minutes.
  6. Return to broth/rice mixture to the heat and add cream mixture. Cook over medium heat until rice is softened and soup is thickened and heated through, about 10-15 minutes

Cooking Club – Gourmet Apple Workshop

In the second installment of the Life at the Table Cooking Club, I’ll be hosting a Gourmet Apple Workshop on Sunday December 4, 2011 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in my apartment in Malmö.

This is a hands on workshop where we will step up the basic approach to the traditional carmel dipped apple and create gourmet works of art  which are great and unique for Holiday Gifting as well as  Wedding and Shower Favors. In addition we will cover other fun things to dip, decorate and gift as well as gift wrapping ideas.

Each participant is asked to bring 6 large apples of their choice ( Washed and Dried prior to workshop ) , an apron and a shallow box to carry your creations home in.

All other necessary items will be provided.

Children are welcome to participate !

Coffee, Juice and Sweets will be served so come ready to dip, swirl and create.


Here are the details:

  • Sunday December 4 ,2011
  • 11:00 – 14:00
  • Life At The Table Kitchen, Malmö Sweden
  • 100 kr per person for MEMBERS // 150 kr per person NON MEMBERS
  • Limited to 12 participants
  • The workshop will be conducted in English
  • Confirmation of attendance by November 28, 2011
  • Payment Due upon arrival at Workshop December 4, 2011

​Please RSVP Promptly
Be sure to dress up for the camera as I’ll post photos from the event in a future blog post here on Life at The Table. Be sure to RSVP immediately LifeAtTheTable@hotmail.com to secure your seat at the table.​

Padma Says it Best – Cloche

It was all in the way she said it “Cloche“, Padma Lakshmi of Bravo TV’s Top Chef that is. Her soft delicate tone of a word I have never heard before provoked me to know more of this thing she called the Cloche . . .

The more I researched the more I found of cloches that are  unique, whimsical, functional and in some cases environmentally necessary.

I see a Cloche of the Month blog coming . . . Send me your Cloche finds and lets all be in praise.

cloche

[klohsh, klawsh]

noun

1.

a bell-shaped metal or glass cover placed over a plate to keep food warm or fresh.

2.
a woman’s close-fitting hat with a deep, bell-shaped crown and often a narrow, turned-down brim.
3.

a bell-shaped glass cover placed over a plant to protect it from frost and to force its growth.

Bacon, Apple & Thyme Risotto with Fried Leeks

I asked my friend Deniz to bring me a cup of white wine for this Risotto Recipe. She was happy to do so and had only one question for me ” How much is a cup ? “. I guess I do speak with an accent in Sweden !

  • 2 Cups ( 380 g) Arborio Rice
  • 6 Cups ( 1400 mL ) Vegetable or Chicken Stock
  • 1 Cup ( 240 mL )White Wine
  • 1  Heaping Tablespoon ( 15 mL ) of Garlic minced
  • 1 Heaping Tablespoon ( 15 mL ) of Shallot minced
  • 3 Heaping Tablespoons ( 45 mL ) of fresh Thyme cleaned off the stem
  • 1/2 medium Onion chopped
  • 1 Large Leek washed, drained and sliced into 1/4 inch ( 6 mm ) rounds
  • Oil Oil
  • 4 Ounces ( 150 g ) Bacon or Pancetta sliced into 1/4 inch ( 6 mm ) pieces
  • 2 Granny Smith Apples peeled, cored and chopped into 1/2  ( 13 mm ) cubes
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  1. In a medium size sauce pan heat up stock.
  2. In a shallow saute pan heat up 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil on medium high heat. Fry the Leek pieces until golden brown, apprx 4 minutes. Remove and allow to drain on paper towels. Set aside.
  3. In a large pot or deep frying pan on medium high heat add  the Bacon, Onion and Shallot. Fry until Bacon has rendered it’s fat and crisps up slightly.
  4. Add Apples and cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Add Arborio Rice to pot and stir.
  6. Add Wine to rice mixture,stir until wine has reduced by half.
  7. Reduce heat to medium.
  8. Slowly add a ladle full of stock to the rice pot and stir constantly.Continue to add a ladle full of stock at a time allowing the liquid to be absorbed by the rice for exactly 22 minutes. Tastes the rice to check for doneness. Should be smooth and creamy in texture and have a small bite to the rice.
  9. Stir in Thyme
  10. Serve in bowl and top with Fried Leeks.

Cooking Club – Pasta Workshop, Sunday November 20, 2011

As the first installment of the Life at the Table Cooking Club, I’ll be hosting a Pasta Workshop for a select group of friends and colleagues on Sunday November 20, 2011 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in my apartment in Malmö.

This is a hands on workshop where you will learn basic pasta dough recipe and ravioli making techniques. Each participant is asked to bring an apron, 2 dish towels and a sheet pan. Each participant will be taking home the raviolis they make as well as tasting a few other pasta dishes that are prepared during the workshop.

Wine, beverages and tapenades will be served so come ready to learn and have fun.


Here are the details:

  • Sunday November 20,2011
  • 11:00 – 16:00
  • Life At The Table Kitchen, Malmö Sweden
  • 275kr per person
  • Limited to 6 participants
  • The workshop will be conducted in English and Italian
  • Confirmation of attendance and full payment due by November 11, 2011

We will cover basic techniques for making pasta dough using both the well method and food processor method. The workshop’s agenda will include:

  1. Techniques for rolling, cutting and shaping pastas such as tagliatelle, tortellini, ravioli, bowties
  2. Recipe and preparation for Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli.
  3. Recipe and preparation for Thyme Chicken and Mushroom Ravioli.
  4. Recipe and preparation for a Tagliatelle in an Autumn Tomato Sauce.
  5. Recipe and preparation for an amazing Sage and Butter sauce a perfect accompaniment to the Ricotta and Spinach Raviolis.

​Please RSVP Promptly
For those of you who received your personal invitation, be sure to dress up for the camera as I’ll post photos from the event in a December blog post here on Life at The Table. Be sure to RSVP immediately LifeAtTheTable@hotmail.com to secure your seat at the table.​

The Kitchen – London National Theatre, a Foodie’s Review

I recently had the opportunity to experience London National Theater’s production, The Kitchen –  a believable glimpse into a 1950 London restaurant kitchen that produces over 1,500 covers in 1 lunch seating. A multi European staff of over 30 characters who are intertwined in workplace frolics, drama and intense discussions all the while preparing for the days lunch service.

Superb choreography allows the audience to sense the emotions of the characters as they interact with each other.

Your eyes never question the believability that the characters are baking bread, dredging fish in flour, mixing pastry cream or sautéing non-imaginary imaginary food. Great care was taken by the director to have his company undergo culinary training courses. You will be delighted to see that fish can still burn and soup can still sour even if it’s not real.

The lunch service ends and the second half shifts your attention to an intimate look into a troubled German cook named Peter who lacks in the ability to be understood by others due to fighting his own demons on a constant basis. His playful facade is ripped away and he is left exposed leaving us with many unanswered questions as well as questioning several of his own answers.

Whether you’re a foodie or not, this 1959 reproduction of Arnold Weskar’s play is well worth seeing.

Cooking for One Club

Cooking for one is great if you like leftovers, have a dog, entertain often, have another single friend who loves to eat and who loves your cooking or, in the worst case scenario, you like eating large portions.

Otherwise it sucks.

Having recently found myself a new member in the Cooking for One Club, I find myself in the category of liking leftovers. My friends are scattered about the globe and my neighbor is an outstanding cook in her own right and needn’t be intruded on by my culinary creations . . . well, at least not yet.

My family origin is Eastern European and we live to cook and feed others. Our recipes do not serve 4 or 6, they serve the masses. Imagine a large pot of heaven for all who stop by with plenty of leftovers for the week.

I remember asking my mother for her stuffed cabbage recipe and she began with “four heads of cabbage, six pounds of ground chuck” etc., etc. I had to laugh out loud as I was simply trying to make enough for two people. She had no idea how to make it for two people and I had to take the recipe, as she knew it, and get a calculator out to reduce the amounts accordingly. All in all, it was a wonderful mother-daughter moment and certainly an insight into the remainder of her recipes I would eventually obtain.

If I don’t join the Cooking for One Club I will be forced to join the Eating Out To Much Club or worse, the Eating Out Alone Club. This will be evident to all as in a short time I will have to ask for a table for two (me and my big ass) and only then will it ultimately lead to the My Clothes Are Too Tight Club.

Cooking for one is a test of my ability to buy and cook the right ratio of food without making waste. It also tests my love of cooking and the amount of time, effort and worth involved. Not to mention I always enjoy being observed by others while I cook, that includes my dog Lulu who never misses a chance to act as a faithful sous-chef (and floor cleaner). She is enamored by skills. Oh how I loved to be watched in my kitchen displaying my knife skills with a handicap of nine fingers (see now you want to watch) and the ability to execute a meal with ease.

My menus as of late have confused my friends who cannot believe I would possibly take the time to prepare chicken chili over rice with creme fraisch and cilantro, entrecote with a mushroom wine reduction sauce or linguine with pancetta and peas tossed in a lemon butter sauce. They themselves are not cooking such creations for their households of two or more.

Fortunately, I don’t anticipate a lifetime membership in the Cooking for One Club. For the time being, I’ll embrace it to ensure my culinary skills don’t dwindle to dangerous zones which could result in an over-abundance of oven burns, shredded knuckles on a micro-plane or worse, chopping off a finger tip with my chef’s knife all because I refused membership.

So, as much as cooking for one sucks, it does test my innate urge to produce for the masses, sharpens my math skills to reduce recipes to single serving portions (with some leftovers) and keeps me from eating out too frequently. Not to mention, preparation of small portions should also keep me from joining the dreaded My Clothes Are Too Tight Club.

I’d love to hear advice and experience from others. What cooking and food storage techniques do you use? What recipes work best? Do share.