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Please tell me that you have had Bonefish Grill’s Bang Bang Shrimp.

Brad and I try to support local restaurants, chefs, cooks, establishments as often as possible. In our fine city, we love visiting everything from dive bar/sticky seat joints to high end restaurants that intimidate you with their wine lists, amuse bouches and fancy pants ingredients. I find that, in general, local/non-chain restaurants have better quality food and better service.

However, from time to time, a chain restaurant will reel me in with one of their signature tempting dishes. And Bang Bang Shrimp may be my favorite chain restaurant appetizer of all time.

*Side note: If you live in Cincinnati, my all-time favorite non-chain appetizers are as follows:

-Casual Joint: Habits for the Potato Rags (Crispy hashbrowns topped with bacon, cheese, tomato, onions and ranch)

-Middle of the Road: Senate for the Poutine Fries (French Fries topped with melted cheese curd and braised short ribs)

-Fancy Pants: Boca for the boat scallop served with caramelized brussel sprouts (seriously the best brussel sprout I have ever in my life even dared to imagine)

*End of Side Note- Back to the BANG! BANG!

I’m having fun these days trying to recreate some restaurant favorites at home. Why? I dunno. Because I want to. And because I can.

That’s why.

I figured I would start with the Bang Bang Shrimp. If you haven’t had this wonder, it is a small dish of fried shrimp that is coated in a creamy and spicy “bang bang” sauce. The shrimp is served over a bed of crisp iceberg lettuce and shredded cabbage. The whole kit n’ caboodle is topped with some green onion. It is the perfect naughty start to a meal.

I would like to preface this recipe by saying that I decided that for two people, it is much easier to just order some of the Bang Bang Shrimp to go. However, I will make this recipe again (FOR SURE) when having folks over for dinner or when entertaining a larger crowd.

Lets start by making the Bang Bang sauce.

You’ll need some Thai Sweet Chili Sauce. I found this at Whole Foods.

Drop 1/4 c. into a bowl.

Then add 1/2 c of mayo. Not Miracle Whip, people. Mayo.

Now get out your Sriracha hot sauce (this is found in the Asian foods aisle at the grocery store).

I started with a few drops of the hot sauce.

Then, I added a few more.

Then, some more.

I ended up adding about 1 1/2 t., but we like things spicy at our house.
I recommend adding a wee bit at a time, and giving the sauce a taste as you go.

Stir is up, and set your sauce aside.

Easy, right?

Now, because I think I hate simplicity from time to time, I decided I would make two different kinds of fried shrimp.

I like options, and I couldn’t decide between coconut shrimp or regular fried shrimp. Bonefish Grill makes regular fried shrimp, but I super duper love coconut shrimp.

And since I was cooking, it was decided that there should be a coconut shrimp version of the Bang Bang.

So, to make the batter for the Coconut Shrimp, put equal parts (I used 1/3 c. of each) of flour,

Cornstarch,

And shredded coconut (I prefer the unsweetened variety) into a bowl.

Add in one egg.

And then an equal part (1/3 c. for me!) of ice cold water.

Give that a little stir and set it aside.

Now, we will prepare batter number two.

Well actually, we will be preparing a little soak and then a dry dip for this batch of shrimp.

Mix together equal parts milk.

And regular old hot sauce.

I used Tobasco because I had it on hand. I think next time I’ll try Frank’s Red Hot because it is my fave.

And then in a separate bowl, toss in 1 cup of flour.

With 1/4 c. of cornmeal and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

There ya have it.

Now, we shall dunk the shrimp.

I used medium sized shrimp (Bonefish uses the super small guys), and I bought mine peeled and deveined.

I kept the tails on. However, when I make this again, I’ll take the tails off. It will make for easier eating.

I took about half of my shrimp and dumped them into the coconut batter.

Then, I took the other half and allowed them to soak up some hot milky goodness.

Hang with me.

I know that this doesn’t look all that appetizing at this point.

We’re getting there though. I promise.

Get out some peanut oil.

Or vegetable oil.

The key is to use a lighter oil because the lighter oil handles higher temperatures better.

An olive oil can burn, and you don’t want that.

Trust me.

Put about 1/2 cup of oil into a large skillet. You want to use enough to fully coat the entire bottom of the pan. In fact, the oil should be about 1/8 of an inch deep.

Here is my fool proof test to know when the oil is ready. I’m not good at using fancy gadgets like thermometers.

So, I put the tip of my batter coated fork into the oil….

And when it creates a perfect frying sound and perfect frying ripples, I know that the oil is ready.

Gently place a single layer of shrimp (I started with the coconut) around the pan. They should not touch each other.

And you should not mess with them once they are in the pan.

Side Note: Wear an apron, and use long tongs. This pan will spit a little hot oil at you so you want to be covered!

After 1 1/2 minutes, give the shrimp a flip.

They should be beautifully golden.

While the second side is cooking, pull your hot sauce and milk soaked shrimp out of the liquid.

Add them to your flour/corn meal mixture. Give them a toss.

Remove your coconut shrimp from the oil to a paper-towel lined plate. Immediately give them a sprinkle with salt.

What I SHOULD have done at this point was add these very hot shrimp to a bowl of the Bang Bang Sauce to coat.

I did not do this.

Don’t be like me.

Toss your shrimp with the sauce while the shrimp are piping hot.

Cook your second batch of shrimp- single layer in the oil for 1 1/2 minutes per side.

And when they look like this, pull them out of the pan.

Drop them onto a paper towel to drain some oil.

Give them a sprinkle of salt.

Then, immediately toss the shrimp with the sauce.

Serve the shrimp over a bed of lettuce, and top the whole thing with some chives or green onion.

Again, toss your shrimp. It will look prettier than my globs of sauce do.

I served up the shrimp with a couscous and vegetable stuffed portobello and a big fruit salad.

The verdict on the shrimp?

Well, both types of shrimp were delicious.

I think a hybrid of the two would actually be perfect. Next time, I think I will follow the coconut shrimp recipe, but I will add in 1/4 c. of  cornmeal (to make a crispier fried shrimp) and I will add in 1 T. of hot sauce (to increase the spice factor).

So, what is next?

Well, I have a Kung Pao Chicken/Shrimp/Scallops recipe that I’m excited to share.

It was GOOD- think PF Changs, but not so bad for ya.

I also have a delicious lasagna recipe too.

I am still stocking up the fridge with frozen meals, so I’m cooking away. I’m just  behind on sharing with you.

Don’t hate me.

Thanks.

1 1/2 weeks until the big due date. But I’m ready now. So, bring on the baby!

Hope you are all having a great week.

XO,

Leah

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French food is not something that I know much about.

Let’s see… my French culinary repertoire includes:

1. French Onion Soup

2. French Fries

3. Brie all melty and gooey and spread on a cracker

4. Chicken Cordon Bleu

And I’m not sure how French any of those dishes really are.

I have never been to France, but I did take four years of French.

My French speaking skills are now limited to asking, “May I go to the bathroom, please?”

Yes, folks. Four years of French, and that is what I have to show for it. Pathetic, non? (Oh wait, “non” is French. I guess I have TWO phrases to show for my French education).

My biggest French accomplishment was finishing the novel Les Miserables… in French. I wouldn’t say that I “read” the book, as much as I sat with the book and my French/English dictionary and translated it.

Growing up, Chicken Cordon Bleu was a regular meal in our household. I did not know that it was French, nor did I care. For, it was delicious… and that is all that really matters.

Chicken Cordon Bleu is the PERFECT make ahead meal, and it is the perfect meal to gift someone with. Who doesn’t like white meat chicken stuffed with cheese and salty ham? I mean, c’mon!

So, last weekend I whipped up a quick batch of Chicken Cordon Bleu. This is most certainly not my recipe, but I also can’t give credit to anyone for this recipe. It is just a good old classic.

You don’t need much to make this dish… just the following:

-Chicken breasts

-Gruyere cheese (if you want classic french), but swiss works too and is cheaper

-Ham

-Eggs, all whisked up

-1 c. of breadcrumbs (I like panko) mixed with 1/2 t. salt and 1/2 t. pepper and 1/2 t. thyme

Let’s commence shall we?

Oui?

Oui.

Flour your counter or a cutting board, and give your chicken breasts a good coating of flour.

Now, pound your chicken meat.

Use lots of flour so that you don’t tear the flesh, and keep on pounding until the breast is nice and thin.

This is a great recipe to make when you need to work out some aggression. Seriously, pounding all of that chicken is very therapeutic.

Once all of the chicken is pounded, set it aside and lets get out our ham and cheese, and the cheese grater.

Grate your cheese, and pile it onto your cutting board.

Get out one slice of ham for each chicken breast.

And put about 1/4 c. (for 6-8 breasts) of your favorite mustard in a bowl.

I do declare that it is time to build our Cordon Bleus!

Lay out a flattened chicken breast.

And give it a good slather of that mustard.

I used a bourbon honey mustard. Um, yum.

Then, gently… ever so gently, top the chicken and mustard with a single slice of ham.

Now top that off with a generous handful of the cheese.

This dish is actually difficult for me to pull off in some ways. Because I end up with these raw-chicken hands. And then I’m touching grated cheese. And it is all that I can do to restrain myself from shoving some of that contaminated cheese into my mouth.

But I cry out for restraint, and somehow restraint finds me.

Ah-men.

Roll ‘er up.

And stick it on a plate. If some of the cheese come out of the bottom, don’t worry about it. It happens.

Keep going until you have all of your chicken rolled.

Time to coat those bad boys.

Crack two eggs into a bowl.

And give them a whisk.

In a separate bowl, combine your breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and thyme.

And mix that together.

Delicately take one chicken breast and lay it on the plate.

Whisper phrases like “bonjour” and “c’est tout” and “au bon pain” to it.

And slather on some of that whisked egg.

The whisked egg sticks to the flour. And the bread crumb mixture will stick to your egg.

Like magic.

Coat the entire roll with your breadcrumb topping.

And repeat until you are done.

Folks, it is as easy as that.

At this point, if you are planning on consuming the chicken immediately,  you can pop these guys into the oven for 30 min. at 350.

If you are storing these for another day, simply wrap each breast tightly in some plastic wrap.

Then store these guys in  your freezer for up to 3 months.

When you are ready to eat them, pop the breasts into your fridge for 24 hours to defrost the chicken.

Then simply toss them onto a sheet pan and into the oven. 350 for 30 minutes.

French perfection.

Want to know who wants some french perfection?

This girl.

She knows a good thing when she smells it.

Au revoir mes amies,

Leah

I’m married to a sandwich lovin’ man.

I think Brad would take a sandwich over a filet any day. He makes for a cheap date.

And he is pretty easy to please at dinner time. Thanks be for that.

About a year ago, I stumbled on to a recipe for homemade wraps that were featured in some magazine- I’m guessing Real Simple, but I don’t really know.

And since then, these wraps have made it in to our regular dinnertime repertoire. The original sandwich was a Greek steak number that made me want to dance the Watusi.

But I’m pretty sure anything would knock my socks off when wrapped up in these warm, soft, comforting delights…

This week I made some grilled chicken, but a veggie wrap, cold cuts, a breakfast sandwich, etc would all be knock-you-off-your-feet good.

The downside of this recipe?

You have to use yeast.

Guh.

Yeast intimidates me.

But I am bigger and stronger and sometimes a wee bit smarter than yeast, so I took the challenge on head-on.

Get out your mixin’ bowl with a dough hook.

Into your mixing bowl, combine 1 t. of sugar and 1 package of yeast.

Then, add in 1 1/2 cups of warm water.

This part always makes me nervous. The water should be warm enough that it activates the yeast, but not so hot that it kills they yeast.

Yeast- you are my arch nemesis!

I figure a little warmer than how warm you would make a baby’s bottle works for me.

You’ll know you got the water temperature right after you stir it all together and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes or so.

After 5 minutes, you should have a little frothiness.

This means the yeast is “activated” i.e. it is ready to do work for ya.

Turn on your mixer, and slowly incorporate 3 1/2 cups of flour.

And 1 t. of salt.

Mixin’, mixin’, mixin’.

Until the dough hook causes the dough to pull away from the sides of the bowl in a ball.

Once you get to this point, turn off your mixer.

If you don’t have a mixer with a dough hook, you can use a spoon and a bowl to mix it all together.

Once it is all combined, turn out your dough onto a floured surface and start kneading.

Even if you used a mixer, dump your dough out onto a floured surface and start kneading.

This should be a very soft dough.

Knead the dough by hand for about 5 minutes. If it is sticky and you are having an issue with dough sticking to your hands, simply add a little more flour.

Place a teaspoon of olive oil into a bowl, and plop your dough in there.

Cover it with plastic wrap, and place the bowl in a warm spot.

Leave it alone for an hour.

After an hour, divide your dough (using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors) into 8 pieces.

Roll those suckers to about 1/4 in. thick.

I make mine a bit oblong so that two fit nicely on my round pizza stone.

If you are using a rectangle sheet pan, you can make your wraps more circular.

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. If you happen to have a pizza stone, pop it into the oven to preheat as well. If you don’t have a pizza stone, go buy one immediately.

Or just get out a large sheet pan.

Once the stone is preheated and your wraps are all rolled out, throw two of them onto your stone or pan, and close them into the oven for 3 minutes.

After 3 minutes, the tops will look like this- it shouldn’t look like much has happened.

Use tongs or an oven-mitted hand to flip these guys over.

This is what the bottom side should look like- not too different from the top side.

Perhaps there will be a slight browning, but that is ok.

The key is to keep these guys very pliable.

Because, well, a crunchy wrap is hard to actually wrap.

Put them back into the oven for another 3 minutes.

Remove the wraps and set them on a plate to cool a bit.

Repeat until you have all of your wraps cooked up, then top them with whatever goodness you have planned.

I used spice-rubbed grilled chicken, some colby jack cheese, banana peppers, spinach, tomato, and mayo.

Um. Yum.

Wrap it up, and serve it with some roasted or grilled veggies. I just threw my asparagus in the 500 degree oven coated in oil, salt, and pepper for about 7 minutes while I was finishing up with the wraps.

I also made a super simple fruit salad made of mango and kiwi.

Can I just tell you how much I love the fact that we can get delicious ripe mango in our Ohio grocery stores right now?

They taste like vacation.

I store the left over wraps in plastic wrap in the fridge.

Perfection.

Yesterday, I woke up to a basement with water leaking in due to a massive thunderstorm. Then, I drove to a meeting downtown and my check engine light came on. Then, I drove back to the office from the downtown meeting and was stuck in completely stopped traffic for 2+ hours (having just drank a large water bottle and being pregnant- this was a very uncomfortable 2 hours).

Last night, the tornado sirens went off at 1:45 am, and I woke up the pups and my husband to hunker down in the basement for safety. Before we made it to the basement, the sirens turned off and the worst of the storm was over.

So. I say all that to say this. Today has got to be a better day!

Hope you all are doing well, staying dry, and loving on those around you.

Happy Hump Day.

XO,

Leah

OK.

I’m going to share a Brussel Sprout recipe.

And I’m nervous.

Because if you are like me, you probably have traumatic childhood memories of Brussel Sprouts.

So today, I’m asking you to keep an open mind.

Perhaps it is time to give the old stinky Brussel Sprout another try.

I think you might like ’em.

There is a restaurant in Cincinnati that serves the most amazing Brussel Sprouts you could ever imagine. These Brussel Sprouts made me reconsider my stance on the mini cabbages. And you know what?

I think I officially like ’em.

Here is what you’ll need:

Brussel sprouts, chopped white onion, garlic, tomatoes, vegetable stock, extra virgin olive oil, some dry white wine, bacon, salt and pepper, and some pasta.

Put 2 cups of stock into a stock pan, and bring it to a boil.

While you are waiting for that to come up to a boil, cook some bacon.

Yes, bacon.

I feel like it has been a while since we discussed how delightfully delicious bacon is.

My long lost love.

Bacon makes my life.

To get your brussel sprouts ready to add to the boiling stock, you have to do three simple things.

1. Pull off the outer one or two leaves- these are what was closest to the ground and often they are wilty and dirty.

2. Cut off the stem/bottom/thingy (I love when I use technical terms, don’t you?)

3. Cut them in halves or quarters. You will likely have some small brussel sprouts in your bag, and those will only need to be cut in half. The larger ones you’ll want to cut into quarters. The goal is to get all of them to be about the same size so they cook at the same rate.

Put them in the stock.

While those are boiling away, remove your bacon from the skillet and drain the fat.

Add the onions to the skillet.

Let them get all brown and caramely.

Once they have softened, add in 2-3 cloves of chopped garlic. Cook for one-two minutes.

Push that around in the pan.

This should be smelling amazing by now.

Bacon. Onion. Garlic.

The holy trinity of food if you ask me.

You’ll know your brussel sprouts are ready when they are fork tender.

Once they are, drain them and add the brussel sprouts to the skillet.

Let them spend a little time in the skillet. From the photo above,  you can see that they should get a little bit browned. Mmmm.

Throw in your chopped tomatoes.

I would use a medium sized tomato or a handful of cherry tomatoes.

We have bacon. We have onions. We have garlic. We have brussel sprouts. We have tomatoes.

Sweet Mary, how could this get better?

Um, wine?

Yes.

Wine!

Add about a half cup of white wine.

Sprinkle in a little salt and pepper to taste.

Crank up the heat to bring the whole darn goodness to a boil.

Turn the heat down to a simmer.

Let those good little buddies hang out together for a while.

We’re going to cook our pasta.

I’m using some fresh pasta from the farmers’ market that is wild mushroom flavored.

Yum!

But any pasta will do.

Bring your water to a boil.

Season the water with salt. You want to use enough salt for the water to taste like the sea- at least that is what Mario Batali tells me.

We’re old chums, you know.

Drop in your pasta.

Cook it ups, and then drain the pasta and add it to your veggies.

Mix it up.

There ya have it.

Serve it up on a plate and crumble some bacon on top.

I’m telling you.

Give it a try.

The brussel sprout is back baby.

Have a good one!!

XO,

Leah

Potato and corn, to be exact.

This year, for the first time, Brad and I joined a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group. It has been an awesome experience. Once a week, we go to the farmers market and pick up a bag of assorted farm fresh fruits and veggies. We also get a half dozen organic farm raised eggs.

It is always a treat to peek in the bag and see what the good folks at Bergefurds farm have picked for us.

We have received an abundance of corn and potatoes.

Every week for about 6 weeks, we received 4-8 ears of sweet corn.

Now, I love me some corn.

But for 2 people… too much.

I have been giving it out at work.

I have been handing it out on street corners.

I have been selling it on Craig’s List.

I have been racking my brain with clever things to do with corn in the kitchen.

And when one of those cooler late summer days happened upon us, I decided it was time for some Corn and Potato Chowda.

Yummers.

Like any good recipe, this one starts with bacon. However this is an optional step. If you leave the bacon out, the rest of the recipe is vegetarian. If you leave the bacon in, it is not.

That last sentence is my obvious statement of the day.

Throw a tablespoon of olive oil into a pan over medium heat.

Chop up 4 slices of bacon and throw them in a pot. I happened to use uncured bacon here, which is another story for another day.

Anyone out there have an opinion on or experience with cured vs. uncured bacon?

I don’t know a whole lot about it.

However, the man at the farmer’s market selling the bacon made me feel like a sinner for using cured bacon.

So, I caved and bought the uncured.

It was very very delicious, but you have to add in your own flavors (salt/pepper/liquid smoke).

I’m not sure it is worth the extra work.

Someone tell me what to do here.

For, I am lost.

Once the bacon is all browned and delicious, remove the bacon and put it on a paper towel to drain a bit.

Then, toss out some of that extra bacon fat.

Leave 2 tablespoons of the fat in the pan.

Chop up 4-5 potatoes (I used red potatoes- on the smaller side. If you are using larger baking potatoes, you will only need 1-2).

Throw ’em in your pot.

And stir ’em around.

Now we shall prepare a leek.

Do you ever cook with leeks?

I love them.

They add a lovely mild onion flavor to a dish without overwhelming it.

This is a leek:

It kind of looks like a giant green onion.

Chop off the white end.

Then chop off the thick woodier green part.

Now slice it in half lengthwise.

Then, chop it into little half moons.

Now, in between those delicious little half moons of oniony goodness, there may be some dirt.

Why?

Because these are plants, and they were grown in the dirt.

That’s why.

Fill up a bowl with cold water.

Throw in your leeks.

Let the dirt fall away.

In the meantime, cut the corn off of 5-6 ears of corn.

Or open two cans of corn.

And toss the corn in with the taters.

Drain your leeks.

And throw them into your pot.

Also toss in a teaspoon of dried thyme.

Put in a little salt and pepper.

And then some wine.

I used a drier Sauvignon Blanc, and I added about a cup.

The wine will help you to scrape all of those delicious bits of flavor off of the bottom of the pan.

It will also help you reduce the stress level in your life.

When consumed from a glass.

I recommend pouring yourself one if you are feeling a little stressed today.

I should also note that if you don’t groove on wine, you can leave this step out.

Use some vegetable stock to deglaze the bottom of your pan.

After the wine and vegetables have hung out for 4-5 minutes, add in some vegetable stock.

Enough to cover all of the vegetables… about 4 cups.

Throw in a bay leaf.

Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low.

Now, cream.

Oh, cream.

Yummy creamy cream.

So, I add in a splash of cream (about 1/4 c) for the rich flavor. Then, so that I can sleep at night, I add in about a cup and a half of low-fat milk.

To make a chowda properly, you should use all cream.

But I would like to state for the public record that cream has been known to cause husbands to swoon children to eat all of their food.

So, add the cream at your own risk.

Mmm, savory, creamy deliciousness.

Now, you could stop right there and put this in a bowl.

Life would be very good.

And your belly would be full

However, I do have a way to bring this soup up a notch.

You will like it, I promise.

What if you added jalapeno/cilantro cream to the top?

It is amazeballs. Can I say that word?

It is the only word that seems appropriate.

Here is what it looks like:

And here is how you make it (the jalapeno cream is a Wolfgang Puck recipe, by the way):

Combine all of the following ingredients in a small bowl:

-1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped

-1/4 cup sour cream

-1 jalapeno pepper, cored, seeded, and minced

-2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

-Salt, to taste

-Freshly ground pepper, to taste

-Lemon juice

*Note: This cream is at its best when the flavors have some time to meld together. I had a leftover bowl of soup for lunch the day after I made it for dinner, and the cream was about 100 times better than the night before. So, if you are a plan ahead type of person, I recommend making the cream at least a couple of hours before the soup will be ready. But if not, still make it! Please.

Top your soup with a dollop of the cream and some of those saved bacon crumbles.

Serve with a green salad.

Ooooo-eeeee.

I like the chowda.

Enjoy my friends,

LW

Last weekend, the main man and I indulged.

Big time.

Permit me to explain.

In March of this year, Brad and I traveled to NYC for our friend’s wedding. My man married our dear friends.

Did you know that the main man can marry and bury people?

In fact, he is marrying my brother and my future sister-in-law this weekend.

But that is a different story for a different day.

Well, our newlywed friends sent us a very generous thank you that funded a fancy pants night out at the best restaurant in our great city.

BOCA.

Be still my heart.

This place gives me a quiver and a palpitation and a bit of sweaty palms.

It is so good.

So, Friday we got all fancified and headed out.

Upon arrival, I ordered a dirty.

With blue cheese stuffed olives.

Oh, Boca.

You, my friend, are starting off of the right foot.

At Boca, you choose either 2 courses or 3 courses plus dessert for a prix fixe price.

I love meals like this.

It encourages appetizers and pasta dishes where an a la carte menu might convince you to stay away.

When it is all bundled together, it is like a super special adult happy meal.

But first, the bread.

That darn grilled bread.

Smoky, garlicky, and a little salty.

Holy moly.

I could have stuffed myself on that alone, but I was committed to pacing myself.

I’m disciplined like that.

From our seat, we could see the excitement that was happening in the kitchen.

I love an open kitchen.

Our first course came.

My husband has had the opportunity to interview Chef David Falk (Boca’s founder and head chef), and David said that Boca was the house that the brussel sprout built.

I know, I know.

Brussel sprouts. Yuck.

But not these.

They are caramelized and served with a day boat scallop with brown butter truffle vinaigrette.

They taste like a savory candy, and they remind me that I am a seriously amateur cook.

Brad started with the grilled bread topped with Goat Cheese and Onion Argo Dolce.

I don’t even know what that means.

I assume it means drool-on-your-chin-delicious.

‘Cause that it is what it was.

Sorry about the blurry pic. I was trying to be a little inconspicuous with my iPhone photos!

Next, came Brad’s pasta dish.

Spicy linguini.

Again.

The drool.

Oh hey there wine.

Nice to see ya.

You are delicious too.

Now, I only ordered two courses while Brad ordered three.

I wanted to make sure I had room to eat every delectable bite of food that I did order.

But because Boca is fabulous, they brought me a complimentary pasta dish so Brad didn’t have to eat alone.

I had one perfect sweet corn ravioli with brown butter and black summer truffle.

Have you ever had a meal that included truffle?

I have, and I’m hooked.

I must order any item that includes them.

And I may or may not have bought a small $12 bottle of white truffle oil at the grocery.

OH. MY. DOG.

Truffles are seriously worth the hype.

Earthy. Savory. Aromatic. Perfect Perfectness.

Whew.

Time for the main course.

I went for the filet.

With swiss chard, rosemary potatoes, king crab (like a big ole’ hunk of the good stuff), bearnaise and bourdelaise sauce.

There is a quite famous steak restaurant here in Cincinnati that is also higher-end and delicious.

This Boca filet blew the other steak out of the water.

Brad had the seared chicken with sausage, artichoke, and vermouth risotto.

If I could make chicken like this, I would eat it three meals a day.

And for dessert.

Dessert was sorbet for Brad:

And a trio of cheesecake, chocolate cake, and creme brulee for me:

I could have died happy after that meal.

Here are my conclusions after dining at Boca.

One, I wish I had the money to eat here everynight.

I don’t.

Two, I wish I had the money to eat here once a month.

I don’t.

Three, I shall start a Boca savings account now.

Four, I love to eat. And I love to cook.

It fills me up.

But man, when it comes to cooking, I really don’t know a whole heck of a lot. I left Boca with such a respect for David Falk, who has trained under master chefs around the world. He has studied, honed, and dare I say perfected his craft.

I love experiencing or seeing someone that is a true master at his or her craft.

It is inspiring.

So, while I know that I’m never going to achieve his types of food (well, at least not without formal training, apprenticeships with chefs around the world, and WAY more hours of practice), I do know that I will continue to work hard at getting better at the things I love.

Work hard.

Love what I work on.

Save pennies for next trip.

It must be sooner rather than later.

Have a great three day weekend.

If you can, take your special someone to somewhere special!

XO,

Leah

Last fall, the main man and I went to New York, New York.

You see, our dearly beloved friends were getting married.

Actually, the main man was the official officiant officially responsible for the marrying of these friends.

Lovely.

Everything about the weekend was delightful- except for the monsoon like weather.

Some of our dearest friends were there, the ceremony and reception was personal and perfect, but most importantly the food was UH-MAZE-ING.

Specifically, the burgers we had at the rehearsal dinner altered the state of my universe.

More specifically the buns for the burgers we had at the rehearsal dinner caused my heart to pitter-patter.

You know those buns had to be delicious for them to the best part of a burger. I honestly did not think that was possible.

These small baked wonders were so good that I had our server write down the name of the place from which they order these magical buns- called Portuguese Muffins- from.

Then, I rushed home to order 957 cases.

To my dismay, they do not sell to consumers- only restaurants and shops.

What in the heck?

What was I to do?

I don’t bake.

But I could not go on living without these in my life.

I now knew a new way of living, and that way of living was centered around Portuguese Muffins being forever present.

I couldn’t go back to my old way of life.

I just couldn’t.

I had to sacrifice.

Some things worth having in life require sacrifice.

Sorry for the deep thought there.

So, it was decided.

I must (deep sigh) bake.

With yeast.

Oh Lawdy.

I did NOT develop this recipe. I’m not anywhere near smart enough to do so. So, this recipe comes from allrecipes.com where some dear soul decided to share the deliciousness that is the Portuguese Muffin with the world.

Without further ado, I give you the Bolo Levedo or if you speak English like me- the Portuguese Muffin.

What you’ll need:

Some Free Time AND

1 (.25 ounce) envelope active dry yeast, 1/4 c. warm water

6 c. all-purpose flour, 1 c. white sugar, 3 eggs, 1/4 c. melted butter, cooled, 1/2 t. salt, 1 1/4 c. milk

Put the yeast and a pinch of sugar in a bowl.

Why does yeast make me nervous? Probably because half of the time I try to use it, it doesn’t work/react properly. I have a complex that yeast hates me.

Now, add in the warm water.

Now, pray that the yeast reacts. Set that aside for 10 minutes.

After your 10 minutes of waitin, lets use the mixer! Get a big bowl. Dump in thee eggs and  sugar.

Add in the salt and flour.

Top off with the milk with the yeast/water mixture.

Doesn’t that look delicious?

Just another reason to not like yeast. It even looks gross.

Mix to combine.

Now, pour in your cooled melted butter.

Ah, butter. Everything is right in the world.

Mix again to incorporate the butter.

Then, plop the ball o’ dough onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes.

10 minutes is a long time.

I now have giant forearms from kneading.

Now, we get to practice patience.

Put the ball of dough into a bowl and cover. Let it rise for 45 minutes. It SHOULD double in size if the yeast doesn’t hate you.

Uncover, and pull off equal sized chunks of dough and form them into flat round cakes about 1/2 inch thick.

Cover again. Let it rise again. Practice Patience again. For 1 1/2 hours.

Now to cook these bad boys.

You are supposed to slow cook these in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat in small batches. I highly recommend this method because the muffins stay moist, are  perfectly browned on both sides, and you can feel self righteous for your tedious muffin making accomplishment.

However, I did not plan this recipe out very well. I finished letting these guys rise on a weeknight, and it was nearing 11 pm. I could not foresee standing in front of the stove for another hour slowly cooking these little morsels.

So, I cheated.

I stuck ’em on a sheet pan, and I put another sheet pan on top (you know, to brown the top too), and I cooked them in the oven at 400 degrees for 18 minutes.

Here they are:

Not too shabby. They are a little lighter and fluffier when pan fried, so that is what I recommend.

Unless it is 11 pm and you have to get up at 6:30 am the next day.

Then, I recommend the oven.

NOW. You have the muffin.

Here comes the magic.

This muffin is a three meal muffin meaning it can be served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Or dessert.

So, four meal muffin really.

Some of my favorites…

A breakfast sandwich. Mmmm. I think breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.

A little cheese, eggs, sausage, a slice of tomato, and a splash of hot sauce on a toasted muffin.

Yes.

Or how about lunch? I think lunch is my favorite meal of the day.

A roast beef and havarti sandwich with some horseradish sauce, tomato and lettuce.

In a pinch, that could work for dinner too. Put a salad on side.

Or for dinner, put some chicken salad on top. Or a chicken breast. Or whatever you have in your fridge that day.

Deeee-lish.

Perhaps dessert is more your thing?

You know, I think dessert is my favorite meal.

Yes, it definitely is.

Here is the muffin topped with vanilla ice cream, a blackberry sauce, and fresh blackberries.

BING BONG BOLO LEVEDO.

Side note: I have no clue why that sauce looks so electric red colored, but oh well. My ice cream was melting, and I needed to eat. So, it was one lousy picture.

In summary, I love you Portuguese Muffin.

Thank you for coming into my life and changing it.

I am forever grateful.
Yours,
Leah

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