Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Culinariane, Montclair!

For the past few months I've been dying to try Culinariane in Montclair. Finally, I made the reservation far enough in advance that we were able to go this past Saturday night. Let me preface this by saying - We're critical. My boyfriend and I love food, love eating out and we've been to some great restaurants. We have high standards. This exceeded them!

Culinariane is truly a treat. It's not inexpensive, no liquor license and it's not on the "main drag" in Montclair. And somehow it is still packed. A true testament to how delicious the food is.

We started off with two appetizers -

  • Crab, Papaya, Potato Napoleon, Pickled HabaƱero, Cilantro Cream
  • Cornmeal Crusted Oysters, Horseradish Cream, Micro Greens

Both were great! I'm not a huge fan of oysters, but these were phenomenal. The cornmeal crust was great. The crab dish was not what I expected. I envisioned a "stack" but this was more like refined nachos. So good!

For dinner, we went with:

  • Pan Seared Sea Scallops, Forest Mushroom Ragout, White Truffle Oil, Mushroom Syrup
  • Australian Lamb Top Sirloin, Pea Puree, White Asparagus, Parmesan Fondue, Mint Pistou

I couldn't try the lamb because I gave up meat for lent, but my boyfriend loved it. The plate was cleaned. I tried the pea puree, asparagus and mint pistou - all great.

The sea scallops were fabulous. We both had never eaten scallops with a truffle sauce ... usually have had them cooked much lighter. They were great! And so were the mushrooms.

For a dessert we shared - Lemon Meringue Martini, Vanilla Wafer Crust, Cherry Surprise. It was the perfect refresher after a heavy dinner.

All in all, this place was an A+ and I would go back in a heartbeat. The service and decor was just as great as the food. This is a special place - perfect for an anniversary or birthday! You won't be disappointed.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Chiptole Chicken

Every day I receive emails from different websites to recipes. Most of the time they're nothing special, but once in a while I find something that looks great and I save it for future use. Yesterday I was home in Wayne and we were trying to decide what to make for dinner, when I remembered this recipe for chipotle chicken and sweet potatoes - SOLD! So we went food shopping, stocked up on the ingredients and were ready to cook dinner. First thing we did after preheating the oven was cut up all the sweet potatoes into the one inch cubes like the recipe calls for and arranged them along the bottom of a pyrex dish.

Then we made the marinade for the chicken. All the ingredients seemed a bit odd to me at first glance but as I started adding them in and smelling it, I knew it was going to be good. I then coated all the chicken breasts in the sauce and covered them on a plate to soak while the potatoes were cooking a bit. After I let the potatoes cook in the oven for about 20 minutes, I took it out and placed the chicken (that was in the marinade this whole time) right on top of the potatoes.

Put it back in the oven at 350 degrees for another 20 minutes and dinner was ready. Pretty simple dinner that was one of the most delicious meals ever. The final product is below but I didn't get a picture of my place because it was too good not to start eating right away! When I make this again, I think I'll cook the potatoes and the chicken separately, because I like my potatoes nice and crispy, and although these were amazing, not crispy enough for my liking.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My first pasta masterpiece!

Yes, you read correctly - MASTERPIECE. Let me explain. I've made pasta before. And I've made some great pasta dishes before. But nothing like this. This was perfection. My boyfriend had NO complaints, no suggestions... He even went for seconds!

I'm not one for measurements, so you'll never see that in any of the recipes I blog about, only desserts. Cooking isn't a science. It's an art. And it's supposed to be fun, not stressful!

To start, I cooked about 5 garlic cloves and 1/2 yellow onion in EVOO on low-medium heat for about 5 minutes. Then I threw in a can of diced tomatoes (un-salted, always) and one can of whole/peeled tomatoes that I previously blended to make it "saucier." I let that cook on medium heat for about 30-45 minutes, enough for the tomato sauce to cook down. If not, canned tomatoes will taste slightly bitter.

Then I added a handful of spinach, 1 cubed yellow squash, 1 cubed zucchini, and one can of cannellini beans. Turned the heat down to about a 4 (Yes, I unfortunately have an electric stove) and let it cook for about 20 minutes.

When it was finished, I turned the heat off and tossed in 1 lb. of whole wheat pasta and mixed it together. Sprinkle with some cheese and you have yourself a delicious dinner! And healthy!

Also, I'm a big fan of Bethenny Frankel's "Use what you have" motto. If you didn't have one of these vegetables, use a different one. I found some spinach and randomly threw that in. That wasn't in my original idea. Just go for it and be creative!

Where to Start?

Well I guess the answer to this would be PIZZA! My favorite pizza I ever made was the first time I tried making it on the BBQ last summer. Simple, whole wheat crust (99 cents from Trader Joe's) with marinara sauce and fresh mozzarella. One thing I did differently that really gave it a nice kick was when I oiled up the dough before I put it on the grill, I added in some red pepper flakes and oregano. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love my food super-spicy. I also put the flakes on the sauce before I added the cheese. When using fresh mozzarella to make your own pizza, always make sure to pat it dry. They naturally have a lot of water, and it tends to soak out when its cooking and then you end up with watery pizza. And VOILA! This was one of my first pizza's and was definitely the best. Shape wasn't perfect, but oh well. Served with a little side salad and a glass of wine on a summer night and it was perfect!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Now I have 1.5 blogs!

So, my first blog was about Reality TV. My second is about food. My two favorite hobbies! Looking forward to sharing this with Brigitte and posting our culinary adventures!

First Post

Since Jen and I love exchanging recipes for fun, exciting, and healthy dinners as well as giving each other great restaurant recommendations - we decided to share it with all of you. We'll each be blogging about dinners that we make, recipes we find and want to attempt, and amazing meals we have "from both sides of the Hudson." Jen being in New Jersey and me being in New York, we can cover both sides!