Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pesto Chicken Pizza

Ever have one of those nights where you just don't know what you want to have for dinner? That's how I was feeling last night. I threw around the idea of making hamburgers, then I just wanted a salad. When I got home from work, I opened up the fridge and freezer simultaneously and started looking around for some inspiration. I've had a half a ball of whole wheat pizza dough in my freezer for a few weeks and decided it was time to finish it up. So that came out first. I wasn't really in the mood for red sauce, and that's when I found a jar of Whole Foods pesto in the fridge door. Okay, now we're getting somewhere. Took out a piece of chicken and saw I had shredded mozzarella cheese. There we had it. Four ingredients for a simply delicious dinner!

I preheated the oven to 550 while cutting up the chicken. I let the chicken cook on medium heat on the stove while I rolled out the pizza dough (still not very good at this - but maybe the pizza making class I'm schedule for, will help!). I spread some of the pesto onto the pizza as a base and also put some in the pan once the chicken was cooked to marinate it a little. I spread the chicken over the pizza, sprinkled on the cheese, and of course added some red pepper flakes! Baked in the oven for about 12 minutes and then moved to the top rack under the broiler for another 3 or 4. TADA! Totally random, but fast and delicious week night meal :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cafe Matisse - Rutherford, NJ

We've had a gift certificate for Cafe Matisse since Christmas and finally had the opportunity to use it this weekend! What a treat! I HIGHLY recommend dining at Cafe Matisse, but I do think it's best fit for a special occasion.

I had been told that the eating outside in the garden was a 'must' during the summer, so I made sure to secure an outdoor reservation. Reservations book up very quickly... I called 7 days ahead and could only get a table at 9pm. Plan ahead!

Before we were seated, the staff encouraged us to check out their wine shop in the front of the restaurant. Although it's a BYOB, you can buy wine right when you walk in. We had brought our own, but we were still invited to a quick tasting before dinner.

We were seated at the most perfect corner table in the garden and felt like we were in another world. We both couldn't believe that we were nestled in Rutherford, NJ. There were adorable lights, fountains and chachki's all around us and it couldn't have been a more perfect night - the weather was superb.

The menu at Cafe Matisse is meant to be a pre-fix menu, so if you're looking for a light dinner, this is not the place to go. You have the option of a 3 course menu (2 entrees, 1 dessert) or 4 course (3 entrees, 1 dessert) and we opted for the 3 course option. As much as I loved the pre-fix menu, I think this is the one small drawback for Matisse customers. It's a dinner investment if you go there. You have to be willing to eat and spend. It's not a fit for light eaters and not a good fit if you don't want to spend $66 a person.

With that being said, our dinner was phenomenal. It was the most inventive menu I've ever had the pleasure of dining from. Our menu consisted of:

  1. Tart of Chestnut Goat Cheese, Thinly Sliced Duck, Date Raisin Candied Shallots with Wedge of Grilled Balsamic Glazed Radicchio, Dollop of Pear Jam, Drizzled with Rosemary Pumpkin Seed Pesto
  2. Pan Seared Veal Medallion with Julienne of Shiitake and Morel Mushrooms Tossed with Egg Noodles, Asparagus Tips, Drizzled with Morel Mushroom Demi Crème, Spring Pea Mint Jus, Topped with Dollop of Spring Pea Jam and Curried Walnuts
  3. Cubed Sushi Tuna Over Caramelized Onion and White Bean Hummus with Brunoise of Lemon Scented Peppered Zucchini Topped with Crostini and Olive Tapenade Drizzled with Harrisa Foam and Sesame Chili Oil
  4. Pan Seared Scallop, Lobster Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes, Peppered Beef Short Ribs, Morel Mushroom Crème Jus, Minted Pea Syrup, Cashew Vanilla Jus Topped with Ginger Pea Jam, Fingerling Chips and Curried Cashew

The dishes might have been slightly different, as the menu is constantly changing. For dessert we had:

  1. Grand Marnier Brulee, Vanilla Orange Tart with Vanilla Orange Anglaise and Orange Marmalade Drizzled with Chocolate Caramel
  2. Coconut Macaroon Cake with Raspberry Ginger Jam, Coconut White Chocolate Mousse and Toasted Coconut Topped with Fresh Raspberries, Julienned Candied Ginger and Drizzled with Raspberry Caramel and Coconut Vanilla Jus
Everything was delicious! My personal favorite was the sushi tuna dish... I've never had sushia grade tuna with hummus and it was perfection.

Besides the amazing food, the service was also an A+. Our waiter, Steven, couldn't have been any more personable and helpful. It was a pleasure to spend the evening with him.

All in all, DEFINITELY go to Cafe Matisse. If you're looking for a special dinner in Northern NJ, this is 100% the place.