Thursday, July 7, 2011

Helping others Help others

So on Sunday and last night I had the privilege of volunteering with a some other people to feed a group of kids who were working with a ministry to rebuild houses in need.  I didn't get to cook anything fancy or gourmet, but it was just a nice thing to do for these kids. 

The ministry is the blueprint ministries here in San Antonio.  They bring groups of kids from churches across the country to do some work on houses here in San Antonio.  This week, my Sunday school class volunteered to feed the kids dinner. 

The dinner selection was already predetermined and full instructions were given.  Again, nothing fancy, but it just felt good to help out.  Good thing was we got to enjoy the food also after we prepared it.  Following we cleaned the dishes and the kitchen and headed out. 

It was an easy way to help others who were helping others.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cooking Light Magazine

So in our household we have a favorite resource for recipes, Cooking Light Magazine.  We are subscribers and eagerly await our monthly delivery of the magazine.  I typically go directly to the recipe index and look for what I think sounds good or interesting.  My wife, she reads it cover to cover, reading all the articles and going in order on the recipes.  We have found quite a few good things over the years that we always return to.  I will share some of these in future blogs, but they are a basic marinara that makes a large amount that we divide up and use for various recipes.  A baked Ziti (uses the marinara), a Gnocchi Casserole(can't believe it isn't a thousand calories) are a couple of our other go to items.

We got hooked on the magazine 5 or so years ago.  My mother-in-law got us a subscription, of course she forgot to tell us she got us this subscription.  We thought it was one of those free samples to get us to subscribe.  Well we thought the magazine was great so we subscribed.  We got a bit confused when next month we received two copies of the magazine.  After a couple of months of this we finally found out that our second subscription was from our mother-in-law. 

I highly recommend this magazine.  Good tasting recipes, for the most part healthier and a ton of new recipes each month.  Each year they also come out with a yearly almanac of sorts that has all the recipes for the year.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mother's Day Weekend

Sorry a week late on this, but wanted to blog about mother's day weekend in the Gati house. My wife, Tracy, asked for 3 things for mother's day from me.  1. A nice dinner on Saturday night that I cooked. 2. A Sunday Brunch. 3. For me to not use my phone at all on mother's day.  So i was able to do 2 out of the 3.  Sorry but I am addicted to my phone(Words with Friends, Whirly Word, Scores).

For Saturday night I dug around and found a couple of recipes to cook for her.  I tend to look for a chicken dish, especially some sort of stuffed, rolled chicken breast.  For Saturday i used a Rachel Ray recipe, Florentine Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Breast.    I also used a recipe I found on as a side:  Linguine with Marinated Tomato and Basil .     I think it turned out well and my wife seemed extremely happy.  The chicken was stuffed with spinach and ricotta cheese, with prosciutto wrapped around it.  Turned out well.  Came from Rachel Ray's 30 minute meals show, that for some reason takes me much longer than 30 minutes.  I have cooked quite a few items from there and can't get it down to 30 minutes.  Generally though I have enjoyed the recipes i have taken from her show.  The pasta was nice, not loaded with sauce.  A nice complement to the heavier chicken portion. 

On Sunday we went to a local restaurant called Silo.  We had a nice 3 course meal there.  I had a traditional Caesar salad, Eggs Benedict: Which had sauteed spinach and lump crab meat on it also, served with home fries.  Final course was of course the best, a Chocolate Mousse in a edible chocolate cup.  A very good mousse.  Only disappointing note of the night was the children's serving.  They obviously don't cater to children(event though they had special servings for them).  Fries were way over down. 

Next post should be on some of my favorite sources for recipes.  Especially cooking light magazine. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

5 Courses would have been enough

So a week ago, i had quite a detailed post on my experience at Biga on the Banks, sadly I deleted it. So here is my recreation of that post, now that I am somewhat over the frustration of losing that post.

So my wife and I and another couple decided to go to Biga on the Banks and sit at the chef's table and have an 8 course meal with wine pairing.  Biga on the Banks is one of the best restaurants here in San Antonio and its chef/owner is a 6 time nominee for the James Beard Best in the Southwest Chef.  We got a hotel room downtown on the riverwalk and were ready to indulge ourselves. 

Overall the meal was great, the wine was plentiful and we were very satisfied if not overly satisfied.  Only really disappointing item was the actual chef's table.  Was hoping it would be like the one at Commander's Palace where you can really see the action. Instead we were just in a seclude alcove. Also would have enjoyed getting to meet the chef or at least thank him.  But this was minor, was really there to enjoy the food.

Here is our menu, unfortunately I can remember the wines that were paired, though for the most part they were very good pairings.

Amuse Bouche: Seared Tuna over a Lobster Salad
1st: Red Snapper over an Italian style tomatoes and olives
2nd: Seared Scallops over cheese grits topped with habanero rum pineapples
3rd: Chicken Fried Oysters over a bed of squid ink linguine with panceta mixed in.
4th: Foie Gras over french toast with a berry compote on the side.
5th: Cauliflower Soup with Caprese Salad on side
6th: Venison and Quail with Mashed Potatoes and a juniper Jus
7th: Lamb over grits with a mushroom jus
8th: Dessert trio: Sherbet, grasshopper Pie, and Lemon Meringue Pie

The highlight was no doubt the Scallops over Grits.  One of my favorite seafood meals of all time was a blackened scallops over grits that I got at a restaurant in Seaside Florida.  This one may have topped it.  Scallop was perfectly cooked.  The sweetness of the pineapple and the grits lessened the heat of the habanero and at the same time the rum lightened the sweetness of the pineapple.  The combination was perfect.

The Venison and Quail was also great.  The Juniper Jus made the dish.

Sad to say, but as I said i am an amateur foodie, but I haven't ever had foie gras before this meal.  This dish was very good.  Small portion of foie gras and french toast, but it was very buttery and smooth.

Least favorite was the the chicken fried oysters with the squid ink linguine.  Very bland, didn't taste the pancetta at all in the pasta, just not a lot of taste to it. 

I enjoyed all 8 courses and most of the 8 glasses of wine(i guess actually 9 with the amuse).  Unfortunately by course 6 my wife was done.  Too much food and too much wine.  As she told me after "5 courses would have been enough".  I disagreed 8 was perfect for me.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

So I am still learning this blogging thing

Well i just got done writing a nice review of a 8 course meal I had on Friday, but accidentally erased the post and lost it.  So I will try and follow up on that in the future.

Of note on Saturday I made homemade pasta.  For my birthday my wife gave me the attachments to the kitchen aide mixer to make your own pasta.  Comes with a few easy recipes to make for some basic pasta.

I have now made both the basic egg noodle and the light wheat noodle.  Both were super easy and turned out great.

Some things I did learn.  Be careful of going to thin on the pasta.  On my first batch I went to the smallest setting on the pasta roller, figuring I really like an angel hair type pasta.  Made it put it in the pot and because it was so thin it overcooked in about a minute.  It became gluey and basically a liquid.  For the remainder of the batch I went to a thicker setting(4 or 5 if you do have this) and it turned out great.

On the light wheat pasta, I got most of it made, but in the end the last bit started to dry out just too much and I couldn't get it to work.  Was a small amount, so what I made still turned out great. 

Of course it is still easier to go to the store and buy noodles, but this is much more fun and makes it feel like you accomplished something.  My wife makes her own large batch of marinara, so it was nice to have a meal of spaghetti that was not store bought sauce and store bought noodles.  All I had to do was heat of the marinara, brown some ground turkey and make the noodles. 

Anyway, hopefully I will get back to writing the review of the night out at Biga on the Banks.  Also made a phyllo wrapped stuffed chicken from a Greek cookbook I have.  Tastes great and I tend to get good reviews, so look for that info coming soon.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Beginning

I suppose the title can be taken in one of two ways.  It is the beginning of my blog and this post will relay my personal story of a beginner foodie.  I suppose one would have to understand what a foodie is, though there are many different ideas of what it could mean.  One definition would be: A person who has an ardent or refined interest in food; a gourmet(Boston Globe).

I consider myself an amateur foodie.  I think my interest in food is ardent, but not sure how refined it is yet.  But I am working on it.  I enjoy trying new restaurants, trying new recipes and learning whatever I can about food.  My hope for my blog is to find others like me and share thoughts on restaurants, various recipes and even discussions on my other addiction reality TV shows(focusing on the food related ones: yes my favorite show is the Top Chef series).

In the beginning I was raised in your good all-American household.  We ate dinners at the dinner table together, we ate your staples of Macaroni and Cheese, spaghetti, etc.  My Mom was a great cook and I loved everything we ate.  Not too sure how adventurous we were as eaters, but what we ate was good.  We went out to eat but typically to your chain type restaurants.  I enjoyed them(and i still do, sorry foodies).  I went off to college, made some spaghetti here or there, lived on the basics like the majority of college students.  Towards the end of my college years I began to experiment more and more with recipes.  Trying things that sounded good.  I think my first dish that I made a staple of my cooking was stuffed Manicotti.   It is probably the dish that won over my future wife.

As I married and settled down I found someone who also enjoyed trying new recipes, trying new restaurants or sitting in front of the TV with me and watching some cooking show.  But to be honest until we moved to San Antonio I don't think we really took that big leap to being on the road to foodie status(future topic).

I tend to enjoy cooking new recipes rather than old ones.  I suppose I get bored by the ones I have already made. So i do try to be a little adventurous.  Recently I made a phylo shell with prosciutto, Parmesan cheese and cantaloupe caviar.  Yes I used some molecular gastronomy and made cantaloupe juice into a caviar.  Hopefully in a future post I will have pictures and talk about how that went.

So before I ramble on too much I want to thank you for taking time to read this blog and I hope you can relate and enjoy.

Be on the lookout for the next post.  My wife and I and another couple are going to Biga on the Banks here in San Antonio for an 8 course tasting menu while sitting at the chef's table.  Hopefully I can remember what we ate as the courses will be paired with a glass of wine.  Owner and Chef Bruce Auden is nominated for James Beard Southwest Chef.  James Beard nomination is about as big as you can get in American chefdom.