Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Oakwood Cafe

Oakwood Café

300 E Edenton St
Raleigh, NC 27601
(919) 828-5994

F. & I were in luck this Friday. We got to eat at the Oakwood Café. I’ve longed to eat there – I wanted to go for their lunch menu (cheaper) and I work in Durham. Therefore, I hadn’t had the opportunity to go for lunch. Unfortunately, the Oakwood Café is only open for lunch on workdays. So, Friday I was off of work for Spring Break, and F. always gets off early… so we went!

We started off with an appetizer of a single beef empanada. I cannot rave enough about this empanada – crispy fried oil bubbles delicately adorning the hand sized empanada, filled generously with perfectly spiced beef. We couldn’t eat it fast enough.

F. then ordered the Beef Milanesa, a large but thin breaded and fried piece of steak. He had it with Fries (the frozen type, nothing remarkable) and a salad (with a thick & tasty homemade ranch dressing).

I had the Churrasco Steak. It was about a 1.5” thick ribeye type cut, beautifully tender with a tangy chimi-churri sauce on the side. With it I had fried yucca and plantains – both were delightful.

Overall, I give Oakwood Café a B+ Go and give it a try yourself!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pineapple Pavlova

In April's Gourmet this month, they feature a Berry Pavlova (meringue with lemon curd topped with ... you guessed it: berries!). My F. doesn't care overly for berries though, so I made ours with pineapple. Though not as photogenic, this Pineapple Pavlova was really divine.

First comes making the meringue:

3 egg whites
pinch of salt
3 tb. cold water
1 Cup superfine granulated sugar
1 TB cornstarch
1 ts rice wine vinegar

Let the egg whites come to room temperature for a half hour and mix cornstarch and sugar together. Then, add the egg whites to your mixer on medium with a pinch of salt to arrive at soft peaks (about 6 minutes). Add water, and re-arrive at soft peaks (another 3 min. or so).

On medium high speed, gradually add tablespoon by tablespoon of the sugar mixture to the egg whites. Let the mixture go for another minute after incorporating all the sugar mixture. Add the vinegar and continue to mix for another 5 min. or until glossy with stiff peaks.

Spread the mixture onto parchment paper and stick in a 300 degree F oven for 45 min. When the time's up, open the oven door and let the meringue cool undisturbed for an hour.

Meanwhile... make the lemon curd!

1 C sugar
6 TB room temp. butter
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 C fresh lemon juice

Cream sugar and butter together over medium speed in your mixer. Then, add the eggs until incorporated. Finally add the lemon juice. (The mixture may look lumpy)

Put the mixture in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Stir constantly over medium low heat. The butter may separate out a little before it's all warmed. No worries, keep stirring over medium low heat until the mixture reaches 170 degree F. This will take 25 minutes or so, so get comfortable. Once it reaches 170, you're good to go with delicious lemon curd.

Then it's easy as pie to assemble. Remove the meringue onto a dish, spoon lemon curd in the center crater of the meringue and then top with pineapples.

The Pavlova is really fabulous. There's a layer of the meringue that's crisp and brittle, and then the center is luxuriously marshmallow-y. Enjoy!

Potatoes Gribiche

Recently, one of the blogs, The Wednesday Chef , featured a recipe that is also on another blog I read, Chocolate and Zucchini. And since this latest reference to this recipe, I've found myself desiring it: Potatoes Gribiche. Potatoes tossed in a sultry smokey paprika vinaigrette spiked with pickles and salty. The thoughts whirled until I had to make it. At 1am, bien sur.

While the original recipe is much larger - I was only cooking for myself at past midnight. Also, I lacked the shallot & capers the original recipe call for. However, I fancy my recipe was quite tasty in it's own right.

Warm Potato Salad

1. Roast - 2 hand size Yukon gold potatoes cubed & tossed in olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper at 425 F for a half an hour.

2. Mix - 1 chopped hard boiled egg, three minced baby dill pickles, 8 manzanilla olives, 1 ts. sherry vinegar, 1/2 ts. Dijon mustard, 1/2 ts. dried onion, 1/4 ts. granulated garlic & 1/4 ts. smoked Spanish paprika

3. Toss them together & Enjoy!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Chicken Wings: Three Ways

Every so often, F. and I like to fry. We'll do fresh fries every other week or so. For the final four though, we did a wing night. I put together a variety of sauces and F. trimmed all the wings.

The best way to cut the wings is to:

-Separate the drumette from the wing portion by cutting down to the bone, paralel to the drumette, and then twist the bones out from each other.

-Cut away the wing tip and discard those bits (the only purpose I can see for them would be to save them to make stock with).

The sauces we used:
L to R: North Carolina's Bone Suckin' BBQ sauce, Asian, then the classic Buffalo

First, we fried the wings in some paprika & garlic seasoned flour

We had to fry the wings in three batches, which worked out well with our three sauces. After frying and draining them on a paper bag, we then just tossed them in the bowl with the sauces until they were covered.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Spring Herb Garden

So today I planted my spring herb garden. Last year I was in an apartment with no outdoor access, unless and open window counts. This year, F. has a screened in porch, where I have planted a few herb plants: rosemary in the large pot and basil in the smaller pot, then cilantro, thyme, & parsley in the windowbox planter.

Here is hoping these herbs do better than my herbs last year. I grew my herbs from seed last year, so they didn't even become as hardy as these herbs here. The ones this year I picked up at Whole Foods ready to be planted into larger containers.