Monday, February 27, 2012


International Gulfood Show 2012
The Gulfood show provided me the opportunity to travel to Dubai. I was asked to be one of the speakers for the Food Leaders Summit. I couldn't believe I was in the line-up of speakers including Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi (UAE Minister of Foreign Trade), Sanjeev Chadha (president of PepsiCo Middle East & Africa), and many others. It was a great learning experience about entrepeneurs, different cultures' products, imports and exports, and more.
One of the presentations I really enjoyed was given by the president of PepsiCo in the Middle East & Africa. PepsiCo owns Lays potato chip company which I think I remember him saying is one of the largest snack food companies in the world. The slide from his presentation shows a popular potato chip in Thailand. Their nori seaweed flavored potato chip represents 30% of Lay's sales worldwide. I can't imagine the flavor of this chip. He also discussed the marketing behind the different country's flavored potato chips for example Russia's mushroom and cream potato chip. He explained of how some German's memories include foraging for mushrooms and taking them to make the traditional mushrooms and cream sauce. The Lay's company knows what it is doing when it comes to marketing. 

After the Gulfood show, my mom and I were able to explore Dubai.
From shopping at the Gold Souk for scarves, tuniks, shoes, and more to....
riding a wooden boat on the Dubai creek. This was a very relaxing experience and not an image I associated with Dubai. I thought of the big city and then the desert. How wrong was I.
The Dubai creek is home to many ships that import and export goods from the docks.
Everything from produce, dry goods, beverages, and more are imported into Dubai.
 Speaking of food, while in Dubai I was able to sample different cuisines including Turkish, Arabic, Indian, and Lebanese. One thing that defines each cuisine is their "bread." This picture is of bread from a Turkish restaurant. I love the Indian naan!
Hummus was very popular across the board in all the cuisines. At my mom and my hotel, hummus was offered for breakfast. Something else that was very popular was fruit juices and I loved it! Instead of the typical orange juice for breakfast, our hotel offered fresh pineapple juice along with orange and apple juice. The juices also extended beyond breakfast. On about every menu, I could choose from watermelon, strawberry, pineapple, pomegranate, lemonade, and more.  Since alcohol is not allowed, restaurants offer mocktails. I remember a really good mocktail I had consisting of grapefruit juice, lime, strawberry, and grenadine. I can taste the sweet, tangy, and sour flavors jumping off my taste buds just thinking about it. Click on the link to view one of my videos from my trip.
Dubai was such an exciting experience and I have so much more to share including videos from my trip. Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Taste of New Orleans

After watching John Michael, my nephew, getting recognized as a Duke in his Day Care's Mardi Gras Ball, my sister, mom, and I ventured to a new place for lunch in New Orleans.

                                                    BBQ Shrimp (view my recipe below)
I looked up Freret Street because my mom remembered seeing a story about it having good restaurants.  High Hat restaurant, described as a mix of Mississippi Delta and New Orleans cuisine, received a lot of good reviews so we made a decision to go there. We started off with one of the dishes recommended, the bbq shrimp. The rich sauce was flavorful and the shrimp cooked perfectly. The best part is dipping the toasted bread into the sauce to "sop it up." We also tried their tamales (very popular in the delta) for appetizer. I am usually not a tamale fan but they were good.
Southern Burger with pimiento cheese (my recipe below)
Like the old sports song that was played at many of my dad's basketball games sang, this is the Main Event! Their pimiento cheese and burger is raved about in many online reviews. We knew that we had to try it. The burger was cooked just how I ordered, medium well (slight pink center).  The ooey gooey pimiento cheese was perfectly melted on top of the patty and sandwiched between a buttery toasted bun. The fries that accompanied it were good too.

My mom, sister, and I also shared the vegetable plate of braised greens, sweet potato salad, okra and tomatoes, and cornbread.  The sweet potato salad was the first I have ever tried. All the vegetables were seasoned well.
On our way back to my sister's house, we saw the sign for Haydel's bakery. My sister mentioned one of her friends gets her king cakes there. The line out the door intrigued us to stop and go in. We didn't want to pay $13 for a medium king cake if we didn't know how it tasted so we ordered some desserts from the case. I went straight for the chocolate eclair and cannoli. My sister chose the mini red velvet cake and heath bar cookie. We grabbed a chocolate milk to share and we were on our way. When I was little my mom would take my sisters and I to get donut holes and chocolate milk as a treat. It is a memory I treasure.
When we got home I sampled the treats.
 The chocolate eclair was my favorite! I didn't care too much for the cajun cream cheese filling in the cannoli. It was too heavy. I also sampled the slice of king cake that we were given before we left. It was soft and had a slight cinnamon flavor. I imagine it would be really good with a filling.
Today was a fun day with my mom and sister. I cherish the times we get to spend together.

BBQ Shrimp
BBQ shrimp are commonly served in New Orleans restaurants with their heads and tails still on. I have made the eating easier and more “dignified” by using peeled shrimp. However, you may still catch me sopping up the sauce with French bread (in the most elegant way, of course!)

8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter      
¾ cup chicken broth                    
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce   
1 Tablespoon soy sauce                                
1 ½ Tablespoons fresh lemon juice                   
1 garlic clove, minced
3/8 teaspoon onion powder      
¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper            
1/8 teaspoon paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 pound large shrimp, peeled & deveined
Combine all the ingredients except the shrimp in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until the mixture has reduced and thickened slightly, 4 to 6 minutes
Add the shrimp and cook until just barely opaque throughout, about 3 minutes. Serve hot.
Serves 4

“Spicy” Pimiento Cheese                                Plain Pimiento Cheese
¼ cup cream cheese, softened                                   4 oz. ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese                         ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese                               ¾ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3 Tbsp. mayonnaise                                                     2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. chopped pimientos                                        1 Tbsp. chopped pimientos
1/8 tsp. salt                                                                    pinch salt
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper                                     1/8 tsp. cracked black pepper
Pinch cayenne                                                                      

Depending on which cheese you are making, first process the cream or ricotta cheese until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients until combined.

Makes about 1 ½ cups

Friday, February 3, 2012

Eating my way through NYC

                                                                   The Lobster Place
My mom and I ventured to Chelsea Market on 9th Avenue. Chelsea Market is full of all kinds of eateries and markets. The smell of fish and seafood hits you as you walk into The Lobster Place.
Get over the smell and make your way to the back of the seafood market to place your order. My mom ordered the slider sampler which included a lobster roll, tarragon shrimp slider, and crab club slider. The crab club slider was my favorite! The combination of fresh crab salad, bacon, and avocado was mouth-watering.
Also available was a soup station featuring five or more soups. I took a cue from the crowd gathering around the clam chowder. I ladled the creamy potato and clam filled chowder into a paper soup cup. It was everything I hoped it would be. This popular New England chowder found in the north is not easily available in the South so it makes it even more of a treat.
The Filling Station offers metal containers of olive oils and vinegars for sampling and purchasing as well as numerous flavored salts. The espresso salt tasted like espresso and then my taste buds were hit with a punch of salt. There were also vanilla, bacon, and smoked salt.
                                      My mom sampling the balsamic vinegars and olive oils
My favorite olive oil was the chipotle olive oil. There were smoky notes and a lingering heat. My mom liked the fig and pear balsamic. You could say it was finger-licking good ha ha!

Chelsea Market is definitely a food emporium offering anything and everything your taste buds desire. Stay tuned for more great NYC food finds!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Super Superbowl Food!

Mac N' Cheese is the quintessential comfort and indulgent food. My cauliflower mac n'cheese gives you the comfort without feeling like you are indulging. This makes a perfect side dish to hamburgers, bbq chicken or pork, or own its own.
Cauliflower Mac N'Cheese
8 cups cauliflower florets (1 head of cauliflower)
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups skim milk
½ cup heavy cream
3/8 tsp. table salt
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (4 oz.)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Toss the cauliflower florets in the olive oil on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with the kosher salt and ¼ tsp. of the pepper. Roast until fork-tender and lightly browned in spots, 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven but leave the oven on and reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk. Simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently, until thickened, 2 to 4 minutes. Whisk in the heavy cream and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and stir in all but 2 Tbsp. of the cheese, the table salt, and the remaining ¼ tsp. pepper.  Stir until the cheese melts, then cook, stirring often, until thickened, 8 to 10 minutes.

Place the roasted cauliflower florets in an 8x8 inch glass baking dish or four 10 oz. ramekins. Pour the cheese sauce over cauliflower.  Sprinkle the top with the remaining 2 Tbsp. cheese.

Bake until the cheese is bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm.
Serves: 4 ppl
*Recipe courtesy of Modern Hospitality
                                                              Sweet and Spicy Coleslaw
The tangy sweet and heat vinaigrette in this coleslaw will have your tastebuds jumping. This would be a great topping for fish tacos or pulled pork bbq.
Sweet & Spicy Coleslaw
½ head purple cabbage, stalk removed, halved, sliced thinly
¼ red onion, sliced thinly
Sweet Jalapeno & Pecan Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup pecan halves, toasted
¼ cup sugar
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh jalapeno pepper
3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
¾ tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp. celery seed
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

To prepare the cabbage: Combine the cabbage and onion in a large bowl.

Combine the pecan halves, sugar, pepper, the vinegars, lemon juice, celery seed, salt, and pepper in a blender. Blend to combine. Remove the cap from the center of the blender’s lid. With the blender on low, drizzle in the olive oil until combined.

Toss the cabbage mixture with the vinaigrette. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Serve.
*Recipe courtesy of Modern Hospitality

If you live or in NYC, come by Bloomingdales on 59th Friday, Feb. 3 from 2-5:00 p.m. to watch me demo the above recipes and sample the dishes. Also get your copy of Modern Hospitality signed.
                                                            Fingerling Potato Skins
Stuffed in these bite size potato skins is my spicy and cheesy pimento cheese. Your friends will be impressed by the presentation.
Fingerling Potato Skins
18 (about 1 lb.) fingerling potatoes
1 Tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp. kosher salt
Spicy Pimento Cheese recipe (see below)

Preheat oven at 400 degrees.
Place fingerling potatoes onto a baking sheet. Toss potatoes in olive oil and salt. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Slice the potatoes lengthwise. Scoop out the pulp. *Tip: use a metal ¼ tsp. measuring spoon. Reserve pulp for another dish.

Place the potatoes skin side up on the baking sheet. Bake for 6-10 minutes. (depending on size of potatoes)
Turn potato skins over. Spoon ½ heaping tsp. spicy pimento cheese into potato skins. Bake for 2 minutes or until cheese melts.
Spicy Pimento Cheese
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded
½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. pimentos
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients until combined.
                                                        No Name Bars "Too Good For Words"
I put a twist on my no name bar recipe by incorporating different ingredients. By adding cocoa powder, I have turned the no name bars into a fudgy brownie. One of my favorite bar cookies is a magic cookie bar or some call it a hello dolly. The main ingredients are coconut and chocolate. I added in coconut into the no name batter then swirled chocolate ganache. You will definitely want to try my no name bars and any of these variations.
No Name Bars
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13x9 inch baking dish.
To make crust: Mix the melted butter and sugar together in a medium bowl.  In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until combined.  Stir in the vanilla. Spread the mixture into bottom of the baking dish. Bake for 5 minutes.
To make the filling: Beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the eggs and mix until combined. Stir in the melted butter and vanilla. Stir in the confectioner’s sugar and mix well. Spread the mixture on top of the crust.
Bake until set, about 38 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before cutting into squares.
Chocolate No Name Bars: add 3 Tbsp. cocoa powder to the crust and 1/4 cup cocoa powder to the topping
Coconut Pecan No Name Bars:
½ cup sweetened shredded coconut
¼ cup pecan pieces
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 Tbsp. heavy cream
Stir in the coconut and pecan pieces into the topping. Spread the topping mixture on top of the crust.
In a small saucepan, stir the chocolate chips and heavy cream until smooth. Pour into a small bowl and chill until thickened.
Spoon two lines lengthwise a few inches apart from each other in the pan. Using a knife, swirl the ganache into the coconut batter.