Thursday, May 31, 2012

BBF Travels: To The Bidde

The other day I traveled to the "Saco Zoo" (Did you hear that Saco is getting a zoo? Yeah, they're putting a fence around Biddeford) to teach a class on pickling through the Adult Ed. And just like last time, I took the chance to stop and get some out of town treats.

Pizza by Alex - where I got pepperoni and onion. This time I knew not to ask for a "small," since it only comes in one size. Aw, yeah. 

Run of the Mill Brewery, where I filled up my fancy growler with their Summer Wheat Ale. I've yet to break into it, but the weekend is coming. The bar is always bumping in there; I'd love to be able to stick around and enjoy a beer in house some time. 

I saw Rapid Ray's in Saco on the way out of town and thought, oh YEAH, *that's* where I wanted to go!! But Pizza by Alex hit the spot too. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

LFK Preview

LFK is the new bar on Longfellow Square (188A State St) in Portland, and I stopped in Friday night to check out the space. 

Categorized as a bar/library on facebook, LFK is full of wing-backed chairs, bookshelves, and manual typewriters. The ornate props sit in contrast to the rest of the bar, with exposed metal beams and a blue-grey industrial colored paint. 

Above is a neat little detail in the bar - between the rail and the bar there's a tiny space with typewriter keys spelling out some words (maybe a phrase?). 

The bar itself is fully stocked, with a nice draught beer selection; we sampled the Victory Pils and... and I cannot for the life of me remember what I had (it was my first one of the night, I swear!). After the first round, the men in our party switched to Dark and Stormy's, while the ladies had the Charles and Charles Rose. 

We shared a cheese plate, but weren't told what kind of cheeses there were. The one in the middle is a blue Morbier; on the left, some sort of soft cheddar-type; and the right, a harder, aged cheese. The presentation was nice, and the pear and pickled red onions were both nice additions to the cheese variety.

It being the first week the bar was open, and the first busy weekend night, we experienced some long waits for drinks, and a tab snafu (the bar does not use a computer POS system, but handwritten tickets). I will certainly revisit the bar, as it's very close to my house, and has a nice vibe and drink selection.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Still at it...

This is terrible, but sometimes I hear in my head "pickle-ing, pickle-ing, pickle-ing, yeah!" to the tune of Rebecca Black's "Friday." And I can't make it stop! 

(Sorry to foist that on you.) 

Note: this photo was staged for Instagraming purposes; please don't use the 1974 Ball Blue Book for anything other than a kitchen prop. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

BBF Travels: Little Havana, Baltimore

This Blueberry Filer traveled to Maryland with her new man to meet the family and to be a tourist in Baltimore. My restaurant request: Little Havana's, my bar request: One Eyed Mike's

I wasn't that hungry, and my research failed to unearth that Little Havana's Sunday Brunch deal of $16.95 per person with unlimited Bloody Mary's and Mimosas until 3pm. But ordering a sandwich I didn't want seemed like a small price to pay to sit on the waterfront deck with friends in the 75˚ and sunny weather. We all had the Cuban sandwich and I ate half of it; more committed eaters cleaned their plates.  

Little Havana is one of my favorite spots in town, just because of the waterfront deck, the warehouse feel, and the great draught beers and Mojitos. I have no idea if I'd feel this way if I lived in town - it's very close to Federal Hill, so judging from the brunch clientele (lots of madras shorts, neon Ray Bans, and some sleeveless shirts, ugh), it might be a bit scene-y or fratty for me. But at an off hour, it's a great spot to sip a cocktail, play some shuffleboard, and eat some fried plantains. 

My friend Elizabeth of Strawberries in Paris (my blogspiration!) met us and spent the afternoon with us - we walked around Fort McHenry and then toured the neighborhood of Fells Point. 

Of course, no visit of mine to B'more can be complete without a visit to One Eyed Mikes on Bond Street in Fells. Home of the World's Largest Grand Marnier club, or something like that (gross), I used to frequent this bar when I worked on tallships in the Inner Harbor. Many a happy hour were had here that turned into an "I didn't eat and it's 9pm" kind of night. 

But to knock another to-do item off the list, Mike's serves Resurrection from Brewer's Art. While I used to find these beers strong, I learned they're only 7% (but I know that several of them on an empty stomach can turn it into That Kind of night). We enjoyed a mostly empty bar on this Sunday afternoon and watched the O's go to the millionth inning against the Red Sox (and eventually win!).

A great hometown visit (is that a Bachelor reference??) - so happy to see my friend and my family and to have my new fantastic beau by my side.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Shrimp Etouffee

Cooking Light is not a magazine I am drawn to, but when a stack appeared in my office, I couldn't keep my hands off of them. I am inherently suspicious of Cooking Light recipes, especially when the intro touts the line "couldn't tell the difference between the regular and the lightened version." 

But ever since my friend from South Carolina lent me his Pat Conroy cookbook, I've been thinking of shrimp and grits, biscuits and gravy, soft shell crabs, and other Southern dishes. My recent Jambalaya made someone suggest Etoufee, which means 'smothered.' 

So when I saw the Shrimp Etoufee recipe in Cooking Light, it fit right into my culinary preoccupation.  

I think I made several changes to this recipe that negated its lightness - I didn't use low-fat, reduced sodium broth or salt-free Cajun seasoning and I probably upped the butter and added some olive oil in the vegetable sauteing step. And I served my favorite cheddar biscuits with this (definitely not light).

After my jambalaya post prompted people to email me a REAL jambalaya recipe, I feel I must disclaim several things: this is a Cooking Light recipe - I have no idea it's connection to authentic Cajun food, as I am from Maryland. But it tasted good up here in Maine. 

Shrimp Etoufee
Adapted from Cooking Light

4 cups chicken broth (or half veggie, half beef)*
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups onion, diced
2/3 cup celery, diced
1 cup red pepper, chopped
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon salt-free Cajun seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cups green onions
1/2 cup parsley, divided
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 cups hot cooked long-grain rice

Combine first 4 ingredients in a small sauce pot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer; cover and remove from heat.

In another small sauce pot or skillet, melt 1/4 cup butter over medium heat. Add flour to pan and cook until very brown, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add 1 cup broth and whisk until smooth. Add remaining 3 cups of broth, stirring until smooth.

Melt one tablespoon plus one teaspoon of butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, and peppers. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in water, scraping up brown bits from the bottom of pan (I substituted home canned crushed tomatoes for water and paste and it turned out fine). 

Add tomato paste, Cajun seasoning, garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper; cook one minute, stirring constantly. Add broth-flour mixture and Worcestershire sauce, and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook 10 minutes. 

Add green onions, 1/4 cup parsley, and shrimp. Cook 3 minutes until shrimp are done. Discard bay leaf. Serve over rice with sprinkles of remaining parsley.

Yield: about 6 servings

*I learned that when making broth from Better than Bouillon, that chicken can be approximated by equal parts veggie and beef bouillon. Carrot + cow = chicken?