Monday, February 26, 2007
Every once in a while we give Bogart's another try. They have a solid menu of fine dining classics. Veal Osso Bucco, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Rack of Lamb, Roast Duck, etc. Last week we tried it again. They always make a fuss about having reservations. In the city of Moncton a reservation on a weeknight for 2 people is rarely needed unless you are going to the Windjammer or Pastelli's. Few other restaurants are that busy during the week. I called ahead. This time they had lost our reservation in the 30 minutes that elapsed between the time we called and the time we showed up there. They were still able to seat us given that the restaurant was only about 20% full.
We were served drinks fairly quickly which as you all know is one of my pet peeves. Don't leave me sitting there without a cocktail! I can eat at home and have a cocktail in my hand in a timely manner! The bloody caesar was okay but not one of the better ones I have had. Tim ordered a brandy and the waitress had to bring out the whole selection for him to pick one because she knew nothing about brandy. Okay, I could let that slide.
Tim ordered the fish chowder as a starter and I ordered the roasted duck salad. We never got our bread until we already had our appetizers on the table. And we had to move our own bread plates out of the way for the waitress to put our appetizers down. These are little things but when you are paying fine dining prices, you should expect fine dining service. She kept saying how I was the first one who had ever ordered a duck salad in the 6 months since she had been there. That should have been a sign.... I now know why no one orders it. It was mostly salad with a little duck that was basically tasteless. The greens were nice and there were lots of them. The dressing was lovely too. But there was really no need for the duck. Except that it was called a "duck" salad. And for $12.99, I wanted to taste some good duck! I was a little disappointed. Tim's chowder, on the other hand, was fantastic. Full of flavour and rich. It even had corn in it which Tim does not like but he thoroughly enjoyed it anyway.
For our main courses, Tim ordered the Chicken Aphrodite. It was an interesting dish of chicken stuffed with walnuts and cooking in phyllo pastry. It had a sweetness about it. It was interesting but Tim was full after the chowder so he was a little disappointed that he couldn't enjoy his main dish more. This is why sometimes we just go out for appetizers or don't bother ordered them if we are being sensible.
I had fillet of sole stuffed with shrimp and crab. It tasted just like the ones you can get at the Costco. Isn't that a terrible thing to say?! But I've had the ones from the freezer at the Costco and they are pretty darn good. Now we should point out here that the kitchen at Bogart's is open for all to see so I'm pretty sure they aren't whipping out boxes from the Costco. The fillet was served on a bed of creamed leeks and spinach which was divine. I also had the rosemary mashed potatoes which were lovely.
We shared a bottle of Germany Pieroth Riesling, had cocktails to start but no dessert. So was the meal worth $125. For us I'd have to so no. I can do most of the dishes at home but I am The Gourmet Goddess. For most folks looking for the fine dining standards, this is a good place to go and it's not too fussy so you won't feel embarrassed if you don't know which fork to use.
If you have a different view or something to say, leave a comment. We all work hard for our entertainment dollar so let's share our experiences!
Thursday, February 22, 2007
For this recipe I'm going to show you how to braise chicken legs but you could use beef, pork, lamb or turkey. You do want something on the bone as this will help flavour the dish. I cut off any visible fat or skin to help lower the fat content.
Braising consists of 3 simple steps - 1. Brown 2. Add everything to the pot 3. Simmer.
First we brown our meat. Use a 1-2 Tbsp of oil. Heat it in an oven safe frying pan with straight sides and a lid like I have here or use a dutch oven (biggest pot out of your set with 2 handles). If you don't have either then do all you work on the stove in a pan and transfer everything to a round casserole dish before you put it in the oven. You must have a properly fitting lid - this is a must! Heat the oil to medium high. Brown your meat on both sides, about 5 minutes each. Remove them from the pan and put them on a plate to add back in later.
Next brown your aromatics - onion, celery, carrots, garlic, ginger, whatever you want. I used onion and carrots in this dish.
Once they are brown add in your liquid, herbs and flavorings. I used a small can of diced tomatoes, 1 cup of red wine, 2 cloves of garlic, chopped rosemary and a smidge of anchovy paste. Stir it all to blend well and scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. You should still have the pot on the stove so it should all start to simmer together. Add back in your chicken.
Now you are ready to go to the oven. Preheat your oven to 350. Cover your dish and cook it for 40 -50 minutes until the meat is falling off the bone. That's it! That's dinner. You can serve this over rice, pasta, couscous, potatoes, whatever you feel like. Make your own combinations. Just Brown, Mix it all together and Simmer. That's braising!
The nice part about this dish is that it is truly elegant enough for company and you can have it in the oven before dinner guests arrive. But it is also quick and easy enough for a week night. You could even brown everything the night before and even have it all mixed together in a container in your fridge, just put it in a oven safe pot or casserole when you get home, cover it and pop it in the oven. You will have to cook it a little longer to allow time for the food to warm up from fridge temperature. I'd add 10 minutes to the cooking time.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
I used all frozen veggies in this. During the winter months I find frozen veggies tastier. And it is definitely more convenient!
• 1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil
• 1 onion, chopped
• 1 inch piece of ginger, chopped fine
• 2 tsp or 2 cloves of minced garlic
• 1 lb, 454 g ground lamb, extra lean beef or buffalo
• 540ml can of chickpeas
• 14 oz./398ml can of tomato sauce, no salt added
• 1 cup low sodium beef broth
• 2 Tbsp Curry Powder
• ½ Tbsp 13 Spice Curry Blend or ½ tsp each – cumin, coriander, chili powder and turmeric
• 4 cups frozen cauliflower
• 2 cups frozen diced turnip or one small fresh turnip, diced small
• 2 cups frozen peas
• 1 cup fat free yogurt
1. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat
2. Sauté the onion and ginger until softened, about 3 minutes
3. Add in the garlic and cook one more minute. Empty the pan into the crock pot
4. Return the pan to the stove. Brown the ground meat. If using lamb, drain it and rinse under hot water to remove the excess fat. Add it into the crock pot.
5. Add the next 7 ingredients to the crock pot (from the chickpeas through to turnip)
6. Cook for 4 -6 hours on high or up to 8 hours on low
7. Right before serving, stir in the peas.
8. Put a dollop of yogurt on each bowlful before serving.
This dish freezes beautifully. If you want to lower the fat content then go with the extra lean beef or buffalo. You may need more broth if you are using fresh veggies or are cooking this on the stove. Just be sure this is enough liquid to cover the other ingredients.
Serve with mashed potatoes or basmati rice, white or brown.
Nutritional Information Main Servings with Ground Lamb: 323 Calories, 14g Fat, 5g Saturated Fat, 0g Trans Fat, 37 mg Cholesterol, 400mg Sodium, 8g Fiber, 32g Carbohydrates
Thursday, February 15, 2007
First off I had to shuck the oysters. I had picked up an oyster knife a while ago because the very first year Tim and I shared Valentine's day I had made oysters and didn't have a proper knife to open them with. So this year I was all set. It isn't that terribly hard. The box of oysters didn't look pretty but only one out of the 14 I shucked was bad. It was easy to tell it was bad because I could smell it before I even got the shell fully open. What a stink! One of the serious advantages of having oysters out in a restaurant - you don't have to deal with the bad oysters. It can ruin your appetite. But we persevered and it was worth it. We had them with a little cocktail sauce and they were great. We also had a bottle of Italian Champagne - Prosecco with it. Oh my god, it was perfect. If you haven't tried this sparkling wine I highly recommend it. Smoooooth
Next we had our rack of lamb. I just drizzled it with lemon juice and rubbed chopped rosemary and bread crumbs on it. I cooked it at 400 for 15 minutes and then reduced the temp to 325 for another 10 minutes. We like it rare but you could cook it longer. I made my signature spinach dish to go with it (I'll enter that recipe as a separate blog entry). We had a nice Shiraz with it.
For dessert we had creme brulee, my first attempt at making it even though I've had all the necessary tools for a couple of years now. You must have a small kitchen torch to make this properly. Although a long lighter may work. It was really easy to do! The ingredients are simple
For 2 Creme Brulee
Just under 1 cup of whipping cream
2 egg yolks
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract, the real stuff, not the imitation stuff
Rock sugar or regular to sprinkle on the top.
Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it starts to simmer. I added in the vanilla with the cream.
Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks and cream in a medium bowl.
Once the cream starts to simmer, take it off the stove and let it sit for 10 minutes.
Add a small amount of the cream to the egg yolk mixture, whisking quickly. This is called tempering the eggs. You are trying to bring them up to temperature without scrambling them. It's really easy.
I then added a little more cream into the eggs a second time just to be sure I wasn't going to scramble them before I added all the cream. Then I added all the cream. All the while whisking away. But try not to whisk in bubble or you'll end up with a bubbly top on your custards (which is what the creme brulees are, a custard)
Pour the mixture into small au gratin dishes for each serving.
Boil a kettle of water. You will put the dishes in a bigger baking dish and then pour the water in the bigger baking dish to a depth of 2/3 up the side of the littler dishes with the creme brulee in it. I put the whole thing on the oven rack before I pour in the water.
Bake at 300 for 40 - 50 minutes until the custard is firm. Take it out and let it fully cool. We put ours out in the snow after it had come to room temp.
Sprinkle with sugar and light your torch! The most sober person should do this job. I put ours on a tea towel to protect the countertop. You heat the sugar until it is golden brown and you have a nice crust.
I forgot to get a picture until I had half eaten mine. It was delish!! We finished it off with a nice glass of port. What a lovely evening.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
For those of you who don't know yet, Maverick's has moved from it's downtown location to the Future Inn on Mapleton Road. I was concerned that it would have lost it's charm. It's different for sure. But is some ways it was a good change. There is more seating which was why when we decided to drop in for dinner last night we didn't worry about having a reservation. Tuesday night before Valentine's day didn't seem like a big dinner out kind of night. We ended up waiting a good 20 minutes for a table. However, this was not because they were full by any stretch of the imagination. They tried to put us at a table along the wall where everyone is lined up but I don't like those seats. There is no privacy and since Tim was in the mood to complain about work, I figured privacy was best. They have booths and nice tables in 2 rooms in the back. We could have a better table but we'd have to wait. It seemed the hostess was seriously overwhelmed. I didn't recognize her so I assumed she was new.
She finally seated us amongst many empty tables...and without a wine menu! Number one rule of fine dining - never let your customers sit for more than 5 minutes without someone taking their drink order. Hard to do when we weren't even given a menu to choose from. We waited for about 10 minutes when someone came over and asked if we had been looked after. Apparently the server who approached our table had been told we had been when in fact, we had not. I was not impressed. She did not get us a wine menu or take our drink orders but told us she would send someone over. Unacceptable. When our server finally came over I was losing my patience. When I go out to dinner I want a glass of wine in my hand immediately! This server took our food order and then brought us a wine menu. Okay, that order is wrong but at least there was a sign of hope that we'd get something tonight.
Now here is the clincher. We got our appetizers before we got our drinks! I'm a huge fan of wine and food pairing. I had ordered a pinot grigio to go with our calamari and all I had was water to drink with it. When the server finally showed up with my wine I asked if they were seriously understaffed tonight. She told me no! Now I should mention that one of the chefs was out on the floor serving food. That was definitely a sign that they were understaffed. And I can appreciate that sometimes life happens. But if they weren't understaffed then they had to be seriously incompetent. Maverick's, as one of the better places to eat in town, should also have excellent service. And for years they have had excellent service. Which left me wondering if the move from fine dining establishment to hotel restaurant hadn't hit them in the service department. I have a hard time with poor service when I eat out. Remember, I can make most of these meals at home so when I go out it's for the luxury of having someone else provide the experience for me.
The meal itself was good as expected. On our way out the hostess mentioned that they were short staffed. Apparently she had been there since 6 AM! Okay so that explains why she didn't seem on the ball. It was sheer exhaustion! Why our server denied this, I do not know. I would have appreciated her situation much more and not made the assumption that they had a bunch of incompetent people working if she had just shared the truth with us.
Moral of the story may be to wait until Valentine's day to go out for dinner. The hostess told us they were fully staffed for Valentine's day and they were fully booked. The jury is still out about this move Maverick's has made. Some of it's charm is definitely gone and it seems some of it's more experienced staff is too although I think, due to the longer hours the restaurant is now open to accommodate the hotel guests, that they are spread out more during the day. They do need to work on things a bit. I overheard someone say last night that there is a Keg restaurant going in a new building downtown. That will be serious competition for the steak crowd here in Moncton.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Thursday, February 08, 2007
I made a dressing out of the following:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp maple syrup
and with the toasted walnuts I also roasted a small shallot. If you don't have a shallot, finely slice some red onion and roast it. Or if you have neither, add a sprinkle of onion powder!
Whisk it all together and that's it!
Now isn't that a healthy looking meal! I roasted both white and sweet potatoes in the oven for 30 minutes at 350. I had some pork pieces with I just rubbed with a salt free herb mixture and sauteed in a pan. Excellent!
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Sunday, February 04, 2007
I did the pineapple salsa in the food processor. I think I liked it better done by hand. It looked nicer but the processor made it up in a snap!GO COLTS!!!!!!!!