Eating with Rob

My new marriage and the noms that bring us together.

3 notes &

Breaking the fast.

If you love breakfast as much as we did during the first week of March, you’re going to love this post. I realized that I was about to have three breakfast-content posts in a row and then thought - why not combine them? MEGA BREAKFAST. Beginning with an ingredient you might not guess.

image

It’s okay, I don’t often put okra and breakfast together, either. On the morning of Saturday, March 1st, I decided to make a recipe from my Food Network Mag called Southern Grits and Eggs (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/southern-grits-and-eggs.html). It was essentially eggs, grits, and other green things - okra, green bell peppers, and green onions.

image

I have a confession to make. I never make grits from scratch. I use a packet or two of Cream of Wheat (so much shame!) But when you add a little cheese and even some garlic if you’re feeling fancy, they are seriously so good! And I wasn’t raised in the south, so I don’t exactly have grits pulsing in my blood stream.

image

I don’t usually make sunny-side up eggs, but I gave it the ol’ college try for the sake of sticking to the recipe (for once), and I think they came out really nicely! I basically just cracked them over the cooked okra in the skillet and waited. There are definitely more complicated cooking techniques.

image

With a little bit of Frank’s hot sauce on top, this breakfast was a hit for Rob and me. Definitely got that Southern charm, and it was hearty, flavorful, and had a nice dose of green vegetables to keep your momma happy. But this was only our first delicious breakfast of the weekend.

image

The very next day, we found ourselves back at Lunch (http://eatlunchrva.com/) - you remember when we had supper there with our friend Mallory not long before, right? (http://omnomwithrob.tumblr.com/post/92452947107/it-is-what-it-is). We really wanted to try breakfast there, so we did. Simple as that.

image

And I am SO glad we did! I had the biscuits and gravy you see above. The biscuits were buttermilk, and the gravy was thick and peppery. Up there with some of the better versions I’ve had in Richmond. I ordered it with a side of sausage and was so impressed when it showed up. They weren’t perfectly circular pre-sliced patties or tiny links the size of your pinky finger. They were…real! I’m not sure how else to say it. Like, they were made of actual ground sausage, thrown onto a hot griddle and pressed to unperfect perfection with a spatula. Mad respect.

image

Rob had the “train wreck” (not the first time he’s ordered something with “train wreck” in the title, just let it be known - http://omnomwithrob.tumblr.com/post/71318411277/how-could-i-forget). This train wreck, instead of involving cornbread and barbecue, was actually not too unlike what I had gotten - two biscuits with gravy, sausage, eggs, and cheese, with an order of their delicious home fries.

image

This was some breakfast dream fulfillment, I tell you what. I thought Lunch made an amazing breakfast, and I loved that the home fries had perfectly cooked little julienned bell peppers in them. Plus, the price was pretty good (Rob’s was $8.50 for all of that!) But this breakfast trifecta post is not yet complete.

image

On the morning of Thursday, March 6th, Rob and I met for a donut at Sugar Shack (http://www.sugarshackdonuts.com/). We’d had Sugar Shack donuts from their Lombardy Street location before (http://omnomwithrob.tumblr.com/post/62187115019/love-is-sweet), but wouldn’t you know it, arguably the best donut shop in Richmond opened another location ACROSS THE STREET from our downtown apartment. This is providence.

image

Sarah (left) and Maggie (right) are pretty much always there and are always so nice to Rob and me! They make delicious drip coffee and offer a really nice variety of homemade donuts. This trip in particular was an actual breaking of the fast for me - since it was now Lent, I had decided to fast one day a week, usually on Wednesdays since I had no plans to operate heavy machinery on Wednesdays or anything like that. So this Thursday morning, I was ravenous for this classic - a chocolate-donut dipped with sprinkles.

image

Mannnn did it hit the spot. Going the chocolate route shouldn’t surprise anybody, nor should anyone have any doubt that Rob had the cinnamon sugar. We were truly being ourselves that day.

image

I have to say, the chocolate-dipped wasn’t the best donut I’ve had from them! Of the ones I’ve tried (glazed, chocolate-dipped, powdered, and samoa), I think the glazed is somehow still my favorite. It just melts in your mouth. It really does.

image

Well, there ya have it, folks - a homemade breakfast, a diner breakfast, and a donut shop breakfast. If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, consider this a very, very good week.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia grits okra sunny side up eggs Food Network Magazine southern grits and eggs green bell peppers bell peppers green onions Lunch Scott's Addition biscuits and gravy biscuits buttermilk gravy sausage home fries potatoes train wreck cheese Sugar Shack donuts cinnamon sugar chocolate dipped donut sprinkles

0 notes &

Is that the red or the white?

I have to admit, it’s really hard to beat a good clam chowder, especially during the winter months. I’d always had the creamy white variety, never the Manhattan red, but thanks to my observation of a recipe in my Food Network mag, I was poised to make my very own first batch (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/manhattan-clam-chowder.html). It was even on a Friday (February 28th), making this a classic seafood-on-a-Friday dish that would make all of my Catholic ancestors so proud. 

image

I began with a Le Creuset full of bacon, potatoes, celery, carrots, and onions, garlic, and thyme - as happy of a start as any dish can hope to have. While those cooked down a bit, I turned to the fresh clams I’d picked up a few hours before at my friendly neighborhood Kroger. 

image

I had never cooked with clams before, and I had foolishly omitted pursuing any previous knowledge on the hardware necessary to make clams edible and useful. Once again, thank goodness Rob got home from work just in the nick of time to give me a hand with opening these clams…with a butter knife. 

image

This was extremely challenging, and I have to admit, Rob did most of them. He got a little know-how when he used to work at Rappahannock (https://www.facebook.com/RappahannockRVA) on how to shuck oysters, and it’s not too terribly different. I mostly took pictures and flattered him regarding his brute strenght. 

image

No long after this, we bought a clam knife. But I admit, the fruit of our labor seemed a lot more impressive following this soggy, arduous process.

image

…even though it did look pretty gross. 

image

Those clams, some San Marzanos, and some additional clam juice later, and we had a VERY full pot of chowder. Unlike the last picture, I thought it was quite beautiful. 

image

While it was making its final simmer, I toasted some of my homemade bread with garlic and parsley under the broiler. I’m not sure I’ve seen a prettier piece of toast in my life, but I’m accepting applications. 

image

I carefully ladled out a few servings of our chowder, which was a bit tricky given how full my pot was, and we set out to do some serious eating. 

image

It was good! I’ve never liked soups with big chunks of potato in them, so I was careful to do a relatively small dice so they would add heartiness without taking up a huge bite of nothing-flavor. The clams and San Marzanos were a dynamite combination, as was the yummy bread with the chowder. I wish it had been a little smokier from the bacon, but that didn’t keep Peach from meowing and wanting some REAL bad. 

image

I’m glad it was good, because we ate it for daaaayyyys. It repurposed pretty well, and it made me all the more glad that we got fresh clams rather than canned in order to keep the flavor a bit more lively as it became more and more leftover. This recipe definitely feeds a crowd, and while it was a lot of effort, I’d recommend this little recipe to any red chowder fan. It didn’t convert this white chowder fan, but it was a tasty detour. 

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia Manhattan clam chowder clam chowder clams fresh clams potatoes celery carrots bacon onion kroger san marzano tomatoes homemade bread garlic bread clam juice Peach the Cat leftovers

1 note &

Sugar makes the heart grow fonder.

Like I mentioned in the last post, the weather managed to be pretty nice in Richmond in late February. This had me feeling hopeful for spring, and I started craving refreshing, warm-weather treats. So on the evening of Sunday, February 23rd, I busted out my awesome ice cream maker from my Aunt Tammie made a batch of lemon buttermilk ice cream (http://katieatthekitchendoor.com/2012/03/21/meyer-lemon-and-buttermilk-ice-cream/).

image

It calls for Meyer lemons actually, but we usually have so many regular lemons on hand for Rob’s cocktail-making habit that I just snagged a few of those for this incredibly simple recipe. Just buttermilk, lemon juice, sugar, and cream, and a quick spin and some lemon zest later, you’ve got a VERY delicious bowl of ice cream.

image

I’m usually much more of a chocolate lover than a citrus lover when it comes to desserts, but this might be the best ice cream I’ve ever had. It’s gotta be the buttermilk, I’ve decided - when I was a kid, I used to make buttermilk scones using the cherries from a cherry tree we had in our backyard, so buttermilk has this very childhoody feeling to me that comes back every time I so much as get a whiff of the stuff.

image

Even if lemony desserts aren’t usually your thing, you have to try this ice cream - it was unbelievably good. But for those who ARE chocolate lovers, I’ve got something for you too. I wasn’t planning on making any more desserts that week, but just a few days later on Wednesday, February 26th, Rob and I got into an argument about Thin Mints. That’s right, we got riled up with each other. Over THIN MINTS.

image

I won’t get into the details, but I have to admit, even if I’m in the right, I try to do something nice for Rob when we’ve had a little tiff. So, I used a sleeve of the thin mints to achieve their higher calling, Thin Mint brownies (http://dinnersdishesanddesserts.com/thin-mint-brownies/).

image

You won’t believe me, but this was a recipe I already had queued up to make at some point, so maybe our little spat was meant to be. Regardless, this brownie batter was super easy to make, just butter, cocoa powder, flour, eggs, sugar, salt, and baking powder. And of course, Thin Mints I’d smashed with a rolling pin (a therapeutic strategy following an argument, I have to say).

image

After folding in my crumblies, the nice thick batter went into my trusty 8x8 baking dish. I put it in the oven and waited for the magic.

image

In the meantime, I whipped some cream (I must have had like a gallon of heavy cream in the fridge that week or something) with just a little bit of sugar and vanilla and prepared a few sprigs of mint. I was rather pleased with myself for that part.

image

We had made up for the most part by the time Rob got home from work, but I have to say, these brownies were the ultimate olive branch of peace. He was so surprised when he got home to the smell of freshly baked brownies, bearing the very subject matter of our argument from just a few hours before.

image

Between this AND the lemon buttermilk ice cream in the fridge, our collective sweet tooth was never want for at least the next week. As a consequence, we went through a lot of milk.

image

Both of these recipes were delicious. I’d say the lemon buttermilk ice cream comes out ahead in a ranking, but if you’re one of the many suckers for Thin Mints, these brownies retain the integrity of the cookie but in a chewy, substantial manifestation that stretches your cookie dollar. While Rob and I aren’t in the habit of solving our problems with food, by the time we’d each eaten a slice, our argument was long forgotten and forgiven - thank goodness for the curative powers of dessert.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia dessert ice cream homemade ice cream lemon buttermilk sugar lemon buttermilk ice cream lemon zest Thin Mints girl scout cookies thin mint brownies cocoa powder flour eggs whipped cream mint milk

2 notes &

Don’t come back.

On Saturday, February 22nd was a really beautiful day. That happens sometimes at this latitude. We spent the morning down at Texas Beach, a pretty little hiking spot off the James River a few miles southwest of downtown Richmond. When we were through, I told Rob what I always feel after a nice moment with nature. “I could use a beer.”

image

So we went to Don’t Look Back, a taco joint with nice branding in Carytown (http://dontlookbackrva.com/). I didn’t bring my ID on this hike (famous last words?) so sadly, they wouldn’t let me order a beer. But chips, salsa, and tacos were a reasonable substitute.

image

I had a pair of tacos, one carnitas with cheese and lettuce and one cod, with cabbage slaw, sour cream, cilantro, onions, and a lime wedge. They also let you choose the type of tortilla you’d like, so on the waitress’ recommendation, I had a corn tortilla with the carnitas and a flour tortilla with the fish.

image

Rob also had a fish taco, but with the addition of a real whopper of a quesadilla. It started with a pair of TWELVE INCH TORTILLAS, stuffed with beef and cheese and served with salsa, sour cream, and lettuce. He only made it halfway through, and we took the rest home (kind of a rare thing for Rob!)

Even though DLB is known for their tacos, the quesadilla was the clear winner here. I found both tacos, especially the carnitas, to be a bit dry and without a very powerful flavor punch. The quesadilla on the other hand was rich and hearty, a much more satisfying option, especially after our hike. I probably won’t go back if I’m craving tacos, but it’s a fun place with good chips and salsa and some other nice Mexican staples. Oh, and remember your ID!

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia Carytown Texas Beach Don't Look Back tacos carnitas fish tacos beef quesadilla

0 notes &

Barefoot Rob.

So, back in February when I didn’t have anywhere to be on Thursdays till mid-afternoon, I would often have Barefoot Contessa and other such daytime Food Network programming on while working on various tasks. I really like the shows that are on during the day on Food Network - no games, it’s just people cooking! And even though Ina Garten isn’t my favorite, I admittedly like watching her cook, too.

image

So I’d seen her make this recipe sometime during the third week of February for crispy mustard-roasted chicken (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/crispy-mustard-roasted-chicken.html). It sounded great - I mean, white wine, mustard, chicken, bread crumbs. To quote one of the more annoying things Ina often says, “how bad could that be?”

image

So I decided to make it for dinner one night, and it was a pretty simple process. I got to use my food processor, which made me feel pretty heavy duty, and the chicken gets baked rather than fried, so I was also feeling the slightest bit healthful.

image

Rob got home in the middle of my preparations, which was perfect timing because I’d also been itching to make latkes (don’t ask me why - I had never made latkes and I don’t think they’re what Ina had in mind as a side dish for this chicken). Honey badger don’t care, so I started working on this recipe (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/latkes-with-celery-and-herbs.html).

image

However, I’d been having trouble with my mandoline - I think the blade was starting to get dull. So I relied on Rob’s brute strength to get me through a shredded onion and a couple of shredded potatoes. Let it be known that shredding onions results in faces like this unless you have some of those goofy onion goggles like Paula Deen.

image

After all the shredding, I made Rob stick around even longer to help me squeeze all the liquid out of this mixture. It’s important when pan-frying potatoes that you get as much of the moisture out as possible (remember when you taught me that, Roze Pirvany?), and the cheesecloth that Rob usually uses for making cocktail infusions was just the tool for the job.

image

After a good bit of squeezing, I was left with a bowl of taters, onions, garlic, nutmeg, and celery. Once I added some parsley, flour, and an egg, things were ready to be pattied. This was all a little more than I’d bargained for - I thought I could just fry up a shredded potato and call it good, let alone all of this fancy potato-squeezin’ technique! I was actually fairly convinced at this point that they wouldn’t come out because of all the unexpected effort.

image

And then of course fried to my favorite color in the whole world - golden brown. All that squeezin’ was worthwhile, huh Rob? (go ahead and disregard how inappropriate that sounds).

image

The timer chimed and I removed my chicken from the oven, and then I added my freshly cooked latkes to the plate with a little dollop of sour cream and some green onion. This might be the most roundabout way to get to a meat and potatoes dinner that I’ve yet experienced.

image

Just the opposite of my anticipated reaction, the latkes were outta this world. The chicken, not so much. I really liked the mustard and white wine together, and there’s a little lemon zest in there that really brightens it up - but the panko became chalky and almost a little dusty. Something didn’t go quite right in my execution, if I had to bet, but I just didn’t love it. If you’re looking for a good latke recipe, consult your nearest bubbe or this little recipe from Food Network. They’re a lot more work than I thought they’d be, but I’d definitely make them again.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia Food Network Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten dijon mustard white wine panko chicken crispy mustard roasted chicken latkes potatoes onions celery nutmeg parsley lemon cheesecloth garlic Jewish

1 note &

It is what it is.

On Saturday, February 15th, Rob and I were happy to have a dinner date with our friend Mallory. Mallory is an incredible photographer, and she recently moved to D.C. to become a photo editor for National Geographic! The big time! So we are always so thrilled when she comes back to see her parents in Richmond and graces us wither her lovely presence. 

image

She loves having her photo taken :) Anyway, we went to this place called Lunch (http://lunchorsupper.com/) in the Scott’s Addition district of Richmond - from what I understand, it’s actually called Supper at nighttime (they really call it like they see it), but it’s the same establishment. It’s a cute little place - not a lot of tables and pretty much no room to wait inside, so be prepared to bear whatever weather is happening if they’re on a wait like they were the night we went. We were happy to come in from the cold and snuggle up next to the fake fireplace upon our seating. 

image

So our usually vegetarian pal Mallory went with a nice vegetarian option, grilled cheese on multigrain bread. They’d said the soup of the day was red pepper and gouda, so she was in good shape. However, THIS is what they brought.

image

Not only was it not tomato soup, it was TURKEY BACON SOUP. Which is a pretty big no-no for a vegetarian, so she made a sad face at the waitress, said it was fine, and let Rob eat it. I tried a bite and actually wasn’t a fan, which is weird because I like both turkey and bacon. 

image

But she did not despair for long! The waitress returned a few minutes later, having “found some in the back.” So there might have been some loogies in it, but sweet Mallory had her perfect grilled cheese and tomato soup combo after all. And it was good!

image

Rob’s might have been the best though - he had a big ol’ slab of meatloaf…I’ve never seen a piece that big! It’s called “The Herd” on the menu because it’s an amalgam of lots of kinds of meat (house-ground beef, pork, AND buffalo). The glaze on top had tomato, bourbon, and honey, and the whole thing was served with mashed potatoes and brussel sprouts. Such a hearty plate!

image

I decided to have the Crab Cake Nebula, a crab cake as you might imagine, served with lettuce, tomato, and sriracha aioli on a challah roll (I do love challah bread so very much). It was a very manageable size and had a good crab to filler ratio. 

image

Overall, we liked the food at Lunch. It’s too bad that they brought Mallory a meaty soup without asking if that would be all right, but they seemed to remedy the situation pretty well (as far as we know). Everything tasted great, there were a lot of affordable menu items, and we really liked the general feel of the place…kind of reminded me of one of our favorite Richmond locales, Black Sheep (http://www.blacksheeprva.com/). If you haven’t been over to Scott’s Addition yet, I’d recommend giving their spin on comfort food a try!

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia Lunch Supper Scott's Addition crab cake nebula crab cake crab cake sandwich sriracha aioli potato chips grilled cheese tomato soup meatloaf beef pork buffalo bourbon brussel sprouts mashed potatoes

2 notes &

Joyeuse Saint Valentin.

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all! So what if it’s the middle of July, I am more than happy to reminisce about this cold winter evening. Rob and I had budgeted carefully that month to accommodate for three special occasions (our six-month anniversary - http://omnomwithrob.tumblr.com/post/91779418012/one-fish-two-fish-rockfish-bluefish), the Bootlegger’s Ball (http://omnomwithrob.tumblr.com/post/91964504062/ceaselessly-into-the-fat), and of course, Valentine’s Day. Since we knew we wanted to go out for the first two (I mean, would you rather go out to eat on a Monday night in early February or fight the crowds for Valentine’s?), we decided that I’d made a special dinner for us for V-Day.

So after the therapy group I co-lead got out at about 2 that Friday, I went home to start preparing for dinner with my beau. You may recall that he’s been super interested in French cooking lately… remember when he made us this dynamite piperade? (http://omnomwithrob.tumblr.com/post/89977579667/garlic-is-the-catsup-of-intellectuals). So I planned this great surprise four-course French meal for the two of us. I even made up this dorky little menu to have up on his iPad when he got home from work (disclaimer: I do not nor have I ever spoken French, so this is surely FULL of ridiculous mistakes. but two points for the fleur de lis).

image

As you can see, I had a lot of work to do, and I really hadn’t done much prep in the days before. The only thing I knew I had for sure were a few loaves of French bread (http://www.food.com/recipe/crusty-french-bread-101476), so if all else failed, at least we could have a decent croque madame.

image

If I was going to make the best use of my time, I was going to have to start with dessert. As you can see from the menu, I wasn’t doing a creme brulee or a clafloutis or a tarte tatin. I was doing a recipe I’d found called “Sex in a Pan” (you didn’t see that, mom), and I ran a rough google translate on it (http://www.jocooks.com/bakery/cakes/sex-in-a-pan/). Count it.

image

This is one of those casserole-type desserts that I actually don’t make all too often because they’re so easy to get sick of. But I had high hopes for this one - I mean, how can you go wrong with layers of buttery pecans, chocolate and vanilla pudding, cheesecake filling, and Cool Whip (I called them “mousse” in the menu to French it up a little bit).

image

So once I had that all assembled, I could stick in the fridge for it to set up and I could move on to the next order of business, a pink prosecco soup I’d seen on tumblr that I thought looked kind of romantic. I obviously subbed champagne so it would be extra Francey, and I prepared my frozen strawberries in my blender so I would basically be ready to press play whenever Rob arrived for the first course.

image

So far so good. Now, the potatoes…I got this graitin dauphinois recipe from an actual French gal, so I was sure it would be great (http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/vegetables-grains/gratin-dauphinois-potato-gratin-recipe/). It couldn’t have been a simpler recipe - just raw potatoes in milk with a touch of cream and a little garlic and nutmeg. Start ‘em on the stovetop, move ‘em to the oven to brown all over. No problem, especially since I have a trusty mandoline to make perfectly sliced potatoes.

image

And of course, for the main course, coq a vin - chicken with wine, more or less (okay, there’s a lot more…bacon, cognac, and mushrooms to name a few). This is an intimidating dish to make, mostly because the recipe (http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2006/12/magnificence-au-vin/) has a lot of steps and it’s actually kind of a labor-intensive process. I was in the middle of this process by the time Rob walked in the door. Luckily, I’d had time to anticipate his arrival and put on a nice dress and some accordion music.

image

His arrival was actually quite timely - it was right when I needed to add the cognac, and flames were going to fly. He did the dirty work of adding it and risked singeing his beard while encouraging me to hit the lights and snap a few photos.

image

That was pretty much all I let him help me with, so I sat him down, poured him a glass of bordeaux, and turned on my blender. Out came my champagne soup, which sadly to me seemed to be little more than a boozy smoothie. It was a better idea for a Sunday brunch than for a first course, and I regretted not making a French onion soup or something more savory. But it was still good, and I actually really liked the black pepper on top.

image

After we both sat to enjoy our pink soup, I extracted my potatoes from the oven and served them up as the chicken continued bubbling away on the stovetop. The potatoes were absolutely delicious. You might expect there to be cheese in this recipe as we often tend to associate cheese with gratins in the U.S. But this didn’t need it at all - they were creamy, herbaceous, and tender, with a little crunch from the potatoes that had been on the top later.

image

Once we finished the potatoes, I hopped up to finish cooking the chicken. It had turned a really beautiful deep brown color, thanks to the red wine and the chicken stock, and my freshly buttered homemade French bread was the perfect accompaniment.

image

As an aside, it’s tough to surprise someone with a meal when you live with them and the groceries are literally right in front of them in the refrigerator. But I wish I could capture for you the look on Rob’s face when he walked in the door, when he saw my little menu, and when I dished up course after course. For me, that’s kind of what it’s all about.

image

I actually didn’t love the coq a vin, and it’s probably just because I didn’t execute it quite perfectly. The chicken was kind of dry, and it didn’t get a very good sear on the outside. The sauce, however, was super developed after all that time in my Le Creuset, and it was faaaaabulous. I had to convince myself to actually eat the chicken instead of just dipping the bread in the sauce. Also, this recipe makes a buttload of it.

image

Yep, that’s AFTER we both had a portion. So we may or may not have eaten it for several days after. But for the time being, we ignored it and slowly finished our bottle of wine, waiting to be hungry for dessert.

image

The time eventually came, probably an hour or so later. I sliced (spooned is more accurate, since it was a pretty jiggly thing) up some sex in a pan. Again, I wasn’t terribly impressed - I mean, to extent it obviously had to be good, but I would have been happier with something that wasn’t just layers of boxed pudding mix. Plus, I improvised a layer of caramel in there that I ended up regretting - it just kind of overwhelmed it. I think Peach was more interested in than I was - see how she tries to steal my date?

image

So, this wasn’t the best meal I’ve ever made in my life. I didn’t love the soup, the chicken, or even the dessert - the potatoes (and the wine) were the high points for me. But I have to say, this was an amazing experience and change of pace. Rob and I ate for hours. HOURS. Of course it was a Friday night so we could afford to spend the time, but I loved how we would sit together and eat a course, finish preparing the next course, then sit down to eat that course, etc. It was a process, and I loved that about it. I think Rob did, too.

image

He would not, however, love the explosion of dirty dishes I left for him to clean. But that could wait :)

image

This was the perfect first Valentine’s Day for our marriage. It’s not often that we get a chance to kick back and really take our time with a meal, or with each other in almost any way. Admittedly, that’s mostly my fault since I’m constantly so bogged down with schoolwork. But it made me all the more glad that I could do this for Rob. For us both, really.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Valentine's Day strawberries champagne pink prosecco soup french bread frenchcooking french food potatoes potatoes dauphinois potatoes gratin coq a vin chicken wine cognac mushrooms sex in a pan pudding mousse cheesecake chocolate

2 notes &

Fit for a carnivore.

On Monday February 10th, I was excited to try out yet another dog-eared recipe from my trusty Food Network magazine, chili-rubbed steak with creamed corn (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/chile-rubbed-steak-with-creamed-corn.html).

I had never prepared steak using my broiler before, but I found it PERFECT for getting a nice golden-brown outside without overcooking the middle. I had whipped up the spicy little rub, slathered it on my flank steak, and stuck it in my fabulous roasting pan for (I kid you not) FIVE minutes per side. That’s it! I was so surprised by how effortless it was and how quickly and beautifully it came together. It was so easy that I could devote my attention to something entirely different while it was cooking (which isn’t usually the case if I’m cooking meat on the stovetop, so five points for efficiency).

I had also never made homemade creamed corn before, but this was a very simple recipe. I just sauteed some green pepper and onion in some olive oil (in retrospect, I think red pepper would have been better) and tossed in some canned corn with cream until it got thick and…well, creamy.

I finished our dinner plates with a little Greek yogurt and some limes on the side, and we were ready to eat! I could have probably left the steak in just a wee bit longer and still been all right with it, as this is about as rare as I will eat meat (maybe six minutes per side would have been a bit better). The rub on the meat also had just a little more cayenne than I would have put in myself, but the Greek yogurt was the perfect touch for cooling it down.

Rob and I LOVED this meal. It was affordable (seriously, a flank steak costs $7 and feeds us both, usually with a little bit leftover), super fancy (I meeeeean thinly sliced, juicy, rare steak y’all), super EASY (if you can open and oven and turn on a broiler, you can cook this steak), AND had a great flavor profile. I have actually made this steak recipe several time since, but with a preference for a slightly different rub (the same one I like to use for turkey - http://allrecipes.com/recipe/mccormick-savory-herb-rub-roasted-turkey/). Though not mind-blowing, the corn was pretty good too and helped to make this a nice balanced meal for ol’ Rob and me. I would definitely recommend giving this recipe, especially the steak, a try. It’s a perfectly quick meal for a weeknight with all of the impressive qualities of a weekend treat.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia Food Network Food Network Magazine chili-rubbed steak steak flank steak broiler broiled steak creamed corn onions bell peppers greek yogurt lime cayenne steak rub

0 notes &

Ceaselessly into the fat.

I have to admit, Rob and I spend most of our Saturdays at home, with me usually working on the couch and Rob working at his desk. Chopped is on if we’re lucky - heck, real pants are on if we’re lucky. Needless to say, on Saturday February 8th, this was a little unusual.

image

Despite having a mountain of work to do ( <3 always <3 ), Rob and I got super dolled up for the Bootlegger’s Ball, a Gatsby-themed soiree at the Bull and Bear Club just across the street from our apartment at the James Center (http://rvamag.com/articles/full/22928/great-gatsby-richmond-the-bootleggers-ball-comes-to-the-bull-bear-club).

image

There were going to be costumes, live music, and of course food. So we took a healthy number of selfies and set out into the cold February night.

image

We were some of the first folks there (not THE first folks mind you - we’re not that out of touch…are we?), but we couldn’t be bothered by the slightly awkward, not-quite-a-party-yet vibe. Because we got first dibs on the buffet.

image

We weren’t really sure what to expect, but whatever that amorphous expectation was, it certainly wasn’t the assortment of carnival food we were getting. It was promising at the start when we saw the goat cheese spread, but things went deep, deep in the deep fryer after that.

image

Fried jalapenos. Fried mushrooms. Onion rings. Hot dogs. Cheeseburgers (TERRIBLE cheeseburgers, straight from the freezer, I’m sure of it). Or as I like to remember them collectively, varying shades of beige. Even Rob, who has never hated anything dredged in flour and drenched in oil, wasn’t sure how this got past a roundtable discussion.

image

I mean, I realize that they were feeding a lot of people - but we also both paid twenty bucks to get in (which didn’t include drinks - we had to buy drink tickets when we got there). So basically, we paid $40 for a mound of cholesterol. Not even really GOOD cholesterol. So disappointing, and so off theme! Even if it hadn’t been Gatsby, this was a classy event for what seemed to be mostly young professionals whom I think would merit a higher standard. Plus, we felt a little too flubbity afterward to even dance much. 

image

The silver lining was that the James Brown cover band was pretty good, and it was fun to see so many people go all-out for the theme - I like living during a time when this era is popular, and most girls can be counted on to have a flapper ensemble when the occasion calls for it (I have two!) So even though we could in good conscience know that at least some of our entrance fee paid the band and the servers and stuff, we probably won’t go again next year unless we’ve got a big group of friends who goes, too. The entertainment may be worth the cost under those circumstances, but the food is definitely not!

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia Gatsby The Great Gatsby Bootlegger's Ball 1920s flapper fried food fried jalapenos fried mushrooms onion rings goat cheese cheeseburgers hot dogs James Center Bull and Bear Club

1 note &

Friends with benefits.

During the first week of February, Rob talked to his bosses about the potential to be brought on full time. He really likes being a freelancer, but  we’re starting to like the sound of benefits, you know what I mean? The conversation went really well, and they pretty much said they could bring him on full time in the next few months. Hooray! Naturally, I felt a celebration was in order.

image

So before Rob came home from work on Wednesday the 5th, I whipped up a little homemade pizza (here’s the crust recipe I used, it was pretty good! http://feelingfoodish.com/the-best-new-york-style-pizza-dough/). Not just ANY homemade pizza, but MACARONI AND CHEESE PIZZA. WITH BACON.

image

We had been watching a lot of Parks and Rec during the winter months, and a salient point to me had been the time Ben made Leslie macaroni and cheese pizza (for your viewing pleasure - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBdYE2emEbE). Obviously inspired, I was hoping that Rob would catch the reference.

image

He didn’t (womp). But that’s okay! He was so excited to cut into it when he got home from work (using the bicycle pizza cutter so generously gifted to us by Angie Spencer). We served it up with some Frank’s hot sauce and let. the. magic. happen.

image

This was pretty ridiculous, but I like to celebrate life events with ridiculous things. It’s more fun that way. The next time you make mac and cheese, I hope you think to yourself - “You know what this is missing? A pizza crust.” And maybe you’ll think of wintry little Rob and me, celebrating adult milestones with pretty much the most childish food selection possible (we’re saving the dino nugs for a 401k, you guys).

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia pizza homemade pizza macaroni and cheese mac and cheese pizza macaroni and cheese pizza Frank's Frank's hot sauce bacon Parks and Rec Leslie Knope Ben Wyatt

Real Time Web Analytics