Restaurant Review: Davanti Enoteca

Davanti is a great new spot in Little Italy, it has quickly become so popular that the wait can be 1-2 hours.  The interior is rustic, wine bar with large windows and a great atmosphere.  We chose to go there for lunch, which is a great option so you don’t have to wait.  The menu features a nice selection of cheese and meats that you can select indivudually and on Fridays they do a 3 for $12, 4 for $14, or 5 for $17 deal.  Instead, we went with the homemade ricotta and local honey comb from the “Vasi” menu section- and it was AMAZING.  The bread was fresh and warm, the ricotta- so smooth and rich and that honey was perfection to top it all off:

Next we had the beets, roasted, with walnut butter, candied walnuts and creme fraishe.  It was a great mix of flavors, we love beets and goat cheese!  The beets were sliced a little large so the balance was off, but they still tasted great:

Then we tried their polenta “of the day” which has a tomato and sausage sauce- this was incrdible, the polenta was white and creamy- perfect and they served it from the sauce pan on to our table on a cutting boad then topped it with the sausage goodness- this was so warm, comforting, hearty… so perfect for the snowy afternoon we were having:

Next was a ravioli, a giant one, filled with ricotta, a soft cooked egg and spinach in a butter sauce.  The pasta was a little thick around the edges and not anything “special” but the flavors of the runny yolk with the spinach and ricotta made for a nice rich filling ( we’d probably not get this again…):

by now, we were stuffed but had alrady gone for it- a pizze.  It sounded so good- garlic, chili oil, kale, prosciutto with fresh mozzarella… Jason liked it, I wasn’t impressed.  I think pizzes should be light thin cracker crisp crust with light toppings that have a perfect flavor punch, and this was just too thick, not crisped up, heavy cheese, and the prosciutto was just thick pepperoni.  Again, Jason enjoyed it, and the leftovers, he claims, were even better then fresh…

and of course, we were celebrating after getting engaged, with some prosecco and wine off their very extensive list.  Both were perfect!  Definately give this little spot a try, we think it will be fun to go back and just do the fresh cheeses, meats and wine with some friends!

We LOVE breakfast

there’s nothing better than this for a quick and healthy breakfast:

Breakfast has always been “our thing”.  We love to wake up with fresh coffee, in pj’s, lounge around and make a delicious meal on our days off together.  It’s no wonder Jason chose to propose to me after a wonderful breakfast he made us, that’s right, we’re ENGAGED!  So next time you feel like skipping breakfast or don’t feel like waking up, just think, you could be missing out on a great opportunity 🙂

Laura’s Chocolate Banana Soufflés- Reader Recipe

For our very first Reader’s Recipe post we have Laura’s found recipe for a rich, warm, fudgy, and healthy Chocolate Banana Soufflé.  The addition of banana in a chocolate dessert is always a welcome addition, it really added to that perfect light and creamy texture.  The souffle will fall after 10 minutes so it’s important to plan ahead and serve right away.  We enjoyed it with a dollop of organic whipped topping and a glass of chocolate wine- (pictured).  The wine was light and very sweet, with a hint of cocoa flavoring.  If you love chocolate and Muscato, this is your new dessert wine.  This recipe is a great starting point for many other variations, you could add grated lemon zest and almond extract… or substitute pureed squash for the bananas with grated cinnamon or nutmeg.  Really the options are endless and this is a perfect healthy treat that no one would think is this good for you- so, seriously enjoy!!!  And thank you Laura for this great new addition to our cookblog and for being our very first Reader REcipe!

Chocolate Banana Soufflés
Recipe adapted from Baking Bites

Servings: 4 • Serving Size: 6 oz

  • 2 ripe medium bananas, mashed
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • butter flavored cooking spray

Preheat over to 400F. Coat 4, 6 oz ramekins with butter flavored cooking spray. Place on a baking sheet.

In a medium bowl, mash bananas and vanilla together. Sift cornstarch and cocoa powder over bananas and stir well.

In another medium bowl, beat egg whites with sugar until they form soft peaks. Fold 1/3 of egg whites into banana mixture. When incorporated, fold in the rest of the egg whites. Spoon mixture into ramekins.

Wipe the top 1/4 inch “collar” of the ramekin to remove any excess batter so that the souffle will rise straight and place ramekins on a baking sheet. Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Calories: 131.2 • Fat: 3.6 g • Carb: 23.5 g • Fiber: 3.2 g • Protein: 4.8 g

Latin Spiced Chicken in Lettuce Cups

In our new issue of Food and Wine, they had top chefs contribute their all time favorite recipes.  Asian lettuce wraps are pretty incredible so when we saw Bill Telepan’s Latin spiced chicken, which marinates for 4 hours with some of our very favorites spices, then it is served in perfect portion sized lettuce cups with a crunchy and fresh slaw, we gave it a try! The down point where this recipes loses that umf is removing all the great flavors with the skin… but you also don’t want to have hunks of chicken leg skin in your light fresh cups.  So what we did is added a little extra salt and pepper to the shredded chicken to make up for he loss.  You can also squeeze more fresh lime juice over your cups before serving.  Enjoy

Contributed by Bill Telepan

INGREDIENTS

  1. 1 tablespoon chile powder
  2. 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  3. 3 garlic cloves, minced
  4. 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  5. 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  6. 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  7. 6 whole chicken legs (about 4 1/2 pounds)—excess fat trimmed, skin scored
  8. 1 pound Savoy cabbage, finely shredded (8 cups)
  9. 1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
  10. 2 jalapeños, seeded and minced
  11. 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  12. 16 large Boston lettuce leaves
Directions:
In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon each of salt and pepper with the chile powder, oregano, garlic, orange juice and 2 tablespoons each of the lime juice and olive oil. Put the chicken legs on a large rimmed baking sheet and coat all over with the spiced oil. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the remaining 1/4 cup each of lime juice and olive oil. Add the cabbage, onion, jalapeños and cilantro. Season the slaw with salt and pepper and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 5 hours, tossing occasionally.
Preheat the oven to 400°. Roast the chicken legs skin side up for about 40 minutes, until browned and cooked through. When cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones and shred the chicken.
Arrange the lettuce on a platter and fill with the chicken; top with the slaw and serve.

Beer O’Clock: Duvel

Duvel is an incredibly delicious and strong golden ale made by the Duvel Moortgat brewery that was established in Belgium in 1871 by Jan-Leonard Moortgat. Duvel Moortgat was also one of the original investors in the small American brewery Omegang in Cooperstown NY. Duval Moortgat eventually took complete control of Omegang and established Moortgat distribution USA.

Like most Belgian ales, Duvel is high in alcohol and at 8.5% it packs a serious punch with in its complex flavors and wonderful golden color. We recommend drinking one of these with dinner. Enjoy it slowly as you’ll want to savor its yeasty and fruity aromas and flavor profiles and seemingly endless head in this new staple to our fridge.

Baked Halibut with Arugula Salsa Verde


Food Network is usually on around here, so over the weekend when we watched Giada making this super fresh and simple halibut recipe- we had to give it a try.  The flavors and textures of this are so delicious, we love fresh herbs infused with citrus and salty capers, all very balanced and at the same time, a great dish to look at.  This was so quick and can be served with some warm rice or fresh bread to give us some carbs.  Please give this one a try, you won’t be disappointed.

Ingredients

Adapted from Giada

Fish Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • salt and pepper

Baked Halibut:

  • Four 6-ounce halibut fillets, each about 1 1/2 inches thick
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Arugula Salsa Verde, recipe follows
  • Lemon wedges for garnish, optional

Directions

Position an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

For the fish topping: Mix the chives, parsley and lemon zest in a small bowl. Cover and chill. This can be prepared 4 hours ahead, but keep chilled.

For the baked halibut: Coat the halibut fillets all over with the olive oil. Place the fish on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper and chive-lemon topping, pressing slightly to adhere. Bake the fish just until opaque in the center, 9 to 10 minutes. Transfer 1 fish fillet to each of 4 plates. Spoon the Arugula Salsa Verde alongside. Serve with the lemon wedges, if using.

Arugula Salsa Verde:

  • 1 cup finely chopped arugula
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup capers, rinsed and drained
  • Juice of 1/2 large lemon (about 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice)
  • Zest of 1 large lemon
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Blend the arugula, parsley, olive oil, capers, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and red pepper together in a food processor. The salsa can be prepared 4 hours ahead, but let it stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

Birthday Desserts

Amber treated me with some special desserts for my birthday on January 5th. Dolce de leche Tres Leches cake from Kristoffer’s bakery on 18th street and salted Carmel Gelato from whole foods. Cooked with 3 milks, tres leches cakes are decadent and delicious. Our particular cake, the dolce de leche, is covered with Kristoffer’s home made carmel sauce – the perfect topping to this treat. We also decided to pick up just a little bit of Whole Foods salted Carmel Gelato Creamy and delicious, it proved to be a perfect side kick in this version of cake and ice cream!

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Dissecting Food: Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a delicious and healthy form of food as they are a great source of dietary fiber and are very low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Mushrooms such as portobellos are also great to use as meat substitutes in a variety of applications. Try making portobello burgers on pretzel rolls or chopping a few up and adding them to your chili instead of ground beef. Mushrooms are actually the spore-bearing, fruiting part of a fungus that grow either above grind or on top of its food source. These facts sound a bit off taste but their inherent texture actually help mushrooms to absorb many of the flavors they’re cooked with while preserving their own characteristics as well. Sometimes there’s nothing better than mushrooms sautéed with butter and herbs to top a great steak with. Some species of mushrooms and mushroom extracts are used for medicinal purposes as they can modulate immune system responses and inhibit tumor growth.

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New Year’s Crown Pork Roast with Cornbread Stuffing

Welcome to 2012! We hosted a great diner party to ring in the new year and our menu was based on a few key components: easy, budget friendly, delicious, impressive.
Amazingly, this meal was all of those and more.  We had each couple bring a component to share: appetizer, salad, dessert and as the host we prepared the main entree.  This not only took a lot of pressure off us for all the little things that can add up in money and time, but it also allowed each guest to contribute something they love.  We chose crown roast pork for it’s beautiful presentation and it is very budget friendly at $5/ lb.  Our sides are all produce- whole foods with simple prep and ingredients which we mostly had on hand.  Our grocery list was very small- veggies, herbs, the roast, fresh bread, fresh flowers, wine/ champagne and our cheeses.
Our menu looked like this:
Appetizers:
Assorted Cheeses with Fresh Baguette Slices
Spinach Artichoke Dip
Sliced Tenderloin of Venison
Panko Crusted Shrimp
Shrimp Cocktail
Salad:
Wedge Salad with bacon, avocado, blue cheese, tomato and red onion
Main Course:
Crown Roast of Pork
Sides:
Cornbread Stuffing
Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Carrots with Garlic, Lemon and Parsley
Parsnips in a Parsley Herb Butter Sauce
Sauces:
Homemade Butter with Honey
Homemade Chimi Churi
Dessert:
Ice Box Cake, ( Chocolate Cookies layered with Vanilla Ice Cream)
Chocolate Dipped Fruit
We had a wonderful time serving our guests and enjoying the party, everything timed perfectly.  We made sure to prep all our sides the day before and some the morning of.  The parsnips, potatoes and carrots were all tossed in their goodness the day before and in sealed bowls in the fridge, we seasoned and sealed the roast the night before, the Cornbread was baked off in the morning and then all assembled and in the fridge, we made the sauces/ butter day of, and 5 hours before serving time we took out the roast to come to room temperature.  Each of the sides were oven and stove top ready and just needed to be cooked off.  Doing a roast is the perfect way to have an easy dinner party- it needs to cook for a while so you have time to prep ( or nap if the prepping is done!) and then when it rests you can finish off all the cooking in the oven with the sides- while we enjoyed the salad with our guests.  Read below for all our recipes on how we made this easy, budget friendly, delicious, impressive meal:

Cornbread Stuffed Crown Roast of Pork
adapted from Paula Dean
Pork Roast:
6 tablespoons olive oil
8 cloves garlic, chopped
4 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 (10-pound) crown of pork, rib ends frenched
Stuffing:
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 medium white onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
6 cups crumbled cornbread ( my recipe used is next)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions
For the pork roast: In a blender, puree the oil, garlic, and sage until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Rub the mixture over the pork roast, making sure to cover the areas between the chops. Transfer the pork to a roasting pan and cover it with foil. Refrigerate it for at least 2 hours and up to 48 hours. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before roasting.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Turn the roast upside down (rib bones down) in the roasting pan. Roast for 20 minutes, and then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and roast until an instant-read thermometer reads 155 degrees F when inserted 2 inches into the center of the meat, about 1 1/2 hours more.

For the stuffing: Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the green pepper, onion, celery, and garlic and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, for 7 to 10 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the vegetable mixture with the crumbled cornbread. Add the eggs, broth, rosemary, cilantro, hot sauce, salt, and pepper and stir to combine. Slowly stir in more broth, if needed, until the stuffing is moistened. Press the stuffing into a 2-quart casserole.

Thirty minutes before removing the roast, place the stuffing in the oven. Bake until golden, about 45 minutes.

When the roast is done, remove it from the oven, tent with foil, and let stand for at least 15 minutes. When the stuffing is done, mound half of it on a serving platter. Flip the roast upright on top of the stuffing. Fill the center of the roast with the remaining stuffing. Slice at the table

Gluten Free Buttermilk Cornbread Muffins
adapted from The Baking Beauties
Yields 12 muffins

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup low fat buttermilk
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup Pamela’s Baking mix
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease muffin pan and set aside.
In a microwave safe bowl, melt butter. Stir in sugar.
Add eggs and stir to combine, Stir in buttermilk.
Add dry ingredients, and stir until few lumps remain, scoop into prepared muffin tin.
Bake for 20 minutes in preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing to cooling rack, crumble and use in the stuffing recipe above!

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Whole Carrots with Fresh Herbs and Garlic
adapted from Tyler Florence

Ingredients
3 lbs assorted fingerling potatoes
1 lb whole carrots, top leaves removed only
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 lemons, halved
6 cloves garlic, left unpeeled
2 cloves, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus for sheet pan
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Directions
Preheat oven to 500 degrees F and place a baking sheet inside to heat.

Add potatoes, rosemary, sage, thyme, and garlic to a medium bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Remove sheet pan from oven, lightly coat with olive oil, and pour potatoes onto pan. Place potatoes in oven and reduce heat to 425 degrees F. Roast for 20 minutes, or until crispy on outside and tender on inside.

Herbed Butter Parsnips
adapted from Tyler Florence

Ingredients
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 pounds parsnips, peeled and sliced into circles
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Herb Butter:
1 stick ( 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup mixed chopped parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions
Put the olive oil and butter into a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables and toss to coat them well with the fat; season with salt and pepper. Add 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the Herb Butter by combining the soft butter and herbs together; season with some salt and pepper.

Add the hot vegetables and Herb Butter.

Chimi Churi
adapted from Food.com

1 bunch flat leaf parsley
8 cloves garlic
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 lemon (juice of)
2 tablespoons diced red onion
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:
Pulse parsley in processor to chop. Add remaining ingredients and blend.

Homemade Butter

1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon honey

In a stand mixer with whisk attachment, whip cream with salt and honey until it becomes solid and separates from the liquids, 6-8 minutes.  Drain excess liquid and scoop into serving dishes.