Sunday, January 13, 2013

simple grilled chicken caesar salad

     I made Gail's grilled chicken Caesar for dinner. It is simple and healthy and really yummy. This salad uses chicken tenders, but I didn't have any, so I cut some boneless, skinless chicken breasts into strips before seasoning and grilling. This meal can be prepared with a minimum of muss and fuss. Thanks goodness!
     The first time I had these, I would have bet the farm that Gail marinated those strips for hours. They were so tender and juicy... not dry and dusty like chicken tenders sometimes like to be.
     She simply brushed them with a dab of olive oil, so they wouldn't stick to the grill, and seasoned them nicely with Lawry's seasoned salt and lots of black pepper. You know how we loves our pepper! I added a few thyme leaves into the mix... just for fun.
     Let the chicken strips hang around in the fridge for about thirty minutes after seasoning, just so the chicken and spices can get better acquainted. While the grill is heating up, allow the meat to come to room temp. Now, time to dress up the green stuff.
     Tear up the romaine by hand. Please don't abuse the lettuce by attacking it with a knife. What did romaine ever do to you? Sprinkle a little grated Romano cheese and again, lots of black pepper onto the lettuce, then toss it about the bowl.
     Run check on the tenders... When they stop sticking to the grill and come up easily, you can turn them. It's called caramelizing, class. (Add this word to your glossary of cooking terminology. There may be a quiz later.) A few minutes on the other side, then remove and let the chicken rest on a plate while you finish up the salad.
     I just adore hearts of palm, so I threw them in in lieu of croutons... Good grief, stop your whining. Remember, we're being healthy tonight. Okay? Add a little of your favorite Caesar dressing and some grated or shaved Parmesan cheese to the salad and toss. Place desired amount on a plate or wide, flat bowl. Top with two or three chicken fingers, more pepper, more cheese and serve it up. Whew! Now, wasn't that fun?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

rosemary-parmesan polenta


     Do you know the secret of polenta? (Shhhh... It's just good, ole yellow corn grits with a fancified name.) I think someone had to come up with an alias just to get those snooty food people and silly Northerners to even try them.
     I can't say that I blame them. I'm often afraid to order grits in a restaurant. They're usually bland, white and tasteless. But slowly simmered yellow cornmeal... Now, that's a completely different story!
     Polenta can be soft or firm and enjoyed anytime of the day or night. It can, just like grits, be cooled and hardened, cut and sauteed or grilled.
     I've made it lots of different ways, but this recipe is a snap and VERY delicious. The cream creates a velvety texture and the Parmesan and rosemary kick up the flavor. I'd never steer you wrong... just give it a try. This polenta would be lovely topped with a wild mushroom ragu, oven roasted veggies or a nice piece of grilled fish. Get creative!
     I served it with my hearty Italian gravy and hand-rolled meatballs. I added steamed veggies and a crusty loaf of bread. A delicious dinner no matter what you call it!
Ingredients
2 c. polenta (yellow corn grits)
4 c. water
2 c. heavy cream
1 t. chicken bouillon base
2 t. garlic powder
1 t. salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 T. butter
1/2 c. parmesan cheese or more to taste
1 T. fresh, finely chopped rosemary
Directions
In a deep saucepan, bring water, cream and salt to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Add chicken base, garlic and pepper. Stir in polenta and continue to stir for a few minutes, until it is creamy and well blended. Cook on very low heat for approximately thirty minutes, or until the polenta is done. Make sure you stir it frequently so the bottom won't stick.
Add the butter, Parmesan cheese and fresh rosemary. Stir and taste for seasonings.
Butter a 13x9" glass baking dish and pour hot polenta into dish. Set it aside while you prepare the rest of your dinner.
The polenta will retain it's shape, hardening as it cools. Cut into squares. Warm when ready to serve by heating it in a non-stick skillet or grill pan that has been treated with cooking spray or oil. Pour your favorite sauce over and serve.

Monday, January 7, 2013

goodbye, little food maven

     I've made a big decision. It is confusing. And silly. And a bit sad... But, it's 2013. I've decided to stop putting off the inevitable and move on.
     Several years ago, a dear friend began to call me a food maven, albeit humorous that I am an expert of anything. When I decided to blog about my adventures in cooking, she suggested using the title of The Food Maven.
     Being a novice out in the blogosphere, I never even considered the possibility that anyone else owned or used the same name. I stumbled upon another Food Maven by accident around a year into it... while trying to buy the domain. Uh-oh.
Arthur Schwartz, a.k.a The (real) Food Maven
     Feeling like a fraud, I naturally wrote a sassy little post about my discovery, but proudly pressed on. You know... he's in New York. I'm in the coastal south. When would our paths ever cross? Right?
     A few months ago, a gentleman contacted me on the FM Facebook page, calling me a fellow Brooklyn boy and asking if I knew what happened to Mrs. Maxwell's or Nesselrode pies from the 50's. First of all, that's before my time. Secondly, I'm a girl... okay?
     Between struggling to find time to post, wanting to expand my blogging horizons and attempting to learn new things, I've found that sharing a name with someone else is a pain in the neck... among other locations.
     I'm begrudgingly letting go of the title of Food Maven and bravely promoting the original tagline (documenting edible creativity) to the grand status of new blog title. woo. hoo.
     While designing a new header, I surprised even myself upon the discovery that the middle of the word, creativity is EAT... I'm so excited!
     So, don't worry. Be happy. And please, don't get lost. I'm still me... a foodie. A lover of most things edible. (From the very post, I acknowledged that I won't EVER be a fan of liver.) Someone who never tires of cooking, writing, photographing and reading about food. Just a person who simply loves to feed people.
     I'm a little sad to let the Maven go. She's been my alter ego for a while, now... I've gotten accustomed to the name... and it's such a nice name. Sniff, sniff.
     Thanks for reading my little blog... I really like writing it. Invite your friends and neighbors to drop by... You never know what'll be cooking!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

let's review: skull creek boathouse, hilton head

     We recently dined at Skull Creek Boathouse in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Located waterfront on Skull Creek, this place has inside and outside dining. We visited the Boathouse once before, last year... I just haven't mentioned it to you before.
     Skull Creek Boathouse is very popular and doesn't take reservations... another words, don't plan to pop in & out. Come for the long haul. Sit back, relax and enjoy the view.
     They also serve lunch and have an early bird seating for dinner. On the weekend stop by for brunch between 10am and 3pm.
     There were eight in our party, including a one year old who was out past her expiration date. To say the least, we were going to be a challenge. The 40 minute wait wasn't going to improve our chances, either...  but we'll wait. It will be worth it.
     We began the night with two orders of Buffalo Chicken Dip. This three-cheese dip has is full of roasted chicken. It packs a bit of a kick compliments of Crystal Hot Sauce and is served with tortilla chips. As you can see from the photo, it was good. Really, really good... both orders were gone before I could even get a shot... Some people are so difficult to train.
Here's the lowdown on the rest of our dinner:
     Big Kahuna Tuna sandwich lived up to it's name... it was BIG and delicious. Served with either seasoned fries or sweet potato fries, this sandwich will fill you up!
     Special of the night, Grilled Wahoo came topped with Peach bourbon chutney and served with Savannah red rice and green beans. This was a nicely flavored piece of fish, but WAY overdone. We were not impressed. But, it was the only thing we didn't love. If it wasn't so late & we weren't legion in number, we would have requested a do-over.
     My nephew's choice, Shrimp and Grits was a winner. I'm never a fan of the sausage over-powering the shrimp... that's just wrong. The Boathouse came shining through. Served in a large bowl, we agreed that this delightful version would be the perfect dish to order on a blustery night at sea... warm, comforting and just the right amount of smokiness.
hawaiian poki
     I ordered two appetizers as my entree... the Hawaiian Poki Tuna and Asian-style Salmon ceviche from the Dive Bar. The Poki was amazing... I could have eaten a couple more. Poki consists of tiny pieces of cubed sashimi grade Tuna, soy, green onion,ginger, chiles, sesame oil, chopped romaine, and toasted macadamia nuts. The flavors work well together... my mouth was extremely happy!
salmon ceviche
     The ceviche is a large portion. You pick which style to combine. Tropical, Latin, Asian and Thai are the four types. You also choose the seafood you want. I settled on salmon in an Asian style... big mistake (mine.)
     The Asian inspired sauce seemed a bit oily and salmon is an oily fish. It tasted fishy, like cooked salmon sometimes does. Raw salmon imparts a sweet flavor, which was not present. My brother-in-law chose tropical Conch. He made a wise move... the conch was tender and the tropical style was a perfect combination of flavors. Fabulous, Daahhling!
conch ceviche
tuna 3ways
     My daughter ordered the Tuna 3 ways: A tasting of hawaiian poki, far east carpaccio, spicy tuna tartare. The tuna tartare was OMG, I can't breathe spicy! We all really loved this dish, but I'd have to say that the Hawaiian Poki is by far the best!
Beautiful setting. Good service. We'll visit again... You should too!
Skull Creek Boathouse on Urbanspoon