Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spring Pea and Shrimp Linguine for 2

Ok, so I didn't really sit and shell fresh peas to make this recipe.  Frozen peas, picked and frozen at their prime freshness, are a really great way to showcase this Spring staple.  Another fantastic frozen food: shrimp.  Frozen just after being caught, shrimp can add a fresh seafood taste to any meal.

This easy weeknight recipe uses both frozen peas and shrimp for a bright Spring dish.  I usually write my recipes in measurements for a  family-sized portion but in all honesty, I am just cooking for two.  If you are cooking for more people, simply double or triple the ingredients.  The cooking times remain the same.

Spring Pea and Shrimp Linguine for 2

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2  lb. frozen shrimp, thawed (peeled, de-veined, & tails removed)
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 lb. linguine
  • 1 T grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 4 large basil leafs, cut into a chiffonade (very thin ribbons)

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook pasta to package directions.  In the last 4 minutes of cooking time, add the peas to the cooking water.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet at medium-high heat; add the olive oil.  Saute the minced garlic for about 1 minute, until lightly browned.  Add the shrimp to pan and saute until pink, about 3-4 minutes.

Drain pasta and peas; add to the pan with the shrimp.  Toss lightly, using the leftover butter and oil as the sauce.  Transfer to serving bowl and top with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and basil.



Saturday, May 21, 2011

Kinda-Cobb Salad

When people hear "Cobb salad," their minds usually associate this with corn-on-the-cob.  In fact, a traditional Cobb salad doesn't have corn in it at all.  It just happened to be invented by Cobb, Howard Cobb.

A lot of people are stumped when it comes to salads.  They need inspiration to steer them away from the same ol' iceburg-tomato-and-cheese trio that usually stakes claim in their salad bowls.  This salad was an easy weeknight meal for 2.  I did not have any tomatoes on-hand, but halved cherry tomatoes would have been a great addition to this salad.  Add or leave out any ingredient you wish; that's the beauty of salads!

Kinda-Cobb Salad

  • 8 large Romaine leafs, diced into 1/2" strips
  • 4 slices turkey lunchmeat, rolled into a log and sliced into 1/2" pieces
  • 4 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup crumbled bleu cheese
  • 1/2 avocado, diced into small cubes
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, diced into small cubes
  • 1/2 small red onion, sliced into thing rings
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
Layer a bed of Romaine in each of two salad bowls.  Top with remaining ingredients.

Cobb salads are typically served with a vinaigrette of some sort, but use and dressing of your choice.

Serve with garlic bread and enjoy!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Restaurant Review - Jack's Firehouse

My husband and I joined my mother and father at Jack’s Firehouse for brunch for Mothers’ Day after seeing their Mother’s Day brunch availability on opentable.com. Having previously lived in Fairmount, Jack’s was a fond memory of a neighborhood gem and my husband and I were excited to return. Years ago, my husband fell in love with the restaurant over the “best Kobe steak he has ever had in his life”.

Not having been there in several years, I was hopeful that it lived up to my memory. Walking the wonderful neighborhood of Fairmount (and aching to move back), we rounded the corner of Fairmount Ave. to see Jack’s doors open to let in the absolutely stunning weather. My husband and I later both agreed, it seemed smaller for some reason, but still very charming. The outdoor seating couldn’t have made us a happier bunch and we were surrounded by lovely families also enjoying Mothers’ Day.

Service by our young waitress left a bit to be desired, although I think the number of tables that she was waiting multiplied to an unmanagable amount when the lovely weather allowed outside seating to be added. A complete set of water glasses did not arrive until after asking twice and tea & coffee refills were hard to come by.
The drinks were beautifully presented, although I think a bit weak.

The real highlight was the food… ah the food. I think this was the best brunch buffet I have ever had. The woman at the salad station whipped up a delicious starter. I then returned for some pastries (homemade and delicious!) and some of the hot selections. Then… I went back yet again to the carving station where they were slicing up roast beef, turkey and lamb. Under the carver’s suggestion, I sampled the lamb and was VERY glad I did. By far the best lamb I have ever had, rubbed with a delicious seasoning and cooked to tender perfection. After all of this food, I was satisfied… but could not resist going in for one more plate (oink oink) to try the toffee crunch butter cake that my mother was raving about. Heaven!

Jack’s Firehouse you did not disappoint! Another great part of this visit – walking across the street for a quick tour of the Eastern State Penitentiary. My mother, being a lover of history, was as happy as a clam.

Jack’s Firehouse
2130 Fairmount Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Dining al fresco at Jack's Firehouse in Fairmount, Philadelphia, PA.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Meatless Monday - Pasta with Spring Vegetable Pesto

Spring is here! As a foodie, this is my favorite time of year. The sun is bringing us out of hibernation, birds are singing merry songs, flowers are brightening the landscape. Best of all: bright, fresh vegetables are readily abundant.

My favorite spring veggie: asparagus. After reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I have learned to appreciate asparagus for its incredibly short season and would be FASCINATED to learn how it is grown & harvested the other 50 weeks of the year. If you have not yet read this book, run, don’t walk, to your nearest library or bookstore to get a copy.

Meatless meals are perfect for spring and summer. Delicious, organic produce is plentiful and our bodies crave lighter meals rather than the heavy, fatty meals we consume in colder months. An added bonus, with swimsuit season around the corner, is the calories that you do without when forgoing meat.

Inspired by the season’s produce, I headed to my “test kitchen” to utilize the bright green spears. Armed with my food processor, I created a tasty April meatless meal.

Pasta with Spring Vegetable Pesto (makes 4 servings)
  • 8 oz. whole wheat penne pasta (or your favorite pasta)
  • 1 small bunch asparagus
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) peas
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (or more, as needed)
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • Salt & pepper

 Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Wash the asparagus spears and cut off bottom inch and a half (in my opinion, snapping the spears by hand wastes a lot of perfectly good asparagus!). Cut all of the spears into 1-2 inch pieces. Set half aside, and add remaining pieces to the water along with half of the peas. Cook briefly until vegetables are bright green, about 2 minutes, and remove from boiling water (do not drain) using a spider or strainer to the bowl of a food processor.

In the meantime, add the pasta to the boiling water and begin to cook according to package directions.

To the food processor, add lemon juice; season with salt & pepper. Pulse a few times to begin breaking down the vegetables then add the pine nuts and parmesan. Blend vegetables and drizzle in the olive oil until a pesto texture is produced.

In the last two minutes of the cooking time, add the reserved asparagus and peas to the pasta cooking water. Drain and toss with the pesto. Serve topped with extra grated parmesan.



Saturday, April 9, 2011

Restaurant Review - Isabella

A fairly new Tapas restaurant in Conshohocken, Isabella, is still wet under their ears and seems to be working out their kinks. The atmosphere is Spanish/trendy - excellent decor. The clientele is mature and fun. Their new bartender, Malik, is very friendly and helpful.

On our first visit in 2010, I was excited we walked by the pizza ovens outside behind the restaurant - which made for some very legit flatbread! Inside, we enjoyed the mussels - topped with a mountain of crispy shallots, very memorable, as well as sangria. My husband tried the white, I the red. I was happiest with my choice, although the white did not fall too far behind. A brief chat with the mildly-snobbish manager left us a bit weary, but did not let it affect our night.

Their recent addition of happy hour has always beckoned me on my commute home along Elm Street, so I decided to drag my husband and neighbor out for a happy hour this past Tuesday. We enjoyed their new specials, as well as a new manager! Draft specials of many of my favorite craft beers on tap, half price small plates, and wine specials. They also have two Smirnoff cocktails for $5 - a martini and cosmopolitan. The Ommegang or Allegash on tap was enticing, but not being in a beer mood, I tried the Albarino. I was happy I did - it was a perfectly dry white wine that accompanied my small plates rather well.  I sampled the cosmopolitan but I am a bit of a vodka snob and would recommend staying away. A well-made martini or cosmopolitan should never be made with middle-shelf vodka, IMO.

We spoke, perhaps a little slurred-ly due to the several happy hour cocktails, to the owner; a very personable man. He asked our opinion of our experience and being a foodie, I gave it to him straight. The shrimp croquettes were sub-par - the tomato/cumin dipping sauce was delicious but the shrimp just didn't work for me (to be honest, I think a simple chickpea would have worked much better). He agreed with me and actually remarked "I am taking it off the menu!" This really impressed me that he was so willing to listen to a diner's opinion. The calamari was very good, as were the mussels (again), but my favorite was the frites with truffle oil, which can be smelled immediately when entering the restaurant. Not to be missed!

All-in-all, Isabella is a welcomed addition to Conshohocken. I give it 4 out of 5 stars for its potential and my confidence that all kinks will be worked out and this unique dining spot will surpass all of my expectations. I look forward to trying the Tango lessons they offer upstairs on Tuesdays and hope to make it a regular dining/happy hour destination!

382 E. Elm St.
Conshohocken, PA 19428


Monday, March 7, 2011

Meatless Monday - 24 Recipes to Make Meatless Mondays Go Down Easier

Suburban Spoon has been featured on Huffington Post on more than one occasion for my meatless recipes.  This morning, I saw that they had a great collection of recipes featured for Meatless Mondays in case you are searching for more.

24 Vegetarian Recipes To Make Meatless Mondays Go Down Easier


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sausage, Beer & Cheese Stew

Most of us can simply taste the onset of Spring despite the recent dip of temps below freezing (even after Mother Nature's cruel tease of 70-degree weather in Philadelphia a week ago!).  I came up with this hearty stew recipe to chase away those last bits of winter, serve with warm crusty bread for a satisfying dinner.  

Sausage, Beer & Cheese Stew
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, diced (about 1 large)
  • 1 cup carrots, diced (about 2 large)
  • 1 cups celery, diced (about 1-2 stalks)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 12-ounce bottle of lager (I used Yuengling)
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 lb. all-purpose potatoes, peeled and diced into about 1" pieces
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, depending on how hot you like it
  • 1/2 cup of milk or half and half
  • 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 16 oz. turkey smoked sausage, sliced into 1/2" rounds
  • 2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese
  • Salt & pepper
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add onion, carrots, and celery.  Season with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper and saute for 10 minutes, until soft.  Add flour and cook for 1 minute. 

Add stock, beer, and potatoes.  Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes or until potatoes are beginning to get tender. 

Add milk or half and half, Worcestershire sauce and spices along with an additional 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and sausage and return to a boil. 

While soup simmers, remove 2 cups of vegetables and liquid and puree in a food processor or blender.  Stir back into soup along with grated cheese.  Heat for 5-10 minutes longer, until sausage is heated through.



Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Interesting Read on Organic Foods

Sorry, I've been very busy lately and have had no time to blog! 

I read a very interesting post that I wanted to share with you....

Organic Milk Is Less "Fresh" Than Conventional Milk And 13 Other Food Shockers


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Restaurant Review - The Stone Rose

More than once, I have been asked by a few colleagues, "Why haven't you tried writing a restaurant review?" After all, this is "Suburban Spoon" - the adventures of a foodie in the suburbs of Philly! I have been dying to try a new-er restaurant in Conshohocken, The Stone Rose, so I thought - let's give it a try!

In the past week, I have been to The Stone Rose twice - once for lunch with my neighbor and once for cocktails & dinner with friends. Lunch was good; it was a lovely day and The Stone Rose has outdoor seating at the front of the restaurant which made it feel very metropolitan, as if I were eating downtown. I had the chicken pita special, which was very good but nothing noteworthy.

For my dinner at Stone Rose, I went with a couple of girlfriends for a night out. Since I am getting married soon, we thought it would be fun to go out and taste-test cocktails so that I chose the signature drink for my wedding. The bartender, who I believe might also be the manager, was extremely accommodating and friendly - especially considering I came with a list of cocktail recipes that we wanted to try.

One major point that I appreciated was that the menu strived to include as locally grown and organic ingredients as possible. From the local greens to the grass-raised beef, I was grateful to finally find a local, suburban restaurant with a green conscience.

The Food: presented beautifully, which of course is very important to a foodie. The first thing we have a chance to judge is the way a dish looks. I had the Stone Rose Salad to begin. The attractive pile of greens was tossed with the perfect amount of cider vinaigrette, but I was disappointed by the meagerness of the toppings: Wisconsin sharp cheddar, candied pecans, and apples.

For my entree, I chose the locally raised Oven Roasted Free Range Chicken. Those who know me well know that I love my chicken; I just can't think of anything more versatile and delicious! The chicken was seasoned and roasted to perfection. The herbed rice gratin that it was served with was fantastic, folded with a wonderfully sharp bleu cheese.

Sadly, we did not have any room for dessert, although I didn't even see any mentioned anywhere so I'm not sure that they even SERVE desserts.

The Service: the three of us sat at the bar, although there were open tables since we had gotten there fairly early (7:00PM) and it was a Tuesday night. Like I mentioned before, the gentleman taking care of us was very cordial.

The Atmosphere: the urban-like feel of this restaurant is unique to Conshohocken, and I think it is about time something of its caliber came along. From the open-air seating, to the hardwood floors and beautiful bar, the aesthetic of this restaurant was an A+ in my book.

Will I return? Absolutely. I am thrilled with this addition to my neighboring town. I cannot wait to try the Braised Beef Short Ribs over Mac & Cheese as well as their Stone Rose Burger. Since the location is not the largest, I will surely try another weeknight to avoid a crowd.

The Stone Rose
822 Fayette Street
Conshohocken, PA  19428


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Food News: What was she thinking???!!

I respect Lady Gaga as an artist.  Really, I think she is a great performer.  The next Madonna?  I don't know about that, but she is definitely trying to make waves wearing a dress made of meat to the MTV Video awards.  Lady Gaga, that is just wretched... stay away from my house, especially on Mondays!

Photos courtesy of Huffington Post.

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