Thursday, June 30, 2011

Suzy Wong's House of Yum Date Night

In an attempt to explore more of what Nashville has to offer, my boyfriend and I have been going out once a week to a new restaurant. This week's restaurant, thanks to a groupon, was Suzy Wong's House of Yum. I had been here before a while back and thought it was pretty good, but I wanted to try some other menu items.

We decided to share a Yum Bowl and a few small plates. We started off with Sesame Steak Yakatori Skewers. They were very flavorful and the sesame was strong. It tasted a lot like toasted sesame oil, which at times I am not as big a fan of as the regular sesame oil, but this melded well with the other flavors of the steak. We also got the Vegetable Gyoza Pot Stickers. My boyfriend was disappointed because he is used to the fried version and these were the boiled version. Next time I'll be sure to ask. In any case they were good, but not great. There was something missing in the flavor department and I though the dumpling wrappers were not as tender as they could be. Lastly in the small plate portion of the meal we shared the Five Spiced Braised Pork Ribs. Let me tell you, these were AMAZING! Definitely the best thing we ate that night. They were fall of the bone tender and the sauce was delicious with an array of spices and a little bit of heat. These are a must have when dining here.

We shared the Indian Crock Pot Chicken and Rice. This dish had flavor, sadly the flavor was one dimensional, a little too much of some spice, although I am not sure which. And despite me asking the server exactly what it was, we were still shocked to see what actually came to the table. She described it as being similar to a yellow curry. However it was really more like a fried rice with an accompanying flavored soy sauce to pour on top. Next I will ask better questions. Oh well, this is the point of trying new restaurants and new recipes.

All in all I think this restaurant is great for the food, especially the small plates, the price, and the ambiance. They have done a wonderful job with decorating and the music is great. The servers were friendly, although the one we head was not as knowledgeable about some of the food, she also seemed new.

We are looking forward to next week, especially since it will be my last dinner in Nashville for a month.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Watermelon Season

During the summer I am usually gone the entire time in Bolivia doing research for my graduate work. This summer I am only going down for a short season, which means, I get to feast on one of my favorite all time foods- Watermelon. For me there is nothing quite like it. They are so flavorful, yet simple, and add a refreshing addition to any meal, or as a dessert. Inspired by my favorite magazine, Bon Appetit (July 2011 addition) I created a perfect summer salad.

Watermelon and Arugula Salad
Ingredients: (Not exact, but like any salad it depends on how many your making it for)
Mint (finely chopped)

Olive oil
Trader Joe's Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar (or any light citrusy vinegar)
Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Just mix all of the ingredients and you will have a salad to delight (and surprise) your taste buds.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

I rarely buy bananas, but for some reason I placed them in my grocery cart thinking maybe I'd make a smoothie or something. As the days went by I noticed that they had started to go bad. I thought, hhmmm, why don't I make banana bread? I've never made it before, despite how simple the recipe is. I then remembered one of my favorite breakfast foods from the dining commons in college- chocolate chip banana muffins! I usually skipped out on breakfast (I had the cheap dining plan, 2 meals a day) but days when they were serving these muffins, I had to be there! There's just something about bananas and chocolate that I love, and those muffins were pure bliss. So I searched the online archives for the perfect banana bread recipe. I couldn't really find one that I liked so I decided to alter and combine a few to make one delicious hunk of bread.

3-4 bananas (I used 3.5 because I ate half of one, it really depends on the size)
1/3 cup melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt (or about 1/8 tsp.)
1 1/2 cups flour
Chocolate chips (just eyeball it)

1)Preheat the oven to 350
2) Mash bananas (I used a potato masher) and then combine all ingredients and mix until combined

3) Pour batter into greased 4x8 loaf pan

4) Bake for 1 hour
5) Let cool and eat

Having been my first time making banana bread I was sure something would have gone awry. But to my pleasant surprise it was delicious! The bread was perfectly cooked and far from being dry. The chocolate chips added a layer of flavor that complimented the bananas. And remember, chocolate is good for you!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I need to remember a camera

One thing that has stopped me from doing this in the past is taking pictures while I'm cooking. I guess I get too caught up in cooking that I forget to have a camera ready, let alone remember to charge it. Batteries now charging...

I was lucky to receive a shipment of artichokes from my mom yesterday, and I mean a shipment. I think there are about 10 in all. Living in Tennessee it is difficult to find beautiful and affordable artichokes, so when my mom finds them on sale she sends me a food care package. So with my boyfriend out of town I decided to rent a couple movies and cook up some of the beautiful 'chokes.

My mom taught me to boil them in water with olive oil, lemons, basil, garlic, rosemary, oregano, and salt. It adds a lot of great flavor to the artichokes themselves. She also taught me how to make the dipping sauce which is a combination of the same ingredients, only no water and lots of butter. These artichokes are so flavorful though that they don't even need the sauce. I only ate two of them because I am saving the rest for one of my favorite artichoke treats. Grilled with chipotle mayonnaise, a take on one of my favorite appetizers from the Hitching Post (the restaurant in Sideways), which is one of my favorite restaurants from my home county.

But a woman cannot subsist on artichokes alone (or can she?) so in addition I made one of my favorite go-to dinners, Tilapia Piccata. This is perhaps one of the simplest, but intensely flavorful dishes. Since I am on a tight budget I usually have some frozen tilapia in the freezer- they come in handy after a busy day when you forgot to defrost something else because they can defrost super fast.

Ingredients: (Not exact, but pretty darn close, I'll get better at this)
For the fish:
2 tilapia filets
Enough milk to soak fish in, about 1/4 to 1/2 cup
Shallow bowl of flour with salt, pepper, cayenne to taste
Olive oil
Juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon
1/3 cup dry white wine
Capers (as many as you like)

1) Soak fish for about 10-20 minutes
2) Put flour in shallow bowl and add salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste
3) Remove tialpia from milk and season with salt and pepper, then coat in flour mixture
4) Heat olive oil in pan, enough to pan fry the fish, and add a little butter, about 1 tbsp
5) Add fish to hot oil and pan fry until golden and crispy on both sides then remove from pan and keep warm
6) In the same pan with all the yummy flavors add white wine and lemon juice to deglaze the pan, add capers and let sauce thicken, about 3-5 minutes
7) Pour sauce over fish and serve

This dish can be served with many sides, I usually like angel hair pasta and some pesto, but last night I served it over spinach.


Friday, June 24, 2011


I've started this blog in the hopes of being able to share my passion for food with people. I have been an avid cook and baker since I was very young. My love of food has guided my career path, but rather than go to culinary school I chose to study archaeology. Specifically I study how food was an integral part of everyday life in the past and how people interacted with each other and the foods that they ate.

In this blog I will share my cooking and baking adventures (or misadventures) through recipes and thoughts. I will share reviews of local restaurants in Nashville, as well as the foods that I eat when I travel. There will probably even be some random posts throughout about food in general.

I look forward to sharing with a community of fellow foodies!