Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Baked Shrimp with Yellow Rice

Sorry I haven't posted lately. I have several posts in the works, so keep watching!
Today was a great cooking day. Somehow my body has gotten used to 6 hours of sleep per night. Don't ask me how I managed that one! Anyway, I woke up half and hour early and made pancakes. 

For those of you that don't know me well, I have always considered pancakes one of my specialties. I had memorized the recipe from an old Fanny Farmer cookbook and it always gets rave reviews. But today I decided to change it up and these pancakes are the best EVER!!! Anyway, I will post that recipe in the near future. I need to get some good pictures.

Tonight, I made up this shrimp with yellow rice dish that is very easy and very tasty. I served it with a simple salad and tostones. Enjoy!

Baked Shrimp with Yellow Rice
(Arroz Amarillo con Camarones)

Olive Oil
1 small Dried Chorizo, diced
1/2 cup Onion, diced
1/4 cup Carrot, diced
1/2 cup fresh Tomato, diced (1 small tomato)
3 cloves of Garlic
1 Bay Leaf
Bijol or Saffron
1 pound Large Shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups Long Grain White Rice, uncooked
4 cups Chicken Stock

This recipe is best in a pan with a tight lid that can go directly from the stove to oven. I used a large calphalon saute pan, almost like a paella pan.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the pan over medium heat. Coat the bottom with olive oil (1-2 tablespoons, depending on the size of the pan). Add diced chorizo, diced onion and diced carrot cover and cook for a few minutes until the chorizo starts to brown, the onion is translucent and the carrot begins to soften. Add diced tomato and minced garlic. Lower heat slightly, and cook for 3-4 minutes more.

Meanwhile, rinse 2 cups of rice until water is clear. Add rice to saute pan, along with bay leaf. sprinkle Bijol (annato coloring and seasoning) over the rice or add saffron. The Bijol will turn everything orange. Don't be alarmed. You will need it to be pretty orange for the rice to come out yellow. I just sprinkled it on, so I didn't measure, but I think it was about 1/2 teaspoon.

Add 4 cups of chicken stock. Season with salt, if desired (I used about 1/4 teaspoon).
Bring to a boil. Spread shrimp evenly on top of the rice mixture, cover and put in the oven.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until rice is cooked through. If you are using a smaller deeper pan it will probably take a little longer.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Books for Cooks Review: The Kitchen Daughter

For several months now, I have been reading what I'll call "books for cooks". These aren't cookbooks, although they often include a handful of recipes. The key feature is that cooking must be an integral part of the story. 

The Kitchen Daughter

I just finished one such book called The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry.  The book begins when the main character of the book, Ginny, has just lost both her elderly parents. Ginny has Asperger's Syndrome and is uncomfortable with social interactions. As she learns to move on with her life she turns to her love of cooking to help her cope. Ginny discovers she can summon ghosts to her kitchen when she cooks from one of their hand-written recipes.

The book is a surprisingly quick read and yet is fulfilling on many levels.  I love a book that is fun to read and educational at the same time. This book taught me about Asperger's Syndrome.  One line I particularly loved is when Ginny tells her sister "I am socially awkward not retarded." Ginny is capable of living on her own, but she has some uncomfortable moments in getting there. Meanwhile, she copes by thinking of flavors and textures of food. 

With a kitchen lined with cookbooks, I can relate to Ginny. Cooking does put me in a some type of zone and thinking about food distracts me from the stresses of life. I would love to be in the kitchen with her while she's making Ribollita, an Italian bean and bread soup, or savoring Spicy hot chocolate spiced with Ancho chili for the first time.  I am not particularly inclined to follow any of the recipes in the book, but I do like that they are included. For some reason, reading the recipe helps me put myself in the story.

If you love to read and you love cooking, I highly recommend this book.  The author, Jael McHenry, also writes the Simmer blog at

Friday, August 5, 2011

John G's (3 Forks, $15-20pp)

A long time Lake Worth favorite breakfast and lunch spot, John G's, is relocating to Manalapan and it's going upscale. Directly across from the Ritz Carlton, located in a posh plaza, the new John G's loses its rustic sea captain decor in favor of a black-and-white-tiled bistro theme. Will John G's be the same without the irritating parking situation and the wait we came to expect at the old location? Only time will tell. The ample free parking and larger capacity of the new location holds some promise.
The New John G's
Scheduled to open in August, we are left to wonder when, already a week into August. Impatient, yes. My last visit to John G's was just before it closed its old location. And, sadly, the first time I had sampled their breakfast. I finally know why John G's has such a following! I had their famous Original Cinnamon Nut French Toast ($7.90) with a side of sausage links ($2.35).

Surprisingly savory with the sweet contrast of the maple syrup, this nutty french toast is hearty yet so delicious you will want to eat the whole thing. The sausages were flavorful and plump. A large fruit cup of mixed citrus, melon, and pineapple is a bit sour but a refreshing complement to the rest of the meal.  The coffee is also first-rate.

One thing that I love about John G's is the unique menu. While not robust, it offers interesting items that a food lover like me don't see very often. One such item is the Peameal Canadian Bacon, an import from Canada, which I believe is simply Canadian bacon rolled in cornmeal. 

Egg lovers will find a delicious array of "Ethnic Omelets" for $9-10, including Polish (kielbasa, pepper, onion, cheese sauce), Italian (sausage, pepperoni, pepper, mozzarella, onion,mushroom, Italian sauce), Greek (feta, pepper, onion, tomato), and Hawaiian (veggies, cheese sauce, pineapple garnish), to name a few. Corned beef hash, Eggs Casino (like Benedict), and huge fluffy pancakes are also one the menu for less than $10. 

While John G's is known for breakfast, lunch is also good. Known for their fresh, perfectly fried fish and chips ($13.75), they also offer a variety of sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, pastas, salads, and soups.  An excellent Seafood Bisque is available only on Fridays.  Lunches range in price from $6 to almost $20 a plate, with drinks extra.

When it reopens, I will be in line for breakfast to try the Raisin Cream Cheese French Toast and Peameal Canadian Bacon.  And, I will still be able to take a stroll across the road and walk off the calories on the beach.  If you go, bring cash. Credit is not accepted.

John G's is located at
Plaza Del Mar, 264 So. Ocean Blvd.
Manalapan, FL

John G's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Butterfields Southern Cafe (2 forks, $12-15pp)

I was on a blood-test fast the morning I discovered Butterfields Southern Cafe. Even in my starved state, though, I couldn't come close to finishing my breakfast.  It all started out innocently enough with a decent, though unremarkable cup of joe. I surely wouldn't be coming back for the coffee, but it also was drinkable, particularly in my current un-caffienated condition.  Then, ba ba bum...... the Southern Biscuits and gravy arrived.
I know this looks like a grayish glob of goo, but this blob was exactly what I was looking for when I walked into this so-called Southern Cafe.  Yum!! The biscuit was torn into big fluffy pieces and smothered in a peppery sausage gravy.  I gobbled it up and kept the plate, so I could use the rest of the gravy on the rest of my breakfast!  Now, let me assure you that this gravy isn't concealing a throw-away, hard, stale biscuit (yes I have seen other places try to pull that off).  I fortunately got a second biscuit along with the rest of my meal.  Look at how huge this thing is...... easily twice the size of any biscuit I have ever seen and light and fluffy.  A GREAT biscuit.

I was already full when I finished the B&G, but I kept eating.  The rest of my breakfast looked a lot better than it tasted. 

The eggs were fine for me, but I like them dry.  The sausages were plump but oddly tasteless and greasy. The home fries are confusing. They look fine, but they had that empty yet salty flavor of potatoes that were salted after cooking instead of before.  Just, ugh.

Now, what do I do? Is this an Urban Spoon up or down? Biscuits great, everything else yuck.  Well, let's look at the rest of the picture.

The outside is nice, clean, and inviting.
Someone greeted me the minute I came in a showed me to a seat. Very casually dressed servers in shorts and t-shirts kind of suit the casual feel of the place.  My server took my drink order before I even sat down. She was pleasant and efficient, so I had no complaints in that department. 

The dining area is well lit with natural lighting flowing in from a wall of windows.  The room has a casual and slightly rustic feel. The deer heads mounted on the walls didn't come as a surprise since this restaurant is a branch of the well-rated Gun Club Cafes. 

As long as you don't look down, the room looks presentable enough.  The carpet is disgustingly grimy, which to me is a bad sign.  If a restaurant is dirty in the front, I am suspicious of the kitchen's cleanliness. 

And then a child at another table started wailing uncontrollably. He was turning and pointing to the booth just in front of mine, squealing "it's right behind me" and "bug". Ah.  Well, this isn't so hard after all. While I am sure every restaurant has their share of issues, I can not recommend a place that has visible pests.  Nor, can I ever go back to the place.

But, if you are looking for a great biscuit and gravy, and you don't mind the other stuff, Butterfields is your place. 

Butterfields Southern Cafe is at
1145 Royal Palm Beach Blvd.
Royal Palm Beach, FL

Butterfields Southern Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Friendly Fork is Now on Technorati

We are activating membership in which allows users to key word search across many blogs at once. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Starbucks RED Blend to be Discontinued

Ouch. My favorite coffee is being phased out by the end of August. (STARBUCKS) RED from Africa is a smooth bold brew without the tang or bite of some dark roasts. I love it. If you want to be heartbroken like me, try it before the end of the month and see what you'll be missing.  This particular blend comes in a red package. You can find it in your local Starbucks or purchase it through Amazon using this link.

By the way, for those of you that garden, Starbucks will give you a free bag of coffee grinds if you ask. Sprinkle grinds into or on top of the soil. Rose bushes and veggies seem particularly fond of it. And, no I don't work at Starbucks, but I am a fan and so is my garden!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ristorante Sapori (4 Forks, $40 pp)

Italian restaurants are in nearly every plaza in South Florida, but finding a gem like Sapori is rare. Sapori is simply stellar. This is real food prepared fresh to order. One glance and the menu and you can see this isn't your average restaurant.

We were excited by the regular menu, but the Turbo special of the night sounded just right. A simple preparation was recommended because the fish was so delicious and fresh.  When we saw the fish up close, we knew we made the right choice. That's right. The waiter actually brought the raw fish to the table for us to see! What a beauty! It looks a lot like flounder, with both eyes on top a plate-like body.


Swordfish, Branzino, Salmon, and Mixed Shellfish in Broth were on special that night as well. The Turbo, at $40 a plate, was a bit beyond my normal budget, but I decided it wasn't the night to be worried about money.

After ordering we settled in and attacked the bread basket.  The accompanying basil butter and roasted garlic butter were flavorful, unique, and addictive.

Basil & Roasted Garlic Butters

The fish arrived shortly and didn't disappoint. A slight squeeze of the lemon was all the Turbo needed. Simple and delicious. The side of grilled zucchini, squash, and potatoes was also a revelation. I wondered how the veggies had so much flavor but seemed so basic.

The next time I go to Sapori, I will bring a bit more money and sample the Appetizer and Pasta menus. One thing I would have liked to eat was a Sapori sampler plate with a variety of vegetables of the night. The selection is displayed on a table in the center of the small dining area. Broccoli rabe, Tomato Mozzarella Caprese Salad, Roasted Peppers, and Artichokes were all within view along with a few other plates I didn't recognize.

The pasta dishes run around $20 a plate and include several intriguing options. I have a weakness for a good Linguine con Vongole (linguine with clams) and I have a feeling I wouldn't be disappointed here. Rigatoni Alla Sapori also sounds tasty, with prosciutto, onion, mascarpone, and basil in a tomato sauce. And the Spaghettini Alla Puttanesca must be special because the menu states "... when i die i would like someone to give a eulogy about this dish, for the story and the flavor". 

The menu also has a variety of veal and chicken dishes. The Chicken Breast Medallions with artichoke and lemon or Milanese with arugola are each $23. Two Veal Scallopine dishes and three Veal Chops, including one with bacon, herbs, mushrooms, and onion, range from $32 to $42 per plate. One signature dish that sounds particularly worthy of attention is the Coccio, a baked seafood and shellfish casserole in a thin garlicky tomato gauzetto broth offered for $34.

Whether you prefer pasta, meat, or excellent fresh fish, for a special Italian meal try Sapori.

Sapori is located at 301 Via De Palmas in Boca Raton and is open for lunch and dinner.

Ristorante Sapori on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Las Totoritas (4 Forks, $12 pp)

Although I live only an hour north, I rarely get down to Miami.  After a recent visit, I am kicking myself for not visiting more often. One of the highlights of the day was dinner at a tiny Peruvian restaurant called Las Totoritas, at 7367 NW 36th Street. I didn't expect much when we arrived. Las Totoritas is one of three Peruvians restaurants in a small downtrodden strip mall.  Once inside, though, I started to get excited.

Las Totoritas is a tiny place, but brighter and cleaner than the typical hole in the wall. Some effort was made here, and although not extravagant, the mood is inviting and pleasant.  Perhaps a dozen tables line a wall with a couple more in the front.

When we arrived, only a few tables were taken. Our server immediately stepped over, passed around menus, and took our drink requests. Coming from Peru herself, she was very knowledgeable about the menu. She was very accomodating to our questions about preparations and ingredients.

I've never eaten Peruvian food, so the menu was really intriguing. A whole page was devoted to various types of ceviche, called Cebiche.  We selected the special of the night, Cebiche de Pescado y Camarón made with shrimp and fish. The seafood had been marinated in a delicious combination of lemon, salt, garlic, spicy peruvian peppers, cilantro, and red onion.  The fish was a mild white fish called Basa. The sweet potatoes on the side provided just the right amount of sweetness to counteract the sour spice of the dish. 

In the foreground of the picture is fried and boiled choclo.  Choclo is a large kernelled type of corn that is much more starchy than typical american corn. The platter was family sized and could easily have fed three or four hungry adults.  Somehow, we polished it off between the two of us.

We also couldn't resist having a side order of Yuca Frita con Salsa Huancaína. The fried yuca is crispy and a bit chewy.  Salsa Huancaína is a light cheese sauce.  The combination was a nice contrast to our main course. The Peruvian beer called Cusquena was refreshing and went well with our order.

Having stuffed ourselves, we were unable to sample the Peruvian ice cream and sweets displayed at the counter. I have no regrets. This is a place I can't wait to get to again.  Thank you Las Totoritas for a great introduction to Peruvian cuisine!

Totoritas on Urbanspoon

Tilapia Veracruz Recipe

Baked Tilapia Veracruz Recipe
3-4 fillets of Tilapia about 3/4" thick
16 medium Shrimp, shelled and deveined

1/2 Onion, diced
1/4 large Green Pepper, finely diced
2 cloves of Garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
2 cups Chicken Stock
1/2 cup Tomato Sauce
Black Pepper & Salt, to taste
2 Tablespoons Capers, drained and rinsed
2 Tablespoons of Italian Parsley
Juice from 1/2 a Lemon

In skillet over medium heat, saute onion for a couple minutes. Add green pepper and cook until onion starts to become clear. Add garlic. When you can smell the garlic, before it browns, add the tomato paste and cook a minute or so, stirring constantly, then add chicken stock, tomato sauce, capers, black pepper and salt to taste. Simmer and reduce a bit until flavors meld, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat. Add parsley and lemon juice. Stir to combine.

Pour a bit of the sauce into a  8"x11.5"x2" baking dish, just enough to cover the bottom, saving the rest.  Place tilapia in a single layer, side by side into the dish. Add raw shrimp to the remaining sauce and pour over the tilapia. (The shrimp will cook along with the tilapia.)  Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees until done (if fresh tilapia, approx 15 minutes, if frozen about 30 minutes).

Serve with steamed white rice. Salad and yuca toasted garlic and lime to round out the meal. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sweet Cornbread Recipe

Last night I was in the mood for a sweet moist cornbread. My usual cornbread is the rather dry and not too sweet version on the back of the Quaker Yellow Cornmeal box. That version works well for breakfast with syrup, but isn't great for a side of chili. I threw a pot of chicken chili on the stove to simmer and started searching the internet for a recipe. The recipe I found on Grandmothers Buttermilk Cornbread Recipe  was perfect. It has a sweet corn flavor and is very moist.  It's almost like a cake and certainly would be too sweet with syrup.

Grandmother's Buttermilk Cornbread Recipe
1/2 cup Butter (2 sticks, unsalted)
2/3 cup Sugar (granulated, white)
2 Large Eggs
1 cup Buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 cup Cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt (I used Sea Salt, which is a bit less intense than regular salt)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Grease an 8 x 11.5 pan (original recipe calls for an 8x8).

Melt butter. Whisk together butter, sugar, eggs, buttermilk, and baking soda.
Sift together cornmeal, flour, and salt.  Add dry and wet ingredients and mix well. The batter will be pretty runny. Pour it into the prepared pan.

Bake 25-30 minutes (30-40 min if 8x8 pan used) until slightly browned on top and toothpick comes out clean. Serve warm or cooled.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Veggie Wrap Recipe

Who doesn't hate dieting? I find it impossible. And I greatly regret having to talk about it on a food blog! So, let's focus on the positive, I do love veggies.  Let's hope today's veggie wrap gets the numbers on the scale going in the right direction!!!

FriendlyFork Veggie Wrap Recipe
1 large Tortilla (I use spinach tortillas)
1 Tablespoon Hummus
2 slices Tomato, sliced and halved
3 Mushrooms, sliced
1 sliver of Sweet Onion
5 Greek Olives, pitted and chopped coarsely
2-3 fresh Basil leaves
2 sprigs Cilantro
1 Roasted Red Pepper, sliced
1 large handful of fresh Spinach, Arugula, or Lettuce
drizzle of your favorite Vinagrette dressing
a few drops of Siracha or Tabasco (optional)
Black Pepper

Spread hummus down the center of the tortilla leaving about 2 inches free on one end to fold up later.  layer the ingredients in the order listed making sure to leave 2 inches on the end free and one side of the tortilla clean as well. Start wrapping by turning of the 2inches at the end, then grip the full side of the tortilla and roll it toward the clean side of the tortilla. Place seem side down until ready to eat.


Picadillo Recipe

Last night's picadillo got rave reviews from the family.  Here's the recipe:

FriendlyFork Cuban Picadillo Recipe
1 1/2 lb. Ground Round Beef
1/4 medium Sweet Onion, diced
1/4 Green Bell Pepper, diced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Ground Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Oregano
1 Bay Leaf
1/2 cup Tomato Sauce
1 Tablespoon Cider Vinegar
1 pinch Sugar
Water, beer, or beef stock

1-2 Tablespoons Capers
1/4 cup Raisins
1/4 cup Green Olives, sliced in rings, or chopped (optional)
1 extra large Beef Bouillon cube (or replace water with 1 cup of beef broth)
2 Tablespoons Cilantro, minced

Brown ground beef in dry skillet over medium high heat. Do not drain. Push meat to the side, turn heat to medium, and add the onions to the empty side of the pan. After about 1 minute, add diced pepper. Cook until pepper is soft and onions are translucent. Add minced garlic and cook for a minute. Then mix the meat and veggies together in the pan.

Add cumin, oregano, bay leaf, tomato sauce, vinegar, and sugar. Add water, beer, or beef stock to the level of the beef (so everything is moist, in the liquid, but it is not soupy). It should be about a cup, but will depend on your pan. Add capers, raisins, olives, and bouillon. Cover and simmer on medium for 10-15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in cilantro.

Serve over white rice with a side of sweet plantains and a salad.