Thursday, July 30, 2009

Oklahoma, OK!!!

I hope I'm not the only one who understands the reference of my blog title...ya'll have seen the musical Oklahoma, right? Anyone?

Anyway, I just returned from a business trip to OK City, completely exhausted and probably 5 pounds heavier. My boss and I were meeting with the marketing folks at the Sonic headquarters (which is awesome, by the way--though I found myself craving tater tots throughout the entire meeting). Our day started with a 6am flight (why did we think that was a good idea?) and we were in meetings until 5pm. We were a little tired, but looking forward to a nice, relaxing dinner. We did our research before we arrived and chose the Red Prime Steakhouse in downtown Oklahoma City. Oh. My. Word. Where do I even begin...

It has a very trendy atmosphere…the lights are dim and everyone is bathed in a red glow. The bar is obviously a hot spot (highlighted by a floor-to-ceiling metal "cage", for lack of a better word, that houses I don't even know how many bottles of wine). Everything from the white square plates down to the cutlery and stemware was impressive. Although the floor was a little slick---ladies in heels, beware.

To say the wine list is extensive is an understatement….my boss (we'll call her "M", like in the James Bond movies. I could be the James Bond of marketing. You don't know.) took the reigns on that. I mean, I like to think that I know a little bit about wine, but when M started talking about how Napa produced a really lovely Cab in '95 I knew I was WAY out of my league...I'm thinking this job will be a learning opportunity in more ways then one. Anyway, M chose the Turnbull Cabernet, '95 from Napa. I'm still learning how to distinguish between "notes" and "flavors" and whatnot, but this was smooth and delicious and I gladly would have drank the entire bottle by myself.

Moving on to my next favorite food group--the bread. This was not just any ol' roll--these were warm and freshly baked with black and green peppercorns scattered throughout the dough. Being the proud, carb-craving girl that I am, I ate 6 or 7.

We couldn't pass up the Prix Fixe menu, which at $35 for 3 courses was an absolute steal! I chose the RP Tomatoes as my appetizer--fried green and hot house tomatoes with fresh mozzarella, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, cracked pepper and sea salt. Absolutely delicious. My main course was the 7oz. petite filet, cooked to perfection. This was my favorite part-after you choose your cut of steak, you get to choose from 6 crusts and 6 sauces to accompany it. I wish I could have tried every single one, but I settled on the freshly cracked pepper crust and creamy horseradish sauce. Always a sucker for great french fries, I chose the Idaho fries as my side. My boss chose seared green beans, which looked delicious, and some sauted mushrooms for us to share (also delicious). And last but not least--dessert. Chocolate spoon cake with walnuts and a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. Absolute heaven—but the real gem was the tiny dish of salted caramel served next to the cake. I all but licked the plate clean. Finished off with some wonderful coffee, I can absolutely say that it was one of the best meals I have ever enjoyed. I think I'm going to like this new job....

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Pleasure is All Mine

I'm standing in one of my happy places (the cooking section at the Barnes and Noble), sipping my White Chocolate Mocha, eyes slightly glazed over, when something catches my attention. A book cover with a gorgeous brunette in a stunning white dress and fabulous black heels, holding a bottle of wine in one hand and a plate of steak and fries in the other, laughing delightedly at some inside joke that immediately makes me wish I were in on the secret. Dang. If I ever have a cookbook one day, THAT'S what I want the cover to look like.

Meet Suzanne Pirret, Harvard-trained actor, extremely successful voice over artist and a oh yeah--a kick-a%$ chef, thank you very much (she's also a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu).

Her highly entertaining and impressive cookbook reads like a novel. Each chapter starts with a story from her cooking/living experiences in Paris, London, New York and LA--whether it be from her stint as a pastry chef for Jamie Oliver or a nasty run-in with some Chinese take-out.

The opening recipe is Steak au Poivre with Frites. A girl after my own heart, this one. If I have neglected to mention my slightly unhealthy obsession with french fries before, let me do so now. I went through a phase last month where I was eating french fries at least three times a week. Great comfort food, in my opinion--not so good for the waistline.

Anyway, this clever, decadent and "naughty" (her words) cookbook will either have you curled up on the couch with a good glass of wine to indulge in some late-night reading (did I mention she also includes fabulous wine pairings?) or heading straight to the kitchen to whip up General Tso's Chicken. Or both.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Strawberry Amaretto Skillet Cake

So it's time for another cooking experiment. While I'd like to think that my passion for cooking is enough to have me whipping up gourmet delicacies every evening, I know better. I'm pretty sure that I have not cooked ONCE since we got back in town and I started my new job (both good excuses, right?). And although I have a continuous stack of recipes and ideas that I want to try, sometimes I need a little motivation. That motivation comes in the form of another contest (but thankfully, no video).

This time the contest is for the Simple and Delicious magazine, part of the Taste of Home publications. They have great contests every few months and after my first contest experience, I decided it was time to give another one a shot.

The theme is Berry Bonanza, featuring strawberries, raspberries, blackberries or blueberries. My first attempt features strawberries along with one of my favorite coffee cake recipes given to me by my grandmother--I call it Strawberry Amaretto Skillet Cake. My recipe will use the same cake ingredients, but with a different topping. Instead of using the full amount of almond extract in the batter that the original recipe calls for, I'm going to half it and make up the difference in the topping guessed it, amaretto liquor. I do adore amaretto. And after all, what's a great brunch without a little booze?

(Kidding, Mom).


1 1/2 sticks of margarine
1 1/2 C. sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 C. flour, sifted
1 pinch salt
1/2 tsp. almond extract

Topping Mix
2 cups sliced strawberries
2 tbsp. amaretto liquor, divided
1/3 C. sliced almonds, crushed
1/4 C. sugar


Preheat oven to 350° F.

Melt butter and stir in sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add flour, salt and almond flavoring; mix well. Line a cast iron skillet with aluminum foil, letting the foil extend up over sides. Pour batter into lined skillet.

Cook 30-40 minutes, until top is firm. Let cool about 20 minutes. Using a fork, poke holes throughout the cake. Pour 1 tbsp. amaretto evenly over entire top of cake, so that it drips through the holes. Toss strawberries with remaining 1 tbsp. liquor and pour over cake, spreading evenly so that it covers entire surface. Sprinkle crushed almonds and sugar over top of strawberries.

It still needs a little tweaking (I'll update this recipe/post as needed), but I think the first attempt turned out pretty well! The cake itself has such a delicious flavor and moist texture, which contrasts nicely with the crunchy almonds. The strawberries add beautiful color and the amaretto...well, if you don't like amaretto then I'm afraid my blog just won't do anything for you! ;)

I'll be back soon with more berry-inspired recipes. Happy cooking!

Highlight of the Day

So Husband just emailed me to say that I received something in the mail from Columbia Crest Winery and wanted permission to open it. It was a thank-you note for entering the Flay-vors of Washington contest AND Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill cookbook!! Cool, huh? I was actually going to eat at Mesa Grill while we were in Vegas (he has a location in Caesar's Palace, and others in NY and the Bahamas) but the line was long and I was starving so I went elsewhere (sorry, Bobby!). I take that to mean that the restaurant is awesome! I'll be sure to check it out and review next time we're there. Also, I have yet to try out any of Bobby's recipes (I'm lucky to make mac 'n' cheese these days), so this gives me a great excuse to start. Cheers!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Celebri-Stalking Alert

I was just THISCLOSE to Ben Affleck at the Ante Up for Africa Tournament at the Rio. Also, Matt Damon, Jason Alexander, Don Cheadle and Nelly are here. I just thought everyone should know. Pics posted soon!

P.S. I realize that none of my recent posts have anything to do with food, but I promise that will change soon (when I'm back in town and focused on something other than Matt Damon).