Tasty Tuesday on WVLT, Knoxville

Friday, 28 March 2014
I have always wanted to help out on a cooking show and my dream came true this month. WVLT-TV (CBS) in Knoxville has started a fun segment called "Tasty Tuesday" where viewers can come on the show and share an easy recipe. The idea is to bring in dishes that can be made quickly by working parents for their families during the week. 

Because I'm trying to eat more meals that are meat-free, I decided to share my Southwest Sweet Potato recipe. I adapted this recipe from one I found on Pinterest and I think it is pretty tasty. It is certainly easy to make with only a microwave needed for cooking (you can also bake the potatoes in the oven, of course).

For two people:

2 medium sweet potatoes
1 can black beans (rinsed)
1/4 of a medium red onion, chopped
1/4 cup Cilantro or italian flat leaf parsley (pick leaves and then tear onto potato)
1/2 cup fat free sour cream or plain greek yogurt
fresh lime juice
1 cup salsa
cracked pepper

Just bake the potato, open it on a plate, mash slightly and pile on the toppings! I heated the beans and cooked the onions in a microwave safe dish and a little bit of water for one and a half minutes.

You can watch the Tasty Tuesday segment that I got to be a part of by clicking on the link here: http://www.local8now.com/home/headlines/Southwest-Sweet-Potato-For-Tasty-Tuesday-249630561.html

Lauren Davis and Mark Packer are fun hosts and we had a great time! Ted Hall also made a cameo appearance.

Pasta Tasting at Felidia, NYC

Monday, 17 March 2014

I was in New York City recently to recruit participants for my dissertation research and dined at Felidia, Lidia Bastianich's restaurant. I adore her and have watched her PBS cooking show Lidia's Italy for years. (Is it strange that I ate by myself and also took the 5:45pm open reservation because I wouldn't have been able to get in for a later seating!?)

Mario Batali is another one of my favorite chefs (see blog posts about his NYC restaurants Po, and Del Posto) and he has teamed up with Lidia and her son to open a winery in Tuscany. I didn't get to sample wine from La Mozza Winery but I did try the 2009 Bastianich Rose. It was nice and not sweet at all. The Bastianich family has had a winery in Fruili since 1997.

Felidia's chef is Fortunato Nicotra. He started there in 1995 and Ruth Reichl gave him three stars in her review for the New York Times after he had been there only three months.

I ordered the chef's pasta tasting (someone loves food a little too much) and this gave me a chance to try four small dishes of different pasta. Note: Chef's pasta tasting is only available Monday through Thursday.  Felidia is an Italian restaurant and famous for pasta! Unfortunately, my pictures of the dishes didn't turn out too well because the ambiance is such that the lighting is low. That's okay because I took notes on the dishes in order to share the experience with you.

The first "taste" of pasta was Lidia's signature dish: cacio e pere. It is ravioli filled with pear and fresh pecorino, topped with aged pecorino and crushed black pepper. It had an amazing, sweet finish with a tart aftertaste. 

The second taste was minestra di pesca. This dish included lobster broth, scallops, shrimp and several types of pasta. Apparently this is a sort of everything-but-the-kitchen-sink dish. One makes it using a combination of whatever fresh seafood is on hand with whatever uncooked pasta is left over from the week. It was delicious and had such a nice presentation. It was served to me from a single serving copper pot and had a hint of spice to it which was nice because I was freezing from walking around New York City in frigid temperatures. 

The third taste was pappardelle. This is wide pasta made from spinach with a duck and mushroom sauce. The Hudson Valley moulard duck (from a cage-free duck farm) was braised and shredded with a mushroom-base sauce. I've never been a fan of mushroom sauce but the duck was perfectly cooked and I adored the texture and flavor of the pappardelle. 

The fourth and final pasta taste was the evening's special: wild boar ragu with spicy andouille sausage. Andouille is smoked sausage made from pork and commonly used in gumbo. This dish was fantastic. It wasn't too spicy and had a rich, hearty flavor. My favorite pasta was Lidia's signature. 

While the food was lovely and memorable, I was particularly impressed with the service. Sometimes if a woman dines alone, the server might not be as attentive because they think the bill will be smaller. There wasn't a hint of that and each dish was thoroughly explained when presented. I had high hopes for Felidia since I'm such a fan of Lidia and I was not disappointed! This was an impressive dining experience. 

Dining at Husk in Nashville

Saturday, 15 March 2014

I visited Casey and Ryan recently in Nashville and we went to Husk for brunch before going to look at Casey's wedding dress (Ryan did not attend the fitting). This awesome restaurant is located in the Rutledge Hill area of downtown Nashville and is run by James Beard award-winning chef, Sean Brock.

The first Husk (there's two) was started in Charleston, North Carolina, so the idea of Southern cooking with flair moved to Tennessee from there. The restaurant grows much of its own produce from a garden on the grounds and things that cannot be grown on site are sourced locally. 

The food was inventive and fresh and I loved the atmosphere. This is a very hip place with excellent menu choices and I would love to go back to dine there again. 

*The three above photos are from Husk's Press Media Kit. Marketing for Husk is by Polished Pig Media.