Weekly Menu: September 30-October 6, 2012
Sunday: Asian Turkey-Jasmine Meatballs with Bok Choy
Monday: Emeril’s 5-Bean Chili & Jalapeno-Corn Bread
Tuesday: Leftovers: Chicken & Corn Soup with Chile Mint Salsa
Wednesday: Leftovers:Emeril’s 5-Bean Chili & Corn Bread
Thursday: Tofu & Veggie Stir-fry (DIY)
Friday: Eat Out
Saturday: Leftovers: Tofu & Veggie Stir-fry
I have been traveling a lot lately so I am really looking forward to a full week at home with home cooking, healthy eating and getting back into my routine. I know Sunday's recipe was technically on last week's menu, but since I wasn't actually cooking last week and this is one of my favorite oldie, but goodie dishes I decided to bump it to this week so we could really enjoy it. Apologies if you already made it last week...feel free to peruse the archives to find a replacement recipe.

A few weeks ago my lovely landlady knocked on my door with 5 big bags of dried beans...she had tried out a new 5-bean chili recipe and had some leftovers to pass on to me. I tried to convince her to keep the beans (since they're dried after all) but she really wanted to share, so I decided to follow her lead and try out a new 5-bean chili recipe myself. Enter Emeril Lagasse...he seems like a man who would know his way around a good chile, but we'll see! On the side we'll go old-school and make some Jiffy cornbread that I'll add canned diced jalapenos to in order to make it a bit more SavoryGirl style. Maybe a bit of shredded cheese on top as well. I also think I'll adjust Emeril's recipe and use half beef and half pork for the meat in the chile. Perfect fall comfort food for a weary traveler like myself.

Last, but certainly not least we'll finish off the week with a quick, easy and healthy tofu stir-fry. To keep it simple we'll likely just buy our favorite teriyaki sauce, Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki (full disclosure, my day-job company owns Soy Vay, but I've honestly been using it for ever and have always been addicted to it!). I linked to my approach for this DIY dish in the menu above, but feel free to experiment and use whatever veggies you have on hand.
Orecchiette with Melon, Pancetta, Ricotta Salata & Mint

This is phenomenal.  I almost don't want to write anymore than that...just phenomenal. I know it's a bit summery for this time of year, but if you still have some melon in season in your area make this immediately.  If not, make sure to mark it down somewhere for next summer so you don't forget to make it!  It's a fresh, heartier take on the classic prosciutto with melon appetizer. The mint is a divine addition (versus the more traditional basil) and the flaky, salty ricotta salata balances the sweetness of the melon perfectly.

The original recipe from Bon Appétit can be found here.

As a shortcut we used diced pancetta instead of thinly sliced pancetta that you have to break into bite size pieces, but either approach works. We also used more melon than it called for simply because the orange honeydew we had from the farmer's market was so juicy, sweet and amazing.  Otherwise, this recipe is perfect as is. This salad would be great cold as a side dish (you would knock the socks off of your BBQ buddies if you brought this along) or warm as a main dish as we served it. You really can't go wrong with this one...make it soon and make it often!

Weekly Menu: September 23-29, 2012
Sunday: Porcini Parmesan Ravioli with Spicy Sausage Tomato Sauce (DIY)
Monday: Leftovers: Wild Mushroom Risotto (from last week's menu)
Tuesday: Grilled Salmon with Bulgar and Roasted Rapini with Tomatoes (DIY)
Wednesday: Turkey-Jasmine Rice Meatballs with Baby Bok Choy
Thursday: Leftovers: Meatballs & Bok Choy
Friday: Eat Out
Saturday: Easy DIY Egg Dish
I'm only home for the blink of an eye this weekend to snuggle Christian & Cali before heading back out on the road for one more week for work so this menu is from 2011...but it's a yummy one!  The ravioli dish leverages some leftover porcini paste from last week's risotto recipe and turns it into a ravioli filling...totally DIY. As I recall it turned out really good...I basically just mixed the porcini paste with mascarpone, Parmesan, salt, pepper & fresh parsley.  Put it inside some homemade pasta sheets and slathered it with a sauce using some leftover spicy turkey sausage we had in the freezer and canned roasted tomatoes. Delish! The turkey meatball recipe is one of our favorites that we've been making for years...healthy & flavorful. Then we finish off the week with an easy breakfast for dinner night.  Back to new recipes and new menus next week, I promise.  Of course if this old menu doesn't work for you feel free to go back and peruse the full Menu Archives to find one that does!
Bluebird Tavern in Burlington, VT

Menu - Bluebird Tavern in Burlington, VT

Flipping through Bon Appétit a few months ago, I stumbled across an article all about Burlington, Vermont which was convenient since I was heading there for a wedding in September.  So I read up and promptly made a reservation at Bluebird Tavern. Why? Well, first because it's my kind of restaurant...one with intense ties to the local food community sourcing seasonally, locally, organically and proudly listing all of their farm partners right on their menu. Of course, it didn't hurt that their menu sounded absolutely delicious and that the article made it sound like it was almost unfair for a small state like Vermont to have a restaurant this good!

I have to say I agree...this is a fantastic restaurant and I would strongly encourage you to check it out next time you're in Burlington, with my only criticism being that I found it to be overpriced, but read on to find out all about the food...

Bluebird Tavern's Open Kitchen

When our party of 5 first arrived at Bluebird Tavern the few outdoor tables were full but the inside was almost completely empty. It was 6:30 on a Friday night. A bit early, yes...but the lack of customers compared to the bustling vibe of other restaurants we had just walked by concerned us a bit. As you can see above, there is a lovely open kitchen which we were happily seated right near which at least temporarily distracted us from our concern over the lacking customers...and by the time we left it had picked up a bit more as well.

Pickled Tomatoes with Bacon Butter on Grilled Bread at Bluebird Tavern

First up...a Vermont spin on bruschetta. Pickled tomatoes atop bacon butter and grilled bread. This was delicious, and we enjoyed the bread in this starter quite a bit more than the house-made focaccia that they brought over when we first sat down. Lovely, rustic serving style that you'll see continued throughout the meal.

Handmade Cloth Cheese with Local Honey, Apple Butter and Spice Bread at Bluebird Tavern

This next starter wasn't even an option...as soon as I saw it on the menu I declared that we would be ordering it. Homemade cloth cheese served alongside local honeycomb, freshly made apple butter and spice bread. Each element of this tasting board was divine on it's own but the cheese and honey together was like a Vermont welcoming party in your mouth.

Weekly Menu: September 16-22, 2012
Sunday: Slow Cooker Orange Chipotle Pork Loin with Polenta, Roasted Carrots & Brussel Sprouts
Monday: Grilled White Fish with Roasted Rapini & Tomatoes (DIY)
Tuesday: Eggs in Purgatory with Artichoke Hearts, Potatoes & Capers
Wednesday: Leftovers: Orange Chipotle Tacos
Thursday: Leftovers: Eggs in Purgatory
Friday: Wild Mushroom Risotto & Roasted Red Pepper Spinach Salad
Saturday: Leftovers: Risotto
As I mentioned last week, I'm out of town this entire week and won't be doing any cooking...so the menu above is from this time last year. Living the life of a jet-setter this week with three separate trips back to back! Fun for me, but that also means no home cooking at the SavoryGirl household...well that's not entirely true. Christian will certainly cook for himself while I'm gone but he'll most likely keep it pretty simple with things like omelets, grilled chicken or pasta.  It's no fun cooking for one and then having to clean the entire mess up too!

So while I don't have a new weekly menu or new recipes to share with you this week I do know that all of these recipes are winners. They're so good that this actually causes a bit of a conundrum because now I want to make these dishes when I'm back in town but they're already on this week's menu! Apologies in advance if you see any of these on a menu again sometime in the near future...of course, you can always feel free to peruse the entire Menu Archives to find other menus and recipes or check out some of my favorite recipes that I've written up on SavoryGirl over the years.
Brown Rice Salad with Crunchy Sprouts and Seeds

This is the food version of don't judge a book by it's cover...when I told Christian I was adding this to one of our weekly menus he gave me that look that says, "please don't make me eat rabbit food." You see, SavoryGirl isn't always popular but I have to say that more often than not I am indeed a good judge of a recipe just by reading it...and this time was no different. Ha, ha, I win!  Seriously though, bear with me on this one and try it out...it is absolutely delicious.  So much so that we made a second batch the very next week, and it was Christian's suggestion!

As usual, I didn't follow the recipe exactly as written...but we did follow it pretty closely.  The main changes were that we ommitted the sprouted mung beans (we couldn't find nearby and we just didn't have time to go searching), sprouted our own lentils instead of using dried sprouted lentils (which we also couldn't find), and toasted/salted our own raw pumpkin seeds since we already had some in the house.

Sprouting your own lentils is super easy and kind of fun...you just need to plan in advance since it takes a few days. If you've never done this, here's the process:

Heaven’s Dog

Charles Phan's Vietenamese Restaurant, The Slanted Door, is one of Christian's favorite restaurants in the city. So back in 2009 when we heard Phan was opening a new Chinese restaurant, Heaven's Dog, we knew we had to go check it out.  Three years later and we're finally going!  What can I say, there are a lot of restaurants to try and keep us busy in the Bay Area, so we're not what you would call "on trend" with this one. But it's my birthday and we're heading downtown to go dancing and wanted something relatively inexpensive and easy so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally give it a try.

To be honest, after reading many of the diner reviews I didn't have super high hopes...I know, I know, so then why am I risking my birthday dinner here? Well, to be honest we have faith in Charles Phan and have heard amazing things about the cocktail program by bar manager Trevor Easter (who was recently named a SFGate Bar Star).  So off we go!  Is Heaven's Dog Best in Show or a Pound Puppy?  Read on to find out...

First things first...the cocktails!  I got the Pimm's Cup Rangoon and Christian ordered the "Freedom from Choice" where you simply tell the bartender your spirit of choice and if you prefer citrus or spiritous cocktails.  My drink was delightful, not to sweet but with enough gin that you knew you had a drink...light and refreshing so it didn't overpower or compete with my food too much. Christian's adventure led him to a Kentucky Mule with candied ginger.  This is what I call a manly cocktail...puts a little hair on your chest with that first sip but sweetened up just enough to make it fun.  Quite delicious...they make some top notch cocktails here and for $10 that's about as good as it gets in this city!

First up for food, the Scallion Pancake. I actually wasn't expecting much from this but was pleasantly surprised.  Nice and crunchy with a strong scallion flavor. It could have used a tad less salt (and seriously, I never say that!) and some kind of a dipping sauce or spread to go alongside but all in all it was pretty good.

Next, Shumai Dumplings. To be fair, I'm not a dumpling connoisseur but the texture of the filling of these really put me off at first.  The flavors were quite nice (as were the flavors in the horseradish mustard and chili dipping sauces) but the texture felt fatty and sinewy at first.  By my second dumpling the texture didn't bother me quite so much and by my third I was fully enjoying it and over the initial mouth-feel issue. That being said, I think I would go with the Shanghai Dumplings next time and skip these. The Shanghai Dumplings are soup dumplings which is a fun experience in of itself if you've never had a soup dumpling before...they kind of explode a little soup-like goodness inside your mouth so you have to eat the whole dumpling in one bite.  Kind of like those chocolate covered cherry candies we all loved when we were kids!

Weekly Menu: September 9-15, 2012
Sunday: Seasonal Veggie Frittata with Sweet Potato Homefries (DIY)
Monday: Leftovers: Summer Minestrone Soup from last week
Tuesday: Chicken Stir Fry over Brown Rice (DIY)
Wednesday:   Leftovers: Veggie Frittata with Sweet Potato Homefries
Thursday: Leftovers: Chicken Stir Fry
Friday: In Burlington, VT for a wedding
Saturday: In Burlington, VT
Our menu last week stretched quite a bit further than we had planned for which means this is going to be an easy cooking week, which is fabulous since we're heading out of town on Thursday night.  The veggie frittata got bumped up from last week's menu and we also have extra Minestrone Soup leftovers to finish up. So the only new thing we're cooking is a DIY chicken stir fry.  While we used to make our own stir fry sauces we really love Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki so we'll most likely just buy a bottle of that and slice up whatever veggies we have left in the fridge before heading out of town.

Also, quick heads up...I'm out of town traveling (wedding, work, fun, more work) for the next 2 weeks so the menus that I post for the week of 9/16 and 9/23 will most likely be old menus from 2010 or 2011. Still yummy, but no new recipes.  
Chicken Corn Soup with Chile Mint Salsa

Christian and I often joke that we must have been Mexican in our past lives because we absolutely love anything Mexican inspired...and the spicier the better! We've mastered our very own version of Posole and make Eva Longoria's Tortilla Soup, which is always quite a hit. While we love both of these soups, we've been making them for years so when I first saw this recipe in Bon Appétit described as a fresh new take on Tortilla Soup, I knew we had to give it a try. I sure am glad that I did, because it is fantastic.  Pretty different from your traditional chicken tortilla soup but still spicy and super satisfying.  The chile-mint salsa is a winner and really makes the soup, but beware because a little bit goes a long way!

Since we enjoyed this dish so much I know we're going to make it pretty often, so I would likely adapt the original recipe to make it a bit quicker and easier without sacrificing too much taste (in my opinion). So while the core of the original recipe is based around cooking the whole chicken in the broth you'll see below that I'm making a few adjustments to make it easier and healthier. Otherwise, this recipe is just perfect and delicious as is!

Foodie Itinerary: Peru

I've only been to Peru once...and to be fair, I've seen very little of it.  Just a small part of Lima, Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. But I would like to think that what I did see was pretty representative of all the great food, fun, beauty and people that the entire country has to offer. As you'll see below, one quick trip has already led to a pretty huge itinerary of what I would suggest if you were to plan a visit of your own but I'm sure I'm only scratching the surface...so for those of you who've travelled more extensively in Peru: What am I missing? Where have I gone wrong?  What would you suggest?

Wherever you visit and  whatever you decide to do and eat...happy travels.  You'll love Peru!  Need some more convincing to start planning your own trip?  Check out my Peruvian Foodie Photos here!