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The last few weeks were a whirlwind as I finished up my last few weeks at my job. I was faced with Sunday as my only day off and was gonna make the best of my 50% of a weekend. Sunday morn, Tom popped over for brunch with champagne in hand. I was stoked to host him & Dre on my cleaned up patio. It was a perfect sunny day over orange raspberry-lemonade mimosas, buttery blueberry pancakes, bacon, & sriracha scrambled eggs with my favorite guys!
I got alot accomplished today considering I spent Monday sick in bed, so I needed something quick & healthy for tonight’s dinner. A “buy one get one” spinach sale had left me with a whole bag to get through before it spoiled. I’ve been trying to get more protein, less carbs into my diet so lean chicken breast & white beans seemed like perfect accompaniments. I poked around the pantry for some added flavors and got to cooking. With the richness of balsamic vinegar and the aroma of thyme, I came up with a delicious, filling dish that was rich in iron, protein, & fiber and only 550 calories per serving. Enjoy!
Balsamic Chicken w. Sauteed Spinach & White Beans
2 Servings – 550 Calories each
I love date night! On a Friday in early March (bear with me, I’m a bit behind), Dre & I made plans for dinner at Sampan, the new hot spot I’ve been dying to try. We walked into the bustling restaurant early for our 930pm reservation and sat at the bar for some cocktails. First on the drink list, and my choice, was the Blood Orange Martini w. Gin, Lillet, & Blood Orange. It a great balance of sweet & tart, but I was really jealous once I sampled Dre’s crisp Yuzu Sake Martini w. Gin, Elder Flower, & Lemon Grass. So far, so good!
Dre noticed that there was counter seating overlooking the energetic open kitchen. The hostess confirmed that a twosome was about to pay their bill and seats would be opening up. SCORE! What more could a foodie ask for than to watch the magic happen (under great lighting,too!). We got to know the cold line chefs, Matt & Onna, along the way and oggled the food porn they effortlessly executed. I’m always refreshed by a culinary team so dedicated to their craft.
Earlier in the week, I met Michael Schulson, the man behind Sampan, at a Philadelphia Weekly sponsored panel discussion on “Chefs, Bloggers, & the Blogosphere.” After the event, Chef Schulson graciously indulged my request for some personal menu recommendations. I definitely took his suggestions seriously! While we waited for each of our 7 carefully selected dishes to arrive, we sipped Sampan’s monster cocktail, the Scorpion Bowl – 64 ounces of rum, gin, white win, & fruit juice. It was really tasty, impressively strong, & lasted through the whole dinner. Our first dish, the Edamame Ravioli was light, tender, & perfectly enhanced with white truffle oil.
I always like to try different interpretations of the famous Philly Cheesesteak and we really enjoyed Chef Schulson’s version. The braised beef was rich & savory, accented with crispy shallots & Sriracha’s perfect heat.
Next, a contrasting plate of cool freshness arrived. Chilled poached lobster nuggets laid under a simple pico of flavor-packed chopped tomatoes & garlic speckled with tender black beans for a perfect intermezzo between savory dishes.
I love bulgogi, so the Korean BBQ Beef Satay was a no brainer. Double-enforced skewers pierced tender ribbons of marinated medium-rare short rib topped with traditional kim che. They were a bit too pink for Dre’s liking, but that just meant more for me to savor.
The following dish may have be my favorite & the most interesting. I was excited to see the flavor combination & presentation of hiramasa, a sustainable substitution for yellowtail, bacon, arugula, & a pear kim che. The menu may tell you what you’re getting, but in most instances not how you’d expect to get it. From the deconstructed spicy tuna (see the photo above of Ona preparing this dish) to the current plate in front of us, Sampan’s surprises always seem to please. I really loved this dish. Beyond the interesting plating, the flavor blend was spectacular. I took the time to include a morsel of each element on my fork for each bite. The clean hiramasa fillets, painted with a peppery arugula puree, were a flawless palate for smokey bacon and sweet & spicy pear kim che. The portion was impressive and I still could have eaten another plate!
Another interesting take on a traditional dish was Sampan’s Peking Duck. The tender duck meat was pulled & served with foam in a small glass jar. The accompaniments included julienne cucumber, shaved scallion, & tamarind pancakes to build your own Peking Duck soft taco.
Our final dish was a last minute decision and a menu item I’d been eyeing since before we made reservations – the Wonton Taco. The wonton wrapper, crisped in the deep fryer into a perfect hard taco shell, was stuffed with spicy succulent rock shrimp balanced with blood orange & avocado. We were one of a few tables left & we scarfed them before I could snap a pic.
Sampan’s energy and delicious cuisine were a perfect setting for another amazing date night with Dre. I couldn’t imagine anyone else I’d want to “mmm & ahh” over an impressive dinner with!
Next trip to Sampan – bahn mi & homemade ice cream!
Seeing that I work 6 day weeks for 5 weeks straight, I had to make the most of my one & only day off this week. Once I peeled myself out of bed after a much needed sleep session (interrupted too often by allergy/cold induced coughing fits), I knew I needed some fuel to get through the chores on my list. I set out for the kitchen on a quest for Sunday Brunch for 1. 15 minutes later, I came out with a bowl of Dannon Light & Fit Vanilla Yogurt topped with Cascadian Farm Oat & Honey Granola and fresh whole blackberries for the breakfast half of brunch.
A classic BLT with Sriracha mayo was a perfect match to complete my brunch couple. And so the rainy day laundry & cleaning & bloggin begins…
Last Sunday, the Colts took on the Saints for Superbowl XLIV. I wanted to cook up a dinner in the spirit of the game, but even though we were rooting for Peyton Manning to pull out a win, there’s not much to say about the cuisine of Indiana. Dre suggested a New Orleans flair and requested Po’Boy sammies. We had just gotten thru the first round of Snowpocalypse 2010 and it was a slow, slippery trip to Acme to pick up the rest of the supplies.
I’m still very much in the honeymoon stage with my new Deep Fryer, so I was excited to fry again! I defrosted (2) Catfish fillets & a half dozen U20 Shrimp, rolled them in Cornmeal Flour seasoned with Tony Chachere’s, dipped them in milk, and rolled them in the Cornmeal mixture again for a double layer of flavor & crisp. The Catfish & Shrimp fried up perfectly in only about 5 minutes!
You can’t make a Po’Boy sandwich without a delicious Remoulade to spread on your roll. I deferred to Emeril’s recipe and pretty much followed it exactly (which is a rarity for me!). The batch ended up being WAY more than we needed for our sammies, and I certainly wished I had cut the recipe in half until I realized I’d have a delicious spread for other sammies all week. I ended up using it on a Griddled Ham, Turkey, & Swiss Sandwich for dinner Tuesday night and on a Ham, Egg, & Swiss Sandwich on a leftover long roll for my snow day breakfast. It was perfectly creamy & spicy with LOTS of flavor!
I discovered some amazing fresh long rolls from the corner store when picking up salt for the sidewalks. They were no Louisiane French Bread, but were soft & crusty. We split them, spread them with the Spicy Remoulade, and topped them with Romaine, Roma Tomatoes, and our Fried Catfish & Shrimp. Dre prepared Zatarain’s Dirty Rice to pair with our Po’Boys for a perfect New Orleans dinner. Way to go Saints!
CATFISH & SHRIMP PO’BOY SANDWICHES w/ SPICY REMOULADE
Cajun Fried Catfish & Shrimp
Prepared for (2) people
Emeril’s Remoulade Sauce
Makes about 1.5 cups from Emerils.com
While out shopping for my Black Friday dinner, I popped into Chickie’s Italian Deli in South Philly to finally try their Fried Tomato Special. The base is Fried Tomatoes, Bacon, Roasted Peppers, & Lettuce on a famous Sarcone’s Roll. I added on Turkey, Fresh Mozzarella & Mayo. DELISH! And on top of that, the kind lady behind the counter handed me a complimentary full Sarcone’s Roll. They’re perfect – soft and airy on the inside, with a crusty sesame seed crusted shell. It was like the sammie gods were calling upon me to create a delicious one of my own!
I had some Roasted Tomato, Mushroom, & Smoked Mozzarella Chicken Breasts left over along with some cooked Bacon and extra Smoked Mozz. I sliced the roll, whipped up some Sriracha Mayo, and piled on the goods. And, oh, was it GOOD!