Luxury Spring Break Staycation: Cooking, Eating, and watching the scale cringe when I step onto it.

2 May

This spring break, I had the fortune of being the only child in my family stuck at home.  While my siblings enjoy their trips to California and Costa Rica, I will be sitting at home watching Iron Chef reruns.  As it happens, this is quite to my liking.  Being the only child for a week lends itself terrificly to an empty kitchen and unoccupied chauffers–um–parents, that is.

Since my trip to Chicago, I’ve been missing the down home cooking from the Dixie Kitchen and Bait shop, so on one of the first mornings of my break I made grits.  However, they were ethereal, flavored with bacon fat and mapple syrup.  I also made a tomato caramel to go on top and then garnished the servings with crispy bacon lardons.  Yum! 

In a moment of nostalgia later on, I realized that I had a nagging desire for the yellow cupcakes of my younger days that my mother frosted with strawberry frosting.  Why I would crave this, I don’t know.  However, I did, and I came up with a new spin on it. 

Starting with a Joy of Cooking recipe for sour cream cake, I added some grapefruit zest, ginger powder, and poppy seeds.  These would be the new Betty Crocker cupcake.  Then, I made a basic buttercream, but this time I used goat butter and confectioner’s sugar instead of regular butter.  I minced a few strawberries and strained them for some puree and added that to the buttercream.  A dash of cream and a couple minutes’ beating resulted in a beautiful light pink buttercream that was the perfect balance of tangy goatiness and strawberry. 

The combination was awesome!

grapefruit-poppy-ginger cupcake with strawberry-goat butter buttercream

grapefruit-poppy-ginger cupcake with strawberry-goat butter buttercream

A little while later, I was leafing through my mind when I decided to try something new in the dairy department.  Every time I go out to eat, I am tempted to order the cheeses for dessert but cannot pass up the pastry chef’s offerings on the dessert menu.   Therefore, I created something that would be eligible for both categories and even comes with a built in wine pairing. 

I give you The Wedge of blue cheese- Pedro Ximenez sherry ice cream!  Not only does it contain the unmistakable flavors of the blue cheese and the sherry, but it also looks like a wedge of blue cheese. 

wedge of blue cheese and pedro ximenez ice cream

wedge of blue cheese and pedro ximenez ice cream

Another bonus to my break is that my staycation involves multiple excursions to New York, my favorite city.  On Tuesday, my parents and I went to the Spotted Pig.  I enjoyed the gnudi and grilled lamb’s heart (rock on Chef Bloomfield; few serve up this brave fare!)  My mom ordered the ramp soup and squid stew with aioli, both of which were great, and my dad got the striped bass with mashed potatoes.  We all shared the addictive shoestring fries.  In addition to the food, the beer was above average.  The Spotted Pig bitter was really balanced, in my opinion.  The only thing that was a bit off-putting about our meal was that it was very salty.  I am a huge fan of well-seasoned food, but someone was a little-heavy handed with the salt that evening.

On Friday night, we went to Keens Chophouse to celebrate my dad’s birthday.  The restaurant is awesome looking, especially with the many pipes lining the ceiling.  We ordered the famed mutton chop and the porterhouse for two, both of which were delicious.  Of course, the mutton chop was the highlight; what could beat that lamby goodness?  The creamed spinach was also very good.

My dad enjoyed the scotch flight as well, which was a four-scotch tasting: one younger, one ten-year old, one eighteen-year old, and one twenty-one-year old. 

Here is how our night played out:

1)  Dad cannot guess his surprise dinner location

stumped!

stumped!

2)  Dad is perusing the scotch menu…or should I say epic list…

scotch list

scotch list

3)  Dad chooses one

yum!

yum!

 3)  Porterhouse and Mutton chop

porterhouse

porterhouse

 

mutton chop

mutton chop

What a night…Did I mention I’m getting a little fat after all these great meals?   

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