Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer Shack...

Summer Shack is one of my favorite restaurants. "Food is love" is a fabulous motto, and I plan to live that way my whole life. But it's expensive and I rarely get to eat there, so when I went on my birthday, I went a little nuts.

The server wasn't the greatest. My friend asked for the Cobb salad, but instead of crab, some other kind of protein. She said they wouldn't let him do it, unless he wanted extra bacon. Now, I find it hard to believe that the chef wouldn't let him put steak tips or chicken of some sort on there. With the kind of chef Jasper White is, I highly doubt he'd be okay with that.

One of my favorite things about Summer Shack is that they bring you not just bread, but cornbread before every meal. While the cornbread can be pretty dry, a hefty dollop of the sweet creamy butter takes care of that.

I started with a pound of steamers. The steamers were pretty good, steamed with celery, and the little feet came off rather easily. I wasn't blown away by them, mostly because steamers are so standard.

But I also started with the fried chicken. Man, oh man. Summer Shack has some of the best fried chicken I've ever had. It's crispy, juicy, salty, amazing all around.

Nothing could have prepared me for my pan-roasted lobster, however. The chopped lobster was soaking in butter, chives and lobster roe. Provided with a lobster bib and a cracker, I went to town and completely destroyed the lobster as savagely as I possibly could. When I was done, I rolled my corn on the cob in the lobster was pure unadulterated joy. I will never order my lobster a different way whenever I go to Summer Shack -- but next time, I will get the two pounder. I wasn't nearly full.

Dessert was NY style cheesecake with an oreo crust and bruleed peaches. I think I would have liked it better with a regular graham crust, or without the peaches -- the oreo and the peaches didn't really go together. But all in all, it was another delicious meal thanks to Summer Shack.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Chicken chili casserole

This past weekend, my roommates and I threw a Mexican themed "Adios Analog" party, in honor of TV switching from analog to digital. As part of the theme, I made a chicken chili casserole that people raved over. A few have asked me for the recipe, so here it is:

-2 lbs ground chicken
-1-2 large can crushed tomatoes
-can of diced tomatoes
-2 tbsp chopped cilantro
-Half of a red onion, diced
-Green peppers/yellow peppers/orange peppers/red peppers, diced (I used half of each one)
-Chili powder
-Roasted corn, frozen (Trader Joe's has a great one)
-Black beans, canned (optional)
-Jalapenos, canned or fresh, chopped (optional)
-Minced garlic, two cloves
-Tortillas (flour or corn -- try wheat for a healthy alternative)
-Shredded cheese, Mexican four-cheese or fancy blend (mozzarella/cheddar blend)

Start by heating up some oil at the bottom of a large pot on medium high. Add the onions, peppers, and garlic, and sweat out for a minute or two, until they begin to soften (if using fresh jalapenos, you would add at this time). Add a hefty pinch of black pepper.

Add the chicken and let brown. Mix frequently to keep the chicken smooth and prevent chunkage. After most pink has disappeared, add the can of crushed tomatoes. Depending on the size of the can, you may want to add another, but a 32 ounce can should be fine. Add the can of diced tomatoes too. (If you choose to add beans, this is when you should do it, or if you'd like to add some heat, throw in some chopped jalapenos from a jar)

Add half a palmful of cumin, and half a palmful of chili powder. Add a quarter of a palm full of adobo. Stir in, then add the corn (defrosted, though it's fine if it's still a little bit frozen) and cilantro. Stir and let cook for about 15 mins.

Turn the heat down to low, and allow to simmer for another half an hour or so. Taste test every now and then and add adobo or salt/pepper as needed.

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a large baking pan. Once chili is cooked to your liking, ladle a layer of chili into the pan. Add a layer of cheese over the chili, then a layer of tortillas, then a layer of chili, and repeat. Do this until the pan is full, and make sure the top layer is a thick layer of cheese. Dust the top with black pepper.

Put the casserole in the oven for about 20 mins, or until the cheese fully melts. Take it out and let sit for another 10-15 mins, then dig in! Serve with sour cream and guac for a fully happy experience.