February 8, 2013

Porter Road Butcher. Local, Fresh, Healthier, and Happier!

Who really makes everything from scratch? Come on, I’m sure you’ve hosted a dinner party and instead of planning a menu you decided to watch Downton Abbey…or procrastinate in some other fashion. It happens to all of us and it’s all right.

After tonight, my motto is this: if you’re going to cheat, you might as well give it a go and do a good job at it.

No, no, I’m not talking about doing anything illegal. I am talking about “cheating” as in not wanting to labor over a boeuf bourguignon or a tarte aux pommes all afternoon. My point is if you decide that you don't feel like preparing something from scratch, you better make sure that your substitute is up to par.

And…. I have the perfect solution for all of you Nashvillians out there who are scrambling to prepare for your dinner party or just want to serve a gourmet meal, without all of the work.

They know what’s up when it comes to pork ossobucco. That’s for sure. The meat literally falls off the bone with just the slightest touch of your fork. 

Check it out. All I had to do was heat up the pork with my own vegetable broth, roast some rosemary potatoes and leeks, and wash a bunch of spinach. In thirty minutes, you can prep, roast, and get dressed for the evening! 

Pork Ossobucco 

Porter Road Butcher offers a variety of prepared foods such as: chili, BBQ pulled pork, breakfast casserole, meatballs and sauce, pate, and of course, pork ossobucco. You can buy baguettes, sauces, stocks, chowders, and choose from an assortment of cheeses.

They also sell beef, pork, chicken, and lamb that can be cut to your desire. Care for some catering? They do that too! 

Did I say that everything is locally produced? 

A ribeye right off the grill 

Support local farmers by making your way over to Porter Road Butcher. You will appreciate their friendly and helpful faces. And who knows when you’ll need that last minute gourmet ingredient for your next dinner party. 

Porter Road Butcher
501 Gallatin Ave.
Nashville, TN 37206
(615) 650-4400

Monday-Friday: 11AM - 7PM
Saturday: 10AM - 6PM
Sunday: NOON - 4PM 

February 1, 2013

Duck Fat: Your New Best Friend

If you google "duck fat" you may be surprised to find that there are a few restaurants that are actually named, "Duck Fat." If I lived in Portland, ME or in the suburbs of Chicago, I could say, "Hey honey, how about we go to Duck Fat tonight?" or "Man, I love Duck Fat!"

Well, I do love duck fat and there are so many great things about it!

It can be used for frying, roasting, and sautéing. 

It provides a savory flavor to just about anything. 

It is a healthy alternative to butter and can even help lower your cholesterol. For more facts, click here.

The bottom line is that every refrigerator needs some duck fat. You'll be amazed by its versatility. 

For example, have you ever wondered how the French make their sautéed onions taste so good? Yep, duck fat. Chop up some yellow onions and SLOWLY sauté them in duck fat, letting the hearty flavor reach its perfection. 

How about a crispy biscuit to go with your homemade sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich? Replace the butter with duck fat and your biscuits will be moist on the inside and crispy on the outside. Sounds like perfection to me! 

For those of you who are more adventurous in the kitchen, use duck fat the next time you prepare a cassoulet or duck confit. ( I HOPE that you are already using duck fat when making duck confit. If not, we should talk.) 

My most recent experiment with duck fat was with this fantastic salad: 
A frisée salad with goat cheese, candied pecans, thinly sliced green apples, and a lemon-duck fat vinaigrette. Mmm mmm. 

The possibilities are endless. 
Eat more duck fat. 

January 17, 2013

A visit to Rolph & Daughters in Germantown

I have this working list of restaurants that I want to visit in Nashville. Currently, there are 12 names on the list! Rolph & Daughters was next up, so I asked my friends, Amelia and Hallie, if they wanted to join and made a reservation for three. With all of the hype about Nashville's newest neighborhood restaurant, we were really anticipating our night out!

I certainly commend the chef and owner, Phillip Krajeck, for his masterful and dynamic menu. Many of the dishes were very intriguing and contained a unique blend of flavor and texture. For example, when was the last time you tasted seaweed butter? And what is a Jerusalem artichoke? I shared the pleasure of trying both of these items and let's just say that we polished them off without any problems. We may have ever licked the plate too.

Over the course of the evening, the kitchen received numerous complements from our table. The squid ink canestri pasta with gulf shrimp and chorizo was incomparable to any squid ink pasta I have tried. Its flavor was rich, yet not too overpowering. The garganelli verde with heritage pork ragout was hearty and perfect for the chilly temperatures outside. Even the skirt steak was interesting. Cooked to a perfect medium-rare, it came with a turnip and olive garnish that I surely do not know how to make at home. For dessert, we shared the Bambiloni's. These are sugar-coated, light, and fluffy doughnuts filled with vanilla cream and served with a side of chocolate dipping sauce. All of our food exceeded my expectations and I am already thinking about my next visit.

The thing is, while the kitchen's performance was practically flawless, we had to wait over 30 minutes to be seated; even with a reservation that was confirmed earlier in the day. Their website encourages parties to visit without a reservation, stating that the long community tables will be reserved for walk-ins, but unless you want to wait all night, I would certainly recommend a reservation. The other thing, which was a little unusual, was the aloof demeanor of our waitress as she presented various items from the menu. She used the word, "cool" four times! The strangest part was when she described the "hen of the woods" as a mushroom that is, quote: "really earthy, almost tasting like dirt." Who wants to eat something that tastes like dirt? Even though I am a supporter of trying new things, I probably don't have to explain why we didn't order the farro gemelli.

All in all, the atmosphere at Rolph & Daughters is bustling with hipsters, sophisticated men and women, and food enthusiasts like myself. The bar area is a great spot to grab drinks and dinner (if there is space) and offers an assortment of beer, cocktails, and wines. This is much more than your neighborhood restaurant and I foresee it becoming one of Nashville's finest.

Rolph & Daughters
700 Taylor Street
Nashville, TN 37208
Monday - Sunday 5:30 - 10:00

January 12, 2013

Baby Clam Linguine

Five pounds of baby clams, some white wine, garlic, linguine….this recipe will make your crave Italian food like never before. 
Little neck clams. 100 count. 

More often than not, when I see clam linguine on the menu, I order it. You know, pasta with  clams, garlic, parsley, and maybe some Parmesan cheese for those non-traditional Italian-food eaters. You can't go wrong....until your own homemade version blows every other clam linguine off the menu! 

After making clam linguine with my dad for the first time, I have an entirely new appreciation for the dish; and from this day onward, I will certainly scrutinize the flavor of the clams and their broth when ordering this dish at a restaurant. 

Pair this dinner with a bottle of 2010 Lioco Chardonnay and you're set. 

If you want to impress a special someone or host an unforgettable dinner, this is the recipe for you:

Clam Linguine
Serves 4 hungry adults

5 lbs baby clams
White wine ( a bottle should do - some for the broth and some for you!)
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Crushed red pepper flakes

  1. Wash and scrub the clams to remove all sand. 
  2. In a large pot, add two tablespoons of olive oil and equal parts water and wine, so that you have ¼ of the pot filled.
  3. Steam the clams for about 8 minutes, so that the shells have just opened. Shake the pot every couple of minutes to help all of the clams open.
  4. Drain the clams, straining the liquid and putting it aside.
  5. Place the liquid leftover from steaming the clams in a medium pot and reduce without the lid, using high heat. This reduction may need additional straining, as sand may settle at the bottom of the pot. 
  6. Meanwhile, remove the clams from their shells. (This takes some time, but it is worth the effort.)
  7. Sautee garlic, crushed red pepper, and olive oil in a skillet. Carefully add the shelled clams and avoid over-cooking them.
  8. Add the garlic and clam mixture to the reduced broth and cover to keep warm.
  9. Cook pasta in a large pot. Add clams and broth to the cooked pasta.
  10. Stir in 2 tablespoons of cream for added thickness.
  11. Garnish with parsley and lemon juice.
Set the table, serve hot, and save room for seconds. 

....and voila! 

January 8, 2013

Homemade Swiss Chard Ravioli

Periodically, I get the urge to try something new and find any excuse to invite my friends and family over for dinner. I love the idea of experimenting with food and a Sunday afternoon is the perfect time to explore new dishes. 

The only reason why this dish was such a large endeavor was because it was the first time I had ever attempted to make ravioli. And....I also started the day off with a few glasses of wine at brunch, so that may have made this project feel a bit more grandiose than it really was. 

With loads of organic swiss chard in my mother's garden, I was on a mission to make a vegetarian-friendly pasta dish. 

For the pasta dough - 


3 large eggs
6 egg yolks
3 cups flour
A pinch of salt

  1. Using a food processor or mixer, combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Remove dough and knead by hand for a few minutes until smooth. If the dough is too dry, add a few drops of water.
  3. Divide dough into 4 equal parts and shape them into balls. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for 1 hour.
For the filling - 


1 1/2 pounds Swiss chard, stems and ribs discarded and leaves washed and drained
½ yellow onion
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons golden raisins

  1. Finely chop Swiss chard. You can use the pulse setting of a food processor (You will need about 6 packed cups).
  2. Using a food processor, chop the pine nuts, garlic, and onion. Remove and set aside.
  3. Using the food processor again, finely chop the raisins. 
  4. In a large skillet, sauté onions, garlic, and pine nuts in olive oil over high heat until onion is soft and pine nuts are a few shades darker. 
  5. Stir in, raisins, and half of Swiss chard and cook, stirring, until chard is slightly wilted (1-2 minutes). 
  6. Add the remaining chard and season with salt and pepper. Cook the filling, covered, over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until chard is tender, about 5 minutes.
  7. Chill filling, uncovered, at least 1 hour or, covered, up to 1 day.

Making the Ravioli - 
  1. Lightly dust your work surface with flour.
  2. Set the smooth rollers of pasta machine on the widest setting. Unwrap one ball of dough and separate into 2-3 parts. Roll flat onto your work surface using a rolling pin. 
  3. Then, feed the dough through the rollers 8 times, folding in half each time and dusting with flour as necessary to prevent sticking.
  4. Turn the dial down to next (smaller) setting and feed the dough through the rollers without folding. Continue to feed the dough through, without folding, making space between rollers narrower each time, until narrowest setting is reached.
To make the ravioli, there are two methods. You can use a fluted pastry wheel to trim the edges of the raviolis or use a ravioli mold.

Fluted Pastry Cutter

Ravioli Molds

Some plump raviolis if you ask me! 

If you are using a fluted pastry wheel, follow these steps:
  1. Put the pasta sheets on the floured work surface (parchment paper is also nice to work on.)
  2. Place packed teaspoons of chard filling 2 inches apart along half of the pasta sheet Around each mound of filling brush dough very lightly with water.
  3. Fold dough in half, over mounds of filling and gently press around mounds to force out any air, and seal the edges. 
  4. With a fluted pastry wheel trim edges and cut between mounds of filling to separate ravioli.
If you are using a ravioli mold, follow these steps:
  1. Place a sheet of the dough over the floured mold and gently press into the mold to create small cups for the filling.
  2. Add a packed teaspoon of chard filling to each ravioli cup.
  3. Place another sheet of dough over the mounds and press gently on the edges. Using a rolling pin, carefully roll the sheets of dough together, sealing the edges. You may need to press firmly around each mound to ensure that the raviolis are sealed and ready.
  4. Slowly remove the raviolis from the mold and set aside.

When ready to cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a roaring boil. Cook the pasta for 3 minutes. Drain pasta and divide raviolis equally among the dinner plates. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese.