Monthly Archives: September 2010

Citrus Sangria–Perfect for Fall

Looking for a great bevvy for a party or get together? I made citrus sangria this weekend for a Tapas dinner party at my house. The recipe was easy, creative, and went over smashingly. It also lasted through the majority of the evening and complimented our small plates very well!

You can double this recipe as much as you would like:

1 Bottle Red Wine (I used a Pinot Noir, but a heartier red would also work well)
Juice of 2 Oranges
Juice of 3 Limes
Juice of 2 Lemons
1 Cup Tripple Sec
1 Cup Brandy
1/4 Cup Splenda
1 1/2 Cups Soda Water

Add wine, citrus juice and slices of orange, lemon and lime into a pitcher. Let sit for a few hours so that the wine can soak up the citrus. When you are ready to serve, add the soda water and sugar.

AND, a pretty pitcher always helps.

Enjoy!

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Frida Bistro–“Fresh, flavorful, festive and sexy”

I had been hearing rumblings about Frido Bistro for a few months and finally decided that it was way past time to check it out. I perused the website, checked out the menu (a few times) and even asked a few people about it. Everything from the atmosphere to the food looked like it was primed for the pallet of Nosh Maven.

People had told me that Frida Bistro was basically “gourmet Mexican”. For some reason, I couldn’t really picture exactly what this might be. Gourmet Latin or Spanish I could get my head around, but I wasn’t quite getting a grasp on a gourmet enchilada. Good news: Frida Bistro isn’t about gourmet bean burritos. Instead, they describe themselves as “sophisticated Mexican gastronomy”. This seems to make a little more sense. Also, anytime a restaurant refers to themselves as “sexy”…I am pretty sure they are adding a little something extra that I am going to love.

Frida Bistro is one of the most unique restaurants in Salt Lake City. First, I have to say, that heading down 700 south, I really felt like I had taken a wrong turn, wrote down the wrong address, or totally missed the location entirely of this restaurant. As I drove past Kilby Court, a great hang out spot for music, I wasn’t exactly sure that I was going to find a gourmet anything. But we trekked on, and there it was–in the middle of industrial SLC, a beautifully lit patio with an inviting sign letting us know we were in the right location. Whew! I have to say, I LOVE this location. It is quiet, but still downtown. It is bustling, but you can still find parking. It is “city”, but it is hidden. It is almost as if they knew they didn’t need to be in the middle of it all to be amazing. And, they are right.

There were five of us in our dinner party. We were greeted with a welcoming smile and seated after a few minutes of waiting. It was a busy Friday night, and we did have to wait a while for our cocktails. We also had to wait a while for our server. Now, after being in the restaurant business for so long, I realize that a busy Friday night in a nice restaurant will take a little more time, however, there may have been some rumblings about the wait time. It also may have been the hungry stomachs. Regardless, once the cocktails DID reach our table, everyone quieted right down and instead went nuts for the intense and original flavors of Frida’s margaritas. The winner of the evening was the pineapple cilantro margarita. Fresh cilantro was blended right in and it was a refreshing cocktail with a kick of flavor that I have never experienced before. Cilantro in a margarita…who knew? Believe me, it totally makes sense.

Of course, we also had to wet our pallets with some appetizers. It actually took us a bit to come to some decisions, as everything in Frida’s appetizer section looked pretty killer. We decided on three: Esquite ($6), Queso Fundido with Chorizo ($7) and Calamari ($12).

The Esquite was probably my favorite. We actually looked up “Esquite” via iPhone before ordering and found out it was sort of like corn on the cob in a dish. Let’s just say, it tasted a lot more complex and delicious than that. There was corn, there was some kind of cheese, and whatever else was in this dish was tasty.

The queso was also divine. Very rich, velvety and the perfect blend of spice. You can’t beat cheese and sausage. This was one of the better queso dips I have had in a long while.

And last but absolutely not least, the calamari. The calamari was battered with blue corn and was so beautiful. Also, it was not so much breading that the calamari got lost in the process. The aioli was spicy and right on target. Such a great dish!

We were happy campers with the beverages and the appetizers, that is for sure.

I have one rule when I do a review and take guests along with me and that is that everyone MUST order something different. When we all first sat down, three people in our party wanted the same thing: Pollo Relleno Poblano. I had to put my foot down! It couldn’t have been a better rule because the five dishes we ordered were actually ALL fantastic. I really couldn’t believe it. Out of FIVE dishes, you would have though maybe one wouldn’t have been so great. Not the case. Not the case at all.

The Pollo Relleno Poblano was pretty fantastic: Chicken breast stuffed with cream cheese, topped with poblano cream sauce, and served with roasted potatoes and Mexican rice. ($18). You want rich wonderful flavor? This is a great dish and priced favorably.

The Carnitias were awesome. The pork was tender and moist and the tortillas were pretty awesome too: Carnitas de Puerco: This dish from Michoacán features fried leg of pork basted in a sweet citrus glaze, served with chipotle mashed potatoes, two salsas and handmade corn tortillas. ($17).

Frida does pretty sensational with seafood. The Camarones Diego had unbelievable rich flavor: Fried shrimp over grilled nopal cactus, topped with smoked jalapeño and Manchego cheese sauce. Served with tres verdes rice ($25). And the Halibut dish was light but exploding with flavor. The Halibut isn’t listed currently on the menu on Frida’s website, but if you are lucky enough to have this on the menu when you go, it is a superb choice!

I ordered the scallops dish and if I could accurately describe to you the flavor of the sauce these perfect scallops were dressing themselves up in, I would be a much better writer than I am. This sauce was heavy and rich, but also very much an accent as well. It was sweet and syrupy and also mild enough to not be overbearing. The color was unbelievable and everything worked so well together to promote the flavor of the seafood. Also, the nopales cactus that comes with some of these dishes (the green beauty under the scallops and also was included in the shrimp and halibut dishes) is filled with amazing flavor. I was in heaven. Callos de Acha: Seared diver scallops in a pomegranate chile dárbol reduction with steamed cabbage on nopales. ($24)

I hope you are all drooling over these dishes by now. Frida Bistro was quite the experience. It really is a sexy little restaurant with some really creative things going on. The food is well thought out, inventive, and also at the same time true to the flavors that one would expect to a certain degree. A menu that changes seasonally with selections that are each innovative makes you feel as though no matter what you choose to eat at Frida, you won’t be disappointed. Enjoy the food, the art, and the atmosphere and don’t forget, $25 bucks for food that is an experience, not just sustenance, is well spent. I can’t wait for the Fall/Winter menu!

Find Frida Bistro at : 545 West 700 South Salt Lake City, Utah 84101, 801-983-6692
Facebook: Friends of Frida Bistro
Twitter: @FridaBistro

Frida Bistro on Urbanspoon

A Dinner Party–Garden Fresh Veggie Pasta w Lemon

One of my favorite things to do is host a dinner party at my house. Last week, I had 4 of my very favorite girlfriends over so I could cook up some tasty grub and spend some time drinking wine and chatting. I like having people over because it gives me an opportunity to cook dishes that are larger that I normally wouldn’t cook just for myself. On this occasion, I decided to cook what I like to call “Garden Veggie Pasta with Lemon”.

A few things to note when hosting a dinner gathering.

1) Don’t invite too many people. If you are doing the cooking, it can get overwhelming quickly to cook for more than about five people or so.
2) Also have some kind of appetizer for your guests when they arrive so that they can enjoy something while you are cooking.
3) Don’t hesitate to have guests bring items that you need to cook with.
4) If you are providing the cooking, then ask everyone else to bring the wine!
5) Matching dishes are key.
6) Too many cooks in the kitchen is never a good thing. Prepare in advance, allow your guests to relax, and make sure you don’t have so much prep work that you can’t enjoy the company yourself.

For some noshing before dinner, we had some organic cheeses; sharp cheddar and a hard goat cheese. We also had some awesome artichoke dip from Whole Foods, plump green grapes, and my favorite cracker ever–Nut Thins with Sea Salt.

While everyone was munching, I got started on dinner. One of my friends brought some amazing veggies from her garden; zucchini, squash, eggplant, and tomatoes! All of that got chopped up and thrown into a sauce pan with some olive oil. As the veggies were starting to cook, I added some fresh organic spinach, marinated artichokes, and some pine-nuts. This is the base of the pasta sauce. After the veggies start becoming soft, you will want to add a hefty portion of lemon juice. Don’t use concentrate; use real lemons! For this dish, I used 1 1/2 lemons, and also some Lemon Peel Seasoning. Then you can season to taste. Sea salt, garlic, cracked black pepper, dill, and onion salt are some good options–but really, there is so much flavor in the fresh veggies and lemon, that you don’t need too much seasoning.

This sauce is great on its own, but I also wanted this dish to have some chicken. I had some organic free-range chicken marinating for about an hour and then cooked that separately on my awesome indoor/outdoor George Foreman grill! I decided to marinate my chicken with key limes, as I knew that would be a great citrus accent to the lemon veggie sauce. Let the chicken marinate with the juice of 3 or 4 key limes, olive oil, garlic salt, sea salt, and cracked black pepper in the fridge for an hour or so. If you don’t have that much time, even a half hour will be ok.

When you put the chicken on the grill, also include the key lime rinds. They will add a lot of flavor when you cover the chicken while it cooks.

As everything is cooking, you will of course, want to boil your pasta. Please don’t ruin such an awesome flavorful dish with boring white pasta!! Ha! Use some awesome, wonderful, healthy whole wheat pasta. For this occasion, I used some lovely wheat spirals.

Once everything is all ready, it is time to build the presentation. Hopefully, you have a big beautiful pasta bowl! Add the pasta, then the veggie sauce, then the chicken. Top with some grated Assigaio or Parmesan cheese, and then squeeze half a lemon on top. The lemon is great for the presentation also. And, whhaaalaaa!

Nosh Maven’s Garden Veggie Pasta with Lemon!

We all dug in and ate up and it was a great night! Thanks to my lady friends who helped make the night even better! Good food is great and all, but sharing it with people you love makes everything taste even more delicious.

Happy eating!