Given Mike’s long history with the restaurant (see here!), it’s not at all surprising that one of the places we wanted to review for the dining-out part of this blog was Hell’s Kitchen. It’s a fabulous restaurant, with wonderful food and incredible atmosphere, and if you’re in the Twin Cities area, you owe it to yourself to dive into Hell’s Kitchen. This time, Mike, Kira, Kira’s aunt and uncle, and Catherine and I went to brunch, and it was a very special outing. So, what happened on this trip?
Earlier this month Hell’s Kitchen hosted their Fan Appreciation Brunch. It was a celebration of 10 years in business and reaching 10,000 fans on Facebook. I knew when David and I started the 5×2 blog we would be reviewing Hell’s Kitchen at some point and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Read More…
All of the earlier movies of the summer were merely the build-up to the main event – The Avengers! It’s been touted and heralded for more than a year. It had FIVE movies that served as prequels to the main event. The last movie event of this magnitude was the launch of the Harry Potter series, although an argument could be made for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Prior to seeing The Avengers, Mike and I watched many of the earlier movies. So, in the end, does it measure up? CAN it measure up to the hype?
It is no secret that my favorite restaurant in the Twin Cities (the world?) is Hell’s Kitchen, but there is another restaurant in Minneapolis that I also like to rave about when anyone will listen called Spoonriver. I was introduced to Spoonriver on a recommendation from my neighbor. They have a diverse menu that is centered around healthy and local food. I manage to get there about once every other month and I always have every intention of ordering one of their amazing sounding burgers (The Spoon Burger is made with lamb and Moroccan spices), but without fail I end up ordering the vegetarian special because the description is irresistible. I am a confirmed carnivore, but Brenda Langton has created a menu that converts this hamburger helper, meat and potatoes guy into a healthy, local-food only, vegetarian whenever I walk in the door of her restaurant.
Mike got a new cookbook, and was eager to try out some of the recipes. We decided to do a vegetarian dish, along with two appetizers. This time around the cooking fest took place at the Donnelly’s. Although we did our best, Mike and I weren’t quite able to make a complete success of it – we didn’t manage to dirty every single pot and pan in the house. However, the end results were excellent! Read on for a blow-by-blow description…
We started off the cooking with two appetizers. Mine actually didn’t require much cooking, merely assembly. Mike’s was a bit more complicated – a Roasted Sweet Pepper, Walnut and Pomegranate Spread. As it was a bit more complicated, he’d already begun preparing it before we arrived. I’ll leave details of that dish to Mike. I tackled the Green Olive Tapenade. After sauteing some garlic in olive oil, I put it into a food processor with pitted green olives, parsley, red onion, some lemon juice and some ground pepper. I processed it until it was finely chopped, but still had some texture. After transferring the olive mixture to a bowl, I pureed half a block of firm tofu until it was very smooth, and folded this into the olive mixture. The end result was a thick, creamy tapenade.
The main course, East Indian Curry with Red Lentils, required a lot of chopping. I set the lentils to simmering while Mike chopped up onions and squash. We also diced up red peppers, carrots, cauliflower, and snap peas. While Mike was sauteing the onions in some olive oil, I pulled the lentils from the heat, and we set up some white rice in a separate pot on the stove. Mike added the peppers, carrots, crushed tomatoes, and some veggie stock to the onions, and simmered for about ten minutes. The red curry paste was mixed with some coconut milk and added to the vegetables. I tossed in the sugar snap peas and the cauliflower. Everything simmered until the cauliflower was tender, then in went the lentils. In the last few minutes I added the rest of the tofu, diced up, that was left over from the tapenade.
We served the curry over the rice, and the meal came together very nicely. Everything was cooked about right, although in retrospect the lentils were perhaps a bit too limp – I’d cut back on the cooking time for the lentils by about a third next time. Also, the rice was slightly wetter than I prefer, but that was hidden by the liquid from the curry. The spice level was good – hot enough to be noticeable, but not so hot as to be intrusive. The tofu was a nice addition; I’m glad we had firm tofu, as anything softer would have disintegrated. This is more of a Fall/Winter dish, but it tasted just fine even in mid-Spring!
Our beer review this time around is 1554 from New Belgium Brewing. They are probably best known for Fat Tire amber Ale, but I didn’t make that connection when I was picking out a beer. It looked interesting and I had never tried an Enlightened Ale before.
Continuing our tradition, David and I met up for a beer at his house and watched a movie on his great entertainment center. We’ve been doing mostly Comic Book movies and I think we were both in the mood from something different. Some ideas were tossed around, but in the end we decided to watch a western – sort of. The film was a first for me, but a favorite of David’s. I enjoyed it quite a bit and we have plans to talk about it in the future, but tonight I am here to talk about beer.
For this week’s beer review, Mike brought over one from the New Belgium brewery that I’d never tried before. I am familiar with their Fat Tire ale, and enjoy it, although it isn’t a regular in our house. I’m rather a fan of dark beers, and the 1554 Enlightened Black Ale didn’t disappoint.