October 30, 2008

Trip to Panama City, FL

We're off for the weekend to attend a family wedding! I'll be posting again next week. Enjoy the weekend by making a bit pot of spicy chili...and the eggs.

October 25, 2008

Lips in Fort Lauderdale: We're Not in Kansas Anymore!

Let's just get one thing straight, so to speak. I love me some drag queens. Always have, always will. Just to restate the obvious, I also love me some food. Combine the two and it's bliss.

Recently, we had two special guests come and stay for week- Burgess and Brittany. Fortunately, they share my love for the dramatic. It was Brittany's birthday and she was in the mood for some good, old fashioned, drag-show watching. We found the perfect place in Fort Lauderdale and settled on the Gospel Brunch. Armed with pocketfuls of one dollar bills and hearty appetites, five of us headed north.

Sunday's Gospel Brunch starts at 11:00 AM. Upon arrival, we handed the keys to the valet and stood in line.  There were a lot of birthday boys and girls with the same idea. The crowd was a true cross-section of people- from grandmothers to guys who looked like Joe the Plumber, all in a tizzy of anticipation. The doors opened promptly and we were whisked into a good-sized elaborately decorated dining room, complete with huge bar. On the way to your table, pick up a mimosa or a bloody mary, both come with brunch. The bartender makes non-alcoholic bloody marys too!  The menu is small but varied, check it out here. The entertainment is also the wait staff and they'll take your order just before the curtain opens.

If it's your birthday, they will bring you a tiara, like this one that Brittany is wearing. Can't you just tell she feels like a very lucky girl?

Performances ensue as the food is served, and continue throughout the meal. This was a gospel brunch, so we got downright spiritual, which was surprisingly easy for our group of mostly Jews- maybe it was the free mimosas. The girls were gorgeous, talented and campy. Just as it should be.

After the grand finale, which to my delight was one of my favorite gospel songs, Maybe God is Trying to Tell You Something from The Color Purple soundtrack and probably from something else but I heard it in that movie, the birthday boys and girls each get a piece of cake, complete with sparkler of course, and a quick pose with the entertainment.

A few minutes later, it was all over.  There are two drag brunches every Sunday and the new patrons were already lining up outside as we paid our bill and headed out.  This is what too many mimosas in the morning did to our birthday girl:

To say we had fun would be an understatement. The folks at Lips really know how to entertain. The food was good, but definitely not the star of the how. Lips has nightly shows- each a different theme! I can't wait to a Bitchy Bingo party on a Wednesday night. See the schedule here. We all had a grand time -- even my brother-in-law JAM -- and it was his first drag show, if you don't count the one in our next-door neighbors' backyard (which is another story altogether).

A fabulous time was had by all. The birthday girl and Burgess got a little shut-eye on the way home. We live about an hour away from Lips - which will help us...well, me (who am I kidding?!) save it for special occasions. If you want some outlandish, hilarious, unique musical entertainment in an over-the-top atmosphere, plan your trip to Lips today...and the eggs.

October 18, 2008

Tarragon Chicken Squares!

My mother used to make chicken squares like this, and once, at a restaurant in Philadelphia, I ordered tarragon chicken. It tasted so good that I decided to recreate my mother's dish with the addition of a lot of tarragon.


Cut up boneless, skinless chicken breasts into 1 1/2 inch pieces.  Soak in egg.  Next, prepare the bread crumbs.

Use unseasoned toasted bread crumbs.  Empty a bunch into a Ziplock bag.  I didn't measure- and it also depends on how much chicken you plan to make.  Add a good amount of salt and fresh ground black pepper.  Then add dried tarragon so that it makes up at least 1/8th of the mixture.

Use a large saucepan and add vegetable oil.  Heat until water sizzles when it hits it.  Add chicken.  Do not overcrowd pan- instead, make a few batches.  I keep the oven at 200 degrees to keep the already made batches warm while the other batches cook.

When they are golden brown, turn them over and cook them on the other side.   That's all there is to it!

A great side dish for chicken tarragon is baby zucchini.  Just put in a bowl and add a few tablespoons of water, cover, and steam for 5 minutes.

There you have it!  You can make a dipping sauce for the chicken if you like- we like ours just like this. It's even good leftover and it's also good right out of the refrigerator. Sounds strange, but it's true! Think cold fried chicken. Enjoy...and the eggs.

October 9, 2008

Reading Terminal Market in Center City, Philadelphia!

Our hotel in Philly was 2 blocks away from Reading Terminal Market- and that was no coincidence. The market is packed with the best fresh seafood markets, best butchers, bakeries and dairy products in the area. You can also eat lunch or dinner- there is Carmen's for hoagies and Delilah's for the best mac and cheese in the country (according to Oprah)! This post is heavy on photography, so I will let the photos speak for themselves.

This is the time of year for a Philadelphia trip- no humidity and sunny days.  Catch an Eagles game.  Eat and shop at Reading Terminal Market...catch a glimpse of the Liberty Bell...and the eggs.

October 3, 2008

Seared Sea Scallops!

Since we're on the topic of seafood (coming off a Chickie's post), I recently made scallops. It took me a while to work up the courage to try to make them because I was afraid that they would be overdone or underdone or that I wouldn't be able to get them to sear nicely. All that worry was for nothing. I made up the recipe for the garnishes, but these scallops would have been just as good by themselves.

Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and smush a couple of cloves of garlic and throw them in. Keep the pan on medium low for 10 minutes or so - you want the garlic to flavor the oil a bit. Remove the garlic and turn up the heat to medium high. Throw in a bag of prewashed baby spinach and stir.

After three minutes or less, the spinach is cooked down and ready. Set aside.

Pat scallops with paper towel to dry. Using dry scallops is the key to making seared scallops.  Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper.

Heat 2 more tablespoons of olive oil in pan and add a pat of butter. Turn to medium high. When butter sizzles but has not started to burn, add scallops. Cook for a few minutes until you can detect nice browning and flip.

Cook on other side for 3-5 more minutes. They cook quickly so you have to be sure to take them off the heat just as they become opaque; you do not want to overcook them.

This is the color you are striving for!

Place on platter and garnish as desired. I topped them with the spinach, bacon bits and leftover corn that I roasted in the oven. The flavors went together beautifully.  The hardest thing about making these scallops was finding nice ones at the market, but having just discovered a Whole Foods nearby (how did I miss that!?), I don't think that finding fresh seafood will be a problem again.   They were incredible and disappeared like magic.   I encourage you to try cooking something new- something you have been putting off for one reason or another- it will pay off in melt-in-your mouth goodness...and the eggs.