Friday, February 24, 2012

Rain - Premiere Sushi Bar & Bistro (Best Mac & Cheese Memphis)

In our search for the BEST Mac & Cheese in Memphis, here's one of the latest contenders.  Rain Sushi Bar & Bistro located in Cordova, TN is making a mean side dish of Mac & Cheese.  Their dish consists of over-sized ridged elbow noodles, which perfectly holds up in their creamy buttery cheesy sauce.  They opt for what we consider to be, the perfect combination of cheeses, a mix white and yellow cheddar, parmigiana and mozzarella.  And when we went to share this dish, with others at our table, strings of cheese literally stretched across the table, yep that's what I am talking about!  They top theirs with crumbles of smoky bacon & a little green onion for garnish.  And then serve it up, in a cast iron skillet, just waiting to be devoured.  And boy did we ever, there wasn't a trace of anything left over after we got done with it.  And for those who want to step it up a notch?  Well, check this out...they offer an appetizer called Lobster Mac & Cheese, which is their regular Mac & Cheese but with Lobster added, oh yeah!!!  We will have to try that next time.  

We give this dish & their Chef a HUGE thumbs up & a BIG southern hug...will definitely return for more.

For more information about Rain, please see the link below & visit their page on Urbanspoon.   

Rain Premier Sushi Bar & Bistro on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The World in a Skillet

The World in a Skillet hits the shelves in March 2012...and, if you aren't at your local bookstore (official launch party & signing at Booksellers at Laurelwood on Tuesday, March 6 @ 6pm) to get your copy before they're gone, you may be left in the dust. This book makes me sooo proud be a southern gal!

Paul and Angela Knipple, husband & wife team, take on the South in their book, The World in a Skillet. Southern food is about way more than we might realize. The World in a Skillet is about the people Paul and Angela visit and the culinary history they uncover. They guide us in discovering that southern cooking and American immigrants go hand in hand.  This book is what southern living is all about. It's people from all over the world that make a difference in what southern food is and how it always will be evolving.  

The idea for this book came to Paul and Angela while eating at a favorite local restaurant, Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana, in Germantown, TN. The owners are known for their love of authentic Mexico City street-style food. And they proudly share their story for how and why they only serve the freshest ingredients, every day. Deli Mexicana is a unique establishment that is located in the heart of Germantown, and Pepe and Jonathan Margallanes are a fantastic father & son team!! What they create is unique and priceless. We LOVE them!!! Just the other day Jonathan mentioned to me how much they adore Paul and Angela - I told him I couldn't agree more.  

Paul and Angela decided the focus would be the Central and South American restaurants.  Many of the folks they interviewed are those who are living the American dream while bringing their heritage into southern cooking. Essentially, Paul and Angela wrote down these people's stories of the places they call home. It's the stories and recipes in this book that will grab you and help you discover there is more to southern cooking than fried chicken & turnip greens.     

In America, our food culture is lacking...a lot due to modern convenience foods like the fast food burger...but American food culture is widely influenced by immigrants, holding true to what they were taught by the cooks in their families. Today you will find many restaurants growing, thriving and defining what southern food means to them.  

Click the link for a list of cities and events Paul and Angela will be attending this Spring. See if they are coming to a city near you - The World in a Skillet

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Chili Queso Soup

Have you ever wanted to eat an entire bowl of Chili Queso dip & not feel guilty?  Well, NOW you can!!!  And that's how the idea for this was born.  It's creamy cheesy broth that warms you up & is filled with the best ever Newman Farms ground pork, chunky tomatoes, black beans & the perfect blends of spices...all that reminds you of your favorite dip.  This also makes a great topping for potatoes (thanks, Beth) or when you are getting down to the last bit of it, add some extra cheese to thicken it up & viola you have your dip ;).  One bite of this & you will never again have to spend your money at that chain restaurant, cause you now have the tools to make this at home.  So, what are you waiting on?  Go to Whole Foods/Fresh Market, grab this stuff & hurry home to surprise you family with this, tonight!        

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil (or olive oil)
1 large onion, chopped 
1 pound Newman Farms ground pork
2 cloves garlic, grated 
2 tsp (medium hot) chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne 
1 quart organic chicken stock 
1 can organic black beans, rinsed
1 (28 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
8 ounces Velveeta cheese, cubed
4 tablespoons butter 
1/3 cup flour 
2 cups milk 
dash cayenne
1/2 cup fresh organic cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

In a dutch oven, over medium high heat add oil, add onions (season lightly with salt).  Cook til soft & translucent.  Add ground pork & brown.  Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, cayenne, season to taste with salt (suggestion: 1 tsp) & pepper.  Add chicken stock, tomatoes & black beans.  Allow everything to cook together for about 10 minutes.  Once it's warm (not too hot), add cubed cheese. Stir continuously until cheese is melted. Reduce heat to low and let simmer.  In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; stir in flour until smooth, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the milk and season lightly with salt & pepper, dash cayenne. Continue stirring until roux thickens and begins to bubble slightly.  Add roux into the soup & whisk til well blended. Adjust seasoning to taste (added 2 tsp salt).  Simmer for 30 mins, to allow it to thicken.  

Garnish with sour cream, monterey jack & cilantro.  Serve with fresh tortilla chips & enjoy!

Serves 7-9

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Memphis Chefs: A Community of Support

As Americans are becoming increasingly aware of the reasons why opting to eat local is best, these local Memphis Chefs give us yet another reason to put our money back into the local economy.  These folks are making cohesiveness & community support the key elements, to running their restaurants, which doesn't always come easily, in such a cut throat industry.  Memphis is trying to do it better & that should make everyone in the hospitality & tourism industry, very proud.  What led up up to this, was how the MBJ (Memphis Business Journal) opted to structure a local competition, known as Best Chef in Memphis.  Each Chef would be pinned up against another (in brackets) to fight for the title of Best Chef in Memphis.  The MBJ, actually suggested that the Chefs use social media to "smack talk" their opponents.  Thank goodness, these Memphis restaurant Owners/Chefs spoke up in defense of what could have been a very counter productive battle, during tough economic times for tourism & hospitality.  Instead, they opted to take the high road in the letter below, which was written to the MBJ, on behalf of numerous local Chefs & it outlines the reasons why they are "respectfully declining" to participate in the Best Chef in Memphis, contest.


Dear Mr. Epley & The MBJ Staff,

Thank you for your recent offer to participate in the inaugural MBJ's Best Chef in Memphis competition. As people who work hard everyday to elevate the culinary experience in Memphis, we appreciate your coverage of the restaurant and hospitality industry in the Bluff City. The MBJ can serve a vital role in helping to tell the story of the incredible economic, cultural and social impact the restaurant industry has on the MidSouth, and spread the word of the amazing culinary talent and even more unique, the story of our community of shared success.

As the Memphis restaurant scene has continued to develop, especially with the increase of Chef-Owned Restaurants, we as key players in this development have worked to cultivate an environment of inclusiveness. Luckily, this is an environment that is natural to the many of us who have chosen to make Memphis our Restaurant Home. Instead of competing with each other, we send each other business. Instead of poaching talented staff, we share resources to ensure a future of talent. If one of us runs out of lettuce, we run down the street and get a loaner from our neighbor. If one of us receives national praise, the rest of us promote the great news to our own customers. Is there a competitive spirit? Of course. We are, after all, business people. But the people who have chosen to make Memphis their culinary home in the past few years have done so with the forethought that Memphis can be and is different than other cut-throat restaurant towns.

As such, we feel we will have to respect[fully] decline your offer to participate in the MBJ's Best Chef in Memphis Competition as it is currently structured. It just does not reflect the way in which we choose to do business and support each other. We encourage you to look to organizations that focus on highlighting the positives of restaurant communities, such as Cochon555. They have developed a fun way to highlight the talents of local chefs and at the same time elevate the entire food community, rather than "squaring us off" against each other in an arbitrary popularity contest. That is not beneficial to anyone, in the restaurant community or beyond.

We hope that through this process, you may have a little more insight into how much we work together to promote Memphis as a culinary family that is and will continue to be a shining star of the South. That is the real story and one worth telling time and time again.

With Regards,Patrick & Deni Reilly, The Majestic Grille
Kelly English, Restaurant Iris
Felicia Willett, Felicia Suzanne's
Jose Gutierrez & Colleen DePete, River Oaks
John Littlefield & Bert Smythe, McEwen's & Alchemy
Ryan Trimm, Sweet Grass & Next Door
Andrew Ticer & Michael Hudman, Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen
Jeff Dunham, The Grove Grill
Jonathan Magallanes, Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana
Jason & Rebecca Severs, Bari Ristorante e Enoteca
Bill Taras, Jim's Place East
Mac Edwards, Gannon Hamilton, Leslee Pascal, The Elegant Farmer
John Bragg, Circa
Robbie Cirillo, Bleu & the Westin
Javier Lopez, Folks Folly
Karen Carrier, The Beauty Shop, Molly Fontaine's, Do
Nick Scott, BlueFin Edge Cuisine
David Cleveland & Laura Krug, Cortona
Tommy Peters, Itta Bena, BB King's
Michael Patrick, Rizzo's

Here is the follow up from the MBJ, posted yesterday Feburary 2, 2011.  
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