Review: The Lost Shepherd Tavern

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Food Porn, Restaurant Review

Update: The Lost Shepherd Tavern is now closed.

With a significant cut in our income, certain luxuries have had to take a back seat and we’ve had to tighten our belts, both literally and figuratively. What this means is that eating out has become a rarity. But we’re always on the lookout for recession specials – deals that are way too good to pass up, and almost too good to share (for fear there will be none left for us). But you readers know me better than that – I’m always willing to share the good information so that you too can partake of the bounty. And it doesn’t hurt that increased business will keep them around for a good long time.

We stumbled on this place yesterday while running errands in the Sawmill/Powell area – it popped for me as a nearby restaurant on Yelp, and a glance at the menu showed it was just the kind of food we were craving.

Tucked away in a newish strip mall along Powell Rd (Rte 750), The Lost Shepherd Tavern is a large space decorated primarily in warm wood tones and brick. Typical gastropub seating, with a mixture of high tables, low tables, and booths.

The menu is fairly large and varied – while primarily sandwiches and salads, there’s a section of the menu that has full fledged entrees, with none (including the twin tenderloins of beef topped with shrimp scampi) priced over $19. And that’s what struck me more than anything about the menu – everything was so reasonably priced, that even if they didn’t offer a myriad of specials, it would still be affordable.

Neither of us were hungry for a heavy appetizer, so we opted to share a side order of their sweet corn risotto ($3) for a starter. In our experience, we’ve found that when a restaurant offers risotto, the quality of the risotto has been a fair indicator of what kind of experience we’ll have with the rest of the food. Never fear, their risotto was prepared beautifully – creamy, just the right amount of bite and seasoning, and as good as the best we’ve had in town.

Sweet Corn Risotto from The Lost Shepherd Tavern (Powell, OH)

Now, I’m going to tell you about the best lunch special anywhere in town, hands down. For $8, you get a House of Shepherd salad, your choice of any cup of soup, and 1/2 of one of three sandwich choices. Even without the risotto starter, I would have left there stuffed to the gills. Quite literally, getting water as my beverage and tipping the standard 20%, I would have gotten out of there for a little over $10. That’s my kind of lunch!

I chose a cup of their New Powell Chowder for my soup, described on their menu as “fresh sea clams, new potatoes and spinach in a creamy Nor-easter style broth”. This was so unlike other clam chowders that I’ve had, where the clam was an afterthought scattered in what amounts to a creamy bechamel sauce – in their soup, the clam was front and center, and the primary flavor. And there were huge discernible pieces of clam! While very stick to your ribs, it didn’t sit as heavy as clam chowder usually does. It was aggressively seasoned to stand up to the force of the clam, but not so heavily seasoned to render it inedible.

Clam Chowder from The Lost Shepherd Tavern (Powell, OH)

Luckily, they brought out some bread and dipping oil to go with the soup, which helped me get through a very hearty cup of it (can’t imagine eating a whole bowl – you’d have to roll me out of there). Nothing special, but very fresh and just what the doctor ordered.

Bread and Dipping Oil from The Lost Shepherd Tavern (Powell, OH)

For my sandwich half, I went with the Insane B.L.T.C, which is hands down the best BLT variation I’ve ever had. Imagine crisp Applewood smoked bacon, fresh green lettuce, tomatoes that didn’t taste like winter tomatoes, mayonnaise and a bunch of melted white New York cheddar holding it all together between two slices of buttery grilled sourdough bread. This sandwich alone is worth a return trip to Powell. On the same plate, a nice mound of the House of Shepherd Salad – a nice mix of good lettuce, chopped veggies like carrots, cucumbers, red onion, tomatoes along with bacon and crumbled bleu cheese. I chose to top it with their balsamic dressing, a thick, sweet mixture (think Pastaria’s dressing for a good point of reference) that tied all the varied flavors together. If balsamic is not your thing, they have about a half dozen other choices of dressing you can opt to top your salad with. By the way, don’t let the picture fool you – the portion sizes are huge. My half sandwich was easily the size of whole BLT’s that I’ve had elsewhere. That plate is much bigger than it looks in the picture.

Extreme BLTC and Salad from The Lost Shepherd Tavern (Powell, OH)

P. opted to get a bowl of their superlative Choice Cut Chili ($4), a huge tureen filled with ground and tender cubed beef, black beans in a smoky but fairly complex (especially since they grind their spices fresh for each batch) thick chili base. Rounding out the bowl is are tortilla chips and a generous topping of white cheddar cheese. We both loved that our soups were served hot, which is a rarity in restaurants these days. A bowl of this hearty chili is an entree unto itself.

Bowl of Chili from The Lost Shepherd Tavern (Powell, OH)

But we’re talking about my husband, who has a bottomless pit for a stomach. He also ordered their Cali-Chicken Cobb Salad ($9), which is a nice bed of mixed lettuce topped with grilled chicken, bacon, tomatoes, red onion, avocado, bleu cheese ad your choice of dressing. He also opted for the balsamic dressing and felt it was a good choice. In a city where it’s difficult to find a good Cobb salad, we were surprised to find that this was one of the most credible interpretations we’ve been able to find in this metro area. Good, fresh, clean, distinct flavors and balance make this salad a winner.

Cali-Cobb Salad from The Lost Shepherd Tavern (Powell, OH)

They have a great beer selection (P. was quite pleased with the draft selection of the month, a glass of Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale that was smooth and not particularly hoppy, with notes of oak and vanilla that paired well with his salad.

Keep an eye out for specials – they regularly have half price happy hour specials on beer, and one of their other impressive specials on Wednesday is a small order (depends on your definition of small – their small is still plenty big for me) of fish and chips plus a a pint of Smithwicks or Miller Lite for $5. See a listing of all their other specials here, and be sure to take a moment to print out one of their coupons that will get you $10 off a $25+ check.

I was pleasantly surprised by The Lost Shepherd – great service, generous portions, food made with care, and excellent value mean that we’ll return again.

If you’d like to go: The Lost Shepherd Tavern, 345 W. Olentangy St, Powell. 614-792-LOST (5678).

The Lost Shepherd on Urbanspoon

Gougeres

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Food Porn, Recipes

I can probably count on one hand the number of times we’ve had gougeres – for the uninitiated the best way to describe them are light and airy like cream puffs, but savory instead of sweet. We’ve never attempted to make them at home, though – it always seemed overly complex but we’ve found that the exact opposite is true.

These come together in a flash, and are quite popular when passed around at a party. So if you don’t know how to cook well but want people to think that you can, these little puffs of yum definitely fit the bill.

Gourgeres

Gougeres
recipe courtesy Alain Ducasse

1/2 c. water
1/2 c. milk
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
Large pinch of coarse salt
1 c. all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
3 1/2 oz. shredded Gruyere cheese (1 cup), plus more for sprinkling
Freshly ground pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 400F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, milk, butter and salt and bring to a boil. Add the flour and stir it in with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms; stir over low heat until it dries out and pulls away from the pan, about 2 minutes.

Scrape the dough into a bowl; let cool for 1 minute. Beat the eggs into the dough, 1 at a time, beating thoroughly between each one. Add the cheese and a pinch each of pepper and nutmeg.

Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip and pipe tablespoon-size mounds onto the baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 22 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Serve hot, or let cool and refrigerate or freeze. Reheat in a 350F oven until piping hot.

Notes: When making the choux pastry, it is important to be sure that each egg is fully incorporated into the batter before adding the next. Don’t worry if the batter separates and looks curdled at first. Keep beating, and it will come together nicely.

Gougeres freeze well. It might be fun to make extra with your club, so you can all take some home. After baking, allow them to cool completely. When you return home, spread the gougeres out on a baking sheet, cover the sheet with plastic wrap and freeze them until they are firm. Then store them in sturdy plastic bags for several months.

Jasmine (Tea) Rice Pudding

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Food Porn, Recipes

One of the great things about being part of the food blogging community is that you start reading other blogs. In my case, I read a LOT (and that’s no exaggeration – my feed reader has more than 3,000 blogs in it) of other food blog. It’s rare that I find a recipe to include in one of my roundups, and rarer still that I’m so inspired by a recipe that I make it myself within a few days after seeing it. Such was the case with this recipe.

I’ve always had the worst luck in the world when it came to making rice pudding. Probably because every recipe I’ve ever tried before had eggs in them and ended up like sweet scrambled eggs. This recipe, which is egg free, produced one of the most beautiful rice puddings I ever have tasted, especially when eaten warm. The vanilla beans make it downright luxurious, and the green tea adds a subtle floral note that does not overwhelm at all. Mmm, this one is a keeper.

Jasmine Rice Pudding

Jasmine Rice Pudding
recipe from 17 and Baking

1 1/2 c. water
3/4 c. basmati rice
1/4 tsp. salt
3 c. whole milk
3 bags of Jasmine Green Tea
1 c. heavy whipping cream
1/2 c. sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

Bring 1 1/2 cups water, rice, and salt to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover. Simmer until water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. In the meantime, pour the milk into a small saucepan. Submerge the teabags in the milk, keeping the paper tags out of the liquid and away from the stove burner. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat and let sit uncovered until the rice is cooked (about 10 minutes).

Add the tea-infused milk, cream, and sugar to the rice. Scrape in the seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Increase heat to medium; cook uncovered until rice is tender and mixture thickens slightly to a soft, creamy texture, stirring occasionally.

Remove pudding from heat and discard vanilla bean. Divide pudding evenly among small bowls. Serve warm or press plastic wrap directly onto surface of each pudding and chill thoroughly.

Hearty Chicken and Noodles

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Food Porn, Recipes

Trying to find a way to use up all that rotisserie chicken breast (and having something of a “chicken pot pie” vibe in mind), I ran across this recipe on Recipezaar. The amount of butter in this one means that it’s not healthy by any stretch of the imagination, but OMG is it good. A very thick, hearty soup with rich chicken flavor and nice thick noodles and a great mouth feel. I’m highly recommending it if you have any amount of leftover chicken you need to use.

Hearty Chicken & Noodles

Hearty Chicken and Noodles
recipe courtesy Recipezaar

1/2-3/4 c. butter, melted
4 tbsp. flour
8 c. chicken broth
3/4 c. carrot, chopped
3/4 c. celery, chopped
1 c. onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 lb. cooked boneless skinless chicken breast, torn into large pieces
1 (12 oz) bag Reames frozen noodles

Melt butter in a large stock pot, add the flour and cook for about 1 minute until a thin roux forms. Add carrots, celery, onions; stir to blend with the roux. Add chicken broth and chicken. Bring to a boil, turn to low heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add noodles and simmer on medium-low heat for an additional 20 minutes.

Frito Pie

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Recipes

Continuing in the theme of comfort food, there’s nothing more comforting (or low brow, to tell the truth) than Frito Pie. What better way to use leftover chili, corn chips, chopped onions and what’s left of a bag of shredded cheese all at once? Not something I’d want more than once a year or so, but that once a year? There’s nothing else quite like it.

Frito Pie

Frito Pie
recipe from Texas Cooking Online

3 c. Fritos corn chips
3/4 c. chopped onion
1 c. grated cheddar cheese
2 1/2 c. chili (your favorite – homemade, canned, whatever)

Preheat oven to 350F. Spread 2 cups of Fritos in a baking dish. Sprinkle half of the onion and half the cheese over the Fritos. Pour the chili over the onion and cheese. Sprinkle the remaining Fritos, onion, and cheese over the chili. Bake for 15 or 20 minutes and cheese until bubbly. Serve hot.

Event 2009: Chef Kent Peters at Hills Market

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Events, Recipes

A few weeks ago, I talked about the Cooking Classes over at the Hills Market, and how I had attended the one given by Restaurant Widow. There was one other one I attended last year, and even though it happened quite a while ago, there’s no time better than the present (when they’re right in the middle of cooking class season, so to speak) to talk about it.

This one was Chef Kent Peters of Black Creek Bistro. Before attending this, my only experience with Black Creek Bistro was during the first Dine Originals Restaurant Week and was less than stellar. So I went to this hoping for the best, but not expecting much. Boy, was I wrong.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, my single bad experience at Black Creek Bistro was an anomaly. The meal I had at Hills Market? Awesome. And every meal I’ve had at Black Creek Bistro since then has been delicious.

Chef Kent Peters at the Hills Market

Chef Kent Peters was so damn gracious – when he realized who I was (someone who gave his restaurant a less than great review), he could have acted in a total different way toward me. Instead, he owned up to the restaurant’s shortcomings at the time, and tried his best to make things better. He’s a class act, someone who is passionate about cooking food he’s grown on his own farm, someone who is approachable and who always has a huge smile on his face (at least the times I’ve seen him). And for one night, he was willing to share his knowledge and recipes with the rest of this. Needless to say, many of these have gone into my regular rotation since then.

So, I give you the recipes we were given that night. I tried my best to write everything down, but if I’ve got anything wrong, Chef Peters, please let me know.

Hills Market Cooking Class: Lemon Basil Shrimp

Lemon Basil Shrimp

Toss 2 lbs. of raw shelled & deveined 16-20 sized shrimp with a stick of melted butter, juice and zest of 1/2 lemon, and a dozen or so basil leaves cut into a chiffonade. Grill until done (it will turn pink), and then serve with your favorite cocktail sauce.

I can’t quite remember where the bread came from (not sure if it’s something that the Hills offers in the store, or if they brought it over from the restaurant), but it was an extra treat none of us were expecting.

Hills Market Cooking Class: Bread Basket

The main course was absolutely amazing, and so so so easy. I have made this several times here at home since this demo.

Hills Market Cooking Class: Pork with Mushroom Wine Sauce

Pork Loin with Wild Mushroom Wine Sauce and Seasonal Vegetables

Toss a couple of pounds of halved fingerling potatoes in enough olive oil and finely chopped parsley to lightly coat. Roast in a baking dish at 350F for 30 minutes or until fork tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add Parmesan cheese (just a little) when you take them out.

While potatoes are cooking, saute about a pound of mixed wild mushrooms (such as shiitakes, oyster, chanterelle, criminis, whatever you have laying around the house) in a wok with olive oil, lots of butter, salt and pepper. Don’t overcook and shrink. Deglaze with Cabernet Sauvignon, let the mushrooms cook down until the liquid reseleases, and then add more wine and butter to emulsify. Set aside.

For pork, thinly slice extremely chilled (not quite frozen – it’s easier to cut when cold) pork loin and then pound until extremely thin. Dredge through seasoned flour and then sear pork scallopines in oil until done, about 1-2 minutes each side. Set aside.

Trim the woody ends off of a bunch of asparagus, and then blanch in boiling water until firm-tender (i.e. softened, but not limp). Put into a ice water bath to stop cooking. Dress with a balsamic dressing (Kent said a simple one is to make a bottle of Good Seasons Italian Dressing using balsamic vinegar and olive oil in place of regular vinegar and oil.)

To serve, plate a few pork scallopines on each plate and top with some mushrooms. Serve with potatoes and dressed asparagus.

Hills Market Cooking Class: Real Butterscotch Pudding

Black Creek Bistro’s Real Butterscotch Pudding

3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
1/2 c. heavy cream
3/4 c. brown sugar
2/3 c. corn starch
1 tsp. salt
4 c. whole milk
5 large egg yolks
1/4 c. butter
3 tbsp. scotch
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Caramelize sugar and water to dark amber. Remove from heat and add cream. Mix and set aside.

In a large saucepan, whisk to combine sugar, starch and salt. Add milk and mix. Put egg yolks in small bowl. Set aside the butter, scotch and vanilla.

Put the saucepan over medium-low heat slowly stirring until thickened and bubbling. Take this off the heat. Add the caramel from step one and mix thoroughly.

Take a small amount of custard. Add to yolk, slowly whisking, then add this back to custard. Whisk in then put back on heat on low. Stir slowly until just before boiling, and then take off heat. Add vanilla, scotch and butter, and stir completely. Put in heatproof container. Cool covered with plastic wrap.

Wine pairings for the evening, chosen by wine expert Constance Begue, were:
Arrival: Sagura Viudas Brut Rose NV, Cava
Lemon Basil Shrimp: Pighin Pinot Grigio 2006, Grave del Friuli
Pork Loin: Frescobaldi ‘Remole’ 2006, Toscana
True Butterscotch Pudding: Benjamin Tawny Style Port NV

UPCOMING EVENTS (click through for more details and menu):

February 24th, Cooking Class with Lisa Dillman of Restaurantwidow.com, 6:30PM, $35

March 2nd, Cooking Class with Keith Adams of Tip Top Kitchen, 6:30PM, $35

March 6th, Hills Market Oscar Dinner, 6:30PM, $35

March 11th, Cooking Class with Kent Rigsby of Rigsby’s Kitchen, 6:30PM, $35

March 23rd, Ohio Maple Dinner, 6:30PM, $35

March 24th, Cooking Class with Chris Dillman, 6:30PM, $35

You can reserve your spot for these classes by calling 614.846.3220 or e-mailing manager@thehillsmarket.com. The Hills Market is located at 7860 Olentangy River Road (Rte 315 just north of 270) in Worthington Hills.

Mustard Cream Spaetzle Topped Ham Steak

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Eating Local, Food Porn, Recipes

One of the things we’ve been doing in an attempt to increase the “frugal factor” of our meals is to try to make dishes from what we already have on hand. When I found a ham steak that we got last summer at the Athens Farmers Market, I searched high and low for a recipe that would do it justice, something other than your good ‘ole fried ham steak with red eye gravy and grits. This sounded delicious on paper, but we never imagined just how delicious it really was. The mustard cream sauce/spaetzle combo is a keeper, even if served with something other than a good ham steak.

Mustard Cream Spaetzle Topped Ham Steak

Mustard Cream Spaetzle Topped Ham Steak
recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse

2 tbsp. butter
1 (1 1/2 lb) ham steak
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
2 tbsp. whole-grain mustard
Spaetzle, recipe follows

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute ham steak until heated through and browned, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer ham steak to platter, keep warm. Add heavy cream to skillet and reduce until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes. Add mustard and simmer 1 minute. Add cooked spaetzle and toss to coat. Top ham steak with mustard cream spaetzle.

Spaetzle
recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse

3 eggs
1 c. milk
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
3 c. all purpose-flour, or as needed

In a bowl whisk together eggs, milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Gradually stir in enough flour to make a thick batter. You will probably not need all 3 cups.

Using a metal colander set over a pot of boiling, salted water, press spaetzle batter through holes directly into water. When spaetzle are cooked through, they will float to the surface, about 5 minutes. Scoop up with a slotted spoon and drain well as they cook or drain all at once.

Glazed Mini Meatloaves and Garlic Mashers

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Food Porn, Recipes

Since it’s now been 14 months since P.’s been out of work, things have definitely been a little more frugal around here in recent weeks. We’re staring down potential losses of both unemployment and health insurance later this year, so we’ve been trying to conserve some money by working our way through the stockpile that is our pantry and freezer. Most of the “new” things we have purchased have been “back to our roots” – lots of ground beef and chicken, potatoes, pasta, rice, etc – frozen or canned veggies instead of fresh.

That doesn’t mean that we’re eating badly, mind you. Cheap does not have to necessarily mean gnarly. Lucky for us, much “frugal” food has a built in comfort factor, and a reason that they’re American classics. This meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green bean meal is no exception.

The glaze is what makes the meatloaf – and the smaller loaves make for a shorter cooking time. The method of boiling the garlic with the potatoes increases the delicious garlic flavor of the mashed potatoes – we’ll be doing it this way from now on. What are some of your favorite comfort food classics?

Glazed Mini Meatloaves & Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Glazed Mini Meatloaves
slightly adapted from Cast Sugar’s adaptation of a Sara Moulton recipe

1/2 c. ketchup
1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
2 tbsp. cider vinegar
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 c. milk
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. hot sauce
2 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 tsp. dried thyme
3/4 tsp. dried marjoram
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 c. bread crumbs
1/4 c. chopped parsley
2 lbs. 90% lean ground round

To make the glaze: combine ketchup, brown sugar, and vinegar. Set aside.

For the meatloaves, preheat the oven to 350F. Oil a foil lined rimmed baking sheet. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring until the vegetables have softened and are starting to brown, about 7 minutes. Set aside to cool a bit.

In a large bowl, add the milk, egg, mustard, hot sauce, salt, thyme, marjoram, and pepper and whisk together to combine. Add the ground meat, bread crumbs, and parsley and combine well.

Divide meatloaf mixture into 4 balls, and form each ball into an oval. Brush with glaze, and bake 25-30 minutes. Divide the rest of the glaze equally over the 4 meatloaves, and bake until the internal temperature reads 165F when tested with an instant-read thermometer (an additional 10 minutes in my convection oven, possibly longer in a conventional oven). Serve at once, while warm.

Supreme Garlic Mashed Potatoes
adapted from Recipezaar

6-8 potatoes, washed, peeled and cubed
1/2 – 1 c. butter
1/2 c. sour cream
1/4 c. milk, more if needed
Handful of peeled garlic cloves (we used about 10-20)
Salt
Pepper

Boil potatoes and the garlic cloves together. When tender, mash with potato masher and add butter. Mash some more, add sour cream and enough milk to desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

Abyssinia Cafe: Customer Service FAIL

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Dining Deals, Rant, Restaurant News

Abyssinia Restaurant

One of the reasons we’ve been able to afford eating out since Paul has been unemployed is because of WTTE’s Dining Out Deals, where area restaurants offer discounted gift certificates in return for advertising on the news – because of that program, we’ve had quite a few great meals (at places like Barrio, Gallo’s Tap Room, etc). We saw the advertising for the one at Abyssinia Cafe on the news, and knowing that we had those gift certificates, we decided to pick up my mother yesterday to treat her to a belated birthday lunch.

We arrived early yesterday afternoon to a completely empty restaurant, and were directed to seat ourselves – upon sitting down, we noticed a sign saying that they weren’t accepting gift certificates. Seeking to get clarification, we showed the woman at the restaurant our certificates (which are supposed to be valid, having not yet reached the expiration date), to which she responded that she would not honor them. I explained to her that we had spent $25 for them (for $50 face value in certificates), and at the very least we expected reimbursement (in the form of food would have been fine) for the money we were out. She said no, it’s not her problem, that they couldn’t afford to honor any certificates after 3 people came in with them in the first couple of days, and that they did not authorize WTTE to give out any gift certificates – they had not accepted them after the 3rd day they were issued. Not wanting to argue with the woman, I basically said, “it’s sad that you’re willing to lose my business over $25-$50 – I won’t be surprised if you’re out of business in a few months if this is the way you operate” and got up to leave – she started yelling at me, told me that God was on her side and I was the devil, with me yelling back that she was a liar for saying that she wasn’t aware of the certificates since I had seen her on the news pimping them, and that she was getting the benefit of the advertising while anyone who shelled out good money for the certificates (100 people, in total) got screwed. It got ugly, folks. And now I’m out $25. Lovely. What a ripoff. When I twittered about it, I got a response from someone holding one of their GC’s wondering if they would get the same reception at the restaurant? So consider this a warning – both of the poor customer service at Abyssinia Cafe – who were happy to take WTTE’s advertising without honoring what they were contractually bound with WTTE to provide, and for those of you who have also bought the gift certificates, which are absolutely worthless. I’ll be contacting WTTE tomorrow to see how they’re willing to resolve this, and will update accordingly.

Update: Alls well that ends well. WTTE/IncentRev was great about the situation, and let me exchange the worthless GC’s for gift certificates of equal value from an open Dining Deals offer. I encourage any of you who are also in this situation to contact WTTE/IncentRev directly.

Buffalo Chicken Chili

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Food Porn, Recipes

With tons of snow in the forecast for this week, we decided to plan ahead with regards to our meals for this week – we wanted to maximize the comfort level while minimizing the cost and/or effort. To that end, we picked up a big box of rotisserie chicken meat from Costco – for like $10, you can get a box of 2 lbs (like 3 whole chickens worth) of breast meat, which can yield more than a couple of meals. This was one of the first we made this week.

The recipe comes from another food blog, called Cooking for Engineers. The format in which he writes his recipes appeals to my inner geek, and we’ve been consulting it quite often lately. To serve on the side, we made some copycat Cheddar Bay biscuits, which paired nicely. The recipe for the biscuits made just the right quantity to go with the batch of chili.

The chili was just beautiful – not too hot, not too mild, not quite buffalo chicken, not quite chili, but a nice fusion of both. I sprinkled mine with a few blue cheese crumbles.

Buffalo Chicken Chili and Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Buffalo Chicken Chili
recipe from Cooking for Engineers

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. ground chicken
salt & pepper
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
3 celery ribs, chopped finely
2 carrots, chopped finely
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1 red bell pepper, chopped finely
5 garlic cloves
2 tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
12 oz beer
1/2 c. cayenne pepper hot sauce (I used Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce)
15 oz. can tomato sauce
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes

Starting with a store bought rotisserie chicken, shred the chicken from the bones (discarding the skin), and temporarily store the meat in a bowl. If you feel the eed to roast your own chicken go for it, but in this case, a store bought chicken saves a lot of time and energy.

For the aromatics, start with 2 carrots, 3 celery stalks, 1 red bell pepper and 1 medium onion. The addition of diced jalapeno peppers is optional for extra heat. Cut the vegetables into a fine dice. Next, mince 5 cloves of garlic.

For the spices, you will need 2 tbsp. of chili powder, 3 tsp of ground cumin, and 1 tsp. of ground coriander. Add additional spices (plus salt and pepper) as your taste desires when the chili is completed.

Start by cooking the ground chicken meat in a medium high heated pan with a little olive oil. Use a stainless steel pan if possible so that the meat will form little browned bits that will stick to the bottom of the pan and provide lots of concentrated flavor later on. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Make sure the meat gets good and brown (browning=flavor). When the meat is cooked, reserve the chicken for later use.

Use the same pan to brown the vegetables in the next step, in order to get the browned bits released from the bottom of the pan. Add 3 tbsp. of butter to the pan and cook the vegetables over medium high heat, for at least 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft, tender, and the onions start to brown. Once again, add some salt and/or pepper. With a wooden spoon, scrape up all of the brown bits from the cooked meat which will add intense flavor to the chili. Browning equals flavor, so do not rush this step.

Add the cooked chicken and vegetables back to the pan and clear a spot in the center of the pan to cook the spices for 30 seconds. Add about 1 tbsp. of olive oil to the center of the pan then add the garlic and spices. Stir around and cook for about 30 seconds.

At this point, the bottom of the pan will be very brown with food and spices sticking. Add 12 oz. of a good beer to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan, and dissolve all of the brown bits stuck on the bottom. Finally add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and hot sauce. Simmer to the desired thickness that you prefer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add additional spices if desired. Garnish with your favorite condiments (I sprinkled it with blue cheese crumbles) and serve.

Copycat Cheddar Bay Biscuits
recipe adapted from Recipezaar

2 1/2 c. Bisquick baking mix
4 tbsp. cold butter
1 c. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
3/4 c. cold whole milk
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

To brush on top:
4 tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
(I additionally used hand-ground garlic salt)

Preheat oven to 400F. Combine Bisquick and cold butter. Don’t combine too thoroughly. There should be small chunks of butter about the size of peas. Add cheddar, milk and 1/4 tsp. garlic powder. Mix by hand until combined, but do not over mix.

Drop by 9 equal portions onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until tops are light brown. Melt butter in a bowl. Stir in garlic powder and parsley flakes. Use a pastry brush to spread garlic butter over tops of biscuits. Finish by grinding additional hand ground garlic salt over top.