Goodcookbecky's Blog

Letting the juices of life (or food) drip from my chin!

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Viva Las Vegas

My husband and I got to enjoy a weekend away for our 21st Anniversary.  We made every effort to make our meals the best possible combination.  Now, Las Vegas has no shortage of food options. We ate at a breakfast buffet for breakfast and had soup at Noodles in Belagio for lunch before our reservation at Mesa Grill.  My husband and I doubted that we would have the appetite to eat anything further.  We both felt very full from breakfast and then  lunch, but once the food arrived and we started eating, we found we could not stop eating and did not feel badly about it.  We ate every last bit of the food served to us at Mesa Grill.

We ate at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill in Caesar’s Palace and also at Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House in MGM Grand.

If I had to chose one, I would go with Mesa Grill.  Every item of our meal there was outstanding!  Even the free bread was remarkably delicious!  Their Jalapeno bread is among the best I have ever eaten.  As appetizer we had Goat Cheese Fondido with blue corn tortilla chips.  It was outstanding! We both enjoyed his pumpkin soup.  It was spicy and delicious.  I had salmon topped with tomatillo salsa.  My husband had the pork tenderloin our side, mashed potatoes. I have to say the mashed potatoes were also among the  best  I have ever eaten.  Unfortunately, we had a show to go to, so we could not enjoy the dessert there, but I am sure it would also have been outstanding.  In hindsight we should have skipped the show and had dessert at Flay’s Mesa Grill.

Pumpkin Soup Mesa Grill

Pumpkin Soup Mesa Grill

Goat Cheese Fondido Mesa Grill

Goat Cheese Fondido Mesa Grill

Jalapeno Bread

Jalapeno Bread

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes

Trio of Pork Tenderloin Mesa Grill

Trio of Pork Tenderloin Mesa Grill

Salmon with Tomatillo Salsa

Salmon with Tomatillo Salsa










































Our experience at Emeril’s  New Orleans Fish House was tainted by the fact that we had an overly chatty waiter who went on an on about sports betting. My husband and I are are not into sports or betting – we were there to enjoy a meal and each other.  The waiter became a third wheel. The Jambalaya was really good there, but I was underwhelmed by the other foods that we ordered.  Their bread pudding was good, but not the best I had ever had.


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Panera’s Mac and Cheese

I don’t know a bout you, but I love Panera!  I love their sandwiches, soups, and sides.  Their macaroni and cheese is quite outstanding and creamy.  After ordering the side recently I went home wanting to find a copycat recipe for the dish.. but I didn’t have to… as it turns out, Panera is quite willing to share the recipe with everyone.  I made it too – I did not have the exact cheeses – I used yellow American cheese instead of white American cheese, and it still turned out quite close to the one they sell.  They use shells in the recipe, but you could use any pasta you like. The surprising ingredient in the Panera recipe is a dash of Frank’s Hot Sauce.  It is very subtle though.

Here is a link to Panera’s Recipe.

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Cooking Demo

Last evening I had the opportunity to go to a cooking demonstration at a Restaurant in my area: Ravioli’s.  The owner showed us how to prepare Italian food from the region of Sardegna on the island of Sardinia.  It was a relaxed and enjoyable evening I shared with a fellow foodie friend Kristine and her business partner and my new friend, Wendy.

He prepared the food on a table with a small hot plate right in front of us and after demonstrating the dish he would have the kitchen staff bring out the food he prepared for us to eat.  It was a truly great experience.

We started the evening off with an appetizer plate of cheese (Pecorino Sardo), a slice of granny smith apple and two different Italian cold cuts. Along with a tasting of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Items that he demonstrated were Piadina Dough (Italian unleavened flat bread) which he then filled with roasted veggies, Fontina cheese and a Chipotle Aioli that was fantastic (he gave us the recipe and I will post it below).

Next he braised a bed of vegetables (thinly sliced onions, tomatoes, potatoes with fresh herbs) and white wine under a piece of fresh tuna. I am not a huge fan of tuna, but I really liked this preparation.  If I make this one in the future, I will use a different type of fish like Halibut.

The star of the show was the herb roasted pig (La Porchetta Sarda).  Yes a whole pig (well, it was cleaned) which was stuffed with seasonings like garlic, and fresh thyme, and fresh rosemary and lemons and other goodness.  Roasted on a rotisserie for 5 hours – we didn’t have to wait that long.. he had a prepared one in the back and it was moist and succulent.  I don’t believe I will be making this one though.  It is better if you have 25 people to share it with.

We finished the evening with Coffee and ice cream.

I do recommend looking into local cooking classes like that.  It is interesting to learn various cooking methods – and to learn that Italy is not just about the pasta.  You may even get the bonus of hearing of driving nightmares in Italy on streets that are “one way” and cars parked in both directions.. and hitting mirrors as you drive in the middle…

For me the star of the show was the

Piadina Bread and Chipotle Aioli Sauce

Piadina + Chipotle Aioli

Ravioli’s Chipotle Aioli:

2 eggs

1 tsp mustard

juice of two lemons

1 anchovy filet (optional)

1 chipotle (canned)

Blend the above ingredients for a few minutes and with the motor running add enough Extra Virgin Olive Oil to make an emulsification.  Serve as a mayo on sandwiches, or tacos or chips…

The evening out with a few girl friends was wonderful.  I so enjoyed the food and fun with others who have a passion and love for cooking.  I will be looking forward to more cooking classes at Ravioli’s.  Though it was not cheap, it was a special treat.  Let me know if you want to join me next time.  Here are some pictures from the evening (sorry about the pig if you are squeamish).

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Las Vegas Baby!

My husband and I escaped to Las Vegas for the weekend (without children).  For breakfast on Saturday we ate at Thomas Keller’s restaurant “Bouchon” in the Venetian Hotel.  There I ordered their Eggs Benedict Florentine, which was their special for the day.  I must say it was VERY SPECIAL!  I love to cook and I consider myself a good cook, but after taking my first bite of their eggs I realized something:  I cannot cook eggs (like that!)  They were the best I had ever eaten EVER!  I am getting pretty sappy about this love affair I have with eggs and especially eggs benedict.  I have a soft spot in my heart for it!  Their potatoes were also not half bad — not over seasoned, crisp on outside and soft on inside.

If ever in Las Vegas and you have the opportunity to eat at Bouchon, please do!  It’s not cheap, but it is OH so good!

Eggs Benedict Florentine at Bouchon

Potatoes - perfectly cooked

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Persian Food

I had a friend take me to eat Persian Food this past weekend… ever since I have been craving their saffron rice and rice with barberries.. wonder where I can find those.  Also good was BBQ chicken kabob – they called it Chicken Barg.  It’s not a name I think will catch on or even sounds inviting, but the chicken was so tender I could not believe it!  And flavor!  Yummy!  If you live or visit Corona, CA do stop in at Kabob Hutt at the 15 Freeway and Main Street (just north of the Freeway).  It does not look like much from the outside, but the food is delicious and if you have time to chat with a friend you don’t even mind that the preparation is a little slow.

Recipes welcome – or if you know of good links with recipes feel free to post them here.

I did do a search and came across a great site with step by step rice cooking (Persian style)  It is worth reading and following.  I still need to hunt down the Saffron!  So far my grocery stores do not carry it!  Strange huh?