Gluten-Free Bean Pasta with Mussels and Spinach

If it were a stew or soup, I’ d be inclined to leave the mussels in their shells, but in this case, they’ll be cooked, removed, and returned to the pasta when the pasta is ready for them.

recipe, gluten-free, chickpea pasta, spinach, mussels

Chickpea pasta, spinach, mussels, and seasonings.

Garlic, dried oregano, and ground pepper will finish this off nicely, plus a pat or so of butter (or a splash of EVOO, if you don’t do dairy).

The chickpea pasta I’ve been using has 25 grams of protein and 13 grams of  fiber per serving.  I’m happy with that.

This is an extremely quick recipe.  Ah, yes, kudos for those!

Prep Time: not significant.
Cooking Time:  Mussels — 5 minutes.  Pasta — see package (no more than 10 minutes)
Rest Time:  None.
Serves: 2, as a main.  More if served as a side.

Gluten-Free Bean Pasta with Mussels and Spinach

  • 1 bag of mussels — usually a pound or two in the shell
  • 1 8-ounce pack of frozen spinach
  • 4 ounces gluten free pasta (I use chickpea bean pasta here)
  • 1 generous tablespoon butter (or extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and ground pepper to taste.
  • Some optional ideas at the end of this recipe!

Cook the mussels in boiling water, leaving ample room for mussels to open as they cook.

Allow mussel water to froth and that water in the pot to rise, about an extra minute.

Drain mussels and run cold water over them.

Get another pot of water ready, and put the opened package of spinach in at the bottom.  Set to boil.

While this is coming to a boil, de-shell the mussels, saving mussels and discarding shells.  Also, discard any unopened mussels!!!  They may have been dead prior to cooking.  No need to find out… Anyhow, if they get overcooked, they tend to get rather dry.

When the pot with the spinach starts to boil, add in the pasta, and stir it to mix in with the spinach.  Allow to cook to the time it says on the package.  Bean pasta will go soggy rather quickly, so keep an eye on the time.

Drain the pasta/spinach, pushing out excess liquid.

Add to a large bowl.

Immediately add the de-shelled mussels, butter (or EVOO), and the seasonings, and mix.

Serve while hot.

Some other options:  a couple good tablespoons of grated Parmesean cheese would be tasty to add at the end.  I also had considered using fresh sage, rosemary and thyme  for seasonings, instead of the oregano — for a good Simon & Garfunkel ambiance!  (But alas, what remained was no longer fresh…)  You can also flicker some red pepper flakes on top, to taste — or let people add at their whim at the table!

recipe, gluten-free, chickpea pasta, spinach, mussels

I found this to be very filling.

PS:  Leftovers — I’d nuke within three days, with some cheese on top…   Or splash on a bit of broth (to keep things moist), then nuke.

 

 

 

 

 

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Offal Time Again: Beef Tongue Lettuce Wraps

I grew up in a household where my parents served us beef tongue, as I’ve mentioned in the past.  Mother was the one who usually cooked it, and she wasn’t the parent noted for going “strange” in the diet, so tongue was normal and not adventurous.  Dare I say it — it was (and still is) Comfort Food!  Yes, more so than mac and cheese.  Yes, seriously.

While the tongue Mom would make had its antecedents in the Pennsylvanian/Kentuckian regions of this country, and her recipe definitely had roots in her Germanic background, our family moving to New York City also promoted tongue in our diet.  Jewish delis in the city featured tongue, and so it was easy for my parents to procure, and cook it for themselves. And being offal, the price was extremely affordable at that time.  (There are only a few Jewish delis left in NYC that have it on their menu — I consider those places to be VALID Jewish delis.  The others — I simply suspect they are impostors…  Or maybe they’ve bowed to the signs of the times…)

And, if you want to think about it, this food that most folks I know today would shrink from — back at the turn of the (previous) century, bison were slaughtered for a variety of oft-nefarious reasons in the far West – but one of the few culinary reasons for the slaughter was for the tongue, which was shipped east for food.  Unfortunately, much of the rest of the meat would usually be left to rot, and would be a reason Native peoples often starved.  (The Indians/Natives of the Great Plains appreciated the nutrient density of organ meat over regular muscle meat, by the way.  Tongue, heart and liver — they typically ate these organs first when they had the option.)

Back when I was growing up, tongue was usually bought/found smoked, but that’s somewhat harder to find these days, and I’m content with it smoked or not smoked today.  Today, I get my beef tongue from local farmers, and I seriously love it.   I have to say, it is one of my favorite cuts of beef.  Tongue.  Let’s see, what else:  A good brisket, slow cooked with veggies (added later on) for 10-11 hours on low.  A good rib-eye, grilled rare. Flank steak, seared medium rare.  Skirt steak, done Mexican or Tex-Mex.  Tongue, crock-potted with vinegar or pickle juice, and clove-based seasonings.   There we go.  Comfort!

recipe, appetizer, beef tongue, mustard, lettuce wrap, goat cheese, apple

Tongue lettuce wraps, waiting to be wrapped!

Tongue Lettuce Wraps

Prep Time:  Maybe 10 minutes to set up the tongue, already cooked; 20 minutes to roll up the wraps.  
Cook Time:  Tongue will take 4-4.5 hours in a slow cooker set on low.
Rest Time:  About 20 min.  Allow to chill so that the lettuce doesn’t get soggy from the heat.
Serves: As an appetizer, plan on two wraps per person.  Unfortunately, there will be some folk who won’t touch these!  (Their loss.)
Leftovers?:  Possibly, refrigerate up to a day – otherwise the lettuce will get limp anyway.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cooked tongue (you won’t need all of it for this recipe; reserve 1/4th pound, skinned.
  • lettuce leaves — choose a lettuce that has a solid leaf that you can use as a wrap.  Iceberg works, but so does butter lettuce, Boston, or Romaine.  There may well be others.  Some lettuces will remain crispy longer than others.
  • Mustard:  Dijon, Kosciusko, or horseradish mustard.  To taste.
  • soft goat cheese.

Procedure:

(Cook the tongue — I prefer the crock pot these days, and I cook it on high for 4 – 4.5 hours, but if you are doing it while at work or something, do it for 8-9 hours on low.  Have seasonings and vinegar in with the water in the crock pot – ideally, use leftover dill pickle juice.  It imparts a great flavor.)

Remove tongue from crock pot and allow to cool for 20 – 30 minutes, then remove skin from the tongue.  If you wait until the tongue is room temperature, the skin will be harder to remove.  Basically, wait for it to be just cool enough that you can manipulate it without burning yourself.  Discard skin.

Slice thin, and reserve a center portion for the upcoming recipe.  I like slicing it to about 1/4 inch segments.  While any of the meat will work, I tend to go for a center portion of the tongue because I find its flavor and texture to be the most optimal here.

recipe, lettuce wrap, tongue, goat cheese, mustard, apple

It’s a wrap! (I took these with me on a short road trip about a month ago, for dinner)

Enjoy!  The contrasting flavors will complement each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Appetizers, Cooking, Meats, Offal | 1 Comment

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Bacon, Onion, Smoked Gouda – Thanksgiving

To one and all, hope you had a grateful Thanksgiving!  (Whether you are in the US — or Canada, which does this thing earlier in the fall — or not, there’s always a space to be grateful about the good things about life and living).

I’m thankful for good friends and family, and for essential good health.

I brought the following to a large gathering of folk in Massachusetts, not all that far from where Arlo Guthrie had that “Thanksgiving dinner that could not be beat”.  The hosts supplied the turkeys and I think some of the pies.

brussels-sprout-tday2

Prep Time:Depends on the necessary slicing & dicing.  About 40 minutes?
Cook Time: 30 minutes for the pan roasting, and up to an hour for the baking.
Rest Time: 5 minutes.
Serves:  Medium sized pot luck with LOTS of food.|
Leftover friendly:  Yes, either in the oven or nuked.  

 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Bacon, Onion, Smoked Gouda

Note, the measurements are approximate.

  • 30 ounces of Brussels sprouts, shaved (de-stemmed and cut into slivers)
  • ½ pound bacon
  • 1 large onion, diced coarsely
  • 4 or 5 ounces fresh cranberries
  • Fresh thyme, sage to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup cranberry-infused Balsamic vinegar
  • 4 ounces shredded smoked Gouda cheese
  • 4 ounces sliced smoked Gouda cheese

In a really large skillet (or do it in batches) cook half the bacon, as a layer, using a splash guard.

Remove bacon, allow to drain on a paper towel. Pat dry, break up pieces, and put in a large bowl.

Add half the onion and half the sprouts to the skillet with the bacon grease.

Allow the onions and Brussels sprouts to roast, stirring occasionally.  Add about half the seasonings to the skillet.Stir again.

When they begin to brown, and both veggies are cooked through, add half the Balsamic, and mix further, another 3-4 minutes, allowing some of the liquid to cook off from the Balsamic.

Remove to drain on more paper towels, patting this dry.

Mix the veggies in a bowl with the bacon (crumpled).  Do reserve some bacon separately.

Follow the above steps above again, with the remainder of the bacon, sprouts, onions, seasonings and Balsamic.

Mix all together.

In a small pot of water, add the cranberries and heat them until they are cooked – only a few minutes.  They will split their skins.

To a baking pan, add about half the veggie and bacon mix, interspersing with cranberries, reserving some for the end.  (A slotted spoon will drain them off nicely).

Now, scatter the shredded cheese over the top.

Add the rest of the veggie/bacon mix.

Add the spare bacon atop this.   (OR reserve that spare bacon for ATOP the the next layer…)

Cover with a layer of cheese slices.

Finish off with the rest of the cranberries.   Set aside until ready to bake.  (If you are doing this the day before serving, simply wait to add the final layer of cheese and the few remaining cranberries until the day you plan to serve.)

Bake, covered, for 40-50 minutes at 350 F, remove cover for last ten minutes, continue to bake, and serve hot.  (If you are travelling and bringing this somewhere, save this baking step for when you reach your destination, making sure your host/hostess has oven space.  We’re dining in a community kitchen, so there was space!)

Thanksgiving, recipe, Brussels sprouts, Gouda, bacon, cranberry

Ready for the oven

PS:  Can’t find cranberry Balsamic vinegar?  Find a complementary fruit-based Balsamic and use that.

cranberry-balsamic

White Cranberry-Pear balsamic vinegar, from NutmegOliveOil.com.

To make vegetarian:  Use butter instead of bacon grease, and perhaps add some sliced water chestnuts  for crunch.

I was inspired by the below recipe, although the author boiled frozen Brussels sprouts, and I pan-roasted  fresh ones.  What I took was the idea of adding bacon and adding smoked Gouda.   I knew before this popped up in my feed that I’d wanted to do something with this wonderful vegetable that I’d hated in my childhood.  Because I’ve grown to appreciate it, in all its roasty goodness!  (Hmm, I’d always liked cabbage and broccoli???)

https://buttoni.wordpress.com/2016/11/17/smokey-gouda-brussels-sprouts/

tday0

Two turkeys, sliced and ready for our devouring!

I am thankful to be able to share this recipe with Fiesta Friday, and the two co-hosts, Julianna and Hilda.

 

Posted in Cooking | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Skillet Mac and Cheese with Veggies

For many in America, mac & cheese is “comfort food”.

We didn’t grow up with it as such, which is why I usually put the word “comfort” into quotes.  One man’s comfort is another’s discomfort…

skillet mac and cheese, pasta, gluten-free, recipe, vegetarian

Discovering a comforting macaroni and cheese dish.

When we did have it, it was something the parents quickly prepared from a box and baked (they did add more cheese) prior to going out and leaving us at home with the sitter.  This could be a desirable outcome, but it all depended on the identity of said sitter.  It certainly wasn’t a “sit around the table and enjoy together” meal.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a really enjoyable baked or casserole mac and cheese, even when made from scratch — excepting the lobster mac and cheese my brother once made, but that was because that dish was very top-heavy on the lobster!    (If I remember correctly, there were also some tasty and complementary veggies in the mix, too.  Bell peppers, I think.)

I finally ran into a skillet mac and cheeese, at work of all places.  The cafeteria was serving to-order skillet mac and cheese — the noodles already prepared and still a bit au dente, and you’d get up to four types of cheese, and a variety of veggies, and some voluntary hot pepper flakes to add atop the finished product.  I think one of the reasons I liked it was for a similar reason to liking my brother’s mac and cheese — it’s not just noodles and cheese!  In this case there are some good, tasty veggies in place!  And no added bread crumbs (starch added to starch… really?).  So anyhow, for me the skillet is the way to go.

recipe, skillet mac and cheese, vegetarian, gluten-free,

Getting onions underway

This was so good I actually re-created this a couple times with some wheat-based pasta someone dropped off for me while my ankle was broken.   Now, I am making it again, with a few adaptations (they didn’t use sherry at work) in gluten-free mode for this blog.

It’s very rich — it’s not for every day dining.  And I can’t think of a good short cut for vegan meals, as you really need the meltiness of real cheese.  (There is now a pea-based cheese substitute, so for those who don’t do soy, look into that — but I doubt it is “easy” to make that melty and exciting, especially without excipients.)

recipe, skillet mac and cheese, vegetarian, gluten-free,

Plus shrooms and snow peas…

I also don’t recommend fat-free or reduced-fat cheeses as any number of other excipients and sugars are added to those for “mouth-feel” (1% fat milk is not 1% of whole milk, after all — whole milk is 3.5% fat)!  As for pre-shredded cheeses — they add anti-caking stuff to that — pull out the kitchen tool and do it yourself.  The extra work will help keep you from deciding to make this every night!  You could shred it, but laying into the cheese with a knife is quicker and works just as well.

recipe, skillet mac and cheese, vegetarian, gluten-free,

And, plus sherry and cheese…

Except for the optional red pepper flakes, this recipe is nightshade-free.  Leave them off, if you desire.  The sherry can be omitted, too – sub in an equal amount of low sodium vegetable broth.

For the pasta I chose a type made from chickpeas — black bean pasta would also work, or a rice-based noodle.  Follow the package directions, and note that for bean-based pasta, the moment you go from au dente to very soft is much quicker than with wheat-based pasta.

recipe, skillet mac and cheese, vegetarian, gluten-free,

The rotini shape sounded appealing…

Prep time:  10-15 minutes
Cook time:  around 15 minutes, depending on level of onion browning
Rest time: Not needed.
Serves:  2 as a main.
Leftover friendly:  Store in microwaveable container in fridge.  
(It is likely you can also re-heat in oven in appropriate container.)
Suggested side:  Tossed salad drizzled with a homemade unsweetened vinaigrette.

Skillet Mac and Cheese with Veggies

  • 4 ounces of pasta noodles (chickpea, bean, rice — or whatever)
  • Quality cooking oil, one tablespoon.  I used avocado oil, which I source from Costco/BJ’s.
  • 1/2 large onion.  (Slice thin and chop coarsely)
  • 4 ounces button mushrooms (or add in some shiitake!),  Slice and break up large pieces.
  • 4 ounces snow peas. (Break in halves or thirds)
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry (or low sodium boxed vegetable broth; or your homemade veggie broth).
  • 8 to 10 ounces total of a variety of meltable cheeses.  (I used Monterrey Jack, Gruyere, Fontina and just a little smoked Gouda – these all add their own flavor signature, and the Jack is for additional creaminess.)
  • The leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh tarragon (sub in 1/4 teaspoon or so of dried if necessary, but it’s not quite the same.  You can play with oregano or other herbs, too.)
  • Optional red pepper flakes, to taste.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Prep all the veggies, and get some water ready for the pasta.

In a medium large skillet, heat up the oil, and add the onions.  Cook them to at least translucent — you can continue the process until they are well-caramelized, if you wish.

Add in the mushrooms (they will soak up the oil, which is why I start with that much).  Cook until done.

Start the pasta water to boil, and add the snow peas to the skillet, along with the salt and pepper, and stir, about one minute.

Don’t overcook the snow peas — add in the sherry (or veggie broth), and then the cheese.

When the water boils in the pot, add the pasta to the pot, and cook ON THE AU DENTE SIDE as per box directions.

Stir the skillet ingredients, reducing heat to a simmer so that you don’t overcook the snow peas or scald the cheese.  Make sure everything melts.  Add the tarragon and the optional red pepper flakes.

Drain the cooked pasta and flip it into the skillet, and continue stirring until everything is mixed appropriately.

Plate and serve, or let folks serve themselves.

For four people (as a main), size up accordingly, and use that LARGE skillet!

***

Instead of snowpeas or mushrooms, there is a whole world of other veggies to explore in this dish.  Of course, different veggies will require different cooking times.  Frankly, adding veggies is a highlight to mac and cheese, turning a pedestrian dish into a delight.  Ideas:  Bell peppers of various colors, broccoli, broccolini, shaved Brussels sprouts, slivers of golden beets. asparagus… we could go on…  Oh, and onions could be replaced by leeks… 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Cooking, Mushrooms, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Chicken Heart and Cheese Omelet

Yes, I know not everyone shares my love of certain types of offal, and they’re welcome to pronounce it “awful”.   If you don’t want to use chicken hearts (or can’t find them), feel free to use a portion of leftover boneless skinless chicken thigh from another meal (fat removed).

omelet, recipe, eggs, chicken hearts, cheese

A hearty breakfast earlier this week.

Hearts are really muscle, very dense muscle, and very low in fat content, yet high in nutritional punch.   Heart is actually one of my favorite “cuts” from most any animal where I’ve tried it and when it has been cooked properly — yes, I see you looking at me with questioning eyes…  That’s okay!

With chicken hearts, as with any other part of chicken, they need to be thoroughly cooked.  I have a couple sources where I can buy a small batch – use some of them for other recipes, but reserve three or four per partaker, for breakfast.  This is probably about an ounce, or maybe a little less.

There is usually a little external fat that the butcher may leave on the outside upper portion of the hearts — cut that off and discard.

As for cheese — any good melty cheese you like is good — cheddar, Fontina, Gouda, smoked Gouda are especially recommended, but let what you like or have to hand be your guide.  I’ll mention what I used.

recipe, omelet, chicken heart, cheese

Prep station on the bamboo cutting board

French-style omelets never are allowed to brown.  I’m copacetic with a little browning, but  the eggs getting crunchy are right out.  The sauce the omelet will cook in will encourage a bit of browning, if only simply from the coloring of the tamari or the coconut aminos.

To the recipe!

Prep Time:  10 minutes.
Cook Time: 15 minutes plus or minus a minute or two.
Rest Time: not applicable.
Serves:  Recipe listed as per each person – multiply ingredients as needed.
Leftover Friendly:  Not really.

Chicken Heart and Cheese Omelet

  • 3-4 chicken hearts, fat cut off and discarded.
  • 1-2 pats of butter (or 1/2 teaspoon healthy cooking oil – I recommend avocado or coconut oil, but I’m okay with the occasional use of grapeseed oil).
  • garlic powder and ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or coconut aminos
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ounce, more or less, of thin-sliced meltable cheese.  (I had smoked Gouda to hand.)
  • 1 green onion/scallion, chopped.
  • 1 sprig fresh tarragon coarsely chopped  (or 1/8th teaspoon dried tarragon flakes)

PREP:

Prep the veggies — chop the scallions fine, and the fresh tarragon coarsely.  Prep the cheese as needed.

Take those fat-cleaned hearts, and slice them into thin slices, somewhere between 1/8th and 1/4th inches thick.

In a small skillet (assuming this is just for one person — size up if you are doing two people, natch!) heat your butter or fat on medium heat.  Meanwhile, beat up the eggs in a small bowl.

When the cooking oil/fat is hot (a drop of water sizzles) add the sliced chicken hearts, garlic powder and ground pepper.  Allow to pan fry until done, stirring as you work, about five minutes.  Add the tamari/coconut aminos, and allow the hearts to cook another minute.  Remove the meat to a plate.

Without cleaning the skillet, return it to the heat, wait a moment for the skillet temperature to re-equilibrate, and add the beaten eggs.  Cook until they mostly harden.  With just two eggs, I feel no need to flip, but I do use the spatula to move the eggy stuff around, so that everything eventually cooks through.

recipe, omelet, eggs, cheese, offal, chicken hearts

This is the canvas upon which breakfast will be spread

Drop in the bits of heart, then the cheese, then the tarragon, then the green onion/scallion.  Reserve a small portion of scallion for omelet ambiance atop, later.

recipe, omelet, eggs, chicken hearts, cheese

Lay it on me!!!

Fold omelet in half, and let cook further, watching for all the cheese to melt, and the egg to cook completely.

Plate, and serve with the remainder of any scallion on top of the omelet.

This recipe is probably shocking people over at:  

Fiesta Friday.  (Co-hosts Antonia and Petra

Real Food Fridays.

 

 

Posted in Breakfast, Cooking, Offal, Poultry | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Dining Out: The Lazy Goat, Greenville, S.C.

Yes, the next five posts (at the very least) will be actual recipes, but here’s one final Dining Out for now, written up early last night after the excellent meal, before the election unfolded, and with the photos jammed into place just now:

Dining out,Greenville, South Carolina, restaurant, Moroccan lamb,

Greenville, South Carolina — The Reedy River and its falls, about 7 pm.

Located in downtown Greenville, which was a larger and more thriving locale than I expected (the town looks small on the tourist guide map I had), this restaurant seems top notch.  It is a little on the pricier side, but not too badly so.  The ambiance is refreshing, and the location by the Reedy River is probably enjoyable in most weather.

I ordered the Moroccan Lamb (braised shank, warm pita, cucumber yogurt and crispy plantain chips) and the Crispy Brussels Sprouts (Serrano ham, slices of shaved Manchego, and a sherry glace) from the “Graze and Nibble” portion of the dinner menu.

Dining out,Greenville, South Carolina, restaurant, Moroccan lamb, Brussels sprouts, Lazy Goat

Plantain “ears” in the Moroccan dish; wonderful crispy Brussels sprouts. (More pita than necessary.)

There’s another section on the menu:  “To Share or Not to Share”.  Heartier portions.  I opted not to share even with myself although some of the choices looked very enticing.  But, I figured two small plates would give me more variety and selection than simply one large plate.

I did select the 250 mL carafe of Chateau Freynelle — I was walking back to the night’s digs.  A very pleasing wine!!!

Both the lamb and the Brussels sprouts dishes were outstanding.  Cooked to perfection and seasoning.  The sprouts were fabulous.  They may have been just a tad too sweet fo my personal taste buds if eaten alone, but eaten alongside the lamb dish they were a highlight.  Their crispiness was a delight.  The lamb was tender, and this meal was a delight.

For dessert (as it were) I had a charcuterie platter.  You could choose what you wanted from a selection of charcuterie meats, cheeses, and several sides.  Meats and cheeses would be presented in one-ounce increments. I simply ordered a Wisconsin unpasteured Gouda, and an Italian Calabrese.  Along with an order of what turned out to be WAY too many olives for me.  (If you go as a group — order one order of olives for the table… no more than that!)  The Calabrese was delicately spicy, and I suspect the Gouda wasn’t the best pairing for it.  None the less, both were good selections.

Dining out,Greenville, South Carolina, restaurant, Moroccan lamb, Brussels sprouts, lazy goat

Yes, I started nibbling on the cheese before remembering to take the photo – the presentation was proper when it arrived at my table.

The olives were of at least two varieties, and I took the rest as takeout.

Rating:  4.75 out of 5.0 stars.

The Lazy Goat, 170 Riverplace, Greenville, SC 29601.

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Dining Out: Yummy House, Tampa, Florida

Chinese cuisine in this country (the US) falls into two categories:  American-Chinese, and authentic Chinese-Chinese — the later more typically found in the more vibrant of the nation’s Chinatowns.

The restaurant I am reviewing is more American-Chinese than Chinese-Chinese, but the place brings in an old-country sensibility, and it is one of the rare one of these that in my experience is downright GOOD.  Probably because many of their cooking techniques are indeed Chinese in origin.  So actually they blend American-Chinese and Chinese-Chinese to make really good food.  The primary focus of their recipes is Cantonese.

We (a party of eight adults and one toddler) descended upon this restaurant the evening of November 5th.   We ordered lots of food, and most importantly, we shared.

Yummy House, Tampa, Florida, Chinese, Restaurant review

Welcome to an abundance of food!

I tried everything we ordered except the sweet and sour chicken, and the shrimp lo mein.  (I am not a fan of “sweet” main dishes — although it was reported that this dish was not as sugary as it so often is; I was also not in the mood for noodles, so I skipped that, too.  We had a couple folk who skipped seafood dishes, so it all evens out…)

I enjoyed EVERYTHING.  Well, the least favorite to me (and to others) was the dish I ordered — the clay pot seafood combo with shiitake and tofu.  The fish in it (shrimp, calamari strips, scallops) was cooked just right, but there was not much in the way of seasoning.  And stems had been left on some of the shiitake.  All in all, the flavor profile was bland.  You need to punch up tofu and the rest of that dish with flavor.

A highlight was the snow pea dish.  I think it came with scallops, but what I remember about that dish was the hearty crunch of snow pea in a good seafood sauce.  Unlike at many Chinese-American restaurants, this sauce was not remotely heavy.

There were two orders of Mongolian beef and one of a ginger beef — I preferred the ginger beef to the Mongolian, but both were excellent.  The beef in both cases was tender, cooked as thin slices, and served with assorted veggies and spices that were dish-dependent.

The roast duck was excellent – very little fat, and tasty crispy skin.  And there was another seafood dish that was very tasty.

A nicely satiating repast!

Oh, yes, we’d started the meal with appetizers, also shared.  We ordered salt and pepper calamari, salt and pepper chicken wings, and pan fried pot stickers/dumplings to share around.  The calamari was tender and cooked/seasoned to perfection, as were the wings, which were almost the size of small drumsticks.  I was less impressed with the dumplings, but I was outvoted by most of my compatriots.  They seemed kind of “crispy” to me, and the filling seemed bland — but as noted, others really liked them.  (I think my bias towards steamed dumplings is showing!)  The appetizers came with a couple of dipping sauces — including a hot pepper sauce.

Oh — the toddler really liked his chicken wing!  Even more than the sweet and sour chicken which had been ordered with him in mind.  (He even downed a portion of calamari that his granddad kindly gave him.)

For those inclined, there are two dishes on the menu featuring frog legs.  I could have been tempted, but I wanted to join in on the food sharing that went on.

There is no liquor license here, but you can bring in wine for your table.  For large groups, there are round tables with a lazy Susan in the center to facilitate food sharing.  We seated nine chairs with comfort.  The place looks unimposing from the outside, situated as it is in a tacky strip mall, but don’t be fooled by appearances.  The staff is great, and the environment is clean.  And the food is worth coming back again for more.

Addendum:  I had some of the leftovers tonight for dinner.  Yum.  And taking some of the leftover hot dipping sauce that had been provided for the salt and pepper appetizers lent new life to the remainder of that seafood clay pot dish!

Rating:  4.5 stars.

Yummy House, N. 2620 E. Hillsborough Avenue, Tampa, Florida.

 

 

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