Monday, February 28, 2011

Succotash - A Brunchette Experience in Kansas City

“Your word is succotash.” Succotash. “Can you use that in a sentence please?” Succotash. Okay, I can do that. Simple enough. No pressure. Only if I can spell this I win the spelling bee. I rock under pressure. This IS my moment. I part my lips and boldly begin, “S-U-C-C-A-T-A-S-H”. An immanent pause. The breath is caught in my chest. I can see the judge’s faces fall. “I’m sorry, that is incorrect. Please take your seat.”

I took second place in that year’s spelling bee because of that word, and to this day I will never forget the correct spelling. Why am I telling you this story? Because even though that darn word gave me a rush of humiliation in the past and has made me cringe ever since, I now have a new memory attached to it. When the word succotash is muttered, I am now overwhelmed with the smells of fresh squeezed juices and vegetables, fluffy gluten free blueberry pancakes, lightly whipped goat cheese on top of smoked salmon, eggs, and crispy spinach. Oh and let’s not forget the home fries that I couldn’t shove quickly enough into my mouth.

You may be thinking to yourself, that is most certainly NOT the way you prepare succotash, and well you’re right. It’s better. It’s quite possibly my new favorite destination brunch palace at a destination spot of 4 hours away from me, tucked into the Kansas City Arts District in an almost blink-you-eyes-and-you’ll-miss-it corner location. Try the food at Succotash, and you’ll be missing it in a whole new way.
I had an incredible getaway to KC with three girlfriends last weekend and celebrated the upcoming marriages of two. I sat perplexed at the plethora of places we could potentially dine at for every meal. I like to plan things down to a tee. I woke up Sunday morning and walked down the street from my hotel to LatteLand in the plaza. After ordering a delicious green tea chai latte I decided that no amount of browsing on urban spoon or trip advisor could lead me to a better local brunch decision than just asking the locals themselves. They gave me three restaurants to choose from, and I immediately popped each of them into my phone, diligently dissecting the menus, locations, and comments left by the previous taste testers. After driving to one restaurant (based solely on its location as I had hungry and hung over bachelorettes to attend to) we proceeded to drive 10 minutes further to a shorter wait at the Brunchette restaurant SUCCOTASH.

Nestled in a cozy corner, you immediately feel invited as soon as you set foot in the eclectically decorated space. Various crystal chandeliers hang from the pale pillowed ceiling, a large canvas painting juts from one wall, and metal sparrows adorn the area above the bar. The surrounding foreshadows exactly what they put on your plate-a funky fresh feeling of warmth and satisfaction. The menu boasts an organic arrangement of choices including gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, and kid-friendly choices. It was almost dizzying trying to choose what I wanted to order because it all looked so enticing. And you all know my issues with reading the entire menu to its fullest!

Three of us started with their freshly blended juices. My friend Francine about jumped out of her seat when she saw that they offered gluten free pancakes. We ordered a short stack for the table and let me assure you, it was nothing short of the most mouth watering pancakes I have ever tasted. The four of us finished the blueberry bursting cakes in less than three minutes flat. I am pretty sure we may have collected a few astounded/appalled glares. Fran, Sara, & Lisa, thanks for helping me taste test these to die for cakes for the blog...I know it was a lot to ask of you and a very hard task judging the After photo below!

Gluten Free
Blueberry Pancakes
I followed my meal up with the smoked salmon, spinach, two egg and goat cheese wrap. I had it “unwrapped” so it was more like a scramble. It came with perfectly prepared home fries. As I looked around the table I realized that I wasn’t the only one not making conversation as we were all devouring our dishes with such speed you would assume we hadn’t eaten for weeks. We couldn’t stop either! We constantly commented that we were trying desperately to put down our forks but the pull of the scrumptious meal kept us gravitating back to our plates.
3 measly minutes After...
We were stuffed, satisfied, and all in agreement that it was the possibly the best breakfast we had ever had. I look forward to visiting the Kansas City area very soon, and I will most definitely head straight to Succotash!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Cabin Fever Sandwich

A sandwich used to be an easy meal to whip up in the kitchen. A couple slices of bread, turkey, a bit of cheese, lettuce, spicy mustard…You get the picture.

Now picture this- waiting for your loaf of bread to thaw so you can break 2 slices off, then toasting to warm the bits of ice off and completely thawing, then adding everything between the slices. A panini takes longer, a simple grilled cheese can be botched easily, and the whole time you hold your breath that the piece of bread doesn’t fall apart.

This has been my journey through bread. I have taste tested and experimented a lot in the kitchen with this simple yet fickle food and finally settled on a few different bread brands that work with me and not against me. Rudi’s and Udi’s both have served me well on many occasions. San Juan 5 grain has done me right too. I don’t HAVE to freeze them either! I do because I don’t eat bread too often and I don’t want to waste, but I can pull a couple slices fresh out of the bag now if I wanted to. It’s wonderful I tell you. And these breads don't require a gym workout to be able to break apart the slices when and if you decide to freeze them.

Sounds silly to admire something so simple sometimes, but when you’re gluten free it’s the little blessings you begin to count. I have developed a great appreciation for food and what I put into my body. I’m a laborious label checker, to avoid gluten and over processed foods and I aim to eat calories that will benefit me and my life.

That said, I promised some recipes using Rudi’s gluten free multigrain bread. Last week I was snowed in so I was able to whip up some delicious meals. It was very hard to choose just one, but I did. Sorry, leaving you wanting more I know. I will post more though, don't you worry your sweet little heads my dear readers.

This sandwich truly is a bit of an “everything but the kitchen sink recipe”. Or more relative to my actual situation, “what I could rustle up in my almost barren pantry from being snowed in recipe.” As I perused my potential pantry contenders I began formulating a delicious, warm, hearty, and open faced lunch. Here you go!

Baby Bella, Spinach, & Toasted Pine Nut Open Faced Sandwich

(Told you it was a doozy!)

• 1 cup Baby Portobello mushrooms, sliced

• 1 clove garlic, minced

• 2 cups raw organic spinach

• 2 tbs EVOO

• 1 tbs Balsamic Vinegar

• ¼ cup toasted pine nuts

• Pinch of Oregano

• Pinch of Rosemary

• Salt and pepper to taste

• Freshly grated parmesan

• ¼ -½ cup Marinara


Toast your 2 slices of bread and set aside.

Place your pine nuts on a small cookie sheet, and toast in the oven for about 5-10 minutes at 350 degrees or until lightly golden brown. Remove and set aside.

In a small sauce pan heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add garlic and stir until fragrant. Toss in your mushrooms, coat, and sauté until soft (5-7 minutes). Add you balsamic vinegar and mix to coat then toss in your spices.

Add in your spinach a handful at a time (your pan will be crowded but it will cook down quick). Keep adding until all your spinach is mixed in and cooked down. Remove from heat.

Spread your marinara evenly on your bread. I had leftover Classico Marinara from the pasta I cooked up the night before so whatever you have or tickles your taste buds. Top with freshly grated parmesan that will melt when the warm veggies hit!

Put your delicious spinach and mushroom mixture on top, and sprinkle your pine nuts over the sandwich.


Friday, February 4, 2011

He's A Magic Man

Savannah enjoyed the snow days!
The great blizzard of 2011 hit Tulsa Oklahoma this week. If you aren’t from Tulsa, you should know that we usually shut down with a couple inches of snow. Almost 15? We are in crisis mode. We were in a state of emergency before you could muster out the word snowpocalypse.

My husband and I took heed to the warnings and prepped accordingly. Our pantry was stuffed to the brim, our refrigerator stocked with all the necessities, and our freezer was exploding with frozen veggies and gluten free breads. Looking at it all, I felt like we were prepared to not leave our house for about a month, but when the ravenous cabin fever hit us all at the third day I can assure you we made quite a dent in our stash. Yes, those mounds of silvery candy wrappers in the bin are mine. Don’t judge.

The plus side of the storm was that we set a delicious menu for the entire week together, picking warm, hearty, and time consuming dinners. It was so enjoyable smelling the 15 bean soup simmering on the stove, corn muffins basking in the oven light achieving the perfect lightly golden tan…rocking to jazz with a full bodied glass of cabernet sauvignon. Ah, this blizzard was bliss.

But it’s not the 15 bean soup that I am sharing with you today. It’s something my husband cooked up. One of my FAVORITE things he cooks up. Mushroom Risotto. Creamy Arborio rice oozing with freshly grated parmesan cheese and folded into plump cremini mushrooms. Decadent. Delicious. And, I am drooling on my keyboard.

I have prepared this dish before, but there is just some hint of little magic in my husband’s hands that make it that much more delicious. So, cheers to him! And cheers to me for having the sense to marry the ol' cook!

Mushroom Risotto

• 6 cups organic chicken broth

• 2 tbs EVOO

• 1 lb cremini mushrooms

• 1 ½ cups Arborio rice

• ½ cup white wine (we used sauvignon blanc)

• Salt & pepper to taste

• 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan

In one pot warm broth over low heat. In another pot heat the olive oil and add your mushrooms and coat. Sautee until they are soft.

Remove the mushrooms and set aside. Add your rice to that pot. Pour in your white wine and let the rice absorb all the liquid. Add ½ cup chicken broth and stir until absorbed. Continue to add ½ cup chicken broth at a time and stir continuously until the rice is al dente, about 15-20 minutes.

Remove from heat and add your mushrooms and parmesan. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Plate and enjoy!!