Food Pic Friday: Hash House A Go Go

Food Adventures, Las Vegas
Andy's Sage Fried Chicken and Waffles

Andy’s Sage Fried Chicken and Waffles

Waking up in Sin City? Nothing will cure that debauchery-induced hangover better than the outrageous offerings and massive portions at Hash House A Go Go situated in the newly renovated center-strip hotel The Quad (formerly Imperial Palace).

Pictured here: Andy’s Sage Fried Chicken & Waffles | Two sage fried chicken breasts with hardwood smoked bacon waffle tower, hot maple reduction and fried leeks.

The chicken and waffles is a must-have and any menu item that has the word “tower” in it is no joke. The presentation is absolutely ostentatious — at the base is a stack of waffles that have strips of bacon cooked INTO the centers (like someone laid the porcine crack onto the waffle iron itself before sealing it shut), then two large chicken breasts with a beautifully crunchy coating, all topped with a pile of crispy fried leeks and stabbed through the heart with a giant steak knife and perhaps the longest sprig of rosemary I had ever seen (…aside from that one year in college when I bought a mini rosemary bush that had been trimmed to look like a Christmas tree).

Luckily, the taste lived up to the hype of the many positive reviews, the glorious plating, and the grand procession as it is gingerly carried to your table. I will admit though, the excess bested me and I was not able to finish it on my own (it’s definitely meant for sharing!). The sweet maple reduction combined with the fatty greasiness of fried chicken skin contributed to the diminishing return, despite the blissful first bite. At just under $20, go ahead and splurge on this breakfast that is sure to soak up all that alcohol and keep you feeling satiated all day long.

Viva Las Vegas!

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Check out Hash House A Go Go: hashhouseagogo.com

The Quad Resort & Casino
3535 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109

See their Yelp reviews here!

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our-growing-edge-badgeThis post is part of the monthly link up party Our Growing Edge. This event aims to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things, and this month’s theme is dining out: eating at new restaurants, trying new dishes, or exploring new cuisines! We’ve been to Vegas many a time, but this was our first visit to the famed Hash House A Go Go… and you can bet we’ll be squeezing it in to our future itineraries, if only to satisfy my chicken & waffle cravings!

This month is hosted by Ash at Organic Ash over in Auckland, New Zealand.

Cheers!

Our Growing Edge – October 2013 Round-Up

Blogging Community

October Roundup Collage v2 copy

Happy November, everybody! It feels like just yesterday I was announcing our excitement to host October’s Our Growing Edge link up party. And now, here we are with the round-up to recap all of the amazing dishes and experiences that bloggers worldwide crossed off their foodie bucket lists. From gumbo in Auckland to Oktoberfest in Asia, from refreshing tabouli to hearty pork belly, this month’s participants had some great stories to share! Without further ado and in no particular order, let’s embark on this month’s journey:

apple chips crop

First, a snack. Say Hello Hello Food posted a wonderfully easy recipe for healthy baked apple chips to use up her autumn harvest. With her beautifully vivid photo, I want to reach out and grab a handful straight out of the jar! (PS: for US readers, 100 degrees Celsius is 212 degrees Fahrenheit.)

artichoke flan

Lisa at Italian Kiwi decided to tackle one of my personal favorite Growing Edge projects — replicating a restaurant-quality dish at home. Hers? Flan di Carciofi con Crema di Fontina. It looks as fancy as the name sounds, but according to her post, the process is surprisingly simple to yield such a delicate finished product. Besides, you can’t go wrong with cheese sauce!

tabouli

Leah at Sharing the Food We Love overcame her passionate distaste for tabouli tracing back to childhood and whipped up a gorgeous quinoa tabouli with bright lemon juice and its zest. I happen to love quinoa tabouli (especially how the little grains add a chewy texture to the green mix of parsley, mint, and chives), and Leah’s recipe makes it seem so easy to make at home!

red lentil zuc curry

Sharon at Sweet Home-Chefs chose to not only make Indian curry (a task which I have yet to work up the courage to undertake) but she made it her own, using up leftover zucchini to make a red lentil dal unlike any I’d ever tried! It looks hearty and comforting for these cool autumn nights, and the fried red chilies look amazing — I definitely need to start garnishing dishes with that.

20-hour-pork-belly1

Genie of Bunny Eats Design, the one who started it all, visited her local butchery, busted out her slow cooker and came up with mouthwatering strips of pork belly, beautifully lacquered in Cantonese spices and totally worth the 20 hour wait. I suspect that the meat turned out incredibly tender from all the natural fat basting itself for nearly one full day.

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Chef Janet Rorschach invited her class of Escoffier students to join her in her Growing Edge project to prepare a feast of dishes from around the world – this time, Ethiopia. The injera, a flat bread, resembles a wrap on which the other dishes are served (think papadum thickness but soft like a tortilla). I have huge respect for anyone who undertakes homemade bread, let alone one that requires this much foresight and planning (the starter takes five days to make).

gnocchi

This Was Dinner made potato gnocchi – a dish, it seems, that many participants in Our Growing Edge dare to challenge. Unlike our ordinary arrabiatta sauce though, This Was Dinner tossed their gnocchi in an incredible saffron and creme fraiche sauce with prawns. Wow! I can almost smell the fragrant saffron from behind my computer screen.

egg tofu

Our Nom Nom kindred spirit Nom Nom Panda made amazing-looking golden brown on the outside, silky on the inside wok-fried homemade tofu. Steamed on the stovetop and basted in sizzling hot oil in a wok, these squares are definitely one of my favorite dishes at Chinese restaurants, although I never knew they had egg in them! Martin’s mom makes her own soy milk, so you can bet I’ll be trying this soon!

chocolate truffles

Audrey at Rice & Kai rolled up some sweet treats — chocolate truffles! But these aren’t just any ol’ truffles. These were rolled in a powder made from freeze dried strawberries. Awesome color and I imagine they would have a great fruity crust to contrast with the smooth ganache centers. Perfect for the upcoming holiday season too!

lemon meringue

Danielle at Keeping Up With the Holsbys baked a perfectly blowtorched lemon meringue pie. The kicker? It’s gluten free! Desserts for those with dietary restrictions have never been my forte, but now I’m excited to have this tried and tested recipe in my arsenal. The post itself was an entertaining read; I know when I was writing about the souffle, I really wanted to write that one has to whip the egg whites “like a mo’fo”.

Chocolate-Quinoa-Cake-with-Glaze-Walnuts

Felicia at Dish by Dish turned her frown upside-down with a chocolate quinoa cake that keeps her coming back for more! When I first glanced at the title, I assumed it would be gluten free or vegan, but have no fear, this recipe is full of butter, flour, and eggs – all wonderful things when it comes to baked goods. The quinoa adds an unparalleled moist and decadent texture that is sure to please.

lemon crinkle cookie

Marnelli at Sweets and Brains made a batch of adorable round lemon crinkle cookies even though she didn’t have eggs on hand (quite resourceful!). We’ve made lemon cookies before as well, so I knew exactly the aroma she meant when she was enjoying the scent of lemon zest mixed with granulated sugar. Both versions, with and without egg, looked like excellent accompaniments to a nice hot cup of tea!

caramel apples

Anna at Bashful Bao dipped some super festive caramel apples… what makes it extra special though, is that the caramel has been infused with vanilla bean and sea salt! These are perfect for celebrating fall and with infinite options for sprinkles, nuts, and candy coatings, the possibilities are endless. And Anna’s photos look amazing — ’tis the season indeed!

littlebird-unbakery

The ladies of The Hungry Hunters stepped out of their comfort zones to try a new raw food cafe in their hometown of Auckland NZ. Smoked lox on sprouted bread, desserts made without any refined sugars, and three of my favorite words to spot on a beverages menu — cold brew coffee. Since the cafe is dairy-free and gluten-free, they provide hazelnut milk for coffee drinkers who prefer an alternative to black. Just looking at the photos makes me want to go to New Zealand!

miss-clawdy-gumbo only

Marlene of Dearest Sultana visited another great find in Auckland — GUMBO! I thought it was fascinating that Louisiana-style Southern US cuisine had made its way to New Zealand, and it seems Marlene did things right, partaking in po’ boys, cornbread, fried chicken, hush puppies, and of course, gumbo. In lieu of the traditional pecan pie, Miss Clawdy’s served up mini pecan tarts topped with a perfect ice cream quenelle. Yum!

oktoberfest-2013-3

andmorefood celebrated one of my favorite things about October – Oktoberfest! ….. in Singapore. That’s right, friends – she was chowing down on sauerkraut and brats, raising a stein, and shouting Prost! in Singapore. How cool is that? Almost as cool as the gorgeous pork knuckle that was another dinner option alongside goulash, meatloaf, and sausages. Cheers!

ratatouille

And then there’s me! This month for Our Growing Edge, I finally crossed a dish off my bucket list that I had been wanting to make for over six years: the ratatouille from the Disney/Pixar movie Ratatouille. Layering the colorful slices of zucchini, yellow squash, and roma tomatoes, I felt as proud as Remy must have felt to present such an aesthetically pleasing dish. Luckily it tasted pretty darn good as well.

That’s a wrap! For details on how to participate in November’s Our Growing Edge, check out this page on Genie’s blog. I was so excited to see all of the wonderful creations and experiences this past month and I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with next!

Meatless Monday: Remy’s Ratatouille (Version I)

Main Dishes, Recipes, Side Dishes

Happy Meatless Monday! Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been a fan of a) Disney movies and b) seeing food on TV and wishing I could make something equally nice at home. So after watching the Disney/Pixar movie Ratatouille for the umpteenth time, I thought to myself, Self, that ratatouille looks gorgeous and if it’s good enough to render Anton Ego speechless, then I want to make it myself! I got hold of some squash, tomatoes, and (to make things even easier) some homemade tomato sauce that had been gifted to us. Without the use of any recipes aside from a few (okay… maybe a dozen) screenings of the cooking scene in the movie along with a quick Google Image search for pictures of the final product, I ended up with this:

Ratatouille Version I - the final product

Ratatouille Version I – the final product

Not bad, right? To be honest, this version of ratatouille is just a quick and easy way to enjoy the heartiness and comfort of the roasted vegetables in a delicious (and vegan!) dish that gets to the dinner table in as little as one hour. It mostly resembles Remy’s ratatouille in its styling with the use of thin slices as opposed to a chunky stew, but the sauce has been simplified and I omitted eggplants as a personal preference, (Remy, by the way, is the name of the rodent protagonist in the movie.) I learned recently that Remy’s version had been adapted from Thomas Keller, who was the culinary consultant during the production of the film. His confit byaldi recipe was posted in the New York Times in 2007, the same year the movie was released. So, for those of you doing the math, yes – I’ve been wanting to make this dish for the past 6 years and only recently became inspired and confident enough to give it a go.

A "before" photo

A “before” photo

I am calling this Version I because while I do intend to tackle Thomas Keller’s recipe with its more traditional red bell pepper and tomato sauce base in the near future, this attempt was pretty darn tasty. Tasty enough, I feel, to be worth sharing. This recipe ended up yielding four 5″ diameter ramekins (I used low, fluted creme brulee dishes) plus enough leftover for one 8″ diameter pie dish… about 4-6 servings total. You could probably make two 8″ diameter pie dishes or one gratin dish if you were to make multiple layers (mine were all single-layered). We enjoyed this simply spread onto toasted baguette slices, though it would make an excellent side dish to a protein of your choosing.

A mandoline is a must-have to easily get those uniform, thin slices.

A mandoline is a must-have to easily get those uniform, thin slices.

NomNomCat Tip #1: The sauce. I used a homemade tomato sauce (roma tomatoes, garlic, onions, thyme, oregano – all simmered together until reduced) as the base, though ratatouille is more traditionally served with a roasted red pepper and tomato blend. For our simplified version, you are welcome to use your favorite homemade (or even store-bought if you must) tomato sauce.

NomNomCat Tip #2: The vegetables. There are so many versions of ratatouille but many feature a combination of zucchini, yellow squash, tomato, eggplant (aubergine), and/or bell peppers. What makes this particular ratatouille special is its presentation. The thin slices, easily accomplished with a mandoline, roast up quickly and look impressively colorful. When purchasing your produce, you’ll want to keep in mind that vegetables of similar diameters will yield the best circles for layering. Also, beware that squashes hold a lot of water which release during the baking process. To avoid soggy ratatouille (especially if you are using eggplants), sprinkle the slices with a bit of salt to draw out some of its water before layering; . Lastly, depending on the size of your vegetables, the quantity may vary. You just want to end up with an approximately even number of slices of each vegetable (if you’re OCD like I am) or you can always adjust your layering patterns to accommodate any shortages. Have fun with it!

Ingredients:

Ingredients:

1 to 2 zucchinis

2 to 3 yellow squash

3 to 4 roma tomatoes

10 ounces of tomato sauce

A few tablespoons of olive oil

Salt & pepper

Sprigs of fresh thyme

Fresh chives (optional; for garnish)

French baguette (serving suggestion)

Parchment Circles

Parchment Circles

First, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Then prepare your parchment paper circles. You’ll need to top each dish with these later and it’s much easier to measure when the vessels are empty than when they are stacked full of vegetable slices. To make a quick circle, tear off a square sheet of parchment. Fold it in half twice so that you get a smaller square. Fold the side with 2 “flaps” onto the side with the single thick crease, making a triangle. Flip over and fold one more time, so that the side with 3 flaps matches up with the (new) single thick crease. Line up the point approximately in the center of the dish and eyeball the length of the radius. Using scissors, snip across in a slightly curved line. Unfold and voila – a perfect (ish) circle!

Zucchini slices

Zucchini slices

Next, prepare your vegetables. I used my Kyocera ceramic blade mandoline on its thickest setting (3.0 mm) so I had all of my vegetables sliced in a matter of minutes.  If slicing by hand, just be careful – the slices should not be paper thin or they’ll fall apart in the cooking process. A few millimeters thick and most importantly, consistent thickness for even baking.

Yellow squash slices

Yellow squash slices

Set your slices aside. I let the two squashes share a dish while the tomatoes sat in a separate bowl since they had already started releasing their juices.

Sauce the dishes

Sauce the dishes

I used our tomato sauce straight out of the refrigerator since we will be baking it anyway. Spread a thin layer at the bottom of each baking dish. These ramekins held about 2-3 spoonfuls of sauce apiece and I used the remainder to line my 8″ pie dish.

Start layering!

Start layering!

Start layering! Have fun with this step. Mine are all in the same pattern (yellow squash, zucchini, tomato, yellow squash, zucchini, tomato) to streamline the process and to satisfy my inner OCD. You are welcome to mix it up or arrange them randomly. Just be sure to overlap the slices, leaving just enough of the underlying layer visible for its color.

Drizzle with oil

Drizzle with oil

Brush the top with a bit of olive oil to help keep the exposed squash from drying out. I drizzled a thin line of oil over the top and rubbed it on with a clean finger. Whatever works.

Almost ready for the oven!

The larger dish – almost ready for the oven!

Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and lay a sprig or two of fresh thyme on top. (If you can’t get fresh thyme, dried would be okay too),

Top with parchment

Top with parchment

Top with your pretty parchment circles and press down gently. The light brushing of oil will help the paper “stick” and stay close to the vegetables.

The big reveal!

The big reveal!

Bake in the 375 degree oven for approximately 40 minutes. When you are a few minutes away from the timer going off, start toasting crostini-sized slices of baguette (about 1/2-inch thick, sliced on a bias).

Voila - ratatouille!

Voila – ratatouille!

Remove the parchment and the (probably burnt) sprig of thyme before serving. To make things extra pretty, I borrowed Remy’s plating idea to use a single chive tip to garnish. Although now I have a lot of leftover chives in my refrigerator… time to research another recipe!

We each ate two of those ramekins with toast for dinner and split the contents of the pie dish for the next day’s lunch. If you plan to serve this as a side dish, I think one ramekin per person would be sufficient. One of my friends likes to drizzle the ratatouille with balsamic vinegar before baking (or balsamic reduction after baking would also work), top it with gobs of goat cheese and serve it over pan fried polenta. Fancy!

Dress it up or dress it down, there’s no right or wrong way to enjoy this comforting dish especially on a cool autumn night. Bon appetit!

nomnomcat print button

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our-growing-edge-badgeThis post is part of the monthly link up party Our Growing EdgeThis event aims to connect food bloggers all over the world and inspire us to try new things. The ratatouille from Ratatouille has been on my bucket list for literally years and I cannot believe how easy it turned out to be! My only regret is not working up the courage to try making this sooner, but as they say, better late than never!

We are hosting this month’s link party and we can’t wait to see the autumn dishes from our friends in the northern hemisphere AND the spring dishes from our friends in the southern hemisphere!

Want to join our link party? Check out this post for details. ALL bloggers are welcome.

Cheers!

Our Growing Edge

Blogging Community

our-growing-edge-banner

Greetings! We’re the proud hosts of this month’s Our Growing Edge, first created at the beginning of this year by our friend at Bunny Eats Design.

What is Our Growing Edge? It is the reminder that we never stop learning and that there are always opportunities to try something new. It’s crossing items off a food-related bucket list. It’s all of those things you’ve always wanted to cook or bake or eat or buy or grow or make. Homemade crackers? Fresh pasta? Bone marrow? Growing an avocado plant from its pit? Picking apples in a local orchard? Perhaps even… a souffle?

The beauty of the monthly blogging event is knowing that bloggers worldwide are inspiring themselves and each other to step out of their comfort zones. It’s about overcoming the fear of the unknown and taking that leap (in and around the kitchen, that is).

The rules are simple and are described here by Tofu the Bunny… ahem… I mean, Genie. As long as your challenge is food-related and your post includes the Our Growing Edge logo along with the phrase “This month is hosted by Alice & Martin at Nom Nom Cat” (with some link love to our homepage), anyone and everyone is welcome to share their experiences. Just click below to join the link party, and stay tuned for our recap in early November.

I love October – the autumn breeze, color-changing leaves, and pumpkins and gourds abound. Seasonal changes aside, October also features one of my favorite holidays — the wonderfully pagan All Hallow’s Eve. So I’m very excited to see what everyone cooks up this month. And what will we be doing? I guess you’ll just have to wait and see! ;) (But it’ll probably be something festive…)

Cheers~!

Lemon-Ricotta Tortellini

Main Dishes, Recipes

On Valentine’s Day 2011, Martin surprised me with a homemade spaghetti dinner made on our brand new, shiny Marcato pasta maker. Since then, we’ve made fresh pasta on multiple occasions, sometimes herbed, sometimes thinner or wider strands, but always a long, ribbon-cut noodle. It felt like a distant dream to be able to make shaped or filled pastas. Agnolotti, ravioli, tortellini, just to name a few — all of them seem to require so much skill! But this week, we decided to tackle tortellini and made plenty extra to freeze for future meals — it was a delicious success.

Lemon-Ricotta Tortellini in a brown butter & rosemary sauce

Lemon-Ricotta Tortellini in a brown butter & rosemary sauce

Pasta Dough:

We used our recipe from our very first blog entry on Nom Nom Cat. You’ll need 2-3 batches for the amount of filling below.

Filling:

15 oz ricotta (fat free is OK)

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

zest of one lemon (approximately 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons)

1 egg

pinch of nutmeg

salt & pepper to taste

(We used the proportions from this Epicurious recipe as a base.)

Recipe yields approximately 100 mini tortellini about the size of a quarter in diameter.

Mix together the ingredients for the pasta dough. Knead for a full 10 minutes to get the glutens working. Wrap the kneaded dough in plastic wrap and let rest for 40 minutes.

Lemon-Ricotta Filling

Lemon-Ricotta Filling

Meanwhile, prepare the filling. In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the ingredients until combined. Our filling was a bit clumpy but that’s OK. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap, gently pressing it so that it touches the surface of the filling. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Rolling out the pasta

Rolling out the pasta

Roll out the pasta, 1/4 batch at a time, to a thickness of 7 on the Marcato. You’ll want to be able to faintly see your hand through the sheet of pasta. Cover sheets in plastic wrap or a moist towel to keep them from drying out.

Cut the pasta into rounds

Cut the pasta into rounds

Use a cookie cutter or upside-down drinking glass to cut out even circles of dough. We used a 3-inch diameter tea cup.

Circles of Dough

Circles of Dough

Lay out onto a lightly floured surface. Once you have a nice little collection of pasta ready to shape, grab a small bowl of cold water.

Step 1: Pasta + Filling

Step 1: Pasta + Filling

Now for the fun part: gently lay one of the circles on the fingers of one hand. Top with a small dollop of filling. If you are making mini tortellini like we did, we used about 1/2 teaspoon of filling for each. Dip your finger in the water and lightly moisten the edge halfway around the circle.

Step 2: Fold Over

Step 2: Fold Over

Next, fold over the dough so that the dry half overlaps the moistened half. Gently press around the filling to avoid air bubbles (those will steam up and cause the tortellini to burst open during the cooking process) and continue to press outward to the edges.

Step 3: Dimple

Step 3: Dimple

Use one finger to poke a dimple into the center of the filling. This will serve as the guide for shaping the tortellini.

Step 4: Fold the Pointed Tips Together

Step 4: Fold the Pointed Tips Together

Using the dimple as the center point, pull the pointed tips toward each other. The flat edges should curl up like the brim of a hat and the dimple should help form a little point.

Step 5: Press the Overlapping Edges

Step 5: Press the Overlapping Edges

Press the overlapping edges together so that the dough is about even thickness as the rest of the pasta. This will help ensure even cooking later (if the junction is too thick, then it will be hard when the rest of the tortellini has reached al dente or mush).

Step 6: Arrange on a Baking Sheet

Step 6: Arrange on a Baking Sheet

Arrange your finished product on a baking sheet lightly dusted with flour. We were intending to freeze ours, so we lined our baking sheet with parchment paper. Placing them in straight rows like a pasta army is optional.

As easy as boiling water

As easy as boiling water

Cooking them is easy. If you are serving them immediately after making, simply cook them in salted boiling water. When they float, give them another minute or so before fishing them out with a slotted spoon. Taste one if you’d like – the pasta should be al dente.

Bon Appetito!

Bon Appetito!

We transferred our pasta immediately from the water to a pan of brown butter and rosemary sauce, although that turned out to be a bit rich. A better option, in our opinion, is a drizzle of your favorite olive oil (we used Global Gardens meyer lemon oil) and chopped basil. Refreshing and truly brings out the lemony filling!

Frozen Tortellini - perfect for a weeknight meal

Frozen Tortellini – perfect for a weeknight meal

To save for later, let the tortellini freeze at least overnight on a baking sheet in a single layer. After they have hardened, transfer to a resealable plastic bag, label, and store. For an easy weeknight dinner, simply boil up water. Season with salt and toss in a handful or two of tortellini. Watch until they float and then wait another 2-3 minutes, about 5-7 minutes altogether. The filling will have heated through and the pasta will be nice and al dente. Serve with a sauce of your choice.

And a little Photoshop fun for our dear readers... I couldn't resist!

And a little Photoshop fun for our dear readers… I couldn’t resist!

nomnomcat print button

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our-growing-edge-badgeThis post is part of the monthly link up party Our Growing Edge. This event aims to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things. Making homemade tortellini is certainly a challenge but one that we are so proud to have overcome. We hope that you too will try your hand at folding these little buggers. It was a fun project that turned out to be hours of quality time together in the kitchen. And after your hard work, there’s no feeling quite like the satisfaction of digging into a bowl of fresh pasta made by your own hands.

This month is hosted by Marnelli at Sweets & Brains.

Like this link-up? Keep your own Growing Edge in mind — we’ll be hosting in October!

Cheers!