Roasted Vegetables

It’s Christmas Eve, so I’d like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.  The food for tonight and tomorrow is cooking away, but before I make any posts about it, I’d like to share one of my favorite side dishes.

In my last post, I featured a delicious turnip salad.  Well the turnips are showing up again, along with a medley of other root vegetables.  Roasting vegetables, especially root vegetables and various squash really brings out the flavor in them.  For these roasted vegetables, I usually throw together whatever we’ve got laying around.  It’s actually a good way to use up left over veggies from other recipes.

Here’s the ingredient list this time around:

Roasted Vegetables

Potato – I love the gold, purple, and red fingerling potatoes for this, but any will do.  Sweet potatoes work great as well, either as a substitute or in addition to regular potatoes.

Carrots and Parsnips – These two make it into just about every pan of roasted veggies I make.

Turnip – Yes, here it is again. This makes a great addition to the pan, and I usually add it in when in it’s season in the fall and early winter here.

Onion – I won’t roast vegetables without onions.  From the small pearl onions, to chunks or vidalia or red onion.  This time around I quartered some shallots and they turned out great, without such an onion taste.

Roasted VegetablesSome people like to add sugar or garlic to roasted vegetables, but I like to let their natural flavors shine.  I lightly coat them with olive oil and season with salt and fresh cracked black pepper.  Simple as that.

I roast mine on 400 degrees until they are soft and the edges have started to brown.  I will turn them over with a spatula a couple times throughout cooking so they don’t get stuck to the bottom of the pan.

You can roast just about anything you want.  Butternut squash goes great in this as well.  So have fun with this and experiment.  And be sure to let me know what works for you!

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Turnip Salad

This fall I’ve discovered how great turnips are. Fresh, steamed, mashed, or roasted; they’re all good. I discovered a simple recipe online and took it to the next level. Here’s what you’ll need for the basic recipe:

  • 1 Turnip
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • salt
  • fresh cracked pepper

This recipe is far from exact, I just go by how much turnip I have. Peel your turnip, and cut it julienne. Toss in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and a splash of lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste. Don’t overdo the olive oil and lemon juice and use enough of each to balance out the flavor. I just go by how it tastes.

To kick this delicious and healthy salad up a bit, I served it on a bed of purple savoy cabbage, lightly dressed the same way. I served it with a slice of lemon and a few slices of scallion. Under it, I made a puree of daikon radish and radicchio with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic.

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Pegasus Taverna

My family had planned, for my 21st birthday back in November, to drive up to Detroit to go to Greektown Casino and Pegasus Taverna (mainly to go to the latter!). We then got a call from my uncle, who lives in Kingston, New York, and he told us he was coming to visit in December. Pegasus is one of his favorite restaurants, so we pushed our trip back to when he would be here.

To keep a long story short, we ate a lot of good food throughout the weekend.  And Saturday afternoon, we packed everybody up and drove to the casino. We spent about an hour and a half in the smoky place, which was plenty for all of us. We then walked down the nice brick pathway from the casino past many of the other restaurants and to Pegasus Taverna. This was my first time there.

Boy were they packed! Even with a reservation, we waited 20 minutes or so. That didn’t bother any of us, but if it would bother you, I’d suggest not going on a saturday night. We were seated and our waitress took our drink and appetizer orders. One of the main things we came for was Saganaki.

Saginaki at Pegasus TavernaSaganaki is a Greek dish of pan fried cheese. Brandy is poured over the cheese at the table and set alight. Then, of course, everyone yells, “Opa!” The flames are doused with generous squirt of lemon juice and the cheese is eaten with bread. So how was it, you ask? What’s not to love about flaming, brandy soaked, crispy cheese?!  Our table of six devoured six before we decided to leave room for dinner.  They even polished off half of this one before I could get my camera out.

Oh, did I mention the quail? In my quest to discover new and delicious foods, I came across quail on the menu. I took the opportunity to order the little bird, which was boned except for the legs and wings, then baked I assume. Two of them actually. Between the delicious Greek spices and the birds rich taste, I was definitely glad I ordered the quail appetizer. I ate one and everyone else split the other, just to taste it.

Pegasus Special at Pegasus TavernaThen came the main course. Lamb chops are one of their specialties, and I think 3 of the six ordered them. Two at our table ordered sauteed shrimp. I, on the other hand, wasn’t content to just try one thing. I ordered the Pegasus Special. Two lamb chops, 3 shell on broiled shrimp, and a serving of spanakopita, or spinach pie.

The lamb chops were outstanding. They were flavorful, meaty, and greasy. Everything a good lamb chop should be. As far as lamb chops go, they were huge.

The shrimp, broiled in the shells, took shrimp to a whole new level. In a Greek broth of lemon garlic and butter, they were incredible. As good as the lamb chops were, I think the broiled shrimp would be my next meal there (on top of a few orders of Saganaki). My Spanakopita (shown below) was delicious too!

Spanakopita at Pegasus TavernaOut waitress was great, she took all six of our orders by memory and got everything right. She was attentive, which was surprising given how busy they were. The atmosphere was good; it was loud but not so loud as to prevent conversation at our table. Our table was a bit cramped for 6 though.

It was a great night spent with my family eating good food. Missing the casino wouldn’t have bothered me at all, and next time we go, it will probably be just to Pegasus Taverna.

San Marcos Taqueria – Best Mexican Food in Toledo?

A friend of mine told me it was the best Mexican food she’s ever had.  Doesn’t mean much to me; I’ve been told that about a lot of places only to be disappointed once I eat there.  I find the margaritas are usually the determining factor for many.  A few weeks later, she mentioned it in class and a couple other people overheard and said it was the best Mexican food they had had too.  My interest was piqued, and I did some research online.  The general consensus was that is may in fact be the best in Toledo.

So myself and three of my friends headed over there after our classes today.  We parked in the back, so we could walk through the small grocery store attached to the restaurant.  It used to be the other way around (a small restaurant in the back of a grocery store), but it has gained popularity and they’ve expanded the restaurant.

20121207-San Marcos Taqueria-0003.jpg The restaurant is quite vibrant with hand carved and painted chairs and booths.  It wasn’t very big, but it wasn’t crowded at all.

The menu is simple, and their specialty is of course the tacos.  You can a regular taco for $1.50 or a Taco Especial for $2.00 with all the fixings.  A cilantro sauce, sour cream, a white cheese, a slice of avocado on top, and more.   On the tacos, you can choose between chicken, pork, pork skin, steak, shredded beef, beef tongue, or beef intestine.  They had a number of other items on the menu including tamales, fajitas, and other Mexican dishes.

Upon the recommendation of my friend who suggested the restaurant in the first place, I ordered a Pacifico Clara beer.   She is more of a beer drinker than I, although I didn’t think it was too bad. It was served with a lime. I thought it basically tasted like beer, but it was quite smooth with hardly any aftertaste.  The clean flavor went well with the fresh ingredients of the tacos.

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Chips and salsa were served prior to the meal.  The salsa was delicious, even though it was fairly mild.  The chips were good, but not amazing.  Definitely had better and much, much worse.

I had three tacos: a pork, a shredded beef (barbacoa), and because I love to try new and unique food, a beef tongue.  My tacos are shown to the right, with a couple slices on lime.  All were delicious, especially the beef tongue.  It tasted like a good beef roast, but even meatier. The texture was very soft, and a bit dry.  It wasn’t spongy like some internal organs, but wasn’t quite as fibrous as regular piece of beef.  Overall it was good and I will be getting it again.

Two of my friend had the special fajitas.  They came on a cast iron pan and were steaming hot.  Loaded with shrimp, chicken, beef, and vegetables, they looked and smelled great.  They were served with a plate full of sides like beans, rice, lettuce, and guacamole.  I got a taste of the fajita meat and it had a very good flavor.

20121207-San Marcos Taqueria-0001.jpg The friend of mine that suggested San Marcos got a chicken taco and a couple of tamales.  She isn’t a big fan of spicy food, and the tamales were on the upper limit for her.  I tried a bite and I’d say they were mild.

Anything could be spiced up by a couple of bottles of salsa on each table.  There was a mild-medium salsa verde that had excellent flavor and a bit of heat. It went well with the lighter, already a spicy pork taco. There was also a hot red salsa that went well with the boldness of the beef tongue taco.

The service was good.  Our waiter was attentive without being annoying.  We were there at an odd time, so it wasn’t real busy, but it was picking up when we left around the start of normal first dinner seating.

So is it the best Mexican food in Toledo? It might just be. It is definitely the best that I’ve had.  If you’re a fan of Mexican and haven’t been to the little taqueria in the back of a grocery store, I’d highly recommend you check it out!  It’s well worth the trip downtown.San Marcos Tacos on Urbanspoon

Magic Hat Heart of Darkness

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Magic Hat: Heart of Darkness

Hey everybody! Before I start this post, I want to give a little more info about myself.  Like I said in my introduction post, I recently turned 21 and have started to get into wine and beer pairings with food.  I’ve never been a big fan of beer, but I’ve been experimenting lately and have started to find some that I enjoy.  Most of those seem to be of the dark variety, particularly stouts.  My first beer was a Guinness, on the recommendation of a friend who is also not a big beer guy.

That brings me to my (very amateurish) review of Magic Hat’s “diabolically delicious stout,” Heart of Darkness.  The bottle is pictured to the right.

Heart of darkness indeed, this beer was black once poured into a glass.  I couldn’t even see any light through it.  The head wasn’t very thick,

and dissipated maybe a quarter way through the glass.  It did leave some lacing during the time it was present.  The hear is show below, right after what I considered a good pour (for me).

Magic Hat: Heart of Darkness

This beer had a fairly distinct coffee smell to it along with that of beer.

I’ll say now that I’m not too good at picking out hints of flavors and nuances in beers yet, so I won’t even attempt to go into much detail here.  It was definitely flavorful, with a little bitterness.

This was a beer that I would drink again, and not just because I’ve got 5 more left!

 

You can check out my Flickr by clicking on the photos here to check out more.

Jom-Pong (Spicy Seafood Noodle Soup)

Today, I headed over to a fairly new Asian restaurant in Toledo.  It’s called QQ Kitchen, and I’ve heard some very good things about it already.  Now this is not the first time I’ve been there, but the first time since the creation of my blog.
I haven’t had a chance to eat in the small restaurant in strip mall yet, but I’ve had carry out a couple times.  Again, I was short on time and ordered the Jom-Pong to go.
The Jom-Pong is a spicy Korean seafood and noodle dish.  I was given a soup container, and to my surprise a regular carry out container.  Off I headed to my appointment and curiosity got the best of me; I had to see what was in the carry out.  The noodles! What a great idea.  In the broth, they’d soak it up and get mushy while turning the broth starchy.
Once I arrived home, I eagerly scooped up some noodles into a bowl and poured some of the vibrantly red broth over it.  Scooped out some onions and greens along with strips of squid, shrimp, and even some clams.  It looked and smelled great, and I couldn’t wait to dig into it.
The broth was delicious, the seafood even more so.   The noodles were done perfectly, just a little chewy.  The heat was there with the spicy broth, but it wasn’t overwhelming.  Just to clarify, I do like spicy foods to an extent.  I’m not a fan of stuff so spicy it numbs my mouth and I can’t taste anything.  This wasn’t like that at all; it had just the right amount of heat and was full of flavor.
This is definitely a dish I would (and will) order again, just as soon as I try all the other amazing sounding stuff off their menu.  If you ever find yourself around the Westgate area of Toledo, OH go and check out QQ Kitchen, a little restaurant with big flavor.

Explorer of Food: an Introduction

Hello to foodies everywhere! Welcome to my blog, the Explorer of Food.

I’m Anthony, and have always had a passion for cooking and good food. I’m currently a college student at the University of Toledo, here in Toledo, OH.  If nothing else, Toledo has got some great food.  It was once said Toledo is the restaurant capital of the country, having more restaurants per capita than any other city. True or not, there’s plenty to chose from.

I love eating out, finding new places to eat, and trying new foods most of all.  I also love when I can spend time in the kitchen, cooking for my friends and family. I’ve been a knife nut for quite a while, and this has recently carried over into the kitchen as I start to build my arsenal of kitchen knives and learn the art of hand sharpening.  Having recently turned 21, I’ve delved into the realm of pairing wines and beers (never been a fan of the latter, but I’m coming around) with good food.

I am also an amateur photographer, and enjoy combining that hobby with my love of food.

This blog will follow my adventures in dining out, trying new foods, cooking, and trying out kitchen gear and knives. Unfortunately, I may not always be able to post as often as I like because I’m often busy with school.  But I hope you’ll stay tuned in!