Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Dinner at Max's Grille

Last weekend was our 6th anniversary! Six years have flown by fast, and sometimes I still can't believe we have two kids. TWO! Lol. We decided (last minute) on a restaurant to have dinner, and ended up at Max's Grille in Boca Raton. They call themselves a "modern American bistro" and I've been wanting to try their food for awhile now. We ditched the kiddos, well not really, we left them with the grandparents, got all dressed up (my skinny jeans still fit!), and set out for a kid-free, mess-free dinner date alone.

The food was VERY good. They have a "Small Plate Appetizers" menu, which are big enough to share for two. We had Shrimp Mac-n-Cheese, which was one of the best mac and cheeses I have ever tasted. I told my hubby I would be returning specifically for that dish! Yummmmmmmm.

The Truffle Parmesan Fries had white truffle oil and an Asiago aioli to dip them in.

For our main course, we both chose a Wood-fired Grille selection. Hubs had the Mojo Skirt Steak with Mexicali Creamed Corn, Pico de Gallo, Guac and Green Chili Chimichurri.

I never order Pork Chops when I eat out but the description looked so appealing that I did this time. Their Pork Chop 'Scarpariello' had a rich burgundy sauce made with balsamic vinegar and Italian sausage, roasted peppers and onions. On the side was a creamy risotto with escarole, spinach and Grana Padano (an Italian hard cheese). It was very very good :)

The portions are large and I left stuffed and took home leftovers, so we had no room for dessert. We will definitely be visiting Max's Grille again in the future, and I'll post a pic of something sweet!

Happy 6th hon!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Saltfish...on a pizza?

Throughout the Caribbean, saltfish is a staple dish. Saltfish is fresh fish (usually cod) that is dried and salted. It is packaged in its preserved state, and is also called bacalao. To prepare, it needs to be rehydrated and have most of the salt removed by soaking it in water overnight or boiling it. In Trinidad, we usually cook it sauteed with onions, scallions and tomatoes. In Jamaica, ackee and saltfish rules.

I tried something new recently...put saltfish on pizza. Actually I should clarify, my hubby encouraged me to do it. He's Jamaican and remembered in his younger days eating delicious saltfish pizza. The first time he told me I twisted up my nose in disdain. Salty fish and cheese? Uhhh no! He eventually convinced me to try it, pointing out that I like anchovies on my pizza. Oh right, that's true...

So I tried it, using fontina cheese and topping it with avocado slices at the end. And I must say, I was pleasantly surprised!


2 medium pizza crusts (12 inch circles)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
4 cups shredded fontina cheese
1/2 lb saltfish, prepared* and shredded 
1/2 cup red onion slices
2 plum or roma tomatoes, sliced crosswise
1 small avocado, cut into 12 thin slices

*To prepare saltfish, place the filets in a pan and cover with water. Let boil for about 20 minutes. Cool and taste. If still too salty for your taste, rinse filets with cool water. 

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Spread tomato sauce on pizza crusts. Sprinkle with cheese, saltfish and red onion. Arrange tomato slices on top.
3. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbly, about 10 minutes.
4. Remove from oven and slice each pizza into 6 slices. Lay an avocado slice on each pizza slice. Serve immediately.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Za'atar Chicken and Wild Rice Pilaf

I picked up a jar of za'atar seasoning from Williams-Sonoma recently, and I have been using it a lot in my recipes. It's a Middle Eastern spice blend which combines sumac, thyme, sesame seed and sea salt. It's great on meat, so far I've used it on chicken, beef and pork. I wouldn't describe it as a stronger flavor combo, I find it mild, so I use a lot of it to season. For the recipe below, brown or white rice can be substituted for the wild rice. 


3 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless, about 2 lbs
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp za'atar seasoning
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
1 can diced tomatoes, 14.5 oz
1 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cups cooked wild rice blend
1 can cooked lentils, 15.5 oz
1/4 cup sliced almonds
chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Season chicken with 1 tbsp za'atar seasoning, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Place chicken in pan and let brown on both sides, about 8 minutes per side. Add diced tomatoes. Stir and cover. Let cook until chicken is fully cooked, about 10 more minutes.
While chicken is cooking, heat butter in another large pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté for 3 minutes. Add wild rice blend and lentils and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Remove chicken breasts from pan and chop. To serve, plate wild rice pilaf, top with chopped chicken and tomatoes. Sprinkle with sliced almonds and reserved 1 tsp za'atar seasoning. I would also garnish with some chopped fresh parsley. Serves 6.