Count on Carlos

When we’re too lazy to cook dinner after a long day of work, we can count on Carlos’ Restaurant in Yonkers to provide us with a great meal and maybe even some leftovers. On a recent Friday evening we went straight to Carlos’ to end a long work week.

If you’ve been to Carlos’, you know they have great selection to choose from including pasta as well as various shrimp, veal and chicken entrees. Allen has set a goal to eat every chicken entree on the menu so this time he ordered the Chicken Rollatine. This dish proved to do the impossible-Allen taking some to go!

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Chicken Rollatine: broccoli rabe, sausage, mozzarella, mushroom marsala

 

Kristina’s go-to meal at Carlos’ is the Penne ala Vodka. This time, she decided to order something and went with the Chicken Picatta. The sauce in this dish is delicious and we hope to figure out the secret recipe for ourselves.

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Chicken Picatta: capers, lemon and white wine

Have you ever been to Carlos’ Restaurant? If so, let us know your thoughts by emailing foodiepleasure@gmail.com or sending (@foodiepleasure). If you haven’t been and enjoy Italian food, be sure to try it for yourself!

Carlos’ Restaurant

668 Tuckahoe Road

Yonkers, NY 10710

 

Intimate Italian

When we eat out, Italian isn’t usually our first choice since we quite often make pasta at home. However, on a recent Friday evening, we decided to treat ourselves to dinner at La Fontanella in Pelham.

From the unique specials mentioned by our server to the classic options listed in the menu, there was so much to choose from that we didn’t know where to start! For our appetizer, we decided to go with Funghi Trifolati to satisfy Kristina’s love for mushrooms. The dark, intimate setting didn’t allow us to take a clear picture of it but take our word for it that it was delicious!

For our entrees, we decided on the Lobster Ravioli and Pasta ala Nonna. Both plates satisfied our palettes as the sauces and meats were cooked perfectly. We made sure to save room for dessert and enjoyed Tiramisu, which was a nice decadent way to end dinner.

After a meal like this one, we just might start eating at Italian restaurants more often! The service was outstanding and the setting was intimate yet comfortable. If you like Italian food, we highly recommend La Fontanella for a special night out.

La Fontanella
115 Wolfs Lane
Pelham, NY 10803

 

Brunch in Brooklyn

A recent visit to Brooklyn led us to Applewood for brunch with friends. It was highly recommended and, from the line outside, we could tell it was the place to be for brunch.

The menu was simple but hearty and we decided on the New York Fried Chicken (Allen) and Seasonal Vegetable Omelette (Kristina). Allen’s chicken had crispy skin and the meat was nice and tender. The dish also came with cornbread, which is always a bonus! Kristina’s omelette came with grits and a delicious biscuit.

 

If you’re going to Applewood for brunch, bring cash and expect a bit of a wait, but also be ready for a delicious meal! We hope to check out their dinner menu soon.

We’re always looking for great brunch spots so please send recommendations our way at foodiepleasure@gmail.com or via Twitter at @foodiepleasure.

Applewood
501 11th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Chef Tara in the House

When watching Chopped, it’s a good episode when three things happen: 1) clever basket items, 2) playful banter between Ted Allen and the judges, and 3) contestants who make you laugh throughout the episode. A recent episode featuring Chef TK Singleton certainly delivered. Read on to learn more about the colorful chef.

Chef Tara Singleton

Chef Tara Singleton

FP: How did you get your start with cooking?

TKS: I was born in San Antonio, Texas; raised in Lompoc, California; and trained in New York City. These past 10 years prepared me for my passion and purpose of feeding folk thru food and laughter.

I started my catering business seven years ago in NYC. Wendy Williams gave me my first shot at catering. I have no formal training, just watched my grandmother Mrs. Odessa Gilmore of Lompoc, CA since I was 5 years old. Growing up in a small town we didn’t have but a few good places to eat. Everyone always cooked at home and had get togethers. There’s only one place I eat when I’m in Lompoc a place called Jalama Cafe other than that I’m always in the kitchen. My dream is to open a soul food spot in my hometown.

At the end of the day I am still a caterer and regardless of sleep or outside interest I provide a service to my clients. I am a bi-coastal caterer so my clients fly me wherever they need me.

FP: Sounds like you’ve really turned your dreams into reality! Tell us about your experience on Chopped.

TKS: My experience on Chopped was so much fun. It basically was me in the kitchen everyday like I am with my crew except there were cameras. What you saw is who I am. I am the trash talking Chef in and out of the kitchen. That particular day I was extremely tired because I catered a 14 hour shoot in NYC with Shaun T, my favorite favorite client. So from there I went to the Chopped studios and did another 10 hour day. So I didn’t sleep for almost two days. I couldn’t believe I made it to the finals, it was crazy.

I love the Chopped folk! They told me to be myself, well I’m too old to be anyone else.  My first love is Stand up comedy so I guess it’s crossed over into my cooking.

FP: With your bicoastal nature, what are some of the places you visit most often?

TKS: I travel quite a bit. I’m always in Vermont, LA or NYC. My youngest son goes to boarding school in Vermont so I’m always up at his school cooking for him and his dorm buddies.

FP: Your son and his buddies must be happy when you come to town! What have you been up to since Chopped?

TKS: Besides doing different promos for the show Chopped these past few weeks I had been catering a 24 day shoot in LA for NBC with only one day off 15 hour days. I have catered so many projects too many stories to tell. I am presently signed with a company called 51 Minds and have a show in development not sure if it’s reality or not whatever it is it won’t be scripted I’ve already told them I have to be my authentic self.

FP: What inspires you to do the work that you do?

TKS: I do what I do for my 3 sons (Dante- 22, Ricky- 21 and Jacob- 11); creating a Generational Legacy. Also for black single mothers who are struggling cause believe me it’s been a struggle but I know it’s my time!  Hard work does pay off!!

FP: Thanks for your time, Chef TK! We can’t wait to what great things the future has in store for you.

Learn more about Chef Tara’s catering services on her website

Taste of Westchester 2014

Last Monday we were in attendance for Taste of Westchester 2014 to support Cerebral Palsy of Westchester. Just like last year, local restaurants and wine vendors participated for a meaningful cause. Here is a sample of what we ate!

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Some of our favorites included tuna salmon with miso from Haiku Asian Bistro (White Plains), chicken meatball with potato and mushroom from Hive Living Room (West Harrison) and various desserts from Rockland Bakery. We also learned about Copper Face Jacks, a new bar/restaurants in popular downtown White Plains.

The event also included live music as well as a silent auction. All the proceeds from the evening benefit the non-profit’s programs and services that assist individuals with developmental disabilities. To learn more about Cerebral Palsy of Westchester and how you can contribute, visit their website.

Halloween Hot Pot

Halloween snuck up on us this year so we decided to celebrate with dinner instead of ghosts and goblins. We met friends at 99 Favor Taste, an all-you-can eat hot pot and Korean BBQ spot on Grand Street in NYC. We opted for hot pot only, which was $18.99 per person for 2 hours. We ordered a duo-pot with traditional broth on one side and spicy on the other (word to the wise: the spicy side gets spicier at the night goes on!). For our group of 5, we selected a number of things to dip: spinach, watercress, udon, fish, string mushrooms, pumpkin, chicken, shrimp, beef, etc. Allen’s favorite was the udon and fish while Kristina couldn’t get enough of the string mushrooms. We left stuffed and satisfied… and will definitely go back to 99 Favor Taste next time we have a craving for hot pot.

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99 Favor Taste
285 Grand Street
New York, NY 10002

Cheater Chef

In a recent Chopped episode titled Offal Surprise, the contestants were indeed treated with a surprise as bull testicles were one of the ingredients in the basket. This proved to be no obstacle for Chef Mindy Merrell, who was was crowned Chopped Champion. We reached out to Mindy to learn more about her and her experience on the show.

Chef MIndy Merrell

Chef Mindy Merrell

FP: How did you get your start with cooking?

MM: I’ve been cooking forever. Can’t remember when I didn’t want to get in the kitchen and mix things up. I guess it all began with a box of jello or a brownie mix. My parents are from Carlsbad, New, Mexico so I was weaned on flat enchiladas and tacos. During childhood, my family moved around the U.S. quite a bit and we lived in Italy and Amsterdam so I was exposed to interesting American regional food and beyond. I lived in Naples and was chowing down on real Neopolitan pizza at the age of 10. When we moved back to the States, I remember wondering why we couldn’t get fresh basil in the supermarket (this was back in the 1970′s). In high school, my mother, who never really liked to cook, was gracious enough to allow me to make huge messes in the kitchen. I went through lots of phases–bread baking, desserts… I was always trying something.

When it came time for college, I enrolled in the college of home economics at Virginia Tech and really loved all the food classes including food chemistry and science. I stayed for B.S. and M.S. degrees. Next, I moved to Chicago and worked for the doyenne of food marketing at the time, Marian Tripp. I worked in the office test kitchen developing recipes and publicity materials for lots of big clients including Kraft, Quaker Oats, Pace Picante Sauce and Uncle Ben’s Rice. I ran tons of recipe contests. We also put together big food media events for the Pillsbury Bake-Off, the National Beef Cook-Off and the Food Marketing Institute. I got to meet the up and coming movers and shakers in the food world including Martha Stewart way back in the 1980′s. I remember having to escort Craig Claiborne around the 1988 Beef Cook-off in Jackson, MS.

I moved to Nashville and worked for a P.R. firm and handled culinary marketing for two iconic Tennessee brands, Martha White Flour and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. I managed all the Jack Daniel’s involvement with the James Beard Foundation for many years. Since then I’ve co-authored two cookbooks for Jack Daniel’s and one with my husband R.B. Quinn called Cheater BBQ. I also wrote a popular column in the Tennessean called drive-thru review where I analyzed the latest fast food trends.

FP: Sounds like you were born to be in the kitchen!

Tell us about your experience on Chopped. 

MM: Filming Chopped was one very, very, long, long day. I was a nervous wreck for months before the taping and even afterwards. I think I suffered from PTSD because I just couldn’t stop thinking about what I could have done differently. It’s quite an experience. The show is exactly how it is on the set, except distilled from many long hours to 45 minutes. I found it so interesting to finally see how the episode was edited. All the chefs were interesting people whom I’d gladly share a meal with. I loved seeing how different all our dishes were. The creative process within certain constraints is the most interesting part of the show to me, not the fear factor. I guess that’s why I get such a kick out of recipe development. The judges told us the truth. Our mistakes were quite obvious to us! The staff on the set was very professional and on task. I kept thinking how they would be doing all this again with four new nervous chefs the next day and the day after and the day after that.
FP: We love your website, www.cheaterchef.com! Tell us more about the concept and how the idea came about. 
MM: My website cheaterchef.com came about after our book Cheater BBQ. We just went with the name. We try to offer good ideas that are not intimidating, but that inspire folks to get in the kitchen and roll up their sleeves. I’m more than a bit bored by the chef guru and fancy ingredient chasing going around. I guess it’s my home ec background. I want us all to make well informed decisions about our foods, not set impossible standards. Do the best you can with what you have.
FP: We’ll have to try some recipes from the book!
What are some of your favorite meals to cook at home for yourself?

MM: We’re big on experimenting at my house. Making mistakes is the best way to learn about food. Who knows what jag we’ll get on next. I love color and texture so tossing a giant salad always appeals to me. R.B. is from Rhode Island and Rochester, NY, and I’m from all over so we have lots of favorites like Texas smoked brisket, New Mexico green chile, Rhode Island clam cakes, spaghetti Carbonara, any kind of pizza, southern biscuits and cornbread and anything with Jack Daniel’s!

FP: Sounds like your kitchen is the place to be!

We’ve heard that Nashville is a great food town. When you go out to eat, name some of your favorite places in Nashville or other cities you’ve visited.

MM: I moved to Nashville in the dark ages about 25 years ago, so I just can’t get over the food scene explosion here. Much of the up sell and exploitation of southern foods seems like smoke and mirrors, so I’m more likely to be trolling through the ethnic neighborhoods. I think we’ve taken pimiento cheese as far as it will go.

FP: What are some of your guilty pleasures? We like to call them foodie pleasures, hence the name :)

MM: My last meal will probably include an icy gin martini and a big handful of cheetos.

FP: What are some of your non-cooking/food related interests and hobbies? What’s a day off like for you?

MM: When I’m not in the kitchen, you will find me in my sewing and art studio or taking my sweet dog Copper for a walk. I love to paint, quilt, knit, and crochet. I’m a traveler, reader, gardener, birder and hiker. I love to go anywhere I haven’t been before and and always visit art museums.

R. B. and I try to get to Vegas often to enjoy the restaurants and the fantastic swimming pools. That’s always a great escape and we always come home with tons of great food ideas. My two kids are off to college, so they’ve left me in their dust. They are both good eaters.

 FP: Half of FP (Kristina) is a knitter also and can relate! Thank you so much for your time. 

Learn more about Chef Mindy and her husband R. B. Quinn by visiting their website