Monday, January 19, 2009

I Can't Stop Eating This Stuff...

I've been making and eating chile for as long as I can remember - and I make a pretty mean chili too - and not only the traditional variety, but I have recently mastered the controversial white bean and chicken chli ("is it really chili?" chili purests may ask - yes, I say, filled with beans, tomatoes and lots of cumin and coriander...) and I have also perfected the healthy turkey chili ...

But the Green Chili - no - that's over my head I thought - green tomatillos- I can't even usually find these- a variety of chili peppers - and who knows what else.. Sure - it looked and sounded fantastic - but I hadn't yet gotten up the courage - or the energy - to try and create this delicious dish... But aha - I don't have to!

Once in a while, as many people who love to cook know, there comes along a pre-made mix, or sauce, or something, that is as good or better than you could make from scratch - I belive I have stumbled on just such a product...

Cookwell & Company makes a Green Chili Mix that is out of this world - I mean, dream about good - crave night and day good - I want to eat some right now good... Seriously.

I stumbled upon this product at my local Hannaford supermarket, thanks to my parents who first discovered it, in the "International Foods" aisle. Upon inspecting the label I learn the ingedients are all natural and include a variety of green chilies, fire-roasted green tomatillos, lime juice, cilantro, onions, garlic, and some chicken stock.

I simply had it with some seared pork and a little sour cream and was in heaven - the smokiness, the hotness, the flavor just fills your mouth and your whole body - it is sooooo comfort food - I imagine it would also be good with shrimp, chicken, or used a as a sauce over rice or fish. Not only is this stuff tasty beyond belief, turns out there's only 45 calories per serving (as is) and contains almost no fat or carbs... a culinary dream come true.

So if you love Mexican food, and appreciate the subtle flavors that different chili peppers can lend to a dish, go get yourself a jar before I clean out the Hannaford supply.. seriously..

Monday, January 5, 2009

Chez Mike Est Tres Délicieux

Who would guess such a culinary gem would be buried in an East Greenbush shopping plaza? Not me - luckily I found my way to this great new restaurant via my parents - the big guns of local culinary expertise..

After several visits to Chez Mike I have found consistently good and inventive "American" food. Case in point is that most dishes are “slow-cooked” and not merely topped with fancy sauces. Local produce is used and menus are seasonal – Chef Mike Cohen is clearly on top of things.

A summertime visit brought me to the homemade gazpacho topped with rich blue crab meat – this satisfying and flavorful soup was an entrée all on it’s own.

An attempt to eat “healthier” the day after Thanksgiving led me to try the Rice Noodle & Tofu Bowl – a wonderful dish of vegetables in sesame-soy broth with tofu and rice noodles. I had to ferociously fend off my dining companions – some of whom are hard-core carnivores – from stealing my dinner. It’s a good thing that when it comes to food, I am clearly stronger than I appear. The dish seems to be a staple on the menu that does seem to feature regular changes – and thank goodness – it truly was a fulfilling experience for the senses – perfectly balanced – light and healthy yet completely comforting.

Dining companions have sampled everything from the burgers – huge and meaty, to the short ribs – rich and saucy, to the brick pressed roast chicken - moist and homey. And fear not, desserts have not been neglected – there is a chocolate cake on the menu that is well worth trying – although I advise you have people to share it with – it is very rich and chocolatey - just like it should be .

The wine list is also very nice – if I were more of a wine expert I could expound here – I will say I have tried several reds, a cab, a pinot noir and a merlot – all were yummy.

In this age of fast food and chain restaurants it’s so nice to have this choice of fine dining prepared by knowledgeable and caring people – I encourage you to visit and support this noble (and scrumptious) cause for yourself…