August 23, 2011

Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta

When you have that one tomato left in the fridge or some rotisserie chicken leftovers, this is the easiest dish to make - granted, not the healthiest but easy and satisfying. Pesto is a staple in my fridge and with my abundance of basil in my garden, I like to make pesto every couple months to replenish my stock. You can keep pesto in the freezer in a tight container with plastic wrap touching the pesto and then the lid over that. It should keep for a month/two months max. I don't even let this defrost when I need it. I just take a few spoonfuls and put it directly into my hot sauce/pan, and it tastes pretty great every time. 

Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Tomatoes
Serves 2-3
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp butter
4 large spoonfuls of pesto (approximately 4-5 tbspn but really to your taste)
1 tomato chopped
Shredded chicken (I had leftover rotisserie chicken that I shredded)
Grated Parmesan cheese 
4-6 basil leaves, sliced into slivers (optional)

1. Bring large pot of water with good heaping of salt to a boil.  Toss in some pasta - I like ones that have holes/shells to scoop up the sauce - and let it cook for 8-10 minutes or via box directions.  

2. In a saucepan, heat up the heavy cream and the butter. Bring this to a boil and then once boiling, turn heat down to medium.
3. Take 4 large spoonfuls of pesto and add to the heavy cream mixture. Add more/less for your preference on how 'pesto-y' you'd like your sauce. Mix well and let it cook on medium for a 2-3 minutes to let the pesto incorporate and get all happy with the cream.  Add S&P if you need to - I did not. Your pesto may already be well seasoned so make sure to keep tasting!

4. Roughly chop up your tomato (or whatever fresh veggies you may have) and shred the chicken. You can certainly omit the chicken and add more veggies - broccoli or even spinach would be good in this dish.  
5. Drain your pasta (save some of the water if you'd like to add to the pasta if its too dry/thick) and put into the serving bowl. 
6. Now, mix everything together!  For the pesto sauce, don't add all at once but by large spoonfuls until it meets your preference.  Some freshly grated Parmesan cheese and some slivers of fresh basil on top - done!

August 20, 2011

Restaurant Review: The Blue Fish (Washington)


Friday evenings, you'll most likely find us at a sushi restaurant and then home with a Redbox movie where I most likely fall asleep before the end. Tired much?  The Blue Fish (not to be confused with Blue Fish on Richmond) is a new sushi restaurant on Washington, having just opened about three weeks ago. They have another location in downtown right by the Verizon center and several locations in Dallas.  I have to say, I pretty much loved this place - while pricey, it was really unique and good! Best part - so close to me that we timed it going back home - six minutes!

Our waiter, Aaron, was very nice and so soft-spoken, he literally could recommend something and it would be hard to say no, because he's so nice. We took three of his recommendations and liked each one. 

Ahi Tower (Sorry, no picture): It's rice, snow crab, avocado salad and tuna tartar piled up into a tower. The waiter brings it to your table and "mixes" the ingredients together, ensuring that the wasabi sauce and caviar are well incorporated together with the said tower. Flavors are delicious mixed together, and I probably could of had a bowl of that for dinner and been pretty happy. 

Julie's Roll (Picture above):  Julie is the sister of the owner and a top recommendation by the waiter. This was my favorite roll of the night.  Snow crab, salmon, asapargu (no rice) wrapped lightly in seaweed then wrapped on the outside with cucumber and lightly drizzled with ponzu sauce. A must order for when you go. The crab tastes incredibly fresh and the simplicity of it with the light ponzu sauce makes it so light and refreshing. No need for soy sauce. Perfect. 

Rock Manhattan: This was a beast of a roll where each piece took two bites and was packed with a variety of ingredients - shrimp tempura, snow crab meat, jalapeno with crab and spicy tuna on top. It had a crispy topping with a variety of caviar. Excellent.
We also tried the Spider Roll, which was good - nothing fancy, just what you expect.  This is a must for us when trying a new sushi restaurant. If they can't make a good spider roll... well, I just don't know what to say.

Their order of salmon sushi (2 per order) was good but I wasn't blown away by the salmon. You want good salmon sushi or sashimi- go to Osaka instead.  

Overall, this is a new favorite sushi place for me. While a bit more pricey - the specials rolls cost between $12-16. If you check in at Yelp before 7, you get 20% off you meal. The waitstaff was excellent - courteous, filled our drinks (including my hot tea!) and management stopped by to ensure everything was good.  Another small gesture that they make that I love - each person gets their own dish of wasabi and pickled ginger. YES!  I love that no one else touches the same wasabi and I have a wealthy pile of pickled ginger all to myself.  I'll need to try again and see if it's just as good, but for the first time, not bad at all.  The other perk (who knows how long this will last) but they have a large parking to themselves. Don't valet and just park in the adjoining lot or there is street parking on the side.

The Blue Fish
5820 Washington
Houston, TX 77007

August 19, 2011

Restaurant Review: Brasserie 19

It's that famous time of year in Houston where eating is plenty, drinking is plenty and good conversations are had. Houston Restaurant Week has been so popular that now, it's Houston Restaurant Weeks and spans the entire month of August.  Can't get better than $35 for a three course menu. Why, wait, yes it can. Donations are made to the Houston Food Bank!

A key factor in what I look for in a HRW menu is that their options should be a menu item that is on their regular menu. I want to try a restaurant that maybe I normally wouldn't go to regularly (price is typically a factor =) ) and this is an opportunity to try their famous menu items for a good price and good cause. 

Our first HRW was Brasserie 19, which is fairly new restaurant on West Gray. They are in the same shopping complex as Sur La Table and walking distance to one of my favorites, Swirll.  It's atmosphere is reminisce of cottage-y french cafe and the diners are varied. Some are dressed up for the town and others are more casual in jeans.  
Frustrating point of the night. At the bar wanting to see their wine menu. They hand me a iPad to look through their wine selection - the idiot in myself could not  get the thing to work. Several folks tried and after flagging down the bartender, he touches the screen and voila, wine menu. WHAT? So 15 minutes later, I finally have a glass.  

First course: A diver scallop with peas, basil and fennel puree. Yes, A diver scallop - one. Regardless, that one diver scallop was pretty darn delicious. Perfectly cooked and seared on both sides and tasted better without any of the puree, which while it was good on its own, it simply didn't add to the flavor of the scallop. I know I'm enjoying my scallop when I find myself cutting it into smaller pieces to have more "bites."
Second Course: Rainbow trout almondine with potatoes. Picture at the top. Can you see how big it was? See! The trout filled my entire plate it was so large. It was good, not too salty and most likely cooked in several tbspns of butter but didn't mask the taste of the fish. . The NY strip steak that Ross had was okay. I tend to like mine medium rare (more on the rare side - I need to see the red and juices!) and him medium, and the steak turned to be more on the medium side. It was a tad chewy and tough but the flavoring was good. I'd easily recommend the trout over the steak.
Dessert Course: Raspberry, peach and cucumber sorbet trio. Yes, I said cucumber sorbert and when the water gave me the options, I was a little skeptical. I'm glad he talked me into getting it because it was so refreshing (did I mention we were sitting outside?), light and tasted even better with a small piece of cantaloupe. The creme brulee was a creme brulee. Can't really go wrong, and of course, the crispy topping was the best part.
Overall, good place to try for Restaurant Week. Definitely have one person in your party order the sorbet and I promise you'll be just as surprised as me by how much you'll enjoy the cucumber sorbet. They were great and brought out frites and bread prior to dinner and refilled our water consistently.  Book your reservations early and don't sit outside - it's just too hot with this Texas heat. 

Brasserie 19
1962 West Gray
Houston, TX 77019
713. 524.1919