Fav Nashville Eats: Burger Up

Duane and I don’t wait for tables often. Even at Burger Up. There’s always a crowd at Burger Up.

But the other day we took a chance, found a parking space right across the street and passed thru the waiting crowds into the restaurant and snagged a couple of stools at the bar (very high stools, you kinda have to climb up, and then you realize you can spin them to be lower…something like a-custom-bar-stool-for-you).

Bar at Burger Up

Bar at Burger Up

Easy. We were in.

Just looking at the menu we remembered how much we loved it the last time we were there and why has it been so long since we’ve been back? You don’t think about that much longer because your eyes are pretending to be your stomach mind-tasting each item on the menu. You order your burger (after see-sawing over which one). Duane went for the blue cheese with an added compliment of Benton’s bacon. I took the lamb burger. Whatever you choose know that the meat has been exquisitely sourced and you’re gonna taste the difference oh-yesiree-bob.

Burger Up blue burger w Benton's Bacon

Burger Up blue burger w Benton’s Bacon

Add their house-made ketchup and aioli and you’ll be a happy chewing fool. We scarfed down the burgers with onion rings and spinach accompaniment.

Burger Up house-made sauces

Burger Up house-made sauces

Gazed at all the lovely wood on walls and ceiling and tables. Watched the Nashville world go by, and were entertained by the bottle filling, drink making, and napkin folding going on behind the bar.

at the bar at Burger Up

at the bar at Burger Up

We’ll be back as long as we can snag those two bar stools again. Thanks, Burger Up!

D and me at Burger Up

D and me at Burger Up

Sicilian-Style Roasted Chicken

Roasted Chicken Sicilian Style

Roasted Chicken Sicilian Style

We also called this chicken “Italian-style” when I was growing up (even tho everything was Italian-style…except for the occasional hot dogs and even Italians like hot dogs). To me it was “chicken with salad dressing.” Don’t get me wrong, I love this recipe, but the ingredients are salad dressing and that’s how I always remembered the recipe: olive oil, vinegar, oregano, garlic. And there you have it. That’s the recipe. But check out more details below.

My mom recently informed me that it’s not “Italian-style” chicken, but Sicilian-Style since she learned it from her mother-in-law and guess where her mother-in-law (my grandmother) was from? Yes, that’s right. Sicily. (Note: I added the lemon & parsley touch. Wherever I can get flavor and color I take it.)

This chicken is so tasty you’ll likely eat every piece in one sitting. But don’t. Probably not good for your waistline (or mine).

Sicilian-Style Chicken

1 chicken, cut up into 8-10 pieces

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar or white vinegar or balsamic

2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and quartered

1-2 tablespoons dried oregano

Salt & pepper to taste

1 lemon, sliced into thin wedges

2-3 sprigs fresh Italian parsley, leaves minced, stems discarded

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Season chicken pieces with salt & pepper. Place in a roasted pan. Drizzle olive oil, drizzle vinegar, sprinkle with garlic and oregano. Roast for 45minutes-1 hour until an instant read thermometer reads 165 in the thickest part of the thigh. Then turn on broiler and broil for about 2-3 minutes to golden.

Remove pieces to serving platter. Drizzle some of the juices. Sprinkle with parsley and lemon wedges. Serve.

I also demo’ed this recipe on WSMV-TV Channel 4 Nashville. Here’s the video segment:

Sicilian Chicken segment on WSMV-TV Channel 4 Nashville

Buon Appetito!

Red White & Blue 4th of July Tart

Red White & Blue Tart

Red White & Blue Tart

If you saw my spot on WSMV Channel 4 on July 4th you might have been looking for the full recipe for the 4th of July Tart (which is good any ole day!)…Here’s the recipe posted below. As I mentioned in the segment if you want to use a store-bought pie crust that works just as well. Just make sure you bake it till done before adding the cream and fruit.

Red, White & Blue Cream Cheese Vanilla Tart w 4th of July Berries

For the Crust:

1 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon sugar

pinch salt

6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

scant 1/4 cup cold white wine

For the Filling:

1 8-oz package cream cheese

1/4 cup sugar

Zest of one lemon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

For the Fruit:

1 cup strawberries, trimmed & quartered

1 cup blueberries

1 cup raspberries

1/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

For the Crust: place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine well. Add the cut up cold butter and pulse till it’s broken up into smaller pieces. Add the wine and pulse until a dough forms. Place dough on a sheet of plastic wrap and press into a thick disc. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8” thick. Fit the dough into a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Lightly butter or Pam a piece of parchment a little bigger than the tart pan. Place the buttered surface down and fill with dry beans. “Blind” bake tart for about 10 minutes. Take out the beans, “dock” tart (poke with fork all over the bottom) and place back in the oven for another 8-10 minutes until golden. Let tart crust cool.

For the Filling: In a medium mixing bowl whisk the cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, lemon zest and vanilla until smooth and well combined. Add a few drops of milk if it feels too stiff. Beat the 1 cup of cream until stiff peaks form. Whip in powdered sugar. Fold cream into cream cheese mixture. Fill cooled tart shell with mixture and smooth top to even.

For the Fruit: Toss fruit with sugar. Place the fruit in a decorative pattern. Serve or chill for a little while before serving.

Enjoy!!

Me And Kacy Hagerty with the July 4th tart.

Me And Kacy Hagerty with the July 4th tart.

Make My Gnocchi RICOTTA

Ricotta Gnocchi w Chives

Ricotta Gnocchi w Chives

My first taste of gnocchi many years ago was potato gnocchi. Usually at a restaurant. And usually a bit heavy and a bit rich so I could never actually finish the dish. That was my idea of gnocchi.

A few years later (but still years ago) (before the Food Network and Cooking Channel) the Learning Channel had cooking shows. My favorite was Biba Caggiano’s. She’s from Bologna, married an American and moved with him to live in Sacramento, CA. She started teaching friends how to cook in the grand (but still home-made) Bolognese style.

Then she got a cooking show. And she’s written several cookbooks. And I began to follow her show and get all her books. I even got to meet her at an event in NYC and had my picture taken with her which hung in my NYC kitchen for many years. I also videotaped (from the TV on a VCR) almost all of her episodes. And re-watched them.

On day Biba made ricotta gnocchi. Not with potato. With ricotta. I watched her do it and it made perfect sense. I soon got the ingredients and went into my kitchen and made them, too, and they came out beautifully the very first time. She had easily and expertly passed on the skill through TV but I felt like it was also through some kind of cooking osmosis.

These ricotta gnocchi were not heavy at all. You could easily eat a large bowl of them dressed with a simple tomato sauce (I like a tomato sauce with a light touch of cream and added peas OR a pesto sauce with some string beans cut to bite-sized and boiled with the gnocchi).

Mind you, I have since learned potato gnocchi, too. And I’ve learned to make them very light. Yay! It’s just knowing what you’re doing. But guess what? IT’S EASY!!!

RICOTTA GNOCCHI (for 2-4 people depending how much you like to eat)

1 lb. ricotta

3/4 cup grated parmigiano

1 1/4 cups flour

salt & pepper to taste

Put the ricotta in a large mixing bowl. Add the grated cheese and 1 cup of the flour. Using a large spoon gently mix together the ingredients until they have smoothly combined. If it’s a little too sticky, add the remaining 1/4 of flour. Season with a health pinch of both salt & pepper. You can, if you like, add some chopped herbs, too. About a 1/4 cup: chives, basil, or tarragon…etc.

Pull a piece of dough off, about the size of a lemon. On a very lightly dusted surface, roll the dough gently into a log about 1/2-inch thick. Using a paring knife, cut from the log 1/2-inch pieces of dough.

gnocchi dough and log

gnocchi dough and log

That’s your gnocchi.

making ricotta gnocchi

making ricotta gnocchi

You can give each gnocchi piece some grooves by gently pressing each piece against a gnocchi board or gently across the back of a fork (the tines make grooves just as good!).

Finished Ricotta Gnocchi on sheet pan

Finished Ricotta Gnocchi on sheet pan

Toss your gnocchi with a little flour and place them, in a single layer, on a sheet pan dusted with a little flour. Until you’ve made them all. Boil them like pasta (they take just 2-3 minutes). Gently lift them from the water when done with a small colander or slotted spoon to a serving bowl. Add your chosen sauce and gently stir to coat the gnocchi. Eat right away. Gnocchi (like pasta) waits for no one!

(Once you’ve made the gnocchi and they are still on the sheet pan in one layer, you can freeze them like that. When they turn to little rocks, you can store them in a plastic bag in the freezer. To cook, don’t defrost. Just throw the frozen gnocchi in the boiling water. They will cook just as quickly as the fresh ones.)

Food of the Magic Kingdom (Amalfi Coast)

Ravello at Villa Cimbrone

Ravello at Villa Cimbrone

One of the ladies that came on the trip to Italy – Bonnie — said she felt like she had visited a magic kingdom. I’d been to the area lots of times but it is ALWAYS a surprise to the eyes. Wherever you turn you are stunned with beauty. It is indeed MAGICAL.

entering Capri by boat

entering Capri by boat

And then there’s the food. The sparkling sustenance you devour while your head reels with splendor. No wonder tourists descend. Everyone wants a piece of it. I try to soak up many eyefuls, palate delights, secrets and memories as possible. Then when I get home I use it as soul fuel for at least 6 months (until it runs out).

Here are some of the stand-out dishes from this trip. Starting with my all time fav and the first thing I ordered:

spaghetti vongole- my FAV

spaghetti alle vongole- my FAV

 

And this tastes even BETTER than it looks…

Risotto pesce

Risotto pesce

 

…just KNOCKOUT…!

Fried calamari & shrimp

Fried calamari & shrimp

 

We cooked this in our Ravello cooking class at Villa Maria…

sea bream in acqua pazza

sea bream in acqua pazza

 

An appetizer elevated to the gorgeous-ness of the local ingredients…

prosciutto and melon

prosciutto and melon

 

Here are 2 desserts particularly Napolitani!

pastaciotto

pastaciotto

Sfogliatelle

Sfogliatelle

 

Every morning you must have….

un cafe and un cornetto

un cappuccino and un cornetto