Sunday, March 28, 2010

Soliciting Mushroom Recipes!

Each month The Foodie Blogroll sponsors food-related giveaways, which range from cookbooks and utensils to ingredients, and everything in between.
The Foodie Blog Roll Contests: Winner!
I'm pleased to announce that Veggie Option is this month's winner of two bags of gourmet mushrooms, courtesy of Marx Foods. I received my box of goodies yesterday - two ounces of dried Porcini mushrooms, and two ounces of dried Wild Morels - and while I use button and portabellos in recipes quite often, I've never used the two types I won.

Does anyone have a favorite recipe using either morels or porcinis that they'd like to share?

Porcinis and Wild Morels

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Dixie Chili

Dixie Chili
733 Monmouth Street

Newport has seen many changes over the years, but one constant has been the Sarakatsannis family, whose Dixie Chili has been serving Cincinnati-style chili at their Monmouth Street location since 1929.

Dixie Chili: Northern Kentucky's first chili parlor

The spiffy red and white tiled restaurant dishes up over 150 gallons of chili per day on everything from coneys and waffle fries to salad and spaghetti. Anyone familiar with Cincinnati-style chili knows that the quintessential way to enjoy it is over a bed of spaghetti and topped with shredded cheddar cheese (the 3-way), or with the addition of beans or onions (the 4-way), or with both beans and onions (the 5-way). Dixie Chili goes one further with the connoisseur 6-way, which comes loaded with freshly chopped garlic.

Up until now vegetarians have been relegated to a no-way, but after nine months of trial and error brothers Spiros and Panny have created quite possibly the best vegetarian chili I have ever eaten. I couldn't quite believe my eyes when I saw the sign on the window announcing a vegetarian chili option at the restaurant, and wrongly assumed that it was a Lenten special. Not so - the new vegetarian chili is available all the time, and can be substituted into any dish they offer.

Chili salad

I immediately ordered a 6-way, while my husband opted for the chili salad. Both were out of this world tasty. The chili, made from textured vegetable protein and a secret blend of spices, was absolutely delicious. The addition of raw onion and garlic make for a heady mix - it's a vampire's nightmare, and one that's guaranteed to scare away co-workers for the rest of the day. Finish it off with a few shakes of hot sauce over the top and pow! It's the stuff dreams are made of. Well, my dreams anyway.

Connoisseur 6-way vegetarian chili

Not in a chili mood? The restaurant's homemade Mediterranean vegetable soup is a winner, completely vegetarian and (dare I say) as good as my Mom's. Chock full of thick cut veggies and slow-cooked to draw out the flavor, this savory soup will satisfy. The Greek waffle fries, generously topped with feta cheese and a side of housemade dressing, are another tasty option; and while there are several salad choices, I highly recommend the Greek salad, especially if you like kalamata olives, feta and pepperoncinis.

Mediterranean vegetable soup

Greek waffle fries

Greek salad

Confident that their vegetarian chili would be a hit, the brothers are offering jars for sale at all three Dixie Chili locations, and they've recently partnered with Kentucky Proud to sell it at Remke Supermarkets. At $4.99 for six servings, it's good value for money.

Take home jars now available

The Sarakatsannis family are to be commended; tinkering with a classic recipe can often backfire in the restaurant world, but vegetarians can rejoice - this is the chili we've been hankering for. Stop in to Dixie Chili and have a bowl or two. Your tastebuds will thank you.

Dixie Chili on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 11, 2010

York Street Café

York Street Café
738 York St.
Newport, KY

It isn’t often that we get a chance to hang out with Dayton friends Greg & Caroline, but they phoned the other night to say they had a baby-sitter for the evening and were hankering to soak up some Newport nightlife, and York Street Café has it in spades.

York Street Café

The restaurant is located a short walk from Newport on the Levee and the Newport Aquarium in an 1880’s Queen Anne-style building that originally housed a pharmacy. Gone are the remedies and potions of yesteryear, replaced by a kitchen cooking up gustatory delights. Yet echoes of the past are evident in the original apothecary cabinets lining the walls, and the lovely stained glass over the door, which still advertises the former tenant, Pharmacist George Widrig.

Vestiges of the building's former use remain inside and out

The apothecary cabinets in all their glory

Happily, seven of the restaurant's nine appetizers are vegetarian. Start with one of their "conversation boards," which provide the perfect opportunity to sample a selection. There's a Mediterranean board ($18) of hummus, tabouleh, babaganoush and pita points served with a Greek salad and spanakopita; also on offer are a bruschetta platter ($17), baked brie pastry with fruit $17), or have a go at the Swiss fondue with assorted fruits and bread ($18).

Mushroom bruschetta appetizer

Be sure to try the dirty hummus, an ambrosial concoction of hummus whipped with a sweet, tangy sauce, melted cheeses, olives, onions, and diced peppers. I don't even want to know the caloric content of this appetizer, I just want MORE of it.

Dirty hummus = AMAZING!

The dinner menu offers a choice of two vegetarian selections and one vegan option. Having enjoyed both the baked manicotti ($19) and veggie burger ($12) on previous visits, I decided to go for the vegan polenta ($18) to see how it stacked up. Verdict? Very, very good indeed. Steamed broccoli, sauteed mushrooms and toasted pumpkin seeds accompany the golden wedges of cooked cornmeal, with a generous puddle of smoky tomato sauce rounding out the rustic dish. Superb.

Vegan polenta

Evening in the eclectic dining room

Lunchtime diners will find several vegetarian sandwiches, wraps and toasties available, and more often than not a vegetarian soup of the day. On a recent lunch visit I opted for the Middle-eastern wrap with a side of vegetarian black bean soup. While the toothsome, scratch-made soup was appetizing, it was thicker than I would have preferred, probably the result of a heavy hand with the immersion blender. The wrap, however, was scrumptious. Comprised of an herbed tortilla slathered with creamy, house-made hummus and filled with tart tabbouleh, crunchy veggies, peppery red onion and briny feta, it was a sensory delight.

Middle-eastern wrap with vegetarian black bean soup

While the kitchen creations are serious business, owners Terry and Betsy Cunningham have made sure that the enviroment isn't stuffy or formal. Part of what makes York Street Café a destination restaurant is that it is fun, with plenty of kitschy knick-knacks to amuse and charm. The recently opened Mercantile Center next door offers diners the chance to own pieces of nostalgia like those decorating the restaurant.

Don't overlook the Elvis nook!

Breezy fun - just what the doctor ordered

The building is truely a one-stop shop of entertainment; in addition to the vibrant restaurant, there's an art gallery upstairs and a lounge that hosts live indie and swing bands most weekends. There's even an inviting garden patio for alfesco dining when the weather is fine.

Nightclub and Art Gallery too!

York St. Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 5, 2010

Recipe: Veggie Fiesta Enchiladas

I threw together this recipe the other night with things I had on hand in the kitchen. It turned out better than expected, and even Steve, who isn't a fan of Mexican fare, enjoyed it.

Veggie Fiesta Enchiladas
Serves 5

10 tortillas
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 red onion - diced
1 Cup chopped fresh mushrooms (about 4 whole)
1 Cup whole kernel corn (I used frozen)
1 Can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (4 oz) can green chiles
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
4 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (optional)
sour cream (optional)

The ingredient list

1. Heat oil and sauté onion over medium-low heat until soft.

2. Add mushrooms and sauté for several minutes, until softened.

3. Stir in black beans and cumin. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes.

4. Add corn and green chiles; heat through.

5. While mixture is cooking, preheat oven to 375F and spray a baking dish with cooking spray.
6. Pour 1/4 of the can of enchilada sauce into baking dish - just enough to cover the bottom of the dish.

7. Spoon some of the veggie mixture into a tortilla and roll up.

8. Place in the baking dish seam side down. Continue with the rest of the tortillas.

9. Spoon remaining enchilada sauce over the wrapped tortillas, spreading to coat.
10. Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 15 minutes.

11. Remove foil and sprinkle tortillas with shredded cheese (optional).

12. Return to the oven uncovered and bake for another 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream if desired.

Click for printable recipe.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Grand Reopening: Mammoth Café

Mammoth Café
515 Monmouth Street

Mammoth Café in Newport is celebrating their grand reopening and as part of the relaunch have extended their hours.

The independent coffeehouse is now open until 9 p.m. on weekdays, 11 p.m. on Saturday, and until 6 p.m. Sunday.

Of special note to vegetarians, the restaurant is expanding their menu to include more veggie offerings. My review of Mammoth can be found here.

Thanks to Rachel R for the tip!