Archive for brunch

Langosta Lounge, Asbury Park

This post is a long time coming. I first heard about Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park earlier this year. I’ve now been there several times and it has quickly become my new favorite place to dine. My first time was for an Oscars Night Dinner a few months ago. I wanted to check that out, especially since they were giving away swag bags to diners. So I headed there with my sister and one of her friends. I loved the decor as soon as I stepped in, kitschy (spelling?), warm and inviting. Great decor, comfy booths with a great ocean view.

We started with the fried olives appetizer. These were little balls of fried heaven. They were green olives with cheese fried and served with a delicious lemon basil mayo. The warm bread was also great. It had a different, almost sweet taste to it, can’t put my finger on it. That was accompanied by some olive oil with roasted garlic and red peppers.

My sister and her friend both had the Skirt Steak, “marinated and roasted –sliced and topped with spring onions . Served with rice and beans – Grilled asparagus and a side of spiced fruit salsa” It was actually served with a Spanish potato cake. I’m not sure know if it noted that change on the menu. I tried the steak and it was cooked and seasoned perfectly. And that potato cake? Luscious.

I had the Langosta Caldo Verde (the paella on the website menu): “In a not so traditional cilantro broth with mussels, shrimp and seafood mixed with chorizo and vegetables over Ruby’s special Mexican rice and spice roasted garlic aioli toast points.” It was more seafood than rice and it was great. Not too spicy, 3 large mussels, lots of shrimp, a few scallops, and other white fish.

For dessert, the two girls had the the pu pu platter, which was essentially smores. It had some fabulous dark chocolate, one with cranberries and one with pistachios, marshmallows, graham crackers, peanut butter cups, and strawberries.

Now for the slight negatives…Service was a bit shoddy. The waitress was overall friendly and nice but not on the ball. When first sat down I ordered a club soda with lime, it came out with lemon. She was no where in sight so I asked the busboy for lime. He brings me back a plate of lemons. OOOOkay….So I gave up on the limes. She also forgot to bring my sister’s friend’s tea. She wasn’t really around to get her attention much either for these two issues. Empty glasses were left on the table after new ones were brought as well.

And the kicker…During dessert I asked if we were getting our “swag bags” as noted in the email I received. She didn’t seem to know what the deal was and said the wait staff didn’t really know what was going on. Oh boy….Then we got ONE bag ONLY because I paid $10 to participate in the Asbury Park Film Initiative’s Oscar Raffle (swag bag was pretty cool though – mostly candy, but a candle, glass work, pottery, and the actual bag were neat). So I”m thinking I missed something in email. When I got home it says “Attendees receive swag bags….” So a bit misleading and unorganized.

But I loved the food so much I went back again (and again and again). After that first timer, service was always fabulous.  I’ve been back for lunch, breakfast, tapas and drinks. Each time was fabulous. I freakin love this place. The menu is different, creative, exciting. I absolutely love love love the decor. The vibe is chill and I feel right at home here. I noticed that as the Summer moves along, it’s getting more and more busy. I overheard a group say on Friday afternoon (while I was enjoying some tacos at Pop’s Garage next door, owned by Langosta) that they were completely booked for Friday night. Good for them. I want to see this place around for a long long time. Furthermore, they have some sort of special event going on every night!

Sundays – Jazzy Brunch and Lobster Bakes, Monday – Bistro Prixe Fix, Tapa Tuesdays, Mexican Wednesdays, Tiki Surf Nite Thursdays, Funky Fridays with DJ’s and Serenity Saturdays. They often have live music as well.

Langosta Lounge Website

On the Boardwalk across from The Stone Pony in Asbury Park

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Aki Sushi, Port Monmouth

I’ve been sad lately that my favorite sushi place, Oishi Sushi, closed down a few weeks ago. Since then I tried Osho in Hazlet, which was just not up to par. But then I saw another place, Aki Sushi, in Port Monmouth, that caught my eye. I had run in one day to grab a menu and gave it a quick glance and thought it looked nice inside.

As I took a look at the menu, the first thing that got me excited was that they had brown rice as an option. Now I know you die-hard sushi fans will turn up your nose, but being health-conscious, white carbs are not in my diet. And it’s rare to find a place (like Oishi) that offers brown rice.

What I also noticed on their take-out menu was that they have a Sunday Brunch for $15.95, all-you-can-eat. Well….I figured I try it out since that seemed like a good deal. And I was pleasantly surprised. There is no walk-up buffet with sushi rolls sitting out there for hours. In fact, it was the opposite, fresh rolls made upon your request.

There were about five appetizers, four soups and salads and about twenty rolls to choose from. And of course, two desserts.

You can keep ordering as much as you want and it’s made to order. We started with the fried calamari served with a soy teriyaki sauce, which was pretty good. Also, some beef gyoza and shrimp shumai. All good. Also, had the miso soup, which was pleasantly not as salty as most joints serve.

As for rolls, I had a tuna roll, orange dragon (salmon tempura and avocado inside, fresh salmon outside), and a sweet potato tempura roll. All very good. The husband had four rolls, can’t remember which kind, but he ate it all up. Additionally, for .25 cents per roll, I had them make my rolls with brown rice.

To finish it up, we order the cheesecake tempura, sinfully good. The other option was banana tempura.

All in all, it was a good experience. The ambiance was neat, clean, and inviting. The staff was friendly, quick, and accommodating. It was an extremely good value and I would definitely go back. Check out my friend Mel’s blog, SableMinded on my blogroll. She just did a review of Aki also.

How did it compare to Oishi? Oishi still was the better place, but since they are gone….sigh….I am ready to head back to Aki Sushi.

Aki Sushi, Route 36, Port Monmouth

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Italian Savory Pie

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Here’s a recap of one of two recipes I made for this past Easter. Why only two you ask? Because I have a mother and aunt who insist on making everything and then tell me to make nothing (go ahead women, say something, cause I know you’re reading this, lol)! But that’s never going to happen! Of course, even if I didn’t make the two things, we still would have had too much food, lol…But that’s every holiday for us….So I opted to make an appetizer and dessert. The yummy dessert was Espresso Brownies from a Giada DeLaurentis recipe I promise to post later this week. For the appetizer, I went with a Martha Stewart recipe I made a few years ago for Italian Savory Pie.

I actually really really really like this dish. However, I think the only ones who ate it were myself, my husband and my mother. My cousin, L, did taste it and remarked it needed salt. I used the 1/4 tsp. of salt as instructed in the recipe, and the ingredients were actually pretty salty (ricotta, mozzarella, prosciutto, Parmesan), so this might have been a matter of taste.

It’s very much like a very cheesy quiche and I would serve this at a brunch or dinner. I’ve found it does not taste as good hot out of the oven as opposed to either room temperature or slightly warm.

I also used Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Dough as I’m entirely too lazy to make my own. It’s a tasty, cheesy little pie that I’ll keep in my recipe repertoire. If you click on the above link to the recipe there is also a short video of the pie being made.

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Overall rating: 4 stars

Italian Savory Pie

Italian Savory Pie

Ingredients

Makes one 9-inch pie.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 pound whole milk ricotta
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 pound mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 pound prosciutto, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten, for brushing

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees with rack in center. Prepare crust: In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pulse to combine. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles cornmeal. With processor running, add eggs and process until dough comes together and forms a ball, about 1 minute. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface, and knead until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Prepare filling: In a large bowl, stir together ricotta, eggs, Parmesan, mozzarella, prosciutto, parsley, and pepper; set aside.
  3. Divide dough into 2 pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Roll larger piece into a 12-inch circle; gently transfer to a 9-inch glass pie dish. Place filling in pie plate and spread evenly; set aside.
  4. Roll remaining dough into a 9-by-9-inch square; cut into 1/2-inch wide strips. Using strips, form a lattice pattern over filling. Trim bottom crust, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Crimp edges to seal. Brush with egg, and bake until filling is firm, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool completely before serving.

First published November 2005

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Peanut Butter Split Smoothie

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I know crappy pic…..

Peanut butter and bananas. Hey, even Elvis like this combo. How could you go wrong with it? I personally love it (particularly the Reese’s Special Edition Elvis Peanut Butter and Banana Cups, but that’s another story….). But I’m all about being healthy so here’s a quickie recipe for you from Ellie Krieger’s The Food You Crave: Luschious Recipes for a Healthy Life.

Smoothies are a great way to get a quick meal in there if you are always on the run like I am. I typically make mine without yogurt and found the addition of yogurt made the smoothie thicker. If you’d like it a little sweeter I suggest a packet of Equal (or Splenda or Sweet ‘n’ Low) or even a drizzle of honey. I thought it was perfect as is. I also used low-fat peanut butter instead of natural, which may have accounted for the slight sweetness that others seemed to miss. The recipe can also be found on The Food Network’s site with some additional reviews here.

Peanut Butter Split Smoothie  

Copyright 2006, Ellie Krieger All rights reserved

1 ripe banana, quartered and frozen
1/2 cup nonfat milk
1/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons creamy, natural, peanut butter

Put all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

Nutrition Information
Nutritional analysis per serving Calories 325
Total Fat 12.5 grams Saturated Fat 1.5 grams
Cholesterol 3 grams Sodium 90 mg
Carbohydrates 43.5 grams Protein 13.5 grams
Fiber 4.5 grams

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Scones

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Here’s another recipe from my Christmas Brunch for scones. I had actually never had a scone until several years ago. I was living in South Orange, NJ and there was a little gourmet deli in town. I was looking for a quick bite one day and the owner suggested her raisin scones. Well….they were the most buttery, moist, delicious morsel I had eaten in quite some time. Her scones were so good they often sold out the day she baked them. I would have to pre-order them on the days she made them just to make sure I’d get some.

I’ve since moved from South Orange and never found a scone like those. I’ve tried many a dry, baking-soda flavored scone since and a few years ago, decided I  needed to add a scone pan to my breakfast bakeware. Now, you don’t necessary need a scone pan to make scones. You can form the dough into a scone shape and just bake on a regular cookie sheet.

The recipe I use for scones comes from Williams-Sonoma, where I purchased the scone pan from. In fact, the recipe was on the packaging. Anyhow, I think it’s a great recipe for scones. They’ll never be as good as the ones in South Orange, but I think they’re a good substitute! I used raisins in these but you can also use dried cranberries.

Overall rating – 4.5 stars

Orange-Currant Scones A Scottish quick bread, scones may have derived their name from the Stone of Destiny (or Scone), the place where Scottish kings were once crowned. Other sources claim that the word comes from schoonbrot or sconbrot, meaning “fine white bread.” Scones were traditionally made with oats and cooked on a griddle, while modern versions are generally prepared with flour and baked in the oven. 2 cups all-purpose flour
1
4 cup sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1
2 tsp. salt
8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into
small pieces
1
2 cup currants
1 egg
1
2 cup heavy cream
Zest of 1 orangePreheat an oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease a scone pan, or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until pea-size crumbs form. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the currants.In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, cream and orange zest until blended and add to the flour mixture. Using a fork, stir to form large, moist clumps of dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press together with your hands until the dough comes together. Roll out the dough, flouring as needed, into a 10-inch round about 3D4 inch thick. Cut into 8 equal-size wedges. Press each wedge into a well of the prepared scone pan, or place the wedges 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.Bake until the scones are golden, about 25 minutes. Invert the scone pan onto a wire rack and lift off the pan, or transfer the scones from the baking sheet to the rack. Let the scones cool for 10 minutes before serving. Makes 8 scones.

Adapted from a recipe given to Chuck Williams by Judy Rodgers, Executive Chef and Co-Owner, Zuni Café, San Francisco.

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Cheesy Brunch Casserole

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Here’s another recipe from my Holiday Brunch, Cheesy Brunch Casserole, from the December 2002 issue of Cooking Light. I promise the next two recipes from the brunch are not from Cooking Light! I’ve made this a few times before and it’s always been a hit. In fact, some of the family members coming to the Brunch requested it. I doubled it this time because of the large amount of guests we were having and I think it may have come out a little too dense. It’s a very tasty casserole, but I think you have to be a fan of stuffing in general to like this. Some of the not-so-positive reviews over at Cooking Light admitted to not being stuffing fans. Some changes I made to this recipe for the brunch was actually using real eggs and real cheddar. So it wasn’t exactly “light” at all. But still very tasty! You could also use pork sausage instead of turkey.*Pics on Cooking Light look much better.

Overall rating – 4 stars

 Cheesy Brunch Casserole


Because herb-seasoned stuffing mix is the base of this casserole, you have to add only a touch of seasoning. If you’d prefer a bit of heat, substitute hot turkey Italian sausage.


1 pound turkey Italian sausage
5 cups herb-seasoned stuffing mix (such as Pepperidge Farm)
Cooking spray
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded reduced-fat extra-sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (8-ounce) cartons egg substitute
Preheat oven to 325°. Remove casings from sausage. Cook sausage in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Drain. Place sausage in a large bowl; add stuffing mix, tossing to combine.Place stuffing mixture in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Drizzle stuffing mixture with broth and butter; sprinkle with cheese. Combine milk and remaining ingredients, stirring with a whisk; pour milk mixture over stuffing mixture.Bake at 325° for 40 minutes or until set. Let casserole stand 5 minutes before serving.

Yield:  9 servingsCALORIES 298 (29% from fat); FAT 9.6g (sat 4g,mono 3.6g,poly 1.3g); PROTEIN 19.8g; CHOLESTEROL 50mg; CALCIUM 284mg; SODIUM 986mg; FIBER 2.9g; IRON 2.8mg; CARBOHYDRATE 31.5g Cooking Light, DECEMBER 2002

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Gingerbread Souffle

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Every December for the last several years I hold a Holiday Brunch for my family. When I first started the blog in 2006 I had just moved and didn’t host one that year because of that. But this past Christmas we once again had our brunch. I typically make one sweet and one savory casserole, such as a french toast and then an egg/cheese/meat/bread dish. I also will make a few baked goods. This year, one of the baked goods I decided to make was a souffle. I saw a recipe in the November 2007 issue of Cooking Light for Gingerbread Souffle and thought it would be perfect for a Christmas Brunch.

Despite the reputation of souffles being difficult, this was a relatively easy dish to prepare. Except for the molasses, I would think most homes would even have the majority of the ingredients on hand. The aromas of the souffle as it baked definitely evoked a Christmas feeling. The flavors were delicate but you knew you were eating gingerbread flavors. This turned out to be very popular at the brunch and everyone enjoyed it. I would absolutely make this again this winter.

Overall rating – 4 stars

Look for some more recipes to follow from the brunch!

Gingerbread Soufflé


The distinctive flavors of classic gingerbread–molasses, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon–show up in this fresh-from-the-oven soufflé. For tips to prepare flawless soufflés and additional show-stopping recipes, visit Cooking Light.com.


Cooking spray
6 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/3 cup molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large egg yolks
3 large egg whites
4 teaspoons powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 375°. Coat 8 (6-ounce) soufflé dishes with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Set aside.Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually add milk; bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook 2 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly with a whisk. Remove from heat; cool 10 minutes. Add molasses and next 5 ingredients (through egg yolks), stirring with a whisk. Set aside.Place egg whites in a medium mixing bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form (do not overbeat). Gently fold one-fourth egg white mixture into molasses mixture; gently fold in remaining egg white mixture. Gently spoon mixture into prepared dishes. Sharply tap dishes on counter 2 or 3 times to level. Place dishes on a baking sheet; place baking sheet in oven. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until puffy and set. Sprinkle each soufflé with 1/2 teaspoon powdered sugar. Serve immediately. Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 soufflé)CALORIES 148 (26% from fat); FAT 4.3g (sat 2.4g,mono 1.3g,poly 0.3g); PROTEIN 3.2g; CHOLESTEROL 60mg; CALCIUM 66mg; SODIUM 60mg; FIBER 0.2g; IRON 1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 24.8g Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2007

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