Monthly Archives: May 2012

Foodie Pen Pal! First Month – May 2012

Well, it is the last day of the month, and from now on that means one definite… Reveal day for Foodie Pen Pals!

That’s right, I newly joined a program called Foodie Pen Pals in which every month I get/send a basket to another foodie from around the country. Then on the last day of the month, everyone reveals who their pen pal was, what they received, and get to see what everyone else got 🙂

This month I received a lovely package from Brittney aka “Life in a Holding Pattern”. When she looked at my blog, it was shortly after I had posted about my Bacon, Garlic, and Egg Fried Rice recipe and she joked about how she had to include bacon in my package… or so I thought it was a joke. But the first thing I saw upon opening the box was this adorably appropriate card:

I am proud to say, I abide by a large number of the Rules of Bacon and they tend to be true. Thank you so much Brittney!

Then comes the other items of my package, a bunch of local brands of items (a theme that I loved, because there are definitely great items around the country that I would never have the chance to buy for myself). As you can see above, this package included a local mayo, relish, cracker snacks, bone suckin’ sauce, and cheese straws.

I have not made it through all of them yet, but everything looked delicious. I did crack into the cheese straws, as they were extremely intriguing to me. It is hard to even describe this wonderful snack. Think Cheese-its on steroids. There is an immense cheddar flavor, but also a smokiness and spicy finish. I have also finished off the cracker snacks… in fact I did so almost instantaneously. The mayo and relish will be saved for a BBQ over the summer and shared with my guests. Yay!

In addition to all of these wonderful goodies, my pen pal Brittney did something so thoughtful… she baked for me! I got a delectable chocolate chip banana bread, and this coming from a guy that believes bananas are evil (Long story… maybe I will share that at some point) and a HUGE Tupperware full of one of my favorite kinds of cookie, peanut butter chocolate chip (how you knew to send me those Brittney is beyond me, but I am so glad you did… although my scale may not be 😉 They were fantastic).

Thank you so much Brittney for such an amazing first experience with Foodie Pen Pals! I hope you got something as great as you sent me. As for what I sent, my pen pal was Beth Quarles, be sure to check out her blog to see the package that was sent to her (including chili chocolate, local salted caramels, and a delicious jam that is perfect for any BBQ sauce, along with some recipes)

Well, thus ends my first Foodie Pen Pal experience, and it was an extremely positive one. I can not wait till June’s list is revealed and I get to do it all over again, month after month. Be sure to stay tuned for the big reveal on the last day of each month 🙂 Until next time, this is Jason “MaurPowerFoodie” signing off… Thanks for reading.

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MasterChef on Fox… An update, some pics, and a preview!

Hey everyone!

As you may recall me mentioning in an earlier post, I was recently in California filming as I was one of the top 100 Amateur Chefs selected from all over the country to compete on this year’s season of MasterChef on Fox! The show premieres June 4th. Be sure to tune in to watch me compete.

Well, there was an updated preview, and that’s right, I, the MaurPowerFoodie, was in it a few times.

Watch as I listen and take in the Judges’ Opening Speech!

Then see me again as I am cutting and preparing my dish!

See my home-made stove top smoker!

See me get the crowd revved up as I finish cooking!

See me present my dishes to the Judges: Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich, and Graham Elliott

And finally… See none other than Gordon Ramsay tear apart the plating of my dish!(Not gonna lie, this was tough!)

 

Was the dreadful plating enough to be my downfall, or did the quality of the food prevail? Find out on MasterChef this season, June 4th, 9 PM, on FOX.

At the very least  we know I was not the worst dish in the competition (also featured in this clip!) You can see the entirety of the preview clip and a list of all 100 finalists here!


A Very MaurPowerFoodie Mother’s Day… Texas De Brazil – Yonkers, NY

One thing I can certainly say is I would never have accomplished any of the things I have (earning the rank of Eagle Scout, graduating from a top university, graduating law school, passing the bar exam, becoming a top 100 contestant on MasterChef, etc.) without my Mother, Bonnie Maur. I owe a lot to her, and can never thank her enough. Included in the things I owe her for are my love of food and ability to cook. In raising me along with my two siblings, my mom taught us all to cook. She thought it was necessary for us to be able to feed ourselves (definitely a lesson I am glad I learned). My love of food and cooking may have taken on a path of its own over the years, but my culinary journey never would have started without my mother. Here we are together with my sister, all swimming with dolphins:

Now that I have gotten all the mushy, yet necessary stuff out of the way, back to the food we go. This year for Mother’s Day, my sister and I took our mom to Texas de Brazil in Yonkers, NY. My mom had been to one in Florida and loved it, so when one opened up relatively close to us, it only seemed like the natural choice for Mother’s Day. Texas De Brazil is a churrascaria (Brazilian Grille), which is one of my favorite types of restaurants as an avid meat eater. For those of you who have never been to one, basically the servers/carvers (Gauchos) walk around to your table with different cuts of meats on a sword and carve each one fresh for you… all you can eat. Plus there is always a loaded appetizer/salad bar.

I am not one to comment much on ambiance, but this time it is definitely noteworthy. The restaurant is beautiful. Warm, welcoming colors, beautiful artwork, and a gorgeous bouquet above the salad bar. Here… take a look:

Then add to this a fully stocked stylish bar out front and a beautiful windowed wine “cellar”, with a wine list that is more like a wine library. The cellar even reminds me of a library with a rolling ladder that allows the servers to search through the massive collection to get just the right bottle for you. In fact, this picture only shows 1 side of the massive windowed “cellar”. The decor and general feel of Texas de Brazil… absolutely stunning.

Alright, onto the food! I promise this time. Let’s start with the start of the meal, the appetizer/salad bar(items are subject to change). THIS IS NOT YOUR EVERY DAY SALAD BAR! Yes there is salad with all the toppings, but there are also four different homemade dressings. Plus, an oh so creamy and rich Lobster Bisque. You know what, I just need to list some of the brightest points, as I could spend forever going through each item.  Ok, here goes: sliced prosciutto and salami, Gorgonzola and grape salad, tabbouleh, crab sushi, ahi tuna, buffalo mozzarella, goat cheese terrine, smoked salmon, potatoes au gratin, multiple freshly baked breads, and much more. Plus, anywhere that has a beautiful Parmesan cheese wheel for me to pick from… love. Here is just a sampling of the salad bar:

While the salad bar was great and delicious, the stars of the show, as it should be at any churrascaria, were the meats, carved table-side.  Not only was there a huge variety in different cuts of meats, but each one had its own unique flavor. First off here is the list of meats: Filet mignon, bacon wrapped filet mignon, braised beef ribs, rack of lamb, garlic-marinated picanha (top sirloin tips, their signature), pork ribs, Brazilian picanha, Brazilian sausage, leg of lamb, bacon wrapped chicken breast, Parmesan crusted chicken, Parmesan crusted pork loin, flank steak, herb-marinated pork loin, and Brazilian alcatra (top sirloin).

Leg of LambFlank Steak

Leg of Lamb                                               Flank Steak

Bacon-wrapped Filet Mignon

Bacon-wrapped Filet Mignon


Yes, I did try everything, and there is not a single cut of meat I would not recommend trying. That being said, not everyone can finish off 15 different cuts of meats in one sitting, so let me highlight a few favorites. The alcatra is a must, great seasoning, juicy, tender, fatty, and delicious. I also am an avid lover of flank steak, and this ranked up near the top of flank steaks I have had at restaurants.  Also, I was surprisingly impressed with one item I tend not to prefer at churrascarias, the bacon-wrapped chicken. I know you would think I would always love this item, but it is usually on the dry side. Not at Texas De Brazil, the chicken breast remained tender and juicy, just the way it should be. And finally, my two favorites of the day: Coming in second place, with a surprise pack of flavor, juicy and tender interior, and the perfect casings… the Brazilian Sausage. And for first place, it was not even a contest. There was one cut of meat that was so fall off the bone, melt in your mouth, fill you with joy in every bite, scrumptious, well prepared, well seasoned morsel, that I had 4 servings of it. The BRAISED BEEF RIBS!!!! **Crowd Cheers**

Brazilian AlcatraBrazilian Sausage

Brazilian Alcatra                                   Brazilian Sausage

Braised Beef Ribs

Braised Beef Ribs

Finally we come to dessert, and I have to be honest, this was the closest thing to a weakness I found at Texas de Brazil. They were good, but did not live up to the rest of the meal, which was actually ok in my book, because let’s be honest, I did not go there for dessert, and if it were not for a Mother’s Day special which included dessert in the cost of the meal, I probably would not have saved room for dessert anyways. We tried three different desserts: Brazilian Cheese Cake, Coconut Chess Pie, and Caramel Flan (A must be good staple at any Brazilian restaurant in my opinion. First up was the cheesecake. This was good with a caramel sauce on top, chopped walnuts, and a layer of chocolate at the bottom. Nothing special, but enjoyable. The one that we really wanted to try, cause we had never had it before was the Coconut Chess Pie, and unfortunately, it was quite simply too sweet. The pie is filled with a layer of warm custard cream, tons of coconut, and then topped with vanilla ice cream. The custard was the downfall of this dessert, as it was so rich, and so sweet, I could only stand a spoonful of this one. If you like extreme sweets, go for it, but if you are looking for a light way to end a heavy meals, this is not the right choice. However, not all was lost. The flan was delicious. Light, flavorful, and just the right way to leave my last bite at Texas De Brazil.

Brazilian Cheese CakeCaramel Flan

While the desserts may not have lived up to the rest of the meal, they also would not in any way deter me from going back. In fact I am sure I will be back many a time and soon.

Overall, I would highly recommend giving Texas de Brazil a try. Located at 1 Ridge Hill Blvd.; Yonkers, NY 10710, there is also some wonderful shopping available right around the restaurant perfect for a leisurely stroll after the large meal. For reservations please call (914) 652-9660 or check out their website at http://www.texasdebrazil.com/yonkers. The restaurant also has a beautiful closed off portion of the dining room perfect for private events pictured below:

I hope you enjoy Texas de Brazil as much as I did. Take a trip and let me know what you think. Special thanks to Colleen for showing me around and to the whole staff at Texas de Brazil for a fabulous Mother’s Day with my family.

Texas de Brazil Churrascaria on Urbanspoon

Till next time, this is Jason “MaurPowerFoodie” Maur, signing off.


A Simple Italian Dinner

Today I was at work and found out I needed to make dinner, but I did not have anything defrosted and knew I would only have about an hour to prepare something after stopping at the store and heading home. I knew I had some tortellini in the fridge and could easily defrost some homemade sauce (don’t have any homemade sauce, no need to use/buy a jar of it, you can make your own with my 15 Minute Sauce Recipe!). So I stopped at the store and picked up some complimentary ingredients: Hot Italian Sausage, Sweet Italian Sausage, boneless chicken breast tenders, fresh mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese. That’s it!

Here are all the ingredients you need (minus the sauce):

I got home and started on the meal.

Now for the nice and easy steps to follow:

1) Marinade the chicken in Italian dressing, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper.

2) Start water to boil.

3) Grill all the meats (Hot Italian Sausage, Sweet Italian Sausage, and boneless chicken breast tenders).

4) Preheat the oven to 400.

5) Boil the tortellini to a nice al dente… usually about 5-6 minutes. Drain tortellini and set aside.

6) Remove the meats from the grill.

7) Cut meat into bite size or smaller pieces.

8) Warm sauce in pot from pasta.

9) Mix in meats and tortellini.

10) Pour the contents of the pot into a glass baking dish.

11) Top the dish with a layer of mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese.

12) Put the dish in the oven on broil for 5 minutes until cheese is the completely melted.

13) Enjoy!

 

There you have it… a delicious, Italian dinner in an hour!  I would normally make my own sausage (more on that in a later post) but when time does not permit, fresh sausage from the butcher at the grocery store certainly does the trick. This really came out great, and I highly suggest it next time you are in a pinch for a quick dinner, or even if you’re not.

 

Till next time, this is Jason “MaurPowerFoodie” Maur signing out.


Master Chef Season 3

I am extremely excited to finally be able to announce that I was selected as on of the top 100 amateur chefs in the country and was granted the opportunity to compete on MasterChef. The show premieres on June 4th at 9 PM. It was an amazing experience for which I will always be grateful, not only for the step it allowed me to take on my culinary journey, but for the amazing people I met and have become such a huge part of my life. To be able to cook a dish for Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich, and Graham Elliot was a true honor. What did they have to say? You will have to tune it to find out.

Please be sure to check out the premiere and keep your eye out for me, Jason “MaurPowerFoodie” Maur.

For more information, be sure to check out the official press release or Fox’s MasterChef page.


The James Beard Awards

Last night was ever prestigious James Beard Awards. I wanted to share the winners with you as I know I will be making an effort to try the cuisine of these outstanding chefs, restaurants, restauranteurs, wine programs, and bars:

Outstanding Chef: Daniel Humm, Eleven Madison Park (NYC)
Outstanding Restaurant: Boulevard (San Francisco)
Rising Star Chef: Christina Tosi, Momofuku Milk Bar (NYC)
Best New Restaurant:  Next (Chicago)
Best Chef: Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH):  Bruce Sherman, North Pond (Chicago)
Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (D.C., DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA): Maricel Presilla, Cucharamama (Hoboken, NJ)
Best Chef: Midwest (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI): Tory Miller, L’Etoile (Madison, WI)
Best Chef: New York City: Michael Anthony, Gramercy Tavern
Best Chef: Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, NY STATE, RI, VT): Tim Cushman, O Ya (Boston)
Best Chef: Northwest (AK, ID, MT, OR, WA, WY), Matt Dillon, Sitka & Spruce (Seattle)
Best Chef: Pacific (CA, HI), Matt Molina, Osteria Mozza (Los Angeles)
Best Chef: South (AL, AR, FL, LA, MS): Chris Hastings, Hot and Hot Fish Club (Birmingham, AL)
Best Chef: Southeast (GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV), Hugh Acheson, Five and Ten (Athens, GA) and Linton Hopkins, Restaurant Eugene (Atlanta)
Best Chef: Southwest (AZ, CO, NM, NV, OK, TX, UT), Paul Qui, Uchiko (Austin, TX)
Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional, Paul Grieco, Terroir (NYC)
Outstanding Wine Program, No. 9 Park (Boston)
Outstanding Bar Program, PDT (NYC)
Outstanding Service, La Grenouille (NYC)
Outstanding Pastry Chef, Mindy Segal, Mindy’s Hot Chocolate (Chicago)
Outstanding Restaurateur, Tom Douglas, Tom Douglas Restaurants (Seattle)

To see pictures of the awards, check out FoodRepublic. Also for more information on the awards and foundation check James Beard Foundation.

Check in for a Mother’s Day post this weekend!

Till next time, this is Jason “MaurPowerFoodie” Maur signing out.