Monday, December 13, 2010

Ecclefechan Scottish Tarts

When I asked my sister if I could bring a Scottish tart to Thanksgiving dinner, she said, "If (your wife) doesn't mind it isn't my place to judge."  So I brought one.

A southern Scotland tradition, these tarts are named for the village of Ecclefechan, a suburb of Lockerbie (much as Christmas is a suburb of Bithlo here in Central Florida).  They consist of a shortbread crust with a filling of sugar, eggs, nuts and dried fruit.  Some better known cousins include pecan pies, Canadian butter tarts, mince pies and shoo-fly pies.

I got the recipe from a friend we visited on vacation, Peg Murray. In addition to Thanksgiving, I've made them for office and church festivities where a number of people have asked for the recipe, so here it is.

Use two 9" tart pans (with removable bottoms) or 9" round cake pans lined with heavy foil.  Only bring the crust partway up the sides.

Preheat oven to 375°

3 c flour
8 oz butter, softened
6 T sugar
3 egg yolks

3 eggs
6 oz butter, melted
9 oz light brown sugar
3 T wine vinegar
12 oz mixed dried fruit ( I like to use Welch's Berry Medley - raisins, cherries, cranberries and blueberries -  but suit yourself)
3 oz walnuts

With mixer or food processor, whip butter.
Add all other ingredients and mix until it holds together in a ball.
Divide in half
Press into tart pans to form crusts

Chop fruit and walnuts until small - 1/8"
Mix all ingredients thoroughly
Divide between two crusts
Bake at 375° for 20-30 minutes

Serve at room temperature

Ith gu leòir!  (Bon appetit!)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Different Donuts

A Maple Frosted Donut topped with Bacon.  How could I not try it?

The morning after Thanksgiving in Ft. Myers, I asked my phone where to find the best breakfast. It recommended Bennett's Fresh Roast, right across the street from my hotel.  It was a great recommendation, and I had asked for the the best in town, not the closest.

The Maple Applewood Bacon Donut was indeed excellent, as was the cinnamon roll, which used a very flavorful extra cinnamony spice.  My wife enjoyed a seasonal donut with pumpkin pie filling in the center.

Bennett is about freshness: the donuts are made from scratch and the coffee is roasted daily, all on premises.  In addition to the usual glazed, chocolate, cinnamon and maple bacon donuts, you'll find Key Lime, Peanut Butter Chocolate, Orange Coconut, and more.

It doesn't stop with donuts. Next time I'm in town I'll try some Praline Bread Pudding. They also have soups, salads and sandwiches for lunch along with wine and beer. (Maple Bacon Donut with, I'd better not.)

Bennett's is located just west US 41 a block from the Caloosahatchee River. It has seating indoors and outdoors with plenty of parking and wifi.

The only downside I could find is that I don't live in Ft. Myers.  Maybe that's fortunate.

Bennett's Fresh Roast
2011 Bayside Parkway
Fort Myers, FL
Bennett's Fresh Roast on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 20, 2010

Scottish Cocktail

"To a large measure of Scotch add one large measure o' whisky." - from The Tannahill Weavers

Sounds like a heap of fine sippin'.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Saucy Grub

There is good food and good fun, but Famous Dave's is really all about the sauce.  Its signature ingredient seems to be an extra scoop of cumin, giving it a more chili-ish flavor than most barbecue sauces.  First time visitors get a tour of the sauces from their Famous® server, ours was Famous® Amanda, who squirts samples of the five types onto a plate and leaves some chips for sampling them.  The chips, by the way, are excellent on their own.

Loaded Baked Potato
Chicken and Ribs
In fact, most of the grub we tried was quite good, from my wife's Fried Chicken Salad to Mom's Baked Potato loaded with everything including chopped pork.  My chicken was fork tender and juicy, the BBQ beans flavored with sausage and occasional chunks of jalepeño for kicks, and Cornbread right between the sweet corn muffins I like and the plain, crumbly bread many prefer.  Ribs were the weakest link: while juicy and fall off the bone tender, they had no real flavor of their own, though that did make them a good platform for enjoying the sauce.

This is a chain, but the good kind that gives a town another option without saturating the market. I've been to one before in the Atlanta area and all of Florida has only three.  But they seem consistently good and I'd recommend them anywhere.

Famous Dave's
12148 South Cleveland Avenue
Ft. Myers, FL 33907

Famous Dave's on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 10, 2010

We're #10! We're #10!

Doug's Grub Orlando restaurantsDoug's Grub started July 25 at #62 on Urbanspoon's ranking of Orlando food blogs.  Today it broke into the Top 10.  Check back tomorrow to see how we celebrated.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Texas Q in Winter Park

When I'm hankering for a barbecue sandwich, the best one I know of in these parts is at 4 Rivers Smokehouse in Winter Park.  It's the Burnt-End Sandwich, a mix of brisket and pulled pork that works just right.  Add the BBQ Beans, some Collards and a big cup of iced tea -  you have Lunch!  If you don't like things mixed up, go with sliders, same stuff in multiple buns.

The sandwiches does make the trip worthwhile, but every thing else I've tried, including the beans and collards, is just a point or two above standard.  The one item that has disappointed is the Cornbread Salad.  According to the menu, this is "Crumbled cornbread served with a sweet tomato dressing over chopped Romaine and topped with bacon."  I was surprised that everything was well stirred, not tossed, making terms like "over...Romain" and "topped with" irrelevant and a lot less appetizing than the description.  Twice.

You may want to consider public transportation to get there as the parking is limited and the crowds aren't.  In the nearby neighborhood, authorities have posted, and presumably enforce, signs while some residents have curbs that can ruin a set of tires.

Overall, though, it's a decent place for Q, especially if you're hankering for a sammich.

Four Rivers Smokehouse
2103 W. Fairbanks Avenue
Winter Park, FL
Four Rivers Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 6, 2010

Hope and Change

Servers, here's a tip.  When I hand you two twenties for a $30 tab and hope to keep it all by asking, "Do you need change?", you're wrong. I hear, "May I have all your change for my tip?"  I generally leave a decent amount, but if you request a gratuity, that irritates me and I will leave less.  If you say, "I'll be right back with your change,"  I appreciate your consideration and may even leave more than I had planned.

Words do matter.