Chef Dana Blog
Greetings I’m your host and foodie, CHEF DANA
I had the pleasure of being invited to the Grand Lux Cafe in Cherry Hill for brunch. Today my co-host is none other than my beautiful wife Netesha Herbert. Also a foodie and graduate of Johnson and Wales University Culinary Program. Everyone say Hi Netesha. I was particularly excited because this Weekend is NATIONAL WAFFLE DAY so it fit perfectly with what my thoughts were for my next blog. Here is the link to their brunch menu. The prices are very reasonable for the portions.
We started off the brunch with two great drinks. Netesha had the Frozen Peach Bellini. YUM!!!! It was cool refreshing and the bit of alcohol was not over powering which is what you want when you are doing brunch. I had the Strawberry Bellini also delish. I am a strawberry person so I had to try it. I definitely wasn’t disappointed. Secretly I think I was a little jealous of Netesha and her Frozen Peach Bellini though. They were both great but one had to win.
CHICKEN AND WAFFLES
I have long been a fan of Chicken and Waffles, so with Waffle Day happening this weekend I had to try it. The chicken on the waffles was cooked perfectly. It was so tender and moist on the inside I almost couldn’t believe it. You know we have all had some chicken before that was kept down in the fryer too long. This was definitely not the case. Even Netesha said OMG this is moist. The waffle had a nice flavor and wasnt over done. Lightly dusted with powdered sugar and pecans. Delicious. Kay was our server and what was nice was that she asked right away if we had any nut allergies and if we wanted nuts. Gold star for Kay
Where to begin? This was mmy favorite of all the dishes. I couldn’t resist going back in for another bite. They will prepare the eggs any way you like. I did mine over easy. It was so full of flavors and the sauce on it was amazing. The tortillas were so crispy with the cheese it was a perfect bite.
Netesha’s Notes: Rancheros was amazing so full of flavor. Like a flavor party in you mouth. Couldn’t stop eating it.
PASTRAMI AND EGGS
If you are a lover of Corned Beef then this would be right up your alley. The pastrami was cooked with the onions, peppers, and some potatoes. It also came with a generous portion of hash brown potatoes too. What I liked about this dish was that the pastrami was tender and cooked delicately. It also wasn’t salty which sometimes meets such as corned beef and pastrami can be. Job well done
Netesha’s Notes: I loved the smokey-ness of the pastrami it was flavorful and extremely tender. So tender that is just melting on the tongue like butter.
I think if french toast and bread pudding had a love child this would be it. First, the portion is huge. When they brought it out, I thought I needed to phone a friend to come and share. Definitely a great bang for the buck. Pictures alone wont do it justice you just have to order one. Its topped with strawberries galore and it has this amazing sugar crust on it like its kinda brulee but not turned amber like a creme brulee would be. Nevertheless its great. The french toast is like french toast on the outside and a little bread pudding like on the inside towards the center. The brioche is soaked over night and they cook it in the morning to order so when it runs out, its gone. Make sure to order it early. Definitely wont be disappointed.
Overall it was a great experience and you definitely want to do brunch there. Don’t Miss it. If you go to the Cherry Hill location ask for Kay. Her service was great. Tell them Chef Dana sent you
CHEESECAKE FACTORY NEW MENU IS A HIT!
Greetings I’m your host and foodie, CHEF DANA
I had the pleasure of being invited to the Cheesecake Factory Philadelphia for the roll out of their new menu. Myself along with a room full of foodies got to taste their latest additions and menu items.
The Cheesecake Factory rolls out a new menu twice a year. Now this might not seem like a lot but you have to seriously take into account that they have 250 menu items. Thats no small potatoes by any means. As a chef myself I know the challenges and the effort behind not only conceptualizing a new menu, but let alone testing it, gathering feedback, training staff to change gears, and rolling it out. Now imagine doing that for a restaurant. Now imagine doing that for nearly 200 locations. If you visit their website they even share some of their recipes for you to try at home Click Here
The night started out with some drinks. They included the Blood Orange Martini, Irish Coffee Manhattan, Espresso Martini and the Cucumber Mojito. Now if anyone knows me I am a mojito fan but not so much a cucumber fan. WELL, the Cucumber Mojito was delicious. Just the right amount of cucumber so that you could taste but not over powering with the cucumber. You count still taste the mint and all the flavors of the mojito. It was so good you wanted them to sit a pitcher of it on the table with a straw.
Next came some appetizers. I got to try the Korean Fried Cauliflower and the Truffle Bacon Cheese Sticks. Both were delicious. The truffle on the cheesesticks stood out but wasnt too much. The Korean Fried Cauliflower was a home run. There was so much food that night but even when it got cold because we went on to other courses people kept going back to it. Now you know its good when people even want it cold.
CHICKEN MANGO AVOCADO SALAD
The Chicken Mango Avocado Salad was done as a demo before it was presented to us. The salad portions are VERY generous. SO much so that you can cut them in half and take some for lunch the next day. I loved the flavors in the salad. I love tropical fruits so the pineapple and mango were right up my alley. I loved the crunch from the wontons too. It gave the salad nice texture. GO TO THE END OF THE POST FOR THE RECIPE Courtesy of Cheesecake Factory.
The next item I tried was from the Skinnylicious Menu. It was the Chicken Pot Pie. Now I know what you are thinking. How did they do that. Well it was one of my favorite things of the evening. I was so impressed with the amount of flavor that they packed into this dish while still holding to 500 calories. Well done. The sauce was silky and full of herbs, and wonderful vegetables. I remember mushrooms, peas, onions, and carrots. It was great
Now onto dinner. Now I must say that there wasn’t a thing I didn’t like. Being a chef that has cooked at the James Beard House, and with the Macys Culinary Council, I can of course be opinionated, but they did a great job. Now on to my favorites.
The area director told me I would love this dish. He wasn’t lying. The Chicken Riesling was one of my favorites. The combination of bacon, mushrooms, onion and garlic in that riesling cream sauce definitely did the trick…Truth be told he may of had me at bacon but it is definitely worth the trip. The noodles were buttered too.
CARNE ASADA STEAK MEDALLIONS
My wife Netesha and I were just riding in the car when she asked for something with some sort of Caribbean flair for dinner. It brought me back to this dish and the way the meat was seasoned along with the sauteed peppers, onions, cilantro and fresh corn. It had a wonderful sauce as well. What Caribbean dish would be complete without some rice as well.
This dish was a definitely crowd pleaser in the room. Everyone was trying to figure our what was on the noodles. Being a foodie I tried the noodles by themselves before everything together. As soon as the noodles hit your palette you knew there was something special about them. The noodles had been tossed in what I believe is a light Parmesan and butter sauce. The meat sauce was a delicious blend of Italian sausage, pepperoni, Homemeade meatballs, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers, onion and garlic in a tomato sauce.
TRUFFLE HONEY CHICKEN
I am a fan of truffle when use the right way. I remember my days in Four Season Boston when we made a home made truffle vinaigrette. The vinaigrette there was so good we would eat it by the spoonful. The chicken reminded me of that. The truffle wasn’t too strong but it was there and showed up in the right way. Balanced with the honey it gave a nice lift to the fried chicken breast which was paired with mashed potatoes and asparagus.
The Cheesecake factory is so much more than the cheesecakes that Evelyn started making in her basement in the 1940’s. Don’t get me wrong, they are good. But you also have to take into account their beverages are delish, and they are very consistent with their food, their style, and giving the customer value for the dollar.
I definitely recommend paying a visit to the Cheesecake factory and trying the new items on the menu below. Let me know what you think of them. Bon Appetit
RECIPE: Chicken, Mango and Avocado Salad Ingredients · 1 ea. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast (3 oz.) · 1/8 tsp. Kosher Salt · Pinch. Ground Black Pepper · 1-1/2 tsp. Teriyaki Sauce* · 2 oz. Romaine Lettuce, cut into 1” pieces · 2 oz. Butter Lettuce, cut into 1” pieces · 1 oz. Mixed Baby Lettuce · 1/2 oz. Green Cabbage, sliced thin 1/8” · 2 oz. Fresh Pineapple, cut into 1/2" pieces · 1 oz. Fried Wonton Strips (optional) · 1 oz. Carrots, julienned · 1 oz. Red Peppers, julienned · 1 oz. Cucumber, partially peeled, cut in half lengthwise, seeded, sliced thin 1/8” · 1-1/2 oz. Asian Sesame-Ginger Dressing* · 1/2 oz. Balsamic Vinaigrette* · 3/4 tsp. Honey · 3/4 tsp. Orange Juice, freshly squeezed · 1/2 ea. Avocado, medium, cut into 1/2” pieces · 2 oz. Mango, peeled, seed removed, cut into 1/2” pieces · 1 oz. Grape Tomatoes, cut in half · 1/4 oz. Almonds Slivers, toasted · 1/2 oz. Fried Wonton Strips (optional) · 3/4 tsp. Mint, sliced thin 1/8” · 1/4 tsp. Black/White Sesame Seeds, toasted
Directions 1. Season both sides of the chicken breast with salt and pepper. 2. Cook the chicken (grill or sauté) until done, basting several times with teriyaki sauce. 3. Pour the Asian Sesame-Ginger Dressing, Balsamic Vinaigrette, honey and orange juice into a small mixing bowl. Stir the ingredients together until thoroughly and evenly combined.
4. Place the lettuces, green cabbage, pineapple, fried wontons (optional), carrots, red pepper, cucumbers and mango into another mixing bowl. 5. Pour the dressing over and around the salad ingredients and gently toss together. 6. Place the salad mix evenly into a cold bowl, mounding it as high as possible.
7. Sprinkle the avocado and mango pieces all over the salad. 8. Place the grape tomatoes around the base of the salad. Sprinkle the almonds evenly over the salad. 9. Slice the chicken breast into three pieces and onto the lower portion of the salad. 10. Mound the fried wontons (optional) onto the center of the salad. 11. Sprinkle the sliced mint evenly over the salad. 12. Sprinkle the sesame seeds evenly over the salad. Serves 1
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