Locals — We Need You!!

openArts & Eats Restaurant and Gallery has been in business for almost 2 years!  We've been #1 on Trip Advisor for Bradenton for a year now and were just recognized by Gov.Scott as one of 28 restaurants inFlorida to receive no safety or sanitation citations over the past year. We're very proud of our place and the experience that people have here. We love Manatee County and this part of Florida, but this is a seasonal business. In this, is our second off-season business has dropped by about 30%. For small businesses, that has a large impact.  And it's not just us.  All local independent small businesses count on local residents for support during the off-season. We can employ more people, improve our property, and contribute more in sales tax when we our businesses are thriving.  Small businesses offer a unique retail and dining experience that can't be replicated in a chain or department store. We get to know you by name and treat you like family. There's no manager telling us which products, foods, or beveragesto promote and sell.  We sell what people want and love. With about 300,000 people living in Manatee county during the season, and 170,000 during off-season, this translates to about 50% more potential customers during the season. So, LOCALS -- WE NEED YOU NOW!  Come out and support local businesses. Arts & Eats is offering a $25. 3 course Summer Menu that includes a free glass of wine and a basket of our homemade breads.  Other small businesses are offering similar off-season deals. We have an Open Mic on Wednesday nights from 6-8pm, and live music Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.   We're unique, excellent, and passionate, and we want to know our neighbors.  So, come out and support the businesses in your own backyard.   We can't wait to see you!!!!

Happy Thanksgivvikah from Arts & Eats!

Chef Jim's Cranberry Relish

Chef Jim's Cranberry Relish

This year Thanksgiving coincides with the Jewish holiday of miracles, Hanukkah. This convergence of the Roman and Jewish calenders won't take place again for over 70,000 years.  So, this year let's be thankful for the miracles in our lives that happen everyday.  We often don't notice them, but the acts of walking, talking, loving, eating, having a bed to sleep in, a source of income and just being alive are miracles. As I was writing this, a neighbor came into the restaurant to introduce a very nice homeless man who went through a divorce that left him penniless and is staying at the Salvation Army.  He's from France and speaks only a bit of English, but is highly skilled in decorative arts.  Anyway, we're trying to find him a job.  It was a fitting diversion for this theme of being thankful for the miracles in our lives.  There but for the grace of God go I... Here are two recipes for your holiday table.  One is for Chef Jim's Cranberry Relish and other for Donna's Hanukkah Potato Kugel (casserole).  Enjoy! Thank you for your love and support over the past year.  Eat well, say grace, and be thankful for the miracles everyday brings. Chef Jim's Cranberry Relish 2 Cinnamon Sticks 4-5 Whole Cloves Zest and Juice of 3 Oranges 1 Cup Raw Sugar 1 Tbl Grand Marnier 2 Bags Cranberries Combine all ingredients except for the Grand Marnier in a saucepan and heat low and slow until the cranberries burst (about 20 minutes).  Stir occasionally.  Remove from heat and add the Grand Marnier.  Serve room temperature or cool.  This is wonderful with candied pecans on top. Donna's Traditional Hanukkah Potato Kugel 8 medium potatoes 2 onions 6 eggs 1/2 cup oil 4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour 1 heaping Tbsp. salt 1/2-1 tsp. pepper Preheat oven to 400°.  In a large bowl, combine eggs, oil, flour, salt and pepper. Set aside. Coarsely grate the potatoes and onion by hand or use a food processor. Let stand 3-5 minutes. Squeeze out any excess liquid. Add grated potatoes to the egg-flour mixture. Mix by hand only until smooth.  Pour into a greased 9x13 inch baking dish.  Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour or until golden brown on top and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Food is Love

Donna and Chef Jim

Donna and Chef Jim

Some of us "love" food as in "I couldn't help myself -- I ate the whole pizza!"  We've all eaten beyond being physically full saying "I LOVED that cake.  It was sooooo delicious."   As a matter of fact, that was me that last night at a fabulous wedding :-).  It's decadent in a good way and usually very satisfying until you wake up the next morning asking for the alka seltzer. This blog post is about a different type of food love.   This love is about nourishment -- understanding that food nurtures our bodies, promoting growth, health and sustaining life.  The Merriam Webster dictionary definition of "Nourish" reads:  "to promote the growth of...to maintain and support...to furnish or sustain." As a restaurant owner, it's a privilege to know that we're providing Nourishment to those who walk through our doors.  We're not only feeding our guests' appetites but are providing sustenance for their bodies and energy for life.  That's an expression of love through food that is demonstrated not by the quantity on the plate, but the care in selection of ingredients, the deliciousness of each dish and the care with which the foods are prepared and presented.   You can "feel the love." The next time you cook for family or friends, think about how you're "Nourishing" everyone with nutrients, energy, and support and how that's an expression of your love.

Healthy Gourmet Mushroom Soup

To follow up on the "Soups" blog, Chef Jim had me taste the most luscious and healthy soup today.  It was so rich and delicious that I asked him if it had cream in it.  He replied "No.  Just wild rice." Yum...and Really?  So dear blog readers, I asked him to describe the recipe to me so I could pass it along to you.  This quantity is for a restaurant, so you might want to reduce the recipe.  It will freeze well, though and you can eat it all Fall and Winter :-). Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup a la Chef Jim Copening 2 tbl olive oil 5 cloves garlic, chopped 1 large Vidalia or Spanish Onion, chopped 2 tbl fresh thyme leaves 3 lbs mushrooms, sliced (we use button, but other types are fine) 2 cups cooked rice (We use wild rice, but any rice works. Great way to use rice that's sitting in the fridge.) 3 - 32 oz cans chicken and/or beef broth (We use chicken) Heat olive oil in a soup pot or dutch oven.  Saute chopped garlic and onion with thyme leaves on medium-low heat until onions are soft (not brown).  Add sliced mushrooms and sauté on medium-low heat for 5 minutes, or until mushrooms soften.   Add chicken and/or beef broth, salt, and cooked rice.  Place mixture in blender and blend until soup is a thick puree.   We serve with a little creme fraiche and truffle oil, but it's perfect just as it is.  Enjoy!!!  If you make it, let me know how it turns out.
Mushroom Wild Rice Soup a la Chef Jim Copening

Mushroom Wild Rice Soup a la Chef Jim Copening

Fresh Soup in 4 Easy Steps

purple yam soup by Chef Jim Copening

Purple yam soup

Here at Arts & Eats Restaurant and Gallery Chef Jim creates unique, healthful and wonderful soups everyday.  This week for example we served Pototo Leek with a Carnival of Cauliflower in 3 different colors, Carrot Ginger Soup, and Provencale Vegetable Soup. You can create your own healthy tasty soupy concoctions in just 4 simple steps: 1.  Saute chopped onions in canola oil until tender (we like vidalia or Spanish onions). 2.  Add any other ingredients you like, for example carrot and ginger, any vegetables you have in the fridge, or seasonal veggies you see at the market, and saute with the onions until they turn a deeper color and are softened. 3.  Add broth (we usually use chicken, but beef or vegetable broths are alternatives).  You can buy ready-made broths in the grocery store and simmer until vegetables are soft.  We prefer to use chicken broth because it's lighter in flavor to beef). 4. Add the simmered mixture to a blender and puree.  Add salt and pepper and any other spices or herbs, to taste and blend them in. Easy, right?  Soup is the perfect summer dish with a salad or sandwich.  Have fun and enjoy!!!    

Cooking Healthy Gourmet

Tandoori Chicken with Curried Vegetables and Grilled Cheese Naan Bread

Tandoori Chicken with Curried Vegetables and Grilled Cheese Naan Bread

Don't get me wrong.  I really enjoy the Cooking Channel and the Food Channel.  These networks have done so much to promote interest, appreciation, and even passion for great food and cooking. My complaint against the Food and Cooking Channels is that they promote unhealthy eating on many of their shows.  They depict people (Man vs. Food, for example) eating massive quantities of fried, fatty, greasy, often cheese covered foods as if eating like that is fun and entertainment.  Even gourmet food shows have viewers drooling over dishers prepared with butter, cream, processed sugar, and lots of yummy, but unhealthful foods. The other day one of our first time diners raved about our cuisine, saying that it is "healthy gourmet."  What is that and how can you make delicious, healthy meals for your family and friends?  You don't need to clog up your arteries to eat amazingly delicious foods.  Hereare a few suggestions: 1.  Use fresh foods, rather than frozen or canned.  To cook veggies for the week, boil a large pot of water with a handful of kosher salt.  When the water boils, add raw veggies like broccoli, asparagus, stringbeans and bring back to a boil for 3 minutes.  Drain the veggies and immediately place in an ice bath.  The veggies will retain their deep color and remain freshly cooked for several days. 2.  Flavor meats, poultry and fish with reduction sauces.  Use fresh juice from citrus fruits and slowly simmer until the sauce is syrupy.  You can do the same with balsamic vinegar to create a simple, flavorful sauce. 3.  Use herbs, garlic, shallots (a type of onion) to flavor foods instead of creamy sauces. 4.  Lemon or lime zest add a quick burst of flavor to desserts and sauces. 5.  Use hummus as a sandwich spread instead of mayonaise.  Very tasty and healthy. 6.  Grill fresh fruit and vegetables, brushing with a little extra virgin olive oil and salt, pepper. 7.  Steam fish (and even chicken) in a pouch made from aluminum foil (papillote in French) with veggies.  Bake for 15 minutes or so and serve with miso sauce (see my blog post with the recipe). There are so many ways to eat rich, delicious, beautiful foods without the use of unhealthful ingredients.  After all, if you're cooking, you want to taste the main ingredients, right?  Let them shine with simple, clean preparations...and feel good!!!

We’re in Off-Season. Locals, We Need YOU!

We're Open for Business

We're Open for Business

Arts & Eats Restaurant and Gallery has been in business for 9 months now.  We were fortunate to open just before the start of the tourist season, and are grateful for our success serving both Wintering guests and locals. This is our first off-season.  Business has dropped by about 30%.  For small businesses, that has a large impact.  And it's not just us.  All local independent small businesses count on local residents for support during the off-season.    We can employ more people, improve our property, and contribute more in sales tax when we our businesses are thriving.  Small businesses offer a unique retail and dining experience that can't be replicated in a chain or department store.  We get to know you by name and treat you like family.  There's no manager telling us which products, foods, or beverages to promote and sell.  We sell what people want and love. In 2012, 170,200 visitors came to Manatee County.   With about 300,000 people living in the county that adds about 50% more people during the season.  For small business, that means 170,200 more potential customers. LOCALS -- WE NEED YOU NOW!  Come out and support local businesses.  Arts & Eats is offering a $20. 3 course Summer Menu.  Other small businesses are offering similar off-season deals. We have an Open Mic on Wednesday nights from 6-8pm, and live music Thursday - Saturday night.   Saturday nights we're open until 11pm for Summer Jams.   We're unique, we're excellent, we're passionate, we want to know our neighbors.  So, come out and support the businesses in your own backyard.   We can't wait to see you!!!!  

Arts & Eats Open Late for Summer Jams

We're coming into the hot Florida summer, when locals can roam free from the hum of Winter tourism. I saw a sign on a motorbike on Anna Maria Island that read "Natives Rock, Tourists Drool."   I love summer evenings here.  The temperature drops 10-20 degrees and you can feel the breeze from all the bodies of water that surround us. So, at Arts & Eats Restaurant and Gallery in the center of the Village of the Arts at 1114 12th Street West, we've decided to celebrate Florida Summer Nights by extending our hours on Saturday nights from 9-11pm for "Summer Jam."  Jim and I are part of a musical group called Studio Kitchen.  We'll perform at the jams and welcome all to join in.  Bring your instruments and get ready to play...or just come to listen and have wine, beer, or a light bite from our kitchen. Studio Kitchen 3 1012  

New York City Food Shopping

Continuing from last week's post, I thought of a few more recycling ideas: Re-use zip-lock plastic bags.  Believe it or not, my mom used to launder (yes -- in the washing machine) plastic bags when I was growing up.  She was mostly being frugal, but it rubbed off on me.  I own a plastic bag drier that works great to hanging up the bags after rinsing.  Everyone should have one.  As a matter of fact, I think I'll buy a bunch to give as gifts :-).  It also makes a great conversation piece, because people will never guess what it's used for.  Takes no time.  Saves money. Bring those tote bags into the supermarket to avoid using all those plastic shopping bags.  If you do use the plastic, tell the cashier or bagger to fill them up.  It drives me nuts when they put 2 to 3 items in a bag.  In New York City I used to carry 20 lbs of groceries from the store to my apartment building, so I think I can handle packing my trunk with a few heavier bags.   Takes no time or effort. My New York City Food Shopping Adventure I went to visit my family and friends in New York City over Memorial Day.  Manhattan is as crazy as ever, but it also has the best food on the planet...and the most diverse. The menu at Arts & Eats reflects our culinary experiences in New York, eating foods of a wide diversity of cultures.  Chef Jim sent me to an amazing Indian grocery store called Kalustyans to get a few things we can't get in Florida.  They claim to have every ingredient for any recipe from any cuisine in the world.  They have for example, something like 12 types of curry.  Going there is a culinary education.  They also have the best bulk nuts, dried fruits and nut mixes...and yes, you can order online.

Yonah Schimmel Knish

Next stop, Lower East Side.  This area has become very trendy over the past 10 years, but is still home to a few of the food shops that have a long history there.  I shlepped through the pouring rain to visit 3 stores and it was worth getting wet (but I somehow avoided getting splashed by taxis).  The first stop was Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery on East Houston Street.  My grandfather used to frequent this place when he was a young man (he was born in 1895).  The knishes are like pastries -- round and filled with a variety of stuffings including the classic potato, spinach, vegetable, kasha (bulghar), mushroom and more.  They're baked not fried, so you get the yumminess of the pastry and all the flavor of the simple yet delicious stuffing. russanddaughters Just down the street is another oldie but goodie called Russ & Daughters.  They're been selling Jewish-Style delicacies since the early 1900's. yonahschimmel-012110 The prices are high, but so is the quality.  I got some delicious whitefish salad and prune hamantaschan (a triangular filled pastry for the Purim holiday) for Vivian. A trip to the Lower East Side for Jewish Style food wouldn't be complete without a visit to Katz's for a pastrami sandwich.  This one's for Tony.  Katz's was famously featured in the movie "When Harry Met Sally" in which Meg Ryan fakes an orgasm and a senior woman diner says "I'll have what she's having."   (Actually that was Carl Reiner's wife). They've been in business since the late 1800's and the decor probably hasn't changed much since then. You get a ticket when you enter that's checked off depending upon which counter you get served at.  Usually it's very crowded with tourists, but I got in and out pretty quickly...complete with pickles (sour garlic -- I LOVE them and used to pick them from a barrel as a kid in the Bronx), rye bread, lean pastrami and deli mustard.  The guys behind the counter always give samples.  Yum Yum! So, there you have it. Indian spices to Jewish delicacies in just 2 hours.  Only in New York... Katz street katz sign          

Contributing by Re-Using and Recycling

Many of us want to contribute to our communities but just don't have the time to volunteer, raise money, or attend organization meetings.  There's one thing we can all do that takes virtually no time, contributes to the global and local community, and saves us money:  Recycling and re-using.  I have a passion for re-using and recycling materials, but I'm not an activist.  You don't need to be an activist to contribute to the reduction of landfill waste and surplus of stuff that contributes to the world's energy consumption.  Here are some ideas for re-using and recycling stuff: 1. No-brainer -- Recycle paper, glass, plastic and some metals using those blue recycle containers provided by the city.  This web page lists the items you can recycle in Bradenton and other details about the Bradenton recycling program.   Requires no time. 2. Join the community at Freecycle.org.  Other members (free) post stuff they want or stuff they're giving away (that's right -- FREE).  Great way to get rid of stuff you don't use or get stuff you need.  Extra benefit:  Saves money. 3.  Sell your old stuff on Ebay or post on Craigslist.   Extra benefit:  Earn some extra money.  Downside:  Requires some time.  If you download the Ebay app on your smartphone, you can take pictures of your stuff and post directly to the site to sell items.   Saves time. 4.  Re-use printer paper by printing on the blank side.  You can sometimes re-fill the ink cartridges too.  Requires no time.  Saves money. 5.  Use bleach, baking soda and vinegar for most cleaning tasks.  Fill a spray bottle with 1/2 water and 1/2 bleach for a great disinfectant cleaner.  Same with vinegar.  The smell dissipates soon after use.  Saves money.  Requires little time.  Click here for solutions for Non-toxic cleaning. 6.  Re-use those envelopes that come with bills and charitable contributions (if you don't use them).  If you pay your bills online, save the envelopes for stamps, money for the pool service or your kids' allowance.  You get the picture.  Requires no time. 7.  Refill water bottles with filtered water.  Requires no time.  Saves money. 8.  Make art projects from stuff you'd throw away.  I make flowers out of plastic water or soda bottles.  Here's a video that shows you how.  You can use nail polish to paint the leaves.  If using outdoors, use Goop glue.  Requires a little time.  Extra benefit:  Make something pretty from things you'd throw away.  Great project for kids.   Another idea:  if you like to sew, re-use the fabric from old clothing to make throw pillows, handbags, etc.  Extra benefit:  FUN!!
Arts & Eats Mosaic Tray

Donna Slawsky mosaic tray

9.  Another art project is to make mosaics from broken china.  I make and sell this artwork in the Arts & Eats Gallery.  If you're interested in taking a class, let me know by email at artsandeatsfl@gmail.com.   I also re-use old tables by applying broken china to the surface.  You can see two of these in the Arts & Eats Restaurant. 10.  Shop at thrift stores.  Donate to thrift stores.  This helps the charitable organization that runs the shop, saves you money, and contributes to a cleaner environment by re-using clothes, furniture and other household items.  The clothing and furniture at these stores can be of very high quality, depending on the store.   Manatee Ave. in Bradenton is full of thrift shops.  Goodwill has tons of stores in our area.  The new one in Sarasota on Honore Ave. is very good.  We've acquired nice tables for the restaurant there.  Extra benefit:  Saves money and It's FUN!!  You never know the treasures you'll find. Have a great week and enjoy your contributions!!