House of Skip

Friday, August 14, 2015

Shanghai Jazz

Recently, while planning a fundraising event for work, someone recommended a place to look into called Shanghai Jazz. It didn't end up working out to be a good place for our event, but I was intrigued by it. Way up in Madison, NJ is this jazz club that serves Chinese food? I was definitely curious. Since my companion likes jazz and we both like trying new things I decided to take the long drive up the Turnpike and Parkway to Shanghai Jazz. We went on a Friday night when they have two seatings, one at 6 pm and one at 8 pm. We had a reservation for the 6 pm and luckily were able to make the journey and arrive on time. It's right on Main St in Madison among many other restaurants, shops and businesses. There is some street parking and lots behind the buildings, most lots have signs reserving spaces for particular businesses, the same was true of Shanghai Jazz. Their lot is small and can be tricky to get in and out of, however I think it is possible to find parking in the other lots or on a nearby street.

When we walked inside we found a small bar area and a dining room with a stage. The decor is definitely interesting, not overly gaudy, I would say simple elegance. We were instructed to walk to the front of the restaurant to be seated (since we had parked behind the building and came in through the back door), at that point we were greeted by one half of the husband and wife team, David. David sat us and even let us decide which table we wanted, we took a table just at the top of an elevated seating area in the back of the restaurant. It had a great view of the stage even tough we weren't super close.

We were still kind of leery of the whole Chinese food in a jazz club thing. However, things were looking good since right after David seated us, a server came over with menus and was just as gracious as David had been. We decided to start with cocktails to get in the jazz club mood, I chose the Limoncello Martini which had Limoncello, vanilla vodka, lemon juice, and topped with champagne, it was very lemony and super delicious. My companion ordered the Satchmo's Sour Martini (at the recommendation of our waitress) that cocktail had  Elderflower Liqueur, Gin, and a splash of lemon. We enjoyed our cocktails as we continued to peruse the menu with great curiosity. We couldn't decide on entrees just yet, but we put in an order of the Dim Sum appetizer platter which came highly recommended. If you've been following HOS for a while, you know that my companion and I enjoy food adventures, so the idea that they would select a sampling of their appetizers for us was right up our alley!

It did not disappoint, the dim sum was fun and yummy! It arrived to the table on a giant, bright white platter and included their signature jicama salad with peanuts that was super fresh and crunchy. It also had three types of dumplings, two steamed and one fried. The steamed where shrimp & chicken, as well as pork and the fried were crab. The dim sum platter also included a California roll, which was ok, definitely not the highlight of the platter. And lastly, were green beans in an Asian vinaigrette, they were simple and yummy. 

For our entrees, I had decided on something called the Triangle of Three Precious Ones, it's a weird name but a delightful dish. It features shredded beef, chicken and pork with red and green bell peppers and other veggies, it is also served with rice. It was a very flavorful dish, it has a little bit of spice to it. My companion ordered the seafood with basil, it was also spicy, of course he asked for it to be "extra spicy". Overall, we both enjoyed the food, not spectacular, however very enjoyable. We each had a glass of wine with our meals once we had finished our cocktails. 

The music had started around the time that our appetizer had come out. It was a jazz trio and they were fantastic, they did songs from other jazz artists as well as some original songs. It was the perfect accompainment to a great date night. Making it feel extra special, husband and wife owners, David and Martha came over several times to check on us (and other guests) through out the night. Martha even remembered talking to me on the phone about the fundraiser. All of the staff was pleasant and friendly, really good service.

To finish up our meal, we decided on a little something sweet. Since we were both kind of full, but just wanted a little taste, we opted for ice cream and sorbet, but they did have some delicious sounding cakes on their menu. However, what we chose was perfect for us, I had the coconut sorbet and my companion had vanilla ice cream. They came out in martini glasses, which was a cute and fun touch. Both were just what we wanted. We sat and enjoyed the music until the end of the performance before heading back to the Parkway/ Turnpike for our trek home.

To send us on our way, Martha made one last stop at our table with complimentary plum wine from Japan. It was sweet and refreshing. What a wonderful way to end our time at Shanghai Jazz.

It was a wonderful date night, such a cool, fun atmosphere with terrific service, great music and yummy food. I think we would consider going again, just wish it was closer!

If you are into jazz and like cool, unique places to try different food, go visit Martha and David at Shanghai Jazz

Jicama Salad

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Prohibition Cocktail Tour

While you may have noticed that the soup report has gone missing, fear not, Skip has still been, cooking, eating and enjoyed food, drinks and fun. Once the weather turns colder, Skip may return to the soup project and see if she can indeed complete the list. In the meantime, why don't we catch up on the fun Skip has been having this summer.

First, let's talk about a little thing called the Prohibition Cocktail Tour. This was a present that Skip gave her companion for Christmas and finally in the summer they booked a date to go. The tour is done in Philadelphia by a company called City Food Tours.  They also offer other food and drink related tours in the city of Philadelphia and after the fun we had on this tour, I would definitely consider going on another one.

So, what exactly happens on a Prohibition Cocktail tour? On a Saturday evening, you meet your tour guide (dressed in 1920's era clothing) at a predetermined location. In this case it was an establishment called, Time Restaurant. This place was cool and is probably worth checking out on it's own as well, they have a HUGE whiskey selection and just in general a really cool vibe about the place. While we waited for the whole group to arrive (there were approximately 20 people on the tour) we were encouraged to get a drink at the bar before the tour. I was immediately drawn to a cocktail with bourbon in it, but was dissuaded by the bartender because he knew we'd be getting that drink once the tour began. Instead I got a Champagne Cocktail which had sparkling wine, sugar and grapefruit bitters. It was totally fun and really delicious. I'm pretty sure my companion got a Sazerac.

 Once it was time for the tour to begin, we moved into another section of the bar and our tour guide began by introducing himself and giving us an overview of the tour. Then we got down to business, as our guide talked to us about Prohibition, the servers at Time brought us a wonderful Prohibition style cocktail and a snack. The drink was, Jerry's Left Hook
Jerry's Left Hook
and it had Sailor Jerry rum, Jim Beam bourbon, sugar, lime. Our snack was a veggie flatbread which was also yummy.

Next we took a walk (what a sight we must have been a man dressed in 1920s garb and a bunch of rowdy whiskey drinkers following him!) to our next stop. After a little exercise, we got to 1 Tippling Place and it was super cool. It has a very lounge-like feel to it, great mismatched furniture in the front which makes for a cool sitting area- complete with a red leather couch. We walked to the back of the bar and were seated at several high top tables.
Bartenders at 1 Tippling Place
The bartenders at 1 Tippling Place really like to put on a show, their drink making included some antics which the group really liked. While our tour guide continued to educated us about Prohibition and how it related to the Philadelphia/NJ/NY area, we enjoyed a cocktail called Eastside which had gin, lime, cucumber and mint, it was a really refreshing drink for
a hot day. We also got a snack to enjoy here as well which was a Baked Parmesan Artichoke Casserole. It was basically a warm artichoke dipped served with crackers, it was very good. Even my non artichoke dipping liking companion enjoyed it, of course this may have had something to do with the copious amounts of parmesan cheese on it! Once we finished our drinks and snacks and I was done wowing the group with my knowledge of Al Capone and Eastern State Penitentiary, we headed out to the next place.


If you plan to take this tour, you may want to proceed with caution in reading this next part. 

On the website for City Tours, they give you the name of the first two places, but the third and final stop is listed as a surprise. I am not sure if they take you to the same place every time, but that is a good possibility. Therefore, if you think you might take this tour and want to be "surprised" stop reading. I really hope you don't stop reading, but I understand if you want to keep the mystery. Just promise you'll come back and read the rest after you do the tour :)

Ok, so the group took one final walk together to The Ranstead Room. I think part of the reason City Food Tours keeps it a secret is because the place itself seems like a well kept secret. You walk down an alley and enter a door simply marked ЯR. We entered a small stairway, this entrance was so bizarre, you definitely would not know it was even there! Our tour guide gave us a wrap up in the stairway and then led us into the super dark, super cool, retro bar that is The Ranstead Room. Leather booths, vintage wallpaper, dimly lit, and oil paintings of ladies in various stages of undress. We were all seated together in the small room and provided with a cocktail, forgive me but I don't recall the name and I don't think it is on their current menu, but it was in keeping with the Prohibition theme and I'm pretty sure it was a rum drink. I do know that we got some extremely tasty mezcal chocolate coated popcorn that was AMAZING. Once the tour wrapped up, we had time before our dinner reservation and were so mesmerized by the place that my companion and I stayed for one more drink. Now, I absolutely remember what I had for my second drink at The Ranstead it was called Quinceañera and it was tequila, amontillado sherry (from Spain), orange and chocolate bitters. It was lovely. Now, for those of you that have read my posts before or those who actually know my companion, you are aware that he loves to ask a bartender to pick something for him, well at The Ranstead Room, they actually have listed as an option "Bartenders Choice", you can beat your sweet bippy that he selected that. It had gotten quite busy in there so I don't think the waiter ever told us what exactly the name of the drink was, but we know it had bourbon in it and was along the lines of an old fashioned.

We had a fabulous time on this tour and we would recommend City Food Tours to anyone looking for an adventure. I would also suggest that if any of the places we visited sound cool to you, then you should check them out too!

Stay tuned for more adventures with Skip and her companion!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Two Weeks of Soup for the Price of One

Did you miss me?? Perhaps you didn't even notice that Skip, missed a week of the soup project, or maybe you were wondering, where's my soup report!? Either way, no worries, I made soups, I just didn't get a chance to share the report with you. So, what does that mean? That means you get to hear about two weeks of soup in this week's report.

You might be saying, "what the heck is this girl Skip talkin' about!?!" Well, I'm glad you asked. For many weeks now, Skip has been soupin' her way through Paleo Grub's 43 Paleo Soups to Warm You Up

So, here's what I've made the past two weeks:

Cozy Celeriac Soup which is from a blog which is new to me, Paleolland (which is a play on words since this blogger is from Holland). If you are not familiar with celeriac it is a root vegetable and is sometimes called celery root. I find it really delicious and quite versatile, as it can be mashed or pureed, or cubed up and
roasted, much like a potato. That is why I enjoyed this soup so much, it was very much like a creamy potato soup. Plus, you know the addition of bacon makes everything better and mushrooms, they really added a nice texture and flavor to this soup. When you read the instructions you might think, it will be difficult because of the many steps, but it's really not. You can saute the bacon and mushrooms
while you are cooking the celeriac. And you know I love using my immersion blender, so any soup that requires blending is fun for me!

Celeriac Soup with Bacon and Mushroom Garnish

Verdict: Yummy!

Next up was, Paleo Chicken Tortilla Soup from the website of a nutritionist named, Linda Wagner. No tortillas were harmed in the making of this soup. The name "tortilla" is just to indicate the style of the soup, there are no tortillas, paleo or otherwise used in this soup. The soup does contain lots of big flavors, like tomatoes, cumin, cilantro, shredded chicken and shredded carrots, which add great texture to the soup. As the recipe indicates this can be made in a crock pot or in a regular soup pot.
Tortilla Soup Minus the Tortillas :)
Obviously, with a soup like this the longer the flavors can hang out and simmer together the better. This is a great use for left over chicken you may have or you can just bake a couple of chicken breasts for  use in the soup. The recipe calls for you to cut the chicken into strips, but I shredded mine because I had cooked a whole chicken in the crockpot and used the breasts for this soup.

Verdict: Great flavor and texture.

The next soup comes to us from the blog, The Ramblings of the Traveling Cook. A blog with a long name and a soup with an equally long name, Paleo Creamy Kale, Sausage and Sweet Potato Soup. The coconut milk is what makes this soup creamy and it is perfect with the other flavors in this soup. This is another example on this list of my favorite kind of soups, chop and dump.
Bacon and Sausage
You take each ingredient and continue to add it to the pot until everyone is in the pool and they just simmer along and get delicious in there. This soup is super filling, so it makes for a great meal. The only issue I had with the recipe was in the photos on the blog the sausage used was a Bob Evans packaged sausage, I bought fresh sausage at the meat counter at the grocery store because that is what I prefer. I would say use what you like and always read the label, I don't know what the ingredients are in Bob Evans sausage (the website has nutrition facts, but not an ingredient list). Bottom line- buy and use ingredients that work for you.

Verdict: Hearty soup that definitely will fill you up!
Creamy Kale, Sausage and Sweet Potato Soup

The final soup in this weeks (two weeks worth of soup!) comes to us from the popular paleo blog, Cavegirl Cuisine. And as with other recipes from this site that I have tried, her Scallop Chowder did not disappoint. The use of parsnips (one of Skip's favorite veggies- really- puree it and use in place of mashed potatoes, you'll be amazed.) eliminates the need for cream to thicken this soup. Believe it or not, but Skip purposely left out the bacon on this recipe because we had been having a lot of it recently. I did however cook the scallops in some left over bacon fat I had, to make sure we got the right flavor. The recipe calls for bay scallops, but I like to order mine from Local Abundance and they only have the regular big sea scallops
Beautiful Scallops
, so I just quartered them to make the scallops into small bite size pieces. I think the soup would be delicious with either type. This soup was fairly easy to make, sometimes it can be a pain to cook in steps, but the scallops cook so quick, it's not bad to put them in, take them out and then proceed with the recipe before adding them back in. You can do some clean up, get some other things done or even watch tv while you wait for the parsnips to soften so you can blend them. A creamy and flavorful soup.

Verdict: A creamy and flavorful soup. So. Yummy.
Parsnips in the pot

Scallop Chowder

Friday, March 27, 2015

Soup Project Week 11

11 weeks of soup! That's crazy! I'm working my way down this list. For the past few weeks I've been trying to do 3 soups a week. This week we only got to two.

First up was Creamy Coconut Green Chili Chicken Soup. This soup comes to us from the blog, Delicious Obsessions. This slightly spicy, rich and tasty soup was perfect for breakfast this week.
Green Chili Soup packed up and ready to go.
Given that we had a range of weather, it was nice on cold mornings, foggy mornings and rainy mornings. It wasn't an amazing soup or one that got awesome reviews from my companion, but it was tasty. I think actually it might have been better without the coconut milk, that's probably worth a try. One of the things I've learned during this #soupproject is that soups were you just dump stuff in a pot and let it simmer are great.This was one of those soups. There are definitely some soups from this list that will remain in a regular rotation, but I also am inspired to create my own dump and simmer soups. I hope that this project has inspired you as well.

The second soup I was able to make this week was Thai Coconut Turkey Soup. See a theme this week? Actually there have been quite a few soups on this list featuring coconut milk. This one is from a blog called The Endless Meal. This soup was a real winner at our house. I love green curry, it's something I order almost every time we go out for thai food. I was again surprised that my companion also loved this soup. Not that he dislikes anything in it, but it's not his first choice when eating thai food (because it's not super spicy). I actually realized as he was eating it and raving about how good it was, that out of the 27 soups I've made so far, he's only really refused to eat one (Sweet Potato and Carrot). Since I make a turkey breast every week to each for lunches during the week, I had some left over turkey to shred and add to the recipe. The green curry, coconut milk and ginger make such a great flavor combination. The mushrooms, tomatoes and bell peppers give the soup a variety of textures.
Yummy Thai Soup
That's it for this week in soup, let's see what we are able to accomplish next week! As I said, I hope this project has been inspiring you just like it has me! If it has or if you've also tried any of these recipes, please let me know! #soupproject

Friday, March 20, 2015

Believe or Not, It's More Soup

Skip is still moving along the soup list.

As I mentioned in last week's post, we hit some road blocks this week on the list, but they couldn't stop Skip! I moved right through with some minor adjustments.

First up, Chicken Bacon Crockpot Chowder from the blog Peace, Love and Low Carb. This recipe did pose a challenge for us. It calls for heavy cream and cream cheese. Right now, Skip is not doing dairy and her companion has an extreme dislike for cream cheese. The first thought was, well we don't have to do this recipe, let's just move on to the next. But then I thought, I can do this and just make some swaps. So, instead of heavy cream and cream cheese, I just used one can of full fat coconut milk.

The result? Delish. The coconut milk still provided the creaminess and texture to make this taste like a chowder. And let's face it, anything with bacon is amazing. This recipe was super easy because it's a crockpot recipe, so basically once you've assembled it, the crockpot does all the work. There is some prep work to do before you dump all the players into the crockpot, but as long as you plan ahead, you'll be golden.

Our next recipe challenge was a little different, the link for Paleo Pho didn't take you anywhere. I'm guessing that perhaps the blog, platefullpaleo either doesn't exist anymore or moved. Either way, I was without a recipe and thought, great now I really have to move along to the next soup. But I really wanted to try pho, so after a little searching I found a different Pho recipe to use. This one was from the popular, Paleo Cupboard site.
A bowl of Pho

Making Pho is a multi-step process and is therefore time consuming, but well worth it. For this recipe, the broth called for oxtails and beef knuckles, I had to settle for what they had at my store, which was oxtails and beef necks. I had less bones, pound wise then called for in the recipe, so I decreased the amounts of the other ingredients. I should have decreased the amount of water more than I did, the broth was a little "light". But still tasty.  This recipe called for the use of kelp noodles, I don't really dig the texture of them, so I went with rice noodles.Once the broth is done, the rest of the assembly is pretty easy. I set it up like a little bar and my companion and I dressed our bowls with the garnishes we each wanted. This was both fun and tasty. I definitely want to take another shot at it and try to get a better result with the broth.

Next up was this week's easiest soup, but that doesn't mean it was any less delicious. This tasty little soup from Colorful Eats was easy to make and easy to eat. The Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup recipe was simple, roast some tomatoes, red bell peppers, red onion and garlic with salt, pepper and oregano.
Ready to Roast
Then, blend them all together and boom! soup. This soup was thick and very comforting. This is a nice bowl of soup to cuddle up with on a cold and/or rainy day. Isn't that what we all want out of tomato soup anyway?

While Skip's companion is not a huge fan of tomato soup, he did enjoy this soup, as he has most of the tomato based soups on this list so far. I'm beginning to question this supposed dislike of tomatoes...

Make sure to come back next week for more soup! #soupproject

Friday, March 13, 2015


Now that the warmer weather is starting to show up, I'm beginning to question my decision to attempt to tackle this soup list. I also seem to have hit a couple bumps at the half way point in the list.

The first started with the soups for this week, but I've also encountered some problems in preparing for next week's soups, but we'll get to that next week. This week, I had set out to do three soups, but one soup posed a problem. I could not find purple potatoes. Therefore, I am choosing to omit Purple Sweet Potato Soup from Balancing Paleo. Should I locate purple potatoes, I will consider finding the recipe and making the soup. In the meantime, it's on to our other two soups this week.

First up, for our breakfast soup this week, I went with Sausage, Zucchini and Spinach soup courtesy of the blog, The Texas Peach. This soup was chock full of veggies, zucchini, spinach, tomato, red onion, celery. They all make for a delicious combination with the sausage.
Yum. Sausage and Veggies.
But the real star in this recipe is the addition of ground fennel seeds. I love that licorice flavor that fennel adds and the ground seeds really stood out in this soup. What a warm and delicious way to start the day. This is yet another example of a "chop and dump" soup, you put all this amazing stuff in the pot and let it do it's thing. My companion is not a fan of sausage, but he did like the soup and the addition of the fennel seed.

Next up was a soup that I thought was going to be average but was really great. Lesson learned here: never underestimate the deliciousness of ham. The soup that taught me that lesson was Paleo Ham and No Bean Soup from Mellow Momma.  What started out seeming bland, cauliflower, diced ham and carrots. Turned into a smokey, creamy
Did I mention the ham shank?
bowl of wonderfulness. I should have known that the addition of a pork product would amplify the flavor of this dish. The making of the soup had a few steps, steaming the cauliflower, pureeing it and then combining with the other ingredients. When I sat down to eat this I couldn't believe just how much I loved it. My companion did not believe me. But once he tried it, he agreed it was a great soup. He might not have been as enthusiastic as I was, but that's just because he doesn't have the same level of love for pork that I do.

That's this week's soup news. Stay tuned for next week as Skip handles some hurdles in the world of soup.#soupproject
Empty bowl=delicious soup.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Soup for you

Well in this journey of 43 Paleo Soups, we've finally found a soup that not only did Skip's companion not like, but he actually refused to eat. That is definitely a first here at HOS, there are not many things that Skip's companion refuses to eat. The offender? Carrots.

This week Skip made 3 soups. Two of them feature carrots. The soup that was rejected was Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup from the website, Happy Healthnut. For the record, Skip really enjoyed this soup. It made a lot, so it was a shame that she had to eat the whole pot herself due to her companions protest. The recipe starts out with roasting carrots, sweet potatoes, onions and garlic in the oven.
Roasting veggies
This smelled so good because they were covered in coconut oil while they were roasting, yum. Once they were done roasting, Skip got her immersion blender out and smoothed the whole thing out. I am just realizing now as I re-read this recipe that maple syrup is listed in the ingredients, but it is never mentioned in the cooking instructions, therefore, I never added it. I don't think it would have made my companion change his mind, but it would have enhanced the sweetness of the carrots for sure. This is a thick soup, but adding a little extra broth or water will thin it out if you don't like thick soup.

The soup that my companion liked this week was, Orange Ginger Squash Soup, brought to us by the blog, A Calculated  Whisk.  This soup was a little bitter, but that could have been the acorn squash, sometimes they are a little bitter. The orange and the ginger paired nicely with the squash. This was a very silky soup and definitely gave you a warm, fuzzy feeling while you ate it. This was again a soup that required "passive cooking". I roasted  the acorn squash in the oven, which is nice because you can just put it in and walk away and do your other business, like fold laundry or binge watch your favorite TV program. Once the squash is roasted and cooled, the immersion blender gets busy again and them boom!
Orange Ginger Squash Soup
you've got soup. We enjoyed this as a nice mid-week dinner with roasted cauliflower and asparagus.

Our third soup this week, which also is a carrot based soup, comes to us from the blog, Elana's Pantry. Paleo Carrot Soup features not only carrots but also green apples and ginger, which Skip hoped would add enough sweetness, tartness and spice to make her companion like it. For this recipe, Skip's immersion blender did not seem up to the task. Perhaps I did not let the carrots cook long enough and therefore they were not soft enough. Anyway, I threw all the veggies in my food processor, but it was still a tiny bit chunky, so I returned to the pot and hit it with the immersion blender. It didn't get as smooth as it could, but better. I recommend sauteing the veggies longer and even putting the carrots in first because the onions started to brown and that's why I went on to the next step.The verdict on this soup, my companion actually liked it! He said the sweetness was what did it for him, so I guess maybe the maple syrup in the other recipe might have made a difference? He still said he didn't think he could eat a lot of it, but could tolerate small amounts. I found the soup very pleasant. But then again, I love carrots.
Carrots, Apples and Onions

We've got a lot of soup to go yet.We aren't even half way through the list yet! This snowy week here in NJ was great for soup, but soon it will be getting warmer! Skip made a commitment and she will finish the soups! Stay tuned, #soupproject
Carrot Soup with a lime garnish