Dining in Prague

Dining in Prague, Czech Republic is a treat. The food and drinks are plentiful and inexpensive. A nice dinner for three with a couple of drinks each costs $30 to $50, including tip. There are restaurants seemingly on every corner with a wide variety of culinary options ranging from traditional Czech to English pub food and some pretty good looking Italian fare.


Our hotel, At the Green Grape, started us off each day with a hearty continental breakfast.


Ample Bites particular enjoyed Beseda and their authentic, traditional Czech food in the form of a perfectly roasted pig knuckle, or shank, served with a brown gravy and sauerkraut. The pork was crispy on the outside but tender and juicy and full of flavor.


Another favorite at our table at Beseda was pork medallions with roasted mushrooms, cabbage pancakes and onion crisps.

We also found a good fish restaurant in Old Town called At the Black Star which was admittedly a bit overpriced for Prague but the sea bass and salmon dishes in our party were cooked to perfection.


Among the culinary charms of Prague is a sweet pastry cylinder called a turdlo. These treats are baked on cylindrical tubes that spin over a gas flame until the outside of the pastry is a caramelized, hard shell and the inside is doughy sweet breading.


When accompanied by an espresso or latte the turdlo is a perfect mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack.


The beverage of choice of the Czech people is beer. They consume more beer per capita than anyone in the world. There is a good reason for this. Their beers such as Pilsner Urquel is outstanding and a .50 liter chilled mug will run you a full $1.50 to $2.00. Ample Bites emptied several mugs during a brief visit to the enchanting city of Prague.


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Salmon with Brown Sugar and Mustard Glaze

Salmon with Brown Sugar and Mustard Glaze is a long-time Ample Bites family favorite. The glaze creates a sugary, crispy crust along the edges of the fish and the combination of the brown sugar and mustard creates a spicy sweet accent to the grilled salmon.


Salmon with Brown Sugar and Mustard Glaze
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Weber’s Art of the Grill, 1999)

Serves 6 to 8

2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp honey
4 tsp unsalted butter
4 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp lower sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 whole salmon fillet, skin on, about 2 ½ pounds and ¾ to 1-inch thick

In a small sauté pan over medium heat, melt the brown sugar with the honey and butter. Remove from the heat and whisk in the mustard, soy sauce, olive oil, and ginger. Allow to cool.

Place the salmon, skin side down, on a large sheet of aluminum foil. Trim the foil to leave a border of ¼ to ½-inch around the edge of the salmon. Coat the flesh of the salmon with the brown sugar mixture.

Grill the salmon indirectly over medium heat until the edges begin to brown and the inside is opaque, 25 to 30 minutes. The internal temperature should be about 125F. Turn off the heat and serve fish directly from the grill using a large baking sheet. Cut the salmon crosswise into 6 to 8 pieces, but do not cut through the skin. Slide a spatula between the skin and flesh and remove the salmon pieces to a serving platter or individual plates.

Serve immediately.

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Eggplant-Crawfish Pirogues

Ample Bites has had a hankering for crawfish for quite sometime and I finally did something about it. I order crawfish tail meat from www.cajungrocer.com and put them into a new recipe that I found in Louisiana Cookin’ magazine and adapted.

Eggplant-Crawfish Pirogues combine several of my favorite ingredients – crawfish tail meat, eggplant, jalapeno pepper and, of course, garlic. A pirogue is a flat-bottom boat used in the bayous of the South and peeled and hollowed-out eggplant bears a strong resemblance to the real thing.

This dish is really very easy to make. The most complicated part of the recipe is breading and frying the eggplant boats before stuffing. The crawfish was precooked prior to shipping. The vegetables take but a few minutes to chop. They soften, simmer and then stand prior to stuffing the crawfish and vegetable mixture into the pirogues. Once stuffed, the eggplant bakes for 10 – 15 minutes and is served immediately. I accompanied mine with some homemade jalapeno-cheddar corn bread muffins and a few dashes of Tabasco sauce.


Eggplant-Crawfish Pirogues
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Louisiana Cookin’, March/April 2013)

Serves 6

3 medium eggplants, peeled and halved lengthwise
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped
¼ cup seeded and chopped jalapeno
½ cup seeded and chopped green bell pepper
¾ cup seeded and chopped red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ pounds cooked crawfish tail meat
4 ½ tsp, Kosher salt, divided
4 ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ tsp cayenne pepper, divided
4 ½ tsp panko bread crumbs
Canola oil for frying
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp garlic powder
1 cup fat free milk
½ cup grated parmesan cheese

Starting from the center of each eggplant half, scoop out the flesh, leaving a 1-inch shell. Chop flesh and set shells aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; add onion, peppers, and garlic; cook about 5 minutes or until softened. Reduce heat to low and cover pan. Cook stirring frequently, for about 25 minutes or until vegetables are very soft and beginning to brown. Add chopped eggplant, crawfish, 1 ½ teaspoons each salt and pepper and ½ teaspoon cayenne; cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in breadcrumbs and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and set aside. In a large Dutch oven, pour oil to a depth of 2 inches, and heat over medium heat until the oil reaches 350F.

Meanwhile in a shallow dish, combine flour, garlic powder, remaining salt and pepper and cayenne. Into another shallow bowl, pour milk. Dip each eggplant boat into milk and then dredge in flour. Fry shells in batches in the hot oil, turning occasionally, for about 8 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet to drain.

Spoon crawfish mixture into fried eggplant shells and transfer to foil-lined baking sheet. Top with parmesan cheese and bake 10 – 15 minutes until heated through and the eggplant is tender. Serve immediately.

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Viennese Cuisine

During a 10-day trip to Vienna, Austria and Prague, in the Czech Republic, Ample Bites had the opportunity to sample authentic cuisine and local versions of Italian favorites. Today’s post will focus on the food and sights of Vienna.

Viennese cuisine includes large amounts of pork, veal and chicken in various preparations. These proteins are usually accompanied with cabbage, potatoes, and hearty rye breads. In Vienna, the authentic dishes we sampled were a couple different types of pork schnitzel and wurst, a long, skinny sausage resembling a frankfurter or American hot dog.


The pork schnitzel is pounded flat and either breaded and fried or sauteed in oil. Schnitzel can be found almost anywhere in Vienna. Ample Bites saw it in local restaurants; at the local grocery store deli counter; in McDonald’s and Starbucks; at the corner Wurstel Express; and in the local fast food chain, aptly named the Schnitzelhaus. Ample Bites did not sample schnitzel from all of these sources by I suspect there is a wide range of quality.


The Ample Bites had schnitzel at Schnitzelwirt, a restaurant touted by Frommer’s for its quality schnitzel and accompaniments. Schnitzelwirt did not disappoint. The breaded schnitzel was unexpectedly light and tender and an unbreaded, sauteed schnitzel finished with a brown gravy with garlic and parsley was very good. Schnitzelwirt served up more food than our party could possibly eat, which we washed down with cold beer and some of the local rotwein, or red wine.


During an afternoon visit to the Vienna Woods and neighboring wine gardens in and around Grinzing we enjoyed a few glasses of Blaufrankish, a red wine, and a sampling plate of local goat’s milk cheeses. The wine was not as dry as the cabernets and sirahs Ample Bites likes the most but it was very good and we ordered this red wine throughout our visit to Vienna.

When Ample Bites was not consuming local Viennese food our cuisine of choice happened to be Italian. We thoroughly enjoyed homemade pasta and gnocchi dishes with perfectly cooked fish at Firenze, located just off the heavily-traveled Stephansplatz.


Another favorite was Vapiano, best described as a made-to-order pizza and pasta bar, located near the famous Prater Park.


At Vapiano, we were each issued a blank credit card which we took to a counter where pizzas and calzones are made. Diners can order from a menu of choices or select individual ingredients for a custom pizza.


This option is also available at a pasta counter. Other counters offered salads and dessert items. And, finally beverages, including a nice wine selection, were available. To order, you simply selected your food and drink items. The prices are scanned to the cards which are paid off at the end of the meal.


At each table was extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh basil and rosemary. The pizzas and calzone where perfectly baked in pizza ovens and were ready for pick-up after 10 – 12 minutes, which told Ample Bites that the oven was cranking out 700 – 1000F.

During a sightseeing lunch break for some thin crust pizza and a beer, Ample Bites sampled the Viennese version of sausage pizza. The sausage used was the wurst or frankfurter, which was a bit surprising at the time but in retrospect … not so much.


Another abundant food choice in Vienna is broadly categorized as Asian. This category is extremely broad and included everything from Indian to sushi. Ample Bites chose not to partake in sushi, which is a favorite our mine back in the States. A sampler plate of Indian food at Machu Machu included falafel and schwarma served with the usual pita bread and not so usual Viennese-style cabbage.


Ample Bites craved a salad entree on several occasions and found a few that truly “hit the spot”.


If you visit Vienna and have cooking facilities you can take advantage of a fantastic market that offers ingredients, seasoning, oils and herbs of all types. You can find out more about the Naschtmart in an upcoming Ample Bites post.

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Bacon and Blue Cheese Brussels Sprouts

Bacon and Blue Cheese Brussels Sprouts is a kicked-up version of one of Ample Bites’ favorite vegetables. In our household, we love the tiny cabbages known as Brussels sprouts. This recipe uses the richness of blue cheese and the salty bacon to enhance the wholesome little sprouts.


Bacon and Blue Cheese Brussels Sprouts
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of foodandwine.com, 2013)

Makes about 6 Servings

10 slices thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into ¼-inch pieces
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1 tsp Kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup light beer
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

In a large pan, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crisp; drain bacon on paper towels, and pour off rendered fat from pan.

In the same pan, melt the butter. Add the Brussels sprouts, cut side down, and cook with out moving for 2 to 3 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and beer, stirring to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beer is nearly evaporated, 10 to 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to broil.

Place sprouts in a 13×9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with reserved bacon and blue cheese. Broil for 5 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned and bubbly.

Serve immediately.

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A Better Burger

Ample Bites has found that a 50/50 mixture of ground lamb and lean (95/5) ground beef makes the most flavorful burger. Top that burger with some blue cheese, a grilled onion and some crumbles of bacon and you’ve got burger nirvana.


Better Burger
(Mark Kelly, 2013)

Serves 4

1/2 pound ground lamb
1/2 pound lean ground beef (95/5)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 hamburger buns

Preheat grill to high.

Mix beef and lamb and form 4 patties. Drizzle the patties with olive oil and season both sides with salt and pepper. Bring the patties to room temperature while the grill preheats.

Grill the burgers for 3 to 4 minutes until they release from the grates. Turn burners to low. Flip the burgers and grill for another 3 minutes for medium-rare. While the burgers are finishing, toast the buns.

Let burgers stand for 5 minutes before serving.

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Egg and Prosciutto Panini

The classic egg sandwich has long been a favorite. The egg breakfast sandwich is an American fast food institution. Ample Bites tried the Egg and Prosciutto Panini and found it to be a great lunch or dinner sandwich.

The creamy Havarti cheese, the salty prosciutto and the hearty omelet of an egg are accented with whole grain mustard resulting in a savory sandwich.


Egg and Prosciutto Panini
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of CuisineAtHome.com, 2013)

Makes 2 Servings

4 slices sourdough or whole grain bread, ½-inch thick
softened unsalted butter
2 Tbsp whole-grain mustard
2 ounces Havarti cheese, thinly sliced
2 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced
2 eggs
2 tsp grated Parmesan
1 tsp fat-free milk
1 tsp minced fresh chives
1 tsp unsalted butter

Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread; spread mustard on the other side of two slices. Arrange Havarti and prosciutto on top of the mustard sides.

Beat eggs, Parmesan, milk and chives in a small bowl.

Melt butter in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; when the foam subsides, add egg mixture. Cook until just set, pulling the eggs to the center of the pan with a rubber spatula, and tilting pan to fill in holes with liquid. Slide omelet onto a plate, cut in half, and place halves on the prosciutto. Top with remaining bread slices, buttered sides up.

Toast sandwiches on both sides or press in Panini-maker. Serve immediately.

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Cheese-Stuffed Sweet Peppers

Ample Bites used ancient sweet peppers, chive cream cheese, bacon and blue cheese to create Cheese-Stuffed Sweet Peppers. The sweet, creamy beauties are make a nice appetizer or side dish. A vegetarian version can be made by simply omitting the bacon.

The ancient sweet peppers are a red, sweet version of the Anaheim pepper. They are about 7 to 10-inches long and perfect for stuffing.


Cheese-Stuffed Sweet Peppers
(Mark Kelly, 2013)

3 Ancient sweet peppers
6 slices bacon, fried and chopped
6 ounces low-fat chive flavored cream cheese,
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 350F.

Slice a slit in the peppers lengthwise from about 1-inch from the stem and tip. Remove seeds and dice the pieces of pepper you have removed.

In a small bowl, combine the diced peppers, cream cheese, bacon and blue cheese. Fold together until completely combined. Spoon equal portions of the cheese mixture into the cavities in the peppers. Place the peppers on a rimmed, foil-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes and then finish under the broiler for another 2 to 3 minutes taking care not to burn them.

Serve immediately.

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Baked Baby Broccoli

Baby broccoli, also known as rapini, is a little known delicacy. Ample Bites likes to serve Baked Rapini in which the rapini is seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper, lemon and bread crumbs.


Baked Rapini
(Mark Kelly, 2013)

Makes 4 Servings

2 pounds rapini (baby broccoli), trimmed
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Zest and juice of ½ lemon
1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Boil 2 quarts of water. Blanch rapini for 1 to 2 minutes and immediately immerse the blanched rapini in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.

Preheat oven to 425F.

Arrange rapini on a foil-lined, rimmed baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake the rapini for 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven. Top with Panko and lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper. Bake for an additional 3 minutes.

Before serving squeeze the ½ lemon over the rapini, drizzle with good quality olive oil, and sprinkle with Parmesan.

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