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Epcot Flower and Garden Festival 2016 With Travel With Rick

This week on Travel With Rick, Marc Bigbie and Rick take you around Epcot’s World Showcase for the Flower and Garden Festival. They enjoy some food and wine from the marketplaces and tell you what they like best and point out some of their favorite flowers and topiaries along the way!

Mediterranean Kabobs from Paradise Garden Grill at Disney California Adventure Park

Quick and delish, Paradise Garden Grill at Disney California Adventure park offers a tasty, unusual menu: skewers of beef kefta, grilled steak, lemon-oregano chicken, and veggies and tofu.

Our favorite is the kefta, a popular type of ground, seasoned meat, much like meatballs, that’s popular in the Middle East. Served with rice pilaf, a kicky chili sauce and cool cucumber salad, it’s healthful and filling.

Disney California Adventure park chef Jay Garcia shows you how to make this delectable version at home.

Mediterranean Kabob with Moroccan Chili Sauce, Rice Pilaf, and Cucumber Salad
Serves 4 to 6

Kabob Mixture
1/2 cup bulgur (cracked wheat)
1 cup boiling water
2 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup finely diced onions
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Moroccan Chili Sauce
1 (14.5-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons harissa (Mediterranean chili paste)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 carrot, diced

Rice Pilaf
4 cups vegetable stock
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups white rice
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
Coarse salt, to taste

Cucumber Salad
4 cucumbers, sliced on a diagonal
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup olive oil

For kabob mixture:

  1. Soak 10 wooden skewers in cool water for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, place bulgur in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over bulgur and set aside until water is absorbed and bulgur is cool, about 30 minutes.
  3. Add ground beef, onions, parsley, mint, garlic, cumin seeds, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne to bulgur in bowl. Mix with hands until just combined. Refrigerate 1 hour.
  4. Shape mixture into 15 to 20 oblong balls and form around skewers.
  5. Grill kabobs over medium-high heat, 8 to 10 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 158°F. Alternatively, bake in a 400°F oven 20 to 25 minutes, or until cooked through.

For Moroccan chili sauce:

  1. Place stewed tomatoes, garlic, lemon juice, harissa, red pepper flakes, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth; set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion and carrots; sauté 2 minutes, or until onion is translucent.
  3. Add tomato mixture. Simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

For rice pilaf:

  1. Combine vegetable stock, cumin, and pepper in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden. Add onions and celery; cook until vegetables are softened.
  3. Carefully add hot vegetable stock mixture to rice mixture. Bring to a simmer, then place lid on pan. Cook until rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving. Season to taste with salt.

For cucumber salad:

  1. Combine cucumbers, red pepper, and green pepper in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together lemon juice, salt, pepper, oregano, and sugar in a small bowl. Whisk in oil until completely combined.
  3. Pour dressing over vegetables; toss to combine. Refrigerate salad until ready to serve.

To serve:
Serve skewers over rice pilaf with cucumber salad on the side and with Moroccan chili sauce for dipping.

California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort Gets Ready for a New Look

We recently caught up with  Chef Brian Piasecki from California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort to talk about upcoming plans for one of our favorite Walt Disney World Resort restaurants.

California Grill Chef Brian Piasecki

Chef Brian, when will California Grill temporarily close?
Chef Brian: We’ll close on January 6, 2013, and we’re all so excited about the new look – I can’t wait to share the plans!

And when do you plan to reopen?
Chef Brian: Late summer 2013.

Are you making big changes to the menu?
Chef Brian: We’ll be tweaking the menu, but we’ll still focus on a fresh, seasonal menu with top-of-the-line sushi. You can still look for creative flavors and techniques, and sophisticated cuisine – I’ve got a great group of chefs in my kitchen and a great crew in the dining room, and we all plan to return.

We heard the private dining rooms may go away?
Chef Brian: No, we’ll continue to use the two private dining rooms for personalized catering for groups and parties.

Are you getting a new onstage kitchen?
Chef Brian: We’re so excited about enhancements to the interactive kitchen – we’ll be able to give a fresh spin to California Grill classics, and add some cutting-edge new selections to the menu.

Stay tuned for updates!