Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dinner tonight: Bulgolgi-ish eggplant

A few weeks ago my friend Mary shared a bunch of really adorable baby Japanese eggplant with me--her CSA had been filled with them and she was a bit eggplanted out.

I was trying to think of something that would do these cute veggies justice, and decided to go with a bulgolgi-type marinade. I started with a CL recipe for Korean barbecue wet rub, but used about half the oil and added a few splashes of mirin and a few splashes of water (to make sure there was enough to coat everything). I sliced the eggplants in half lengthwise and marinated everything together in a plastic bad overnight. The next day I roasted the eggplant (threw out remaining marinade) until it was, well, roasty...I think about 40 min at 425.

I'm happy to report that the end result was a tasty success, albeit a tiny bit too sweet. I think next time I would use a bit less brown sugar, a bit more soy, and maybe throw in some ground red pepper for kick. But otherwise, a win! And since it's totally okay to binge on vegetables, I ate nearly all of them in one sitting.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Shame on you, Rustico

A couple months ago I raved about Rustico's new fried green tomato pizza, and my love for the restaurant was reaffirmed. This week, I started to second-guess my feelings, thanks to what was probably one of the worst salads I had ever had.

I have a lot of social events oriented around food this weekend, so I was trying to go light with a panzanella, topped with grilled shrimp. What arrived was anemic and unappealing, if I'm being generous. It looked like something I would get at Applebee's, but cost about twice the price. No hunks of bread (just weird little flakes) and four sad shrimp, all piled with diced tomatoes, cucumbers, and entirely flavorless mozzarella, and COVERED in shredded cheese (which was NOT listed on the menu). Honestly, I could make a better shrimp panzanella at home; come to think of it, I have!

Just because you have a steady stream of business from Arlington yuppies does not, in my opinion, mean that you can start phoning it in. Let's hope this was just a bump in the road and not an end to my Rustico love affair. Shame on you, Rustico!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dinner tonight: Herbed Ricotta Tart

I wanted something veg and a little carby, so earlier this week I made an herbed ricotta tart.

Score another yum for CL! This was super easy to make, had a ton of flavor, and was very satiating. I forgot to pick up chives and ended up not buying nearly enough green onions, so I used 1/4 cup of grated onion in place of the aforementioned, sauteed up with the scallions. Used fat free ricotta, since I think it makes absolutely no difference in this type of cooking. (Eating-wise, there's a huge difference in consistency, although I mix it with soy milk for breakfast which ends up evening everything up, and you save half the calories with the fat free version.) Ended up taking about 45 minutes to cook all the way through.

Besides being perhaps a bit heavy on the dill, the tart was absolutely delightful. Good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner; we paired it with a simple spinach and celery salad.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dinner tonight: Chicken Verde Stew with Hominy

Sunday I was totally craving Mexican food, but, after a weekend of binge drinking and eating in honor of the Hahn-Prestwich union (YAY!!!), I really could not justify eating something cheesy and greasy. Instead, I made chicken verde stew with hominy.

Also, I totally cheated. Rather than go through the time-consuming steps of roasting and pureeing my own tomatillos, I decided to let the international foods aisle of HT do the work and bought a bottle of salsa verde. Now, this was not an exact substitute: the salsa is essentially tomatillos, chiles, salt and a little liquid. So I still added the cilantro, cumin, and oregano; I just added them during step 4.

Other mods:
Because I was using prepared salsa, I used 1.5 cups broth and 2/3 cup salsa. This came out pretty thick, so if you're looking for something a little looser or voluminous, I'd add some extra broth.
To keep the calorie stats a bit lower, I used chicken breast instead of thighs (honestly, they came out just as tender after stewing for 45 min). Also, no sour cream, for the same reason.
No S&P at the end, it was entirely unnecessary.

WOW did this satisfy my Mexican craving! It was thick, salsa-y, and had that unmistakably Mexican corn-y flavor from the hominy (which is, incidentally, definitely on my death row meal list). The stew also had a fantastic blend of textures: chewy from the hominy, creamy from the base, and crunchy from the celery, which was still al dente after the full simmer time. It also made a lot of servings, so I rate this one an all our win from our friends at CL!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cava Mezze Clarendon

After an exhausting afternoon of wedding registries, P and I decided to try out the new Cava Mezze location in Clarendon. Overall, it was solid, especially for Clarendon. Highs were the service (our waiter Devon gave us just the right amount of attention without being annoying) and the wine selection (surprisingly good).

Food-wise, Cava was overall unoffensive, with a few good notes, some blahs and some blechs. The olive oil and sun-dried tomatoes to accompany tableside pita were a waste of calories. I *cook* with more flavorful olive oil than they served for dipping, and the tomatoes were way too spicy and kind of pizza-y tasting. The mezze were somewhat better. Grilled haloumi was fantastic. Of course, it's hard to screw up a dish where all you do is unwrap the cheese and throw it on a grill, but still, yum! We also ordered some sort of melange of eggplant, zucchini, onions, and tomatoes. This was not bad, but neither here nor there really. Stewed lamb was incredibly tender and flavorful, but the accompanying risotto was too grainy and like something Uncle Ben's would make for the microwave.

If this was in DC, I definitely wouldn't return. But, compared with some other restos in the area, Cava is a reasonable option for a Clarendon dinner. Given that we had 3 glasses of wine between us and 3 sizable dishes, the bill was also quite reasonable! (portions x-posted to

Monday, September 5, 2011

Three so-so recipes and one delicious one

Since I have once again been remiss in my blogging and because three of these recipes really don't warrant their own posts, I'm treating you, readers, to another massive marathon recipe review!

The final meal in P's and my week of delicious dinners was pork chops with Carolina rub. I left out the onion powder since I didn't have any, and ran out of paprika about 1/2 tsp in. For the bbq sauce I used that same awesome mustard bbq sauce I used with Lloyd's pork in an earlier post. Paired the chops with some broccoli slaw tossed with Newman's Own light honey mustard dressing (so good!!) and a hunk of store-bought corn bread from Whole Foods (which was okay, but not stellar). Overall, an awesome meal and actually pretty easy, even though P said, "wow, this is pretty major for a weekday meal!" Win.

The next week P was out of town, which is probably good because it meant I didn't have to serve these next three dishes to anyone but myself. They weren't bad at all, they just were ho-hum with a side of blah. To wit:

Black bean-tomato soup with cilantro-lime cream was easy and not bad, and tasted better the second day. But not amazing and there was way too much lime in the cream (I used non-fat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream).

Halibut with lemon-fennel salad. Used mahi instead of halibut and shallots instead of red onion. (I thought I had a half a red onion in the fridge but it turned out to be shallots.) Paired with a take-and-bake wheat dinner roll. Eh.

Asian chicken slaw. Cut back on the chicken a bit since I had a 7oz (versus 16) breast in the freezer that I needed to use, no bell pepper, 3-color slaw instead of just green cabbage, used half rice vinegar and half white wine vinegar in place of rice wine vinegar. Also no almonds or sesame seeds. The nice thing about this dish was that it had a lot of volume for not a lot of calories--I generally ate ~2.5 cups at a time, for somewhere around 225 calories! The bad thing is that it made so much that I was really sick of it before I finished it all. Ended up topping with a peanut sauce the last time just to change the flavor!

So, now we are all caught up on recipe reviews. At least until dinner tonight...