Sunday, June 24, 2012


For our regular Friday night takeout night a couple weeks ago we tried Present, a Vietnamese place out our way. Our hope was that it would be like Four Sisters, but without the hike out west. And, for the most part, it did not disappoint.

My first issue with Present was that it is impossible to order a side of vegetables. You can order a vegetarian entree, but it seemed a little excessive to spend $13 extra to round out the meal. And since it was Friday and the fridge was fairly depleted of produce by then, we ended up supplementing our takeout with a frozen veg medley. I would have much preferred some steamed baby corn and broccoli! My second issue was that it was SO HARD to select just a few things from a menu where everything sounds absurdly delicious. This, however, is the kind of problem I like to have!

The star of the meal was hands down the baby clam salad. I would say this rivals Four Sisters, with maybe a higher peanut-to-clam ratio. The rice was also perfection--a teensy bit al dente and way more flavorful than I can ever make plan old rice. We also ordered crispy roasted duck with tamarind sauce and caramelized clay pot fish. Both proteins were slightly overcooked and the sauces a bit on the sweet side, but on the whole still pretty good.

Overall, solid takeout, and it's probably better dine-in while the food is freshest. We'll undoubtedly be back--we still have to try the seafood pancakes, the black pepper shrimp, and everything else on the menu. Friday, come soon! (portions x-posted to

Friday, June 8, 2012

This week from the farm: dill, radishes, snow peas, watercress, kale

So, obviously we received an even more exciting bounty than what's in title of this post, but these were the main things I tried in recipes this week.

First up was the dill and radishes--we made catfish with dill sauce and butter-braised radishes. Now, I am not a huge fan of dill...about the only thing I really appreciate it in is chicken noodle soup. But this dill sauce is SO FREAKING good. Not only did I practically lick my plate after dinner, I used the sauce as a dressing on a salad the next day. Yumyumyumyumyum. It was also a good way to use some of the scallions in this week's CSA share and leftover parsley from last week. I wonder if it would be better on a more flavorful protein...the pungency of the sauce really overpowered the catfish. Also a super-easy dish overall. I paired this with butter-braised radishes, which really didn't go at all, but I was looking for a use for radishes that didn't involve just slicing them up and putting them in a salad. The radishes were fine..kind of like parsnips but not as sweet. I used about half the butter, which really should be no surprise to you.

The next night we had cold beef noodle salad, which was decent but not a showstopper. I used top sirloin, and used the grill for the first time by myself (yes, I'm a girl). The steak itself was really tasty. Used half udon, half tofu shirataki to cut back on calories (make sure you nuke and drain this first because it's kind of stinky if you don't); snow peas, radishes, and carrots from the share instead of the veggies they recommend, and no mint. I will say I appreciated the volume you get from the calories! Speaking of calories, I think I drizzled a bit of sunflower oil on this, but that's all. I don't understand why people put oil on their salads. I think next time I would replace completely with the fake noodles, because you honestly couldn't really tell the difference. Good, all-the-major-food-groups cold dish for a hot summer night.

Our last real dinner use of the share was salmon with wilted watercress and balsamic drizzle, which took, like 7 minutes total to make (assuming you washed the watercress ahead of time. If not...8.5). Good, unexciting, but simply delicious. Paired with frozen take-and-bake wheat dinner rolls with olive oil for dipping.

Last night I took inspiration from F&W's grilled kale with garlic, chiles, and bacon to make a side for chicken burgers (yes! I used the grill all by my lonesome AGAIN!). Tossed the kale with the garlic and crushed red pepper (not a lot, in place of the small red chile), grilled using the perforated grill pan method. Omitted the bacon step, and tossed with myer lemon-flavored olive oil since we had no lemons in the house. Seasoned at the end with some kosher salt as well. P, who is an avowed non-kale-lover, said he would eat this every day. So I consider that a win! Sadly, the dinner as a whole did not go as planned. Due to my complete lack of coordination, said chicken burger and a third of the kale ended up on the floor with a million shards of ceramic. So I had more kale, and a couple glasses of wine, for dinner.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

This week from the farm

This past week's CSA had many of the same items as the week prior, including some delicious kale, spinach, and asparagus! So for dinner we had sausage and clams with chickpeas one night and Thai fish-and-noodle soup another.

The sausage and clams with chickpeas dish was Portuguese-inspired, and a very good use of massive quantities of kale! I cut back on the sausage (used mild Italian chicken sausage in place of turkey--lower fat!) and the chickpeas a teensy bit, mostly because I also needed those things for cooking later in the week. I also increased the number of clams, since you can only buy a bag of a gazillion, not 16. Also, I have bad luck with mollusks and usually at least a quarter of them never open.

We had this in deep plate/bowl thingies, with crusty baguette (flax and bran) for dipping. This was a nice, different type of dish, with a little bit of everything! The broth was a little bit weak, though...salty, but not much flavor outside of that. I think this would really soar with a hit of some herb (rosemary perhaps?) or some Tabasco. But decently good overall.

The Thai fish-and-noodle soup, however, was sad. I added canned bamboo shoots, supplemented the amount of asparagus, and omitted the mushrooms and bell pepper. Also used rice sticks in place of noodles, based only on convenience. I thought the addition of the fish fillet on top brought a nice texture balance to the dish, but the soup itself just didn't cut it. I ended up adding a ton of soy to give the broth more flavor, but I think the lime overwhelmed everything and it had kind of a funny flavor. Leftovers were a bit better, but still not something I would ever consider making again. Perhaps it would have been better without my veggie subs...  

Next week, we'll have radishes, dill, and watercress (among many other farm bounties) to enjoy!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


We went to Zentan last weekend with friends, mostly because, let's be honest, it was pretty much the only place in the area that had open reservations for 6 on a Saturday night two hours before we needed them. That said, it had been on my list since Susur Lee was on Top Chef Masters. So.

Zentan was decent, bordering on good, although inconsistently so. The wine selection was pretty solid, the service was schizophrenic. The Singapore slaw was *pretty* good, could have been great with some lime juice or rice vinegar. Fried calamari was way salty, but tender and crispy.

Friends who got the Hong Kong fish and black cod were happy with their choices, and I concur...both were cooked beautifully and flavors were clean and somewhat subtle. The XO shrimp, scallops, and squid, however (which P and I chose), smacked of Chinese takeout...greasiness included. The Dragon Roll, which we also shared, was AWESOME. This is one you definitely don't want to drench in soy.

Given our somewhat low expectations coming in, Zentan was probably surprisingly good. If you go, stick with the fish and the sushi, and you'll see the resto's good side! (portions x-posted to

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Delicious Amalfi

I am sad to report that we have officially returned from our honeymoon to Italy's Amalfi Coast. Happy, however, to tell you about the deliciousness we experienced there!! 8 days in Italy makes for much eating, so rather than trying to rehash it all (and get even sadder that it's over), I thought we'd stick to the superlatives. And, since I have still been largely remiss at including food porn, some accompanying pictures!

*Best, tender grilled squid: Chez Black (Positano)
*Funniest tasting olive oil on an otherwise beautiful piece of seabass: Next2 (Positano)
*Scariest drive to an otherwise super fun resto: La Tagliatta (Positano...ish)
*Longest line to wait for (really fun and unique) pizza, sold by weight!: Pizzarium (Rome...on the *other* side of the Vatican)

*Worst excuse for true Italian pizza: Les Tres Sorelles (Positano)
*Most perfectly cooked pasta (on the crunchier side of al dente): Da Vincenzo (Positano)
*Smushiest, worst excuse for authentic pasta (and worst house wine): Cumpa Cosimo (Ravello)
*Best bottle of wine: 1999 Radici (enjoyed during our *first* (yes, there were multiple) Michelin-starred resto dinner (La Sireneuse in Positano)
*Best meal of the trip (not to mention one of the best of my life!!!) and hugest ensuing food coma: Il Flauto di Pan (second Michelin-starred resto, in Ravello)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

This week from the farm!

Our CSA with Dragonfly Farms officially kicked off this past weekend, so I thought while we're enjoying the farm bounties, I'd tell you about the recipes we try for dinner in a slightly different format. P says he thinks the main reason we signed up for the CSA is the challenge of using all the veggies each week, so I say, game on!

Our first CSA crate was filled with:
lettuce, spinach, baby bok choi, cilantro, scallions, radishes, tomatoes, strawberries, asparagus, garlic was a lot to wash (good thing we registered for a salad spinner for our wedding)! Incidentally, I had NO idea what the garlic scapes were (see picture below), but thanks to facebook I had help.

Ensuing dinners so far have been:
Apricot veal chops with grilled asparagus and garlic scapes and rosemary flatbreads (Flat-outs, store bought and on sale for half-price!). This was really good and super easy, plus the veggies gave us a chance to use our brand new grill (also a wedding present, yay)! I used veal instead of the lamb in the recipe because the lamb was obscenely expensive and because, according to the nutritional labels at least, the veal was actually way leaner. One mod I would recommend is a bit less preserves and a bit more W-sauce; as-is, it's a bit on the sweet side. But yumyumyumyumyum. And the asparagus and scapes were a delicious, nutritious pairing.

Orange chicken over brown rice with sauteed baby bok choi. The orange chicken was eh. It was a bit bland, but the flavors were in the right place. Perhaps I didn't reduce the sauce enough. The chicken itself was pretty great--tender and almost sweet. It's amazing what a lot of pounding and a touch of butter can do!
The bok choi I chopped, sauteed briefly with some ground ginger, added some water, and put the top on the skillet to steam for ~10 min. At the end I added S&P and some splashes of sherry, burned off the alcohol for about a minute.

Tonight we made use of all *sorts* of our farm bounty: lettuce, tomato, and radish salad dressed with a chile-cilantro dressing and topped with cold-smoked salmon. (In the past I would have just had the salad with a piece of bread, but I'm trying to incorporate more protein into my diet.) Pretty good! Used roasted, salted pepitas, since that's what we had on hand, and just omitted the added recipe salt. Also used greek yogurt in place of regular because, again, already had it. Ditto for the full-fat feta in place of reduced fat. Honestly, with only 1.5 tsp, it really shouldn't substantively impact cals or fat per serving. If you make this, mMaybe cut down on the garlic (since it's raw and thus, uber pungent), or don't eat this before a date or interview.

Left to find uses for this week: spinach and scallions! Any suggestions? (Ate the strawberries with breakfast.)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Dinner tonight: Three recent, not picture-worthy favorites

In the interests of playing catch-up, I'm going to cover three recent (and I use this term loosely) dinners that were particularly good...sadly, none of them was very pretty, so this will be a words only post--use your imaginations!

The first dish was all veg: brandade of white beans and baby artichokes. This was absolutely fabulous and very fancy-feeling, but I think I burned more calories making it than are actually in it. While this is somewhat of a positive, it pretty much guarantees that I will never make it again (not that there is ever really a danger of this happening...). Made this as-is, but I used canned artichoke hearts because really, who can find baby artichokes?? The layering of flavors was incredibly complex and interesting, although this is definitely a "serve immediately" dish. Leftovers were somehow bland and boring, and all of those interesting components kind of muddled together.

The second recent fav was semi-veg, since it's egg-based. Scrambled eggs with ricotta truly did take no more that the advertised 10 minutes, and actually is one of the few WaPo recipes I've made and been happy with. This is probably because it's derived from a Thomas Keller recipe. Ergo, borne from greatness. I used all-skim ricotta because that's kind of how I roll, and it made me feel a little better about the fact that I was seriously cooking with canned creamed-style corn. I also used about half or a third of the suggested butter. This was incredibly creamy and flavorful and richly satisfying, especially paired with veggies (I think maybe I did asparagus?) and some toast. Yum-freaking-o.

Finally, a chicken dish. Instead of our normal takeout Friday night, we decided to cook in (I believe this was right after our 2-night binge-fest in Lovettesville post-wedding). But since it was still Friday night, I went with a recipe with a bit more calories than I normally cook. I see chicken biryani on Indian restaurant menus all the time, but never order it because it's rice-based and I still have lingering carb-guilt from the Atkins days of my youth. This was PHENOMENAL, with one caveat: do not use brown basmati. I did, and I ended up having to cook this for an eternity (seriously, it was like 2 hours), and the rice was still al dente when I finally gave up and served it. That said, the flavors and textures are so satiating and comforting and fantastic. The jalapeno, even seeded, snuck in a significant amount of heat, which the carbiness of the rice and the sweetness of the raisins (I used regular raisins because it seems ridiculous to  me to by a totally different box of raisins just for aesthetics) offset nicely. I paired this with the recommended cucumber and plum tomato salad, which was also quite good. This is the only recipe of the three that made really solid leftovers.

So, some new recommended recipes for herbivores and omnivores alike! Enjoy and let me know what you thought! (portions x-posted on

Friday, April 20, 2012

Open Kitchen

So, I realize I'm about a bazillion posts behind, but, for the moment, rather than relive the ghosts of meals past, I thought we'd start with something current.

Tonight, P and I dined at Open Kitchen. It was on somewhat of a whim--Fridays are usually take-out-and-a-bottle of wine night, but P's been traveling a lot (so not exactly a lot of out-of-house QT) and I've seen the signs for Open Kitchen, which is theoretically just down route 7 from us and therefore closer than DC. We went in with pretty much no expectations, since it was on a whim and neither of us did any research. We left having decided that it will be our new neighborhood spot.

The ambiance: one hundred percent no-frills. The outdoor tables are diner-style brushed aluminum and the menus are paper...and not even the heavyweight kind. But the people are phenomenally friendly and the wine and food were more than solid enough for repeat performances.

Our waitress was able to nail down a red for us that was light enough for a spring evening, but both earthy and jammy (a total surprise in a CA zin!). We decided to share: mussels, veggie tart, and pork belly. The mussels were cooked well and the sauce was yummy without being overly buttery. I did get a couple gristly mollusks. Although the cheese in the veggie tart was a little stinky for my taste, overall the veggieness was generous and the flavoring good. I also very much appreciated the generous salad garnish, with two beautiful, meaty tomato slices. Best was the pork belly. Yumbos. The grits were creamy, the pork, tender and fatty without being gross, and holy crap that demi glace was good. It was the definition of umami, and so different we actually had to bring the chef over to ask what was in it!

Against our waitress' suggestions, we went with the chocolate torte, which was a bit too tootsie-rolly (in flavor and texture) for our taste, although it brought out some really interesting notes in the wine, and, let's be honest, we still completely finished. Next time, we plan to go for the cherry and white chocolate bread pudding that the waitress gushed about.

Open Kitchen also apparently has all sorts of fantastic food/wine/cooking-based events, so if anyone's ever down, let us know! We will be sure to be back. Regularly. We didn't even touch the entrees yet! (portions x-posted to

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Honey Pig

Honey Pig is a delicious, smoky, suburban meat paradise, assuming you are of sufficient intestinal fortitude. Even my dining companions, who complained of the "Honey Pig effect" the next day, though, agreed it was worth the gastrointestinal hangover!

Because I was dining with 3 dudes, we got to order a LOT of food. An order of pork belly, order of short ribs, tofu soup, baby octopus and pork chulpan, and of course, the rice,various accompaniments (loved the little sugary beans!), and copious beer and sochu.

Be forewarned, unless you have incredible self control, you will most definitely gorge yourself. Fortunately, since each of us had a different favorite among the order, there was no fighting for thirds, fourths, and fifths. My personal favorite was the short ribs, which were deliciously sweet-tangy and tender.

Amazing wrapped in lettuce with chili sauce and some sesame greens.

Others liked the pork belly, but I found it a little disappointing. While I expect pork belly to be fatty, this fat was lumpy and chewy--not the silky, slidy kind you'd find on a hunk at a fine dining establishment.

P's favorite was the chulpan, which, unlike the bbq dishes is all savory and no sweet; surprisingly not as spicy as I worried it would be but still with incredible chili pepper flavor. This dish came with generous amounts of kimchi cabbage and just a few cute little baby octopi (which are both fun and tasty!).

We rolled out of there smelling strongly of smoke, with, I'm sure, frighteningly high blood lipids. But fat and happy, nonetheless! (portions x-posted on

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

100 Foods to Try -- My version

So, everyone on facebook has been taking this 100 foods to try before you die test, and then my cousin sent out something similar by email. I took it. And then I decided I had to make my own, because I thought it was a bit unfair--Hostess fruit pie, for instance, is not something that I think is either so delicious as not to be missed, or so iconic/interesting/unique that you really should at least say you've had it (this would be my criteria for list foods).

I came up with a list quickly, then added and subtracted items in my head on the drive home. In the interest of not spending the entire rest of my evening doing this, here's what I've put together so far. Yes, it's a bit snobby, but that should surprise no one! I did try to throw some gimmies in there. :) And honestly, some of these I have not tried yet, and some I have and didn't like. Still worth trying. Enjoy...And please comment if you have other recommendations!

100 lists to try, "What I'm Eating" style!
1. Anchovies
2. Baked Alaska
3. Banh mi
4. Beignets
5. Black and white cookie
6. Black pineapple
7. Bone marrow
8. Bufalo mozzarella
9. Butternut squash soup
10. Caesar salad
11. Calamari
12. Calf liver
13. Chai tea
14. Chicago-style deep-dish pizza
15. Chicken and waffles
16. Chilean sea bass
17. Chipped beef
18. Chutney
19. Conch
20. Coq au vin
21. Crab cakes
22. Crepes
23. Cubano
24. Derby pie
25. Eel
26. Escargot
27. Etoufee
28. Fig cake
29. Fish tacos
30. Flan
31. Fluffernutter sandwich
32. Fried green tomatoes
33. Fugu
34. Gelato
35. Guacamole
36. Gyro
37. Head-on shrimp
38. Horseradish
39. Hummus
40. Injera
41. Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes)
42. Kadu (Afghan pumpkin)
43. Kale
44. Korean BBQ beef
45. Langoustines
46. Limoncello
47. Matzo ball soup
48. Mint julep
49. Mole
50. Moo Shu
51. Morel mushrooms
52. Napolitos (cactus paddles)
53. Noodle kugel
54. Nutella
55. Octopus
56. Pad thai
57. Paella
58. Peking Duck
59. Peruvian roast chicken
60. Plantains
61. Pork Belly
62. Pot de creme
63. Prosciutto
64. Pulled pork BBQ
65. Pupusa
66. Quail egg
67. Quinoa
68. Rabbit
69. Rack of lamb
70. Rambutan
71. Red velvet cake
72. Reuben
73. Rice-a-roni
74. Rice congee
75. Risotto
76. Roasted chestnuts
77. Rhubarb
78. Rugala
79. Saag
80. Samosa
81. Sangria
82. Scotch egg
83. Shortribs
84. Shrimp and grits
85. Shrimp chips
86. Soft pretzel + mustard
87. Softshell crab
88. Spicy tuna roll
89. Squab
90. Squid ink pasta
91. Starfruit
92. Steak tartare
93. Sweetbreads
94. Tiramisu
95. Tortilla espanol
96. Tripe
97. Venison
98. Wild Boar
99. Yassa poisson
100. Zucchini blossom

Monday, April 9, 2012

A quick nosh

P and I are still recovering--slowly--from wedding planning and the eventful weekend itself. Until I can get up the energy to fill you in on all of our culinary adventures, however, I thought it only fair to at least share a few food musings with you.

1. Green eggs do exist. We were given some as a parting gift when we left Stone Manor (awesome bed and breakfast), and they are beautiful and delicious. Deep orange yolks. Not at all disgusting, despite what Dr. Seuss would have you believe!

2. Blanched almonds are just almonds without skin. I am ashamed to admit that I did not know this (let's blame my parents), and spent 20 minutes wandering around the Teets looking for them. Fortunately, it's fun and easy to make them yourself. Soak for 1 min max in boiling hot water, and the almonds practically derobe themselves! Apparently hot tubs have the same effect on almonds that they do on drunk people. Harhar. Anyway, it was so neat I took a picture.

3. Cedarlane eggplant stacks are slacking. As you may remember, this is my all time favorite frozen meal. Apparently they've been getting cocky over at Cedarlane because my lunch today was meh. Granted, it was probably still better than pretty much anything Lean Cuisine makes, but it was by no means the culinary masterpiece that made the fact that I'm eating lunch, at my desk, alone, a little less sad. Let's hope this was a fluke. Anyone else tried them recently?

Back, eventually, with some updates on recipe and dining successes and failures!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Neighborhood party food

Nearly 3 months after moving in, we finally had our neighbors over for an open house to meet everyone over snacks and wine. In addition to cheese and crackers, black and white cookies, and dinosaur-shaped nuggets for the kids (which were surprisingly pretty decent--P and I totally had them for lunch the next day), I made eggplant compote (a Joel Robuchon recipe!), tiki snack mix, and peppered garlic confit with prosciutto (at P's request).

The compote I made as described, although I sauteed it for a bit longer. Served room temperature with pita chips, and the next night we had this with baguette slices and topped with a fried egg for dinner. Dicing that much eggplant is not really my idea of fun, but it came out deliciously, and it was nice to have a veg-heavy dish in what was otherwise a pretty carby/caloric "meal" (because, yeah, apps were totally dinner for us that night).

The tiki snack mix went over really well, I thought it tasted kind of like grown-up Cracker Jacks. As you surely know by now, I'm like the only person on earth who's not enamored with bacon, so I actually left this part out (and threw in some roasted pepitas to replace some of the smokiness). Sweet, salty, and crunchy--we snacked on it for the rest of the week!

Lastly, the garlic confit. This was hands-down the winning dish--everyone raved and several people asked for the recipe on their way out. Despite my efforts to not repeat recipes, I have a sneaking suspicion this will be requested sometime in the future. Thank goodness it was the easiest one in the bunch! Needless to say, though, not much in the way of leftovers for this one.

Oh yes. And the party itself: resounding success!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dinner Tonight: Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Cranberry-Chipotle Dressing

Yes, it has been a while since I posted...and this trend will probably continue in the near future, since it's crunch time for the wedding! However, it's a federal holiday and I just spent the last 20 minutes trying to learn how to Dougie for the wedding (I can safely say that I am, 100%, a white girl), so it's time for a break to tell you about some of the deliciousness in my life!

I had been wanting to make this roasted sweet potato salad with cranberry-chipotle dressing for some time, and finally found an opportunity when P's friend was visiting. It's amazingly easy (assuming you can find cranberries--check the frozen fruit section) but so freaking addictive! We paired this with some pan-seared, oven-finished filets, wheat baguette, and simple sauteed spinach. I think I modified the recipe to serve 6 instead of 8, but you better believe we pretty much demolished it between the three of us.

You might want to go a bit easy on the chipotle, since these canned kind are pretty spicy, almost to the point where it detracted from the other flavors. Make sure not to skip the pepitas--I think the crunch and the smokiness they add really complete the dish.


Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Okay, this review is LONG overdue, so bear with me as I try to conjure up my food memories!

PS-7s was on Washingtonian's best restaurants list in 2010, fell out of favor in 2011, and has reappeared in the most recent version. When P and I went in late November, we agreed that it must be reinstated. Seriously, what a fantastic meal.

What's really great about this restaurant is that it's just a step below a true special occassion restaurant (read, you won't blow $400 for two people), but the food and service are definitely above your average random-Saturday-night-in-the-city dinner. And they do Groupons!

When the hostess called to confirm our reservation and asked if we were celebrating anything, I said, "um, well, we just bought a new house. Does that count?" Apparently it did, because they pulled out all the stops to help us celebrate! Every person we interacted with during the night acknowledged the event, we got the most romantic table in the place, AND gratis cava.

The food made us feel equally special. The table bread: delish, especially the soda bready-type cornbread. We share a flatbread (I think it had pumpkin, pepitas, and prosciutto maybe?) and a salad, both of which were really yummy and large. Then I got the deconstructed paella, which, with the exception of slightly overly charred shrimp, was perfectly cooked. And the shrimp still had their heads!!!! LOVE. P got some sort of seafood stew, which he also liked, although not as much as I liked mine. I think we also got desert, but I honestly don't recall.

Bottom line: If PS-7s ever misstepped, it's back. We would definitely return, and although I don't necessarily recommend going here for, say, your engagement dinner, it's definitely worth finding a reason for your dinner to be a celebration of some sort! (x-posted to

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Dinner this Week: French Onion and Apple Soup; Ma Po Tofu

What a delicious week we had! My sister was in town on Tuesday, so we had her over for dinner and ate French Onion and Apple Soup. Definitely time intensive (it takes almost an hour just to caramelize the onions) but also definitely worth it! I added a skinless, boneless chicken breast to make it an entree dish--just toss in the chicken when you add the broth, and at the end, remove, shred with two forks, and return to the pot.

I also made the following subs:
-2 tbsp butter, not 3
-~1/2 tsp dried time in place of the sprigs
-apple juice instead of cider
-cider vinegar in place of the sherry vinegar
-no cheese.

We had this with a simple salad (read: bowl of lettuce) with a maple-mustard vinaigrette (olive oil, grainy mustard, cider vinegar and maple syrup). The only real downfall is that we were all pretty hungry again within a couple hours of eating. Next time, more chicken!

Later in the week, P and I had Ma Po Tofu. I had this dish once in Okinawa and looooved it, so I was really excited to find a recipe in CL! This I made fairly close to the recipe, but with Boca crumbles in place of the sirloin, no chili oil, sticky brown rice (we are a no white rice household, outside of risotto) and chopped broccoli (no broccolini at the HT!). Sooooo good that P had almost 3 servings!

Also, both make amazing leftovers. In fact, since I forgot to take pics at dinner this week, that's how you get to see the ma po tofu:
This year is off to a delicious start! It's a good thing these are CL recipes, because I need to fit into my wedding dress in March...

Friday, January 6, 2012

Seasonal Pantry

Seasonal Pantry is a really special place. And I don't mean special in the pedantic or the euphemistic sense. It is really, genuinely special.

P surprised me on my birthday by having our friends book the whole table (10 seats in all), and it was such an amazing birthday treat! Honestly, it was like we were hosting an intimidate dinner party, cooked by a professional. Actually, that's kind of exactly what it was.

The week we went the menu was seafood-themed and presented to us in pictures and words on paper at each seat. Chef even drew an octopus, which I thought was an impressive feat!

The meal was really filling and absolutely delicious. While everything was not perfectly executed (the first course was a little heavy on the citrus, the fish skin was just, not quite crispy in another), most was very well done (including perfectly cooked mussels and octopus). And where the chefs lacks on execution, he makes up for it in creativity. Never would I have thought to shave octopus, or to pair mussels with almonds, or to make smoke-flavored crackers. The mussel dish, in particular, was Michelin-star worthy--probably 20 mussels per diner, all de-shelled and plump, in an amazingly sumptuous coconut sauce with green apple and almonds.

And everything was at minimum tasty, if not gorge-worthy. Even the dessert, which the chef admitted was his weak point, was delicious--a sweet potato tarte tatin with homemade vanilla bourbon ice cream. Admittedly, I actually went back for a last piece of bread to sop up the melty part of the ice cream on my plate (don't judge).

I do wish the dishes had been better paired with wines, as opposed to one red and one white that were served throughout the meals. I offered to help for a small consulting fee (shockingly, no takers)!

If you have the opportunity to dine at Seasonal Pantry, do. It's so different from your typical restaurant experience and at a really reasonable price. (portions x-posted to

Monday, January 2, 2012

Dinner Tonight: Crack Sprouts

To the less adventurous, roasted brussels sprouts with capers, walnuts, and anchovies probably does not sound particularly appealing. With the exception of maybe the walnuts, I think a lot of people are not fans of at least one of the title ingredients. But, I can pretty much guarantee that passing up on this dish would be an unfortunate mistake.

Because holy mini-cabbages, this is the most amazing brussels sprouts dish I've ever had. I made F&W's crack sprouts (not, technically, their name) as a contribution to a very festive and delicious Christmas Eve dinner at the Hennesy's. As directed, I roasted the sprouts (which actually took less than half the described time to roast) 4 hours early, then dressed them right before dinner after reheating. Used somewhat less walnuts, but other than that, prepared as written. Honestly, if I had not been at a formal dinner setting with other people, I probably would have a) eaten the whole dishful myself and b) possibly licked the bowl afterwards. Yes. Apparently it is possible to even make brussels this addictive. Add this to your repertoire and I promise you won't be disappointed!