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!