Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Orecchiette with Toasted Breadcrumbs

Here's a simple, quick dish for a work night.  It's certainly not the healthiest thing out there, but it's fast and it tastes good!


Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Inn at Little Washington

To celebrate our 10th anniversary, my husband and I went to The Inn at Little Washington, a place we've been curious about since we moved to the DC area in 2003.  It's consistently in the top 5 of the Washingtonian 100 Very Best Restaurants, which is how I found out about it.  Like this year's review says, I was kind of surprised that one of the absolute best restaurants in the DC area is actually about an hour and a half away from the city, in "the sticks."  Since 10 is a big anniversary, we decided to go all out and sit at the Chef's Table.  I made reservations ten months ahead and one of the two four-person tables was already booked.  On a Thursday.  *boggle*

This was quite possibly the best meal I've ever had.  The experience of sitting right in the kitchen and watching the swarms of chefs work was amazing to watch.  These chefs worked as a well oiled machine, but I could tell from watching them talk and laugh that they loved their jobs.  Chef O'Connell took the time to stop by each of the two Chef's Tables and talk to us.  He wished us a happy anniversary and let us take a picture with him.  He told us about how the chefs' aprons and pants were dalmatian print in honor of his pet rescue dalmatians, which I thought was super cute.

The Inn has a few greenhouses and its own vegetable garden.  The garden hadn't been planted yet, but we walked around it anyway just to read the painted stones that labeled all the crops they were going to grow.  At our meal, we were told that 15 kinds of micro grains came from their greenhouse.  There was also an animal enclosure with several sheep and two llamas.  We were told that the llamas watch over the sheep.  I've never heard of llama-as-sheepdog before. There was also a chicken coop with a few hens and roosters.

I tried to take pictures of every course.  That said, we had a glass of champagne before we were seated, received a bottle of champagne as a gift before the meal, and got the wine pairings.  The only course I missed taking a picture of was the pheasant on champagne-braised cabbage.  But, I got the other nine, so I call that a win.

When the dress code at a restaurant is listed as "formal" in a city where it's (mostly) okay to wear smart casual, I usually assume that the atmosphere is going to be very stuffy.  One of the things I loved about this restaurant is that it isn't the slightest bit stuffy at all.  It didn't take itself too seriously, and that made it so much more fun.

When we were first seated, the host explained to us that Patrick O'Connell was considered the Pope of American cooking.  When the kitchen doors were opened, there was a waiter dressed as a thurifer  (yes, I googled that), swinging incense.  We got to greet the chef and were seated at our table which was right in the kitchen with no barrier between us and the action. Monastic chant played during the entire meal.

So many toys!! Not pictured: a mixer bowl large enough for me to fit in, a machine with the sole purpose of making croissant dough, a huge oven that also does convection and steaming, the dessert station, and a few walk-in fridges and pantries.  This kitchen is probably bigger than my house. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Lemon Chicken!

When I was in college, the Chinese delivery guy knew the code to my dorm.  I lived on Chinese delivery for my first three years of college, until a sorority sister found a caterpillar in her lo mein and that was it for me until there was another place to order from, because yuck.

I order Chinese occasionally and lemon chicken is one of my favorites.  This recipe from Ken Hom is much better than delivery unless you're in the mood for some battered and fried chicken.  This chicken isn't crunchy because there's no batter.  The sauce is much more citrus-y than some delivery places that make a cloying, overly sweet lemon sauce.  I doubled the sauce so that it would flavor my rice.  However, the recipe below is a single batch of the sauce. The recipe is relatively simple but it does require a bit of physical work because you have to drain your wok and wipe it down.  So if you have a wok with short handles, oven mitts are a good thing to have around.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Curried Chicken Sandwich with Apple Raita

The general impression I got when I told people that I was pregnant was that with a baby, I was basically never going to cook again.  That once I ran out of tasty food brought by friends and family, my diet would consist of frozen meals that contain no flavor yet somehow account for my weekly total salt intake.  Well, I definitely cook fewer new or elaborate things.  And I get sushi carry out more than I should.  But my husband and I still make our own meals most nights.  Just simpler, easier ones on work nights.  Usually regular rotation recipes that are quick, easy, and that one person can make solo if they need to.  But, sometimes I make something new!  I bought America's Test Kitchen: Simple Weeknight Favorites after seeing an awesome looking pasta recipe from it on another food blog.  I made a Penzey's run last weekend.  So, instead of leaving with the one thing I needed, I came home with a huge bag of spices, including some curry powder.  This curried chicken sandwich is fantastic for a work night!  It takes about 20 minutes to make.  I was skeptical of putting apple in the raita. It has a little kick and a little tang but it works really well.  I made sandwiches for two people, but a full recipe of the raita.
I served some rice with my naan sandwich.  Because one can never have too many carbs.  

Monday, March 10, 2014

Pappardelle with Chestnuts, Prosciutto, and Sage

I can't believe I haven't written a post about this pasta dish!  It's been part of my regular rotation for years.  It's very quick and delicious!  I love chestnuts so it's one of my favorite meals to make, especially in winter when it's easier to get chestnuts.  A few years ago, Wegmans only sold Haddon House jarred chestnuts in the baking aisle.  They were nearly always sold out.  Thankfully, they now carry Galil bagged chestnuts year round.  Chestnuts are kind of earthy so I think the salty flavor of the prosciutto goes really well with it.  According to a random episode of Chopped I saw the other night, people don't like to eat raw sage.  This recipe calls for a little as a garnish and I think it's fine.



Thursday, March 6, 2014

Lemon and Tarragon Poached Halibut with Blood Orange Sauce (and Seriously Awesome Potatoes)

I enjoyed the saffron-scented halibut that I made a few months ago.  But it needed a sauce.  So I decided to try and make my own sous vide halibut with a fun sauce.  I will admit, this halibut was not as firm as I would like.  I think I'd try a firmer fish next time.  Despite the years I've been cooking, I'm still not that great at picking what types of fish work with what sauces or methods of cooking.  That said, the flavors of the fish and sauce worked well together.  I'd make the sauce for a breaded fish too. I thought blood orange on its own was a bit sweet so I added some lemon juice to tie it in with the poaching liquid and the citrus salt in the potatoes and I think it worked pretty well.  The sauce was kind of sweet and sour, but in a mild way; it didn't overpower the fish.

The potatoes were the star of the dish.  I liked them even more than the jalapeno poached potatoes that are the usual roasted potato staple in my house.  They have two kinds of salt in them.  Why?  Because I have a vast army of nice salts that were given to me as gifts and I want to find more ways to use them.  I've got some citrus salt that is pretty strong and some very nice salt with roasted spices.  I put some citrus salt and pepper on the potatoes and added a little thyme. Before I neglected it this winter and then let my dog run around on it, I grew some lemon thyme in my herb garden.  I figured citrus salt and thyme would work pretty well together since lemon thyme is so good.  I wanted to make sure there was enough salt on the potatoes but I didn't want the citrus to be overpowering, so I added a little of the roasted spice salt as well.  If you don't have any, regular salt would work fine.  The potatoes were perfect.  Just the right amount of crunch and flavor.  They were tangy, but not overly much.  The thyme made them smell fantastic.



Saturday, February 22, 2014

Poached Tuna with Kumquats and Jalapenos


This dish takes less than 15 minutes from start to finish.  It's great for a work night. I served it with some couscous from a box.  I put it in a pot to cook before I began my prep work on the tuna and they finished at about the same time.  Don't overcook the tuna!  This batch was 2 minutes on one side, 3 on the other since my steaks were a little on the thick side.  The tangy kumquats and hot jalapenos play nicely together.  If you think the jalapenos at your grocery store might be on the more mild end, get a serrano instead, the spiciness is really important.



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