I flew to Asheville this weekend to hang out with my parents. The lasting impression I have is that it’s a foodie haven. My mom and I walked along Broadway Saturday morning for a place to eat and ended up at a tapas restaurant called Curate. Below is the drink I ordered. We also got a salad with eggplant, roasted peppers, onions and micro greens and tortilla espanola (one of my favorites).
For dinner, we went to a vegan restaurant called Plant my parents patronize whenever they visit. The desserts were sublime: key lime parfait and a trio of Mint Chocolate Chip, Thunder Road and Banana-Macadamia soy ice cream.
My Aunt Ginny’s birthday party was last weekend, and my mother and I (and several amazing helpers) concocted and executed a menu for 25 people:
Mini Sandwiches: Egg salad, Tuna salad and Avocado-Cucumber
Potato Salad (contributed by my lovely Aunt Darlene)
Shrimp and Orzo Salad (contributed by my lovely Aunt Candace)
Arugula Salad (my mom made this is and it was far and away the most popular dish; almonds, green apples, fresh Parm, evoo and s&p – adapted from a Whole Foods salad)
Poached Salmon w/ Avocado Sauce and Dill-Tomato Sauce
Tuna Salad Sandwich Rounds (20-24 rounds)
2 cans tuna in olive oil, drained
3 tbsp mayo
1 large roasted red pepper bottled in oil , rinsed, drained, and finely chopped
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon (I used less)
Salt and pepper
Unsalted butter, softened
24 thin slices whole grain bread (or whatever kind you like; we used a mixture of white and wheat)
Small bunch fresh parsley, very finely chopped
Mix the tuna and next 3 ingredients in a bowl; season to taste. Chill for 15 minutes up to overnight. When ready to prepare, Scoop salad onto rounds of bread, top with remaining rounds and lightly butter the edges of the sandwiches. Roll in fresh parsley. Stack, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Egg Salad Pita Pockets (20-24 pitas)
8 hard-boiled eggs, shelled and chopped finely
4 tbsps mayonnaise
2 tbsps Dijon mustard
pinch cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
24 mini pita pockets (we used a mixture of white and wheat)
unsalted butter, softened
watercress sprigs for garnish
Makes 6-8 kebabs (we quadrupled this recipe… it was epic)
1lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 zucchini, sliced very thinly lengthways
6–8 metal or wooden skewers or sticks of fresh rosemary, lower leaves removed, tips kept on
1 handful of fresh coriander
1 handful of fresh mint
3 cloves of garlic
6 spring onions
1 red chili
zest and juice of 1 lemon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes and place in a bowl. Blanch the zucchini strips in salted boiling water for 30 seconds then drain and allow to cool.
Blitz all the marinade ingredients (except the olive oil) in a food processor, then loosen to a paste with a little olive oil. Add the marinade to the chicken pieces and mix well. Allow to sit for up to an hour. Then weave the zucchini strips in between the chicken pieces on the rosemary sticks or skewers. Grill for around 8 minutes, turning regularly, until cooked.
If you need to keep warm, sprinkle with a bit more oil and cover loosely with foil.
**Recipe from: JamieOliver.com
Poached Salmon with Dill-Tomato Sauce
Sauce (for 1lb salmon)
1/4 cup light mayo
1 tbsp low fat milk
1 tbsp minced fresh dill or 1 tsp dill weed
1 tbsp lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
1 small tomato, diced
Gemelli with Tomatoes, Olives & Ricotta
8 ounces gemelli (or fusilli or penne)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
10 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons capers, rinsed (optional)
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
1/3 cup fresh basil, torn
Fresh ricotta cheese, for serving
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente. Drain. Drizzle with just enough oil to coat, so the pasta doesn’t clump.
Pulse sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, capers, and garlic in a food processor. With machine running, add oil in a slow, steady stream, and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Toss together pasta, sun-dried tomato vinaigrette, grape tomatoes, olives, basil, and salt. Transfer to serving plates. Top with a scoop of ricotta, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with pepper.
**Recipe from: Zested (the picture here is prettier than mine… check it out)
It was a wonderful party. I got to see my cousin Anna for the first time in years, and our two new baby cousins were there looking precious and perfect. And my Aunt Ginny, who has been there for me my whole life, was I hope at least a little surprised that we were all there!
Fun fun fun! The other day I decided to take a whole evening to cook. Not go to the gym, not clean, not get ahead on work for the next day… just cook. I got to use new cookware and new recipes, and everything turned out wonderfully! Enjoy!
Brian’s mother Diane found the Dutch oven (right) in a hole-in-the-wall shop in Baltimore and bought me one for a gift. I purchased my first and only piece of Le Creuset ware (left) on Rue La La, my daily temptress.
Skillet Cajun Spiced Flounder with Tomatoes (from SkinnyTaste)
Flounder fillets (I used 2 large, 8 oz. pieces of fish – any other flaky white fish would do as well)
1/2 onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 green pepper, diced
5-6 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped
Approx. 1 tbsp. cajun seasoning (I made my own: paprika, cayenne, oregano, garlic powder and S+P)
Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet large enough to hold all the fish comfortably. I got to use my new Dutch oven!!! Cook the garlic and onion for a few minutes until soft and fragrant.
Add the tomatoes, peppers and spices and saute until the tomatoes and peppers begin to soften, about 3-5 minutes.
Next, add the fish fillets and submerge in the sauce as completely as you can.
Let the fish simmer for 12-15 minutes until done. It will easily flake with a fork.
Enjoy! Here’s the original recipe from SkinnyTaste.com.
Macaroni and Cheese (from What to Cook and How to Cook It by Jane Hornby)
I was SO excited to make this. I’d been staring at the recipe in the cookbooks for over a year and decided it was high time to give in.
1 medium-sized onion
1 bay leaf
3 cups milk (I used 2 cups whole and 1 cup 2%)
1 tsp salt
12 oz macaroni (any tube-shaped pasta will work fine)
1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup)
scant 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
7 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 oz parmesan cheese, grated
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
fresh nutmeg (optional)
4 ripe tomatoes, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of water to boil for the macaroni. While the water heats up, add the milk, the onion (roughly chopped) and the bay leaf to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium hit until little bubbles just start to form (see photo). Remove from the heat and let sit and infuse for 10 minutes or more.
Add the salt to the pasta water and then the macaroni. Return to a boil and cook until almost done (8 minutes or so) then drain, reserving about a cup of pasta water.
Once the milk has infused, remove the onion and bay leaf with a slotted spoon discard. Then stir the butter and flour into the milk and cook over medium-high heat, stirring with a whisk until sauce has thickened (the cookbook says 5 minutes, it only took me about 3).
Preheat the oven to 350. Add the mustard, nutmeg (if using, which I did… yay Penzey Spices) and about two-thirds of each of the cheeses to the sauce. Stir well and season to taste. If the pasta has stuck together, add a bit of cooking water to loosen, then pour the pasta and sauce into the baking dish, stirring well.
Sprinkle the remaining cheeses over top and add the tomato slices. Top with a bit more salt and pepper and then bake for about 30 minutes.
Last weekend, my dear friend Elisabeth and her partner Taha came to visit for the Cherry Blossom Festival held annually in Washington D.C. The weather prevented us from picnicking on the mall, but that did not stop Elisabeth displaying her impressive culinary skills in my kitchen.
-o- Miso soup
-o- Seaweed salad
-o- 3 kinds of salmon maki
-o- Salmon rice balls
-o- Chicken gyoza
-o- Soba noodles
Check out the feast she prepared for us! Brian and I contributed sake and the fish plates… he also attempted to build a sushi-rolling mat from bamboo skewers and dental floss.
Elisabeth even brought Japanese cookies for dessert and Japanese gum for palate-clearing.
(Image source: Serious Eats)
-o- Happy day after April Fool’s Day! -o-
- History of April Fool’s Day from The Washington Post.
- NPR‘s list of headlines, products of several members of the staff, that could have made it as the April Fool’s Day headline. The winner? “NPR Source: Tweets Will Shrink to 133 Characters.”
- The most serious literary figures, such as Virginia Woolf and Edgar Allen Poe, came up with some pretty playful pranks. Check out “April foolery of the literary heavyweights” by John Dugdale of The Guardian.
- Also: Classic April Fool’s Day pranks on YouTube, from Mashable.
-o- Longest kickball game EVER -o-
Seriously. A game of football in Connecticut with players from several parts of the United States set the Guinness World Record for the longest kickball marathon. Why the epic game? To support cancer research. Here’s the article from the AP. Pretty cool, huh?
-o- Hiring slump at an end? -o-
According to this Reuters article, the time of long, tough job searches riddled with rejection and disinterest is coming to an end… at least for recent college graduates.
Here’s an excerpt from the leading paragraph of the piece:
“Sean Chua expected the hunt for his first job after college to be tough. After all, he watched his brother struggle to find a position when he graduated back in 2008. But his fears were unwarranted. The 21-year-old justice major at American University sent out only seven resumes before getting an offer earlier this month from IBM for an IT consulting job, making him a beneficiary of a turnaround in the labor market for U.S. graduates.” - Jilian Mincer and Jennifer Merritt, Reuters
-o- What came first, the dyed chick or the dyed egg? -o-
Anyone have a problem with coloring chicks for Easter? Here’s a New York Times article discussing the controversy over these dyed baby birds.
(Image Source: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg News)
-o- What to do with all those leftover Easter eggs? -o-
(Image source: Zach DeSart, Epicurious.com)
-o- Recipes of the Week -o-
My friend Lindsey is coming over tonight and we are making Parmesan Chicken with Caesar Roasted Romaine and a side with goat cheese, red peppers and maybe baby spinach. Currently I’m ogling these Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppers from FoodieMob and these Mini Cheese Stuffed Peppers from The Simple Skillet. How does one decide between goat cheese and the winning mozzarella-ricotta combination? I also love the look of this simple spinach sauté from Beantown Baker.
(Photo credit: Romulo Yanes, Epicurious.com)
-o- Adele sweeps the Grammys, the community honors Whitney Houston -o-
Adele wins six awards, tying with Beyonce for most awards for a female artist in a single evening. Here’s The New York Times article on the award-winners.
You can watch Jennifer Hudson’s tribute to Whitney Houston here on Idolator.
-o- Romney scores much-needed victory in Maine, but Santorum and Gingrich are still in the race -o-
Was this really a good week for Mitt Romney? Piece from The New Yorker, “Romney’s Unconvincing Victories.”
-o- Similarities between Chipotle and Apple -o-
D.C.’s lunch scene is dominated by three main types of eateries: the sandwich, soup and salad place (Au Bon Pain, Corner Bakery, Pret a Manger), the prep-your-own place (Chipotle, Chop’t, etc.), and the food truck. Sure, there are pho die-hards, sushi die-hards, etc., but I’m sticking with these three for now. That said, why aren’t business models like Chipotle’s touted in business journals and magazines to the extent that a tech company’s like Apple’s is? Read this Slate article for more.
ALSO, Chipotle aired their first national ad last night during the Grammys. Here’s the video, via Mashable. It may look familiar to you; the ad (or a version of it) has gotten over 4 million YouTube views.
-o- 10 free and useful iPhone apps -o-
Not that I need any more apps on my phone, but I have to admit I’m coveting a few of these. Here’s the Mashable piece.
Also, best new apps this week, compiled by Sarah Kessler, also on Mashable.
-o- VA school board to vote on banning “cross-gender dressing” -o-
I feel like someone has to say it: why oh why do people continue to think they will win the lawsuits that result from these rules? This particular vote wants to stop boys from dressing like girls… um, 14th amendment?
Read the blog post on The Washington Post for more info.
-o- During all this birth control debate, have women been called upon to speak on the news? -o-
Not according to Mother Jones: Networks call on men almost twice as often as women to speak knowledgeably about the debate. Here’s the statistic.
-o- A Guide to Euphemisms from The Economist -o-
Fascinating: an exploration on the prevalence and nature of euphemism in Chinese and English cultures. Here’s the item from The Economist.
-o- Oh my goodness, what is that? -o-
Superhuge shrimps found. Article (and video!) on CNN.
(Source: Oceanlab, University of Aberdeen, on NationalGeographic.com)
-o- Girl Meets Bowl, Closet Cooking, Scrumptious Pumpkin -o-
If you can even think about eating after seeing those giant shrimp… or maybe they made you hungry?
What caught my eye on each of these?
-o- Apple is worth more than… -o-
Apple’s market cap rose to a record $400 billion on January 19, 2012. Check out Mashable‘s “Apple Worth More Than All the Tea in China; What Else Does It Beat?” article; here’s more.
-o- 30 Super Bowl Menus -o-
Loved this. There’s a Giants-themed menu, a Packers-themed menu, and sooo many more. No Philly or Baltimore menus, which I found sad… but if you’re a Philly fan, just switch out one of the items here for cheesesteaks. Ravens fans… crabcakes, of course. Find them all here on Epicurious.
Here’s my favorite menu in the bunch:
- Cheese Straws
- Dates with Goat Cheese Wrapped in Prosciutto
- Roasted Asparagus and Red Onion Quesadillas
- Salad Bar Cobb
- Chili Chicken Wings
- Italian Sausage Meatball Heroes
- Beer Margaritas
- Peanut Butter and Fudge Brownies with Salted Peanuts
Here are all the recipes in this menu.
-o- Films coming out this Spring -o-
Let’s face it: movies have been less enticing of late. Sure, there have been scattered gems, but in general I find film-going has become more of a tiresome expense than a stirring engagement.
Still, I like movies, and I like movie theaters. Here is a list of films writers at The Washington Post recommend making an exception for this Spring.
Also, Spring exhibits in the D.C. area. 40 X-Rays of huge fish in the Sant Ocean Hall in the Natural History Museum? Oh, for sure (begins. Feb. 4).
-o- Where are the 2012 candidates on student debt? -o-
According to an article by Forbes‘ Stephen Richer, “Rock the Vote” polls in 2006, 2008 and 2010 demonstrated that young voters rated “education and the cost of college” as one of the top 5 issues of concern. So how do the 2012 presidential candidates make voters feel about this?
For more, read Stephen Richer‘s article “Student debt: Obama gets it, Romney and Gingrich Don’t.” Richer uses this year’s State of the Union address as evidence of Obama’s awareness and support of those facing large amounts of student debt, and campaign materials from Romney and Gingrich as evidence that their stances are unlikely to bring out voters in their favor… at least on this issue.
-o- Paula Deen, Novo Nordisk’s new diabetes drug rep -o-
Oh, the irony. FiercePharma covered this story twice: first, when Novo Nordisk announced Deen’s sign-on, and then when her publicist dumped her for, in MY words, blatant hypocrisy. Here are our articles, written by Tracy Staton: Is Novo’s Deen-on-diabetes campaign brilliant–or insane?; Publicist quits over Deen’s tie-up with Novo.
By far, the funniest coverage of this event was an opinion piece written by and published on Fox News. Here it is; I strongly recommend a read. If you need more convincing, here’s the title: “God, guns and grease! Northern snobbery fuels the Paula Deen fingerpointing.”
-o- Can one be de-baptized? -o-
Read NPR’s article on Rene LeBouvier , the man who took the church to court in France for the right to be removed from the baptismal records. The church maintains that being baptized changes one “permanently” in the eyes of God.
-o- Newt Gingrich wins in South Carolina -o-
Dare I say I still think Romney will end up as the nominee? Both Gingrich and Santorum could still take it away. The Washington Post published a piece on the women who turned out to vote for Newt. Read it here.
The Florida debate is tonight… I wonder who will be ahead tomorrow.
I also read an interesting feature on Callista Gingrich, the potential nominee’s third wife, in The New Yorker this weekend. You can read it here.
-o- The Ravens lose, the Giants win! -o-
For me, the Ravens-Patriots game was painful, but extremely fun to watch! Here’s Billy Cundiff, watching the bowl sail past the goalpost.
(photo credit: Robert Deutsch, USA Today)
(Because I love my friend Steve, I’m happy the Giants won.)
-o- Timeline of SOPA’s demise -o-
Mashable‘s Alex Fitzpatrick compiled a timeline of SOPA’s ascent and fall over the past week. I joined the WordPress bloggers that blacked out their sites Wednesday, January 18. The people spoke, and Congress heard.
Check out Fitzpatrick’s article here.
-o- Today is National Pie Day! -o-
Apparently… Check out the history of the Day and other January 23 food history tidbits on Foodimentary.
-o- What’s the best book you’ve read in one day? -o-
I love everything about this question. My answer is, either The Old Man and the Sea or The Pearl by John Steinbeck. I know they are both very short, but still I think the best books I’ve read in a single day.
-o- 10 Tips for Savvy Stumblers -o-
Also from Mashable: Here are 10 tips for the stumbler.
-o- Mini food sculptures -o-
“Most Amazing Miniature Food Artworks” by Shay Aaron. View them all here.
These make me so happy!
-o- It’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day -o-
- What’s been happening in the District this weekend? Find some of the events, lectures and discussions that occurred earlier this weekend and are continuing into the week here.
- Read ABCNews‘ coverage of the quote controversy (just the newest of, in my opinion, unfortunate conflicts over this new impressive memorial) here.
(photo credit: Rachel Cooper, about.com)
- What’s cooking today? Epicurious suggests you regard the day off of work and the weather as reasons to break out the crock pot or the stock pot (and end up with leftovers for the week). Find “Federal Holiday Food Projects” here. I’ve been planning to make vegetable soup all week but will be waiting until Wednesday when I will have turnips and spinach (*see below). Here is a super yummy-looking chicken soup recipe from Foodista.
-o- And the winner is… -o-
I didn’t get to watch the show, but there are a few categories in which I was interested.
- Downton Abbey (Masterpiece) on PBS won the award for Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television.
- Martin Scorese won the Best Director award for Hugo.
- Matt LeBlanc won the award for Best Actor in a Television Series – Comedy or Musical for the Showtime production Episodes. Also nominated? Alec Baldwin from NBC’s 30 Rock and David Duchovny from Showtime’s Californication.
I find even the idea of listing ”conservative” or “liberal” films a bit absurd (mostly because I think that all forms of art are by nature rather subjective) let alone ranking them not quite by quality but by their representation of certain values. But still, this was fun to read. I recommend you read the whole piece by Nile Gardner of The Telegraph. Well-written and intriguing.
Hocking, in need of a few hundred dollars to make ends meet, ending up making over a million dollars self-publishing her novels and selling them online. I found this story riding home on the metro one day and was truly inspired. Not for myself necessarily, but for the several brilliant and creative people I know who have written novels and are truly, seemingly fruitlessly, to share them with the world.
-o- What’s on my menu this week -o-
- Schezuan tofu and green bean stir fry. Here’s the recipe from The Huffington Post.
(photo credit: Ken Burris)
- Turnip soup from Epicurious.