Roast Chicken on French Bread


Roasted Chicken on a Bed of French Bread









Roast Chicken on French Bread


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 large onions (halved, sliced into half-moons)
2 cups celery, sliced
2 tsp lemon zest, minced
1 3/4 tsp coarse sea or kosher salt
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped

1 chicken (3-4 lb), butterflied
2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp freshly round pepper
1/2 tsp coarse sea or kosher salt

1/2 loaf crusty French bread, sliced 3/4 inches thick
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly oil a 12 inch cast-iron skilet. Saute onions and celery in 1/4 cup oil over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add zest, salt, garlic, pepper, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Continue to saute until onions and celery are soft and translucent, about 5 more minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley and set aside.

Rub chicken on both sides with olive oil; season with pepper and salt.

Layer bread (fit pieces together snugly), onion mixture, and then chicken in lightly oiled pan. Pour lemon juice over the chicken and roast, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours, or until golden brown (at least 165°). Check for doneness during last fifteen minutes.

Remove from oven; let stand for 10 minutes.

Note: To butterfly the chicken, first remove the backbone with kitchen shears, then flatten it so it’s spread out.

Chicken over Potatoes and Kale


Photo of Ai-Mei and her hot smoked parika



Or alternatively, Potatoes and Kale


  • 1 bunch lacinato/flat kale, stems and inner ribs removed, coarsely chopped
  • 4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced 1/8 inch thick
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika (the single most important ingredient)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or boneless breasts if you prefer) (optional)


Preheat the oven to 450°. In a large roasting pan, toss the kale, potatoes and onion with the olive oil and hot smoked paprika. Season with salt (optional) and pepper and spread in an even layer.

Place chicken (if using) over veggies.

Cover the pan with foil. Roast in the upper third of the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and roast for 30 minutes longer, until the chicken (if using) is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. At this point, everything should be cooked through with some caramelization on the potatoes and onions with kale crispy around the edges.

We made this recipe with chicken the first couple of times and when realized that we didn’t particularly care about the chicken, it then became a vegetarian favorite! It is good as a leftover, but the kale, of course, will no longer be crispy. And as noted in the ingredient list, without the hot smoked paprika, this would be very boring…


Sweet and Spicy Candied Pecans

Spicy and Sweet Pecans Photo


3 TBS honey
1 TBS sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp (generous) freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp (generous) cayenne pepper
1 and 1/2 cups pecan pieces


Preheat oven to 325°F. Place Silpat or parchment paper on a jelly roll pan. Combine honey and next 4 ingredients in large bowl. Stir to blend. Add pecans; stir gently to coat. Transfer to baking sheet.

Place large piece of foil on work surface. Bake pecans 5 minutes. Using fork, stir pecans to coat with melted spice mixture. Continue baking until pecans are golden and coating bubbles, about 10 minutes. Watch carefully to avoid burning the pecans. Transfer to foil. Working quickly, separate nuts with fork. Cool. (Can be made 3-5 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)

Crispy Eggplant

Crispy Eggplant



2 small eggplants, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
Sea salt, enough to “salt” the eggplant
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
All-purpose flour, about 1/2 cup (145 grams)
Panko breadcrumbs, about 1 1/2 cups (140 grams)
2 large eggs
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Thirty minutes before you’re ready to coat and bake the eggplant, you’ll need to “salt” them. We generally place the slices on a large cutting board, salt, cover with a second cutting board and place a heavy weight on top. Let the eggplant sit, undisturbed, for 20 minutes. Remove the weight, and don’t worry about the brownish liquid that has collected on the slices—that was the goal. Transfer the eggplant to a colander in the sink. Run cold water over the slices, making sure to rinse off all of the salt. Lay the slices on a double layer of paper towels. Blot to dry thoroughly.


Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 475°F. Top a jelly roll pan with either a Silpat, or parchment paper. Place the flour and breadcrumbs on separate sheets of waxed paper.


Add the eggs and pepper to a bowl, and beat with a fork to combine.


Coat each slice of eggplant as follows: gently press into the flour, flip and gently press again to coat both sides. Dip the slice in the egg and lightly coat both sides, shaking off any excess egg. Dip the slice into the panko, using your fingers to brush some crumbs on top, and gently press the eggplant so the crumbs stick. Place the fully-coated slice on the prepared baking sheet.


Drizzle the slices very lightly with olive oil. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, turning halfway through, until golden on both sides. Serve immediately.


This recipe also can be found in Crispy Eggplant Recipe.

Sometimes simple is better

Photo of a potato pancakeWe rarely eat potatoes, so when we have them it is important that they are perfectly cooked.  In this case, we wanted something to have with a salad for dinner and since we had a few potatoes on hand, we turned to the very basic potato pancake.  With just four or five potatoes (red in this instance), some olive oil, and salt and pepper, you can create something this lovely that tastes terrific.  This really isn’t a recipe, but as simple to execute as it is, a dish we should think of a little more often.

Peel and grate potatoes on large holes of a box grater (best done on a cutting board with an edge).  Squeeze as much liquid from the grated potatoes as possible.  Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet, add grated potatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Push the potatoes into a circular shape with a spatula, and cook over medium-low heat for ~15 minutes.  Resist the urge to cook this quickly…   Place a plate on top of the pancake, carefully turn pan over so that the pancake is on the plate, then slide the pancake (uncooked side down) back into the pan.  We should have taken a video of this process which looks somewhat terrifying, but works very well.  Continue to cook the pancake for another 15 minutes.  At that point, you can check the internal temperature with a kitchen thermometer and if it is at 210 Fahrenheit, you are probably ready to slide it out of the pan.  The result should be a crispy crust on the outside and creamy, perfectly cooked potatoes on the inside.

Early start to comfort food “season”

StrataThe sudden change in DC weather prompted us to pull out a recipe we haven’t made in months and once more applaud the convenience of having a fabulous new bakery in our neighborhood.  Armed with another beautiful baguette from Bread Furst, we went into the kitchen and put together this Artichoke and Goat Cheese Strata.  The recipe probably should be re-named since we have also made it with feta in place of the goat cheese and enjoyed that version just as much.  We did have goat cheese on hand, so that is what we went with this time.  In making this recipe once or twice, we have found that getting some color on the artichoke hearts does make a difference in the taste of the dish.  It might be easier to brown the artichoke hearts, remove them from the pan and then saute the shallots or onion before proceeding.  This recipe makes a lot for two people, but it is just as good leftover with a quick trip into the microwave, so another win in the “cook once, eat twice” category.  Enjoy and depending on what the weather does next, we will either post more summer recipes, or really move into fall options.



Locally sourced

BreadSaladEven though the calendar says “fall”, we are still having full blown summer in DC.  As we were taking our early morning walk to the zoo, it occurred to us that we haven’t made one of our favorite summer dishes, panzanella (or bread salad) in a very long time. As we talked about this lack in our diet, we decided that at least one reason must be the fact that we have not had the perfect bread on hand for the recipe.  It is well known that when a recipe consists of only a few ingredients, each one must be perfect.  Luckily, there is a new bakery in our neighborhood, Bread Furst, and they are turning out some amazing products and if they were next door rather than a couple of blocks away, it would be a major diet hazard for us.  When they opened, we immediately became addicted to the English muffins that are made fresh daily and as they expanded their ‘menu’ we moved on to try some of their new offerings. Since they continue to expand their list of breads and prepared dishes, there is the potential for a lot of experimentation in our future.

We stopped by the bakery on Saturday and picked up a beautiful baguette for our salad.  To that we added delicious ripe tomatoes and Persian cucumbers from Twin Springs Fruit Farm along with some basil that was grown on our tiny balcony.  Aside from the vinegar, oil and Kalamata olives, we know where all of our ingredients come from, and they are produced by people whose lives are dedicated to growing and baking the very best products to share with their customers.  Thanks to all of the wonderful farmers and bakers in the area; we are so fortunate to have so many delicious choices when we shop!

Summer garden memories

The recent arrival of “Joe’s corn” at the Twin Springs Fruit Farm market triggered a discussion at our house of the vegetables we ate as children.  The two of us have very different experiences in that realm since one of us lived in the desert where there was no garden and little in the way of truly fresh produce in the stores while the other grew up in North Carolina in a family with a large garden so that veggies were a big part of the daily menu.  People laugh about the concept of putting a pot of water on the stove top to boil, walking into the garden, picking the corn, shucking it, putting directly into the pot and then taking it to the table; but that did happen on a daily basis when corn was in season.  And if you didn’t grow up with a father who dedicated a lot of his waking hours to tending and caring for his numerous tomato plants, your appreciation of that perfect, ripe tomato may not be as highly refined as some.

In contrast, gardens in the ‘suburbs’ outside of Las Vegas, Nevada were generally filled with rocks or cactus and therefore vegetables were found in the frozen food section of the grocery store or, in the case of several friends, on the store shelves … in cans. Dinners with Birds-Eye corn, carrots, peas, or green beans along with iceberg lettuce salads, a starch and a main course were the norm until we moved east. Needless to say, it was a bit of a shock to move to rural Virginia where the first order of business in the summer was to till the garden spot and plant our small collection of fruits and vegetables. If we were lucky enough to fend off the squirrels, raccoons and deer, we got to enjoy watermelon, cantaloupe, tomatoes, cucumbers, string beans… Most of the time however, these were rare treats and we continued with the frozen varieties.

Our love of farmers’ markets spans many years and different geographical locations, but in each case you quickly learn which farmers grow the things that appeal to you.  Even when we visit a multi-vendor market, we may buy tomatoes from one person, but corn from another.  Over time and with some experimentation you get to know who is growing that perfect tomato that appeals to you, or the juiciest peach, or the cantaloupe with the best flavor.

Today’s recipe is one we have been making for years, but it can only be made at the height of summer.  If the corn isn’t perfect and the tomatoes and green pepper aren’t at their peak, you should plan to fix something else.  Kentucky scramble is a fabulous brunch dish or at our house, a great dinner.  All those beautiful veggies plus bacon?  What more could you want?


Photo of Kentucky Scramble

Dinner on the deck

After what seemed like the winter that would never end, we are moving rapidly into summer; which means it is perfect for dinner on the deck of our building.  Buildings in DC are not particularly tall given the regulation that no building can be taller than the Washington Monument (and our building is among the “shorter” ones since we are on a ‘hill’), but since we are at one end of Rock Creek Park, it is a great place to sit and enjoy the warm weather.

We recently joined neighbors for an informal dinner and one of our contributions was a favorite appetizer, dried apricots topped with goat cheese, rosemary and honey.  Easy and delicious!  We also offered a new favorite, a Bulgur Salad with Asparagus, Feta and Toasted Walnuts.  This is the perfect salad to transport since there is really nothing in it that will spoil and the components can be packed separately and stirred together once you reach your destination.  The recipe came from, which is a site that has provided several good recipes in recent weeks.

Wherever you live, we hope you will find a wonderful venue and some great weather to enjoy a meal outdoors!


Photo of goat cheese and apricots Photo of an asparagus and bulgar salad

Happy Mother’s Day to those who cook, and those who don’t

Photo of cucumber and radish sandwiches


Any time you are with friends enjoying a meal, bring up the topic of “was your mom a good cook?”, and get ready for a range of responses.  Each of us has food memories from childhood even though few are likely as memorable as those recounted by the wonderful food writer, Ruth Reichl in Tender at the Bone.  Unlike the mothers we’ve heard about (and experienced), not many are referred to as “the notorious food-poisoner known as the Queen of Mold”.

We all seem to survive growing up no matter how much expertise the person in the kitchen had during those formative years, but few stories can top one that was shared with us recently.  Gary (whose last name will not be shared in order to protect him from his mother’s possible wrath) was kind enough to put this down for us and it is an amazing example of someone who managed to grow up and eventually enjoy food despite the things that appeared on the family table during his youth.

“I come from white trash origins, and after years of therapy and experimental diet drugs I now can admit this with pride. As a result of my background, I have had several of moments of enlightenment in my life. One of these was discovering food (which explains my weight).  Yes, I did have access to food growing up, but I didn’t get it.  I simply found eating a waste of time and longed for the days when food would be simply marshmallow-sized bits of primary colors like they ate on Star Trek. Food at home to me was like taking medicine.  My mother was not a good cook, and to her credit she never claimed to be good at it or like it, but she did it.  She mostly cooked by color. She would get a recipe and make it but if the ingredients were exotic (like calling for tomato paste) she would have to improvise.  This meant finding, from the 101 varieties of Campbell’s soups that stocked our pantry, the one she felt was the most suitable substitute, i.e., the one closet in color. Thus, Campbell’s tomato soup would be good substituted for spaghetti sauce since they were both in the red pallet.

At the school cafeteria, every third Thursday of the month they served lasagna.  This was my favorite and I would rave about it to my mother.  One day as I was headed off for school Mom grabbed me by the arm and with a smile said, “Gary, I’m going to have lasagna for you when you come home; I know it’s your favorite.

I was so excited and couldn’t wait for school to be over.  When I got home, Mom was in the kitchen cooking and told me that dinner would be ready at 6:00 so to go out and play until she called me.  My brother and I played until Dad came home and 6:00 PM finally rolled around. I sat at the table and excitedly awaited for my Mom to emerge from the kitchen with lasagna.  She came out carrying her rectangular glass Pyrex baking dish filled with something bubbling but it didn’t look like school lasagna.

Mom’s version of lasagna consisted of Tomato soup mixed with Kraft’s macaroni and cheese and some hamburger helper. I was so disappointed and told her that lasagna has big flat noodles with ruffled edges and cottage cheese! As far as my mother was concerned, she had mixed, white, yellow, red, and brown together and put in a rectangular dish so it was lasagna.  Based upon several experiences like this, I didn’t like food and was extremely thin for the first half of my life.

Although no one can imagine it now (not even myself), when I began my post doc, I wore 28 inch waist jeans but then I met Tyler and his love of foods and my eyes and belt were opened forever.”

Of course, some of us have experienced slightly different takes on this theme. There was the visit to the parent’s friends during the Christmas holidays (5 days after the holidays in fact) when a trip into the kitchen presented the holiday turkey that was still sitting on the cutting board – and was to be a part of lunch. Or there was the time that we learned from our former spouse about a special family delicacy which consisted of Wonder bread, topped with grape jelly and a piece of Velveeta cheese. Once assembled, it was run under the broiler and served for dinner. And who can forget barbequed spam?

AvocadoCabbageWhile we don’t believe we inflicted anything quite this astounding on our children when they were young and impressionable, they probably have their own stories to share.  Fortunately, we haven’t heard any of them.

And a couple of easy recipes that require no cooking at all for you to enjoy with your mom, or in memory of her. The first is the result of some of the new produce showing up at the Dupont Farmer’s Market – French radishes and Persian cucumbers (Top Photo). The second is a recent addiction from the New York Times food section, thinly sliced cabbage mixed with avocado.


Spring, and a Bear’s Fancy Turns to Climbing

We finally have the arrival of spring in DC! The flowers have started to pop out, the cherry blossoms are at their peak, and the city’s favorite bear has started to roam in her yard. And what happens when a young panda encounters a new tree, …


New Bear in Town


For a change of pace, we will look at an oriental recipe along with some recent photos of the Darling of DC – Bao Bao.  Many of us have become addicted to the fabulous Panda Cam at the Smithsonian National Zoo.  We have been able to watch Bao Bao grow from something the size of a stick of butter into the rolypoly little girl she is today; now topping 20 lbs.  We have seen her from inside the Panda Habitat where these photos were taken, but we look forward to seeing her outside very soon.  Although she is still nursing, her diet has expanded to include bamboo (sorry, no recipes for that) and sweet potatoes, something we love and realized is lacking on this blog.  We will get to work on that very soon.

In the meantime, we will offer a recipe for Chinese food we enjoy preparing. The key to stir frying is to cook the ingredients quickly over very high heat. This will not only sear the moisture into meats, but also leave the vegetables crisp and tender. An additional benefit of this method of cooking is that ingredients can be prepared before guests arrive and placed in the refrigerator. The meal then can be cooked quickly and served allowing your guests to observe your culinary skills in action. At least this is the theory …

Allen was introduced to oriental cooking during the late 1970s while he was in California. He decided that he would try out the new cuisine when he was invited to prepare a dish for the chemistry department’s gourmet group. Since the host for the evening lived only a mile away, Allen decided that he would be able to stir-fry the meal at home, place the lid on the wok and serve the dish to guests upon his arrival. So, half an hour before dinner was to be served, he sliced the vegetables, grabbed the marinated beef and prepared the dish. Unfortunately, once he arrived at the host’s house, he realized that each person had been assigned one part of a multi-course meal – and it was supposed to be prepared in their kitchen. And naturally, the karma of the evening was such that the stir-fry was served at the end of the meal — about 1.5 hours after it had been cooked. Needless to say, the vegetables were a wilted, discolored mass. The only comment made as this ‘delicious’ dish was served was made by a native Japanese who observed that oriental vegetables were supposed to be a little crisper when cooked. As they say, timing really is everything in cooking.  Fortunately, we won’t suggest you recreate that special recipe, but perhaps this is one to enjoy at home – Kung Pao Chicken.


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And now for something totally different


Logo for Kiss My Itch Goodbye


Today we want to introduce a product that started in our tiny DC kitchen, Kiss My Itch Goodbye®.  The idea for an all-natural anti-itch product came about as most things do, serendipitously, but it was just too interesting not to give it a try.  So several months later and after many experiments in the art of making lotion that is the right consistency and will not fall apart, a product is now on the market.  Unlike using a Julia Child recipe where she very carefully explained how to recover from a “broken” sauce, there are no rules that provide that type of recovery from “broken” lotion; only trial and error seem to apply.

Originally, the intent was to find something that deals with the itch from insect bites but after testing by diligent family and friends, we have found the product is useful for so much more.  Everything from “winter itch” to dermatitis, eczema, cracked fingertips and a variety of other skin problems responds positively to Kiss My Itch Goodbye®.  And, not to leave anyone out, it also works on dogs.  As noted in a February 17, 2014 article in The New York Times, “millions of people suffer from itching”; we hope this product will provide help to many of them.

Please visit the web site to learn more if you are one of the many people who deal with itching.  No surprise that we are not providing a recipe for this particular “dish” since it is currently going through the process for review by the patent office and soon, by the FDA.

Pumpkin ravioli and a suggestion for those leftover wonton wrappers

We, along with most of the country, are in deep freeze mode and while it is great for cold weather, we do realize you can only make and eat so much soup.  It was time to branch out and one direction we took recently was the exploration of making ravioli with a little help from packaged wonton wrappers.  This pumpkin ravioli which has the easiest sauce ever created seemed like a nice winter dish so we picked up the ingredients and gave it a try. Preparing the filling and folding it into the wonton wrappers was very easy, but we weren’t sure the ravioli would hold together when it hit the hot water. After we got the water to a gentle boil, we dropped the ravioli in and found the filling stayed in place perfectly; in three minutes we had beautiful ravioli. The color (as you can see in the photo) is not particularly pleasing, but the contrast of flavors from the pumpkin filling, a crème fraîche sauce and toasted pumpkin seeds is lovely. We’ve made this a couple of times now and have decided that not only do we like it, we may branch out to a mushroom filling next.


Photo of pumpkin ravioli


While dinner was great, it used only 15 of the wonton wrappers, so the question arises, what can you do with all of the wonton wrappers that are left (at least we didn’t buy the double package).  Our daughter, Nicole, came to our rescue by pointing us to this great option for using them up.  The original recipe calls for toasted sesame seeds as a topping but we have now expanded that to include toasted black sesame seeds, too.  Next, we will probably combine both but either way, these are easy and delicious.  A great accompaniment to soup or a salad.

An update on the wonton wrappers…  We tried them with a teaspoon of Z’atar seasoning added to the cornstarch along with a little extra oil; brushed it on the wrappers and once again topped with a little coarse finishing salt.  Delicious!


Photo of Sesame Wonton Chips   WonTonChips2


Up next will be some information on the other thing we’ve been creating in our kitchen.  Although it isn’t edible, it is certainly useful to a large segment of the population.


Logo for Kiss My Itch Goodbye


Happy Holidays!


2013 Christmas Card


The three ingredients for a perfect Holiday.

All the best for 2014


Winter, not winter, oh it’s winter again

Like most of the country, we are also dealing with somewhat insane weather.  November was the coldest one DC has seen in 20+ years (that prompted some of us to finally order mittens and ear bands).  Then along comes December where first we have cold, then somewhat more temperate weather which suddenly turned extremely cold but now it is almost spring-like for at least a few days.  Aside from the daily dilemma of just how many layers to put on when you head out the door is the question of what to eat.  Just as we think about soups, chili and other cold-weather fare, it suddenly warms up again.  Following a candlelight concert at National Cathedral on Sunday evening just before Christmas, we had planned to have soup, but the forecast for 71 degrees that day has changed our minds.  Now we will pick up some shrimp at the Maine Avenue Fish Market and have shrimp with our favorite cocktail sauce when we return from the service.

Photo of black pepper tofu with a side of bok choyWhile we waffle between various types of food, some things are not at all seasonal such as this killer black pepper tofu recipe.  It appeared recently in the Washington Post and with only a couple of minor modifications, we have fallen in love with it.  Why two tablespoons of black pepper doesn’t take the top of your head off, we don’t understand.  The sauce is perfectly balanced and delightful with the tofu.  Even those of you who don’t really care for tofu might give this a try.  Served with some truly beautiful baby bok choy, it was divine.


Like, we like went to, like the market …

Like, has anyone like noticed the amazing number of times you like hear the word ‘like’ in conversations? George Carlin did a routine where he proved that the word [insert expletive beginning with F here] was one of the most versatile in the language and that you could make an entire sentence using just this one word. We appear to be going in this direction with the word ‘Like’ – at least if you go by what we hear out on the streets, restaurants, Metro… You get the picture.

We were on our way to the Sunday Dupont outdoor market [see, there is a tie in to food …], sitting on Metro near two young women who were chatting about their upcoming plans and applications to law school. One of the women was commenting that “like, she was so like, upset that the admissions group like told her that, like her application was like really good, but like, she just didn’t like, make the top like 20% of the pool and she could like, try again the next round. But she was so like, upset you know that, like they wouldn’t tell her, like what the real problem was …” Merry and I looked over at the gentleman who was sitting in front of the women and saw that he was smiling while reading his book. When he looked up at us and Merry mouthed the word ‘like’, he nodded and started to chuckle. As the two women continued to flood the air with “like” [the like-o-meter we carry in our heads was starting to peg into the red zone] he turned around and respectfully commented to them, “I can tell you why you didn’t get the nod at Harvard.”

“Oh really?” said the rejected applicant.

“Yes, you need to lose ‘like’ … Harvard admissions expect that people coming into law school know how to speak well and will be able to coherently argue before the court; the ‘like’ just doesn’t help. Of course, it may be that I notice it because I am of a certain generation, but then so are they.”

The young ladies didn’t acknowledge the comment – or our stated agreement with it, and just continued their conversation, sprinkled with more ‘like’ as if no one had bothered them. When we got off at our stop, Merry leaned over and said, “Keep up the good work.” “All I can do is try,” was his reply. It was nice to know we aren’t the only people who, like notice this phenomena.

Photo of butternut squash soup with toasted pumpkin seedsAnd after this event, you are wondering – so, ‘like’ what did they buy to cook? Well, since butternut squash is making its appearance, we decided to recreate a version of butternut squash soup similar to one we recently had at Matyson in Philadelphia. After roasting the halved squash (350° on a Silpat for about 60 minutes) and assembling the soup, we found another use for our Sriracha syrup from a couple of weeks ago – drizzle it on the soup and add some toasted pumpkin seeds. The combination of flavors is ‘like’ simply amazing!

Furlough *Fun*…

For those of you outside DC, the furlough probably doesn’t have quite the same impact as it does for those of us who live in the District, and/or work for the government.  As we enter week three of no salary, and limited options of museums (that includes our wonderful Smithsonian National Zoo) to visit, finding things to do is more difficult each day.  First of all, we really should quit logging on to see the moment-by-moment insanity going on in what is known as “The House” and embrace the idea that getting flu shots is a fun way to spend our time; or perhaps we need to get a little more creative.

First on tap, proofread a manuscript of a memoir for a dear friend. We thoroughly enjoyed reading about growing up in small town Georgia during the 1940s and 50s. Afterwords, we started the process of setting up a new business for an itch relief product, “Kiss My Itch Goodbye™” by downloading all kinds of books from the DC library system (free). And of course, we cooked.  Yes, cooking does cost some amount of money, but when a large number of your meals are vegetarian the cost isn’t as horrific as steak or pork chops for dinner every night; especially since some very nice produce is so reasonably priced at the local farmers markets. After shopping at two of them, our recent meals have included a beautiful butternut squash soup made with coconut milk; Romesco sauce that has now appeared under roasted asparagus, as the base for roasted cauliflower, topped with scrambled eggs and for lunch today, placed inside a whole wheat tortilla with some grated cheese as part of a quesadilla.  This batch of Romesco has gone a long way and we have even more left for to work into a new recipe and enjoy.  Tonight, we are preparing to make a wonderful two-bean soup with kale … and decide how to use the remainder of that giant head of cauliflower we bought on Saturday.  When you find an absolutely gorgeous head for $4, you quickly realize that several wonderful meals lie ahead.

For this post, we won’t even get into our kimchi addiction which is reaching stratospheric dimensions.  However, be forewarned …  at some point, you will see the many ways we are finding to use something that had never hit our cooking radar until recently.  It now appears frequently and not just as part of a frittata.  The open-faced sandwich of fabulous whole grain bread topped with chopped kimchi and grated Havarti or Monterey Jack and briefly run under the broiler is pretty amazing.

For now, we will provide you with our take on the recent and versatile NYT Romesco sauce recipe and follow up soon with the butternut squash soup recipe.

Photo of Asparagus on a bed of RomescoWe are including the Romesco sauce recipe as it reads in the New York Times, and preface it with a few changes we made based on our own tastes, and how we planned to use the sauce.  Rather than toss the sauce with broccoli, we chose to serve it topped with roasted asparagus (a dish we have enjoyed at Jaleo, DC).  We also reduced the amount of garlic to two cloves, replaced the hazelnuts with slivered almonds, and roasted the peppers according to the technique we normally use.  Otherwise, everything remained the same; it is a fabulous recipe and as mentioned above, very versatile.  If you have trouble finding pomegranate molasses,  small bottles are available from The Spice House in Chicago.

Frittata and killer Sriracha syrup

We love Sriracha, as do many of our friends, and we use it in numerous recipes as well as add it to things such as mayonnaise to give them a bit more zing.  In April of this year the New York Times printed a recipe for a kimchi omelet with Sriracha syrup that sounded interesting.  Since our brother and sister-in-law, Mike and Helen, are both kimchi and Sriracha fans, we forwarded the recipe to them and it received a thumbs up at their house.  For some reason, it took months for us to get around to trying it for ourselves but now that we have, there is no going back.  We’ve all found that the syrup is good on almost anything and since it keeps well in the refrigerator, it is easy to have on hand.  For the omelet portion of the recipe, we decided it would work better for us as a frittata; it saves us the aggravation of fixing an omelet for one and then having to duplicate the effort again while the first one gets cold (or over-cooked and chewy if you try to leave it in the oven).  The recipe link here will provide the frittata version, but if you prefer making omelets, definitely go that route.   Our kimchi choice is predicated on what is available at either Whole Foods and another small organic market in our area. At the moment, this is the Sunja Oriental Foods brand, which is quite good and like the syrup, it keeps indefinitely in the refrigerator.


Photo of the ingredients for the kimchi frittata   Photo of the kimchi Frittata   Photo of the Sriracha syrup


In addition to the many things we have enjoyed making at home recently, we did have an opportunity to visit Jaleo again prior to an author’s talk by one of our favorite mystery writers, Daniel Silva.   As always, Jaleo had items on the menu featuring in-season ingredients grown by local farmers and we can attest to the great heirloom tomatoes and watermelon being grown in the area.  The two salads featuring these ingredients were just wonderful.


Photo of the mixed tomato salad   Photo of the watermelon salad


Bastille Day dinner

In addition to the many salads, cold soups and other summer dishes we’ve been making recently, we have also been enjoying meals at our favorite places as well as some that we don’t visit often.  After living in the restaurant wilderness for a number of years, we will never tire of the variety of places DC offers, especially the multiple types of ethnic food. While gumbo or shrimp and grits may seem ethnic if you’re not from the south, it does not compare to the possibilities for Indian, Thai, Mediterranean, Spanish, French, Ethiopian and more that are seemingly endless here in DC.  Lavandou, a charming French restaurant in nearby Cleveland Park advertised a three-course Bastille Day dinner that sounded too good to resist.  The meal we enjoyed that evening included a lovely tapas plate, cantaloupe and watermelon salad with prosciutto and a chilled port wine reduction, asparagus risotto topped with sauteed scallops, pan seared cod with caper and lemon sauce over basmati rice and sauteed spinach.  We both decided to indulge in the dark chocolate mousse that included little bites of delicious meringue.  For answering a question about Bastille Day correctly (who was the king of France at that time), we also enjoyed two glasses of champagne on the house.  And for the finale, we were given the chance to “fish” an envelope out of the pool for a prize.  Our $35 gift certificate will be put to good use very soon.


Photo of Watermelon Salad   Tapas Plate

Photo of seared sea scallops on risotto   Photo of Cod and spinich


Since much of the country is experiencing the same hot and steamy weather we are seeing daily, the search continues for recipes that are appropriate for the weather, i.e., they taste terrific, they aren’t too heavy, and when possible they require little time in front of a cooktop or oven.  This white bean salad with peppers, black olives and sherry vinaigrette  fits that criteria.  This is another of Jose Andres’ recipes that we were given during a visit to the Garden Cafe at the National Gallery.  Mr. Andres has been a guest chef there a couple of times in recent years, providing the menu and oversight of the meal served as part of a specific art exhibit.  This recipe is one we have enjoyed many times and we hope you will have an opportunity to make it this summer.


Photo of a summer white bean salad