Monday, November 29, 2010

Today's Bento

Leftover dressing topped with turkey and a mushroom gravy. 
Mixed vegetables with mango and cranberry chutney.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving Leftovers

We had a lot of leftovers from our Thanksgiving feast, despite sending home some food with our guests.  
One lunch was a turkey dinner redux.
 For the leftover macaroni and cheese, I cut the cold macaroni into sticks, dredged them in egg wash and panko, then fried them in hot oil.  After they turned brown, I put them in the oven at 350F for 20 minutes while I made the spicy tomato dipping sauce.
The coating was nice and crunchy, the insides were meltingly luscious.  Extremely decadent and I'd do it again in a heartbeat, although maybe this should remain a once a year assault on my arteries.
I also made homemade turkey stock for a vegetable-filled turkey chowder.  Paired with a turkey sandwich, we've almost finished the last of the leftovers.  My boyfriend and I will need to go on a cleansing diet after this week of holiday gluttony. 


I love Thanksgiving, it's a day to bring people together and give thanks for all the wonderful people in our lives and events we have experienced.  What I do not like is traveling by plane, train or car during this 4-day weekend.  This year I spent Thanksgiving with my boyfriend and a few friends who were staying in the area.  I haven't cooked a full Thanksgiving meal in a while, so it was with a bit of trepidation and excitement that I planned what to cook.
 My boyfriend's a Southern boy at heart, so he wanted some macaroni and cheese.  I made it with spinach, gruyere and a 3 cheese blend.  Due to limited oven space, I made it Tuesday night. It was ok but a little too crunchy on the top.
 I made a vegetarian and a meat-based dressing.  Listening to NPR, I got the idea to cook chicken drumsticks on top of the sausage dressing to give it that "stuffed in a turkey" flavor. I made both dressings Wednesday evening.
 My boyfriend picked up some pretty flowers for the table.
 We started off with some nibbles as I cooked the turkey.  Marcona almonds with sea salt and rosemary, olives, roasted red peppers, grapes, smoked salmon, salami and a smoked trout dip.  I also made two flatbreads, one with zucchini and feta and the other with mushrooms, zucchini and feta.
 We bought a 12 pound turkey, which I basted with a sage-thyme butter.  I roasted the turkey on top of onion, carrot, celery and some turkey stock, and placed lemon, onion and herbs inside the cavity.
 We needed a bit more space, so we set up a table to hold the hot dishes include mushroom dressing, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, sausage dressing, turkey, buttermilk biscuits and a cranberry nut bread.
 For a few lighter sides, I made green beans with lemon, salad and carrots with thyme.
 My turkey carving skills would have been aided by having a proper carving knife on-hand.  
The sausage dressing turned out much more flavorful than previous renditions.  The roasted chicken dumsticks gave a lovely aroma and moistness to the dressing.
Thanksgiving is so much more special when you can spend it with family or friends, and I'm so thankful I could spend mine with some wonderful people.  I think a few things could have been cooked with more finesse, but there were no major kitchen catastrophes and everyone had a full belly and a nice evening, which I consider to be a success.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Today's Bento

Yakisoba with Napa cabbage, shrimp, mushrooms, onion and pickled ginger.
In preparation for Needless Turkey Murder Day, I used up some leftover vegetables in my yakisoba to make more room in the refrigerator.  Yakisoba is a great dish for improvising and incorporating leftover bits of vegetables and proteins.

Dancing Crab in Tenleytown

Continuing the crab quest, we debated where to go.  Bethesda Crab House and Joe's Crab Shack in Fairfax were too far away.  We compromised with the Dancing Crab.  A divey interior, the restaurant moved from its previous location next door.
Jumbo hardshell crabs.  1/2 dozen for $45.
Bib on and ready to attack.
Picking steamed crab is labor-intensive.  I went the lazier route with the Alaskan king crab dinner ($39.99).

Present Restaurant in Falls Church

My MBA classmates met for a reunion brunch.  After spending so much time together in class and working on group projects, it's been an adjustment now that we've graduated and rarely see each other.  With a variety of dietary needs to factor in, we ended up at Present Restaurant in Falls Church. 
Silken Shawl Imperial Autumn Roll ($3.95) and Blue Paradise Seafood Summer Roll ($3.95)
The Autumn roll includes minced prawn and pork wrapped in a rice thread wrapper.  To eat, wrap the roll in lettuce with mint and shredded carrot.  The summer roll included pork, shrimp and crabmeat.
Special coconut shrimp appetizer with a coconut dipping sauce. Very good.
Frugally Green Spring Rolls ($3.95 for 2).  Lettuce, mint, shredded carrot mixed with rice noodles in a rice paper wrapper.
Green Paradise Spring Roll without Pork ($3.95).  Scallion, lettuce, mint, shrimp and rice thread in a rice paper wrapper.
Sophisticate Golden Chicken ($12.95). 
Sleeping Duck on the Golden Pond ($9.95).  Roast duck simmered with herbs, mushrooms and egg noodles.
Country Banquet Vermicelli ($8.95).  Grilled lemongrass pork on rice noodles with crispy roll, mint, bean sprouts and carrots.
Pig at the Seaside Vermicelli ($8.95).  Thick white noodles with crab meat, shrimp and pork in a light broth.
Haystack in the Field ($10.95).  Assorted vegetables with rice noodles.
Hard-Working Piglet ($11.95).  Ordered because of the name, it's clay pot carmelized pork ribs.
Calling the Mountain Dewdrops ($8.95).  Fried tofu with sweet and sour tomato sauce.
It was great to catch up with everyone.  For the vegetarian, the expansive Vietnamese menu fell a bit short.  The items that really shone were mostly meat-inclusive dishes.

Pocky vs Peppero

 Side by side, they really do look nearly identical. 
 Pocky is a Japanese snack that Glico first sold in 1966. Pocky are stick-shaped biscuits covered in chocolate cream.
 Pepero is a South Korean treat made by Lotte since 1983. Pepero Day is 11/11, when South Koreans give Pepero to their friends and family.
Maybe I'm a traditionalist, but I prefer Pocky to it's imitator, Pepero.  Mmm. Almond Crush Pocky.
 eww..Strawberry cream covered Pocky.
 Mild Chocolate on Chocolate Pocky.
Chocolate on Chocolate Pocky.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cooking at Home

After a cold, rainy, blustery day, I needed something comforting.  I love making soups when the weather turns colder.  Yesterday was a spicy tomato basil soup with grilled cheese sandwich and salad with apples and avocado.  Today I decided to be a little more indulgent.
Cream of mushroom soup, grilled cheese and salad with grapes, avocado and champagne vinaigrette.  Buying an immersion stick blender was a great purchase for me.  After you sautee the onion, mushrooms and garlic in butter, add a little sherry and vegetable stock, and blend in the pot.  Less mess, and a nice creamy texture.  I added some heavy cream at the end.  The bread is a sliced Italian bread from Trader Joe's that is perfect for making grilled cheese or paninis. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fish Market's Anchor Bar in Old Town

Capping off a full afternoon of P90X, running, walking and attempts at frisbee (I'm still working on the toss), we headed to the Fish Market in Old Town.  Given the option between the restaurant and the livelier Anchor Bar, we settled into a wooden booth in the bar surrounded by tvs showing football and sporadic Simpsons audio.
 2 pounds of snow crab legs with coleslaw, butter and fries ($31.99).
The Captain's Fried Platter of oysters, scallops, shrimp, fish fillet and crab cake with coleslaw and fries ($25.99).
We shared everything.  The crab legs were sweet and reminded me that we should pick some up the next time we go to Super H.  The fried crabcake was surprisingly good, not too much filler, and good flavor.  The scallops were plump, juicy and my favorite part of the mix.  The fried shrimp were forgettable.  The Fish Market's house pilsner is light and a good foil for the grease, and comes in 16 oz or 32 oz schooners. 

Cooking at Home

After a busy Saturday, we stopped in Whole Foods and picked up groceries to go with a Sangiovese.  My boyfriend loves steak and hasn't had one in a while.  I picked out a few other things.
 Practicing green bean casserole for Thanksgiving. 
 Twice-baked potatoes with three cheeses, milk and butter.
 Pound of shrimp for a shrimp boil
 Mixed water with half a lemon and 5 tablespoons of cajun spice powder.
 Cajun-spiced shrimp.
Cast-iron pan-seared t-bone steak. 

Vento in Dupont Circle

In the former Stars and Mimi's American Bistro space, change is afoot.  The new sign at 2120 P Street NW says "Vento", which means "warm wind".  The name matches its sister restaurant located at 915 15th Street NW, Siroc, or "Mediterranean wind".  Siroc and Vento are owned by Keram and Mehdi Dris and Chef Martin Lackovic, and both focus on affordable Italian-Mediterranean cuisine.  It's nice to see a non-burger, non-pizza establishment opening up in Dupont.  I went with a friend to Vento's soft opening. 

The chef, Corey Locker, formerly worked at The Heights in DC, Kyma in Annapolis, and Oh! at the Orchid Hotel in Los Angeles.  I remember hearing great things about Kyma and its Mediterranean menu.  The chef's twitter feed talks about housemade foccacia and handmade pastas.  I'm a fan of both. 

We tried three smaller plates including a potato and grilled baby octopus appetizer, grilled sausage and beans, and grilled shrimp with a chickpea puree, as well as three pastas.  We liked everything we tried.  The bar area provides an interesting alternative to Urbana at the Hotel Palomar, although the U-shape may lead to longer waits for beverages.  The one low point was the cannoli. Hopefully the neighborhood will welcome the new addition, and the cannoli will get a makeover.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Endo Sushi

Lyon Hall was unfortunately booked for the night, but right around the corner is a small sushi joint that fit the bill for a girls' night catch-up.  Endo Sushi is located at 3000 Washington Boulevard in the Clarendon neighborhood.  Clearly a date spot as well, we overheard what could only have been the first or second date at a nearby table.
We ordered a large variety of maki (yellowtail, spicy scallop, California roll, ume-shiso, avocado, shiitake mushroom, and a special house roll; as well as some salmon and yellowtail nigiri.  All of the fish was fresh.  

Pho Viet House

For a different kind of lunch, we went to my boyfriend's favorite neighborhood pho place.  Pho Viet House located at 6226 Richmond Highway in Alexandria is a step above Pho 75 decor-wise.  The menu is more expansive too, including appetizers like summer rolls ($3.25) and even vegetarian options.
 Large #8 with well-done flank and skirt flank ($8.25)
 The toppings were a little light on the basil for two bowls, but they were very fresh.
 A squeeze of lime, basil leaves and bean sprouts, with a bit of sriracha and dark miso paste help to make a wonderful bowl of pho.