Saturday, June 25, 2011

Super H Mart Food Court

On our weekly supermarket run, we stopped to eat something at the food court first.  Bucking tradition, I ordered the beef short rib spicy soup with daikon radish and egg instead of my normal Jjambong.

Los Tios Friday

How better to celebrate the end of a long workweek than a relaxing dinner with my boyfriend at Los Tios in Del Ray?  The chips and salsa were replenished by some really attentive staff.
The guacamole was so-so, but that was the only miss out of the plate.
Steak and eggs
Fried eggs with onions and steak cooked medium.
Hello weekend :)

CSA Share #2

Our adventures with CSA crop share continues.  This week there was a little more in our bag, and they expect the shares will increase as the growing season continues.
Green leaf lettuce, spring onions, sugar beets, cherries, basil, zucchini and cabbage.
Once again I've roasted the beets and will mix them with slices of oranges for a refreshing salad.  The basil and beet greens were blended with garlic, olive oil and white balsamic vinegar for a light potato salad.  The lettuce will be great with the marinated chicken thigh and pork belly we'll grill tomorrow..

Sichuan Pavilion in Rockville, MD

We ventured up to Rockville to try a different Sichuan restaurant that had pretty good reviews.  This Sichuan Pavilion is not related to our normal joint located on K Street.  Unfortunately, when we arrived, the restaurant was ridiculously hot inside and air conditioning appeared to be nonexistent.  I had a feeling this was not a new situation, since there were oscillating fans strategically placed around the restaurant.  We decided to ganbare and try out the spicy food anyways.
 Dan Dan Mein 
This was an appetizer portion, which was perfect for us to share.  You mix the spicy chili oil on the bottom with the noodles and beef.
 Spicy Wontons
These pork wontons are another favorite item we wanted to compare.
 Make sure you mix the spicy chili oil with the wontons.
 Sauteed Spinach
Mabo Tofu with Beef.
This version was spicy and delicious.  
In all, the food was really good and had the right level of spice.  The service was a little haphazard, but we were expecting that since the yelp reviews had indicated this.  What we had not imagined was that the restaurant was going to be so hot inside.  For once, while the sweat was dripping down my boyfriend's face, I felt like I was dripping as well.  If we lived closer, we would probably do takeout.  So the search for good Sichuan in VA continues.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Shake Shack: His Perspective

On the way back from a think tank in Dupont, my boyfriend stopped in the relatively new Shake Shack to see what all the fuss was about.  He went right after it the doors opened and said it was a breeze to get a burger and fries.
Shack burger with crinkle fries.
In the end, he didn't know what all the fuss was about.  He said it reminded him of a Crystal burger from down south.  The griddled burger had good flavor, but he liked the one from Five Guys better.  We're still in the hunt for the best burger in the area.

First CSA Pickup

Inclement weather and poor early harvest at the farm delayed our first shares from the CSA. We finally picked up our first share this Thursday.  They provided hot/cold insulated bags along with our farm share, and reimbursed me for the two weeks we missed.
We'll use this reusable bag throughout the CSA season.
Red leaf lettuce, garlic scapes, spring onions, beets, cherries, and snow peas.
So far I've roasted the beets, sauteed the beet greens with some garlic scapes, and mixed some cherries with the an nin dofu (almond pudding) my boyfriend made. I was a little surprised by the size of the share. It was definitely smaller than the CSA shares at Claggett, but the pickup spot is a lot closer.  I'm looking forward to seeing what the next few weeks bring in terms of variety of produce.  My boyfriend didn't think he liked beets until he tried them roasted, and that makes me really happy.

Axian Takeout

One busy workday this week, my boyfriend and I met up for a quick minute.  We were both working on research assignments and needed to pick up something for lunch.  I introduced him to a little lunch spot near my new office.  I liked the sandwich special I tried there the week before, and this time we tried the bibimbap.
 Scoop of white or mixed rice, topped with a protein of your choice, and a mixture of vegetables.
Strips of daikon radish, marinated bean sprouts, shiitake mushrooms and spinach were all very nice.  With a spicy kochujang-based dressing, the bowl is a filling lunch for a decent price.  It's not quite as good as the bibimbap at Mandu, but still a good lunch option in the Farragut West area.

Project Pesto

There was a gorgeous bunch of basil at the grocery store.  When I couldn't find equally luscious tomatoes, I decided a caprese salad was not in my future dinner plans and made some basil pesto instead.  Basil, olive oil, salt, pepper and raw garlic cloves pulsed in a mini food processor made a vibrant green sauce.  I added a bit of Parrano cheese and some roasted sunflower seeds instead of parmigiana cheese and pine nuts.
 Fresh pesto tossed with cooked orecchiette pasta.
The pesto pasta was mixed with shrimp, peas and scallions for a light summer dinner.

Homemade Gyoza Challenge

I love cooking experiments. Since I grew up with a predominately American palate, I have had to learn how to make Korean and Japanese foods through trial and error from cookbooks and foodblogs.  Some things you master only by practicing again and again.  I'm still working on my gyoza (dumpling) technique, but my boyfriend blew my skills away with his pleating method and speed.
 my cute dumplings
 his gyoza
You can panfry or boil gyoza.  
They were delicious boiled on the table in a stone nabe pot.

Pre-movie Lunch at Moby Dick's House of Kabob

DC-area kabob house, Moby Dick House of Kabob, has been busy opening up new locations in the surrounding suburbs.  Moby's currently has 15 locations and counting, with new stores slated to open in Columbia, MD and Springfield, VA.  I like all types of kabobs, Pakistani, Afghani, Turkish and Moby's style is Persian.  
 Bread and yogurt sauce.
Combo #2 with joojeh (marinated chicken) and kubideh (ground sirloin).
We ordered the combos with rice and salad.  The rice and bread combination for lunch is a prescription for a major food coma, but the salad is a perfect foil to the grilled meats.  Joojeh is chicken marinated with minced onion, lemon juice and saffron.  Kubideh is ground beef mixed with onion, salt, pepper, turmeric and seasonings.  The kubideh was excellent, but the joojeh was a little dry.

Experimenting with Crustaceans

Super H Mart has a full-service fish counter.  We started off with having whole fish filleted and cleaned, really enjoy the salmon fillets, and our latest challenge was lobsters.  The nice man behind the counter scooped out two crustaceans and we were on our way. The big conundrum was how to compassionately cook these squirmy guys.
 Post-boil and cold water bath.
 I decided to make lobster three ways, using all parts of the meat and shells.  
Chilled lobster salad with tomato, corn, jalapeno and lime.
 Seafood pasta with lobster, shrimp, spinach, tomato and cream cheese.
Lobster soup with scallions.
The broth was made by simmering the lobster shells with miso and the lobster tamale.
The lobster salad with corn was very light, refreshing and my favorite.  It was nice to try all three together to see how the flavor and texture changed with the cooking styles.  

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Late Night at Honeypig

After a long day of work, we needed to find something tasty for my boyfriend to eat.  We ventured back to Honeypig in Annandale.  Luckily we missed the dinnertime rush and beat the club kids in need of something to soak up the night's drinks.
While we usually have an order of soon dubu, the hot weather called for a cooling dish.  I suggested the buckwheat noodles in a cold dashi with slices of Asian pear, beef, cucumber, radish and a boiled egg.  You can add some vinegar or adjust the flavor, but I thought it was great as is.
 Hamul Pajeon
The seafood assortment was a little lacking and this was a little greasier than I like.
Kalbi with onions and jalapeno.
Next time my boyfriend wants to try the boneless pork that is grilled over open flame on a different type of grill and the boiled dumplings. 

Welcome/Farewell to the Office Dinner

The new job has been really interesting and the hours of the day fly by.  With my predecessor getting ready to move across the world, we gathered after work at the home of our boss.  His wife is an excellent cook and she made some amazing and nostalgic Japanese foods.  A lovely welcome and farewell dinner with my coworkers.
 Water chestnuts wrapped in bacon. 
The salty flavor from the bacon and the crunch were addictive, perfect with a cold beer.
 Nimono dish
Nimono means simmered, and this includes carrots, baby bamboo shoots, potato and konnyaku with chicken.
 Hijiki salad.
Dark and thin seaweed and carrots simmered in soy sauce, sugar, mirin and dashi.
 Tofu "meatballs". 
Tofu is mixed with black sesame and formed into meatless meatballs.  Delicious.
Deep-fried panko-crusted mashed potato mixed with minced beef.  There's an art to making croquettes.  These had a crunchy exterior and a soft interior.
 As a special farewell dish, beef curry and rice.  Slightly spicy and very good.
 Mix fresh fruit
Watermelon, fresh lychee, persimmon, strawberry and Asian pear.
As a final dish, she made matcha jelly with agar agar, adzuki beans and homemade mochi.

Cooking at Home

Busy week with work and my boyfriend had a few afterwork obligations, so I had time to cook something for lunch.  Black beans with jalapeno, tomato, corn and red bell pepper. 
Roasted chicken legs with a chili-honey-lime marinade.

Lunch Takeout

Nextdoor to Kaz Sushi there's a small Korean takeout open for lunch called Axian Food Factory.  I tried it out the other day and went with the special, steak and cheese with fries.  Bread was nice and soft and it was a solid sandwich for $7.14 including tax.  Next time, I'm trying one of their bibimbap bowls. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Famous Dave's BBQ

After a busy Saturday, we ended up realizing it was 9 pm and we needed sustenance.  I voted for something close to home, so we headed down the road to play chain restaurant roulette.  My boyfriend suggested trying someplace he likes that we never tried out together.
He suggested the feast for two.
BBQ chicken, 1/2 rack of ribs, smoked brisket, corn bread muffins, fries, corn on the cob, coleslaw and bbq beans.  The beans are peppered with chunks of bbq pork, and both tangy and delicious.  The cole slaw is fresh and nicely seasoned.  Of the meat options, I think the ribs and brisket were my favorite.  We stuffed ourselves, and then brought home the rest.  

Sichuan Pavilion

We work one block away from each other and try to ride the metro together as much as possible.  Friday night as we wrapped up at work, we met up outside the metro and my stomach grumbled.  There was no way I'd last the 45 minute commute home, so I let him know and we headed over to dinner around the corner at Sichuan.  Try as we might, it will never be as inexpensive a meal as when we hit up the Korean restaurants.
 Fried Rice.
 Sauteed spinach and garlic.
Sichuan Stewed Beef.
The beef was nice and spicy, so we chose two other entrees to counteract the heat.  The meal began with dumplings in Sichuan sauce, peanuts with salted fish and hot and sour soup.  Delicious and fiery with some cooling Tsing Tao beers to wash it all down.

Cooking at Home

It's been a marathon sprint in the first week of my new job.  My orientation lasts two weeks with my predecessor to learn the ins and outs of the office.  I love seeing the challenges as they unfold in front of me, and enjoy how the minutes and hours of the day fly by with a quiet whir. I have some big shoes to fill, and believe I'm up to the task.
I'm fortunate to have a supportive boyfriend who cheers me on as I struggle with my new assignments.  He calls me his little chef, and it's a pleasure to try and cook for him.  We've put on a bit of weight together, which he calls "happy relationship weight", but I'm working to create some healthy meals for us.
I learned this back in my childhood.  
Fresh tomatoes with basil and olive oil tossed with capellini pasta with a side of grilled chicken.  Key is nicely ripe tomatoes, so this is definitely not appropriate for winter meals.  Vine-ripened tomatoes are preferred, along with fresh basil.  One day I'll make my own pasta too, and we'll see if that elevates this dish.