What are you doing this weekend? You should probably make this since this is pretty much the last week of the year that all these things will be in stock and look! At how beautiful and summery it is! Don’t you want to live the kind of life where you make colorful, in-season French cuisine for dinner?
I don’t believe in large tomatoes so I used the far superior cherry and grape varieties and added some tomato paste to make the tomato flavor more pronounced. I paired it with ricotta crostinis because I do not consider it a meal without a carb and a cheese.
Adapted ever so slightly Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food (which you should buy)
- 1 medium or 2 small eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more to taste
- 2 medium onions, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 4 to 6 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/2 bunch of basil, tied in a bouquet with kitchen twine + 6 basil leaves, chopped
- pinch of dried chile flakes
- 2 sweet peppers, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 3 medium summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 3 ripe medium tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice or about 2 cups of cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- Salt to taste
- Toss the eggplant cubes with a teaspoon or so of salt. Set the cubes in a colander to drain for about 20 minutes.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Pat the eggplant dry, add to the pan, and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden. Add a bit more oil if the eggplant absorbs all the oil and sticks to the bottom of the pan. Remove the eggplant when done and set aside.
- In the same pot, pour in 2 more tablespoons olive oil. Add onions and cook for about 7 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Add the garlic, basil bouquet, dried chile flakes, and a bit more salt.
- Cook for 2 or 3 minutes, then stir in peppers. Cook for a few more minutes, then stir in summer squash. Cook for a few more minutes, then stir in tomatoes and tomato paste.
- Cook for 10 minutes longer, then stir in eggplant and cook for 10 to 15 minutes more, until all the vegetables are soft. Remove the bouquet of basil, pressing on it to extract all its flavors, and adjust the seasoning with salt.
- Stir in the chopped basil leaves and more extra virgin olive oil, to taste. Serve warm or cold.
This could also be titled I Needed to Eat But Leaving The House Is Stupid but this seems more versatile.
Anyway some friends gave me their CSA basket for the week and among some other things that I didn’t know what to do with was a head of tatsoi. The Google said that tatsoi was basically like spinach or chard, basically sharp-flavored, green and healthy for you.
At the farmer’s market I often grab gorgeous bushels of whatever looks fresh and lush and picture perfect and then take them home and have no idea what to do with them and then they go limp because who can figure it out in the 24 hours before your farmer’s market produce goes bad?
Whenever I have some sort of green leafy thing and not much else in the fridge, this is what I make. The recipe uses pantry items that I like to keep on hand because I find that they always help me eke out a meal out of nothing. Maybe you don’t have all of these things in your pantry? Well what the hell are you doing here then? Ugh tourists.
One Fresh Ingredient Pantry Pasta (or, in this case, Pasta with Anchovies & Tatsoi)
Note: Once opened and properly sealed in something airtight, anchovies can be stored in the fridge in their oil for up to a month.
Serves one insanely hungry person or two people with normal appetites.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- One small yellow onion, thinly sliced in rings
- 4-5 anchovy filets
- One bunch of your favorite leafy green, roughly chopped, approximately 2-3 cups
- 1 tsp dried red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- 1/2 pound of your favorite pasta (usually this amounts to half a box or package)
- 2 tbsp of the water you boiled the pasta in
Start the water boiling for the pasta. I say this because I always forget until the sauce is done. Always.
Over medium heat, combine the olive oil and onions in a skillet or sauce pan that will hold the amount of pasta you are cooking. Allow them to cook down until slightly brown and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Basically you’re done caramelizing the onions when the water starts boiling and you’ve added the pasta.
Add the anchovy filets to the onion mix and cook for about 2-3 minutes; they will melt into the onions and olive oil and lose their chunky quality. Then add the chopped greens and the red pepper flakes and immediately turn the heat down to low.
When the pasta is finished cooking, reserve some of the hot pasta water and then drain. Dump the pasta and the reserved water into the cooking vessel holding your veggies and toss all of it together. Add the parmesan and continue tossing until it gets a creamy oily consistency. You can salt it if you feel like it needs it but I find the anchovies do all the work for me in this regard. Now you get to it eat. Preferably with a movie you’ve already seen at least 10 times that you spent 7 minutes selecting after meticulously scrolling through the tv guide while your pasta gets cold, also known as Arlene Style Dining.
We just watched American Psycho and now my boyfriend is now playing some sort of video game that involves the words “mage” and “smelting” [dorkcough]. I’ve held out as long as I can but it’s time to post a recipe.
I’ve made no secret about my love of all things Momomfuku. I know my obsession with this is going on five-ish years which is eternity in a trendy restaurant lifetime. You guys have moved on! You’ve got your Torrisi Italian Specialties and your Chef’s Table now. No one cares an iota about Momfuku. I know this.
But I still believe that Momofuku has had a lasting legacy in the culinary arts. I’m fascinated by the combinations and ideas that came out of that restaurant, and continue to make dishes from the cookbook regularly.
This is my take on a Momofuku Ssam Bar standard: the spicy pork sausage and rice cakes. We had it for the first time two years ago now, and we hadn’t even ordered it. We were crammed into one of those tables on top of parties on both sides of us and the two gentleman next to us got a steaming pile of spicy, bright red meat and crispy fried mochi. We ogled so blatantly that one member of the couple just started piling it onto our plates. I loved it.
When I got home I tried to follow the recipe to the letter, visiting several Asian markets in the area to find the long tubes of Korean rice cakes that David Chang requires. When all was said and done I realized I couldn’t replicate the awesome crunchy fried exterior on the rice cakes that Momofuku makes in New York. And following Chang’s proportions for the peppers nearly blew our heads off.
Chang describes the recipe in the Momofuku cookbook as “a kinda-sorta-but-not-really Asian pork Bolognese” and that’s how I’ve treated it ever since. Once I realized that the rice cakes I made at home didn’t add anything I stopped adding them. I also altered the pepper quantity so that we could have more than a few bites without dying of firemouth. If I make it out to H-Mart or another asian market I’ll stock up on delicious noodles but spaghetti works just find here. Momofuku Bolognese. Perfect comfort food.
I’ve streamlined the recipe to eliminate steps and ingredients that felt unnecessary, as well as adjusted the heat level since the amounts in the cookbook are incendiary. I have a fairly high tolerance for heat so if you like things milder I would even use half or a quarter of the dried peppers I’ve used here. It will still taste awesome.
I linked to the specialized ingredients online where I could. I was able to buy everything locally at Asian supermarkets and spice shops but at least if you buy from online everything gets delivered to you! All of them will last indefinitely in the fridge or pantry so don’t feel guilty about buying something for one dish – it won’t go bad anytime soon.
Sichuan peppers have a unique sizzling sensation on the tongue and can be hard to get used to (but are addictive once you do, if you’ve ever noticed how bananas people go over Sichuan cuisine.) One way to incorporate them without risking fear of chomping on one would be to “steep” them in a tea strainer or a sack made of cheesecloth in the sauce. But try it first! They grow on you really fast.
- 1/2 cup vegetable or other neutral oil
- 3 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 cup loosely packed dried red chiles
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp tobaj djan (jarred fermented bean chile sauce) or ssamjang (the korean version)
- 1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 tbspn kochukaru (this is the same korean chile powder used to make kimchi)
- 1 tbsp usukuchi or soy sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- Scallions, thinly sliced
1. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a wide skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until soft and onions began to take on color, about 10 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and cook for another 20 minutes or so, until the edges become caramelized. Set aside on a plate.
2. Heat another tablespoon of oil in the same skillet. On medium heat, cook ground pork for about 10 minutes until it loses its pinkness, breaking up the meat with a utensil as you stir. Set aside on the plate with the onions.
3. Add the remaining oil to the pan, keeping the heat at medium. When the oil is warm add the dried chile peppers and allow them to warm through until they are fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the garlic and stir for another minute. Stir in the chile bean sauce, Sichuan peppercorns, and kochukaru.
4. Return the onions and pork to the pan, add the soy sauce, sugar and salt if it needs it. If the mixture is having trouble incorporating add a tablespoon of water until all the powders and spices are combined. Heat through for another five minutes or so then spoon the sauce over cooked noodles like a bolognese.
And, uh, it feels prudent to mention that we DO NOT eat the re-hydrated tien tsin chiles although you’re more than welcome to if you enjoy indigestion.
I started blogging in the winter of 2005, my last semester of college. I was taking a course on hypertext and our teacher had us all start blogs as a way of communicating our thoughts about the readings. Over the course of 4 years I blogged regularly and with gusto. I loved blogging. Slowly, with grad school and work duties increasing my interest started to wane and and the blog’s slow death coincided with my blog’s host company, Mo’time, going under. Sometime last year it disappeared altogether and I feared never seeing my old blog again. But one slow day I did some rooting around and discovered that Mo’time’s buyer moved all the content over to their own servers and my blog lives! I thought I’d use the weekends to highlight some of my favorite old posts from when I was young and carefree.
Looking back at how I was from the end of college to now, I’m both envious and horrified by my former life. Based on the blog I spent all my time drinking wine in bed and saying stupid things. The worst part is that I still do this things, I just don’t talk about it on the internet as much.
It’s a lame place to begin but I thought I’d start with my recap of the meal Adam took me to for Christmas in 2007: Komi. We’re making a grand return to Komi tonight to celebrate his 30th birthday and even though we’ve been before and have had amazing meals at many other notable places since I’m still giddy like a schoolgirl.
There is a distinction about this place, a creativity, a unique perspective that is new and fresh and exciting. The dinner is not just amazing food, it’s an experience…
…Spit roasted katsikaki w/ pita, habanero sauce, sea salt and oregano, cole slaw, eggplant puree, house mustard, fennel salad – the meat dish designed for two people, this was our favorite part of the meal. The baby goat was roasted to a crisp outside but the inside was so tender it fell away from the bone very easily. Using the pitas and the side platters, we made little bite sized sandwiches. I can still taste the combination of the meat, the fennel salad, the habanero sauce and sea salt. I’ve never tasted anything so good and unique and fascinating.
Today I tried Burger Tap & Shake and I *think* that means I’ve tried all the major burger shops in DC plus a bunch of places that have good burgers. But please correct me if I’m wrong! Mmmm burgers.
DC’s burgers are so varied (griddle vs. open flame cooking, standard toppings vs. boutique topping combos, greasy spoon vs. gourmet ground meats) that I really want to create a DC burger matrix but it sounds like it involves math so I’ll just list things right now. Due to the disparate types of burgers listed here, ranking is essentially my ordering based on the level of excitement I would have if someone suggested we go there for a burger since I don’t necessarily think a “fast food style” burger is better than a “gourmet” burger. I took into account only the burgers – the patty, the bun (bonus points if buttered and toasted), and the quality/strength/creativity/number of toppings – and no consideration was given for fries, other side dishes and beverages. Special condiments that could be put on the burgers were considered. Now, on to the rankings which are based on several years of research and therefore shouldn’t be trusted in any capacity.
- Shake Shack – Goodness I love this burger. I love some of these other places because of the awesome creative burgers but this one really doesn’t need anything. It’s the perfect size, not too greasy and looks adorable in that little sleeve. Yum.
- Ris – Ris creates houseformed patties made to order and doesn’t bother with any of that lettuce crap. Here you get three toppings in little tubs: secret sauce, fresh pickles and a housemade onion jam. This burger is perfect.
- Burger Tap & Shake – This is probably ranked higher due to interest in going back soon but I really enjoyed the burger I had today topped with smoked green chiles and onions and layered with a spicy sauce. I liked the size and the quality of the patty and the buttered, toasted bun, two characteristics that put it over the other boutique topping combo places.
- Z-Burger – Z-Burger reminds me of Shake Shack. I’d love to go back soon but it’s so far away in Glover Park where no one goes.
- Five Guys – I will always have a special place in my heart for Five Guys. I love their crumbly greasy patties and their thick mayo and the thin grocery store style bun they use. Five Guys is my forever home.
- Rogue States – RIP [tear tear]
- BGR – A consistently delicious burger although I often find the fancy toppings to be way too rich.
- Ray’s Hell Burger – Ray’s has meat going for it. Definitely the best patty out of the bunch, plus the option for customization. But that massive dry bun really knocks it down for me.
- Black Squirrel – When it’s on this burger is amazing, easily one of the more complex flavors of patty meat available. What’s killing this place is consistency.
- Good Stuff Eatery – I’ve always enjoyed my burger here but I think I like the toppings more than anything else going on. I’m still totally tickled that there’s a burger topped with chili, cheese and sour cream. SOUR CREAM ON A BURGER. I hold a special place in my heart for anyone that puts sour cream on things that are not baked potatoes or tacos.
- Central – For the gourmet burger category this would’ve been up there with the RIS burger but the RIS burger has awesome pickles, secret sauce and onion jam. Plus it’s pricy so why bother? You can get a ridiculous steak tartare with a tub of fries and mayo here for $15. That’s what I would do.
- Wendy’s – MMMmm Wendy’s. That was the first place I remember having a hamburger with pepper jack cheese on it and it was a revelation. Anyway the point of its place in the list is not to say I feel particularly strongly about Wendy’s but just that I really didn’t like what follows:
- Bourbon Steak – The quality and flavor profile of the burger is hugely underwhelming and its toppings, which was amplified by the fact that the burger cost $18. It’s not like Michael Mina is even cooking in the kitchen! He’s probably stepped foot in that building three times in his life.
- Bobby’s Burger Palace – I hated everything about this place but I’m only supposed to be ranking the burger. Well it blew even though the whole claim to fame is that there are chips on it and chips make every sandwich better. How did Bobby Flay fuck this one up so badly?
It just occurred to me that I still need to eat the Palena burger. Anyone care to join me in the name of science?
BONUS ROUND: Top Ten Sandwiches in DC Proper Right Now
- The Saigon at Sundevich
- C.E.B.L.T. at Pearl Oyster Bar
- Chivito at Fast Gourmet
- Maine-style Lobster Roll from the Lobster Truck
- The Jamaican at Sundeivch
- Grilled Cheese at Black Squirrel
- Eggplant parm sandwich at Churchkey
- Lombard Ave at Taylor Gourmet
- Roast Beef Sandwich at West Wing Cafe
- Whatever they’re whipping up at A.M. Wine Shoppe
(Need to try Jetties and Mangliardo’s)
Oh yeah that blog every day thing.
Here is what I ate for dinner last night:
I finally made my way to Chipotle’s Asian joint, Shophouse, and I thought it was a perfect Chipotle-style adaptation of Asian cuisine. Definitely not authentic, but unless you’re a douchesnobmobile you’ll survive. Anyway what we have here are the chicken pork meatballs on a banh mi and over rice noodles. I preferred the noodles since I didn’t love the banh mi bread, plus I got to douse it all in that curry fire sauce that is probably way too hot for nationwide release and will undoubtedly be toned down should/when this place ever expand(s). We paired it with DFH 60 Minute, the perfect beer to have with spicy foods. And then we got frozen yogurt and played Super Mario 2 and I got a lecture about how Super Mario 2 can’t even be considered a real Mario game. But at least there was mochi on the frozen yogurt.