Feeds:
Posts
Comments

No Words Necessary

Mammal on right a vegetarian. Mammal on left goes well with vegetables.

I am on a constant quest to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Much like the perfect white shirt or the perfect pair of jeans. Knowing how to make a good chocolate chip cookie is a must. I came upon this recipe on the website of Sauveur magazine and decided to give it a try. It requires both cake flour and bread flour and a resting period in the fridge of about 24 hours. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

The addition of sea salt to the  sweet cookie is not a revolutionary one (chocolate covered pretzels anyone?). It does however add a nice depth to the cookie. The salt in the cookie is supposed to open the palate and make the flavor of chocolate more intense. It also allows the flavors to stay in your mouth longer so in theory you only eat less. Ha! Tell that to my friends who ate the whole bag of cookies.

  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour (8 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 2/3 cup bread flour (8 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar (10 ounces)
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (8 ounces)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/4 lbs. high quality chocolate discs (or chocolate chips)
  • sea salt
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.
  2. In a mixer, fitted with a paddle, cream butter and sugars. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla.
  3. With the mixer on low-speed, carefully add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  4. Add chocolate discs (or chips) by hand.
  5. Place in a resealable plastic bag, making sure to let all the air out. Place in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
  6. Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
  7. Scoop approximately 3 ounces of dough and form into a ball. Place on parchment lined sheet trays about 3 inches apart.
  8. Sprinkle cookies lightly with sea salt.
  9. Bake for 18 – 20 minutes.
  10. Once done, allow cookies to cool in tray for about 5 minutes. Transfer to cookies to rack and allow to cool completely.

Enjoy!

Cobia

We are fortunate enough that all four of us love fish (and almost all seafood). This is something that we try to have in our diet at least once a week. Fish is not only high in Omega-3 Fatty Acid, which has a whole list of positive health benefits, but it is easy and quick to prepare. The grill is often our choice.

On a recent food shopping trip to our local Whole Foods, they had Cobia. I’ve never had it but one look at it, I knew instantly that it would be a great fish to throw on the grill. It had a nice dense flesh, very much like Mahi-Mahi, that took well to marinating and grilling. Unlike Mahi-Mahi though which tends to dry out, it was pleasantly moist without being oily.

The kids made fish tacos and I had it with grilled tomatoes and onions. Can’t wait to see it at the fish counter again.

Lemon Grilled Cobia (serves 4)

  • 4 fillets of Cobia ( cut about 1 1/2 inch thick)
  • Juice of 1 lemon, do not discard the squeezed halves
  • 1 lemon, sliced into rounds
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 bunch spring onion, cleaned and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • more lemon wedges for serving
  1. Make a quick vinaigrette of the lemon juice, thyme, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Season the fish lightly with salt and pepper and pour the vinaigrette over the fish. Add the squeezed lemons, lemon rounds and spring onions. Allow to marinate for no more than 20 minutes.
  3. While the fish is marinating, begin to pre-heat the grill. If you have a gas grill with three burners, set the two burners on high and a third one on medium. ( Alternately, for charcoal grills, create a high temperature spot and medium temperature spot.)
  4. Once the fish is done marinating and the grill is hot, place the fish on the side of the grill that had been set on high. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes untouched. This allows the fish to develop a nice crust (and grill marks). You need to allow this crust to form or you won’t be able to flip the fish over.
  5. Place the lemons and spring onions on the grill as well.
  6. Flip the fish and set it on the side that is set on medium. Place the grilled lemons on top of the fish.  Cover the grill and allow to finish cooking, another 5-6 minutes.
  7. Check for doneness. If you feel that it needs a few more minutes, place the fish back on the side set to medium and allow it to finish cooking. Let it rest for a few minutes before serving.
  8. Serve with the grilled spring onions and extra lemon wedges.

Enjoy!

I recently picked up a copy of the Washingtonian Magazine’s Cheap Eats edition.  It lists their top 100 favourite bargain restaurants.  I decided that, as a family,we should try to eat through at least all the Virginia restaurants listed.  Of the one hundred restaurants on the list, forty-five are in Virginia and as of today we have eaten at thirteen of them. Our goal in the next year will be to eat at the remaining thirty-two restaurants as a family.

There will be a few constraints like budget (we will surely, at one point, go over our eating out budget), allergies (our oldest son is allergic to peanuts and tree-nuts, no Thai food for us), and just plain old we’re-sick-of-eating-out syndrome. Nonetheless, we will do our part and try to eat out for the sake of this blog.

Let’s see where this takes us.

Bacon Explosion

Bacon Explosion Dog-wich

  

I finally got my act together and did it. I made some Bacon Explosion. Steve, pictured above, told me all about it last year and we’ve been talking about making some for a while but never really did. We were bringing a group of kids to RFK to watch a DC United game and decided that this called for a nice tailgate complete with artery clogging, smoked pork products and cold, cold beer. We delivered both with much gusto. The kids of course had the usual dogs but there were a few of them that tried the Bacon Explosion and liked it. We’re starting them young.  

What is it exactly? I tell people that you take a pound of bacon and weave it into a mat (many people are already grossed out by this). Cover the mat of bacon with bulk sausage and cooked bacon (more bacon!), slather it with barbecue sauce and roll the whole thing into a log. Smoke it for two and half hours, slather with more barbecue sauce and take a lipitor.  

I am not going to post the recipe here since there are a whole slew of websites that can better explain the process. This is the one I used: http://www.bbqaddicts.com/blog/recipes/bacon-explosion/ . It was easy to follow and had very nice pictures. The only thing I did differently was that at the end of the 2 1/2 hour smoking process, I decided to stick it in a 325 F oven for about 30 minutes. The evening temperature had dropped so our low-tech smoker didn’t seem to be maintaining the right temperature. Once I felt that the smokey flavor (and look) was there, I decided to finish it in the oven just to be safe. Especially since we would be feeding kids (who cares about the adults getting sick?).  

The recipe was fairly easy to make, easy enough in fact that I ended up making two. The Bacon Explosion turned out to be a big hit. We sliced it at the tailgate and put it on the grill for a few minutes to heat up. The whole thing had such a smoky flavor. Between the bacon (that was already smoked), the barbecue sauce (I used the smoked hickory kind) and the actual smoking method itself – it was beyond words. You’d think that it was too much smoke flavor but it was somehow not overwhelming. It was moist and full-bodied more than anything. We had it on potato rolls so it quickly absorbed all the juices and melded into the meat. It was delicious. So perfect with the cold beer on that very, very hot day.  

Steve decided to put a slice of the Bacon between two hot dogs – brilliant. He also shares the dubious title as the only other person to have his picture on my blog. Carlos Bocanegra is the other one. I would make him a Bacon Explosion anytime…..Carlos, call me…

The title refers to both my husband of 12 years and what I consider to be one of the best restaurants ever, Obelisk at Dupont Circle. This was our restaurant of choice for our 12th anniversary. It is telling that there is no photo to accompany this short post. It is not that kind of restaurant where you whip out your cell phone to take a picture of the food. It would be irreverent to do so.

It is simply a bastion of good, unpretentious food. Perfect, attentive service. The decor is very bare and in a way respectful of the food. The whole restaurant is so well run it makes me we weep at how much money we’ve spent on bad restaurants. The meal was $75.00 a person but worth so much more than that.

They do everything really well. I would have licked every plate if I could.

The Antipasti consisted of four or five (I lost count!) small dishes. The Burrata was, as always, so fresh and deliciously runny. It was so very simply drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and  freshly ground pepper.  There was also a small piece of Porchetta which had a nice crispy skin.  They brought out a portion of sardines sitting on a bed of onions, pine nuts and what appeared to be golden raisins. It has flecks of orange in it as well. Just so delicious.

For my first course, I chose the gnocchi with pesto. Sounds simple and plain? Gnocchi at Obelisk is like no other. They are soft airy pillows that just melt in your mouth. A far cry from the rubbery stuff that you get from even really good Italian groceries.

I chose the lamb with a stuffed artichoke and my husband chose the grouper with Pancetta and fava beans for our second course. The lamb was marinated in garlic and herbs and grilled to medium rare. So, so tasty!

For dessert, I had the black pepper ice cream with balsamic marinated strawberries and a piece of shortbread. My husband had the hazelnut torte with a caramel whipped cream. The black pepper ice cream was just something that jumped out at me. I instantly wanted to try it and was not disappointed. However, when I has the balsamic strawberries and shortbread together with the ice cream, it was perfection! It just plain worked. Sweet and savory at the same time. So refined. So clever. 

This is the third time I’ve had dinner here and every single time makes me just want to keep coming back. Is it possible that there is nothing wrong with this restaurant? Is this culinary nirvana? I think so.

Obelisk , 2029 P Street, Washington DC, 20036  (202) 872 – 1180

One of the things you learn fairly quickly if you are cooking for a living is how to make a vinaigrette. Low cost and high appeal (think raspberry walnut vinagrette – which in reality might just be raspberry vinegar and walnut oil). They teach you that the ratio in making a vinaigrette is 3:1. Three parts oil to one part vinegar (or acid). So why don’t they call it an oilagrette then??? Moving on…

This ratio is not set in stone. Vinaigrettes are something that you can truly make your own. As long as you put the ingredients of oil, vinegar and some kind of emulsifier and master the technique of emulsifying it, you are set.  They can do double duty as a dressing or as a great marinade.

I amost always use olive oil and white balsamic vinegar since these are staples in my kitchen. I find that if I do use mustard as an emulsifier, I start out by adding it sparingly and add more to taste.

This is my go to vinaigrette recipe:

Parmesan Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 1 garlic clove, minced and mashed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp White Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (DO NOT use bottled lemon juice)
  • 4 Tbsp minced basil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese, finely grated 
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  1. On your chopping board, combine the garlic and salt. Mash together to form a rough paste. Transfer to a large mixing bowl which has been set over a somewhat damp dish towel to prevent the bowl from skating across your counter.
  2. To the garlic add the White Balsamic Vinegar, lemon juice, basil, cheese and pepper. Whisk to combine.
  3. Slowly pour the olive oil in a steam, whisking continuously until well blended.

A few notes:

  • Try and have all the ingredients at room temperature. They will emuslify better.
  • If you are taking this to a party, put in a container with a tight lid. Right before serving vigorously shake to combine.
  • You can substitute Pecorino Romano for the Parmesan  Cheese. This gives it a nuttier and a somewhat stronger bite.
  • Need a blue cheese dressing? Make the dressing as instructed but substiute the Parmesan Cheese for Blue Cheese Crumbles and add it after whisking.