August 08, 2013

Brief Interlude

Apologies for the radio silence from the American Water kitchen. We have been busy building a flying machine for the 2013 DC Red Bull Flugtag competition!

Follow our progress here:
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In case you don't believe me, this is for serious, y'all:

And we are here:

June 10, 2013


Kale-Pistachio Pesto
{original recipe from cooking stoned}

Do you ever make your own pesto? I grew up with a traditional Genovese style pesto that my mom would make with basil from her garden. It was not until recently that I began to experiment with other greens in pesto. If you are not yet totally over all of the kale hype, this is a brilliant use for kale. If you do not have pistachios on hand, I am pretty sure almonds or even pine nuts could make an apt substitute.

This pesto can be used in many ways. This was excellent with pasta and I can imagine this would make a great base for a white pizza or a fine addition to a grilled cheese sandwich. I also served a dollop of this with steamed asparagus, which made for a great pairing. How would you use this pesto?

3 large kale leaves, deveined
1/2 cup shelled pistachios, unsalted
3 cloves garlic
1/4 extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt

1. rip the kale into smallish pieces

2. peel the garlic cloves

3. add all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until smooth. 

June 07, 2013

Road Trip Eats: Maine Edition

Fiddlehead Ferns

We just took a long weekend trip to Maine, where the scenery was fantastic and the eating even better. We stuffed ourselves silly on lobster rolls, vowing on departure to not sample one again for a very, very long time. When not eating lobster rolls, we learned of another Maine delicacy -- fiddleheads. 

An early spring delicacy in Maine, fiddleheads are the coiled fronds of the ostrich fern. Fiddleheads bear a likeness to other familiar greens, like asparagus, however these must be boiled or steamed before sauteeing, baking or using in a stir fry. If you ever plan to go foraging for fiddleheads, you should be confident in your ability to discern the difference between the ostrich fiddlehead and other fern fiddleheads, as not all ferns are edible.

We served these alongside roasted potatoes and chicken enchiladas. This made for a very special family style meal on our last night in McFarland's Cove. Maine, I vow to return some day.

Photo credits: Andrei Sinioukov

June 03, 2013

Lately Sipping On...

Grapefruit Juice

What's your summer time drink of choice? Lately, we have been sipping on grapefruit juice. It's refreshing straight up. But the possibilities are endless depending on your tonic of choice. The other night we mixed up a grapefruit cocktail with vodka, a sprig of rosemary and a splash of soda water. Its so good, its dangerous. And a quick tour around the internet yielded some might fine inspiration - hoping to try these others soon!

Tequila: It turns out the Margarita is not Mexico's most popular drink -- Check out this recipe for the Paloma from the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen.

Champagne: A grapefruit twist on the classic morning drink -- from Apartment Therapy's Kitchn

Gin: this Italian greyhound from familystyle food blog may just become my go to summertime drink

May 29, 2013

The Perfect Burger

$100,000 Burger aka
7 Train Caramelized Green Curry Burgers with Crispy Watercress Salad, Roasted Cashews, and Minted Basil Aioli

In our household the debate about how to prepare the "perfect" burger carries on. We came close to perfection here with an approach that abides by the principle -- the simpler, the better. Minimal handling of the meat, no frills and additives to the beef, just a bit of salt right before they hit the grill, et voila. We really thought we were onto something here, until we stumbled across this article -- What does a $100,000 burger taste like? If our burger recipe calls for simplicity, this promotes the opposite. I have not yet had a chance to try this at home, but I share the recipe for those curious about what a $100,000 burger looks like. 

Recipe by Erin Evenson


Green Curry Glaze
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
3 tbsp fresh grated ginger
2 jalapeno chiles, stemmed and coarsely chopped
2 fresh kaffir lime leaves
1 stalk lemongrass, outer layers discarded, crushed with the back of a knife and chopped
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Minted Basil Aioli
1 cup mayo
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves

6 slices pancetta

Crispy Watercress Salad
3.5 cups canola oil
1 cup rice flour
1 cup chilled seltzer water
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 heads young watercress, stems trimmed
3 shallots, thinly sliced
zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tsp Thai fish sauce (low-sodium)
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp sriracha

Burger Patties
2 lbs ground chuck
fat from cooking pancetta

vegetable oil for brushing grill rack

6 French sandwich rolls, split
1 1/4 cups chopped roasted salted cashews

yield: 6 burgers

1. light grill and let heat settle to medium

2. to make the glaze, combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until completely pureed. pass the mixture once through a sieve to remove any chunks, and set aside.

3. the make the aioli, combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. transfer to a bowl, and refrigerate until ready to serve the burgers.

4. place a large cast iron skillet on the grill. add the pancetta and cook until crisp, about 7-8 minutes. transfer the pancetta to paper towels to drain and pour the fat from the skillet into a large bowl. reserve for later.

5. to make the salad, return the skillet to the grill, add the canola oil, and heat until shimmering. combine the flour, seltzer water, baking powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl, whisk to blend. add the watercress and stir to coat. 

6. add the shallots to the hot oil and fry until golden brown and crisp, 30 to 45 seconds. transfer to a paper towel to drain. working in small batches, remove the watercress from the batter, allowing excess batter to drip back into the bowl. fry until golden brown and crisp, 45 to 50 seconds. transfer to paper towels to drain.

7. in a small bowl, whisk together the lime zest and juice, vinegar, fish sauce, sugar and sriracha until combined. set aside.

8. to make the patties, add the chuck to the bowl containing the reserved pancetta fat. combine using your hands. form the meat into 6 equal patties.

9. brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. place the patties on the grill and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until juices begin emerging from the top of the patties. baste the patties liberally with the glaze, flip the patties, and douse the other sides of the patties with the remaining glaze. grill the other side for 4-5 longer (for medium-rare, long for desired doneness). transfer the patties to a plate to rest while assembling the other ingredients.

10. grill the rolls, cut side down, until they are lightly toasted. spread the cashews on a plate. spread the cut sides of the buns with aioli and dip each roll top, aioli side down into the cashews, pressing gently to make sure the cashews adhere.

11. to assemble the burgers, combine the fried shallots and watercress in a large bowl and toss to combine. drizzle the lime dressing over the mixture and toss again. place a pancetta slice on each bottom bun, followed by a patty. place a mound of the watercress salad atop each patty. finally, top each burger with the cashew-aioli buger tops.

12. serve immediately!

May 22, 2013

Backyard Bounty

Marinated Spring Onions

We have received a very warm welcome into our new neighborhood vis a vis our friendly new neighbor - Paul. He is an avid gardener with little spare time to cook (on account of his very busy dog walking schedule). We are counting ourselves lucky to live in such close proximity to someone with such a wealth of gardening knowledge, and even luckier when we become the benefactors of his backyard bounty. Recently, he gifted us this beautiful bouquet of spring onions. 

Similar to our chimichurri recipe, these  green onions can be used as a condiment or marinade & they pair incredibly well with grilled meats. Using a sharp knife, slice the white parts of the spring onions paper thin. Toss together with 1 tbsp walnut oil (expensive, but worth every penny!), 1/2-1 tsp balsamic vinegar & a generous handful of fresh, chopped thyme. Let sit for a few hours -- for best results overnight. The walnut oil breaks down the bitterness of the onions & allows these onions to take on a delicate nutty flavor. We served with a grilled skirt steak, but this would also be great with grilled vegetables and perhaps feta cheese. Frankly, these are so good, we tend to snack on them alone. 

And we always reserve our scallion greens to make a Korean Seafood Pancake (Haemul Pajeon). It has taken us years to finally get this right - and this last time we nailed it (perhaps we have Paul and his backyard inspiration to thank)! I was feeling too spooked by the prospect of yet another failed attempt to document this particular round, but perhaps this recipe from Apartment Therapy's thekitchn can provide a springboard for experimentation, should you feel inspired to try this at home. 

photo credits:
#1: Andrei Sinioukov; #2: thekitchn

May 14, 2013

Feature Ingredient: Harissa

Harissa-Spiced Whole Wheat Fusilli Pasta 
with Swiss Chard & Red Onion 

Do you ever use harissa? On a recent whim, I bought a container of this Tunisian hot chili sauce. I am having a great deal of fun experimenting with it. Next time around, I will definitely try this homemade version from Saveur. I kept this recipe simple with a healthy dose of greens. However, this base recipe leaves plenty of room for experimentation with any of the optional ingredients suggested below.

1/2 box fusilli pasta
1 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 bunch swiss chard, chopped
1/2 large red onion, sliced
1/3-1/2 cup harissa
salt & pepper, to taste
kalamata olives (optional)
pine nuts (optional)
1 can of chick peas (optional)
sliced chicken breast (optional)
fresh chopped parsley (optional)
4 oz goat cheese (optional)
1 cup diced roasted sweet potatoes (optional)
yield: 3 servings

1. bring a large salted pot of water to a boil & cook pasta according to package directions. 

2. meanwhile, saute the swiss chard & red onions in olive oil. add a pinch of salt to bring out the sweetness of the onions as they cook. 

3. drain the cooked pasta. add in the sauteed swiss chard, red onion, and 1/4 cup harissa. stir to combine. taste & adjust to desired heat level, adding 1 tbsp harissa at a time.

4. have fun experimenting with any or all of the optional ingredients!

Harissa and Sweet Potatoes

there is something particularly satisfying about the combination of harissa and sweet potatoes. check here, here, and here for some inspiration.

Harissa and Proteins

BBC's Good Food recipe index demonstrates how harissa can really shine with meat and seafood dishes as well, including chicken, prawns, salmon, and lamb

May 10, 2013

Exploring the Savory Side of Fruits

Week's Worth of Produce: Our Household

Following our post on what a week's full of groceries looks like around the world, I wanted to share some recent inspiration from our weekly Washington Green Grocer bounty. We get a large box of mixed vegetables and fruits delivered, which I am finding adds a nice produce-forward mentality to our meals, especially coming off of winter where meat-heavy, comforting meals take center stage.

Our first delivery literally had me dancing with delight in our kitchen. The pineapple was  a royal welcome into the club. 

After a few particularly inspired meals (which unfortunately I did not take the time to blog about), I realized the fruit:vegetable ratio in the box tipped far too much on the fruit side for us. I have basically come to learn one thing about myself, if something cannot be eaten with olive oil, I am generally not interested. 

Below I share a round-up of recipe links from my recent endeavor to explore the savory side of fruits - hopefully these will inspire you to combine ingredients in new and unusual ways. I have not yet tried all of these recipes, so cannot vouch for them.






May 08, 2013

Week's Worth of Groceries: A Global View

This is what a week's worth of groceries looks like from all around the world -- brought to you by Peter Menzel, a freelance journalist known for his coverage of international feature stories on science and the environment. The below photos are excerpted from Menzel's joint book with Faith D'Aluisio Hungry Planet: What the World Eats (Ten Speed Press, 2005) in which the authors explore daily life around the world through the lens of food. The authors capture a week's worth of food purchases from 24 families from different countries. The couple won the coveted James Beard Best Book Award in 2006 for this publication, and in 2005 received Book of the Year for the volume from the Harry Chapin World Hunger Media Foundation.

What do you think? What similarities do you find across the food cultures? Is anything particularly shocking? or exciting? Based on these pictures, where would you like to most visit? Sign me up for China and Turkey!









Great Britain











United States

April 26, 2013

April (Baby! and Wedding!) Showers

Polenta Ricotta Honey Cake 
with Lemon Blueberry topping
{original recipe from vintage kitchen notes}

I had the pleasure of spending this past weekend with my five best friends from college. Simply put, these ladies are amazing. And inspiring. And fun. And creative. This reunion was full of many celebratory life moments, including pending nuptials, growing bellies, new homes, growing broods, health & happiness. Tea parties take center stage at our reunions. Whether at a fancy tea house (a la Alice's Tea Cup in NYC or Peacock Alley at the Willard in DC) or in pjs at home, tea parties truly feel indulgent. Baked treats accompanied by clotted cream & lemon curd are all requisites.

This time around, I tried to inject a bit of wholesome into the indulgent mix. This polenta ricotta honey cake had a nutty texture, providing a nice complement to the tangy blueberry topping. The cake was a bit crumbly but still nice & moist. We served this with a salmon & leek quiche and a spinach & toasted pine nut quiche, as well as a arugula based salad filled with spring greens & a goat cheese dressing. If you like a traditional Italian almond cake, this one is definitely worth trying. 

cake ingredients:
1 cup polenta or yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup ricotta

1/3 cup tepid water
3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
8 tbsp butter, melted & cooled
1 tbsp butter, cut into bits & chilled
2 large eggs

topping ingredients:
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup light brown sugar

1.  pre-heat oven to 350F.

2. Line bottom of a 9 inch springform cake pan with parchment paper (I actually did without, and had no problem transferring the cake to a pretty serving tray afterwards). 

3. spray or butter the sides of the cake pan.

4. mix polenta, flour, baking powder & salt in a bowl.

5. beat the ricotta cheese with the water until it is a smooth, uniform texture. Add honey, sugar & lemon zest, continue to beat until smooth. 

6. gradually add the melted & cooled butter. then add the eggs, one at a time. continue to beat until mixture is smooth. 

7. slowly fold the wet ingredients in small batches into the dry ingredients until smooth. 

8. pour the mixture into the cake pan. dot the top of the batter with the bits of butter. 

9. bake for about 35 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

10. for the blueberry sauce, on the stovetop, mix blueberries, lemon juice & sugar. cook for about 5 minutes over low heat until the blueberries wrinkle & loose their shape.

11. transfer onto a cake platter. serve with the blueberry sauce & a dusting of powdered sugar. 

April 24, 2013

Lately, Snacking On....Chocolate.

Theo Congo vanilla nib chocolate

I am a sucker for good dark chocolate. I am also a nerd for compelling infographics. Meet Theo Chocolate, where my love for chocolate and infographics collides. I can't get enough!

Theo is a proud partner to Ben Affleck's Eastern Congo Initiative. Support this great cause and get your next chocolate fix here. Or at Whole Foods nationwide. 

Watch Ben Affleck on his vision for the Eastern Congo Initiative. 

April 16, 2013

Tailgate Treats

Tailgate Season in Full Swing

This weekend marked another epic tailgate with Club Echa Panza. A pre-pre-tailgate kicked off a full day of festivities. At the pre-tailgate we ate Hebrew National franks on potato rolls with dijon mustard, compliments of our friend Steve. It hit the spot. The party carried on to the official tailgate, where the spread was amazing including huevos de toro (um yes, you are reading that right. no, I was not brave enough to try them). As round after round of meats & other treats were pulled off the grill I began to wonder how it could all be consumed. But as our namesake indicates, that proved an unfounded concern.  

Below, I feature two fantastic tailgate recipes, both were incredibly easy to pull together & I imagine they would be a welcome contribution to any get together during the up-coming grilling season.

Sausage & Cheese Stuffed Baby Bell Peppers

A rather large bag of baby bell peppers caught my attention on a recent trip to the grocery store. And as luck would have it, there was an enticing recipe on the back of the package. As a friend pointed out, no matter the source, a good recipe is a good recipe. So here goes, compliments of Bailey Farms of NC. 

6 oz Italian sausage (without casing)
one dozen baby bell peppers
8 oz whipped cream cheese
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 oz spicy Monterey jack cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp cracked red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup panko, plus more for topping
salt & pepper, to taste

1.  pre-heat oven to 350F. lightly grease a deep baking dish with a bit of olive oil.

2. brown sausage on the skillet top over medium heat. I used an Italian sausage, but next time around I will definitely use a variety with a bit more of a spicy kick.

3. slice baby bell peppers in half, length wise.

4. in a mixing bowl, combine cheeses, egg, seasonings & panko with the crumbled sausage.

5. Fill each pepper half with a generous spoonful of the mix. 

6. line the greased baking pan with the filled peppers. sprinkle with panko.

7. bake for about 20 minutes. serve straight away or pack in foil for a tailgate or grilling party & re-heat on the grill. 

Yogurt Marinated Lamb Kabobs 
with Sweet Peppers & Red Onion

While I was on a roll, we happened to have some lamb chops in the fridge that were begging for attention. Again, these baby bell peppers proved all the inspiration I needed to pull together these kabobs. They were delicious. 

8-9 wooden (or metal) skewers 
2 lamb chops
4-6 oz plain Green yogurt
2 roasted garlic cloves
5-7 dashes of worchestire sauce
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cracked red pepper flakes
salt & pepper, to taste
1/2 large red onion, cut into 1 inch wedges

9 baby bell peppers, halved

1. if using wooden skewers, soak them in water for about 10-15 minutes. this prevents them from burning on the grill.

2. meanwhile, cut the lamb into 1 inch cube pieces. 

3. combine lamb with yogurt, roasted garlic, worchestire sauce & spices. let sit for about 20 minutes to tenderize.

4. remove the wooden skewers from the water & thread the lamb & veggies onto them. 

5. grill the skewers over indirect fire until the meat is fully cooked through.

6. serve with cold beer or red wine & enjoy!