Category Archives: Photos

pictures and video clips of, well… food porn

Po’ Boy? No Mo’ Boy…

There’s nothing quite like discovering one of your favorite places to eat has shut their doors. I mean, we’ve probably all experienced arriving on a day that they happen to be closed for a holiday or simply as part of their normal schedule–that we failed to check, but closed? Forever? Forevah-evah? While not the worst thing to happen in the world, it can certainly throw you for a loop.

DC New Orleans Po Boy Shop (Closed) For me, that moment happened yesterday at DC’s New Orleans Po Boy Shop whose doors have apparently been closed since December. It was not a favorite place for me because of the food–which was excellent, or the location–which was close but not super close, and certainly not for the hours since they weren’t open on weekends. It was mostly a comfortable place that I would visit every time I had blood drawn for lab work related to my cancer.

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Roasted Chicken Wings

I’m not sure when I came around on wings. When I was a kid, they were sold as “Drumettes” and my mom might make them if we were camping or at a group picnic, but in general I always thought they were too much work, too little food. And when I’d have them in later years, they were drowned in a sauce that made them soggy and a total mess to eat. Frankly, if it hadn’t been for Pan-Asian take out places that straight up fried the wings with no sauce, I might have given up on them forever.

Roasted Chicken Wings

Unfortunately… the wings were fried. It became a great comfort food for me… and my belly… and my waistline. So I tried doing them myself at home, baking them didn’t have the mojo at all, smoking them was hit or miss and roasting them was good, but the main method I followed–Alton Brown’s–was a little more tedious than I liked. It still became a go-to recipe, however, until a little more browsing around online resulted in my new method.

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False promises and simple cocktails…

I’m fortunate enough to have one telework day during the week and have generally been taking advantage of the opportunity to go out for an early breakfast. As there’s an IHOP right across the way from me, it’s a good bed for someplace open super-early in the morning. So I’d just sat down, ordered some coffee and noticed this on my table…

IHOP - Squeeze more joy into your day.

“Squeeze more joy” into my day, IHOP? Really? When you offer me something called a “mimosa” that is nothing of the kind? (And I suppose the word ‘squeeze’ is meant to make us think the juice is fresh-squeezed, but I’ll let someone else charge that windmill.) There is no joy in a cocktail ordered without alcohol.

Yes, non-alcoholic cocktails–it hurts to even utter the phrase–do exist, often called “kiddie cocktails” which I think shows an extreme lack of responsibility and taste. I mean, who would give a kid a cocktail in the first place? Or even anything resembling one? We don’t want children emulating behavior like smoking, but we’ll mix up a Shirley Temple or a Roy Rogers and serve it to them without thinking twice.

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Friday, I’m in Love: Cupcakes!

Happy New Year!… if a bit late, and happy returns… to blogging? Been a bit of a rough year, but there’s no way to get back to writing than to just do it! And what better way to do that than with a Friday treat? In fact, I plan to try and treat myself every Friday, hence this new “Friday, I’m in Love” series–thank you Robert Smith. It might be going out, staying in, but it will be a nice way to force myself to post something at least weekly, but I digress…

Curbside Cupcakes food truck I had earned a short day at the office today and was planning on a very quick walk to metro to get out of the cold. Since I was passing at lunchtime, the food trucks were out in force at Canal Park. Normally, I don’t bother stopping because of the cold and the lines, but fortune was smiling upon me as Curbside Cupcakes, one of my favorite trucks happened to be out there and how better to treat myself than to a ½ dozen cupcakes paired with some ice cold milk–or hot espresso–at home?

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Sakuramen in Adams Morgan

Sakuramen Menu Mention “ramen” to most people and you’ll get a weird look followed by “you mean the stuff in the cup?” or others might remember the college days when your “pantry” consisted of packets of Kool-Aid and instant ramen noodles since both could be bought in large amounts for not a lot of money. In any case, it’s not likely to evoke a good reaction to anyone that isn’t aware of how ramen noodles are prepared elsewhere in the world. So when a friend suggested Sakuramen in Adams Morgan a few weeks back, I was intrigued but skeptical, after all, even if it isn’t instant, it’s still just noodles and broth, right?

Well that is true, but completely undersells the experience. Since my first visit, I’ve been back twice and it’s a welcome comfort each time. When it’s chilly outside, ramen is warm and filling and with flu season upon us, there’s nothing like a good soup to make you feel better.

Fried Pork Gyoza/Dumplings

Especially if you’re like me and start with Gyoza (or Jiaozi, Dumplings, Potstickers, whatever you like to call them). Dumplings are one of my food addictions, no matter how much I plan to eat, I have to start with them if they’re on the menu. Steamed if I’m trying to be healthy, fried if I just don’t care. You get a nice serving of five which is perfect for sharing… just not with me!

Gojiramen

I went for the Gojiramen: traditional shoyu (soy sauce/chicken stock broth) ramen with chashu (roasted Berkshire pork), menma (marinated bamboo shoots), scallions, nori (seaweed), and sprouts. I’ve had the Shoki bowl before as well and both were delicious and had me tipping the bowl after finishing to slurp up a bit more broth. Speaking of slurping, if you’ve ever seen the Spaghetti scene from Tampopo, you’ll know what I’m talking about, but slurping is definitely not frowned upon here.

A few more pictures are up on flickr, but I didn’t really “chow down” on this visit. A gentleman seated near me made the mistake of ordering too much and had to have his appetizers boxed up to take with him. There are other delights on their menu that I look forward to trying on future visits, but this little out of the way place is enough to get me down to Adams Morgan on a more regular basis and that’s saying something. I certainly won’t look at ramen the same way anymore and no microwaved cup with a seasoning packet will ever cut it again.

Fifty Shades of Chicken

I already feel sadistically naughty enough when I subject a chicken to drowning (brining), bondage (trussing) and an oven (…an oven) to get a lovely roasted bird but this trailer for the book Fifty Shades of Chicken: A Parody in a Cookbook takes it well beyond my imagination to a whole new level!

From now on, I shall always hear Patrick Stewart in my head when preparing a roast chicken.

I don’t normally buy parody or themed books, but this might be perfect to have on the coffee table or prominently displayed on the cookbook shelf.

Cocktails @ Bourbon Steak DC

My love for Bourbon Steak DC is no secret, but we typically go for lunch or dinner, only spending a few minutes at the bar while waiting for our entire party to arrive. Mostly that was tactical since as some of our bunch are lightweights, indulging in a smattering of cocktails before our dinner would have them passing out before the entree arrived. So when a friend suggested heading over there for happy hour to celebrate her late mother’s birthday, it was a great reason to have some cocktails and laughs in the lounge.

I was well aware of the tempting libations from previous visits and the restaurant makes great use of social media, tempting their followers from time to time with food and drink suggestions…

I started things off with an Achilles Heel, hanger one frasier river raspberry, metaxa ouzo, fresh lime and ginger served in a salted glass with cucumber garnish. I’m normally pretty wary of ouzo, but I knew I was in good hands with Duane Sylvestre who made sure I got the most out of the drink by encouraging me to tuck into the garnish after having a sip. Who knew that a little salted cucumber could enhance one’s cocktail experience so well?

The boy prefers his drinks on the sweeter side and cooled off with a classic Planter’s Punch to start while my friend opened with her usual, a Sazerac. It was a good thing we got there fairly early as we were able to chat with the bar staff and I could get out my cocktail nerdity before the lounge got too loud and crowded.

For my second round, I went with the Wooden Chair Rickey, Bourbon Steak’s entry into 2012’s Rickey Month competition.

It had a nice blend of flavors which I confess I can’t recall exactly at the moment–perhaps too much celebrating–garnished with pickled cherries. It satisfied the requirements of the classic Rickey, it was cold, tart and fizzy with more than a hint of sweetness, or as the drink is commonly called, “air conditioning in a glass”. I always try to order a few in the warm months and I’m glad I didn’t pass this one up.

Closing out the night with a delicious burger and a Planter’s Punch of my own, it was a really fun evening with a bit of nerdy celebrity spotting, many laughs and sharing memories and stories. Something I feel you can’t always do with your friends online.

As I’ve said before, unfortunately Bourbon Steak isn’t for the everyday meal or cocktail hour, but as a special treat to yourself every now and then–I think we’re up to once or twice a season, now–you will enjoy a great afternoon or evening with impeccable service, delicious food and as I can now confirm, amazing cocktails.

Jacques Pépin: How to Mark a Grilled Steak

One of the many things that apartment-dwelling cooks have to live with is that we often can’t grill whenever we’d like. Some of us may have access to communal grills–as I currently do now. However, ours isn’t always well-maintained so that when I am in the mood to grill, I have to factor in additional time to make sure the grill is as clean as I want before getting started. Or I’m sharing space with someone else and our food is crowding up the grates jockeying for space. Thankfully the trusty grill pan satisfies nearly all needs. There won’t be flames licking at the surface of the food, but it’s a good compromise for achieving the look and cooking method… and you get to do it in air-conditioned comfort!

About the only thing I keep having trouble with is getting that nice cross-hatch grill mark pattern on the food. For some reason, I never turn at quite the right angle, or flip in the right direction and often just settle for the single diagonal stripe approach rather than mess up the look. Sure, the food still tastes great, but sometimes you do want to show off just a little. And last weekend while catching an episode of Essential Pépin devoted to beef, Jacques briefly went through the steps of getting the perfect pattern… in a grill pan!

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Super-Light Chili Con Carne

I am quickly becoming a convert on eBooks, especially cookbooks. I love buying cookbooks, but when it comes to that post-lunch surfing to decide what to make for dinner, I always resort to websites because I can’t flip through my cookbooks. eBooks are that nice compromise to be able to flip through recipes, make shopping lists and not worry that a recipe site or blog has left anything out.

In conjunction with our attempts to eat lighter, I’ve been reading Rocco DiSpirito‘s "Now Eat This!" and many of the recipes are pretty simple and fast though the creative ingredients substitutions for some recipes may give one pause. Last night I made his version of light–make that super-light–chili con carne with surprisingly delicious results!

The secret, though it’s hardly a secret, is that it doesn’t use any oil and hardly any fat. Ground turkey breast meat is 99% lean and the recipe didn’t call for any butter or oil, just vegetables, their juice, turkey and beans. We were wary, I caught my spouse readying himself for disappointment, but it turned out to be a flavorful chili with good texture and plenty of heat. See nutritional details after the recipe, but I’ll confirm that when he titled it Super-Light, that was referring to calories, not taste.

Super-Light Mexican Chili con Carne with Beans

Recipe from Rocco DiSpirito‘s "Now Eat This!"

Ingredients

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, cut into fine dice
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into fine dice
  • One 35-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, roughly chopped, juices reserved (a)
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder (b)
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces ground turkey breast (c)
  • One 14-ounce can black beans, drained (d)
  • Shredded 75% reduced-fat cheddar cheese, such as Cabot
  • Reduced-fat sour cream (e)

Substitutions/Notes

I usually place this section last, but when shopping for the specified ingredients, I noticed that the sizes in my local grocery store didn’t quite match up, something that can happen a lot when cooking from a book, especially a healthy recipe cookbook. My substitutions and other notes follow.

  1. I was unable to find a 35-ounce can of whole plum tomatoes in my local shop, so I compromised with a 28-ounce can + an 8-ounce can of tomato sauce.
  2. As mentioned before, I’m a heat wuss, so I used 2 tablespoons Chipotle chili powder with 1 tablespoon chili powder.
  3. At the local shop, ground turkey breast only came in a 20-ounce package, so I used the entire thing.
  4. Again, this size couldn’t be found, so I used a 15.5-ounce can of black beans.
  5. This is my own addition. It helps temper the significant heat produced by all the chili powder & cumin!

Instructions

  1. In a Dutch oven, combine the garlic, onion, bell pepper, tomatoes and their juices, chili powder, and cumin. Bring to a boil over high heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes.
  2. Raise the heat to high and add the ground turkey, stirring to break it up. Add the black beans and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover, and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until turkey is cooked through, about 8 minutes.
  3. Serve the chili in bowls, with the cheese sprinkled on top.

The recipe is very simple with only a few steps, so I had time to do a little bit extra. I “browned” the ground turkey–using non-stick cooking spray and a few spoonfuls of the simmering chili liquid–in another pot first before adding it to the chili. And I let the chili cook for longer than 8 minutes each step since this wasn’t a classic long-cooking recipe, I wanted as much flavor to develop as possible.

DiSpirito’s original recipe serves 4 at 287 calories per serving. My modified recipe (with more ground turkey and beans) serves 6 at 245 calories per 11.5-ounce serving. (Per Lose It! — Total Fat: 2.2g, Cholesterol: 60.4mg, Sodium: 544.5mg, Carbs: 22g, Fiber: 6.7g, Sugars: 3.1g, Protein: 29g) Sprinkle 18-cup reduced fat cheddar and top with 2 teaspoons light sour cream to add another 55 calories bringing each bowl to a nice even 300 calories per serving.

Having a kitchen scale is great for portion control/serving size. Admittedly to figure out the above, I had to find a large enough bowl/pot, tare its weight on the scale, then pour the chili from the Dutch oven into it, but after a little weighing and a little math, it wasn’t too bad. And even though this chili had me sweating from the heat, I packed up a serving to bring into the office for lunch today–with cheese and sour cream, of course.

I look forward to flipping through more recipes in this book and slowly making the switch–or in some cases, doubling up–from paper to eBooks when it comes to my cookbook library at home.

The Black Pearl

So, it’s been a while, how’ve you been? I took a much-needed hiatus from food blogging for a bit while I sorted a few things out, but there will be more about that later.

I also had to take a bit of a break from… calories. The boy and I have been doing our best to watch what we eat, get a bit more exercise and try to shed a few pounds. Unfortunately, this meant that I would have to cut back on something I love: booze. No more pitchers of martinis for me! Instead enjoying one or two drinks every few nights is a more conducive habit to good fitness goals. I wouldn’t cut drinking out completely, but applying a bit of moderation didn’t hurt.

Still, it had been a while since I’d come up with anything new on the bar and I decided that the result of my next set of cocktail experiments should reflect my “mourning period” and be colored an appropriate shade of black. Thing is, it is amazingly difficult to find “black” cocktails using Google without coming up with a lot of unhelpful results. I found a lot that have the word black in the name, but not too many that are the color black after being mixed. Or worse, recipes that didn’t “cheat” by using either Blavod Black Vodka which I wasn’t in the mood to hunt down, or Black Raspberry or Cherry liqueurs, neither of which I’m a fan of.

The Black Pearl

The flavors of peach, pear, orange and pomegranate come together for a cocktail on the sweet side with a gothic black tint.

Ingredients

  • 1 12 oz vodka, pear infused
  • 34 oz 100% pomegranate juice
  • 12 oz peachtree schapps
  • 12 oz blue curacao

Instructions

  1. Shake ingredients with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and serve.

This recipe produced the visual result that I was looking for with that “just a hint of sweet” undercurrent that I enjoy. I have no problem with pink drinks, but when it comes to my bar, the “girlier” the cocktail, the faster you’re hitting the floor… I tried adding spirits of other colors, but the flavors didn’t help the drink at all and while it isn’t “true” black, with the right lighting, it does the trick. The fun of it is that the longer the drink sits–as if you’d let this cocktail settle?!–the purple of the pomegranate separates from the blue curacao to create a BIV (as in ROY G.) spectrum of color flowing from the top to the bottom.

With my usual boldness and panache, I’ll go out on a limb and call The Black Pearl–named by a good friend–my signature cocktail for the season. I’m not likely to be creating too many more drinks this summer as that might be too much temptation to break the drinking limits, it’s a safe call.