DC Restaurant Week (Janurary 9th-15th)

Another DC Restaurant Association Restaurant Week starts on January 9th and runs till the 15th. Restaurant week is a great way to (1) Visit expense restaurants for cheap (2) Try out a restaurant you aren't too sure about (3) or just go out to dinner really cheaply - $20.06 3-Course Lunches or $30.06 3-Course Dinners - to all your favorite restaurants!

Make your reservations ASAP because the good restaurants fill up fast.

Here are my reservations for this DC restaurant week:

  • Sushi Ko
  • Willow Restaurant
  • Inde Bleu
  • Cafe Atlantico
  • Tosca Restaurant
  • Zatinya
  • Looking for some more information?


    Recipe: Creme Brulee

    The creme brulee is probably the most popular dessert in Europe and America - simply because it is difficult to visit a fine dining establishment that does not offer a version of it on the menu. It is so popular simply because it has it all: yummy, rich custard, utlra creamy and tinted with whatever flavor you desire (usually vanilla); hidden under a layer of sweet, crunchy caramelized sugar (picture to left has brulees that have not been brulee'd yet), cutting and complimenting the richness of the custard. After writing this, I could have one right now....
    Another thing you probably didn't know is that you can prepare creme brulees days in advance and just brulee (burn the tops) them right before you want to serve them. If you didn't know - 99% of all restaurants make their creme brulees like this. Some even brulee them hours before you order it and just stick it in the fridge. Sad but true. But then again, if they do it why can't you? Therefore I have added some storage and re-heating tips to this recipe.
    Creme brulees are super impressive to serve at your next dinner party - and they are much easier to make than you think - really it is only about 15 minutes in kitchen time and then you can pop them in the oven and go on your way.
    BUT - there are only a few things you must do to ensure that you make great creme brulees:
    1. Take the temperature of your oven;
    2. Place a thermometer in your oven and turn your oven to 300 degrees. Check it 20 minutes later and see if the thermometer says 300 degrees;
    3. Then check the oven 40 minutes later and ensure that it still says 300 degrees.
    I know you think I am joking, but a oven that is 20 degrees too hot - and you will end up with scrambled eggs, floating on the top of warmed vanilla milk in your creme brulee dishes...and if your oven is 20 degrees too cold, you're brulees will take 5 hours to cook or may never even cook at all.

    Makes about 8 Standard Individual Creme Brulees
    • 2 c. heavy crème
    • 6 yolks
    • 2.5 oz. sugar (about 3/4 c.)
    • 4 T. vanilla (I like the paste, you get the seeds and the intense vanilla flavor of the extract)
    • liquor (optional - but a few tablespoons of grand mariner sure gives it an elegant punch)
    1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
    2. Lay out 8 brulee dishes in a sided, oven safe, casserole dish; then pour water into the casserole dish, making the water at least a 1/4 inch to a 1/2 inch deep.
    3. In a bowl, whisk eggs, sugar and liquor together until combined. Set aside.
    4. Warm creme on stove top until it starts to bubble over, remove from heat and let cool for a minute or so.
    5. Wrap a towl around your egg-sugar mixture bowl and place it on the counter - simply to keep your bowl from moving around. Slowly pour the warm creme into the egg-sugar mixture while whisking the egg-sugar mixture, making sure that the creme is combining and emulsifying completely.
    6. Using a wooden spoon, gently stir the custard for a minute or two - this will allow the air bubbles to rise to the top and pop, so you'll have smooth and creamy custard without air holes later.
    7. Ladel custard into creme brulee containers, leaving only an 1/8 inch at the top.
    8. Place in oven to bake for about 30 - 45 minutes until completely set and when touched in the center, the custard is 'springy'.
    9. Remove from oven and let cool.
    10. Wrap each individually in plastic wrap and refrigerate. These will be fine in the fridge for up to 4 days.
    11. When you are ready to enjoy. Remove from fridge and sprinkle 2 Tablespoons of granulated white sugar on top of 1 brulee, spread out the sugar so it is evenly coated on the custard.
    12. Start your torch and slowly move the torch (about 1 1/2 inches from the custard) in a circular motion around the brulee until all the sugar is crystalized.

    Recipe: Smoked Trout & Apple Bite

    A very popular appetizer that takes 2 seconds to prepare and has quite a punch of flavor with the smoky trout and sour granny smith apple.
    Makes 10-20 (depending on how big you make them)
    • Smoked Trout (1 small fish)
    • zest from 1/2 lemon
    • picked parsley leaves (for garnish)
    • snipped chives (2 chives)
    • 1 granny smith apple (quartered and thinly sliced on mandoline)
    • 1 teaspoon of creme fraiche per bite (1 - 8oz. package of creme fraiche)
    • crackers (light and plain in flavor - I enjoy these starr ridge crackers, specifically olive oil flavor - they are mild with a great olive oil after taste)

    Pile cracker, a few slices of apple, a little piece of smoked trout, a dollop of creme friache, a pinch of lemon zest; topped with 1 inch snip of chives. Garnish plate with parsley leaves. You're done!


    Event: James Beard Greens Event

    If you are in NYC on December 11th, you might want to include their next Greens event on your calendar.

    The greens are a sub-group within the James Beard Foundation, originally put together for young 'foodies', it has developed into an 'it' party for young foodies in NYC.

    The menu sounds fabulous and you get a chance to taste a bit from some of the up and coming chefs are NYC for a limited price!

    For more information and to purchase tickets, go online to James Beard Foundation Greens Event Page.

    Here is the menu that they emailed me (and isn't it interesting that only 2 restaurants have a website - what is it with the restaurant industry? They just haven't realized the value of the internet I guess):

    • Saul Bolton, Saul, Brooklyn, Foie Gras Bon Bon with Toasted Hazelnut and Sauterne Jelly, Mini Veal Boudin Blanc with Pickled Cabbage, Sardine Escabeche
    • Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez, Lassi, NYC, Kala Chana Somosas with Boondi Raita, Kofte Saag (lamb meatballs with spinach puree), Cardamom Custards
    • Amanda Freitag, Sette Enoteca e Cucina, Brooklyn, Parmesan Fritters, Tuna Crostini, Pumpkin Ravolini, Swordfish Involtini
    • Jordy Lavanderos, Secretes, NYC, Chestnut Soup Shot Topped with Celery Root Foam and Caramelized Celery/Jamon Serrano Nibs, Roasted Butternut Squash Ravioli Stuffed with Smoke Shallots Puree, Orange/Ginger Duck Confit and Pickle Radish Brulee, Deconstructed Cheese Plate on Caramel Squares
    • Julie Taras and Tasha Garcia, Little Giant, NYC, Peppadew Peppers with Marinated Goat Cheese, Chicken Liver Mousse and Fig Onion Compote, Peppermint Whoopie Pies
    • Pichet Ong, Consulting Pastry Chef, Spice Market and 66 and future chef/owner P*ONG, NYC,Kabocha and Pear Walnut Crisp with Caramel Ice Cream, Banana Yogurt Cake with Chocolate Honey Buttercream
    • Michael Waterhouse, Master Mixologist of Dylan Prime and Devin Tavern (coming soon), NYC, The Big Apple, HO-HO Collins, Tiramisu Cake-tail

    Wines and Beer:
    2004 Bottega Vinaia Pinot Grigio (Trentino, Italy)
    2004 Grove Mill Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, NZ)
    2004 Feudi di San Gregorio Falaghina (Campania, Italy)
    2004 Navarro Correas Malbec (Mendoza, Argentina)
    2003 Faustino VII Rioja (Rioja, Spain)
    2003 Jean Luc Colombo Cotes du Rhones Les Forots (Rhone Valley, France)
    Wines courtesy of Palm Bay Imports
    Bass, Stella Artois, Leffe and Hoegaarden Beers


    Article: So You Want to be a Personal Chef?

    My personal advice to those considering a personal chef business:

    1. Get certified. Get Educated.

    If you want to be taken seriously by not only your customers, but your peers – get certified and educated.

    Part I: A (personal service or catering) business license, appropriate (catering or personal chef) insurance, your local food safety management certification through the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and then of course, following the regulations and local city or county laws.

    Educate yourself on local liquor laws, food transportation issues, etc. I would never hire or take seriously a caterer/personal chef that doesn’t carry insurance or tells me how they deliver their meals out of a cooler in their Pathfinders trunk. True stories!

    Part II: If you don’t have a culinary degree or business experience, get some through your local community collegue, culinary school, culinary class outlet, local foodie clubs, associations and non-profits.

    Listening to others experiences, gaining basic knowledge about accounting, business management or even cooking techniques. These gain you experience ‘in the field’ without even doing an actual ‘cook date’. They also help you build collegue references and give you an opportunity to ask all the questions you need answered about the ‘logistics’ of being the food business.

    I will also insert into this section that it is probably important to join a personal chef association only if you have no idea how a daily personal chef business works. Most personal chef associations make you pay a horrible fee to be a member that allows you to get introductory information about the business and a listing on their website list of members. You need to decide for yourself if having an outline of what a day in the life of a personal chef is like is worth $500-$1500 for the first year and $150-$350 per year after that.


    Tip: De-Seed a Pomegranate

    Pomegrantes are the new 'haute' of cuisine, especially now that they are in season. You can easily drop $3 bucks on one of those snowman shapped juices and $8 bucks on the nuevo pomegranate molasses.

    But can you get out those pretty little seeds without making a mess or loosing half the seeds to the juice on your cutting board gods?

    Scaning over some pomegranate salad recipes for a client, I was horrified to learn that Nigella recommended cutting into your pomegranate with a knife, and just remove the seeds that weren't broken!?! That would be like cutting into an orange and then trying to remove the segments, without spilling any juice or wasting any segment?!? I started googling around found that most recommended this (even the site: http://www.pomegranate.org/nomess.html which I thought was a little funny).

    Therefore I thought I would make the apparent top secret way to de-seed a pomegranate known.

    I learned this trick from a persian chef who has probably been cooking with real pomegranates longer then I have known what a pomegranate even was.

    1. First, using a sharp pairing knife, you want to cut a 'curly cue'. Like you are cutting away the peel and pith from an orange without getting the segments of juice - but all in one long curly cue line. from the top of the pomegranate to the bottom. You are only cutting in about an 1/8th inch, just through the pith, with the intention of not cutting into any seeds. Take your time, this is the most imporant part of the process and will decide if the rest of the process is 'juice free and easy' for you.
    2. Carefully working around the pomegranate, loosen the cut you made, pulling the cut open about a 1/4 inch or so.
    3. Now you can pull the pomegranate apart easily, into sections.
    4. Take a section and hold it in one hand, you can run your thumb along the seeds, bending them back and forward gently to have them 'pop off' the pith.
    5. If you run into a section that is covered with a lining of pith, just peel it away before popping off the seeds from that section.

    Other tips:

    • You want to remove all the pith, even the little dots of it that stick to some of the seeds. It tastes like eating orange pith.
    • You don't need to wear gloves - you aren't going to make a mess right? And if you get a little juice on you, just wash your hands off and then return to pomegranate peeling bliss.


    Recipe: Chocolate Covered Strawberries

    Talk about easy...impressive...and everyone loves them.
    You cannot fail at these at long as you use good quality chocolate (here is a great website that explains everything you would ever want to know about chocolate and more importantly, quality chocolate), don't burn it and fresh strawberries that aren't over ripe.
    I will not go into the 'tempering' of chocolate - as that is a whole article in itself. I'll just say that tempering chocolate is esstentially breaking down the chemical compond of chocolate with a varied degree of temperature in order to produce (melted) chocolate that will eventually harden, therefore producing the chocolate in a new 'chemical state' for the baking purpose you desire. Yeah, I think most pastry chefs study this stuff for weeks - then putting it in practice is a whole different thing! Here is a quick an easy few paragraphs to read if you are interested about tempering. I googled around for a more serious description, but most were more generalized them what I mentioned above. So I guess that gives me something to write an article about later.

    Recipe: Chocolate Covered Strawberries
    • 11 oz. or more (is enough to double-dip 8 medium sized strawberries)
    • 8 Medium Sized Strawberries
    1. Wash and dry your strawberries.
    2. Set them on a sheet tray, covered with wax or partchment paper.
    3. Place a sieve inside a medium sized pot. Fill up the water in the pot so that the water line sits just below the sieve.
    4. Place the pot on the stove and bring to a boil.
    5. Meanwhile, chop up chocolate into very small pieces - no larger than a tablespoon.
    6. Place the chocolate in a metal bowl (that will fit nicely in the sieve).
    7. When the water is boiling, place the chocolate filled bowl into the sieve and let the chocolate melt.
    8. After a minute or two, gently stir the chocolate, moving it around the bowl, scraping the edges, helping it melt and circulating it, so that it doesn't burn.
    9. When 90% of it melted, remove the bowl from the sieve and quickly dip the strawberries into bowl, covering 80%. When you pull out the strawberry, give it a little shake to remove any excess chocolate, then lay on sheet tray. Continue with remaining strawberries.
    10. Let the strawberries sit at room temperature (around 65-70 degrees) until you plan to serve them (within 6 hours).
    You are welcome to double-dip the strawberries. Just wait about 15 minutes after the first dip - while the first layer of chocolate starts harden. Then heat your chocolate again over the boiling water and do the process over again (steps 7-9).

    Recipe: Mascarpone Stuffed Dates

    Recipe - Mascarpone Stuffed Dates
    • 6 Dates
    • 6 Tablespoon of Mascarpone
    • Salt and Pepper
    • Chives, Chervil or even minced Candied Orange Peel for Garnish
    1. Using a pairing knife, cut half way through the date, from tip to tip.
    2. Pinch the ends of the date, so it opens up and you can easily remove the seed.
    3. Prepare piping tip in bag and fill with mascarpone.
    4. Fill dates from tip to tip with about 1 Tablespoon of Mascarpone per date.
    5. Snip chives into ½ inch pieces.
    6. Place chives on top of mascarpone, in an ‘X’ for garnish.
    Refrigerate until about 1 hour before you plan to serve, then remove and let come to room temperature.

    Other ideas for serving this?
    • Use a piping tip to change the shape of the mascarpone in the date.
    • De-seed dates, place in oven at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Remove and let cool enough for handling. Fill with mascarpone and serve slightly warm.
    • Great as a petit four or on a cheese platter.

    Recipe: Vanilla Bites

    This recipe is an adaption from the Book Amuse Bouche by Rick Tramonto. It really is a great example of combining all tastes (sweet, sour, bitter, salt) to form a perfectly flavored bite.
    People either love it or hate it - and it is usually only loved at dinner parties where the eaters are adventurous - so you might want to take what can your guests are before serving this.
    Recipe - Vanilla Bites:
    • 1 ¼ cup crème
    • 1 packet of gelatin
    • 2 Tablespoons of Vanilla Paste
    • 5 Medium Sized Mint Leaves
    • 1 Teaspoon of Sea Salt
    • 6 Larger Sized Purple Potato Chips (Plain or Ruffled)
    1. Place large bowl on countertop, fill half way with ice, then fill a quarter of the way with water, creating an ice bath. Set aside.
    2. Meanwhile, place a kitchen towel in a circle on the countertop. Place a medium sized bowl in center of circle, pushing towel just under bowl to keep bowl from moving.
    3. Place ¼ cup of crème into bowl. Add gelatin powder into bowl, whisk until gelatin is almost completely dissolved.
    4. Meanwhile, place ¾ cup crème in a small pot and whisk in 2 Tablespoons of Vanilla. Turn heat to high and bring crème to a boil. Remove from heat as soon as crème starts to rise up the sides of the pot. Whisk vigoriously to circulate vanilla and cool crème.
    5. Slowly pour vanilla-crème mixture into gelatin-crème mixture, while whisking, until completely combined and gelatin is dissolved.
    6. Place a sieve of chinois in a metal, medium sized bowl and slowly pour mixture through.
      Immediately place strained liquid in the large bowl-ice bath, slowly and gently stirring until steam stops rising from the liquid. Immediately remove from ice bath, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to refrigerate at least 2 hour before service.
    7. 45 minutes before you plan to enjoy the Vanilla Bites, remove the vanilla mixture from fridge, mashing with a whisk and gently stirring to break up the gelatin mixture into small pieces.
    8. Drizzle in 1/8 cup crème, whisking until combined. Continue to drizzle remaining crème until vanilla mixture is a ‘fluffy’, ‘foamy’ mixture that is the consistency of ‘pudding’. Set aside.
    9. Stack mint leaves on top of each other and roll up tightly together to slice off in ‘chiffonade’ pieces. Set aside.
    10. Lay potato chips on cutting board and spoon out about 1 Tablespoon of vanilla foam mixture onto each chip, place chips on serving platter.
    11. Sprinkle Sea Salt over bites and around edges of plate.
    12. Sprinkle chiffonade of mint over bites and around edges of plate and serve.



    A lot of people email me for recipes, jobs and even advice on how to be a chef or start their own Personal Chef business. So in the next few posts, I have put together some ideas on the matter.


    Article: 10 Things Your Caterer Won't Tell You

    I love this article. It is so funny - and unfortunetly sometimes true.

    Not for me of course;)

    10 Things Your Caterer Won't Tell You
    Written by Nancy Nall Deerington


    Recipe: Sweet Potato Bisque

    This is a great fall style, sweet and holiday inspired soup that can be served with a dollop of marshmallow creme, honey sweetened yogurt or even mandarian oranges. This recipe serves 4-6.
    • 3 Tablespoons of butter, unsalted
    • 5 Sweet Potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2"x2" pieces
    • 1 large Baking Potato, peeled and chopped into 2"x2" (to help with thickness)
    • 5 cups low sodium chicken stock
    • 3 cups of heavy creme
    • a sprig of thyme
    • a few bay leaves
    • salt and pepper to taste
    1. Prep sweet potatoes.
    2. Heat butter in large pot, add sweet potatoes, then chicken stock and herbs.
    3. Boil potatoes on medium high heat until soft - about 30 minutes.
    4. Restrain potatoes and robocoup until smooth. Add remaining heavy creme to help robocoup soup into a smooth, silky consistency.
    5. Thin out soup to desired consistency with remaining heavy cream.
    6. Re-heat in pot before serving.
    7. Salt and Pepper to taste.
    For some different sweentening ideas: Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of honey to sweeten or thin out soup with freshly squeezed orange juice.

    Restaurant Review: 2941

    Name: 2941
    Chef: Jonathan Krinn
    Location: Falls Church, VA
    Cuisine: American-Mid Atlantic-French Contemporary
    Stars: 4/5
    Review: November 2005

    Okay, I love 2941, so I am not going to say a lot about the details. If you haven't been, you must go. The food is exceptional and many believe that it is the best restaurant in DC, food wise, perhaps all of the DC area? The service is comfortable and helpful, not 'Inn at Washington Standards', but you'll never lack in water, clean silverware or a folded napkin at your seat after returning from the restroom.

    The food is always perfectly seasoned and I have had several culinary school mates that have worked there, one told me that 5 people taste the food before it leaves the kitchen.

    My husband and I eat here about every 3 months, once the entire menu changes over. The last time we were there, we ate outside, enjoying their spectacular deal and the view of Tapas on the Terrace. You can read that post here.

    Here is our menu - we of course went for their 4 course for $87:

    First Course: Duo of California Artisan Foie Gras, Saute & Torchon, Fall Veggies Confiture and Yuzu Flazed Figs

    Second Course: Lobster Medallion and Mishima Beef Cheek Ravioli, Creamed Leeks, Red Wine Reduction and Main Lobster Emulsion - Seared Yellow Fin Tuna with Roasted Porcini Mushrooms, Fingerling Potatoes, Salsify and Porcini Sherry Emulsion

    Third Course: New Zealand Venison Loin, Braised Red and White cabbage, Applewood Bacon, Chestnuts and Quince (pictured above)

    Fourth Course:

    Chocolate and Chocolate: Chestnus with Chocolate Chestnut Mousse, Cognac Sabayon, Chocolate Citrus Ganache and Chestnut Ice Cream

    Chocolate Brownie Baked Alaska with Chocolate Chip Ice Cream & Chocolate Sauce

    A few comments on the food, the Ravioli - AMAZING! Lobster emulsion...buttery goodness - one of the best dishes I have ever had! Duo of braised cabbage, so interested, each so different in taste, color...2941 has always had amazing desserts, the baked alaska tableside 'flambe' service was great and it was so good, I took several bites from my husband...although my chocolate and chocolate was disappointing...I got chocolate ice cream instead of chestnut, the sabayon had way too much cognac and overpowered the chestnut mousse, to where all I could taste was cognac and I had to stop eating it and drink some coffee for a while to get my taste back. The ganache didn't taste like anything but chocolate.

    Although this is still one of my favorite restaurants of all time....we did have a few surprises about our experience last Friday...

    First, they charged my credit card 130% of the bill, 10% higher then I left and signed for. Apparently they put a hold on that much and then after a few days, the actually amount will be charged to the card. When I called about, the operator/secretary (I assume) said this is standard. I asked why...she repeated, just because, it is standard. Weird. In all the times we have dined there, it has never been this way before?

    Second, the price of the menu is about 20% higher then the last time we dined inside the restaurant (about 6 months) - this restaurant used to be the best food and the best value - now it is a little overpriced..the food is worth it, but the service is not. It is roughly the same as dining at Citronelle, including the 10% city of DC restaurant tax - which VA does not have....so it was a little disappointing.

    Finally, Jonathan Krin was once known as the 'Duo' Man, serving 'Turf and Turf', 'Surf & Turf' and 'Surf & Surf' dishes on each menu - now it is all about the cotton candy....There was only 1 selection of Surf & Turf on the menu and the amount of cotton candy they gave us at the end of the meal was 4 times the amount we got 2 years ago when we dined there for the first time. I think they took the Washingtonian Article about being the "Cotton Can Man" a little too seriously.

    I mean look at this, cotton candy for 2 people with petit fours? Look at this picture...the cotton candy is like 4 times taller then my coffee cup!


    Recipe: White Veggie Salad with Castelmagno Cheese

    Recipe: Castelmagno - White Veggie Salad with Castelmagno Cheese (serves 1)
    • 2 oz. Castelmagno cheese, slightly crumbled
    • 2 t. White Wine Vinegar
    • 2 T. Italian Parsley, rustic chop
    • 1 Medium Parsnip, julienned
    • 1/2 bulb of Fennel, shaved
    • 1 Endive, julienned, centers removed
    • 1 large Turnip, brunoise or 2 small peeled & thinly sliced
    • 1 Leek, white only, sliced into circles
    • 2 T. brunoise Vidalia Onion
    1. Combine White Wine Vinegar, salt, pepper, evoo and parsley, emulsify, set aside.
    2. Blanch and shock parsnip and turnip and combine.
    3. Combine parsnip/turnip mixture with remaining ingredients and drizzle over then fold in gently dressing mixture.

    Recipe: Poached Pears

    Simplicity is elegance when you serve poached pears with a cheese course or as a dessert. They are so easy to make and your guests/family will enjoy the sweet and fall spiced goodness.
    • 4-6 bosc pears (this is my particular favorite pear, but you can use any pear you like)
    • 1 cup white wine
    • simple syrup (1 part sugar: 2 parts water)
    • 3-4 star anise
    • 1 cup. sugar
    • 6-8 black peppercorns
    • 1 stick of cinnamon
    • 10 cloves
    1. Peel and cut about an 1/8 inch off the bottom, so they sit nicely in the pot and eventually, on the recipents plate.
    2. Place remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
    3. Sit pears inside pot and turn down to a medium simmer.
    4. Cover pot with a piece of foil or parchment paper and simmer for 20-30 minutes until pears are fully cooked through (test with pearing knife).
    Serve hot (by microwaving for 2-3 minutes before you serve them if you made them earlier in the day) or chilled (straight from the fridge).
    For an extra kick, strain the cooking liquid of the spices and return to medium high heat to simmer until reduced to a sauce consistency/very thick. You can drizzle the sauce over the pears before serving for extra sweetness.


      Restaurant Review: Acadiana

      Name: Acadiana
      Chef/Management: Jeff Tunks/Management Company that owns TehnPenn, Ceiba & DC Coast
      Location: Downtown DC - Mt. Vernon Square
      Cuisine: Cajun-Creole French Contemporary
      Stars: 2/5
      Review: September 2005

      Acadiana is a new venture from the DC Coast, TehnPenn, Ceiba people. Jeff Trunks is listed as the chef in charge now, but I don't know who really is the chef cooking in the back? Compared to its sister restaurants, I find the food to be the most detailed, best tasting and presented - yet they do it all in the same price range as the other restaurants - which is relatively low for a nice restaurant.

      Decor: The restaurant is very modern, located on the corner of Mt. Vernon square, K Street and 9th street it is corner of a new building - so when you walk in - the restaurant itself is long with an open kitchen through the center. Cool greens, modern contemporary decor, bamboo'ish placemates, with the oh so now popular 'specific dishes for specific dishes' - meaning a set of three cups to serve the trio of soups, a glass plate with 3 indentions to hold eggs, which served the deviled eggs. You'd be surprised how many chefs/managers shop at crate and barrel like purchasing places. Our hostess and waitstaff were very nice, attentive and casual, making the evening relaxing - with a feeling of 'being taken care of'.

      Menu:The menu was full of buttery, oyster, creole goodness (which can be viewed here on their website) and it was very difficult to decide what to eat. So what my husband and I do in this situation is order multiple courses of appetizers. That way we have the opportunity to experience a lot more the menu - without being filled up too much on just an appetizer, entree, dessert evening.
      First Course: Trio of Soups: Classic Turtle Soup, Gumbo, Oyster Rockafeller($9) & Trio of Deviled Eggs: Crabmeat Ravigote, Shrimp Remoulade & Lauoisana Choupique Caviar($7)

      Second Course: Jambalaya Risotto
      Third Course: Duo of Pies: Natchitoches Meat Pie with Black Pepper Butterlik Dipping Sauce and Louisiana Crawfish Pies($9) & Baked Oyster & Fresh Artichoke Gratin with Cured Country Ham, Parmesan and Brioche crumbs($11)
      The soups were good, but the Turtle Soup was amazing. I know that I will come back to just have that soup. The deviled eggs were great, but the dish they were served on made it difficult to 'delicately' enjoy the eggs. The jambalaya risotto is actually a side dish, but we asked for it as an appetizer and they were happy to accomidate. It wasn't all that great - with an over abundance of gumbo file - and little to no meat, all I had was a strip of chicken meat in mine. We were too crazy about the 'pies' which were just deep fried dough, with some veggie filling, all of which were creole in tasting, but none of which tasted all that different from the others. One tasted like bell peppers, like creole flavored tomatoes with some crabfish in it. I think the lack of 'meat' in the pies was probably due to the fact that the appetizer was only $9. The gratin style oysters was fabulous! It was so rich with buttery, parmesan and brioche - it was amazing. And so cheap for what you got!! We were actually so full from the appetizers we did not have dessert. A poor decision in my opinion - but I can eat twice the amount of my husband and he was probably right to skip it. They were quite generous in their appetizer portions and made our multiple appetizer meal quite pleasant.

      Highlight Experience: When we went the city apparently has not given them permission to have their valet on the south side of the restaurant - a most likely and good spot, considering it is the easiest way to get to the restaurant without having to drive about the block, dealing with all the one ways and such with Mt. Vernon square or the funky intersection of L, K, 10th, 9th, Massachusettes and New York Avenue. After driving around each of these streets we finally figured out how to get to the one way street traveling west on the north side of the restaurant were the valet was - making us about 15 minutes late for our reservation.

      This is not the weird part though...when we left the restaurant and turned our valet ticket in for our car to be retrieved about 10 minutes went by and I heard a loud 'running' sound - you know the one that a car makes when it is in reverse and traveling well over 20 mph...yes, if you haven't guessed it already - it was the valet, driving our car in reverse down the long, high-modernist block from 10th street to 9th street, in front of the valent station - all at about 20-25 mph. We were horrified...and all we could do was laugh. I guess he didn't want to take the 15 minutes to drive around the one-way streets either.

      But as you can tell this is not necessarily a nice 'fancy' restaurant to be comparted to the Inn at Little Washington, but a clean, pleasant restaurant to enjoy some good food and enjoy it with a pretty cheap bill. It is also near tons of clubs and nighlife, so it would be a great date or start the evening off spot, because the inside and out looks so impressive. I look forward to going back and having some more of that Turtle Soup and the Oyster Gratin.

      Recipe: Butternut Squash & Hazelnut Lasagne

      Butternut Squash is in full swing as the 'it' ingredient for the fall. This lasagne is a great application of the fall gord with the added crunch of hazelnuts.

      • Lasagne Sheets - about 12
      • 1 smaller butternut squash
      • 1 cup hazelnuts, pre-shelled and roasted (and I fine crushed about 1/4 cup of hazelnuts just to spread over the top, making a dusting)
      • 2 cups of creme
      • 2 Tablespoons of butter
      • 2 Tablespoons of APF (All Purprose Flour)
      • 1 cup Parmesan, thinly grated
      • 1 cup Ricotta
      • salt and pepper
      • 1 egg yolk
      • 1 package (about 2 cups) Part-Skim Mozzarella
      • About 1/4 cup Fontina
      • 1 sprig and about 2 Tablespoons picked thyme leaves
      • 2 bay leaves
      1. Preheat over to 400 degrees.
      2. Boil Lasagne strips in 'sea' flavored water with about 3 Tablespoons of evoo.
      3. Heat Butter and flour in medium sized pot, creating a roux. Slowly add creme, whisking in about 1/4 cup at a time, whisking until absorbed before adding the next 1/4 cup. Add 2 bay leaves, a sprig of time and turn heat to low to 'cook out' the flour flavor.
      4. Peel butternut squash, cutting off the neck and discarding the rest. Slice squash into 1/4 inch thick pieces, about 2 inches wide and 4 inches long. Reserve about 3 of these slices to cut into brunoise for the topping.
      5. Combine ricotta, salt, pepper, egg, 1/4 of the mozzarella, 1/8 of the parmesan and about 2 Tablespoons of picked thyme leaves.
      6. Build lasagne. Make sure to spray with non-stick your lasagne pan before building. Start with 2 sheets of lasagne, the about 4 slices of butternut squash, sprinkled mozzarella, salt, pepper, then lasagne, and same order. After 3rd layer of lasagne, spread in ricotta mixture, about 1/4-1/2 inch thick (however you like), then lasagne, butternut, etc. another 2 times. Top off lasagne with remaining parmesan and brunoise of butternut squash - spreading all over lasagne.
      7. Bake for about 20-30 minutes until butter knife slips through center of lasagne with little to no resistance.
      8. Remove from oven and sprinkle hazelnuts and fontina over top of lasagne. Return to oven for another 10 minutes or so until fontina just starts to melt.


      Event: James Beard Event in DC

      Did Bill or Hillary ever invite you to the White House for dinner and you already had plans? Then Bush rolled in and your invitation got lost in the mail.

      Thankfully for you, Mrs. Bush has recently 'changed' chefs (the new one being the first White House Women Chef Ever: Cristeta Comerford) and the old one (Walter Schieb, now with his own cookbook and business, dubbed The American Chef) is doing an event at the City Club on Saturday, November 17th.

      For a description of the event, go online to The James Beard Foundation Website or for reservations, just call 202-347-0818.


      So you wanna be a chef?

      Many a young child emails me on how they want to a chef....sadly, most 'children' today, don't realize just how much work it is.....

      So here are a bit of random thoughts of what I have tried to piece together for people. It's about the process of how to look into this restaurant or other restaurants, and make sure that it is the ‘right’ kitchen job.


      Recipe: Savory Veggie Bread Pudding

      Getting on the fall dish wagon - the other day I made this amazing brioche bread pudding with sauteed veggies. It tasted so good, I came home from work and made it again for myself.

      Recipe: Peppery Egg Noodle, Farmer's Cheese & Cauliflower Gratin

      I have recently added Fine Cooking magazine to my monthly magazine recipe research for my clients. I have been pleasantly surprised at range and use of ingredients throughout their recipes - case in point - Peppery Egg Noodle, Farmer's Cheese & Cauliflower Gratin.

      Old school, French style casseroles are the best...but I do not do the Americanized, just add creme of mushroom soup casseroles. At least that is what I tell people when they call my service looking for the stuff your freezer full of casseroles style personal chefs.

      But this recipe is a case in point (thought I did doctor it up a little), that sometimes there is nothing better than a creme and buttery crusted - so perfect for fall - goodness.

      Recipe: Pea & Garrotxa Goat Cheese Salad

      (1 serving)
      • 2 Shallots, minced
      • 1/2 c. Sugar snaps
      • 1/2 c. Snow Peas
      • 1/4 c. shelled peas
      • 3 oz. Garrotxa, diced
      • 2 T. Tarragon, chopped
      • 2 t. Grainy Mustard
      • 2 T. Evoo Salt and Pepper
      1. Blanch and shock sugar snaps until al dente.
      2. Combine grainy mustard, tarragon and evoo, emulsify and set aside.
      3. Combine remaining ingredients and sugar snap peas, then drizzle and fold in mustard mixture.
      Recipe: Garrotxa - Pea and Goat Cheese Salad


      Recipe: Garlic Mashed Potatoes

      Often it is the little, simple dishes that make people really happy. I think mashed potatoes are the perfect example. Creamy, buttery, smooth, not too whipped and perfectly seasoned. Mashed potatoes are the perfect side dish underneath osso buco or next to a seared beef filet.

      There are several steps to making mashed potatoes come out as the kind of side dish that everyone wants - so I always feature them in at least one of my fall cooking classes. Therefore (a very long) but great description of how to make the very best mashed potatoes possible.


      Recipe: Flavored Oils

      Flavored Oils are fabulous - they can add or improve many types of dishes (meat, fish, pasta) in a lot of different ways.

      For you diet-doers - oils can add flavor to a dish without the fat, calories, etc. that are usually involved in enjoying a typical sauce with your meal. (Like the wateress puree sauce I had Friday night at City Zen - we are talking pureed watercress added to about 4 oz. of clarifed butter - AWESOME! - but not a Diet-Tiers' sauce)

      If you have acid reflux or something similar a flavored oil is a great thing to mix in with your salads - therefore enjoying the 'vinaigrette-like' flavors - without the problems associated with additional acid in your diet.

      Flavored oils are also a great way to inpart 'color' or 'design' into a presentation - while limiting the additional complications of the flavors of the dish. I am sure we have all eaten at a restaurant where we are served a dish that has some pretty red or green dots on it. Noticing that there are only a few dots on our plate, we dip our fork in it - taste it - and realize it is roasted pepper or basil flavored. Therefore, it is not there to be a 'sauce' per say - but sure makes your dinner look a whole lot more exciting.

      Oils are super easy to make. The only problems that arise could be when making 'green colored' oils. I'll list a few different recipes for some of my favorite oils and then go into a little detail on how to make a great - and exceptionally bright and vibrant green - oil.

      Book Signing: Rachael Ray

      Don't miss your chance to meet and greet Rachael Ray!

      Where:Wegmans - The Dulles/Sterling, VA Store,(Directions)

      When: Thursday, December 15th - Noon

      Why: Her Most Recent Book 365: No Repeats

      Rules of the Wegman/Rachael Signing: You must buy the book at Wegmans sometime between now and then, because in order to get in line to get your book signed, you have to show them (1) Her Book and (2) The Receipt of Purchase from Wegmans. On December 15th, you need to get there early because you have to wait in line at their customer service desk to get a 'ticket' (verifiying your purchase there), which allows you to get in line to have her sign your book.

      Thankfully Wegmans is at least offering the book at a 20% discount starting November 1st. Ms. Ray will only be signing 300 peoples books and only signing first names - due to a limitation on time - and will NOT SIGN any other books or memorabilia at the signing.(Ahhh...the power of the Ray!)


      Recipe: Fresh Corn Cakes

      Most of the dinner parties that I have done over the summer include corn cakes. It's not that I only offer corn cakes as hor'douverves, its that people always seem to choose them. In fact, anytime that I put them on the menu proposal (meaning that there are over 30 hor'douvres to choose from) people still choose them. I think there is just something about fresh summer corn.

      Its not just dinner party people....people who are regular personal chef clients repeatedly choose corn cakes, no matter what protein (beef, fish or vegetarian) seem to come with them. These corn cakes have made the 'hall of fame' of dishes.

      I think these are best served slightly warm or room temperature. Dollop the cakes with some fresh, simple and chunky guacamole (onions, lime juice, tomatoes and red onion).

      Fresh Corn Cakes (Serves 4; Make about 8 Cakes)
      • 2 2/3 c. corn
      • 1/2 red onion, brunoise
      • 1/4 red pepper, brunoise
      • 2 eggs, beaten
      • 1/4 c. cilantro, chopped
      • 3 Green onions, sliced
      • 1 c. milk
      • 1 c. APF
      • 1 t. Baking Powder
      • sea salt
      • veggie or canola oil (1 T. for cakes and oil for frying)
        1. Combine all ingredients in bowl.
        2. Bring oil to 400 degrees.
        3. Dollop corn cakes in pan and fry until golden brown.
        4. Remove and place papertowel to soak extra oil.


      Recipes: Summer Slaws

      It is getting towards the end of the summer and if you are like me (and some of my clients) you are starting to look for something a little different in your salads, rather then the same old tomato, mozzarella and basil salad you've been served all summer long.

      Why not try incorporating some slaws into the mix? Slaws can bring a variety of texture, sweet and savory excitement into your daily summer salad routine.

      Papaya Slaw (serves 1): (Pictured Above)
      • 1/2 c. Pink Papaya, diced
      • 2 c. sliced cabbage
      • 1/4 c. slivered green onions (or 1/8 c. brunoise vidalia onions as pictured)
      • 3 T. picked cilantro
      • 1/2 lime, squeezed
      • 2 T. canola oil
      1. Combine lime juice, canola oil and salt and pepper.
      2. Gently toss together remaining ingredients and drizzle dressing over slaw, gently tossing until slaw is coated and enjoy!

      Jerk Chicken Slaw (serves 1):
      • 1 small, skinnless, boneless chicken breast
      • 1 T. fresh picked thyme leaves
      • 1 t. cayenne
      • 1 chopped sage leave (about 1 inch in length)
      • 2 t. grated nutmeg
      • 2 t. grated cinnamon stick
      • 2 garlic cloves, crushed and roughly chopped
      • juice of 1 lime
      • 1 and 1/2 c. real OJ
      • 3 T. sliced green onions
      • 1/4 c. julienned jicama
      • 1/4 c. julienned red pepper
      • 1/4 c. julienned carrots
      • 3 T. of minced cilantro
      1. Combine chicken, thyme, cayenne, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, garlic, 1/2 of lime juice and 1/2 c. of the OJ in a non-reactive metal bowl and marinate for 30 minutes.
      2. Add remaining OJ to a pot and bring to a boil on the stove, then reduce to a medium simmer to reduce the OJ by at least 3/4 and OJ becomes a syrup-ie consistancy, then remove from heat and let cool completely.
      3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, when oven is hot, remove chicken from marinate and place in oven safe, sided baking dish to bake for 8-10 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
      4. Remove chicken from oven and cool completely.
      5. Place chicken on cutting board and using 2 dinner forks, scrape at chicken breast, shredding chicken completely, in small pieces and set aside.
      6. Combine OJ reduction, remaining lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper, set aside.
      7. Combine green onion, jicama, red pepper and carrots, sprinkle in chicken and gently fold with spatula to combine.
      8. Drizzle OJ mixture over salad and gently stir and fold salad until salad is coated, then serve and enjoy!
      Simple Slaw: (serves 1)
      • 1 c. sliced green cabbage
      • 1/2 c. chopped pineapple
      • 1 T. toasted sesame seed oil
      1. Combine green cabbage and pineapple in a large bowl.
      2. Drizzle sesame seed oil over and gently fold slaw with spatula until coated, serve and enjoy!


      Recipe: "Organized" Baby Arugula & Prosciutto Salad

      Looking to do something different with a salad? Perhaps have a salad as a finger food appetizer?

      To purpose behind organizing a dish can have many intentions. Maybe organizing the dish brings a little order to the chaois of ingredients? Or it just looks better on the plate. Sometimes the purpose of the organization is to make the dish recipent enjoy the dish in a certain manner (enjoying certain ingredients together in one bite), so the 'intentioned' flavor is showcased.

      No matter what the chefs intentions, here is a little step by step to make Organized Baby Arugula & Prosciutto Salad and Dijon Vinaigrette.

      Click here for step by step pictures and instructions for Organized Baby Arugula & Proscuitto Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette.