Upcoming WCR Events: Sous-Vide Tour, Ann Cooper Comes to DC & OctoberFest

I am a volunteer for the Women Chefs & Restauranteurs, a non-profit organization that supports women in the restaurant industry. I volunteer as a local exchange coordinator for the DC area, planning events, book tours, educational tours, dine-arounds, etc. for members and non-members to participant in the restaurant and food industry. I have a planned a few events that are coming up in September and October and I hope that you'll join me, WCR and the event hosts!

To Register Online Click Here
Cost: $15 WCR Members & Students (w/ID); $20 non-members
Cuisine Solutions will provide a catered tour of their manufacturing plant on Wheeler Avenue where they have become a pioneer for the United States Sous-Vide cooking method, utilizing their proprietary technology and ‘secret’ recipes for more then 200 products, enjoyed worldwide for passenger rail service, airlines, retail, military and even available at your local Wegmans.

To Register Online Click Here
Cost: $40 WCR Members & Students (w/ID); $45 non-members - REGISTRATION FEE INCLUDES A BOOK!
Nationally acclaimed ‘renegade lunch-lady’, chef and cookbook author Ann Cooper latest release of Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed our Children at a special WCR book party at Restaurant Nora

To Register Online Click Here
Cost: $25 WCR Members & Students (w/ID); $30 non-members - REGISTRATION INCLUDES A CAP CITY BREWERY PINT GLASS!
Celebrate October Fest with WCR at Capital City Brewery in Shirlington. We’ll enjoy a tour of the brewery by Head Brewer Mike McCarthy as well as a lecture/tasting of 4 styles of brews. Light appetizers will be served. Each attendee receives a complementary Capital City Brewery Pint Glass.


Wine & Food Pairing: Wine Vocabulary and Buzz Words

If you have every been to one of my cooking classes, you know that I put together a little packet that includes some'kitchen vocabulary', words that line cooks and chefs use in the kitchen, as well as some more 'definition' oriented cooking terms, techniques, etc. that are directly related to the class.

Well, for this Easy Pasta Dinners Williams-Sonoma Cooking Class series, I am also going to comment in class on how to do food and wine pairings. I won't be recommending bottles, prices, regions, etc. It'll be more helpful, a set of beginners rules on how to match food to wine, to find complementary and interesting combinations. It will allow you the knowledge to start matching, tasting and picking your own regional, $$$ limits and styles. Isn't that what learning in a 'class' is all about?

So just to share, for the classes I also put together a wine and food pairing packet that includes some 'wine vocabulary'. Just some basic definitions or buzz words that will help you feel confident the next time you walk into that wine shop and are challenged by the wine retailer.

Wine & Food Pairing Vocabulary & Buzza Words

Used as an adjective to describe sharp, tart or sour flavors. A cool area (Germany) produces wines high in acidity and a warm area produces wines that are low in acidity (California).

Wine is a food item that gets better with age. Each type of grape has a different science to aging it in order to produce the most complex wine possible. Some everyday wines don’t need any aging and can be drunk right away, other wines, such as port, can age for decades before it comes to its drinking age.

The trilogy of basic wine tasting, smelling or describing: tannin, fruit and acid.

barrel fermentation
When the grape juice is fermented in oak barrels to add more complex, buttery, oak flavor to the wine.

Tasting term to describe a style of wine, full bodied or light bodied. Full bodied has a weight in the mouth, tastes of alcohol and lots of extract or extract flavor and light bodied wines are completely the opposite.

The smell of wine, referring to all the complexities.

When wine is exposed in the bottle or while decanted to air for a period of time before drinking; allowing it to express its complexities more fully.

Usually referring to barrel-fermented wine describing the rich, creamy characteristic flavor of the wine.

cult wines
A wine that is very trendy, very scare and therefore usually very expensive.

When wine is poured out of its stored container into another container to breathe before serving and help remove sediments in the wine.

Usually referring to red wines that have a thickness to them that coats your mouth. The wines can also be highly extracted or over extracted that exponentially describes their thick factor.

The process where all the yeast eats up sugar in the grape juice extracted from the grapes and excretes alcohol, turning grape juice into wine. See YEAST.

A wine that has spirits added to it, like port or sherry.

The fruit smell or flavor in wine.

glass type
The type of glass that the wine is served in says a lot about the wine that is being served. The material it is made of, the stem length, the bowl shape, size, range, where you grab the glass and if it is hand washed or machine washed.

late harvest
A wine that was made with grapes that were harvested much later then normal, usually producing a much sweeter wine because the grapes where in the sun much, much longer.

New World
When a wine is produced in the new world. Basically, a non-European area.

Another term for the bouquet or smell of the wine; What is notable used to smell wine.

A term usually referring to whites, which expel a flavor or nuts.

The word referring to the level of oak in the wine. See BARREL FERMENTATION.

Old World
When a wine is produced in the old world. Basically, most European regions.

When a wine is overexposed to oxygen (perhaps not stored well – too hot in the cellar, broken cork, etc.), which eventually turns the alcohol to vinegar.

Robert J. Parker is the utmost respected and end-all critic of wine and therefore people refer to his descriptions, ratings, etc. almost as a separate part of rating, describing or referring to a wine. Read about his contributions, best selling books and uber-world famous wine rating system that literally affects the world wine market at

residual sugar
The amount of sugar leftover after fermentation.

show wine
A term that describes the critics positive response to the wine.

A tasting term that refers to the tannins and acidity of the wine.

The bitter skin of the grapes and can be used as an adjective that refers to that bitter, tooth-coating, dry sensation you get in red wine. It is a vital component in referring to red wine.

A living organism used in the production of bread and beer. Yeast, in the environment of sugar, produces carbon dioxide and alcohol. This process is called fermentation.

New Williams-Sonoma Class Theme Starts Today

At Fair Oaks Mall and the Galleria this week, I'll be attacking the Easy Pasta Dinners Cooking Class Series for September.

Here are the recipes:

Just remember that Fair Oaks classes are demonstration and at the Galleria they are partial participation. Yeap, I am going to make those Galleria attendees make their own pasta - so if you always wanted to learn - visit my work website for registration and schedule information.


Red Robin's Birthday Burger

I'm a big fan of the Teriyaki Chicken Burger at Red Robin. So a little over a year ago, I was happy to learn that when you sign up for their eClub you get a free birthday burger - whatever burger you want - vaild a week before to a week after your birthday.

Since the closest Red Robin to my house is about 25 minutes away, it seems like the only time I get to eat their Teriyaki Chicken Burger - but I'm not the only one!


Recipe: Seared Lamb Double Chops with Gruyere Gratin, Green Beans & Balsamic Reduction

  • 3 T. evoo
  • 1 half rack of lamb (8 ribs)
  • 2 T. rosemary, chopped to dust
  • 1/2 T. thyme leaves, chopped to dust
  • 2 T. parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 c. heavy creme
  • 2 T. unsalted butter, brunoise
  • 3 russet potatoes
  • 3 oz. gruyere
  • 1 T. parmesan
  • 2 small handfuls of green beans
  • 2 T. unsalted butter
  • 2 T. shallots, brunoise
  • 1 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T. honey
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    2. In a small bread pan, cover pan with foil, fold over sides of pan. Spray foil with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. Pour crème into small bowl and set aside. Cut up butter into ‘pea’ size pieces and set aside. Peel potatoes and place in large bowl filled with water. Put mandoline on thinnest setting possible and lay over crème filled bowl. Remove 1 potato at a time from the water bowl and slice potato through mandoline into crème. Carefully flip slices in bowl around to make sure each is coated with crème. Place gratin dish in front of you and make the first layer of potato overlapping each piece by half, from left to right, then a second layer with top to bottom. Sprinkle lightly with pepper, salt, 3 pieces of butter and using a zester, cover layer of potatoes with about 1 T. gruyere. Continue layers of potatoes. Use a zester to finish on top with a parmesan-gruyere mixture. Place gratin dish on a sided cookie sheet and place in oven to bake for 30-45 minutes. If gratin becomes too dark for you, cover with foil. To check doneness: Remove from oven and run butter knife through center of gratin; if it slips through with little to no resistance, gratin is ready. When done, remove from oven, and let cool about 15 minutes.
    3. Bring a pot to a boil, add 2 T. salt. Drop in green beans to blanch. In a saute pan, add butter until golden brown, add shallots and saute until translucent. Add green beans, toss to coat and remove from heat.
    4. Add balsamic to a small pot and bring to a boil. Whisk in honey and let reduce by 3/4. Balsamic will turn into a thick (and very yummy and sweet) syrup.
    5. Cut lamb rack in half, place in bowl with rosemary, thyme, evoo and toss to coat. Place rack on roasting rack in cookie sheet with tenderloin down and rack up and place in oven to bake for 10-15 minutes (rare); 15-20 minutes (medium); 20-25 minutes (well). Remove from heat and let rest at least 1/3 of the cooking time.

    To Serve: Place gratin in center right of plate, lamb rack in center left and green beans in between to enjoy. Drizzle balsamic reduction around edges of plate to enjoy. Garnish with 1 sprig of rosemary laid on top of gratin or stuck in green beans to enjoy.


    Recipe: 5-Spice Seared Scallops with Garlicky Broccolini, Golden Raisins & Pine Nuts with Pan Sauce

    I went to dinner at Ceiba with my husband and some of his friends from out of town. I was in a bad mood when I arrived because I was about an hour late (attempting to drive from Potomac, MD to 14th and F at 5:45pm on a Tuesday), not to mention arriving to find that it was an all male dinner and they politely waited for my arrival. I felt terribly guilty. But all my paranoia and frustration went away when I saw the combination of seared scallops, 5-spice, Broccolini and golden raisins. It was a mood lifter and hopefully when I make my 5-Spice Seared Scallops with Garlicky Broccolini, Golden Raisin & Pine Nut Saute with Pan Sauce for my clients – it gives them a little positive breeze as well.
    On a side note: Ceiba has really great (and most importantly FRESH) Ceviche – it is only number two in my mind to Zengo – which is more interesting in flavors (due to their Asian-Latin fusion thingy). If you like Ceviche or if you have been scared to eat raw fish cooked with citrus juices – these are the two places to ensure a delicious and safe meal.
    5-Spice Seared Scallops with Garlicky Broccolini, Golden Raisin & Pine Nuts Saute with Pan Sauce
    (serves 2)
    • 10 Sea Scallops, fresh with muscles still on the side
    • 4 T. 5-Spice
    • 4 T. unsalted butter
    • 2 T. canola oil
    • 5 gloves of garlic, roughly chopped (or subsitute spanish onions if you don't like garlic - as pictured above)
    • 1 bunch of Broccolini
    • 1/4-1/2 c. golden raisins
    • 1 c. chicken stock
    • 1/4 c. pine nuts
    • salt and pepper to taste.
    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, place pine nuts on cookie sheet, spread them out and place in oven (middle rack or place them as close to the middle as possible)to bake for 5-10 minutes (depends on your oven) until toasted and golden brown. Make sure to remove them from the cookie sheet when golden brown and set them aside.
    2. Bring a medium pot to a boil and add 1 T. salt. Cut the rubber bands from the Broccolini and drop them in the boiling water to boil for at least 1 minute until they are bright green and the stalks are partially cooked through. Strain from the water and plunge the Broccolini into an ice bath until cooked, then remove and set aside.
    3. Place the scallops in a bowl, remove the side muscle and sprinkle over salt, pepper, 5-spice, toss to coat. Heat a saute pan to high heat until almost smoking, drop in 2 T. butter and 2 T. canola oil until melted and crackling, carefully drop in scallops and sear until golden brown and caramelized (do not touch once you place them in the pan - let them caramelize!) about 2 minutes, then flip and caramelize/sear the remaining side (about 2 minutes). Remove saute pan from heat and take out scallops from the pan and place on cookie sheet, cover with foil to keep warm.
    4. Using the same pan (as long as you didn't burn it up), add 2 T. butter and swirl the butter around to deglaze the pan a little, add the garlic, saute until starting to turn golden brown, add chicken stock, raisins, pine nuts to deglaze pan, while cooking the garlic through. Reduce the sauce by half, add salt, pepper and the broccolini to warm it (about 1-2 minutes), tossing it gently in the sauce.
    To Serve: Using tongs, place broccoli in center of plate, vertically from top to bottom. Top with scallops in a line, vertically on top. Spoon garlic, raisin, pan sauce mixture over and around scallops to enjoy.
    Want to add some spice? Add some chopped red thai chiles when you cook the garlic - it'll pack a punch!


    Amazon Giving Peapod Some Competition

    Just an FYI that Amazon is now offering online grocery shopping, giving peapod a little competition.

    Amazon is even running a deal when you spend $49 or more, enter GROCERY2 at check out and you’ll receive $10 off your order. Just remember to be tricky and work the system. Be sure to only buy $49 worth of stuff at a time, then if you have more to buy, start a new order.

    Each order will then be $39 and there is free shipping on every grocery order. There is no limit to the amount of times you can use the coupon so Go grocery shopping at Amazon here!


    Recipe: Aromatic Seared Tuna with Green Beans, Zucchini Pancakes & Mustard Pan Sauce

    One of my more popular summer-time dishes I offer to clients is my Aromatic Tuna with Green Beans, zucchini pancakes with mustard pan sauce. My clients seem to really enjoy the simplicity of this dish. By showcasing fresh, high quality ingredients you can’t go wrong. And it doesn’t hurt that this is definetly a less than 30 minute meal preparation.

    Aromatic Tuna with Zucchini Pancakes, Green Beans & Mustard Pan Sauce
    (serves 2)

    • 1 lb. center cut tuna
    • zest of 1 lemon
    • 3 T. finely chopped rosemary (almost like dust)
    • 1 egg
    • 3 T. APF
    • 1 small zucchini, brunoise
    • 2-3 T. of crème, stock or water
    • 1 handful of green beans
    • 2 T. unsalted butter
    • 2 T. mustard (grainy dijon is good)
    • 1 c. chicken stock
    • 1 T. unsalted butter
    1. Combine the lemon zest, rosemary and 3-5 T. canola oil in a bowl, set aside.
    2. Remove the chain along the tuna center cut. Cutting away the ‘fatty, light pink’ portion and leaving about a 4 inch thick and 7 inch long piece of tuna tenderloin. Cut it in half, evenly, making 2 equal pieces (each piece as close to a perfect square as possible). Place each piece the lemon-rosemary-canola oil mixture, toss to coat and let sit.
    3. In a medium bowl combine the egg, flour, zucchini, crème (or stock, water, e.g.), whisk together and salt and pepper to taste. It should be a slightly thick pancake-like batter. If not, adjust with more/less water or flour. Heat a saute pan on high, add 5-6 T. canola oil and let it get hot, using a ladle (just like pancakes), pour out some zucchini pancakes and let fry until golden brown. Using a spatula, carefully flip them over and fry other side until golden brown. Remove from saute pan and place on paper towels to absorb the excess oil. If you don’t think the pancakes are cooked all the way through, just microwave them for a minute or two or place them in the oven at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes until cooked through.
    4. Bring a small pot filled with water to a boil. Add 1 T. salt. Drop in green beans and let boil until they turn bring green and are partially cooked through (about 2 minutes). Strain water and beans from pot and place beans back in pot with 2 T. butter, remove from heat and let sit aside.
    5. Pour out the remaining oil in your zucchini pancake saute pan and place back on the heat on high. Let pan get very hot, almost smoking. Grab your tuna, dust with salt and pepper and gently toss it in the canola oil-rosemary-lemon zest mixture. Shake them a bit to rid of excess oil, then place in saute pan and sear for 15 seconds, then using a fish spatula, carefully flip in pan and continue to sear all remaining sides in 15 second intervals. If pan starts to get too dark and look like it is going to burn up the ‘goodies’ falling of the tuna while searing, turn the pan down to medium heat. Once both steaks are seared, let them rest on a cookie rack on a cookie sheet.
    6. Keep using the same saute pan (only if the pan doesn’t have burnt stuff in it), and turn the heat down to medium high (if you haven’t already), pour in the stock and allow it to reduce by half. Whisk in the mustard and allow to continue to reduce until there is only about ¼ cup in the pan. Remove it from the heat, whisk in the remaining 2 T. of butter until dissolved.

    To serve: Warm the green beans in the pot with the butter, salt and pepper to taste. Place (1-2) zucchini pancakes in center left of the plate, 1 piled on the other, yet slightly the top slightly off center. Place the tuna in the center right of the plate, next the to pancakes. Place the green beans vertically in the center of the plate, in between the tuna and the pancakes. Drizzle the mustard pan sauce over and around the tuna to enjoy.


    Restaurant Review: Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay (Las Vegas)

    Just returned from Las Vegas enjoying the sites, sounds and the fabulous ‘non-humid’ heat of 107 degrees. It was great. I ate my way around the strip and had a delicious uber-bling-Vegas burger at Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino.

    Burger Bar is a build your own burger place, but with gourmet items. Therefore I had a...

    ...kobe beef burger on an onion roll with roasted asparagus, gruyere cheese, red wine reduction and caramelized shallots sauce, sautéed oyster mushrooms and of course...seared foie gras.

    Although the burger was around $45 - it was awesome! And I even passed on the shaved truffle for an upcharge of $30.

    I love Vegas - where else can you can get truffles, foie gras and american style kobe beef on your burger? Vegas baby - yeah!


    New Class Theme Starts Today at Fair Oaks Mall Williams-Sonoma

    Starting a new menu for the Williams-Sonoma Cooking Class Series at Fair Oaks Mall today: Mediterranean Al Fresco Lunch. I am very excited about this menu because I am personally a BIG fan of Moroccan, Greek, Indian, and those fusion cuisines in between. So even though I had nothing to do with planning the menu - its still all about me!

    • Greek Feta Spread (Kopanisti
    • Tabbouleh with Chickpeas
    • Baba Ghanoush
    • Beet & Walnut Salad with Dill
    • Summer Fruit Salad with Sambuca

    All the dates I am teaching this menu are the following:

    • Monday, July 31st (SOLD OUT)
    • Monday, August 7th (SOLD OUT)
    • Monday, August 14th
    • *Also at the Old Town store on Monday, August 21st!



    Fair Oaks Mall: Williams-Sonoma Classes Scheduled thru February 2007

    Just thought I would note that my cooking classes at the Williams-Sonoma in Fair Oaks Mall have been scheduled from September (06) thru February (07). You can find the complete list of classes at my Fine Dining Solutions work website at http://www.finediningsolutions.com.

    Just remember that you register for the class through the Williams-Sonoma Fair Oaks Store at 703-352-7162 and that you can only make reservations a month in advance. Many people know this and therefore call exactly 31 or 30 days before the class to register and the classes fill up in a day or so – so take note.


    Women Chefs & Restauranteurs': Vinegar Tasting in Columbia, MD

    Our sister Baltimore chapter of Women Chefs' & Restauranteurs will be doing a vinegar tasting event at Fretz Corporation Kitchens in Columbia, MD.

    Its called the Pucker Up! A Vinegar Seminar, Tasting & Luncheon and 4x Culinary Gold Metalist of Sysco, Certifed Master Chef Clay Anthony will discuss the history, process, science and trends of vinegar.

    I do really wish I could attend this - but it on a Monday morning at 11am - and I have a job.

    Dishes will be prepared reflecting the different vinegars by many Baltimore local members.

    For more information and to register: visit the WCR registration page.


    Recipe: Beet & Goat Cheese Napoleon

    Here is a aesthetically pleasing way of serving a beet and goat cheese salad - which can be prepared a few days ahead and chilled in tupperware before your next summer dinner party. But don't forget the plastic gloves! You do not want your guests joking over and over - "that you've been caught red handed". Just ask your meat department counter person at Whole Foods/Wegmens/Balducci's to give you two pairs, then you don't have to buy a full box from your local hardware store.
    Beet & Goat Cheese Napoleon
    (serves 4)
    • 2 Golden Beets (largest you can find)
    • 2 Red Beets (largest you can find)
    • 4 oz. Goat Cheese
    • 1/4 c. heavy cream
    • 1/2 T. tarragon, chopped
    • 1/2 T. parsley, chopped
    • 1 t. cardamom, ground
    • 1 beligan endive, green
    • 1 beligan endive, purple
    • 1/2 T. dijon
    • 1/4 c. evoo
    • 4 T. Red Wine Vinegar
    • salt and pepper to taste
    1. Bring 2 medium pots, filled with water to a boil. Add 1 T. of salt and 3 T. of sugar to each. Trim beet greens and set greens aside. Carefully drop yellow beets in 1 pot and red beets in the other. Boil for 10-15 minutes until a paring knife slips through center of beet with little to no resistance. Strain beets from liquid and place gold beets in ice bath and red beets in another ice bath, until cooled (about 10 minutes). Put on plastic gloves and over a paper towel, carefully rub your gold beets, the skin will slide right off. Then change gloves and do the red beets.
    2. Slice the beets on a mandoline and set aside. Using a circle mold that is small enough to cut circles in the beet slices (about 2 inches in diameter), pile the slices of red beets in piles of 4-5 and cut with circle mold to create perfect circles. Wash circle mold and continue with the same process for the yellow beets.
    3. Combine goat cheese, creme, tarragon, parsley, cardamom, salt and pepper to taste and whisk until combined. Carefully roll goat cheese into little balls, about 1/2 inch in diameter and set aside.
    4. Lay out 4 slices of red beets and top each with 1 goat cheese ball. Top goat cheese balls with 4 slices of yellow beets, then continue with goat cheese, red beet slices, goat cheese, yellow beet slices, goat cheese, red beet, finishing with goat cheese. Using a spatula, place beet and goat cheese napoleons in tupperware to refrigerate until serving.
    5. Cut 1/2 inch of bottom of beligan endive and pile leaves (4-5 high) on the cutting board, vertically. Carefully slice in juliennes, then place in tupperware, fill tupperware with water and cover with a damp papertowel, then tupperware lid, place in refrigerator until service.
    6. Combine mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl, whisk until salt is dissolved and then run in evoo while whisking to emulsify vinaigrette. Place in small tupperware and refrigerate until service.
    To Serve: Remove napoleons, vinaigrette and endive from fridge at 15-30 minutes before you plan to serve the salad. In a medium bowl, toss julienned endive with mustard vinaigrette and lay in center of plate. Flatten down endive to create a little bed to sit the napoleon on. Using a spatula, remove napoleon from tupperware and place in center of plate, in center of endive. Sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle extra mustard vinaigrette around the edges of the endive, close to the edges of the plate to enjoy.


    Recipe: Jumbo Lump Crab Thai Salad

    Recently I served this asian fusion appetizer at a bridal shower. It was actually a cooking demonstation, where they visited and I prepared their dinner. Although I made a variety of dishes, this was the best received as everyone at the party wanted the recipe - so I'll just post it here.
    Jumbo Lump Crab Thai Salad
    (Makes about 20 appetizers)
    • 1 - 1lb. pkg. Fresh Jumbo Lump Chesapeake Crab Meat
    • 1/4 c. coconut milk
    • 2 t.-1 T. green curry paste (depending on how hot you want it)
    • 2 Mangos, brunoise
    • 1/3 c. cilantro, chopped
    • 1/4 c. green onion, thinly sliced
    • 1 - pkg wontons
    • salt and pepper to taste
    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove wontons from package and pile about 1/2 inch thick, cut with circle mold (1 1/2"-2" ring mold). Spray cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray and lay out circle wontons, so they don't touch, place in oven and bake until golden brown - about 5-8 minutes.
    2. In a large bowl, combine coconut milk, green curry paste, salt and pepper, whisk until combined.
    3. Add crab meat, mango, cilantro, green onions to coconut milk-curry mixture and gently toss with spatula (careful not to break up the crab lump meat pieces).
    To Serve: Place about 2 T. of salad mixture on each wonton and serve immediately.


    Rammy Award Dinner on Saturday, June 25th, 2006

    If you aren't familiar with the RAMMY's, it is the annual place to see and be seen in the restaurant industry. It is 'technically' the RAMW's (Restaurant Assoc. of Metro Washington) Annual dinner celebrating their 'voted' picks of the best of the best restaurants, chefs, etc. in the DC Metro area. But it's really a who's who list of attendees and the chance for 'normal' restaurant diners to get a glimpse and rub elbows with the 'big' chefs and restaurateurs of the DC Metro area.

    To see a list of nominees: visit the RAMW's website to get the pdf http://www.ramw.org/pdf/06nominee.pdf.

    Not to brag too much, but my previous employers of Restaurant Eve, Maestro and Butterfield 9 were nominated for multiple awards, including 'Pastry Chef of the Year' (Butterfield 9) 'Chef of the Year' (Restaurant Eve),'Wine & Beverage Program of the Year' (Restaurant Eve) and Best 'Fine Dining Restaurant' (Maestro).

    For ticket information - you actually have to call them at 202.331.5990.


    Restaurant Review: Mez at Sheraton Pattaya, Thailand

    I had the pleasure of staying at the new (only open 8 months) Sheraton Resort in Pattaya. It was small resort on the water with several pools and a beautiful view from our gazebo balcony.

    In my experience, it had been become almost a definite rule: "while on resort properties, the cost of the beautiful setting comes at the expense of a great meal".

    But the Sheraton has done a fabulous job with Mez, an upscale modern restaurant, serving contemporary Thai cuisine.

    I've listed below some of my favorites from the menu. Although I forgot to write down the dishes 'official' names, I have tried to remember their ingredients as much as possible:

    Orange Glazed Crispy Duck Salad, over Arugula with Mung Beans: This salad was huge and there must have been 8 oz. of duck on it.

    Seared Scallops, on some sort of a warm brunoise apple compote.

    Lobster Tempura (1 tail, split in half), with tempura shiitakes, asparagus and a sweet ginger tomato compote and a sweet fruit aioli (mango or something similar).

    And my personal favorite, Tofu Pumpkin, a flan type dish served with a lima bean, cilantro and sun-dried tomato compote. This dish I am looking forward to re-creating it for myself!


    Event: Gourmet Gala in Potomac

    What to see the who's who of DC restaurants? You might want to get on the mailling list of this school. I've pasted their information below!

    This is the event of the Gourmet Gala in Potomac Featuring Chef Michel Richard of Citronelle and chefs Robert Wiedmaier of Marcel's and Roberto Donna of Galileo.

    The gala is being held to support the Churchill High School Drama Department's trip to Scotland this summer. Drama Department students, under the direction of Churchill Drama director Jessica Speck, have been invited to perform this August at the International Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.

    Saturday, May 13
    6:00 PM Hors d'oeuvres
    7:00 PM Dinner
    To be held at the elegant Julia Bindeman Center
    11810 Falls Road in Potomac, Maryland
    $200 per person or $1750 for a table of 10

    The Evening Features:

    • a full five-course meal designed by the celebrity chefs
    • a silent auction (which will include dinners at many top D.C. restaurants)
    • a live auction for a chef's table at Citronelle
    • a raffle for a 42" Plasma HDTV
    • a half-hour performance of Feiffer's People by the drama students from Churchill High School

    To see more information about the event and to register, click here to download the PDF advertisement.


    Event: American Institute of Wine & Food-I Love Crab Cakes

    The AIWF DC chapter is hosting an I love crab cakes event at Phillips restaurant. Apparently for this event, top area chefs will compete with their favorite crab cake recipes to see who wins as the crab cake king of the DC Metro region.

    The interesting part about this event is that anyone can also go to the event and throw their favorite crab cake recipe gobblet into the mix. Sadly, I didn't post this earlier, because I just notice they put a deadline for novice entries on Monday, April 24th.

    I have pasted the general event information below:

    National Capital Area Chapter and Phillips Seafood present:
    I LOVE CRAB CAKES! Competition and Celebration
    Monday, May 15, 2006 from 6:30 – 9:00 p.m.
    Phillips Flagship Restaurant900 Water St., SW, Washington, DC

    Enjoy the region’s greatest crab cakes at an event you definitely won’t want to miss!!! The AIWF National Capital Area Chapter and Phillips Seafood have joined forces to host the first I Love Crab Cakes! competition and fundraiser to kick off our chapter’s new culinary internship program.

    Five of our chapter members who also happen to be some of the best chefs in town will compete to win a $3,000 culinary internship:
    Roberto Donna, Galileo
    Greggory Hill, David Greggory
    Jamie Leeds, Hank’s Oyster Bar
    Jim Swenson, The Fourth Estate at the National Press Club
    Geoff Tracy, Chef Geoff’s

    To register click here.


    Tokyo Disneyland

    I, myself, somehow made it through my childhood without visiting the magic kingdom that Walt Disney had hoped every child would. So I figured, what a better way to make a late start into the world of Walt, then to begin the journey at Tokyo Disney.

    After making my way 3/4 of the way through the park, I needed an energy re-bout, so I stopped for a 'mickey shaped burger' (pictured). It was either that or corn soup, which is a staple menu item, served in all Japanese restaurants, just like our clam chowder or chicken noodle.

    Did you know that Tokyo Disney is not owned and operated by Walt? And that is it is the most visited theme park out of the US? Some even say the world, but it depends on what survey you look at, as Florida's Celebration City is also listed as the most visited in the world.

    Restaurant Review: Kozue at the Park Hyatt Tokyo

    On the 40th floor of the Lost in Translation famed hotel, the Tokyo Park Hyatt, is a peaceful, tranquil and where you will only find the best in Japanese cuisine.

    I was lucky to dine here with my husband in our travels to Tokyo to experience the waitresses in traditional kimotos, the beautiful view of Tokyo's Shinjuku neighborhood and most importantly, quite a memorable meal.

    Here are a few of my favorites from our luncheon:

    Our first course consisted of several items, which is how most Japanese meals are served.

    Kelp Flavored Snapper and Fresh Seaweed (top right) with Vinaigrette Soy Sauce (bottom right); Marinated Tofu, Konnyaku and Deep Fried Puffy Bread (right center); Simmered Short-neck Clam, Yachiazami and Fuki Greens (top left); Conger Eel and Seri Greens with Sesame Sauce (bottom left). Everything was delicious, although my personal favorite was the Eel and the Snapper.

    Our main course was Grilled Yonezawa Sirloin and Seasonal Veggies Wrapped with Hoba Leaf (pictured left). The meat and veggies were actually inside the leaf, sliced in 1/2 inch thick and 4 inch long pieces. The meat was really good, more fatty then I would normally enjoy, but the fat added some amazing flavor. This type of meat is even more prized then Kobe beef, which is quite a delicacy in American-Asian-Fusion restaurants.

    The most interesting part of this course was that it was served like the above picture. But they provided us with a little clay pot (see picture), that contained very hot, smoldering branches (of what kind, I don't know), which a wire, fence like top.

    The waitress explained that the meat was prepared rare and if we would like it cooked further, please place the leaf bundle on the clay pot for a few minutes.

    Of course she didn't say that much in english, but the picking up one leaf bundle and placing it on the pot was enough description for us.


    Recipe: Ready to Grill - Herb Chicken & Baby Red Potatoes

    For some people, as soon as the first hot day arrives, acknowledging spring and soon to be summer, we light or 'push the button' to heat the grill to celebrate - with a quick and easy dinner.

    Make your grilling life quick and easy and pre-marinate your foods. Please don't submerge them in those over potent marinates (that who knows what in them!)you get from the grocery. Just marinate them in canola oil with lemon wedges, a selection of herbs and some black peppercorns. After 24 hours in the fridge, you'll be amazed at the difference in juicy, fragrant and 'spring-herb' inspired dinner.

    I love to do the same with asparagus, sweet potato wedges (that are peeled), and even red baby potatoes (which I skewer together for easy grilling.


    Event: Michel Richard Cooking Class at Citronelle

    So I may be teaching a few cooking classes every month (click here for my current class list), but I love to be a participant in cooking classes as well. Recently, I took a class from Michel Richard at Citronelle where we drank champagne before 11:30am, watched him cook, then nag and squint in distrust at his executive chef and his new pastry chef (Heather Chittum)about their cooking. It was quite entertaining!

    Here was the menu:
    White Asparagus Soup
    Vouvray Sec "La Coulee D'Argent" Vielles GVignes, Domaine Bourillon D'Orlean, 2002
    Turkey Steak Au Poivre
    Vosne Romanee, Domaine Daniel Roin, 2002
    Apricot Tart
    Quarts de Chamue, Grand Cru, Domaine de la Bergerie, 1997

    Sadly, they didn't have white asparagus, so the soup was green. They poured so much wine...thankfully I had a DD. It is a real value though, 3 great recipes, all the champagne you can drink, Richard's demonstration of all three recipes (helped out of course by the exec. Chef and pastry chef), followed by a plated 3-course luncheon with wine (all you can drink of course!) in a closed-down Citronelle for about 5 hours with only you and the other participants (20 tops)for the bargain price of $130.

    He only schedules about 3 classes a season and they sell out fast, so go online to their website and you can sign up for their email list, then you'll stay in the loop!


    Recipe: Green Bean & Jumbo Lump Maryland Crab Salad

    Jumbo Lump crab meat makes everything good!

    Green Bean and Jumbo Lump Maryland Crab Salad
    (serves 2)

    • 1 lb. jumbo lump crab meat
    • 3 handfulls of green beans
    • 1 c. corn, frozen or fresh
    • 1 c. peas, frozen
    • 1/4 c. green onions, thinly sliced, green parts only
    • 1 c. creme fraiche
    • 1 T. parsley
    • juice of 2 lemons
    • 1/2 c. evoo
    • 2 T. chives, sliced
    1. Bring a pot to boil (with salt) to blanch the green beans. Once water is boiling, drop in green beans and leave for 1-2 minutes, until al dente and bright greens. Strain and shock (plunge into an ice bath).
    2. Combine green beans, corn, peas and green onions. Carefully fold in jumbo lump crab meat to keep meat from breaking up.
    3. Salt and pepper to taste and drizzle a little evoo over and around salad.
    4. In a blender, combine creme fraiche, parsley, lemon juice and evoo until emulsified.
    5. Zig-zag over crab salad when served and sprinkle chives over to enjoy!

    As you can see by the picture, I didn't add green onions, the client I made this for, isn't a fan. So just torn up some basil and tossed it in to the salad.

    Event: James Beard Greens - April 7th

    Another Greens event coming up. I've pasted the info below:


    Fourth Annual James Beard Foundation Greens TAPAS CHALLENGE!

    Join us on Sunday, April 9th, as last year’s winner, Laura Brennan of Caffe Umbra, defends her tapas title against Adam Halberg of Via Matta and Rene Michelena of Domani Bar & Trattoria. At this four course sit-down tasting, the 3 Boston Chefs will each prepare dishes that they will pair with wines they have chosen from the three varietal categories. The Greens will judge the pairings and choose this year’s tapas champion!

    Passed Hors d’oeuvres and Selection of Sparkling Wines

    Course One: Chardonnay
    Grilled Octopus Salad with Fagiolini, Capers and Olive Oil Potatoes wine tba
    Maine Lobster Crème Brûlée, Lettuce Pôtage, Chervil and Chives Dominique Derain ‘La Combe’ Bourgogne Blanc 2002
    Steamed Flounder en Cartuccio with White Miso in Romaine Leaves, Crab Roe Broth Pojer and Sandri Chardonnay

    Course Two: Pinot Noir
    Ravioli Gnudi with Brown Butter, Pancetta and Sage wine tba
    Cassoulet of Spring Vegetables: Morel Boudin Blanc, Flageolets & Favas, Black Radish & Red Sunchoke Dominique Derain St. Aubin Rouge ‘Le Ban’ Pinot Noir 2002
    Quail Sausage with Grilled Oyster and Shiitake Mushroom Skewers, Prosciutto and Spiced Raspberry Vinaigrette Zimmer Pinto Nero

    Course Three: Barbera
    Lamb with Ricotta, Frico and Green Olive Peperonata Wine tba
    Lamb Duet: Noisette & Ravioli with Artichoke Confit, Picholine Olive and Basil Plate Osvaldo Barberis ‘Brichat’ Barbera 2004
    Ox Tongue and Hijiki-Potato "Lasagna", Fonduta with Soy Rosemary Glaze Rive Barbera

    Family Style Dessert

    The James Beard Foundation Greens Fourth Annual Tapas Challenge
    Sunday, April 9, 2006
    6:00pm Reception at
    The James Beard House
    167 West 12th Street (between 6th & 7th Aves.)
    Members $75, non-members $100
    For reservations call 212-627-2308 or 1-800-36-BEARD


    Recipe: Garlicky Lamb Loin over Chickpea & Tomato Salad with Lemony Feta Rosemary Vinaigrette

    Use fad diets to help jump-start your healthy eating habits. Teaching you to combine really, really good for you things with not-so good for you things. Therefore, for this recipe, I have streched out the South Beach (salad with a small protein) meal model and combined it with a really good for you salad (chickpeas with tomatoes) with a fatty meat (but a lean cut no less) a dieter ought to have only semi-monthly (lamb).

    A meal like this, once a week or semi-monthly, can sure diminsh the I'm on a diet blues and strengthen your I'm on a great diet! :) motivation.

    Garlicky Lamb Loin over Chickpea & Tomato Salad with Lemony Feta Rosemary Vinaigrette:
    (serves 2)

    • 1 lamb loin, about 8 oz. (1/2 lb.)
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 2 large cloves of garlic, mashed
    • 2 T. canola oil
    • 1 can of chickpeas, strained & rinsed
    • 1/2 c. grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
    • 4 c. mixed greens, mache mix or even spinach
    • juice of 1 lemon
    • zest of 1 lemon
    • 1 T. rosemary, finely chopped
    • 3 T. bulgarian feta cheese, fresh, broken up with your fingers
    • 1/3 c. evoo or extra virgin olive oil (speaking of "evoo or extra virgin oilve oil", funny rachel ray slam site here)
    • salt and pepper to taste

    1. Heat a saute pan to high heat, when hot, drizzle in 3 T. canola oil and drop in the 2 crushed garlic cloves. Let garlic saute until dark golden brown, then remove (we are just scenting the oil - infusing garlic). Add the lamb loin and sear, all four sides, only flipping loin to next side when the previous side is golden brown. Remove from pan from heat, and lamb from pan and let rest on paper towel (about 5 minutes).
    2. Toss together chickpeas, grape tomatoes and set aside.
    3. Whisk lemon juice and lemon zest, season, then whisk in evoo. Drop in feta and rosemary.
    4. Slice (the bias - at a 45 degree angle) lamb into 8-10 slices.

    To serve: Toss feta rosemary and lemon vinaigrette with greens and chickpea mixture and place in center of plate. Fan lamb slices vertically, from top to bottom over salad and enjoy!

    Recipe: Zucchini, Tomato, Mozzarella & Basil Tart

    Spring is on its way - finally! So it is time to start utilizing those spring veggies and greens in your daily meals. These tarts can be great as a small appetizer on top of mixed greens with your favorite vinaigrette, or even as a side dish to a protein like seared filet mignon with some green beans or roasted chicken with some asparagus.
    If you need to add some tart pans to your cooking utensil collection, here is a link that lists all the different kinds you can get to match whatever sweet or savory tart you make. Make a list and take it to your local Williams-Sonoma, each store has a quite a collection and can order you whatever you need.
    Zucchini, Tomato, Mozzarella & Basil Tart
    (makes 4 individual tarts)
    • Pillsbury Dough Pre-made Pie Shells
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 c. heavy creme
    • 1 c. basil, loosely packed
    • 1/2 mozzarella, fresh, preferribly marinated and not smoked
    • 1/2 c. cherry or grape tomatoes, ultra-small
    • 1 small zucchini, thinly sliced on mandoline
    1. Spray tart pans with non-stick and using a paper towel, whipe our any excess spray.
    2. Place tart shell dough in tart pans and pre-bake until just set and remove.
    3. Whisk eggs, heavy cream and salt and pepper to taste.
    4. Spoon into each tart shell about 3 T. of egg mixture.
    5. Fan zucchini around tart, sprinkle about 1 T. chiffonade of basil, then garnish with 3 quarter pieces of tomato. Place 1-2 T. of mozzarella in the center and spoon another 3-4 T. of egg mixture over veggies and cheese.
    6. Place in oven to bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes until almost set. Remove from oven and spoon over each tart another 2 T. of egg mixture and place back in oven to bake for another 5-7 minutes until set.
    7. Remove from oven and enjoy warm or let cool slightly and serve at room temperature.


    Television: Top Chef Reality Show on Bravo

    Are you an avid watcher of the Food Network? Perhaps you even watched Hells Kitchen on Fox or The Restaurant on NBC?

    Here is another reality show - starting tonight at 9pm on Bravo - "Top Chef" (See the trailer here). Created by the people of Project Runway and Project Greenlight - contestants compete to be the 'Top Chef'. Read more about it here.


    Event: James Beard Greens Event - March 7th

    From the James Beard GREENS event email list:

    Join the James Beard Foundation Greens for a fun, fabulous evening of pizza and beer!

    Brewmaster Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery has paired their award-winning beers
    with celebrated chef Waldy Malouf’s delicious wood-fired pizzas.
    This walk-around tasting will feature 6 of Waldy’s most irresistible pizzas masterfully matched with Brooklyn’s finest.

    James Beard Foundation Greens Pizza and Beer Pairing
    Tuesday, March 7th 2006 6:30 to 8:30pm at Waldy’s Wood-Fired Pizza & Penne
    800 6th Avenue between 27th and 28th Streets

    Chef Waldy Malouf of Waldy’s Wood-Fired Pizza and Penne and Beacon, NYC
    Brewmaster Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery, NYC

    Sweet & Hot Sausage with Roasted Peppers Pizza
    Brooklyn Lager

    Braised Lamb, Roasted Lemon, & Oregano Pizza
    Brooklyn Brown Ale

    Proscuitto, Roasted Asparagus, & Parmesan Pizza
    Brooklyn Fortitude

    White Pizza with Clam with Garlic, Crumbs, & Ricotta
    Brooklyner Pilsner

    Shrimp with Garlic & Lemon Pizza
    Brooklyn East India Pale Ale

    Roasted Eggplant, Zucchini, & Olive Pizza
    Brooklyner Weisse

    Waldy’s Mini Chocolate Truffle Cupcakes
    Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

    members $40, non-members $50

    For Reservations, call 212-627-2308 or 1-800-36-BEARD.
    Reservations must be made in advance and are non-refundable.

    Please note: James Beard Foundation Greens is the junior committee of the Foundation and its purpose is to introduce people to the Foundation, provide them with events tailored to a younger audience, and fulfill the Foundation’s mission to celebrate, preserve, and nurture America's culinary heritage and diversity in order to elevate the appreciation of our culinary excellence.

    The Greens is ONLY open to individuals age 21 to 40.
    For other events please visit www.jamesbeard.org and click on events or call 212-627-2308 and speak to a reservationist


    Restaurant Review: Grace - Los Angeles

    You may say, I have seen this post before...Yes, because I had posted this review of Grace and one person (apparently they have taken the anonymous internet to their interest for the sake of Grace and even took my mothers name in bad taste due to my review) posted some extremely inappropriate comment, simply because I was honest and shared how I didn't appreciate Graces food or their service.

    If you happen to be in LA - Grace is one of those restaurants that is currently happening and where you want to be at.

    Although my husband and I were able to get a reservation (about 3 weeks in advance), I wouldn't jump to get this place on your 'things to do' list. There were a few problems that made our check not necessary worth it.

    First, when we walked into the restaurant, I didn't realize that my husbands shirt (under his jacket was maroon) and my blazer (since it was only in the 50's in LA) was maroon as well, the hostess said "how cute, it must be your anniversary - you both match!". I could get frustrated with this....but no...its just LA fashion.

    During our entree, we realized that our waitress had 7 tables...yes...7. And this is a 'fine-dining' restaurant. You could watch her fill the water at the table next to us, then make it to our table and then hit the remaining 5 tables. This was a constant display, including bread, water and our entrees.

    When the bus boy cleared our entrees, he actually took a table cleaner (those little metal things they sweep the crumbs off the table with) and swept them straight onto the floor. And it was quite apparent, that the floor, was where he intended them to go. Who does this? I admit, I have eaten in some really nice and some really okay restaurants and not all of them even use a crumb sweeper...But think about it...What would you do if you where in a restaurant that bothered to use the crumb sweeper...And then swapped them on the floor? On purpose? We might as well get peanuts and dispose our shells on the floor-at least then we are getting a really good 5-Guys burger.

    Finally, the food...It was pretty good. Not bad. Not good.

    If fact, my husbands foie gras was significantly burnt, not seared. I told him to return it, but he felt too bad, knowing that there was some line cook in the back that had screwed up, sent the burnt foie out anyways and hoping that it wasn't coming back. My husband answered his prayers. UNTIL I got my entree....And there was 2 pearl onions on my plate that were really burnt. Like they had put them on a really hot plate that was greased and let them in sit in the oven for 2 hours...It was gross. I didn't complain...Knowing that this is obviously a kitchen issue...But it must mean that the expediter is an idiot, or not the chef...And therefore the chef WAS NOT THERE AND THEREFORE THERE WAS NO ONE thinking about the reputation of the restaurant. And it was disappointing..

    Okay, now you'll see my escargo...With only 4 escargo...Pretty sad for $17 when I knew for sure (once I saw the escargo) that it was canned escargo from FRance that retails for barely $12 for 3 dozen. And then my entree, a filet (oven roasted so no yummy seared crust) with a beef short rib,(from which they gave me HALF a short rib....thats right....only HALF an inch of A beef short rib..for a mear (sarcastic laugh) or $32) that was only a quarter of a serving.

    Therefore, save your money from Grace. It is just another 'flash in the pan' LA restaurant' - I would think of a nobody LA famous actor/actress, but you wouldn't know them anyways?

    But be carefully though, as I have learned, some people are completely mean and selfish when it comes to admitting that their favorite restaurant may 'rip some people off'.


    Recipes: Channel 9 - CBS - 9am NEWS at 9

    If you watched me on the local DC affiliate of CBS this morning and are looking for the Valentine-Inspired Recipes I prepared - I have pasted them all below in the link:

    Orange Scented Dark Chocolate Truffles

    Raspberry Champagne Gelees

    Goat Cheese, Grape & Pistachio Truffles

    Mascarpone Stuffed Dates

    Please if you have any questions, please feel free to email me at info/at/finediningsolutions.com or visit my business website for more information at www.finediningsolutions.com.

    Thanks for Watching!

    Mascarpone Stuffed Dates: Previous Post

    Goat Cheese, Grape & Pistachio Truffles

    • 4 oz. Goat Cheese
    • 2 Tablespoons of Crème
    • Salt and Pepper
    • 6 Green Seedless Grapes
    • 1/2 cup Shelled Pistachios, Medium Grind

    Place grapes and pistachios near bowl. Put goat cheese in bowl. Add cream, salt and pepper and combine. Using hands mold grape in goat cheese and roll in pistachios. Set on display plate or tupperware

    Raspberry Champagne Gelees:

    • 1 Small Box of Raspberry Flavored Jello
    • 3 Packages of Gelatin
    • 1/2 cup Champagne (to substitute for 1/2 cup of water in jello recipe)
    • Whipped Cream
    • Raspberries

    Put jello mix in bowl. Heat 2 cups water and pour into bowl. Whisk. Add 3 gelatin packets. Whisk. Add 1/2 cup champagne. Add 1/2 cup cold water. Ladle into small sheet tray and refrigerate. Cut mold and lay on serving platter. Spray with whipped cream and top with raspberry.

    Orange Scented Dark Chocolate Truffles

    • 8 oz. Dark Chocolate
    • 4 oz. Heavy Cream
    • Zest of 1 Orange
    • 1/4 c. Coco Powder
    Combine cream and orange zest and bring to boil; Remove from heat and let steep about 20 minutes. Chop chocolate and place in medium sized bowl (make sure it is non-reactive if metal).

    Bring cream-orange zest mixture to a boil again, then remove from heat and pour over chocolate through a fine sieve (to remove orange zest), add grand mariner to mixture and let sit for 3-4 minutes; whisk until chocolate and milk is completely emulsified; let chocolate cool to room temperature, then place in refrigerator for 1 hour until ganache (chocolate-crème mixture) is set. Sieve coco powder into shallow, sided dish and set aside. Make an ice bath in a small bowl and set aside. Place some parchment paper in a shallow, wide tupperware and set aside. Remove ganache from fridge; Dip your hands in the ice bath for 3-4 seconds to chill your hands, then remove and pat them completely dry on a towel. Using your hands, immediately remove about 2 T. of ganache and roll into an even ball, drop in coco power; carefully shake coco powder dish – to roll truffle around the dish of coco power – evenly coated. Carefully remove from coco powder and place in parchment coated tupperware. Continue with remaining truffles. Place truffles in freezer for about 15 minutes, then remove from freezer to cover with parchment, seal with tupperware and place in fridge until service.

    To Serve: Remove from fridge and leave in Tupperware about 30 minute before you plan to enjoy. Place on small dessert plate to share and enjoy.


    Recipe: Carribean Salad with Mango Pineapple Garnish

    Carribean Salad with Mango Pineapple Garnish

    A little bell pepper, green papaya, cilantro...what could be more refreshing. Toss it with some mache, top it with a grilled chicken breast and you have a very filling, very healthy dinner.
    • 1/4 cup of chopped bell pepper (a little red, a little orange)
    • 1 Jalapeno, seeded and brunoise
    • 1/2 cup chopped jicama
    • 1/4 cup loosely packed sprigs of cilantro
    • 1 tablespoon of slivered green onions
    • juice of 1 lime
    • 1 Tablespoon of canola oil
    • 1/4 cup silvered carrots
    • butter lettuce
    • 3 Tablespoons of chopped mango
    • 4 Tablespoons of pineapple chunks
    • Extra jalapeno if you like
    1. Prepare salad ingredients and combine.
    2. Prepare garnish ingredients and combine.
    3. Serve salad a top butter lettuce. Garnish with 'garnish'.


    Restaurant Review: Inde Bleu

    If you haven't been to IndeBleu yet, you really ought to go. A fushion of Indian and French cuisine - it can be a nice meal. I visited recently and haven't been in almost a year - the restaurant only being open 13 months. The menu has significantly changed since my first visit, there used to be twice as much to choose from with a focus on first and second courses.

    Now the menu is half the size, and half of it, is price-frix. It has also lost its intensive focus on marrying french style with Indian flavors. Now the indian side seems more like an accent - not necessarily even in every dish. Disappointing.

    It is still quite a deal though, only $65 for 4 courses - so you can save your money for the 10% DC city tax you have to pay. A side note on the tax - when IndeBleu brings you your bill, it actually outlines what you got, then on a separate line says IRS Bullsh*t. Someone ought to let them know it IS NOT THE IRS - it is the Bullsh*t District of Columbia.

    The first time I went to IndeBleu the entrees were quite disappointing and the appetizers had so much to offer. This meal was completely flipped. The entree made the trip worth it - otherwise I would say - save your money and visit this restaurant during restaurant week.

    Here are some pic's that were noteworthy dishes:

    Pomegranate Glazed Duck breast over Sweet Red Wine Braised Cabbage and a few Potato Gnocchis (actually 4 on my plate).

    Lobster and Foie Gras Tortellini - could have been so impressive! But I only found 1 brunoise of foie in 1 of 3 tortellini's and then put about 2 cups of pea veloute in bowl, so I had to suck the sauce off the tortellini's just to get a taste of what they were.

    Their signature dessert. Spagetti n Meatballs: They run saffron ice cream through a potato ricer and serve it next to mascerated ladyfingers.


    Recipe: Starfruit & Pineapple Salad with Ginger Pineapple Vinaigrette

    Starfruit & Pineapple Salad with Ginger-Pineapple Vinaigrette
    Utilize the exotic fruits that are coming up from South America - fruit is always in season somewhere in the world and we are lucky enough to live near a whole foods that provides us with this stuff!
    There is no acid (lemon juice, vinegar) in this vinaigrette, because there is enough acid in the pineapple juice and the pineapple chunks to take the place of it.
    • 1 Medium Sized Star Fruit
    • 1 Cup of Chopped Pineapple
    • Danelion Greens
    • Watercress
    • 1 Tablespoon of Minced Ginger
    • 1 Cup of Pineapple Juice (Not from a can - get a good bottle of juice with pineapple in it)
    • 6 Tablespoons of Evoo (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
    1. Place pineapple juice in pot and bring to a boil. Let boil until reduced at least by 3/4, creating a syrup'y - sauce consistancy. Remove from heat and let cool.
    2. Chop ginger and add to cooled pineapple syrup.
    3. Whisk in extra virgin olive oil to pineapple syrup and your vinaigrette is done.
    4. Slice starfruit and combine with pineapple chunks.
    5. Clean Dandelion greens and watercress and combine.
    6. Toss greens and fruit in vinaigrette and serve.


    Recipe: Caramelized Pineapple with Pomegranate Reduction

    Caramelized Pineapple with Pomegranate Reduction

    Don't cut treats completely out of your life because you want to be on a diet. Just replace your nightly ice cream ritual with some fruit - or even dress it up with a brulee torch.
    • Pineapple, sliced in long strips (3-5 inches), 1/2 inch slices
    • 2 Tablespoons of fine granulated sugar
    • 1 cup of POM Juice
    1. Pour your pomegrante juice in a small pot and bring to a boil. Reduce by 3/4 until it reaches sauce consistancy. Remove from heat and let cool.
    2. Lay out pineapple slices on sided cookie sheet (you may want to cover it with foil if you are worried about removing the caramel later).
    3. Get your torch ready and sprinkle sugar, very lightly over 1 pineapple slice, then torch that slice, continue with sugar, then torch on remaining pineapples. Let caramel cool enough to handle.
    4. Place pineapple pieces on plate and drizzle pomegranate reduction over and around pineapple to serve.
    When you are brulee'ing pineapple, you don't want to do more than 1 slice at a time because the juice in the pineapple will absorb the sugar and once sugar is wet, it becomes nearly impossible to caramelize.


    Recipe: Asian Broccoli, Corn & Mushroom Stir Fry

    Asian Broccoli, Corn & Mushroom Stir Fry
    (Serves 2)

    A little asian marinates or oils can change a person who doesn't eat broccolini into someone that does.
    • 1/2 bunch of broccolini, blanched
    • 1/4 cup of fresh corn kernels (can be frozen)
    • 1 portabella, top skin peeled and chopped in bite sized pieces
    • 5-7 sugar snap peas
    • A few slices of onion (depending on your preference toward onions)
    • 1 Tablespoon of chopped garlic
    • A shake or two of red pepper flakes
    • 1 Tablespoon of sesame seed oil
    • Squeeze of lime
    1. Heat a wok or saute pan to high, when really hot, add a Tablespoon of Canola oil until hot and 'running' around the pan.
    2. Add the onions and saute until translucent, then add garlic and portabellas and saute until mushrooms have released most of their liquid.
    3. Add broccolini, sugar snaps, corn kernels, until heated through, then remove pan from heat.
    4. Dash in red pepper flakes, sesame seed oil and lime juice.


    Recipe: Apple Quesadillas

    Apple Quesadillas:

    A great healthy subsitute and fabulous on the indoor or outdoor grill.
    • Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas (2 per quesadilla)
    • 2 Tablespoons of Light or Fat Free Sour Cream
    • 1/2 cup of low fat shredded cheddar cheese or chipotle flavored
    • 1/4 apple, thinly sliced
    • 1 Tablespoon of parsley

    1. Lay out tortilla and spread sour cream, 1 tablespoon per side.
    2. Sprinkle cheddar on 1 side, then fan out apple slices.
    3. Top with other side, making a sandwich.
    4. Throw on grill for 4-5 minutes until cheese is melted and quesadillas are char-grilled.
    And if you don't feel like going on a diet - subsitute the cheddar cheese for 4 oz. piece of brie, chopped up into small pieces and spread around the 1 side of quesadilla.


    Restaurant Review: Mini Bar at Cafe Atlantico

    Wow. Wow. Wow! That is all I can say about Mini Bar in Cafe Atlantico (and you may note that the web developer of all of Jose Andres websites designed my new work site as well! Fine Dining Solutions). If you are a true 'foodie' and you love experimenting with food and trying new and different things and you HAVEN'T been to Mini-Bar - you are missing out.

    Mini Bar is small set of 6 stools, behind a small bar of 2 line cooks. These guys do this 'show' every Friday and Saturday night at 6pm and 9pm, sadly the show is the same at both times and the restaurant only changes out 1 or 2 courses every 3 months or so, therefore it makes it difficult to come back and visit often (I guess a visit every 3 years or so will make it a new experience?) but 1 time is enough for a while and it really gives you the 'umf' that makes interesting and 'chemical' cooking really interesting. As you read on....you'll know what I mean.....

    Do make your reservations asap - I've heard they only take 6 weeks of reservations at a time; then you give a non-refundable deposit; sign a contract you have to fax back to them promising you have no food allergies and that you will come....But IT IS WORTH IT...

    32 'mini-courses' - all good - and most very interesting....Here are few highlights:

    A Cesear salad - completely deconstructed and piled into sushi rolls.

    A small bite of foie gras wrapped in cotton candy - sweet and delicious!

    A lobster bite - They asked you put the whole piece of lobster tail in your mouth with the end of the plastic squeeze thing - then squeeze the roe end and you were injected with wonderful rowe while you chewed and swallowed a butter-poached piece of lobster tail.This was beyond cool - first they puree'd the peas and ran them through a chinois, then put them in syringe, where they make dropplettes of 'pea juice' into a calcium liquid mixture that naturally created a chemical reaction that creates a very light coating around the pea liquid, literally creating pea 'droplettes' or new peas -or what they called the dish: Pea Caviar.

    This was my husbands favorite: Philly Cheesesteak. Thinly sliced Japanese Mishima beef on top of a pita, fried and in the shape of a cornacopia, that is filled with vermont cheddar-truffled pastry creme. This - did not suck.

    Recipe: Truffled Gratin Potatoes

    I often tell clients that I would appreciate it if they limited their time to the kitchen while I am working. Although sometimes, I need a kitchen assistant and who could be better then a sweetheart like Baily as you see here helping me out in the kitchen the other night on New Years Eve. Baily is a great helper and it was really great having some company in the kitchen while I prepared his families New Years Eve dinner.
    Here is a recipe from the event that I think you will enjoy. I also included some directions on how to prepare the gratin over 2 weeks ahead of time and then re-heat it 'personal chef' style - and believe me, no dinner party guest will ever be able to tell.
    Truffled Gratin Potatoes:
    (Serves 4-6)
    • 2 Cups Heavy Cream
    • 2 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter
    • 8 Baking Potatoes, Skinned and Sliced on a Mandoline (Thinnest Setting Possible)
    • Salt and Pepper (to taste)
    • 4 oz. Truffle Oil
    • 6 oz. of Gruyere Cheese, Shredded
    • 4 oz. of Parmesan Cheese, Shredded
    • 2 Tablespoons, Finely Chopped Black Truffles (from a Can)
    To Make Truffled Potato Gratin:
    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    2. Prepare gratin baking dish: For a tall gratin, use a bread pan. For a shallow gratin, use a 9”x9” square pan. Cover pan with 1 large piece of foil and fold over sides of pan. Spray foil with non-stick cooking spray, whip out any excess and set aside.
    3. Pour crème into large bowl and set aside.
    4. Cut up butter into ‘pea’ size pieces and set aside.
    5. Peel potatoes and place in large bowl filled with water, so that potatoes are completely submerged.
    6. Put mandoline on thinnest setting possible and lay over crème filled bowl. Remove 1 potato at a time from the water bowl and slice potato through mandoline into crème. Between each potato, carefully flip slices in bowl around to make sure each is coated with crème.
    7. Pour truffle oil into a shallow bowl and set aside.
    8. Place gratin dish in front of you and start to layer in potato slices. First fan slices, overlapping each by half, from left to right. Sprinkle lightly with pepper, salt and about 2 Tablespoons of gruyere.
    9. Continue with next layer of gratin from top to bottom, followed by a light brushing of truffle oil over the potatoes and sprinkle 2 Tablespoons of shredded gruyere.
    10. Every third layer of gratin, place 3 pea sized pieces of butter evenly over gratin and sprinkle about a tablespoon of chopped black truffle over gratin and gently press down on gratin to insure you are stacking the layers as tightly as possible.
    11. Alternate gratin directions 7 and 8 until you finish with last of the potatoes or ½” from the top of the gratin dish, whatever comes first.
    12. Top with parmesan and chopped black truffle, place gratin dish on a sided cookie sheet and place in oven to bake for 30-45 minutes.
    13. To check doneness of gratin: Remove from oven and run butter knife through center of gratin; if knife slips through with little to no resistance, gratin is ready. If gratin is becoming too dark for you: Cover with foil and return to oven until cooked through.
    14. Remove from oven, slice into desired pieces and lift out with spatula.
    To Store Truffled Potato Gratin: Remove gratin from oven and let cool completely. Carefully ‘lift’ out foil from gratin pan – and place on cutting board. Using a slicer, carefully slice gratin in desired pieces and place in Tupperware. Sprinkle each piece with a little gruyere or parmesan and cover to refrigerate (for up to 5 days) or freeze (for up to 2 weeks).

    To Serve Truffled Potato Gratin: If gratin has been frozen, please defrost it in the fridge at least 24 hours before you plan to re-heat it to enjoy. Remove Tupperware top and cover with a paper towel. Place in microwave to heat for 3-4 minutes until heated through and butter knife slips through center of gratin with little to no resistance.