Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pot smoking Baristas....

I'm not sure if I should be critiquing myself here or critiquing those that annoy me. What is it with totally out of it people that work in coffee shops? Is it a requirement for the job that you smoke a whole bunch of weed before you roll out of bed and saunter into work in the morning where your main task is to serve the caffeine addicted, grumpy, impatient clientele in Washington D.C.? We are not just getting coffee because we are on our way to a museum people, we are grabbing our first cup of joe to keep us moving in this insanely fast paced life. I have no time for your leisurely interactions and casual conversations with the customer in front of me that has already purchased their coffee and just decided to chat it up this fine Tuesday morning. What the hell? Get out of my way, let me order, I have my cash in hand, and give me that iced americano.

This morning at Dolcezza, my favorite cafe in DC (though that's not saying much because there is very little competition), the woman behind the counter spoke as if she just got off the waves on the beach, hit the pipe, then strolled into work. She looked at me with confusion, not understanding why I was standing there...in line....at the store....gee, I wonder! She continued to chat it up with her colleagues, looked around, said "yeah" a lot and then finally asked me if I wanted anything. Duh!?!?!?!! After I placed my order, she played around on the computer screen trying to figure out how much it cost, laughing in utter joy at how she accidentally added a 1 to the total which made it a larger number than it was supposed to be. Oh! Gafaw!!!! How hilarious!!! WTF?!

But then again, I don't think I should be critiquing the barista as much as someone should be reading me the riot act for my impatient, un-American behavior. I mean seriously, do I need to be that annoyed, that grumpy, and rolling my eyes so strongly that I cannot enjoy people's pleasant morning conversations on a beautiful day like today? Why instead am I consumed with the desire to yell at that barista and go behind the counter myself and make my own cup of coffee while yelling, "idiot!" Ok, calm down. Maybe I'm the problem. The simple answer to this is for me to have my coffee before I leave the house and I am required to interact with other humans, but that defeats the whole purpose.

Life is hard.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Top Chef Season 7 - That girl should have so gone home!

What was up with the judges last night on Top Chef? I was enraged! Jacqueline Lombard completely deserved to get canned. Grainy pate is completely unacceptable (and disgusting), but what was even more enraging was the fact that she claimed she didn't prepare it well this time around because she "didn't have her recipes with her." Outrageous. On principle alone she should be sent home, judges panel or no judges panel. Normal human beings can remember how to cook something based on one or two experiences, she claimed she'd prepared and served this meal hundreds of times. So, that makes her just plain not smart (I'm being kind here of course).

John Somerville, who I from here on out will refer to as "the monster", was ousted instead. This guy was at least a few things that the show could have used: 1) entertaining; 2) so sweet but at the same time creepy; 3) at least had potential and I was curious to see him cook something else; 4) had no need for recipes; and 5) at least admitted he was stupid. Being humble goes a long way.

So, for the first show of Season 7 I say "gahhhhhhhhh!" I will forever adamantly root to kick off Jacqueline "no fat" Lombard.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Love au gratin

I'm calling this new dish "love au gratin" because it's not your everyday potatoes au gratin - it is filled with fresh items from local farms and the most important ingredient, love. I'm not normally so sentimental about the food I cook, but when I took a big bite of this au gratin last night I was thinking....."you know, not everyone can cook this good, it takes a certain amount of love, care and passion to make a good meal." This is all based on the theory that if you don't love to cook, you won't ever be able to cook good food. This is a passion, something that you focus on not because you have to, because you are entranced in the potential deliciousness of what you are concocting.

Love au gratin is a fabulous home-cooked meal made of fresh red potatoes, baby zucchini, onion, broccoli, pancetta (yes, I just said pancetta), gruyere cheese, half and half cream and a hint of pecorino. When you take a steaming hot bite of it, it is so rich it makes your eyes role back. Best served on a cold winter night, but I made it on a 90 degree evening in the midst of summer and still found it to be ideal.


8 red baby potatoes
1/2 golden onion
1 head of broccoli
5 mini zucchinis (or 1 regular sized)
1/4 pound of Gruyere cheese
2 tablespoons pecorino romano cheese (shredded)
2/3 cup of half and half or milk
1 dash of Paprika
2 tablespoons butter (I use vegan butter, but it's your choice)
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1/2 pound of pancetta
5 sage leafs

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Wash the potatoes and slice into 2 centimeter slices
3. Dice half of an onion and place to side. Slice up your baby zucchini (or regular sized zucchini) into 1 inch thick slices and place to side. Break down the broccoli to desired size and place to side. Shred gruyere cheese and place to side.
4. Dice the pancetta and saute in a frying pan for 5 minutes on medium high
5. Butter a Pyrex casserole dish
6. In the casserole dish, sprinkle the chopped onion evenly. Top with potatoes, zucchini, broccoli, pancetta. Season with salt and pepper.
7. In a sauce pan melt the 2 tablespoons of butter on medium heat. Add the cream and dash of paprika while stirring continuously. Continue to stir, add flour (sprinkle in slowly) and once the flour is thoroughly mixed in, add the gruyere and pecorino and stir until mixture comes to a creamy and cheesy consistency.
8. Pour the sauce over the potatoes and vegetables in the casserole dish and cover with tinfoil.
9. Bake in oven on 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until items are cooked to desired level.

Chop up the thyme and sage and sprinkle on top of the casserole. Let the love au gratin rest for 10 minutes then serve with wheat toast and salad. Let eyes roll back and enjoy.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Posts coming this week....

  1. I will be trying the Strasburger at BGR this week. Most recently reviewed at dcist, it looks insane!
  2. The fridge is stocked with haricot verts, mini zucchini, fresh garden tomatos and persian cucumbers. It shouldn't be too difficult to figure out something delish for dinner this week...stay tuned.
  3. I made a kick ass potato au gratin with fresh broccoli, pancetta and gruyere cheese yet neglected to take a photo. I'll do a re-do and share with y'all soon!

Spring Orecchiette with Apples and Chicken Sausage

Enough talking about how great other people's cooking is! This evening, I'm going to boast about my favorite chef in DC - myself.

My weekly trips to the Dupont Circle Farmers Market end up in a potpourri of unintentional items in my refrigerator, purchased because each item looks appetizing in and of itself - not necessarily because combined they make a thoughtful or strategic meal.

The other night when I came home I really wanted something hearty and filling - but good for me. In the fridge sat some fresh leeks from the farmers market. I remember thinking when I bought them, "I should be able to do something with this. I mean, if Rachel Ray can cook with leeks, I should be able to kick ass at them. Annoying Rachel Ray....'yummo'."

Other purchases made on my hippie-like trek to farmers market last weekend were golden delicious apples, smoked gouda and thyme. I also had purchased at the local grocery store a nice bottle of white wine and pre-cooked chicken andouille sausage. I knew whatever I did, I had to eat the apples (one more day and they would have gone bad), and to heck if I'm going to let golden delicious apples go to waste.

I grabbed the orecchiette in the cupboard (a type of shell shaped pasta) and figured I could whip something up with these ingredients (and I'm making the apples work if it kills me). However, it was much easier than I thought and it turned out to be absolutely delicious, creative, and a taste explosion thought provided me with much delight.

Here's the recipe. I know the apples are freaking you out too, but trust me, it works...


2 Golden delicious apples
4 Chicken andouille sausages (pre-cooked is best)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups orecchiette pasta (or any pasta of your choice)
3 leeks
3 ounces smoke gouda
salt and pepper to taste
4 sprigs of fresh thyme (or dried thyme if you can't get it fresh)

1. Fill a large pot with water, salt and a touch of olive oil and set to boil.
2. While waiting for water to boil, do all of your prep work: a) chop up the apples into 1/2 inch cubes; b) chop up sausages into 1/4 inch slices (just get the pre-cooked ones from the store), c) chop up the leeks into small slices.
3. Once water is boiling, add your pasta and just keep an eye on it until al dente. Once pasta is cooked, drain and set aside until the 2nd dish is ready.
3. Grab a skillet and place it on medium high heat with a few tablespoons of olive oil to warm. Throw in the leeks and season with salt and pepper. Cook on medium for a few minutes until they turn translucent.
4. Add the apples, white wine and sausages and cook on medium for 5 minutes until apples are cooked, but haven't hit the mooshy stage (don't ever overcook them to the moosh stage - ew!)
5. Add drained pasta, a little olive oil, salt and pepper and mix in the skillet on medium heat.
6. Turn stove to medium-low and add thin slices of smoked gouda and minced fresh thyme. Let the cheese melt as you stir it constantly, creating a creamy gouda/wine concoction that is indescribable.

This meal will take you no more than 20 minutes to make (if you multi task by cooking the pasta as you cook the other items).

Um. Deliciousness! Try this recipe at home. It really is a fresh and complex tasting meal - if the apples freak you out, use orange or yellow bell peppers instead (but it won't be as good).

You are welcome world.