Monday, January 21, 2008

A new green pasta invention

When we have the time and the energy there is nothing we enjoy more than experimenting in the kitchen- when we moved from San Diego this became a little more tricky due to the fact that we had to sell a lot of our kitchen equipment and also had to put a lot of recipe books into storage. This Christmas however, not only have we rescued the recipe books from idling away in boxes, but we have also been given some great new kitchen equipment to replace that which we had to give up.

Here's recipe we came up with last night- using different things we hd around, and mainly inspired my a yummy looking recipe of Jamie Oliver:

First we took a bunch of peas- we mashed up half of them in a food processor and then mixed in the rest of them after the event. We cooked this much in some olive oil- added in some garlic, seasoning and some chopped fresh mint. We then added in arthichoke hearts (cut into eighths), capers and some sliced red onion.

We then boiled up some pasta (wholewheat spaghetti), once it was cooked al dente we drained it and added it to the pea concoction. After mixing all this up well we served it up onot two plates and topped with hard boiled egg slices, goats cheese and some walnuts.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Brunch at Bilbo Baggins

We used to go out for Brunch all the time in San Diego but it hasn't been so much of a habit here. One reason is probably the weather- brunch seems like a thing for a nice sunny Sunday morning- which of course was all the time back in California, and well, hardly ever here. Mainly though it's because Kym nearly always has her study groups on Sundays and so there's not usually time for brunch.

Anyhow with a friend from San Diego in town and Kym on a break from School we decided to walk down to King Street for a morning meal. we checked out the range of options (Majestic looks like somewhere we should definitely try in the future). In the interests of economy coupled with good reviews plus the sheer quirkiness of the place we decided on Bilbo Baggins.

We have never eaten at Baggins before- just popping in for their delicious beer instead. the place was bustling when we arrived, but nonetheless we were seated straight away by a slightly brusk waiter. Reviews had talked a lot about the raisin bred that is served whilst you wait. Ours was cold, but was still very good- doughy and soft.

I as recommended by several reviewers ordered the Frodo French toast whilst the two women got vegetarian omelettes with the house potatoes. (Sadly the names of the food were really the only hobbit like touches to this restaurant.) Kym got some freshly squeezed grapefruit juice -(which she said was amazing), and we all got coffee. The waitress who took our order was not
exactly friendly (certainly nothing on the great Bilbo himself). The food came almost too quickly- this was not the second breakfast type relaxing Sunday morning meal i had hoped for, but instead a rather rushed affair. The French toast was pretty good- although certianly nothing on that i used enjoy at the Mission. The vegetarian omelettes had no cheese in them- which rather disappointed the girls and made for slightly bland food.

All in all nothing to get excited bout-next time we'll be looking for something little more interesting- even if it means paying few extra bucks.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Lunch at the Smithsonian

With an arty friend in town we've being doing the rounds at the different art galleries and of course all the usually Washington places, monuments and what not. This weekend we went up to the Reynolds center- part of the Smithsonian's American Art museum. Planning to be out the entire day we needed to grab lunch at some point and so we took lunch at the courtyard cafe- which sounded like it would be cold given the name- but in fact was at this great covered courtyard part of the Smithsonian called the Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard. The design is absolutely stunning, with a beautiful wavy roof, gorgeous water features and tall ficus trees.

The food was pricey, but then we were in a tourist trap in the middle of DC. I got roast beef sandwich- which in retrospect was the wrong choice for me. Kym got a portabella panini which she thought was fantastic (although again probably not worth the price.
Still we enjoyed our lunch- the art was fantastic too.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Vegetable Lasagne

Kym is making Lasagna today- hopefully it will last us through the week. She makes it a little bit different each time but I got her to write down her basic recipe to share.


1 large onion (diced)
2 courgettes (diced)
2 peppers (diced)
10 cloves garlic
2 cans chopped tomatoes
handful torn basil
1 cup red wine
cinnamon to taste

1 pack lasagna sheets

1 pint bechemel sauce
2 cartons mushrooms (chopped)
2 cups frozen peas
3 large leeks (chopped)
grated nutmeg to taste
3 eggs

3 handfuls grated cheddar cheese
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 handful of pine nuts.

Basically for this recipe we are making 2 different sauces- the first is a tomato one, and the second a creamy vegetable sauce.

For the first sauce saute up the onions, garlic courgettes and peppers. Then add in the chopped tomatoes, red wine and some balsamic vinegar- simmer for 25 minutes. With 5 minutes left to go add some cinnamon and torn chopped basil.

For the second one- saute the chopped mushrooms in some garlic and white wine and set aside. Steam the leeks and then defrost the peas. Take the bechemel sauce and stir in some grated nutmeg and crack in 3 eggs. Stir in the mixed vegetables.

Layer the lasagne starting with tomato sauce, then sheets of lasagne, then some ricotta and the creamy vegetable sauce. Keep layer and top with grated cheddar cheese.

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. A culinary delight which will last for days and days-especially whilst you are in school and don't have time to cook each night!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Great Customer Service

Wow, I had a really great experience with Z-pizza last night, (although perhaps it only seemed great after the most awful experience we had with Pizza Nova back in San Diego.)

As noted before in this blog we really have come to love Z-pizza- great fresh toppings, interesting combinations, the availability of a wholewheat dough and the ease of the online ordering system unite to make this our first choice any time we want some easy take-out.

So last night we placed an order for half a Napoli pizza (great vegetarian combination) and half a chicken and sausage creation of my own, (the fact that we can do half half pizzas is another reason we love Z- why was pizza nova so staunchly in opposition of this practice?). We also ordered Z-pizza's deal of the month- a free apple pie pizza (more on this later).
When the pizza arrived it was unfortunately- for once- a bit of a disappointment. The two halves had not been kept separate and sausage and chicken were strewn all over Kym's half. Furthmore the fresh basil she had been eagerly anticipated was just not present- nor was the truffle oil I had ordered on my own half.

After our awful experiences with Pizza Nova we were in two minds as to whether to call Z and point out the problems with the pizza. However I am so happy that I did so- they couldn't have been more apologetic. No questions were asked and a credit for the entire pizza was immediately put on our account for the next time we ordered. What a contrast with the lame free $5 dessert and the arrogant argumentative attitude we got from Nova.

Now we come to the next part of our great experience- the apple pie pizza. It was absolutely fantastic! Ordinarily I am not at all fan of dessert pizzas. I remember a place in Brazil Kym and I used to go to when we first met. It was one of these places where you sit down and people come around with every type of pizza you can imagine, and you just eat as much as you want. (For whatever reasons Brazilians seem to love these all you can eat, or food by the kilo restaurants). They had a selection of dessert pizzas at this restaurant and they were all absolutely awful- quince jelly with cheese (gross) and chocolate (overly rich). So we couldn't have been more surprised at how great this apple pie pizza actually was! The apples were cooked in sugar and cinnamon and were absolutely perfect. The dough was sweet and fluffy and the topping of toasted almonds and caramel made for just the right compliment to the apples.

Anyway all this to say- we love you z-pizza. Why can't places see that great customer service will earn you money. Z has our loyalty- Nova completely lost our business

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Leek Thai Green Curry

Leeks are Kym's very favorite vegetable. Back in England her parents grow them in the garden, huge juicy leeks which the family use to make leek and potato soup, leek and cheese pie, and a wonderful pasta dish with mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes among others.

Leeks seem to be far less used over here in the US. Quite in contrast to the somewhat 'peasant' feel they have in Europe, here they seem to always overpriced, and in fact many supermarkets don't even stock them. Despite this I sometimes treat Kym and bring her some home to play with. This presented an interesting challenge recently which ended up demonstrating the culinary power of the Internet.

The day before I brought home the leeks we made the unfortunate mistake of opening a can of coconut milk when we meant to open corn! Coconut milk is unfortunately not something you can throw into a dish willy-nilly, so the following day presented a challenge to find a dish that included both leeks and coconut milk. After a quick google search we were presented with creamy tartlets, Sri Lankan dishes, a plethora of soups, and the dish we finally settled on: a leek thai green curry. It sounds a little odd perhaps but we are all about fusion--and adding potatoes into Indian cuisine certainly did no one any harm.

Here's the recipe (we substituted Quorn for chicken):

1.Heat the butter and olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat.
2. Add the leeks and sauté until caramelised.
3. Add the garlic and curry paste. Cook for 2 minutes.
4. Add the coriander pesto and chicken. Cook for 2 minutes, until browned.
5. Add the stock and coconut milk, and allow to simmer for a few minutes.
6. Add the coriander

I highly recommend the recipe--it turned out delicious!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Zucchini Rolls and Beetroot Salad

I thought it would be good to post some of the great new appertizers we tired out for Christmas. Definitely will be on display at our next dinner party. Thanks Ramsey!

Stuffed Zucchini Rolls

Thinly slice up 4 zucchinis with a peeler or a mandolin

Season the bottom of a baking tray with olive oil, salt and pepper, lay zucchini slices on top and drizzle more olive oil on top. Leave to marinate for about 10-15 minutes.


Take 1 1/2 cups ricotta and add in about 2 T of olive oil plus the juice of half a lemon and some fresh basil chiffonade.

Dry roast 1/4 cup of pine nuts in a pan, tossing them constantly. No oil is required in the pan, remove from heat when pine nuts begin to brown. Leave them to cool down on a plate and then add to the ricotta mixture.

Go back to the courgettes, take the thin end toward you and place a dollop half an inch from the bottom of the slice, then fold over and over with a knife and roll up.

Arrange rolls on a platter and drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the top.

Beetroot Salad

Take 6-7 beetroots- baked or pre-boiled. Cut them in half and then each half into three.

Heat 2 T olive oil in a pan over medium heat and add the beetroots and a pinch of salt.

After 1-2 minutes, add 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar to the pan and allow the vinegar to reduce while carmelizing the beetroots. Beets should turn a dark and rich ruby color. Allow to cool down.

Then get a dry pan and toast 1/4 cup sesame seeds while being very careful to toss frequently in the pan as they can burn easily. Allow them cool down.

Arrange the beets on a plate and take about a 1/2 cup of Roquefort and crumble it over the top. Then take the seeds and sprinkle them over everything.