Thursday, November 20, 2008

Food Protip

Thing I just learned:
Thai garlic and chili sauce, in small amounts, does not take very long to burst all over one's microwave if left uncovered. Like, twenty seconds, tops.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Orzo? I Hardly Know you!

Last night, The Pedant was gracious enough to make dinner and he posted about the prep part for our orzo and broccoli. I enjoyed it a lot - it was very tasty and nutty and quite creamy in fact (well, for a "diet" food). We tried to come up with ways to modify it a bit without making it too unhealthy. Here's what we came up with*:

--Use a fake beef stock (or real?) instead of veggie broth
--potentially make a roux as a thickener, instead of the fat free half and half (also to avoid using an oxymoron)
--increasing the vegetable amount (possibly adding spinach also?) and decreasing the orzo amount.

*The recipe was basically 16 oz. frozen chopped broccoli (thawed), one carrot, pine nuts, 1/4 cup fat free half and half (yes, I know, a real oxymoron!!), garlic, shallots, a vegetable broth and water mixture, and orzo (duh), Parmesan cheese

But it was very tasty. We really enjoyed it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Return to the House of Orzo!

Just sprayed vegetable broth all over the kitchen, but it was worth it for Orzo Night, part II.

Part I was a recipe from the British food blog "Eat Like a Girl," which described orzo with spinach, butternut squash, and ricotta. We left out the pancetta, but it was tasty anyway.

Part II was from a Weight Watchers cookbook that does that annoying thing where the top, middle and bottom of the page all turn separately for a "mix and match" effect. Since the Sherbs and I so rarely prepare three meals at home (bowl of cereal for breakfast, leftovers for lunch), much less three meals from a Weight Watchers cookbook (as opposed to our stanbys Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian) the mix and match is wasted on us.

Regardless, it was an orzo recipe with broccoli, carrot, and lots of vegetable broth, which is ladled in slowly during the cooking process. There is a technical term for this, but other than "causing the Pedant motor difficulties while ladeling with his left hand and stirring with his right," I don't know what it is. It seems to have come out tasty, but we haven't had dinner yet - I'm waiting for the Sherbs to get back.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I had some great leftovers for lunch.

Mark Bittman's vegetarian cookbook had a forty-minute soup which is just as good, if not better, the second day. It's Korean-inspired, and involves frying up some carrots, garlic, daikon, chili peppers, and cabbage in sesame oil, then adding vegetable stock and letting it cook.

It worked out really well, although next time I'm trying "beef" stock. Also, I'm getting Asian chilis from the "Bangkok 54" grocery, next to the "looks way better on the website than it does in reality" restaurant of the same name.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Goat Cheese and Honey

The Pedant gave a good round up of our time at the wineries. I also enjoyed it and found the tasting at Vintage Ridge Winery really interesting. With the extra bites to eat (not just crackers) and the generous tastes, they let us linger and talk and really enjoy the experience. The best part was in the desert platter: Goat Cheese with Honey. It was really very good. We ate it with their dessert wine a wine not as sweet as the others we've had, purchased a year ago, or very recently, but very tasty. We first were told to eat it with a slice of bleu cheese (tart) and then try it with goat cheese and honey (sweet) and have some bites of things in the middle. The bleu cheese was very good but the goat cheese surprised me. I've had Greek yogurt with honey which is creamy and tangy and sweet. I expected this to taste the same since it has a similar look on a mini fork, but it was oh so much better. Really very good. Bravo whoever thought this up!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

(Everything But) Strawberry Wine

It was time again for The Sherbs and I to head out to Virginia's wineries, and this time, we hit two of the more upscale establishments, both in scenic Delaplane, home of the Delaplane Strawberry Festival.

1) The Barrel Oak Winery is most notable for its dog-friendliness policy; one can bring one's dog right up to the bar for tastings. They also had some good wines; we bought their norton and a late harvest viognier, the latter mostly so we won't feel guilty drinking the late harvest viognier we already have.

2) The Vintage Ridge Winery is a swank place. Go for a tasting, and you get a sit down experience with plates of small cheeses, crackers, and meats, plus a dessert selection. Plus, they're pretty liberal with the pouring. We bought the syrah (which, unlike some, did not have a controversial name making us less likely to drink it) and the "Summer Night," which was a vidal blanc.

The Vintage Ridge Winery also sells some of the condiments they put in their tasting plate; we bought the Virginia Chutney Company's "spicy plum" chutney, which was awesome, and Golding Farms "pepper trio" mustard, which will change the way we eat cheese sandwiches forever.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Party Aftermath

Okay, time to take the bumper magnet off the car; election's over, don't need people to know who I voted for through Christmas.

Sadly, The Sherbs did not become a member of the Arlington County School Board, even though I wrote her in; she was outvoted by 30,000 and 40,000 votes, respectively, by the two incumbents (and only people on the ballot). Maybe next time.

As for the party itself, the foods worked out. The pizza was very tasty, mostly thanks to Costco - adding Dole pineapple chunks and fake ham didn't ruin it, although the cheese didn't get as brown as I would have liked. The Vietnamese rolls were pretty good, although not as good as party food as I'd have hoped; rice paper is not a tortilla, it sort of sticks and stretches as you eat it, so you really need a fork. Wegman's makes great honey roasted peanuts.

I drank a bottle of Brooklyn Brewery's Black Chocolate Stout, which is sort of a Presidential election tradition for me. It is my favorite chocolate-flavored beer.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Almost got the Rathbone

So, I decided on the final menu for the party. Joining Hawaiian pizza and Vietnamese rolls will be honey-roasted peanuts (for Biden, because: Amtrak), and baked Alaska if one of my guests makes it.

For the Vietnamese rolls, I needed Thai basil. Sadly, the Teet does not carry it. H-mart probably does, though, which is good, although, like my previous trip to the H-mart, it is not so easy to find things if you don't read Korean. Also: the people in the produce area do not know the English terms for Asian vegetables.

I think what I bought is Thai basil. It doesn't really look like the Wikipedia picture, but it smells right. The scan on the cash register said "Taiwanese basil." The shelf I grabbed it from is labeled "culantro."

So, it may be time for a food adventure.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Squashing Enemies!

Yesterday morning The Pedant and I chose our menu for the week. TP had a craving for squash, a tasty, tasty fall veggie, and we looked for a recipe. As usual, Mark Bittman came through with a spicy squash gallette, which we modified to a bit healthier version. Sadly, (or happily?) I didn't help with the dinner prep since i was on the phone with my sister and married a wonderful cook, but I will try to recreate the recipe:

Saute a red onion in some oil. Add some minced garlic (PS: Best invention ever - GARLIC PRESSES!) until it smells awesome. Put in a mini can of tomato paste and loads of spices (especially cayenne). Add some wine (finally, a use for the spicy apple wine TP acquired). Put in some sliced winter squash and warm. Put in pie crust (TP used a thin layer of panko instead of an unhealthy pie crust), bake for an hour. Watch The Tick and enjoy.

The outcome was fantastic. Also the Tick is fantastic. But mostly the tasty, tasty squash.