Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Countless Ways to Use Black Beans

Ok…it’s really the countless variations of one really good black bean dish that I can make. But that title would have been too long.

Prepare black beans according to this recipe. Place beans in a soup bowl, add some shredded cheddar cheese on top, and a sunny-side up egg. Add sour cream or salsa as a garnish and chow down!

Instead of egg, you can add 1 cooked chicken breast, cut into cubes.

Instead of egg or chicken, you can add shrimp. Just sauté them in some olive oil and garlic until they become opaque and add them to the black beans.

Instead of egg, chicken or shrimp….well, be creative and let me know what you decide on.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007


I always have these great plans to cook a splendid meal for Oscar night. I think about the menu, and the dessert that I would bravely attempt. I go so far as to purchase all of the ingredients the day before the big event, so as not to detract from my task at hand on the day of. But something always inevitably happens to me the morning of the Academy Awards. This sort or…

Culinary Let Down…

This is how the "culinary let down" plays out for most people (or maybe just one person in particular, who happens to live on the East Coast, maybe…like…say Maryland, for instance...)

You wake up groggy, engage in your morning ritual of coffee and, since it is a Sunday, eat a breakfast, which doesn’t consist of a cheese stick. Then, you plop yourself down on the couch in anticipation of the big awards show. Mind you, this is about 10 hours before the actual show starts. By the time you should begin preparing your meticulously planned meal, your eyes are heavy from t.v. watching or reading, your legs are tingly from having a 16 pound cat on them for most of the day, and the only real task which your hands want to engage in is pushing the buttons on a phone to order take out. Before you know it, the pizza man is at your front door and you are handing over your money as if in a trance. The thin crust mushroom and jalapeno pizza is tasty. But not as tasty as the meal you should have prepared had you gotten your butt off the couch and into the kitchen. You eventually succumb to the fact that you are... LAZY!

And then you realize, two hours into the Oscar show, that it really is a boring Awards show, and that spending inordinate amounts of time preparing a meal for a show which features a pilobolus act is not really worth it. You realize that it’s ok that you didn’t make your meal because you would be wasting fresh ingredients and your valuable t.v. time cooking in honor of a show that, well…sucks.

Instead, you decide to save your precious ingredients and valuable time for a WAH Day!

Achar Chicken

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed

3 T vegetable oil

1 tsp. garlic, minced

1 tsp. ginger paste

1 ½ tsp. ground cumin

1 ½ tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. mustard seeds

1 tsp. cumin seeds

1 dried red chili

1 garlic clove, sliced thinly

Juice of 1 lemon

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

¼ tsp. turmeric

1 cup water

Part I:

In a medium-sized pot, add chicken, minced garlic, ginger paste, cayenne pepper, salt, turmeric and 1 cup of water. Simmer until chicken is tender – approximately 10 minutes.

Once the chicken is tender, add ground cumin and coriander, and the juice of 1 lemon. Simmer until the water has evaporated.

Part II:

In a small pan, heat on low 3 T of vegetable oil, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, dry chili pepper, and sliced garlic cloves. Once the seeds start to brown, add the entire oil mixture over the chicken. Allow the chicken to cook for another 5 minutes.

Serve with basmati rice or naan.

Bombay Potatoes

2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 T Olive Oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 green chili, finely chopped
1 tsp. minced ginger
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
Chopped fresh cilantro

Boil the cubed potatoes until tender - about 8-10 minutes. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat, brown the cumin seeds, then add green chili and minced ginger. Add cayenne pepper and ground coriander. Add the potatoes and cook for a few minutes. Add lemon juice, salt, and cilantro and cook for another 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

French Onion Salisbury Steak with Cheese Toast

I got this recipe in the mail. Who knew it would go in my favorites pile??

French Onion Salisbury Steak (adapted from Cuisine At Home)

Serves 4

1 lb. ground beef

¼ cup fresh minced parsley

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. black pepper

2 T all-purpose flour

1 T olive oil

2 cups onions, sliced

1 tsp. sugar

1 T garlic, minced

1 T tomato paste

2 cups beef broth

¼ dry red wine

¾ tsp. salt

½ tsp. dried thyme

Combine the ground beef, parsley, salt and pepper. Make 4 one-inch oval patties. Place 1 T of flour in a shallow dish and dredge each patty through the flour. Heat 1 T of oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add patties and sauté 3 mins on each side, or until browned. Remove from pan. Add onions and sugar to pan; sauté five minutes. Stir in garlic and tomato paste; sauté 1 minute, or until paste begins to brown. Sprinkle onions with 1 T flour; cook 1 minute. Stir in broth and wine, then add the salt & thyme. Return meat to pan and bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, simmer 10 mins .

***Ahhh...two steaks in love....

Serve the steaks on Cheese Toasts with onion soup laded over.

Cheese Toasts

4 slices French bread or baguette, cut diagonally (1/2 inch thick)

2 T softened butter

½ tsp. garlic, minced

¼ cup Swiss Cheese (I didn’t have any, so I just used the parmesan)

1 T grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place bread on a baking sheet.

Combine butter and garlic and spread on one side of each slice of bread.

Combine cheeses and sprinkle evenly over butter.

Bake until bread is crisp and cheese is bubbly.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

WAH Day – Chicken Kebabs with Cilantro Sauce

Chicken Kebabs (patty-style)

1 lb. ground chicken or beef

¼ cup chopped onion

1 jalapeno, finely chopped

1 tsp. dried mint

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 garlic clove, minced

¼ tsp. salt

Preheat broiler. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Form mixture into 4 hamburger-sized patties. Broil patties for 12 to 14 minutes. Serve the patties with the sauce below.

Spicy Cilantro Sauce – can be eaten with fish or chicken (I think that this recipe comes from FOOD & WINE magazine)

½ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves

½ cup fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves

2 shallots, chopped

1 large garlic clove, chopped

2 tsp grated fresh gingerroot

½ tsp cumin seeds

¼ tsp dried hot red pepper flakes

¼ cup plus 1 T water

1 tsp vegetable oil

2 T soy sauce

2 T fresh lemon juice

  1. Have ready a bowl of ice water. In a small saucepan of boiling water blanch cilantro and parsley 10 seconds and drain in a sieve. Refresh herbs in ice water and drain in sieve. (I omitted this step because, really, who has the time?).

  2. In a small nonstick skillet, cook shallots, garlic, ginger, cumin, and red pepper flakes in 1 T water and oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until shallots are softened.

  3. In a blender, puree shallot mixture, herbs, remaining ¼ cup water, and soy sauce until smooth, about 1 minute, and season with salt and pepper.

  4. Bring sauce to room temp before serving. THIS IS KEY!

  5. Just before serving, stir in lemon juice.

Sauce may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.

*Did she not think that I could see her eyeing the bowl?

Bibi's Bhendi and Saffron Orzo

After eating mostly junk this past weekend, I wanted something semi-healthy and spicy. I decided on Bibi’s Bhendi with some saffron orzo.

Bibi used to make bhendi for me when I was a child. I LOVED her bhendi – the blend of the odd-textured okra with the spices and tamarind was too good even for a young kid like myself, who did not care for green vegetables, to pass up. Every time I make this dish now, I think of Bibi cooking in the kitchen and me alongside as her sous chef. She encouraged me so much in the kitchen, it was awesome. Sometimes I think that I enjoy cooking so much because it gives me time to just remember her.

Bibi’s Bhendi (Indian Style Okra)

3 T chopped onions

¼ tsp salt

1/8 tsp turmeric

½ tsp cayenne pepper

Handful of chopped cilantro

Serrano chili, diced

3 tomatoes – chopped

1 lb okra, sliced in half-inch pieces (I use frozen cut okra – it’s easier and tastes just as good)

½ tsp tamarind paste (you can find this in any Asian supermarket or at Whole Foods)

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 T water

Heat oil in a medium-sized pot; add onions and sautee until soft. Add tomatoes, salt, turmeric, cayenne pepper, cilantro, and Serrano chili and simmer until tomatoes are soft. This should take about 5-7 minutes. Add okra, water, and tamarind, and simmer until okra is soft. Stir often. This should take about 10 minutes. Serve with the orzo (recipe below) or with basmati rice.

Saffron Orzo (adapted from Giada DeLaurentis)

5 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 pound dried orzo
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

In a large pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, bringing the stock to a simmer. Add the saffron, stir, and allow the saffron to bloom, about 5 minutes. Return the heat to medium and the stock to a boil, then add the orzo and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain orzo and transfer to a large bowl. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and parsley. Toss to combine.

Yield: 6 servings

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Out of the Kitchen

Sorry for the lack of posts this past week, but I haven't been doing much cooking on account of being busy with my real job and being out of town for the long weekend. But I promise to return next week with some good eats.

This is what you can look forward to next week:
Dhesi Chicken patties
Bibi's Bhendi (Indian Okra)
Eggs with Tomato Curry

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Wishful Thinking

Right now, there are bits of ice spitting from the sky and creating a frozen pond-like effect on the driveway. If this was happening in another part of the country, I would think it was pretty. But it's not. It's happening here.

Needless to say, I wish I was in a warmer climate, eating tacos and sipping frozen drinks.

Instead, I'm sitting in a frigid climate, eating tacos and sipping frozen drinks...not bad.

Black Bean Tacos with Guacamole
Serves 2

Black Bean Tacos
1 15.5 oz can of black beans
1 T olive or vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
1/2 red or green bell pepper, diced
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. salt
4-6 hard shell tacos, or flour or corn tortillas

For taco fixings:
Shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream
Any kind of salsa

1. In a medium sized pot, heat the oil on medium-high heat.
2. Add the onions and sautee until they are soft.
3. Add the black beans, bell pepper, tomato, cumin, chili powder and salt. Mix well and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes on medium heat.
4. While the beans are simmering, heat the hard tacos per the directions on the box. If using flour or corn tortillas, heat for 2-3 minutes in a 425 degree oven.
5. When the beans are done, place a heaping spoonful of beans in the taco shell or tortilla first, then add your choice of fixings, and then add the guacamole last.


1 avocado, ripe
1 T diced onion
1 T diced tomato
1 tsp. diced jalapeno pepper (optional)
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 T chopped fresh cilantro
¼ tsp salt

Remove the flesh of the avocado and place it in a small bowl. Mash the avocado with a fork. Add the rest of the ingredients into the bowl and mix well. Don’t make the avocado smooth – leave it a little chunky, it tastes better that way.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Mom's Black Pepper Chicken

In the past few years, my mom has become quite an amazing cook. This recipe comes from her extensive repertoire of delicious foods.

Mom's Black Pepper Chicken

1 whole cut up chicken (2 lbs)
1 tsp. garlic, minced
1 tsp. ginger, minced
2 T whole black pepper
4 T Olive oil
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground black pepper
1.5 tsp white vinegar
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped

1. Wash chicken pieces and set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in large pan, and add onions. Sautee the onions until they become soft.
3. Add the chicken pieces, garlic, ginger, and whole black pepper.
4. Cook the chicken until it becomes lightly browned.
5. Add ground pepper, vinegar, tomato – sautee and simmer for 15-20 minutes until chicken is tender.

Serve with rice.


Shrimp Curry

The other day I was dreaming about going home and making some chipotle burgers. I even went so far as to tell all my coworkers that my dinner would be some spicy burgers with sweet potato fries. But when I got home…the meat was rancid. Yup, that “Good Before…” date said “Good Before 2/5/07” UGH! The meat smelled pretty atrocious. Because I was starving and I had my heart set on cooking, I had to come up with another dish using only the ingredients I had available in my pathetic looking fridge. This is what I made…

Looks pretty good, huh?

Shrimp Curry
Serves 4

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
5 fresh curry leaves
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tomato chopped
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 pounds of peeled and deveined shrimp

¼ cup water

2 T chopped cilantro

1. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium high heat.

2. Add the onions and cook until they are soft. Then add the curry leaves, garlic, ginger, salt and coriander. Mix all the ingredients in the pan.

3. Add the turmeric, salt, tomato, cayenne pepper, shrimp, cilantro, and water.

4. Reduce the heat to medium cook for 5-7 minutes, until shrimp are cooked through.

You can serve this with naan or rice.

Gallery Restaurant and Lounge

Gallery Restaurant and Lounge is a fairly new eatery in Silver Spring. It has received great reviews for its Nuevo Latino cuisine. Since the once up-and-coming Silver Spring has now sprung, it feels urban enough to have its own Restaurant Week, and guess which restaurant was on the list…exactly. So, on Friday night, we braved the cold to try out the goods at Gallery, and it was worth it.

My first impression when I walked into the restaurant was “Wow, I’m so not hip enough to be here.” That impression basically remained throughout our entire 2 hour meal. The restaurant is built in an old factory building. The first floor has a lounge/bar type atmosphere. The second floor is the restaurant/dance floor/VIP area. Yup, it even has a VIP area! As you can imagine, after seeing all of this, I figured that the food would be subpar – that the restaurant was more interested in maintaining an atmosphere of hip-ness rather than food-ness. I was wrong. The food was actually quite good.

M decided to order off of the regular menu, which meant mostly tapas, and I decided to go with the Restaurant Week menu. I started with the Chicken Chili Soup, which came with fancy looking tortilla chips and sour cream. The soup was good, not great. It could have had a bit more kick to it.

For my entrée, I ordered the latin version of Moules Frites, which was mussels with fried yucca. The mussels were fantastic!! They were juicy and fresh, and the fried yucca was perfect as well. I could have just sopped up all of the mussel broth with the fried yucca, and I tried, but it didn’t work out as well as I was hoping.

For dessert, I was wavering between the guava cheesecake and the Mexican chocolate ice cream. Just guess which one I chose…YUP, I went with the ice cream. It was soooo good – very creamy, with almond slivers, shaved chocolate pieces, and a mélange of spices.

Overall, our meal was great. We decided we would go back to Gallery again – just maybe on the earlier side, so we don’t feel so unhip.

Garlicky Pastaragus

If you want garlic oozing from your pores, this easy weeknight meal should do the trick.

Garlicky Pastaragus
Serves 2

8 oz. cooked penne or fusilli pasta
5 or 6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 lb of asparagus, cut into one inch pieces
2 T grated parmesan cheese
Salt, to taste

1. In a large pan, heat the olive oil and garlic over medium high heat.
2. Let garlic brown slightly, but don't let it burn.
3. Add asparagus, and sautee until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
4. Add chili flakes and stir.
5. Add the cooked pasta to the asparagus sautee and mix together well.
6. Add parmesan to the pasta and mix well.


Tony's Take On...

Anthony Bourdain enlightens us with his take on the Food Network Chefs.

b/t/w - his views on Sandra Lee are spot on!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007


It’s FREEZING in D.C. today. It’s sooo cold that your nose hairs can even gather icicles. In light of this ghastly weather, I decided that some nice spicy chicken chili was needed to ward off the cold weather blues, and clear the sinuses, of course. You can make this chili with ground beef, but I often make it with ground chicken, just because it’s healthier. You can buy ground chicken at Whole Foods Market or if you are really adventurous, you can make it yourself in a food processor using skinless, boneless chicken breasts. Also, you can adjust the spice level to your taste.

Q’s Chicken Chili
Serves 4

1 lb ground chicken (or ground beef)
1 can kidney beans, undrained
1 can whole tomatoes
1 packet McCormick’s Chili Seasoning
1 red or green bell pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
Shredded cheddar cheese
Jalapeno peppers from a jar – chopped
Hot Sauce to taste

In a large pot, cook the chicken or beef; once the meat is cooked, add the Chili Seasoning packet, the can of kidney beans, the can of tomatoes, and the bell pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Add onion, cheddar cheese, jalapeno peppers as toppings. If you prefer, you can cook the onions with the ground meat at the beginning of the process - that way, you don't have to contend with raw onion breath.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Eggspectation = Eggcellent!!!

My friend Glick was in town this weekend, so on Saturday morning, we met up with him for brunch. Since he is oh-so-accommodating, he agreed to meet us in Silver Spring. After much deliberation, i.e., two minutes, we decided to go to Eggspectation!!! I LOVE eggs (which could be a factor in my high cholesterol, don’t you think?). I love eggs over pasta; I love eggs with rice; I love eggs with black beans; I love them scrambled, omelette’d, or sunny-side up. The best is having a sunny-side egg with the runny yoke, and dumping some Tabasco on it, then using some crusty bread to sop up all the runny goodness – damn that’s good!

Ok, back to Eggspectation…there are only four Eggspectations in the U.S. (and surprisingly, two in India) and we are blessed to have one of those four only a mile from the house. The line was atrocious when we got there, so by the time we were seated, about 45 minutes later, we were all starving.

I ordered the Oy Vegg, which is what I usually get from there because it is sooo good. The menu describes it as this: Potato Latkes with two eggs (any style), grilled tomatoes, and sour cream, served with chef’s fruit garnish. You’re such a “Mensch”. Because I love the runny yoke, I ordered my eggs sunny-side up. It was fantastic! All the yummy goodness with sour cream and latkes – you can just imagine. I ordered some turkey bacon on the side because their TB is usually much better than anywhere else, i.e., not card-boardy. Unfortunately, the TB was cold this time around, but it still tasted decent.

Anyways, I urge anyone who has the opportunity to go to an Eggspectation to go – it’s too good to pass up!

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Date with Me, Myself, and I

I was on my own for dinner tonight. This basically meant SUSHI for me!!! Most people have trouble going to a restaurant by themselves because they are afraid of looking sad and pathetic to other patrons…but I’m not most people. I have no problem sitting at a table by me lonesome with a great book and a plate of yummy food in front of me. I could sit for hours reading and eating. But alas, I don't have the luxury of such time. The two girls at home needed to be fed their chicken giblet dinner (topped w/ tuna flavored prozac, of course), so my time was slightly constrained.

Tonight I opted for spending my free time at Sushi Jin in Silver Spring. Sushi Jin is a fairly new restaurant in the area and of course, if they have great food and a knowledgeable and courteous wait staff, I’ll support the newbies in town.

By the time I left work tonight, I was starving. So, I grabbed my book (Murder in Amsterdam – it’s a little heavy), my fat coat, gloves and beanie, and headed out for my own personal date.

When I got to the restaurant, it was fairly early still, so they offered me a booth. I started with Seafood Gyogo, which are pan-fried dumplings filled with minced seafood. Hmm....not so much. While the taste was good, the texture threw me - papery. For my sushi, I ordered a shrimp tempura roll, a spicy tuna roll, and salmon sashimi. All of the sushi was excellent, and the salmon was so fresh and velvety! I loved it. Overall, it was a very good meal.

Leah was a little suspicious of my delay in getting home this evening. Maybe the smell of raw fish on my fingers didn’t help. She eyed me suspiciously all night…