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Eggplant Relish Pasta Sauce/Crostini

28 Aug

Leftover pasta tossed with eggplant relish and feta

Anyone who knows me is aware of my love of purple, so it should come as no surprise that when I saw bright purple mini-eggplants at the farmers market, I had to buy a couple.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have a plan for what I would actually do with them, so a week or so went by before I got around to finding a recipe to use them in.  Luckily the eggplants were still usable, and I found a very yummy-sounding recipe in Emeril Lagasse’s “Farm to Fork” for Eggplant Relish Crostini.  I had some miscellaneous pasta leftover, so decided to use this relish type thing as a topping/sauce for pasta instead of on bread.  There are lots of rumors about eggplant being hard to get right as it can remain bitter when cooked, but this was pretty simple, and absolutely delicious.  The eggplant shrinks down a lot, so it doesn’t make a huge amount, and next time I will definitely make more and buy some bread to make the crostini.  I used sundried tomatoes instead of roasted red peppers because I had those in my fridge, but the tomato flavor really came through and were one of the highlights of the dish, so I would use them again instead of red peppers.  This does have a quite long list of ingredients, but most of the ingredients are fridge/pantry staples anyway, so this could be an easy weeknight dinner or a great party appetizer served on toasted bread.

Eggplant Relish Crostini/Pasta Sauce
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s Farm to Fork
Makes about 3 1/2 cups relish

Equipment: Knife, peeler, frying pan, wooden spoon,

Ingredients
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 pounds eggplant (about 2 large), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup sundried tomatoes stored in olive oil (about 3 from a jar)
1 1/2 tablespoons basil leaves, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped nonpareil capers
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper/red pepper flakes
Crumbled feta cheese for garnish
French bread brushed with olive oil and toasted (for crostini)

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat.  Add half of the cubed eggplant and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Cook, stirring often, until eggplant is tender and caramelized, about 8-10 minutes. Remove to a bowl and repeat with the remaining eggplant.  Set eggplant aside until cooled to room temperature.

Add all of the remaining ingredients to the cooled eggplant (except feta and bread, if using), and stir gently to combine.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.  Set relish aside for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to mingle.  To serve, toss with pasta and top with crumbled feta, or serve on toasted rounds of bread drizzled with olive oil and topped with feta.

Walnut Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

22 Aug

Banana bread with chocolate and walnuts

Is it really the 22nd of August- when did that happen?? Clearly the summer has gotten away from me, as I was in England and Italy for the first half of the month and barely had time to recover before going to New York to pack up our house before my parents’ impending move.  Given that I start grad school next week, I have a feeling my posts will be getting even more infrequent, but I do have a stack of things to post over the next few weeks.  I will start with this, which is sure to relieve any start of school stress we may be experiencing.

As usual, we had some almost-rotten fruit sitting in our fruit bowl  which had to be eaten immediately, so I decided to try out this recipe for banana bread from Smitten Kitchen.  Of course, I had the wrong pan so decided I would make the bread into brownie-sized pieces, and once I decided that I thought I might as well throw some chocolate chips and walnuts into the mix.  The result was wonderful, and lasted for over a week kept in the fridge.  Although the chocolate chips and butter don’t make this the healthiest breakfast, it is certainly one of the most tasty.

Walnut Chocolate Chip Bread
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Equipment: Large mixing bowl, wooden spoon, 9×13 pan or 4×8 loaf pan

Ingredients
4 very ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted salted butter (add a bit more salt if you have unsalted)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped finely

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl.  Mix in the sugar, egg, vanilla, and then the spices.  Make sure to mix in the egg well.  Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in.  Add the flour and mix.  Finally, add the chocolate chips and walnuts and mix to incorporate.  Pour mixture into a buttered 9×13 pan, and bake for about 30 minutes.  Check after 25 minutes to see if a knife or toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Allow to cool for a few minutes, cut into squares and enjoy!  Keeps well at room temperature or refrigerated, stored in clingfilm or tinfoil.

Corn Risotto and Stuffed Risotto Balls

23 Jul

Fried risotto balls!

I have been seeing delicious corn recipes all over the place recently- charred corn salsa, corn tacos, grilled corn with feta, but yet when I impulsively bought two ears of corn at the farmers market I was at a loss for what to do with them. I decided to make risotto, and threw in some snow peas for good measure.  The fresh corn goes well with creamy risotto, and both the corn and the snow peas add a crunch to the finished dish.  In addition to the Parmesan that goes into pretty much any risotto, I crumbled feta in right at the end and sprinkled some on top of the risotto.  It was a delicious and filling summery dish, and (bonus!) I was able to make fried and stuffed risotto balls with the copious leftovers.

Yum corn risotto

Since risotto is a dish that needs to be made in large amounts I am always able to make at least three meals out of a batch, but this time I decided to play around and make risotto balls stuffed with mozzarella and fried.  The result was arguably even better than the risotto was when I first made it.  The cold risotto is mixed with breadcrumbs, egg, and more herbs, then a cube of mozzarella or other melty cheese is placed in the middle of a golf-ball sized risotto ball, and they are rolled in more breadcrumbs and fried to golden brown perfection.  These would make a great appetizer or starter at a party, but for me, several of them made an extremely satisfying dinner.

Fresh Corn and Snap Pea Risotto
Serves 6

Ingredients
6 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 1/2 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup fresh corn kernels (from 2-3 ears of corn)
5 oz snow peas, chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 cup crumbled Feta chees
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

After chopping the vegetables, bring the chicken stock and bay leaf to a simmer in a medium saucepan.  In a large pan heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions to the oil and sautee for 2-3 minutes, until softened.  Next add the rice and cook until opaque, about 3 minutes.  Add wine and cook until absorbed, another minute or so.  Then begin adding the stock, 1 cup at a time.  Add each cup of stock and cook over medium heat until absorbed, stirring frequently.  When the stock is absorbed into the rice add the next cup, and continue until all of the stock is gone and risotto is cooked, about 25 minutes.  Stir in the Parmesan, butter, basil, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Crumble the feta into the risotto and mix in, then sprinkle plates with more feta if desired.

Stuffed Risotto Balls
Adapted from Giada de Laurentis’ Everyday Italian

Ingredients
Serves 4-6 (I assume as an appetizer, as I ate all of mine.)

2 cups cooked and cooled risotto
1 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
Vegetable oil for frying

Put 1 cup of breadcrumbs in a shallow dish.  In a bowl combine 1/2 cup of the breadcrumbs, the risotto, Parmesan, basil, and eggs.  Mix to combine, and then begin to form the balls.  With damp hands take about 2 tablespoons of the risotto mixture and shape into golf-ball sized balls.  Make an indent in the center of the risotto ball and add a cube of mozzarella, then cover the whole.  Roll the risotto balls into the breadcrumbs to coat. In a large saucepan, add about an inch of vegetable oil.  Heat over medium-high heat until about 350 degrees- to test without a thermometer fry a piece of bread in the oil, it should brown in about 2 minutes.  In batches, fry the rice balls, turning occasionally, until golden brown- about 4-5 minutes.  Take out of the oil and drain on paper towels before serving.

Resturant Review: Founding Farmers Brunch

12 Jul

Heaven in a brown paper bag.

Brunch. Founding Farmers. These are two of my favorite things, and combine them with a group of friends reminiscing on the previous night’s activities, some bloody marys and fried dough topped with sugar, and you have a pretty perfect couple of hours.  Founding Farmers has delicious food for all three meals- their mission is to support farmers and provide sustainable and quality food options, which means everything is very fresh and very delicious.  If it weren’t for the excellent brunch items I would say save a trip there for the dinner menu, which includes steak, maple glazed salmon, and amazing flatbreads.  But since they do also serve one of the best brunches in DC, you will have to resign yourself to trying multiple meals there.

Chicken and waffles and gravy, oh my.

I’ve been to Founding Farmers for brunch before, but this article on their beignets meant I was clearly well past due for another trip.  I am usually a strict savory breakfast type, but sweet menu offerings such as overstuffed French toast, which comes stacked like bricks on a extra-large plate, and the aforementioned beignets have me rethinking my eggs-and-bacon loyalties.  We got an order of beignets for the table, and literally ceased talking for 5 minutes as everyone devoured the crispy and sweet fried dough topped with powdered sugar and served with chocolate, caramel, and raspberry dipping sauces.  For my brunch main course, only after much consideration and indecisiveness, I ordered the Chicken and Waffles- one large waffle with two eggs, a crispy chicken tender, white gravy and maple syrup.  Although this had a lot going on, all of the flavors and textured melded perfectly together, to the point where I was eating bites of chicken and waffle with both the syrup and gravy heaped over top.  The white gravy was creamy and flavorful, and the chicken was cooked to a perfect crispness.  My only minor complaint is that the poached eggs were from a mold, which weirdly rubs me the wrong way, because eggs should not be shaped like cones (told you it was a minor complaint).

One serious bloody mary.

Other orders at the table included the Pastrami Hash, which looked and tasted delicious, although seemed like much less food than the other over-sized offerings.  I am tempted to try that and some of the other hash dishes in the future though, as well as the pan scrambles.  I was also convinced to try my first Bloody Mary here- I’m usually more of a mimosa girl, but figured the Founding Farmer’s Bloody Mary would be a pretty excellent one as an introduction.  I wasn’t wrong- it was very peppery and filling, and certainly woke you up in the morning.  It took me the better part of an hour to finish the whole thing due to the spicy-tomatoy-ness, but I would definitely count it as a new-experience success.  All in all, there was not much about this brunch I would change (the business of Founding Farmers on a Sunday morning is one drawback, but Founding Farmers is always busy so I usually assume I won’t be seated until 15 minutes after my reservation anyway), and I only wish I had room in my stomach for more than one main course with all of their selections.

Homemade Pico de Gallo and Guacamole

8 Jul

Yum Pico!

This post is well past due, as Mexican food is one of my favorite cuisines (the margaritas may have something to do with this), and guacamole is my favorite Mexican condiment.  I first made this for a barbecue a few weeks ago, and made it again for camping this past weekend.  Although fresh guacamole really doesn’t keep more than 24 hours, it worked well for camping, as I made the pico de gallo and then brought the whole avocados, so all we had to do campfire-side was cut and mash up the avocados and mix the whole thing together.  Some of our group was napping in our tent during the guacamole making/eating, and we only very half-hardheartedly yelled down the path to tell them about it.  Hey, no one wants to share guacamole.  It’s not like they starved, I promise- camping meals included lamb burgers, greek salad, bbq chicken, spicy sausages, and chocolate chip/walnut/raisin cookies.  Clearly we don’t mess around when it comes to food, even if it does have to be cooked over a fire.

Buttery Avocado Deliciousness

To make the pico and guac, you just have to chop up some vegetables and herbs, season with lime and salt, and mash with very ripe avocados.  Although I am sometimes weary of lots of heat, the jalapenos do add a great extra kick to the pico, and they don’t make it overly spicy at all, especially if you take out most of the membrane and seeds.  The most important thing for both of these is to taste and adjust the seasonings at least once- our resident Cali-girl Alicia was an expert at getting the perfect lime to salt to avocado ratio, and you can be too as long as you keep adjusting the flavor until you have perfect guacamole.  Just be careful not to set the plate down unattended, this stuff goes pretty fast.

Pico de Gallo
Makes one small bowl

Ingredients
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/3 onion, diced
1-2 jalapenos, diced (seeded and de-membraned if you’re spice-adverse)
1/2 bunch cilantro, or to taste
Lime juice from half a lime
Salt to taste

Chop up all the ingredients and add to a medium sized bowl.  Use less cilantro if you want, just discard the stems and chop up the leaves roughly. Mix together, add lime juice and salt to taste.  Pico will keep in the fridge for a few days.

Guacamole
Serves about 4

5 whole avocados
Pico de Gallo
Lime juice from half a lime
Salt to taste

Cut the avocados in half lengthwise, and take out the pit (I use a knife to stab it and rotate, but assume no responsibility if someone chops off their hand with this method).  Scoop out all of the avocado flesh using a spoon, and place all of the avocados on a plate.  Mash with a fork, but leave chunky.  Add a pile of pico de gallo to the avocados and mix together.  Season with lime and salt to taste, and add more pico if desired.  Keeps 24 hours, covered with clingfilm in the fridge.

Mushroom and Spinach Quesadillas

23 Jun

Quesadillas!!

Mmmm Mexican food.  It is one of my favorite cuisines- just tonight I was planning on going to yoga, got hungry, and ate a burrito instead.  Story of my life.  These mushroom and spinach quesadillas with goat cheese are not really Mexican-y, but they do demonstrate how easy quesadillas are to make with a variety of fillings.  The main filling is mushrooms cooked with wine and spinach, combined with not one but two types of cheese. They were simple to make and assemble, and I’ve made a few more quesadillas since using leftovers such as the grilled chicken we made over the weekend.

The assembly process

I made these particular quesadillas twice in one week to use up all of the ingredients, and altered them slightly the second time to improve them.  Fontina cheese was suggested, but I didn’t want to buy yet another type of cheese when I currently have NINE different varieties in my fridge (Yes, nine. I just checked. And that doesn’t include what my roommate has. We may have a slight cheese-obsession).  I tried these with mozzarella, but I found the texture to stringy for quesadillas, so I used my cheddar/Gruyere mix the next time which was much better in terms of both texture and flavor.  I think any mildly flavored cheddar or non-soft cheese would work just fine.  When assembling the quesadillas, just make sure that the non-soft cheese is both the bottom and top layer, as this is what keeps the whole thing from falling apart.  I also added some onions and garlic to the veggies the second time around, which greatly upped the interest, and put more wine in the mushrooms.  The end result was delicious, and to continue with the Mexican theme look out for a homemade guacamole recipe in the next few days!

Mushroom and Spinach Quesadillas
Adapted from Pioneer Woman
Makes 1 quesadilla, serves 1 for dinner

Equipment: Knife, frying pan, grill pan (or reuse a large frying pan), cheese grater

Ingredients
1/2 pint cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 bag baby spinach
1 clove garlic
1 shallot or about 1/4 an onion, diced
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup wine or sherry
2 large flour tortillas
3 oz grated cheese such as Fontina or cheddar
2 oz goat cheese
Salt and pepper
Extra butter for tortillas
Salsa for serving (optional)

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat and add sliced mushrooms, garlic, and onion.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and saute for 2 minutes, then add wine and continue cooking until the liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are brown, another 6-8 minutes.  Remove the mix from pan and set aside.

Return pan to heat and reduce heat to medium-low.  Melt 1 tablespoon butter in pan, and add the spinach.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook for about 2 minutes, until spinach has just wilted. Remove and set aside.

To assemble the quesadillas, heat a grill pan (or large frying pan), over medium-high heat.  Spread some butter on the grill pan and put the first quesadilla in the pan, followed by 1/2 of the Fontina cheese, then the mushroom mix, then spinach.  Crumble some goat cheese over the spinach and finish with the rest of the Fontina.  Top with the second quesadilla and smear butter on top, then flip and cook the other side.  When both sides are golden brown with some grill marks remove and cut into four pieces with a pizza cutter or knife.  Serve with salsa if desired.

Summer Vegetable Pastas

20 Jun

Pasta with Prosciutto, Snap Peas, Mint and Cream

Taking a break from the plethora of potluck recipes (don’t worry, they will be back- I made amazing grilled ricotta chicken and homemade guacamole for our BBQ this weekend), I thought it would be nice to showcase some summery pasta dishes, using the fresh spring vegetables that are miraculously avaliable everywhere now.  Plus, clearly I can’t go a week without making some kind of pasta concoction, and I figure the addition of mounds of veggies helps me justify eating half a pound of pasta in one sitting.

So many vegetables- Pasta wtih Snap Peas, Asparagus and Goat Cheese

The first recipe is for pasta with prosciutto, snap peas, cream and mint, and I immediately bookmarked it when I saw it on Food 52 a couple of weeks ago.  Not only did I already have prosciutto in the fridge, but I love snap peas, AND it gave me an opportunity to use the first of the mint in our ever-burgeoning herb garden.  It may seem like this has a lot of things going on, but all of the flavors compliment each other nicely, and the snap peas add a crunch which is unexpected in a pasta dish.  I enjoyed that the mint added an extra fresh springy flavor, but if you don’t love mint in savory dishes this would be almost as delicious without it.  Despite having quite a few ingredients, this really just requires some chopping and then throwing everything into a pan, and it came together in pretty much the time it takes to boil and cook  the pasta.

After my discovery of this great combination of flavors I used leftover snap peas and some asparagus I had in the fridge for another summer-inspired pasta dish.  I was out of prosciutto and omitted the cream in this dish, but added goat cheese and fresh basil (also from our herb garden!) for an even simpler version.  Both recipes come together in under half an hour and are great uses of summer vegetables, so go down to your farmers market and get shopping!

Our herb garden! The basil is doing slightly better than the parsley. The mint is separate as apparently it is mean and overtakes everything.

Pasta with Prosciutto, Snap Peas, Mint and Cream
Adapted from Food 52
Serves 4

Equipment: Saucepan, frying pan, wooden spoon or spatula, knife

Ingredients:
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 pound prosciutto shank, finely diced (regular thin prosciutto works too)
4 shallots or 1/2 onion, minced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 pound fresh snap peas, chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
3/4 pounds small pasta such as farfalle, penne, or orechiette
Salt and pepper to taste

Begin by chopping your vegetables. Put a pan of salted water on to boil.  Add pasta whenever it is boiling, but start to get your sauce ready in the meantime.  Do this by heating the olive oil over medium heat in a frying pan- when it is warm add the garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes, until fragrant but not burnt.  Add prosciutto and cook an additional 3-4 minutes (if using thin prosciutto cook only 1-2 minutes).  Add the shallots or onions and cook until they are beginning to soften, 3-4 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

With about 3 or 4 minutes left until the pasta is ready, add the peas to the frying pan.  After 2-3 minutes add the cream and quickly bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Add the cheese, stir in, and reduce heat to low.  Drain the pasta when it is ready, and toss everything together in a big bowl. Add the chopped mint, garnish with more Parmesan cheese, and adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Pasta with Snap Peas, Asparagus, and Goat Cheese
Serves 2

Equipment: Saucepan, frying pan, wooden spoon or spatula, knife

Ingredients:
6 oz fresh snap peas (really however much you want- I used half of a 12 oz bag), chopped
1/2 bunch fresh asparagus, tough ends discarded and then chopped
1 clove garlic
4 oz goat cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/8 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Put salted pasta water on to boil and chop your vegetables.  Add the pasta to the water when it is boiling, and heat up olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.  When the oil is warm add garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Next add the snap peas and asparagus, and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to the vegetables.  Turn down the heat if the vegetables begin to brown while you wait for the pasta to cook.  Drain pasta when it is ready, reserving some of the pasta water.  Immediately toss with the vegetables, goat cheese, basil, and Parmesan.  If the sauce needs thinning add some of the pasta water, and add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately with more Parmesan to garnish.

Fingerling Potato and Tuna Salad

12 Jun

Dinner! Or lunch! Or a snack! This works for everything.

I found this recipe on Serious Eats and immediately bookmarked it because it is made almost entirely of ingredients that are lurking somewhere in the depths of my very messy fridge or cabinets.  I don’t usually eat canned tuna, but after this I was reminded how versatile and tasty it is- I got the good-quality stuff packed in olive oil, but I’m sure regular old canned tuna would work just fine.  This isn’t a recipe for you if you don’t like quite strong flavors, as it includes red onions, capers, and the tuna, but since the potatoes make up the bulk of the salad the other ingredients aren’t too overwhelming, and all complement each other nicely.  This was delicious as a dinner served warm, and every bit as good straight out of the fridge the next day.  I simplified this a bit from the original, which called for multiple bowls and carrots and onions pretty pointlessly boiling with the potatoes to flavor them.  I’m making this salad again right now for lunch this week, and added some asparagus that I bought today to the mix to spice things up a bit and make it even more summery.

Fingerling Potato and Tuna Salad
Adapted from Serious Eats
Serves 2-3 (The original says 4, so apparently I eat twice as much as they anticipated.)

Equipment: Saucepan, bowl, knife
Ingredients:
1 bay leaf (optional)
1 pound fingerling potatoes, scrubbed
1/2 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 can tuna in olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped capers
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Small handful arugula
1/2 bunch asparagus, chopped (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Put potatoes in a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil with a bay leaf if you have one.  Boil until tender, then drain and slice.  Toss with olive oil and vinegar in a large bowl.  Drain tuna and add to the bowl, along with the chopped onion, capers, asparagus, and parsley. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more olive oil or vinegar if needed.  Add the arugula and toss together.  Serve warm or keep in the fridge and serve cold.


Greek Summer Salad

5 Jun

Greek salad with peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes and feta

As the season of endless barbecues approaches, it is always good to have a couple of stand by dishes that are easy to make and easily transportable.  I like bringing side salads that are more substantial than simply lettuce and dressing, such as potato salad or this pepper/cucumber/tomato salad.  I love this twist on a classic Greek salad, which only requires chopping up a few ingredients and throwing them in a bowl.  It is especially good for bringing places because the lack of lettuce and marinade-type dressing means it doesn’t get soggy, and actually gets even more delicious in the fridge overnight as the flavors all meld together.  The dressing is a very fresh red wine vinegar version, made even better by first using it to pickle the onions, which really takes out the bite of raw onion that not everyone is a fan of.  My only regret in making this twice in the past month for various barbecues is that it gets eaten up so quickly that I wish I had saved some in the fridge just for myself.

Greek Summer Salad
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Equipment: Bowl, knife, salad servers (or a couple large spoons to mix everything)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 a red onion, diced quite finely
2 or 3 bell peppers
1 cucumber
1/4 pound firm feta cheese
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together the red wine vinegar, water, salt, and sugar in a smallish bowl until the salt and sugar have dissolved.  Add the diced onion and set aside for a few minutes.

Core and seed the bell peppers, cut them into 1/2 inch pieces, and place in a large salad bowl.  Chop the cucumber and feta into similar sized pieces and put them into the bowl as well.  Drain the onions from the vinegar mixture, but reserve the vinegar for the dressing.  Add the onions to the salad bowl, along with about 1/4 cup of the vinegar mixture. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss everything together and adjust the dressing to taste- I usually use most of the vinegar mixture in the end. Serve immediately or let rest in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.

Resturant Review: Serendipity 3 in Georgetown

2 Jun

These are only the appetizers. Oh boy.

Brace yourselves, friends, because this one is going to be a doozy.  The newest Serendipity 3 opened in the heart of Georgetown on Memorial Day, and I was lucky enough to be invited to a friends-and-family preview night on Saturday.  One of my friends got four of us in for dinner, and, since we are all both foodies and fatties, we proceeded to devour a 3-course-plus-cocktail meal.  It was unfortunate that our next destination was up a very long hill.  Note to self: don’t eat that much ice cream before going anywhere other than your couch.

Weaver: "Wait. Will you take my picture already?" Thanks for the free food!

Weaver: "Wait. When are you taking my picture?" Thanks for the free food!

For appetizers we got the crab and artichoke dip, and a truly inspired choice of onion rings.  We all gasped as the tower of perfectly battered and fried rings descended upon us.  These were seriously the best onion rings I’ve ever had- cooked through and soft in the middle, with a crunchy thick shell, Parmesan cheese over them and dipping sauces on the side.  The crab dip was slightly overshadowed by the onion rings, but it was also great- lots of big chunks of crab in a not-too-creamy sauce with a nicely browned top.   For mains I got the Full Monty- chicken breast with bacon, pepper jack, arugula, and BBQ sauce on ciabatta bread. It was quite good- my only complaint was that the bread was a bit dry and I ended up eating much of the sandwich without the it.  Also it could feed a family of four.  The equally-large-portioned spaghetti and meatballs was also yummy, with ricotta on top of the meatballs and thick spaghetti.  The veggie burger and crab cake sandwich that rounded out our table were received very favorably as well.  On the downside, the sweet potato fries that were an option with sandwiches were not the best I’ve had (our batch wasn’t very fresh)- you would be better off getting the steak fries, which were tasty.

The Full Monty Sandwich.

After all of this, you would think we might call it quits before dessert.  But as anyone who has heard of or been to a Serendipity knows, dessert is their claim to fame, and their trademark “Frrrozen Hot Chocolate” is the most

Dessert!

famous offering.  We got one of the regular frozen hot chocolates and the red velvet sundae.  The hot chocolate was delicious- it’s just what you would imagine, basically hot chocolate mix mixed with ice and topped with whipped cream.  I like that it isn’t the consistency of ice cream, more a blended chocolate drink that makes it easier to eat/drink.   The red velvet sundae was an aggressive dessert choice- it is literally a huge piece of red velvet cake, on top of a also huge sundae.  To take this over the top, even the sundae glass is resting in a pool of hot fudge.  This was more intimidating than the hot chocolate, but very good, although the cake itself was a bit dry (since it rested in a pool of chocolate and ice cream, this didn’t matter too much).  Serendipity was a delicious and indulgent dinner, but make sure you bring at least two or three friends to share all the courses with if you want to be able to walk afterwords.

PS. Oh, did you think I forgot the drinks?  Come on now.  All of them were pricey but good, and unsurprisingly over-the-top.  I recommend the champagne with elderflower and an edible hibiscus in the bottom.  I think it was called the Fourth Prince. Opulence at it’s finest.

This blueberry mojito came with lots of fruit-accessories. I was skeptical. But it was good.