Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Friday, July 6, 2012

Graffiato - DC

We went to DC to meet a cousin for dinner this week and my coworker suggested Top Chef Mike Isabella's Graffiato. We could only get a reservation for 8:30 on a Thursday night (you'd think the 5th of July DC would be cleared out) but we got there early, got a drink at the bar and got seated upstairs by 8.

We started with glasses of the draft prosecco just for the novelty of it. I mean, who has prosecco on draft, right? The decor a mix of farm and modern upstairs with modern art and little pots of herbs on the tables and cold hard steel chairs. They offered us a choice of still or sparkling water on the house. I got the sparkling which tasted a bit mineraly, but was just as flat as the still water.

This is the second restaurant in a week where there's been no ice in the glass. Is this a new trend?

We started out with a pizza and the sweet corn agnoletti which I had read were a MUST on this menu. The pizza was chosen by the cousins and they chose the Jersey Shore: a pizza with tomato sauce, provolone, and calamari with a cherry pepper aioli drizzled over it. The calamari were crunchy, the spiciness of the aioli offset the fried bits. It was tasty.

The Agnolotti were very tasty, creamy and buttery. The sweetness of the corn popped with the toasted pine nuts. Chanterelles, which were supposed to be on the dish were woefully lacking, as there was maybe 1/4 of one chanterelle chopped up on top, but the agnolotti itself made up for it. The agnolotti were swimming in a butter sauce that could have used a bit more of the chanterelle flavor, but all in all, pretty good.

We also got a crispy lamb dish with favas and a cucumber yogurt relish that was delicious. The denseness of the lamb and the cucumber yoghurt went well together.

Next up were the gnocci, which were another MUST HAVE by the reviewers. I have to say that I found the plate of gnocci to be very small for the $18 price tag, the paper thin truffles on top were tasteless but the wild mushrooms this time were copious and deliciously sauteed. Not something I'd get again for that pricepoint, but not bad.

Finally the crowning glory came.  We got the countryman pizza with black truffle, fontina and a soft cooked egg that was broken over the pizza at the table to finish cooking. Here you can see the server breaking the egg and spreading it into an unattractive gloopy mass but it sure was tasty. The crust was perfectly cooked, the pan piping hot and the truffle taste really came through on this pizza.

 All in all I would have to say that Graffiato had some delicious dishes and some that were just good, but it was not worth the hefty price tag for teeny tiny plates.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Kibbe Lunch

I have been working nights quite a bit this week so we've been making big lunches instead of dinners. I had some ground lamb and remembered Melissa Clark's Lamb Kibbe Recipe. This is a cookbook that Maria picked for Cookbook club last April. It's sooo good and really easy when you can talk your sweetie into making homemade pita bread to go with it.

So first you soak the bulgur wheat for 20 minutes in warm water. While that's going on you make the yogurt sauce with cucumber, garlic, cilantro and some greek yogurt and let that sit in the fridge. Then drain the bulgur and mix with the lamb with spices and onion. Roll all that into little balls as seen below, and shove it under the broiler for 6-8 minutes. So yum.

My sweetie has taken to keeping pizza/pita dough in the freezer so we just pulled it out before we went to the gym, he rolled it when we got back and baked it up really quickly.

See the yummy results, warm from the oven pita, yogurt sauce, Israeli feta, lettuce, onions, tomatoes and yummy kibbe. I was too lazy to make it into a pita pocket, just rolled it up, delish!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


My sweetie is on a pizza kick. We've been eating a lot of pizza in the last few weeks and I decided to change it up a bit and make Stromboli. Note that some stromboli's are made with ham, but I love me some Italian sausage so we decided to go that route.

Since he was home and I was not, he made the sauce, playing with the Rhulman's 20 book (yes we've still got the book) and he also made the dough, using the whey from a ricotta that he had made instead of water. It was a very fragrant and elastic dough.

I asked for advice from my coworkers and they said I should add spinach, so here you see the sauce and mozzarella/parmesan mixture with some spinach sauteed in garlic and some raw sweet onion over it.

I had cooked the Italian Sausages already and sliced them very thin. Many many rounds of Italian sausage went on the stromboli. Then I topped that with more Parmesan/mozzarella mixture.

Flipped up the sauce side, pressing it down and folding the bottom edge over the top. I debated putting in a steam vent but left it alone.

It cooked in a lovely 425 degree oven for 15 minutes and came out golden brown perfection. Notice Elizabeth, I put the sprig of cilantro on it to add some green ;-)

The finished product, gooey, rich deliciousness. Perfect with a beer on a weeknight .

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mexican Night

We were in the mood for Mexican last night and didn't feel like going out. We love the Coyoacan market style fried quesadillas made at Fiesta Mexicana in Rosedale and I was in the mood for fresh veggies and since I had the day off on MLK Monday, I decided to play.
We love the smoky taste of chipotle peppers and I had a huge flank steak in the fridge that we were never going to eat in one meal, so I took some of that, seared it in olive oil, added some onions and sauteed them for a bit, then added garlic and a hot pepper, sauteed for a bit longer and added mexican oregano, a chipotle in adobo and some tomato sauce. I let this simmer for about 2.5 hours, shredded it and put it back in it's sauce, YUM! Deep, rich chile and tomato flavors. This would be stuffed into the quesadillas and fried.

At H-mart on Friday I saw some nopales which are paddle cactus. I've eaten them before at cookbook club but decided I'd try and use them again. I have the Elote Café Cookbook which I got when we were in Sedona and it has a wonderful recipe for a zucchini and tomato dish. I also found this recipe and decided to combine the two and take it a step further, adding a smoky depth by roasting a poblano and adding it.

My sweetie was nice enough to do the prickly work of scraping off all the spines and slicing and dicing the nopales, the zucchini, the garlic, onions, jalepeno, tomatoes and roasted poblano. I'll follow with the recipe below.

Here it is simmering away.

Then it was on to the quesadillas. I like playing with corn masa flour. I mixed it up, let it sit, then decided I'd make some fried tortilla chips as well as the yummy quesadillas.

I really need a tortilla press. I rolled the masa into balls then pressed them between plastic with the bottom of a heavy pot. I rolled them a bit thinner with the rolling pin and plopped the tortillas onto the hot tortilla pan. 50-60 seconds a side, and then you take them off. I'm not a fan of soft tortillas (gasp) so I fried them up, playing with shapes. I made one large tostada, then cut some into triangles for chips and some into strips. I like the chips best, they were great for scooping up the veggie dish.

Next I played with the Quesadillas. I took a ball, pressed it out again, then, leaving it on the plastic, put some fresh caseara cheese and some of the chipotle meat mixture and folded the plastic over it. I wanted to fry a few at a time so I made all 5 (believe me, five was plenty) and then fried them up. The picture isn't great, but here's what they looked like before I fried them. They were tasty and golden brown and delicious as you can see from the first photo.

Braised Mexican Vegetables

1/2 cup chopped onion 1/2 inch dice
2 nopales or cactus paddles stripped of spines, cleaned, and chopped in 1/2 inch dice
2 zucchini chopped in 1/2 inch dice
1 medium poblano pepper, roasted, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch dice.
Olive oil
2 garlic cloves minced
1/2 jalepeno minced
3 whole canned tomatoes
1/2 tsp mexican oregano
1/4 c chicken broth
2-3 tbsp heavy whipping cream
Cholula hot sauce to taste

Saute the chopped onion in 1-2 tbsp olive oil until golden. Add a pinch of salt and garlic and jalepeno. Saute 1 more minute. Add oregano and saute 30 seconds. Add nopales, zucchini, poblano and tomatoes and 1/2 tsp salt. Saute 2 min and add chicken broth. Let simmer until zucchini becomes translucent. Add whipping cream and bring back to a simmer for 1-2 min. Taste for salt and heat, adding cholula hot sauce and salt if necessary.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Bread and Soup

We have had colds for the last few weeks. First it was my turn, while he took care of me, then his turn. Since I gave it to him my guilt level was high so I decided to make a big batch of chicken noodle soup. While i was not quite enough up to snuff to remember to take pictures, we did enjoy the soup.

Yesterday, since we had the long weekend I decided to make beer bread from the Bread Bible. I made it in the Cuisinart in about 3 min. I baked it this morning, giving it the extra overnight refrigerator proofing. Tasty with the last of the soup after a chilly walk in Stony Run park.