Friday, March 29, 2013

Cooking Through My Freezer

Last week I faced a big problem in my kitchen: a faulty refrigerator. The temperature in the fridge area raised into the 60s but the freezer continued to keep everything frozen. It seems to be working now, but the freezer has been problematic for a while now and I'll likely replace it in the coming weeks.

Until then, I moved some of my meat items from my freezer to a neighbors. Some items are a bit freezer burned so I'm worried that the quality may suffer when I cook these items, but I need to relieve my neighbors of the burden of holding my meat. (that's what she said?)

I have several types of frozen meat available for my use, but I'm asking YOU, my faithful following to help me decide what to cook first.

My options are as follows:

  • 1 pound of pork tenderloin
  • 2 bison burger patties
  • 8 oz ground turkey
  • 8 oz skirt/flank steak
Either comment below or on my Facebook wall to let me know what I should cook for next week. Also, if you have a particular recipe in mind, send it along!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I recently acquired my first crockpot. You would think that someone who cooks as much as I do would have bought one ages ago, but I was a hold out. And until last year when I borrowed one to make chili, and found it to be the best chili I'd ever made, I was convinced it was time to add one to my kitchen gadgets. My parents happened to have an extra one so I inherited a lovely model, circa 1985. With cold weather (fingers crossed!) on the way out, I thought I should make one more soup for the season.

Chicken Tortilla Soup (serves 4-6)

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Serrano pepper, diced (with seeds)
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 chipotle pepper, minced
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 pound chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • A few sprigs cilantro
  • 3 corn tortillas, diced
  • 1 cup corn
  • Salt and pepper
  • Corn tortilla strips
  • Avocados
  • Limes
  • Cotija cheese
  • Sour cream 
Finely dice the onion, garlic, peppers, and celery and add them to a crockpot. Add the chicken breast, canned tomatoes, bay leaves, cumin seeds, chili powder, and chicken stock. The stock should just cover all the ingredients.

Cover and set the crockpot on low. Cook for 6-8 hours.

Remove bay leaves. Remove chicken breasts, shred with a fork into small pieces, and return to crockpot.

Add in cilantro sprigs, corn, and a few corn tortillas cut into bits. Let the crockpot simmer for another 30-60 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper.

To make tortilla strips, dice corn tortillas into strips and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned and crispy.

Serve soup piled high with tortilla strips, diced avocado, lime wedges, crumbled cotija cheese, and sour cream.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Food Porn: Sweet Mother of Tot

If you've been to any bar or brunch in the DC area, you'll notice that tator tots are a regular feature on the menu. What started this popularity resurgence is hard to say. Perhaps it was "Napoleon Dynamite" and the awkward ramblings of a bespectacled awkward teen from nowhere U.S.A. Perhaps someone thought "cafeteria chic" was the wave of the future for dining out. In any case, I'm happy the tots are here to stay. It's the familiarity of simplistic eating from my youth, with jacked up DC prices. Life coming full circle.

My friend Scott and I have often said we should do a tot crawl in our neighborhood to hit all the places with tator tots on the menu. Sadly, these places are not close to each other, or tots are only on the breakfast menu. I discovered another potential place to get my personal favorite, sweet potato tots, Sticky Rice on H Street.

Their big buckets of tots with dipping sauces have been a staple at the bar for years, but on a recent trip there I discovered they now offer a smaller version, made of sweet potatoes, with a great Asian dipping sauce. This served as the precursor to a great sushi meal, but these fried little nuggets of goodness were top of my list for this outing. And after covering about 10 miles of ground near the National Mall, we'd earned it. Sweet mother of tot.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Asparagus Pesto Lasagna for Two

Have you ever watched that show called "Kitchen Nightmares?"  Neither have I...but I felt as if I was experiencing my own little kitchen nightmare when I made this dish last week. In theory, it's a great idea, and one I plan to repeat...with different ingredients. Who doesn't love a great lasagna. But it's rare that you have enough people over to warrant making a large batch of it. This recipe calls for making the lasagna in a loaf pan. I think this is a great concept, you just have to break the lasagna noodles in half to fit the pan, and layer just like you would for a regular lasagna.

So at which point did this become a kitchen nightmare? The moment I removed the lasagna from the oven. It was sitting in a bed of oil and even after training a bit and putting back in the oven, hoping it just needed a little more time, it remained an oily, slippery mess. The kicker is it tasted great, but it was not something I would ever serve to others.

So why post it? I'm convinced that the pesto is to blame (I used a jarred variety which may have been a bit too oily), and perhaps simply making this with tomato sauce and meat would have worked out just fine. Again, it's a great concept and something that I will try in a different form in the near future. This is proof that not everything I post is perfect, but I keep experimenting anyway, and come away smarter than I went in.

Asparagus Pesto Lasagna for 2


  • 1 cup whole basil leaves
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 2 TB extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 TB grated parmesan cheese
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 pound asparagus
  • 1 TB extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups mascarpone cheese
  • 1 sheet fresh pasta or 4 lasagna noodles , cooked, rinsed, and coated with olive oil
  • 1 cup grated fontina cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

  • Instructions:

    Combine first 5 ingredients in a food processor and blend. (If too thick, add water or more olive oil.) Season with salt and set aside.

    Sauté asparagus in olive oil over high heat for 4 minutes. Add garlic, cook 1 minute, and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

    Preheat oven to 375°. Grease a small loaf pan (about 4" x 8") with butter. Combine mascarpone and pesto. Cut pasta to fit dish and place enough noodles in pan to cover bottom; top with 1/3 cup fontina cheese, 1/3 of the asparagus, and 1/3 of the pesto mixture; then sprinkle with Parmesan. Repeat layering two more times with remaining ingredients. Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes. Discard foil and continue baking 10 additional minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

    Monday, March 11, 2013

    Food Porn: DGS Deli


    Food Porn: DGS Deli

    This past weekend, I was all over the place. I ate some awesome Korean food in Virginia, went to a Dayton Flyers basketball game at GW's arena (alas, we lost in overtime), and on my way back from the game, just happened to be on the 42 bus passing by this deli as my friend Sam mentioned he was checking it out. I quickly got off the bus and backtracked to DGS Deli.

    DGS, located in Dupont Circle, opened a few months ago and had boasted that it's an authentic, Jewish deli with all the fixins'. I'd learn from my friend, as well as others who have visited, that while Jewish deli-inspired, not quite what one would call a TRADITIONAL Jewish deli.

    But...the food was great. We tried the Reuben, a pickle platter, some knish, spicy brisket balls, and other delightful dishes, washed down with a cocktail, or in my case, a dark cherry soda. All in all a good place to check out, a little bit pricey, but that's what you get when you graze and keep ordering more and more nibbles. Oy vey.

    Wednesday, March 6, 2013

    Sweet Corn and Zucchini Quesadilla

    As I mentioned last week, I held an Oscars fiesta in order to go through some of the Mexican staple ingredients by uncle gifted me in December. Because every good fiesta has to have a quesadilla, I opted to try one of my friend Nick's creations from his blog

    Quesadillas are very easy to make, even without a quesadilla maker. The hardest part of this was finding one of the ingredients: Cotija cheese. This shouldn't be such a difficult task in my neighborhood which boasts a large Latino population, but it was buried in the back of the cheese section at my local Giant. And it wasn't cheap. But dang it's good.

    Sweet Corn and Zucchini Quesadilla (makes 2)



    • 1 cup sweet corn, fresh or frozen     
    • 1/2 small zucchini, chopped thin  
    • 1/2 poblano pepper, seeded and diced  
    • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes  
    • Pinch of fresh thyme (or dried)  
    • Pinch of salt and pepper  
    • 1 TB oil or butter  
    • 3-4 oz. pepper jack cheese  
    • 2 oz. Cotija Cheese, grated  
    • Flour tortillas  
    • Optional toppings: Guacamole, salsa, sour cream, etc. 


    Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

    Chop zucchini and peppers. If you're using corn on the cob, (which I did not), cut the corn of the cob.

    Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add corn, zucchini, and peppers to pan and cook for a few minutes until veggies are hot and slightly tender.

    Add in thyme, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

    On a baking sheet, lay out a flour tortilla. Add a small handful of pepper jack cheese to half of the tortilla.

    Add half of the filling and top with more pepper jack cheese. Sprinkle on some Cotija cheese if you want as well.

    Fold tortilla over and press it down well. Bake for about 8 minutes per side. It's actually pretty easy to flip these with a nice sized spatula.

    Cut up and serve with salsa, sour cream, and guacamole.