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Showing posts from April, 2012

Pasta e Fagioli for Meatless Monday Dinner

Some foods are magical. They evoke happy memories of people, places and times and can be very powerful. Most often, they are memories of childhood and family. I grew up the product of an Italian Father and a Mother who was mostly English and German. As in most households at the time, Mom did most of the cooking but there were those special occasions when my Dad would take over the kitchen. As I'm sure many of you know, every Italian family has a spaghetti sauce (gravy, if you must) that is from a recipe that verges on being sacred. We did -- it came from Calabria with my grandparents and was spoken of in hushed and reverent tones. In our home, my Dad made the sauce, but that's not what I'm writing about today. There was one other very important meal he prepared and it's the one that, even more so than the sauce, evokes those strong, deja vu like feelings. I'm talking about pasta e fagioli, or in English, pasta and beans.

When Cynthia first started making pasta e f…

The Restaurant at Potawmack Farms

In another of our ongoing first Saturday of the month dinners out, Cyn and I took a one hour leisurely drive through the Virginia countryside to Lovettsville, VA and the Restaurant at Potowmack Farms. There, high on a hill overlooking the Potomac River, Chef Christopher Edwards treated us to what was, quite possibly, the very best restaurant meal we've had since moving to Virginia. Did you hear that Chef Patrick O'Connell?

Potowmack, named after George Washington's trading company and the local Indians of the time, is an real working farm, growing vegetables and herbs for use in the restaurant. They are committed to a farm to table, seasonal and certified organic dining experience. The menu reflects what is available from their own farm and from other local purveyors.

Before we get to the food, I need to mention one small but thoughtful touch that set the tone for the meal. When we arrived, we were greeted and seated by the owner, Beverly Billand, and presented with the eve…

2008 was a very good year....

...for tomatoes in Newburgh, NY. That's where we lived then and where we grew, roasted and canned tomato sauce. We actually did that every year but there was something magical about the quart mason jars full of that 2008 vintage. Last night, as part of Meatless Monday dinner, we opened the last one.  Nearly 4 year old tomato sauce you say? Isn't that, um, dangerous? Not at all if the jars are initially prepared correctly, the canning process is carried out properly and the seal remains intact. It was both exciting and a little sad to crack open that seal, but the finished meal made it all worth it. Cynthia's original recipe was a perfect use for that special vintage.


Herbed Crepes with Ricotta, Spinach and Chard Filling
Ingredients (crepes) 1 cup AP flour1 cup + 2-4 tbsp liquid of your choice, could be stock, milk, beer, water or any combination thereof - I used 1 cup Better than Bouillon No Chicken and 3 tablespoons of Duck Rabbit Milk Stout beer3 large eggs2 tbsp unsalted q…

Going Persian for Meatless Monday

Recently I've been trying to infuse our Meatless Mondays with ethnic dishes from all over the world. Last week we made falafel, a typical Middle Eastern dish based on chickpeas. This week we decided to go Persian, thanks to a suggestion from my Twitter friend, Leila J. @PersianLiving. Leila is of Iranian decent, living in the UK and writes a wonderful food blog called, of all things, Persian Living!

When I asked her to recommend a Meatless Monday dish that was truly Persian, she immediately told me to make adasi. The main ingredients are lentils and potatoes and her wonderful recipe can be found here. We were inspired by her recipe, but ended up going in a slightly different direction. Leila's recipe called for green lentils which tend require a longer cooking time and break down less. Since we had red lentils in the house we decided to use them, knowing they would break down during cooking more and create more of a stew like consistency.

Here's how it came together.

Ingred…

No seriously, no need to applaud....

Note: this post originally ran on diningindc.net as a guest post.

....it's really not that big a deal.

OK, maybe it is kind of a big deal -- for me. Six months ago I decided to give Meatless Mondays a try. I outlined my reasons in my very first blog post. In part, I wrote "I'm not a vegetarian. I firmly believe a life devoid of (good) bacon isn't worth living. That having been said, I am embarking on what I hope will be a year-long journey of Meatless Mondays."

Why Meatless Mondays? The official movement is a non-profit initiative of The Monday Campaigns, in association with the Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health. They offer evidence that cutting back on meat consumption by 15%, one day a week, will yield significant environmental and health benefits. This link provides more information. Additionally, here is the history of Meatless Monday which has been around a lot longer than you might think! A growing number of doctors, nutrition experts an…

Making Falafel for Meatless Monday

One of the advantages of Meatless Mondays that I've written about previously is the ongoing pressure/desire to stray out of our comfort zone and into less than familiar home cooking territory. This week, I suggested we try making falafel, the ubiquitous Middle Eastern street food that is now commonly found in most major US metropolitan areas. Why not? After all, we love chickpeas -- and they're deep fried -- what a deal!

Wading into the internet for a workable home recipe, we ended up in a familiar place. Seems that lately all roads lead to Mark Bittman, our "go to" New York Times food guy. Here is his recipe for falafel.

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups of dried chickpeas2 cloves of garlic, lightly crushed1 small onion, quartered1 tsp ground coriander1 tbsp ground cuminscant tsp of cayenne (or to taste)i cup chopped parsley (or cilantro)1 tsp salt1/2 tsp black pepper1/2 tsp baking soda1 tbsp lemon juiceNeutral oil (grapeseed or corn for frying)Preparation
Put the beans in a larg…

Around the world in 50 blog posts....Wait - make that 100 countries in 65 blog posts!

An Update

When I originally posted this on April 2nd, 2012, I was pretty amazed that in 5 months my blog had reached into 50 countries around the world. Today, just about two additional months later, the blog was read by someone in another country. To the person in Nigeria that read my blog giving me 100 countries, thank you very much. To all of you who have read and (hopefully) will continue to read my future posts, a big thank you. I hope you continue to find it interesting and informative.
When I started writing this blog, I did it mostly for myself. You other blogger understand, right? We all think we have something to say and that people will flock to our sites to hear it (OK, read it), leave glowing comments, and holler (at least figuratively) for more.

However, after I had a few blog posts under my belt, I found out building an audience was a little harder than I had realized. My wife was reading it -- thanks honey. I quickly twisted the arms of few people I work with to read i…