Monthly Archives: January 2011

Shrimp, Chicken, and Andouille Gumbo

A year and a half ago, I visited New Orleans for the first time.  It was the last stop on a two-month-long road trip—and was one of the most memorable.  The city has such a distinct sense of identity and has held on tightly to their culture and traditions.  While other cities show the stress of modernization, New Orleans continues to remember its past and exude its unchanged Louisiana-charm.

We spent most of our time in the French quarter, where the architecture took me straight back to Paris.  The narrow streets are lined with tiny, independently-owned shops, many filled with antique furniture and jewelry.  For the most part, the restaurants are also independently owned, sharing their own takes on traditional Creole/Cajun cuisine and seafood dishes.  Between the mountains of raw and charbroiled oysters, po-boys, etouffees, and jambalayas, we never went hungry (and most often went to bed uncomfortably full).

One dish I truly learned to love while in New Orleans was gumbo.  Before visiting NOLA, I had little appreciation for this Cajun dish.  I honestly thought its dark-brown broth was a little off-putting, but little did I know that the brown hue gave this dish its rich flavor.  The dark roux (the cooked oil and flour) creates the base for this tasty stew, and taking the time to really caramelize the vegetables (i.e., the Cajun “holy trinity”:  bell peppers, onions, and celery) increases its depth of flavor.

Pasta with Sausage, Peas, and Spinach

It looks like Narnia outside!

D.C. has officially been hit by its first legitimate snowfall! While most Northern cities are accustomed to dealing with snowfalls of 12 inches or more, the Nation’s capital tends to find difficulty coping with snowfall of slightly lesser proportions – i.e. anything above an inch. So, as the city and Georgetown shut down early on account of 5 inches of snow, I found myself with ample time to cook and in desperate need of comfort food.

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Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Coconut Cranberry Cookies

A snowy Gramercy Park

I love the snow, so I have really enjoyed this winter in New York.  For me, snow is only a nuisance when I am driving or flying.  Luckily, here in the city, I don’t have a car, and I get to walk everywhere—including to work. Above is a snapshot of my morning commute.  Not bad.

The winter weather also keeps me wanting for comfort food.  Every night, I find myself craving a big plate of pasta for dinner and fresh-baked cookies for dessert.

Well, tonight is the night.  On my way home from work, I picked up pasta from a neighborhood restaurant, and I picked up ingredients for “chocolate chunk oatmeal coconut cookies.” Continue reading

The Pasta Chronicles, Part II: Pear and Pecorino Ravioli

Yesterday’s high temperature was 27 degrees.

That, my friends, is cold.

No, actually, that is frigid.

That being said, it was not enough to stop my friend Caroline and I from making the trek to Eastern Market on the Southeast side of the Capitol to gather fresh ingredients for our culinary project: Ravioli stuffed with pears and pecorino cheese.

Checking out the produce at Eastern Market

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El Quinto Pino

The best part of being a New Yorker is the food.  No question.  The restaurants in this city are unbelievable, and the variety of cuisines cannot be matched.  If I am hungry for something, I can get it, and I can usually have it delivered to my door.  I know, I’m spoiled.

Last weekend, my husband Brandon and I were in the mood for Spanish tapas and went to one of our new favorite spots:  El Quinto Pino.  El Quinto Pino is located in Chelsea, and is off the beaten path.  Unless you were looking for it, you wouldn’t find it (one of the many things I love about it).  The restaurant is tiny, and menu items can only be found on large chalkboards hanging on the walls. Continue reading

Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli

Pasta. It’s the proverbial comfort food. Who can resist a warm bowl of noodles, smothered in sauce or topped with a light dusting of Parmesan cheese? Make it filled-pasta, and you are sure to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters with fresh pillows of ricotta, or any variety of other flavors.

Pasta. It’s glorious. And my friends decided to fuel my love of cooking by giving me a pasta maker for my birthday this year. The machine is beautiful. It is silver and red – my ideal colors for future kitchen (my goal in life is to own a red, Kitchen Aid stand mixer – I think it would get along nicely with the pasta machine).While it is definitely MUCH easier to use a pasta machine to roll out your dough, I imagine that it can be done by hand, but I would be prepared for a workout! You want your sheets pretty thin.

Anyway, after playing around with my latest kitchen appliance over break, I decided to try and make ravioli last night with my friends S & YC. Continue reading

Food Fail: Panna Cotta Edition

...the makings of a disaster...

I am having the epitome of an “off day.” Today, I attempted to make panna cotta, a dessert that I have made countless times before. The result? A nice, liquid-y mass. The thing is, however, that I have no idea what I did wrong! I heated my cream, dissolved my sugar, softened my gelatin – I am literally clueless as to what went wrong. The mixture just won’t set! It looked so promising too. So, no exciting post today. I am trying, in vain, to keep it in the refrigerator overnight in the hopes that it will set, but don’t get your hopes up, people! This may be the biggest dessert failure to date.

In any case, for those of you who want a great panna cotta recipe, this is the one that I normally use (and that normally works!). I wish you the best of luck. I am blaming this casualty on the bronchitis.

Butternut Squash Risotto

I seem to have developed a case of the flu.

I suppose it was inevitable, given my failure to get a flu shot, coupled with babysitting a sickly two-year-old. Regardless of whether or not I deserved it, however, I feel nothing short of miserable. I rarely get fevers, and this one has left me particularly worn out . Quite frankly, I feel as though I have been hit by a bus (or so I imagine). Achy muscles, shivers, sniffles, and a lack of appetite – just what one wants over winter break!

While I may not feel like eating anything, I do feel like writing about cooking, and I think it is about time that I shared my new favorite risotto recipe. A few weeks ago, I picked up some butternut squash at my local Safeway and found myself checking out Martha Stewart’s website for some ideas about what to make with it. Conveniently enough, her main recipe page featured a link to a slideshow of squash recipes, and, after clicking through the first couple of slides, I came across the image and recipe link for butternut squash risotto. Since I love Italian food, it seemed only natural that I would test this recipe out.

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