Sunday, September 28, 2014

#295 Eggs Over Easy Quesadilla (By: V)

There are tons of egg-based breakfast ideas out there – eggs benedict, frittatas, omelets and of course the infamous breakfast burrito.  Now, the breakfast burrito can be filled with potatoes, cheese, scrambled eggs and tons of other endless filling ideas.  One Saturday morning I was all set to make a breakfast burrito, when, I thought, hmm I wonder what a breakfast quesadilla would look like?  Two flour tortillas with two eggs over easy sandwiched in the middle all held together with some sharp cheddar and maybe a little mozzarella.  Seemed like the foundation for a variation on the breakfast burrito.

Eggs Over Easy Quesadilla Serves 1

2 eggs
2 flour or corn tortillas
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbsps salsa OR chopped tomatoes/onions
2 tbsps shredded sharp cheddar
1 tbsp shredded mozzarella (optional additional cheese)

Crack two eggs into a non-stick pan.  When one side is cooked (around 3 minutes) you will know because it’ll come off the pan with ease…just nudge at the edges until you can get all the way under with a spatula.  Flip over and cook on the other side for about 3 minutes (this is about how long it should sit on the first side).  Transfer to a plate.  Lower the heat on the pan to about medium heat and place your tortilla down, sprinkle half of your cheese on the tortilla and cover with a lid to let the cheese melt for about 1 minute.  Transfer the eggs to the tortilla, add the salsa or chopped tomatoes/onions to the top of the egg.  Then add the other half of the cheese and top with the other tortilla.  At this point the bottom tortilla should be toasted and firm.  Flip the entire stacked quesadilla over to the other side and cover with the lid and let cook for about 1 minute to let the cheese melt.

Take off the heat and plate with some sour cream, salsa and/or chopped avocado.  Add a coffee and a side of fruit, good to go for a full hearty breakfast or brunch idea ☺

Since we’re talking about breakfast and eggs, I have to tell you about this delicious frittata I had at Boulevard Woodgrill in Arlington.  My friend K is back in town and back to the USA after living a year abroad in Japan.  So, we decided to go to brunch and catch up on things. I ordered the Boulevard Frittata which was filled with bacon, ham, green peppers, onions and tomatoes…and was delicious.  I mean, bacon, come on, it was delicious.  We washed it all down with some mimosas.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Visiting N in San Francisco -- By: V

I spent a full week out in San Francisco with N and it was wonderful.  N moved out to the West Coast a little over a year ago, and yes, I just made it out to visit her.  Most of our trips are heavily food focused, so needless to say there was a lot of sightseeing planned around eating.  Now, there are obviously a ton of tourist sites to see:  Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz, Crissy Field, GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE, and nearby Sonoma or Napa Valley just to name a few.  We even checked out this great coffee shop, Sightglass.  But, to avoid a lengthy post, and to provide all the food pictures I took, I'll just touch on the food and wine experiences we had...  

Here we enjoyed some seafood cippino and grilled harissa oysters.  We also shared a plate of shucked raw oysters (not pictured, but delicious ones of the Pacific West Coast variety).  

Yes, they don't have a website, that's how delicious they are..word of mouth seems to be effective enough, there was a line out the door!  Delicious pork and shrimp steamed dumplings.

Domaine Chandon (in Napa Valley)

This was our favorite of the three wineries we went to.  Sparkling wine is one of our faves, and N walked away with her own bottle (that's how much she loved it!).  

Clif Family Winery (in Napa Valley)

Small selection of wine but this winery came highly recommended by a friend, and the wines did not disappoint.  If this sounds familiar to you, it may be because of the Clif Bars, yes, it's owned by the same family as the infamous protein bar makers.  And, no, the wine doesn't have protein in it...but, that doesn't mean you shouldn't drink up! :) 

Bottega (in Napa Valley)

After all the wine tasting, we decided to grab dinner at Chef Michael Chiarello's restaurant Bottega.  N ordered the Costolette Brasate e Affumicate (Smoked and braised shortribs with grilled Treviso smokey jus, polenta-speck polpette) and I ordered the Farfalle al Granchio e Piselli (Hand shaped butterfly pasta with Peekytoe Crab, English peas and vermouth crema, Bottarga gremolata).  We shared a delicious salad to start, Insalata di Cavolini di Bruxelles (shaved Brussels sprouts salad with whole Meyer lemon dressing, Marcona almonds, sieved egg, Pecorino).  Delicious!

Before heading down the Pacific Coast Highway we grabbed delicious sandwiches from the infamous Ike's Place.  We found a beautiful spot on the beach and had an ocean view picnic.  We both ordered the same sandwich, the Spiffy Tiffy (Avocado, Halal Chicken, Mushrooms, Pepper Jack, Pesto, Provolone).  N ordered hers stuffed with mozzarella sticks and I got mine stuffed with jalapeno poppers.  Yes, this is why Ike's is famous.  

The night before I left I knew I had to get some sushi in, so we went to the Russian Hill neighborhood of SF to Elephant Sushi.  This place had wonderful reviews, while the wait was about 45 minutes, I'd say it was well worth it.  We ordered the Himalayan Trout sashimi and a few sushi rolls that I'm forgetting the names of at the moment, but all delicious!  And, the house made pickled ginger was the best I've had in the states.  

Can't wait to head back to San Francisco...a beautiful city and a culinary delight! 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Best of....The Big Apple - By: V

This past weekend my roommate S and I decided to take a trip to New York City.  Not quite just any trip, but basically a "best of" food tour of the city.  So we packed up and took the AmTrak from D.C. to Midtown New York City.  Before leaving though we searched online for the city's restaurants holding the notoriety of having the best: 

Ramen  -     Ippudo                    -

Burger   -     Burger Joint           -

Taco      -     Los Tacos No. 1     -

Brunch   -     Penelope               -

Believe me, our research was not at a loss.  Every single place lived up to its reputation for delicious, amazing food.   When you're in Japan and thinking about Ippudo's ramen as you slurp up the noodles and drink up the broth at a small ramen shop, that has got to mean something.  

When we arrived at Ippudo's East Village location with no reservations to our name, we found ourselves subject to a 2 hour wait.  But, we aren't ones to complain, so we sat ourselves at the bar and nursed a drink each for about 1.5 hours until the hostess let us know our table was ready sooner than anticipated.  Recommendation - make reservations before you go.  I ordered the Akamaru Modern ramen, which has noodles topped with pork chashu and the best part of it all was the fragrant garlic oil, which really made the taste of the broth have that extra bit of garlicy deliciousness.  I like my Ramen, or honestly any boiling hot broth, with a nitamago add-in, or as commonly known a seasoned soft boiled egg.  When you break into the egg and let the yolky inside permeate through the broth, it's pretty amazing.  The levels of flavor in the Ramen at Ippudo are unlike any I've had.  For D.C. locals I would say Toki Underground's Ramen is a close second.  I'll be checking out Izakaya Seki in a few weeks, so I'll let you know how the Ramen there ranks! ;) 

The next morning we explored the Murray Hill neighborhood of New York City.  Our hotel was located in Murray Hill, which luckily, is home to one of the top rated brunch locales in the city, Penelope.  As I do with most of my friends and particularly useful when you have a party of 2 for brunch, we chose one sweet item and one savory item from the list of wonderful options.  Another wonderful part of this restaurant, while you wait, you can help yourself to some complimentary coffee.   Once we were seated we had perused the menu sufficiently enough that we were more than ready to blurt out "Nutella French Toast" and "Penny Egg Sandwich" when the waiter came by to ask, "may I take your oder?"

Nutella is a chocolate hazelnut filling, which was then stuffed into the french toast and served with bananas.  The Penny Egg Sandwich was a typical breakfast sandwich of eggs, cheese all on an english muffin, but with the addition of pesto, to make for a spicy addition.  

After all those carbs, we decided to walk off our immense brunch at Chelsea Market.  The indoor Market is filled with restaurants, an amazing spice market, and lots of interesting shops.  One of these restaurants was home to critically acclaimed (yes, that's how serious I am about tacos) tacos, Los Tacos No. 1.  So, it isn't exactly a restaurant, it's sort of like a food court stand.  You walk up you order your food, whether it's tacos, tostadas, quesadillas, or just a drink.  Once you get your food there are a series of different salsas and spicy chili pastes that you can add to your plate to dip your taco into.  They even have a grilled cactus taco, which was not too bad at all, and a great option for vegetarians.  We also got a carne asada (steak) and pollo asado (chicken) taco and shared the three.  

Our last stop on this food tour, was to have the alleged best burger of NYC, found at Burger Joint.  You walk up and all you see is a neon sign of a burger, that's it as far as signage is concerned.  But, trust me, you'll know you're there as the smell of flame-grilled burgers wafts your way.  Trust me, this was certainly one of the best burgers I've eaten, and now I don't think I'll ever be able to go to NYC without a stop at Burger Joint.  The burger was incredibly juicy!  The best part is how simple they keep the burger itself.  A slab of American cheese, onion, tomato, pickles, lettuce all on a toasted sesame seed bun, and wrapped in a big sheet of parchment paper.  I could only manage a picture after I was halfway through eating it, sorry, I just had no patience to wait and take a picture before eating.  I had just been tortured by the amazing aroma! 

Now, while all of these may not be the BEST of each category I identified, my research directed me to these places and I think I can say that they are all at least in the top three of each category.  But, in my opinion, they're all even closer to #1 than that! My favorites?  Ippudo and Burger Joint.  

Sunday, September 7, 2014

#294 Salty/Sweet Salmon and Hot/Cold Potato Salad (By: V)

From V.....

Having just been in San Francisco I still had the flavors of fresh seafood on my mind.  That combined with my push to incorporate more fish in diet are the causes for this simple salmon dish.  I say simple because the ingredients in the marinade aren’t too complex at all.  The soy and honey flavors create a great sear and delicious flavor.  Paired with a hot and cold (you’ll understand soon enough) potato salad made for a great end of the summer meal.  The addition of cinnamon to the potatoes in the salad seems rather odd, but adds to the layers of flavor.  With each bite of the salad you first taste the sweetness of the cinnamon followed by the heat of the red chili flake and the crunch of the celery and scallion.  I’ll be tucking away this cinnamon secret for future potato salads! 

Soy Honey Salmon – serves 2
2 Salmon Filets
1/2 cup Soy Sauce or Tamari
¼ cup Honey
1 tsp Ginger/Garlic paste
½ tsp red chili flakes
1 tsp Coconut Oil (or Olive Oil)

I’m not a fan of keeping the skin on fish filets, so I like to take the skin off the filets.  But this is a complete preference based decision, so I leave this up to you!  Once your fish is cleaned place it in a shallow dish and pour the soy sauce and ginger over the fish.  Then, microwave the honey for about 20-30 seconds in a microwave safe bowl and pour immediately over the fish and start massaging the fish with the marinade.  I say to do this immediately because if you wait too long the honey will resolidify.  You can let this sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes but if you are in a rush, go ahead and start cooking.
Take a pan and heat the oil up.  Once the pan is well heated take the salmon filets out of the marinade and gently place in the pan.  There will be a lot of popping and “splurting,” so be careful.  Sear on one side for one minute and then flip to the other side for another minute.  Cover the pan and lower the heat to medium heat and let the salmon cook through for about 4 minutes.  The filets inside and out should be a baby pink color. 

Potato Salad – serves 3-4

3 tbsps Olive Oil
2 tbsps salt
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp garlic powder
3 medium sized red (new) potatoes OR 1 ½ russet (baking) potatoes
2 celery stalks
½ cup chopped scallions/green onions
1 cup mayo
1 ½ tbsps red wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Dice the potatoes into bite-sized pieces and place in pan.  Pour olive oil over the potatoes along with the salt, black peper, cinnamon and red pepper flakes.  Toss and coat the potato pieces evenly.  Bake these in the oven for 30 minutes until they are fully brown and roasted. 

Chop the celery and scallions.  Place in a bowl along with the roasted potatoes.  Then add the mayo and red wine vinegar and stir thoroughly.  Salt to taste. 

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