Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pasta Carbonara

My great uncle is the lucky owner of several productive hens, making me the lucky recipient of a dozen awesomely tasting eggs. I honestly don't remember the last time I ate chicken eggs so delicious.

Aside from a simple fried egg that's wonderfully fresh and tender, I can't imagine a dish better suited for these eggs than a carbonara. I went for this recipe, which was amazing. However, I made the mistake of not adding enough bacon and parsley -- I ran out of bacon (a sad affair) and was worried the entire bunch of parsley would totally overwhelm the dish but found myself missing the greens to cut the richness a little. Despite these setbacks, dinner time was pretty quiet, until everyone had eaten their fill, that is.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Salad with herring and small potatoes

As much as I like to complain about how expensive the Dupont Circle farmer's market is (6+ dollars for a single tomato??), there are plenty of reasons why I go back as often as I can. Last weekend, I found the most beautiful head of lettuce there for only 3 dollars. Compared with the 4-5 bucks you can spend for a few ounces of organic bagged greens that goes bad in a few days, this is totally worth it. In fact, I've stopped buying pre-bagged salads altogether in favor of this technique. Now, I am much happier with the quality of my greens and my salad budget.

The single head of lettuce took up my entire salad spinner and lasted several salads. (Next to the spinner is a bunch of Erba Stella, which is an Italian herb with a light, savory taste -- I highly recommend sauteing it with a little garlic in pasta or tossing it in a salad for some color contrast against some beautiful Boston lettuce) One of the salads I made more than once is this one, which was adapted from a recent Serious Eats post. I used canned herring instead of tuna because I like the texture and flavor of the former much much more but you can use pretty much any canned fish you'd like.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Vodka gnocchi

I've never been much of a pasta eater. I don't really know why. Maybe it's because it's one of the foods I eat the most slowly, and if you know me at all, you know it how slow that would be. It's virtually impossible for me to finish a plate before it goes cold. And cold pasta is rarely delicious.

But everything changed when we made this dish.

This is a seriously amazing recipe. My stomach is grumbling and my mouth is watering as I think about it. It combines the lovely mouth feel of a great cream sauce with a tomato sauce's tanginess, plus some vodka. I tried to understand the role of vodka here but failed -- some claim that since ethanol is such a good solvent, it can readily hold onto all the good flavors of a dish. But my question is: if all the ethanol evaporates during the cooking process and vodka is supposedly a tasteless alcohol, what exactly does it do?

Well, regardless of this mystery, this dish has become our go-to meal. I use gnocchi because I can actually manage to eat it fast enough without everything going cold by the time I finish AND because Trader Joe's gnocchi is fantastic. And if you eat everything with a spoon, it doesn't really matter that the shape of the gnocchi doesn't do anything to hold onto the sauce.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mango Smoothie

For me, smoothies are the perfect post-workout beverage. It's cold, nutritious and damn tasty. After frisbee today, I made the best mango smoothie yet: 1 part (by volume) of TJ's European style yogurt, 1 part frozen mangos, 1 to 1.5 part soy milk, a bit of maple syrup, a squeeze of lime, and the secret ingredient: a pinch of salt. It was so good -- creamy, cold, tart -- everything I needed after running around for 3 hours. I found that the small pinch of salt really brought out all the flavors whereas in its absence smoothies can often taste a little flat. So even though I originally added the salt to bring a tropical, margarita-like flair to my mango smoothie, I'm convinced that its will help other fruit smoothies in a similarly awesome manner.

On a separate note, my smoothie consumption has vastly increased after I started to use my beloved immersion blender. Instead of having to take apart all those finicky pieces on a blender, all you have to do is rinse off the stick after use. Things cannot get anymore perfect than this.