Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I'm like Fergie- they be lining down the block just to watch what I got (in the oven).
Dunno what it is, but I've been in a doughy sorta mood lately. Check out my recent posts on DC Foodies for gnocchi and soft pretzels...mmmmmm.....flour.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thirsty for politics?

Look no further. Check out this article I wrote for the Staten Island Advance about DC's affinity for the red, white and blue...cocktails, that is.

Do You Like Your Politics Straight Up, or With a Twist?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Free classes at Williams-Sonoma

Getting mail (as in, real, paper, snail mail) is one of life’s little pleasures. This week has been full of those- Food and Wine and the new Williams-Sonoma catalogue hit my mailbox and have my taste buds watering.

Did you know Williams-Sonoma holds free cooking classes? Our friends at the Mazza Gallerie store have a variety of classes this fall, including Knife Skills (October 5 at noon) and Cookies and More (October 12 at noon). I’ll be at both. I wonder if the other participants will find me dorky if I bring the new apron my mom just made me. It's covered in cherries and have a ruffly bottom. And pockets. Seriously, I'm very cute in this thing.

If you’d like to sign up for these classes or inquire about the other free classes available (which include Comfort Foods, Cocktail Mixology and Make-Ahead Meals), you can reach the helpful people at the Mazza store at 202-237-1602. Other stores are participating, as well. This month’s catalogue has a complete listing of classes.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, September 5, 2008

R is for Oysters

“Obviously, if you don’t love life you can’t enjoy an oyster.”
-Eleanor Clark, The Oysters of Locmariaquer

I saw this quote in an ad a few weeks ago, and it prompted me to learn about Clark's book, which is now on my "to do" list. It also made me hungry for oysters (and yes, I do love life) but I found myself looking for an “r” in August, to no avail.

You’ve heard that old saying, right? Don’t eat oysters in a month that doesn’t have an “r” in it. I’m not saying it’s true, but I am saying that in general, when it comes to advice, folklore and general wisdom about seafood, I take heed. One bad experience with mussels in Belgium (and the week following that ordeal) where enough to teach me a lesson.

In case you’re wondering, I found this article, from the Seattle Post, which explains that in May, June, July and August, Oysters are spawning, which takes a lot of energy. “During reproduction, an oyster consumes the energy stored in its plump little body to aid in its heroic and taxing effort. The result is a tired, flaccid, mushy oyster with a milky appearance.”

The author writes that it’s really okay to eat oysters in the summer, and you’re not going to die from eating one. “It's that they're, er, busy and, as such, not at their prime for eating.”

Well, September is here, and friends, I found my “r”. So oysters it is. As if those slippery little suckers weren’t well enough alone, or with a little Tabasco (or vodka! Yum!) here’s a recipe I found on epicurious.com for Oysters Rockefeller, a dish so rich that it was named after one of the wealthiest men in the US, John D. Rockefeller.

3/4 cup firmly packed watercress sprigs (2 oz before discarding coarse stems), finely chopped
1 1/3 cups firmly packed baby spinach (1 1/3 oz), finely chopped
3 tablespoons finely chopped scallion greens
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons minced celery
3 tablespoons coarse fresh bread crumbs (preferably from a day-old baguette)
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon Pernod or other anise-flavored liquor
Pinch of cayenne
3 bacon slices
About 10 cups kosher salt for baking and serving (3 lb)
20 small oysters on the half shell, oysters picked over for shell fragments and shells scrubbed well

Toss together watercress, spinach, scallion greens, parsley, celery, and 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon bread crumbs in a bowl. Melt butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, then add watercress mixture and cook, stirring, until spinach is wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in Pernod, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste, then transfer mixture to a bowl and chill, covered, until cold, about 1 hour.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F.

While watercress mixture chills, cook bacon in cleaned skillet over moderate heat, turning, until crisp, then drain on paper towels and finely crumble.

Spread 5 cups kosher salt in a large shallow baking pan (1 inch deep) and nestle oysters (in shells) in it. Spoon watercress mixture evenly over oysters, then top with bacon and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons bread crumbs. Bake oysters until edges of oysters begin to curl and bread crumbs are golden, about 10 minutes.

Serve warm oysters in shells, nestled in kosher salt (about 5 cups), on a platter.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Fried Ravioli

It’s been a while since I’ve written…that doesn’t mean it’s been a while since I’ve cooked! It just means I’ve been cooking up a storm without stopping to jot anything down.

First there was a baby shower, then a visit from the in-laws, and a few restaurants in between. There was zucchini bread, brownies, mini muffins and heart shaped butter. There was fried ravioli. There was 100 fried ravioli, grouped in twos, placed carefully in little takeout boxes.

And that’s where I’m going with this entry…fried ravioli. Usually when I make these, I use mini ravioli, but my mom did the shopping (and purchasing) this time, so no complaints from me. We’ve made these many times for guests, and there are never leftovers, but always compliments. Granted, I should make my own ravioli (and I promise, I’ll do that soon. Seriously. I swear.) But the store bought frozen variety just work so well.

The recipe comes from Giada DiLaurentis’ Everyday Pasta – a book that’s become a staple in my kitchen. It’s no Molto Mario, or Joy of Cooking, but it’s a reliable place to turn when company or winter weather are coming around the corner.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups Italian-style bread crumbs
1 box store-bought cheese ravioli (about 24 ravioli-small and large work well, but the large ones take a bit longer to cook. But then you probably knew that already.)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan marinara sauce, heated, for dipping (optional)

Pour enough olive oil into a large frying pan to reach a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 325 degrees F.

While the oil is heating, put the buttermilk and the bread crumbs in separate shallow bowls. Working in batches, dip ravioli in buttermilk to coat completely. Allow the excess buttermilk to drip back into the bowl. Dredge ravioli in the bread crumbs. Place the ravioli on a baking sheet, and continue with the remaining ravioli. I recommend getting all the ravioli coated before you start cooking them.

When the oil is hot, fry the ravioli in batches, turning occasionally, until golden brown. Transfer the fried ravioli to paper towels to drain…I find it easiest to do this with tongs.
Sprinkle the fried ravioli with Parmesan (before they’ve cooled completely) and serve with a bowl of warmed marinara sauce for dipping.