Sunday, April 12, 2009

Pictures of a local favorite

Remember when I posted in January about Bourdain's DC episode? And remember that chicken from El Pollo Rico that I raved about? Well....

...behold the glory!
That, my friend, is pure flavor. Simple and delicious.
And again.I told you: 3 choices. Chicken (white or dark, quarter, half, or whole), french fries, coleslaw. I usually hate restaurant coleslaw but theirs is good. And the fries are crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. SO good.

And remember those dips? Bottom right: green jalepeno. Bottom left: creamy tangy sauce. Top: the two mixed together. Sigh. Life doesn't get much better than this.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Valentine's Day Dinner

...2 months later! But it was so delicious I had to still mention it! Sea bass en papillote, white wine cream reduction, lyonnais potatoes, and chocolate molten cake! But the best part was that I didn't have to cook the sea bass. It was my boyfriend's gift to me since I'm the one always doing the cooking. (Funny how I still get suckered into doing the potatoes and chocolate molten cake, though ;)
The sea bass en papillote was perfect for my boyfriend to do. It's so simple I intend to use this technique for other fish and poultry. Cut an oversized portion of parchment for each sea bass. Place the sea bass on the parchment and rub generously with olive oil, sea salt, fresh black pepper, a whole rosemary sprig, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and lemon slices. Fold the parchment over the fillet, leaving room for it to steam. If I recall, we cooked it at 350 for around 12 minutes. Sea bass has a high fat content, so it's more difficult to dry it out. Thus why it's perfect for a beginner!And remember that wonderful wine I posted about when I went to Jaleo? Well I knew then it would be saved for a wonderful seafood dinner; and this was it. We used it in the white wine cream sauce and it made the biggest difference in the world! I was so proud of my boyfriend because we didn't follow a recipe for the sauce and he spotted what was missing and added it! Butter, shallots, sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper, white wine, sauteed creminis, rosemary (the missing ingredient), and a touch of cream. Perfect.Lyonnais potatoes are another simple go-to for me for a quick side dish. Pre-cook your potatoes (I used red skinned and left the skins on) in boiling water until a fork can easily puncture the potato to the center. Drain and remove from the pan. You can either slice them or chop; it's your choice. In another pan heat a generous portion of butter and shallots. Add potatoes and coat. Sea salt, black pepper, and chopped fresh parsley. That's all it takes! Now onto dessert!!! I LOVE this recipe. Let me caution you: It is decadent and rich! A small amount goes a LONG way. I have yet to be able to eat my entire portion.

Just look at that center!As I've stated before, I am not a baker. I've made this recipe twice and each time has turned out beautifully. The great thing is that you can make this batter the day before, portion it in ramicans, place in the fridge, cover, and bake the next day. It takes slightly longer for refrigerated batter and doesn't rise as much. I prefer to make it fresh, but if you're in a pinch and need to do it the night before, don't worry. They still turn out molten and the flavor is fantastic. However you bake them, keep an eye on them and check with a toothepick to see when they're done. It's practically goof-proof. Even if you overcook and the center isn't molten, you'll still have the best, most decadent chocolate cake!

Chocolate Molten Cakes

(adapted from Epicurious)

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I use Lindt 70% dark)
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-2 teaspoons brewed coffee or instant coffee mixed with water

Vanilla Bean ice cream

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Butter six ramicans. Stir chocolate and butter in double boiler over low heat until melted.* Cool slightly. Whisk eggs and egg yolks in large bowl to blend. Add vanilla extract and coffee.** Whisk in sugar, then chocolate mixture and flour. Pour batter into ramicans.

Bake cakes until sides are set but center remains soft and runny, about 11 minutes or up to 14 minutes for refrigerated batter. Run a small knife or toothepick around the cakes to loosen. Turn cakes out onto places. Serve with good vanilla bean ice cream.

Notes: For extra protection against sticking, coat ramicans in butter and cocoa powder. Line bottom with buttered parchment circles. This ensures that the cakes slide out easily.
* Double boiler: In a medium saucepan bring water to a rolling boil. Place another pan on top of the saucepan, making sure that the bottom does not touch the water. Place chocolate and butter in top saucepan to melt. This is an extra precaution against burning the chocolate and butter mixture while melting.
** The original recipe doesn't call for vanilla extract and coffee. However, both intensify the flavor and depth of the chocolate. Otherwise you risk your cake tasting like a melted chocolate bar.

This is a great recipe! The whole dinner was fantastic and was perfected with the delicious Spanish wine. Happy (belated) Valentine's Day to all!

Catching up...

So I'm using this weekend to--hopefully--catch up on posts. I've been remiss in posting about my cooking adventures since, well, February! I have Valentine's Day dinner, bread making, my first attempt at Indian out of my newly acquired Indian cookbook, a fantastic and simple pasta caprese, and tomorrow, the piece de résistance, Easter! So stay tuned as I try to catch up...

Friday, April 10, 2009

More Ovaltine Please!

Let me get this out there.
And it MUST be the chocolate malt kind. I grew up on the stuff and never grew out of it. It's so much better than Swiss Miss, and you can have it hot or cold. And now that I'm more aware of ingredient contents, I can still say it's far better for you than other hot chocolate mixes.

Hot. Cold. Hell, I eat the powder straight out of the jar! Are there any other Ovaltine lovers out there?