April 2016 Road Trip – Part 3 (Days 5 and 6)

In February, Ross and I were discussing going to visit his sister, Claire, in New York City and our friends Lori and Brian in Charlotte, NC.  Next thing we had a ten day road trip planned to see them and others along the way.  As the trip included many food adventures I thought I would document it for you here.  Here is part three of the trip.

Saturday April 23
Breakfast of smoke fish and bagels (see post 2) followed by a trip into DC to go the Bureau of Engraving. Oops. Closed on weekends. Thanks government web site for telling us that when we checked the hours. NOT.

JuliasKitchenEmerilWe decided to go to the American History museum at the Smithsonian to see Julia Child’s Kitchen. It was in “Food” which was a great exhibit. Her kitchen was awesome along with her histories and some old videos of various shows including a really old Emeril episode when he was probably thirty something.


RavenswoodB Route66 We walked through the transportation exhibit which included an old Chicago Ravenswood B train. Very cool to see a piece of my childhood in a museum…As Kristin said “hmm our childhood is in a history museum”. Good? Not sure. Decided we needed a road trip down the historic Route 66 some year. A journey trip as opposed to a destination trip (again quoting Kristin).



Went for early Korean dinner at Kogiya in Annandale, VA.  Some of the better Korean we have had.  Banchan was already on the table when we were seated so we dug in and kept digging into many things for well over an hour.

Scallion and Seafood Pancakes

Scallion and Seafood Pancakes

I ordered a Korean wine that turned out to be a small bottle of a flavored soju. Needless to say I drank, in a shot glass, barely half and smuggled the rest to share with John and Wesley on the next leg in Richmond.

Back to the house for wine, a cello concert by Madame MadameEveEve (aka Genevieve) and our first episode of “The Night Manager“, a British show, I am already hooked on.

Sunday April 24th
Checked out of Hotel Genevieve (she plays hostess at the “hotel” aka their house) and headed to DC to see our friend Mike. It’s been a couple years and it was great to see and catch up with him.

USMCMuseumOn we went to Quantico, VA to take a quick look through the National Museum of the Marine Corps. Liked Helicopterthe war-by-war setup off a circular hallway. Hope to get back someday when the museum is complete. It is only ten years old and they are still collecting memorabilia to continue the exhibit expansion.


Skylight from first floor through glass walk over

Skylight from first floor through glass walk over

Glass Walkover

Glass Walkover

We headed south to Richmond, VA for a quick visit with John and Wesley. They’ve built an amazing structure I’ve watched in photos, become a house. We were very much looking forward to seeing them (Ross and Wesley hadn’t seen each other in over ten years!) and their amazing house.  They have a skylight in the center of the house over the staircase which has glass flooring to cross over.  You have to see it to really get the feeling of what I’m talking about.  It is, by far, one of the most unique ideas in home design I have ever seen.

We walked a couple blocks to Saison for cocktails. Gladness in the Kingdom (Mezcal, Cocchi Torino, Averna, Campari, Orange Bitters) was sooooo good. Love a good mezcal beverage! SaisonCocktail
Dinner at Maple and Pine in the Quirk Hotel was very good.  The gnocchi and pate were excellent. Scallops were good and salmon rillette too. Spring veg I liked much more than any one else. Schnitzel, swordfish, lamb, hanger is the order we preferred the mains. The sides with the hangar werMPGnocchie awesome but the meat too chewy.


Walked back to Saison to go to their market and for another round and Ross and Wesley ordered a Negroni flight which was five different very tasty Campari cocktails.  NegroniFlight


FacesWe then headed back to the house where Wesley played bartender making some very tasty beverages. It was a great night hanging with old friends, tasting new cocktails, and eating good food.

April 2016 Road Trip – Part 2 (Days 3 and 4 of 10)

Prince RIP

In February, Ross and I were discussing going to visit his sister, Claire, in New York City and our friends Lori and Brian in Charlotte, NC.  Next thing we had a 10 day road trip planned to see them and others along the way.  As the trip included many food adventures I thought I would document it for you here.  Here is part 2 of the trip.

Thursday April 21
Today was take your family to work day!  We took the train, with Claire, to see her new work place at the base of the island where all the ferry’s come in.  The views from their offices were spectacular although Claire’s work space  is in the basement where the photo shoots are done so she has no view.

FlavorsMenu ProteinBowlWe left Claire at work and started making our way through Manhattan.  Breakfast was at Flavors down the street from her work.  Ross had a salmon sandwich and I had a protein bowl.   This is now a new favorite breakfast I’m making at home with variations.  (see Facebook posts)

911Memorial WorldTradeWe then walked over to a very emotional place, the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum.  We spent a good amount of time in the museum although there were many parts I could not bring myself to relive.  I had 2 good cries while on the grounds and in the museum.  I highly recommend you go there when in New York as it is beautiful although sad and those who lost their lives deserve to be honored by us all.  The new building is beautiful reflecting light and standing proud over lower Manhattan.

Next stop, Chelsea Market, ChelseaMarketa food and food related gift emporium.  Very touristy which is not our thing.  We walked through it looking for a place to have lunch but couldn’t find anything interesting enough to try so we left.  Not impressed.

BouchonSalmonAnother part of the days plan was to visit Williams-Sonoma in Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle so we headed north.  The store is beautiful.  Not as beautiful as the one in Chicago, but still beautiful.  Deciding where to go for lunch became easy when we saw Bouchon Bakery and Cafe.  We like eating there in Napa Valley so why not in New York!  We both ordered salads with salmon on top as we needed something green for a change of pace.  If you’ve been following these posts you know healthy has not been on the menu for the most part!

We took a bus along Riverside Drive back to Claire’s.  It was a beautiful day to see the park along the water buzzing with people and pets.  While waiting for her to return home she called and gave us the news about Prince dying that morning.  It was and still is very sad news.

CecilCocktailWe were meeting some friends of Claire’s, Lucy and Andrew, for CecilMenudinner at The Cecil which is an African, Asian, and American fusion restaurant in Harlem. While we waited I had to try the Blood and Fire cocktail made with Mezcal, Allspice Dram, Bissap and Lemon Juice. I really liked it considering I had no idea what some of the ingredients were. Our meal was excellent. The flavors were unique and some we had never tasted before making it a favorite meal of the trip.  We later found out Cecil was named one of the best restaurants in NY for 2015 by Eater.


Crudo and Carrots


Fish Stew


Wok Bar/Tofu and Rice


Mac and Cheese






Friday April 22
RussDaughtersDrove south and found ourselves “crossing Delancey” street as we headed DPDonutsto pick up Russ and Daughters breakfast along with smoked fish Fishand bagels to take to friends Tim, Kristin, Declan, and Genevieve (The Deady’s) who are our next overnight stop in northern VA.  We heard we had to stop at Doughnut Plant on the way as it was nearby.   The donuts were good but the bagel and lox sandwiches were much better.  RDSandwich

Into New Jersey at 8:47am.  Into Delaware at 10:58am.  First time I’ve been in DE however brief. Can knock it off my list of states I’ve never been to. Woohoo. Down to 3 now! Very cool. Been a long time since I knocked one off the list.

Maryland at 11:15am. 8 states so far. Not bad.  Met up with old friends Paul and Leigh in Havre de Grace, MD which is a quaint water front town not far from Baltimore.
TidewaterGrillCapreseSteak TGBurger

Had lunch at the Tidewater Grille right on the water and since I was in MD on the shore I had to eat crab.  TCrabhey offered lump meat on a salad so I went with it and ate some really fresh crab I didn’t have to take out of the shell.  The mussels we ordered for the table met my “I’ve never met Musselsa mussel dish I didn’t like” expectation.  Leigh ordered the Steak Caprese Salad which looked really good and was something I had never seen or thought of before.  Ross ate a simple salad from what I recall.  Paul got the burger and I liked his chips.  Yes I have a thing for chips.  The fries we ordered were eh.

DC at 4:40PM EDT. Back into Maryland for just a few minutes and then our final state of the day and 9th of the trip, Virginia at 5:09PM.
Dinner at the Deady’s was perfect. Salad, meat, cheese, bread, and pate. Felt like Italy not Northern VA. Some vino and an early bed time.

April 2016 Road Trip – Part 1 (Days 1 and 2 of 10)


In February, Ross and I were discussing going to visit his sister, Claire, in New York City and our friends Lori and Brian in Charlotte, NC.  Next thing we had a 10 day road trip planned to see them and others along the way.  As the trip included many food adventures I thought I would document it for you here.

Tuesday April 19th
Left the house just after 4am.  Exactly 4:09 according to Ross who wanted to leave at 4.
Into Indiana at 4:34am. Amazing how far you can go in 30 minutes at this hour.
Daylight 5:45 central time!
Hi Ohio! 7:54 eastern. Time for smoothies made last night from the fridge and freezer produce and beverage remains.  Tasted pretty good considering.
Lunch plans thwarted. Lola is not open for lunch.  Switching it up to a triple D (Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives) spot Lucky’s Cafe and we don’t have to wait until 11:30 when we thought Lola opened!  Arrived into Cleveland right on time at 10:30 eastern.


Ross had tomato soup and lamb burger.  I had baked mac and cheese and the Reuben, both of which they are known for.  All good but Ross won the lunch choice.

It is now 12:40PM and we’re in PA!!!  Now to get outta here and into NJ.
We’ve been in PA a very long time and have finally arrived into NJ at 6:01 after crossing the Delaware Water Gap.
6:40-Signs for the George Washington Bridge.  Yippee!!!!
Claire’s apartment is really nice.  The building is old (built in 1912) with a marble and bronze lobby. ClaireLobby Her West Harlem neighborhood is very eclectic.  Very much an up and coming area of NYC.
Dinner at Bo-No at the corner had a good mixed green salad and wood fired pizzas.  Went back to Claire’s and drank wine we had brought from our cellar.  It was a very long and good day.

Wednesday April 20th
Day 2 started with a walk to the local coffee shop for bagels and coffee. Good stuff, nothing fancy.

We spent the day getting a walking tour of Claire’s neighborhood.  We walked up through West Harlem seeing some local sights including a distant view of Yankee Stadium from up high.  If you look real closely you can see the flags at the ball park.
We then took the subway to 125th and went to Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster, where I have wanted to go for a very long time, for lunch.

Best chicken sandwich I’ve ever eaten.  If I lived nearby it would be lunch at least once a week or so.  Sooooo good.  Chips were really good too.  Ross had the sandwich of the week, a salmon sandwich, that was good but something we could make at home (note to self: arugula with salmon really good).  Claire’s green mac and cheese was good and green.  Less guilt if it has greens in it???
HamiltonGrangeTour of Hamilton’s Grange  (Alexander Hamilton’s) house was very interesting and entertaining.  Our guide was very knowledgeable and made the visit fun.  His house was moved a few times over the years and is still a beautiful place.  It would have been wonderful to live in a home like this back in the day.  I really liked the glassware in this photo and thought you might too.

After spending the day in Harlem we went to the village for dinner at Jonathon Waxman’s Barbuto an Italian restaurant Ross had on his list of places to try in NYC.   Barbuto BarbutoCocktail BarbutoMenu BurrataPorkLoin chicken carrotsPotatoesgnocchi

Upon arrival we ordered cocktails.  Mine was a tequila, lemongrass, agave nectar, and smoked salt combo which made for an interesting and very tasty cocktail.  The Burrata was delicious as our first course.  Grilled fiddleheads…who knew they could be so good.   I demolished the well prepared pork loin.  Ross ate quite a bit of the chicken (Waxman is known for his roast chicken).  Claire ate most of the gnocchi and we helped.  The carrots were better than any I ever remember eating and those potatoes…oh my, they were exceptional.  Needless to say we have nothing but great things to say about this meal.

FullyCommittedAfter dinner we went up to the theater district to see Jesse Tyler Ferguson in previews of Fully Committed.  Very funny one-man show where he plays the reservationist at a high-end hard to get in restaurant.  He also plays the chef, maitre ‘d, hostess, and others who work there while taking calls and being the customers on those calls.  His voice and movement changes throughout were incredible.  90 minutes, no intermission.  He had to be exhausted.

To think we have done all this in less than 48 hours!  More to come as the remaining 8 days have plenty more memories to share!

My Cookbook Project – Books 18, 19, and 20

book 18 19 20 plate

In 1977, Mollie Katzen wrote what was for me the first vegetarian cookbook.  I don’t recall knowing much about vegetarian food back then but I do remember getting her Moosewood Cookbook (hand written with pen and ink pictures all in black and white) and loving it.  I have 3 of Mollie’s books and here are the recipes I selected from them to share with you.

It was a very hot day in Chicago when I embarked on my quest for a 3 course meatless Monday meal so I started with a cold soup from Moosewood Cookbook.  (mine is the original but I suspect this recipe is in the 40th anniversary version too).  The Chilled Cucumber-Yogurt Soup (page 30) was simple, quick, and the flavor was crisp and sweet.  Since we like our food with some spice I used Chili Honey from Williams-Sonoma (sorry…it appears they no longer sell it online) which added the right amount of heat to a non-spicy dish.  After the soup sat in the fridge for a while it separated but a quick shake and it was back to normal.  For texture I added some sliced green onion as a garnish when I served it.  A small amount of chopped cucumber would do the same.

The salad course came from Mollie’s 1982 book, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, which is a little more sophisticated (still black and white, and hand written) than Moosewood and still a charming book of recipes and pictures. The soup made me think of raita, one of my favorite Indian dips so I was thinking of going down an Indian path for the remainder of the dishes.  In paging through I found some eggplant salad (scroll down once on the linked page) recipes and chose the Indian version (page 64) which I was glad to find.  It went very well with the soup as it was another cold dish and had a lot of flavor.  Cooking the spices made a huge difference in the texture and taste of the dish.  I watched it very carefully to be sure I ended with chunks and not mush. Eggplant turns to mush very quickly if you are not keeping a watchful eye!


The Golden Rice Pie with Spinach Filling (page 126) from Mollie’s Vegetable Heaven was gorgeous and had a lot of flavor although it was very dry. I made it a point to not let the spinach mixture get too “evaporated” so as to not make the dish dry but apparently it wasn’t wet enough. There will be a next time and I will add another egg and more yogurt to the rice mixture to make the top and bottom not so dry. It is interesting how I work in a cookware store and couldn’t find a covered 10 inch casserole dish in my house so I cooked it in my 3 1/2 quart Le Creuset Braiser which although bigger than 10 inches was a good choice as the pie came out and left very little to clean up in the pan. To easily get it out of the pan I used a narrow spatula and pushed from the edge all the way around to the middle. It was heavy to flip over, due to the pan, but it came out perfectly.

Being a meat eater it is always nice to find vegetarian recipes I like enough to make them again and this adventure in Mollie Katzen land did not disappoint.  In fact, I may need to look into getting another of her many books!


My Cookbook Project – Book 17

You know how you have something in the fridge, pantry, or cabinet and you are not quite sure what to do with it…well this is the book for you!  I love this book as it tells you what pairs well with what.  For example, you have some mushrooms and the dishes you usually prepare with them are getting stale so you want something new and you want to make it up. You open this book and look up mushrooms and you get a list of ingredients you can be sure will go well with those shrooms you have.  Bacon, barley, Gruyere and Parmesan, cream, garlic, grapes, pistachios, sausage, shallots, spinach, tomatoes, and so many more options.  Many of which you may also have in the house.  There aren’t a lot of recipes in the book but I found a couple starting with mushrooms!

Culinary Artistry by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page is a must have in your culinary world.  As is their other book, The Flavor Bible which goes into the beauty of food as well as the excellent combos.

The recipes I made from this book were not cooked.  Both were raw and so good.  The leftovers were too!  Mushroom, Walnut, and Spinach salad with Mustard Vinaigrette by Joyce Goldstein (page 340) was so fresh and the dressing so light it was a great dish on a hot summer night.  With the salad we had Chilled Fresh Tomato Soup with Pepper Relish by Bradley Ogden (page 349). This soup is now going to be a go-to in the summer for a light supper.  So quick and easy it makes sense when tomatoes are in season and so flavorful to eat it regularly.  The recipe did state “a food processor or blender should not be used as too much air is incorporated” but I used my Vitamix on low speed and it worked fine.  I tried the food mill I have had and disliked for years first then went with the blender as it was faster and easier.  The food mill ended up in the garbage.  I will use my Vitamix for those types of tasks from now on.  Both of these recipes were quick to prepare and without having to turn the stove or oven on in July they were a pleasure to prepare and eat.


My Cookbook Project – Book 16

"Those blue eyes.  That Spanish accent.  His sweet demeanor.  Oh wait, I was getting caught up in the few times I have had the opportunity to look into Jose Andres eyes and chat with him.  Such a pleasant man who happens to know how to cook interesting and flavorful Spanish cuisine.

For this installment Ross picked out the book and I got excited about his choice as I had perused this book but never cooked from it.  He chose Jose’s recipe for Marmitako a traditional Basque stew of tuna, potatoes, pepper, and onions from Made in Spain: Spanish Dishes for the American Kitchen.

I did the initial prep of cubing the tuna, roasting the peppers, grating the tomato (something I had never done before and found it so easy I will make up reasons to do it again), and boiling the potato (which oddly the book didn’t say to do but the Denver Post article does) earlier in the day which made dinner prep at cooking time much faster.  Instead of frying the bread I toasted it in the oven during my early prep.  All of these steps can be done in advance, even the day before, and put away until it is time to complete the dish.

I am not a big fan of the flavor of green pepper but now I like them as much as any other color pepper when they are roasted.  They have more sweetness than when just cooked or eaten raw.

"As for the final product…the flavor and texture was really good.  The fish was cooked perfectly, the potatoes were the right amount of done, a little al dente which kept them from falling apart, the sweetness of the pepper, all around the stew was a success. We slurped it with a bottle of Spanish wine to make the experience feel like Jose was with us…if only!

The only thing I didn’t like was we had leftovers as the recipe is for 4-6 servings.  Reheating fish can be disastrous and rather than find out, the stew has been sitting in the fridge since the night we made it. I am sure it’s still fresh enough to eat but am concerned I won’t like it as much reheated so I keep ignoring it.  I guess I should just take it out, heat it up, and see.  Maybe tomorrow!


My Cookbook Project – Book 15

Why is it I keep posting dinner?  Why not try out a breakfast recipe from a book I have no idea where I got it from but glad I found it in my collection.

I was looking through my library of books and found Peace Meals by The Junior League of Houston.  In looking through this beautiful book I found a frittata recipe and thought “sure, why not” I love a good frittata and make them often…what I call my “clean out the fridge” breakfast.  Oddly, I had all the ingredients in the house with the exception of arugula so it was an easy recipe to pick for post #15.

This particular recipe, Arugula and Asparagus Frittata, makes the dish differently than I usually do but is still a method I know well.  My usual method is to saute the veg and meat (this recipe doesn’t have meat) then put them in a baking dish and dump the beaten eggs and milk on top.  I then put it in the oven and bake them.  However, this time I made it on the stove top to follow the directions and then under the broiler to melt the Parmesan on top.  I recently purchased a new non-stick pan set from Williams-Sonoma to use for egg dishes and it was the perfect pan to make the frittata in.  Non-stick is right.  The eggs slid right out of the pan.  I couldn’t have been more pleased with the pan or the resulting breakfast.  Frittatas in my house will be made in this way going forward as it had one less item to clean-up and I am all about saving time in the morning.
The recipe is not available online but here is an idea of what it includes. Whisk together eggs, milk, thyme, salt and pepper. Saute asparagus in butter then remove it and mix it with Gruyere cheese. Wilt the arugula in the same pan and pour the egg mixture on top. Cook until the bottom is set then top with the asparagus and cheese mixture. Put it under the broiler to finish it, take it out and top with some Parmesan cheese. If you would like a picture of the real recipe, please comment below or like me on Facebook and ask for it there.

A beautiful book giving the ability to create a beautifully soft yet finished top frittata. This one is a new addition to the morning repertoire.  Next time I will try to whisk the whites until fluffy then fold in the yolks to get a fluffy frittata and see what we think about that!

My Cookbook Project – Book 11 and 12

You never know when you attempt a recipe for the first time if it is going to be a success. Finding cookbook authors you can depend on is the key. Both of these fall into that category for me.

Twice I have seen Michael Ruhlman speak and both times I was impressed with his style and wit. His cooking is clean and concise, easy to follow, and pretty darn tasty. His recipes are too! For this installment I chose a recipe of his from Ruhlman’s 20, and another from my favorite go-to book, The Joy of Cooking.


I wanted to prepare a fish I had not cooked before so Ruhlman’s Pan Roasted Cod w/Chorizo Vinaigrette (page 254) recipe was selected.  In deciding what to serve it with I knew I wanted something simple and green. Spinach, quickly sauteed with garlic is a staple in our house but in keeping with my cookbook project I dug up a like recipe to prepare from The Joy of Cooking called Panned (Sicilian) Spinach (page 306).  When I got to the grocery store, Mariano’s, cod was on sale.  Dinner was not only going to be something new but less expensive too!

All ingredients assembled, let the cooking commence.

I started with making the vinaigrette which took the longest of the components in the meal.  Red onion, red bell pepper, and a jalapeno were sauteed in oil.  The mixture added some heat and the spice and smokiness of the chorizo topped it off.  The recipe made more than needed so the leftovers were a salad dressing the next day.  The cod was seasoned with salt and pepper then pan fried, drained on paper towels and served with the vinaigrette on top.  The fish had a great mouth feel and slightly spicy flavor.  Spinach and garlic, how can it be bad. So simple yet so flavorful.

As an add-on I wanted a starch so I added some smashed potatoes from no recipe, just my mind.  I boiled some baby reds, heated some olive oil in a skillet and turned the taters into the pan.  A quick saute and then smashed them with a spatula.  I added some roasted garlic powder, toasted onion powder (2 of my go-to’s for quick and easy seasoning), salt and pepper.  The result was just as I wanted, soft with a little crust, flavorful, and a perfect match with the cod and spinach.


My Cookbook Project – Book 10

Yesterday was Cinco de Mayo so Mexican food it had to be for my cookbook project #10 post!

Living in Chicago when I think of really good Mexican food I think of Rick Bayless. I have a few of his books and chose Rick Bayless Mexican Everyday for a complete meal. Ross wanted tacos so I reviewed a few options and decided to go with Green Chili Chicken Soft Tacos (page 198 or click on the recipe title for the online recipe) for our main dish. One of the recipe options was to use Yucatecan Garlic-Spice Marinade (page 142) which turned out to be a great option and the leftovers will be brushed on some roasted vegetables this weekend. I then perused additional recipes looking for side dishes. The Gulf Coast-Style White Rice Pilaf (page 88) sounded like a good one along with the optional Poblano Rice with Herbs add-ins.  Cowboy Beans (page 86) were right on target with how I make beans often without a recipe so I chose to try something written instead of winging it. We used pinto and great northern beans as that is what we had in the house and I cut the bacon in half which was a perfect idea to lessen the fat content.

The result was an amazing plate of flavor! " We used corn tortillas (I didn’t have time to make them from scratch so used El Milagro which are my favorites. Added some sour cream and jarred salsa on top with the chicken, onions, and peppers to make juicy tacos. The rice was perfectly cooked with a little crunch from the bottom of the pot and full of flavor. We added some corn which gave it texture. It was so easy to make there will be more creativity coming with baking rice. The cowboy beans were my favorite part of the meal. They were smoky, spicy, and full of flavor better even after squeezing some lime on them. I had never used canned (actually jarred) pickled jalapenos before and will use them again since I have the better part of the jar left over and really liked the heat they added.

Earlier in the day, while the poblanos were roasting, I made the marinade. I did not marinate the chicken just brushed it on during the cooking. Next time I will marinate the chicken to see if the flavor is more prevalent although it was pretty good with just two brushings. Once we began cooking it took about 45 minutes to get it all done. We got the rice started and into the oven then made the beans and finally the chicken. The onions and peppers were left out of the oven as the rice was in there at 350. We did not add the chicken to the vegetables so the leftover onions and peppers are now with the rice in a container waiting for me to take some for lunch tomorrow. I am sure I will enjoy it just the same!