A blog for fatties.

For people who live to eat--not eat to live.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Zuppa di cipolle italiane e le altre razze miste

Now that the temperature has dropped outdoors, warm and hearty foods start to creep back into our diets and daily routines.  I can't think of a better way to start off a cool and crisp fall season than with a nice, hot bowl of french onion soup.  Only, this soup isn't really French at all.  (Must French Onion soup include French onions?  Zut alors!  I don't know anyone who uses French onions in their onion soup.  If I've had French onions for that matter--I've only had the opportunity to do so on two different occasions and well, obviously they weren't THAT memorable.)  Well, it isn't entirely Italian either.  Okay, so not really Spanish (those onions are grown here BTW) and if you really want to get technical--the Madeira would make it Portuguese.  This recipe, my friends, is a mélange of culinary elements of the aforementioned nations.  It truly is a melting pot--one that oozes of ooey-gooey goodness.

1 tbsp virgin olive oil 
1 Spanish onion, large, thinly sliced
16 shallots, thinly sliced
1/8 cup sliced garlic (about 5 cloves)
1 cup Madeira wine
1 1/2 quarts homemade beef stock
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 small bay leaf
1 6.5 oz container D'Artagnan demi-glace (optional, if omitted supplement 1 cup beef stock)
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black peppercorn
3/4 lb fontina cheese (sliced)
1 loaf pane rustica or other crusty Italian bread  (even tastier with roasted garlic)
flat leaf Italian parsley for garnish

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion, shallots and garlic and saute until onions are translucent and slightly caramelized. Add the Madeira, beef stock, thyme, and bay leaf. Raise the heat to medium and bring to simmer. Add demi-glace and bring to a boil.   Add salt and pepper--adjust salt to your taste.  Lower heat, simmer covered for 20 minutes.
Preheat broiler.

Toast 3/4 inch thick slices of pane rustica or other crusty Italian bread until lightly browned. Ladle soup into crocks and rest a slice of toast on top of each (some crocks have room for two small slices of toast). Lay 2 slices of fontina neatly over each toast slice. Broil for ten minutes on a baking sheet until cheese is melted or browned to your liking. Remove carefully with oven mitts. Caution, crocks will be hot.  Garnish with flat leaf parsley before serving.
serves 6

Friday, June 18, 2010

Not the one I was looking for, but a million times better!

Do you have a steak for Daddy?

If you're like me, you probably haven't the faintest idea what gift to bestow upon your father this father's day. He already owns every imaginable electronic device invented by Apple and quit wearing ties oh, about a decade ago. He claims he wants nothing, but showing up on Sunday empty-handed seems a little ungrateful--especially after everything he's done for you.

One thing my father (like most fathers, I'm sure) has never turned down is a nice, big, juicy steak--with good reason also. I grill a mean steak. Alas, if you haven't already been invited to my house for this Sunday's festivities (which include my first attempt at preparing Peking duck) it looks like you're out of luck...or perhaps not.

Typically father's day is spent by most, grilling outdoors, poolside, enjoying the weather with dad and company. If, per chance, you are one who enjoys to stray from the norm, then I have the perfect suggestion for you. Check out the Pikesville Ruth's Chris Steakhouse's brand new al fresco dining area. Enjoy a Ruth's Chris's succulent USDA Prime steak (I like the Cowboy Ribeye) along with some sauteed mushrooms and garlic mashed potatoes seated outside, on the patio--and do remind Dad to bring his Cubans. I could go on and on about their menu because there really isn't anything I dislike. You can see for yourself. There is a $30 prix fixe menu which includes:

-An 8 oz. filet mignon broiled to perfection
-your choice of Caesar or house salad
-a loaded baked potato or side their famous garlic mashed potatoes

While this is a great deal, I much prefer to order a la carte and try several different things as I wouldn't dare leave the building without having at least a few bites of their Chop Salad and sweet potato casserole. A single mouthful of that velvety sweet potato casserole has you dreaming about it for weeks--months to come. For your convenience, their sides are perfect for sharing family style. If you're really lucky, their lobster bisque might be available as well! Oh and don't forget to bring dad--because this day--it really is about him, of course. Show him how much you care by bringing him to Ruth's Chris. He'll be so gluttonously euphoric, he won't even notice when you slide the bill in his direction. If you haven't already made a reservation--I suggest you do so now, online or by calling (410) 602-6230. If they aren't booked solid already, they will be very soon, I assure you. If they are booked online, call and ask to speak to the general manager, Ben El-Dahabi during the pre-dinner hours from 11am-3pm. He MIGHT be able to make an exception, just mention the blog.

Ummm...yeah...have the BBQ shrimp. I can't believe I forgot about that one. If your change purse has a hole in it--fear not. There are other more-than-affordable options which are equally as tasty if you decide to dine in their bar area.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fond of fungus?

Morel season is just around the corner. Bet you didn't know there is a Mid-Atlantic mushroom club? More details to follow...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

For my DC area readers and locals

Image courtesy of The President Wears Prada
Cafe Saint-Ex still has reservation space available for their "Canned Beer Tasting." The 5-course menu complete with beer accompaniment sounds delicious! I stumbled upon Cafe Saint-Ex a few years back when I went to catch an Ely Guerra (known as the Mexican version of Alanis Morrisette--though I'd argue with that) show at the famed Black Cat Club. My date and I wanted to catch a bite for dinner before the show and happened to park right in front of the restaurant. It is located on the same block as The Black Cat. Named after Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, (author of Le Petit Prince) it is a cozy restaurant with an emphasis on bar/lounge atmosphere. If you want to check out a show at The Black Cat, this is the place to catch a bite to eat beforehand. The "Canned Beer Tasting" is next Tuesday, March 9th from 6pm-9pm. Cost is $70 per person and is exclusive of tax and gratuity.

1st Course
21st Amendment Watermelon Wheat
crispy bufala mozzarella/lavender balsamic/smoked fennel

2nd course
Konig Pilsner
scotch eggs/almond garlic puree/honey dijon

3rd course
21st Amendment IPA
bacon-cheddar oysters/mushroom leek ragout/coriander lemon sabayon

4th course
Young's Double Chocolate Stout
booker's bourbon-smoked pork loin/mocha bean puree/ chocolate bbq sauce

5th course
Bellhaven Scottish Ale
mascarpone ricotta cannoli/orange vanilla sauce/ pistachios

Cafe Saint-Ex
1847 14th Street NW
Washington, DC
Contact: Ashley@Saint-ex.com

FYI: The Black Cat hosts DC's Biggest Britpop Dance Night. Also grammy-nominated recording artist, Janelle Monae will be at The Black Cat on Monday, March 15. If you're into indie-punk with a twist of funk, she isn't to be missed. Grab a bite to eat at Saint-Ex before the show!

Ruth's Chris News

David Sadeghi, COO of Big Steaks Management, (which run Greater Baltimore area Ruth's Chris Steakhouse locations, as well as Havana Club) announced yesterday that a new Mahi-Mahi dish would be added to the already tantalizing, Ruth's Chris menu. If you haven't dined at Ruth's Chris, you are missing out on the ultimate dining experience.

Ruth's Chris is known for their USDA prime steaks, served on sizzling plates with just a touch of melted butter. If you ask me, I say forget the Mahi--I don't care how it is prepared! Order a steak! Side dishes are delicious and served family style. Their sweet potato casserole will drive anyone wild, and is good enough to have for dessert. Make it a point to check out their Pikesville, MD location. Service is friendly and professional--really top-notch! Reservations are recommended--especially on weekends. This place gets packed. Trust me, I have experience.

By the way, in reference to my last blog, your martini olives can be stuffed with blue cheese at Ruth's Chris for no additional charge. I noticed a nasty little practice that some restaurants have succumbed to, is charging extra for blue cheese stuffed olives. At Ruth's Chris, they go the extra mile to keep you coming back.

You can follow David Sadeghi on twitter if you'd like: http://twitter.com/david_sadeghi

Martini with a twist--or not.

As a child I really looked forward to Friday evenings. Not because I was out of school and looking forward to the
Photo by wickenden/Flickr CC
weekend. Definitely not for that. In fact, in our household there was no weekend. No. Saturdays were consumed by Ukrainian school and Sundays were dedicated to church. The real reason I looked forward to Friday evenings was because of a ritual my parents shared...the Friday night martini. A gibson really. Friday evening, just before my father would arrive home from a long day of work, my mother would have a gibson waiting for him on the kitchen counter.

I think it was an obsession with the sleek, conical glass, so elegantly perched atop that long stem that initially sparked my interest. Gradually, it became more than just an affinity for glassware aesthetics. One day, I decided to pluck out one of those cocktail onions and gobble it up. The tartness--and the way my cheek muscles contracted in reaction--that reflex alone, was reason enough to fish out another. By the time my father would get home, his gibson stood there--naked--an ungarnished martini in actuality. And so it became a habit. Friday after Friday, I would get reprimanded for eating my father's vodka-soaked cocktail onions. In time, my mother--thinking she could ween me of this habit, cleverly left a small glass of cocktail onions next to my father's cocktail. Her preventative method proved unsuccessful, as I continued to eat the onions--first from the gibson--then I'd "plunk" the other onions one-by-one, into my father's drink. This pattern continued for several years until sadly, the ritual stopped altogether.

As an adult, aside from wine, my cocktail of choice is a martini or gibson. Wherever I go, if cocktail onions are available, I opt for the gibson--up. The most delicious martini I've ever had was at Pravda, in New York City. It is called "The Gogol," after the Ukrainian-born, modern-realism novelist, known commonly as Nikolai Gogol. The martini is made with house-infused horseradish vodka, garnished with a sprig of dill and a pickled quail egg. Talk about over-the-top. I had three. (Over a lengthy dinner, of course.) Thanks God for taxis! I soon learned that this martini could be made at home by infusing my own vodka and pickling my own quail eggs. The process is quite simple really, and if horseradish-infused vodka isn't your cup of tea, then perhaps a fruit-infused liquor is? I picked up a book called Infused. It is loaded recipes for different liquor infusions--none of which are overly time consuming. If you don't see a recipe that interests you--use your judgement and make one up. Upon deciding that Bakon brand vodka was too reminiscent of Bac-Os imitation bacon bits, I have since decided to infuse my own bacon vodka. I'll likely infuse several different variations. It is an interesting project and great for entertaining. The possibilities are endless.

Other fun martini garnishes:

roquefort-stuffed olives
chevre (goat cheese)-stuffed cherry peppers
marinated mushrooms, pickled green beans or okra

pickled quail eggs recipe: Local Harvest