Beet and Orange Salad with Mint

This was another one adapted from an older Food & Wine (November 2010). It was an easy weeknight salad, especially since I roasted the beets over the weekend.

Beet & Orange Salad with Mint

1 lb chioggia beets

2 navel oranges

1/8 cup chopped parsley

1/8 cup chopped mint

1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1/2 small shallot, minced

1/2 tablespoon honey

1/8 teaspoon sumac

1/4 cup olive oil

1.5 oz feta

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. You’ll want to wrap the beets tightly in tin foil so that they steam while you roast them. Don’t cut them, just wrap them whole with enough room in the so that they can steam. It will probably take around an hour, but you’ll  know they are done when you can pierce them easily with a fork. Cool. Peel skin from the beets with your fingers and dice into 1/4 inch squares.

Using a sharp knife, section the oranges (if you don’t know how to section an orange, watch a video like I did! One is http://www.familycircle.com/videos/v/71312329/how-to-section-an-orange.htm, though warning her voice is annoying). Add the oranges to the beets along with the parsley and mint.

In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the vinegar, shallot, honey, and sumac. Whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad (to taste) and toss gently to coat. Add the feta and toss again. Serve.

Magic Bars

Magic Bars

A few weeks ago I decided to make a dangerously delicious bar treats from one of our older issues of Food and Wine (2010). I had some sweetened condensed milk that had been hanging around for a while and was waiting to be used. Warning: these bars are the opposite of healthy, but they are utterly delicious.

Dulce de Leche, Coconut and Chocolate Chip Magic Bars

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons vanilla

1 egg yolk

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 oz bacon, diced

3 cups flaked coconut

12 oz semisweet chocolate

1/2 cup salted roasted almonds

16 oz jar dulce du leche

14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 9-by-13-inch glass baking pan with parchment paper, leaving up to 1 inch of overhang. Spray the paper with vegetable oil spray. Although it will be difficult to spread the cookie crust on the parchment paper, you absolutely must use parchment paper (I didn’t do this the first time and it took two days of soaking to get the gooey mess off my Pyrex)

In a medium saucepan, cook the butter over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and browned, about 4 minutes. Scrape the butter into a large bowl and freeze just until solid, about 15 minutes.

Using a handheld electric mixer, beat the sugar, vanilla seeds and egg yolk into the butter at medium speed until blended. Add the flour and salt and beat until moistened crumbs form. Press the crumbs into the prepared baking pan and bake in the lower third of the oven for about 20 minutes, until the crust is set and lightly browned.

Meanwhile, wipe out the bowl used to make the crust. In a medium skillet, cook the bacon over moderately high heat until browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain the bacon on paper towels and let cool. In the bowl, toss the coconut with the chocolate chips, almonds and bacon.

In another bowl, whisk the dulce de leche with the condensed milk; pour two-thirds of it in the crust. Lightly press the coconut-bacon mixture over the dulce de leche. Drizzle the remaining dulce de leche mixture on top.

Bake the bars for 35 to 40 minutes, until lightly browned on top. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the bars cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Carefully remove the bars from the pan and peel off the paper. Cut into bars and serve.

Restaurants: Matchbox 14th Street, Cafe Ole

We had friends in town from Boston this week which meant eating out on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. I picked the restaurants based on their tastes and the fact that one would be coming from Bethesda with an adorable little package (/four-month old).

Matchbox

I chose Matchbox for Tuesday night because the friend we ate with is more of a burger and pizza kind of guy. I called the hostess before we left our house since Matchbox does call ahead seating, but when we arrived at the restaurant, the hostess didn’t have a record of my name. Fail. It took about a 1/2 hour to get seated after we put in our name a second time.

After that gaffe, the experience was fine. Our waiter was friendly and attentive, the space is cool (light wood, loft-like), and the food was solid. I had a crab and avocado starter which had too much corn used as a filler, sliders which were tasty but nothing memorable, and the salmon entrée. The salmon was straightforward, but perfectly cooked. One other point to note: if I go again, I’ll order beer. Although there are several wines to choose from by the glass or from the tap, both of the ones that I chose were flat and too sweet. I didn’t even bother to finish the second glass. Despite its shortcomings, Matchbox is a good choice for a simple weeknight meal.

1901 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 328-0369

Cafe Ole

On Wednesday, we went to Cafe Ole in Tenleytown, The last time I went to Cafe Ole was in 2005. I remembered liking the food, but it had been so long. Was it really as good as I remembered?

Actually, yes. The food is simple and tasty – a nice choice for a very casual weeknight Mediterranean meal. The restaurant is located in an office building on Wisconsin Avenue a few blocks south of the Tenleytown metro. The space is corporate, but there is a nice patio outside and a small bar. We arrived at 7:00 pm: it was full of families with small children, as well as couples from the neighborhood.

The meal is mezze style, so we ordered a variety of small plates. The humus special (lamb and humus) was probably my favorite, but everything was tasty. I think we ordered five dishes for three people, and it was just the right amount of food. The wine selection by the glass wasn’t very good, but this isn’t the kind of place you choose if your priority that night is wine anyway. The best part? It’s not expensive. With wine and beer, I think the total was only $32 per person. Not bad.

4000 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20016
(202) 244-1330

- Spoon

Beet and Blood Orange Salad with Mint

Monday night’s dinner was a variation on a creamy chicken and mushroom fricassee (F&W 10/2008), a variation on a beet and blood orange salad with mint (F&W 11/2010), and pan roasted asparagus. The beet salad was the winner; I’ll definitely be making it again. The chicken dish was fine – nothing outstanding – but it did teach me how to roast bone-in chicken breasts in my oven.

Here’s the timing and temperature on the chicken breasts so I don’t forget: After brining two bone-in chicken breasts for approximately two to three hours, I patted them dry with a paper towel and seasoned generously with salt, pepper, and Herbs de Provence. I placed them skin side up on a rack in a roasting pan in an oven preheated to 425 degrees. The smaller breast took 30 minutes, the slightly larger breast 40. Both were perfectly moist and not overdone.

Beet and Blood Orange Salad with Mint

3 large chioggia beets

2 oranges

1/4 cup chopped parsley

3 tablespoons julienned mint

3 tablespoons lemon juice

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 small shallot

1 teaspoon honey

1/8 teaspoon sumac

6 tablespoons olive oil

feta cheese (crumbled)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. After rinsing beets, place them on a large sheet of tin foil. For an even roasting of the beets, fold the foil over the beets and crimp the sides closed. This will have the effect of steaming the beets (in addition to roasting them) and will make clean up a snap! Place the beets in the oven to roast. After about an hour, check the beets with a fork for doneness. If you can easily pierce the beets with the fork, they’re done. I think mine took about an hour and a half. Remove the beets from oven. Let them sit until cool enough to handle. When the beets are cool enough to handle, slip their peels off with your fingers, and chop  into 3/4 inch cubes.

Using a sharp knife, peel the oranges, removing all of the bitter pith. Then, segment the orange (I watched a video online on how to do this), cutting each segment into halves. Put the segments, beets, parsley, and mint a salad bowl. In a jam jar, shake the lemon juice, vinegar, honey, and sumac. Add olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the dressing over the salad — as little or as much as you want — and then toss to coat. Sprinkle with feta cheese and serve.

-Spoon

Chez Billy

Last night a group of us went to Chez Billy in Petworth to celebrate our friend Jonny’s birthday. It was our first time at the restaurant and we loved it.

First, the space is really special. When you walk in the restaurant, you enter into a large room with a beautiful bar, high ceilings, and darkly painted wood. The weather yesterday was chilly and rainy, and the fireplace across from the bar was lit and crackling away. Another nice design touch were wood dividers that had the effect of creating sections for the bar seating along the wall opposite the bar itself. While we were waiting for our friends to arrive, Bear and I had cocktails at the bar. I ordered the Aperitif Maison (champagne, rum, apple shrub) and Bear ordered the l’invitee (bourbon, smoked grapefruit, peach liqueur, lavender bitters). Both were delicious, though Bear’s was a bit too sweet for my taste. Our bartender told us that the restaurant was named after a previous owner – Billy – who was a civil rights advocate and who operated the establishment when it was Billy Simpson’s House of Seafood and Steaks. The restaurant was closed in the late 1970s and was owned by the DC government until its current owners took over the space.

Second, the food was solid. Bear ordered the chicken & sweetbread terrine, which was generous and rich, and I ordered the Betteraves salad which was composed of baby red kale, roasted and raw beets, hazelnuts, and petit basque cheese. The beets were roasted perfectly and the dressing was nutty with just the right amount of seasoning to bring the salad together. For my entrée, I ordered the braised beef cheek. It was fork tender and absolutely delicious, and served with just the right amount of sauce. Bear ordered the duck confit. The skin was well-crisped on the outside, and the meat inside succulent (which I suppose isn’t too surprising given it was poached in its own fat). For wine, we ordered two bottles: the Grénache 2008 Perrin et Fils Gigondas La Gille Rhône ($66) and the Grénache, Syrah, Mourvedre 2007 Marquis de Ravardel Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe (69$). I think most everyone in our party liked the Chateauneuf-du-Pape better; it was better balanced. For desert, we split the crepes suzette and profiteroles. Neither is a dessert I would typically order, but they were tasty, especially after so much wine.

 
Chez Billy
3815 Georgia Ave NW
(between N Randolph St & N Quincy St)
Washington, DC 20011
(202) 506-2080

Recovery

Friday was my last day at work and a few of my coworkers took me to Boqueria in DuPont to say goodbye. Between the five of us we consumed three bottles of wine and a couple of glasses of Scotch. As tends to happen, I got drunk. So drunk that when I came home I made myself a sandwich, ate two and a half cupcakes, and did a photo session with the dog.

Now there are two kinds of hungover. First, so hungover that all you want is a huge greasy meal before you crawl back into bed. The other, less painful hungover, is the kind where you actually just want something healthy to undo what you did the night before (because you ate two dinners and two and a half cupcakes).

Saturday I had the latter kind of hangover so I decided to make myself a large salad for lunch to make up for last night’s indulgences. Salads are my “go to” meal. I make them all the time because they’re easy and a great way to get rid of old vegetables. The trick is just to roast the shit out of the old vegetables first.

1 red beet

1 red bell pepper

1 handful cherry tomatoes

4 sprigs thyme

Feta cheese

1/2 avocado

Baby arugula

1 handful chopped pecans (toasted)

Olive Oil

Balsamic Vinegar

Mustard

Honey

Salt & pepper

Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Dice beet into 1/4 inch squares. Coarsely chop red bell pepper into 3/4 inch squares. Toss the peppers, beets, cherry tomatoes, and thyme with a pinch of salt and pepper and approximately 1-2 tablespoons olive oil. Shake into a cast iron skill or spread out on roasting pan. Roast in the oven for approximately 30 minutes, moving the vegetables every 10 minutes, until the beets are done, the peppers have started to caramelize, and the tomatoes have burst and shriveled.

In the meantime, make the dressing. It’s so easy and CHEAP to make dressing, I don’t know why people ever buy the bottled stuff. In a jam jar, shake together about 6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp mustard, and 1 tsp honey. Then add olive oil – the amount you use depends on whether you like a thiner or more rich dressing. I usually go for a 50/50 ratio, so the same amount of oil as the vinegar mixture.

When the vegetables are done, slide them into a large salad bowel. Add two heaping handfuls of baby arugula, the toasted pecans, 1/2 avocado (I usually chop this rather than slice it), and feta cheese (as much as you want). Then toss with the dressing to taste. Finish with a little black pepper. Drink with a beer and I promise you’ll feel at least a little better.

-Spoon

…and we’re back!

It’s been over four years since we stopped updating this blog. In that time, Bear had two clerkships and started a job with a law firm. Spoon spent three years at a law firm before taking a break to clerk for a federal appeals court. We also got married and moved to Washington, DC.

Now that Spoon has more time to cook and eat, it’s time to start updating again so that we don’t lose track of all the wonderful recipes we try and dishes we create.

Andale!


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