Formula for perfect pasta

Formula for perfect pasta

I’ve always been a “by the seat of my pants” cook.  I love flipping through recipe books but what keeps me going in the kitchen is an internal GPS for what works in the kitchen.

This article from Bon Appetit magazine a couple years ago covers the basics of making great pasta dishes and is one of the best I’ve ever run across.  Yeah, you can slave all day over a stove and make an incredible tomato sauce — and there are times when I really want to do that.  (And have the time.)

But mostly I just want dinner on the table in <30 minutes, and I have to do it with what I’ve got in the larder already. So check out the article, print it, save it, memorize it…. and have fun cooking awesome food. 🙂

Some favorite flavor mergers in our household:

* bacon, onion, garlic + sundried tomatoes & balsamic vinegar (to deglaze the pan) + leftover cooked chicken, tomatoes, & spinach  …. finish with a splash of cream

* roasted summer vegetables like yellow squash, zucchini, and tomatoes (roast in oven at 400deg for 15-20 min while pasta cooks) + garlic & olive oil & grated cheese

* bulk sausage + onion, tomato + fresh spinach (till it wilts) + a jar of alfredo sauce 

 

In need of justice

From the book The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

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More African American adults are under correctional control today–in prison or jail, on probation or parole–than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began. The mass incarceration of people of color is a big part of the reason that a black child born today is less likely to be raised by both parents than a black child born during slavery. The absence of black fathers from families across America is not simply a function of laziness, immaturity, or too much time watching Sports Center. Thousands of black men have disappeared into prisons and jails, locked away for drug crimes that are largely ignored when committed by whites.

Excellent book, and I highly recommend that you take the time to let Alexander pummel you with facts until your conscience kicks in and forces you to acknowledge the racial and social injustice in America’s criminal justice system.

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” ~MLKJr

DC: All About Food!

I think I’ll just let the photos do the talking in this post.

We pinched pennies but still managed to find some good eats in and around the District.

I think my favorite was Founding Farmers–a delicious farm to table, local produce & meat restaurant in the District. I don’t have a photo of our food, but please believe me when I say it was some of the best I’ve ever encountered. Stevo & Jesse threw down chicken & waffles that included some of the best friend chicken I have ever tasted (I stole a nibble of Jesse’s).  Coart & I divided a couple entrees — a black pepper gnocchi in a sweet cream sauce (made with amaretto!) and one of their grilled open face sandwiches with prosciutto, marscapone, and fig jam. A-ma-zing.  I hear their cocktails are great too, but like I said, we were pinching pennies.

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The bar downstairs at Founding Farmers backed up against our round table/booth.

If you don’t make a reservation a while in advance, you’ll never get a table at Founding Farmers. Actually, even with a reservation we waited for a while and service isn’t exactly fast.  But it was totally worth the wait.

*****

From the sublime to the simple: One of our other favorite places was a Yelp find:  Tortilla Cafe near the East Market by the Capitol district.  We were hungry we didn’t want to spend a lot of money, we like little neighborhood places, we had just worn ourselves out in the Library of Congress and needed some food quick.  Those factors led us to this delightful El Salvadorean place with wonderful food.  Even Guy Fieri says so!

Guy ate at the Tortilla Cafe too!
Guy ate at the Tortilla Cafe too!

Coart had the pupusas, which are kind of like a tortilla with baked-in cheese and shredded pork. Um, yes please!  Amazing.  I had their beef nachos — hearty and delish chunks of beef included.  Actually, my favorite part may have been the hand-bottled fruit juices available for purchase with my meal. And folks were snapping up their guacamole and chips, which was probably fantastic.

*****

Every good trip deserves a little sweetness, so after catching Joss Wheadon’s Much Ado About Nothing at the local arthouse movie theater (why do I have to travel 8 hours to finally get to see the movies I want to see?!), Coart & I found ourselves tucked into the tiny Best Buns Bakery in Shirlington, VA.  No lie — behind the counter is a painting of a construction worker that highlights his “best buns.” haha

Anyway, they’re locally owned and staffed and bake up amazing bread and sweets for sale.  Coart picked out his favorite, a coconut confection. I got the English toffee-caramel cupcake.  yuuuuuuum.   Even the CAKE part was good! (I mean, who eats cupcakes for the cake, right? It’s not hard to make good icing IMHO. Proof is in the cake.

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Best Buns Bakery serves up fantastic cupcakes like this English toffee delight.

This was our second great discovery in Shirlington after our movie. We’d also wandered through a Greek place called Medi …. Imagine if Chipotle served Greek food and did it well.  They offered up something they called gyritos — like taquitos made with gyro flavors and meat, drizzled with a very light balsamic glaze.  Throw in some pomegranate sangria and I was definitely in my zone! 🙂

*****

Honorable Mentions:

Bruegger’s Bagels in Old Town Alexandria VA because they were the only people open at 5:30am to serve us breakfast after our overnight drive. Their siracha egg sandwich is actually really good.

Flying Fish Coffee & Tea in the Columbia Heights area, for brewing us some of the absolute best iced tea ever on a hot afternoon (I had pear green tea. Fantastic.)

CakeLove in the U Street area seems to be missing its nice sit down part that I remember from last time, but the cake is still fantastic.

Dogfish Head Brewery has brew pubs in the DC area. S&E took us there for supper after seeing the Air & Space Museum on July 4th – a great end to a great day.

Only Burger in Durham, NC got us home by serving up a great burger made with high quality, local ingredients, a bright & cheery staff and interior, and one of the best root beer floats ever.