Posts Tagged ‘The Diary of My Stomach’

Crust (from epicurious)

  • 1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 9 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3 tablespoons (or more) ice water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Filling (based on Paula Deen recipe)

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
Glaze (based on Paula Deen recipe)
  • drizzle of honey
  • squeeze of orange juice
  • some canned peach juice
  • a few tablespoons of sugar

Blend first 5 ingredients in processor. Using on/off turns, cut in butter until coarse meal forms. Add 3 tablespoons ice water and vinegar; using on/off turns, blend until moist clumps form, adding more water if dough is dry. Gather dough into ball. Flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic; chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.


Allow the rested dough to come back to room temperature and roll thinly using plenty of flour. Trim the rough edges to make a circular shape. Blanch the peaches by dunking in boiling water for 30 seconds and transfer to ice water. After a minute, the skins should come right off. Remove the pits and cut them into slices. Layer inside the dough, leaving room to fold the edges.


To make the glaze, whisk together honey, sugar,  a splash of orange juice (fresh or in carton), and sugar.


Whisk together the egg yolks, the sugar, and the sour cream. Drizzle over the tart. Brush the crust with cream and dust the whole tart with sugar. Heat in a 350° oven for about 2o minutes on a foiled baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. For the last five, drizzle the top with the glaze or apply with a pastry brush. Remove from the oven when the crust is golden brown and crispy, not doughy.


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Picture by Ashley

This was a nicely composed dish. The mint and basil flavored the lamb without overpowering that great lambyness. A ripe pomegranate inspired me to make this pomegranate molasses that actually includes molasses, which gives it a balanced sweetness. I turned seemingly hopeless bok choy—frozen to the point of shaterring— into a colorful, rustic veggie braise. 


  1. Preheat the oven to 400º. Remove any tough fat from the lamb. In a food processor, grind lots of fresh mint, basil, and cilantro. Use any herbs you have. Add about 3 tablespoons of dijon mustard, a bit of olive oil, salt,  lime juice, and 6 cloves of minced garlic (I used a garlic press). Wash the lamb and pat dry.
  2. Season with plenty of salt and pepper and massage the meat. Slather on the herb-dijon mixture to both sides.
  3. Cook for about 1 hour, lower the heat to 350º and cook for about 30 minutes. Insert a thermometer, when it reads 150º, allow it to rest, cut, and serve (for medium). I cooked mine a bit more for some guests who prefer done meat. I think lamb is delicious at all temperatures.

Pomegranate Molasses:

  1. Cut a pomegranate in half and whack with a wooden spoon so that the seeds fall into a bowl. Then, squeeze out the juice. Blend the pomegranate in a food processor or a blender and pass through a sieve to get rid of the bits of seed. This maximizes the amount of juice you get.
  2. Heat in a sauce pan with a few tablespoons of molasses, a splash of red wine or Rosé (I used White Zinfandel), about 5 tablespoons of sugar, and a bit of lemon juice. Simmer until you have a thick sauce and cool to room temperature.
Braised Baby Bok Choy:
  1. Steam the bok choy. When it’s bright and tender, chop it into small pieces. Sauté half of a diced white onion in a pot with olive oil and salt. When they are soft, add the bok choy. Add some corn, diced tomatoes, plenty of chopped basil, a bit of soy sauce, onion powder, a splash of white wine, and some drippings from the lamb. Simmer and cook for a few minutes. Season to taste.
Plate assemblage:
  • Drizzle on the pomegranate molasses, pile on some bok choy mix, and fan out the lamb. Drizzle some lamb juice on top and garnish with the pomegranate seeds.

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This salsa is delicious, healthy, and takes about 10-15 minutes to make. What’s not to love?! My parents want me to sell it in 16 oz. containers. I’ll have to think about that. Meanwhile, here’s the recipe for a mildly spiced yet  flavorful and refreshing salsa. The charred flavor makes my salsa unique and basil provides a more sweet herb flavor. Add a little sweetness and you have a tasty salsa, perfect for topping burgers, tacos, or your tortilla chip—the best of which would have to be Xochitl corn chips.


  • 2 poblano peppers
  • About 6 plum tomatoes
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 small shallot, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeño, diced (for a mild salsa)
  • small handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
  • small handful of basil, roughly chopped
  • salt
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • hefty pinch of sugar
  • 1/4 of a 16 oz. can of corn
  • 2 tablespoons of diced red onion
1. Set the grill to medium-high heat and char the poblanos. They should be covered in black blisters. Cut them in half and remove the stems, seeds and inner membranes. Roughly chop.
 2. Quarter the plum tomatoes and put in a food processor with the poblanos, the garlic, the shallots, the jalapeños, the herb and a few pinches of salt. Use the chop setting and pulse. Pulse in lime juice, honey, and sugar.
3. Taste for sweetness (honey/sugar), salt (be generous), acidity (lime), heat (jalopeño), and herb action.
4. In a hot saute pan, cook the corn until it browns and add to the salsa. Mix in diced red onion.
Replace the tomatoes with grilled tomatillos (the fruits that look like green tomatoes with husks) for a salsa verde.

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  • goat meat
  • 2 limes
  • ground cumin and cumin seeds
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • red curry
  • 1 sweet onion
  • same quantity of carrots, chopped
  • same quantity of celery
  • 1 teaspoon of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of ginger paste
  • 3 bay leaves
  • port wine
  • basmati rice
  • peas
  • a coconut product (dried, shredded, fresh, coconut milk)


1. Separate goat meat from bones, clean, and cut into bite-size pieces. Roast the bones in the oven on high heat for an hour and boil in water until a concentrated stock is left. Marinate the meat in lime juice, ground cumin, and red curry for 1 hour.

2. In olive oil or butter if you can, caramelize chopped sweet onions along with chopped carrots, celery, salt and pepper. Add about a teaspoon of tomato paste, a tablespoon of ginger paste, and minced garlic. Add a few bay leaves, more cumin and more spicy curry.

3. In a very hot metal pot, try to brown the goat (no oil is necessary). Add to the stew. Deglaze the pan with port wine (or any red). Add enough good quality tomato sauce to coat the goat and vegetables.  Add the concentrated goat stock too.

4. I had dried coconut, which I ground into a paste, reconstituted with some hot water, and mixed into the stew. Coconut milk would work beautifully. Re-season to taste and add more wine if necessary.  Simmer for a few hours with no lid, adding broth when necessary. For the final 1 or 2 hours to tenderize the goat, cook with a tight-fitting lid and add frozen peas. For an extra rich sauce, add plain yogurt or cream.

5. Follow the directions to cook basmati rice. Toast the grains first in a saute pan with some oil and cumin seeds. Add peas as well 3/4 of the way through the cooking. Serve with naan. Cooking time may vary depending on the cut of goat. Expect between 5 and seven hours of cooking.

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Sabayon is a egg foam made stable by the coagulation of the yolks. Mine, however, is more like a sweet and rich dessert sauce.


  • 4 yolks
  • sugar (approximately equal to yolks)
  • port wine
  • 1/2 orange
  • cinnamon

1. Make a double boiler by adding an inch of water in a medium-size pot and topping with a pyrex bowl. Over medium to high heat, whisk egg yolks until they become pale and add about 6 teaspoons of sugar, gradually. Add 1-2 tablespoons of port wine and cook until the mixture is hot and thick.

2. Remove from the heat and place the bowl over ice (with some water) to cool. Add a pinch or two of cinnamon and the juice of half an orange. Taste for balance and serve atop whipped cream and fresh berries.

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The hanger steak, also known as the hanging tenderloin, is an underutilized cut. It is prized among butchers and is usually the cut they save for themselves. Although it takes quite a bit of butchery work, the steaks are almost as tender as filet mignon, but with much more flavor. Mine is marinated for hours in herbs, garlic, dijon, and citrus and soaks in the flavor to its pink, succulent core. A squeeze of lime—grilled to bring out the sweetness—is the perfect finishing touch.


  • rosemary
  • thyme
  • garlic
  • cilantro
  • parsley
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • dijon mustard (2-3 tbsp)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 lime (plus some for grilling)
1. Trim the hanger steak, separating both strips from the tough tendon in between. Clean thoroughly by removing fat, tendons, and silver skin.
2. De-stem a few sprigs of rosemary and roughly chop. Grind a few cloves of garlic in a food processor with the rosemary and some thyme leaves. Grind with olive oil and plenty of salt. Add cilantro leaves—some stem is okay—and parsley and continue to grind with fresh pepper, dijon mustard, and a squeeze of lemon and lime juice. Add olive oil if necessary to create a smooth and pasty marinade.
3. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours and then bring them up to room temperature. Heat the grill to medium and oil it. Grill for 2.5 minutes (lid closed) and rotate 45° for another 2.5 to make cross-hatches. Repeat on the other side.

4. Allow the meat to rest for 5 minutes and cut into medallions against the grain. The meat is tender enough for thick pieces. This recipe will make a medium-rare steak, although it will vary in different sections of the organically shaped meat. For medium, try 6 minutes on each side. For well-done, try a microwave. Serve with grilled limes.

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I literally made this salad because there was no room in the refrigerator for the cucumbers, but it turned out lovely. The cucumbers stay crisp, cool and refreshing while the dressing is light and complex. 


  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1/2 red onion
  • fresh mint
  • fresh cilantro
  • fresh basil
  • ginger paste
  • wasabi paste
  • rice wine vinegar (Mirin)
  • honey
  • sesame oil
  • olive oil
  • salt

1. Peel the cucumbers and cut in half longways. With a spoon, remove all the seeds and pulp with a gentle scraping motion. Flip over  (cavity side down) and cut strips—about 1/4″—on a bias. For the onion, slice in half and remove the skin. Take one half, place cut-side down on the board, and cut off the very top and root end. Angling the cut will make it easier to dislodge the core which is the next step. Make thin semicircle slices and add to the cucumber.

2. De-stem cilantro and mint leaves and roll inside a basil leaf. Make a chiffonade cut (very thin ribbons) and add to the veggies. Hint: slicing with a backwards motion is the most effective way to cleanly cut herbs.

3. For the dressing, whisk ginger paste and a little wasabi paste with rice wine vinegar, honey, sesame oil (only a little is needed), olive oil and salt. The dressing is perfect when every ingredient’s flavor is pronounced. Keep in mind that the cucumbers will only get a thin coating of the dressing, so make it more pungent than fits your taste. If you like it sweet, add more honey. If you like heat, add more wasabi, etc.

4. Mix the dressing with the cucumbers and onions and marinate for a short time in the refrigerator (10-15 minutes). Before serving, break off fennel fronds and mix in for garnish.

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Many of us don’t put enough thought into scrambled eggs.  We crack some eggs into a bowl, whisk it up until blended, pour ’em into a hot non-stick skillet and call it a day. Most scrambled eggs end up with curds that are large, foamy, dry and flavorless, notwithstanding some notes of sulfur.

Before we make the eggs, we must first understand how they work:

  1. Egg proteins begin as folded chains of amino acids.
  2. As they’re heated, they move faster and faster, bump into each other and unravel.
  3. These chains re-bond to each other, forming a network.
  4. With constant stirring, solid, but moist curds form.
  • For good eggs, start by thoroughly scrambling them with a whisk or a fork until they become a homogenous mixture.
  • To avoid rubbery eggs, an additional liquid must be added. This dilutes the proteins and forms a looser, yet still stable network upon coagulation. Cream, milk or even butter are the best bets. I add a splash of cream and a splash or orange juice. Here’s why:
  • Proteins have negative charges and repel each other. Fruit juices—like orange juice—are acids and lower the pH, decreasing the repelling charge. Consequently, proteins aggregate sooner, before they have a chance to unravel completely and form strong bonds. Also, salt dissolves into positively and negatively charged ions, effectively neutralizing the proteins and, similarly, creating a more tender curd. Thus, I also add salt to my eggs for that reason and the fact that eggs too need to be seasoned.
  • Add butter to a pan on low heat. When the butter jsut starts to bubble, add the eggs and stir constantly until many small curds form. Add the cheese of your choice and mix until there is still a thin coating of liquid on the curds. This is the thin white that takes longer to coagulate than the yolk. Remove from the heat, and the thin white will start to coagulate, yet your eggs will be at the peak of moisture and tenderness. Finally, the combined efforts of the low eat and acid will reduce the eggy flavor and aroma that turns people off.
Harold McGee On Food And Cooking helped me better understand eggs.

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For those of you who are new to quail, there’s nothing to be afraid of; quail tastes just like chicken. I made a cherry and wine reduction and blended it too create a sauce. The quail is grilled until crispy and charred and you can eat it with your hands. You can also try my cherry and wine sauce on chicken, duck, or pork chops.


6 jumbo quail

1/2 white onion, minced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

fresh thyme

1 container of fresh cherries, de-pitted and chopped

1 teaspoon beef base

red wine (I used cabernet sauvignon)

cherry juice


3 caps of apple cider vinegar

olive oil, salt, and pepper


Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Coat the pan with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions with a bit of salt and when they have softened, add thyme leaves and garlic. In a minute, add the cherries.

I stirred in about a teaspoon of beef base, dissolved in some hot water. Along with this makeshift beef stock, add a good splash of wine, and cherry juice—you can find it at most grocery stores. Incorporate about three five-finger pinches of sugar and the apple cider vinegar. Reduce for a bit. I also added some store-bought ginger paste, but this is optional.

Blend in a blender or just grind in a food processor until the sauce is relatively smooth and homogenous. Adjust for consistency by reducing or by adding water and adjust the flavor by adding more wine, vinegar, or sugar. Also, salt to taste at this point. If you have the technology (a chinois or cheesecloth) strain the sauce for a luxuriously smooth texture and refined look.


Butterfly the quail by cutting along the breast bone. Rub both sides with olive oil, salt, and pepper and get the grill nice and hot. Quail needs to be cooked quickly or it will dry out. Grill for about 6-7 minutes on both sides (with the grill closed), starting skin-side down. Make your desired grill marks and just cut into it, taking it off the grill when just cooked through.

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We walked into Tandoori Time with a craving for a rich and piquant Indian dinner. Undoubtedly, we were the only customers in the entire restaurant. The dazed bartender stared at the empty seats, wiping off areas that he had already cleaned. The slouching waiter greeted us with much anticipation.

We were seated immediately at one of the many open tables and were given two of the cleanest water glasses that I have ever seen—probably the bartender’s doing. Jordan spent the time photographing the glass in black and white—he could find art on the bottom of my shoe—, while I perused the menu.

I looked past the kabobs, the lentil soups, and the seafood, spotting the true test of an Indian restaurant: Chicken Tikka Masala, a dish so otherworldly that the restaurant’s description said only: “Charcoal cooked pieces of chicken in a special sauce”. Of course, it was not the elegant language that enticed me; “charcoal” and “cooked” are hardly words that make me salivate.

The Chicken Tikka Masala was flavorful, and—I will admit—“special” without being overly rich, while the onions and peppers gave texture to the sauce. However, I prefer the chicken to be cooked in the sauce, so that the sauce not only flavors the meat; it tenderizes it.

We had Lamb Karahi, mildly spiced (for an Indian) and cooked with tomatoes, onions, and peppers. It had a sweeter taste with spice that hit your palate at the end. The flavor of the rice was fortified with fennel seeds and each granule doubled as a tiny vehicle for the sauce to cling on to on its way to my mouth. The lightly flavored Naan had great air pockets and was slightly chewy.

I am almost certain that Indians have an unspoken rule to constantly fill someone’s glass with water. Maybe, they’re afraid we’ll notice that our glass is half-full and leave the restaurant in outrage, dropping a penny as a tip in the little water that is left.

We truly had a relaxing and enjoyable meal, chasing the low-lying, cowering sauce on our plates with pieces of Naan. The waiter mentioned the dessert menu. Notwithstanding the fact that Indian desserts are notoriously nasty, the names are unappetizing: “Gulab”, “Burfi”, and “Badam”. “Excuse me waiter, I’ll have the Glob, the Barf, and the Bottom”. I don’t think so! I will stick to my Chicken Tikka Masala.

1140 19 St. NW.

Washington, DC 20036



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Today, I went to Saigon Bistro, a restaurant in Dupont Circle, to eat Pho. For those that have not had or heard of pho, let me begin with the pho-ndamentals of the dish. It is, essentially, a Vietnamese noodle soup, usually served with beef or, sometimes, chicken. The broth is made by simmering beef and spices and is served with various garnishes. Ours came with bean sprouts, limes, thai basil, and hot peppers. The French occupied Hanoi, Vietnam in the 1880’s and may have influenced this dish. The Vietnamese rarely used beef until the French introduced their pot au feu. You can see that this may have influenced Pho’s name as well.

Saigon Bistro’s Pho is made with either fully cooked brisket or rare beef. The thin-cut pink beef is moist and velvety to the palate. The rice has a delicate, but deep, beefy flavor and one can personalize their dish by adding different amounts of sriracha, hoisin, thai basil, and lime. Jordan went all out on the lime, Karen got her money’s worth with the sriracha, and I prefer a leaf pile of thai basil. It’s pho-n to eat because you can slurp the warm broth with your spoon, eat the rice noodles with your chopsticks, and crunch on raw bean sprouts with your hands, simultaneously. After a great meal that was both satisfying and light, we left Dupont circle feeling pleasantly pho-lfilled.

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Opening just 20 days ago, Red Hook Lobster Pound is as fresh as their seafood. They began selling lobster in a store in NY; now they’ve brought these crustaceans to D.C., where hungry people throng the truck. Red Hook tries to keep a very simple menu, preparing a few items extremely well. Their rolls are made from Maine lobster that is picked up in person multiple times a week. They prepare it in a warm, buttery, grilled roll with homemade mayo, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, sea salt, white pepper, and celery for crunch. Red Hook Lobster Pound’s passion for quality food, dedication to cleanliness, and devotion to customers are all exemplifications of “lobstah love”. Ironically, “the poor man’s food” is now the rich man’s delicacy, yet this truck is frequented by students as well. It may be the delicious maine root sodas, the catchy tunes, or the flat-screen displaying scenes from Maine. Most likely, it’s simply delicious food with no exaggerations. If you’re already hooked and want more information go to www.redhooklobsterdc.com.

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I whipped this dish up in about twenty minutes for my family. I had to go to bartending class, so I ate it later on. Gnocchi are small italian dumplings made with potatoes; some people don’t even classify it as pasta. Catherine De Medici brought spinach to France and, to honor her italian heritage, decided to call any pasta dish containing spinach, Florentine. Don’t let its difficult pronunciation stop you from ordering the dish. It can be pronounced Nah-kee and Nyah-kee (Don’t worry, I’ve been pronouncing it wrong too!)


  • 2 17.5 oz gnocchi
  • 1-2 garlic cloves (depending on size)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (maybe two tablespoons)
  • 1/2 bag of spinach (baby spinach is a good substitute)
  • 1/2 large white onion
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • white wine
  • 1/2 jar of tomato sauce (I just poured until it looked good)
  • 1/4 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon tomato paste (comes in a tube or can)
  • Some type of cream (I used half and half)
  • 2 teaspoons parmesan
  • fresh basil
  • 1/2 large tomato
  • garlic powder, oregano, salt, pepper

1. Sauté minced or pressed garlic and diced onion in the oil over medium-high heat. Season with salt and pepper.

2. When the onions finish sweating (become translucent), add the spinach (roughly chop if the leaves are large). S and P.

3. Add the butter for richness and a couple “glugs” of white wine. After fully incorporating the tomato paste, add the tomato sauce and the chopped tomatoes.

4. Simmer and season with garlic powder and oregano. Add at least two splashes of cream. The color should be a little lighter, yet should still look like a marinara sauce.

5. Squeeze the lemon, sprinkle with parmesan, and add a generous handful of basil leaves, chopped.

2. Boil the gnocchi for about 2 minutes, strain well, and mix with the sauce.

7. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and bake. My parents just melted the cheese in the microwave. I have no problem with that. If you choose to bake it, all you have to do is melt the cheese.

I love this dish because one of my favorite things is spinach. Gnocchi have a luxurious, soft texture and the sauce is a little more than your average marinara, yet is not to heavy.

P.S. There’s no mozzarella cheese added in the picture.

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