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Archive for March, 2009

black-bean-soup

Credit:  Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

This recipe comes from Martha Rose Shulman of the New York Times, who publishes a ton of great-looking vegetarian recipes.  Beans are not only a protein- and fiber-rich food, they’re also super economical.  And if you have any leftover bags of spinach lurking in your refrigerator, this recipe is your friend.  I think it would be great with a side of cucumber or jicama salad, or slaw!

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Oh, hello there.  Yes: You.  Would you like a slice?

lifted slice of cake

Well, yes, I supposed it is a bit decadent; two sticks of butter will do that.  But it also contains fruit!  Lemons!  Strive for five!

Still not sold?  How about a closer look:

whole cake

What if I told you this was the moistest, heartiest lemon cake you’ve had in a long while?  That it’s brushed with a simple syrup of fresh-squeezed lemon juice and sugar?  That the yogurt gives it tang? Or that that it tastes even better after sitting overnight?

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Just a sliver?  Oh, alright…

cake slice

Too big? My hand must have slipped.  You can thank me later.

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If you like lasagna, beef bolognese, or even Cincinnati chili, you’ll love this dish hailing from Greece.  Pastitsio is a layered casserole of tubular pasta tossed with hard cheese and topped off with meat sauce (spiced with cinnamon, clove, and oregano) and lightly browned bechamel sauce.  With so many delicious ingredients, how could it not be good?

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Washingtonian food critic, Todd Kliman, offers up a moving tribute to his father:

Most of the friends I grew up with did not venture beyond meat and potatoes, spaghetti and macaroni-and-cheese, but that was not my experience. We ate everything. Thai and Spanish and French and German and Japanese and Korean and Vietnamese and Indian and Mexican and Greek. My father loved the stuffed grape leaves at Ikaros, in Baltimore, and so I wanted to love them, too. He was the one who turned me on to pupusas. He introduced me to bulgogi and crepes, to hot-and-sour soup and the pleasures of hot pot.

So long as a restaurant had character, had soul, he loved it. Dives, taverns, pubs, it didn’t matter; good was good. His mother scolded him, repeatedly, for taking a ten-year-old to a bar, but my father never listened. I spent many a raucous Saturday night in the late, lamented Henckel’s — hard by the railroad tracks and probably once a bordello — chowing down on a Chenckelburger as my father and mother worked their way through the foot-high ham sandwiches and knocked back bottles of beer. . .

[Years later, after the onset of an illness] He was stronger than he’d been. He’d gained thirty pounds since the chemo and radiation — most of it, my mother believed, from restaurant food. He didn’t eat much of her cooking anymore, but he ate when he was out, or when restaurant food was around. I told him he’d become the equivalent of a social drinker — a social eater.

We took our time, and we talked and talked. He was worried about the surgery. He said he didn’t know if he would make it this time. Our anxiety seemed to lift, a little, as we worked our way through the meal. He drank two Vietnamese coffees and took a few bites from every bowl and plate that was on the table. When we left, two-and-a-half hours later, the place was empty. . .

For days, he talked about the meal and the coffee. “Terrific, just terrific.” He even talked about it in the hospital, in the weeks after his surgery. All his nurses learned just how good the coffee was, how dark and rich, how good a time he’d had. . .

If you’re lucky, someone crosses your path whose enthusiasm for good food and new sensations and cultures is utterly contagious.  Someone who delights in shared experience and enjoys the controlled chaos of dim sum as much as white linens and candlelight.  For Todd Kliman, that person was his father.  Read the whole tribute here.

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grandma maroni's meatballs

Okay, okay, so technically this 100-year old recipe beat Bobby Flay in a “throwdown,” but “smackdown” just sounds so much better.  That guy can be a cocky S.O. …well, you know.  I haven’t tried them yet, but intend to soon—just as soon as I come up for air amidst all this wedding planning.  This week I’ll also be posting a cheesy, meaty, baked Greek pastitisio recipe that will rock your tastebuds, so please stand by.  Thanks!  In the meantime, here’s the recipe for champion meatballs from the Food Network:

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If you’ve noticed your grocery bill creeping, nay, bounding up, it’s probably time to re-strategize your next trip to the market.  Last year, I watched in horror as weekly groceries for our household of two jumped from $70 to $100+ a week.  This was back when gas was hovering near $4.00/gallon, and everyone blamed rising fuel prices.  But although gas has dropped back down, there hasn’t been a corresponding fall in grocery prices.  Is anyone else feeling…how shall I put it…gouged?

Credit: themomcrowd.com

Credit: themomcrowd.com

Time to fight back!  Here are some smart tips highlighted in a recent Woman’s Day article, “How to Save Thousands on Groceries.” (more…)

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Pret a Manger is a new sandwich shop imported to the U.S. from Britain.  But don’t let that deter you! (Sorry ;-)) The pilot has already taken off in (notoriously cutthroat) NYC, which now has about 20 restaurants.  Sometime around January 2009, Washington finally got one, too.  I tried Pret yesterday and can happily report that it’s a welcome new lunch option downtown.

The concept is in the name. “Pret,” I’m told, is French for “ready,” as in, “ready-to-wear fashion.” So “Pret a Manger” puns on the phrase “ready to eat,” meaning both prepared food and hunger.  Pop into one of the slick cafes and you’ll find a wall-length refrigerator stuffed with an impressive assortment of “just made” sandwiches, wraps, salads, yogurts, and juices. The sandwiches can be purchased in whole or halves—convenient for soup-n-sandwich types and variety lovers. On Friday, I fell into the latter camp: pret-half-sammies And the food? (more…)

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