Fish Sauce for Days

photo 2When I’m craving Asian food, which is always, it’s often Vietnamese food that I desire the most. Unlike a lot of other cuisines from the region, Vietnamese emphasizes fresh vegetables, aromatic herbs, and lightly cooked meat and fish. Of course, there are the decadent clay pot caramelized dishes, but even those seem delicately flavored, to say nothing of that all around restorative brew (my #1 hangover choice)–pho.

I had long been eyeing this recipe for lemongrass pork patties, and decided to transition my love of Vietnamese cuisine into the kitchen. I paired the patties with a glass noodle salad (with soy-roasted tofu instead of the shrimp listed in the recipe), and used a significant amount of fish sauce in the process-yum.

photo 4photo 5Because it’s summer and I hadn’t made a cobbler yet, my go-to super easy cobbler recipe seemed like a perfect use for fresh peaches and blackberries.photo 1

Old Bay and Messy Fingernails

IMG_7445When Quentin and I decided to take a walk down to DC’s waterfront “Maine Avenue Fish Market”, I didn’t envision that just a few hours hence we’d be having our first very own crab steam (I recently learned that “crab boil” is not the appropriate term, but let’s face it “crab steam” sounds pretty silly) complete with Old Bay (a pungent spice mix of mustard powder, paprika, celery salt, red pepper flakes, and a host of other ingredients) and cocktail shrimp.

Photo courtesy of leitesculinaria.comThe market was a sight to behold, with huge counters of fresh fish and shellfish everywhere you looked, and a salty, non-fishy scent wafting from the nearby water. Seemingly unaware of their impending fate in a deathly brew of boiling water and Old Bay, that classic Maryland seasoning, blue crabs fearlessly scuttled around, their claws pinching the sellers at every given opportunity.IMG_7446 IMG_7447 IMG_7452 IMG_7450

We settled for a half pound of large shrimp and a dozen bright blue crabbies.

We went for the classic preparations; I boiled the shrimp in a mixture of cayenne pepper, paprika, salt, pepper and a touch of garlic powder (right) while Quentin tackled the crabs, expertly steaming them in  a combination of water and a can of ever-classy Bud Light and sprinkling them liberally with the Old Bay (left).  I served the shrimp with the classic combo of cocktail sauce and lemon wedges, and we watched as the crabs turned a reddish ochre hue.

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With some side  accoutrements and plenty of cold white wine, we laid out newspaper on the balcony, munched happily on lots of succulent crab, and thoroughly encrusted our faces and fingernails with plenty of Old Bay.

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Seafood Purchased from:

Jesse Taylor Seafood
1100 Maine Ave SW #2 Washington, DC 20024
(202) 554-4173

Old Bay photograph courtesy of http://www.leitesculinaria.com, Cocktail Sauce photograph courtesy of http://www.cavegirlcuisine.com

In Which We Wait in Line for Dulce de Leche-laced, Salt-speckled, Chocolate-dipped Soft Serve

photo (6)Never one to ignore the local delicacies, I ventured to Big Gay Ice Cream with my friend Zoe, for a taste of the East Village flavor (the neighborhood to which I’ve just returned!) and some heavenly creamy goodness. After 15-20 minutes, we finally entered the hallowed halls (read: small, bright room) and ordered the much-loved, and cheekily named Salty Pimp.

Cloud-like vanilla soft serve was loftily layered on a cone (don’t worry–I also requested a coating of Nutella inside the cone–keeping it light is my motto), pierced with lashings of carameltastic dulce de leche, studded with flakes of sea salt and, of course, dipped entirely in chocolate.

There’s a reason why people wait in line for this.

Big Gay Ice Cream
NYC Locations:

EAST VILLAGE
125 East 7th Street
(between 1st Avenue & Avenue A)
New York NY 10009
212.533.9333

WEST VILLAGE
61 Grove Street
(at Seventh Avenue South)
New York NY 10014
212.414.0222

Why Haven’t You Made Boozy Popsicles This Summer?

photo (1)No, but seriously. After a recipe testing gig landed me with a popsicle mold set, I had my sights set on some boozetastic ice pops–because what’s more mature than imbibing in a traditionally childlike manner? Freudian questions aside, these Grapefruit, Basil & Vodka popsicles were totally fantastic. Recipe here.
[Excuse the sub-par photo--possibly a result of one too many popsicles?]

Gazpacho: The Summery Gift that Keeps on Giving

photo 1I had a deep craving for gazpacho last week. After reverting to a (somewhat pseudo) healthy food regimen after my artery-clogging New Orleans extravaganza, I was jonesing for the refreshing, vegetal, flavors of this summertime soup.

Using my go-to super simple recipe I made gazpacho on Friday, had it with a chicken sausage, and again for dinner with some other light and tasty dishes:

Haricots Verts with Grainy Mustard Vinaigrette (1.5 teaspoons grainy mustard, juice of half a lemon or more, 1/2 teaspoon honey, dash of white balsamic or other white wine vinegar, 2 glugs of olive oil–mix until emulsified) and Hard Boiled Eggsphoto 3 Quinoa with Wilted Spinach (a couple of minutes in a hot nonstick pan with a tiny bit of oil, move around frequently until wilted), Caramelized Shallots, and Seared Chicken Sausage
photo (1) How do you dew, honey?
photo 4 Yum:photo 5

Willie Mae’s Scotch House

I spent last weekend celebrating a close friend’s bachelorette in New Orleans. A more perfect city for excessive drinking, eating, and merriment is hard to imagine and we had a glorious time. Unfortunately I was too busy trying to sip hurricanes, feed marshmallows to hungry alligators, and eat all manner of delicious things to take many photos, but here’s perhaps the best fried chicken of all time: photo (1)

From:
Willie Mae’s Scotch House
2401 St Ann St, New Orleans, LA 70119
(504) 822-9503

Do yourself a favor and go. Immediately, if possible.

Strong (Sandwich) Island

DSC_0090Last week, on a glorious not-too-hot summer day, Quentin and I took a trip out to the North shore of Long Island. The trip’s purpose was for car servicing, but my real goal was a deli sandwich expedition with some downtime at the beach. After dropping off the car, we sampled fairly standard but tasty breakfast sandwiches at Cold Spring Plaza Deli before exploring the lovely surroundings bathed in sunlight.

DSC_0026Following a relaxing hour or so baking in the sun, the most important part of the day arrived: selecting the ideal deli in a region known for its delis. After much consideration, I decided that Huntington’s gourmet Italian spot Mr. Sausage would be the perfect place to satiate my craving for a hero piled high with Italian meats and cheeses.

From the moment we entered, I was utterly captivated. The hanging legs of meat, endless cans of imported Italian goods, and the thrum of Italian soccer on the radio enticed me, not to mention the live ravioli-making occurring in the center of the shop.

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DSC_0038 DSC_0042 I began snapping pictures and soon struck up a conversation with Mr. Sausage’s proprietor, Sal Baldanza. Laced with a light Calabrese accent, he described the osso bucco-filled ravioli that he and his twin Rocco were carefully preparing as I eagerly watched.DSC_0051 DSC_0055DSC_0064DSC_0065DSC_0073DSC_0074He then showed me around the store, while telling me of his 30 years in the U.S.—all of them spent in Huntington’s surrounding areas. DSC_0085DSC_0039DSC_0047He ushered me towards one of the numerous deli counters, which held a stack of his very own cookbook “Delectable Italian Dishes for Family and Friends.” As I perused the beautiful prepared foods, in-house cured meats, and many more authentic Italian items I knew I’d be back as soon as possible.

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