Tuesday, September 17, 2013

"A Little Something for Everyone" Chili

It is officially fall, my favorite time of year (well maybe not officially according to the calendar, but in my eyes it is)!  The weather is cooling down, there is crispness in the air, and football is on the tv.  Time to make some chili!

This is my favorite chili recipe because it's got a little something for everyone -- fresh vegetables, different kinds of meat, an assortment of beans, and a little bit of spice.  The secret is to make this the night before, cool in the fridge and then reheat the next day in a crock pot on low to get all those flavors going.   I like to serve it with some corn bread muffins drizzled with honey (to add a little sweet to balance the spice).

1 lb of ground beef
1 lb of sausage
1 onion, diced
2 peppers, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
3 tomatoes, diced
2 15-oz cans of tomato sauce
2 15-oz cans of diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons of chili powder
1.5 teaspoons of cumin
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 15-oz can of garbanzo beans
1 15-oz can of kidney beans

1.  Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add ground beef and diced sausage (any kind works, I threw in some regular sausage and chorizo, but you can use hot Italian as well).  Cook until almost cooked through.
2.  Add the diced onion, peppers, and garlic to the Dutch oven with the meat.  Cook for another 8-10 minutes until the vegetables are tender.  Remove from heat and drain excess fat. 

3.  Lower heat to medium-low and add diced fresh tomatoes, tomato sauce, canned diced tomatoes, chili powder, cumin and oregano.  Cover and cook for 45 minutes.

4.  Add garbanzo beans and kidney beans to the Dutch oven and continue cooking for 15 minutes, uncovered. 

5.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Cover with lid and place in the refridgerator overnight.  The next day, warm in a crock pot for 2-4 hours on low and serve with cheddar cheese, sour cream and an assortment of hot sauces!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Potato Leek Soup

Back in 2006, when we had all the time and money in the world (re: pre-children), my husband and I went on a trip to Ireland and Scotland.  It was absolutely fantastic... I loved everything about it -- the people were so friendly, the places we visited were so calm and serene, and the food was hearty and comforting. 

We visited in March and it was a bit chilly while we were there (especially up in Scotland). 

This potato leek soup reminds me of the soup we had when we stopped at a pub for lunch and warmed up by the fire (with a pint, of course).  Creamy, rich and delicious - it's perfect as the fall season comes around!  Enjoy with some crusty bread (and a pint of dark beer).

2 tablespoons of butter
5 strips of bacon, chopped
2 leeks
3/4 cup of white wine
8-9 smaller yukon gold potatoes (about 3 lbs) peeled and cubed
6 cups of chicken stock
1.5 teaspoons of white pepper
2 teaspoons of salt
3/4 cup of heavy cream
1 tablespoon of chives

1.  Chop bacon.  Melt better in a large Dutch oven over medium heat and add bacon.  Cook for 5-6 minutes until bacon is tender.

2.  Cut off green parts from the leeks, using the white/light green part of the stem.  Cut the stem length-wise and then into slices (half-moons).  Save one of the green tops and tie with kitchen string.  Add the sliced leeks to the pot and cook for 6-8 minutes until tender.

3.  Add 3/4 cup of white wine to the pot.  Bring to a boil, scraping up bits of bacon and leeks.

4.  Add potatoes, chicken stock, green top of leek, and salt and pepper to the pot.  Bring to a boil.  Lower heat to medium low and simmer for 30 minutes until potatoes are tender.

5.  Remove leek top.  Using a blender or food processor, puree all of the soup except for about one cup (I like a little bit of chunk in my soup).  Return to the pot.

6.  To the pureed soup, add 3/4 cup of heavy cream and chives.  Warm over medium heat to allow flavors to blend. 

7.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Source

Wolfgang Puck's The Source in DC has gotten mixed reviews, and mostly diners feel "meh" about it (but rave about the Dim Sum brunch they offer on weekends).  Generally, I try to stay away from restaurants that get those types of reviews because when I spend my hard-earned money on dinner, I want to be happy after I drop $200, and feeling like it was worth it. 

Despite the warning signs from Yelp and UrbanSpoon, I pushed on to The Source because I have had some of Chef Drewno's creations at charity events and they were tasty.  I wanted to give The Source a fair shot to wow me where others were disappointed.

We arrived for dinner on a Saturday night around 7pm.  It was a gorgeous fall day so I asked the hostess (who, in all honesty, was a bit snobby) if the patio was open for seating.  She noted that it was closed.  What?  Closed?  On a perfect 70 degree fall day?  Uh... okay.

The dining room was simple and clean with walls of wine bottles, glass, and high-ceilings.  Our waitress was very friendly, attentive and nice as we started off our meal.  I thorougly enjoyed the pear martini-type cocktail and the DC Brau beer they offered on the beer menu.  And the sesame seed green beans with candied pecans were a yummy way to start off dinner.  

For an appetizer, I would highly recommend the spicy tuna tartare.  It was outstanding and the sesame-miso cones added a great flavor and texture to the tuna. 

My husband ordered the garlic chive dumplings (and we shared, even though I shouldn't have).  They were doughy and delicious, served with a sort of sweet and savory sauce.   

We definitely grilled the poor waitress about what are the best dinner options and she  happily obliged with a set of recommendations based on our flavor preferences.  I opted for the pork in a thai red curry sauce (I needed the spice).  The curry sauce was good, and the pork was tender and succulent.  The dish was solid, but nothing quite outstanding.

My husband selected the laquered chinese duckling served with mission figs and an anise-plum wine reduction sauce.  The crispy, caramelized skin was a delicious sweet flavor to the savory, tender meat.  It was a great dish.

At this point in the meal, the restaurant got busier and we seemed to lose our waitress.  Dirty dishes sat on our table for some time as we were forced to sit a little too close to the table next to us and could not help but overhear a conversation that I wanted no part of.  <Insert record scratch here>

Finally, our servers re-emerged but by then, it was a little too late.  It was time to get out and fast, or I could be stuck at the table for another 30 minutes.  We managed to get our check in a reasonable amount of time and then made the long, three flight journey to the restroom (this thorougly displeased my date).

In summary, this restaurant gets a lot of hype due to the "celebrity chef" that owns it and delivers a quality meal but not without some service and ambiance hiccups. 

The Source on Urbanspoon