Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Wine House

Every once in a while on a weekend, I am just not up for making the trek up to DC for dinner (and as it turns out, my husband is never up for that trip).  So it's good to have a few options closer by that aren't a chain restaurants plagued by mediocre food and loud, noisy tables.

The Wine House is now one of those local restaurant spots that I would definitely frequent again.  The wine selection is fantastic, the menu options are good (think standard dinner options like steak, crab cakes, lamb with a few twists such as eggplant risotto and paella), and the atmosphere is relaxing and quaint.

We visited on a Saturday night and the dining room was full.  We selected a wine from the racks around the room (added plus for fun wine experience) and started with the cheese and charcuterie plate.  I selected the F-Bomb wine,  a small batch red wine blend (which admittedly, I selected based on name alone) and it was nice bodied wine with dinner.

For dinner, I opted for the paella which was a special for the evening.  It was rich and full of fish, chorizo and tomatoes.  It was tasty, but a little lighter than I'm used to in a paella dish.

Dessert is a must - we had the white chocolate and sun dried cherry bread budding.  It was doughy, sweet and delicious.  The service was friendly and attentive, with some hiccups when the restaurant filled up but overall, well done.

It was a fantastic evening at The Wine House - solid food, and great wine without the hassle of going downtown to a crowded wine bar.
  The Wine House on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Artichoke Au Gratin

I don't know what it is, but I find the older I have gotten, the more and more I love me some veggies.  I'm thinking it's because I generally don't use the kind that come in canned form anymore... but I can't be sure.  Regardless, I definitely taken to using vegetables in a main dish because sometimes, they can be better than meat (gasp! did I just say that aloud!?!).

Here's a great recipe for artichoke au gratin that you can serve as a side dish with ham or fish, or serve as a main dish with some bread and a bean salad.  (the recipe is based off of the cookbook Plenty)

3 8oz bags of frozen artichoke hearts
2 yellow onions
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 tsp of dried thyme
6 tbsp. of fresh parsley
4 tbsp. of butter
1/3 cup of flour
1 cup of water
1 cup of milk
1 cup of ricotta cheese
1/4 cup of parmesan cheese

1.  Thinly slice the onions with a mandolin (or very thinly with a knife).  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Boil a pot of water over high heat.  Add the frozen artichokes and simmer for about three minutes.  Drain artichokes.

2.  In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and onions, sprinkling with salt and pepper.  Sauté onions 6-8 minutes until tender.  Add the thyme and parsley, cook with onions for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. 

3.  Add the artichokes to the onion mixture and cook for one minute.  Remove from heat and set aside.

4.  In a separate saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour to make a smooth paste and cook for about 2 minutes, whisking to not brown.  Mix the water and milk together and slowly whisk into the flour paste 1/4 of a cup at a time. Continue to whisk on low heat for about 8-10 minutes until thick and creamy.

5.  Add the sauce to the artichoke mixture.  Butter a large casserole dish and add the artichoke mixture.

6.  Sprinkle the dish with parmesan cheese and drop in large spoonfuls of the ricotta in the artichoke mix around the dish.  Cover with foil.

7.  Bake in the oven covered with foil for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil, increase oven temperature to 400 degrees and cook for 15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and golden.  Serve immediately.