This is seriously one of our favorite dishes. It is easy to make and it is SO GOOD.
The most important part is the sauce:
It is very important to get the right chicken. This is my absolute favorite (from Bell & Evans), which is available at Whole Foods Market.
Chicken with Peanut Sauce
adapted from Real Simple
2 servings frozen breaded chicken breasts
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
Cook the chicken according to the package directions.
In a bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, sugar, and ginger until smooth. Slice the chicken and serve with coconut rice* and peanut sauce.
*replace up to 1/2 water with coconut milk when cooking rice.
For our 2nd week of the CSA (click here for week 1) we received the following:
1 head of butter lettuce
1 head of Romaine
a big bag of spinach (10-15 oz)
a bunch of asparagus
4 green/spring onions
a pint of hothouse strawberries
5 tomatoes on the vine
a bunch of large radishes
2 hothouse cucumbers
Last weekend, a friend and I went berry picking at Homestead Farm in Poolesville, MD. It was the end of strawberry season and the beginning of tart cherries, so we got to pick both. There is nothing more satisfying or fun than harvesting your own food (though my legs are sore from squatting to pick strawberries, and my arms are sore from reaching up for the cherries).
The farm has a nice open patch of grass for parking next to the main store - which sells vegetables, herbs, and flowers; jams and sauces made at the farm and elsewhere; and already picked berries (sold at a higher price than if you pick your own). From the store you can either walk (a long way) to the berries, or hop on the tractor that drives back and forth between the fields and the store. You can bring your own containers, or pick up a cardboard carton from the store. I ended up with almost 7lbs of berries! I decided to make pies with my haul - a sour cherry lattice pie and a strawberry icebox pie.
Sour Cherry Lattice Pie
adapted from Martha Stewart
Pate Brisee, recipe follows
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
2 lbs fresh sour cherries, pitted (about 6 cups), or 1 3/4 pounds frozen sour cherries, partially thawed
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten
vanilla sugar* or coarse sanding sugar, for sprinkling
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one disc of dough to a 13 inch round, 1/8 inch thick. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate, and trim leaving 1/2 inch overhang. Refrigerate crust for 30 min while you prepare the lattice strips.
On a lightly floured piece of parchment, roll out second disc of dough to 1/8 inch thick. Cut 14 strips (12 inches long and 1/2 inch wide) with a fluted pastry wheel or a sharp knife; use a ruler if you have trouble making even strips. Place strips on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and refrigerate until cold, about 10 minutes.
Combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add cherries and vanilla, and toss. Pour cherry mixture into prepared pie plate. Dot top with butter. Lightly brush exposed edge of crust with egg.
Make the lattice: Lay 7 strips of dough across pie. Fold back every other strip. Lay another strip perpendicular in center of pie. Unfold the strips over perpendicular strip. Fold back the strips that are under the perpendicular strip. Lay a second perpendicular strip next to the first. Unfold the strips over the second perpendicular strip. Repeat, weaving strips across half the pie. Return to center, lay a perpendicular strip on unwoven side of pie, and repeat. Trim strips to make a 1-inch overhang. Tuck extra under rim of crust, and crimp to seal. Brush lattice with egg and sprinkle with sugar. Refrigerate 30 min until firm.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Transfer pie plate to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbling (if using fresh cherries, begin checking after 1 hour; if using frozen, it will take about 1 hour, 35 minutes). If top begins to brown too quickly, tent with foil and continue to cook.
Let pie cool completely on a wire rack.
*I keep a jar of sugar with vanilla bean pods in it. Whenever I use a vanilla bean, I toss the empty pod into the jar. The sugar becomes infused with vanilla flavor. It is great for baking and for coffee. When the sugar starts to run low I fill up the jar again, shaking it every now and then to distribute the flavor.
adapted from Martha Stewart
This is seriously the BEST dough recipe. It is flexible, it won't crack, it is super tender and flaky and awesome. It is important that everything be COLD.
Makes two 9 inch single-crust pies or one 9 inch double-crust pie
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1/2 cup chilled butter flavored Crisco, cut in pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
Whisk or sift together the flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Add the butter and shortening, and cut together until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle the ice water evenly over the flour and work together with your hands until the dough just holds together. Do not overwork.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface. Divide in two. Place each half on a sheet of plastic wrap. Flatten, and form two discs. Wrap, and refrigerate at least 30 min before using.
Strawberry Icebox Pie
adapted from Martha Stewart
10 graham crackers (2 1/2 by 5 inches)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
2 quarts strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced (about 6 cups)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cranberry juice
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-inch pie plate. In a food processor, blend graham crackers until finely ground. In a bowl, combine crumbs, butter, 3tbsp sugar, and salt. Press mixture into the bottom and up the side of the pie plate. Bake until crust is lightly browned, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine 3/4 cup sugar, cranberry juice, 3 cups strawberries, cornstarch, and salt. Using a potato masher, gently mash strawberries. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until very thick, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Stir in remaining strawberries. Pour into cooled pie crust. Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours (or up to 1 day). Top with whipped cream, if desired.
I stopped in at this Rockville Italian restaurant for lunch with a friend. Amici Miei debuted on the Washingtonian's Top 100 list in 2007 at #65, in 2008 it fell to #85, then to #91 in 2009, by 2010 it was off the list. Falling rankings have a lot to do with new restaurants opening, so we decided to try it out despite indications that quality might be declining. We arrived around 1:00 for lunch, and were pretty much the only ones there (the deli next store was packed), so I was a little wary. We ended up having a lovely meal and lovely time, though, so I wonder why this place is not more popular. It is located in a strip mall that is a bit hidden, which might have something to do with it. There is patio seating next to a nice little fountain, but we decided to eat inside. The interior is fairly upscale and nicely designed.
The waiter brought us fresh bread and poured olive oil for us to dip it in. We had to ask for balsamic vinegar, but he brought it immediately. We walked past a wood burning pizza oven on our way to the table which made it hard not to order a Margherita pizza, but I wanted to try more of a variety. I ordered the Piatto Unico, a lunch sampler plate, which consisted of a caprese salad, gnocchi alla Bolognese, meat balls, and panna cotta (they also offer a vegetarian sampler). The caprese was good, but not outstanding. I prefer my Mozarella fresher and softer. The gnocchi were very good - soft and delicate and covered in a rich meat sauce. The meatballs were a little firm for my taste (I like them fluffy), but drowned in a lovely tomato sauce and topped with cheese. The panna cotta was unfortunately covered in a caramel sauce that tasted burnt, rendering it practically inedible. I tried to cut into the center of the custard to try some without the caramel, and what I managed to get was very nice. My friend is a vegan and the waiter was very helpful in suggesting a dish that would fit her diet. She ordered the fusilli all norma - fusilli pasta with roasted eggplant and tomato sauce. It normally comes topped with ricotta, but they left that off for her.
All in all, Amici Miei is an upscale casual restaurant with solid (but not fantastic) Italian food at very reasonable prices.
The other day I was on my way to lunch at Chef Geoff's, when I saw a banner across the street saying "Now Open" at what looked like a Greek restaurant. I decided to try it out and changed course.
Nostos is an upscale Greek restaurant - something that is sorely lacking in the Tyson's area. Don't get me wrong, I love my Plaka, but it is not a good place for a nice dinner and drinks - Nostos definitely is. The interior is very modern with clean lines, stark white walls accented with dark furniture, and black and white photos. It is meant to look like the "sugar cube" houses of Greece with rounded, white washed walls and an exposed rafter effect. There is a main dining room lined with windows and a smaller room that could be used for private events. The large bar area is nicely separated from the main dining room, reducing noise interference. The bar is also well stocked with a wide selection in addition to Ouzo and Greek wines. The hostess told me that they are working on happy hour specials - I think that this may become a great place to hang out.
On to the food! The menu is clean and fresh, offering upscale (but still simple) versions of traditional food. There were a wide selection of mezze plates categorized as vegetarian, cheese, meat, or seafood in addition to several dips and salads. There were a few traditional entrees, and a wide selection of fish - prepared simply grilled with olive oil and lemon. I decided to order the "traditional sampler" entree in order to try a variety of dishes. The sampler came on a lovely, white, sectioned plate with moussaka, spanakopita, dolma, and arnaki fournou. The moussaka (layered casserole) was made the way that I prefer it - with potatoes in addition to the eggplant and ground beef, and topped with a nice layer of bechamel. The potatoes were very tender and the meat had a nice tomato-y flavor, though I would have preferred a touch more cinnamon. There was a nice bit of chewy, browned cheese on top. The spanakopita (spinach and cheese stuffed phyllo pastry) had a wonderfully herb-y flavor, though it was not terribly crisp. The dolma (stuffed grapeleaf) was tender and filled with a lovely mixture of ground beef, rice, and mint. It was topped with a delicious creamy egg yolk and lemon sauce that was like the Greek equivalent of Hollandaise. The arnaki fournou consisted of slices of slow roasted lamb in a gravy sauce. The lamb had a nice flavor, though it was not as tender as I would expect after "slow roasting". The gravy was lighter than I expected it to be, with a hint of lemon flavor.
As it was lunch, I did not have dessert, though I would like to come back and try the galaktoboureko, baklava, or rizogalo. I would also like to make a meal out of several of the mezze plates. Nostos is definitely worth a return visit - several, in fact.