Sunday, February 25, 2007

but i don't have any milk

>>Cellphone rings<<
Me: Hi Mommy.
Mom: Are you still in bed?
Me: Uh huh.
Mom: Do you have food at home?
Me: Uh huh. (Confused)
Mom: It's so beautiful outside.
Me: OK. (More confused. The sun wasn't peeking through the blinds, it seemed cloudy to me.) Are you going home from church?
Mom: Yeap. It's a parking lot on the parkway; we're going 10mph.
Me: What? Why?
Mom: It's snowing outside.
Me: What?! (I walk over to the window to see it snowing and the ground is covered with a blanket of snow. At least I had toilet paper at home.)

I didn't want to be cooped up inside so I put on some thermal wear, strapped on my hiking boots, and set out for a stroll. It was actually quite warm outside. Neighborhood kids were sledding on any and every slope they could find, a young lady was cleaning the snow off her car with a purple plastic clothes hanger, and two out-of-towners outside the Extended-Stay were snapping pictures of the snow. I think it was their first time seeing snow; they both had wide grins on their faces like giddy schoolboys. But then again, so did I. I walked over to Barnes and Noble, bought myself a triple grande soy latte and sat down with a few magazines. (And yes, I did purchase a few.) It had started drizzling on my way home. I got back in time to do a bun and thigh workout before sitting down to watch the Oscars. A quiet relaxing day; definitely not looking forward to tomorrow.

agnes's mom's fried rice

Agnes's Mom's Fried Rice
Serves 2

2 cups day-old rice
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup frozen green peas
salt and pepper
1 egg (optional)

Saute garlic in oil until slightly brown on medium-low heat in a wok. On high heat, add the rice and coat evenly with the garlic oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add the peas to the rice; stir fry until peas are hot. Make a well in the middle of the rice, coat bottom of the wok with a bit more oil, and scramble one egg. When eggs are done, stir everything together. Season once more with salt to taste. I just fried the egg separately and served it on top of the rice.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

running in the rain

I love it!

I made it out to the airfield during lunch today; an approximately four/four-and-a-half mile loop. The clouds were making their way in and it started raining about a mile into my run. I've always enjoyed running in the rain. Especially on a warm spring day, the April showers are always a welcome. Today was no exception; albeit, it was a bit chilly with ice still piled up on the sides of the road and the back stretch still covered in slush. The sounds of the choppers circling around the landing strip was an added bonus. I was tempted to wave hello to the pilots, but I refrained myself. But I was smiling during my entire run. If only I had a flower in my hair; now that would have been a sight to see.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

ravioli sauce # 1

Chocolate! Not really, although that might not be a bad idea.

Simple balsamic vinegar reduction with a splash of heavy cream. In a small pan, reduce about 1/4 cup of good quality balsamic vinegar on medium-low heat until the vinegar becomes thick. Add some heavy cream (3-4 tbsp) to loosen up the sauce and drizzle over ravioli. I used the butternut squash ravioli I had made earlier and froze. No need to thaw the ravioli, just pop them right into boiling water and when they float to the top, they're done.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

good things

The last sips of valentine's day. I was probably blogging the recipe for my v-day pasta when I took this shot. A pomegranate cocktail: 1 part vanilla vodka, 2 parts pomegranate juice, and simple syrup to sweeten it up, shaken on ice, served in a martini glass with a splash of club soda; my laptop: a birthday/Christmas present, a combination gift I didn't mind getting; and a postcard from my best friend who's studying in France. I miss you hon! We will have Paris someday.

Monday, February 19, 2007

happy birthday GW!

The George Washington Birthday 10K. I really didn't want to run this race, but I had suggested to mom that we run it and the only way to get myself out of it was to get her not to run, but she wouldn't budge. (I know, I'm a sleazy cheapskate!)

So we geared up Saturday morning and headed to the AMC theatre in Alexandria. A pretty good turn out: the DJ was jamming out some good tunes, runners decked out from head to toe prepared to face the cold, and mom was stretching like a mad woman next to me while I frantically looked for an empty spot to warm-up on the other side of the lobby.

8:30 AM, Starting Line: The weather wasn't too bad actually; the sun helped with the chill. I knew that they had altered the course due to the icy conditions on parts of the bike path, but when the front runners started coming back down Eisenhower Ave. 10 minutes into the race, I got confused. This couldn't be right, could it? Was this going to be a 5K? They turned us around after 2.5K and it wasn't until I got back to the starting line did I realize they were making us run back up for another loop. All in all, it went well. My goal was to get in under one hour and my "official" race time clocked 56:24.

Next race: The DC Road Runners Burke Lake 12 K on March 11.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

eamonn's: a dublin chipper

My five-day weekend started out with a clang. I was taking wine glasses out of the dishwasher in the morning when two of them broke in my hand and I stabbed myself in the left index finger. It was quite a lovely site. I actually stood there watching the blood ooze out thinking the cut would go away if I stared at it long enough. No such luck. (I even contemplated taking a photo of the wound to post but I'd thought I'd spare my reader(s) the gruesome details.)

Despite my injury, and that I was off work that day, I went in for my Friday yoga class. I've come to really enjoy these yoga classes and I think it's due in large part to our instructor, Lisa. But more on yoga later.

For lunch, I took my little brother to Eamonn's in Old Town. Chef Armstrong of Restaurant Eve opened this fish and chips joint in dedication to his son late last year. (You guessed it, Eve is Eamonn's older sister.) Taking up a prime spot right on King St., the chipper is warm and inviting. We picked a spot right next to the fireplace; a bit of warmth from the bitter cold we've been having lately. One downside of sitting there was every time someone opened the door, a biting breeze would creep in and linger.

We had the cod and a large order of fries to share which ended up being plenty of food (and by food, I mean grease) for the two of us. The fish was great, fresh and perfectly cooked; (Do you hear a however coming?) however, it was quite greasy. The batter was a bit thick and doughy. The fries were right-out-of-the-fryer hot, but alas, also greasy. I guess I prefer my fish and chips to be light and crisp. Can you say "Om"? Namaste.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

valentine's day pasta

My roommate and I thought we would head out to Old Town to Mai Thai for dinner, but given the current road conditions, and just being absolutely, ridiculously, freakishly cold out there, we decided to stay home and I cook.

A pasta dish that I've made a couple times before, though it tasted better those other times; it wasn't that bad, was it Chutima?

Tagliatelle with Parsnip and Prosciutto
Serves 2

4 strips prosciutto, cut into thin strips
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp thyme
1 small parsnip, but into thin strips
2 cloves minced garlic
2 servings of tagliatelle
3 handfuls of grated Parmesan
salt and pepper
reserve a few ladles of pasta water

Begin cooking tagliatelle until al dente. Always add plenty of salt when cooking the pasta.

Crisp prosciutto and thyme in 1 tbsp of butter in a hot skillet. Add the parsnip strips, garlic, and 1 tbsp of butter and cook until parsnip becomes soft. Add the cooked pasta to the prosciutto. Ladle in a couple of spoons of pasta water. On low heat, add the remaining butter and parmesan cheese. Add more pasta water for a creamy consistency and season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with parmesan cheese.

jajangmyun (자장면)

American Chinese food: Combination Lo Mein, General Tso's Chicken, Hunan Beef, Vegetable Delight, and the likes.

Korean Chinese food: Jajangmyun and Tangsooyook.

Wherever you are in Korea, you can spot a delivery boy speeding by on a moped with a metal contraption tied to the back. Nine times out of ten, you can find a couple of bowls of jajangmyun, a plate of fried dumplings, and an order of tangsooyook in the tin box.

Mom and Dad used to make it for us when we lived with them back in Korea. And last week, Dad graced us with his once-a-year cooking show. I actually started dicing the vegetables, but I guess my skills weren't up to par so Dad took over. Mom was in charge of making the tangsooyook. Within 30 minutes, we were ready to eat.

So what exactly is it, you ask?

Jajangmyun: Call it a Korean-Chinese Spaghetti. The sauce is made with black bean paste; thickened with cornstarch and seasoned with a bit of sugar. Ingredients include sauteed pork, potatoes, onions, carrots, and zucchini; all finely diced. The sauce is ladled over a bed of thick rice noodles. Top it with julienned cucumbers and sprinkle red pepper flakes for an added kick. Mix it all together and devour. Definitely not something you'd want to have on a first date, unless you don't mind the person across from you wearing bean paste all over their mouth and on the front of their shirt. But don't you fret, there are places that offer aprons for ladies and gents to wear so as not to soil their outfit. Or you can just BYOB (Bring Your Own Bib.)

Tangsooyook: Often made with fried pork dipped in batter, but it can be made with beef or chicken; seafood too. The sauce is thick, hot, sweet and spicy with vegetables; usually bell peppers, pineapples and onions. The key to this dish is a thin, crisp layer of batter. I like to dip mine in soy sauce spiked with pepper oil.

There are a couple of restaurants in Annandale that offer jajangmyun, but none can compare to Mom and Dad's. But if you'd like to try it yourself, let me know, and I'll gladly lead the way.

Monday, February 12, 2007

restaurant eve

( I've been sitting on this "review" for about two weeks now so I think it's about time to post it. A nice dinner with my old boss and co-worker.)

What do frog legs, an iron, and photos of naked chefs (and no, I don't mean Jamie Oliver) have in common? You can find them all at Restaurant Eve.

I almost missed the restaurant driving down S Pitt St in Old Town Alexandria. The windows on the front of the building display the bar and lounge, but the lights were so dim I had to do a double-take to find the restaurant. A narrow corridor lead us to the "front door". Once in the lobby, the hostesses greeted us with a smile and showed us to our table in the Bistro. A small, quaint room with a vaulted ceiling that came down low enough that the waiters (at least the taller ones) had to duck their heads while moving about the room from table to table.

We started off with fried frog legs with a fennel and blood orange salad. (Yes, those are frog legs in the photo and yes, those are their feet. Yummy!) It was actually not bad at all. Tasted like chicken. I've had frog legs before at Chinese dim sum places but these long and lean legs, compared to the short and stumpy ones you find in a bamboo steamer, could have strutted down a runway. Maybe they get their frogs from Brazil. Dinner continues.

My evening fare paired with a dry Rhone verietal white :
Artichoke soup with Black Perigord Truffles
Confit of House Cured Pork Belly with Fresh Beans and Oregano
Sorbet (Lemon, Coconut, Grapefruit)

Everything was good; as expected. The black truffle essence and chives brought a new layer of flavor and texture to the creamy artichoke soup. The house cured pork belly, a delicacy well-known at the house of Eve, just melted in my mouth. A bit salty for my taste, but how else would you have a cured pork belly confit. I felt almost as bad eating this as the time I had a midnight snack of fried sausage after a night of beer drinking in Galway. (OK, maybe not, but I'm sure Chef Armstrong would appreciate the reference to Ireland. Possibly not that either?) The sorbets were good. The grapefruit and lemon were quite tart, which definitely cleansed the palate. To my surprise, I liked the coconut the best; with just a slight hint of the tropical fruit it helped pacify my puckered lips.

(Alternative entree suggestion for those who might shy away from eating a chunk from Babe's belly: The scallops and polenta squares were popular among the guests.)

So, you're probably wondering about the iron and naked chefs reference. Our server was setting up his table next to ours; he brought out a clean white table cloth and smoothed it over the table with as much precision as a boot camp cadet would make his bed for a morning inspection. Then out of nowhere, he whips out an iron from his utility belt and starts ironing the linen right on the table. How bizarre! And the naked chefs? You'll just have to go and find out for yourself.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

imperia, ravioli, and tortellini

I finally broke out my pasta maker yesterday after letting it sit in its box for about a year. So here is my first attempt at making homemade pasta.

Basic Pasta Dough Recipe

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs

Put the flour on a large, clean work surface. Make a well and crack the eggs in the middle. Add oil and season with salt. Incorporate the ingredients together with your fingers. The dough will be sticky. Knead into a ball and set aside until ready to roll out the dough. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to about 1/2" thickness. Crank through notch 1 several times, folding the dough in half before running through again. The dough will be gummy; flour if necessary. Run the dough through each remaining notch once. Don't have a pasta maker? I will rent mine out for a minimal fee.

I made two fillings the night before.

Butternut Squash

1 2lb butternut squash, halved, peeled, and cubed
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 tbsp herb de provence
olive oil
salt and pepper

Toss the cubed squash with herb de provence, olive oil, salt and pepper. Layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake @ 375 for 45 minutes. Combine the cheese and squash and blend in a food processor until smooth.


1 cup frozen spinach
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano
salt and pepper

Thaw spinach and squeeze out as much water as you can. It should be about one handful. Combine cheeses, spinach, and season with salt and pepper. Make sure to taste; the parmigiano will add some saltiness.

I started to make raviolis but they didn't turn out as pretty as I wanted, so using a glass jar (add to shopping list: ring cutters), I cut out 3" round wraps to make tortellinis. Make sure to flour your dough so they won't stick together. For a less time consuming method, you can always use wonton wrappers.

To make tortellinis, place a small amount of filling in the middle. Dab some water or egg wash along the edge. Fold in half to form a half moon shape. Pinch the dough to secure the filling inside. Take the edges and fold, it should look like a fortune cookie, and pinch the corners together. Be creative and have fun!

The ravioli and tortellini can be kept frozen until ready to use. All I need now is to come up with recipes to serve my little cute dumplings. Any ideas?

Monday, February 5, 2007

home cooking

Since my parents moved into their new home about a month ago, I've been over to eat quite often. Maybe I'm being nostalgic for mom's home cooking, having missed it for the past two years, or just the fact that I'm too lazy to cook at home. Most probably the latter.

On this particular day, my parents and I went for a little jog around Burke Lake and when we got back, mom had prepared this "feast" of a dinner. Tofu stew, spicy octopus, three different kinds of kimchi, and my favorite, japchae. It was wonderful, but like any other dinners at home, I ended up eating too much. As you can see, a typical Korean meal calls for many different side dishes and it's easy to over-eat. (At least for me it is.) And it doesn't help that mom has tons of snacks stashed in the pantry: cookies, cakes, chocolates, and candies. The deadly four Cs that aren't too forgiving on the waistline, nor other parts of my body. So now I'm on my so-called "one-plate" diet. One small plate of food and no seconds. I doubt it will work for long since mom and dad are making jjajangmyun and tangsooyook on Wednesday and I'll be sure to save me a seat at the dinner table; no doubt there!