Thursday, July 31, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Wrigleyville, here we come! We arrived in Chicago at 7 a.m on Friday morning and made our way to Murphy's Bleachers by 10 a.m. to begin partaking in the festivities. I want to make it clear that I am a Cardinals fan, but going to Wrigley Field was quite an experience. Murphy's Bleachers is a historic Chicago sports bar located across the street from the entrance to the Wrigley Field bleacher section, at the corner of Sheffield and Waveland Avenues. The good thing is that they serve a St. Louis favorite, Bud Light.
After enjoying a few beverages and meeting some new friends, we headed over to the game. It was packed. I have to admit I had an awesome time even though we were watching the Cubs. It was really refreshing to be back in the Midwest with people like I grew up around. Cubs lost...boo hoo :) Crowds of people headed over to the Cubby Bear for some loud music and dancing. At about 9 p.m., I couldn't take much more.
Saturday, we went to the Taste of Lincoln Park. It was great to hear the live music, but the food wasn't what I expected. When I think of "Taste of...", I think of all of the restaurants in the area offering samples of their best dishes, but this was not the case. It was more of a drinking and band watching activity with carnival type food offered. Still, it was lots of fun, but I was hoping for some great cuisine.
Sunday, we went to a great Austrian brunch place called Julius Meinl on Lincoln Avenue. The coffee was fabulous and we all tried the baked eggs. After breakfast, we couldn't leave Chicago in the summer without hitting the beach and enjoying some deep dish pizza, so we did just that. Chicago is awesome!!
Monday, July 28, 2008
A good marinade contains flavorings, spices, herbs, etc. Because a marinade is also acidic it carries these flavors into foods. Of course it can only travel so far, so marinating a thick roast will not get the added flavor you would get with a thin cut, but it is still beneficial. When selecting a marinade look for flavor that will compliment the food you are marinating.
Marinades typically contain some kind of oil. Olive oil is my particular favorite. In fact the best oil to use is a light oil containing mono- and/or diglycerides. These natural emulsifiers help penetrate meats faster than other oils, so check the labels for a good marinade oil. The oil also serves to hold in moisture on meats and to reduce the moisture loss during cooking.
When grilling meats over a direct flame, heterocyclic amines (HCA)’s are created. These potentially cancer-causing agents can be reduced by, as much at 99% when foods are marinated in an acidic marinade at least that’s what the American Cancer Research Institute says. An acidic marinade acts by keeping HCA’s from forming on meats.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Captain Mayhem's is a great place to grab some drinks with the locals. Ask for Wes and Damian. Great guys! They are still working on the food, but they have good happy hour specials.
Buddha Sushi is delicious! Patrick Dunn was nice enough to give us a taste of the freshwater eel which we enjoyed. The Crunchy Roll had great flavor. The Sushi is very good and there are lots of choices. Quality, service, and presentation are excellent. One of our favorite meals on the island!
Agave Terrace is known for its views, but it was dark when we arrived so we couldn't experience it. We were greeted with cocktails by the long-time bartender, Desmond. We had a very nice experience, but not the best meal we had on the island. The food was had Caribbean flavors, but mostly standard upscale resort fare. Service was perfect, surroundings were very classy and comfortable.
All in all, the food was surprisingly good in the islands. The seafood was fresh and the drinks were free flowing! It was a great vacation and I would recommend it for a fun and relaxing get-away!
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
When you are here, you are family! We took my mom to this restaurant about a year ago when she was in DC visiting and she absolutely loved it. She came in town again last weekend for her birthday and she had a special request for Odeon again. They are wonderful! They really made us feel at home when they dimmed the lights and brought out the birthday cake with all of the waiters singing "Happy Birthday." Dino is our favorite...
Odeon is accommodating for people without reservations. My mom got the Pasta Cleopatra and I got the Manicotti. Both were creamy and delicious!
Happy Birthday Mom!
1714 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20009
All I can say is that I try my best. Each episode gets better than the next, but it takes time. The most important thing is that we have a ton of fun producing each show and meeting all of the wonderful guests.
Capital Cooking airs on Comcast Channel 95 and RCN Channel 10 in DC, Cox Cable Channel 10 in Fairfax, Access Montgomery TV 19 and 21 in Maryland, KDHX Channel 21 and 22 in St. Louis, Missouri, The Peoples Channel 8 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, as well as http://capitalcookingshow.chanz.tv/. The show reaches approximately 1.6 million households in DC, Maryland, Virginia, Missouri and North Carolina.
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Monday, July 21, 2008
Five Guys, Georgetown location
By Amy Lessman
Getting inside was a little difficult because of the people scooping shelled peanuts out of the giant box next to the door, but I finally made it past them and was able to place my order at the counter. The menu’s not too difficult, as long as you don’t like to have options. You have a selection of burgers, big and small; a selection of fries, Cajun or regular; and then a choice of drink, 24oz soft drink or... water. Basically, choosing condiments is more difficult than choosing your actual meal.
After my number was called, I carried my grease-stained, brown, paper bag back to my table and suspiciously opened it up.
Surprisingly, the burger was delicious, as well as the Cajun fries. Despite the torn leather booth and the cracked peanut shells lining the floor, the food was full of flavor, not to mention reasonably priced!
This place is not the type of place to take a first date or to have dinner with your parents. Ironically, its name is fitting to the atmosphere: Five Guys is a little messy, kind of awkward, simply decorated, but definitely a meal you’ll enjoy!
Friday, July 18, 2008
To be honest, I can't remember a time when I wasn't cooking. I am blessed to have had parents and grandparents in my life who contributed to my culinary capabilities. As a child, I can remember my mother setting me up on the counter and having me "help" with everything from making tomato sauce to rolling meatballs and cookies. My mother likes to cook in large quantities because she comes from a large family. From her I learned to "think big" and not let feeding large crowds intimidate me.
Although my father doesn't cook, he is what we call in Italian a "buon gustaio" or a "foodie". We would watch National Geographic documentaries on far away lands and cultures and my father would always turn to me and say "I wonder what they eat." This must be where I got my fascination and obsession of linking food, cultures, and history together.
My paternal grandfather lived next door to us. In between our two homes were gardens complete with grape vines and a wide variety of produce. Blackberry bushes lined our driveways and a farmer owned land across the street. My grandfather taught me how to grow, pick, and use fresh produce. He was also a cook in the army and was used to having to stretch and substitute ingredients. While we were cooking together, he would always make me substitute ingredients. Even if we had milk and eggs, for example, he would say "What would you do if you didn't have them?" He would force me to use other ingredients which caused me to be versatile and creative in developing new recipes today.
My maternal grandmother learned all of the traditional Calabrian (Southern Italian) celebratory savory and sweet dishes. The weeks leading up to all major holidays included ritual baking with delicious recipes that she inherited from her mother. Those recipes represent tradition, stability, and happy memories. Cooking with my grandmother made me understand the important role that cuisine plays in society.
When I was a teenager my mother went to work and told me that I would be responsible for getting a delicious and nutritious dinner on the table every night after school. At first I was really stressed out by my new duty, but as time went on I realized that since cooking was an activity that I would need to perform on a regular basis, I may as well enjoy it. I found a lot of creativity and challenge in developing menus and making a delicious meal out of the few set ingredients that I had in front of me. I began experimenting with new recipes in cookbooks which led to my cookbook collection and my career as a cookbook writer. My grandmother says I wrote a cookbook with crayons at age 3, but I don't remember it!
After college I lived in Rome with my husband and got a great taste for the Italian way of approaching food. I fell in love with regional Italian cooking and made a vow to treat all culinary cultures with dignity, respect, and admiration the way that the Italians think of their own. I was also able to spend time in my ancestral homeland of Southern Italy where I increased my repertoire.
Next I traveled to Egypt where my husband is from. At first I was scared by the cuisine, because many tour books labeled it as bad. Little by little, however, I began to discover foods that are not only delicious and healthy, but have intriguing histories and rich cultural significance as well. Over the past 12 years I have spent a great deal of time living, working, and traveling in Egypt. My memories, research and recipes led me to write my second cookbook Nile Style: Egyptian Cuisine and Culture which will be out in Spring 2009. In the winter of 2008, I had the opportunity to travel to Saudi Arabia with the Royal Protocol. While there, I got to sample some of the most lavish and extravagant dishes ever in homes, restaurants and palaces. The hospitality which was bestowed on me really impressed me and led me to my first cookbook, Arabian Delights which was released in the fall of 2007.
1. Know your Audience
2. Have a great marketing platform
3. Write a proper proposal
4. Contact and follow up with publishers
5. Don't give up!!!
2. Private groups/Organizations/Universities
3. With mentor Sheilah Kaufman
4. In restaurants
5. Museums and Embassies
Have you ever thought of opening a restaurant?
I think of it every time someone says "You should open a restaurant." Our culture associates food with restaurants, but the day to day business challenges of running a business are not my cup of tea. I would rather work as a Restaurant Consultant, help to solve problems, train chefs, and increase business, take the credit, and leave. It's like being a grandparent. You get to enjoy the fun stuff, but you leave all the hard work to the parents. In this case, the parents are the restaurant owners, managers, and chefs.
Do you have a recipe that you would like to feature?
Yes, I would like to feature my recipe for Sesame Chapati Bread. It's from my Arabian Delights cookbook. You can watch me prepare it, and many other recipes online by clicking:
Sesame Chapati Bread
(Khubz Chabati bi SimSim)
Chapati is the delicious, tender, unleavened bread of Pakistan. A similar bread is prepared in ndia, where it is called naan. Chapati was introduced to the Arabian Peninsula by Pakistani immigrants who moved to the region after the economic boom in the late twentieth century. Now it is an integral part of Arabian cuisine, just as it is in its native homeland. I first experienced sesame chapati at the Jeddah Conference Palace in Saudi Arabia, where it was made in a hot clay oven, called a tandoor. One of the bakers at the palace would prepare chapati daily for the kitchen staff and servers, who were predominately from Pakistan and Bangladesh. Waiters brought baskets of the hot, tender bread studded with sesame seeds to each table. The bread became the highlight of our meals while we were in Jeddah. One day at lunch, we were served regular pita bread and European-style breads that were commercially prepared. We asked for “the special bread” and were told it was available only at dinner. Dinnertime came and the bread was nowhere to be found. We once again inquired about it and were told it was the baker’s day off. We wondered if the baker knew how much we were anticipating his return and that his bread had made such an enormous impression on us. If you’ve never made bread before, don’t hesitate to try this recipe. The soft and buttery dough is a real treat to work with!
2 cups unbleached white bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (0.6-ounce) package fresh yeast*
* Fresh yeast can usually be found near the butter in the dairy case at supermarkets.
5 tablespoons clarified butter (ghee), divided
1 large egg
1/2 cup sesame seeds
Sift flour and salt together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, cream the yeast with 4 tablespoons lukewarm water and let rest for 15 minutes. Add yeast mixture, 1/2 cup lukewarm water, 3 tablespoons clarified butter, and egg to the flour and mix well to combine. Continue mixing until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place in a large bowl that has been lightly greased with clarified butter. Turn dough to coat, and cover with lightly greased plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until doubled in bulk. Preheat the broiler. Lightly grease a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to cover the bottom of the broiler. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and punch down. Divide into four equal pieces and shape into balls. (Dough may be frozen at this point.) Roll the dough out into oval shapes approximately 7 inches long and 4 inches wide. Place two pieces of dough onto aluminum foil. Brush more clarified butter on top of each oval and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly golden and puffed up. Turn over, brush with butter, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Continue to broil for another 1 to 2 minutes, or until golden. Repeat with remaining two pieces of dough. Serve warm or cool. Wrap in plastic and then aluminum foil to freeze.
Tip: Although chapati is traditionally served fresh out of the oven, it also freezes well. Try doubling this recipe and freezing the extra half. Defrost the bread when needed, and reheat under the broiler for 1 minute. You can also freeze the dough, defrost it, and proceed with the rest of the recipe another time.
What are your most exciting challenges right now?
I have many exciting challenges in my work each day. My number one priority is revealing world cultures through cuisine. Currently, I'm working on projects with The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, The Textile Museum in Washington DC, and The Kennedy Center in Washington DC where I am doing just that. I am challenged and inspired by linking the cuisine of the Mediterranean and Middle East with artwork, textiles, and the performing arts.
In my work as a restaurant consultant, I'm assisting restaurant owners and chefs develop story lines and themes for their restaurant menus. I actually wake up at 3:00 in the morning and run to the computer with ideas. I love it!
I believe that each one of us has special talents and characteristics which we can contribute to our fields. If you know that something is important and are passionate about it, go for it - even if no one else is doing it. Eventually other people will do it because you are!
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Production costs add up. The majority of the show has been paid for out of my pocket, but I have received funding from Matchbox, Ping by Charlie Chiang and Eat and Smile Foods. We are still working on taking our underwriting campaign to the national level.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
On our third day we took the ferry to St. John. We had fun at Trunk Bay and ran into Wes, the owner of Captain Mayhem's. He invited us for a drink with his friends at Woody's Seafood Saloon. http://www.woodysseafood.com/.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Develop the Episodes: About a year before I started filming the show, I started a notebook of my ideas. I started coming up with recipes based on themes and drafting scripts. I also would brainstorm with friends and family about what to name the show. One morning I woke up from a dream and told my husband that I wanted to name the show "Capital Cooking." He liked the idea so I went with it.
So far, we've filmed 11 episodes. We'll be filming two more in August and two more in September. The show has turned its focus on more international cuisine and contact with the embassies. I've also used my episode ideas to teach cooking classes. Feel free to email me if you have any episode ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by Shauna Alexander featuring Lauren and Denise Medved.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Island Time Pub
This pub is known for the pizza, but we decided to try the bbq chicken and corn. The food was a little dry, but this is a great place to listen to live music with the locals at the marina in Red Hook. We met some great people, including, Wes, owner of Captain Mayhem's.
Off The Hook
Fresh! Sit dockside and look out at the boat that caught your lobster. Casual atmosphere with a nice breeze. We started off with the crispy conch fritters with sweet-hot banana-chili chutney. Corey went for fish stew with scallops, shrimp, mahimahi, mussels, conch, and calamari swimming in a coconut curry broth and I enjoyed the 1 lb Lobster. This was our best meal of the vacation!!
More to come about...
Friday, July 11, 2008
Each month I'll provide you with health and fitness tips courtesy of one of my best friends, Allison Dougherty. Allison is a personal trainer in St. Louis, Missouri.
Water! How important is it really? How much do we need to function well?
As a baseline, the traditionally recommended 8 glasses a day is a good place to start. But what if you drink a little (or a lot) of caffeine? What if you workout inside? Sweat a lot while working outside on a hot day? Feeling under the weather?
All of these activities will require the consumption of more than the standard 8 glasses. Try to have an extra glass of water for every caffeinated drink you take in. So if two cups of coffee is your usual morning routine you should be aiming for 10 glasses of water a day. Continuously sip water throughout a workout or while doing any form of outdoor activity, especially in the hot summer months. Try to drink at minimum an extra glass of water for every hour of work performed- a glass every half-hour if the work is especially intense. If you are sick, you may be already dehydrated, so try to make your water intake equal 10 glasses a day in addition to whatever other fluids you are probably taking in (orange juice, hot tea, etc.)
Make a pledge to yourself to carry water with you wherever you go: to the office, the gym, when running errands, etc. If water is easily accessible you are much more likely to drink more of it! Try using a stainless steel or Sigg bottle. Check out kleenkanteen.com and/or sigg.com. Find one you like and go for it! Commit to only using it for water and nothing else. Soon it should become second nature.
Keys? Wallet? Water bottle?
It may seem like a large water increase at first, but the truth is your body will appreciate this change so much! Many of us walk around chronically dehydrated. Our bodies struggle to function with the little water we give them. When even slightly dehydrated brain function can slow, nerve transmissions happen less smoothly, joints may feel stiffer, we tire more easily- all body systems function less efficiently. Our bodies are 70% water. Proper water intake is one of the cheapest, most effective “medicines” we have available to us. You owe it to your body.
Remember: give to your body what it needs and it will give back to you!
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Thursday, July 3, 2008
If you missed the Romantic Dinner for Two class last Friday, here are some pictures to fill you in on what we prepared. My husband came along to help out and we prepared filet mignon with a balsamic reduction sauce and goat cheese, green beans topped with mushrooms, bacon and almonds, creamy twice baked potatoes and a delightful fruit pizza with the help of 10 fabulous students. There is still time to sign up for my next class.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
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|Washingtonian Magazine Best of Washington Party |
National Building Museum
401 F St., NW 20001
across the street from the Judiciary Square Metro (Red Line)
|July 8th, 2008 (Tuesday) |
7:00PM to 10:00PM
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