Monday, April 18, 2016

Restaurant Review: Founding Farmers Washington DC

Founding Farmers, about three blocks from the White House in Washington DC is a farm to table restaurant literally founded by and supported by family farmers in the North Dakota Farmer's Union. Their story is fascinating enough to make this a very popular restaurant with tourists and locals so reservations are a must for larger parties.

When I am at a restaurant with large farm tables and big buckets of yummy whirly pop kettle corn pot, ordering their vegetarian option is always the best test of the quality of the food, so I ordered the cauliflower steak with butternut barley risotto and grilled (still crunchy) broccolini.  The cauliflower steak comes with a green sauce arugula pesto. The steak itself was huge. I got a half a head of cauliflower and I barely finished. In fact I was too full for dessert.

At $16 for the plate, it's a cheap dinner for DC, especially since I didn't have a cocktail. I would have been happy with just the steak (maybe not as big) as a side too. I may try this at home although cauliflower is very expensive in Hawaii, but this NYTimes recipe for whole roasted cauliflower with almond-herb sauce is on my to make list.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Slow Love French Toast

There is fast, get the family fed cooking and then there is slow love cooking. French toast is not hard to do fast, but if you want to do some slow love cooking, get a bread like sourdough, slice it ahead of time and put it on a tray in the oven to dry out overnight.

1 Sourdough loaf, cut, put on a large tray and dried overnight

6 eggs
2 T vanilla
1 1/2 C milk, half and half or heavy cream
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt
pinch of nutmeg


Pour over batter (slices should be in a single layer), let it sit for 10 minutes, flip it over and let it sit for another 10 minutes. Cook at 350 degrees F on a griddle. 

We serve it with Big Spazz's homemade blueberry jam watered down with a bit of apple juice. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Washington DC: Make Your Own Tasting Menu at Acadiana Restaurant

One of my mana wahine friends was flying into DC at the end of my conference stay so as this was her first night and my last, I wanted to make sure that we got together over a nice dinner (as is our mana wahine group's style). I knew she was flying in to Dulles at 5:30 so I knew it would take her about 60-90 minutes to catch the shuttle in to DC, check in and contact me. I decided to take a chance and make 7:00 pm reservations on Open Table. I love that service.  We are not budget girls so I knew that we could go somewhere a little more fancy so I found Acadiana, a southern, New Orleans style restaurant kitty corner from the Walter E. Washington convention center. 

We did not drink so I don't know about their cocktails, but there were so many things on the menu that we could not get in Hawaii that we decided to order enough appetizers to create our own tasting menu and just share everything. Our waiter was totally accommodating and even paired courses together to create a starter course, "salad" course and entree course (above).

Starter course: We ordered soup, the only order that we didn't share. Sylvia had the classic turtle soup and I am greedy and chose the trio of soups. We also got our complimentary biscuit with a cream cheese and pepper jelly side that we both wolfed down before I got my iPhone out. The turtle soup (first soup on the left) was fabulous! I don't know how they make it or if it is really turtle, so I am having a hard time describing the deliciousness, just that it was really yummy. The waiter brought two little shots of sherry and said it was for our turtle soup. I tried it, but I like it plain so that you can taste everything instead of just tasting alcohol. The middle soup was a roasted corn and blue crab soup. The sweet came from both the roasted corn and the large chunks of blue crab. The third soup was the smoked chicken and andouille sausage gumbo. That one was a bust for me. There was a burnt taste that I just couldn't get over. Our waiter saw that I finished everything but my gumbo and asked if there was something wrong. I told him and he offered to replace the soup with one of the other two. I wanted the turtle soup knowing that I would not get to eat that again, but I went for the corn soup. 

Salad course: The "blt" salad is a cute wedge salad made to look like a whole baby lettuce. When we cut it in half, it is basically a wedge salad with blue cheese, bacon and cherry tomatoes. It was a nice, light dish that preceded all the heaviness to follow. We also had a trio of pies with a black pepper buttermilk dipping sauce. The pies were southern vegetable, Louisiana crawfish and natchitoches meat. I really liked the southern vegetable and the crawfish, but I think Big Spazz would appreciate the spicy oiliness of the natchitoches meat pie. 

Our main course was a plethora of plates on a very small table. We had the charbroiled oysters (third picture, top) with garlic butter, parmesan, romano cheese and a crispy-soft piece of french bread. So good! If I was not flying the next morning I would have used all of the bread to sop up the butter juices. Going clockwise was the fried green tomatoes topped with a spice boiled gulf shrimp remoulade. The shrimp were so juicy. Next in the picture was the crispy "gas station" pork boudin balls served with creole mustard, pickled peppers and a sweet chili sauce. The sweet chili is not on the menu, but maybe they saw we were Asian and put it on.  I didn't care, the balls were good with the sweet chili sauce. Crispy is the right descriptor. The last course was the duck jambalaya. It was ok. The roux, like my gumbo gave off a little burnt taste that was not my favorite but we still ate it. 

With that much food, it set us back about $50 apiece but we sat there for over two hours and had really nice conversation. Sometimes, you need to just enjoy and bring home lunch for the next month to pay for the experience. 

I'm putting this down as somewhere to take Big Spazz on our next jaunt to DC. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Mississippi Roast Dinner

I found the original recipe for Mississippi Roast on my New York Times feed here. Mine is not as red inside as their picture, but my family devoured it and the sides were the perfect fit so I am including my tweaked Mississipi roast, roasted garlic, bacon and balsamic vinegar Brussels sprouts and roasted potatoes.

Mississippi Roast

  • 3-4 lbs. boneless chuck roast (the chuck is more expensive than sirloin, but the chuck has more fat, so since this is a long cook, we went with two pieces of chuck that were a little over 4 lbs.)
  • Rocking H salt to taste (start with 2 tsp. but go by feel)
  • Black pepper
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 T canola oil
  • 1 block butter
  • 10 pepperoncini
  • 2T mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • 1/4 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp. buttermilk (I did not use it)
  1. Rub salt and pepper on all sides of the rub. Massage it in. Sprinkle with flour, massage again.
  2. Heat oil until it shimmers but is not smoking. Sear meat on all sides to create a crust.
  3. Put the meat in a slow cooker. Add pepperoncini and the butter. We had two pieces so I put about 1/3 of the butter between the two pieces, then put the rest on the top of meat. Set the slow cooker on low.
  4. As the meat heats up, mix the dressing (rest of the ingredients). Whisk to emulsify. Add the dressing to the meat and cover slow cooker. Cook for 6 -8 hours (check at about 5)
  5. Roast is done when the meat falls apart with a fork.
  6. For au jus, skim fat and whisk the rest of the liquid to form a gravy.
Roasted potatoes - just follow the recipe on the Lipton onion soup (dry mix) - 1 package, 2 lbs. of potatoes, 1/2 cup oil, 430 degree oven for 35 minutes. I used 3 lbs of mixed red and yellow potatoes and supplemented with Rocking H salt. I also put it in the oven with the Brussels sprouts.

Brussels sprouts - one 2 lb. bag of Brussels sprouts trimmed and cut in half, 1/2 red onion slivered, one head of garlic peeled and left whole, bacon, hopefully home smoked, cut into tiny pieces. If you want to go fancy and crispy, fry it separately, olive oil, salt. 430 degree oven for 35 minutes. Scrape and stir if it starts getting stuck. When it comes out, drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Couch Surfing on the Foodie Trail

I spent my winter break cooking, washing dishes while Big Spazz is cooking, drying dishes, putting them away, pass out, repeat. In between, I watched foodie travel shows as an indulgence and inspiration to get up and cook again.

What we're watching on Hulu:

The Layover with Anthony Bourdain. I toured Sydney in a 24 hour or less period twice last year and I found that it was a good amount of time and on the second time, we really did a lot so I am inspired by what Bourdain can do in his 48 hour or less layovers (actually I'm amazed at how much he can eat and especially drink in that time). Besides the fact that Ignore the fact that he is a paid alcoholic who likes to talk about beating up prostitutes. I know that his wife is a jiu jitsu fighter who can kick his ass. Also keep in mind that he likes to shop for his daughter and you can ignore some of the sour things he says.

Our next layover city will be San Diego in February.  would love to figure out what we can do in San Diego in 36 hours.  I have reservations for dinner already (mostly because it's Valentine's so I don't want to be wandering around hoping to get in), but other than that, it's an adventure.

Behind the bar - this is a series that aired in 2011 but the footage looks really old. The premise is that bartenders talk about their signature drink, give a little interview and then make the drink. They also share the recipe. Since Big Spazz has a legitimate bar now with old man single malt whiskeys, bourbons and all the equipment for mixed drinks. 

Kimchi chronicles - I just started watching this and it moves a little slow, but the host, a part Korean part African American woman who found her Korean mother and family after being adopted in America, shares what she learned about Korean food. My sister is a great Korean cook and she has no recipe, just a memory of taste so this reminds me of her.

What inspires you?

Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Years: Korean Sauce for Hasu

Hasu, or lotus root is used in the Japanese household as part of the Osechi ryori. The lotus root, with its many holes symbolizes an unobstructed view of the future. It does not have a taste on its own, so we like to use Aunty Jeannete's Korean sauce.


  • green onion
  • garlic
  • oil
  • Hawaiian chili pepper
  • shoyu


  1. chop the first 3 ingredients until it is slimy
  2. add the chili pepper (seeded)
  3. add shoyu to taste

Monday, December 28, 2015

Keeper Project: Okinawan Sweet Potato Bars with Haupia

I am not precise. My bottom dough is always lumpy and uneven. This is a difficult recipe in that it takes a lot of steps. Still, this is a keeper recipe because it always tastes yummy, unless you are Boy 1 who does not like coconut and coconut products. Whose child is this anyway?

First, another must have tool. This potato ricer is a difficult tool for me. I put too much in it and then I need Big Spazz to use his kung fu grip to push the sweet potato through the ricer. However, the texture of the sweet potato from the ricer is fluffy and light. It's the perfect texture for these bars.

Press-In Shortbread Crust:
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1-1/2 sticks cold butter (12 Tbsp, 3/4 cup)
  • (optional) 1/2 cups chopped toasted Macadamia nuts
Okinawan Sweet Potato Filling:
  • 1 stick room temperature butter (8 Tbsp, 1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 generous cups Okinawan sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Haupia Topping (Coconut Pudding):
  • 2/5 cup sugar (about 6-1/2 Tbsp)
  • 2/5 cup cornstarch (about 6-1/2 Tbsp)
  • 1-1/8 cup water (1 cup + 2 Tbsp)
  • 1 can (19 oz) coconut milk (preferably Mae Ploy brand since it is very creamy)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Press-In Shortbread Crust:
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Butter or lightly oil a rectangular-shaped or square-shaped baking pan. Combine the sugar and flour. Cut or use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour mixture until sandy. If the butter starts to melt or becomes too soft, place it in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes to cool and then continue. (I always have to do this, one because we live in Hawaii and two because my hands are always too hot for the dough and my butter keeps melting). 

Press the crust mixture lightly into the bottom baking pan as evenly as possible.  Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes to firm it before baking. The unbaked crust can be made ahead of time and stored frozen. 

Bake at 325 F for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the crust is pale but very lightly browned. Let cool.

Okinawan Sweet Potato Filling:
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
You can cook the Okinawan sweet potatoes by baking, boiling, or steaming them. I suggest steaming them whole, since this best preserves their color and moisture, however, when I boil it I find that it cooks more evenly.

To steam the Okinawan sweet potatoes whole: Fill the bottom of a large pot with a tight-fitting lid with a few inches of water (the water level should be below the shelf of your steaming rack or metal colander so that the Okinawan sweet potatoes don’t get wet). Heat on high until boiling. Reduce heat to medium. Place a metal steaming rack or metal colander in the pot. Place the Okinawan sweet potatoes on the rack, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and steam until they can easily be pierced with a fork (about 30 minutes). They should be steamed over gentle heat; reduce the heat if the top of the pot is clanking a lot due to releasing steam.

When the Okinawan sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them and then mash them with the potato ricer. 

Beat the butter and sugar. Mix in the eggs. Gradually mix in 2 cups of mashed Okinawan sweet potatoes. Add the evaporated milk, vanilla, and salt. Slowly increase the mixing level to medium-high and whip the mixture as you would to make whipped potatoes (e.g. to level 8 out of 10) in order to incorporate air into the filling.

Pour the filling into the crust. Bake at 350 F for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean but has a few moist crumbs stuck to it or some moisture on it (this indicates that the filling is cooked through but is still moist). Cool.

Haupia Topping (Coconut Pudding):
Mix sugar, salt, and cornstarch in a medium pot. Stir in water and blend well. Add the coconut milk. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, but doesn’t boil. It will become very thick, similar to a frosting.

Cool slightly, and then pour the haupia over the pie filling, until it covers the pie and nearly fills the crust Use a spatula to smooth the top of the haupia topping.

Refrigerate; the haupia will become solid, similar in texture to Jello and other gelatin desserts.