Archive for January, 2010

Southern Comfort at Evening Star Cafe

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

We may live in (Northern) Virginia, but aside from my occasional, tongue-in-cheek “y’all,” we haven’t adopted too many Southern mannerisms. But every once in a while, you just get a craving for something artery-clogging, particularly on a cold, snowy January day. Rather than channeling Paula Deen and deep-frying something at home, we opted to head out to one of our neighborhood restaurants, Evening Star Cafe. I was eager to try their new Saturday breakfast dishes — the fried chicken and waffle, to be precise. Though I will admit it was a tough decision between that and the biscuits and gravy, something I learned to love when visiting my grandparents in Florida many years ago. (The trip that ended my vegetarian phase, coincidentally … just couldn’t resist Grandmom’s daily bacon.)

Despite its casual neighborhood restaurant vibe in the kid-filled neighborhood of Del Ray, Alexandria, Evening Star doesn’t have a kids’ menu. On past brunch/lunch visits, we’ve been offered choices like chicken tenders and pasta off the secret menu, and I’ve even seen patio patrons order hot dogs for their dogs. (It was one of the pooches’ birthday, their owner explained. I can only assume they topped off their meal with puppy pops from the Dairy Godmother.) Anyway, I was able to order a plain waffle and scrambled egg for the boy today, which worked out perfectly. The husband had the huevos rancheros, a colorful and flavorful dish, artfully arranged and kicked up with another Southern nod, Andouille sausage.

Back to my meal, I never really understood the appeal of fried chicken and waffles — chicken for breakfast? — but I have to say I get it now. A touch of sweet honey butter on succulent, savory chicken wrapped in the warm carb embrace of a waffle, it really is perfection.  When I was pregnant with the boy, I had a freak KFC craving one night. I regretted indulging the craving for days after… now that I’m pregnant again, it’s nice to have such a delightful alternative should the fried chicken craving strike again. (And to assuage any guilt over the calorie-heavy meal, Evening Star uses local and organic ingredients “whenever possible,” according to their website.)

Evening Star is open for brunch from 10am-3pm on Saturday and Sunday. The fried chicken and waffle is only available on Saturday, while Sunday has the more traditional eggs benedict, French toast, etc.
2000 Mt Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22301-1310
703.549.5051

Meatless Monday ~ Mushroom Polenta

Monday, January 25th, 2010

We were very disappointed to lose the mushroom vendor from our neighborhood (Del Ray) market this past year, especially as I had made such great progress the prior year in convincing my previously mushroom-adverse husband that they really weren’t so bad. So now to get our local ‘shroom fix I have to head to one of the FreshFarm markets, which means Dupont Circle in the winter months.

The preferred choice of both the husband and my son are these cute, sweet little honey mushrooms. They require little effort to prepare, and for a really easy meal, I whipped up some instant polenta, with a generous touch of cheese, then topped it with leftover tomato sauce and sauteed mushrooms.

Quick and scrumptious, what could be better for a (meatless) Monday night?

Recipe: Polenta al Funghi (Mushroom Polenta)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint honey mushrooms
  • 1 box instant polenta
  • 4 cups water
  • salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup pasta sauce

Instructions:

1. Bring water to a boil.

2. Rinse mushrooms and pat dry. Heat a dry skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring only once or twice, until they begin to darken. Add 1 tablespoon butter to pan and remove from heat. Season mushrooms with sea salt and pepper.

3. Prepare polenta as instructed on package. When thickened, stir in 1 tablespoon butter and the cheese. Remove from heat.

4. Warm pasta sauce.

5. Spoon polenta onto plates, shaping a small well in the center. Top with a few spoonfuls of pasta sauce and scatter mushrooms over the top. Enjoy! Makes 4 servings.

Moroccan Lamb Stew {and Del Ray & Dupont Winter Markets}

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

After an extended holiday absence, we finally made it back to the Del Ray Farmers Market this past weekend. The winter market is small, with ringleaders Tom the Cheese Guy and Smith Meadows meats holding down the fort. There’s a new vendor this year, The Dressed Up Nut, selling sweet spiced nuts and gluten-free biscotti. I had a hankering for stew and picked up the convenient pre-cubed lamb meat from Smith Meadows.

I was also craving some fresh produce, so it was off to Dupont Circle’s FreshFarm Market on rainy Sunday morning. It was the off week for Next Step Produce (who alternates weeks in the winter) so I missed out on my watermelon radishes. These pretty carrots were a welcome shot of color in the dreary weather, though, and made their way into my Sunday night stew as well. (I think they were from New Morning Farm, but I’m not positive.) I also picked up some ravioli from Copper Pot (newish to the Dupont Market, I reviewed Chef Frigerio’s pasta last spring) for a farmers-market-fast-food dinner later in the week.

When it came time to cook the stew, I wanted to keep it relatively light, so I went with Moroccan seasonings as found in an Epicurious recipe. I added fingerling potatoes and those carrots, and instead of using the orange zest called for in the original recipe, I just squeezed the juice from a clementine into the pot at the end. (The husband has a thing about citrus zest.) Served over cous cous, it was a flavorful, warming winter stew. Best of all, it elicited a hearty, “I LOVE it,” from the boy, who asked for seconds of both meat and carrots. (And ate the side salad, but that’s another post.)

Recipe: Moroccan-Spiced Lamb Stew
adapted from Epicurious.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 pounds lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound fingerling potatoes, washed and cubed
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • juice of 1 clementine or mandarin orange
  • fresh parsley, chopped

Instructions: Combine salt and spices in a bowl, then add lamb cubes and toss to coat. Heat olive in dutch over over medium high heat. Brown lamb on all sides, about 4 minutes. Remove lamb to a bowl. Lower heat to medium and add onion and garlic to pot; cook until tender and golden, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes and return lamb to pot. Add water and bring to a boil. Cover, reducing heat to medium low, and simmer for 1 hour. Add carrots and cook another 15-20 minutes, until lamb is tender. Remove from heat and stir in orange juice. Serve over cous cous and garnish with chopped parsley. Makes 6 servings.

Local: Dine-Out Friday for DC Farm-to-School

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

DCF2SlogoColorA special announcement from the DC Farm to School Network: Looking for an excuse for a night out this Friday?  Look no further!  On January 22nd you can support locally-owned restaurants, the sustainable local food economy, and Washington, DC kids!  The DC Farm to School Network’s Local Restaurants for Local Kids fundraiser is happening at some of the best restaurants in the District.

Several local food and drink hot spots are generously donating a portion of their proceeds to the DC Farm to School Network this Friday.  The DC Farm to School Network is an organization that works to bring healthy, local produce into DC public school cafeterias.  By simply enjoying a delicious snack, cocktail, or dinner at one of the great participating restaurants, you will help to improve access to healthy, tasty and local foods in D.C. schools!

DC Farm to School Network volunteers will be available at the restaurants, ready to answer questions or chat with you about our work. We look forward to seeing you at the restaurants below—tell your friends!  We’re also looking for more volunteers – email Lauren@dcgreens.org if you’re interested.

Learn more about the DC Farm to School Network at www.dcfarmtoschool.org

Note: Obviously some of these are more family-friendly (e.g. Clyde’s) than others (note PS 7′s and Bread & Brew’s offers are only in their lounge/bar areas) — but all are appropriate for a parents’ night out.

  • Busboys & Poets
    • 5th and K Street NW (Mt. Vernon Sq. Metro)
    • 14th and V Street NW (U St. Metro)
    • 4251 S. Campbell Ave,  Arlington, VA
  • Coppi’s Organic (from 6pm-11pm), 1414 U Street NW (U St. Metro)
  • Eatonville, 2121 14th Street NW (U St. Metro)
  • Bar Pilar, 1833 14th Street NW (U St. Metro)
  • Farmers & Fishers (All day!), 3000 K Street NW (Georgetown Waterfront—Foggy Bottom Metro)
  • Clyde’s
    • 3236 M Street NW (Foggy Bottom Metro)
    • 707 7th Street NW (Gallery Place Metro)
    • 5441 Wisconsin Avenue, Chevy Chase, MD (Friendship Heights Metro)
  • PS 7′s (Lounge from 4pm-2am), 777 I Street NW (Gallery Place Metro)
  • Bread and Brew (5-8pm in bar), 1247 20th Street NW (Dupont Circle Metro)
  • Cafe Saint-Ex, 1847 14th Street NW (U St. Metro)
  • ris (Proceeds from seasonal cocktail & appetizers after 4:30pm), 2275 L Street NW (Foggy Bottom Metro)

Thursday, January 21stBlue Ridge, 5:30pm-10:30pm, 2340 Wisconsin Avenue NW