Friday Favorites

Some food-related (mostly) things we enjoyed this past week:

Toddler on a train

Last weekend we went to Brooklyn to visit Dan’s brother and family, including our toddler nephew T and newest nephew A.  Despite a bit of chilly and rainy weather, we had a wonderful time.  One of our rainy day activities was to visit the New York Transit Museum, where T had a blast walking through (and climbing around) the Museum’s vintage collection of actual subway and train cars set on the track system on the lower level.  The weather cleared up on Sunday and we had a lovely stroll along the Brooklyn Bridge Park to the “flea food market” known as Smorgasburg.  If you happen to be anywhere near the Brooklyn area this summer, we highly recommend this dining event.  So many delicious vendors, such little stomach space to try them all!  Many thanks to our Brooklyn family for a great weekend!


One of Dan’s newest happy places is Paisanos Meat Market in Brooklyn.  They have a crazy good selection of all different kinds and cuts of meats, as well as imported cheeses, olives and other antipasto items, and oils and vinegars.  Even though we had gorged ourselves earlier in the day at Smorgasburg, the pre-marinated lamb chops we picked up at Paisanos and grilled that night were so good that we all could have eaten twice as many more.

First summer garden bounty

Our garden is bursting at the seams!  In particular, our eggplants have exploded with fruit and one of our tomato plants is already producing more than we can eat.  Growing our own vegetables is one of our favorite things about summer.

Tiny olives

And how about growing our own olives!  I bought this mini olive tree (sort of like a bonsai version) at the grocery store last year on a whim.  It has done well in its little pot, with lots of new foliage.  I never actually expected it to produce olives, but if you look closely, there they are — a bunch of tiny green olives about the size of a pinkie fingernail so far.  It will be interesting to see if they eventually mature enough for us to pick and cure.

Pork and Black Bean Stew

My mom found this recipe in her local newspaper and shared it with us.  It’s one that she has been cooking for her and my dad for many years, from the version that she cut out of the paper.  Although we found the recipe online, I love that she also scanned her newspaper version into an email and sent it to me as well, just to make sure the versions were the same (they are), particularly because the print version includes her notes (an underlined notation of “good” and a reminder to use brown rice instead of white.)  The dishes we post here are ones we consider “keepers,” in that we will definitely make them again.  With its cooked-all-day, but ready-in-less-than-an-hour flavor, this healthy and hearty stew is no exception.  Because we use this blog as a virtual recipe box to preserve and catalogue our “keeper” recipes, we usually throw away printed recipes once we’ve written them up here.  But sometimes it’s nice to hang on to a physical piece of paper with a recipe printed in old-school newspaper format, especially when it has your mom’s handwriting on it.

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Friday Favorites

Some food-related (mostly) things we enjoyed this past week:


Obviously, the tragedy in Moore, Oklahoma this week is not a “favorite,” and our hearts and hope go out to any and all affected by the massive tornado.   Our money goes out to them too — donating is the least we can do for people who have lost so much.  We appreciate all that the Red Cross accomplishes with donated funds, and we found a couple of ways to give money even more directly to people in Oklahoma in specific ways:  through the Oklahoma food bank, as well as a fund created to benefit OU faculty, staff and students who lost homes and personal property, and via the work being done by an Oklahoma pet clinic with respect to animals displaced during the storm.  We like to think that every little effort makes a difference.

Sensory overload

Last weekend we had a “sleepover” with our friends’ son & daughter (and our pretend nephew and niece, who we’ve known since the day each of them was born), while their parents celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary.  We had an awesome time, complete with homemade pasta for dinner (as requested by T), an apres-dinner swim, lots of Wii games, some excellent drawings by A, a visit to the local playground (with an epic kite-flying-adventure FAIL:  one only became “airborne” with me holding it up while running behind A, and the other got eaten by a tree about 15 seconds after T took hold of the string) and a highly successful trip to the video game / child entertainment mecca otherwise known as Dave & Busters.  The kids were great and a good time was had by all!

Calla blooms

When luck and planets align every few years, my parents travel to Europe in the off-season, which usually means March or October.  It’s a happy coincidence for me when they go in March, since my birthday is in May (and you’re never too old to hope that your parents bring back something [other than a stupid T-shirt] for you when they travel.)  This year, they brought me a package of calla lily bulbs, with Dan and my wedding anniversary in mind (we were married in June and callas were our wedding flowers.)  I planted the bulbs a few weeks ago, and they have begun to bloom!  The leaves are a pretty bright green, some with cute white speckles, and so far the blooms are a lovely pale pink and yellow combo.  Thanks Mom & Dad!  (And thank you for all the awesome European gifts over the years, none of which has ever been a stupid T-shirt.)

New best pizza?

Recently, a friend diplomatically (for him) pointed out that we were remiss in our lavash pizza post because we didn’t mention Cane Rosso among our favorite places for pizza.  Since we had never previously been to Cane Rosso, we apparently didn’t know what we were missing.  Dan and that friend had lunch there the other day (apparently I was busy and unable join them), and Dan reports that their pizza is indeed among the best he has had.  I can’t wait to try it!

Little Italy Relish

We found this recipe in one of our most-used grilling cookbooks, Weber’s “Real Grilling,” as an accompaniment to their recipe for grilled flatiron steaks.  It’s a simple and delicious way to dress up a steak, particularly if you’re a fan of olives.  Come to think of it, this relish might also work well as a topping for tilapia or some other flaky white fish, or even as a condiment for a hot dog, similar to the Chicago dog.  Certainly, each of these proteins are good on their own, but adding the fresh Mediterranean flavors of the relish can be a welcome change.  And since the relish is made with roasted red bell pepper, tomato, olives, celery and parsley, it has enough non-starch and non-meat components to qualify as a vegetable side dish in our book, thereby completing the meal.
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Friday Favorites

Some food-related (mostly) things we enjoyed this past week:

Piano bar meets karaoke

In the mood for a casual place with upscale bar food and appetizers last Friday, we found Savour Kitchen & Cocktail Room to be exactly what we wanted — decidedly un-stuffy, with a large and varied selection of small plates.  The food was good (we’ll be back for the lamb sliders alone), but the best part may have been the live music.  Just a guy with a microphone and some sort of computer-operated music system, enthusiastically singing whatever seemed to move him at the moment (occasionally influenced by some of the more rowdy patrons in the bar area) was the perfect entertainment for a Friday night.

Full smoker

We took full advantage of the opportunity to feed our neighbors at the neighborhood block party by filling up our smoker with a variety of meat.  And Dan took the opportunity to try a few new techniques:  wrapping a brisket in bacon while it smokes, and wrapping another brisket and a tri-tip in parchment paper (after the meat reached 150 degrees in order to keep it moist and help to create a nice bark (the blackened exterior.)  We were quite pleased with the results, and given how few leftovers we had at the end of the night, our neighbors were too!

As seen in our backyard

Your eyes do not deceive you — one of our favorites this week is a garden hose.  A hose featured in one of those annoying infomercials no less.  While it didn’t come with a free set of Ginzu steak knives (I bought it at Home Depot), it really does work!  The “pocket hose” is very lightweight and perfect for attaching to the end of our regular hose (or it can be attached directly to the spigot), then pulling across the backyard to hand-water plants with ease.

This way, Monarchs!

Speaking of plants, we planted milkweed this year (it’s the one with the spikey leaves on the left above), in hopes of attracting monarch butterflies to our backyard, on their way to Mexico.  The female monarchs lay their eggs on the milkweed, which the caterpillars eat until they cocoon.  We were inspired by (and thoroughly enjoyed) the documentary “Flight of the Butterflies,” which we saw at an IMAX theater with our niece and nephew when we met them in D.C. last month.  Even if we don’t get any monarchs, the plants are a nice reminder of a wonderful time we had with family we adore.

Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Honey and Sriracha

Apparently there is a restaurant called The Vanderbilt in Brooklyn, NY that specializes in various appetizers, including fried brussels sprouts.  We say “apparently” because we haven’t been there (yet!), so we don’t feel qualified to offer a personal opinion as to their specialties.  But, when researching brussels sprouts recipes (this one is our usual go-to, but we get bored with it), we found an entry on the Food 52 recipe/cooking website from a woman who loves the “undisputed star” brussels sprouts appetizer from The Vanderbilt so much that she recreated the recipe at home.  (After a quick perusal of The Vanderbilt’s menu, it doesn’t look like they currently offer the sprouts; all the more reason to try the homemade version.)  Peeling the brussels sprouts is rather time-consuming (if you have kids — put them to work!) but worthwhile to get a nice mix of crispy individual leaves and tender cores.  We think it’s the sauce that really makes this an outstanding side dish:  spicy sriracha combined with sweet honey, sour lime juice and just a touch of savory sesame oil.  Frying the sprout leaves can be a bit tricky (they pop and splatter a lot) and of course isn’t the most healthy way to get your veggies, so we tried roasting them in the oven instead.  Although the roasted ones weren’t quite as crispy, they were still really good, and we could eat just about anything tossed in that flavorful sauce.

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Friday Favorites

Some food-related (mostly) things we enjoyed this past week:

Happy Day

Many thanks to everyone who made me feel special and loved on my birthday last weekend!  I had a very happy day and am a lucky girl indeed to have so much love, friendship and thoughtfulness in my life.  Plus, a husband who makes me burnt sugar ice cream with a candle for my birthday wish, since I don’t really like cake.

Hello, Self

We went to a fun local art festival last Saturday and came home with a few new treasures.  The piece above is titled “Conversation with Myself,” and is a sculpture that we coveted since last year’s festival, where we first saw the 12 foot tall version.  Being able to meet and chat with the artist, Lorri Acott, makes owning a piece of her work even more meaningful.  We also bought a few pieces from Ethan Jantzer, who explains his unique photography-without-a-camera method way better than we ever could.

Sushi w/ rice cakes

We have a new sushi obsession — spicy tuna on top of crispy rice cakes.  We first tried it at our favorite movie theater (yup, sushi at the movies!) and loved the combination of silky tuna with the airy crunch of the rice cake.  We had a similarly delicious version at one of our favorite special-occasion restaurants, Shinsei.  And speaking of Shinsei, we finally tried their “Thai fried rice” side dish, despite having over-ordered too much food to begin with (which is why we tend to only go there on special occasions), and will order it again each and every time we go back.  It’s hands-down the best fried rice we’ve ever had, and the leftovers topped with a fried egg make for a perfect weekend breakfast.


Another “best ever” food item we recently tried is the Thai mussels appetizer from Meddlesome Moth.  All hyperbole intended (this is “Friday Favorites” after all, not “Friday Just Okays”), these mussels cooked in a coconut milk and red curry broth with Thai aromatics are life-changing.  When we asked our waiter about them and he called them “transformative” and said that they’re the only mussels on the menu he eats, he wasn’t kidding.  The only thing we didn’t like about them is that we aren’t sure how to recreate them at home.  Yet.

Gonna feel a little pinch

Tomorrow is our second-annual neighborhood potluck block party, which calls for thawing all the bought-on-sale giant slabs of meat from our freezer and prepping the smoker for overnight duty.  We’ll be bringing pulled pork, beef brisket and tri-tip.  Hope our neighbors bring their appetites!