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2013 February : Challahbear

Archive for February, 2013

Valentine’s Crepe Cake

When it came time to make plans for Valentine’s Day, we knew we wanted to skip a pricey prix-fixed evening out. Cooking something special together would be a nice treat. Before we moved in together, Kirios and I would frequently plan recipes to cook together on weekends. Now a days  cooking can sometimes feel like more of a chore that a treat – especially since I come home almost an hour and half later than I did with my last job. We still enjoy home cooked meals almost every night, but it’s hard not to be a tad tired and hungry in the evenings, or rushing around to do see friends on the weekends. Sometimes if Kirios has work to catch up on for a couple of hours during the weekend I will spend some time preparing fun dishes at a relaxing pace, or if I’m working from home I may throw something together and let is roast for a while.

 

A little over a year ago Kirios and I purchased a blue steel crêpe pan and a recipe book with pretty crêpe pictures. We like to make crepes together at home, but it’s a bit involved for a normal weeknight. We made crepes for Valentine’s Day last year which was a big hit. So this year we perused the recipe book and a recipe for a Savory Florentine Crepe caught my eye. Well – the picture did. The Florentine Crepe was actually more of a crêpe cake – crepes laid flat and piled on top of each other with savory filling in between each other. There were two different filling recipes – one with diced tomatoes, onions, and parmesan cheese; the other with spinach and heavy cream. We stacked nine herb crepes into a pie pan and alternated filling flavors for each layer. We cut “slices” of the creation like a cake. The result was a rich buttery dish with well-developed flavors. It was a tad difficult to slice when warm, but the refrigerated leftovers gave us no problems. Despite the challenge, the presentation of red and green layers was impressive and sophisticated. It looked just like the picture in the book, and tasted like a special occasion indulgence – mission accomplished.

 

The best part about our Valentine’s Day meal though, was not the food itself. It was the fact that Kirios was so proactive in preparing the food before I made it back from work. He has seen me struggle as I adjust to arriving home around 6:15 instead of before 5:00 in the past few months. He knows that I get stressed when there’s a lot to be done and it’s getting late. And he knows by the time I get home he’s already hungry. So Kirios prepared all the crepes before I arrived and was at work on the first filling by the time I arrived. He also washed some of the dishes while he was still preparing the food (something my Dad does obsessively). There was still plenty to do together, but we were able to eat at a reasonable hour and relax for a bit before cleaning up.  

 

Kirios has stepped up a lot since I switched jobs. He often starts on dinner while I’m still commuting, and he’s experimenting and learning to cook a greater variety of things on his own. He wasn’t slacking before, but I appreciate the help even more with my new routine. His thoughtfulness and initiative is something I’m thankful for year round.

Good Things Coming Soon!

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of looking back when it comes to writing blog entries. I fall behind in posting, and then a million great things happen and I try to pick through the highlights, which leaves me writing about meals I had 2 months ago (see last post). Obviously it would be ideal to write about things right after they happen when they’re still fresh in my mind. [Live tweeting a meal will never be my thing; I still don’t have a twitter account.] But realistically, most of my posts will end up being at least a little behind when things occur.

Good memories are a great part of life and should be shared. Just this past week, I attended a small alumni happy hour for my elementary/middle school. I spent the night reminiscing with two of my best friends from those days in Pittsburgh along with one of their mothers who is the current head of school. We told so many stories and I was reminded of so many wonderful experiences, and we could have kept going all night. (We almost did, I didn’t get home until 11, which is pretty late for me on a Monday night.)

Before memories are ever made, there’s frequently an equally wonderful period of anticipation. It may be winter, work might be stressful or frustrating, but you know something awesome is going to happen soon. It might be something small – a coffee date with a friend or a new movie opening up. It could be seeing your favorite band in concert, a trip, or even the start to a whole new stage of life: going off to college, changing cities, getting married or having a child.

Sometimes things in life don’t live up to our expectations and it’s disappointing. It can be downright depressing. Nothing ever goes perfectly according to plan, but I’ve been lucky enough to have things work out often enough that I can generally stay positive. There’s something great about that excitement. It can put a smile on your face, motivate you to keep going or push harder, it can even keeps you up at night. I usually fall asleep within minutes of my head hitting the pillow, but the night before my bat mitzvah trying to fall asleep was torture.

In the spirit of celebrating that it’s the weekend, here’s a list of the top things coming my way which make me excited, big and small:

· I’m planning to spend a relaxing long weekend with my parents in my hometown

· Kirios made dinner reservations to celebrate my birthday at Rasika, the upscale Indian restaurant I always mention and am dying to try!

· After struggling to learn grammar from books and Rosetta Stone, I finally got into a beginners Greek class in DC which starts this week.

· Kirios and I are planning a springtime adventure in Spain, my first trip to Europe since studying abroad in Rome during 2007. (ilanainitaly.blogspot.com)

What are you looking forward to?

 

Food Wine & Co Date Night

After going to Volt for his birthday, Kirios decided (and I didn’t protest) that he missed taking me out on the town for date nights. Especially since we started living together, we’ve spent a lot of time watching tv/movies together on the couch or hanging out with a group of friends, but neither of those activities count as dates! So we decided that a nice meal out – trying a new restaurant or repeating a GREAT one, was worth it about once a month or so.

In December, we went to Food Wine & Co, in Bethesda. Kirios had wanted to go for a while, especially since it’s so close by. When I first read the menu, I could tell why – it’s got all of his favorite things! I started things off with a wine. I ordered a flight board with 3 half glasses of red wine.  Kirios ordered a cocktail. For food, I had a hard time ordering, mostly because all the appetizers and sides sounded so good to me. We decided to start with the artisanal cheese plate, which included a yummy fig spread. My wines complimented the cheeses quite well.

For our main courses, I had the Bucatini Pasta with roasted butternut squash, sage, hazelnut, croutons, and brussel sprouts. It was creamy and hardy – perfect for a cold evening, and the hazelnuts gave it nice texture in addition to flavor. Kirios chose one of the specials – a duo of pork belly with a sweet potato purée and rockfish with sautéed kale. He ranted about the sweet potato purée, and I happily finished his well-prepared rockfish.

We did save room for dessert. Although it sounded like overkill, I took our attentive waiter’s suggestion and ordered the fried apple pie. It came with cinnamon spiced port, candied walnuts, and caramel ice cream. I’m a big apple pie fan, this was divine. Kirios was more dubious of the apple pie, so he hedged his bets by ordering a second dessert – molten chocolate cake with grand marnier, chocolate-covered almonds, cocoa streusel, and chocolate ice cream. It was tasty too, but I was pretty enamored with my fried pie.

After a meal like that, it’s safe to say that there will be many more date nights in our future!

Still Alive, Still Eating

I’m having a hard time adjusting to my new routine with the new job and keeping up with the blog lately. Mostly because I don’t get home until 6:30 these days, and I’m either running out of the door to meet up with friends or frantically trying to make something for dinner before passing out in front of the television for the rest of the night. Despite the fact that I’m still struggling a bit with the workplace transition, there have still been many blog worthy times I meant to write about.

In light of my work transition, it’s been important to me to keep up with my Postal friends lately. Leading up to my departure from the Postal Service, Kirios and I hosted my coworker and her boyfriend for a wine and cheese night. Kirios and I picked out four new cheeses at Whole Foods:

-Mitica caprichio de cabra pepper – tasted rich like goat cheese with hot red pepper on the outside

-Somerdale Wensleydale with Blueberries – sweet and desserty, but not a soft/spreadable cheese. I liked the blueberry flavor a lot, but it tasted better on sweet things than salty crackers. (we had variety pack of crackers which included some that were graham cracker style)

-Igor gorgonzola piccante mountain gorgonzola – a bit salty for me, but made for good variety, and the leftovers were great in salad!

-Rosemary and olive asiago – this was probably everyone’s favorite cheese of the night. The rosemary flavor shined, and while I wouldn’t say it was a particularly special or interesting cheese, it’s definitely the kind that you want to keep eating with crackers – very satisfying.

We also served some leftover smoked gouda and leftover toscano with ground black pepper. Yum!

More recently, two other Postal friends of mine came over for brunch. Kirios and I made pancakes with chocolate chips and nuts in them, and served pumpkin bread, fruits, challah with nutella, and chai tea.

I think I’m going to have to come up with some healthier ideas for keeping in touch my former colleague friends!

In addition to seeing Postal people, Kirios and I kept busy over the holidays. We attended eight holiday parties over the course of a month. I made Argentine Chimichurri bread with onions, parsley, cayenne pepper, and other spices for a potluck. It was a recipe from my dad that I found on my computer and I was a bit nervous about it. I’ve never thrown that many random ingredients into the bread machine before, but it ended up being pretty tasty and there weren’t any leftovers by the end of the night. I also made my dad’s chocolate bourbon tart recipe (but substituted the bourbon with Johnny Walker red label) for a party which was divine. It’s a chocolate tart crust with a dense fudgy filling. It was very rich, so despite being a big hit there were lots of leftovers – most of which the host and hostess were glad to keep. I’ll definitely be making that recipe again.

In addition to trying out recipes from my dad, Kirios’ parents taught me how to make some of their favorite Greek cookies over the holidays this year. We made kourabiedes and melomakaroma. Kourabiedes are my favorite of the cookies they make – almond butter cookies coated in rose water and powdered sugar, traditionally served at weddings. Melomakaroma are Kirios’ favorite cookies – first you make a simple cookie with flour, oil, orange juice/zest and spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, all-spice. Then you take your sugarless cookie and completely drench it in a warm spiced honey syrup and top it with crushed nuts, so in the end, it’s basically the cookie equivalent of baklava. It’s completely parve, and you can substitute out the honey for sugar making it vegan too. Plus, because of all of the syrup, the cookies stay good for a very long time. Next I’ll have to start learning how Kirios’ dad makes such delicious cakes… My parents are both great cooks, but that’s one thing they’ve never mastered. (My mom is famous for having hilariously bad outcomes when cooking cakes – she even exploded the pan once!)