Paladar

Went to check out a place down the street from me with all this heat because of little desire to cook.  It’s Paladar, in the DC-area, and I’d been there once right when they opened so it was packed.  Was looking forward to checking it out again.

IMG_3528 It’s a Latin restaurant which means some of their drinks are perfect for a hot evening.  My friend and I both opted for Sangria — one of us red, one of us white.  These things went down way too easily!!

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For some food, we grabbed the neccesary guac then went with ceviche. The guac is served with yucca, plaintain, malanga and ‘regular’ chips.
IMG_3534They have unique ceviche options!  I opted for Salmon & Mango, which was thinly sliced salmon, fresh mango and red onion tossed in sweet and tangy coconut ginger marinade.  Very nice balance between all the flavors.

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The other ceviche at the table was the Mixed Seafood one, with a great blend of fresh snapper, calamari, and shrimp tossed in sweet and tangy broth made with lemon, lime & orange juices, aji peppers, and celery, topped with fresno peppers, carrots and onion.  Nice flavors all around.

IMG_3532A place worth checking out for drinks and/or dinner, definitely on a hot summer night.

Gringos & Mariachis

Caught up with a friend the other night and we were in the mood for some good margaritas.  There are always the cookie cutter places.  Why we must we always go there?  Then I remember checking out a place in Woodmont Triangle (in downtown Bethesda) last year that I wanted to go to again.

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It is so ‘hidden’ that it’s easy to miss.  We eventually tracked down Gringos and Mariachis on Cordell Ave.  I say hidden because there is no sign for it.  The exterior of the building is gray and their name is painted in black above the windows.  If you don’t know exactly where it is, amongst other popular restaurants, you walk right by it, as we did.  I only worked and lived near it for years and missed it.

Anyway, we walked in and it was packed on a Friday evening.  We snagged a (1) stool at the bar and (fast forwarding) were eventually able to get another.  They had a good variety of margaritas and I opted for the smoked one to begin.

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The bartender said it’s the combo of the type of tequila and mezcal, and of course the special salt blend they use that makes it good.  Very unique and darn tasty!

We also got some staple food, from chips and guac to salsa.  Some of their salsa is super spicy!  They have tacos al pastor, which are very hard to find in the US.  I remember having them in Mexico.  It’s a pork taco and very good.  We also had their delicious seafood taco with Mahi Mahi.

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Another great restaurant to check out, especially if you’re into margaritas.  And, it’s close to the Bethesda Metro and near many of the parking garages.

Hot Temps Mean Refreshing Dinners

Washington, DC (All Summer) — It’s mid-July, I’m in the DC-area.  What does that mean?  HOT temps.  And, it’s only going to get worse.  This Thursday is going to be high 90s without factoring in the humidity.  So, easy-to-make, refreshing dinners are the best way to go.

My brother told me about an Alton Brown Grilled Mahi Ceviche recipe that was top-notch, and it sounded great.  Since it’s grilled you don’t have to remember to throw the fish in the lemon and/or lime juice many, many hours ahead of time.  Just two and then you throw it on the grill.  Decided to pair that with some easy oil-based coleslaw, chips, salsa and guacamole.

For the Mahi, you just put some basic ingredients together and let them sit for a couple hours.  I bought the Mahi chunks from Trader Joe’s because they were half the price of the steaks!

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After a couple hours, pat the fish dry and throw it on the grill.

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You keep the ‘marinade’ from the fish, heat in on the stove, and eventually use it again on the fish.

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For the ‘slaw, I grabbed a great bag of broccoli slaw mix from Trader Joe’s — super easy!  No cutting or chopping required for the base.  I did chop some cilantro  and garlic and for the dressing, just did a quick vinaigrette of:

IMG_1309-lemon juice

-lime juice

-cumin

-coriander

-olive oil

-hint of chili powder

-S&P

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Next step was prepping the pre-made guacamole (because the avocado would have required electrical equipment to mash).  I always add some spice to the packaged stuff:

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Now, it’s dinner time!!!!  Mahi, coleslaw, tortilla chips, salsa, guac, red wine.  All to wrap up a great weekend.

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As I enjoyed this dinner, I kept thinking the guac was off.  Well, I was house sitting and used what appeared to be salt for the guac.  Yes, I was right when it tasted sweet the first time and added some more of the fine crystals.  It finally occurred to me to taste the stuff. Oh, I was adding sugar not salt.  Note:   Sweet guacamole IS NOT good.

April Supper Club

A long time  ago I was looking to join a supper club/cooking club and was very fortunate to have someone reply to my post on Cooking Light and she said ‘we have dinner on Sunday, this is the theme, feel free to come.’  Almost a decade has passed since then.  It’s been amazing!

In the club I am part of, we try to meet about once a month.  The host picks the theme, obviously provides the venue, the drinks (wine, beer, soda, etc), and everyone brings a dish.  We try to use Cooking Light recipes but it can vary a bit.  I tend to use others because Cooking Light isn’t always the lightest.  And since I’m lactose intolerant, I can’t find the best ones there.  What I laugh at a lot is our ‘cooking light’ idea — yeah, everybody eats what everybody brings — we eat so light by the time we consider portions.  It’s awesome!  It’s homemade, it has no calories.  Just like birthday cake, right?

I was the host for this month and the theme I chose was April Observances — it is crazy how many things are observed.  From the ‘normal’ ones like major holidays, to significant ones like Breast Cancer Awareness Month (yes I know it’s not in April).  But, did you know that April is Tomatillo and Asian Pear Month, and it also has International Macaroni Day in the calendar on the 23rd.  Where do these come from?

Well, I opted for that tomatillo and pear observance that I mentioned.  I found a Charred Tomatillo Guacamole recipe to try, as well as a Crunchy Pear Salsa.

To the kitchen I go…

Salsas

 

 

 

 

 

In the guacamole, I had some decent size tomatillos so roasted them for about 20 minutes, vs. about 12-15.  Then when mixing everything together, carefully picked out the tomatillo skin because it just sort of sat in the bowl.

In the pear salsa, I was going to substitute Asian pears for the Bosc, because of the observance, but had no luck finding them.  Had to stick to the darn recipe!!  I didn’t use too much of the (hot) pepper because it can get supper spicy.

I served both of them with lime tortilla chips and baked tortilla chips.

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Come of the end of the night, there was none of either of these left.

As for the rest of dinner, some of the other dishes that made an appearance included:

-a Chicken & Brussel Sprout dish with some type of grain mustard accent (Brussel Sprouts and Cabbage Month)

-Grilled Cheese (National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month)

-Pecan Pie with Whiskey Whipped Cream! (National Pecan Month)

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Didn’t have a chance to take a picture of the Pecan Pie because we ate it so fast!!

Overall, great dinner once again.  Can’t wait for the next time we get together to see what the meal brings.

Making Simple (No-Recipe) Dishes to Pair With Amazing Wines

I’m catching up with some friends tonight who are more wine lovers than me.  They just received their shipment of Oregon wines and they need me to taste some of them.  Oh, the things we have to go through in life.  Can all things be this bad?  I told them I would provide the food this time (since last time they did both food and wine…come on, let me have at least some of the fun and play in the kitchen!).

I have been debating what to make to pair with the amazing adult grape juice I will enjoy in a few hours.  I’m assuming it’s Pinot Noir because of where it’s from (will keep you posted).  I wanted to make simple snacks/appetizers so we can swirl, sniff, taste, sip, nibble, sip, sip, sip, nibble, sip, and then, next wine…repeat.

I have decide on the following ‘menu’:

-homemade hummus
-homemade guacamole
-store bought (Trader Joe’s) salsa (yes, store bought)
-Manchego (since even those who are lactose intolerant can eat it!)
-veggies for dipping
-tortilla and pita chips
-chocolate covered pretzels

AllIngredients

Had a great time making the dips — short, sweet to the point.  For the hummus, today I just used the basics ingredients — chickpeas, tahini, garlic (yes, the cheater kind), lemon juice, paprika, S&P.

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After I open the can of beans I always put a tiny bit of the liquid from the can in the Cuisinart food processor before emptying the can and rinsing the beans.  Then I use ‘some’ of everything else.  Today I blended everything much longer than normal and it’s nice and smooth!

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  GuacIng

Next up, guacamole!!  One of my favorites.   Everybody has their own ingredients besides very important one — avocados.  Sometimes I switch it up, but my basics are  the avocados, lime juice, garlic, cilantro (though most of time I go for coriander because I just have it handy), cumin, onion powder, chili powder, S&P.

Then, grab a bowl, something to mix/mash with and go!

GuacDone

I have everything prepared and packed and will be heading to my friends’ place in a few hours.  Will keep you posted on the wine we enjoy and how the food pairs.