Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Kajitsu, Shojin Cuisine

Kajitsu's Simmered Daikon Radish with Yuzu Red Miso

This summer in New York I was looking for a new restaurant to go to and stumbled across a write up about a new restaurant called Kajitsu. Since that first visit I have recommended it to many people all who have enjoyed it and yesterday we went back for a second visit...I look forward to my next dinner there.

The type of cuisine at Kajitsu is Shojin, which I had never heard of before. The restaurant website says, "Shojin cuisine refers to a type of vegetarian cooking that originates in Zen Buddhism. Even though it does not use meat or fish, shojin is regarded as the foundation of all Japanese cuisine, especially kaiseki, the Japanese version of haute cuisine. In its present form kaiseki is a multi-course meal in which fresh, seasonal ingredients are prepared in ways that enhance the flavor of each component, with the finished dishes beautifully arranged on plates. All of these characteristics come from shojin cuisine, which is still prepared in Buddhist temples throughout Japan."

The food appeals for so many reasons starting with the simple fact that it is vegan, clean and Japanese...but it is more than that. There is a thoughtfulness and consideration that goes into the food, the service and the presentation that exceeds most dining experiences. Plates, utensils and beverage napkins are thoughtfully chosen for each item served. Seasonal vegetables are incorporated into the meal. Even produce that is not traditionally used in Asian cuisine finds a way to fit in. At the same time there is nothing fussy about the experience.

One of the central elements of this cuisine is Fu and Nama-Fu which are made from gluten. At Kajitsu they have a beautifully printed small book that they give out upon request explaining the laborious process of making Fu. Fu is basically the gluten element of bread with the starch separated out that is then mixed with rice powder. The process is complicated but the result is smooth, chewy, satisfying and complimentary to a variety of flavors and textures.

The menu changes once a month. This is what we ate last night:

Celery Roots Tempura with Grated Apple

Vegetable Miso Soup Tofu, Shiitake, Burdock Root, Carrots, Turnip, Japanese Taro

Sticky Rice with Tea Tree Mushrooms, Umeboshi and Shiso; Kabocha Pouch with Red Beans; Grilled Sesame Tofu in a Bamboo Leaf

Simmered Daikon Radish with Yuzu Red Miso

Grilled Nama-Fu and Butternut Squash with Black Trumpet Mushroom; Leek and Fig Tempura

Hanamaki Soba Nori, Mitsuba, Wasabi

Snow Ball Mochi Matcha with Rakugan Candies by Shioyoshiken

Friday, December 25, 2009

seasons greetings and egg nog

Not so many blog posts in the last several weeks...we have have busily been cooking and flowering. Taking a moment to reflect this evening about recent projects and what we are looking forward to in the coming year...

Writing this blog and getting feedback is an enjoyable part of our everyday practice. Over the next year we plan to write more and hope to have more interaction through this forum. We encourage both sharing of information and inquiries.

It has been only about six months since we started hosting Home Restaurants... this has been a great addition. Great satisfaction comes from working with farmers that we have known for years and meeting new ones, cooking for small groups and being able to accommodate particular food needs, tasting and learning more about wine, spending time with good friends who we work with and meeting our guests and talking about food and other things. When we had our restaurant we were in the kitchen busily cooking and our interaction was solely through our food, it has been a joy to erase the boundary between the kitchen and dining room.

We are pleased that we already have dinners and a lunch booked for January, the nights of January 22 and 23 still have some spaces available. We are also thrilled that we have been asked to cook and host one of this years Alice Waters, Sunday Night Suppers scheduled for January 24.

The 2010 wedding flower calendar is starting to fill and I am excited about the variety of events that I have scheduled for the coming year. First one is a wedding in early January at 6th and I where I love to work. The anemones, tulips and ranunculus that I got for events this past week make me excited about spring flowers that are just beginning and will be at their best for the next several months. I also have some quince with buds that I hope will be open by January 7th for an event. The Dutch flowers and the recent snow have made me start to think about spring planting and our plans to expand the 1508 garden to the roof this coming year.

On December 23rd we catered a large holiday party and made eggnog. I have a recipe that was my mothers and John has his fathers recipe...we combined the two and the result is decedent and delicious. We used eggs from Path Valley Cooperative, Trickling Springs Dairy heavy cream, Homestead Creamery milk and Sazerac Rye Whiskey...resulting in the best batch ever...

Egg Nog
6 eggs separated
2 cups sugar
2 cups whiskey (we used a good quality rye this year but have also made it with bourbon and Armagnac)
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 gallon whole milk
1/4 cup rum (optional, part of John's dads recipe)

Beat egg yolks until light yellow and then beat in the sugar until dissolved then beat in whiskey. Cover the mixture and let stand at room temperature for at least four hours.
After egg yolk mixture has rested beat egg whites to soft peak and fold into yolk mixture. Then beat heavy cream until stiff and fold into entire mixture. Mix in milk, chill and serve.

Enjoy and Happy 2010!
Sidra, John and Martin-Lane

Friday, December 18, 2009

Black Walnuts at 1508 Last Night

Photo Jacqulyn Maisonneuve
For years we have gotten Black Walnuts for the Path Valley Cooperative. The unique earthiness and slightly fermented flavor in is something we look forward to cooking with every winter. This year we have been making a black walnut "cheese" that we have used in several different dishes over the last several weeks. For the second seated course last night we layered thinly sliced scarlet turnips, small white beans, wilted chard, spaghetti squash and the black walnut cheese in a baking pan and cooked it slowly until the flavors melded. Just before serving we roasted some Oregon Chanterelles to finish off the dish. The nut cheese is made by soaking raw black walnuts for a few hours and then pureeing them in a food processor with a bit of the soaking water, some olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh herbs.

We served this dish last
night for a small office holiday celebration at 1508. As guests thanked us for the evening we could not help but thank them for being such enthusiastic diners. At our Home Restaurant the interaction with our guests is less mediated than in a traditional restaurant setting. I present each course and talk about the food, where it comes from, the wine that we are pairing and the collaborative effort that results in the food. Guests wander in and out of the kitchen during the night, see us at work, and often ask questions about specific preparations and ingredients.

Our guests last night were engaged in each other, the food and the was a joy.

Below is the entire menu:


Cauliflower Puree with Oregon Black Truffle
Roasted Parsnip and Sweet Potatoes with Pumpkin Seed Puree
Seared Sea Scallop on Corncake with Chives
Roasted Chicken and Celeriac
Beef Tongue with Watermelon Radish
Grilled Brussel Sprout

Scented Geranium Infused Vodka Martini
(Abymes)Vin de Savoie 2008

Egg in the Hole with Beet Broth and Arugula Sprouts
(Vissoux) Fleurie "Les Garants" 2007

Chanterelle Cassoulet with Spaghetti Squash, Turnip, White Beans, Black Walnut and Chard
Roasted Garlic Bread
(Tissot) Arbois Chardonnay "Classique" 2007

Wreckfish with Leek, Carrot, Saffron Mashed Potatoes and Kale
Rosemary Spelt Bread
(Rossignol-Trapet) Gevrey-Chabertin 2006

Warm Applesauce
(Tissot) Cremant du Jura NV (Chard/Pinot Noir)

Orange Cake with Black Truffle Sorbet and Candied Pecans

Sesame Semolina, Chocolate Coconut, Gingersnap, Oatmeal Spice

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Vegan Paradox

Photo Jacqulyn Maisonneuve

I am fairly certain that our style of cooking is informed by our eating. Taken as a whole our household's eating should be considered paradoxical. I am vegan. Martin Lane, my ten year old, has been vegan since birth. John is an omnivore some days however, unless we are cooking for others he is mostly vegan. We serve Omnivore dinners however we use no butter and cream And do serve a cheese course. Martin Lane and I will always taste an exceptional raw cheese from France. Fundamentalism is not our guide

I have been Vegetarian since I was twelve and as the years passed slowly moved toward eliminating dairy. While pregnant I read Dr. Spock's fairly mainstream "Baby and Childcare". Spock confirmed a vegan diet as the healthiest for children, John and I decided to raise Martin Lane vegan while allowing her the choice to eat what she wants whenever she wants. This is NOT religion for us. Nor is it a temporary political shift to some sort of enlightened ethics. We have no fidelity to events as such.

The issue for us more than ethics, amounts to health and our barometer for health is how we feel. This is not to say that we do not condemn factory farming or the treatment of animals as machines. It is only to say that if we let our senses guide us in a sort of 'care of the self', then we move towards family farms away from concepts like factory farming and senseless treatment of animals. Simply because the food is of higher quality, more efficient and satisfying; we eat less with a higher return.

To take this one step further: the same would go for the experience of dining with us. We could make statement upon statement about how ethically our chicken we serve at our dinners is treated, but that would make no difference if the chicken did not taste good (like chicken used to). This is only to say that the aesthetic experience does not end and begin with someone sitting down to eat. The event of eating speculates as well as lingers. How we feel the day after we eat is as important as the act of eating as well as the day before.

Aesthetics is our guide, not independent of reason, but informed by rational decision, an encounter with nutrition. To proselytize a vegan diet without the ground work of nutrition is unconscionable. To decide an ethics for others requiring rigid and dogmatic elimination of most sources of protein is inconceivable. There is theory and there is practice. We hope to share our practice with you through our blog–By no means do we mean to propose a theory for a lifestyle to anyone.

Even if we were to attempt to do so, that theory would be absolutely particular to our needs and it would be always moving, growing, aging, conflicting into a theory of parts that could only make up a paradoxical whole.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Last Night, 12/12/09 at 1508

Had a fun open night at 1508 last night. We celebrated two birthdays, one with candle the other opted for no candle. For the second time a Snuggie was gifted here at 1508. Some guests were people that we met for the first time, others close old friends, a talented photographer and party planner I often collaborate with and an old colleague we had not seen in years joined. A couple of non red meat eaters swayed us towards a rockfish main. We also served a beautiful piece of rare beef from Bev at Eco Friendly Farms as the first seated course (a sprouted quinoa salad replaced the beef for the non meat eaters). I knew I wanted to serve a black truffle sorbet for dessert and after some back and forth decided to pair it with oranges. The menu...

Seared Scallop with Roasted Beet
Roasted Chicken with Celery Root
Cauliflower Soup with Oregon Black Truffle
Roasted Sweet Potato
Saffron Mashed Potato
Roasted Parsnip with Pumpkin Seed Dip

Scented Geranium Vodka Martini

Beef Striploin with Brussel Sprouts, Sunchokes, Chives, Ginger and Garlic
(Le Roc Des Anges), Les Vielles Vignes, 2006

Chantarelle Cassoulet with Fall Squash, Chard, Turnips and Black Walnuts
(Arbois), Chardonnay Tissot, 2007

Roasted Rockfish with Corn Grits, Turnip Greens, Leeks and Carrots
(Julienas), Millesime 2006

Warm Apple Sauce
(Le Roc Des Anges), Passerille

Black Truffle Ice with Vanilla Cake and Light Chocolate Sauce
(Domaine des Aubuisieres), Vouvray Brut

Chocolate Coconut, Gingersnap, Clove Oatmeal, Sesame Semolina

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Rockfish Season

We have been serving rockfish for the last couple of weeks. Choosing seafood is always complicated because both environmental and health factors have to be considered when deciding what fish to eat. We rely heavily on two websites, Monterey Bay Aquarium and Oceans Alive to help stay current. Luckily we also have additional help from our fish purveyor, Jim of Prime Seafood. Jim's passion is healthy waterways and fish. He only sells fish that pass his stringent, well informed test which means that some days Jim will have only one variety of fish for sale. This is fine with us because we know that any fish we get from him is incredibly fresh, has not caused a negative environmental impact and is healthful. We are very happy to be in the middle of local rockfish season. For much of the year it is impossible to get healthful and sustainable fish that is also local. Not so long ago rockfish were over fished and their population was in danger. Fishing regulations have helped to restore the population to healthy levels.

I asked Jim to send me some additional information about the rockfish we have been enjoying this is what I got...

"Striped bass (known locally as rockfish) are available from November through March. We get ours in the lower Rappahannock and Potomac Rivers, they are caught just hours before delivery to DC. After rockfish spawn (during March) the adults move out of the Bay and progressively farther up the coast each year as they get older with the largest spending the summer through fall off Long Island, Cape Cod and the inshore part of the Gulf of Maine. As winter comes on the colder waters push the rockfish back down the coast and they re-enter the Bay's major rivers such as the James, York, Rappahannock, Potomac and Susquehanna. The Chesapeake produces about 90% of the east coast's striped bass.

Rockfish spawn in the parts of these rivers just below the "fall line" (for example, Chain Bridge is at the Potomac River's fall line). They are not good jumpers like salmon so they can't get up above the fall line in each river. Their eggs need a strong current to keep them from falling to the bottom where they would be covered with sediment and where they would suffocate from lack of oxygen and die. Young rockfish spend the first 3 years of their lives in local rivers feeding on progressively larger fish (like anchovies) and invertebrates (like blue crabs) as they get older..

Rockfish are ambush predators. The adults eat squid, herring, butterfish, menhaden, eels, sand eels, blue crabs and any other small fish or invertebrates they can fit in their mouths. They taste best if they have fed primarily on squid and herring, which are abundant off New England (where the adults spend much of the year). Maximum weight is probably about 100 lbs. The ones we get weigh about 10 - 30 lbs.

The commercial and recreational fisheries are closely monitored to promote healthy population. The striped bass recovery is one of the only success stories in US fishery management."

Last week we cured rockfish and served it with a salad of brussel sprouts, jerusalem artichokes and radishes. Saturday night we plan to roast the rockfish which will result in a delicious crispy skin and moist bouncy flesh. We will serve it with corn grits, turnip greens, leeks and carrots.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Roasted Parsnips

My english friends will tell you that Parsnips are horrible things they make you eat at school. However it was in England where John learned to prepare parsnips in a way that has most people ask not only How do you cook these?, but also What are these?

If a grateful participant receiver of a root vegetable is not only asking questions of how but what as well, then the task of cook has been more than acheived.

An Englishman's way to prepare parsnips: cut them in half, remove the core and then cut them into thin strips, preheat the oven to 375 degrees, coat the parsnips lightly with grapeseed oil, season with salt, pepper and a little bit of sugar, roast them until they start to turn brown, stir them and continue roasting until they brown some more.

Of course starting with great parsnips is important. We got our parsnips last week from the Path Valley Cooperative where we get most of our produce this time of year. You can get parsnips at pretty much any farmers market right now.

Last weekend we served parsnips at both of the weekends Home Restaurants with cocktails. We placed them on a platter with a pumpkin seed roasted garlic dip.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

School Gardens

Late summer we started digging on a patch of lawn at Scott Montgomery Elementary School, around the corner from our house, to plant a pumpkin patch. The experience was exciting, back breaking and humbling.

First of all our efforts did not result in pumpkins unless you count tiny green fruit smaller than the size of a golf ball to be a pumpkin. Our meager results can be attributed to many factors but most of all the fact that we planted them too late in the season and they did not have a chance to mature.

On the positive side we spent quite a few Friday mornings with a group of pre-schoolers in the garden weeding, watering, feeding the plants coffee grinds from a local coffee shop and digging for worms. It was amazing to see that kids that were initially tentative about getting near the dirt after just a visit or two were talking about soil, why plants needed water and that it is possible to grow food in the city.

Maybe the best part of the whole experience was that when we spent time in the garden with the kids we always brought local fresh fruit which all of the kids enthusiastically ate. Confirming something that we all know, if there is access to delicious, healthful, consciously grown food kids want to eat it.

The amazing librarian at the school, Frances, has applied for grants to get a raised bed for each class in the school, we have drawings to transform the front yard into an edible garden and outdoor classroom and plans to build a community compost. Late this fall we were saddened to find that there is a possibility that Scott Montgomery Elementary School may close by next year. For the moment the plans are on hold until we find out the status of the school.

Last week a friend emailed me a link to a post from a New York Times blog that I had missed that was posted around Thanksgiving about food, schools, edible gardens...
I loved the post and was anxious to share it with anyone who had missed it like I had. Martin-Lane, our daughter immediately recognized, the author who happens to be one of her favorites, Maira Kalman. I also sent the link to the librarian at Scott Montgomery who printed it out and shared it with the kids we spent time in the garden with this past fall.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New Home Restaurant Dates

Photo Jacqulyn Maisonneuve

Wanted to let you know about the available open nights for our Home Restaurant:
Saturday December 12, New Years Eve Thursday December 31, Friday January 22, Saturday February 13 and Valentines Day Sunday February 14

Winter produce from our favorite farmers includes: Chestnuts, Sunchokes, Parsnips, Asian Pears, Baby Kale, Brussel Sprouts, Micro Greens, Horseradish…From afar…both Italian and Oregon truffles.

We have been getting Eggs from Polyface Farm and Lamb from Whitmore Farms, Poussin and Beef from Eco Friendly Foods, Sustainable Seafood from Prime Seafood…Local Rockfish is now available.

We start with passing food and cocktails and then move to the dinner table for several courses with wines picked for each. Tom a wine importer with an incredible cellar helps us pick wines to go with each individual course to complement the food.

For reservations and information about requested donation contact me at:
Please share this email with any potentially interested diners. You can also choose a night of your own (other than the ones mentioned above) if you have a group of 10 or more.

Please advise if you have any food restrictions, vegetarians are more than welcome!

We rely heavily on farmers, a wine importer and other purveyors that we have worked with for years to source ingredients. This time of year we supplement our supplies with herbs from our garden and micro greens we are growing inside. We are committed to using best food practices.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Home Restaurant November 28, 2009

photo Jacqulyn Maisonneuve

Last nights dinner was lively. We had both first time and repeat diners...infact, a few people who had met at a previous dinner coincidentally showed up on the same night again. We had some out of towners in for the Thanksgiving holiday as well.

Derrick mixed up another cocktail using anise hyssop from our garden. John made a bresaola from Bev of Eco Friendly Foods beef. Jim from Prime Seafood provided Rockfish caught a couple hours before it was delivered to us. Nearly all of the fall produce came from Path Valley Cooperative. The Burgundy we served with the rockfish and the Champagne that we finished with were both memorable, Thanks to Tom!

We have one more open night before the end of the year, December 12, with a few spots still available. Also we have nothing booked for New Years Eve if anyone is interested!

Carrot and Ginger Soup
Cauliflower Puree with Black Truffle
Squash Gratin with Black Rice
Roasted Chicken in Celariac
Lamb Shank in Pickled Yellow Beet
Roasted White Sweet Potato

Anise Hyssop Cocktail
(Bellenda) Col di Luna Rose de Valmonte NV

Beef Bresaola with Marinated Jerusalem Artichoke, Watermelon Radish and Brussel Sprout
(Cincinnato) ‘Raverosse’ Cori Rosso 2005

Home Made Pasta with Chantarelles, Black Walnuts, Shallot and Baby Turnips
(Tenuta Roveglia) Lugana Superiore Vigne di Catullo 2006

Roasted Rockfish with Leeks, Fennel, Saffron Mashed Potato and Kale
(Michel Noellat) Haut Cote de Nuits Rouge 2006

Hachiya Perssimon

Parsnip Cake with Frozen Vin Santo
(Jacques Lassaigne) 'Les Vignes de Montgueux' Blanc de Blancs Brut NV

Earl Grey Roll, Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip, Lemon Poppy Seed

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Forward a conversation

I wanted to post this conversation as soon as possible for anyone interested in a Turkey Conversation... How are you going to do your bird?

Subject:Oregon truffles

From:John P
Date: Tue, Nov 24, 2009 at 11:58 AM
To: sidra forman <>

Hi Sidra,
My wife and I (avid blog readers, recent home dinner guests (thanks again!)) just got a shipment of white and black Oregon truffles, which we plan to use in several Thanksgiving dishes. I was wondering if you could give me any suggestions for a wine pairing, particularly for the black truffes. Due to their pineapple overtones, I'm inclined to use the black truffles in a dessert application (steeped in cream, then whipped?) but don't have any solid wine ideas. I saw that you paired Oregon black truffle with (Buccia Nera) Vin Santo dell'Etruria Cent 2004 (500ml) for a dessert and with (Pierre Gauthier) Bourgeuil "Vingt Lieux Dits" 2005 for a savory dish. Would you be able to give me other suggestions or, if these are the right two wines, let me know where I can pick some up?
Thanks and happy Thanksgiving,
From: sidra forman <>
Date: Tue, Nov 24, 2009 at 7:55 PM
To: John P


Good to hear from you. Sorry it took so long to pulled away from my computer for most of the day!

I love the Oregon Black Truffles in both sweet and savory dishes. For a dessert last weekend I made a sorbet with them pureed in almond and coconut milk and sweetened with agave nectar then froze in my ice cream was amazing with the really caramely tasting Vin Santo. It would have also been nice with a dry champagne. I think for a sweet course they would also work well with a Banyuls since to me they have a certain chocolate like property to them.
The black truffles, as well as the white also pair great with poultry, mashed potatoes (made with olive oil instead of butter since butter will drown out the taste of the truffles), pureed cauliflower for some reason really sets the flavor off as well...
We paired the white truffles last weekend with an amazing Chianti, style Italian Red ((Montevertine) "Montevertine Toscano Rosso" 2004).
I work with a wine wholesaler who helps me with my picks and supplies us directly but I know they do a great job with retail wines at Bacchus in Georgetown,

Hope this is somewhat helpful...Very happy to continue the discussion if you are thinking about a dish or wine you want to talk about I am happy to weigh in!

Happy cooking and hope to see you soon

From: John P
Date: Wed, Nov 25, 2009 at 8:19 AM
To: sidra forman <>

Thanks for the information- this is great. One question regarding poultry- I was thinking about slicing some of the black truffles and sliding the slices under the skin of the turkey for roasting. My only concern is whether the flavor will hold up to a couple of hours in an oven. I'm hoping that the skin and rendering subcutaneous fat will protect the flavor, but would appreciate any thoughts you may have.
Thanks again,
From: Sidra Forman sidra forman <>
Date: Wed, Nov 25, 2009 at 10:27 AM
To: John P

I would put some truffles under the skin and than shave some. To get the best flavor I would suggest a vegetable purée or mash ( potato, cauliflower, parsnip, celery root...) then shaving truffles on top of that and then putting a slice of turkey with the truffle under the skin on top of the vegetable to serve.
Also you might consider instead of cooking the turkey whole, butchering it like you would a chicken and cooking it in pieces crisping the skin. Th result will be a not over cooked turkey that will be moist an delicious with the truffle taste...When you butcher the turkey you can use the bones to make a stock, cook the stuffing separate and use a little of the turkey stock in it if you want, also at the last minute you can pour the fat/juices from the roasted turkey over the stuffing.
We always do our turkey like that...
Let me know if you have any questions... Always happy for the cooking chat

Sent from my phone
From:John P
Date: Wed, Nov 25, 2009 at 10:36 AM
To: Sidra Forman <>

Thanks, I had planned on spatchcocking the bird this year, so we're of the same mind. I'll let you know how it turns out.
Happy Thanksgiving -- John
From: sidra forman <>
Date: Wed, Nov 25, 2009 at 10:51 AM
To: John P

just looked up the word "spatchcock"...did not know what it meant...happy to learn it, nice word!

Spatchcock is a term used to describe the process of removing the backbone of a bird in order to lessen the cooking time thereby ensuring moister meat... So say Butterfly but why when Spatchcocking is so much more fun!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Weekend Home Restaurants

We had Home Restaurants on both Friday and Saturday nights this weekend. Both nights we had fantastic guests who nurtured us with their enthusiasm for our food and wine offerings. All the vegetables came from Path Valley Cooperative which as always exceeded expectation in taste and freshness. As usual Tom's wine picks enhanced the food and the Chianti-like red that we served with Bev's delicious chicken was memorable. Below is the menu with some extra notes on the food that we made and enjoyed.


Turnip and Apple Soup
Hakurei Tunips and Stayman Apples pureed and garnished with sage from our front yard
Baked Black Cod on Corn Cake with Pickled Carrot and Arugula Micro Greens
Pacific Black Cod was lightly baked and flaked over a corn cake made with hand ground toasted cornmeal and garnished with Sugarsnax Carrots and Arugula Micro Greens we are growing here at 1508
Saffron Mashed Potato with Parsley
Yukon Gold Potatoes mashed with Spanish Saffron and Affiorato Hand Pressed Olive Oil, seasoned with Korean Sea Salt
Fall Squash and Barley Gratin
Black Barley and Yellow First Edition Onions topped with Orange Sunshine Kobocha Squash and Coarse Grey Guerande Salt
Watermelon Radish with Roasted Salsify and Chives
Shaved Watermelon Radish wrapped around White Salsify and chives

Cranberry and Ginger Vodka Martini
(Bellenda) Col di Luna Rose di Valmonte NV

Grilled Beef Brisket with Brussel Sprouts and Shallots
Eco Friendly Foods Beef grilled for most of the day outside on a wood burning grill and served with roasted brussel sprouts and shallots with a splash of balsamic vinegar
(Cincinnato) ‘Raverosse’ Cori Rosso 2005

Baked Home Made Pasta with Black Walnuts, Chantarelles and Baby Beets and Turnips
Hand Rolled Ziti stuffed with Black Walnut Cheese, baked with four varieties of Baby Beets, Oregon Chanterelles and Baby Turnips from our garden
(Tenuta Roveglia) Lugana Superiore Vigne di Catullo 2006

Chicken Thigh with Oregon White Truffles, Roasted White Sweet Potato, Cauliflower Sauce and Wilted Greens
Eco Friendly Foods Chicken stuffed with Oregon White Truffles, served with roasted White Sweet Potatoes, Pureed Cauliflower and Wilted Flowering Kale
(Montevertine) "Montevertine Toscano Rosso" 2004

Oregon Black Truffle Sorbet
Oregon Black Truffles pureed with Coconut Milk and Almond Milk and Sweetened with Agave Nectar

(Buccia Nera) Vin Santo dell'Etruria Cent 2004 (500ml)

Vanilla Black Rice Pudding with Vanilla Cake. Perssimon and Brandysnap
Forbidden Black Rice Slowly Cooked with Almond Milk and Vanilla Beans sweetened with Agave Nectar. Served over a Vanilla Cake with Fresh Perssimon Puree and a Crispy Brandysnap
(Bisson) Prosecco "Colli dei Trevigiani" 2008

Cookies: Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Ginger Snap, Chocolate Chip and Earl Grey Tea Roll
Tiny Drop and Rolled Cookies

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Salt Bar

Our use of salt has changed over time. At Rupperts we used primarily Kosher Salt for cooking, offered French Fleur de Sel on the tables and used Maldon Sea Salt Flakes to finish salads. Looking back I realize that we have been using a variety of salts for different purposes for awhile. Several years ago we switched from kosher salt to a fine sea salt as our everyday go to salt and have been slowly introducing one new salt after another into our pantry. Some of these salts have been purposefully sought out and others have come our way as gifts from generous friends. The salts vary greatly in both flavor and texture and impact cooking.

Many years ago I visited a man who sells precious and semi-precious stones out of his basement in Takoma Park. He also had small bags of finely ground pink himalayan salt for sale, this was the first time I had ever seen it, before it was available at every Whole Foods. I was immediately captivated by the color and once I started using it discovered that the mellow deep flavor was ideal for some salads and in pastry.

About 5 years ago a friend and client who travels internationally for work brought me black salt from a spice market in India. Initially I was repelled by the sulphury smell but then decided that it might make a good sweet and salty biscotti. This cookie has become a staple ever since.

A few years ago when we were in LA we visited the La Sanctuaire and purchased a Japanese deep ocean sea salt that is incredibly intense but smooth. Since then we have collected a variety of salts from various Asian markets...we are currently using one variety of Korean salt that we have ground fine and in larger crystals. We also have another that is more of a flake that is ideal on raw fall vegetable salads made with Girasol, Brussel Sprouts, Celery Root...

After a friend gifted us a truffle salt a few years ago we started saving small leftover pieces of truffles and blending them with salt. Today I made a white bean puree and seasoned it with a salt laced with leftover Italian Burgundy Truffles pieces.

Last Christmas Derrick brought us a beautiful chunk of pink himalayan salt with a special grater that we like to use to season food once we are sitting at the table. Another recent addition was from a friend who attended a recent Home Restaurant and brought with her a gift of Sel de Guerande from Brittany (right on time since we were just finishing a bag that we had picked up at a farmers market in Amsterdam) that is moist with a mineraley taste that we are enjoying on fall greens both raw and cooked.

I must admit that there are a few more salts in our pantry that I have not mentioned...all of which we use regularly. When organizing last Sunday afternoon after a busy cooking weekend we made a salt bar for ourselves so we would have easy access to all the varieties. Tomorrow we start cooking for the weekends two Home Restaurants but I have already been enjoying the new salt set up just feeding the family over the last few days.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Last Weekend

Last weekend was very busy...we cooked for a Home Restaurant and a Brunch. We had two large flower jobs...All went very well. Jacqulyn Maisonneuve who has been photographing us for the last few months came by a few times over the last few days and spent the night here on Saturday night so she could capture the end of a dinner, awakening and an early morning of cooking. She said that when she shoots for a few hours she usually takes about 1000 photographs and then narrows that down to a few photos that she shares with us... which will be further edited down to about 10 photos that she will print and hang as her senior thesis at the Corcoran College of Art and Design early next year. Below are her photo picks from last weekend.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

November 14, 2009 Home Restaurant

We had a lovely group of people here last night to celebrate their friends birthday. The birthday girl brought along her two young daughters, 10 and 12 years old, who were great diners and conversationalists. It was lots of fun sharing the fall bounty from our own backyard and nearby farms with this enthusiastic party.

Tonight we started to sketch out next weekends is what we served last night...


Scallops on Corn Cake with Pickled Carrot
Chestnut Soup
Fall Squash Gratin with Tokyo Bekana Micro Greens
Roasted Apple and Onion
Potato Egg Salad with Neighbors Chives

Sorrel Martini
Domaine de Villargeau 2007, Appellation Coteaux du Glennois

Beef Bresaola with Girasole, Asian Pear, French Breakfast Radish and Napa Cabbage

(Cincinnato) ‘Raverosse’ Cori Rosso 2005

Hand Rolled Rigatoni with Baby Turnips, Tomato, Roasted Red Peppers and Oregon Chantarelles

(Buccia Nera) Toscano Bianco 'Donna Patrizia' 2008

Eco Friendly Foods Chicken Thigh with Oregon Black Truffle, Purple Cauliflower Puree, Roasted Sweet Potato and Broccoli Raab

(Pierre Gauthier) Bourgeuil "Vingt Lieux Dits" 2005

Cave Aged Marissa Cheese with Walnut Cracker

Shaved Carrot Ice with Toasted Coconut Flakes

(Roc des Anges) VDP “A” Passerille 2004

Warm Pear and Banana Crumble with Almond Sorbet

(Chancelle/Bourdin) Cremant de Saumur NV

Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Ginger Snap, Chocolate Chip and Lemon Poppy Seed

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wild vs. Farm Raised Salmon

We only serve wild salmon during the salmon season. When writing recipes for various projects I always specify that if using salmon it should be wild. On many occasions I have be asked why is wild salmon superior and is it really worth the money.

Today we received the following information from one of our favorite fish purveyors, Jim at Prime Seafood. Thought this was worth sharing...

Here are 10 reasons to boycott farm-raised salmon:

1. Sea lice -- factory salmon farms are often infested with parasites and spread sea lice to wild salmon and sea trout.
2. Escapes -- a recent scientific paper published by the Royal Society concludes that mass escapes from farms can lead to extinctions in wild salmon.
3. Wastes -- Salmon farms discharge untreated wastes directly into pristine marine waters thereby using the sea as an open sewer.
4. Unsustainable -- far from saving wild fish, salmon farming is a drain on depleted marine resources and is inherently unsustainable.
5. Listeria -- One in ten smoked salmon are contaminated with listeria which can cause meningitis, blood poisoning and still births in pregnant women.
6. Unsanitary and filthy -- the US FDA [Food & Drug Administration] have refused over 200 cases of Irish, Scottish, Chilean and Norwegian salmon for being 'unsanitary' and 'filthy.'
7. Fatty -- Farmed salmon contains more fat than wild salmon (up to ten times fattier in some cases)
8. Chemicals -- Factory farmed salmon are dependent upon a cocktail of toxic chemicals to control diseases and parasites.
9. Artificial colorings -- farmed salmon contain synthetic pink dyes such as Astaxanthin and Canthaxanthin.
10. Cancer-Causing Contaminants -- farmed salmon can contain DDT, chlordane and dioxins and can be up to ten times more contaminated with PCBs [polychlorinated biphenyls] than wild salmon.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Comforting Food

This evening I cooked dinner for a friend and her family in need of comfort. I thought quite a bit about what to cook. In some ways I am completely opposed to this idea of comfort food unless of course the ailment that needs comforting is hunger. Often foods that we turn to for comfort may help us–momentarily distract, but in the long run leave us feeling badly.

Part of the problem with our eating habits is that we have attached the cure of human emotions to foods. The same is true when we use food as a reward. I am not referring to sitting down to a nice meal after a job well done or many calories burned, more about eating an ice cream sundae instead of a single scoop because of a feeling that "I deserve this."

When we are grieving we are outside of ourselves and our sense of self can be lost hence the tendency to not take care of ourselves by over or under eating. In those times a good solid healthy meal can work wonders towards healing both body and mind.

Having someone reach out and prepare a meal for you can be nurturing both nutritionally and emotionally. When my father was sick a chef who was a friend of my mothers prepared us a batch of tapioca pudding. None of us were eating very well and the gesture of the delicious and nurturing pudding helped provide much needed nutrition and simultaneously lifted our spirits. To this day I do not know if the pudding was particularly good but I remember it as one of the most memorable and delicious things I have ever tasted. I know that at different times in my live my senses have been heightened or dulled... the tapioca was important at the time.

In any case I would like to propose a new comfort food, one that takes into account hunger, ingredients and the physical needs and tastes of a particular situation.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Home Lunch Photos

Jacqulyn Maisonneuve's work from the Home Lunch last Friday.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Finding Osage Oranges

For years I have been enthralled by the funky texture and electric color of a fruit that I find all over the ground in the fall. Every year we bring some home just to look at. This year I have used them for a couple of events and one of the flower wholesalers that I buy from keeps trying to sell them to me since he knows that I like to use non flower elements in my arrangements...I keep telling him I know where to find them.

For years I incorrectly called them ugly fruit and only recently learned the correct name when a person delivering us organic meat saw a bowl of them on our table a few weeks ago. He told us they were called osage oranges or hedgeapples and had originally been planted to act as barriers before the invent of barbed wire. When I asked if he had ever seen them prepared as food he replied, "I have never seen any animal, not a horse or even a pig eat one."

A quick internet search showed that the wood from the trees is used for its color and texture to make bows, bowls and pens among anything else that needs to be made wooden. This weekend I am going to use them as part of the centerpieces at an event along with leaves and acorns...I have to admit that I get a certain satisfaction from using items I find in the woods within the city that I live. Living in such an advanced form of capitalism, there is something uncanny about the freedom of hunting for an edible mushroom, harvesting from our back yard or picking up an osage orange to use in a flower arrangement.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Home Lunch

Photo Jacqulyn Maisonneuve

We had our first Home Lunch at 1508 on Friday. A fabulous group took time out of their busy day to lunch with us and enjoy each others company. The mood was festive and exhubarant fueled by the fact that everyone deviated from routine, some skipping out of work to join. We look forward to more lunches in the future.

Egg Salad with Chives
Chestnut Soup with Sage
Fall Squash Gratin
Seared Scallop on Corncake with Mustard Micro Green
Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pickled Ginger

Sparkling Thyme and Lemon Water

Beef Bresaola with Radish, Celariac, Asian Pear and Local Greens Dressed with Banyuls Vinagerette

Baked Pasta wit Beets, Baby Turnips and Lima Beans

Chicken Thigh with Burgundy Truffles, Cauliflower Sauce, Brocolli Raab and Sweet Potato

Cave Aged Marissa Cheese with Walnut Cracker and Honeycrisp Apple

Chocolate Torte with Roasted Pear, Frozen Chocolate, Ginger and Cocoa Nibs

Lemon Poppyseed Drops, Gingersnaps, Chocolate Chocoate Chip, Earl Grey Roll Cookies