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

Thursday, November 5, 2009


We got our first truffles of the season today through Oregon Mushrooms who we have dealt with over the last couple of years. Truffles are one of the few legendary flavors in my mind that actually live up to the hype. I spoke with Tim on Monday about what types of truffles would be available this week since the season has just begun. He knew that he would have Italian White Alba and Burgundy truffles. On Wednesday Tim called saying that the Oregon truffles were not quite ready for harvest, they would need another few days and that he would have French black truffles in a couple of weeks. We ordered Burgundy truffles which we received this morning.

Alba White Truffles are the most flavorful of all truffles and also by far the most expensive. We use these shaved fresh over mashed potatoes or cauliflower puree, the warmth from the food sets off the sharp muskiness of the truffles. French Black Perigord truffles and Italian Burgundy truffles are slightly less intense than Alba truffles but are each unique and deeply aromatic. Tomorrow at our Home Lunch we are going to put thin slices of Burgundy truffles under the skin of Eco Friendly Foods chicken and then finish them off with fresh slices on top.

We look forward to getting the Black Oregon truffles soon. They have a vaguely chocolaty taste and are much less expensive than the imported truffles. This allows for experimentation and generous shavings on a variety of foods. Oregon Black truffles are also great in desserts, especially custards and ice cream.

We will incorporate all types of truffles into our menus throughout the winter.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Local Brussel Sprouts

We got the our first local brussel sprouts of the season from Twin Springs Wednesday market. We are going to roast them and pass them at a Home Lunch at 1508 this Friday. Brussel sprouts have a bad reputation because many people think of them as a stinky vegetable. The smell is caused by overcooking. The process of overcooking brussel sprouts actually causes a chemical reaction that emits sulfur which causes both a bitter taste and bad smell.

On the other hand lightly cooked or raw and marinated brussel sprouts seem unrelated. They often pleasantly surprise people who have previously only eaten overcooked sprouts.

To roast sprouts take a thin slice off the end,where the sprout was attached to the plant, and then cut the sprout in half longways. Heat a heavy bottom skillet over medium high heat. Lightly coat the brussel sprouts in grapeseed oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook cut side down until lightly browned, about 1-2 minutes. Flip the brussel sprout over and cook on the other side until the sprout is just tender, the time will vary from 1-3 minutes depending on the size of the sprout. One of my favorite accompaniments to roasted brussel sprouts is pickled ginger.

To marinate sprouts take a thin slice off the end,where the sprout was attached to the plant, and then cut the sprout in half longways. If the sprouts are very large cut them into quarters. Season sprouts with salt and cover with a vinaigrette of your choice composed of 3 parts vinegar to 1 part oil. One of my favorites is rice wine vinegar and sesame oil. Let the sprouts sit for 30 minutes at room temperature for lightly marinated sprouts or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Micro Greens

Photo Jacqulyn Maisonneuve

The gardening season is winding down. Huge fig leaves are falling and lots of our crops have been pulled up and replaced by green manure. We still have kale, chard, cabbage, tomatoes and horseradish growing...but it seems to be growing in slow motion compared to mid-summer. I relish the change in season and look forward to a little less garden time but already miss just picked from our garden produce...especially salad greens.

In an attempt to keep growing greens throughout the winter we have set up a small micro green farm under a sky light in our house. We hung large window boxes on the wall, fitted them with 8 shallow trays, filled those with a layer of potting soil and sprinkled them with 8 different types of organic seeds. We covered the seeds with paper towels and water them a few times a day with a spray bottle. We planted Friday and the photo is of the seeds yesterday! The greens grow at different rates but some might be ready to eat by this Friday and all will be ready within the month.

We were first introduced to micro greens years ago when Mike Pappas, who had just started Eco Farms showed up at the back door of our restaurant with a variety of enticing micro greens. Immediately we were seduced by the intense flavors and the unique textures and used them to enhance a variety of dishes. Mike grows his greens 8 miles from DC in Lanham Maryland on a small plot of land using bio-intensive farming methods. Years later we are anxious to grow own, experiment with different varieties of greens and use them immediately after harvesting.

Micro greens are packed full of nutrients. It is believed that not only do they contain all of the nutrients of larger greens but also the additional benefits of the energy and nutrients that they would use up in the process of growing larger. They are classified as a functional food, one that provides benefits beyond their basic nutritional profile.

We are excited about our new indoor farming project and hope for success!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Could not resist

We already posted Halloween photos yesterday...but could not resist these fabulous photos that just arrived from Jacqulyn Maisonneuve...Halloween is big around here!