Well, I’m back… Fat, rested and with six pairs of new shoes and a couple of new kitchen toys. What did I eat that I couldn’t get enough of, you ask? These delicious morsels of goodness are at the top of the list. When cooked properly, they have a light crunch on the outside and hot ooey, gooey ham meets cheese meets béchamel mixture in the middle. Seriously, love at first bite! Here’s the recipe I used to make them once getting home…
Jamon y Queso Croquettes
3 tbsp butter
1 spanish onion, diced
1/2 cup flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 ounces gorgonzola dulce
8 ounces serrano ham, cut into 1/2” strips
salt & pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
4 eggs, beaten, at room temperature
2 cups panko (or dried bread crumbs)
canola or olive oil for frying
Looking for something different for lunch today or dinner tomorrow… or any meal in between? Head down to CityCenterDC between 11am and 9pm today or tomorrow to sample bites from over 20 of DC’s best food trucks! There will also be great music and art performances taking place around the square. Some of the vendors I’m looking forward to checking out tomorrow are District Taco, BBQ Bandidos and Eat Sauca. For more information, visit the event’s webpage here.
Today’s Chef Feature comes from Rangoli’s Executive Chef and Owner, Kumar Iyer. I recently visited this hidden gem in South Riding and had the best Indian meal I’ve ever eaten. The Bombay Burger is straight from the streets of Bombay – it’s a delicious potato/garlic/cilantro patty lightly fried with a gentle crunchy crust served on a slightly sweet, but super light roll. And don’t miss the Gulab Jamun – the hot/cold Indian classic of warm milk-based dough balls in a honey syrup with ice cream – it’s unbelievable!
What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
Favorite tool would be the knife, as we use them the most, our restaurant is not very advanced to use modern gadgets. But I’ll say the ‘Wet Grinder’. Wet grinder because it’s unique to Indian kitchens; we use them to grind pre-soaked rice and lentils to make crepes (dosa) and steamed savory cakes (Idly).
What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
Small plates and foam dishes.
If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
Deli sandwich/subs, soups and frozen yogurt.
What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
Fruits like watermelon, mango and strawberries when in season. I like ‘restaurant depot’ a lot more for prices than the product; the reality is – staying in business is as important as dishing quality food.
What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
Service level expectations, especially Asian customers. I’ve had a guest tell me just yesterday, I didn’t spend as much time on his table as I spent with few others.
What do you drink/eat after work?
A chilled beer and home cooked food.
What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
Dal Tadka and Roti.
Dried beans can be quite the money saver over canned, especially when bought in bulk. Here’s how I soak and cook them.
- I start by sorting through the beans to make sure there aren’t any little stones or debris.
- Then place in a large bowl and cover with double the amount of water as there were beans.
- Cover the bowl and let it sit overnight, or at least for 8 hours.
- Drain the beans and transfer to a large pot.
- Cover with water by 2 inches and bring to a boil.
- Reduce to a simmer, cover partially, and cook until tender. This will take between 1 and 2 hours.
- Use as usual. Enjoy!
Dyngus Day is many things… Easter Monday, the day of the White House Easter Egg Roll and a holiday for boys to flirt with girls in Poland. I know it sounds strange, so here’s a better description (from Wikipedia, of course!)…
“In Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic traditionally, early in the morning boys awake girls by pouring a bucket of water on their head and striking them about the legs with long thin twigs or switches made from willow, birch or decorated tree branches…
Throughout the day, girls would find themselves the victims of drenchings and leg-whippings, and a daughter who was not targeted for such activities was generally considered to be beznadziejna (hopeless) in this very coupling-oriented environment. Most recently, the tradition has changed to become fully water-focused, and the Śmigus part is almost forgotten. It is quite common for girls to attack boys just as fiercely as the boys traditionally attacked the girls. With much of Poland’s population residing in tall apartment buildings, high balconies are favorite hiding places for young people who gleefully empty full buckets of water onto randomly selected passers-by.”
And since the world’s largest organized Dyngus Day celebration is found in Buffalo, New York, I had to share! So, go eat some kielbasa, drink some Tyskie and dance to some polka. Nazdrowie!
5. – The Boston Herald Palate Initiative “Who will you vote for come November? Sometimes you just need to go with your gut. You’ve weighed the candidates’ positions and heard them speak, but perhaps you’ve failed to take into account one of the most important issues: what they like to eat. A politician’s relationship to food can say a lot about him or her. Forthwith, a voter’s gastronomic guide to the candidates, plus dishes from their hometown chefs.”
4. – The Chicago Tribune Gateway to Asia “Asian cuisines offer myriad exotic flavors and techniques that are accessible to the home cook. Ethnic enthusiasts have always combed the aisles of Asian stores for great equipment values and exciting ingredients, but the stacks of woks and strange jars and bottles can be a bit daunting to the uninitiated.”
3. – The LA Times A Mayo Clinic: Basic Homemade Mayonnaise “Eating homemade mayonnaise is the kind of luxurious pleasure — like eating chocolate in the bath — that shouldn’t require apology. Rich yet subtle in flavor, with a pillowy texture, homemade mayo is nothing like the pale, cloying stuff you get out of a jar.”
2. – The NY Times The Local Food Movement Reaches into the Breadbasket “Today, nearly all of the nation’s wheat is grown on vast fields and milled in factories in the Midwest. Over the past few years, though, farmers and millers like Mr. Earnhart and Mr. Lewis have begun restoring wheat fields and reviving flour mills around the country.”
1. – The Washington Post You don’t know beans… “Beans, even heirloom varieties, are no easy sell. In America, according to food historian Ken Albala, beans have long been stigmatized as a cheap protein for people too poor to afford meat. It doesn’t help that canned ones tend to be mushy, while dried varieties take hours to cook, something that doesn’t jibe with the American apotheosis of the 30-minute meal.”
Photo from The NY Times
5. – The Boston Globe ‘Curries’ Runs a Savory Gamut “Recently, there’s been an explosion of Indian food memoirs, “modernized” Indian cookbooks, and Indian home-cooking collections. This summer heralds the arrival of Raghavan Iyer’s magisterial “660 Curries,” which has the unique distinction of being the best three-pound paperback cookbook I’ve seen.”
4. – The Dallas Morning News Tex-Mex Lovers, Chefs Take Precautions in Salmonella Scare “The latest food scare headlines are a machete into the heart of Tex-Mex cuisine. Bad enough when the recent salmonella outbreak was blamed on tomatoes, but now federal authorities are worried about all the ingredients in fresh salsa and pico de gallo. So what’s a scared chip-dipper to do?”
3. – The New York Times Save Room for the Truck “It must the thrill of the chase. How else to explain New Yorkers’ infatuation with sweetmobiles, food trucks that are zipping around the city, tantalizingly loaded with crème brûlée, cookies, ice cream and freshly baked waffles — but often maddeningly hard to find?”
2. – The LA TImes Thomas Keller to open Bouchon bistro in Beverly Hills “Southern California food lovers wanting a taste of chef Thomas Keller’s food will no longer have to travel to Las Vegas, New York or the Napa Valley. The city of Beverly Hills gave final approval Tuesday night on a deal that will bring a local restaurant from the only American chef with two 3-star establishments.”
1. – The San Francisco Chronicle Kitchen Essentials: 10 Techniques every cook should know “Trained chefs fold fearlessly, braise boldly, and temper without trepidation. These are the sorts of kitchen techniques that shape the pros’ culinary language. Yet, these same techniques can panic less-practiced cooks, many of whom, with the economy stumbling, are spending more time poring over cookbooks and less time eating out. We’re here to help. Today, we’re offering a crash course for novices – a refresher session for more experienced cooks – highlighting 10 essential techniques. Mastering these will ease everyday kitchen chores and help you tackle more advanced recipes.”