Wednesday, January 25, 2012

simple sushi bento

Hi bento pals! A simple bento today, with shrimp and tuna sushi, broccoli with Japanese ginger dressing, and two juicy pink grapefruit slices...

The sun is reviving...lovely to see it sparkling in tall grasses today!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

german gourmet visit and bento

Hi bento pals! This bento was inspired by a recent trip to (big surprise!) another specialty food shop in the area: German Gourmet, which stocks a diverse selection of foods from Germany (plus homemade sausage, breads and sweets) and some Scandinavian specialties, too: perfect for this chill winter month...

German preserves (and, not pictured but a prized find: tart-sweet Swedish lingonberry jam)...

an impressive selection of German wines and beers...

marzipan pigs (marzipigs?)

Mozart and Constanze, eternally linked in music history...and German chocolate! These "Kugeln" chocs are quite addictive with a yummy rum-marzipan filling:

House-made sausage, lovely selection of flavors...we enjoyed the smoked bratwurst: hearty flavor, perfect with sweet-tangy red cabbage.

A star purchase from this visit was Swedish herring in garlic sauce...awesome on whole grain bread with a wisp of dill!

Cute little guy, love his placid, somewhat dazed expression :) Too much beer, perhaps?

Recipes for a couple of German-inspired dishes I've made recently:

Salmon in Cream and Riesling Sauce

Serves 2

Two wild caught salmon fillets, about a half pound each
two leeks, cleaned and sliced--all of white, more tender part of green
two thin carrots, sliced on diagonal
one tablespoon butter
one cup heavy cream
one cup Riesling or white wine of your choice

Preheat oven to 375

Gently melt butter, then add leeks. Cook carefully, as they burn easily! Add carrots, continue cooking until mostly tender. Add cream, cook over gentle heat for a couple of minutes, then add wine. Cook for about three minutes.

Place salmon in casserole, salt and pepper lightly. Pour sauce over. Bake about 12 minutes, or until your degree of preferred doneness.

Red Cabbage with Tangerines, Wild Berry Jam

Chop half a head of red cabbage medium fine. Saute a small red onion until translucent, add salt to taste, then about two tablespoons of wild berry jam--I used Swedish Lingonberry preserves. Pour in a half cup of white wine (used Riesling, in keeping with German theme). Squeeze a tangerine, add juice to pan as well as some peel. Cover and cook until tender--enjoy!

In the bento: salmon with cream and leeks, potato salad (red skinned baby potatoes with mayo, diced gherkins, dill), red cabbage with berry preserves.

Have a great evening and happy cooking this weekend!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

gravad laks bento, celebrating food and friends

This bento, and this weekend, really, have been illuminated by the kind culinary generosity of friends. The spectacular homemade cured salmon, or gravad laks pictured above came courtesy of my lovely friend Lotte, and her talented hubby, Miguel.

Lotte is from Denmark, Miguel from Spain...he has made an art of this delectable dish, for which he takes special orders at holiday time from the Danish/Scandinavian community here in the D.C. area. I've never had such supple, dill-infused and delicate salmon including during the years I lived in

Thank you so much, Lotte and Miguel--this was a true treat for us!

In this simple, rustic bento, a beautiful piece of gravad laks is draped over multigrain bread, lightly spread with remoulade sauce (a sweet, herbal mayo) and topped with a wonderful sweet-tart mustard.  Green and very nutritious Mâche/corn salad leaves with walnut oil and some sun-colored tomatoes also inside...

The amazing gravad laks platter:

Also this weekend, a fun visit to our dear pal Cheryl, who not only made wonderful bahn mi for us (I was so busy enjoying them that I forgot to take pictures!) but also a fabulous pie rich with dark, jewel-like blackberries and blueberries: seriously yum. Thanks so much, C.!

Hope you also had a great weekend, friends...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

baltimore visit: attman's deli and di pasquale's market

Hi friends! We enjoyed a weekend in Baltimore that extended the holiday spirit of good times and good food just a bit longer into the new year--so much fun! As per our visit two summers ago, we stayed at a nice hotel downtown with great views of older buildings, a pleasing collage of different architectural styles...

Attman's Delicatessen is an old Baltimore tradition, one of the few remnants of a once-thriving Jewish neighborhood of grocers, shops, markets. This bright-gritty-delicious slice of Jewish-America has been in place since 1915, offering up no-nonsense, perfectly prepared portions of classic cured meats...really worth a visit!

Here is my scarily oversized "Lombard Street" sandwich with corned beef, pastrami and silky chopped liver, Russian dressing on rye bread. Half of this came home with us...

Half sour pickles a nice tart counterpoint to the rich meats...

Jamison ordered a classic Reuben...yum.

I loved that the dining area was a time warp to the mid seventies...

It would be lovely to step back in time and wander the aisles of the original Attman's grocery as described on this framed list, with tea, nuts, "Russian Fruit Caramels" for sale, "Palestine" chocolate bars....

A painting of the old neighborhood depicting a vivid, lost world of grocers, shops...Attman's is one of the only original businesses left on a street now caught between stages of vacancy and "renewal"...

However, much of the past of this richly international, immigrant city remains, richly sedimented in surrounding neighborhoods

Di Pasquale's is an Italian market/deli that has been in place for 95 years. Interesting how some shops really make you want to cook: every corner of the market was thoughtfully and lovingly stocked with quality and authenticity, selected with a knowing eye and evident love of Italian food and drink...

Beautiful bread, pizza, pastas, homemade sausage and much more is made here. Italian tools for making pasta, tomato sauce, cookies, even wine making supplies are for sale. 

We saw intriguing imported aperitifs and wines, joyously packaged candy and chocolate, preserves of all kinds (savory and sweet), a deli counter offering the unmistakable, tidy brightness of carefully made Italian antipasto specialties: shining roast peppers, emerald and onyx olives, tender and supple fresh mozzarella, little purple edged baby octopus in olive oil....

My first time seeing this pointy variety of radicchio in the U.S...saw it once before in Florence. Should have bought some!

Still thinking about this bright "Orangecello" liqueur!

Roasted fennel and peppers--classic, healthy, so good

How cool--Italian vegetable seeds!

Love the old-world flavor magic collected here: oregano from the southern Italian countryside, dried porcini mushrooms, garlic, pistachios...elemental and elegant.

How amazing would these yellow peppers be harvested from the home garden, roasted and tossed in a dressing of extra virgin olive oil amplified with minced Italian anchovies?

We bought a loaf of this beautiful country bread to take had a perfect dense crust, salty savor (perfect with milky fresh mozzarella): a golden, edible continuity of wheat that goes back to Rome and before, amazingly preserved here, along with ways of cooking that are also wise and pleasurable ways of being. Patiently cultivating quality in daily life: there is a slowness, a quietness to Italian cooking, a sympathetic coaxing forth of natural flavors...this cozy, replete shop echoed that spirit so beautifully.

It was enough to make me want to stay in the warm proximity of the pizza and bread oven, the preserved glow of such earthy, cultivated foods and become a regular here welcomed by name, part of the neighborhood, this bright slice of Italy-in-America.