Take a look at the current Restaurant.com promotion.
They are offering 70% off the price of their restaurant certificates w/code COUNTDOWN. $25 certificates end up being $3 w/the discount. In addition to the discount, you may get a $15 deLaFlowers Gift Certificate with your order through 12/31. I’ve written about their promotions previously, but the certificate for flowers is new.
Make sure to read the restrictions for each certificate.
I know, I know, you’re sick of being told to buy diamonds and Lexuses as Christmas presents. If you really love him, you’ll buy him a Lexus SUV with big bow on top! if you really love her, you’ll be buying her not one but SEVERAL diamonds arranged from smallest to largest, and asking your small children to pretend they don’t know what a wishbone is!
The truth is, if you REALLY love someone, you ought to consider sending them to Zengo for a Latin-Asian fusion cooking class. (No one is paying me to say this, so listen.) These single-session classes, which start in January, will give students hands-on experience with balancing Latin and Asian flavors. They’ll learn how to do a proper margarita, which is both elegant in its simplicity and kind of a bitch to get right (so they’ll be encouraged to make and drink a LOT of margaritas), and how to roll their own sushi. Rolling sushi was the best part of a highly entertaining and delicious class, and your friend will be so pleased with the way she rolls that she’ll walk out there planning a sushi-rolling party, to which you are sure to be invited. Score one for you!
Classes will be held on the last Monday of every month starting in January, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Zengo (781 Seventh Street NW). $64 per person, including tax.
I recently was fortunate to attend a Holiday party in a small private room at Chef Geoff’s. I have never been to the restaurant before and was able to try a variety of appetizers and desserts. I’m not sure if all of this is on their regular menu, but here were the items that stood out, even if I don’t know their actual names:
∙The duck spring rolls were good, especially with the syrupy teriyaki sauce. There was a mushroom version, which I did not get to try.
∙Fried balls of crab meat were sweet, delicious, chewy, and delicate.
∙The large shrimp were fresh and tasty but the sweetened (and cold) butter sauce was a bad match. An acidic or garlicky sauce would have worked better.
∙The chocolate covered cream puffs and the teeny chocolate berry tarts were excellent because the chocolate was rich and of excellent quality. Your tongue gets coated with wonderfully sweet and bitter chocolaty goodness. Yes, i just said “chocolate” four or five times; it was that good.
∙I had a French Kiss. Don’t make me blush; it was actually the name of a drink with champagne, peach liquor, and peach nectar. It was tasty.
If really pressed to identify my favorite dessert, I’d probably have to go for bread pudding. I love the stuff, and have many wonderful childhood memories surrounding it. So, upon seeing Smitten Kitchen’s rendition of a Gourmet magazine recipe I’d been eyeing for Thanksgiving fare, an idea hatched. Then, speaking with a friend about the joys of properly spiked egg nog, the idea grew from a hatchling to … a whatever comes after hatchling … and then in the kitchen on Thanksgiving became a full-fledged recipe. Thanksgiving night, it died in the spectacular way that a really good dessert must: by becoming immortal, eternally embedded in thighs and love handles of diners.
Here’s how it all went:
1 ½ cups egg nog (you could probably use Lite, but then why bother?)
3/4 cup canned pumpkin (the kind that says “Ingredients: Pumpkin” and nothing else)
1/2 cup white sugar (you could experiment with brown or turbinado, but it might be a bit much)
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch of ground cloves
1 ½-or-so cups bourbon (optional but really important)
5 cups day-old baguette or crusty bread, cut into 1-inch bits
3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 cup raisins
½ cup toasted almond slivers
Vanilla ice cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Put raisins and almonds and enough bourbon to cover them into a jar with a pretty good seal on the lid (can use plastic wrap). Set this aside. No, you may not have one yet. They’re not ready.
Now, stir together your pumpkin, nog, sugar, eggs, egg yolk, spices, and about 2 tablespoons of bourbon in a mixing bowl. Coat your bread bits with the melted butter in another bowl, then add the pumpkin mix and toss it so it’s all covered. No, you still may not have any of the raisins. They’re not ready. Not the almonds either.
Now, put your proto-pudding into a baking pan (preferably not too deep, maybe 2” tops) and bake until it looks done, about 20-30 minutes.
When you’re ready to serve, drain your raisins and almonds – OK, fine, you can try a few on the way, just for quality control, sure – and spread them over top of the pudding. Challenge your guests to see who’ll drink the raisin-almond-flavored bourbon, or do so yourself if you’re in to that sort of thing. You could even share!
Serve over vanilla ice cream for best effect, or eat by itself.
I love dim sum, but I’ve always just left it as something I could only have outside of home. Part of its wonderfulness is the experience – grabbing random bits off the carts, trying new and strange-looking things, and of course competitive gluttony with friends. Recently this changed a bit as I stopped at the Asian grocery on my way home from dim sum, and saw the big block of taro cake on the shelf. I had to try it.
The next morning I woke early (amazing what going to bed before midnight can do!), and pondered my purchase. A quick Google didn’t turn up any particularly interesting ideas, so I decided to go a bit mad. I had made a bunch of mole last week, and had tons of leftover sauce. I also had a papaya ripening on my windowsill, in need of a purpose. So, I decided to blend some ideas together:
- Six slices of taro cake (about 3”x3”x1”)
- 3 tbs. Olive Oil
- 1 tsp. Sesame Oil
- About 3 tsp diced Scallions
- 1/2 cup mole (from mole paste with chicken stock and a splash of hotsauce)
- Fish sauce
- Fresh Papaya
Heat the olive oil and sesame oil in a pan. Add about 1/4 cup mole, and let it heat until it begins to reduce. Now add your taro cakes, pouring the remaining mole over them, and splashing with fish sauce. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, flipping now and then.
Now add your scallions, flipping your cakes around to make sure the scallions cook and the cakes get a good coating. Once they are nicely cooked, remove the cakes from the pan and let them cool a minute or two on a paper towel to wick off the excess oil.
Serving the cakes with fresh papaya really makes this dish: the sweet fruit balances the spicy and slightly oily cakes, and if the fruit is chilled, that makes for a nice contrast as well. Drizzle with soy sauce if you like – I’m a big salt fiend so I do. It’s almost like having dim sum at home.