Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Brookland's Newest Addition: San Antonio's

I’ve been living in the Brookland neighborhood a few years now and while I love this area, my main grip has always been its lack of quality sit down restaurants. While I’ll kill some New Tong Shin (Thanks Jeremy) or Brookland Grill, sometimes the usual carryout joints just won’t do. So when I found out that a new joint was opening up at the site of the former Ellis Island Restaurant on 12th Street, I had high hopes.

I had been eyeing this place for a few months, but after reading about the owner in the Brookland Heartbeat, I had to try it. According to the article, Mr. Vargas, the owner of San Antonio’s was part owner of renowned DC restaurants Lauriol Plaza and Cactus Cantina in the 90’s and was the original owner of Banana Café on Capitol Hill, which he later sold to a friend. With successes like that, on top of the fact that this place is in my backyard I had to try it.

I would highly recommend trying this place during their Happy Hour (3-7pm, Mon-Sat). Specials include $3 margaritas, domestic beer and wine, $3.50 mojitos, and ½ priced apps. Their frozen Mango Margarita is delicious and you can't beat the HUMONGOUS nachos for 3 bucks!

The full menu features traditional Latin and Tex-Mex fares as well as American classics for about $12- $17 per meal. I had the Ropa Vieja (a traditional Cuban dish of shredded steak in a tomato based sauce) which was served with rice, black beans and fried plantains, while the mister had chicken fajitas. Both were amazing- cooked perfectly and seasoned just right. The service was meh- not bad, but not exceptional.

After all that food and some drinks, I definitely had to undo my button and struggled a bit to get home. This is a great neighborhood spot. I would definitely recommend it & can’t wait to share it with my friends and fam.

San Antonio Bar & Grill
3908 12th St NE
Washington, DC 20017

Monday, April 13, 2009

Shrimp Spring Rolls

The measurements for this recipe are estimates so feel free to play around with it. If you want to make this a vegetarian dish, simply omit the shrimp. Makes 12-15 rolls.

· 3 oz Vermicelli Noodles
· 2 Tb Oil (Vegetable, Peanut or Canola)
· 1/3 lb Shrimp- peeled &deveined
· 2 inch Ginger Root- finely chopped
· 3 cloves Garlic- finely chopped
· 2 Scallions- chopped
· 2 Carrots- shredded
· 2 Bean Sprouts
· 5 oz Spinach
· Small bunch Cilantro
· Spring Roll Wrappers
· 2 Tb Soy Sauce
· 1 Egg
· Oil, for frying

Preparing Ingredients:
Soak the vermicelli noodles according to the directions on the package and once complete, cut them into smaller pieces. Finely chop the ginger, slice the scallions, shred the carrots and coarsely chop the spinach, cilantro and shrimp. I recommend having all of the ingredients ready before you heat up your wok because everything will cook very quickly.

Cooking the Mixture:
In a hot wok, add oil, ginger, garlic, and scallions. Let this cook until the flavors release. Next, add carrots, bean sprouts, spinach, cilantro, soy sauce and noodles. Mix this together well so that your get an even bite of all the in the filling. Let this cook for a few minutes and once its finished, set the mixture aside and let it cool. Beat the egg in a small bowl and set aside.

Wrapping the Spring Rolls:
Peel the wrappers apart and cover with a damp towel to keep them from drying. Lay one of the shells in front of you with one corner towards you (like the shape of a diamond) and the other corners facing your right, left, and up.

Once the mixture is cooled, add a spoonful of the filling to the bottom-center of the spring roll wrapper. (If the mixture is not cooled properly, it could burn through your wrapper). Roll the mixture in the wrapper tightly but be careful not to rip the wrapper. Once halfway up, fold each of the two sides to the center and continue rolling up. When you get about one inch from the top of the wrapper, rub a bit of the egg wash on the wrapper to seal the spring roll.

Cookin’ It up:
Heat your frying device (deep fryer, wok with a few inches of oil, etc). Once all of the spring rolls are assembled and your oil is hot, slowly place the spring rolls in the oil and cook until golden brown. Degrease the spring rolls by placing them on paper towel. Serve plain or with a dipping sauce. I like to use a sweet chili sauce.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp in a Spicy Papaya Salad

I was experimenting in the kitchen the other day and came up with winner- Bacon Wrapped Shrimp in a Spicy Papaya Salad. The sweetness of the papaya is balanced out by the spicy chili peppers and the savory bacon wrapped shrimp ties everything together. This dish offers a variety of flavors as well as textures. Hope you enjoy!

(Serves 2, or 1 if you're like me)
· ½ lb Medium Shrimp (about 14-20 pieces)
· 7-10 Strips of Bacon (half as many as you have shrimp)
· 1 Ripe Papaya
· 1 Serrano Pepper
· 1 ½ Limes
· 2 Carrots
· 4 oz of Baby Spinach
· 1 tsp Cumin
· Salt-n-Pepa for seasoning
· Toothpicks

Papaya Salsa:
Peel and seed the papaya & dice it into small cubes. Very very thinly dice the Serrano peppers into small pieces and add to the papaya. Add lime juice and zest, cumin & Salt-n-Pepa to the papaya mixture.

Tip: Cutting, peeling & dicing papaya

Use a regular vegetable peeler to peel the skin of the papaya. Cut the entire thing in half and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Slice the papaya lengthwise into long strips and then widthwise to create dices.
The Serrano peppers should be diced very small (you don’t want to bite into a big chunk of one of those)

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp:
Peel and devein the shrimp & season them with ½ the cumin & Salt-n-Pepa.
Cut the bacon strips in half and cook them partway in a skillet. Drain the excess fat from the pan and degrease the bacon on paper towels. Take the bacon and wrap each strip around the shrimp, securing the whole thing with a toothpick.

(Since the bacon takes longer to cook than the shrimp, the idea here is to cook the bacon partway before wrapping it. This way, when the bacon cooks with the shrimp later, both the bacon and shrimp finish cooking at the same time and the shrimp doesn’t overcook).

Once all the shrimps are wrapped, place them back in the skillet and cover with a lid. Turn the shrimp midway through the cooking and turn off the heat once finished cooking.

Assembling the Salad:
Shred the carrots and toss in a bowl with the clean spinach. Mix in the papaya salsa & top with the bacon wrapped shrimp (be sure to remove the toothpicks before serving). This salad can be served either plain or with a vinaigrette dressing.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

ipoh: An Asian/ Sushi Joint in Wooldey Park

I was in the Woodley Park neighborhood this weekend and had the opportunity to try iPoh, an Asian and sushi joint. Let me start off by saying that the service was exceptional!

Aside from your typical sushi dishes, the menu features rice dishes, noodle dishes and other entrees.

We tried the Buah Mango which features shrimp or chicken sautéed with shredded mango and bell peppers in a spicy mango sauce. The shrimps were a good size and the mixture that they served everything in was very tasty. The mango used in the dish wasn’t quite ripe (giving it a bit sourness that you would typically find in a green mango), but still somewhat ripe (giving it the sweetness that you would normally find in a well ripened mango). I it was a wonderful balance of sweet and sour mixed with the spiciness from the sauce. The dish was beautifully served directly in the mango skin which was used to make the dish.

The Sunshine Roll (sushi) which is roll made with fresh mango, mint, and cucumber then topped with salmon was wonderful. Nick even liked it (and I didn’t even have to get him drunk). We also tried a couple of sushi classics including a tuna avocado maki roll, and a vegetable tempura maki roll which were both prepared nicely and comparable to your typical sushi joint.

Overall, I would recommend this place. It’s a great spot for a casual meal, prices are moderate ($9- $13 a meal during dinner), and the service was phenomenal.

Other minor details: This place has a free delivery service from which you can place your orders online at their website (http://www.ipohusa.com/) and it doesn’t serve any alcohol.
This quaint space is great for a casual dinner. As you can see, the sushi bar only seats 6 people.
Located on Connecticut Ave, directly across the Woodley Park/ Adams Morgan Metro

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Simple Veggie Flatbread Pizza

· Pizza Dough (see flatbread pizza recipe below or use store bought dough)
· 3 Tbs Olive Oil
· 2 handfuls of Spinach
· ¼ Tomato
· ¼ Red Onion
· 4 Mushrooms
· ¼ Bell Pepper
· 4 oz Italian Blend Cheese
· 8 leaves of fresh Basil
· Italian Seasoning- for seasoning
· Crushed Red Peppers- for seasoning
· Ground Black Pepper- for seasoning

Grease a pizza pan with butter (I used a 12” air-bake pan). Stretch the dough to the edges of the pan and cover it with a towel. Let it rise for about 30 minutes or until it doubles in size.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. While the dough is rising, prepare the topping for the pizza by slicing the tomato, onion, mushrooms and bell pepper into whatever size you prefer.

Once the dough has risen, make depressions in the dough with your fingers and form a crust. Brush the top of the pizza dough with 3 Tb of olive oil.

Now it’s time to form the pizza!!! Place the spinach, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, and bell peppers directly on the flatbread. Season the pizza with Italian seasoning, crushed red peppers, and black pepper. Add the shredded cheese on top and season the entire pizza again. Put the pizza in the oven and bake on 400 degrees for 13 minutes or until the bread is cooked.

Once the entire pizza is finished, top it off with fresh basil (either in thin slices or whole) & serve.

Here’s how I made the Flatbread Pizza Dough:

· ¾ cup of water
· 2 Tb of olive of vegetable oil
· 2 cup bread flour
· 1 Tb sugar
· 1 tsp salt
· 1 ½ tsp bread machine or dry active yeast
· 3 Tb of olive

Place all of the ingredients into your bread machine (except the 3 Tb of olive oil) according to the directions on your machine. Most machines will have the wet ingredients first, dry ingredients on top and yeast last (so that it’s not touching the water).

Select the Dough/ Manual Cycle and start.

Remove the dough from the pan (lightly flour your hands to keep the dough from sticking to you). Cover and let it rest for 10 mins (your bread machine may already factor this rest time at the end of your dough cycle).