Monday, September 21, 2009

On 27 and Poached Eggs

So I think 27 is going to be a promising year.

At first I kind of freaked. I mean… almost 30! And I have next to nothing figured out! Aaaah! Then I realized I need to stop my sissy-fied attitude and instead enjoy myself a little. Good plan, no?

Here are a few pics from my birthday celebration…which was a lovely weekend. I had a Chocolate-Guinness cupcake with whiskey ganache filling and Bailey’s icing (gracias a Kari) smooshed into my face and up my nose-holes at my friend Ruben’s open-house party, and then went trotting around Virginia wine country with Roni and Teresa only to finish such a lovely weekend with a few work friends who could grab a last-minute pizza with us at the notoriously delicious 2 Amy’s Pizza. Le sigh. It was a wonderful few days.

Here are a few pics for your end-of-summer-enjoyment-pleasure:

A few shots from the Three Foxes Winery...

From 27 Skies

...with quite possibly the most Thanksgiving-ified port-a-potty ever...

From 27 Skies

...and a fine picnic balancing act...

From 27 Skies

And, of course, a grisly scene of the 27 balloon massacre I had to execute to clean my room (I see one got away, but he didn’t last long. Poor ‘bloon.)

From 27 Skies

One of my most comforting quick-night dinners during busy birthday and work times such as these, and when the weather can’t decide if it’s warm or cold, is the always-perfect Poached Egg Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette. Oh, heeeerrrrrooooooo, lover!

From 27 Skies

It’s a simple thing, really. A salad consisting of your favorite lettuces and such (I like to use baby spinach and lettuce, but do what you will), with bacon, a poached egg, and whatever other fixin’s you feel like throwing into the mix. Also, if you’re scared to poach an egg-—don’t be. If you mess up, it’s only an egg, and try, try again!

From 27 Skies

I’ve adapted this recipe from Alice Waters lovely book, The Art of Simple Food. For those of you unaware of the good foodie work started by Miz Waters, you need to google a little restaurant called Chez Panisse and read up for a hot minute on the multitude of reasons why she is awesome.

Anyway, I love this Poached Egg salad. I notice I’ve been doing a lot of salads lately, but this one is a hearty and warm meal salad, and I’ve gone into great discussions with several friends regarding our favorite ways to create a poached-egg salad. Folks, this is mine, and probably will forever and always be… I hope you enjoy it and cozy up to it like I love to do with a great work to read, like Great Expectations by one Mr. Charles Dickens who is also awesome and funny on way too many levels to count. So…I guess if you don’t listen to me about the salad, please read this book because not only is it written very wittily and craftily, it is a gorgeous tale and I’m sorry it’s taken me this long to ever pick up.

From 27 Skies

With so many great things under my belt already, and I’m only 23 days into being 27, I think I’ve got quite a lot to look forward to this year. And really… I’m still 3 full years away from when I need to have my life figured out at 30, which is plenty of time, me thinks.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Watermelon, Dressed Up

I can’t believe it’s the end of summer already. A week ago, it was warm, sunny, and humid, and this week has been gray, chill, and rainy. What happened to easy transitions?? Oh, DC and your strange and moody weather conditions! I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to you, but at least you keep me on my toes.

I also can’t get my mind around the fact that I have, as of this past weekend, been in D.C. for an entire year. I can write on and on about how the past 52 weeks have shaped and changed me, but what I really want to talk about before it gets any colder, is watermelon.

I’m nearly convinced that no fruit is as summery as watermelon, and, for that reason alone, we need to discuss this for a hot minute before the leaves change and Fall is in full swing. You still have at least a few weeks to make this before watermelons disappear from the markets, and it’s an ace to keep in your back pocket for years to come.

Being from Arizona, we had our fair share of watermelon since it seemed to be in season for what seemed like half the year. I could kick myself now for all the times that I missed eating it in my new favorite way, cause really, once you go where I’m about to direct you, few ever find their way back to eating straight up watermelon again. Unless you’re a purist, which… I can do nothing for you. Anyway,I love this salad. Watermelon Salad, to be exact. And boy, did I get a hefty introduction to it.

About a year and a half ago, I had the great luck to go to a special Top Chef demonstration with Richard from season 4 and Betty from season 2 serving as his sous chef. I personally was hoping for Sam from season 2 as he is a total dreamboat, but that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, I somehow scored a seat in the front row and while chatting up the audience, Richard whipped up some lamb shanks, made bacon maple ice cream (!) using dry ice and no ice cream machine because Richard is awesome and just does stuff like that, I guess. Then, he made Watermelon Salad, using cilantro, 4 kinds of onions, yuzu juice, mint, and cubed watermelon, and I was elated to find that my typical apathy to watermelon was suddenly ooomphed up and I was in watermelon heaven.

From new year, new food

I tried recreating the recipe a few times with other recipes I found online, none of which really captured the essence of what I thought Watermelon Salad should be: cool, slightly tangy, slightly salty, and just…interesting. After a few months of searching, Roni and I discovered a great Watermelon Salad recipe in Nigella Lawson’s book, Forever Summer. And hooo-eee is it easy compared to Richard’s version, but just as good. Better, probably, because it combines even more of my favorite things, like lime juice and kalamata olives and feta and pine nuts. Joy!

From new year, new food

It sounds weird. I know. But trust is key here. If you don’t like olives, just take them out. I’ve always been a lover of sweet-salty-sour combos, and this might be the winner. The watermelon is sweet and chilled, with a tang from the simple dressing of lime juice, and with a freshness from the mint, the saltiness from the olives and feta… the salad is the bomb and truly does belong in a cookbook entitled Forever Summer.

From new year, new food

I crave this salad on a regular basis, because really… a week going by without this, especially during summer watermelon season, is just the silliest thing I’ve ever heard. It’s basically reflective of the fun and uniqueness that is Nigella Lawson, just in watermelon form, and while I’ve never been there, I love how Nigella ends the recipe instructions with this exclamation: “Hava Negila! The taste of Tel Aviv sunshine!”