Sugo

Revisited a restaurant recently that I hadn’t been to for a few years — Sugo in Potomac, MD (a suburb of DC), an Italian Osteria and Pizzeria.

IMG_2995[1]The best thing this place has to offer is their Sangria, and they also have other phenomenal dishes.

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After browsing the menu for awhile decided on the Brussels sprouts to start with, served with crispy pancetta & caper aioli sherry vinaigrette. The Brussels sprouts were so perfectly crisp.  And, I don’t like aioli, but let me tell you, there wasn’t quite enough in the bowl.  I don’t know what they put in there besides what the menu states…

IMG_3003[1]Next I ordered the squid.  Or properly said, charred octopus with potato, ‏ capers and pickled radish.  Let me tell you, there was so much seafood on that plate, it was awesome!  And, so perfectly cooked, just moist when you bite into it with amazing flavor.

IMG_3004[1]Great place to check out if you need something new.

New Brews

Had the chance to sip some new brews this weekend.  Love veering from wine from time-to-time.

First was Flying Dog’s Single Hop HBC-431 Imperial IPA.  You could sip this beer all day.  And, if you did you would be in extreme trouble, both physically and financially… It’s 10% ABV and runs about $15/6-pack.  I’d never had a single hop beer.  You could taste some orange, apricot and it was a tiny bit thick.  So good and worth the money.

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Also had Blue Moon’s First Peach Ale.  I love the majority of their stuff so had to try this.  Could be a pro or con depending on your palate.  It tasted just like peach iced tea.  I am not an iced tea fan, let alone peach tea.  So, I would much prefer just a traditional Blue Moon.  But for some, this Seasonal could be a winner.

IMG_3048[1]Have you tried either of these and have any feedback?

Roasted Citrus and Avocado Salad

Keep finding recipes I have to try.  This one was from the January issue of Bon Appetit but was far too perfect for May — Roasted Citrus and Avocado Salad.  Some sweet, some sour, some heavenly avocado…

Ingredients

1 blood or Valencia orange, sliced 1/8″ thick, seeds removed (I can never find either of these…went with Navel)
1 Meyer or regular lemon, sliced 1/8″ thick, seeds removed
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh Meyer or regular lemon juice (I went with bottled)
1 bunch watercress or arugula, thick stems trimmed (love arugula!!!!)
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1 avocado, cut into wedges

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Preparation

Preheat oven to 425°. Toss orange and lemon slices with 1 tablespoon oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper.

IMG_3022Roast citrus, tossing occasionally, until lightly charred in spots and starting to caramelize, 10-15 minutes. This makes the citrus flavor more complex. Let cool.

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Meanwhile, combine onion and lemon juice in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper and let sit 5 minutes (onion will soften a bit and get slightly sweeter and less harsh).

Add roasted citrus to bowl with onion along with arugula and mint. Drizzle remaining 3 tablespoons oil over; season with salt and pepper and toss everything to combine and coat.
Add avocado and very gently toss until lightly dressed (you don’t want to crush the avocado).  I cut my avocado into a bit more of cubes vs. slices…

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This was delicious!  I didn’t even add that much olive oil at the end because it was so moist.  I served it with some seared sea bass and a nice Sauvignon Blanc.  It’s definitely at the top of my list.

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Marinated Mushroom, Manchego and Vodka Tomato Skewers

Was going tailgating recently and was asked to bring fingerfoods.  Went through various recipes and put a few together to come up with something that ended up way too good.  I made mini skewers (used toothpicks) of marinated mushrooms, squares of manchego, and vodka-spiked tomatoes.  Delicious!  Then, with the leftovers that I didn’t skewer, combined everything and it made a delicious salad(tossed it with mixed greens, too).

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Marinated Mushrooms

1 lb mushrooms
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
(some) garlic — you can never have too much (I was in another kitchen and had to use dry stuff)
S&P
paprika
2-3 bay leaves

Slice mushroom.  Mix all other ingredients together.  Mix in mushrooms.  Let sit 30 minutes-overnight in fridge.

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Vodka Spiked Tomatoes

Ingredients

3 pints firm small red and yellow cherry tomatoes – I use(d) grape ones
1/2 cup vodka
3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon superfine granulated sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper

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Preparation

-Cut a small X in skin of blossom end of each tomato. ** I just sliced a bit into each one — I don’t have the patience to make an X into a cherry tomato, make a bigger slice.

-Blanch tomatoes, 5 at a time, in a saucepan of boiling water 3 seconds and immediately transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking. **I did them all at once in a huge pan, much easier.

-Drain and peel, transferring to a large shallow dish. **Did not peel, don’t have the patience because I tried it once and it takes forever.  Make a bigger cut in step one.  And, no you don’t get as much vodka taste, but it still works.

-Stir together vodka, vinegar, sugar, and zest until sugar is dissolved, then pour over tomatoes, gently tossing to coat. Marinate, covered and chilled, at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.

When the mushroom and tomatoes were ready, I ‘skewered’ them with cubed Manchego onto toothpicks.  It made for the perfect size for tailgaiting.  Will definitely make them again!

Napa Cellars

Was working another wine tasting recently and was introduced to a new wine(ry) in CA —  Napa Cellars.  That’s the great thing about doing the tastings — finding all sorts of new wines (and getting paid to do it)!  The name sort of explains it all, location-wise.  The varietals were their Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.  Both were great wines.

The Sauv had a crisp fruit taste – lemon, grapefruit.  The vintner describes it as “aromas of vibrant gooseberry, pineapple and fresh pink grapefruit followed by flavors of pear, guava, passion fruit, lime, sweet clover and melon.”  The price was $18 (on sale from low $20s)

The Pinot was amazing (I love Pinot!) and had some subtle leather and cherries, and unique spices.  It had a good, medium body to it.  When you read their comments you get “aromas of ripe cherry, sweet tobacco, raspberry, cedar and subtle spice followed by deep red cherry flavors and fantastic acidity.”  The price was $16 (also on sale from low $20).  These prices are in DC, so love to find out how much they vary from state-to-state, sale-to-sale.

Check them out if you’re looking for something new.

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Fennel & (Raw) Asparagus Salad

Was flipping through Bon Appetit the other day and came across another recipe I needed to try.  It had two of my favorite veggies in it — Fennel and Asparagus Salad.  In the whole piece in the magazine, it is part of a pork shoulder cutlet recipe (I just didn’t feel like making the whole think, I had already had salmon ready to go).

1 small fennel bulb, cored, thinly sliced, plus 2 tablespoons fennel fronds
6 asparagus spears, shaved lengthwise into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving
2 tablespoons olive oil

IMG_2892For the asparagus, it is never too easy to shave them.  I’ve had this one veggie peeler that is supposed to be good.  Have you ever seen or used one of these?  I always try to give it another shot.  It scrapes, cuts and just does not make anything easy.

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Finally just found my good old fashioned carrot peeler.  That made it much easier.

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Combine fennel, fennel fronds, asparagus, onion, and parsley in a medium bowl. Toss with lemon juice and olive oil; season with kosher salt and pepper.

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This salad was so refreshing and had a great crunch to it.  Totally worth making!