Author Archives for A Capitol Contessa

About A Capitol Contessa

A woman who loves parties - both political and full of friends. I hope to inspire people to cook, entertain and have fun by sharing tips, tricks and mistakes along the way!

St. Patrick’s Day with Friends

Another year, another great St. Patricks day.  This year I decided to up the food and decoration game big time.  I am not going to lie – this is a pretty prep heavy, time consuming line up, so make sure to have some help.  I imported the best kind from Boston, my sister in law Sara.  I definitely wouldn’t have pulled it off without her – not sure if she has forgiven me yet for nearly killing her by blowing up so many balloons but as you can see it was totally worth it!


I had seen these kinds of wall ballon displays plenty of times on Pinterest but always figured it was too much of a hassle.  Turns out it is pretty simple (just give yourself time to blow them up!) if you use gaffers tape.  I ordered a bunch of different color balloons and then blew them up (with help) to different sizes to add variety.  Then we just started taping them to the wall, stepping back, adding in more, until we got the desired look.  I had the gold letters left over from the Masters Party and voila!  Everyone loved it and ensured that my guests took lots of pictures.  Of course there had to be a favor (no decanters this year – sorry friends).  I went super simple and did cello bags with Rolos and rainbow ribbon – instant pot o’ gold.  


On to the important stuff – the whiskey.  Make sure to stock up big time.  We are lucky as our local Costco carries large bottles of Jameson but this is also a place where you can get your guests involved – ask everyone to bring their favorite and you can taste and compare them.  Either way make sure to have plenty and shot glasses as well.  I found these adorable ones at my favorite custom online shop For Your Party.  


After all that whiskey and Gunniess you are going to need a good spread.  I have found after many many St. Patrick’s parties that the key is heavy food to keep people standing.  I always make the infamous Ina Herb Dip – set it out with carrots and celery to make the Irish flag.  


This year I added a hot dip as well because my girlfriend Erikka lent me her mini crock pot.  I have no idea how I don’t already have one of these – they are perfect for keeping dips hot and so cute!  Pretzels are a natural for this Food and Wine Warm Beer and Cheese dip but really you could put this stuff on anything and it would taste good.


Potatoes are obvious – not sure if my husband would come to the party if we didn’t have them.  A couple of years ago we went to the Irish Embassy’s St. Patrick’s Day party and they had these Fine Cooking mini stuffed potatoes that were to die for so I wanted to replicate those.  As I said these are really labor intensive, but the good news is you can make them in advance and then warm them in the oven before your guests arrive.


If you have read my previous St. Patrick’s posts you know that the Epicurious rosemary scented brown butter soda bread is a staple.  It makes 2 loaves but it goes fast so you may want to make a double batch – serve with Irish butter of course.


Cause this all wasn’t enough I decided to make mini pot pies using the Beef and Guinness Short Ribs I made earlier in the month and froze. Then all you need to do is use a mini muffin pan and frozen pie crusts like Giada does in this mini pot pie recipe.

Last but not least you need to add something sweet to the menu so I made Irish Coffee Bars from Martha Stewart. They are delicious with whiskey! I hope you have a great St. Patrick’s Day

ACC Travels: London and the Cotswolds

Usually I post travel pieces right after I return from a trip but we went to, and ate at, so many incredible places it took me an age just to pour through all the photos and memories in order to share the very best with you all.  This spring Patrick and I visited London and then headed out to the Cotswolds – we also hit Oxford and Dublin which will be subsequent posts.  The New York Times scooped me again with a 36 Hours in the Cotswolds and I was gratified to see my choices were mostly endorsed by the paper of record (included in their piece that I can also recommend are the towns of Burton on the Water, Stow on the Wod and a visit to Broadway Tower).  It was a trip of a lifetime visiting with amazing friends and traveling over the gorgeous British countryside – not to mention having amazing meals.



Patrick lived in London for several years and if he had his druthers we would probably spend every vacation there.  I must admit I have caught the bug as well, mostly because of the amazing friends we have there, but also because the city is so vibrant and alive – especially the food scene.  Below is more detailed info on some of my favorite places we ate in London but I would be remiss not to include a couple of other highlights.  Paxton and Whitfield is the world’s most incredible cheese shop, the Churchill Arms and the Lamb and Flag are our two favorite pubs, you can get terrific tapas at any of the Brindisa locations, and of course no visit to London would be complete without a stop at Borough Market.

Fortnum and Mason – 181 Piccadilly London W1A 1ER

Not only is this an incredibly beautiful 300 year old store with an awesome food hall in the basement but it also has the most charming wine bar.  I like to pop in to take a break from shopping on Jermyn Street.

First a glass of sparkling rose in the bar, maybe a cheese plate, and then I can get lost in the food hall picking up tidbits to bring home.


Santo Remedio – 152 Tooley Street SE1 2TU

Of course I found an Air B&B a block away from a Mexican restaurant!

This place was so cute and instagrammable but it all comes down to the margarita.  Once I had my first one I knew this place would be alright!  Fresh and tart they were perfectly balanced and the chips are lighter than air.


They have a great lunch menu where you can get several courses for a reasonable price – a great way to celebrate Fiesta Friday in London.

Lazy Hunter – 117 Kentish Town Road NW1 8PB

When you are sitting in the back of this Kentish Town pub surrounded by hipsters and drinking craft beer you may think you were in Brooklyn but the menu has a serious British bent.  Patrick got the full English breakfast, made with homemade sausage and the traditional grilled tomato.

I opted for the venison burger with caramelized onions and incredible fries.  If its a nice day try to sit on their lovely back patio.

Passione Vino – 85 Leonard Street EC2A4QS


If this place existed in Washington, instead of the Shoredich neighborhood of London, I would be there all the time.  Part shop, part wine bar, it’s the perfect afterwork spot.  Of course my incredibly fun and chic friend Coleman is the one who took us here.  I was glad to be with a regular because you feel quite odd walking through the shop to the hidden wine bar in the back but thats where all the fun is to be had.!

We grabbed a perfectly chilled bottle of sparkling rose and caught up, I just hope he will forgive me for sharing this secret spot!

A.Wong –  70 Wilton Rd, Pimlico, London SW1V 1DE


If you follow me on Instagram (@acapitolcontessa) then you have already seen some of the INCREDIBLE highlights of this meal.  One of the top ten of my life for sure.  It didn’t hurt that our friend Vernon is friends with the chef and owner, Andrew Wong, but trust me they treat everyone at this Michelin starred restaurant like family.  None of the stuffiness you would expect with this level of cooking – the chefs are having fun with the food but also hewing really closely to traditional Chinese dishes.

I could probably do an entire blog post on this meal alone but the highlights were definitely the “goldfish” dumplings that were both adorable and delicious.  We also loved the cantonese roasted pork, the 1000 chili chicken with snails and the Singapore noodles with scallop dressing.  The menu changes often so make sure to ask for suggestions from the impeccable staff.

To finish off you cannot miss the amazing peach merengue.  Thank you A. Wong for an incredible evening.

The Cotswolds


I had only ever been to London, so for this trip I really wanted to get out of the city and see more of the countryside of England.  We took the train out to Oxford (that one night is a whole post of its own, coming soon) and then rented a car to drive to the Cotswolds.  Huge love to my dear husband who drove ,which was pretty hair raising but totally worth it – there are so many incredible towns tucked away in far reaching corners it really is best to get lost and explore.

The Wild Rabbit –  Church St, Kingham, Chipping Norton OX7 6YA


Unfortunately we didn’t have time to eat dinner at this beautiful restaurant when we were staying there.  However, the elegant breakfast spread is included in the room rate and is top notch so I have no doubt the rest of the menu is as well.  I couldn’t leave this off of the post because it was one of the best hotel experiences I have ever had (and part of the reason why we stayed in the Cotswolds in the first place).  Wellies for all the guests!


The attention to detail was so charming but unpretentious and the bar area was a great place to relax and have a whiskey after a long day of driving on the “wrong” side of the road.

Huxleys – High Street, Chipping Campden


Who knew some of the best Italian food I have had in a long time would be found in a 500 year old building smack in the middle of quint Chipping Campden?


It was raining like crazy and Patrick and I just wanted some warming food.  What we got was terrific pastas, a serious Italian wine collection, sheepskin blankets for your lap and the perfect place to hide out in front of the fire during a hail storm.

Daylesford Farm – Daylesford, Moreton-in-Marsh GL56 0YG, UK


Dream place – cooking school, home goods shop, delicious food market, incredible wine cellar, bucolic surroundings…I went to this place twice in 24 hours because I couldn’t get enough.


Its almost like Chip and Joanna opened the Silos in England – this place also runs the Wild Rabbit so you get a discount if you stay there.  The only question is how much can you fit into your suitcase???  (Answer – 4 beautiful handblown glasses, 2 bergamot candles, a hand thrown pot and several jars of spices).

The Kingham Plough – The Green, Kingham, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire OX7 6YD


Exactly what you want in a quaint neighborhood pub in the country.  Fireplace – check, low wooden beamed ceiling – check, friendly locals – check, delicious menu featuring locally grown ingredients – check.  Just down the street from the Wild Rabbit we quickly fell in love with this place and its vibe.  After a couple of pints by the fire we tucked into the rather sophisticated menu.

They have a nice mix of casual pies and sandwiches that you can eat in the pub section (full menu is available out there as well) and then the back dining rooms have a more formal dinner menu.

I cannot wait to get back and explore more of both of these places – I hope some of you are able to get out there this year.  If you find more gems leave them in the comments.  Cheers!

ACC Travels: Dublin, Ireland

We know a bunch of people who were in Ireland this week for a friend’s wedding which reminded me I needed to post this!  Apologies for folks if this is too late for your trip but Ireland is just the perfect place to go over the fall and I cannot recommend Dublin enough.  We had travelled previously all over the Southwest part of the country but this city has as much charm as a dozen small towns.  And the food scene!  Definitely not what I was expecting.  Cannot wait to go back.  Probably goes without saying go to Guinness and Jameson when you go but the spots featured below are a little more off the tourist radar. Sláinte!

The Bull and Castle – 5-7 Lord Edward Street


Owned by the famed butcher F.X. Buckley this is definitely where you want to splurge on a good steak.  The cocktails aren’t half bad either (try and get one with the scotch dry ice).  They dry age their steaks and serve them super simply – just how you want.

Piglet – 5 Cow’s Lane, Temple Bar


This wine bar is what I dream will open up around the corner from my house.  Teeny tiny but so charming with a fun wine by the glass menu and great little nibbles.  Perfect spot to stop on the way out to dinner.  Definitely chat up the bartenders for recommendations on what they love.

The Bank – 20 College Green, Dublin 2

Our cab driver from the airport was classic Irish, with the gift of blarney to boot.  He was the one to recommend the Bank, an old school Irish pub without any of the hookey touristy elements you can find.  Asking locals really is the best bet and this place didn’t disappoint.


I had the “Sunday roast” with super tender chicken and amazing sides (basically enough food for a family of four).  Housed in an old bank, the interior is really beautiful and they even had a piano player all day Sunday.

The Oak – 1-3 Parliament St, Temple Bar, Dublin 2, D02 AN28


Want a comfy pub you can grab a quick casual pint at?  Done (red door).  Want a lovely date night with upscale Irish dishes and a creative cocktail list?  Also done (blue door)!  The Oak has two entrances to two very different spaces but I adore both.  Everything you want in one block.

Forno 500 – 74 Dame St, Temple Bar


Best pizza I have had in a long long time came in Dublin??  After weeks of English and Irish food, Patrick and I needed a break and stumbled across this place.  I seriously still think about the amazing crust loaded with buratta and make you cry prosciutto.

Fallon & Byrne – 11-17 Exchequer St, Dublin 2


Food halls have become ubiquitous in the States but we are really just trying to catch up to the European versions.  Fallon and Byrne combines a beautiful food market with a subterraneous wine bar and a top floor seated restaurant.  Pro tip – go for their pre theater dinner and get a great deal.

The Brazen Head – 20 Lower Bridge St, Merchants Quay


If you have been open since 1198 seems pretty likely you have figured out how to run a great bar.  Sure its got a fair amount of tourists, but that hasn’t diminished the charm and authenticity of this bar.  It feels like stepping back in time and somewhere you can spend a whole lot of time.


ACC Parties: Another St. Patricks Day

Another year, another St. Patrick’s Day party at the Costello household.  This year I wanted to really kick it up a notch because my sister in law Sara is going to be in town.  We all know how much I love to give party favors and when I saw a set of glass decanters on Everything But The House (that site is dangerous – you have been warned) I knew they would make epic take home gifts.  They worked out to only be a couple of dollars each and now all of my friends remember this party when they look at their bar cart.

This is a party I have thrown many times before (9 years with my husband Patrick so at least that many times!) so I have collected a good amount of green gear and a menu that I don’t play with too much.  People get pretty wedded to the dishes I make but I try to mix it up a little to keep people on their toes.  I made Ina’s herb dip that is a must at all of my parties but presented it as the Irish flag.

Then of course a massive cheese board with lots of yummy Irish cheeses and personalized napkins with Patrick’s favorite Irish toast.  Lots of folks ask where I order my napkins from – For Your Party is hands down the best site I have found.  The quality is so good, the prices are totally reasonable and they have tons of options to pick from.


I swear even the most casual party instantly feels more classy with special touches like those.  The other dinner size napkins are from Caspari and the cute flatware buckets are a Target dollar section find.


As you may know from my previous St. Patrick’s post this Brown Butter Soda Bread with rosemary is a must have.  I had to make 4 loaves to accommodate the crowd!

Apologies about the pictures of the food – Irish food may be satisfying but it’s not all that pretty!  I went with Beef and Guinness Short Ribs that worked beautifully in my slow cooker to stay warm all party long.  Your could of course do my Patrick’s Irish Stew instead.

I actually make Ina’s Sauteed Cabbage a lot in the winter when there are not may fun options in the produce section.  It’s incredible what a little bit of butter will do to make this hated vegetable a winning side dish!


And of course you can’t have St. Patrick’s Day without potatoes – for a twist on your usual mashed potatoes try this Country Living Smashed Red Potatoes recipe.  I love how the creme fraiche gives them a little tang to cut through the rich meat on the side.

This Chocolate Whiskey Cake from the New York Times is RICH!  Make sure to have coffee and some ice cream or whipped cream with it on the side – I didn’t and it was a bit much.  The leftovers make for a great morning after breakfast though!

After all that food, Jameson and Guinness you are definitely going to need a cat nap….Happy St. Patricks Day!


Sausage Stuffing

Turkey day is fast approaching – I am actually hosting a friendsgiving (for 16!) this weekend so I needed to get my act together in way in advance but I know some of you are still working out your menus.  The best thing about my friendsgiving is that lots of people are bringing their family’s must have Thanksgiving dish so we will have a really fun mix of friends and memories around the table.  My family has several traditions, one being my grandmother’s stuffing with sausage.  My Aunt Carol gave me the recipe years ago and you can see its pretty simple but oh so good.  I have to say I had to tweak it a little as I think a nice hearty bakery loaf is better than Wonder bread and I used homemade chicken stock instead of the boullion but I would NEVER consider not using Jimmy Dean sausage like she did!


This year I am going to change it up again and mix in some cornbread to reflect our southern home but making it will still make me smile and think of my Nana and that is what Thanksgiving is all about.

Sausage Stuffing 

  • 1 loaf of bread, preferably a rustic farmhouse style
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chopped sage
  • 2 teaspoons chopped thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 pound Jimmy Dean sausage roll
  • 1 cup turkey or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup Calvados (apple brandy) or another 1/2 cup stock

Cut the bread into bite size pieces and leave out on a cookie sheet overnight to dry out.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  In a large skillet heat the butter over medium high heat.  Add the onions, fennel, and celery and cook for about 10 minutes until softened.  Add the sage, thyme, fennel seeds and salt and pepper.  Cook for another minute then add to a large bowl.  Add the sausage to the pan breaking it up as you add it to the pan.

Cook over medium high heat until no pink remains, about 5 to 6 minutes.  Add to the bowl with the veggies.  Add the bread cubes to the bowl and toss all together.  Pour over the broth and brandy (if using) and stir to combine again.

Pile the stuffing into a 9 by 13 baking dish and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the top is crusty.

ACC Travels: Venice, Italy

Since my darling husband just returned from Italy this weekend it had me reminiscing about the last time he went there to give a speech and was smart enough to bring his wife along!  His speaking engagement was in Milan but since Patrick had never been to Venice before and I am still haunted by my visit from years ago, I decided that is where we should meet up.  Could there be anything more romantic than meeting your love on the Grand Canal???  The fall is a great time to visit Venice as it is MUCH less crowded than in the summer.  You have to be careful for the “Acqua Alta,” ie when the water levels get so high that the canals flood the city (ick) but if you look online there are great resources for estimating when that will happen.  We went mid November and it was perfect.


Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in the world with incredible art, architecture and natural beauty, but unlike most of the rest of Italy, it is not known for its food.  They have seafood in abundance but many of the restaurants are super touristy and overpriced.  Because things essentially need to be “imported” the quality of some produce isn’t as good as say Florence.  But do not despair!  Do enough research and you can find great food.  I won’t lie – there were a bunch of duds on this trip.  Even the best laid plans can be ruined by closed restaurants, exorbitant prices or a maze of canals.  However, there were several gems.  Here are our favorite stops – I also recommend checking out Chowhound boards before you do any international travel and search the city you are visiting.  I found a lot of these places on there – its basically crowd sourcing from foodies at its best.  Ciao!

Vineria all’Amarone


How can you not like a place named after some of the best wine made in Italy?  Vineria all’ Amarone is a sweet spot that specializes in wine (duh) and food that goes well with it.  Unlike most places it takes reservations online so perfect for a day when you know you are not going to want to mess around figuring out where to eat.  I highly recommend anything that comes out of their oven, from roasted meats to the lasagna.  We of course ordered a bottle of Amarone, which was so much more reasonable than anywhere you would get it in the States.  Best of all the whole restaurant is decorated with empty bottles from customers who tag it with memories of their meals there.  They have tags in every language and some of the sweetest stories!  Definitely a must try.


I highly recommend getting out to some of the islands of Venice during your stay there.  Each has its own character and unique specialty like the glass blowing on Murano.


Much less known is the tiny island of Mazzorbo, that has Venice’s only vineyard on it, Venissa.  Unfortunately when we were there it was closed for a special event but just walking grounds was pretty incredible.  Venissa is not just a vineyard but also a restaurant and hotel which win rave reviews.

Ristorante Ai Cesendeli

Just a short walk over a tiny bridge from Mazzorbo you get Burano, the island known for its lace makers.  The colors of the homes on the island are a huge draw but as soon as we got there we realized we were starving.  The only restaurant that I could find recommended was of course closed with no reason given but such is the joy of travelling in Europe.


Luckily we stumbled across this amazing family run spot that served great pizzas and Aperol spritzes for lunch.  I ordered an eggplant calzone type thing and it came with about $15 worth of prosciutto di parma on top!  Absolutely delicious.


This place is tucked away – like really tucked away.  The more time you find yourself in Venice the more you will find that you are lost.  That is a good thing!  Just keep walking and eventually you will find it.  I had read about this place a ton and was totally going to give up but Patrick knew I really wanted to go and when we finally found CoVino it was like an oasis (especially since it was pouring out!).  Once inside you feel like you are in someone’s kitchen, and you basically are in the postage stamp of a restaurant.


Don’t let that scare you off as they churn out awesome food.  It is a 3 course menu and very inexpensive so well worth the hunt.


Almost 100% of the places that line the Grand Canal are tourist traps and are not worth looking at.  Basically if they offer the menu in more than 2 languages with pictures you should keep moving.


However, the gracious patio overlooking the canal at Vinaria is a lovely place to sit after a long day of exploring and grabbing a glass (or three!) of wine.  Cannot speak to the food but the view cannot be beat.

Al Timon

Patrick doesn’t eat seafood which on an island can be pretty challenging.  I kept reading about Al Timon before we left as one of the few places that does meat right.  We tracked it down in the old Jewish quarter and man am I glad we did.


As with a lot of places in Venice it is a little confusing once you get in as the menu is all in Italian and everyone seems to know what they are doing.  However, the waiters are really lovely and helped us order this amazing beef tenderloin (not the horse that we were accidentally going to order!!!).  They serve it up family style on a big wooden board with rosemary roasted potatoes, white beans, arugula and loads of other accompaniments.  Some crusty bread and red wine and we were in heaven.

Clementine Margarita

It is #nationaltacoday so I figured it would be fitting to post a nice margarita to wash down those tacos.  My friend Naz came over this summer with a bag full of her own cocktail kit and shook up a bunch of terrific margaritas for us.  Who doesn’t want a friend like that??  She used tangerine juice but that can be hard to find so I used clementine – they are both delicious.  The sweet tang of the clementine juice is the perfect base for the tequila and she introduced me to Patron Lime Liquor which has a more limey taste then triple sec.  Happy National Taco Day!

Clementine Margarita

  • 2 ounces silver tequila
  • 1 ounce Patron Lime Liqour
  • 4 ounces clementine juice
  • ice, salt and lime wedge

Shake the tequila, lime liquor and clementine juice in a cocktail shaker with ice until cold.  Pour over ice, in a salt rimmed glass if you prefer (I like to use spicy salt).

ACC Parties: Oktoberfest


I kid you not – the German outfit koozies I got at World Market is 100% the reason why we had an Oktoberfest party.  How could I not???  Also the idea of a fall party with beer and pretzels was too good to pass up.  This is definitely the kind of party that is perfect for folks that don’t love to cook, as most of the food on this menu is already prepared.  So take your time with displaying the food and enjoying time with friends.  To get people in the mood at my party they were greeted with a mini pumpkin and beer coaster display that I had seen on Pinterest.  I basically stole a whole bunch of random cardboard coasters from bars leading up to the party – shhhh!


I lit lots of candles and set out flowers in fall colors.  Ideally we would have been outside but it was a grey and yucky day.  Sometimes I think that is more fun because people really hunker in to have a good time.  A couple of my friends have been to beer fests were they give you pretzel necklaces to clean your palate between beer tastings (also presumably to help keep you sober!).  I bought a bag of mini pretzels and just strung them on grosgrain ribbon long enough to put over everyone’s heads.  It was a great favor and helped keep the party going.


German food can be pretty heavy so I wanted to have a mix of snacky type things as well as a full meal if my guests were so inclined.  On my kitchen island I set out Ina’s famous Green Herb Dip along with endive spears and celery.  Make two batches of this dip – it goes fast!

It’s not a party without cheese, so I set a whole bunch out on my epic cutting board.  A mix of gouda, cheddar and blue cheese along side some sliced salamis, hearty crackers and grapes give this cheese board a rustic fall vibe.


You cant have Oktoberfest without beer and once September hits there will be plenty of options in the stores.  I went with a bunch of mixed cases, some actually German and some just fall craft beers.  Make sure to have plenty of water as well (I did a large container so people could serve themselves) and a couple of bottles of wine in case you have some non beer drinkers (!!!).


Pretzel necklaces was not going to be enough, especially when I live near The Pretzel Bakery (OMG OMG OMG).  So I ordered up a whole mess of them and kept them warm in the oven.  To display them I used a pasta drying rack that has dried exactly zero strands of pasta but was PERFECT for this!


Stock up on lot of mustard, preferably in a couple of flavors.  Normally I would have put the mustard in ramekins but lets be honest,  it is way more satisfying to squeeze mustard on a pretzel for some reason.

Oktoberfest means bratwurst so I bought a ton of them and simmered them in beer first – then just throw them on the grill when you are ready.  Set out buns and store bought sauerkraut (because no one ever has needed their house to smell like sauerkraut)  and you are in business.


I also made a fantastic German potato salad from the New York Times and set out good old potato chips to round out the meal.  But wait – no dessert?  Of course not and what better than German Chocolate Cupcakes.  Or cut out a step and just buy some delicious cupcakes.  That would mean all you have to make is dip, potato salad and grill some bratwurst.  Easy right?  Throw this party to usher in fall or just to justify lederhosen for a beer!

Chinese Chicken Noodle Salad

This week is a big one for my family because we get to celebrate my Aunt Janice’s birthday and nuptials!  In honor of Auntie Jan I am posting her famous Chinese Chicken Noodle Salad.  I have so many memories of having this dish at her house.  I used to spend at least a week at her house in Upstate New York every summer growing up and I would LIVE on this salad.  Its a great summer dish because its served cold/room temp and the leftover are just as good as when its fresh.  Perfect for a summer BBQ, picnic or easy weeknight dinners.  I finally managed to finagle the recipe out of her and I have been making it like a fiend all summer.  I tweaked the original (of course) just a little to make things a bit easier on myself and also because I like roasting rather than poaching chicken.  This is also a great salad to use up extra ingredients you have in your fridge so feel free to throw in snap peas or green beans etc if you have them on hand.  I am so happy for Auntie Jan and I am SO happy to have this recipe.

Chinese Chicken Noodle Salad 

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons black (or rice wine) vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1 minced or grated garlic clove
  • 1 inch of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon peanut oil
  • 2 pounds bone in skin on chicken breasts
  • 8 ounces egg noodles
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 scallions, cut into 1/2 inch lengths
  • 1 bell pepper (I used red) cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 a head of napa cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds

In a medium sized bowl wish together the sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, peanut butter, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and peanut oil.  The sauce can be made several days in advance, just store in the fridge.  Heat your oven to 350 degrees and roast the chicken breasts on a baking sheet for 45 minutes, until cooked through.  Let cool and shred.  Chicken can also be made one or two days in advance.  Cook the pasta according to directions and drain.  In a large bowl toss the pasta with the sesame oil and set aside.  In a small dry skillet toast the sesame seeds over medium heat for 4 or 5 minutes (be careful not to burn).

When ready to serve toss the chicken with the pasta and spread on a large platter.  Top with the napa cabbage, pepper slices, scallions and sesame seeds.  Drizzle on the sauce and toss – my aunt likes to set out the whole salad composed on a buffet and then toss with the sauce right before serving.  It makes for a great presentation.


Palak Chaat

We here in DC are lucky enough to have one of the most critically acclaimed Indian restaurants in the country, right here in our city.  Rasika, is an elegant and delicious journey through various Indian regional dishes.  Their most famous and addictive menu item is Palak Chaat – a pile of fried spinach covered in yogurt, tamarind and date sauces.  The dish is equally crispy, creamy, cool, hot, tangy and sweet.  It is not unusual for a single table to get multiple orders because sharing is near impossible.

Palak Chaat 

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bunch of kale, ribs removed and torn into large pieces
  • 1/3 cup non fat greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • pinch of cumin
  • 1 plum tomato
  • 3 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 4 tablespoons tamarind sauce (or tamarind chutney thinned with water)

Heat your oven to 350 degrees with two cookie sheets inside the oven (i.e. heat the pans along with the oven.  In a large bowl combine the kale pieces with the olive oil and a sprinkling of salt.

Massage the olive oil into the kale then spread evenly in a single layer on the baking sheets when the oven is at temperature (be careful those cookie sheets are hot!).  Bake for 12-15 minutes, tossing once in the middle of baking.  Meanwhile combine the yogurt, lemon juice, cumin and salt and pepper.  Then seed and chop the tomato (using a spoon is the easiest way to get rid of the seeds).

When ready to serve place the kale chips on a plater and scatter over the chopped tomato and red onion.  Drizzle over the yogurt sauce and the tamarind sauce.

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