Saturday, October 15, 2011

Specific Gravity Pizza Update

So I had to try Specific Gravity Pizza's carry out option-and of course on a Monday since that is half off pizza night so made the call last Monday and went to pick up my pizza. I felt a little guilty because it was just me so all I ordered was a small General Tso's pizza and nothing else. Technically they aren't supposed to do half off for specialty pizzas just the make your own but the guy on the phone was generous and said he's figure something out for me (which really meant yes I will do it for you because Specific Gravity employs some nice people-I really do like their friendly waitresses).

So I went inside to pick up my pizza and I realized there is NO carry out area. I had to hunt a server down and got shuttled to two other people before I got someone who could take care of me (the waitress stationed behind the bar). I was standing there awkwardly for at least ten to fifteen minutes just staring at my pizza (I could see it sitting up at the food window) just waiting for my credit card to be swiped. Sigh. Honestly next time I am just going to do sit in but the carry out was worth a try.

The General Tso's pizza was unique to say the least. It was drowning in crispy wonton strips and drizzled with the same delicious asian style sauce they use on their Asian wings which I enjoyed immensely on my last visit to SGP. The cheese tasted like fresh ricotta and the crust was nicely done-as usual. The chicken was the same shredded chicken they use on their chicken cheese steak pizza and I was a little dissapointed because I had been expected crispy bread pieces of actual General Tso's chicken to be scattered across the top, gleaming enticingly with their scintillating sauce. Alas this was not to be. I was similarly dissapointed in what I believe to be once frozen broccoli gracing my pizza.

I still enjoyed my SPG pizza but it did not beat the pepperoni, tomato sauce and tons of fresh hand cut fries on top version that makes SPG one of my favorite places in Salisbury. Maybe next time I will go with my classic choice or perhaps the blue cheese steak special will be calling my name...

Vegetarian Eats

Despite my love of meat I don't always need to have it on my plate in order for me to consider my dish a 'complete' meal. There are plenty of vegetarian options for everyone (meat lover and non-meatlover alike). One of my favorite veggie dishes has got to be balsamic portobello mushroom sandwiches. All you have to do is put your portobello mushrooms in a pan (usually starting with the gill side up) whose bottom is just covered with balsamic vinegar. I usually add a few tablespoons of water to thin the balsamic out so its not too strong and then sprinkle spices atop my mushrooms (red pepper flakes, thyme, oregano, garlic powder and salt and pepper). I put the heat on high, cover my pot, and let the balsamic come to a boil so that it steams my portobello while reducing-thickening the balsamic water mixture into a sauce. After about five minutes you can flip the mushroom and following another five minutes it is done. So quick and easy! Some wonderful toppings for this sandwich is some sauteed red peppers and onions, fresh tomato slices, lettuce, a goat cheese spread for the bread and a bit of honey mustard slathered on. So easy and quick! On average you can get a big portobello at the grocery store for around a dollar while if you go to a restaurant for one of these sandwiches you can spend $12 or more on a similar sandwich at a place like The Oval Room in DC. Of course a nice foccacia bread would be an amazing addition to this sandwich but I only had some wheat on hand and it worked just fine.
I also recently had dinner with my vegetarian friend Emily and we created a beautiful vegetarian meal together. I had some free white eggplant from the farm who I cut it into slices and used a new breading technique (eggs were not available so we improvised) coating the eggplant in flour first, dredging it in olive oil and then covering it with panko bread crumbs. We let this cook in the oven for about 25 minutes at 375 and then ten more at 400 (topping it with some goat cheese the last five minutes to get it beautifully melty). Emily cooked asparagus right in her convection oven with some lemon and spices. She also cooked some cauliflower in the microwave (right in the bag) and then put it in the blender with some almond milk, butter and garlic so it was almost like a mashed potato consistency. I thought this was a great vegetarian meal and the eggplant almost melted in your mouth it was so light and silky smooth.
I am sure I will have more vegetarian recipe ideas posted again soon-and some non-vegetarian ones as well. <3

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Dim Sum In Silver Spring Maryland

I love to go out and try a variety of different foods without having to spend a lot of money which means I love dim sum. Sometimes I just get this awful craving for a good pork bun and it just won't go away. There really isn't any way to satisfy that craving without searching out some dim sum so when I had this craving and my friend suggested a group outing to Oriental East in Silver Spring I was all on board. Now there is one thing you really really need to know and stick to when you go to Oriental East on weekends for their dimsum lunch-arrive before 11! I don't care what you need to do to get there by that time but get your ass in the door before 11 or you will be stuck waiting an hour and a half for a mediocore (but unquestionably cheap) dim sum meal. Sigh. Unfortunately that happened to me. My ride was late so we arrived after 11 and they were handing out paper slips with numbers to people who came in and let me tell you it took an hour before any numbers were called-at all.

On the plus side Oriental East has fabulous pork buns and I mean fabulous. The bun itself had just the right texture and the bbq pork filling was sweet yet savory. Please stay away from the sausage buns though-Justin whole heartedly agreed with me that these tasted like cat food. The sweet buns were quite nice andI couldn't even get near the little custard egg pies because they would be gone before the cart reached our table. Service was incredibly slow and there wasn't much variety on them. The shrimp dumplings were barely edible (no one wanted to finish them though). The wide rice noodles with brown sauce were a favorite and crispy fried pillows of dough filled with shrimp weren't half bad. If I were to go back I would do it on a week day-I never thought I would opt for going to a dim sum place when they are less busy. Usually you want to go to a dim sum place when it is crowded for more variety and freshness but this is not the case with Oriental East. Everyone one should still be happy when you get the check though-it is a good deal but then again not worth the wait.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Stuffed Acorn Squash

I got a ton of free acorn squash from the farm this fall and have been contemplating exactly what to do with it. I remember one Thanksgiving UMD dining hall did a vegetarian dinner with a stuffed acorn squash and it was pretty good so I decided to try my hand at doing something similar.

I roasted my squash at 450 degrees (slices in half and placed cut side down on a baking sheet) for about 40 minutes-until my fork went cleanly through. I knew I would need a really flavorful stuffing because squash can be a little bland so I made a rice jambalaya and mixed it with sauteed vegetables (onions, red peppers, mushrooms and yellow squash) and spicy turkey kielbasa. This made a wonderful stuffing and a colorful presentation. I really think this is a unique healthful dish but if I were to do it again I would brush the acorn squash with maple syrup before cooking. I definitely recommend my sausage jambalaya stuffed acorn squash. Next time I will try a variation with cranberry sauce, couscous and turkey-acorn squash squash would be the perfect vehicle for these staple Thanksgiving leftovers.