Back to my roots

As October comes to an end, I will be finishing up my trek around the country for fellowship interviews. It has been an incredibly reaffirming experience to have had the chance to meet so many cool people along the way. Recently, I returned from a trip to the west coast and took the opportunity to take a brief respite at home to hang out with family (and of course enjoy some delicious food).

One of my favorite food memories as a child was eating fresh lotus seeds or 蓮子 pronounced “lian zi.” I would pick them straight out of the lotus pod that my mom would buy for me. I still recall the satisfying freshness, sweetness, and crunch as I bit into them.  To this day, I have never had fresh lotus seeds in the States as it only seems to exist in dried form here (still tasty but not the same).

We had a chance back during the summer time to visit Kenilworth aquatic gardens in DC in time to see the lotus blossoms. Lotus has a rich background in Chinese culture and cuisine. It is the seat of Buddha. It represents purity, perfection, honor. All parts of the lotus are used in tea, soups, and various dishes. Lotus root powder can be used as a thickener. Lotus paste is used in desserts. I still routinely buy lotus root or 蓮藕 pronounced “lian ou” (quite a pain to harvest) from our local Asian grocery store for stir fry and soup. A quick stir fry renders lotus root flexible yet crunchy while stewed lotus root delivers a texture more similar to taro or roasted potato.

Stir Fried Lotus Root with Garlic and Green Onions



  • Lotus root                                           3 segments, washed, peeled, and sliced thin
  • Garlic                                                   2 cloves, minced
  • Green onion                                       2 stalks, sliced
  • Cooking oil                                        1 T
  • Salt and white pepper                     TT

In preparing your lotus root, first slice off the ends. Then rinse thoroughly under cold water and peel it. These things grow in the mud so can be a bit dirty. The underlying flesh is white. After peeling, slice into thin pieces. Rinse the slices under cold water again and dry (I like using a salad spinner for this to get rid of the residual water). This step helps reduce a bit of the starchiness and gives the lotus root a bit more crunch. In a wok/pan, heat up 1 tablespoon of neutral oil on medium high. Stir fry sliced lotus root until slightly translucent and outer edges slightly caramelized. Add in minced garlic, sliced green onions, salt, and white pepper and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes until garlic is fragrant.

Stir-fried lotus root easily takes on any flavors. Experiment with different glazes and sauces. Lotus know what delicious variations you come up with!



Fifty Shades of Green

I sat here for about an hour trying to think of something clever about green, spring/summer, and new beginnings, in an effort to try to give this post a nice thematic arc, but the reality is that it is super swampy here, totally not spring, and really not noodle weather.  I still want to talk about fresh starts though, and some awesome green noodles, so themes be damned. Here we go!

As Dennis mentioned, I have started my anesthesiology residency. If I’m being totally honest, I’m a bit tired of career transitions, first days, unfamiliar routines, and constantly feeling like the new girl. I am not really someone that loves change, and I’ve put myself through rather a lot of it over the past few years. As transitions go though, this one has been pretty smooth. My new department has been welcoming and I’ve had fun reuniting with my old surgical colleagues from the other side of the drapes. Overall, I’m very glad to be back to practicing medicine, and Dennis is excited about the endless potential for jokes about me passing gas, so everyone wins.

On a not-particularly-related note, we found an awesome recipe for noodles! Dennis and I were thrilled to discover that we could find packaged ramen noodles that pretty closely approximate the springy texture of the noodles we’ve had in our favorite ramen shops. We were equally thrilled to stumble upon a Bon Appetit recipe for a green miso ramen sauce, giving us a way to make eating ramen more palatable on a hot DC summer day. We tweaked the original recipe a bit to cut down on the oil and to use up some of the basil that was actively outgrowing the pot on our windowsill. We have modified this recipe slightly each time we’ve made it since, using different blends of green herbs. Each has hit the spot in its own way.


Green Miso Ramen – modified from Bon Appetit

  • 4 cups spinach
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • 1 cup basil (thai or otherwise)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced (roasted, caramelized garlic is also awesome here)
  • 1 T white miso
  • 1/4 c neutral oil (vegetable, canola, etc.)
  • 1/4 c chicken broth (or vegetable broth if making vegetarian/vegan)
  • 1 t sesame oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 packages fresh ramen noodles – we love Sun brand
  • toasted sesame seeds, for serving

Put all ingredients (except noodles & sesame seeds) into a blender and blend at high speed until smooth. You may need to add the spinach and herbs in batches if you, like us, lack a Vitamix. In the meantime, cook the noodles according to package directions. Put sesame seeds in a small saucepan and cook, stirring frequently, over medium high heat until they begin to take on some color. Drain noodles, transfer to a large bowl, and toss with enough sauce to form a light, even coat. Top with toasted sesame seeds. Slurp!


For all you Fungi’s and Girls

We’re back and still alive! Rest assured that although we haven’t been posting as much, we’ve still be testing out and refining some new recipes.

In the past two months, we hosted yet another string of visitors including my friend Jim and Sarah’s parents. Sarah has started up her anesthesia residency (let the farting and gas jokes commence!) As of few weeks ago, we replenished our herb collection and now have beautiful sage, rosemary, Thai basil, and basil plants back on our windowsill that fill me with joy.

Today’s recipe features a rather polarizing ingredient: the mushroom. My relationship with mushrooms has been rather tumultuous. I used to love shiitake mushrooms as a child. Later, I refused to eat any mushroom or anything with mushrooms in it. Now, I’ve found myself back on the mushroom train, enjoying all types and varieties. Mushrooms are fascinating given the shear spectrum of texture and flavor that different types exhibit ranging from the meaty portobello to the nutty chanterelle to the feathery maitake. In a mostly plant-based diet, mushrooms provide a much-appreciated depth and heartiness, qualities I attribute to their explosive umami flavor.

Umami can be defined as “savoriness” which we taste through glutamate (MSG anyone?) receptors. It is prevalent in many foods including fermented products, seaweed, soy sauce, tomatoes, Parmesan cheese to just name a few. It also just so happens that breast milk contains high amounts of glutamine and glutamic acid. So one could possibly conclude that we are conditioned very early on to love this flavor. I often incorporate ingredients with high umami content in cooking to reduce the amount of salt I have to use to flavor a dish (Disclaimer: I do not cook with breast milk).

I credit my mom for introducing me to the regal mushroom used in this next dish – the king oyster mushroom aka king trumpet mushroom. Sauteed, this mushroom ends up with an unique, slightly chewy texture.

Sauteed Oyster Mushrooms with Chinese Leeks



  • King Oyster Mushrooms                                2 
  • Chinese Leeks                                                   2 stalks, sliced
  • Oyster sauce(veg version optional)              1 Tbs
  • White pepper                                                    1 tsp
  • Salt                                                                     To taste

Start by tearing the oyster mushrooms into small strips. In a wok/pan, heat up 1/2 tablespoon neutral oil on high heat. Add mushroom strips with white pepper and oyster sauce and cook until slightly soft. Add Chinese leeks and saute until translucent. Salt to taste and serve.

This recipe serves as a nice base to riff off. The two pictures show a version I made with some chicken and one with hot peppers for a bit of a kick.

There’s so mush room for your own customization.


Ramping it Up

Seems like we just went through an abrupt transition from the biting cold, snow, and rain of winter straight into the glorious sunshine and heat of summer with just the faintest glimpse of spring through the cherry blossoms.


Jefferson Memorial through the cherry blossoms

Along with the change of seasons, Sarah and I begin our own transitions: the last year of residency training and fellowship application; beginning anesthesia residency training.

We were fortunate in the last few months to host a slew of guests including our friends, Michael and Amanda, from Rochester followed by my parents from California, and then my sister from Boston.  As the occasion demands, each of these visits obligates a few celebratory feasts.

Which brings us to the main feature of today’s blog: the ramp.


Sarah and I discovered ramps last year, courtesy of Spring Valley Farm at DuPont Circle Farmer’s market. Naturally, we were curious and had to purchase a few bunches to experiment with.

Ramps aka wild leeks aka spring onions are like a cross between a leek/scallion/garlic (this is totally NOT a scientific statement). The texture of the root is not unlike a green onion which then ends a few broad green leaves. The flavor is more of a cross between garlic and onion. Ramps are foraged and not grown. The season is also fairly short which makes them a bit tricky to get. If just used raw, it has a very strong garlicky odor and sharp bite to match. But any amount of cooking really mellows them out.

Definitely quite a treat to try out if you ever happen to come across them. We’ve used them on pizza and made them into pesto for pasta. Ramps are incredibly versatile and can be roasted, grilled, pickled, pureed, etc.


Ramp Pesto

  • Ramps (half raw, half sauteed)                            2 bunches (about 10)
  • pine nuts/almonds                                                 1/3 cup
  • Parmesan cheese                                                    1/2 cup
  • olive oil                                                                     1/2 cup
  • salt                                                                              To taste

In a pan on medium heat, gently saute one bunch of ramps until lightly golden brown. In a food processor, combine raw and sauteed ramps, nuts, Parmesan. Run food processor while slowly drizzling in olive oil until at desired consistency. Salt to taste. Top it on pasta, toast, or flatbread. Enjoy the taste of spring.




I have never been a big New Year’s resolution maker or keeper. Already a gym go-er, I instead find myself grumbling about how crowded the facilities get the first few weeks of each year.

This year was different. This year, I was 29 on NYE. There has been much written in the psych literature about the effect of ages that end in ‘9’ on peoples’ psyches. Something about closing out a decade causes us to re-evaluate, weighing and measuring the state of our lives, the circumstances and choices that got us there, and how we might go about transforming for the better. While I had already stolen my own thunder by quitting my surgical residency at 28, I still felt the pull of -‘9’ induced self-evaluation. This year, I decided, would be the year I would finally try to get 6-pack abs (or at least some level of ab definition… I’m not really looking for the female body-builder aesthetic).

So far I have been failing spectacularly at enacting any sort of plan that will get me any closer to that goal. I was still at the tail end of interview season for anesthesiology last month, with all of the travel and recruiting dinners that entails. Fortunately, our January dinner obsession has provided some measure of balance.

Dennis and I have long been prone to dinner phases, making the same dishes over and over for weeks or months at a time. This winter, the dinner-on-repeat has been a 5-ingredient kale and white-bean one-pot wonder. This dish looks (and is) simple, but the flavors produced are much more than the sum of their parts. The creaminess of the cannellini beans balance the bitter crunch of the kale, while the tang of the capers balance the sweetness of the sun-dried tomatoes. We’ve made this for dinner at least a dozen times so far, and show no signs of slowing down.


Magic Kale (or, Kale with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and White Beans)

  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced (or cut into thin strips… whatever)
  • 1 12-oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 10 cups kale (we eyeball this… or just dump in an entire bag of kale from Trader Joes. Also, any kind works – I’ve used tuscan kale, curly kale, un-named TJ’s kale…)
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes (plus 1 T oil, if using the packed-in-oil kind)
  • 3 T capers (plus reserved brine)

Heat a large skillet or Dutch oven over high heat. Add 1-2 T neutral oil. When oil is hot and shimmering, add onions. When onions are translucent and beginning to brown at the edges, add kale and reduce heat to medium. Once kale starts to cook down, add sun-dried tomatoes (and tomato oil), capers (and caper brine), and white beans. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until beans are warmed through and kale is wilted but not totally limp. Remove from heat and serve.

Note #1 – we use sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil and pour in ~1T of the tomato oil along with the tomatoes; similarly, we pour in 1-2 t of caper brine along with the jarred capers. Both additions make a BIG difference in the flavor of the final product. If out of caper brine, you could add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to add a bit of acidity.

Note #2 – this can be riffed several different ways. We have eaten this along-side a fried egg as a brunch dish, and have mixed in linguini when we had last-minute dinner guests and needed to make things stretch.


Hasselback Holidays

Being married is awesome. Not only do you get to spend the rest of your life with your best friend, but you also get exclusive membership to another family and another home. This year I was very fortunate to be able to spend time with both my family in California and Christmas time with Sarah’s family in Colorado. We also celebrated the holiday season with my residency family in DC.

As this year speeds to an end, I’m reminded again how fortunate we are to have families and homes in so many places. To all of those people who have welcomed us and supported us, words cannot express our unending gratitude.

I figure what better analogy for all the richness and warmth we’ve experienced than Hasselback Butternut Squash. Bon Appetit’s recipe is perfection, and I also have to give credit to my sister for first making this at Thanksgiving in Rochester. Hasselback refers to a cutting technique where you slice something thinly but not all the way through. Using this technique and routine basting allows the flavor and aroma to really permeate anything you are cooking and gives you some nice crispy edges. Fan out the final product and you have a showstopper of a dish.

Hasselback Butternut Squash

You can refer to the link above from Bon Appetit for the recipe. I thought I would add a few tweaks/tips that we utilized for our final product.

  • If you do not own a pastry brush, double the ingredients for the basting mixture (butter, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup). You don’t want to run out part way through the baking process. No one ever complains about too much butter or maple syrup either.
  • When scoring the butternut squash into thin slices, it is helpful to lay something on either side of squash to prevent yourself from slicing through (we used two wooden spoons). It might happen anyway. But who cares, it’s still delicious.
  • I would use a few more bay leaves to really let that aroma perfume the final product. At least 4 per squash half.
  • I found that turning the oven to 400 instead of 425 gave us a bit more control over the browning process and reduced the risk of burning the top of the squash.
  • You can hasselback anything. We also hasselbacked? (is this a word) a sweet potato that was delicious.

Best to you and yours this holiday season!


On Backyard Trees and Dan Dan Noodles (担担面)

We recently returned from a prolonged trek back home to California. My family has been living in the same house for over two decades. While the Bay Area, city, neighborhood, and even my childhood home have undergone major and minor changes, one of the things that remains constant is an old tree in the backyard that has stayed steadfast and sturdy.

We have to trim the branches of this tree at least once every year. This trimming tends to fall during the holidays and usually is a family affair. My dad and I take turns scaling the tree and sawing/snipping at the branches. My mom and siblings drag the long branches out to the street, organizing them into large piles for collection. At the end, we squint skyward at the thinned-out tree and newly exposed sun.

The part that fascinates and inspires me about this particular tree is its growth pattern. If you look carefully at the main branches, they resemble bulbous, gnarled knobs surrounded by circumferential new shoots. Every year when we trim off the small branches, the tree can no longer send off a branch from the same location yet, every year, the tree finds a different path and way to survive. Truly a testament of perseverance and spirit of survival.

Of course every family gathering is not complete without a wide array of food. It is not uncommon for my parents to pick me up from the airport and immediately take me out to eat at a restaurant before even thinking about going home to drop off luggage. Even when I am away, our text conversations and emails are always peppered with a smorgasbord of food pictures. Hundreds of miles apart, food connects us.

When it comes to Chinese recipes, my mom is my go-to person for questions (although apparently my dad sometimes steals her culinary tips and tricks and tries to pass them off as his own when he talks to my sister).  One night I stumbled upon a recipe by Kenji Lopez-Alt for Dan Dan Noodles. I had seen the dish on many menus but could not recall ever having ordered it. Wondering where the recipe and name originated, I reached out to my mom.

The dish itself came from Sichuan cuisine, renowned for its strong flavors and the numbing spice of Sichuan peppercorns in particular. While it is hard to say what the authentic recipe is as it has gone through many iterations, the name comes from how it was carried and sold, via “bian dan” (扁担) or carrying pole.


Picture my mom helpfully sent me

The sellers carried briquettes and a pot with boiling water on one end and the rest of the ingredients and noodle on the other. They wandered the streets yelling, “好吃的担担面!” or “Delicious dan dan noodles.” It is a flavorful and warming recipe that is perfect for a chilly day.

Dan Dan Mian (担担面)


  • Thick Noodles (fresher noodles tend to give you much better texture)
  • *Ground pork (at least 20% fat)                      1/2 lb
  • Garlic                                                                  3 cloves, minced
  • Ginger                                                                 1 in segment, minced
  • Onion                                                                  1 medium, diced
  • Sichuan peppercorns                                       2 tsp, ground
  • Preserved mustard root (Zhai Cai)                4 T, chopped
  • Soy sauce                                                             1 T (per serving)
  • Black vinegar                                                      1 T (per serving)
  • Chili oil                                                                 2 T (per serving)
  • Scallions
  • Chinese greens/bok choy                                  blanched

Start by heating a pan/wok on high heat. Add 1 T of cooking oil and coat the pan. Add the ground pork and sichuan peppercorns and cook until lightly browned. Add garlic, ginger, onion, and zhai cai. Cook in pan for another minute or so until the garlic, ginger, and onions release their aroma. Set aside mixture in a separate bowl. In the meantime, boil a pot of water for noodles. Cook noodles until al-dente. Reserve some of the water used to cook the noodles. In each individual serving bowl, add 1 T soy sauce, 1 T black vinegar, 2 T chili oil and serving of noodles. Add pork mixture and top with diced scallions and blanched greens. Add 1/2 cup of hot noodle water and mix well to serve.

There is no wrong way to garnish this dish. Other variations include adding a peanut/sesame paste to the base sauce, adding roasted peanuts, adding bean sprouts, etc. Do your own take.

*If you don’t eat/like pork, it is easy to substitute another ground meat or even diced Shitake mushroom for a vegetarian option



Family dinner

Back when I lived in Boston, I was friends with a group of people who lived together in a big, old, 5-bedroom house in Brookline. Every Sunday they held ‘family dinner’ and cooked a huge feast for themselves and whoever else dropped by, rotating the head chef responsibilities on a weekly basis. The only rules were that dinner always had to be home-made, and that guests outside the ‘chef’ rotation had to bring plenty of wine and stay to help clean. While some of the house-mates defaulted to simple staples like large batches of pasta with homemade sauce, the more experienced cooks often took their week as a chance to show off a bit and stretch their culinary horizons. To encourage themselves to discover new dishes, two of the guys developed a unique system using a random number generator and the world almanac. First, they would use the random number generator to pick two numbers, then they would turn to the page of the almanac containing the index of lists; the first number would be used to select the ‘list’ (i.e. countries in the world sorted by life expectancy), the second would be used to identify a country (i.e. 35 – Greece). The country produced by this system then became the inspiration for the menu that week. One week the almanac sent them to the Asian grocer for hot-pot ingredients, another found them pounding cassava root to produce fufu. While many weeks yielded memorable meals, the dish I have most consistently reproduced came from the week that the number generator landed on Morocco and someone made lamb tagine.

The word ‘tagine’ refers to the dish in which the stew is cooked and there are many variations of the stew itself. While you can make the stew with practically any type of meat or vegetables, I find that lamb provides a particularly nice foil to all of the aromatic spices.


Lamb Tagine

  • ~2 lbs lamb shoulder, cut into ~1 in cubes
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 T peeled, chopped ginger
  • 1 1/2 t ground coriander
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t paprika
  • 1/2 t cardamom
  • 1/2 t ground ginger
  • 1/2 t turmeric
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 1/8 t ground cloves
  • 1 12oz can diced tomatoes with juices
  • 1 12oz can chickpeas
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, cut into small pieces
  • couscous or quinoa, cooked
  • cilantro or parsley

Heat a large dutch oven or other lidded pot on the stove over high heat. When hot, add the lamb, and cook over high heat until cubes are seared on all sides, working in batches if necessary. Move cooked lamb to a separate plate, retaining juices in the dutch oven.

Add the vegetable oil to the lamb drippings and, once the oil is heated evenly, add the onion. Reduce heat to medium and cook until the onions are just beginning to caramelize. Once the onions have just started to take on some color, add the ginger, garlic, and all spices. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes, until the spices are fragrant. Add tomatoes with their juices, reduce heat to low. Use a wooded spoon to scrape up all stuck-on bits of onion and spices. Add the lamb back to the dutch oven and add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil then reduce heat the keep the mixture at a simmer. Cover the pot and cook for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

After ~1 hour, add the drained chickpeas to the mixture. If the liquid in the pot is nearly gone at this point, add additional chicken stock or water as needed. Continue to cook for about 30 additional minutes, until lamb is tender. Once lamb is tender, add apricots and cook an additional 5 minutes. At this point, you can remove the lid from the pot and allow the stew to reduce.

Serve stew over cooked couscous. Garnish with chopped parsley or cilantro.





A cure for what ails you

I spent the summer after my first year of medical school living in the Mission District on San Francisco, doing orthopedic research, and living in a rented room in a kind soul’s home. Living in someone else’s space severely limited my ability to do much cooking. So I was forced to survive on a steady diet of Cliff bars, mission burritos, and salmon and kale. Salmon and kale? Sounds like a pretty rough life.

I’d constantly ping pong between the super fancy cappuccino machine, my desk, and the operating room during the day. Then I would book it to the gym in Hayes Valley after work to get in a few hours of training. By the time I made it back to the apartment, it would be pitch black. So dinner would consist of a handful of raw kale and a few slivers of Costco cured salmon.

Even though I’m an avowed brunch hater (more on that another day) cured salmon has got to be one of my favorite brunch items. There’s something magical about the combination of lox, capers, red onion, tomato, and cream cheese on an everything bagel. When Sarah and I lived in New Orleans, our place of choice was Stein’s. Now that we’ve moved to DC, we frequent a cheekily named place, So’s Your Mom to get our fix. Sometimes though, when we’re feeling fancy (or when we want more lox than the 2-3 slices delis often drape over a bagel), we make our own.

Curing is a method of preserving food prior to refrigeration. There are a lot of ways to cure using smoke, fermentation, pickling, salt, sugar. Personally, I like to use a mixture of salt and sugar curing for salmon. The salt draws out the moisture from both the salmon and any micro-organisms living on the salmon via osmosis. In the process, it slows down or kills the growth of bad micro-organisms. The sugar serves a two-fold purpose – it balances out the flavor of the salt and is an energy source for good microbes like Lactobacillus which drops the pH and also inhibits growth of bad microbes. In the process of curing, the salmon will shrink in size as the moisture content decreases, but what it loses in size it gains in additional flavors of the cure. I also love seeing the color of the salmon change to a darker, richer hue of orange after curing.

Simple Cured Salmon



  • Fresh Salmon                 1/4-1/2 lb cut
  • Salt (not iodized)           1/4 cup
  • Brown Sugar                   1/4 cup
  • Grapefruit/Lemon          1

The combo of salt, sugar, and some form of citrus is a classic combo for curing. You can riff off of this as you like with more herbs and seasoning to create more layers of flavor. Start by drying off your piece of raw salmon with paper towel. In a bowl, combine equal parts salt and brown sugar. Be careful not to use iodized salt as it can impart a bitter flavor. Zest your citrus of choice into the bowl. Mix sugar, salt, citrus zest with your hands to make uniform. Lay salmon on a piece of plastic wrap. Cover salmon with a light layer of curing mixture and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Place it on a plate in your refrigerator to catch any juices that collect. Leave for 2-3 days in refrigerator.

Unwrap from plastic wrap and gently rinse off the curing mixture and pat dry salmon with paper towels. Slice thinly and enjoy!


Dinner and daydreams

Sometimes, when we are particularly tired of our current jobs, or when we have thrown a particularly successful dinner party, we daydream about what it would be like to open a restaurant or food truck. While we always agree that we would want the establishment to be tiny, the type of cuisine we would feature or what meals we would serve vary. I usually fantasize about a little bakery loosely modeled on a place we fell in love with when vacationing in Austin years ago. I would serve granola and a tightly curated list of pastries in the mornings, pie and large pretzels in the afternoon. I joke that I would name it after our hypothetical future cat, Mr Snuggles, and ideally bring said hypothetical cat to work with me to help entertain patrons (health code laws have no place in daydreams). Dennis usually dreams about a dumpling place, but with a multicultural twist. Occasionally, though, we dream about a joint venture, a homemade noodle place in either nearby Adams Morgan or along 14th Street that we would name ‘Noods, Noods, Noods.’

For those who don’t live here, Adams Morgan is a mix of a neighboorhood – filled with quiet brick rowhouses on one street and bars that cater to the fresh-from-college set next to jumbo-slice pizza places on the next. We envision our noodle bar in the middle of it all, catering to young families looking for a quick dinner in the early evening and partiers looking for something to soak up the booze by night. We would advertise with a giant neon sign featuring our name and a huge arrow, beckoning toward the door. If you have ever been around Adams Morgan or 14th Street past 10PM the brilliance of this concept will be clear. In a nod to Dennis’ vision we would feature noodles from several culinary backgrounds – we would have someone pulling traditional Chinese noodles by hand in a large glass front window, below the sign, but would also feature traditional Italian pastas. We would rotate toppings with the seasons, featuring fresh primavera styles in the spring and summer, heartier sauces in the fall and winter.

Given the detail of this fantasy, you may think that we regularly churn out bowls of silky homemade noodles. Alas, we do not. Though we both love homemade pasta, it is simply too much mess, time, carbs for an average weekday. Homemade sauce though, I always make time for.

Red sauce

  • 1 large can whole tomatoes (28 oz, I believe)
  • 1 large yellow onion, julienned or diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ~3T red wine
  • 1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes
  • Fresh thyme, oregano, rosemary, to taste

Add ~2T of canola oil or butter to a medium pot. When pot and oil/butter are heated thoroughly, add the onion. Cook until onion is lightly caramelized. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, cook for 1-2 minutes while stirring frequently. Add the red wine to deglaze the pan, loosening all browned bits. Add the tomatoes and their juices, crushing the whole tomatoes with your hands or a potato masher (warning about using the potato masher – they will shoot juice all over the kitchen if you don’t use a gentle hand). Add fresh herbs. Bring mixture to a simmer and let cook until thoroughly heated and until somewhat thickened (aim for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to fully meld). Remove from heat, add salt to taste. Serve over pasta, or just eat straight from the pan with a spoon (not that I’ve ever done that…).