Little Bites: Guillermo Pernot of Cuba Libre’s Empanada de la Casa

Oftentimes chefs don’t want to cook another meal when they get home after an arduous 12-hour stretch behind the burners. But throwing together a comforting snack to help take the edge off the day is another proposition entirely. These scrumptious nibbles don’t require a degree from the Culinary Institute of America to make, but they’re worthy of winning a Top Chef Quickfire Challenge.

This week, Cuba Libre’s concept chef Guillermo Pernot reveals the recipe for his restaurant’s signature empanadas packed with chicken, corn, sweet peppers and Monterey Jack cheese. Making these Cuban street food favorites might sound like a daunting task, but using empanada discs (which can be found at specialty grocers and in the frozen section of many grocery stores) instead of making dough from scratch cuts down on the prep exponentially. That way you can spend your time doing more important things, like gorging on homemade empanadas.

Get the recipe on CityEats’ Plate blog now.


Gastro Gadgetry

Walk into a restaurant kitchen these days, and you might think that you accidentally stumbled into Q’s laboratory full of high-tech gear for James Bond. There are cutting-edge apparatuses that resemble futuristic ray guns, intricate torture devices and even high-end bongs. These culinary contraptions would have made Rube Goldberg proud, but they’ll also make you some of the most surprising dishes and drinks around.

Ted’s Bulletin

The gadget: Macallan Ice Ball Machine

Cost: $1000+

What it’s used for: The Jessie Clark cocktail made with chamomile-infused scotch, mandarin marmalade, and chocolate bitters.

Why it’s awesome: It creates a perfect icy sphere, which melts slower than traditional cubes. This way your drink is chilled out without getting watered down.

Finish reading this post on CityEat’s The Plate now.


The Right Stuff(ing): Empanadas Just In Time for Cinco de Mayo


Empanadas, a staple of Spanish street food, already have a dedicated following among some Washingtonians, but they’re about to get even more popular. Area chefs are getting fancy with their recipes, taking these hand-held sandwiches to a whole new level. “It’s the ultimate finger food,” says Federico Garcia-Lopez, owner of P Street empanada shop Panas. “You can put anything you want inside it to create endless flavor combinations.” We got the scoop on some eccentric new offerings.

Traditionally deep-fried and containing lard in their crust, empanadas aren’t exactly considered good for you. Panas wants to change that by baking its offerings — which clock in at 200 calories each — and swapping in palm oil instead of lard. “Normally, you get heartburn after eating empanadas,” says Garcia-Lopez. “But ours are light.” Panas offers 17 choices ($2.25 each), including the Samba Shrimp — a Brazilian-style offering accented with shredded coconut — and the CubaNovo, stuffed with roasted pork rillette, cilantro, onions, lime and a dash of Grand Marnier.

Find out more about my other three picks by heading over to the Express website now.


Yuletide Froth for All: Eggnog Without the Carton

20101216-eggnog-250This holiday season, eggnog is getting trendy and tasty updates from mixologists all over the city.

At the newly merged Ardeo+Bardeo, sommelier and manager Tim Galvin is shaking together Stoli Vanilla, eggnog and pumpkin puree to create Pumpkin Eggnog. Served on the rocks with cinnamon sprinkled on top, “it has those warm autumn colors and flavors,” Galvin explains. “Those always heat people up when it’s cold outside.”

Eggnog’s European roots don’t mean bartenders from elsewhere around the globe can’t put their own stamps on it. Jason Storch at Indian restaurant Rasika has injected his version with the style of the subcontinent by using a date-infused cognac and date puree. Served in a snifter, the nog is finished off with just a smidge of black sea salt speckling the top. Read on over at the Express website.