Review: Elizabeth’s Gone Raw-some!

July 18, 2011 by

We’ve had a long haiatus here at Matzo and Rice. To kick off a (hopeful) return to posting glory, we have a guest post from one of my friends. Caroline, a long-time vegetarian, provides her R-awesome review of Elizabeth’s Gone Raw!

Caroline: When I first became a vegetarian almost 23 years ago, vegetarians were lucky if a restaurant had a Garden burger on the menu. Nowadays, not only do many places serve their own veggie burgers, but DC has a high-end restaurant serving raw vegan food. I am not a vegan in daily practice, and I am not interested in the raw food diet craze, but I do love to eat vegan whenever I can. And an upscale vegan dining experience? Where do I sign up?!?  The answer, of course, is Elizabeth’s Gone Raw. (Review, pictures, and the word “hooha” after the bump!)

An example of the delights at EGR. (C) Elizabeth's Gone Raw Website

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Super Bowl Sunday Menu

February 6, 2011 by

My team, the Green Bay Packers, play in today’s Super Bowl.

And I’m a little beside myself with the excitement/nerves. So, what does one do with all that nervous energy? Make ginormous amounts of food, that’s what

Here are some of the recipes I’m preparing today while I watch 12 some hours of football coverage:

And I’m going to attempt to fry cheese curds. Wish me luck. Wish the Packers luck (unless you’re a Steeler’s fan, in which case, you are dead to me).

Easy Gnocchi

January 14, 2011 by

I think I loved gnocchi the moment I tasted my first little potato pillow. I’d been craving potato dumplings. Back in my hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, there was this little restaurant downtown on State Street that sold pelmeni, or Russian dumplings. Some were filled with ground sirloin, and others were filled with potato. Covered with dusting of curry powder and squirts of spicy-sweet Srichara, it was perfect for lunch, dinner, or after a night out at the bars.

But then I moved away to Tucson, Arizona (and sadly, the restaurant eventually closed so when I go home it is no more) and I wasn’t sure where I’d get my fix. Of course I attempted to make pelmeni myself, but I was still growing as a cook then and it turned out pretty disastrous. Before I boiled them the dumplings were about the size of a Superball. Neat little balls of dough filled with mashed potato season and salted. But a few minutes in a boiling water caused them to go supernova. The potato burst out of the dough. The dough quadrupled in size and suddenly I was faced with a pot full of potato bits and doughballs the size of baseballs. I still ate it of course, but needless to say, it wasn’t the same.

Easy gnocchi

This gnocchi is seriously easy to make, especially if you use potato flakes...yes, potato flakes.

Enter Trader Joe’s. Enter gnocchi.

I spotted them in the freezer section (they’ve recently been vacuum-sealed and moved to the past section) and seeing “potato” and “dumpling,” I went in for it. They were pelmeni, but that day another food love affair began. I served them with curry powder and Sriacha. I combined them with kielbasa and vegetables.  Just last night, I cooked them up and served them with a Boursin garlic cheese sauce with grilled portobella mushrooms.

But last night’s dish didn’t involve Trader Joe’s. I’ve gone rogue, you see. I make my own gnocchi now.

In June of 2009 my boyfriend and I went to Rome. On our last night there, my boyfriend’s brother and his girlfriend (who were living in Trastevere at the time) took us for one last great roman meal. We went to the a restaurant in Rome’s Jewish ghetto, a wonderful, dreamy place called Il Giardino Romano where I watched a man peeling crate after crateful of fresh artichokes (we ordered fried artichoke hearts for an appetizer) while we waited for our meal.

I ordered the gnocchi in a fontina sauce, and the first bite I won’t ever forget. Soft. Pillowy. Delicious. Sorry, TJ’s, I love you, but you just don’t compare. Homemade gnocchi, friends, that what I bit into.

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Sesame Street’s Food for Thought

December 9, 2010 by

BEST DAY EVER! On December 7, 2010, I was invited to attend the launch of Sesame Workshop’s launch of the Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget campaign. While the campaign – a multimedia program to help support families with children that are coping with uncertain or limited access to affordable and nutritious foods – is rather serious at it’s core, leave it to Sesame Street to make it a good time.

Elmo gives a press conference

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Chicago Mag’s Top 40 Chicago Restaurants

November 21, 2010 by
A giant, “honey, I blew up the kids!” version of Rick Bayless terrorizes Pizzeria Uno. (Photo compilation totally swiped from

I hail from the Chicago area and was super excited to see Chicago Magazine‘s article on the 40 Best Chicago Restaurants Ever! The list includes current and former restaurants and has some weird rating system that is kind of arbitrary. That said, I think knocking 9 off their list is pretty good, especially since many establishments came and went before I was born. Here are the ones’ I’ve been to:

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Spiced Chickpeas

October 7, 2010 by

Chick peas always make me think of the story, “The Clever Bride,” from George Shannon’s Stories to Solve. The story made them sound so delicious, and every time I went to a salad bar I would spoon a few onto my plate and remember.

I haven’t cooked with them much, though.  Until now. A can sat in my cupboard for a good year before I unearthed it. I think there had originally been the intention of making into hummus, but since my tahini disappeared the can just sat around gathering dust.

Spiced chick peas make a quick and easy snack or side dish

But while looking for a recipe for curried chicken salad, I found a real gem of a recipe for chick peas, and the can found its way toward sunlight.

From a recipe from Epicurious:

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Food Reads

September 30, 2010 by

A new feature here: Books on food that you should check out.

Four Fish — New York Times seafood writer Greenberg examines our historical relationship with wild fish. In the early 2000s, Greenberg, reviving his childhood fishing habit, discovered that four fish–salmon, tuna, bass, and cod–“dominate the modern seafood market” and that “each is an archive of a particular, epochal shift”: e.g., cod, fished farther offshore, “herald the era of industrial fishing”; and tuna, “the stateless fish, difficult to regulate and subject to the last great gold rush of wild food… challenge us to reevaluate whether fish are at their root expendable seafood or wildlife desperately in need of our compassion.”

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes — While the phrase artisan bread typically evokes images of labor-intensive sessions and top-notch ingredients, for authors Hertzberg and François it means five minutes. An intriguing concept—high-quality, fresh bread in less time than it takes to boil water. The authors’ promises of no kneading, no starter, no proofing yeast and no need for a bread machine is based on the concept of mixed and risen high-moisture dough stored in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Note: If you have a fear of baking bread, this will help to alleviate those fears. It’s super easy, and you’ll be able to fill up your home with the smell of fresh bread. Also, if you love those artisan loaves, you can make at home for cents on the dollar what you would spend $5-10 for at the store.

Black-eyed pea succotash

September 23, 2010 by

I look for food inspiration in different places: in books, magazines, online, from family, and at restaurants. I want more time to create new dishes on my own, but between a full time job, chores, and hobbies/projects (like working on a novel, for instance, and working out so I can burn off the calories I consume when I go on a baking binge), it’s hard to find time where my brain can even begin to process such a thing.

So the inspiration for this recipe comes from a restaurant, one of my absolutely favorites–Woodberry Kitchen. I’ve been meaning to write up a review for it, but sometimes words escape me–it is that awesome. Matzo can also attest to its quality…but that is for another time. Today’s recipe, though, was inspired by my last visit there with my friend Amanda.

This black-eyed pea succotash has softness and crunch, sweetness and spice, and is great by itself or as a side dish.

When we were there I ordered the roasted pork shoulder topped with a fried egg, and she got soft-shelled crabs over a bed of succotash. The crabs, of course, were fantastic, but the succotash was the real surprise. I’ve never really had it–and if I had, it’s been of the frozen or canned variety. This was neither of these. A mix of black-eyed peas, corn, celery, onion, it was crunchy and fresh with a hint of sweetness and a gentle burn of hotness.

Of course, I had to replicate it.

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Spicy-Crispy Chinese Green Beans

September 3, 2010 by

On Facebook a while back one of my friends asked if I had a recipe for spicy Chinese green beans, and well, I didn’t. Intrigued, and digging into my memory banks to try and remember if my mom had made these for dinner when I was growing up, or if it was something we had when we went out to an authentic Chinese restaurant.

Spicy green beans with ground pork and shrimp.


But the closest thing I had to a family recipe was remember the smell and flavors of the food my parents cooked growing up. And technique? Likewise, plus a few years helping out in my family’s Chinese/American/Polynesian/Wisconsiny restaurant (where else can you get General Tso’s chicken, ham steak with pineapple, and Friday night fish fry with breaded cod and tartar sauce with a baked potato the size of your foot and a brandy old fashioned to wash it all down?)

Oh, and I used the Google. Yes, the Google. I ain’t gonna lie. Throw in some improvisation and inspiration and this is what I got, and if you ask my boyfriend, it turned out pretty delicious. 

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Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Wings

August 9, 2010 by

My mother was the cook in my house growing up. Really, every adult who inhabited our brick house in Madison,Wisconsin, was a cook, but more literally, my mom was the cook, as in, professionally, too.

And for years it was absolutely established in my mind that she made the best chicken that was ever served as chicken. I could eat her salty caramelized chicken with rice for every meal of the day. I’d ask for it by special request when given the opportunity.

But whoa. My dad one time during a visit home, stepped up his game and made these spicy Vietnamese chicken wings that made me ask, where has this been all my life?

My dad's recipe for spicy chicken wings.

And honestly, I don’t know where they’ve been. It’s not like my dad never cooked dinner–he did, but these wings were no where in my recollection.  Now that they’ve made their appearance though, I think dad’s wings might have trumped mom’s chicken (but shh, don’t tell her I said that). Consider this recipe come fall when football season starts up again (omg!) for something a little bit different and yet a little familiar to spice up your game day spread.

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