How to cook perfect frozen dumplings

SHRIMP DUMPLINGS FROM TRADER JOE’S

How to cook perfect frozen dumplings:

1. Heat 1 Tbsp oil on medium-high heat.

2. Put frozen dumplings with flat sides down.

3. Cook until the flat sides are brown.

4. Lower heat to medium and put about 2 Tbsp water.

5. Watch out! It will sizzle like crazy.

6. Cover for about 1-2 minutes until the dumplings are transparent and soft.

7. Make your own sauce. My fave is soy sauce-red pepper flakes combo.

Voila! Cheap, quick and yummy snack or dinner!

Washington DC | Art & Soul

ART AND SOUL (WASHINGTON, DC)

Table for One: March 15, 2013 @ 6:45 PM

It is ironic that I dissed my co-workers’ dinner invitation at a soul food restaurant only to have a solo dinner at another soul food place. The difference was they went to a stick-to-your-ribs eatery while I chose fine dining soul food.

Art & Soul’s chef, CHEF ART SMITH boasts of two JAMES BEARD awards plus an impressive resume involving cooking for OPRAH for 10 years, being a TOP CHEF participant and recently being associated with LADY GAGA and her parents.

My food-loving self just could not pass up this culinary opportunity.

Art & Soul is located at the Liaison Hotel where I was staying. The decor is a continuation of Liaison’s: stylish, contemporary, swanky yet classy enough for DC lobbyists. And dark enough for a tryst.

The inviting patio has a view of the State Capitol and an outdoor fireplace.

SOLO DINNER:
I really wanted to eat at Art & Soul before I flew back to SF. And I enjoyed the experience of dining solo, the ambiance and my entire meal.

FRENCH Bubbly $12 each:
I really just wanted one glass but the server misunderstood me while I was chewing my food when I said “I am okay, thanks.” I was really not about to refuse a 2nd glass of this delicious French bubbles. I accepted, enjoyed the second glass and walked to the Union Station for more exploring while very tipsy!

CRISPY FRIED PIGS EARS WITH SUNNY SIDE DUCK EGGS $13
I was excited to try them served crispy. What I got was a crispy “cake” with chopped ears encrusted inside and topped with runny fried duck egg. I was disappointed. This dish was too “overly processed.” I prefer to taste the actual flavors and texture of the meat. This was a far cry from the way it is served in the Philippines which is boiled, sliced, served with tofu in soy sauce, vinegar and chili peppers.

SHRIMP AND GRITS $25
Buttery silky grits with shrimps still head-on with nice okra gravy. This dish was delicious and very flavoful. This would have been an issue for those who do not eat shrimp heads but I do! That’s the best part with all the juices and as long as they are crispy.

RUM CAKE $8
Coconut custard and fruits. I really did not have any room for dessert so I took this to go and ate in my room later. Now, this was worth every calorie and suffering from lactose intolerance. The custard complemented the rum cake and the fruits provided a a nice citrusy contrast to the cake. Delish!

TOTAL: $80 including tip and 2 bubblies
*I took advantage of A&S post-renovation prix fixe menu. Taken a la carte, this would have been a $100+ dinner including tip and tax!

I do not regret that I chose A&S nouvelle Southern cuisine over my co-workers’ traditional soul food at B Smith’s. The environment and service were very comfortable to me as a solo diner. The food was solidly good although not mind-bogglingly delicious, except for the appetizer which was too ambitious that it fell short.

What a rare yet lovely solitary dinner. Given that I rarely travel and have dinner by myself anymore these days, I will definitely remember this dinner for a very long time.

Now I know what Oprah, Lady Gaga and her parents possibly eat when Chef Art is doing the cooking!

Dining | Liaison Hotel, DC

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Liaison Hotel, Washington DC: March 13, 2013

POWER DINNER $60 (Room Delivery)
I arrived in DC on 2 hours of sleep the night before. I was too tired to get dressed to have dinner at Art & Soul downstairs. As much as I do not have much expectations on room deliveries, I decided to stay in my room in my pj’s and spend the evening reading a brainless chicklit.

And oh, my! What a sumptous spread that arrived at my door!

For $60 including room service, gratuity and glass of wine ($5 extra), my delivered dinner was pretty impressive!

*CAESAR SALAD: Full-plate and surprisingly good with anchovies (which I love!)
*GRILLED SALMON WITH PURPLE POTATOES: A simple meal but the salmon was perfectly cooked, well-seasoned and the veggies were sweet and fresh.
*BABY CAKES: 4 little cute cakes. I really did not want to eat sweets but I was tempted to try one. It was not mind-boggling but moist and not overly sweet.
*RED WINE: For $5 more, I got this nice drinkable red that went well with my dinner and a nice way to end my day.

Art & Soul

www.artandsouldc.com

415 New Jersey Ave NW Washington, DC 20001
(202) 393-7777

Checking In: Washington, DC Liaison Hotel

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LIAISON HOTEL, Washington DC: March 13 -15, 2013

Liaison is playful, trendy yet classy at the same time. The ambiance is true to its name–dark and mysterious with contemporary chic furniture and earth tone palatte. The funny B&W photographs of a young girl and older bald man in a tryst all over DC were comical, including the one where he was lying to his wife on the phone. I just wish there is a huge picture showing his wife beating his butt after she caught his cheating ass. It is all in good fun.

RECEPTION AREA:
The stylish waiting area shares a bar with the hotel restaurant, Art & Soul. Even though the area was small, it was inviting and with plenty of plush seatings for lounging around. Happy Hour is from 4 pm – 7 pm. Prepare to share the space with lobbyists in power suits and tourists.

ROOM:
I stayed in a room with a king-sized bed on the 9th floor facing the back alley.

Likes:
– Chic room with retro couch & wall to ceiling mirror
– The bed with oversized padded headboard was a little too firm for me but I slept well.
– Lots of pillows & fluffy towels
– Complimentary internet at check-in but I did not use it
– Hair dryer & Iron/ing board
– Flat-screen TV (w/c I never turned on) & iPod dock
– G & S Sprout Out toiletries (smelled and felt nice!)
– Delicious room service from Art & Soul

Dislike:
– Horrible tasting coffee pod
– No robe and no fridge
– Rooms are not small but not spacious, either. Perfect for a solo traveler but might be a little tight for a couple.

MAJOR DISLIKE:
– White bulbs! Love saving energy but HATE! HATE! HATE! blinding white bulbs!

STAFF:
Everyone was very friendly and helpful. The bartender was funny and made me a nice cosmo after a nerve-wrecking presentation. Delicious room service came from Art & Soul down below and was delivered in ~25 minutes as stated.

GOOD TO KNOW:
1. The hotel is right next to a fire station and right across from Hyatt Regency. Roof-top pool for hot nights but I did not see it.
2. Perfect location! 1 block away from the Capitol where you can start the 2.5 mile walk to National Mall where you will pass by the monuments: Washington, WW2, Lincoln Memorial, etc.
3. 2 blocks away from the Union Station and Smithsonian’s Postal Museum.
4. Starbucks across the street and liqour store next door to get your H20 and vino.
5. Liaison is the home of Art & Soul restaurant featuring nouvelle soul food cuisine whose chef, Chef Art Smith, has two James Beard Awards under his sleeves.
6.  Book your room on Affinia Group’s site and get a complimentary cocktail of your choice at the bar.

Room Rates: $270 to $309/night (Thank God for expense account!)

A delicious stay!