When we were in Washington, D.C. a few weeks ago, The Bug and I spent an afternoon in Cathy Barrow’s (AKA Mrs. Wheelbarrow) sunny kitchen, helping her prepare a Mexican feast.
Well, we didn’t just help prepare it. We came back in the evening with Matthew and my parents, and devoured it.
A succulent, savory Beef Barbacoa was the centerpiece of a meal that featured homemade tortillas, creamy potatoes with roasted poblano peppers, a fresh corn and fennel salad, guacamole, salsas and condiments galore. Dessert? Bill Smith’s Atlantic Beach Pie, a citrusy confection with an improbable crust — crushed saltines. And, marvelous meringue-like chocolate cookies with chocolate chips.
We all left with smiles on our faces and full bellies. And, my Dad managed to sneak out a bag of chocolate cookies, too.
Here’s a look at our afternoon and evening in Cathy’s homey kitchen.
Before we got down to business, Cathy served The Bug and me generous slices of a tomato galette she popped in the oven shortly before we arrived. The summery tart was fortifying and delicious — a buttery, flaky crust was the perfect foundation for peak summer tomatoes and creamy ricotta cheese.
Next, The Bug and Cathy got the beef prepped before it spent the afternoon on Cathy’s grill.
Hours later, when we arrived for dinner, Cathy was shredding the tender, flavorful beef.
Cathy and The Bug mastered tortilla production like Henry Ford advanced Model T manufacturing — with precision, but plenty of laughter, too. My, they were tasty.
I loved how Cathy served the warmed tortillas at dinner.
I scarcely noticed when Cathy was grilling vegetables, but their smoky aroma was unmistakable as she whirred the cooked beauties in a blender to make this perfectly seasoned tomatillo salsa. (Maybe if we nudge her enough, she’ll write up the recipe and share it. It’s a winner.)
The best possible way to serve condiments, right?
I had pie duty, first baking the salty, sweet and buttery crust and then baking it again after pouring the tangy and sweet topping over the crust. Cool and fluffy whipped cream was smoothed across the top before serving. This is an ideal summer dessert after a spicy, hearty meal.
We loved cooking with Cathy
and hanging out with her adorable dogs — Louie and Morty. The Bug photographed Cathy’s charming pups.
Recipe links — all from Food52 — are below as well as a link to pre-order Cathy’s new book, Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry, due on November 3. I hope you’re enjoying the last few weeks of summer!