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Washington, DC, United States
"A rose is a rose is an onion." -Ernest Hemingway

31.7.09

Pork Chops with Mango-Apple Relish

These sweet, fruity pork chops are perfect for the hot summer months.



For four servings, you'll need:

+  four pork chops, bone-in
+  apple cider vinegar, 1 cup
+  soy sauce, 2 tablespoons
+  olive oil, 2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons, divided
+  S&P
+  1 apple, cored and diced
+  1 large mango, cored, peeled, and diced
+  1 shallot, minced
+  1/2 cucumber, seeded and diced
+  1 lime
+  sugar, 1 teaspoon

Marinate pork chops, for at least 2 hours, in vinegar, soy sauce, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Lightly salt and pepper chops; sear, in remaining olive oil, over medium-high heat for 7-8 minutes on each side.  Fold apple, mango, shallot, cucumber, and sugar together; lightly drizzle in lime juice, and season with salt and pepper.  Serve over pork chops.  Enjoy!

Garden-Fresh Vegetable Chips

I just harvested the first produce from my vegetable patch: one zucchini and two young Chinese eggplants.  Everything was yummy and fresh -- but it looked a bit too...healthy.  I quickly remedied this by slicing them into thin ribbons, patting them dry, and deep frying them to crispy perfection.




27.7.09

Cosmopolitan Cupcakes (Cocktail Cupcake No. 3)

Carrie Bradshaw would be so proud of these dainty treats.


For one dozen, you'll need:

+ shortening, 1/4 cup
+ butter, 1/4 cup, softened
+ sugar, 3/4 cup
+ baking powder, 2 teaspoons
+ cake flour, 1 1/2 cups
+ 1 egg
+ heavy cream, 1/2 cup
+ salt, 1 pinch
+ dried cranberries, 1 cup*

(Notice the similarities between these and my Toasted Almond Cupcakes?  I used the same base, and simply omitted/added ingredients where necessary.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place cupcake liners in a muffin tin; set aside.

Cream shortening, butter, and sugar.  Add the baking powder, salt, cream, and egg, and whip until thick and creamy.  Toss the cranberries and the flour together (this helps the cranberries stay suspended in the batter, rather than sinking to the bottom) and gradually incorporate into butter mixture.  Distribute evenly between individual tins, and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.  Cool completely.

For the frosting, you'll need:

+ butter, 5 tablespoons, softened
+ 4 limes
+ powdered sugar, approximately 4 cups

Zest and juice limes; whip with butter until evenly incorporated.  Gradually add powdered sugar until stiff.  Using a pastry bag and a large tip, gently pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes.  Enjoy!

24.7.09

Four-Rise Challah

This scrumptious bread may be a bit time-consuming (it takes about 5 total hours), but its faint sweetness, light texture, and rich egginess make it well worth the wait.

(This picture was taken after I nibbled a bit off of the other side -- it came out of the oven without the crack.)

For one loaf, you'll need:

+ lukewarm water, 2/3 cup
+ dry yeast, 1 (.25-ounce) package
+ sugar, 1/8 cup + 1/4 cup (separated)
+ 4 eggs
+ oil (grapeseed, vegetable, or canola), 1/3 cup + extra for bowl
+ honey, 1/8 cup
+ salt, 1 pinch
+ flour, sifted, 4 cups + extra for dusting
+ poppy seeds or sesame seeds, 1-2 tablespoons (optional)

Combine water, yeast, and 1/8 cup sugar; rest for 5 minutes. The mixture should be thick and foamy; set aside. Using a bread hook, combine 3 eggs, remaining sugar, honey, oil, salt, and yeast mixture. Sift together flour and cake flour, and slowly incorporate into wet ingredients.

Place dough in an oiled, nonreactive bowl. Lightly oil top of dough; cover loosely with plastic wrap and a dishtowel, and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour. Punch down -- rise for 1 hour. Punch down again -- rise for another hour. Knead for 5-10 minutes on a hard, lightly floured surface.

Beat reserved egg. Braid challah (this is a great instructional video) and apply a thin layer of egg wash. Rise, covered, for 1 hour; in meantime, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Apply remaining egg, and, if using, sprinkle with poppy / sesame seeds. Bake for 20-25 minutes; cool and enjoy!

Toasted Almond Cupcakes (Cocktail Cupcake No. 2)

Each of these rich, subtly nutty cupcakes gets a dollop of coffee frosting, which stands in for kahlua. It's difficult to not enjoy these delicious treats!


For one dozen cupcakes, you'll need:

+ shortening, 1/4 cup
+ butter, softened, 1/4 cup
+ sugar, 1/2 cup
+ brown sugar, 1/4 cup
+ baking powder, 2 teaspoons
+ cake flour, 1 1/2 cups
+ salt, 1 pinch
+ 1 egg
+ heavy cream, 3/8 cup
+ amaretto, 2 tablespoons

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place cupcake liners in a muffin tin.
Cream shortening, butter, sugar, brown sugar, and salt. Sift together cake flour and baking powder; set aside. In another bowl, whisk together egg, cream, and amaretto. Gradually incorporate flour mixture and egg mixture into creamed butter.

Distribute batter evenly between 12 tins. Bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Cool completely.

For the frosting and garnish, you'll need:

+ hot water, 1/4 cup*
+ instant espresso powder, 1 tablespoon*
+ butter, softened, 3 tablespoons
+ powdered sugar, ≈ 4 cups
+ slivered almonds, 1/4 cup, lightly toasted

Stir espresso powder and hot water until combined; cool. Whip butter, and slowly incorporate espresso. Gradually add powdered sugar, until frosting is stiff and pale brown. Using a pastry bag with a large star tip, gently pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Sprinkle with toasted almonds; enjoy!

* You may also substitute a shot of brewed espresso - or 1/4 cup of strong, black coffee.

18.7.09

Lenguas de Gato

These delicate, sweet cookies get their name from their shape, which resembles a cat's tongue. They're a breeze to make, and sure to be a hit!


For about 1 dozen, you'll need:

+ shortening, 2 tablespoons
+ butter, 2 tablespoons, softened
+ powdered sugar, 6 tablespoons
+ flour, sifted, 6 tablespoons
+ 1 egg, separated
+ salt, 1 pinch
+ 1/2 vanilla bean, seeded OR powdered cocoa, sifted, 1 tablespoon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a heavy baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease.

Cream shortening, butter, and sugar. Add egg white (discard yolk), and gradually incorporate flour and salt. Fold in vanilla or cocoa*; transfer batter to a piping bag with a medium, round tip.

Gently pipe the batter into thin strips, about 4 inches long. Bake for 6 minutes; carefully transfer cookies to a cooling rack. Enjoy!

* Though vanilla and cocoa are traditional flavorings, feel free to add lemon / orange zest or ground spices -- or, experiment!

17.7.09

Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream

My parents have been making homemade ice cream since I was a tiny little kid, and I've picked it up, as well. Though we do use custard bases in some variations, I chose to use a cream base in this particular recipe for two reasons. I wanted to fully preserve the soft pink color imparted by the pepper, and figured that a lighter, smoother texture would be better suited to the unique flavor profile -- and I was right!

This shockingly tasty, sweet-and-savory treat is great on its own with a dusting of cocoa powder, but also makes a great base for other add-ins. (I'm currently itching to fold some dark chocolate chunks into the batch I just made!)

For about 1 quart, you'll need:

+ heavy cream, 3 cups
+ sugar, 1 cup
+ salt, pinch
+ whole pink peppercorns, 2 tablespoons

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan; stir constantly with a wooden spoon over medium-low heat for 30-40 minutes. For a stronger flavor, gently crush the peppercorns against the side of the saucepan with the spoon. Pass through a sieve; discard peppercorns.

Chill mixture for at least 1 hour; churn in an ice cream maker until thick and creamy. Freeze; enjoy!

15.7.09

Vidalia

Vidalia
1990 M Street NW
Washington DC 20036


Look, if a renowned restaurant in the District offers you a three-course lunch for $20, just go for it. Especially if that restaurant happens to be Vidalia, sister restaurant of Bistro Bis.

Easily my new favorite lunchtime spot, Vidalia boasts an elegant-yet-relaxed atmosphere, exquisite plating, and stunning fare. The aforementioned "tasting menu" offers portions perfectly sized for a filling midday meal; you won't be overstuffed at the end of lunch, but you'll certainly be full.

The Southern influence may be subtle, but it comes through both in the simple elegance of the food and the astounding service. I have been - and will probably continue to be - unable to choose a favorite course; the cucumber soup, lamb tenderloin, and bacon-and-chocolate chip cookies were all equally delicious (and unique).

Vidalia on Urbanspoon

In short: eat here. It's good that it's so affordable, because you'll probably be going back on a regular basis after your first taste.

7.7.09

Cinnamon and White Chocolate Cookies

These delicately spiced cookies are perfect by the pool (or the fireside), and are sure to please.


For about 1 dozen, you'll need:

+ butter, 1 stick, softened
+ sugar, 1/2 cup
+ ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon
+ salt, 1 pinch
+ baking powder, 1 teaspoon
+ 1 egg
+ flour, 1 1/2 cups + extra for dusting
+ white chocolate, 1 bar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Cream together the butter, sugar, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. Add the egg; beat until fully incorporated. Gradually add the flour until mixture is thick and smooth.

Lightly dust hard surface; roll dough into a sheet about 1/4" thick. Cut cookies using a glass (or your favorite cookie cutter), and transfer to baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes; cool completely.

Place cookies on fresh parchment paper or on a cooling rack over parchment paper. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (or in the microwave, stirring between 10-second bursts). Use a spoon to slowly drizzle chocolate over cookies. Rest for at least 3 hours, or until chocolate hardens and loses its shine. Dig in!