Sunday, March 30, 2014

Breakfast Scones

Whew, things got a little crazy there for a few hot minutes (or all of March), but I am back after a hiatus. I wish I had a cool story to share about my adventures from when I disappeared or something close to an excuse, but I have neither. Just pure laziness combined with a busy schedule. 

Regardless of my whereabouts, I am back!! I know, you missed me tremendously and just so you know, I missed you too. (and I think my Twitter account missed me most of all)

So, to celebrate we toast with champagne and breakfast scones. A light brunch treat, scones are great with jelly and perfect with morning mimosas. Also, an breakfast idea you can make the night before to serve during an Easter egg hunt. 

2 cups of flour
1/4 cup of sugar
1 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 stick of butter, cut into pieces (4 oz)
1/4 cup of dried fruit (cranberries, blueberries)
2/3 cup of buttermilk, plus more if needed
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoons of milk
Sugar in the Raw for sprinkling

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a food processor and pulse until mixed.  Add the pieces butter and pulse again until well blended.

2. Move flour mixture to a large bowl.  Add in dried fruit and buttermilk and mix with a spoon.  Then get your hands in there to mix together until the dough comes together in a loose ball (like biscuit dough). 

3. Turn the dough out on a floured surface.  Knead lightly by folding together a few times and then shape into a circle about 1 inch thick.  Cut dough into triangles (like pizza).

4.  Put scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Whisk together egg and milk in a bowl. 

5.  Brush scones with egg mixture and sprinkle with "Sugar in the Raw."  Put in the oven and cook for 20 minutes until golden brown.

6.  Remove from oven and serve warm with jelly and clotted cream (or just jelly since clotted cream can be hard to come by!).

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Double Chocolate Bundt Cake

Valentine's Day is tomorrow and if you are like me, you might be totally snowed in and things are looking a little bleak for a full on Valentine's Day celebration.  Well, worry no more!  I have the easiest Valentine's Day dessert recipe for you... so you can focus on sipping wine instead of cooking.  All you have to do is make it to the store to pick up a few key ingredients.... so bundle up!

1 box of chocolate cake
1 box of instant chocolate pudding mix (3.9 oz)
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup of milk
3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa
1 12 oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup of confectioners' sugar


1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and lightly flour a bundt pan.  Combine the box chocolate cake mix, chocolate pudding mix, eggs, milk, and cocoa in a large mixing bowl.
2. Mix with a mixer on low speed for a minute and then increase the mixing speed to medium and mix for 2 minutes. 

3.  Add chocolate chips to the bowl and blend with a spoon.  

4.  Pour batter into the bundt pan.  Cook in the oven for 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. 

5.  Invert pan on a wire rack and cool for 10-15 minutes. 

6.  After cooling, move cake to a plate and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. 

7.  Slice and serve with a kiss! 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Founding Farmers

I've gone out to Founding Farmers a few times for lunch when I worked in the District and it was most certainly a welcome lunchtime treat (in comparison to the usual option -- cafeteria food).  So the other night, when a friend and I were trying to find a place to eat convenient for the both of us (driver and metro-rider), Founding Farmers fit the bill.  Easy to get to (and park) on Penn Ave, and it was a Monday night so we thought it was a solid pick.

We arrived at the restaurant and it was packed.  A bit surprising for a Monday.  We waited a few minutes for a table and the hostess told us they had a table ready *but* we would have to exit at 8:15pm for a reservation.  Seeing as how it was 6:30pm, we thought this was do-able. What we forgot was, this is highly dependent on the wait staff and kitchen.  We naively took the table.

The table was actually a shared dining table with two other parties (not the norm for Founding Farmers) and to be honest, it was a bit odd to sit that close to people I have never met to dine with.  To start, we ordered the pickled vegetables. I love pickled vegetables but these were a little off.  They had a too much lemon flavor and fell short of the crispy deliciousness of a pickled carrot.  Disappointing.  
For dinner, I ordered the shrimp and grits.  It was creamy and delicious, full of shrimp and sausage.  It was definitely a huge portion size and I couldn't finish it but overall, a solid dish.

My friend ordered the chicken and waffles.  Sadly, the gravy came out cold.  When we found the waiter, he quickly replaced the gravy but we all know how annoying it is to sit with a plate of food in front of you that you can't eat because one of the items is missing/cold. The chicken and waffles were okay but nothing to rave about. 

After dinner, we noticed it was closely approaching 8pm and we needed to GET OUT for the  other reservation.  We tried to pick a dessert as fast as possible and unfortunately, the dessert we picked, the beignets, took 20 minutes to prepare.  So as a consolation prize, we ordered the red velvet cake.  It was gargantuan.  Two people could barely but a dent in it.  It reminded me of dining at Costco (and tasted a like it too). 

The check came quickly and we left.  Overall, it was a sub-par meal (B-) and felt very much like a cattle call dining experience -- loud, rushed and overhyped. 

Founding Farmers DC on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Meals to Warm Up With

Well, today we are supposed to get a boat-load of snow (that's the technical term) in the DC area which pretty much means CHAOS.  Schools are closed, the government is closed, and grocery stores have bare shelves.  5-8 inches of snow means we will be holed up in our houses for 3-4 days. 

We are admittedly, babies about inclement weather.  By the reaction of folks, you would have thought the end was near.  I think we might benefit from some lessons from our friends in Colorado and Chicago.

Given the snowy conditions, here my top 3 favorite meals to warm up with....

Curried Lentil Soup
Chicken and Dumplings
Guinness Beef Stew

I thought I would share so you could prepare a nice, warm meal tonight to enjoy with a toasty fire and watch the snow fall.  Happy Snow Day!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Ham and Cheese Spoon Bread

I dig spoon bread.  It's a lighter version of a casserole and a heavier version of a soufflé.  It can be served along side a bowl of soup for a cozy dinner (double bonus.. you can eat it with the same utensil you eat your soup with -- your spoon!).  Or you could serve it for brunch.  Look at that, it's so versatile.  

Here's the recipe - dig in and enjoy!

1 cup of diced ham
1/2 cup of chopped onion
1/2 cup of chopped pepper
1 tablespoon of butter
2 3/4 cup of milk
2 teaspoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 cup of yellow cornmeal
2 egg yolks, beaten
1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup of pepper jack cheese
4 egg whites

1.  Preheat oven to 375.  Butter a 1 1/2 quart dish.  Heat a sauté pan over medium high heat and melt the butter.  Add the ham, onion and pepper and sauté until tender, about 8-10 minutes.  Remove from heat.

2.  In a large sauce pan, combine milk, sugar, thyme over medium high heat.  Heat until it simmers and then add cornmeal in a constant, slow stream to the milk while whisking constantly.  After the cornmeal is added, heat for a minute or two while whisking until the mixture thickens. 

3.  Transfer cornmeal to a large bowl, add the egg yolks and let stand for 8 to 10 minutes.

4.  While the cornmeal mixture sits, beat egg whites with a mixer until stiff peaks form.

5.  Add ham, onion and pepper, cheddar cheese, and pepper jack cheese to the cornmeal mixture.

6.  Mix in 1/3 of the egg whites into the cornmeal mixture with a spoon.  Fold in the remaining 2/3 egg whites using a rubber spatula.

7.  Using the spatula, scrape cornmeal mixture into the buttered dish.  Bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes until puffed, golden brown and set in the center. 

8.  Serve immediately with a spoon!


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Ode to Sauerkraut

I love pickling.  I grew a darn vegetable garden just so I could experiment making different varieties of pickled spicy green beans! 

So I decided to combine my love of mason jars & pickling with a new trick - fermenting food.  According to my initial research (e.g., the internet), one of the easiest foods to ferment in a jar is home-made sauerkraut.  I love pork and sauerkraut so, SOLD

Here is what I did and it was very simple...

1/2 head of cabbage
3/4 tablespoon of kosher salt
2 mason jars
cheese cloth or just a regular cloth

1.  Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and reserve.  Cut the cabbage in half and use only one half of the head.  Save the other 1/2 for later. 

2.   Slice the cabbage into strips.

3.  Place cabbage in a bowl and sprinkle with 3/4 tablespoon of kosher salt.  Gently massage salt into the cabbage and mix with your hands for about 10 minutes, until the cabbage begins to wilt. 

4.  Place cabbage and juice from the bowl into two clean mason jars.  Press down cabbage with your hand so it is packed tightly. 

5.  Fold one of the green outer leaves and place on top of the chopped cabbage in the mason jar and push it down.  This should help submerge the cabbage in its juices as it ferments.

6.  Cover with cheese cloth so air can pass through but the jar remains clean of dust/dirt.  Secure into place with a rubber band.  Put jars in a place away from sunlight and where it is relatively cool (like the basement).

7.  When it has been 24 hours, check on the jars and press down cabbage.  If there is not enough juice from the fermentation to cover the cabbage completely, you will need to add more liquid (I did).  Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in one cup of water and add to each jar until the cabbage is fully submerged.

8.  After 5 days, your cabbage is ready!  Remove the top green leaf and place in the refrigerator.  Serve with pork or bratwurst and mashed potatoes.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Making hummus at home is super easy.  And, most recipes make enough hummus that you have a bunch, so you can bring to work for lunch, serve as a dip, and still have leftovers  to spread on sandwiches.  Here's a simple recipe for roasted red pepper hummus that makes enough to share with friends.

1 red pepper, cut in half with membranes and seeds removed
1/4 cup of tahini
juice from a whole lemon
1 clove of garlic
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper/Korean chili pepper
1 (15 oz) can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt

1.  Heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Place red peppers, skin side down, on a baking sheet lined with foil.  Roast red peppers for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, until slightly charred. 

2.  Remove peppers from the oven and place in a plastic bag to steam.

3.  After cooled, remove the peppers from the bag (the steaming makes the skins easier to peel off).  Peel off skins.

4.  Combine tahini and lemon juice in a food processor.  Blend until thoroughly mixed.  Add garlic, oil and cayenne pepper to the processor, mix again until blended.

5.  Drain and rinse the can of garbanzo beans in a colander.  Add half the beans to the food processor and blend for 2-3 minutes.

6.  Add the rest of the beans and the sliced roasted red peppers to the food processor. 

7.  Blend until well mixed, about 5 minutes.  Halfway through the time, stop the mixer to scrape down the slides to make sure all of the ingredients are blended. 

8.  Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper.  Or chill until ready to serve.