Monthly Archives: May 2011

Stuffed Bell Peppers

I’ve officially moved out of my house in Georgetown. I spent all of last week sorting through and packing up a remarkable number of kitchen supplies, books, and other odds and ends that I have accumulated over the course of four years. It’s always a little weird when one moves, and this particular move  was especially bittersweet as I knew that I may not see some of my friends for several months or, in some cases, years. It was also sad saying bye to our house on T Street. So long, “The Onionpocket!” I shall miss your amazing counter space and ridiculously colored walls. Something tells me that this was the first and last time that I will have a lime green living room and hot pink kitchen.

Part of my moving process involved uploading pictures to my computer. While browsing through my pictures, I came across a few shots of these delicious Mexican-rice stuffed peppers that I had made a couple of months ago  but had never blogged. Major oops. I made these one night when I was craving Mexican food, and, with the variety of summer vegetables starting to appear at the grocery store and farmer’s market, I bet these would be great with some fresh corn, zucchini, and herbs added to the mix.

I didn’t have any meat on hand when making these, so I opted to use beans. I have made these before with meat, however, and they taste great with some ground chicken or beef. Just be sure to season them well and cook the meat separately and to season it well with onions and a Mexican spice blend. I usually serve this dish with a side salad of spinach, avocado, red onions, and a cilantro-lime vinaigrette. You can even crush up a few tortilla chips for an added crunch. The rice is simple to make and fun to experiment with, and its a great recipe to have on hand whenever you want to make burritos. I hope you consider making these this summer. Happy eating!

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Crème Fraîche Gelato

Two years ago, I bought an ice cream maker.  It came with a booklet of recipes, and every time I tried one, my ice cream came out rock hard and not very creamy.  After toying around with lots of different recipes, I realized that the key to creamy, smooth ice cream is custard:  a mixture of eggs, sugar, and milk.  The addition of the eggs really changed the consistency of the ice cream, and finally, my ice cream was coming out with the correct taste and texture.

While I was on the path to terrific ice cream, I was still running into problems.  Making a custard involves tempering eggs, and as I followed several different ice cream recipes, being careful to slowly introduce the hot liquid to the eggs, I still, somehow, scrambled the eggs.  This was frustrating.  Not only was I wasting ingredients, but I was always left with a big mess to clean up and no ice cream to eat.

Last year, I read some reviews of The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato & Sorbetto, by F. W. Pearce and Danilo Zecchin, and ran out to buy a copy.  The book contains every flavor you could think of, and many that you couldn’t (e.g., Saffron Spice Gelato, Chocolate Chai Gelato, etc.).

Now, gelato isn’t quite the same thing as American ice cream.  It comes from Italy and has a lower butterfat content than traditional ice cream, but it tastes just as delicious.

When I first got the book, I went on a bit of an ice cream-making bender.  I was making multiple flavors a week, and every time, my ice cream came out perfectly—soft, creamy, and scrambled-egg-free.

The recipe below is Ciao Bella’s Crème Fraîche Gelato.  To be honest, I’m not a big fan of vanilla—taste or smell—so I was trying to find another ice cream flavor to pair with pies and other desserts.  When I came across this recipe, I was excited to try it.

On Friday, I posted a recipe for crème fraîche and mentioned that it, alone, pairs well with sweet desserts.  Well, the gelato is even better.  It does have a touch of the tanginess of crème fraîche, but it is sweet, cold, and refreshing.

Below is my first ice cream posting, but with the summer months ahead, you can expect to see more. Continue reading


Basics: Crème Fraîche

I’m sorry.  It has been two months since my last post.  The end of the school year and the end of my grad school semester have gotten the best of me,  and I just have not had the time or stamina to blog, let alone cook.  Even my husband complained about my absence from the blog.  However, this post marks a turning point.  Grad school is over for the year, and I just have a couple weeks left of teaching.  Over the summer, this blog will be my job, and you are going to see a lot of recipes inspired by summer produce and the farmers’ market . . . starting later this week.

For now, because it has been such a long time since I blogged (or cooked), I’ve decided to ease back into it.

Now, if you’re like me, you’ve bought a quart of buttermilk to make waffles, scones, or biscuits, and after using half a cup, you’re left with three and a half cups of unused buttermilk.  After placing the carton back into the refrigerator, three weeks later, you find it unused and expired, and you end up throwing away more than half of the container of buttermilk.  Annoying.

For this reason, I was excited when I found a recipe for crème fraîche in The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato & Sorbetto.  Why did I find a recipe for crème fraîche in a book of ice cream recipes?  The answer: crème fraîche gelato.

Some recipes seem simple, but they’re actually quite difficult:  hollandaise sauce, a moist chocolate cake, homemade pizza dough . . . That is why I get so excited when I come across a recipe that I assume is hard to make and find out it’s actually a cinch.

The latter is the case with crème fraîche.  Now, later this week, I will post the recipe for Ciao Bella’s gelato, but today, crème fraîche is the focus.

If you’re unfamiliar with crème fraîche, or think it sounds really fancy, it’s just a mild sour cream.  It can be used for a multitude of things and can take the place of sour cream in many recipes.  What I really like about crème fraîche is its ability to pair with sweet desserts (such as chocolate pots de crème) and cut through the sweetness.

The other thing I like about crème fraîche is that it consists of two ingredients (buttermilk and heavy cream), and the most difficult part of making it is measuring the ingredients.  Like I said, I’m easing back into blogging. Continue reading


A Lesson in Pouring Beer

As previously mentioned, this is my last week as an undergraduate at Georgetown, and I have been busy celebrating Senior Week with my friends. There have been plenty of bar crawls, parties, picnics, and a whole lot of free food. Last night, I went to Pizzeria Paradiso with a three of my friends from the SFS Academic Council where I was lucky enough to sample a new beer.

My friend Lucas hails from Germany, so we gave him the task of picking out beers for us from the restaurant’s extensive list. He was incredibly excited to discover that Pizzeria Paradiso happens to carry a beer from his hometown: Pinkus Organic Hefe-Weizen. I had never heard of this beer while traveling in Germany last July, but it is apparently difficult to find outside of Münster. Given Lucas’s excitement, we naturally ordered some, and they were delicious. The beer paired incredibly well with our pizza. It was very light and crisp with, I suspect, just a hint of lemon.

Lucas volunteered to teach us how to pour beer properly, and I’ve realized that I have no class whatsoever when pouring the drink. I suppose I now have a fancy trick to show friends whenever I next drink good German beer –or just another task to give Lucas when we next go out to dinner 🙂

Video of my beer lesson can be found here. I am having trouble rotating it so that it looks decent, so, if you click to see our other videos and feel so inclined, you can see it at a ninety degree angle…

Technology is my foe. Happy drinking 🙂


Asparagus, Leek, and Goat Cheese Tart

Exams are over! My housemates and I have survived an arduous week of writing paper, stressing out about tests, eating badly, and not sleeping. In other words: I haven’t been cooking all that much, and, when I have, it hasn’t been particularly good. My mom was kind enough to provide my friends and I with a giant tray of biryani and some salad, however, so our bodies don’t totally hate us.

In celebration of Senior Week and in anticipation of graduation, our house has been spending quite a bit of time together–cooking, watching movies, and just relaxing. Today, we decided to have a house picnic in one of the nearby parks. Ena made a wild rice salad; Doria made a quinoa salad with black beans and corn, and I contributed an asparagus, leek and goat cheese tart.

Tarts are one of those things that seem to intimidate a lot of people, but they are actually one of the easiest things to make. Plus, if you have a good recipe for the dough, the possibilities are endless, and you can make a wide variety of savory and sweet dishes. Once I made and chilled the dough, this dish came together really quickly, and the asparagus and leeks bring together some of the season’s best flavors.

I had a wonderful time at our picnic today, and I wish we had been able to have more of them this semester. I suppose that is what the summer is for… Here’s hoping it is a lot sunnier than spring has been!

Happy eating!

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Happy Mother’s Day and Blackberry Polenta Pancakes

First of all, I would like to wish all of the mothers in the world a very happy Mother’s Day! Honestly, every day ought to be Mother’s Day. I depend on my mother so much, and she is one of the strongest, most loving, and most incredible people that I know. I know that I never take enough time to stop and thank her for all that she does. So, Amma, have a wonderful Mother’s Day! I’m sorry I can’t come home this weekend, but I promise to make you something delicious after graduation to compensate!

Mother’s Day always makes me think of brunch. This year, my sister has undertaken the task of preparing a grand feast for my mom and my aunt of quiche and various other breakfast-y goods. In honor of Mother’s Day brunch, I thought I’d share with you a recipe for some awesome cornmeal pancakes.

When I was little, I actually hated pancakes. I have no recollection why this was the case, but I was never excited for pancake breakfasts. As I got older, my love for pancakes grew. These days, blueberry pancakes easily make the list of my all-time favorite foods, followed closely by cornmeal pancakes. I first had cornmeal pancakes during my junior year of high school at the Silver Diner in Rockville, Maryland. They were actually blueberry cornmeal pancakes, and I remember being blown away by their texture. They were soft, but also grainy, and, when paired with the sweetness of the fresh blueberries, unbelievably delicious.

Since then, I’ve tried countless recipes to recreate the same texture of those cornmeal pancakes. I have failed on many occasions, and the perfect pancake remains elusive. Today’s attempt, however, was pretty damn good. I recently discovered this recipe on the New York Times, which combines my love of polenta with my love of pancakes. I had some blackberries leftover from my last trip to Trader Joe’s, so I decided to halve those and throw them in there. They didn’t have quite the bite that I was hoping for, but they were super soft and tasted delicious. I actually think the fluffier texture worked well with that of the blackberries. Next time, I’ll probably cook the polenta a little less and use blueberries. I promise to report back on the results.

So, in the off chance your mother wants “brinner,” consider making her some pancakes. Otherwise, this is a great recipe to file away for a lazy Sunday.

I probably won’t post much this week, as I have more papers to finish, but I will be back next week! Happy eating and best of luck to those of you suffering through finals!

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Baked Shells with Squash – A Healthier Take on Mac n’ Cheese

I submitted my first giant paper! Huzzah! I still have another giant paper + a 9-pager for Italian, but, having finished one, I have to say that I am very relieved to partly finished with finals. Oh Georgetown, your assignments never fail to deprive me of free time.

In celebration of my accomplishment, I decided to make myself real food yesterday so I wouldn’t have to cook every night this week. Whenever exams come around, I find myself craving comfort food, and one of my absolute favorite meals is macaroni and cheese.

Well, mac n’ cheese just isn’t that good for you. Most recipes feature heavy cream and at least three cups of cheese. That, my friends, is a LOT of calories. And don’t even get me started on the stuff in the blue box (though fake cheese has its merits). So I decided to search the internet for a recipe that was lower in fat, but not lower in flavor.

A few months ago, I stumbled across this recipe from Martha Stewart that peaked my interest. Conveniently, I had randomly picked up a package of frozen butternut squash puree at the grocery store last week. Once my squash finally thawed, this recipe was a breeze to put together. My housemate Ena tried a piece of pasta from the finished product and voiced that it was “delicious,” and tasted just like mac n’ cheese (just a wee bit sweeter)! I altered the original recipe to fit the ingredients that I had in my house, and I think it turned out pretty well. I paired this with an arugula and balsamic salad, topped with some roasted sweet potato wedges.

As always, recipe below. See, I haven’t forgotten how to cook! Happy eating!

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Study Days: Delicious Chai and Strawberry Cupcakes

Chai ❤

Greetings from the land of thirty-page papers! While I am really sick of writing essays, this marks my last set of exams here at Georgetown, and even writing papers is tinged with a bit of sadness.

I haven’t had much time to cook real food this week, so I thought that I would instead take a moment to highlight some of the places in Georgetown that I love. Today’s post is dedicated to my favorite coffee shop in Georgetown: Baked and Wired.

Now, there has been a lot of talk about Georgetown Cupcake, but, in my opinion, Baked and Wired is far superior. It is the original cupcake shop in the area. The baked goods are twice the size of those found over at GC, and, with a much more delicate crumb and far more inventive flavors, B&W is a great place to come get a cup of coffee and a bite to eat. I’ve essentially been living here for the past two days, writing the first of my giant papers while listening to the store’s indie playlist and munching on some hippie crack (this is not real crack – it’s granola. I swear).

My favorite thing at Baked and Wired, however, is their chai. The number of times that I have been tempted to ask how they make this otherworldly drink…but, I always resist. Pair this with my favorite cupcake on the planet – the ever popular strawberry – and you’ve got an afternoon (or study session) made in heaven (or slightly more bearable hell). It’s my incentive to walk over to Thomas Jefferson Street and enjoy the atmosphere and baked goods (and then walk back in a fruitless attempt to burn off the calories I have ingested). I even tried their quiche this week, and I dare say that my quiche will never compare. Either studying has increased my appreciation for anything that comes across my palette or Baked and Wired can do no wrong.

         

So, next time you are in D.C., be sure to head over to Baked and Wired and snag yourself some chai and a cupcake. You will definitely be glad that you did.

Peace. Love. Cupcakes. Until next time.


Foodgasm: Macarons from Pâtisserie Poupon

Two treats for you today:

1) I am about to update the post on The Tombs’s Strawberry Basil Lemonade. I managed to recreate it for Georgetown Day this year, and it is incredibly easy to make. I absolutely love the combination of flavors and highly encourage you to try making it. It’s such a great summery drink.

2) Foodgasm moment. I digress:

I had brunch with my friend Caroline today, and we went to our favorite brunch spot in Georgetown, Cafe Bonaparte. If you are ever in Washington, D.C., you should definitely check this place out. The food is well-priced and delicious.

Afterwards, we decided to check out Pâtisserie Poupon, a French cafe and bakery in Georgetown that we’d heard great things about but had never bothered visiting over the last few years.

I HAVE BEEN A FOOL FOR SO LONG. This place makes some of the BEST macarons that I have ever had. The crumb (especially on the almond ones) is out of this world, and the chocolate macarons taste like mini-brownies. At 89 cents apiece, you can sample all of the day’s flavors (as we did today) for less than five dollars. I am definitely stopping by for more during finals.

Anyway, much love from foodie heaven. I’m off to watch a movie in Italiano for class. I made an awesome potato-salad today but totally forgot to take pictures as I was pressed for time. I did learn, however, that using half greek yogurt and half mayonnaise makes it taste SO much better than just using mayonnaise alone (I really, really hate mayo).

Happy eating!


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