It's Secret Recipe Club Reveal time! This month I was assigned Cookaholic Wife, written by Nichole. We are both married, in our 30's, on the East Coast, and cat moms. I feel a connection! We also must have similar tastes, because I saved more recipes than I have with any other SRC blog. So bear with me for a bit here, and know that this is the edited down list!
Other sweets that I liked the sound of were Sugar Cream Pie, Stone Fruit Eton Mess, Limoncello Cheesecake Bars, Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake, Lemon and Sour Cream Doughnuts, and Coconut Lime Cookie Bars.
But the overall winner, the one I knew I had to make as soon as I saw it, was this Breakfast Risotto. Creamy risotto with white wine and shallot, finished off with crispy pancetta, Parmesan, and a poached egg. Simple and amazing.
There aren't a ton of ingredients here, just simple classic flavors. And while risotto is a bit labor intensive (you gotta stir, stir, stir to release all that creamy starch), it isn't particularly complicated. I love the bacon and eggs take on this that is reminiscent of carbonara; and who doesn't want breakfast for dinner? Enjoy!
It's time for another Secret Recipe Club reveal! This month, I was assigned Pale Yellow - written by a science teacher (informal science educator/curriculum specialist?) and avid baker with two adorable turtles.
She has a TON of great dessert recipes - Brown Butter Biscoff Rice Krispie Treats, Brown Butter Banana Bourbon and Bacon Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting (someone call Elvis), and Tres Leches Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Buttercream. She also has some yummy looking boozy recipes - Banana Leche y Cafe con Chocolate y Rum, Boozy Nutella Milkshake, Painkiller Cocktail, and Vanilla Pudding Shots. There are also some tasty sounding savory baked goods - Roasted Strawberry Blue Cheese and Walnut Biscuits, and Caramelized Onion Bacon and Smoked Gouda Biscuits.
I ended up settling on these Blueberry Rhubarb Streusel Muffins, except that my store didn't have any rhubarb (not even frozen!) so I used raspberries instead. I thought the color and tartness would be similar to rhubarb. They came out great! Tender and sweet, but with a little tang.
I love to make French Toast this time of year. My husband loves it, too, he says that my French Toast is the best (so sweet <3). I think the secret is to definitely use brioche or challah, that plus a million ingredients in the batter - read on!
In addition to eggs and cream, I use vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange juice, lemon zest, and sherry. So many flavors! It is so worth it. But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, either slice the bread (thickly, 1 inch) the night before and leave it out to get stale, or toast it slightly in the morning. Then make the batter and soak each side of the bread for 10 minutes. Just before you cook the toast (in butter, of course), sprinkle one side with granulated sugar - this will created a yummy bit of caramelization. Do the same to the other side before you flip it over to cook.
Top with lots of butter and some maple syrup. Yum. This is definitely the perfect French Toast - custardy in the middle, little bit of caramelization, lots of flavor.
I wanted to give a quick shout-out to a couple of my favorite local establishments in Chantilly, VA.
First up is 5T*Ice, an Asian dessert shop at Dulles Landing. I used to frequent Tutti Frutti, owned by the same people, but 5T opened much closer to where I live. Yay! In addition to frozen yogurt and gelato (including hard-to-find durian), they serve Patbingsu - shaved ice topped with ice cream, fruits, and syrups. I really like the coconut and ube bingsu with coconut shavings, sweetened condensed milk, and ube ice cream.
They also have bubble tea, smoothies, milkshakes, and other various similar drinks. I really like the Che Thai - a Vietnamese drink with coconut milk, grass jelly, coconut jelly, pomegranate jelly, lychee, jackfruit, and toddy palm. It is crazy good. If sweet is not your thing they also have steamed pork buns, sticky rice with Chinese sausage, and other goodies. And, no, I don't know what the name means - no one I know does!
I could tell immediately from the dialogue that this was a play adaptation, and I was right. The movie portrays the funeral of the patriarch of an extremely dysfunctional family, set in the desolate plains of Oklahoma. The cast (including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Juliette Lewis) acted the crap out of some very dark and intense material - addiction, depression, suicide, abuse, and incest. This is not a feel good movie (you know it's bad when incest is the best scenario), but it is very good and it will make you think.
As for the food inspiration - there was a ton! Many of the most tortured scenes revolved around food, including the horrible funeral dinner and the infamous "eat the fish!" scene. The moment that I was drawn to was Meryl Streep's character talking about her last interaction with her husband over biscuits and gravy. She must have said the phrase "biscuits and gravy" ten times. I'm not even that big a fan of biscuits and gravy, but that was what I wanted to make.
I wanted to make something special, not basic, so I went to Pinterest thinking I would find an herbed biscuit recipe or something. But what came up were a ton of recipes for biscuits and gravy casseroles. I had never heard of that before and it sounded awesome! Some were just biscuits, gravy, and cheese; but I liked the look of one that included eggs (kind of like a strata).
Last week I had the opportunity to attend a breakfast in order to meet the finalists of the Launch Pad Culinary Entrepreneur Competition. Before I tell you about that breakfast, I need to explain what it was for, and that may get a little convoluted - so stick with me! Launch Pad is a competition sponsored by Mess Hall, Ris, and Union Market.
Union Market is a revitalized indoor market area and collection of restaurants near Gallaudet University in DC. It opened in September 2012 and has about 40 shops. There are plans to add multiple levels and expand it greatly to include retail, restaurants, hotel, entertainment, and incubator space for new food concepts, as well as wholesale space.
Mess Hall is the aforementioned incubator space for new food concepts, which opened in October 2014. Their mission is to "support up-and-coming food entrepreneurs by providing commercial kitchens, combined with institutional knowledge and extraordinary opportunities."
Ris is a restaurant in DC that also has a satellite location in Union Market, it is owned/operated by chef Ris Lacoste.
Are you still with me? Great!
Back to Launch Pad - it is a competition for food entrepreneurs to launch a concept in a quick service space in Union Market. The winner of the Grand Prize will receive (according to the Launch Pad website):
- 6 – 12 month opportunity to launch a dream concept using a built out space in a prime location at Union Market
- Free Mess Hall membership
- Full Service Restaurant Pop-up opportunity at Mess Hall’s event space
- Mentorship from Ris Lacoste
- Consultation on lease negotiations with master DC restaurateurs the Hilton Brothers
- Business plan vetting and design services from EDENS
- A luncheon organized with successful restaurant investors
- And a growing list of unique prizes and opportunities courtesy of our event Sponsors.
- PLUS – All finalists will have their knives sharpened by DC Sharp.
Pretty great, right?! This is the second year for the competition, and last year the winner was Mason Dixie Biscuit Company.
You know what else is great? The list of judges and advisers for the finalists:
Al Goldberg – Founder, Mess Hall
David Hall – Investor, Revolution
Ris Lacoste – Chef / Owner, RIS
Drew Nieporent – Restaurateur, Myriad Restaurant Group
Patrick O’Connell – Chef / Owner, The Inn at Little Washington
Aaron Silverman – Chef / Owner, Rose’s Luxury
Audience Vote – Each member of the live audience will receive a single vote. The Audience Vote will count as 5% of the overall vote.
Richie Brandenburg – Directory of Culinary Strategy, EDENS
Terrell Danley – Chef, DC Central Kitchen
Eric and Ian Hilton– Restaurateurs
Kathy Hollinger– President and CEO, Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington
Eric Kessler – Founder / Managing Director, Arabella Advisors
Mike Lenard – Owner, Takorean, Former Head of the Food Truck Association
Winston Lord – Co-Founder, Venga
Spike Mendelsohn – Good Stuff Eatery, DC Food Policy Council Chair
Nick Stefanelli– Chef / Owner, Masseria
Now, let's talk about the finalists and the meet-and-greet breakfast event at Ris restaurant! There were lots of bloggers and media people there, but plenty of opportunity to speak with the finalists individually.
I recently moved to a new house about 35 minutes from my old one, but I still have a gym membership near my old place because I need to use up some training sessions before I quit. So I've been driving over there twice a week to train. I'm used to drinking a protein shake on the way to the gym, working out, then getting lunch. But now with the extra drive (and waking up earlier), I'm getting hungry by the time I get to the gym - and that is no good for working out! So here is where these (vegan, paleo, gluten-free) date and nut bars come in handy. I throw one in my bag straight from the freezer, and by the time I get to the gym they are thawed, so I eat it before heading in. They fill me up and give me a boost of energy - perfect!
These are also great for healthy homemade snacks or desserts, and especially for people with food allergies (other than nuts, obviously). I bet kids would love them.
The crust is made from nuts, date, and coconut - most of which is pressed into the bottom of a pan, and the rest is sprinkled on top later. The original poster is a big fan of soaking and drying nuts before eating them to remove the phytic acid that can make them difficult to digest. I tried it for this recipe and it took quite a bit of time (I dried them in the slow cooker overnight), but if that is too much work for you it's okay to just use raw nuts. The original recipe also calls for brazil and macadamia nuts, but these are a bit hard to find and a little expensive. I recommend raw cashews as a replacement.
The filling is made from dates, dried figs, and orange zest - yum.
If you are starting to panic because Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) is closing in and you don't have a dinner plan yet, fear not - I have you covered! I have a round-up of all of my holiday recipes, from protein to sides to dessert, and even breakfast! So please enjoy and Happy Holidays!
You know, I tried to be good and blog about Thanksgiving stuff before the holiday so that it might actually be useful to somebody. I even made a few dishes in advance, but I didn't post about them in time. Oh well! Prepare for a lot of Thanksgiving type posts!
Anyway, we don't have any family where we live so we normally travel for Thanksgiving. But this year we decided to switch it up and travel for Christmas, so we were on our own for Turkey Day. We had originally planned to stay at the Inn at Little Washington (!!!), but Jasper got sick and we had to cancel. So then I had to figure out what to make at the last minute for 2 people - initiate panic mode. But I got my menu together on Monday, went to the grocery store on Tuesday (which was surprisingly not that crazy), and prepped on Wednesday.
I tried to cut it down to just the basics - turkey (breast only), stuffing (half recipe), mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce (bought), and rolls (bought). It was still way too much food for 2 people so there are lots of leftover sandwiches in my future.
First up, the star - turkey. There was no way I was going to roast a whole turkey for 2 people, so I bought a whole breast on the bone. I definitely could have gone with a half breast, but now we have lots of sandwich meat! And guys, I don't want to brag or anything, but I am SO GOOD at turkey. Brined, air dried, stuffed with sage butter, rubbed with avocado oil, and started at a high temp - this baby was PERFECT. It was juicy and tender with crispy skin and super crazy flavorful. Love it. It's also really easy to carve - you just cut along the breast bone until the meat is released, then turn it on its side and slice.
I had heard of this place in some magazine or other because of the homemade poptarts. So when I was in Reston and craving some mid-day breakfast, I decided to try it out. It's kind of like an upscale version of an old-fashioned diner. If that makes any sense.
The menu is a mini newspaper (or bulletin, if you will) that also has some articles on the namesake and how the restaurant was founded. They have boozy milkshakes (very on trend right now), so I tried the Bananas Foster with banana rum and caramel. Very good.
Then I tried the signature breakfast combo - The Big Mark - which comes with 3 eggs, 2 bacon, 2 sausage, hashbrowns, toast, and a poptart (I chose the brown sugar bacon flavor). Everything was great except for the sausage, which was way too spicy for me. The poptart was indeed tasty, but I thought it needed a higher filling to crust ratio.
I brought a couple more flavors of poptart home (blueberry cheesecake and strawberry, I believe) to sample a range and so that Jasper could try them. Again, they were good but we both agreed they needed more filling.
Here's the fun news for breakfast-loving me - they are opening up a location at Mosaic, which is very close to me! I might even sample some non-breakfast items... maybe... probably not.