Friday, September 4, 2009

Making Us Seem A Little Less Crazy: DC Food Blogger Happy Hour

I've lived in this city for 10 years (almost to the day, in fact). I've gone through multiple and varied phases of "hobbies" that have introduced me to many different people in the city - volunteering (social and political), painting, drawing, and photography classes, art and museum meet-ups, neighborhood planning groups etc. and I can now say that I have never had as much fun at an organized meeting of like-minded people as I did last night at the DC Food Blogger Happy Hour. Many thanks to Mary from Arugula Files, Amelia from Gradually Greener and Jenna from Modern Domestic for organizing! (Click on their links to see photos from the event). Cathy from We Love DC also did a great write-up on their site and I say this for many more reasons beside the fact that she mentions Beets and Bonbons.

We all inhabit a small, little, infinitesimal actually, space on (in?) the Internet, writing about what we think is important and hoping that someone out there does too. Last night's happy hour was humbling (wait, you remember that post of mine on Rick Bayless? I read your blog, too! All the time!), satisfying (so not every meal you make is blog worthy?) and surprising (over 60 people showed up. Who know there were so many of us!). It was a chance to share funny stories and blogging tips - it seems the jury is still out on ad space but overwhelmingly likes Wordpress (good news for the Wordpress guy that was there).

And it was great to finally meet the faces behind the twitter feeds and blogs I follow. And in the coming days, I have MANY more to add to the blog roll on the right, so stay tuned. You don't want to miss out on these! The blogs I read regularly became all the more interesting having met the creative minds behind them, and I learned about many that I should have been reading since day one.

The best news is that it looks like the happy hours will continue on a regular basis. I look forward to meeting everyone that I didn't have to chance to say hi to last night. See you soon!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Zucchini, Walnut and Fig Bread

First things first: I'm not a baker. Second admission: I've never baked a bread that has turned out perfectly (most are inedible). Third: this one also had its flaws, but for someone more experienced in making breads, I'm certain you could figure this one out.

All that being said, I decided to give it another try. From this month's Food & Wine magazine, I was particularly drawn to to the Yogurt-Zucchini Bread with Walnuts recipe. It looked easy, and required minimal ingredients and equipment. All you have to do is mix ingredients together by hand - how hard could that be? Plus it uses Greek yogurt to add moisture without adding fat.

At the last minute, I decided to add some chopped up figs from my parents' fig tree. I can't imagine that this is where things went wrong, but who knows? With baking, you have to be perfectly precise, right?

The result was tasty, for sure. And even moist. But heavy. Oh so heavy. Did I over mix? Did I not measure the ingredients perfectly? Was it the figs? It may take a few more tries (and a few more trips to my parents' fig tree) to know for sure. In any event, I share the recipe with you because I think it has really good potential. And hopefully, you'll have better luck.

Zucchini, Walnut and Fig Bread
adapted from Food & Wine

1 cup walnut halves (4 ounces)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
1 cup coarsely grated zucchini

1. preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour 9 x 4 1/2 inch metal loaf pan. Toast walnut halves until they are fragrant, coarsely chop and freeze for 5 minutes to cool.

2. In a large bowl, whisk flour with baking powder, baking soda and salt. In medium bowl, mix the sugar with the eggs, vegetable oil and yogurt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients along with the grated zucchini, chopped figs and toasted walnuts and stir until batter is evenly moistened. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, until the loaf is risen and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the loaf cool on a rack for 30 minutes before serving.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Montauk in a Clam Shell

Every summer since we got engaged on the beach, my husband and I find at least a week to escape to his parents' beach house in Montauk, NY. What was once a sleepy fishing town has become a haven for summer weekenders from "the city". It is, in fact, starting to become so popular that I'm afraid it is in danger of becoming an extension of the Hamptons. (That's a note to you, New York Times, and you, Food & Wine Magazine - stop writing about Montauk. It is our little secret! Of course, aren't I now guilty of the same thing?). To me Montauk is synonymous with lazy days and late meals and curling up in bed satiated by both the day's sun and the night's dinner. The positive aspect of becoming a potential East Hampton East, is the recognition of the quality chefs and restaurants, both new and old - Top Chef contestant Sam Talbot and his Surf Lodge, for one. The beach is no longer only for fried clams and ice cream (although any beach trip would be incomplete without having both at least once).

Leading up to our annual vacation, we generally plot out our dinners. Typically, we'd like to leave a beach vacation room for some spontaneity, but the restaurants on Montauk have strict reservation policies/ recommendations: reserve one week out, two days out, reserve day of (phones open at 4:15pm) unless you are a party of 6 or more, then you can call the day before and of course, there are the handful that take no reservations at all. Some are closed Mondays, others on Wednesdays, others (because of the new-found popularity) are just about impossible to get into if you have not arrived by 7:00pm. In one case, the restaurant will stop taking names as early as 8pm if it appears the kitchen will be backed up. Kitchen at said restaurant closes at 10pm sharp. Now, why would we go through all of this rigamarole on vacation? Because the food is worth it.

Here's the low-down on our favorites:

Dave's Grill

468 West Lake Drive
Montauk, New York

The creme de la creme of Montauk restaurants, in my opinion. This is the restaurant where you have to call at exactly 4:15pm on the day that you wish to eat there. Once you secure the coveted reservation and upon arrival, the owner will greet you and take you to your table which may be outside on the covered veranda overlooking the harbor or within the cozy interior of the restaurant. The menu highlights local, fresh fish with a few non-seafood options. Our favorites: fried oysters, tuna tempura sushi, smoked tuna spread, coconut fried shrimp and/or spareribs for an appetizer and baked stuffed lobster, paparadelle with lobster ragu, any of the fish specials (a recent horseradish encrusted halibut was to die for), and of course, Dave's Original Cioppino as an entree. The cioppino arrives in a lovely light and savory tomato broth complete with scallops, shrimp, clams, calamari, mussels, fish, and a half lobster, plus a toasted crostini for dipping. A seafood lovers delight. And the best part? Chef David Marclay shares his recipe on the restaurant's Web site. At this point, you better hope you saved room for dessert because the Barbara (a chocolate fudge brownie sundae) and the famous Chocolate Bag (Belgian chocolate bag filled with Tahitian vanilla ice cream and strawberry compote, finished with whipped cream, raspberry and mango sauce - served with a steak knife to break the dessert apart) are must haves.

West Lake Clam and Chowder House

352 West Lake Drive

Montauk, New York

The Chowder House, as it is called by the Montaukens (Montaukets?), was a new restaurant for us this year. Suggested to us by friends who always dine there on their first night in Montauk, this was the surprise of all surprises. No reservations, show up early to get on the list, and hopefully before they stop taking names due to the kitchen's nightly closing at 10pm. Be prepared to eat at the bar, if need be - the food makes up for the slight discomfort of the bar stools. And, turn off your cell phones. As posted directly above the hostess stand, they just want you to relax. Upon first glance (and second glance too), it appears that you have stumbled upon the late night fisherman's watering hole of the east end of the island. Bar atmosphere, slightly run down and

cluttered decor was enough to make me think I'd be eating something basic, maybe fried. Imagine

my surprise when I found seared sea scallops over risotto with black truffle essense on the menu. And is that a sushi bar off to the side? They serve both New England and Manhatten clam chowder, and true to their name, they do both with great success. The sushi is delicious and inventive and fresh off the boat.

East by Northeast

51 Edgemere Street

Montauk, NY

Sometimes, just sometimes, you get a little tired of seafood on a beach vacation. When this happens in Montauk, we head to East by Northeast. Specifically for the Long Island Duck. East by Northeast, owned by the same folks as Harvest (another great Montauk find), takes a wordly fusion approach to food - blending flavors from the far east with down-home American cooking. Take the Peking duck tacos for example - one of our favorite appetizers. Juicy shredded duck topped with hoisen barbeque sauce and fresh guacamole held together by a wonton taco shell. And if that's not enough, one of us usually orders the Long Island Crescent duck breast, served with a pinot noir cassis glace and a vegetable spring roll. Also good are any of their steaks. If you can get a reservation early enough, East by Northeast has a beautiful view of the summer sunset over Fort Pond.

Gosman's Dock, Duryea's Lobster Deck, and Wok and Roll

Finally, I would be remiss without mentioning some of the more casual eateries - places to get those fried clams, fish and chips, and soft-served ice cream (with chocolate sprinkles, of course). I've already written about Gosman's Dock and Duryea's and their competing lobster rolls. Both have great outdoor seating, under umbrellas, on the water, and come sunset ready. Gosman's Dock also has a gourmet market on site where we generally stock up on sesame noodles, fresh yellowfin tuna

salad, and seaweed salad for snacking. Wok and Roll is the resident Chinese food restaurant. Chinese food? At the beach, you say? Well, Wok and Roll will take your fresh caught fish and cook it up for you. I'm not kidding when I say that you haven't lived until you've had General Tso's striped bass. Yum!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Food Blogger Happy Hour - Sept. 2 @ Poste

I'm just back from vacation with a boatload of food pictures to go through and blog entry ideas to sort out, but on my return I was thrilled to find out that a food blogger happy hour was in the works, thanks to the great minds at The Arugula Files, Gradually Greener and Modern Domestic. We write, comment, and tweet and now here's our chance to put names and faces to the recipes and recommendations we love to share.

I'll be there. Will you? And I promise to see Julie and Julia by then!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Lobster Rolls of Montauk

Montauk, NY much like Maine and other parts of New England, is known for its lobster roll. Ok, well maybe it's not "officially" known for this delicacy, but since it is the closest place to D.C. that I can get a lobster roll, it is "known" in my book. For my husband and I, there is no questioning that we will get at least one on our annual vacation to Montauk, but it wasn't until recently that we added the question, "Where?" Up until this year, it was a no brainer: Gosman's Dock - a landing for a few restaurants, a clam bar, gourmet food market and clothing stores. (I am intentionally not including the more well-known The Lobster Roll - aka Lunch - because it is technically in Amagansett and for which we would have battle traffic and that doesn't make for a fun vacation at all.) However, this summer, we discovered Duryea's - a lobster deck great for watching the Montauk sunset and a seafood market. Compared to each other, the rolls have their pros and cons. As for me, the jury is still out. I'm just happy to be eating lobster.

Lobster Roll: $16.95

Gosman's lobster roll includes two scoops of finely shredded lobster with the occasional larger chunk of lobster meat, tossed lightly with mayonnaise, and seasoned nicely with salt, pepper and celery on a traditional hot dog bun. Served with fries.

Lobster Roll: $18.25

Duryea's lobster roll is larger than Gosman's and has bigger chunks of lobster meat giving it a richer flavor, but it also employs more mayonnaise to keep the whole thing together. Also mixed in with celery bits, it takes on a resemblance of a traditional lobster salad. Duryea's breaks with tradition, however, on the bun, opting for a sesame seed roll instead. Served with chips and cole slaw.

The bottom line is, I don't think you can go wrong with either lobster roll. In both cases, the lobster is fresh out of the water. Pair with a fresh lemonade or a nice white wine, a sunny day or a beautiful sunset.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

His and Her Beach Shops

My husband and I are spending some time in Montauk, the place of his every summer vacation as a young boy. It is always so much fun to watch him light up at the memories sparked by entering a store that was integral to his childhood.

One of his favorites, not surprisingly, is a store called A Little Bit of Everything. Typical beach shop meets toy store, this place does has something for everyone, from sunscreen to candy to gag gifts, recalling an old five and dime store. Bouncy balls, toy trucks and silly putty - I think he probably spent hours here as a child.

Yesterday, we took a day trip to Sag Harbor, and I found my equivalent of A Little Bit of Everything in Sylvester & Co. (billed on their Web site as "a contemporary general store"). In addition to housewares and an impressive rack of cookbooks ranging from Alice Waters to the Hampton's own Barefoot Contessa, there is a coffee counter with candy galore. From the more adult ginger slices to a "retro mix" featuring Bubble Yum, candy dots, Tootsie Rolls, and Smarties, this was my kind of summer store. I spent most of my summers at overnight camp in the Poconoes and a long anticipated trip each year was to the penny candy shop, Appies. Appies has since closed. I guess penny candy is not profitable anymore, or perhaps the owners became too old to run the place. Sylvester & Co. reminded me of a grown up version of Appies, taking the concept of penny candy to a whole new level - at $4+ a box.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

On Vacation

Just a quick post to let you know that regular posts may be few and far between over the next few weeks. We're in Montauk, NY on a two week vacation. I'm taking pictures and notes, though, and hope to come back with some musings on beach topics such as soft-serve ice cream, lobster rolls, and fishing for your dinner.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Baked Peaches with Vanilla Rice Pudding

I came across this recipe on Tastespotting through a much more beautiful picture than I've taken here. Rice pudding reminds me of being a child, which is funny, because most of the reactions I've gotten to rice pudding are "gross," "mush," and "old people food." Often with raisins added, I loved the sweetness and mix of textures that rice pudding provided. I also, not surprisingly, liked tapioca pudding when others were screaming "Ew! Fish eyes!"

This recipe takes a more adult approach to rice pudding, using jasmine rice, adding vanilla, and serving it in a baked peach. The result is sweet and soothingly fragrant when it comes out of the oven. And, the left over rice pudding is enjoyable, hot or cold, on its own.
Baked Peaches with Vanilla Rice Pudding

4 large peaches or 6 small peaches
1/2 cup cooked jasmine rice
1/4 cup cream
1 TBS sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To the rice, add cream, sugar and vanilla. Cut peaches in half and remove pits. Spoon rice mixture into each peach half, place in a baking pan, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Top off with a dash of nutmeg.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

On the Road: Yechon in Annandale, VA

4121 Hummer Road
Annandale, VA

When our friends invited us at the last minute to join them for Korean food in Annandale, I could not contain my excitement. Not only would it be my first experience with Korean cuisine, it would be my first "road trip" to Annandale (and therefore providing a story perhaps for this blog's "On the Road" series). I am always up for a food adventure! We were going to Yechon on Hummer Drive. Immediately, I began to research - reading reviews, about the service, decor, and what to order. Before even setting foot in the restaurant, it seemed we had picked a winner. Armed with this knowledge and GoogleMaps directions we set out for dinner.

Only about a 1/2 hour outside of D.C., it barely constitutes a road trip, but we don't go to Virginia very often so it was an adventure nevertheless. We reach the parking lot and it looked packed with people hanging out around their cars and under the neon signs on the exterior of the otherwise nondescript building. I assumed there must be a long wait. It got great reviews, it is open 24/7, so why not? That's when we saw the flashing blue lights and police tape. There was a serious investigation going on, complete with Mobile Command Centers. In fact, the police tape stretched right up to the restaurant door.

After some inquiry and a quick fact check on, we learned that earlier in the day a woman had been found bound and stabbed down the street. Horrible. Nevertheless, the pleasant wait staff ushered us inside and apologized for the commotion. They were eager to serve us, though, and oddly I thought, they sat us right in the front window, with a view of the action. It was, I admit, a bit disconcerting when the police passed by our window with flashlights, peering into the news stands (perhaps looking for the murder weapon)?

We tried hard to direct our attention to the food, and with the pleasing aromas coming from the kitchen, it wasn't too difficult. Multiple waitresses came to our table to take our order and we had to keep explaining that we needed "just one more minute." Perhaps there was a general anxiety because of all the police activity? For a newbie like me, I needed some serious time to digest my options. I got a brief navigation to the 10+ page menu from our waitress (the restaurant also serves Japanese cuisine) and ultimately settled my focus on the Korean Traditional Dinner page, Kal Bi Dolsot Bibim Bap (Bibim Bap with marinated ribs served in a hot stone bowl) to be exact. Bibim Bap, for those totally new to Korean food like I was, is the Korean's version of "everything but the kitchen sink" - rice loaded with a mix of vegetables and bean sprouts and topped with an egg.

The service was incredibly fast (perhaps because it wasn't too crowded). Within an instant, the real fun began. Soon we were greeted each with a bowl of miso soup, and 10-15 small plates to share, along with our Mung Bean Pancake appetizer. At this point I start wondering whether we really needed to order an entree! I'm afraid I won't remember all of the small plates we received by some of them were kimchi, fried squid, noodles, potato salad of sorts, and an egg dish similar to a quiche. Each delicious and varied enough in spice and texture so there was something for everyone. The miso soup was light and flavorful with a generous portion of tofu cubes.

Within our next breath, our entrees arrived, before we barely had two bites of the small plates. Generally, I'd balk at the overly fast service, but it all seemed appropriate here. A celebration of variety, excess, and sharing food with good friends. Plus, my Bibam Bap was served in a hot stone pot, so it wasn't going to get cold anytime soon.

I sparingly added the accompanying sauce and stirred all of the ingredients together. I steer clear from the overly spicy, generally, but I was soon to learn that although the sauce had some heat to it, it was more tangy/ sweet than anything and a perfect accompaniment to the marinated ribs over vegetables and rice. (The Kal Bi Dolsot Bibim Bap does not come topped with an egg). There was so much in this hot stone bowl that it was hard to get tired of any one flavor: rice, bean sprouts, carrots, noodles, zucchini. Each bite provided a new adventure. The marinated short ribs were sweet and paired nicely with the tangy sauce and the heat of the bowl gave an interesting yet unexpected crunch to the rice at the bottom (I don't know if that is intentional, but I'm not sure how you would get around it, eating out of a bowl that is still cooking your food).

I'm officially a fan of Korean food and Yechon in Annandale. Not only did they handle a very unconventional evening with grace, but delivered a tasty and satisfying dining experience to a newcomer to Korean cuisine.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tempura Battered Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Mozzarella and Basil

Squash blossoms have intrigued me this season. For the first time ever hearing about them, I've seen them at all of the farmer's markets, Oyamel is having their 2nd annual squash blossom festival, and Michelle Obama is eating them (at Oyamel). Plus, they are beautiful, and just scream summer. If someone hadn't thought to eat them, I'd put them in a vase.

Once I got up the nerve to buy a container of the delicate yellow and orange blossoms at the Dupont Farmer's Market (I always try to buy one thing I've never cooked before at the markets each week), I set out on a researching expedition. Squash blossoms don't have a long shelf life, so I had to work fast. I ultimately decided on stuffing and deep frying, as that seemed to be the most popular preparation, but I soon learned that it was possible to use the blossoms in sauces, soups and even quesadillas.

I found a Wolfgang Puck recipe for tempura battered squash blossoms, but I decided to incorporate my own stuffing - some fresh mozzarella and basil (from my Aerogarden, of course). A little East meets West. Now I was faced not only with the prospect of cooking with squash blossoms but embarking on my first deep frying experience. Without a deep fry thermometer. True culinary challenges, indeed. I'm proud to say that I didn't burn the house down and that I thoroughly enjoyed the final product.

Tempura Battered Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Mozzarella and Basil

Tempura Batter

1/4 cup rice flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 TBS salt
1 tsp cayenne
3 cups soda water

Squash Blossoms

squash blossoms (cleaned with stamen removed)
vegetable oil for frying

To make the batter, sift together all of the dry ingredients. Whisk in the soda water, a little at a time, until the right consistency is achieved. The batter should coat the back of a spoon, but some excess batter should run off the spoon. Allow to rest in the refrigerator at least 1 hour before use.

Once batter has rested, heat vegetable oil to 350 degrees. I placed about a half inch in a deep pot and heated until a small drop of batter browned nicely. In the meantime, stuff squash blossoms with one piece of mozzarella and one leaf of basil. Twist ends of blossom to seal and dip into batter. Fry in oil, turning once or twice, until golden brown on all sides.

Food Truckin': Fojol Bros

[photo by benmurray, available under a creative commons license]

Continuing with my series on food trucks, I visited Fojol Bros., the traveling Indian cart that also announces their whereabouts on Twitter. When I learned that they would be two blocks from my home on a Sunday evening when I had no dinner planned, it was a no-brainer. Plus, I've recently decided I like Indian food! My husband and I set off for an evening stroll and to eat dinner curbside.

We could hear the music from a block away, of the upbeat carnival kind. Then, the costumes came into view. Men in wearing fake moustaches and turbans with bright colored jumpsuits. It was kitschy and exciting all at once.

Unfortunately, that's where the high hopes peaked. Selections for the evening were limited to chicken masala, chicken curry, spinach and cheese, and pumpkin. You can choose one, two, or three entrees over rice. I opted for the chicken masala, which was way heavy on the rice, and piddly on the chicken. That was even ok, though - I was just looking for a taste. And a taste is what I got. I found the masala to be sweet, almost sickly sweet, and I (who generally steers clear of all things spicy) was begging for some zing. The real disappointment, however, was in the rice. It was way overcooked and seemed like it had been sitting around all day (as did the chicken). Everything was luke-warm.

I do applaud their environmentalism and community involvement, however. They'll deliver your forks and eating containers to a compost facility after you are done. Plus, a portion of their proceeds goes to charity. I really really wanted to like them. Who doesn't want to get excited about following a traveling culinary carnival around town. Unfortunately, it was the culinary part that was missing. In this day and age, there are very few excuses for not delivering a fresh, quality food product.

According to the Fojol Bros. Web site, they "hope to bring together local communities through a dynamic food experience on DC's streets." Reminiscent of the neighborhood ice cream truck, they certainly attract a following when they roll through with their brightly colored truck, music and costumes. I'm afraid the food, though, does not keep up with the fanfare.

Location: varies.
Follow @fojolbros on Twitter for up to date locations.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Coffee Rubbed Pork Chops with Apricot Sauce

One of my favorite steak dishes is the coffee rubbed fillet at Capital Grille, and I'm not even a coffee drinker. But there is something about the smokey earth sweetness that pairs so nicely with the meaty texture, similar, I guess, to barbecue sauce. Well, I did not have any steak on hand, but I did have boneless pork chops in the freezer, so I set out to see if the pairing would work as well. After reviewing a few coffee rubs in cookbooks and online, I settled on adapting the recipe from this site. Plus, I liked the suggestion of the apricot topping. (And let me say that pork is the only meat entree that I will pair with fruit. Otherwise, I save it for dessert - see Medallions of Pork with Pear Sauce.)

The dish was a breeze to make. I marinated the pork for a few hours in the refrigerator and let it come close to room temperature before grilling. Slice up some apricots and soften them in a saucepan and voila! Coffee rubbed pork chops with apricot sauce. The tangy sweetness of the fruit was a nice contrast to the smokey spice of the rub (thanks to some chili powder).
Coffee Rubbed Pork Chops with Apricot Sauce
Serves 4

4 boneless pork chops

1 1/2 TBS French roast coffee (ground)
3/4 TBS smokey paprika
1/4 TBS chili powder
3/4 TBS coursely ground black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt

3 apricots, pitted and sliced
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1/2 TBS sugar
dash of salt

Combine coffee, paprika, chili powder, black pepper and salt. Rub over pork, cover and refrigerate for 1-4 hours. Let pork come to room temperature before grilling 4-5 minutes on each side.

For the sauce, combine the apricots, lemon juice, sugar and salt in a small sauce pan. Heat on low for 4-5 minutes until apricots just begin to break down.

Top grilled pork with apricots.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Zucchini Cakes

There comes a time in every cook's life when she is faced with an abundance of one ingredient. And then she commences to cook that one ingredient in every possible form known to mankind.

Enter zucchini. Lots of it. My husband is lucky to have a boss that has something between your typical backyard garden and an abundantly productive farm and lately he has been bringing in zucchini. By the bucketful. While I will never turn away a fresh squash, I've lately been worried I might turn into one.

I've been sauteeing, adding to salads, even making up recipes (which involved brie and breadcrumbs and were not so good). Tonight I tried Paula Deen's Squash and Zucchini Cakes (with just the zucchini, of course). I also halved the recipe and used Italian flavored breadcrumbs, thus eliminating the need for Italian seasoning and I served the cakes with a tomato salad rather than the marinara sauce. Although they may not be the most beautiful dish, the result was something like a latke, nicely flavored, and would make a great dinner party hors d'oeuvres. To see how pretty Paula Deen's turned out, click here.
Squash and Zucchini Cakes
Serves 6

3 medium zucchini
3 medium yellow squash
1 cup toasted bread crumbs
1 cup shredded Parmesan
1/3 cup minced Vidalia onion
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 jar store-bought marinara sauce

Grate zucchini and squash with a fine grater. Press between paper towels to remove excess moisture (this took more time than I thought).

In a medium bowl, combine grated zucchini and squash and next 7 ingredients. Shape mixture into 2-inch patties, pressing together firmly.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Cook squash and zucchini cakes 3-4 minutes per side until lightly browned.

Place on a serving platter and serve with marinara sauce.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Baked and Seasoned French Fries

Not a particularly fancy recipe, nor does it involve any crazy techniques, seasoned home fries are easy to make and a sure crowd pleaser. Plus, if you bake them, they're kind of healthy!
Baked and Seasoned French Fries
Serves 4 (side dish)

3 medium-large baking potatoes
2 TBS olive oil
Old Bay seasoning to taste

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Wash potatoes. Cut potatoes in half and half again, continuing until you reach the preferred size of your fry (usually 8ths or 16ths).

Place cut potatoes into mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season with Old Bay seasoning. Using your hands, toss the potatoes a few times so that they are coated with the oil and seasoning.

Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes until tender. Place under broiler for 2-3 minutes until crisp and golden brown.

Summer Berries and Ice Cream

Nothing says summer more than fresh berries and ice cream. Marinating the berries in a blend of balsamic vinegar and sugar gives this classic refresher a grown-up punch.

Yes, you can marinate berries! For a great ending to a summer barbecue, try using this berry salad as a topping for your favorite ice cream or creamy gelato.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Food Truckin': Sweetflow Mobile

Something the DC street food scene has recently been energized with is the emergence of a few new food carts (or trucks as is the case with Sweetflow Mobile and Fojol Bros.) Of course, there have always been the standard hot dog vendors who also serve pretzels, candy and a variety of beverages out of white coolers (most big cities have those). And, there are the two competing burrito carts - one at 17th and K and Pedro and Vinny's two blocks down on 15th. But, Sweetflow fills a much needed void in the realm of street food: dessert. Specifically, frozen yogurt. Breaking boundaries by using fresh, organic ingredients, the concept of "street food" is elevated to a higher level. Plus, it is environmentally friendly. Brought to us by the folks behind Sweetgreen, their trucks are "uniquely engineered to run without a generator, thus significantly reducing the amount of fuel consumed." Sweetgreen, indeed.

I recently found Sweetflow at MacPherson Square thanks to Twitter. Tim regularly posts a heads-up to his whereabouts and what time he'll be there. When I showed up, he gave me a great introduction to his product - refreshingly tangy yogurt from Stoneyfield Farms, frozen, fat-free, and containing those all important live and active cultures. Then, topped with your choice of fresh, local ingredients, including fruits and crunchy toppings such as nut and granola. My selection: yogurt topped with mango, blackberries and coconut. It was so good and so fresh I felt like I could be on a tropical island. The yogurt was cool and creamy, tangy but not puckering, and surrounded by the perfect portion of fruit that appeared to be picked at its height of ripeness.

A small cup costs $5, but was not at all skimpy in size. The portion, I felt, was actually generous. For something so refreshing and healthy, it was worth it.
Location: varies. Follow @SweetflowMobile on Twitter for up to date locations.

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