Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I heart eggs and corn

Do you heart eggs and corn? I think they are a match made in deliciousness heaven.

Let’s just start this post by admiring my beautiful thick-whited deeply yellow-yolked eggs. Those are no ordinary eggs, my friends.


This is something I’ve been wanting for months and finally got!


Farmer’s market free-range eggs! In a cute purple box! Whoo!

Obviously the egg is incredible and edible and you really don’t have to do anything super fancy with it. I’ve had my share of these guys just scrambled, hard-cooked, etc.

However. This month’s issue of Eating Well was exceptionally fantastic (actually, Eating Well in general is kind of amazing. I got it for free with expired airline miles but am going to renew it because I love it THAT MUCH) and included multiple recipes with one of my favorite combos: corn and eggs! My culinary arts teacher in high school was from Puerto Rico and she turned us on to corn omelets and it’s kind of just been an ongoing love affair for me since.

I saw the recipe for Corn and Basil Cakes and went yesssssss. Are we surprised? This is apparently the month I make recipes ending in “cakes” and “patties”.

They were a hot mess in the pan, but unlike some of my recipe *issues*, this was entirely due to human error. Arguing with one’s sister and putting down pancakes should not be done simultaneously.


But, in fact, they flipped GORGEOUSLY. They get an A+ in terms of flippability (especially since I definitely forgot to oil the pan, eesh! Thank God for nonstick).

On the flippability scale, these get an A+, the sesame carrot patties get an A, the zucchini pancakes get a B, the mushroom pecan burgers get a C, and the cod cakes, which were probably messy due to my own poor decision to use salt cod, get a D-.

Anyway, the finished cakes were marvelous.


Eating them we were trying (and failing) to figure out what the flavor reminded us of, but there is something tremendously nostalgic about the combination of corn and basil.

The flavor and texture were wonderful- light, fluffy, and summery. 

Since the corn cakes were so delicious and fancy I seriously slacked on the accompanying dishes.

The first night we ate them (Sunday) we had ‘em with beans and greens (more fun if said in a twang-licious Southern accent).


Beet greens wilted by cooking them in a few tablespoons of boiling water, then combined with the remainder of a can of Bush’s vegetarian baked beans, made more palatable with the addition of apple cider vinegar and a healthy quantity of Texas Pete’s.

Then Monday we had the leftovers with some lazy beet soup. The main ingredient, no duh, was these beets, who were clearly on steroids.


Roasted them and then whirred them up in a blender with the last (hurray!) of my sister’s abandoned V8 and just salt, pepper, a bit of allspice, and a splash of balsamic for seasoning, chilled in the fridge to let the flavors meld.


But wait! This month’s issue of Eating Well contained yet ANOTHER exciting eggs and corn combo I had to make immediately!

I saw the recipe for Tomato-Corn Pie and went yessssss yessssssss!


Just to go through the process a bit, you begin with a whole wheat crust, enriched with olive oil, which means it already smells amazing raw. This was, as they promised, a very “forgiving” crust and easy to work with.


Question: have people worked with whole wheat pastry flour before? Is it a worthwhile investment? I didn’t bother and just used regular whole wheat.

Okay so as usual, me cooking anything turned into a whole comedy of errors.

They said to weigh down the crust with pie weights or dried beans. I am not hardcore enough to own pie weights and didn’t want to waste dry beans (once you bake them you can’t eat them). So I poked it with a fork and crossed my fingers.


And, surprise surprise, the un-weighted crust promptly poofed up. So I took it out of the oven hot and put a pan on it, which did not particularly work. Whatever.


Aaaaaand then I realized that though I thoroughly scanned the recipe to search for any mention of greasing the pan which it did not call for and thus I did not do, I was supposed to line the whole thing with foil! Oi oi oi.

So removing the pie was a royal pain.

But you know what? It still looked good and tasted good.


I will say that while I have nonstop raves for the other recipe, this one I think of more as a work in progress. I’d like to think of a way to make the tomatoes a bit less wet (perhaps pre baking them on a cookie sheet?) and also the cheddar cheese seemed a bit redundant- I’d either omit it or use a cheese with a more assertive flavor, like goat cheese.

And I wanted more corn!  


But still a good ‘un. Check out the layers!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


So I am kind of a food snob. I like making fun and fancy new recipes and trying new ingredients and techniques. I like to think that with my current state of life (i.e. almost constant boredom) this blog has been sort of exotic lately.

I think food bloggers in general like to think we are superior to standard Americans. Well and we are. I don’t see a lot of people posting an Egg McMuffin for breakfast, burger for lunch, fourth meal at Taco Bell (eesh!) and some KFC for dinner.

That being said, we like to pretend we are always mixin’ it up with exotic stuff. But let’s be honest… a lot of things appear over and over (at least in my blog).

1. Peanut butter:


(a tip: that’s a chopstick stickin’ out! Excellent for stirring  a new jar!)

Not-so-standard ingredients to combine with peanut butter:


Eggplant? Onions? Really?


This recipe was another winner from The Ethnic Vegetarian.

A convoluted story:

What do you call this?


The fancy-shmancy title from the cookbook was “Kenyan Polenta” with Peanut Sauce. The hard-to-locate-stateside inspiration for the recipe was ugali, which is Kenyan rice porridge. The actual ingredient used was good old fashioned grits.

I amended the recipe based on what I had and kind of 2/3dsing it. I’m calling it what mine turned out to be!

Peanut and Vegetable Stew with Grits (adapted from The Ethnic Vegetarian)

1 1/2 T olive oil
(the equivalent of) 1 small onion, chopped (I used a blend of red and white)
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1 small red pepper, diced (probably half the size of a regular big bell pepper-from the farmer’s market)
1 large tomato, diced (also from the farmer’s market!)
salt and pepper to taste
1 teeny tiny eggplant, diced (probably half the size of a regular big eggplant- do I even have to say where I got it?)
1/3 cup peanut butter
3 T water
1 t. hot sauce, or to taste
1 cup grits
2 cups water
butter to taste (I used 1/2 T or so)

Heat oil on medium heat in a large frying pan or skillet. Add onions and garlic and cook until golden. Then add red peppers, tomatoes, and salt and pepper, and cook another ten minutes. Add eggplant, and cook another five minutes. Combine peanut butter and water in a separate bowl (or, if you’re lazy like me, just add them- nothing bad happened) and add them to the mixture, along with hot sauce. Reduce heat and simmer ten minutes, or until eggplant is tender.

Meanwhile, bring water to a boil. Add grits and, stirring constantly, cook on low until grits are thick and… grits-y! Add butter to taste.

Top grits with stew. Yum!


A note on this recipe: it is good on the first day, but if you can make it the day before you serve it cause it’s SUBLIME once the flavors are allowed to meld overnight.


2. Muffins:


I could SWEAR I had already posted this recipe but apparently did not. It is a good one! Carrot cakey, dare I say?!

Applesauce Carrot Muffins

1 flax egg (1 T ground flaxseed, 3 T water: stir to combine and let sit and gel for a bit)
2 T oil
3/4 c. sweetened applesauce (if you use unsweetened, up your sweetener!)
2 T NuNaturals stevia baking mix (What I had since the NuNaturals people were nice enough to send to me. Feel free to use your sweetener of choice!)
1 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oats
1 small grated carrot (yields about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Combine wet ingredients (“egg” through applesauce”). Combine dry (baking soda through oats) and stir into wet until just combined. Fold in carrot and pecans. [Combining wet and dry separately really is important. I’ve had unfortunate experiences with baking soda gone awry]

Preheat oven to 375. Bake 5 minutes at 375, then reduce oven to 350 degrees and bake another 15 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center of a muffin comes out clean.


3. Green Monsters

I definitely have these less than other food bloggers (WAY less than some) and first thing in the morning is just too hardcore for me. But for the occasional brunch or lunch, they are pretty great.

This one was not so much green as… let’s be charitable and call it purple (rather than gray!)


Into the blender went:

The last of a bag of frozen berries (2/3 cup?)
1 cup ish milk
1 T Ruth’s Chia Goodness cereal, chocolate flavor (still trying to find a way to use the chocolate flavor that… tastes good. Any ideas?)
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed
Wee sprinkling of stevia

Then I started blending and it was wayyyyy thick with the berries so I added more water.

Topped with Cheerios!

Monday, June 28, 2010

summer romance

I am kind of having a love affair with our farmer’s market this summer. It’s yearlong, but in the winter and spring it’s a more somber place, mostly kale and things. But in the summer it’s a friggin’ party!

You know what’s so fun? Watching a cooking demo being filmed.


You know what’s even more awesome? Getting to eat what was made. Yeah ice cream sandwich at 10 am!


Ohhhh my God homemade almond macaron, ice cream, jammy berry syrup. So intensely amazing. And I have the recipe!

Also, BLOOD RED watermelon! Agh cannot wait to eat you!


For today’s lunch, my love, the farmer’s market, SHOWERED me with deliciousness. This meal wasn’t 100% local but it was sure mighty close.

Plate number one:


Squash sauteed in the usual manner (olive oil, s+p, fresh oregano), and man oh man: toast with smoked bluefish spread.

Okay so this bread is unbelievable. There are a gazillion bakeries represented at the farmer’s market, and this one always has a heftiest line. They have a lot of breads, and most of them are at least a plurality whole wheat (I was a poli sci major, and have no idea if the word plurality can actually be used in that context, but I’m gonna roll with it). We went with the sesame sourdough whole wheat, which came with this GORGEOUS pattern of sesame seeds on the crust. They make for a really luscious crunch, and the bread is absolutely delightful, light, and tangy. I love sourdough. I actually am trying to incubate a starter in my living room. Wish me luck!


As for the bluefish spread, we got that from our empanada guys, and it is diviiiiiine. I love anything with smoked fish, and I actually hadn’t ever eaten bluefish until a recent foray to The Tackle Box (one of the bestest D.C. area restaurants, btw- awesome sustainable fish in a lovely laid-back communal table hangout spot in Georgetown) but I really like it! I’m assuming that since it’s an “oily” fish, those extra oils are the heart-healthy awesome nutritious oils and I just did my heart a favor. Woohoo!

Lunch was, as usual this summer, rounded out with a blissful yogurt bowl.


Farmer’s market plain nonfat yogurt, two ripe and sweet and amazing fresh apricots, and toasted almonds.

So that lunch includes dairy, fruit, vegetable, protein, and healthy fat, and the only non-local items were almonds and olive oil. And I’m sad to say that I just doubt there are any almond or olive trees in Northern Virginia. I guess I’ll just have to go back to Greece, my ancestral homeland!

I can’t believe just one year ago we were coming back from Greece, the most amazing trip I have ever taken! If you’re interested in reading my posts from there, they can be found here (or in About Me).

Sunday, June 27, 2010

feting finkle

My little sister Malindi turned 19 today, Lordy Lordy.

She arrived home at 12:30 or so having had her friends sing her happy birthday at midnight (yay!) but having eaten bad Chinese food (boo) and her stomach got worse and worse and she was wandering around the house at 4:30 in the morning waking up my mom.

Basically, if it is a day ending in y, Malindi is sick.

After hoofing it to church alone, I got home and made my poor tired family soup. Made birthday girl a rather beauteous breakfast tray.


With some Coke classic (in a glass bottle!) for the tum.

But wouldn’t you know it, she rallied, and we set off to do one of our favorite family things to do that we haven’t done in years: afternoon tea!

At this lovely place, with my lovely sister posing outside…


The Mandarin Oriental, the starry and shwanky hotel on the waterfront in DC.

Inside is quite lovely- on the modern side, with beautiful and dramatic flower arrangements.


But we didn’t come for the decor… we came for the afternoon tea buffet. I am slightly scared of buffets because sometimes they cause me to lose all restraint but this one was lovely and I left definitely having splurged but without feeling nauseous!

We sat down and my sister went “You can’t be embarrassing me taking pictures of everything like a tourist”.

Well, fine. It is her birthday. I snuck this one waiting in line for a plate.


You get a whole selection of beverages: black, green, white, and herbal teas; five different kinds of french-press coffee; and even cocktails for only like $3 more for the regular brunch price.

On the right is wonderful wonderful Darjeeling tea, one of my favorites. Apparently Darjeeling is a really really wonderful, beautiful part of India to visit, too. I want to go to there!

I decided to go the traditional route and start with savory and then move to sweet. To that end, a cucumber sandwich garnished very prettily with pecan, and a scone with a trifecta of toppings: lemon curd, homemade strawberry jam, and Devonshire cream.


The scone was buttery PERFECTION! I love love love jam and devonshire cream.

Multiply that plate times two. For my second scone I tried the golden raisin flavor, which was equally fab.

Then for the sweets. I love when they do them miniaturized so you can try more!


From the top that is nectarine-cardamom creme brulee (nice but vair rich, ate half); white chocolate cake with pear (ate about 1/3, wanted more pears); fruit tart; an awesome chocolate thing with crunchy nutty outside and boozy ganache within; and an UNREAL lemon bar.

There is an overabundance of sub-par, excessively sweet lemon bars in the world, which is terrible. On the other hand, it means it is cause to rejoice when you find the real, tart thing. Which is why I went back for another :D

Also consumed was a bazillion wonderful strawberries, some dipped in the chocolate fountain (!)

We’d eaten a hefty amount of food, but then the concierge guy was all “Happy Birthday!” and brought Malindi complimentary tiramisu. Which was nice, except… it was frozen solid. I get that commercial kitchens often premake and freeze desserts, but… you have to thaw them.

Anyway, after all the griping about my “touristy” picture taking, then Malindi wanted a shot of her with her cake. I obliged.


And one more of my sister and my mama. Crikey that girl is tall (she’s wearing heels and my mom’s in flats, but still!)


Finally, in a food theme (one of) her gifts from me:


Oh right, the name. So my little sister’s name is Malindi. A misspelling on a form led some people to call her by the cute typo, Malinki. Then my best friend took it beyond: Malindi>Malinki>Malinkle>Finkle Dinkle Doo>Finkle. And now I call her Finkle. Tangent.

Inside that package was:


Homemade ice cream!

I thought about making her a birthday cake but with this chick it’s either feast or famine- one year her friends literally made her six cakes and then one year there were none and we had to take one out of the freezer. I decided to prevent having 6 cakes slowly going rotten taking up our refrigerator, I’d make something that you can freeze for months! Plus, her boyfriend has celiac disease and ice cream is gluten free. PLUS cmon it’s late June. And ice cream is awesome.

I am intimidated by making homemade ice cream, since the last time I did it I accidentally made butter. Which Malindi, the birthday girl, to her credit, pretended to like.

We had super ripe bananas and Malindi loves coconut so an obvious first step was this recipe for banana coconut ice cream. But, I tweaked some things with what I had on hand, the most crucial difference being my use of fresh pineapple, whoo!

Coconut milk (the real stuff- they now think the type of saturated fatty acid in coconut may actually be GOOD for you so everyone relax, k?), sweetened condensed milk, last tupperware of fresh pineapple with accumulated juice, and those dark things up top which are REAL ripe bananas (they aren’t rotten or anything, though; they got so dark in part because I put them in the fridge because all the ingredients are supposed to be chilled).


Banana Pina Colada Ice Cream

1/2 cup fresh pineapple, juice reserved
2 extra ripe bananas
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can coconut milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups liquid- as much fresh pineapple juice as you can get (I had about 1/3 of a cup) with the rest milk (you can use any milk you want- I used a blend of soy and 1%, just what I have around the house)

Chill all ingredients until very cold.

Combine pineapple and banana. Mash. Set aside.

Combine milks, sugar, and pineapple juice (juice may curdle milk- that’s okay, it’ll all come out fine in the freezer) with sugar, and stir slowly (I used my stand mixer) until sugar is dissolved, ideally producing minimal bubbles.

Pour into your ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturers directions.

Going into the machine:


Aaaaand after it came out, all gorgeous:


And wowza so luscious! Smooth and creamy and complex and gelato-y. Yum yum yum.

Friday, June 25, 2010

oot and aboot

I’ve been trying to rein in my antisocial tendencies lately, and it’s been surprisingly nice. My high school friends have graduated (taking four years like normal people) and are now home, at least for the time being… as am I. *Sigh*

Anyway, I’ve been on enjoyable outings.

This afternoon, I headed to Le Matin de Paris. Lest all the Eiffel Tower replicas fool you, this is a KOREAN bakery. I traveled not to France but to Annandale, Virginia, also known as Little Korea. It’s good eats.

There was a vast, dazzling, overwhelming display of pastries.


Let me give you a closeup of that item on the upper left…


Ah yes, the nutrition pound cake. Obviously.

They have oxymoronic baked goods, and they also have very LITERAL baked goods. An example is the banana bread:


Too cute, right?!

What I really wanted was Bingsoo (shaved ice) but stupid Cristina was incubating a cold and didn’t want to share germs, and they are huge and overpriced ($7?!?!?!?!?!?!) so I didn’t want to eat one on my own.

I grudgingly got a pastry- the peanut flavored Saboro bread.


It contained a nutty crisped outside surrounding dough that was sort of like a croissant in terms of lightness but yeastier and less layer-y. If that makes sense. A proper pastry person would be able to describe it better. Yummy!


Cristina’s pastry was craycray!


From the outside in, peanut butter cookie; chocolate cookie; raisins; peanuts; raspberry jam; cream filling!

Quite tasty.


For complicated reasons of business and workness and plans I’m not sharing til they’re finalized, I ate breakfast at 8:30 in the morning and didn’t have lunch til 3. I turn into SUCH A LUNATIC when I don’t eat! I had lunch, but I was still plenty hungry when I got to the bakery. Thus… pastry extravaganza.

Thus, now have stomachache.

Anyway, more merriment earlier in the week.

My bestie just moved to Adams Morgan, one of the bestest parts of D.C. (her building is also right next to the ZOO!) and we all met up and strolled around and stumbled upon the lurvely rooftop bar at Reef.

It was all open air and breezy and you could look down and people watch and there were these pretty poofy things on the ceiling…

… and all that being said you’ll just have to let my words assure you the ambiance was lovely, since the pictures are rubbish!


I tried to get Lyddie, poofy thing, and view in the same shot and didn’t do a great job of capturing any of them.


The best part, however, was that they had FRAMBOISE BEER!


The luscious frothy sweet raspberrylicious not beer-tasting beer! I had it for free at that embassy tour awhile back and I generally hate beer so shrieked with excitement when I saw it on the menu here. I know it is not *standard* at bars but at least it *exists* outside of Belgium (or its embassies)!

Another fun night- there’s this “diner” (it’s a chain, it’s all glossy and corporate, but it’s fun enough) called Silver Diner. I had a coupon cause they’re doing this weird promotion where they’re pretending to be into local food.

So I met up with my friend Indu for dinner.

For eats we split their black bean quesadilla which was new on the menu and was actually shockingly good (super veg heavy and zesty!). Multiply this times two.


Butttttt quite honestly the main reason anyone should ever go to Silver Diner is their milkshakes. As part of their little makeover, they now have “healthy” (not really) ones now made with fat-free ice cream (gross- if you want a fat-free dessert eat a piece of fruit) but we split the real deal.

Behold, the peppermint patty (with Indu, unaware she is being photographed, but milkshake-induced-happy, in the background).


Vanilla ice cream, mint syrup, and crushed Oreos. SO AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS.

And as you can see, a single serving nets you a gigantic parfait glass and an almost-as-full overflow glass:


We powered through :D Man it was good.

Then there was a sudden and aggressive storm and we were like aaaaaaargh umbrellas in cars but then it ended and there was a shockingly beautiful configuration of clouds which I captured only poorly.