Thursday, December 9, 2010

Potato Non Grata

by Xani

Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter may have seen recent posts/tweets grumbling about carbs, or lack thereof.  Yes, I've decided that this year, December 1st is the new January 1st, and instead of indulging in every cake, cookie, candy cane, and cup of cocoa that comes along this month, I'm following the South Beach diet until I head to Boston for Xmas (T-minus, 14 days-- I already have a list of things I will be eating that week!).  Yes, it kindof sucks.  But, hopefully it will be worth it to feel sure no one will mistake me for Santa in my red winter coat this year!

So, what does a self-proclaimed food snob eat for "diet" food.  The South Beach diet requires that you forsake all white flour and sugar, and restrict your intake of other delicious, carbohydrate-laden things such as fruit, alcohol, and my beloved potatoes.  That is SAD potatoes, indeed.  But, there's still plenty of yummy foods to be had.  I thought I'd do a short series of posts to share a few of my go-to meals and snacks for any of you who might be looking for lower-carb recipe ideas, or those who want to laugh at me through a mouth full of french fries.

Lesson 1, Salad:  OK, no-brainer, right?  If you're on a diet, you're pretty much signing up to eat a lot of salad.  Luckily, I love salad.  And I make a damn good one.  Just ask my boyfriend-- I have made him a salad convert!  Right now, I'm going to share with you one of my kitchen secrets, something that I make/eat almost every day of my life-- my vinaigrette.  This vinaigrette will change your life.  DO NOT buy bottled vinaigrette.  They almost always contain lots of sugar and god knows what else-- but even if you are NOT dieting, you can make a delicious vinaigrette at home that will be fresher, cheaper, and more delicious than anything from a bottle.  It takes only SIX ingredients, and two of those are salt and pepper.  People LOVE this dressing, and it is sosososo easy and can be made from whatever you have lying around in your house-- try it sometime!

Basic Vinaigrette technique (not a recipe, because it can be adapted hundreds of ways!)
Ingredients:
-1 part acid (I usually use lemon juice [fresh-squeezed only, please!  That little plastic lemon full of "juice" should be illegal], but you can use lime juice, or any type of vinegar.  About a tablespoon for a large salad for two people.)
-shallot, garlic, or herbs, minced/finely chopped (optional, based on what you have around the house and what flavor you are looking for in the dressing- about 1 teaspoon for a large salad for two.)
-kosher salt (to taste, about 1/2 a teaspoon for this amount of acid)
-coarse ground pepper (to taste, about 1/4 teaspoon for this amount of acid)
-djion mustard (1/2 teaspoon for this much acid)
-2 parts extra virgin olive oil (so 2 tablespoons for this much acid, but essentially just double the amount of acid, whether its tablespoons, cups, shot glasses, etc.  I always use extra virgin olive oil for dressings-- do NOT use "light" olive oil or canola or vegetable oil, you will regret it.)
Method:
You can make this in the bowl you are serving your salad in.  I usually make the dressing in the bottom of the bowl, then pile the salad stuff on top, then toss.  Or, if you are making more than 1 salad's worth (great time saver), you can mix it in a bowl and then pour into a jar, and store in the fridge)
1.  Put your acid, chopped garlic/shallots/herbs (if any), salt and pepper in a medium bowl (or your salad bowl), and stir it around a little until the salt dissolves.  If you are using garlic/shallots, you can let them sit in the acid for a few minutes to help soften their flavor.
Shallots in lemon juice, S&P

2. Add the mustard, and stir well to combine.  The mustard adds flavor but also acts as an emulsifier, which keeps the acid and oil from separating.  You can also use a raw egg yolk in place of the mustard, but remember you will be serving the dressing raw.  Also, I think mustard adds a nice flavor.
in goes the mustard

3. Begin whisking the acid/mustard mixture, and slowly begin adding the olive oil in a thin stream, whisking the whole time (again this is for emulsification). After all the oil is incorporated, taste the dressing.  It should be fairly acidic and have a nice tang, but if you want it a bit milder, add some more oil.  I like mine pretty tangy! (Traditional vinaigrettes are usually 3:1 oil to water, where this one is 2:1.  You can adjust yours to taste.  You can also add a drop or two of honey to the dressing to sweeten it up a bit if you like.)
whisk whisk whisk!

4. That's it!  It's just that easy.  If you've made a larger batch and are storing it in a jar for future use, you will need to shake the jar before each use to reincorporate the ingredients.

jar of goodness!

So, that's the dressing.  But dressing alone does not a salad make.  What else do I throw in there??
The musts:
Lettuce: romaine or, gasp, iceberg if that's all I've got, but ideally a nice spring mix, local lettuces from the farmers' market, or recently I've discovered that BJ's Wholesale Club carries some very good, very fresh "gourmet" lettuces in bulk.  When you eat as much salad as we do, you can buy lettuce in bulk.  Make sure to wash and dry all lettuce thoroughly, nothing worse than gritty or soggy salad-- yuck!
Tomatoes: yes, even out of season I require tomatoes in my salad.  I find the little grape tomatoes to have the most flavor this time of year.  Don't buy anything that doesn't at least LOOK ripe in the store-- those pale pink suckers will never ripen and are going to taste like mealy cardboard.
Cucumbers: English, kirby, whatever-- crunchy cuke slices are in every salad I make.
Onion: a little sliced red onion or scallion is a nice touch, although I omit them if it's a lunch salad and I have to talk to anyone afterwards.

The optional:
Cheese: I almost always sprinkle a bit of feta cheese over my salads, but you can add almost any cheese, or none at all.  Blue cheese crumbles are nice, or shredded sharp cheddar.
Other veggies: Anything in my fridge is at risk for ending up in a salad- peppers, avocados, broccoli, or almost anything else you want to get rid of and can be eaten raw.  Even a cooked potato (in non SB times) or some sliced apple or pear can go in there!
Nuts: Especially if I'm not eating any other protein in the meal, I love nuts in salad.  Pepitas are my aboslute favorite.  They are the roasted inner kernel of pumpkin seeds, and they are delicious.  They add nice flavor and crunch to salad (especially when you can't have croutons!)
Protein: Crumbled cooked bacon, sliced turkey breast, salmon, tofu, or almost anything you might put in a sandwich, go ahead and throw it in that salad.  This will add substance and make the salad more of a meal.  Some chopped hard-boiled egg can be good, too.
yum

All dressed up!
So there you have it-- a bcd post on SALAD, you thought it would never happen (and, in fact, I did have to create a new salad "tag"for this post.  I think I see a pig flying by my window!  MMmm... pig.  See, I haven't changed that much!

So, what do you put in YOUR salads??

X

Sunday, December 5, 2010

It’s Game Day at the Island Grille

by Dennis

Regular visitors to BCD know that BCD parents live on the eastern shore of Maryland, on Taylors Island, (see Facebook)  about 18 miles west of Cambridge.   Dorchester County is the largest (by area) and one of the smallest (by population) of the Maryland counties and its citizens are by and large insistent on preserving   its rural and rustic nature.   This extends to the cuisine.  Although there are a few exceptions (Bistro Poplar and Clearview), fine dining is not the reason to come to Dorchester County.  On the other hand, this area abounds in the traditional eastern shore seafood delicacies and on Taylors Island one can buy, direct from the boat, the oysters and crabs that will later make their way across the Bay in trucks.  And there are many local restaurants that do justice to these treasures.  But this article is not about the bounty of the sea.
Say What??

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Bunch of Baltimore Brunches

by EP

I often say that brunch is my least favorite meal of the day, but in truth, I have mixed feelings.  I love brunch because (a) I love morning time, (b) I love coffee, and (c) I love socializing, and at brunch, all three are present. I dislike brunch because I generally am not that into the food selections available.  I know, I know, many people LOVE breakfast foods and kvell over brunch opportunities, but for me, most of the time, I'd rather have a burger.



That said, in recent weeks I've had some excellent brunch experiences around Charm City, and I may just be changing my tune if this streak continues.  It started about two weeks ago when Xani and I joined our buddy Rebecca at Woodberry Kitchen for their Saturday brunch.  We planned to have brunch after hearing about Beckett Hitch, a unique shop-ortunity where several local vendors set up in one of the dining rooms at Woodberry Kitchen (tickets were $10 and included the price of admission, valet parking, and coffee, champagne, and snacks to enjoy while shopping).  

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thanks fans!

by EP & X

Well the results of the Mobbies are in, folks: BCD is the fourth favorite food blog in all of Baltimore!  Although it's not a winning title, we are so grateful and overwhelmed by the number of friends who voted for us, it's better than a win! (But perhaps not as good as a cookie.)  Congrats to our fellow food (and other) bloggers on their nominations and wins; we are really glad to be part of the food blogger community in our beloved Charm City.

Meanwhile, we are busily planning our Thanksgiving feast (the recipe/shopping/ingredient spreadsheet has been created) which by our calculations, will include at least 5 types of fat (turkey, chicken, pork, olive oil, butter).  If that doesn't make your mouth water, and stop your heart, I don't know what will!

Happy eating, and more new content coming soon! 

EP & X

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

KFC FTW (or Korean Fried Chicken for the win)

by EP


During my third year of law school, I spent a LOT of time with my friend Nicole since we did our clinic together, and she was the first one to tell me about the magic of Korean fried chicken.  She went on and on about the flavor, the texture, the crispiness, the fact that it wasn't greasy at all, etc. and I was all ears (and there may have been a little drooling) until she told me I had to go to Annandale, VA to get it.  Harumph.  Annandale is FAR from Baltimore, about an hour and a quarter without traffic (and there's always traffic).

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Back in the Kitchen

By Xani


Well as you all know, last weekend we were in NYC, letting others do the cooking. This weekend, I'm back in my kitchen. So far today I've cranked out perfect popovers (ok, Dave did those-- they tasted even better than they looked!), a big batch of my Dad's famous Rule of One spaghetti sauce, and chopped eggplant. (I emailed him asking for the recipes and not an hour later, they were in my hands. Thanks for the quick response, Dad!  I can always count on BCD Dad to provide good, well-written recipes.  I think it's his engineering background.  The Rule of One spaghetti sauce recipe is a work of art.)
love a prompt response!

saucy
 Meatballs are up next. And who knows what else I might get into before the sun sets on this gorgeous fall day. Hope everyone is enjoying their extra hour- would you mind using one minute of that extra hour to vote for BCD in the Mobbies?? We need your votes to win the Foodie category!

More cooking updates to come...
X

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hobohalloweekend: Part 3

by Xani

After the scrumptious meal at Tabla, we slept off our full-ness, packed up our stuff, and headed to our last stop of the weekend, Sunday brunch at Bubby's.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Being Charitable is Delicious

by Erin

Hey folks!  First, thanks to all who have been submitting their daily votes for us in the Mobbies!  We really appreciate all of your support, so keep it up!  You can vote once a day by clicking HERE until Nov. 12 at 5pm.

We also wanted to let you know about two exciting (and yummy) charity events happening over the next few weeks...

Desserts at Mr. Rain's Fun House, one of the featured restaurants at "Life is Sweet"

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hobohalloweekend: Part 2

by EP

After we arrived in the Big Apple and had lunch and more than a few sweet treats, we went to our hotel room to relax, have some champagne (of course), and get ready for the evening's activities. That night, we attended a Halloween burlesque show at the Highline Ballroom put on by Lady Rizo and the Assettes.  It was a fun and sassy show that included a trapeze act, a very dramatic and exciting rendition of "Blame it on the Alcohol" sung by Lady Rizo herself, and a number involving faux pig's blood, a la "Carrie."  Wow.

We didn't have the right kind of opener for the champagne, so we had to use brute force.
These faces reflect the pure joy and relief of getting the bottle open!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Hobohalloweekend: Part 1

by Xani

Have you recovered from the shock of the new BCD look yet?  Pick your jaw up off the ground and prepare to start drooling over lots of new content.  Yes, somewhere in the fine print of our "coming out" post, we promised daily new posts during the Mobbies voting period.  An ambitious goal, but such is our commitment to you, dear reader.  (Also, we are a little bit crazy.)  Enough with the psych diagnoses, let's get to the eats!

Monday, November 1, 2010

So, How Do We Look?

by Xani and Erin

Soooo, notice anything different about your favorite food blog?  No, this one.  We gave ourselves a makeover!  It's been 3.5 years and the old look was getting a little stale.  We admit to being a little neglectful of our dear blog over the past couple of months, but loyal readers may have noticed our renewed fervor of late!  As part of this new chapter, we decided to spruce up the place.  Our new look is inspired by classic pin-up pictures (we love anything retro), and to look that good, you have to go to the best!  Stacey Barich, of Atomic Cheesecake Studios, is the mastermind behind these beautiful pictures.  [Ladies: see the evidence above, she is truly amazing and this is one of the most fun things we have ever done!  Highly recommend for yourself or for a gift - it's an experience of a lifetime.] This fierce revival of Black Coffee and a Donut conveniently comes just in time for...

THE MOBBIES!  Remember this, old friends?  Yep, the Maryland Outstanding Blog Awards (organized by the Baltimore Sun) are back for their sophomore round.  Some of you may recall that last year, with all of your votes, we came SO close to winning the title, but just missed it and came in second place in the "Foodie" category -- a crushing blow to our egos -- so this year we're back with a vengeance (and a yummy looking donut to entice you to vote).

Once again, we've been nominated in the "Foodie" category.  Voting begins November 2 (election day - remember to vote for us and in the real election too - voting is sexy!) at 8:00am and ends November 12 at 5:00pm.  Fans (who are registered with baltimoresun.com) can vote for us once per day in the "Foodie" AND the "Best Overall Blog" categories.  If you haven't already registered with The Baltimore Sun, it's quick and easy and they won't spam you -- we promise.

In exchange for your votes and undying love, we'll be bringing you exciting and delicious new content daily during the voting period (along with frequent reminders to vote...please don't unfriend us on Facebook, they'll come to an end eventually).

We hope you like the new look, let us know what you think in the comments!  We love you and can't thank you enough for all of the support you've given us over the years.  Let's keep it up!

Coming up next: our Halloween visit to the Big [Candied] Apple, and you know what that means: constant eating!

Get ready to rock the vote!  Goooo BCD!

X & EP
UPDATE:  Voting is now OPEN!  Go HERE to cast your vote for BCD!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

STL Eats, Pt. 3: A Day of STL Specialties

by EP

On my last day in St. Louis, Annie and I packed in a lot of activities, including stopping by the Taste of St. Louis and walking around Lafayette Park. We also happened to pack three St. Louis food specialties into the day (and, well, our mouths): gooey butter cake, toasted ravioli, and Ted Drewes frozen custard.

Specialty #1: Gooey Butter Cake

Gooey Butter Cake may not be the most appealing name ever created, but people in STL are crazy for this stuff. It's a yellow cake made with butter, sugar, and cream cheese, then different ingredients/flavorings are mixed in. Annie and I went to Park Avenue Coffee near Soulard, a bakery that boasts 73 flavors of GBC! We ordered coffees and heard about the dozen or so flavors they had in the shop that morning (the flavors rotate daily; for any of the other 60 flavors, you need to order online).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cook to Live, Live to Cook

by Xani


So, I managed to spend another entire weekend cooking.  What has happened to me??  I guess I'm figuring out that the challenge, excitement, and sense of accomplishment that comes with successfully preparing food, then sharing that food with my friend and family, is not such a bad way to spend one's time.  Plus, we got to eat like kings without leaving the house or shelling out tons of money at restaurants.  All good things.


Like last week, I want to share with you some of the things I cooked and what I learned.  I took more pictures this time!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

STL Eats, Pt. 2: What's...Pappy's, precious?

by EP



My second day in STL was chilly and drizzly and I was glad to start the day with a trip to an old college haunt, Kaldi's coffee. After a nice cup o' joe and a piece of pumpkin bread, Annie and I were off to the downtown area to check out Pappy's Smokehouse. Yes, immediately following breakfast, we found ourselves waiting in line for lunch at Pappy's at approximately 10:45am. The rule around there is they make what they make, and when they run out, they're out - get there too late and you're out of luck.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I just made this...



And it has totally blown. my. mind. Stay tuned to see what I do with it!!

X

Monday, October 18, 2010

Taking Stock, Making Stock

by Xani

Let me not waste time explaining why I haven't blogged in so long. Yes, I've eaten at wonderful restaurants and cooked fabulous foods, yet the blogging hasn't happened. I wish it had, but let's not dwell on the ancient past, let's look to the recent past/future! This weekend I cooked up a storm and I want to tell you all about it! This post will be light on the pics, but let's not let that keep me from blogging. Here we go!


The first thing I want to share with you is the awesome technique for making chicken stock that I discovered this weekend. I was feeling the need for a freezer-full of stock as so many cozy fall recipes for soups, stews, etc require stock or broth. While BCD mom raised us on a diet of College Inn chicken broth, hoarding dozens of cans in the pantry at all times, I've become sufficiently brainwashed to think that only homemade stock will do. But, we haven't been eating that much chicken at home lately, and we didn't have a stockpile of bones to make the base of the stock. So, I remembered
this recipe for chicken stock which starts with three whole chickens, and after reading the comments, decided I could modify this technique to serve my purposes. Here's how it went:

Ingredients
2 (5-pound) roasting chickens
2 large yellow onions, unpeeled and quartered
4 carrots, unpeeled and halved
3 stalks celery with leaves, cut into thirds
3 parsnips, unpeeled and cut in half
15 sprigs fresh parsley
10 sprigs fresh thyme
10 sprigs fresh dill
1 head garlic, unpeeled and cut in 1/2 crosswise
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

Method:
1. Wash chickens and remove and discard/find another use for the packet or innards. Put chickens in LARGE pot, cover with cold water. Bring to boil, reduce to a very slow simmer, simmer for 1 hour, skim scum/impurities off the surface periodically.
2. Carefully remove chickens from water. Let cool until they can be handled, then carefully pick the meat from the carcass (after 1 hour the meat should be mostly cooked, but not over-cooked. I harvested almost 3 pounds of meat from the chickens, which I separated into white and dark, and packaged and froze for later use such as chicken soup, enchiladas, or chicken pot pie).
3. Put all bones, skin, carcasses, etc back into the pot as you pick the meat (also pour back in any liquid that came out with the chickens). Continue to barely simmer (just a small bubble coming up here and there- if you cook too aggressively your stock will get cloudy) for another 2 hours.
4. Now it's time to add the veggies, herbs and seasonings. Many stock recipes have you add everything at the very beginning, but
Michael Ruhlman recommends adding them only for the last hour of cooking, and for good reason-- too much cooking and the veggies break down/get soggy. This can cloud your stock, plus the water-logged veggies soak up so much of your precious stock! So just add them for the last hour, and keep the pot at that bare simmer...
5. It's been four hours, the stock is (almost) done!. Remove all solids, using tongs and a slotted spoon/strainer, pressing the veggies gently on the side of the pot to press out absorbed stock. At this point, I chose to keep simmering my stock for a while to reduce and concentrate the flavor a bit. When it reaches your desired intensity, let cool a bit and strain through cheesecloth.
6. Put stock in the fridge for several hours or overnight. Any fat will congeal on the top and can be skimmed off easily (mine had almost no fat even though I started with whole chicken).
7. Now you should be left with a large quantity of rich, flavorful chicken stock! This can easily be frozen for future use.

So there it is, my best stock yet! Mine came out a beautiful brown color, completely clear, with a nice roasted flavor (even though i started with all raw ingredients), and good sweetness and aroma from the veggies. I have already used some for risotto and chicken pot pie, and I'm so excited to have all that "poached" meat reserved for later. This is a lot more cost effective than just throwing the meat away after stock-making, too.

I cooked up a bunch of other recipes this weekend, too. No time to blog about each in detail, but here are some links and notes, and I'm happy to discuss with you in the comments, if you have questions.

New Year's Eve eggnog: Why am I making eggnog for a party on December 31 in mid-October?? Because this aged eggnog is supposed to be a revelation, and needs weeks or months in the fridge to mature. We'll break it out to ring in the new year, and hopefully not give our guests food poisoning.

Angel Food cake: I had 12 egg whites leftover from the nog-making, and a brand new tube pan that just arrived in the mail this week. I HAD to attempt my first angel food cake-- and I think it came out pretty good!

Lobster-ish Risotto with shrimp: I had a bit of frozen lobster stock in the freezer (made from the remnants of one of BCD Dad's big lobster gorge-fests) and decided to supplement it with some of my freshly made chicken stock and make risotto. I served it with some large pan-seared shrimp on top, and Mom's Caesar salad on the side. While I thought the risotto texture was good, the lobster flavor was very mild.

Buttermilk Waffles with apple topping: We had 2 cups of buttermilk hanging out in the fridge, so we tried this recipe on Sunday morning. It was just ok, I think next time I'll go to the trouble of separating the eggs and whipping the egg whites, to try and achieve a lighter, fluffier waffle. I also made a warm cinnamon apple topping from some of the apples still lingering from our apple-picking trip 2 weeks ago. Cooked the sliced apples with a little water, brown sugar, and cinnamon until apples were soft and the liquid had mostly evaporated. Finished with some lemon juice, butter, and a touch of cream. So much better than plain old syrup!

Chicken pot pie: Perhaps the pièce de résistance of the entire weekend, I made this for Sunday dinner. I used Ina Garten's recipe for the filling, but used a baking powder biscuit recipe from Martha Stewart's Baking Book as the topping (instead of doing a pastry topping). The filling was AMAZING-- loaded with veggies, and yes, delicious, moist meat from the stock-making. The sauce (which used 5 cups of my fab new stock) was SO rich, flavorful, and velvety. The biscuits were very simple, I added a bit of chopped thyme to the dough and also laminated the dough (folding it into thirds and rolling out, repeating, as in puff pastry) to make it extra flaky. I baked them right on top of the pot pie filling in my Le Crueset dutch oven. Perfect hearty fall dinner fare, with plenty of leftovers.

...And would you look at that, it's lunchtime, and I've got some of those leftovers waiting for me in the fridge! Hope you enjoyed my return to blogging, even though it was light on pictures. Now that I'm back in to the swing of things, it's time to dust off my camera again!

Happy cooking,
X


Friday, October 15, 2010

Calling All Baltimore Foodie Friends!

Have YOU ever wanted to be a food critic? Well here's your chance! Baltimore Magazine is having it's first ever dining-review contest. The contest is to find three restaurant critics to help Suzanne Loudermilk, senior food editor, review restaurants for the magazine’s annual Best Restaurants issue. The contest goes until Oct. 27. CLICK HERE for more info and to enter!

A few details:
To be selected as one of three winners, contest participants should write a review of their favorite Baltimore area restaurant in 150 words or less. The entries will be judged by Suzanne based on creativity, writing style, and food knowledge. The only rules are as follows:

  • You must be 21 years or older to participate.
  • Only ONE entry is allowed per person.
  • Your work must be original and not more than 150 words.
  • Baltimore magazine staff and family members, professional chefs and restaurateurs, food bloggers (we are not allowed to enter-- major bummer!!), and paid and published reviewers are not eligible to participate.

Hope one of our clever, funny, and discriminating readers ends up winning this thing. Will you tell us what its like to be FAMOUS??

More posts coming soon (pick your jaw up off the floor, thanks),
X

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

STL Eats: Gateway to Deliciousness, Pt. 1

by EP



As some of you may know, I spent four great years in St. Louis for college, and really loved my time there. Granted, I spent much of it on campus or in the immediate vicinity. There may or may not have been a few adventures to Illinois for some country line dancing (hello, Wild Country!) our senior year, but otherwise we lived in what was known as the “Wash U bubble.”
I revisited St. Louis in 2006 but that was pre-blog so I have no idea what we ate (except I do remember going to Jimmy John’s TWICE for some reason). A few weeks ago, I made my triumphant return with camera and a LONG list of places to eat in hand.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Summertime eats at B&O

by Erin
Last week we were invited to try some of the new summer menu items at B&O American Brasserie, one of our most favorite spots in Charm City. The evening was a bit more special since it was the night before my birthday and it really kicked off the slew of celebrations we had planned (one of which may result in a new BCD banner but that's still under wraps for now!).

We enjoyed some celebratory champagne while waiting for the other ladies in our party to arrive. We sat at a nice big table in the corner (right next to a mini-kitchen where the charming pastry chef was busily piping marshmallow onto butterscotch tartlets...but I'm getting ahead of myself!) and perused the cocktail menu for our second round -- hey, we were celebrating!

Our first course included the Heirloom Tomato Salad, which had compressed watermelon, parmesan, cherries, and basil from the Chef's rooftop garden. Very refreshing on the sticky July night. We also had two other new summer menu items during this course: the Jumbo Lump Crab on a bed of quinoa with sweet potato, salmon roe, and sea urchin aioli, and the Snapper Ceviche, with avocado carpaccio, puffed grains, and red pepper sorbet. Such interesting flavors and textures - like a feature film happening in your mouth! And what evil genius thinks of uni aioli??

Snapper Ceviche with avocado carpaccio
(picture obviously not taken by the BCD girls)


Jumbo lumb crab on quinoa with sweet potatoes and uni aioli

Second course was the flatbread course, and these are TDF. We seriously had to smack each others' hands away from going for seconds since we knew more food was coming. So. Irresistable. We had the Market Flatbread (which we've had before but it warrants mentioning again) with potatoes, smoked ricotta, baby arugula, and an egg on top. We also enjoyed the Smoked Crab Flatbread and the Confit Duck Flatbread with foie gras and cherries. Seriously drooling as I type this.

Next course we had the Braised Veal Cheek with a very interesting sous vide potato, mache greens, and creamed corn. Holy moly, this was great creamed corn.



We also got to try a bunch of their new mains, including some local Maryland Rockfish with crispy skin, avocado-oxtail risotto, and baby tomatoes; Bacon-Wrapped Amberjack, served with cherry-corn succotash, string beans, and a beer-foie gras vinaigrette. Also meat-wrapped was the "Surf & Turf" - a serrano-wrapped quail (also stuffed with duck I think?) and a perfectly cooked, huge scallop, atop a bed of pea puree and a side of cherry jam. Wow.


Crispy-skin Rockfish





"Surf & Turf" with quail and scallop

We loved the rockfish the best of those fish dishes, but one of the biggest hits of the night was a sneak attack from a Buffalo Duck! Yes, this was a deliciously cooked duck coated in a "buffalo" sauce (but much more sophisticated than that of Hooters just a few blocks away), topped with a lightly dressed coleslaw of napa cabbage and red onion and -- get this -- homemade tater tots. Unlike regular tater tots, they tasted like (gasp!) potatoes and were crispy and crunchy on the outside. Delish.

Quick note about B&O - they have daily specials Tuesday-Saturday, and Tuesday was "chicken fried steak" night, which both of us were eyeing. Unfortunately we didn't get it but it just gives us an excuse to go back, right? Other dailys include housemade sausage and champ potatoes, butter poached Maine lobstah, and sous vide lamb loin.

Finally it was time for a sweet treat -- or 3. The pastry chef came out and presented us with 3 beautiful plates: first we had the butterscotch tart with a bruleed marshmallow topping; we also had a "banana split" with chocolate ice cream, peanut butter tuile cookies, and caramelized bananas, and last we had a sweet corn cake with cherries and some other deliciousness I can't remember because I was slipping into a diabetic coma. All of the desserts were incredible; we loved the banana split and we both love a corn cake, be it sweet or savory.

At the end we were lucky enough to have a few minutes of Chef Reidt's time, so nice of him to stop by. We're looking forward to seeing him at the Crab Bash on Tuesday, 8/3 at 5:30! Did you get your tickets?? Rumor is they're sold out but there might be more at the door...hope to see you there!

Thanks to Amy and Chef Reidt for welcoming us again into B&O for really outstanding summer foods. I can't wait to see what Chef will do with all the cozy fall produce!


Here's to birthday banana splits -

EP

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Great Event for a Great Cause!

If you are a regular reader you probably already know how much we love the B&O Brasserie, located in downtown Baltimore, at the fabulous Hotel Monaco. We blogged about it when it first opened, we live-Tweeted their spring menu, and we send anyone and everyone looking for a great meal or cocktail straight to B&O!

And now, we're urging all of you to attend their First Annual Crab Bash. It's summertime in Maryland, after all! This event, to celebrate the restaurant's first anniversary, will take place on Tuesday, August 3rd, at 5:30pm. Seven chefs from around the region will battle to see who has the best crab dish. Guests pay a $10 admission and get the privilege of tasting the competing dishes, enjoying a complimentary cocktail, and watching the battle! Also, guests are entered into a raffle for sweet prizes such as an overnight stay at the Hotel Monaco. The warm fuzzies you get from knowing that your $10 goes to support an awesome cause, The Great Kids Farm, are absolutely free.

More details below, including how to buy tickets. We'll be at the Bash and hope you will, too!


Chefs to Battle it Out in

B&O American Brasserie’s First Annual Crab Bash

Event to celebrate restaurant’s first anniversary,
Proceeds to benefit Great Kids Farm

(Baltimore) – It’s a fight to the death! Ok, not exactly, but it’s still going to be a good fight. In honor of their first anniversary, B&O American Brasserie will host their first annual CRAB BASH on Tuesday, August 3 from 5:30-8 p.m. benefiting the Great Kids Farm. Pitting seven chefs from the region against each other, B&O American Brasserie seeks to find the Best Crab Dish. The crab dishes will be judged by attendees and a panel of local celebrity judges including Baltimore magazine’s Suzanne Loudermilk, Mix 106.5’s Reagan Warfield, and national food blogger Dara Bunjon.

For an admissions fee of $10, all of which will benefit the Great Kids Farm, guests are invited to watch the chefs battle it out, sample the chefs’ dishes and enjoy a complimentary cocktail created for the anniversary by Head Bartender Brendan Dorr. Attendees will also be entered into a raffle for a one-night stay at the Hotel Monaco and a gift certificate for dinner for two, a $100 value, at B&O American Brasserie.

Participating chefs are: B&O American Brasserie’s E. Michael Reidt, Salt’s Jason Ambrose, Brewer’s Art’s Dave Newman, Square 1682’s Guillermo Tellez (Philadelphia), Christian deLutis, Domaso’s Paul Healey (Arlington, VA) and Bambara’s Jay Silva (Boston).

Great Kids Farm educates Baltimore city students about maintaining a healthy and energy efficient lifestyle through a farm that the students, themselves maintain. For more information on the Great Kids Farm, visit
www.greatkidsfarm.org.

What:
B&O American Brasserie’s Crab Bash 2010
When:
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
5:30-8 p.m.

Where:
2 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Admission:
$10 entrance fee
Includes food and raffle ticket
100% of which will go to the Great Kids Farm
Tickets:
Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased
by visiting
www.missiontix.com or the hostess stand.
Contact:
For additional information, visit
www.bandorestaurant.com or call 443-692-6172.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Top Five Reasons to Visit Tangier's



by Xani

Recently Erin and I were invited to complimentary press dinner at Tangiers, a new French-Moroccan inspired restaurant in Canton. In our excitement to try this new spot, we BOTH forgot our cameras! So, please forgive the even-worse-than-usual photography, as we had to take pictures on Erin's Blackberry!

#5: Cuisine. Where else in Baltimore can you get Moroccan food? Not Mediterranean, not Greek, but Moroccan? NOWHERE, as far as I know. The chef was born in Casablanca and his grandmother, who provided many of the recipes, was born in Tangier.

#4:Great Atmosphere. This large, well-appointed space makes you feel welcome the moment you walk in. There is a large bar and a spacious dining room, with comfortable, cozy tables and flattering lighting (even better if you remembered to bring your real camera!). There are also a number of outdoor tables under big umbrellas, for those days when its UNDER 100 degrees.

#3:Sangria

When it's OVER 100 degrees, like this week, stay in the air-conditioned bar and enjoy a glass of Tangier's tasty red or white sangria. The white was sweet and refreshing, the red (Erin's fave) was more traditional but with a nice, fruity kick!

#2:Briouates Cigars.


By far our favorite savory dish of the evening, these crispy rolls stuffed with flavorful, spicy ground beef were unlike anything I've tasted in recent memory. They came out hot and fresh, and had perfect crunch and spice. Get two orders!

#1: Dessert and Tea.


Absolutely the high point of the meal, the gorgeous tea service and adorable plate of mini-desserts was the perfect end to the meal. We were blown away by the assortment of unusual pastries, candies, and fried treats that arrived after dinner. Even stuffed from our meal of chicken tagine, those tasty Cigars, a couscous special, and a number of other dishes, we couldn't help but dig into this pretty plate. In fact, we would highly recommend you drop into Tangier's for a little dessert and tea al fresco once this heat wave moves along. Hopefully sooner than later!

Keep cool folks,

X

Monday, July 5, 2010

NOLA Pt. 2: Evenings on Frenchmen Street

by Erin



Everyone knows about the French Quarter in New Orleans, but just around the corner from the Quarter is an area known as Frenchmen Street, a place where the locals hang and there's music everywhere. I had heard about Frenchmen Street on my first visit to the Big Easy with Xani in 2007, but had never had a chance to check it out until our most recent trip.

One evening we had a work gathering at an awesome bar called Molly's at the Market -- we liked it so much we went back every night thereafter! Molly's is a friendly bar with great drinks including a Pimm's Cup made with ginger beer, a Bloody Mary with a splash of Guinness and pickled green beans, and a frozen Irish Coffee with vanilla ice cream, baileys, and brandy. YUM! We enjoyed these beverages many, many times :)





One of the best things about Molly's is that since we went every night, we became friends with the bartender, who gave us great tips on where to eat and where to go to hear great music. The first time we went to Frenchmen Street we had a list of recommendations from Christie, our bartender at Molly's.



Friends Lydia, Max, and Cezar and I headed to Frenchmen and checked out the menus of a few places we were considering for dinner. Then we came to Adolfo's, a creole-Italian restaurant atop a music venue (a recommendation from Christie, who said it was "quirky and weird with terrible service - but in a good way"). We walked upstairs to check out the menu and were immediately hit with the intoxicating scent of garlic. Needless to say, our decision on where to eat dinner was made. We sat in the dimly lit, cozy space and our waiter explained the rules: no credit cards, and no oysters tonight. Got it.

The waiter brought a plate of garlicky bread while we perused the menu. My friends ordered eggplant parm (very good, cheesy, and spicy), escargots (very garlicky and buttery), and a fish dish topped with shrimp, crawfish, and crab in a creamy creole sauce -- a house specialty.



Eggplant parm - spicy and SO cheesy!



Blurry, buttery escargots



Shrimp with seafood topping, pasta on the side

I got linguine with a creamy, spicy sauce and shrimp and crawfish. Divine! It was just what I had been craving and it really hit the spot. I highly recommend Adolfo's for good, down-home Italian in a laid-back atmosphere.



Spicy, creamy pasta with fresh seafood -- irresistable!

After dinner, we wandered across the street to listen to some music at The Spotted Cat, where St. Louis Slim was playing his steel guitar along with a band that included a WASHBOARD and a tuba! We listened all night long and enjoyed the evening breeze and a beer. Great, great night.



So great, in fact, we tried to recreate it the next night! It was our last night in NOLA and we wanted to go out with a bang. We headed over to Frenchmen Street around 7 to catch some of the earlier acts. We ended up at d.b.a. and listened to two great artists/bands: first we listened to Luke Winslow-King, who reminded me of a young JFK (but hotter), who played some great blues/bluegrass with the same washboard-player/percussionist from the night before!



Next, a band called Ernie Vincent and the Top Notes played some great blues/funk and had the whole crowd on their feet. No shortage of cute musicians here either.



After a couple hours of music and yummy beers at d.b.a. (they have over 20 on tap, lots more from around the world in bottles), we were looking for some late-night eats. We walked about a block to 13, the sister restaurant to Molly's. And sister resto to Molly's = late-night frozen Irish Coffee!!

We got some great food at 13, including Tater Tachos (nachos made with tater tots instead of chips - GENIUS in concept and in name), pizza, a veggie po' boy, and a breakfast burrito. I got the best chicken salad sandwich I've ever had - it was an Asian chicken salad with sesame oil, sliced almonds, and fresh greens on toasted multi-grain bread. A-mazing.



Tater tachos!!



Veg po' boy





Asian chicken salad sandwich on toasted multigrain bread

Some of the best times of the trip were had on Frenchmen Street - great friends, great food, great booze, and great tunes. Can't wait to get back there! And I was so inspired by the great music, I recently signed up for swing dance classes!

More NOLA posts coming soon! Hope everyone had a fantastic 4th!

Happy tater tachos -
EP


Sunday, June 27, 2010

NOLA Eats: Part 1 - Adventures in Po Boys

by Erin

Hey BCD fans! Remember us? We're those slacker girls who sometimes blog about food...



Anyway, speaking of food, we just got back from one of the culinary epicenters of our country: New Orleans!! A big bunch of us from work (including Xani) were attending the National Urban Area Security Initiative conference (not Xani - she was just there for vacation!) and got to spend almost a whole week in the Big Easy! This was my fourth visit to NOLA (longtime readers will remember previous visits) and my longest visit, so I was ecstatic to spend 5 whole nights in one of my most favorite cities in the world.



Now, we did a lot of eating while in the Big Easy (or, as we came to call it, "The Big Sweaty" since it was SO HOT and SO HUMID), so we'll do several posts about some of the great food we enjoyed. Tonight I'm writing about two of my po boy experiences.

We arrived on Sunday evening, checked into our hotel, and hit the French Quarter, which was about a 10-15 minute walk -- a walk we did often. We tried to hit Johnny's Po Boys for sandwiches, but they were closed. So, we headed to a place called Coop's Place for Po Boys. It was definitely a down-home, local place and we had to wait a long time for a table. We finally got two tables and chowed down!

First we started with a couple bottles of Abita beer, which was a staple in our diet for the week. We started dinner with this sampler platter called "Coop's Taste Plate" that had Seafood Gumbo, Shrimp Creole, Red Beans & Rice, Rabbit and Sausage Jambalaya, all topped with a piece of Cajun Fried Chicken. YUM! The red beans and rice had such a delicious hammy flavor and a great texture. But the fried chicken took the title - it was incredibly juicy, crunchy, and SPICY from all the great creole spices in the coating. Popeyes, you're outta here.



I got a Shrimp & Oyster Po Boy as my main, and while it was great to have some great fried seafood, I was not overly impressed with the sandwich overall. There were no condiments -- no glue, if you will -- to keep everything together.



A yummy mayo or other topping would have really spiced it up. There was some mayo on the shelf next to our table but it was about 90 degrees out and wary of tableside mayo. I tried a little on my sandwich but in the end just enjoyed the seafood, minus the sandwich.





Fried shrimp Po Boy of a colleague; you can see they are very generous with the portions!

A few days later, I ended up on a journey for more Po Boys with friends and colleagues Cezar and Paris (both of whom are great travel buddies, aka great eaters!). Paris had heard about a place called Parkway Bakery & Tavern that supposedly had GREAT po boys. Parkway is located in a part of the city called Mid-City, so we hopped in a cab and arrived a few minutes later. There was a bustling lunch crowd in the sunny, comfortable diner. We stood in line and tried to decide what kind of sandwich to get. Since I always get some sort of fried seafood po boy, I decided to go for a specialty of theirs: the roast beef po boy.

For some reason I was expecting deli roast beef on a bun. Boy was I mistaken. This sandwich (on house-baked bread, BTW) was overflowing with incredible roast beef brisket, plus gravy. And of course I got it "fully dressed" - lettuce, tomato, pickle, mayo.



And speaking of being "dressed," I practically was wearing the sandwich by the end of it - messiest thing ever! (Sorry no pics - I was so excited to eat this sandwich I forgot!). I had to eat it with a knife and fork after about 1 bite, but it was so good.

Cezar and Paris got fried shrimp po boys that looked amazing and were overflowing with sweet, crunchy shrimp. We got some regular fries and some sweet potato fries to share and they were both excellent (and you know I'm a fry snob!). Last, Cezar got a piece of rum cake, which he shared with me and Paris. It was very good - not too sweet, not too rummy.



In short, Parkway is SO worth the $10 cab ride across town. It's down-home, delicious, and better than most things you'll find in the Quarter.

More posts about NOLA coming soon! We did a lot of eating and drinking, including one of my new favorite drinks: the Pimm's Cup! Why the hell don't we have that up north?

Happy NOLA eats -
EP


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