Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Magic New Year Muffins

By Xani

Halllooooooo out there, internet friends.  If anyone is still reading, I just wanted to take a moment to wish you a happy new year!  It's been a bit of a light year for BCD in 2013, perhaps we can pick up the posting pace in 2014? No promises...

For now, I wanted to share a little recipe I baked up the other day, and was able to share with EP, Dave, and some good BCD friends, George and Jamie. I baked them on a whim on a miserable, rainy day between Xmas and New Years, and if that isn't the perfect time to bake something, I don't know what is.  I had just defrosted some homemade applesauce I'd made in the fall, and was inspired to use it to create something delicious, but not quite as rich and decadent as most of the treats I've been surrounded by this holiday season.  I fiddled with a recipe I found online, adding cardmom and coconut oil and a bit of whole wheat flour, and they just came out so perfect, with the right amount of crunch outside, a moist inside from the applesauce, and the haunting flavor of cardamom throughout. They are sweet but not overly so, and excellent with a cup of black coffee (but Black Coffee and a Muffin just doesn't have the same ring to it).  My muffin testers agreed, describing them as magical and addictive.  And Dave ate five of them, so I guess he really liked them, too.  So I had to share this little recipe with all our readers, many of whom have been reading this little blog since the very beginning!  Perhaps you will want to bake up a batch of these today (they only take about half an hour, surely you can squeeze that in before midnight!) and maybe they will be the magic cure for any hangover symptoms tomorrow (but no promises)...

Whether you start your 2014 with muffins or not, we hope it begins brilliantly and just keeps getting better!

Love from the BCD girls,

X and EP

Cardamom-spiced Applesauce Muffins
based on this recipe from Epicurious.com. Recipe below includes my adjustments

Makes 12 muffinsingredients

For muffins:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 heaping teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar (or a little less if your applesauce is on the sweet side)
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup toasted almonds (3 1/2 ounces), coarsely chopped
For topping:
  • 3 tablespoons demerara sugar
  • 3/4 cup sliced, slivered or chopped almonds
  • Special equipment: a muffin pan with 12 (1/2-cup) muffin cups, Pam for Baking 
  • preparation
Prepare muffins:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Grease muffin pan (I used Pam for Baking which worked perfectly).
Stir together flours, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together eggs and brown sugar in a large bowl until combined well, then add butter and coconut oil, a little at a time, whisking until mixture is creamy. Stir in applesauce, then fold in flour mixture until flour is just moistened. Stir in nuts and divide batter among muffin cups.
Make topping and bake:
Stir together topping ingredients and sprinkle on top of muffins. Bake until muffins are puffed and golden, about 20 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes, then remove muffins from pan and cool slightly.
cooks' note:Muffins, cooled completely, keep in an airtight container at room temperature 1 day.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgivukkah 2013: Once in a Lifetime

by EP & Xani

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You may have heard that this year, for the first time since 1899, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah overlapped. This rare occurrence was given an adorable name: Thanksgivukkah.

We decided to embrace this special occasion and convergence of two of our favorite holidays and create a fabulous menu, if we do say so ourselves. Although there won't be another Thanksgivukkah for a long time to come (some say 70,000 years!), we spent countless hours researching and preparing for this day, and we wanted to document this wonderful meal with friends and family.

Here was the menu:

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

24 Hours in the City of Brotherly Love

by EP


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A few weekends ago I had the pleasure of visiting my friend Annie at her home in Philadelphia, PA. You might remember her from our Adventures in St. Louis a few years ago. Not only is Philly a great historic town with fanatical sports fans and a pretty killer food scene -- it also happens to be my birthplace. Woot! We celebrated my big 3-0 in Philly last summer and had a totally fabulous time. (I still count our meal at Zahav as one of the best in my whole life. Yes it's that good.)

I was pretty pumped to visit Annie, her husband Chet, and their baby James for a short but fun-filled visit. I don't like showing up places empty-handed so I brought a small sweet treat to Annie and family: Mexican-Spiced Hot Fudge. Blog and recipe to be posted soon!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Jerusalem Fever

by EP

Ever since the Internet became a part of our daily lives (literally almost every second thereof!), people who love to cook have been turning away from cookbooks and instead searching for recipes on blogs and websites from Food Network, Bon Appetit, Epicurious, Food & Wine, America's Test Kitchen (subscription required), etc. I certainly do lots of research for recipes online and find that generally these are reliable. And unlike comments on most articles on the Interwebs, comments on recipes online can be incredibly helpful in determining if a recipe works or doesn't, if some ingredient amounts need tweaking, and so on.

BUT, I still love my cookbooks. I love sitting at my kitchen table, or around my parents' table at Blackacre, thumbing through cookbooks and marking recipes to try. Books sit quietly in my kitchen and present the recipe as I cook; they don't "go dark" and require a clean finger to illuminate the recipe. Splatters and grease-stains on books are badges of honor; on a phone or iPad they mean trouble.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Goodbye Clementine...

by Xani

Even a delinquent food blogger, like myself, knows that you can't just up and switch kitchens without blogging about it.  I've been cooking in this kitchen for almost exactly five years, most of the time this blog as been around!  And man, I have cooked some good stuff!  In fact, my entire approach to cooking and eating has drastically changed over the five years I've cooked there.  No longer cooking for just myself, keeping things a bit healthier and experimenting with baking, bread-making, canning, and other advanced techniques.

I remember when I was first moving in, looking at those curved concrete countertops and wondering if they would be functional, and being super-excited about having a dishwasher!

Little did I know what lie ahead of me in that kitchen: cooking one-handed after my motorcycle crash, having a boyfriend and a little one move in, and adding the always-begging Eddie to our pack.  The years have flown by, and the great parties, amazing meals and fun projects are just memories (forever captured in blog posts) now.  We've got just a few more days left in the house and I'm in constant "Pantry Raid" mode- cobbling together meals with whatever is in the pantry or freezer.  But, I managed a delicious Cast Iron Skillet Chicken the other night, not to mention an inspired pasta dish I named "Fettucine Rockerfeller" (because how else would you use up canned oysters??).  But as we reach the final days, I am, of course, looking forward to cooking in the next kitchen...

Which also happens to be the OLD kitchen!  Anyone remember this place...??

Photo

That's right, I'm moving back to the kitchen where I first learned to cook!  The exact spot where I developed my first "special dishes" (black beans, twice-baked potatoes) as a youngster and began my love affair with cooking.  I'm so happy and excited to (almost) be the proud owner of my childhood home.  The kitchen doesn't look quite the same as it used to, thanks to a complete renovation a couple years ago, but it's still big, has tons of counter space, with two sinks, a giant pot-rack, a sunny dining nook, and did I mention it's BIG?

Just think of what I'm going to cook up in there.  I've already got big plans for Sunday Dinners, brunches, theme parties, AND MORE!  All the more reason to stay tuned to BCD, Like our page on FB, follow us on twitter, instagram, Vine, and right here.  Hopefully lots more yummy posts coming soon...

Farewell old kitchen, and new kitchen here I come...!

X

P.S. I'll leave you with these memories of a kitchen and a home that has served me VERY well...
Little lettuces growing in my little backyard
Celebrating in style at our Mad Men party
Cooking up a storm
My house in Jack-o-lantern format...
Making popcorn with my Man...
Luckily this guy is coming with us- who else would eat all our strawberry tops!?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Pizza Hunter: DC Edition

by EP

Pizza: possibly the world's most perfect food. Good for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner. Be honest - you know cold pizza cures what ails you.

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Pizza Pizza!

I've lived in DC for nine months now and I've spent that time on the hunt for good pizza. It's kind of a cliche amongst DC food-lovers that there's "no good pizza in this town," but I'm happy to report that I've found a few solid spots in my local travels. Below I've outlined both the hits and the misses, and like Xani did years ago with her burger rating scale, I've given the places below a rating from 1 to 10 slices, 10 being the best.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Spring has Sprung at B&O Brasserie!

by Xani

The long days, the warm weather, the birds chirping (and the Birds fans cheering!).... you know it's springtime in Charm City!  And with spring comes the farmers' markets, wonderful new produce, and an exciting new menu at B&O Brasserie.

I was lucky enough to be invited to a Media dinner to check out the menu and the new chef at B&O.  As a longtime fan, I knew I was in for a treat.  What I didn't know was that Chef Brad Willits had transformed the menu and was going to dazzle us with fabulous new dishes.


Chef Brad Willits showing a big fish who's boss!

Friday, May 3, 2013

A Treat by Any Other Name...

by Xani



Crisp Rice Treats.  You know what I'm talking about?  The treat that's been around for generations, requires 3 ingredients, and no baking?  Yeah, you know what I'm getting at.  Now, I don't really think the Kellogg legal team is going to come my way to shut down BCD just because I co-opt their product name incorrectly (and without permission).  But in this case I admit to using knock-off, Harris Teeter brand crisp rice cereal, and I'm proud of it!  The end result was a special, unique version of the crispy marshmallow bars, made for a very special cause!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Master Recipe: Cast Iron Chicken

by EP

Cast. Iron. Skillet. The grand-daddy of cookware. For many years, I didn't have one of my own, but I know how great and versatile they can be, and how many delicious things can come out of them. For instance, we brought Xani's cast iron skillet to the beach with us this past summer (yes, along with 5000 lbs of beach stuff and lots of food, booze, and other kitchen tools), and we used it almost every time we cooked.

Only recently did I come into possession of a cast iron skillet.* I've wanted one for a long time but never got around to buying one, and I have so many great pans (gifts from the BCD parents, to be sure) that I didn't really need one. Now that I have my own, however, I can't stop using it and thinking of ways to use it - I want to make everything in it! Steak, corn bread, apple tarte tatin, fried chicken, buttery croutons for Caesar salad.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Advanced Intuitive Cooking

by Xani

These days, I don’t use many recipes.  For one, most of my cookbooks are packed away in a storage unit, awaiting their fate in a new kitchen (TBD).  There are millions of recipes at my fingertips on the internet, but I’m not using those, either.  Instead, I make up my own recipes as I go, also known as “winging it.”  Developing the “winging it” technique (mostly a combination of familiarity with basic cooking skills, with a little self-confidence mixed in) has been an interesting evolution in my cooking life.  I used to cling to a recipe like a life preserver, now I find freedom in trusting my instincts.

Now, that’s all well and good when you are talking about winging an omelette, vinaigrette, or other simple dish using a few pennies worth of ingredients. If it ends up terrible you throw it away (or give it to the dog) and start over.  But the stakes get higher when you are dealing with a pricey steak, or in this case, a veal breast.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Cook's Treats

by EP & Xani

When you think of the flavors of Thanksgiving, you might think of rich gravy, tart cranberries, juicy turkey, brussels sprouts (with bacon, if you're doing it right), and sweet pies topped with whipped cream. We, on the other hand, identify Thanksgiving with one particular "taste memory": turkey tails.  Also known as the Pope's Nose. (Sorry, Benedict...you're outta here anyway.).


"Turkey tails? What the...?", we hear you cry. Well, something has to hold up all that plumage!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Citrus Celebrations

by EP

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It's winter. Dreariness abounds. We are caught between the sparkly, gluttonous holiday season and the sun-shiny frolick-inducing springtime. The glimmer of hope in this time is the fruit of the "season": citrus. People always give me funny looks when I say grapefruits are in season right now, but it's true! In the US, citrus from Florida or California is as "local" as it's gonna get in February. And lucky for us, we LOVE citrus. Grapefruit is so hot right now, and its French name (pamplemousse) is possibly the most fun word to say - ever.

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