Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Let Me Entertain You, Let Me Make You Smile

by EP

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One of my new years resolutions was to entertain more. I have a lovely little home, I love to cook, and I love to socialize - why not combine them by entertaining friends? The problem is, when you are so used to cooking for one, as I do most days, you overlook such skills necessary for entertaining as: serving food on time, serving enough food, working in courses, talking to others while cooking/following a recipe, etc. But, the only way to get better at something is to practice, right? Of course right.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Rose By Any Other Name

by EP

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I recently had the pleasure of dining at Rose's Luxury in the Eastern Market/Barracks Row neighborhood. This place is on every top restaurant list and is the talk of the town (at least, according to my twitter feed). I had been wanting to go but in the back of my mind was skeptical - is this place really that amazing? I'm pretty snobby - maybe this place isn't all it's cracked up to be? Spoiler alert: IT IS.

During the polar vortex that brought temperatures in the area down to single digits (not to mention the wind chills), best buddies Mark and Craig and I headed down to Southeast DC. Normally the wait time is about 2 hours at Rose's, even if you get there right when they open at 5:30. Yeesh. Mark got there at 5:40 and by some polar vortex miracle, we were seated at 6:10. I was excited, to say the least. There may have been applause when we were seated. Maybe.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Holiday Gifts 2013: Just Add Vodka

by EP

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This year, while I made plenty of cookies, I didn't give them away as formal holiday gifts, as I've done in the past. I wanted to do something a little different. I was inspired by my friend Ginger, who gave me a small bottle of homemade vanilla extract last year, which I used in all my baking until it was gone. I cleverly told everyone that whatever treat I'd made was made with "local vanilla."

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

It's Cookie Time, It's Cookie Time

by EP

I don't know about you, but whenever cookies are coming out of the oven, I sing "It's cookie time, it's cookie time" a la the great cinematic masterpiece that is "Troop Beverly Hills." 

Yes, that just happened.

Speaking of cookies coming out of the oven, our ovens have been working overtime this holiday season! We have been making some great treats - both classics and what we're calling "alterna-cookies": classic cookies with a special twist, like gingersnaps made with bacon fat, or sugar cookies made with goat cheese.

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 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.

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