Weekly Roundup: Spring Is Coming – Let’s Cook

Elena's Birthday Cake

A secret cake - revealed.

For those of you who follow me on Twitter – you might remember that I was doing a “secret” baking project on Wednesday, which I promised to reveal in today’s weekly roundup. Well this is it – a surprise birthday cake for Elpis and Justice! It’s red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting and I was very pleased with how even the cake layers came out. Slowly, but surely my piping skills are improving. Just ignore the writing, please. Also, I’m putting it out there that my cake making skills are for hire. Email me for the scoop.

And, in other news it’s finally Spring in DC.

I know that the conventional wisdom is that people want to hole up in their apartments and cook during the winter, and then go out and party in the spring, but I think it’s the opposite. At least, it’s the opposite at the end of winter, when everyone’s sick of the root vegetables and apples they can get at the farmers market, and can’t stomach the tasteless imported produce in the grocery store. But Spring? Spring brings asparagus. Spring brings rhubarb. Spring brings weather in which we can eat dinner on our balconies and have people over for parties without asking them to trudge through the ice cold  in the rain. Spring is an excellent time to cook.

And I can feel the excitement in the blogosphere this week – Spring is here, and we’re ready to to raise our knives, put our pans on our burners, and get cooking.

Recipes I want to try, from this week’s Internet dabbling:

  • Homemade meatball subs, from The Arugula Files. Man, I love meatballs. Man, I love bread. Meatballs on bread? Heaven.

And in other foodie blog-ish news:

  • Hillary at Lancelot Sturgeon has a roundup of her experience at the Food and Sports blogger happy hour, that, as a co-organizer, totally warms my heart.
  • Melissa McCart, of Counter Intelligence, is back! She’s moved to Tumblr, where she laments the lack of a really good hotdog stand in DC. I was a fan of the Hot Dog at Againn when I had it off the happy hour menu. But that’s not exactly a stand.
  • Oh my god! A comment I made on Young and Hungry about Top Chef (because, you know that Tim Carman plays it all cool like “oh, yeah, Top Chef DC, no big deal” but seriously, he has to be excited about it – who couldn’t be?) actually inspired a post! I feel like this is a special moment in my food-blogger-career – to be (gently) teased by Tim Carman.
  • So, like, there were many reasons to be jealous of all the peeps on my Twitter Feed at SXSW, but the write ups of the Bacon Throwdown over at One Bite at a Time and FloridaGirlinDC really take the cake. Or should it be take the bacon?
  • Tim Carman ponders the beauty of the changing seasons. Yes, I’m talking about the advent of Food Cart season in DC. What splendors will the sunny weather bring to your plate?
  • Executive Chef, Brian Robinson of Restaurant 3 is making homemade peeps for Easter. Get the details on Dining in DC.
  • Endless Simmer investigates a little known farmer’s market find that’s currently in season: the cherimoya, or custard apple. Well, I mean, I am a little tired of apples and pears.
  • Did you read that big article in the New York Times about how Katie Lee, former wife of Billy Joel, is about to become a Food Network Star? Then you’ll enjoy this piece from The Internet Food Association, which pretty much tears the article apart. I’ll admit, I totally forgot until I read the IFA piece that Katie Lee was the awful host on Season 1 of Top Chef in the pre-Padma Days. They want to give that piece of wood a cooking show? Seriously?

Happy Friday!

Advertisements

Comments (16)

Feed Your Cravings: Two Upcoming Food Blogger Bake Sales

What you've been wating for.

My God, there are just so many food blogger events on the horizon. Besides our regular monthly happy hour, and the just-past food and sports blogger happy hour (which was awesome, by the way – and I didn’t even really have to talk about sports!) there are two food blogger bake sales coming up in the next few weeks. Yes, while it’s lovely to discuss the finer points of grilling a steak over cocktails at a happy hour, wouldn’t you rather have a chance to eat some of that lovely food that everyone’s been writing about? Well, now you can.

Sunday, March 28 – Food Blogger Bake Sale Fundraiser for Haiti
The lovely Stephanie of Adventures in Shaw has put her baking and “make it happen” skills together, and has organized a food blogger bake sale to raise money for Haiti. From 9-11am at Zorba’s Cafe (1612 20th St NW), DC’s food bloggers will be selling their finest baked goods to benefit Doctors Without Borders Haiti relief efforts. Please stop by! Sadly I can’t help sell, but plan on donating some lemon cupcakes and salty chocolate thumbprints to the cause.

Saturday, April 17th – DC Food Bloggers Share Our Strength Bakesale
Eastern Market, 9:00am-12:30pm
Colleen of Foodie Tots is heading up the DC Food Bloggers participation in The first annual National Food Bloggers Bake Sale, which is part of Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale. The national bake sale is the brainchild of Gaby Dalkin of WhatsGabyCooking.com, and you can check out her blog to see a list of national participants. All the proceeds of the bake sale will benefit Share Our Strength’s efforts to end childhood hunger in America. If you want to join up and contribute, you can join our team here.

So please come out! Buy the delicious baked goods you’ve been craving – and donate money to a good cause in the process

Comments (5)

Kitchen Basics: What Is White Whole Wheat Flour? And How Can I Substitute it?

busy day cake

The Busy Day Cake, which first brought White Whole Wheat Flour to my attention.

I recently was asking people about their kitchen and baking quandaries on Facebook (yes, there’s actually a ModernDomestic fan page now, where I can ask people these types of questions. You, too, can be a fan!) and Amelia had an excellent question – what exactly is this white whole wheat flour that she’s been hearing about?

I have to admit that I haven’t actually used white whole wheat flour myself, although it first came to my attention when I made the Busy Day Cake (an Orangette recipe that originally called for white whole wheat flour). But after doing some research, white whole wheat flour looks like the solution for those who like the nutrition of whole wheat flour, but dislike its bitter flavor and heavier texture.

So what exactly is so special about this white whole wheat flour? First, a quick biology lesson. A grain of wheat is made up of three parts:

1.) The wheat bran (the hard, outer coating);
2.) The endosperm (the soft, starchy stuff inside); and
3.) The germ (the part at the bottom of the wheat grain, which has a high oil content and a sweet and nutty flavor).

Regular whole wheat flour, which contains the wheat bran, endosperm, and germ, is made from “red” wheat varieties. Red wheat gets its color from a pigment in the bran. This pigment also contains phenolic acid, which has a bitter flavor – it’s what gives whole wheat baked goods that slightly bitter taste.

White whole wheat flour is made from varieties of softer “white” wheat. Because the white wheat germ doesn’t contain that red pigment, it doesn’t have that bitter taste – making its flavor closer to that of white all-purpose flour. So you can get the nutritional punch of whole wheat flour, with the sweeter flavor of white flour.

Whew. That was a lot of science writing.

As for substitutions, white whole wheat flour can be used in place of all purpose flour or whole wheat flour in any recipe – at least, according to the King Arthur Web site. If you want to be conservative in your experimentation, I’d suggest using substituting half the flour called for in a recipe with white whole wheat flour, and seeing how you like the difference. After all, baking is a highly personal experience, and you should experiment to see what you like the best – both for taste and health reasons.

Sources (and for more reading):
The Bread Bible, By Rose Levy Beranbaum
Good to the Grain: Baking With Whole Grain Flours, By Kim Boyce
King Arthur Flour: White Whole Wheat Flour

Comments (6)

Reminder: Food and Sports Blogger March Madness Happy Hour – Tuesday, 3/16!

SBinvite-3

Food Bloggers + Sports Bloggers = Happy Hour

Yes, this is my final reminder – the food and sports blogger March Madness happy hour is Tuesday night (3/16)! Come drink with us from 6-9 pm at Clyde’s of Gallery Place. Just a note – we’ve been moved from the sports room to the oyster bar, but don’t worry. There will still be happy hour-ing. Fellow food and sports bloggers, readers, lurkers, sports fans, food fans, and friends all welcome.

RSVP on the DC Food Bloggers Facebook Page.

Comments (1)

Alex’s Chocolate Chunk Banana “Brownies”

Banana Brownies 2

Yes, I realize they look like muffins - but they're actually intended to be brownies.

My brother has always had a thing for bananas. I don’t know what it was about them. I mean, I liked them as a kid, but Alex loved them. One of his favorite snacks to make was a “banana milk shake,” a term that I think my mother came up with to re-brand banana smoothies as something much more indulgent. He was a fan of the banana ice cream they served down the street at Prince Puckler’s, still my favorite ice cream shop in the country. And now that he’s a post-college grad trying to make it as a playwright in Chicago, one of his more bizarre frugal dinners it to make banana omelets. Yes. Bananas. In an omelet.

Okay, so I’m not sold on the banana omelets, although Alex will defend them to the death. But I started thinking about bananas when I was wondering what to get Alex for his birthday. Usually, I’m a pretty boring present giver – I go for the amazon gift certificate, or, once in a while, a book. But I decided to do something different this year – I decided to make him his very own banana baked good recipe.

Now, you’ll notice that the title of this post is for banana “brownies” and yet the photo clearly looks like muffins. But consider this discrepancy merely a deficiency of my kitchen – I actually don’t own a square baking pan, and it just didn’t seem right to bake them in a round pan. Plus, for shipping purposes, the individually packaged muffins are pretty sweet. But, rest assured, while you can bake these in muffin tins, they are intended to be baked in a 9×9 inch square cake pan.

I adapted this recipe from my own banana bread recipe, as well as a butterscotch brownie recipe from The Joy Of Cooking – one of the few sources I could find that had recipes for “brownies” that didn’t actually contain chocolate. Since Alex is such a banana fiend, these are heavy on the fruit – they’re best made with really old bananas that are beginning to blacken on the outside. They’re chewy and moist, sweet with the banana flavor, and punctuated with chunks of chocolate. I used bittersweet chocolate but I’ll actually use milk chocolate when I make these again – the sweetness of the milk chocolate would be a more harmonious compliment to the banana flavor.

So, happy birthday Alex. And yes, I realize that I’m writing this a week after your actual birthday. But, um, can having your very own handmade recipe make up for that?

Banana Brownies 1

Oh, and I also ate two.

Recipe: Alex’s Chocolate Chunk Banana

Comments (2)

Weekly Roundup: “Oh My God We’re Getting A DC Top Chef” Edition

Churchkey_Chairs

Restaurants like Churchkey have helped put DC on the food map.

Ever since I came to DC four and a half years ago, the food scene has been expanding and growing right before my very eyes. The new bars and clubs that are opening up on H street, the ever expanding food scene on 14th street – it seems like every day there’s a new restaurant opening that I want to try. But now, I think the DC food scene has finally arrived. Yes – Metrocurean’s sources tell her that we’re getting a DC Top Chef.

Now, I know that Top Chef isn’t the last say on a city’s food scene – not by a long shot. The show’s focus on restaurant cooking really reflects one small part of a city’s food culture, after all – I’d still say that I wish DC had the vibrant ethnic food scene that you find out in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs, for instance. But still, I’m pretty damn proud of my little city.

Recipes I want to try, from this week’s Internet perusings:

  • Salvadorian pound cake from One Bite at a Time. It’s a sweet cake that also uses Parmesan cheese – the combo looks fascinating to me.
  • Blood orange yogurt cake, from The Atlantic. I think we’re seeing the tail end of orange recipes for the season. Next up -rhubarb.
  • Amnesty cookies (they liberate all the bags of half-used ingredients from your cupboard), from David Lebovitz.
  • Sesame cookies, from Atlantic Kitchen. I know that sesame is often used in desserts, but it’s something I always forget about. These look lovely.

And in other news:

  • Dangerously Delicious Pies, a Baltimore Favorite, will be officially opening up their new H street store on March 12. Man. Does this mean I need to go down to H street? I hate paying cab fare. Via Frozen Tropics.
  • I really liked this post from DC Foodies about the proper use of the word “Gastropub” (and, according to the post, I’ve misused the term quite a few times on this very site). Considering that DC is experience a Renaissance of “Gastropubs,” I’m glad someone is taking a look at what, exactly, a Gastropub is.
  • Another sign that the DC Food Scene has arrived – two DCites made Food and Wine’s list of seven top Sommeliers: Greg Enert, Beer Director of Churchkey and Birch and Barley, and John Wabeck, Sommelier at Inox. Via Metrocurean.
  • Everyone cheats in the kitchen. Canned chicken stock, pre-bagged lettuce, minute rice – we all use shortcuts. Endless Simmer lists their top three cooking cheats – and now I totally want to make them my own.
  • The lovely Mango and Tomato is getting her teaching on – she’s started teaching Knife Skills classes. I totally think you should hit her up for a private class. The beautiful photos are by Adventures in Shaw.
  • The Tipsy Baker is having a showdown. A chicken pot pie show down. In one corner – the chicken pot pie from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc At Hom. In the other corner – the chicken pot pie from Pioneer Woman Cooks. Who’s pot pie reigns supreme?
  • There’s such thing as a beer CSA? Really? Via Young and Hungry.

Happy Friday!

Comments (13)

Saint Patrick’s Day Guinness Cupcakes

Guinness Cupcakes 3

Guinness Cupcakes - perfect for St. Patrick's Day. Or any day.

I’ll admit, I’ve never done that much for St. Patrick’s Day. I mean, my mother would festoon the dining room with green clover garlands and chocolate “gold” pieces around the holiday each year when I was little, given our Irish heritage. And I’ve gone out to a couple of Irish bars on the holiday. And there was that one memorable Saint Patrick’s Day during college at Earl’s on the Ave (the old one) with a bunch of blue drinks and my friend Sara. But let’s not talk about that.

It may be a holiday that has garnered little of my attention, but I think that Saint Patrick’s Day is due for a second look. Not because it celebrates a certain Irish Saint, but because it’s an opportunity to bake with beer.

Everyone should bake with beer. I’m just going to put that out there. Baking with beer is awesome. It adds a smoky, almost savory note to baked goods that’s a lovely compliment to sugar. It’s an excellent addition to bread recipes – just replace the water or liquid called for with an equal amount of beer. And dark beers like stouts or porters go exceptionally well with chocolate.

These Guinness cupcakes with Guinness glaze take advantage of the dark beer/chocolate pairing. The smoky flavor of the Guinness helps balance the sweetness of the cake, and brings out the cocoa in the cake. It also contrasts with the sugar in the glaze, which keeps the cake soft and sweet. The only problem I had with the cake is that it turned out exceptionally moist – maybe even a little gummy in the center. I guess a quest for a perfect cake is never really done. But baking with beer? That’s a quest that I’m happily convinced will never be done – there’s just too many things to experiment with.

Guiness Cupcakes 2

Love that you can see the bubbles from the beer in the frosting.

Recipe: St. Patrick’s Day Guinness Cupcakes

Comments (13)

« Newer Posts · Older Posts »