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Archive for September, 2009

BmilkChipCake

Buttermilk is one of those ingredients that I usually cook with in streaks: It’s sold in quart or half gallon sizes at the grocery store but I usually end up only needing a little bit to add tang or richness to a particular dish, meaning lots leftover for something else.  After playing with buttermilk for my sticky biscuits last week, I’ve had some hanging out in the fridge — hence the inspiration for this dessert making its debut on PBMilk.

This buttermilk chocolate chip cake has an emphasis on the butter — there are two (!) sticks in this large loaf cake.  One whole stick is used to create a streusel/crumble topping with brown sugar and flour that bakes down into the cake.  The result is a a crispy, buttery shell and a rich, dense, dry pound cake.  The bittersweet chocolate chips — added when it comes out of the oven — show some love by getting all warm and gooey.

BmilkChipCake2

This is a yummy dessert, but something is missing to my taste.  The buttermilk flavor is too subtle and there aren’t enough chocolate chips in the batter.  In my next crack at this one — and my recommendation to those who decide to try this at home — I’ll up the chippage in the batter by at least 1/4 cup and also juice up the buttermilk factor by a 1/8 to 1/4 cup.

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EasternMarket1

Every great American city has a grand, central marketplace that reflects its unique history:  In New York, it’s Fulton Fish Market; in Chicago, it’s Walter Street Market; and in New Orleans, it’s the historic French Market.   And since 1873 in the nation’s capitol, Eastern Market is where District natives have been coming for fresh regional produce from the fields of rural Virginia and Pennsylvania and seafood (crab!) from the Maryland coast.

EasternMarket3

On weekends outside the recently-restored South Hall, regional farmers and local artisans set up tents to sell their goods.  In the summer, expect to find awesome West Virginia peaches and northern Pennsylvania blueberries. Fall is apple and squash season with great varieties from area orchards.  Inside South Hall, which is open daily, browse the cases of homemade deli meats and sausages and fresh cuts of poultry, pork and beef. I also high recommend stopping by the “Market Lunch” – renowned for its crab cakes and blueberry pancakes.

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Yum

I first made these back in January, and tonight I was craving them again. They are as fabulous as I remember them — sweet, sticky oatmeal-pecan-raisin rolls. Nothing like a little weeknight “baking therapy” at the spur of the moment!  These hit the sweet spot. Yum.

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PecanBun

A recent Sunday morning excursion through New York’s Meatpacking District reminded me why it’s one of the neighborhoods I love most: edgy architecture, trendy nightlife, bold people, and a fantastic brunch scene. After a walk down the city’s popular, new High Line Park — a converted old elevated railway — I stopped at Cookshop (10th Ave and 20th St.) for brunch al fresco.

CoffeeCreamDonut

The menu features seasonal and local ingredients in fare like the fresh ricotta-spinach frittata, homemade beef brisket and the semolina-raisin french toast. They have some killer pastries as well. We loved the pecan sticky bun and the coffee cream filled donut. The latter was particularly unique and delicious!

HighLIne

Pick up the High Line at Gansevoort and Washington Streets and walk north to 20th St and Tenth Ave, the end of the park.  There’s a coffee stand and a bunch of benches and chairs along the way. If it’s a nice day, definitely worth stopping to admire the wildflowers and urban architecture.  Once you reach the end, Cookshop is across the street on the corner. A great way to spend a Sunday morning.

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Vosges

I love hot chocolate — and generally all types of chocolate. But “haute” chocolate?  What’s so special about the expensive, designer stuff that draws people to shell out several dollars for a single truffle, let alone a small square brick of “plain”?  I guess I’m still a rookie chocolate connoisseur trying to find out.

This small birthday gift of four exotic truffles was a step forward in my chocolate education. They’re from Chicago-based Vosges Haut Chocolate, whose advertised mantra is “peace, love and chocolate,” and each chocolate reflects an “East meets West” flavor theme.  Talk about exotic:  I’m still not sure what curry powder is doing mixed with milk chocolate; why wasabi is being coupled with a sweet; or how salty kalamata olives can add to the creamy goodness of white chocolate. But truth be told: the subtle interplay of flavors did actually make for a tasty and sensory, not to mention artistic, experience. I enjoyed.

GingerWasabi_IndianCurryLEFT: “Black Pearl” — ginger, wasabi, dark chocolate, and black sesame seeds

RIGHT: “Naga” — sweet Indian curry powder, coconut, and milk chocolate

EVOO_AnchoLEFT: “Olio d’Oliva” — extra virgin first-press olive oil, white chocolate, and dried kalamata olives

RIGHT: “Red Fire” — Mexican ancho and chipotle chili peppers, ceylon cinnamon, and dark chocolate (spicy!)

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