Monday, January 31, 2011

Sundays on the Phone with Monday

Sunday is a good day for cooking. We usually wind of spending most of the day in our pajamas, around the house, catching up on TV, so you might as well end the day with a good meal. This Sunday, we decided to break into our wedding meat.

Yep, for our wedding, Alex's friend Jeff gifted him a lovely set of four Omaha Steak filet mignons. And, four sirloins, four pork chops, four hamburgers, eight hot dogs, four twice baked potatoes, and four caramel apple tartlets. Such a great gift. 

It is a gift that has also been with us through thick and thin. It was sent to us vacuum sealed, on dry ice after the wedding. We moved in into our apartment in Cambridge, MA, into Andy and Kim's house in Silver Spring, MD, and now into our apartment in DC. This meat has traveled the country and is more than ready to be eaten.

So here is my first attempt at cooking steak, which I must say, came out pretty darn delicious. It's probably the quality of the meat, but I'm going to give myself a little credit for not messing it up!

Filet Mignon
  • 2 5oz Filet Mignons
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 medium shallots 

Chimichurri Sauce
  • 1 cup fresh parsley (packed)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro (packed)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
Directions


The best steak I have ever had was at Lord Hobo in Cambridge, MA. They do a great 10oz hanger steak with chimichurri and fries. It's delicious. So, I tried my best to recreate it. Chimichurri is a green sauce from Argentina. It's tangy and delicious, made mostly with parsley, and it has very slight hint of spice.


Start by chopping 1 cup up fresh parsley and 1/4 cup of cilantro. Place these in your food processor, blender, or this is the perfect job for your Magic Bullet.


Add two cloves of garlic, 3/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 cup olive oil, and 1/3 cup of red wine vinegar.


Blend till fairly smooth. Set aside.


Heat a skillet on medium high. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and allow to melt. It's okay if it browns just a little. Once it is melted. Add your steaks and cook on each side for 2 minutes, giving them a nice brown sear. Remove your steaks from the pan and set aside on a plate to rest.


Add a cup or so of red wine to the pan. Any wine that you like. I used Beringer Founders Estate Merlot because it's my favorite red of the moment. Mince two medium shallots and throw those in as well. Give the shallots a few minutes to cook. When they are tender, transfer your steaks back to the pan and allow to cook for 5-10 minutes on each side. Alex likes his take rare-medium rare so we cooked his to an internal temp of 125 degrees. I like mine cooked through to about medium-well, so we kept mine in the pan till it reached 150 degrees internally.


Transfer steak to your plate and allow to rest for 5 minutes each. Drizzle a good dose of chimichurri sauce over the steak and serve with your favorite sides (in our case, mashed potatoes and green beans). Yum.

    Thursday, January 27, 2011

    Sipping on Gin and Juice

    Ginger and lime go together just about as well as Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. They are perfectly paired to make your taste buds dance. So I figured, they'd probably make a tasty cupcake. However, when I scoured the internet for a good recipe they seemed to be no where to be found.

    Therefore, this recipe is an attempt to make the internet a tastier place! These cupcakes came out totally delicious. Soft and buttery, with the perfect amount of ginger spice and lime tang. Enjoy!

    Ginger-Lime Cup Cupcakes
    Makes 24 cupcakes
    • 4 limes (using whole, zest, and juice)
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 3 tablespoons ground ginger
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 6 eggs
    • 1 1/2 cup milk
    • 1/2 cup butter, softened
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar
    • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
    • Candied ginger, minced
    Directions

    Since the garnish takes a little time, start by candying your limes first. Fill a medium sized mixing bowl half way with cold water. Add 5-6 ice cubes and set aside. Cut one lime in half lengthwise. Slice each into 12 paper-thin slices, discarding ends of rind.


    Bring a medium saucepan of water to a rolling boil. Remove from heat, and add lime slices. Stir lime slices around until softened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge slices into ice-water bath. After 1 minute, remove lime slices from cold water by draining through a slotted spoon. In a medium skillet, bring sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil, swirling to dissolve sugar. When liquid is clear and bubbling, reduce heat to medium-low. Add lime slices, arranging them in one layer.


    Simmer until rinds are translucent, about 1 hour.

    While your limes are simmering, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a muffin pan with paper liners. In a small bowl, mix together flour, ginger, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together sugar and butter until well combined.


    Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.


    Alternately beat in flour mixture and milk, making three additions of flour mixture and two of milk, beating until smooth.


    Scoop batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown and tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes.


    Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack. Check on your limes, to see how they are doing and then move on to your frosting. Start by zesting your three remaining limes.


    Beat butter, lime zest, and vanilla extract together on medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. 


    Gradually add powdered sugar alternately with lime juice and milk, one tablespoon at a time reserving one tablespoon of your milk to see if you need it. Beating at low speed until blended and smooth after each addition. Beat in up to 1 tablespoon additional milk for desired consistency.


    Set frosting aside until cupcakes are cooled. Check on those limes again, they should be about done. When they are, transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment. Let stand until cool (pop in the freezer if you want to chill them quick).

    When cupcakes and lime slices are cool, frost away. Garnish with lime slice and chopped candied ginger.


    Tuesday, January 25, 2011

    Seven layers of comfort

    Being far away from my friends and family, I've definitely been craving comfort foods. Everyone has their favorites. My favorite comfort foods are chicken Caesar salad, macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, and anything Tex-Mex.

    Tex-Mex is a term used to describe a regional American cuisine that blends food products available in the United States and the culinary creations of Mexican-Americans influenced by the cuisines of Mexico. Which is a fancy way of saying, it's America's version of Mexican food.

    It's filling, it's cheesy, and has right amount of spice to keep you warm even in the chilliest of temperatures. The other night I was craving some sort of taco, burrito, fajitas, type of Tex-Mex dinner. So, I pulled everything out of my fridge and my cupboards and this is what I ended up with!

    7 Layer Dinner
    Serves 4
    • 12 white tortillas (6-inch), toasted
    • 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
    • 1 can yellow corn, drained and rinsed
    • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1/2 cup green onions
    • 1 1/2 cups red salsa
    • 1 cup sour cream
    • 1 cup chipotle cheddar cheese, shredded
    • 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

    Directions

    Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees. Heat a dry skillet to over medium. Toast each tortilla for 2 minutes on each side.


    Stack and set aside.


    While you are toasting, grate your cheddar, prepare your veggies, and set aside your chicken and sour cream.


    Butter an 8-inch square baking dish, and layer 4 tortillas on the bottom


    Measure out 1/3 of cup of sour cream and spread on top of tortillas.


    Measure out a 1/2 cup of salsa and spread on top of the sour cream.


    Top with 1/2 cup of corn, 1/2 cup black beans, and 2 tablespoons of green onions.


    Sprinkle on 1 cup of chicken.


    Finish off with 1/2 cup of chipotle cheddar cheese.


    Repeat layers again. Top with remaining tortillas, sour cream, salsa, and cheeses. Bake 30-40 minutes until top is browned and bubbling.


    Let stand for five minutes and serve.



    What are your favorite comfort food dishes? What are you craving right now?

    Monday, January 24, 2011

    Home, sweet, new home - Part 2

    So this weekend, Alex and I officially moved to Washington, DC. While we moved to the area almost a month ago, we had been staying with our awesome friends Andy and Kim in Silver Spring. Now we have our very own apartment in the sky right in downtown Washington, DC.

    We still have a lot of nesting to do. But first, take a quick tour around our new apartment!


    We are living in a gigantic apartment building in the tiny neighborhood of Lanier Heights. There is some debate as to whether or not Lanier Heights is actually its own neighborhood, or just a section of Adam's Morgan. We took a walk around Adam's Morgan, and I'm not so sure about it, so I'm going say it Lanier Heights is its own neighborhood, just west of Columbia Heights and just north of Adams Morgan.


    The lobby of our building is pretty swanky and has a 24 hour concierge desk. There is a cute little park across the street, which will be lovely in the spring. And, there is great little market in the basement of our building. We don't even have to go outside. They sell beer, wine, champagne, peanut butter... You name it, they've got it. We are totally living the life.


    When you head into our apartment you can go one of two ways: right into the bathroom or bedroom, or left into the living room and kitchen.


    Our bedroom is enormous. We have three huge windows with great views of DC. We live in a neighborhood full of churches, which are gorgeous all lit up at night.


    It also has a nice big closet, which annoyingly does not have a built in closet light. Something that is going to have to be remedied pronto.


    Our bathroom is pretty big, but looks a little bit like a locker room. Hopefully with a little TLC we can get it looking less sterile and more cozy. We do have one of those neat hotel-like curved shower curtain, which gives the illusion of a larger shower. Very fancy.


    First renovation is to paint the walls above the tile. The wall tile is light blue, the floor tile is light gray. Any suggestions for what color we should paint it?


    Our living room is nice and big also and we have a cute little porch off the back that is going to be key in the summer months. Bonus! There is a window between the kitchen and living room, so I can cook and watch tv at the same time.


    The kitchen is a bit tiny for my liking and a little dated looking. We are planning to spruce it up a little since this is the room I'll be spending the most time in. Since the move, we've already replaced the cabinet door knobs, added more shelves in and above the cabinets, and installed a faucet Brita Filter system to avoid drinking DC tap water. I've seen Erin Brockovich. Just say no to Chomium-6

    We are also planning to paint under and above the cabinets. What color do you think would work?


    The stove is pretty nice, and I can wait to get cooking! We have a built in microwave, which is pretty sweet. And, I am most excited about that little cabinet next to the stove. It will be perfect for cookie sheets and cupcake pans!


    The apartment also comes with a few amenities we will easily get used to: We have laundry in the basement... 


    And, a fitness center and a rooftop pool. It will be pretty awesome when the DC summer heat hits.

    We are super excited to move into the apartment, nest, decorate, and make it our own. In addition to loving the new place, our neighborhood seems great too. There are lots of restaurants and bars to explore within close walking distance. And, many of the new and cool people I've met in DC are close to Columbia Heights too, which is very exciting!

    More updates to come as we settle in to our new home, sweet, home. Hope you enjoyed your quick photo tour!

    Friday, January 21, 2011

    Comfort Food with a Southern Accent

    A few nights ago, I had to work late. Alex, being the wonderful husband that he is decided to come pick me up from work so we could spend the commute together. Isn't he great. Traffic was bad, and since we have yet to do too much exploring of Old Town Alexandria, VA. We decided to grab some dinner. The first place we saw was King Street Blues, a neighborhood BBQ joint with lots of funny statues hanging on the outside of the building.


    The atmosphere is super cute and cozy, eclectic and interesting. We started the evening off with a couple of Yuenglings and the "Best House Salad In Town," a crisp salad of lettuce, tomatoes, and croutons. 

    I'm not sure it's the best house salad in town, but I can say for sure that their tomato ranch dressing is the best salad dressing I've ever had in my life. And I've eaten my fair share of salads! Also, the salad featured a tasty piece of warm cornbread. Delish. 

    I will say only one bad thing about King Street Blues, the beer section is limited. Beer and BBQ go hand in hand for me, so it would have been nice to have a few more options. Although I do love a cold Yuengling!


    For my main meal, I went with The Elwood, a house-smoked pulled pork BBQ sandwich with cool, creamy coleslaw and homemade potato chips. The pulled pork was juicy, the BBQ sauce tangy with just a hint of spice, and the potato chips were crisp and delicious after I sprinkled a little salt on them.


    Alex went with the half rack of slow smoked BBQ ribs (Yes, that's the half rack pictured below!) The ribs are smoked for 6 hours and smothered in delicious Mahogany BBQ sauce which also comes as a condiment on your table, which is fantastic. It came with  coleslaw, baked beans, cornbread and fries.


    The meal was superb and I will definitely be going back for the salad dressing and the pulled pork. It was comfort food to the max and it totally hit the spot after a long hard day at the office.

    Oh, and sorry for the iPhone photos!

    Thursday, January 20, 2011

    Brownies that will make you say "Whoa"

    Starting a new job is always a whirlwind. There are new skills to learn, new commutes to tackle, and new people to meet. Luckily, I have some great new coworkers. They are smart and talented and wonderful at their jobs. But thankfully, a few of them are also total foodies like me.

    I love food. I love making food. I love eating food. I like talking about food. So it's really nice to have something in common with the people I spend sometimes 10 hours a day with!

    When I saw these Young's Double Chocolate Stout Brownies posted a few weeks ago on one of my all time favorite food blogs We Are Not Martha; I knew I these would be a great treat to bring into work. They combine two of my favorite things, chocolate and beer. How could they go wrong.

    These brownies turned out intensely fudgy and super delicious. They actually make you stop and say "whoa." I love food that does that. Hopefully, my new officemates they like them as much as I do.

    Young’s Double Chocolate Stout Brownies (from We Are Not Martha)
    Makes 16 brownies
    • 1 cup Young’s Double Chocolate Stout
    • 5 oz. baking chocolate (I used Hershey's semi-sweet)
    • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1.5 sticks)
    • 1 cup light brown sugar
    • 2/3 cup flour
    • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
    • 2 large eggs

    Directions

    Start off by pouring the beer into a measuring cup and setting it aside to let the head settle. 


    Dice up your butter and break up your chocolate into small bits. Place in your double boiler, or build a make shift one (place a heat-safe bowl over a pot of boiling water). Lower water to a simmer and stir till melted. Remove chocolate mixture from heat when melted and smooth. Pour chocolate mixture into a mixing bowl and beat in the brown sugar. 


    Allow the mixture to cool to lukewarm. Whisk together the flour and cocoa powder and set aside. Beat the eggs one at a time into the chocolate mixture until it looks glossy. 


    Stir in the chocolate stout and then fold in the cocoa mixture. 



    I smoothed out my batter a little with my mixer, but the recipe says to be careful not to over-mix. Coat an 8x8 pan with butter, parchment paper, or Pam with flour. Pour batter evenly into the pan. 


    Pop it in the oven for 20-22 minutes at 365 degrees. Remove the pan from the oven when brownies are done (if your cake tester comes out clean - you are golden.) Let the brownies cool in the pan on a wire cooling rack. Cut into 16 squares and enjoy.