Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Chocolate Chip Nut Cookies from the Metropolitan Bakery Cookbook

The Metropolitan Bakery has been providing Philadelphia and surrounding areas with handmade rustic artisan breads and goodies since 1993. Hailing from the area myself, I was pleased to happen upon this sepia toned cookbook a couple years ago. I've always been fond of Metropolitan Bakery's breads and make it a point to go to one of their store when I visit Philadelphia.

Most frequently, I visit their spot at Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market. The breads, pastries and cookies are among the best I've ever tasted (and I've been discovering and tasting a few here in Northern Virginia!). Most recently, I bought 2 large slightly crunchy cookies which were delicious. So, I'm on a mission to hone my baking skills with this book (among others) which contains over 100 recipes from rustic breads to brioche to cookies. Additionally, there are add -ons to the baking recipes such as jams, chutneys and spreads ranging from sweet to savory.

Today, I started with something approachable for me; cookies. Who doesn't like a good old fashioned chocolate chip cookie, right? This recipe got my attention because it has nuts, which I love, and oats. But instead of being a traditional chocolate chip oatmeal cookie, this recipe calls for the oats to be processed into a flour-like consistency. Along with roasting the nuts and using, well let's face it, a lot of butter! this cookie turned out aromatic and crisp on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside. I'd put it up there with the best of them!

(Yes, that's 3 sticks of butter. Move along now, nothing to see here...keep reading)

I hope you like them too.

Here's the recipe. I altered it slightly. In parenthesis is what I used due to not having all the chocolate on hand. Frankly, I wouldn't change a thing. Feel free to use the original recipe, or my alterations.


1 1/3 cup old fashioned oats (I used Quaker oats because I bought a barrel of it at Costco)

3 cups all purpose flour, sifted

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup milk chocolate chunks (processed 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels)

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar

3 large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups bittersweet chocolate chunks ( I used 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels and it seemed like plenty)

1 1/2 cup pecans, toasted* and roughly chopped

1 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted* and roughly chopped


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line 2 large baking pans with parchment paper or non-stick sheet (I found the parchment allowed the cookies to rise a bit more)

In a food processor, grind the oats until they become fine like flour (1)

In a large bowl, combine:

ground oats


baking powder

baking soda


1 cup of chocolate chunks which has been grated over small holes ( I used the food processor again, pulsing it until the morsels became fine) (2)

In an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Add the granulated sugar and the brown sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each egg has been added. (3)

Beat in vanilla.

Place mixture on low and add flour mix until combined.

Fold in the chocolate chunks/morsels, pecans and walnuts.

Drop dough in 2 tablespoon portions onto parchment lined baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between dough. Bake in middle of oven for 10 minutes. Rotate sheets from top and bottom, and the bottom to the top for even baking. Bake an additional 6 minutes. Cookies should be light golden brown(4). Transfer to cooling rack. Repeat until all dough is done.

*To roast nuts, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spread nuts on a baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes(5). Allow to cool and rough chop.

(1) Oats before and after grinding.

(2) Chocolate morsels after grinding.

(4) Add eggs one at a time to the butter and sugars.

(5) After nuts have cooled, rough chop before folding into cookie dough mixture.

Now being that this recipe made between 50-60 cookies - share with your friends!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Chill Out!- The Dairy Godmother

The August heat had me longing for The Dairy Godmother's frozen custard. This Wisconsin treat is authentically brought to Del Ray by Liz Davis, owner, CIA graduate, former pastry chef and frozen concoction maker extraordinaire. With a Wisconsin pedigree, Liz creates wonderful flavors in addition to the omnipresent vanilla and chocolate flavors. Updates can even be sent to your email to draw you into her convivial, main street America establishment. Yes, authentic frozen custard not in a fly over state.

After our meal at Los Tios Grill, we wandered up Mount Vernon Ave. a few blocks for dessert. Large embossed windows make the inside awash with light. Muralled walls and picnic tables lend to an informal, leave your cares at home atmosphere. The Dairy Godmother is where people gather after they've shed their suit and professional countenence. It's light, social and welcoming. T-shirts, sodas and dog treats are also sold. I picked up a bag of squirrel biscuits for my 3 pups.

The chalkboard menu presents the frozen custard flavor of the day as well as several sorbet options. Frank opted for a chocolate vanilla swirl cup and I got the lime mint sorbet. The mint flecked lime sorbet was a great way to top off a Mexican meal. It sure made the walk back a lot cooler!

The Dairy Godmother is closed on Tuesdays. Hours of operation vary seasonally.

Check out the Custard Cam and Liz's great explanation about what frozen custard is as opposed to ice cream and frozen yogurt (and yes, it's the 10% milkfat that makes it so darn good)

The Dairy Godmother

2310 Mount Vernon Ave

Alexandria, Va 2230

(703) 683-7767

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Los Tios Grill - Del Ray, Alexandria VA

My usual stop for Mexican food in Del Ray is Taqueria Poblano. Overall, I hear mixed reviews about the location in Arlington, and more positive reviews of the Del Ray location. Our last meal (in Del Ray) was very good and I was tempted to get drawn back to my old standby, but alas my DH and I walked a little further up the Avenue to try a new place.
Los Tios is a casual Mexican and El Salvadoran restaurant located on Mount Vernon Ave., which offers indoor and seasonal outdoor seating. As we were greeted, the indoor space expanded before me as we were led into the rich Southwestern toned cantina . In front, there is a bar with a large screen tv. Two dining rooms, one behind the other, are painted with Corals and accented with turquoise. Noise bounces easily off the walls which are punctuated with Tuscan urns and large paintings evocative of a more light-hearted de Goya.
We ate early, before 6 pm (and no, my hair is not blue..yet) and were seated right away. Our waiter greeted us shortly after and took our drink orders. A basket of warm tortillas accompanied by a thick and chunky salsa arrived in shortly after.The salsa vegetables seemed fresh in the thick picante type sauce.

The wide ranging menu offers favorites such as quesadillas, chimichangas, burittos and fajitas. Combination platters with rice, beans and salads can satisfy the urge to sample a bit. Meats and seafood platters are offered with a range of finishes from tequilla (Camerones el Cantinero) to their home style bbq sauce (Castillas Barbacoa).
I ordered the Pollo Mexicano. The thinly pounded chicken breast and shrimp were topped with a fresh salsa consisting of red onions, diced fresh tomatoes, cilantro and parsley The salsa was dressed with a bit of lime and perhaps olive oil. Accompanying the chicken and shrimp were white rice and steamed broccoli which retained a verdant color and crunch. On the side, I was served black bean soup. The soup had a nice broth with a hint of cumin. It was enjoyable, if a bit on the salty side.
Frank, my DH, had the Carne Asada Salvadorena . The skirt steak had a nice char, but not too much as to overpower the flavor of the steak. While not melt in you mouth tender (well, no skirt steak is), it was easy to chew. His yellow rice was combined with lima beans and corn, and sat beside refried beans. The thousand island dressed salad was basic but saved by seasonal ripe tomatoes and fresh avocado. On the side were 2 steaming tortilla which toughened as they sat absorbing moisture underneath the linen napkin they were presented with.
Both main dishes were light and clearly made with fresh ingredients where vegetables and herbs are concerned. The fresh and healthier ingredients left us feeling good that we did not weigh our meal down with cheese and sour cream. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. We do “south of the border” runs from time to time. Don’t judge us……..
Overall the service was very friendly. A salsa and chip refill came before we finished our first complimentary serving. My lemonade was also refilled quickly.
As we departed, we were sent on our way by the staff who thanked us warmly and held the door open as we left. It was a family friendly feeling. Speaking of family, there were many children of all ages, and highchairs were available.
Noise can be a factor if you want intimate conversation.
We opted to walk off a bit of dinner to get to dessert at The Dairy Godmother. More on that later!
Overall Frank and I thought Los Tios was an inviting cantina serving a variety of Hispanic dishes (abeit "Americanized" for the most part) with good service at a moderate price point. Dinner for two including 2 entrees, one margarita and one lemonade came to about $37 before tip.
We'll be back!

Location- 2625 Mount Vernon Ave
Alexandria, Va. 22310
Map it!
Powder your nose
- The ladies room was a large, clean single bathroom with a diaper changing table.
Credit cards - yes

Eastern Market Reopens

On April 30, 2007, the South Hall of Washington D.C.'s historic Eastern Market was devastated by fire. The Capitol Hill marketplace, built in 1873, is one of only a few public markets in D.C. , and the only market that has maintained its initial function since opening.

So in the early hours on that late April morning, when residents and merchants stood transfixed as they witnessed the near destruction of the market, the vow came from Mayor Adrian Fenty that they would rebuild. Nearly 4 months later, a new temporary structure, the East Hall, is up and running east of the South Hall.

The thick humid air did not keep an anxious crowd from gathering outside the East Hall this morning as early as 8 am. Mayor Fenty arrived to greet the patrons and dedicate the temporary market. With merchants surrounding him, Mayor Fenty thanked all who worked on, raised funds for and supported the Eastern Market and it's merchants since the fire late April. A tile was dedicated and before the ribbon was cut, Mayor Fenty reminisced upon first walking onto the scene of the fire. "The first person who approached me asked me if we would rebuild" remarked Fenty. "We will, I said".

"You'd better" she replied.

And they did.

As the crowded funneled into the bright, airy and air conditioned hall it became apparent that this "temporary" structure was built with great care and deliberation. Most vendors* had full cases; all adorned with fresh flower bouquets.Large banners hang high above the merchants and are illuminated by natural light coming through the translucent ceiling above. Wider aisles were teaming with patrons greeting vendors like old friends, exchanging smiles and words of welcome.

It felt like something small, but very significant, was put right in the world as I watch them purvey their goods.

It was a great day for D.C. and for those suburbanites like me who also treasure the market. The Phoenix really does arise from the ashes, replete in its' technicolor plumage as it begins it's new life. Community does matter and good deeds do go rewarded.

My reward? Well, for tonight a couple of flat iron steaks from Union Meats, and many more Saturday mornings at Eastern Market. I can taste the bluebucks now...

*Market Lunch will open in two weeks when they expect to be fully equipped. The long community table awaits.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Take this week's poll: How often do you go to the farmer's market?

I'm polling for a week to see how many of you frequent the markets in your area. Feel free to share what your favorite market is and why in the comments section. Thanks for your participation!
Note: If you've tried to comment before but could not because you don't have a Google account, well now you can!

Sour Cream Cheesecake with Farm Fresh Blackberries

Last Sunday at the Dupont Market I bought blackberries. They are still sweet and plump, so keep an eye out for them and enjoy while they last! Here's a recipe for an easy and light cheesecake, with blackberry topping.

1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon cinnamon
24 ounces Cream Cheese - softened
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup blackberry jam
2 cups fresh blackberries - or you can substitue frozen berries


Pre heat oven to 325 and allow cream cheese to come to room temperature.

Combine together graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter. I used a food processor. Press evenly onto bottom of a springform pan.

In mixer, whip cream cheese with paddle attachment. Add eggs one at a time. Add sugar slowly. Pour mixture over crust.

Bake on middle rack for 45-50 minutes until set. Depending on your oven and size of springform pan, you may need slightly more or less baking time.

Mix sour cream and sugar until incorporated. Mix in vanilla. Pour over cheesecake and continue to bake 10 additional minutes. Allow to cool completely.

In the meantime, combine preserves and berries in pan and heat on low for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow to cool.

Pour berry mixture over cheesecake and serve.

Hint: make both cheesecake and topping the day before. Store covered in refrigerator until ready to serve. Reheat berry mixture in pan or microwave. Serve berries poured over entire cake, or along side for individual use.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Spanglish Sandwich - cue the Hallelujah Chorus

When I first saw the movie "Spanglish", I did not take note of the sandwich per se. I was entranced by Adam Sandler pouring his beer blindly. I thought to myself "I wonder how many takes that took!" and "". Then I watched the movie again. I thought it brilliant that his character automatically plated his sandwich in food photo fashion. Slice, separate and let the egg run. I'm sure that was all Thomas Keller.
Speaking of brilliant, this sandwich has been dubbed "The World's Best Sandwich". It's really that good. I wanted to keep true to the recipe and ingredients, but wanted the sandwich to reflect the products I get locally. You'll see the original recipe below, with my local ingredients which I used, beside them in parenthesis.


3 to 4 thick slices of bacon

2 slices Monterey Jack cheese ( Keswick Creamery Cheddar)

2 slices pain de Campagne (Atwater Bakery country white loaf), toasted

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

4 slices tomato (Allenberg Orchard salad tomatoes)

2 leaves butter lettuce (red leaf lettuce)

1 teaspoon butter

1 egg


Cook bacon until crisp. Allow bacon to drain on paper towels.

Lightly toast bread. I used my broiler and kept it on until I needed it to melt the cheese.
Place cheese on one slice of bread. On the other slice, spread mayonnaise and layer bacon, then tomatoes and then the lettuce.

Melt butter in non stick fry pan and cook egg over easy. Keep it gooey!

Melt cheese under broiler.

Place egg on lettuce.

Place melted cheese bread on top,cheese side down.

Slice and allow egg to run!

Now go wipe the egg yolk and tomato juice from your chin!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

At the Dupont Farmers Market- the future is almost here


This week's farmers market trip was to the Dupont Circle Farmers Market. Dupont is one of a half dozen Freshfarm markets. It's held on Sundays year round.
Being the height of the summer growing season, this D.C. market was bustling today, despite the looming clouds threatening to dowse us with rain (which isn't a bad thing, we need it badly). Peaches, tomatoes and melons are still going strong. Corn was less abundant, however, I did purchase a type of yellow corn called Mirai™ (pronounced me-RYE) from Toigo Orchards®. To me, Silver Queen (or most supersweet white kernel corn that falls under the same moniker) has been the king of corn. But, this may change.
Mirai™ (meaning "the future is almost here" and "taste"), a yellow, white or bi-colored corn, was developed in 1992 at a seed company in Illinois. It's popularity in the USA is resurging now after being grown primarily in Japan, where smaller boutique farms would tend to and pick it by hand. With seeds once again available here since 2001, Mirai™ has become known for it's corn taste, sweetness, tenderness and longevity after picking. It can be stored for longer periods of time due to a decreased starch content. I have read it can keep in the refrigerator anywhere from 17 days to 6 weeks!
So here's the Mirai™(left) alongside a supersweet white variety that came from Lancaster County PA. The Mirai™ comes from Shippensburg, PA.

Tasting the two raw; they were both sweet and juicy. However, after cooking (shown below, with white corn on bottom) in boiling water for 2 minutes, the Mirai™ developed a depth of corn flavor that the white variety didn't. The white corn remained sugary and did not develop any flavor to speak of.
I'm fortunate I came upon this corn today, as it's lead me to rediscover what corn should taste like; it ought to retain the flavor of corn and not forsake that for sweetness. I may even consider giving up the butter and salt.

I'm not promising....

Saturday, August 18, 2007

King Street: The New Restaurant Row?

King Street is the main thoroughfare running through Alexandria Virginia's Old Town neighborhood. From the Potomac River to the Masonic Temple sitting up high on Shooter Hill, King Street is lined with restaurants and boutique shops and services. Most every type of cuisine can be found including Italian, Classic American, Southern, Indian, French, Lebanese, Chinese, Greek, Thai and Seafood. The restaurants also range in quality. But, things are really starting to look up with the more recent addition of destination restaurants known for exemplary cooking, and quality, locally sourced ingredients.

Raising the culinary bar are Chef Cathal Armstrong and his wife Meshelle who own Restaurant Eve, Eamonn's A Dublin Chipper and The Majestic. Their trinity of restaurants ranges from a fish and chips pub, to classic southern American, to world class dining in Restaurant Eve's Tasting Room. The ripple effect from these choice restaurants is that other fine restaurants and chefs are looking to Old Town to join in King Street's abundant and ever increasing business and tourist appeal.
In the near future, this is what we can expect to see opening on and around King Street:

Hank's Oyster Bar, located in Washington D.C.'s Dupont Circle neighborhood will be opening another location at 1026 King Street. With the closing of the short-lived Bohio's Cuban Bistro, Chef Jamie Leeds saw an opportunity she couldn't pass up. A fall 2007 opening is expected.

Bookbinder's Restaurant, a Philadelphia landmark, is expected to open another location at 109 S. Asaph Street by the summer of 2007.

Sauciety, a modern American grill, will be a street level anchor restaurant for the new 4 star , 4 diamond Westin Hotel, now being built in the booming Eisenhower Valley. Opening is expected for October of 2007. Could this be Alexandria's Maestro of the Ritz Carlton Tyson's Corner, VA? Or perhaps CityZen of Washington D.C.'s Mandarin Oriental Hotel?

I hope so!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Cantler's Riverside Inn - Annapolis, Md.

It's a rite of passage, a tradition and a tourist's delight. Although crabs are mainly associated with Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay, the entire D.C. and Northern Virginia region revel in summertime's blue crabs.
This is the time of year when most good crab houses serve local blue crabs. A good crab is heavy for it's size and contains sweet white meat. At Cantler's Riverside Inn they come with a liberal dusting of Old Bay seasoning, a knife, a mallet and brown paper for the table. Now, I'm not originally from this area, and any Marylander could pick me under the table with their skills, but I did manage to give myself a primer on crab picking before I went. Mainly I think, the give away that one is new to the blue crab is the use of the mallet to crack the shells. From what I gather, the mallet is used to smack the knife, which is over the area of the shell you want to crack.
Using my novice picking skills, I managed to pull out a nice amount of meat from my crabs. It
wasn't pretty, but I managed to get a few nice chunks dunked into the clarified butter provided and placed into my longing mouth.
We also ordered the crab dip and steamed shrimp. The crab dip had a lot of chunky meat, and was made with mayonnaise and a dash of paprika. It came with a Pillsbury-like roll which should be dashed for some nice crackers. With the generous portion given, you don't need the cheap bread for bulk.
The Old Bay seasoned shrimp were large and served right out of the steamer. This alone could make a nice lunch along with perhaps, a cup of soup. Yesterday's soup of the day was cream of artichoke with crab. Sounded good, but there was the blue crabs calling my name.
I couldn't resist.

Cantler's Riverside Inn
458 Forest Beach Road
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
Phone: 410-757-1311

Note: Cantler's has indoor and outdoor dining areas. Outside the community picnic tables overlook the river and docks. They are very popular and get busy on the weekends especially. There is one small access road to get into Cantler's parking lot, and it gets backed up. I'd advise that someone get out of the car and put your name on the list ahead of time, so by the time you park, your wait won't be too long.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Berry Blueberry Chocolate Chip Gelato

Here's a cool refreshing way to beat the August heat and get your chocolate fix! This berry blueberry chocolate chip gelato was inspired by those heavenly but oh-so-expensive chocolate covered delights found at places like Godiva. Chocolate marries with berries so well. The unctuous undertones of the cacao and the tartness of berries is found with this gelato as well. Enjoy!
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 cup blackberry jam
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, pulsed in food blender
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Combine the first 4 ingredients in a heavy bottom saucepan, and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes. Transfer mixture to a blender and mix until smooth.
Beat the sugar and the egg yolks in a large bowl with a whisk until thick and light yellow. Heat the milk over medium-high heat in a small, heavy saucepan to 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge of pan, stirring frequently (do not boil). Add about one-third hot milk mixture to sugar mixture to temper the eggs and stir continuously with a whisk. Gradually add to remaining hot milk mixture, stirring continuously with a whisk.
Cook over medium-low heat until mixture coats back of a spoon (about 4 minutes). Remove from heat. Stir in blueberry mixture, and cool completely. Stir in chocolate chips and lemon juice.
Pour mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer; freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Cheddar Corn Chowder

The corn** from this week's farmer's market haul is white, crisp, juicy and sweet. It's perfect for making one of my favorite soups; cheddar corn chowder. This recipe is Ina Garten's "The Barefoot Contessa".

I think Ina is brilliant. Without any formal training, she built a gourmet food empire, has written books and catered, and has a successful show on Food Network. And, she has to be the best neighbor in the world. What I'd give to pop over her better-than-home-and-garden manse, and be a guinea pig for a new recipe!

I've tweaked the recipe just a bit to make it my own. I feel the additions to her original recipe give the flavor an additional boost. First, here's a link to the recipe. Now, I add a tablespoon of paprika in addition to the turmeric. I think the flavor goes really well and boosts the rich color. In fact, I would say simply skip the turmeric if you don't happen to have it on hand when you want to make this recipe. Second, I cook the potatoes about 10 minutes longer and use an immersion blender to blend about 25% of the cubed potatoes*. This enhances the creaminess. Last, I also add a tablespoon of thyme to accent the corn.
This recipe makes a great deal of soup. I've frozen it before with success.


* Here's a photo instruction of how to get equal sized potato cubes. Planks, sticks and cubes.

First, place the potato on it's side and cut into 3-4 "planks".

Then, lay each potato half flat and cut into "sticks".

Now, cut across sticks to make "cubes". This makes quick work for cubing 2 lbs. of potatoes.

**To remove kernels from corn, without them flying 2 feet away, get a big bowl and place a smaller bowl, inverted, in the big bowl. Place your ear of corn and slice kernels from top to bottom.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

At the Kingstowne Farmers Market

Kingstowne market is one of Fairfax County's farmers markets. It's every Friday from 4-7, and is held in the parking lot by the Sunoco. There are about 15 or so vendors, many of whom participate in other Fairfax Markets, and Fresh Farm Markets. It's close to me, but it took me 3 years to realize this fantastic market was here! The participants are from within a 125 mile radius and must be the producer of their own goods. Currently, my seasonal market favorites include corn, tomatoes and peaches.

Allenberg Orchards in Smithburg Md. has incredible produce at equally pleasing prices. I am now a devotee of their cherries, peaches and tomatoes. I don't think I've tasted better.

In addition to heirlooms, Allenberg Orchards also had San Marzanos! That's going to turn into pomadoro sauce.

I've never heard of these, but they just looked so beautiful, I had to snap a photo.

Corn, from another purveyor, is in abundance. $.50 each.

Here's yesterday's take, except for a couple croissants and coffee cake from Cenan's Bakery.

Now, onto making that delicious Cheddar Corn Chowder, seen here. Stay tuned for the recipe.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Grilled Flank Steak Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

Flank steak is a tasty and affordable cut of beef. It's suitable for a simple quick meal any day, or for entertaining. But, you have to prepare the steak in a manner which best accentuates it better attributes. I find that preparing it over searing heat works best. Tonight, I used a cast iron grill on the stove top to cook the flank steak to medium-rare*. I grilled the steak on each side for approximately 3 minutes, felt for doneness** and placed it on a cutting board. Then, as with all animal protein, I let it rest for 8-10 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute evenly throughout the meat. Slicing it across the grain makes each piece tender.
Here, I arranged the steak over a salad of romaine lettuce, garden tomatoes, carrots, celery, chopped almonds, sectioned orange slices and feta cheese. It's a great way to clean out your refrigerator! So, whatever you have and your taste buds desire will work on this salad.
To plate, arrange the salad, drizzle over the orange vinaigrette (recipe below )and top with sliced flank steak and feta cheese.
Orange Vinaigrette
1/4 cup orange juice reserved from sectioning orange
juice from resting steak (yes! do it!)
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
1 tbsp. honey
salt and pepper to taste
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Place all ingredients, except olive oil, into mixing bowl and combine. Adjust seasoning to taste. Stream in olive oil while whisking mixture. Continue to whisk until emulsified.
*The best meat temperature chart from Martha Stewart. I have this printed out and keep it in my kitchen for reference. I find that going with the professional kitchen temperatures works best.
** How do I know how well done my steak is?
Here is a link to The City Cook. It beautifully demonstrates what I think is the best method of manually determining how well done a steak is. It takes some practice, but once you master it, you wont need a thermometer.
If you still want to measure the temperature of your steak with a thermometer, I recommend using a simple and inexpensive analog instant read thermometer or a Thermapen.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Sour Cherry Coffee Cake

I already miss cherry season ! First, the Mt. Rainier cherries showed up at the markets. So red and yellow with a hint of sour balanced by sweet cherry goodness. I made cobblers and crisps galore!.

Next, came the sour "pie" cherries. Who would have thought sour was good? Oh my. These cherries, found at my local farmer's market and grown in Maryland, are delicious. I bought 2 quarts at a time, but when I realized the season was nearly over, I stocked up with 4 more quarts and froze them whole. I washed and dried them, then placed them on a baking sheet in the freezer. Once frozen, I store them in Zip-lock baggies.

Tonight, I thawed about a cup and a half for this recipe by running them under tepid water in a colander for a couple of minutes. I pitted them, and reserved the juices for the recipe. If you can't find sour cherries, use bing cherries instead.
This recipe is easy, quick and most of all, delicious!


1/2 cup pecans-- coarsely chopped
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus 3 tablespoons for coating cherries and nuts
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sour cherries, pitted with juice
8 tablespoons unsalted butter -- softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
1/3 cup fresh orange juice

Preheat oven to 350°.Toast the chopped walnuts in a baking pan in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.Raise the oven temperature to 350 degrees.Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a bowl. In a second bowl, combine the cherries and the nuts.In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter until it is light and fluffy; add the sugar and honey gradually, beating the mixture until it is very light. Add the eggs, one at a time. With mixer at lowest speed, add the flour mixture (reserving 1/4 cup), alternating it with the orange juice.Toss the cherry-nut mixture with the reserved 3 tablespoons of flour, and add to mixer. Blend into the batter on low speed just until incorporated evenly. Turn the batter into a buttered and floured loaf pan (or use non-stick spray), approximately 10 x 7 x 2 inches. Bake the bread in the center of the oven for 45 minutes and check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. It should pull out dry.

Cool the loaf for 15 minutes in the pan; unmold onto a rack to cool down.

This bread is good warm or cold, and goes well with a pat of butter.

Pan Seared Talapia with Peach, Feta and Tomato Salsa

This is a spectacular salsa to compliment fish and chicken. Here, it's served with roasted cauliflower and a cup of cheddar corn chowder. Let's cover the fish, salsa and cauliflower first!

Pan Seared Talapia

2 Talapia filets, 6- 8 oz. each
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
flour for dredging
salt and pepper
Salt and pepper talapia filets on both sides. Dredge in flour and shake off as much excess flour as possible.
Over medium heat, place butter in pan and allow to melt and bubble. Once bubbling has stopped, add olive oil. When oil shimmers, add fish and do not move for about 1-2 minutes. When fillet is able to be moved without sticking, flip over and sear for another 2 minutes. Transfer to paper towel, dab any excess oil, and plate.
Top with peach, feta and tomato salsa. Recipe below.

Peach, Feta and Tomato Salsa

2 ripe peaches, peeled*, pitted and cubed
1 medium tomato, seeded and cubed
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 small red onion, diced finely
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. light oil, such as safflower or cannola
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and let marinate for at least 10 minutes before serving. Can be made up to 8 hours before time. Store in refrigeratore.
Oven Roasted Cauliflower
One head cauliflower
3 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat-heat oven to 325 degrees.
Core cauliflower and cut into florets. Arrange florets on aluminum foil lined sheet pan. Drizzle olive oil over cauliflower and sprinkle salt and pepper evenly on top. Turn over florets to coat.
Place in middle rack of oven and allow to roast for 40 - 45 minutes.

*Peel peaches with sharp vegetable peeler or paring knife. Slice in half and remove pit.

Fire Roasted Salsa


2 large hierloom tomatoes
1 small onion
2 new mexico peppers
1 cup cilantro leaves and stems
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. spanish paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Roast peppers over fire ( I used my gas stovetop by placing peppers on grate) or under broiler until skins are blackened. Place in bag to steam for 10 minutes. Close tightly so steam can not escape.Meanwhile, cut tomatoes in half and squeeze out the seeds with pulp. Roughly chop onion. Remove skin from peppers (seed removal is optional depending on the heat level you want to achieve). If the skin is difficult to separate from the flesh, do this under cool water.
Place onions, tomatoes, peppers, cumin and paprika into food processor. Pulse until blended but not liquified. You want to retain texture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add cilantro and pulse 4-5 times.