Nov 09

Thanksgiving Leftover Meal

My my, what to do with a house full of Turkey! This evening was all about simplicity, so I made a delicious french onion soup, courtesy of an L.A. Times’ article, and paired it with deliciously simple turkey sandwiches. Again, simple was the idea:

Marble rye

Turkey (sliced thin)

Shredded mozzarella

Turkey gravy

caramelized shallots (2 shallots, cut in half,  sliced lengthwise, in a pan on medium-high heat for about 15 minutes)

Step 1: Toast the marble rye very slightly.

Step 2: Spread a bit of butter on one half of the bread (the side where you are going to pile on the goodies) and place thinly sliced turkey on butter.

Step 3: Place shallots on top of turkey, then gravy, then mozzarella cheese. Toast for another 2 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. One of my secrets here is to toast the other side of the bread with the stacked piece, so that both sides are warmed prior to serving.

Step 4: Cut sandwich in half and serve. Simple, but so good.

The shallots add a nice hint of garlic and onion, without the toughness of a traditional onion. Sorry there aren’t any photos for this one–we were just really enjoying ourselves :)

Happy Thanksgiving Leftovers Day!


Nov 09

Brown Sugar Pecan Shortbread


When I first discovered Foodzie.com, I was estatic to find that they sold DIY foods as well as the pre-prepared goodies. One of my first purchases came from The Lazy Baker, a small outfit that sells pre-made cookie mixes. The one that caught my eye was the Brown Sugar Pecan Shortbread (very fall, but not too holiday) and this weekend I decided to test it out. I followed the EXTREMELY simple instructions on the side of the box, adding only two items out of my own kitchen (butter and vanilla) and the cookies came out perfectly. They were buttery, nutty, with the slight hint of caramel that comes from using brown sugar. I did not expect the cookies to stay chewy on the inside as they were when they came out of the oven, but I was surprised when about 6 hours after they came out of the oven, the outside was slightly crispy and the inside was just as moist as when I first took them out.



Nov 09

Cleveland’s Lola

Today's Charcuterie

Today's Charcuterie

Michael Symon is a master, and Cleveland is his muse. The interior of Lola restaurant reflects the industrial condition of the city and the people with warm, metallic tones and angular decor. Symon’s menu is about refined, rustic flavors, like his Braised Berkshire “Bacon” which is essentially a huge chunk of bacon with citrus, ginger, and carrot flavors. The creaminess of the fat on the cut mixes perfectly with the acid of apple and orange. When I asked the waiter to bring me the best entree on the menu, he delivered an unbelievably smooth and tangy goat cheese “mac’n'cheese” with rosemary chicken. The recipe can be found on Food Network’s site.

Braised "Bacon"

Braised "Bacon"

By far, the most enjoyable part of the meal was the first impression: Today’s Charcuterie. Each of the samples was perfectly cured, and the pate was particularly savory. The pickles were sour, which is how I prefer them, and the mustard was zippy. All were paired with cripsy, buttery mini-toasts: the perfect platform for building your own interesting flavor combos.

So if you find yourself in Downtown Cleveland, Lola is an absolute must:

2058 E 4th St, Cleveland, OH? – (216) 621-5652?


Nov 09

Sugary, Industrial, Morning Bliss

Doughnut Plant

Good Morning, (or in my case, Evening) Sugar High!

I received my first Doughnut Plant doughnut about four weeks ago when they were brought to me in a simple, industrially reminiscent box with a bow of kitchen string tied around. The box is simple and is not made to impress with it’s good looks or withstand extreme conditions. It has a singular purpose: to deliver sugary breakfast pastry.

My favorites so far have been the Trés Leches (with a sweet, creamy filling) the Carrot Cake (with a cream cheese filling, that happens to be my very picky father’s favorite) and the Pumpkin Cake. I am not normally a cake doughnut kind of person, but the crispy outer glazes and moist light cake inside make these irresistible. The yeast doughnuts have a very different character to them. First, they are very, very large. While the variety of flavors is impressive (coconut creme with coconut filling, chunky peanut butter icing with raspberry jelly, pumpkin, etc) they are overall a bit too sweet and sugary for my sensitive teeth. The taste is great, but I can only eat about a quarter of the whole doughnut. Although the glazes tend to be too heavy on the sugar, the dough itself is light and chewy.

One of the best flavors available is the crème brulée. It is a smaller doughnut with rich creamy filling and a crispy burnt sugar topping. They are best eaten right in the shop, as they are not nearly as much of an experience the next day. If you are only buying one doughnut, everyone recommends trying this one in particular.

Although I’m not sure you could go wrong with any choice at Doughnut Plant. The exceptionally helpful staff will be sure to steer you in the right direction based on mood.

Doughnut Plant Doughnuts best paired with: a bottle of the local milk they sell in-store.


Oct 09

Foreign Burger: McRoyale in Morocco

Tangier is a tricky little city to navigate in only 6 hours. And it just so happened that by the time my boyfriend and I were done sight-seeing and our arms were sufficiently worn out from dragging our bags behind us for four hours, all of the restaurants and cafés were closed down for the afternoon. This is typical for the Moroccan food industry. So we walked along the coastline, saw the straights, and continued our quest for nourishment. Just as our vision was starting to blur from the hunger pangs (ok, so maybe I’m exaggerating just a tad), we came across the most magnificent sight our gastrointestinal tracts could have asked for: The Golden Arches.

And we were not the only ones who, at 5pm in the afternoon, were starving. The entire restaurant was packed with people–mostly middle-to-upper class families seeking a sustenance break on a short summer vacation. The weather was perfection, and so we opted to eat outside on the patio. As I had previously sampled the McArabia the previous summer during a trip to Cairo, Egypt, I decided on the McRoyale. From the image on the brightly back-lit menu, the sandwich looked fairly similar to a run-0f-the-mill Quarter Pounder with Cheese.

Present the Burger

Present the Burger

The main differences appeared to be the addition of lettuce, and an interesting mustard-based sauce that I believe is a mixture of ketchup, mustard, and a slight bit of mayo. It was hot, and delicious. Although it was not an authentic home-cooked meal of fish or kofta tagine, it was the kind of meal that hit the spot and left you feeling warm and happy all over after. This was, of course, accompanied by fat-kid feelings. Anyone who’s ever eaten at McDonalds knows exactly what I mean. The next time you come across a McDonalds in a foreign country, don’t be afraid to take advantage of the interesting and diverse menu. Your fat-kid inside will thank you, because feeding him is important. And, if it’s anything like the McRoyale, it will be delicious for both of you.

Eat the Burger

Eat the Burger


Oct 09

Sweet Dreams: A perfect end to National Chocolate Day

A chocolate-infused paradise

A chocolate-infused paradise

How an ultimate chocolate lover ended National Chocolate Day (yesterday!).

Featured Bars:

Vosges Haut Chocolate Peanut Butter BonBon Bar and Mo’s Dark Bacon Bar

Michel Cluizel

Fine and Raw (raspberry and vanilla)

Theo Ghana Dark Chocolate Bar (84%)

Mast Brothers Chocolate

Vosges Naga Bombalinas

Dolfin Tasting Squares

Amedei Chuao Bar



Oct 09

An Insatiable Craving for Chicken Fried Oysters

fried oyster po'boys

The way I judge a restaurant is this: If I am satisfied at the end of my mail I call it a good restaurant. If I find myself making strange faces and noises while eating, I call it a great restaurant. For me, the sign of a truly remarkable eating establishment is when, months after eating there, I still have cravings for specific dishes that can only be satiated by a return, and re-consumption.

For me, Firefly restaurant is a remarkable place.

I last ate at Firefly in Washington, DC in May. The dishes I selected from the comfort food-inspired, local grown, earthy menu were small and simple: Perfectly deviled eggs dusted with smoked paprika, a spread of local cheese with homemade mustard, truffle oil french fries and a tuna and avocado BLT, these were all simple, well put together dishes that were executed perfectly

However the dish that stole the evening is the one I currently find myself salivating over as I write. The Chicken Fried Oysters with Po’ Boy sauce came to my table hot and crispy. The instant I popped the first one in my mouth, it was slightly salty (the way anything coming fresh from water should be), tender, buttery and deliciously savory. I found myself wondering if I should order a second round as the plate dwindled. I regretfully did not.

Although I am now 5 hours away from DC, my next visit will include a pilgrimage to Firefly, where I will hopefully find relief for an insatiable craving for Oyster Po’ Boys as only they can make them.

Tell me what you’re craving!


Oct 09

Grumpy Lunch!


Too cute! I’ll eat you up! Visit AnnatheRed for more Wild Food!


Oct 09

A long time coming: Mast Brothers Chocolate

Mast Bros Choc 2Since my foray into the world of quality chocolate, I have been jonesing for a bar of Mast Brothers Chocolate. The Brooklyn based chocolatiers are set up in an old factory and are masters of single-origin mixology–pairing beautifully tempered chocolate with high quality and local ingredients. Since, for a very long time, the Mast Brothers had been out of my vicinity (and with shipping through a certain vendor coming into the picture recently) I never had the opportunity to taste one of their amazing creations. It had been a long time since I had quality chocolate, and I had almost forgotten my love of the bold and fruity beans of Madagascar when I came across a Mast Brothers bar at a local grocery store. I picked up two: The Maple Pecan (floral pattern) and the Black Truffle and Fleur de sel (bright colors). The wrapping of each bar matches the character–the maple pecan’s gentle colored small flowers follow the creamy, nutty, gentle flavors of maple and pecan, while the bright colors, gold lacing and bold pattern are a perfect fit for the black truffle, which bursts with decadent richness the moment it hits the tongue. While I once touted the Amedei Chuao bar as being my favorite bar of all time, throughout the day I find myself glancing over at the bars on my desk and wondering if I shouldn’t allow myself just another heaven-inducing bite. I usually do.

Mast Bros Choc

The Mast brothers are truly artisans. The two bars I have enjoyed so far have been 72% Madagascar single-origin, which makes them very fruity, bright and bitter. The Mast cure for a common Madagascar bean? Fleur de sel. I’m not surprised that almost all of their bars are gently laced with this ingredient–it does a great deal to compliment the flavors of the bean and to create a multi-dimensional flavor experience. It is interesting, and addicting. Bravo.


Oct 09

Visions of Cairo: Smokey Muhammara

Cairo at dusk

One of the dishes that I have not been able to find nor replicate since returning from Cairo two summers ago was Muhammara, a spicy red pepper walnut dip that I had during my first week there. The smoky, spicy, vibrantly rich flavor brought on by the combination of spices, nuts, and charred peppers is hard to replicate and even more difficult to perfect. However, I found this recipe the other day on Tastespotting (love them!) and from the first bite I was instantly transported to my seat along the Nile River with my cohort of Arabic language students. It was simplistic, yet perfection. The consistency ranges from smooth and creamy to sloppy-joe-esque, depending on how long you can keep it in your blender before diving in for a bite. Originally from The Split Pea, here’s the best recipe for Muhammara I have sampled:

Smokey Muhammara

Muhammara freezes well in freezer containers. Just remember to cover the surface with either wax paper or plastic wrap to prevent ice crystals from forming. It tastes even better then next day.


3 red bell peppers
1 cup of walnuts

june1_09 038_edited

¾ cup of pecans
1 ½ teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoon of sweet smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon ground Chipotle Chile powder
3 cloves garlic
1 ½ teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
1-3 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon of honey
2 -3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (substitute balsamic vinegar)

For serving:
1 fresh baguette, thinly sliced (or pita bread cut into triangles), lightly toasted (I prefer pita!)
1 English cucumber, cut into ¼ inch thick and 3 inch long sticks
Celery sticks
Carrot sticks


-Preheat oven to 350 F.
-Roast peppers. Here are instructions from www.epicurious.com on roasting pepper methods:

To roast peppers:
Using a long-handled fork char the peppers over an open flame, turning them, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the skins are blackened. (Or broil the peppers on a rack of a broiler pan under a preheated broiler about 2 inches from the heat, turning them every 5 minutes, for 15 to 25 minutes, or until the skins are blistered and charred.) Transfer the peppers to a bowl and let them steam, covered, until they are cool enough to handle. Keeping the peppers whole, peel them starting at the blossom end, cut off the tops, and discard the seeds and ribs. (Wear rubber gloves when handling chilies.)

-Place the walnuts and pecans in a rimmed cookie sheet and toast for about 3-5 minutes until fragrant (oven temperatures vary, so make sure to keep an eye on them). In order to prevent the burning of the nuts, leave one nut half on the counter as a reminder that you have nuts in the oven, or set an oven timer. Let the nuts cool.
-In a food processor place peeled and de-seeded red bell peppers with all of the ingredients. Puree until smooth, scraping the sides of the food processor if the mixture keeps sticking. If the dip seems too thick, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
-Taste and adjust* the seasoning. Refrigerate until muhammara is completely cooled.

*If it tastes too hot, add more lemon juice. If it is not sweet enough, add more honey, and, of course, add more salt if it needs it.