Monday, May 30, 2011

Founding Farmers

Happy Memorial Day everyone! What better way to celebrate the fallen men and women who have given their lives for our country and freedoms, than to have a great meal with family at the Founding Farmers Restaurant.  Located in the heart of our nation's capital, just a few blocks from the White House in the Foggy Bottom area of DC, this restaurant makes everything from scratch. Yes everything, even their ketchup and butter and sodas.  And all their food is obtained from local sustainable sources. Even their tables and decor are environmentally friendly, using re-purposed woods for the tables, recycled paper for the menus, and "green" paints on the walls.

cool lobby decor made from natural products, even a little reading nook filled with foodie books to peruse while you wait for your table

little pig statue over-looking the lobby

The first thing we had to order were the Bacon Lollis.  Yes bacon lollipops, essentially. Smoked thick-cut bacon on a stick that has been candied with a cinnamon brown sugar glaze.  OMG! These were unbelievable!! I could've eaten just that and been completely happy for the rest of my life.  As a matter of fact our waiter, Branden (who was a really good waiter) said sometimes his favorite meal from there were the bacon lollis and a glass of a bourbon.  Awesome.  What else can you say to that?

We also ordered Farmers Chips, Cheddar Crisps, and Dips.  The cheddar crisps were like cheesy crackers and the chips were real potato slices, both served in a copper bowl.  The three dips, all super yummy, were onion dip, pimento cheese spread, and Green Goddess dip, which I believe was avocado based. 

Left to right dips: pimento cheese, green goddess, onion

As we scarfed those all up, I enjoyed one of their house-made seasonal sodas...grapefruit soda.  It was real grapefruit juice with sparkling bubbly soda water.  Simple, yet refreshing and delicious; the perfect drink on such a hot steamy 95 degree day.

neat staircase lined with cute bird lights overhead, leading to the upstairs dining room

jars of fruit and veggies, unique decor

For my entree I opted for one of their gourmet flatbreads.  Proscuitto, fig, and marscapone on toasted ciabatta bread, served on a wooden paddle made from some local guy in Maryland.  It was the perfect combination of salty, sweet, and creamy with a little tanginess from the balsamic vinegar drizzled on top.

lower bar area (there was a smaller one upstairs)

Superking enjoyed a good ol' country farm-boy meal of fried chicken and waffles. The chicken was pan-fried southern-style to perfection...juicy and peppery with just the right amount of crisp.  The combination of the chicken with the semi-sweet waffle topped with house-churned butter and white creamy pepper gravy was strange yet beautiful.  It was served with some really cheesy mac 'n cheese and asparagus which was supposed to be double-whipped red potatoes.  But the waiter fixed it and quickly brought us a side of the potatoes as well.  Still steaming, you could see the potato skins mixed in. Delish.

cute and tiny metal carton for the pepper gravy

My in-laws joined us on this food adventure.  We thought it only fitting to bring them along since they were the ones who told us about this place.  And my father-in-law is ex-military, plus yesterday was his birthday, so happy birthday and happy memorial day to him all in one meal!

this whole side of the menu was drinks, mostly alcoholic

Mom Superking ordered the fish and chips.  The chips were served in a brown paper bag as is traditional, I've heard, in Britain. They were also supposed to come with an 8oz draught beer! But she decided to skip that.  Dad Superking decided on the Chef salad, a nice large wedge of iceberg lettuce topped with fresh veggies, including tomatoes and golden beets and even soft corn bread croutons.

sorry the fish and chips are a little blurry (trying to take it fast!)

beautiful colorful salad

The restaurant offers a breakfast/brunch menu, and at least a few of the items are served all day, including their beignets. We so badly wanted to order those but we were so stuffed from everything else! Oh well, that just means we'll have to go back. And very soon!

Superking waiting for our table, dreaming of the yummy food we're about to have

For those of you looking for more animal-friendly choices, they also offer a separate vegan menu with items such as BBQ "chicken" (which I believe is actually tofu or some soy-based product) and chocolate stout waffles. Sounds worth a try even for a bacon-and-dairy-lovin' girl like me!

Left to right: Superking, me, Mom-in-law, Dad-in-law

The Founding Farmers motto, written right on their front door is "true food and drink". Here's a quote from them about what they stand for..."The Founding Farmers name represents a combination of ideas: it is a celebration of the land and the American family farmer; it is a nod to the founding fathers of our country, many of whom owned and farmed land that surrounds Washington, D.C.; and it is a place where true, sustainably-farmed, grown, and harvested American foods are brought to our guests...It’s about growing, buying and eating food that is good – for the people that eat it, the farmers that harvest it, the animals that produce it and the world that grows it." 

God bless America and those that have fought for our freedoms!

pretty church across the street

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Meg's Magnificent Meatballs

Here's another recipe I've borrowed from another food blog.  This one is from my friend Meg at The Red Spoon  who recently posted a recipe for Spaghetti and Meatballs.  The meatballs looked so good I thought maybe they could be worthy to be the main dish instead of just an accessory.

look at all those beautiful little meatballs just waiting to be eaten...

I tried it and I was right. These meatballs are amazingly savory and juicy. Though its nice to pair them with something like a sauce or pasta, they are awesome all by themselves. Superking even made them into a meatball sandwich (big surprise, his lust for turning everything into a sandwich will never end).

I did make a sauce to drizzle on top but it was way more simple with lots of short-cuts compared to hers at the Red Spoon. But it worked all the same.

1 large onion, chopped into 1/4-inch dice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground veal (I wasn't able to find veal so I just used extra pork)
1/2 pound ground pork (for the pork I actually used bulk pork sausage, not sure if theres much difference)
2 eggs
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup water
Kosher salt
Crushed red pepper flakes
Olive oil

In a large saute pan heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and and season with salt and crushed red. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and saute for another 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to cool.
In a large bowl combine the meats, eggs, parmesan, parsley and bread crumbs. Mix thoroughly, using your hands works best. Add the onion mixture and season generously with salt and squish some more. Add the water (seems like a lot of water, especially when the meat mixture looks and feels pretty moist. Add it all, trust me.) and do 1 final really good squish. The mixture should be quite wet. Test the seasoning of the mix by making a mini hamburger size patty and cooking it. Add additional salt/crushed red if needed.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Shape the meat into golf ball sized rounds. Coat a large saute pan with olive oil and bring to a medium heat. Brown the meatballs on all sides. Place them on a cookie sheet and bake them in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked all the way through. Add them to your big pot of tomato sauce. If not using right away, they can be frozen for later use.

To see the Red Spoon sauce recipe, check out the Spaghetti and Meatballs post. For my sauce I used: 
1 28oz can of crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
1/4 yellow onion diced
3 garlic cloves minced
olive oil
Italian seasonings

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan on medium. Add diced onion and garlic.  Cook several minutes until onions become soft. Add canned tomatoes and Italian seasonings. Let simmer on low until heated through. Drizzle on top of meatballs and/or pasta. Don't forget to add a little dusting of freshly grated parmesan cheese!

meatballs and sauce served with penne and tomato with mozzarella

Friday, May 27, 2011

Pancake Muffins

Yep, thats what I said. Pancake Muffins.  Muffins that taste like pancakes. Or pancakes in the shape of a muffin. I don't know which.  Either way these are good.  I'm not sure if they're meant to be for breakfast or dessert but who cares? Eat them whenever you want or all day long! We actually had them with our BBQ dinner one night (ya know, like some restaurants serve the sweet corn muffin?), warm and buttered.  It was a great combination. They're super yummy and the matching accessories have endless possibilities.
pancake muffins with strawberry jam and powdered sugar

I stole, I mean borrowed this recipe from another blog as I've been in the habit of doing a lot recently.  This blog is called the Noble Pig (I love that name!) and they run their own winery in addition to this food blog. They always have really great savory recipes (and a few sweet ones too), some of which feature one of their own wines. Check out another recipe I used from their site for Greek Chicken Pasta.
mixing the dry ingredients

When I saw this recipe I knew I would love it. And after making these precious muffins, I knew this would be a recipe I would keep in my repertoire to do again and again.  They're sweet without being too sweet and they're so light and fluffy you feel like you could fly away when you take a bite!

The Noble Pig serves their Pancake Muffins with their very own Spiced Strawberry Pinot Jam. Yum. Sadly I had nothing like that but plain ol' strawberry jam did the trick just fine for my lovely "healthy" breakfast!
whisk whisk whisk

this is what makes them so fluffy

beautiful fluffy meringue

Pancake Souffle Muffins with Spiced Strawberry Pinot JamFrom Noble Pig Adapted from Fine Cooking
Makes 24 muffins

Nonstick Cooking Spray
10.5 oz (2-1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
4.5 oz. (1 cup plus 2 Tbs) cake flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3 oz (6 Tbs) unsalted butter, melted  and cooled slightly
6 Tbs granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-1/3 cups buttermilk, room temperature
Confectioners sugar, jam, maple syrup

Position rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400o F.  Liberally spray two 12-cup muffin pans with cooking spray.  Don't miss a spot.

In a medium bowl, mix the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a large, clean mixing bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed to firm (but not dry) peaks, 2 to 3 minutes.  Set aside.

In another large bowl, beat the egg yolks with the mixer on the medium-high speed until thick, ribbony, and lemon-yellow, about 6 minutes.  Add the melted butter, sugar and vanilla; mix on medium-low speed until combined, about 30 seconds.  Add one-third of the dry ingredients and mix on low speed.  Add one-third of the buttermilk and mix to combine.  Alternate adding the remaining dry ingredients and buttermilk, ending with the buttermilk and mixing until just combined.  With a large rubber spatula, gently fold the whites into the batter, leaving some streaks.  (The batter may be prepared up to this point up to 2 hours ahead; cover and refrigerate.)

Fill the muffin cups to the rim.  Bake, rotating the pans after 10 minutes, until browned on top and puffed, and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out dry, about 20 minutes.

To remove muffins, gently swirl an offset spatula around each muffin and pop it out.

fill them to the top

already puffy after only half the baking time

so many...

delicious muffins...

nom nom nom!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Black Magic Chocolate Mint Cookies

I made these cookies recently for a church meeting. Everyone was raving about them and asking for the recipe.  This is actually the second time I've made these but the first time I didn't feel like sharing them with anyone.  I didn't even want to blog about it.  But I discovered, these are too good not to share.

only the best

Lately I've noticed that most of my recipes I'm using are from other food blogs.  This one I found in a random food blog search.  Une Gamine dans la Cuisine.  I have no idea what it means but to me it means a little taste of heaven to have found these cookies.

the secret ingredient

Most of the time when I find a recipe, I almost always make some changes.  This is one recipe I followed exactly, even down to the brand names of the products.  It just works just like it is.  I will warn you...these cookies are not for children or the faint of heart.  They aren't very sweet (surprisingly) but they are very very rich!! And absolutely divine!

swirling the dry ingredients together

Definitely check out the recipe on her blog.  Her pictures are way better and really show off how amazing these cookies really are!

lots of flour and sugar make good cookies

very thick

and very gooey

Black Magic Chocolate Mint Cookies (adapted from Love from the Oven)
*print me*
Ingredients1/2 cup of dark cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon of coarse salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 cup (that's 2 sticks) of cold butter, cut into chunks
1 1/4 cups of sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon of pure peppermint extract (optional)
2 1/2 cups of bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli's 60% cacao chips)
Sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

MethodIn a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
In the bowl of your mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Beat together on medium-high speed until well combined, light, and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes). Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the peppermint extract (if using).
Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined. Use your hands to work in any remaining streaks of flour. (Note: This is a very thick dough, so don't over strain your mixer.)
Using a large spatula, fold in the chocolate chips.
Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator.
Divide it into 12 4-ounce portions. (Note: If you don't have a scale, just eyeball it).
Roll each portion of dough into a ball and flatten slightly. Place them onto the prepared cookie sheets, leaving about 1 1/2-inches between each cookie. Lightly sprinkle with sea salt (if using).
Bake for 16-18 minutes. (Note: There really is no visual clue as to when these cookies are done, just don't over bake them. Mine were perfect after only 14 minutes, but I prefer mine to be very chewy.)
Allow them to rest on the cookies sheets for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Makes 12 cookies 

cookie balls waiting to go in the oven

these are chocolate cookies, I swear!

The only thing I did do a little differently: refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.  I'm not very patient when it comes to this kind of thing. I only waited about 4 hours and it was fine. You just want the dough to be cold enough so its not so sticky. You could do without the peppermint too but I feel it really adds an extra dimension to the yumminess of these cookies.

decadent and heavenly