Archive | August, 2014

Birthday Round 2 & Labor Day: Mint and Cumin Spiced Lamb Chops

29 Aug

Happy Friday team! More importantly, happy LONG WEEKEND! Maybe the federal holiday will give you some extra time to allot to cooking up something incredible?! May I suggest these bad boys? Featured on the cover of the special grilling issue of Bon Appétit magazine, it was basically love at first sight.  I decided immediately these Mint and Cumin Spiced Lamb Chops should be the main feature of the birthday dinner I had last weekend.  Granted, depending on where you shop (ahem, Whole Foods) and how many people are included in the experience, these are not technicallyyyy nommin’ on a budget worthy.  BUT, I needed to present them to the blog world regardless.

Click on the above link for all necessary ingredients and instructions.  These need to be prepared at least 2-3 hours ahead of scheduled meal time so they can marinate in all the spicy goodness.

Magazine and some sunflowers to maintain a summery spirit:

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Fresh mint:

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The plethora of spices! Make sure to follow the measurements veryyyy carefully.  Pulse until finely chopped and well-mixed.   Food processing the mint leaves will actually make a sort of wet substance… have no fear as this allows you to spread on the lamb very easily.

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Rub like so:

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Ready to go in the fridge!

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After at least two hours, pop on the grill.  KEEP the layer of fat on the chops as it permeates the meat while cooking for an awesome flavor.  You will have to grill these bad boys for a bit longer than the directions say.  We grilled for about 10-15 minutes total, flipping over a few times, and then cut the chops apart at the end and continued cooking for 5 minutes to make sure they weren’t too rare (the goal was medium-rare).

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Success!

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And yes, the eight of us ate all five racks.  Enjoy!

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Birthday Month Round 1: Pancake Birthday Cake!

20 Aug

So as I mentioned in a previous post, my roomie bestie turned the big 2-6 on Sunday! To cheer her out of the “road to late twenties” blues, we had a marvelous idea… make her a PANCAKE CAKE! What better thing to wake up to for a Sunday birthday brunch? I’ll tell you what: nothing.  It only calls for a handful of simple ingredients, but is definitely a labor of love.  I initially found a fancy recipe that called for making the pancake batter AND the roasted-pecan buttercream frosting, and while I love my friend more than anything, I knew by the time I got my butt out of bed on Sunday and made everything, we would be eating at 4pm.  Not fun (especially for her, silly morning bird). SO I resorted to the ever-delicious classic Bisquick mix, an enormous stockpile of fresh blueberries, and delightful vanilla cream icing.  I knew I wanted a big tower of ’em, so I definitely used up all of the batter to make a whopping 10 pancakes!

Use a non-stick skillet and carefully make each pancake, trying to ensure that the batter meets the edges of the pan so they’re all roughly the same size.  Then scatter in a few blueberries and press into the batter.  Cook on LOW heat for 1-2 minutes on each side, checking periodically for doneness.  Make sure when you press down, no batter oozes out from the middle.

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Check out the stack! If you’re making anything else to accompany the pancake monstrosity, let the stack sit in the oven on a low 170 or 180 degrees to keep relatively warm until you’re ready to frost.

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We used a full can of frosting and put a thin layer between each pancake and then around the entire thing.  Pro tip: Stick a few of those super long, skinny wooden skewers in the middle of the cake all the way down so the layers don’t move around while you’re trying to frost the whole way around.  We circled the cake with some fresh strawberries for the final product!

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Don’t be afraid of any oozing frosty.  That’s the good stuff.  Make your own pancake cake rendition and eat up!!

Nommin’ Out: Chaplin

11 Aug

Do you like….half price off specialty cocktails til 7pm?  Delicious dumplings, some of which come in a glass of booze?  Steamy Ramen? Funky decor? Look no further than Chaplin, one of Shaw’s most recent bar/restaurant additions (I LOVE my neighborhood!).  It’s located right on the corner of 9th and O st NW near the new Giant, and is the perfect neighborhood bar that you’ve been dreaming of. Ideal for a date, a parental visit, or a casual meal with some close friends, this spot should definitely be on your radar.  Our house trio recently made it our date destination, and were completely surprised to see a friend of ours, who is now Chaplin’s head chef!!  You never know who you’re gonna run into in this town.  Per his expert guidance and sage suggestions, we tried all sorts of deliciousness.

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First things first, cocktails!  Happy hour does not include food, but does include half off all drinks (except for the second section of their specialty drinks).  You still have six ($6 off) “drafty spirits” specialty cocktails to which the deal applies!

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The Vagabond, which our waitress referred to as a “Spa Drink” due to how incredibly refreshing it is.  It’s also enormous and alarmingly easy to drink:

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The Pilgrim, a crazy mix of intense flavors that actually pair really well together:

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A Day’s Pleasure, if you need a strong one after a long day.  They even burn the orange peel to release some flavah:

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Next, cocktails WITH dumplings! Um, genius?  This is the Blood & Sand, which includes Japanese Scotch Whisky, Cherry Brandy, and orange peel.  Chase the shooter with that hot beef dumping you can see down there:

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Okay, finally, the food.  Definitely start with some dumplings to share.  We got two orders, one Pork & Ginger, one Beef & Mushroom.  $8 each and comes with six dumplings.  The sauce is also quite special; our friend thickens up the normal soy sauce with cane sugar!

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And for the entrees, Ramen! You can choose from seven different varieties (not including optional add-ons) for $10-$13 each.  And these things are HUGE and very filling.  Both my roomies took some of theirs home for a glorious next-day work lunch.

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I chose The Knockout: Tonakatsu Broth, Pork Shoulder, soft boiled egg, scallion, pickled ginger.  The pork falls apart in the broth and is so, so delectable.

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Needless to say, I didn’t have any leftovers to take home….

 

Carb-Free Cuisine: Mashed Cauliflower and Marinated Lamb

5 Aug

So as I noted in my previous post, August is birthday month!! I turn the ominous 25, and my roommate bestie turns the mature 26.  To ease the potentially anxiety-ridden stage of my quarterlife crisis, I have decided that August is going to be treat yo’self month.  I am going to be good to myself,  mind, body, and soul.  Plus I want to look kickass in my birthday outfit, obviously.  As a kickoff, I made a delicious carb-free dinner chalk full of protein and veggies.  The marinated lamb is a give-in favorite of mine, and I tricked my body into thinking it was consuming creamy mashed potatoes when in fact it was crazy-good mashed cauliflower! Tehe I’m so sneaky.

You can Google a decent Mashed Cauliflower recipe, but after making several variations, running out of ingredients, and having different flavor profiles, I think I’ve settled on my own fave version.  You’ll need:

  • Head of cauliflower
  • Two cloves of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Low fat veggie cream cheese
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Green onions or chives (optional)

Put a big pot of water on the stove to boil.  While it heats up, break up the cauliflower into smaller sections.  You can basically just tear off the little trees one by one, like so:

Cauliflower Trees

Once the water is boiling, put in cauliflower for 5-7 minutes or until soft.  In the meantime, start cooking up your pre-marinated lamb.  I had to go to Whole Foods to get my fix, but the lamb is super reasonably priced (proof below)

Whole Foods leg of lamb

TWO for $10.  Definitely beats the $28 that a restaurant would charge for an equally delectable lamb dish.  Buy the pre-marinated version to save yourself some time and money.  Throw into a pan that’s on high heat, coated with cooking spray and some melted butter.

Leg of Lamb

The butter will sear the lamb, sealing all the flavor into the meat.  Normally I would grill these, but alas, we have run out of propane. Be careful when you’re cooking in the pan, as the lamb can go from bloody to medium in a matter of minutes if left unsupervised.  It’s also super steamy so turn on your microwave fan or open a window.  Cook about five minutes on each side, and cut open to gauge the temperature.  Reduce heat if necessary.  If the meat is right on the brink of your desired done-ness, remove from heat immediately and cover with a lid, as the lamb will continue to cook internally for a few minutes.  Another option is to pan sear for a few minutes on each side, and then bake in the oven for the remainder.

Remember that while this is going on, you need to put your cauliflower into a food processor with the rest of the ingredients.  I would do this while the lamb’s first side is cooking.  Pile in the cauliflower with two garlic cloves (chopped), a heaping spoonful of the cream cheese, two tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, a tablespoon of olive oil, and your green onions/chives if you decided to go that route.

Blend until smooth, tasting along the way and adding more of any ingredient.  Hint: more cream cheese makes them more creamy!

Try not to let this process interfere with monitoring the lamb.  When lamb is done, scoop the mashed cauliflower onto your plate and sprinkle additional Parmesan cheese and some oregano for added flavah.

Done! And if you didn’t share, you’ll have plenty of leftovers.  The mashed cauliflower keeps surprisingly well for a day or two.  Enjoy!

Nommin’ Out: Boundary Stone

1 Aug

Happyyyyyy Friday/ first day of August aka my Birthday Month! Thinking of having dinner in the District? You should head to Boundary Stone tonight.  For real, go.  Located on 1st st NE and Rhode Island Ave in Bloomingdale, this small low-key bar has been voted Reader’s Choice Best in DC for Best Neighborhood Bar, among other accolades.

It’s got a nice little patio for outdoor seating right on the sidewalk and a super fly exposed-brick interior (you can never go wrong with exposed brick).  My roommates and I made it a date night and HUSTLED on over to make sure we could partake in their sweet happy hour deal.  It lasts until 7pm and features several$3-$4 beers, red/white wine, margs, and $5 Honey Hot Wings! They were just delightful.

Honey Hot Wings

 

We also got their Crab Dip, as it was a splurge kind of evening (note the fries in the background).  It’s topped with an Old Bay infused oil & served with fresh baked bread.  And let me tell you, they do NOT skimp on the crab meat.  Straight up chunks mixed in with oozey cheese.  Behold the glory:

Crab Dip

 

Thennnn came the entrees.  Decisions were the Falafel wrap, the Bleu Burger, and the Bacon (Jam) Burger (which was obviously my decision).  Talk about delicious, and only $11!  It was cooked to absolute perfection and jam (get it!?)- packed with flavor.  I mean, come on, BACON JAM!

Falafel Wrap

Bacon Jam Burger

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And THEN (I know, there’s more), we got their salted caramel brownie sundae for dessert.  Best idea ever.

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3 and a half minutes later….

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We win!  And if you feel like continuing the evening with a hipster kind of vibe, walk right across the street to Showtime and grab a cold one.

 

 

thewinelifestyle

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Discovering new Foodventures with each bite

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Madison Sheffer

a creative communicator

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