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Homemade Puff Pastry-Crust Pizza with Pancetta, Ricotta & Honey Dijon Onions

9 Jan

Welcome to the Polar Vortex 2k15! I don’t know where you’re all located, but if you’re in DC, then you are FREEZING.  The cold has been so aggressive this week that my immune system finally succumbed to some sort of cold virus, and the water pipes in our house have frozen.  With temperatures expected to be sub-freezing going into the weekend, you best bundle up!  There is always, however, a silver lining to these situations.  You could stay indoors, cuddle up with a terrific meal and a glass or three of wine, and rewatch the last season of Game of Thrones in preparation for its mighty return in a few months’ time (#PUMPED).  In any event, I have an idea for this delectable meal of yours!  How about a homemade, treat yo’self kind of pizza?! This one has a crust of golden, flaky puff pastry dough, piled with ricotta cheese, my specialty onions, and pancetta (bacon’s cousin- yes please).  The puffy pastry dough is the most expensive item on the list ($10 at whole foods), and if you’re solo, you’ll have leftovers for days! You’ll need:

  • One box of puff pastry dough (one sheet, thawed)
  • Tomato sauce
  • Fresh basil
  • Small container of fresh ricotta cheese
  • One package pancetta
  • 1-2 vidalia or sweet onions, depending on how excited you are to make them
  • Honey and Dijon mustard (equal parts, 3 tablespoons each per onion)
  • Butter

If you get the box of puff pastry dough the day before, thaw in the refrigerator overnight.  Otherwise, let it sit on the kitchen counter for 3-4 hours to thaw.  To accelerate thawing if it’s still not ready, CAREFULLY unfold the dough so it is a flat sheet, still in the plastic wrap, and wrap with kitchen towels.  I would not recommend thawing via microwave.  While the dough is on the tail-end of thawing, get your toppings ready! Chop up some fresh basil to put on the pizza, and set aside Basil Heat some butter in a frying pan and cook the pancetta.  Keep it on medium-high heat and make sure to pay attention, as each side of the pancetta takes only about a minute to cook.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Next, mix together your honey and dijon mustard in a bowl.  There should be equal parts honey:mustard, but feel free to taste and add to your liking.  Slice the onion(s) to about 1/4 inch thick, and place in a bigger  bowl.  Toss the onions in the honey mustard mix and let sit for a few minutes.  Heat up a pan on medium heat, throw in some butter, and add the onions and the leftover mix.  Cover and let cook down for about 15-20 minutes, or until onions are soft.  Make sure to stir occasionally so the mixture doesn’t burn or stick to the pan.  The smell of these bad boys will undoubtedly get your mouth watering.  Once finished, set aside along with the pancetta and basil. Pancetta w/ Honey Dijon onions Once the puff pastry dough is thawed, place on a baking sheet.  An important note, and thankfully one that I called my all-knowing mom about, is to bake the dough about halfway through before you put any toppings or sauce on it.  This ensures the dough cooks evenly and is stable enough to hold ingredients.  Following the baking directions on the box, set the oven to the appropriate temperature, and bake for half the time.  Remove from the oven, and spread on sauce.  Add pancetta, onions, basil, and dollups of ricotta cheese evenly on the pizza, layering the ingredients as necessary.  Bake in the oven for the remaining amount of time.  Make sure to check the pizza intermittently so the crust does not burn.  If it starts to darken, remove from the oven and cover those areas with aluminum foil so you can continue baking.  Once dough is cooked and cheese is molten, remove from the oven and serve!! Homemade pizza! Flaky Crust Pizza This works for 2-4 people.  If you’re a duo, which I was with a favorite dining companion, then I suggest you be HUNGRY.  Enjoy!

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Nommin’ Out on 14th St for New Year’s Brunch: Tico and Le Diplomate

30 Dec

It’s almost New Years!!!!!!!!! Wooo. I for one usually feel that New Years Eve is slightly overrated in general.  What I’m definitely looking forward to, and what is most certainly not overrated, is a gluttonous, hangover-curing New Year’s Day Brunch! Lucky for you, me, and a great friend who turns a year older, there are a plethora of delicious options  in DC that will definitely deliver.  Let’s focus on 14th st NW.  I have dined previously at both of the below establishments in need of some greasy lovin’, and left feeling a big MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.  One of them is even having a New Years Day Brunch special!

TICO

http://www.ticodc.com

This relatively new restaurant, right by the also relatively new Trader Joe’s, is already a proven hit- it was just listed on the Washingtonian’s 100 Very Best Restaurants of 2014.  But this isn’t really a surprise coming from owner Michael Schlow, a Top Chef Master and James Beard Foundation award recipient.  This restaurant serves American food with Spanish, Mexican, and South American flavors within the funkily-decorated walls displaying artwork by Schlow’s wife.

According to BadWolf DC’s blog, “On New Year’s Day, Tico will offer a “Stay In Your Pajamas Disco Brunch” with bottomless mimosas and Bloody Mary’s. The restaurant will offer hangover cures from their popular brunch menu like Duck Confit and Green Chile Hash, Kitchen Sink Breakfast Burritos, Stuffed French Toast, Spicy Mexican Fried Chicken, and more.  The special brunch will be $37.50 per person and will include all you can eat from the Pajama Disco brunch menu, bottomless mimosas and bloody Mary’s, and a special throwback disco soundtrack. Reservations can be made at http://www.ticodc.com/#!reserve/cfwu.”  Click on the blog link for the full menu!  Here’s some menu items that I’ve enjoyed:

Bacon Cheeseburger with fried egg and special sauce

Tico Burger

Tico Mac n Cheese with Serrano Ham

Tico Mac n Cheese

Cinnamon Raisin STUFFED French Toast (it’s stuffed with some sort of delectable cream cheese filling)

Tico Stuffed French Toast

& last but definitely not least, the Hibiscus Margarita, which is one of the best margs this girl has ever enjoyed

Tico Margarita

LE DIPLOMATE

http://lediplomatedc.com/

Le Diplo is having a pre-fixed NYE dinner she-bang which I’m sure will be elegant and classy, but they are also having their usual nom-worthy brunch the following day.  I went there for my birthday brunch back in August, dead set on demolishing one of the best burgers in DC according to the Washingtonian staff.  It is comprised of two thin patties, pickles, onions, and special sauce for an affordable price. Think about it as a super upscale Big Mac.  If that’s what you’ll be hangry for on New Year’s Day, you won’t be disappointed.  After all, this restaurant was also on the Washingtonian’s list of 100 Best Restaurants of 2014.

Le Diplomate Burger Le Diplomate Burger

Happy almost New Years!

Nommin’ Out: Blind Dog Cafe

29 Oct

Let me introduce you to Baxter.  Baxter is an affable, adorable dog living in Shaw.  Baxter has an owner named Jonas Singer, both of whom enjoy strolls around the neighborhood and the grassy Le Droit Park.  Baxter is also blind.  Story has it that one fine day while the two were romping around good ol’ Shaw, Singer had an idea.  He and some friends approached Darnell of Darnell’s Bar, located on the quiet corner of 9th St and Florida Avenue, which opened at 5pm.  The ingenious idea was to create a pop-up  restaurant during the day that would cater to neighborhood residents and foster community, providing breakfast and lunch meals made exclusively from fresh and local produce from the surrounding area and aptly naming it the Blind Dog Cafe.  Nestled on a colorfully-clothed bench, one can enjoy good coffee, a better sandwich, and free WiFi (appropriately, the password is BAXTERCANTSEE).  On any given day, the place is full of locals grabbing a quick bite, or young professionals typing away on a Mac laptop next to a plate full of crumbs.  And per the nomming on a budget blog motif, salads and sandwiches are only $9 and $10 respectively!

Blind Dog Cafe

I chose the famed Roasted Chorizo sandwich with a side salad.  It boasts chorizo sausage, cherry tomatoes, and an absolutely delectable sriracha aioli.  I ate it in five minutes.  To wash it all down, I chose one of the in-house sodas in the Lime flavor.  I am an enormous fan of effervescent beverages, and this limey delight was no let down.

Chorizo Sandwich

 

Snag a table this weekend and enjoy!

Petite Pizzas

9 Sep

Happy Monday eve!  This is going to be a quick one because I’m exhausted.  But before beauty rest comes this post– quick, simple, healthy, and creative.  Have 20 minutes on a weeknight?  Make petite pizzas! You’ll need some basics, and then can have some fun with whatever ingredients you have around.  I used whole wheat English Muffins, some leftover tomato sauce, and Mozzarella and Colby Jack cheese for my basics.  Then made two kinds of petite pizzas because variety is the spice of life, amirite?  One was prosciutto, mozzarella, and sauteed garlic spinach.  The second was a fried runny egg, cherry tomatoes, Colby Jack cheese, and chives.  DELISH.

Things you need to cook before the oven toaster: tomatoes, spinach, and egg

Cherry tomatoes

Assembly line!

Assembly line

NOM!

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I’m not usually a fan of the runny egg, but oy was it just the right amount of gooey to soak up into the muffin.  Pair with some white wine, a candle, and Monday Night Football, and you have yourself a treat.

Treat Yourself: French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese

30 Jun

Surprisingly, the air conditioning in my turn-of-the-century home has been functioning so efficiently that I forget it’s probably over 90 degrees outside.  Both soup and a molten grilled cheese are normally associated with a brisk fall evening or a snowpocalypse, but I say NAY to stereotypical seasonal restrictions! Wrapped in a cozy blanket basking in the AC, I recently dined on the most indulgent and delicious grilled cheese I’ve ever had.  I’m a huge fan of French Onion soup in general, so when I found a recipe for incorporating the same concept into a SANDWICH, I knew it had to become a reality ASAP. Pro tip: make sure you’re starving.

Grilled cheeses are pretty straight forward and cheap, but this recipe calls for an additional preliminary step of braising a bunch of delicious onions.  Your grocery list should still be very reasonable.  Assuming you have olive oil, butter, and some wine, your list is basically garlic cloves, onions, bread, cheese, and thyme.

To make the wine-braised onions, you’ll need:

  • about 1 small clove garlic per 2 onions
  • onions (cook about 3-5 at a time, as you will find many uses for leftover caramelized onions)
  • olive oil
  • butter
  • bay leaf (which I didn’t use)
  • fresh thyme
  • red or white wine (I suggest red, you only need a 1/4 cup worth, so just finish off that random bottle in your house)

Directions:

Cut the onions in half lengthwise, then slice thinly again lengthwise.

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For every 1 large onion, heat about 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large, heavy-bottom pan over medium heat. Add the same amount of butter, allow to melt, then add minced garlic. Allow the garlic to soften (but not color), then add the onions. Stir to coat the garlic and onions in oil+butter, add a bay leaf and a small sprig of thyme, then turn down the heat to medium low (so onions don’t burn).

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Continue to cook the onions until they are soft and deep golden brown, 30-40 minutes (depending on how many onions you cook).  After this point, add about ¼ cup red or white wine (again I suggest red for some pretty coloring), and allow to cook down with the onions, another 5-7 minutes.

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The intoxicatingly rich smell of these bad boys is enough to get your mouth watering.  Once finished, set aside for grilled cheese assembly.

For the sandwich (makes one, I doubled the recipe for a hungry roommate), you’ll need:

  • 1 tablespoon each grapeseed (or olive) oil and butter, for frying
  • 2 slices of french baguette or french bread (I used wheat sourdough)
  • 1 tablespoon softened butter (I used way more than this.  I eyed the amount to my heart’s content)
  • enough shredded gruyere cheese to generously cover both slices of bread (the grocery store just had a block of gruyere, but I definitely recommend using the shredded if you can find it)
  • about ½ cup wine-braised onions, or basically as many as you can fit on the ‘wich
  • your extra thyme leaves

Spread each slice of French bread with softened butter, both sides. Add half the shredded cheese to one, pile braised onions on top, sprinkled with fresh thyme leaves, salt and pepper, then add the rest of the cheese. Close the sandwich with the other slice of bread, and gently press together. Pictured is the sliced gruyere cheese and some fresh parmesan, because why not.

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Add grapeseed/olive oil into a pan, then add butter and turn on high heat.  Place sandwiches in the hot pan and cook until cheese is melted and bread is golden brown on both sides.  WARNING: flipping these things is a feat.  I ended up needing a spatula, tongs, and another set of hands.  Good luck…. KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE PRIZE!

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Put on some stretchy pants and enjoy this summer indulgence because frankly, life’s way too short not to.

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Bacon-Wrapped Maple Wings with Grilled Pineapple

18 Jun

So hilariously enough, when my culinary interests peaked along with the sales of the famous Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, my parents bought me a “50 Shades of Chicken” cookbook.  It’s narrated as a saucy parody, but is chalk full of recipes and techniques. One of my favorites is the maple-glazed wings with bacon (the narration entitled “Bacon Bound”), the obvious reason being the use of a key word in my vocabulary, bacon.

You’ll need:

-1/4 cup maple syrup

-1/4 cup soy sauce

-1/4 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts

-1 1/2 tablespoons rice wine or apple cider vinegar

-1 teaspoon black pepper

-15 chicken wings (about 3 lbs), patted very dry with paper towels

-8 strips bacon

Serves 4 to 6 people, or just me, myself and I.

In a large bowl, combine maple syrup, soy sauce, scallions, vinegar, garlic, and pepper and mix well.  Add the chicken wings and toss them gently so they are covered. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

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Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Slice the bacon in half lengthwise to yield long thin ribbons (“perfect for restraining your bird”).  Remove the wings from the marinade and wipe off any clinging garlic or scallion pieces.  Tightly tie up each chicken wing in a bacon ribbon and lay the chicken wings, tips up, on a large baking pan.  Cover loosely with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Uncover the dish and continue to bake until golden and crisp, another 10-15 minutes.

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For a burst of contradicting flavor, pair with grilled pineapple! Buy a whole one, cut across for chunks that are an inch or two thick.  Cut around chunks to remove the outside.  Toss on the grill for a few minutes on each side.

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And if you’d like to surprise a fellow carnivore with a lovely present, shop for the cookbook!

Mother’s Day! Make Her Something

11 May

First, watch this YouTube video.  It becomes supremely obvious that being a mother is, in fact, the toughest job in the world.  It also becomes obvious how often this fact is overlooked.  Today is a day to recognize all of the mothers out there for everything they have done and continue to do for their families.  A special shout out to my mom, who has done more for me and my sister than I can even attempt to articulate.  It’s unfortunate that living in different cities makes it difficult to appropriately celebrate her today, but for those of you who are lucky enough to be with your mom, express your appreciation by giving her a break in the kitchen for once and make her something spectacular.

These ricotta and pesto stuffed tomatoes are easy, kind of adorable, and great for a snack or a side, for lunch or dinner.  You’ll need:

4 (about 500g) medium truss tomatoes or regular tomatoes
2 cups fresh ricotta
2 tbsp finely grated parmesan
11/2 tbsp pesto
1 tsp grated lemon zest
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup passata or tomato puree
1 tbsp honey
a handful of fresh herbs (basil, parsley, chives)
Extra virgin olive oil to serve

Combine ricotta, parmesan, pesto, lemon zest, salt, and pepper in mixing bowl.

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Preheat oven to 180 degrees.  Cut off tops of tomatoes and set aside.  Scoop out all innards so you have a nice little tomato bowl.  Then stuff each tomato with a generous amount of ricotta mix.  Place on baking tray and drizzle with olive oil.  I actually didn’t use any tomato puree for a kind of “gravy”, but feel free to do so.

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Bake for 20 minutes or until tender.  I baked for 25 minutes, and then broiled for an additional 3 minutes to get the tops soft and the cheese a bit hotter.  Remove from oven and lightly drizzle with olive oil for a finishing touch.

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Food is love, and moms worldwide will be heartened by your culinary efforts.

And to my mom, love you bigger.

 

thewinelifestyle

So close to wine

VINTAGE REFLECTION

By Amy Purfield-Clark

culinarychronicles.wordpress.com/

Discovering new Foodventures with each bite

A Stairway To Fashion

contact: ralucastoica23@gmail.com

Madison Sheffer

a creative communicator

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