Monday, November 29, 2010

An Offical Recipe -- yay!

Dutch Baby a.k.a. “Puffed Pancake”

Ingredients: 4 eggs
1 cup flour
I cup milk
Freshly grated nutmeg

Pre-heat the oven to 425. As it preheats, take a glass baking dish or pie plate, add a dusting of nutmeg, and a good helping of butter (2-4 tablespoons). Put the dish in the warming oven to melt the butter and warm the dish.
Meanwhile, blend the eggs for a minute or so, until they get pale and frothy. While the blender is still going, slowly add the milk, then the flour. Blend well.
Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven and quickly pour in the eggs mixture (the melted butter will move throughout the mixture, and some will pool on top - this is okay). Bake for 20-25 minutes, until puffy and golden (try to avoid opening the oven while baking). Slice, and serve with a variety of topping - maple syrup, berries, or simply lemom juice with some powdered sugar are all good choices. I recently tried a version that sprinkled slivered almonds into the batter right before it went into the oven, and topped the finished product with jam. The almonds added an unexpected crunch to the dish that was very yummy. I used an apricot/peach jam, which kind of melted when I spread it on the hot pancake -- really yummy!

Note: this recipe is easy to portion depending on how much you need. 1 egg = ¼ cup each of milk and flour.
Other info: This dish is vegetarian, but not vegan. It can easily be made with all local products (milk, butter, and eggs from a local farm, King Arthur flour, and, of course, VT Maple Syrup).

This dish is adapted from a recipe in Molly Wizenberg, author of A Homemade Life and the Oranegtte blog. My mom and I love to make Dutch Babies, and sometimes I make one for dinner two (or even three) times in one week. It's funny, because even though we now live 2,000 miles apart, we'll often talk in the evening to discover that we both made a Dutch Baby for dinner that night!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Post-Game Highlights

I should probably be doing something much more productive right now, but I decided that a Thanksgiving post-game highlights post was a higher priority. I also have a couple restaurant reviews to throw in here, and some general updates – looks like we’re in for a long one!
Let’s begin with the restaurant reviews. Despite the busy season (and school finals rapidly approaching), Danielle and I have managed to maintain our weekly tradition. A couple weeks ago, we hit Bistro 156 for dinner. The atmosphere was very hip and trendy, the cocktail was fabulous (they infuse some of the liquors themselves), the service was HORRIBLE and the food was mediocre. Shall I elaborate? Danielle ordered a spinach and artichoke dip appetizer, which I helped myself to. It was very good, thick, and had a lot of nice flavor. Also, I don’t know what kind of tortilla chips came with it (homemade? store bought? what brand?) but they were surprisingly good. Really, this was the highlight of the whole experience. I ordered mac and cheese, desperately in need of some comfort food, and I couldn’t help but be let down. By the time dinner made its way out to our table, mine was no longer very hot. It had a lot of oil in it, and not very much cheesy goodness – a let down, to be sure. And then there was the service – some of the worst I have experienced in Burlington. Sure, our waitress was pleasant enough, once she finally figured out that she was supposed to be waiting on us (not the brightest bulb, so to speak). We went through about three different servers until one finally settled on our table. Then, although we only ordered an appetizer and dinner, we sat there for over two hours because it was sooooo sloooooow. Overall, I don’t think I will be visiting this establishment again anytime soon.
Our poor experience at Bistro 156 was more than made up for, however, at A Single Pebble last week. As I have mentioned several times, I am obsessed with the Food Network. I watch waaaaaay to much cooking television, but I just cannot seem to help myself. Anyway, one show I like is Best Thing I Ever Ate. Each episode has a theme (dessert, crunchy, pizza, and so on), and features several different Food Network talents discussing their favorite meal within that category. Most of the time, the restaurants they discuss are in New York City, but every once in a while, something different comes my way. Last week’s episode was titled “with Chopsticks” and featured a lot of different Chinese/Asian style restaurants. For those of you that don’t know, Alton Brown, host of Good Eats, went to the New England Culinary School in Montpelier, Vermont – less than an hour from Burlington. So, on this episode, he discussed a dish from A Single Pebble, and I immediately wanted to go there. I was not disappointed! The décor was kind of kitschy Chinese restaurant, and the service was good although not outstanding, but the food was amazing (and really, isn’t that what it is all about?). Danielle and I ordered four different dishes to share – Peking duck, crab cakes, potstickers, and tangerine chicken. Although everything was great, the Peking duck was above and beyond. It arrived to our table on a platter, consisting of shredded duck, crispy cracklings, chives, cucumber slices, and plum sauce. Four thin pancakes (almost like unsweetened crepes) came of the side. We built little Peking duck tacos and they were to die for! Honestly, this was one of the best dishes I have had in a long time. For dessert, I had coconut tapioca with chunks of fresh mango in it, which was also really good.
I also feel compelled to mention that Peppermint Mocha lattes are once again featured on the Starbucks menu! This is probably my favorite coffee drink in the entire world, and although you can order it year round, it just does not seem right to drink in the warm summer months. I will be frequenting my local Starbucks a lot more than usual for the next month or so.
So, now that all that formality is behind us, on to the main event – Thanksgiving! This is the biggest cooking and eating holiday of the year, and therefore plays an important part of my life for the month of November. Every show of the Food Network has to do with the holiday all month long, all of my magazines feature recipes, and the grocery store is bursting with turkey, stuffing, and all the fixins’. My family down in Texas really knows how to put together a proper Thanksgiving meal (the best, in my opinion), but unfortunately I could not be with them this holiday. I spend the holiday with my extended family in Massachusetts. We all had a nice time together, which is really the whole point of the holiday. I made stuffed dates (dried dates stuffed with a sweet cream cheese filling) and brought some famous Vermont-made sage cheese. I really love to cook and wish I could have been more involved in the preparations, but that just geared me up more for Christmas. I will be home for Christmas and my dad and I will put together a meal to remember. Hope y’all had a lovely holiday, got some great Black Friday deals, and are resting this weekend before the season is truly in full swing.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Random thoughts during a busy day

I have to admit, I have been exhausted lately. Life – work and school, mostly – has been so busy that I barely have time to breathe these days, never mind do some extracurricular blogging. But, today I have managed to carve a few minutes out of my hectic day to write a quick note.
I have to admit that my cooking has largely consisted of bowls of oatmeal and microwave baked potatoes lately. However, I have managed to sneak in a few actual meals – the other night, I made a mustard “fried” chicken (read: breaded and baked), roasted fingerling potatoes, and a Brussels sprouts gratin. While everything was pretty good, the sprouts were awesome. I am not always a Brussels sprouts fan – unlike other veggies, such as broccoli, I don’t like the way they steam in the microwave (my usual go-to form of veggies). Take them and add butter and gruyere cheese, on the other hand, and they are freakin’ awesome! Here’s a link to the website I got the recipe from (, of course):
In other news, I signed up from a cooking class series at a local grocer that sounded really promising – five weekly classes all about classic Italian cooking – I was especially excited to learn how to make fresh pasta, something I have never attempted before. Unfortunately, after the first class, I was really disappointed – it was all demonstration, and no hands-on cooking! I could watch the Food Network at home in my pjs, and not have to pay anything extra for it. As I mentioned, I was pretty upset. I was really looking forward to a break from the stress of work and school (it had been a particularly crappy week), as well as learning a new skill. All is not lost, though. After hearing how upset I was, my dad went online and found a class for us to take together when I go home for Christmas. As I discussed in a previous post, cooking and food is one of the passions that my dad and I share, so taking a class together should be really fun. There is a small grocery chain in Texas called Central Market, and let me tell you, it is amazing. If you like cooking, or just simply like eating, then this store is like Disneyworld. In a lot of ways, it is similar to Whole Foods – lots of organic, natural options. The produce department practically takes up half the store, and it beautiful. The meats, the wines, the cheeses, the bakery – all are impressive. You can walk into Central Market hungry, sample your way through the store, and leave fully satisfied. I go in there to find one ingredient that isn’t available at the local Kroger, and walk out with $100 worth of completely random groceries – and love every minute of it. Central Market is not a grocery store, it’s a destination. The reason I mention all this is because Central Market is hosting the class that Dad and I are taking. It’s titled “A Night in Paris,” and features dishes such as duck fat roasted fingerling potatoes (yes, you read that correctly), and vanilla soufflé. Read the full description here: It sounds fantastic, and I am really excited about it – and very touched that my dad made the effort to find this for us to do together (and paid for it)! We are going to start the day with some light shopping (as if there was such a thing) at Northpark, an amazing mall in Dallas, and finish with an evening at Central market. This is basically my version of heaven.
Finally, a quick restaurant review. A couple weeks ago, Danielle and I had dinner at the Daily Planet, a Burlington institution. The décor and atmosphere were very cool – hip and cozy at the same time. That is kind of were my interest in the place ends. I should preface this by saying that that particular day was kind of a nightmare – super busy at work, and to top it off, I got in a minor fender bender on the way to the restaurant. So my mood was not at its brightest, and that may have had some influence on my experience. However, either way, I was not thrilled. I order the soup of the day, which was a potato leek. Although it had some good flavors, and the presentation was very pretty (dots of oil and cream on top of a velvety soup), it was cold by the time it made its way to my place. Then I had the duck prosciutto. I had never seen such a thing on a menu before, so I questioned the waitress. She explained it as basically the same of regular prosciutto, but coming from a duck instead (like I couldn’t deduce that on my own). Then she made a major faux pas – she told me that prosciutto usually comes from a cow! I was unimpressed. Now, don’t get me wrong – the waitress was very nice, so points for that…but uninformed. Danielle ordered a cheese board, which has become something of a tradition with us. That was very good, and the waitress did make a great suggestion on which cheeses to select. The Farmhouse Tap and Grill still reigns supreme for cheeseboards in my book, but mostly because of that amazing apple butter. Danielle also had a chicken Cesar salad that she was happy with, although they forgot the croutons and had to bring her a new plate. Maybe you can see why I wasn’t overly impressed?