Category Archives: dessert

Comfort Friend and Comfort Food at Hudson Lounge

I love getting visitors here in the District of Columbia. I get to be a tour guide, a hostess, a Resident Foodie (we need badges, no?)… well, usually I get to play these roles, but this summer I had a different kind of guest. One who had already lived here, already had favorite places, and was on a mission. Kind of like me! Hi, Rooske!

So no tour guiding. But there was lots of talking over life plans and adventures, and figuring out the work projects we want to do.

I did get to put on my Resident Foodie hat, though, since restaurants change in DC so quickly, and being out of the country for a year will definitely provide you with a panoply of new places to try. It so happened that Hudson Lounge, which was new when she was living here, had never made it on her top list to try. Enter my Groupon.

The menu has the mouthwatering descriptions, but I’ll give it the personal touch here. Above is what I had as an appetizer: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with currants and pine nuts. For the past year or so, I’ve been diving into any version of roasted brussels sprouts at restaurants, since I tried it at Potenza— but Potenza has closed! I just found out last week. It’s sad, and it’s probably because they never put the sprouts back on the menu…

But I digress. These were very good, but not with the flash fried crispiness of other places. Rooske had a cauliflower soup, which was nice, but didn’t make me do cartwheels. And that’s really what life is about, right? Doing things that make your heart do cartwheels?

Next were the entrees: Caramelized Cauliflower Risotto (above) and Fried Chicken (below). The risotto, while rich and creamy, really was over-the-top with the amount of cheese. Very heavy. I no doubt would have erred in the other direction making it at home, since I don’t like the tedious grating of pecorino or parmesan.

What had really beckoned me to try this place though, was the report of its fried chicken- duly noted as being from Murray Farms, a group of Pennsylvania farms. Instead of being wearied by all the name-dropping on the menu, I rather like when restaurants note the purveyors of their ingredients. It shows that they have formed a relationship with a producer that they’re proud of owning up to. Hooray for transparency in the food industry, I say! Did it live up to my view of transparency begetting good product?

Fitting leftovers into containers…

Nice crispy skin, and succulent meat, even as leftovers (contained curiously at right) reheated in the oven, was the answer to that question. And of course there were leftovers- duh! That’s what the civilized person does when confronted with American-sized portions but wants to sample the diversity of the menu!

That diversity, of course, Rooske and I both agreed,  involved sampling dessert. And speaking of American-sized portions, Hudson offers a Half Pound Warm Chocolate Chip Cookie. Half a pound. Of cookie. We shared a half and put the rest in the container to take home. Also good later.

 Was it really necessary to top the cookie with powdered sugar? I think not.

As I post this, it seems like a while ago that Rooske was here and we were having those conversation, but they continue in different form, and always bring me comfort on my journey with extra inspiration for the road. I hope I can do the same for others in my life… Feel free to test me. :)

 

TLT Cooking School Now Open for Business!

Yes, you read that right.
As part of my Creative Endeavor Year of 2012, I am pursuing my passions for teaching, guiding, cooking and travel… by offering cooking courses!
I have been ever so excited about this since January, but managed to keep mum as I planned, prepared, and conducted two trial runs, one with friends, one with friends-of-friends whom I didn’t know (I hosted strangers!).

Both trial runs went very well, and my lovely guinea pigs gave me great feedback for how to tweak this or that aspect, which I have incorporated into my menu and planning process. I am SO READY.

The theme, and the way I incorporated the passion for travel into this activity, was Scotland. Ah yes, you do remember, I was a little obsessed with it last year? Well, it didn’t go away. Apparently I’m marked for life.
And it’s not just Scotland. While I had a marvelous time pouring over books of Scottish cultural history and traditional receipt-books, I am just as excited to do the same for other locales I have visited and have some connection with, such as Turkey, Ireland, France, and let’s not forget… Italy! (coming soon)
But for now, it’s Scotland. The menu reflected traditional peasant cuisine, with some shortcuts for practicality and taste.

Menu:

Hors d’oeuvre: Oatcakes with Cheese, Preserves, & Honey 

Vegetable Accompaniments: ‘Neeps and Tatties,’ Fresh Green Salad

Main Course: Herring Sauteed in Oatmeal 

Dessert: Millionaire’s Shortbread

The shortcuts, you will observe, involve the toppings for the oatcakes, and the millionaire’s shortbread (a bit of an anachronism when considered in context with the other dishes, but I didn’t hear anyone complaining).
I was aiming for good, peasant food that used some different ingredients and techniques than the ones we are used to here in the U.S.
I searched out local, seasonal, organic ingredients, and got most of the way there on most of the dishes (let me know when the eastern U.S. gets back in the sugar business, though). All in all, it’s been a thrilling and rewarding experience to be able to pass on some knowledge learned about a place I love and a cuisine I am very much interested in. Win-Win, all the way.

And so, I am putting out the good vibes to all you who may stop to read here from time to time. Do you know people who live in D.C. that are interested in cooking and travel? Do you live in D.C? Are you looking for something to do on a weeknight other than go out to eat or get Thai take-out?

I would love to host you and your friends, or you and your soon-to-be friends, for an evening of cooking, baking, learning, and of course… EATING! Because let’s not forget the primacy of the eating experience, and that it is what brings us together so often, in so many ways. Mangia!

And to finish, the gallery of pictures of Millionaire’s Shortbread, the rich man’s Twix Bar (shortbread, caramel, and chocolate)… how can you NOT want to gobble it all up??
If you’re interested, email me at Margaret’s email or twitterpate me at @tastelifetwice where I like to pass on others’ great content on food, life, and travel as well.


See you here (subscribe by feed / email) & there (Twitter)!

NOMNOMNOMNOM

Forays into darkest Moosewood

First beans, then oxtail, what’s next? Rye whiskey??

No, no, we will be continuing a review of the classics but leaving the pioneer food to delve into a different genre with today’s post:

Moosewood Fudge Brownies

If you haven’t heard of Moosewood, here’s the short version:

  • restaurant in Ithaca, NY
  • featuring healthful natural foods
  • been around for 38 years
  • has produced a lot of cookbooks…

this

one of which I love to use for new dessert ideas. In this case I was aiming to use up the last of a jar of instant espresso and some very ripe bananas. The idea was to add them into the recipe for MW’s fudge brownies, substituting the bananas for some of the liquid. Which would have worked fine if, as I was pouring the batter into the square pan, I hadn’t turned around and seen

and this

i.e. that’s what I get for going into the ‘zone’ of following a recipe and not remembering my intent to add-on to it! Bananas still to use and espresso still to finish. #firstworldproblems for sure.

Anyway, following the recipe yielded an interesting result. The brownies turned out very flat, very dense, and even a bit dry, kind of like a flourless chocolate cake (although I did use flour, a combination of white whole-wheat and whole-wheat pastry flour). This was not a case of me overcooking in my terrible oven, either. The batter suuuuure looked beautiful though, eh?
Pouring that fudge brownie batter into the pan

Here’s the order of how it came together. Trader Joe’s chocolate discs and butter, melted.

Melted to the perfect consistency to add the brown sugar and vanilla…
Whisking in the egg, giving it a frothy surface temporarily…
Getting artistic… (look Ma, one-handed whisking!)
Adding flour, a bit at a time

Moosewood Banana Muffins

And finally, that fudge-y consistency we all know and love so well. I brought these into work on an off day (we’ve been having terrible network problems, so a lot of people have been staying home), but they still went over pretty well. Wondering if anyone has had a similar result on the texture/ moisture issue though, since I like a gooey-er brownie myself.

So that was attempt number one. Since I realized I had forgotten the espresso and the bananas right before I put the brownies in the oven, it gave me some time to wash up and start over, which I determined to do. Easiest recipe to turn to in time of need? Well, these were already bookmarked to try in the same book, soooo…

 

Moosewood Banana Muffins it is (was)! (with add-ins of espresso and chocolate chips)
I had previously made a chocolate banana gingerbread, so I only had 2 bananas. I think this made the muffins a little dry, but the flavor was right on, and if you heat them in the microwave for a few seconds under a wet paper towel…… you can’t tell the difference.

I celebrated my birthday yesterday with many good friends, and am leaving in a few hours for Napoli for a solo vacation, so you could say I’m sandwiched between pleasures.
To come when I return: Scottish Cuisine: my take; Cherry blossoms of DC in 2012; and other treats of living this life full throttle. Salute!