Counter Intelligence


Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on May 29, 2008

Want Emeril to solve your cooking dilemmas? Send in your kitchen conundrums for a chance to cook with Emeril Lagasse on his new show, Emeril Green on Discovery beginning in June.  Casters are looking for people in the DC Metro area to submit stories along these lines:

 Are you tired of making the same 3 chicken dishes every week? When you’re hungover, is it tough for you to make heads or tails of what’s in the fridge? Are you wondering how you can do your part to be eco-friendly while still deep frying your turkey?

For more information, check out the casting blog.


Five on Food: Articles from the Wednesday Dining Pages

Posted in District of Columbia, General Interest by melissamccart on May 28, 2008

1) My Own Weekly Slice of the Jersey Shore. Washington Post.  My food/memory piece in today’s section. . . Also, check out Erin Zimmer’s article on ranch dressing pizza, a Georgetown favorite.

2) Oyster Farmers Find a Boutique in the Bay. New York Times. New York oysters are coming back, to everyone’s delight.

3) Homemade Crackers are Easy, Healthful and Tasty. LA Times. Easier to make than bread, homemade crackers are worth the effort apparently.

4) Jam Sessions. San Francisco Chronicle. Making jam isn’t just for grandmas. It’s for San Francisco hipsters.

5) A New Twist on Hot Dogs. Chicago Tribune. The Trib asks Charlie Trotter, Rick Bayless, and others to reinvent the ‘dawg for home cooks.


Okra Accolades

Posted in District of Columbia, South by melissamccart on May 27, 2008

Because of its slimy tendencies, okra isn’t exactly the most coveted vegetable. But fans are outspoken. They include author and DC resident John Martin Taylor who waxed poetic this past weekend on The Splendid Table, during which he discusses okra-based dishes discovered on his trip through Sri Lanka, as well international origins for Southern US okra classics. (Check out his okra related writings on his blog, too.)

Not sure if you’re a fan?  Try out Rasika’s bhindi amchoor or make it at home:

Ingredients: one pound of okra-1/2 c oil-1/2 t cumin seeds-10 oz chopped onion-1 t chopped ginger-1/2 t chopped green chili-1/2 t tumeric-1/2 t red chili powder-2 t dried mango powder-1 t lemon juice-1 T chopped cilantro-salt to taste

Instructions: Remove okra head and cut into quarters lengthwise. Heat oil in saute pan, add cumin seeds and saute until they crackle. Add chopped onions and cook until translucent. Saute ginger, green chili, tumeric, and red chili powder. Add okra; cook until soft.  Add mango powder, salt to taste, cilantro, and lemon juice. 

Any other terrific okra dishes we should try? Leave it in the comments.



Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on May 21, 2008

I just came back from a walk to New Hampshire and R Streets with Charlie to visit my favorite peonies in the District before the blooms fade.  I confess: their silky petals and clean, seductive fragrance make me want to eat them, petal by petal like an artichoke. Apparently, they’re eaten in China, but here it seems like sampling a dog biscuit in public: not entirely civilized. And wouldn’t it almost be a waste of their beauty?

Instead, I’ll forgo these showstoppers for more subtle flowers, such as chive blossoms for a douse of purple and the sharpness of spring onion. Or honeysuckle, which I usually just smell and taste the liquor when I see it.  And after a refreshing lemon verbena cocktail made by the charismatic and wonderful Gina Chersevani at EatBar on Monday, I want to cook with it now. 

Of course there’s lavender, the scent of which brings me back to lazy-traveling through the Cotswolds,  and– closer to home–my grandmother’s house. I’ve been pairing it with blueberries for ice cream, but haven’t used it much beyond that. 

And though they’re not so pretty or fragrant, squash blossoms are on menus all over town, and they’re just delicious.  Last week I had one stuffed with baccala served with pan roasted sablefish and a saffron froth, courtesy of Vermilion’s Anthony Chittum.

Any other edible flowers you would recommend?

Five on Food: Articles from the Wednesday Dining Pages

Posted in District of Columbia, General Interest, New York City by melissamccart on May 21, 2008

1) Sustainable seafood at home, slow food barbecue, and beer pairing for the masses at Savor in this week’s Washington Post.

2) Oven Adds Flavor When Grills Can’t. New York Times. Making do without a grill according to Mark Bittman.

3) Grilled Sausages, Tropical Side Dishes for a Memorial Day Menu. LA Times. “Forget arugula. This has become the United States of andouille.”

4) The Spirits Move Them. Chicago Tribune. Cucumber, tangerine, and coriander with your gin? Distilling spirits in the manner of craft brews.

5) The Rarest Tuna of All. San Francisco Chronicle. Is farm-raised Kindai the answer to eco-friendly tuna?

(Sean Brock’s gin at Charleston’s McCrady’s)

Buzz Bakery’s Chef Josh Short: Angelfood Cake and Virginia Honey Ice Cream

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on May 19, 2008

 I’m not exactly sure why I’ve been making desserts so often since I’ve never thought of myself of a dessert person. On weekends, it’s easier to have a dessert handy when I’m invited to someone’s for dinner or I decide to have an impromptu dinner party. It’s the most versatile gift, particularly if it’s seasonal. And a homemade dessert generally goes over better than, say, beef cheeks.



Since I couldn’t get it out of my mind all week, I decided to make Josh Short’s angelfood cake and honey ice cream. Short’s presentation when I had it was lovely: each guest had a mini cake topped with slivers of strawberries and flanked by a scoop of honey ice cream. I wasn’t that ambitious and stuck with the tube pan. Rather than do something fancy with berries, I sliced and sauteed strawberries with sugar over medium heat. And as for the honey? I think it’s my new favorite ice cream. Why honey hasn’t been in the flavor repertoire for years, I don’t know.



Josh Short’s Angelfood Cake


Ingredients: 1 c egg whites-1 1/2 t cream of tartar-1/2 c granulated sugar-3/4 t lemon zest-3 oz cake flour
1 1/2 oz powdered sugar1/8 t salt



Instructions:  Let egg whites stand for 30 min outside to come up to room temperature. This will help them develop more volume. Meanwhile, sift confectioners’ sugar and flour together; set aside. Add cream of tartar, lemon zest and salt to egg whites; beat on high speed. Gradually add sugar, beating until sugar is dissolved and stiff peaks form. Fold in flour mixture, a little at a time. Gently spoon into an ungreased 10-in. tube pan. Cut through batter with a knife to remove air pockets. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Immediately invert pan; cool completely before removing cake from pan.



Honey Ice Cream

Ingredients: 6 egg yolks-2 c milk-1 c heavy cream-1/2 cup honey-1 vanilla bean



Instructions:  Bring milk and vanilla bean to a simmer. Temper into egg yolks and honey. Stir for 30 sec, remove from heat, strain and cool. Stir in heavy cream and freeze according to machine directions.

Pig Perfect

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on May 15, 2008

I kind of love this article from Time Out New York– the best of for every part of a pig: head, fatback, skin, shoulder, ears, loin, ham, ribs, liver, bacon, belly, feet, cheeks, caul fat (?) and blood (!).

Any weigh-ins for the DC’s Best of the Pig? 

Mio has ridiculously good headcheese, which I usually find weird and disturbing.  And Tallula’s guanciale, lardo and bacon are among my favorites. But then there’s the delicious work of Peter Smith at PS7’s and Dan Fisher’s at Restaurant Eve, of course.  I may have revisit soon for a tasting trip. 


Five on Food: Articles from the Wednesday Dining Pages

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on May 14, 2008

1) Wild Treasure Hunt. Washington Post. Where and how to find morels, ramps, and fiddleheads.

2) Cooking Videos Online: Recipes Like Mom Used to Teach. LA Times. Regina Schrambling cherry picks which websites are best for how-tos, with a side of cleverness.

3) Chicago’s Baggo Bars. Chicago Tribune.  I must not get out much. Bocce and shuffleboard bars were on my radar; beanbag toss– even the game itself– was not. Until last week’s Nascar escapade.  Apparently, there’s more than one Chicago bar that features the game.  Here’s the roundup.

4) The Refuge. San Francisco Chronicle.  Pastrami is the star of the show at this carnivore’s oasis.

5) Eggs and Bread. Atlanta Journal Constitution. In case you forgot, eggs love bread: an article celebrating bird’s nest and poached, and any other variation on the pairing.


Indian Mangoes

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on May 13, 2008

Ripe, luscious mangoes are nestled among tropical fruits at grocery stores all over town this week. At P Street Whole Foods, for example, an entire table is dedicated to the flat, green Haitian variety. 

But where are the Indian varieties now that they’re in season?  After all, President Bush vowed to lift a ban on the “king of mangoes”, they’re that good. Though last year, they created quite a stir, so far, demand is dormant.  At Wegman’s in Sterling, a produce manager said he would order them now, so customers can expect them on shelves in about a week.

If you’re too citybound to head to Sterling, you can also order them from Wegman’s source, Melissa’s Farm Fresh Produce, for quite the price.  

Perhaps more fun and less of an investment is a trip to Rasika, where through June, chef Vikram Sunderman will feature dishes such as Aam Murgh (chicken, mango and cashew nuts) and Fish Manga, a sea bass, red chili, tamarind, and pearl onion dish showcasing Alphonsos in the raw.

Recipe Roundup

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on May 12, 2008

In case you missed it, check out local chefs’ recipes featured on The Today Show’s “Steal This Recipe,” including: crab cakes with young arugula and roasted sweet peppers from Equinox‘s Todd Gray; roasted monkfish with butternut squash quinoa risotto from Mio‘s Stefano Frigerio; linguini with sea urchin from D’Acqua‘s Enzo Febbraro; mushroom and chicken crepes with tarragon veloute from Ici’s Philippe Piel; braised short ribs from Butterfield 9’s Michael Harr; and lobster pot pie from Nage‘s Kevin Reading.