Friday, December 23, 2011


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I couldn't resist buying a madeleine pan once I decided to go on my DC baking binge.  I only managed to make 2 kinds of madeleines before departing, but I will definitely be making more once I get settled in Madison.  I'm eyeing matcha madeleine recipes right now...

My first madeleines were not quite as successful as I wanted.  I forgot to add honey so my lavender madeleines turned out on the dry side.  Luckily Jamie made delicious chai for us to dip the madeleines in.  The lavender butter was tremendous though.  I would definitely apply the technique of melting butter with lavender in other recipes.  The smell is irresistible!

Lavender Madeleines
(Recipe Adapted from PurpleFoodie)

Melting butter with lavender

Ready for the oven

Lavender madeleines with chai

My second batch of madeleines was much more successful because, well, I didn't forget any steps, and the parmesan helped make the madeleines both moist on the inside and slightly crunchy on the outside.  Instead of  ground pepper called for in the Williams-Sonoma recipe, I added cayenne pepper because I love the bit of tang it has that's lacking in black pepper.

Rosemary-Parmesan Madeleines
(Recipe Adapted from Williams-Sonoma)

Rosemary-Parmesan Spicy Madeleines

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Picnic at the National Cathedral

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Washington National Cathedral

One of my favorite places in DC is the Washington National Cathedral.  It's free to visit, the cathedral and the grounds are beautiful, the view from the top is awesome, and it's a great picnic spot!  I toured the cathedral a couple weeks before the earthquake hit Virginia in August and came back post-earthquake for a picnic when the cathedral was closed for repair.

It wasn't a great idea coming to the cathedral after the earthquake because a large part of the grounds was also closed off to the public.  It seemed like an especially bad idea when what was supposed to be a sunny day turned cold and rainy after we arrived.  Jamie and I were not about to be deterred though.  We made a damn good picnic and were determined to eat it regardless of the weather!

We managed to dine al fresco by pulling our blanket under a big tree after it started to rain.

Our picnic consisted of the following:

Spring Mix Salad with Fennel and Pomegranate Seeds
(Recipe Adapted from Saveur)
Spring Mix Salad with Pomegranate, Olives, and Fennel

Instead of orange slices as called for in Saveur's recipe, I added pomegranate seeds.  This salad is tangy and refreshing.

Chicken Satay
(Recipe Adapted from Williams-Sonoma)

Chicken Satay with Lemon-Chive Tzaziki

This chicken satay recipe from Williams-Sonoma is the best recipe I've encountered while living in DC.  The chicken is extremely addictive.  The flavor combination of fish sauce and coconut milk is magical.  TRY THIS RECIPE if nothing else from this blog!  

Jamie and I paired the chicken satay with a quick tzaziki we made by dumping the leftover lemon zest and chives from making the lemon-chive deviled eggs below into a couple generous spoonfuls of Greek yogurt.  We also squeezed some lemon juice into the yogurt to thin it.  It's good to have the tzaziki to cool of your tongue if your satay turns out super spicy.

Lemon-Chive Deviled Eggs with Capers
(Recipe Adapted from Williams Sonoma)

Deviled Eggs with Lemon Zest, Chives, and Capers

The deviled eggs were a little bit underwhelming.  I wanted either add some spice or more tartness.  I think next time I'll add more capers.

Radish Tartines with Chive, Ginger, and Sesame Butter
(Recipe Adapted from Bon Appetit)

Radish and Chive-Ginger-Sesame Butter Tartine

I've never been much of a raw radish fan, but this tartine converted me.  Fresh, crunchy, buttery, with a radishy kick.  Yum!


Do you see why we were willing to endure the rain to have this picnic?

Picnic with a view

After our delicious but wet picnic, we decided to go to a coffee shop to warm up.  We picked Politics and Prose because, well, we both studied politics and we've heard that it has character.  

Politics and Prose

It seemed liked everyone who studied politics/IR/policymaking got the same memo, and they all decided to mix and mingle here too.  We had to stand around for 30 + minutes before we were able to steal a table.

Reading and Sketching at Politics and Prose

By the time we walked back to the National Cathedral, the sun decided to show up right before setting.  Nice!

Ray's Hell Burger

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I arrived in DC during the peak of summer, which happened to be the time of year when I seek out good burgers.  I remember reading about Obama taking to Medvedev to Ray's Hell Burger earlier in 2010.  I didn't get excited about the place until I read their menu, which is packed with luxurious toppings like roasted bone marrow with persillade!!!!  How can you not get excited by that?

Decisions, Decisions!

Ray's Hell Burger Team

Strawberry Shake

Au Poivre Patty with Gouda and Cognac and Sherry Sauteed Mushrooms

Unfortunately, by the time I arrived at Ray's for an early bird dinner, they had already run out of bone marrow for the day.  Utterly downtrodden by that, I comforted myself with an awesome complimentary topping - cognac and sherry sauteed mushrooms - and paid extra for gouda. 

The burger was hearty, flavorful, and juicy, but it's truly humongous.  I couldn't finish all of it, and burgers just don't taste right reheated.  I recommend sharing with a buddy at Ray's to avoid wasting the delicious and pricey burger.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Beet, Apple, and Cheddar Tarts

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When autumn arrived in DC, our ovens began working overtime!

Once I started seeing apples arrive en masse at Wegmans, I immediately wanted to cook with apples, but in more interesting ways than in pies.  I figured that pairing beets with apple would be a good way to ease me into cooking with beets and do something creative with the good ol' apple.  I've never cooked with beets before.  Its earthy smell and intense red pigment intimidate me.  Thankfully, I found the awesome tart recipe below from

Beet, Apple, and Cheddar Tarts
(Recipe Adapted from Martha Stewart)

1 thinly sliced Empire apple
1 thinly sliced red beet
2 shallots sliced
1 thawed frozen puff pastry
3/4 cup shredded colby cheese
1/2 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste

I added shallots to the recipe to make the dish slightly more savory than the original.

I feel like this tart can be eaten as an appetizer, breakfast, entree, side, or dessert.  Its size and flavors can fit in any course of a meal!  I decided to reheat a couple of the tarts for dinner one evening to go with a bowl of homemade Tom Yum soup.

Beet, Apple, and Cheddar Tarts with Homemade Tom Yum Soup

Fruity Focaccias

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I went on a baking binge after moving into a townhouse with 2 ovens.  I've never been a baker, but I thought that I should give it a go anyways and make good use of my roommates as taste-testers.

Some of my favorite baked goods to come out of my binge were the sweet and savory focaccias topped with various fruits.

The first focaccia recipe I tried was with figs that grew from a tree in the backyard, sage, and some sauteed shallots.  The following recipe is adapted from lick my balsamic.

Focaccia with Sage, Shallots, and Figs
(Recipe Adapted from lick my balsamic)

3 cups flour
1 2/3 cups room temp water
2 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoon sugar
5 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoon sage leaves chopped
3 shallot bulbs thinly sliced
sea salt to taste

The only thing that I did differently than lick my balsamic is that I topped the focaccia with shallots that were sauteed in balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt before popping the whole thing in the oven.  I highly recommend the shallots if you have a savory tooth.  

The dough from this recipe turned out wetter than I expected.  When I tried to make indentations with my finger on top of the uncooked focaccia, the dough had the texture of mud.  The result, however, was deliciously thick, fluffy, and moist.  In contrast, the dough for the following grape and rosemary focaccia was thin, fragrant, and crunchy.

Grape and Rosemary Focaccia
(Recipe Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

3/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons milk, slightly warmed
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups halved seedless grapes
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary needles
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt

Apart from not using concord grapes, I also didn't top the focaccia with course sugar.  Otherwise, I followed Smitten Kitchen's recipe fairly closely.

The grape focaccia tastes amazing, but you better finish it quickly because it doesn't retain its crunch-and-chew ratio very well when reheated.  The fig focaccia dough holds better when reheated.


Ok, it's time to 'fess up.  After my move to DC, I became too lazy to keep up with the blog.

I thought that I would have plenty of time to catch up on the blog during the Thanksgiving holidays, but before I knew it, I was packing up a storm again to start a new life and career in Madison, Wisconsin.

While in the DC metro area, I've eaten at some of the more affordable but delicious restaurants, but because my roommate and I clicked so much in the kitchen, I found myself cooking more than ever.

I will try to cram as much of my DC restaurant and cooking experiences as possible before I start blogging from Madison in 2012!

Sunday, August 21, 2011


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For my last Tex-Mex meal in Austin, my dad and I checked out Jalisco's in south Austin.  They offer pretty standard Tex-Mex dishes at very low prices.  I wish I came here earlier on.  This would've been my go-to place for comfort food and queso!

Chile con Queso

Chicken Quesadilla

Steak Taco

Hwa Yuan Asian Restaurant: Surprisingly Awesome Korean BBQ!

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My mom's co-worker told her that she had to check out an amazing Korean BBQ restaurant that provides diners with thin slices of daikon radish for wrapping cooked BBQ meat.  At first, we had a hard time accepting that Hwa Yuan, a Chinese buffet/sushi bar place, could actually serve good Korean BBQ.  Well, the restaurant is indeed owned by a Korean family and they do serve Korean BBQ even if no one was eating BBQ when we got there.

Condiments and Banchan at the ready!

daikon slices with which to wrap BBQ meats

Sea Salt in Oil; Spicy Bean Paste Sauce

Meat Platter


Meat Wrapped in Lettuce and Daikon

Rice Wrappers

Meat and Kimchi in Rice Wrapper

Spicy Seafood Stew

Grilled Mackerel

I highly recommend this restaurant for authentic Korean BBQ.  Their banchan weren't great, but the rest of the meal was awesome.  It's a little out of the way but worth a visit!