Cinnamon Rolls

I've been told by many that cinnamon rolls give off the most enticing smell of anything the oven has to offer.  Either there is scientific evidence proving this or it is a view so widely shared that it has been accepted as fact.  It's certainly easy to make friends when you've got a few extra sitting around in your kitchen.


Tomato Pie

I've had tomato pie once or twice before making it a few days ago.  One of our dear family friends, Mrs. Q,  is an absolute natural in the kitchen and an expert in southern cooking.  My father, the avid vegetable gardener is a lover of tomatoes.  He grows tomatoes.  Mrs. Q can make tomato pie.  Suffice it to say I've had some pretty darn good tomato pie between dad and Mrs. Q.

Recently, a friend and co-worker of mine introduced me to the work of Chef Vivian Howard through her PBS program A Chef's Life.  While binge-watching this wonderful show I couldn't stop thinking about the tomato episode in which Chef Vivian makes tomato pie.

The point is: I made tomato pies.  With heirloom tomatoes from my dad's garden.

All you really need is a pie shell, tomatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper and some homemade mayo mixed with your favorite cheeses.


Name in Print

My heart skipped a beat when I saw a photo of the proofs for Remedy Quarterly's upcoming issue: Share.  My name.  In print.  I was privileged to write an article about growing up with an urban farmer for a dad and spending precious summer days preserving food for the winter.

Please check out this wonderful magazine and order an issue to see my story and a great recipe to go with it.


I Love Doughnuts

Just in case it wasn't evident, I love doughnuts.  This is an important thing to know if you know me.  I will take any opportunity to pack my friends into the car and head to a local doughnut shop.  Really.  ANY reason.  Like if your doughnut shop is open late for a special reason or because it's Monday, or because I want a doughnut.

Clearly, I am delighted by the fact the the DC Metro area has an increasing number of doughnut shops.  Today I've got pictures from 2 of my favorite spots:  Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken and District Doughnut.  

Maple Bacon Doughnut, Astro

Maple Bacon and Nutella, Astro

Maple Bacon, again.

Apple Strudel, Maple Pecan, Chocolate Crunch, District 

Chocolate Creme Brulee, District


Iced Green Tea with Lavender Syrup

Remember this lavender syrup?  Didn't I tell you there would be many uses?  All you need is water, sugar and lavender buds and you're in business.  

This go 'round, I've put it in some iced green tea with a sprig of mint for a refreshing, end-of-summer sip.  

-1 cup sugar
-1 cup water
-1 T. lavender buds

Boil all ingredients together and cool.


Pork Dumplings

Ever had a craving for dumplings that just wouldn't stop?  Well, I certainly did earlier this week.  Dumplings from a restaurant or frozen in the grocery store have all sorts of unhealthy additives, so why not make them yourself?  It's much simpler than one would think.

The dough is simple to whip up with only 4 ingredients and minimal work.

Dumpling Dough

-10 oz AP flour
-1/4 tsp. salt
-1 T vegetable oil (I used walnut)
-3/4 cup boiling water

Stir up the flour and salt in a bowl.  Pour the oil into the hot water and add to the flour in two additions, stirring with a wooden spoon.  The mixture will be lumpy, knead on a counter top until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Place sough in a resealable bag and let rest for at least 30 minutes.

The filling can include whatever your heart desires. I used the following:

-3/4 lb ground pork
-1 tsp salt
-1 T Chinese chives,
-ground pepper
-1 T oil
-3 minced cloves of garlic
-ground ginger
-1 T soy sauce

Pinch one piece of dough into a circle at a time.  Use a skewer or a rolling pin to thin out the dumpling wrapper.

Dollop a mound of filling into the center of the round and wet the edge of 1/2 of the circle.  Fold over and pinch.  Shape as desired.

Boil or steam for 4-5 minutes or freeze to store and boil/steam for 6-8 minutes straight from the freezer.


Mini Vanilla Sponge Cakes with Lavender and Whipped Ganache

Happy Labor Day, foodie friends!  Ain't it nice to have a day off to breathe, think, rest and cook?  

I often find my baking efforts evolving as components get made.  Originally, I'd planned to make a 9-inch round cake, but my love of mini pastries prevailed.  The vanilla sponge cake was baked, so I cut it into layers and punched circles out with my ring cutters. 

Next step, lavender syrup.  Give each cake round a good soak.

Whip up some some set ganache and away you go.


Charlotte, NC: I'll Return to You

My first visit to Charlotte, North Carolina was a success as expected.  Nothing compares to a road trip.  Nothing compares to a road trip in North Carolina.  Nothing compares to a road trip in North Carolina with lots of good food and people who love you and you love back.

Not only is there much more to see and eat, there are more memories to be made.  I anticipate my return with excitement.  I've already got a few more restaurants and pastry shops to visit when I make my way down to the Land of the Pines again.  Getting to know a city through its food is like playing a game of telephone, along the way you hear about or see even more irresistible places than you bargained for and definitely more than you can handle in one visit.

I'm looking forward to trying out Bang Bang Burgers, which I found by way of Sunflour Baking Company.  Isn't their design awesome?  I have high hopes that they are the Elevation Burger of Charlotte.  My local loyalties may be put to the test.

At 20 Degrees Chocolates, the chocolatier recommended Renaissance Patisserie as the most authentic French bakery in town.  You best believe I'll be stopping by next time I'm near.

Next door to Petit Philippe we found littleSpoon, a breakfast and lunch place that uses locally sourced ingredients and was cute as can be.     

Returning to Charlotte will be just as exciting as my first experience, no doubt about it.


Parmesan Risotto

It's no great secret that risotto is a staple in my recipe repertoire.  I enjoy the process and the product.  High time I shared the recipe, huh?  Over the years I've tweaked my method and ingredients and hopefully perfected it.  But let's be real, you can't go wrong with Parmesan.

Parmesan Risotto
serves 4

-1 medium white/yellow onion, diced
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
-3/4 cup white wine
-1 cup Arborio rice
-3-4 cups chicken stock, hot
-3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
-3 T unsalted butter
-pinch of sea salt
-1/4 tsp ground black pepper
-chopped parsley (optional)

1. In a medium-sized saucepan heat olive oil, onions and garlic until onion is soft and slightly translucent.  Add the rice and stir for 1 minute over medium heat.  Add wine and stir until the mixture is mostly dry 1-2 minutes.

2. Using a ladle, transfer about 1/2 cup of chicken stock from a hot pot into the rice mixture.  Stir until bubbling and a spoon dragged across the rice leaves a trail on the bottom of the pot.

3. Repeat step 2, stirring consistently and adding stock until the rice is al dente about 20 minutes.

4. Turn off heat and add Parmesan, salt, pepper, parsley and butter.  Stir until fully incorporated and melted.