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    A Picnic Among the Vines

    Oh I love a picnic!!  Especially now that the temperatures are returning to pleasant.  Recently Patrick and I introduced our favorite vineyard in Virginia, Greenhill Winery, to some friends.  I have posted about this place before and it just keeps on … Continue reading

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    Slow Cooker Lamb Tagine

    When I was a kid and got a present I would immediately use it, even if that meant wearing a parka in July or playing with my ice cream stand at Christmas.  I haven’t grown up all that much because … Continue reading

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    Jalapeno Chips

    Years ago I made my first visit to Texas to celebrate the wedding of two dear friends.  The wedding was held in rural Texas where the bride was from – a totally different kind of place than I have ever … Continue reading

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    ACC Travels: 24 Hours in Richmond

    Two years ago Patrick and I stopped in Richmond for the night while heading down to Hilton Head.  We only had a quick dinner and then left the next morning but even that quick glimpse made us want to come … Continue reading

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    Roasted Garlic and Why You Should Roast Lots

    As it starts to cool down (kinda, sorta) I start to think about all the yummy fall flavors I can cook with and being reunited with my oven!  Toasty, deep flavors are what fall is about and one of the … Continue reading

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    Carne Asada

    I found this awesome Mole Salt by Amola at where else, Salt and Sundry, and have used it to season avocado toast and punch up my hot coca.  I realized that since it already has some spices like coca and … Continue reading

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    Rum Tasting Party

    This party was starting to become my white whale – back in 2012 the Washington Post wrote an article about hosting your own rum tasting party.  Everyone is supposed to bring a different bottle of rum so you can taste … Continue reading

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    White Bean and Arugula Salad

    One last no cook dish before the summer is over!!  I actually make this year round since the ingredients are pretty season-less.  This dish is a great side to roast chicken, pistachio crusted pork tenderloin, or as part of a picnic. … Continue reading

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    A Southern Dinner Party

    Living in Washington, D.C. can lead to a bit of an identity crisis – invariably when someone asks me where I am from I answer Boston immediately and then clarify that I live in DC.  However, next year will mark … Continue reading

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    Burrata Pasta and Cooking Local

    I am still on the no to low cook march – DC is hitting historic heat levels and I know most of the rest of the country is too.  So why not do as little cooking as possible and take … Continue reading

A Picnic Among the Vines

Oh I love a picnic!!  Especially now that the temperatures are returning to pleasant.  Recently Patrick and I introduced our favorite vineyard in Virginia, Greenhill Winery, to some friends.  I have posted about this place before and it just keeps on charming us.  We have been club members for the last year and the best part is that gives you access to their Manor house that has a great patio overlooking the pond.  However, any spot there would be perfect for a picnic and really this picnic would be perfect in any spot!

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Since I knew we were doing to be drinking Bordeaux style wine I put together a French inspired picnic basket.  The best part of French picnics is that many of the items are store bought so it’s really just about assembling them prettily.  We started with a cheese board of course.  Three to four cheeses are all you really need and our friends Ariana and Callan picked a perfect mix of brie, blue, aged goat and a sharp cow cheese.  I rounded out the selection with some fig jam (this brand is my fave and easy to find in most grocery stores), olives, cornichon, grapes and crackers.  Bring a real cutting board and cheese knives to make this no cook starter more special but also easier to eat – who wants to balance a paper plate on their knees trying to cut cheddar with a plastic knife???  I also used my favorite Weck glass containers, ideal for picnics as they double as serving containers and don’t leak.

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Sandwiches are a picnic staple for a reason – sturdy, easy to make in large quantities and eaten room temperature – my baguette was just crying out to be used.  Per my husband’s request I made a sandwich you can find all over the streets of Paris, ham and butter.  Before you shake your head we are talking imported Prosciutto de Parma, high butterfat European style butter and freshly baked bread.  Simple, so the ingredients really matter, but so so good.  I grabbed the prosciutto from my beloved A. Litteri, which is right next to Union Market.  Inside the Market I hit Righteous Cheese for the European butter and Lyon Bakery for the baguette.  Make sure not to be stingy with that butter!

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I wrapped each sandwich in wax paper and tied it with bakers twine to give it that Parisian touch.  Since I still hadn’t cooked anything yet I figured I would stretch myself and make an easy side of green beans.  I blanched green beans and tossed them with olive oil, white wine vinegar and lots of garlic.  Let it sit overnight and you have a nice crisp salad to counter balance the richness of the butter and prosciutto.  Last but not least we had to have dessert.  A quick trip to a local French bakery for macaroons would be perfect.  I made Blackberry Financiers, little French tea cakes packed with almond and blackberry flavor.  A couple bottles of wine, this picnic and the lovey setting almost had us believing we were in France.  Fill up your basket and picnic the weekend away!

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Slow Cooker Lamb Tagine

When I was a kid and got a present I would immediately use it, even if that meant wearing a parka in July or playing with my ice cream stand at Christmas.  I haven’t grown up all that much because when my brand new slow cooker arrived in the mail it was less than 24 hours before I broke that baby in.  My friend Tommy had convinced me to upgrade from my old school crock pot to one with a digital timer.  After some research I settled on the Set n’ Forget from Hamilton Beach and have been really happy with it so far.  The best thing about having the timer is that I put the lamb tagine in before I went to work and set it for 8 hours – once it hits the proscribed time the slow cooker switches to a warming mode.  I was worried that the food would be overcooked and dry but it was perfect.  I always wondered how people were cooking in their slow cooker and working a full work day but now I can be one of those people!  Browning the lamb at 7:00am wasn’t the highlight of my day but coming home to an almost complete meal was – I served this dish alongside some couscous which only requires boiling water.  Viola, a dinner party!

Le Souk Ceramique Citronique Design Cookable Tagine - 30 (Tunisia)

A tagine is actually an earthenware cooking vessel from Northern Africa (and the name of dishes made in it).  Its conical shape helps seal in moisture to braise chicken or lamb dishes just like its more modern slow cooker friend.  I would love to have this hand-painted one from Tunisia, maybe not to cook in but to use as a serving dish, but tagines are pretty large for a single use item!  So the slow cooker it is, just make sure to serve it up in a pretty dish before devouring it.  I included some traditional Northern African flavors like the olives and preserved lemons to give this dish a lot of contrasting flavors.  If you have never cooked with preserved lemons before this is a great way to start – you can buy them in a jar or make them yourself (I did once and went back to buying them as I couldn’t tell the difference).  Because they are processed in salt the lemon rind becomes edible and has a lovely smooth flavor unlike the sharp citrus bite of fresh lemons.  They last forever in the fridge and really punch up the slow cooked lamb.  I like the Les Moulins Mahjoub brand but any will do.  This dish also freezes really nice so make up a big batch this weekend and squirrel some away for a rainy day.

Slow Cooker Lamb Tagine (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  my new slow cooker!
Special Equipment:  slow cooker

  • 2 – 3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds of lamb leg, trimmed and cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces on a diagonal
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cardamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 cup port (or red wine)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 of a preserved lemon, rinsed, seeded and chopped finely
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup green pitted olives
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium high heat.  Put the flour in a bowl and season it with salt and pepper.  Working in batches (should take 2 to 3 max) dredge (i.e. toss the meat in the flour and then shake off the excess) the lamb cubes adding them to the hot oil.  Only do enough that can fit in the pan.  Brown the pieces all over, cooking a couple of minutes on each side, before adding them to the slow cooker.

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Add more oil if necessary to brown all the batches of lamb.  Then add the onion, carrot and garlic to the skillet, lowering the heat to medium if necessary to keep from burning.  Cook for 5 minutes or so until the onion begins to soften, then add all of the spices along with salt and pepper.  Cook for another minute or so, stirring until all the veggies are combined with the spices.

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Pour in the port and use it to deglaze the pan (i.e. get all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan).  Dump everything in the skillet in to the slow cooker on top of the lamb.  Add a 1/2 cup of water and stir everything together.

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Set for 8 hours on low or 5 hours on high.  Once it has finished cooking you can refrigerate for several days or freeze for several months.  Right before serving (or while you are reheating it) stir in the chopped preserved lemon, raisins and olives, stirring to combine.  Let those ingredients heat through and then serve with the parsley sprinkled on top.

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Slow Cooker Lamb Tagine

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 5 to 8 hours
  • Print

Special Equipment:  slow cooker

  • 2 – 3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds of lamb leg, trimmed and cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces on a diagonal
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cardamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 cup port (or red wine)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 of a preserved lemon, rinsed, seeded and chopped finely
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup green pitted olives
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium high heat.  Put the flour in a bowl and season it with salt and pepper.  Working in batches (should take 2 to 3 max) dredge (i.e. toss the meat in the flour and then shake off the excess) the lamb cubes adding them to the hot oil.  Only do enough that can fit in the pan.  Brown the pieces all over, cooking a couple of minutes on each side, before adding them to the slow cooker.  Add more oil if necessary to brown all the batches of lamb.  Then add the onion, carrot and garlic to the skillet, lowering the heat to medium if necessary to keep from burning.  Cook for 5 minutes or so until the onion begins to soften, then add all of the spices along with salt and pepper.  Cook for another minute or so, stirring until all the veggies are combined with the spices.  Pour in the port and use it to deglaze the pan (i.e. get all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan).  Dump everything in the skillet in to the slow cooker on top of the lamb.  Add a 1/2 cup of water and stir everything together.  Set for 8 hours on low or 5 hours on high.  Once it has finished cooking you can refrigerate for several days or freeze for several months.  Right before serving (or while you are reheating it) stir in the chopped preserved lemon, raisins and olives, stirring to combine.  Let those ingredients heat through and then serve with the parsley sprinkled on top.

Jalapeno Chips

Years ago I made my first visit to Texas to celebrate the wedding of two dear friends.  The wedding was held in rural Texas where the bride was from – a totally different kind of place than I have ever known.  A real “one horse town,” Cleburne, TX didn’t have a ton of dining options but one dish stands out, now almost 5 years since that trip.  Deep fried jalapeno chips – we ordered them with lunch, we went back and ordered more for a snack before the ceremony, and then we got them late night after the reception.  Super spicy and served with a ranch type dressing I could seriously have eaten these all day long.  When we got back from the wedding I set out to make these part of our lives.

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Cause you should definitely drink habanero beer alongside jalapeno chips!

Now if these were going to become part of our regular diet, then deep frying and dipping it into a fatty sauce wasnt going to do.  So I baked them and used my standard go to yogurt sauce (also seen here and here).  These are pretty spicy, even with the seeds taken out.  I find its best if you get the biggest jalapenos you can find as its easier to get most of the membrane and seeds out.  Look at these big boys!

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I serve these all the time as a healthy side with tacos or as an appetizer – they would be perfect for watching football this weekend and are totally guiltless.

Jalapeno Chips (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  A Texas Trip
Special Equipment:  plastic gloves (optional)

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • cooking spray
  • 8-10 large jalapenos
  • 6 ounces non fat Greek plain yogurt
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (I like chives, parsley, thyme, mint – anything works)
  • 1 garlic glove, minced or grated
  • salt and pepper

Put one cup of the buttermilk and the breadcrumbs in two separate bowls.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray and set aside.  If you have plastic gloves don those now!  With a knife cut off both ends of the jalapenos and discard.  Then cut each pepper into 1/2 inch thick rings, I like to do it on a bit of a diagonal.

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Put the jalapeno rings into the buttermilk.  (I keep the gloves on for this part to keep my hands clean)

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Shake off the excess buttermilk and coat each ring in the breadcrumbs.  Once they are coated place on the cookie sheet.  Once they are all coated you can pop them in the fridge for up to 24 hours before baking them off or if you are ready to go, place them in the oven.  DSC03983

Bake for 8 minutes, then shake the cookie sheet or flip the chips over and bake for another 8 minutes.  While the chips are baking combine the yogurt, herbs, garlic and salt and pepper in a bowl.  Add the rest of the buttermilk until it is a good dipping consistency (the dip can be made days in advance and is great with pretty much anything).  When the chips are done sprinkle them with salt and serve with the yogurt sauce.

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Jalapeno Chips

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Print

Special Equipment:  plastic gloves (optional)

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • cooking spray
  • 8-10 large jalapenos
  • 6 ounces non fat Greek plain yogurt
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (I like chives, parsley, thyme, mint – anything works)
  • 1 garlic glove, minced or grated
  • salt and pepper

Put one cup of the buttermilk and the breadcrumbs in two separate bowls.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray and set aside.  If you have plastic gloves don those now!  With a knife cut off both ends of the jalapenos and discard.  Then cut each pepper into 1/2 inch thick rings, I like to do it on a bit of a diagonal.  Once you have all the rings use your fingers to pop out the seeds and membranes in the middle.  Put the jalapeno rings into the buttermilk.  (I keep the gloves on for this part to keep my hands clean)  Shake off the excess buttermilk and coat each ring in the breadcrumbs.  Once they are coated place on the cookie sheet.

Once they are all coated you can pop them in the fridge for up to 24 hours before baking them off or if you are ready to go, place them in the oven.  Bake for 8 minutes, then shake the cookie sheet or flip the chips over and bake for another 8 minutes.  While the chips are baking combine the yogurt, herbs, garlic and salt and pepper in a bowl.  Add the rest of the buttermilk until it is a good dipping consistency (the dip can be made days in advance and is great with pretty much anything).  When the chips are done sprinkle them with salt and serve with the yogurt sauce.

ACC Travels: 24 Hours in Richmond

Two years ago Patrick and I stopped in Richmond for the night while heading down to Hilton Head.  We only had a quick dinner and then left the next morning but even that quick glimpse made us want to come back and explore more.  So when we were headed to Coastal Carolina this summer we decided to carve out more time and actually got a full 24 hour experience.  We are already planning a trip back because this city is really something.  Charming and historic, but also growing and changing at a rapid pace, it’s a great quick get away from DC.  I did a fair amount of research before we left and solicited lots of advice but we barely scratched the surface of what Richmond has to offer.  Here is a rundown of our 24 hour Richmond adventure – a little something for everyone.  If you have Richmond recommendations please add them in the comments!

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10:00amJames River Walk – Patrick and I arrive at the Hilton Downtown Richmond (really great location and super reasonable prices).  We drop our bags and head right out the door.  A quick walk from downtown and you are at the James River.  Richmond has done a great job creating walking and bike paths along the river with lots of signs with historical information as well.  We knew we were in for a high calorie day so decided to get moving a bit first to feel less guilty.  We decided to check out Belle Isle, one of the biggest islands in the river, and it certainly delivered.

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Once you are on the island it’s hard to believe you are in a city, it’s so peaceful.  Nature people we are not, so it was a little disorienting though we finally made it to the other side of the island.  If I were going to do it again I wouldn’t walk all the way across the river and island to the other side of the city (in August no less) but it made the breweries on the other side that much more refreshing!

11:00amLegend Brewery – Sweaty and THIRSTY we arrive at Legend Brewery Company, the first of the breweries on our trip and also one of the first in Richmond.  They have a great outdoor patio overlooking the city and lots of fun barrel aged beers you can only get at the brewpub.  Not the most creative beers I have ever had but friendly staff and a much needed break from the heat.

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11:45amBlue Beer Cider – Right around the corner from Legend is Blue Beer Cider.  They are moving to a new and bigger location back on the other side of the river soon, which will make this place much more accessible.  I am not a big cider person but this place just blew me away.  Do make sure to stop by and do a tasting of their ciders.

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From Hopsap Shandy, their hopped cider, to Mill Race Bramble, their berry flavored cider, every one is dry, crisp and totally unexpected.  This place really changed how I think about cider and I cannot wait to go back and check out their new location (the current location leaves something to be desired as it is just a room in an industrial building – however the helpful staff and amazing cider more than make up for it).

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1:00pmCan Can Brasserie and the Carytown District – After all that walking (and tastings!) we needed sustenance so we headed to Carytown.  This is such a cute little stretch of the city that mostly runs along West Cary Street.  If you want to do some shopping, this is definitely the spot with cute independent boutiques and an outpost of one of my favorite stores, Creme de la Creme.  The last time we were in Richmond we had a terrific dinner at Can Can Brasserie and while normally I don’t like repeating myself in another city, the sound of a bistro lunch was too enticing.

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I am so glad we went back, as this place is really a stand out.  If you like Le Diplomate in DC, well this is the Richmond version.  It is like stepping into a Paris bistro but with a touch of Southern charm.  Even better we decided to sit at the bar and during the week they have a discounted bar menu with many of the most popular dishes.  Fortified by mussels and frites we set off for more exploring.

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3:00pmScott’s Addition Neighborhood – This semi industrial neighborhood has been totally transformed over the last several years.  Like many up and coming cities these large vacant buildings have been turned into hip loft apartments and new commercial spaces.  Scott’s Addition has a pretty ridiculous concentration of breweries in it, so if you are interested in packing in as many as possible I would send you here.  Honestly for breweries I do think it’s about personal taste – we heard from almost everyone in the food industry that we had to try The Veil Brewing Co. but we were not impressed.  You have to REALLY be in to beer here – the all black walls, beers poured in wine glasses and the pretension really turned me off.

Ardent Craft Ales, was much more my speed with a large beer garden outside and a light filled, laid back tasting room.  There is also Hardywood, Isley Brewing Company, James River Distillery and many others all packed into about one square mile.  We did not hit all of these (and I wouldn’t recommend it!) but needless to say if you want to spend an afternoon sampling Richmond craft beer, Scott’s Addition is the place to be.

6:00pm – Tarrant’s Cafe – After some more exploring, a cat nap and a quick change of clothes we are ready to go out on the town.  Near our hotel we stumbled across this adorable little supper club like restaurant called Tarrant’s Cafe.  Housed in an old pharmacy building this place is quintessential Richmond.  I love how the city has retained many of its older buildings and have lovingly updated them.  With original pressed tin ceilings, vintage chandeliers and lovely stained glass this place does a mean cocktail.  Ask for any of the classics (I went with a Vesper martini of course) and you won’t be disappointed.

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8:00pm – The Roosevelt – Another neighborhood worth checking out is Church Hill.  Unfortunately the famous Sub Rosa Bakery was closed by the time we got there for our dinner reservation but it’s just another excuse to go back!  The Roosevelt was recommended by almost everyone I spoke to.  This James Beard award winning  restaurant is tucked into a small row house so charming it makes you feel like you are at a dinner party rather than a restaurant.

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They serve updated southern classics made out of local ingredients – make sure to end the night with the chocolate pudding!  We were totally beat after our long day so didn’t get to check out the nightlife in Church Hill but there are several bars within walking distance if you want a nightcap.

Next day – 9:00am – Perly’s -This is a classic Jewish deli with a hipster twist.  Again another restored business that has all of the old lovely details with modern twists on the menu (think rosemary flavored cream cheese and homemade sodas).  I had one of the best latkes I have ever had while sitting at the old school diner style counter.  We left stuffed and happy, eager to return to Richmond to discover more gems.

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Roasted Garlic and Why You Should Roast Lots

As it starts to cool down (kinda, sorta) I start to think about all the yummy fall flavors I can cook with and being reunited with my oven!  Toasty, deep flavors are what fall is about and one of the best is roasted garlic.  So much sweeter and smoother than raw garlic its a terrific thing to have at the ready to boost flavor.  Just like in my caramelized onions post I recommend making a whole bunch of roasted garlic at once and then freezing it so you can add it to pretty much anything.  Below I have the method and a couple of ideas on how to use roasted garlic but really the sky is the limit.  While it is still warm out I recommend it spread on grilled pizza or bruschetta or mixed in with yogurt to create a veggie dip.  Once you have roasted garlic on hand you are going to come up with lots of good uses for it – share them in the comments so we can all get into the action.

Roasted Garlic (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  staving off vampires
Special Equipment:  none

  • one to many heads of garlic
  • 1 drizzle of olive oil

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  While the oven is heating slice the top off of as many heads of garlic you want to roast – just enough to expose the cloves about 1/4 of the inch from the top.

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Place each head you are making (I usually roast 5 or 6 at a time) on a piece of aluminum foil.  Drizzle each with a little olive oil and then wrap the head totally with the tin foil.  Place all the garlic foil balls in the oven directly on the grate and roast for 30 minutes.  Take them out of the oven and let them steam in the foil for 5 minutes, after that unwrap the garlic and let cool more enough you can handle them.

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Grab the base of the garlic head and squeeze, all of the cloves should be soft enough to come right out of their papery skin.

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Use right away or store in a plastic container in the fridge for up to a week or in a plastic baggie in the freezer for up to 6 months.  The frozen garlic only takes a second to defrost so you can add it directly from the freezer to the soup, sauce or dish you are using it in.

Roasted Garlic

  • Servings: as much as you would like
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Print

Special Equipment:  none

  • one to many heads of garlic
  • 1 drizzle of olive oil

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  While the oven is heating slice the top off of as many heads of garlic you want to roast – just enough to expose the cloves about 1/4 of the inch from the top.  Place each head you are making (I usually roast 5 or 6 at a time) on a piece of aluminum foil.  Drizzle each with a little olive oil and then wrap the head totally with the tin foil.  Place all the garlic foil balls in the oven directly on the grate and roast for 30 minutes.  Take them out of the oven and let them steam in the foil for 5 minutes, after that unwrap the garlic and let cool more enough you can handle them.  Grab the base of the garlic head and squeeze, all of the cloves should be soft enough to come right out of their papery skin.  Use right away or store in a plastic container in the fridge for up to a week or in a plastic baggie in the freezer for up to 6 months.  The frozen garlic only takes a second to defrost so you can add it directly from the freezer to the soup, sauce or dish you are using it in.

Ideas for Using Roasted Garlic

Garlic Bread – Possibly the easiest garlic bread you will ever made and so much more mellow than most.  Once you have grilled or toasted bread with a little olive oil, salt and pepper just spread on a thin later of roasted garlic and top with parsley.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes – Just add to mashed potatoes along with milk and butter to make them out of this world.  I would say 3 cloves will do you but add as much as you would like.

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Garlic Mayo – Smash the cloves into a paste and add to mayo with a little salt and pepper for an awesome sandwich spread.  Use it on burgers or the best BLT you have ever made.

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Roasted Garlic Hummus – Either add it to your own recipe or dress up store bought.  If you are making your own sub in the roasted garlic for fresh to give it a sweeter, less pungent taste.  I would say sub 2 to 1 for fresh.  If you are adding to store bought remember there is already garlic in there so be conservative and add a little at a time, best in the food processor, until it’s as garlicy as you would like.

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Carne Asada

I found this awesome Mole Salt by Amola at where else, Salt and Sundry, and have used it to season avocado toast and punch up my hot coca.  I realized that since it already has some spices like coca and cinnamon in it that I could throw it into a spice blend and skip some steps.  This spice rub would be great on pork as well but my man was asking for steak so for Fiesta Friday we went with Carne Asada.

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For carne asada what you really want is a nice crust on the outside so I made sure to include some brown sugar in the spice rub to help caramelize the meat.  I used a flat iron steak which I like because it has a good amount of fat but isn’t too thick so it cooks quickly.  I also like skirt steak for this – flank, which is usually my go to steak is a little too lean for me but is certainly traditional for carne asada.  This would be great with my tex mex quinoa salad on the side or Mexican beans and greens.  Carne asada is also perfect for steak tacos – make sure to serve them up with my HOT habanero sauce and some sour cream.

Carne Asada (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  Mole Salt
Special Equipment:  grill

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (I used pasilla chili powder)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mole salt (or 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus a pinch of coca powder and a pinch of cinnamon)
  • 1 pound flat iron or skirt steak

Mix the spices together in a small bowl.  Pat the meat dry and rub all over both sides with the spice mixture.

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Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, up to an hour.  Light your grill on high and grill 3 to 5 minutes per side depending on the thickness of your meat and how you like your steak done.

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Cover with tin foil and rest for 10 minutes before slicing against the grain.

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Carne Asada

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Time: 10 minutes active, up to 1 hour 20 minutes total
  • Print

Special Equipment:  grill

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mole salt (or 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus a pinch of coca powder and a pinch of cinnamon)
  • 1 pound flat iron or skirt steak

Mix the spices together in a small bowl.  Pat the meat dry and rub all over both sides with the spice mixture.  Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, up to an hour.  Light your grill on high and grill 3 to 5 minutes per side depending on the thickness of your meat and how you like your steak done.  Cover with tin foil and rest for 10 minutes before slicing against the grain.

 

 

Rum Tasting Party

This party was starting to become my white whale – back in 2012 the Washington Post wrote an article about hosting your own rum tasting party.  Everyone is supposed to bring a different bottle of rum so you can taste varying styles and ages.  I immediately latched on to the idea and tried to make it happen…4 years later, success!  No this is not a difficult party to throw but you do need friends to sign up in advance so you can ensure a proper amount of bottles are represented.  You also need to get over the stigma of too many bad Captain and Cokes consumed during college.  Most of my friends said they would happily come to a tequila, scotch, whiskey…pretty much anything but rum tasting party.  Luckily I came up with a couple brave enough friends and it was a blast.  My buddy Devin, who has probably been to 99% off all parties I have hosted, declared it the. best. ever.

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So as I said, have everyone you invite plan on bringing a bottle for the party to consume.  We ran the gamut from black rum, 12 year old Dominican rum (hands down the crowd favorite), to Mt. Defiance rum made right here in Virginia.  I made sure to have plenty of small tasting cups for everyone to sip out of.  People really got into the spirit, helped along by a good tropical Spotify playlist.  Unfortunately, lots of pineapples had to die for this party to work, not only for the food but also as decoration.  The produce manager at Harris Teeter  must have thought I was a loon carting off over a dozen pineapples!!!  Totally worth it though to finally execute the cute, flowers in the pineapple thing, I have seen a million times on Pinterest.

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When throwing a liquor tasting party, you really need to think carefully about your menu.  No one wants all of their guests in a drunken stupor before the 1st course is even served!  I decided to go with heavy with the appetizers as they would be served while we worked our way through the tastings.  Basically I fried everything I could get my hands on.  I also made a really light rum punch to drink alongside the tasting (as recommended by the original article).

Spicy Coconut Shrimp

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Oh baby are these good – if deep drying intimidates you try shrimp.  You need way less oil, they cook quickly and with the crunchy coconut crust you are going to get that nice crisp texture no matter what.

Pina Colada Fritters

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I randomly found this recipe during some internet searching for Caribbean appetizers.  They were so light and crispy and great dipped into some bottled spicy mango sauce.  Since you are already heating up the oil for the shrimp might as well fry some more!

Following the tasting and appetizers most people switched to beer or wine and we served a full dinner.

Grilled Jerk Chicken

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This marinade is SO powerful and delicious.  I went with just boneless chicken breasts for the party to make life easier on myself, as opposed to bone in chicken but if you have the time go for it.  Best of all it’s delicious room temperature so you can grill the chicken before your guests even arrive.

Caribbean Mango Cabbage Slaw

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After all the fried and spicy foods I wanted a nice crisp slaw to balance everything out.  This one is nice and colorful and has a sweet hit from the mango.

Pineapple Fried Rice

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So delicious along with the spicy jerk chicken you definitely should take the time to serve this fried rice out of the pineapple shells for the party.

Key Lime Puffs

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These were my own creation – basically I wanted something really light since it was such a heavy menu.  I used Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry Cups, filled them with key lime curd, topped with lime zest and a star fruit slice for decoration.  I think a plate of tropical fruits would also be the perfect end to this awesome party.

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This was definitely worth the wait but I suggest you not and throw a rum tasting party this weekend to celebrate the end of summer.  I am already thinking of another next tasting party – any suggestions for what to do next???

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