the delish dish
Polenta with Garlicky Swiss Chard
Okonomiyaki: Japanese Pizza
Wittamer’s Belgian Hot Chocolate with City Bakery Marshmallow
Roasted Root Veggie and Wheat Berry Salad
James Beard’s Amazing Persimmon Bread

I have to admit I wasn’t really impressed with persimmons the few times Ive had them. Not that I didn’t like them, but back then they just seemed foreign to me and I couldn’t really pick out anything that really impressed me about them. Since I’m currently in the New Year’s spirit of stepping out of the box and sampling new things, I decided to give them another chance. I found an intriguing recipe on David Lebovitz’s blog (originally from James Beard’s book Beard on Bread) and set out on a culinary adventure. I have to say the bread lives up to David’s description and it’s perfectly moist and not overly sweet.  It comes out heartier than banana bread and is sweet in a more interesting sort of way.  I made mine with walnuts and dates and found the combination wonderful.  I also used the Fuyu persimmon, since that was all i could find. Im guessing it didn’t make much of a difference, except that this variety is much smaller than the Hachiya kind, so I had to use twice as many to yield the amount needed. The good thing about the Fuyu persimmon is that it doesn’t have to be overly ripe and squishy in order to be edible (but I still picked out the ripest ones). I also discovered that the persimmon puree sets almost instantly in the bowl that you pour in into. This got me really excited and thinking about ideas for a super easy (and raw!) dessert using only persimmon puree along with some light spices, potentially served along with fruit (or fruity sauce, or cream)…think pana-cotta style.

I just cut them up in quarters and peeled off the skins.

holding the set puree in my hand (so cool!):

the beautiful batter:

fresh out of the oven:

Recipe

via David Lebovitz

(I only have one loaf pan, so I halved everything, but this recipe makes two 9-inch loaves)

3½ cups sifted flour
1½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 to 2½ cups sugar (David suggests using the higher amount, I used a bit less, about 2 & 1/4 cups)
1 cup melted unsalted butter and cooled to room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
2/3 cup Cognac (or bourbon or whiskey)
2 cups persimmon puree (from about 8 squishy-soft Fuyu persimmons)
2 cups walnuts (or other nut)
2 cups diced dates (or another dried fruit like raisins, cranberries, etc)

1. Butter 2 loaf pans. Line the bottoms with a piece of parchment paper or dust with flour and tap out any excess.


2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


3. Sift the first 5 dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.


4. Make a well in the center then stir in the butter, eggs, liquor, persimmon puree then the nuts and raisins.


5. Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.


Storage: Will keep for about a week, if well-wrapped, at room temperature. The Persimmon Breads take well to being frozen, too.

Nando’s Peri-Peri

Nando’s always makes me so nostalgic for my year abroad in Cambridge, England.  While at Cam, we used to go here ALL the time for their cheap and delicious chicken and spicy Peri-peri sauce.  You can just imagine how excited I was when I found out the chain was expanding to the US, with two branches now open in Washington, DC.  Since I doubt Nando’s will be making it to St. Louis anytime soon, I make sure to get my fill while Im there.  Its so special that we even chose to eat here for our last meal of 2009 (actually I chose, and insisted :))

Nando’s specializes in flame-grilled Afro-Portuguese style chicken.  The Peri-peri spice, made form the African Bird’s Eye Chilli, was originally introduced to the Portuguese in Africa.  The chain itself started in South Africa, and exists in 34 countries all over the world, only making it to the US in 2008.  

Nando’s in Dupont Circle.  I liked the Dupont location more than the Chinatown one.  It felt less chain-y and had a nice atmosphere. 

upstairs seating

The best part is that they make their sauces in varying degrees of spiciness:

obviously the extra hot was mine :)

Sangria is pretty good too!

I always get the chicken breast sandwich, but everyone insists the grilled chicken plates are tastier.  But I just love how saucy the sandwiches are.  Also, it’s *SUPER* important that you sprinkle your fries with the Peri-Peri spice (spice, not sauce).  This picture was taken before I acquired some…here in the US you have to ask for it. 

with some of my favorite girlies! what a great chickalicious evening :)

Luckily, for those of us not in DC, Nando’s sauce is sold in stores! I found some at Whole Foods and can make my own version of peri-peri chicken or peri-peri anything anytime I want.  If you happen to pick some up, you should give their Flame Grilled Chicken recipe a try:

Nando’s Internationally Acclaimed Peri-Peri Flame Grilled Chicken

1 Whole Fryer Chicken (approx 3 lbs)
1 bottle Nando’s Hot Peri-Peri Pepper Sauce

1) Butterfly chicken (Split Breast bone & Pound lightly to flatten chicken).

2) Place butterflied chicken in a large zip lock bag and add 1 bottle Nando’s Garlic Pepper Sauce. Marinate in bag for 30 minutes (or up to 3 days), refrigerated.

3) Prepare BBQ (medium heat). Grill until chicken is cooked through, turning occasionally and basting with additional pepper sauce, approximately 45 - 60 minutes.

Alternatively, you can roast the chicken as well.  Enjoy!

While there are tons of great restaurants in DC, I recommend trying Nando’s, especially if you’re on a budget.  

The Tombs’ Crab and Artichoke Dip

The Tombs is a place held close to many Hoya’s hearts.  It’s a Georgetown Institution, and a very popular destination for study snacks, weekend brunches, and late night shenanigans.  Im sure almost every Hoya has gotten their forehead stamped here on their 21st birthday and then proceeded to take one too many shots in celebration.  It is probably the one place I visited the most during my undergrad days, so while in DC we dropped by here to reunite with some fellow alumni and friends who happened to be in town.  We decided to get their phenomenal Crab and Artichoke Dip.  It’s the best-selling appetizer, and for good reason.  It’s sinfully rich and cheesy, but so worth it.  Im sharing the recipe here and spreading the Georgetown love.

Decked out in Gtown memorabilia

Recipe

  • 1 Tb butter
  • 1/2 cup finely minced onion
  • 2 8oz packages cream cheese
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp horseradish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 5 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • 1 14oz can artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 lb Crab meat, cartilage removed
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1.  In a sauce pot saute the onions in the butter until they are soft but not brown.
2.  Add the cream cheese and stir it over low heat until it is soft. Add the Worcestershire, horseradish, Old Bay, and Tabasco. Stir until well blended.
3.  Fold in the artichokes and crab meat.
4.  Put the mixture in a shallow baking dish, one that is only about 1-1/2 inches deep. This is similar to the size of a 10-inch pie plate.
5.  Sprinkle the Parmesan evenly over the top.
6.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. This cheese should be brown on top and the sides should be bubbling.

This appetizer will not disappoint.  It would also be a great dip to make for a Superbowl-type party!

Also excellent at the Tombs are their buffalo wings, french onion soup, and southwest chicken salad. 

hot french onion soup

adzuki spaghetti squash soup

this was the first dish i made in twenty ten because beans mean prosperity in the new year!  last year i made a New Years salad using black eyed peas (and loved it!), but this year i wanted to make something different.  since i already happened to have some adzuki beans sitting around in my pantry, i decided to make 101Cookbook’s Adzuki soup.  these beans are nutritious, high in protein/fiber and low in fat.  they hold their shape well, ideal for use in a soup or stew, and have a subtle sweet taste that balances out the chipotle seasonings in this soup.  the original recipe came from Jae Steele’s vegan cookbook Get It Ripe.  i kept it vegan, but modified the recipe based on my taste preferences (added much more chipotle and tomatoes) and also ended up using spaghetti squash since i already had one i needed to use up.  the heat and smokiness of the chipotle really bring this soup to life and work great with the thicker texture that the spaghetti squash added.  definitely something i would make again, and an excellent and healthy way to start off the new year!

Recipe 

adapted from 101Cookbooks

Ingredients

  • 2 Tb EVOO [extra virgin olive oil]
  • 1 t cinnamon (dont be afraid of this, its subtle)
  • 1 t dried coriander
  • 3 t dried chipotle pepper (this made it very spicy, and i would suggest starting with less initially unless you know you can handle the heat)
  • 2 t fine grain sea salt
  • 1 medium onion
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • whole spaghetti squash
  • 5 cups water (can use veggie broth, but if doing this, cut back on the salt)
  • large can of whole tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups adzuki beans
  • cilantro (about handful)

Day before:

  • If using dried beans, soak them overnight.  Can skip this step by buying canned or pre-cooked.

(can use butternut squash like the original recipe suggests, and skip this step by peeling, dicing and softening in the soup pot)

Day of:

1) Heat EVOO in large soup pot over medium heat.  Add cinnamon, coriander, chipotle, and salt.  Saute til aromatic. 

2) Add onions, saute till translucent (about 5 minutes).  

keep stirring here.  this will be very aromatic, so be careful not to inhale in all the spices!

3) Add garlic and squash.  stir well. 

4) Add 5 cups of water.  Bring to boil.  Decrease heat and simmer covered for 10 minutes.  

5) Add tomatoes (i added the juices as well).  Simmer a few minutes. 

6) Add cooked beans.  Simmer a few more minutes. 

7) Meanwhile, make cilantro drizzle.  This is easy and trust me, a worthwhile addition.  Just chop up some cilantro, pour some EVOO over it, add some salt. 

Serve soup drizzled with cilantro. 

smitten kitchen’s homemade marshmallows.
oh yes i will be making my own as well!

smitten kitchen’s homemade marshmallows.

oh yes i will be making my own as well!

Cocoa Hazelnut Spritz Cookies

I made these ‘melt in your mouth’ chocolate spritz cookies last week for a party and out of what feels like a billion different cookies that I tested out, these ended up being everyone’s favorite!  They were nice and chocolatey and hazelnutty and just fell apart in your mouth with every bite.  If you’re like me and get really excited about using pastry bags, you’ll also have a ton of fun making them.  Plus you’ll be very satisfied with how pretty and impressive they come out looking.  Once cooled, I ended up melting some dark chocolate chips over a double broiler and dipped the ends in the chocolate.  Next, I sprinkled some chopped hazelnuts or Christmas sprinkles on one end and let them cool.  This is a Christmas cookie recipe I will definitely be coming back to!

Recipe source: Delicious Days

  • 225 g butter (at room-temperature)
  • 100 g confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 200 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 40-50 g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 75 g ground hazelnuts

optional: finely chopped hazelnuts (or other nuts)

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

2) Cream the butter with mixer until smooth, then gradually add the sifted confectioners sugar and the cinnamon and keep beating for at least three minutes. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and keep beating for two more minutes.

3) In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking powder, cocoa and ground hazelnuts, before adding this mix as well. Beat just until evenly combined.

4) Fill the dough into a pastry bag with a star-shaped tip and pipe short strips onto the parchment paper lined baking sheets.

5) Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

6) Remove from the oven and let rest a couple of minutes before carefully moving the cookies and placing them on a wired rack until cooled off completely.