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April Baker’s Dozen

April 30, 2009

Monthly news bites about baking, recipes, or recipes I want to try:

  • For those of us who don’t have potato ricers and are obssesed with gnocchi, don’t fret.  While frantically searching for a solution I found an old post at [Smitten Kitchen] suggesting we use a grater.  In my small kitchen I’m all about the [tools that multitask]. 
  • This weekend embassies across D.C. open their doors at the [Cultural Tourism Embassy Tour] sharing food, music, stories and more.
  • Hurry up and make your reservations for Mother’s Day using the [Washingtonian Mother’s Day Brunch guide].
  • Being a part of the [Daring Bakers] has given me the chance to look at other people’s work and give me new inspiration.  After seeing her beautiful [POM tarts] I knew I had to add Desserts and Line Drives to my blog roll. 
  • Now that the weather is getting warmer check out these [20 minute picnic ideas] from the New York Times.
  • Metrocurean is keeping a running list of restaurants offering deals to recession proof their restaurants in her weekly feature [Wednesday’s Delicious Deals].
  • I’ve been dying to buy [Baked] for awhile now.  This tour of their Brooklyn Bakery featured on the [Amateur Gormet] has convinced me.
  • Green Kitchen Tips from Chocolate and Zuchinni, [part 1] and [part 2].

April Daring Bakers: Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake

April 27, 2009

I bit the bullet and finally decided to join Daring Bakers.  I need to be challenged; I find I have certain tendencies in the kitchen and I always find myself reaching for the same recipes.  But I’m a little bored, so this was a perfect way to add new recipes to my repertoire as I have no say in what I bake whatsoever.

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

Cheesecake for my first challenge was a great way to ease into the club.  I’ve made cheesecake a few times before and this simple, classic recipe gave me the opportunity to add my creative flair, which is the whole point!  I’m so glad to be a member, and I look forward to the challenges that come.  For now, read on for the recipe with my modifications in italics…


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D’Acqua Restaurant: Cibo Magnifico!

April 23, 2009

D’Acqua Restaurant
801 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20004
Nearest Metro: Archives-Navy Memorial or Galleryplace-Chinatown


It had been a long week when I stepped into D’Acqua with three other  frazzled and stressed out 1Ls looking for a break from the tediousness of studying Property, Criminal Procedure, and Constitutional Law. After a long day and an even longer week, we were famished and in dire need of a good meal. From the moment we entered D’Acqua, we got first-class service, impeccable food, and a great view of the U.S. Naval Memorial.

I had the pleasure of dining with my “colleagues” Kate, Bob, and Pawel. Shortly, after being seated we were led to D’Acqua’s “raw bar,” where our waiter thoughtfully described the fresh fish and other seafood selections and the restaurant’s methods of preparing them. As we headed back to our table to ponder our options for the evening, we discovered that fresh bread and olive oil were eagerly awaiting our return. Kate suggested trying the 3-course tasting menu, and we all agreed that we deserved to treat ourselves. While taking our order, the waiter informed us that the 3-course tasting menu did include a fish course, but not with D’Acqua’s signature preparation of a sea salt, rock salt, and egg encrustment. The encrusted fish normally comes as part of the 5-course tasting menu. However, after returning with our drinks, the waiter generously hooked it up and told us he had managed to get us the signature preparation.

The first course consisted of five different appetizers. There was (1) Grilled Baby Octopus  (2) Crab Cake with Pesto  (3) Calamari, Zucchini, Eggplant with a Pesto dip  (4) Caprese Salad with Mozzarella and Ricotta cheese  and  (5) Flaky Puff Pastries with Roasted Portobello, Caramelized Onions, and Goat Cheese.

The second course was pumpkin filled mini ravioli with a mascarpone fondue and flash fried artichoke heart.

Finally, the third course was the fish. Salt encrusted Dorado and Bronzini fish were brought to the table by the waiter, who decrusted, deboned, and filleted them right before us. The fish had been seasoned with olive oil, lemon zest, and capers. They were served with a fresh argula salad.

Honestly, the entire meal was a delight. Every dish was beautifully presented and even more important was that each of the flavor combinations had been thoughtfully planned to best allow diners the experience of all of the delicious and distinct flavors. The puff pastry appetizer was in a league of its own. While the pumpkin filled ravioli was a truly brilliant melding of sweet, savory, crunchy, and just a bit of kick from freshly ground black pepper. D’Acqua’s fish prepared with the encrustment was fresh, light, distinctly flavorful. It was truly a memorable meal that served as an uplifting end to another brutal week in the life of 1Ls. Each of my co-diners had many compliments for D’Acqua and I wanted to give them a chance to express their feelings on The DC Dish.

The meal was delicious from start to finish. You can tell they focus on having the freshest ingredients because everything they fixed was simple and the flavors spoke for themselves. The wait staff was superb.”

“While everything we ate was delicious and the service was literally the best I’ve ever had, the pumpkin ravioli with mascarpone and the salt-encrusted fish had one most impressive thing in common: they essentially melted in your mouth.”

“The meal was delicious. It was extremely filling yet felt light.”

Lebanese Taverna

April 22, 2009

Lebanese Taverna
Locations throughout D.C. metro area

We arrived at the restaurant during happy hour and waited for the rest of our party at the bar.  The new(ish) Bethesda location is spacious and beautifully decorated, and the happy hour specials are pretty nice too.  Four dollar glasses of wine, and $5 martinis from 4-7 pm is pretty hard to beat.

photo courtesy of lebanese taverna

photo courtesy of lebanese taverna

We waited at the bar until our entire party arrived.  While the restaurant is spacious, the acoustics are terrible.  It was impossible to have a conversation with someone sitting across the table from you, so I was left to those who were next to me.  Additionally, the service was slow, and it wasn’t a busy night.  At one point I think one of my fellow diners waited over 30 minutes for a soda.

But the food is another thing.  For starters, I could eat their hummus and bread and go home completely full.  It was warm straight from the oven with the right amount of crunch and softness.  The hummus was almost perfect – but I like mine on the lemony side.  I could eat that bread and hummus everyday.

The wine list has selections from throughout the world, including a few Lebanese selections, which we were eager to try. We selected a crisp, sweet white Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc blend that accompanied most of our choices well.

My meal was simple yet delicious;  I ordered Farrouj Meshwi; grilled chicken and squash with home fried potatoes, all Mediterranean style.  I cannot say enough about the food here –  the chicken was well seasoned with bold flavors and perfectly moist. The veggies were grilled perfectly. The potatoes were a little soggy, but the garlic sauce that accompanied the dish made up for its flaws.

Rum Drenched Bundt Cake

April 20, 2009

It’s was my Mom’s birthday last week and I wanted to make her something special – but-  baking a cake for my Mom is difficult for me because she doesn’t like frosting (tragedy).  I adapted the recipe from Dori Greenspan’s Rum Drenched Vanilla Cakes to make one bundt since the recipe makes two loaves.  I waited until the cake cooled and brushed rum syrup over the top.  Unfortunately I had trouble taking the cake out of the pan (lesson learned, be extra meticulous about buttering those nooks and crannies) so there won’t be any pictures.  But it was delicious and the inside was beautiful- the tight crumb you’d expect from a quality pound cake.   Just the recipe after the jump.

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Cake Decorating 101 at L’Academie de Cuisine

April 7, 2009

cake-decorating-101-001This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending a cake decorating class ant L’Academie de Cuisine and I had been thrilled for weeks.  Like a kid on her first day of school, I laid out my clothes the night before, went to bed early, and arrived in Bethesda half an hour before class started.  I was so excited!

All in all my experience was a good one.  I definitely learned a few tips and tricks I didn’t know beforehand.  The teacher, Dave Arnold, has been teaching pastry and beginner’s cooking workshops at the school since 1984.  He was patient and really helpful;  it was clear he wanted this experience to be fun for all of us.  At the beginning of class he gave us a syllabus, that shared tips, tricks, decorating resources and recipes.  I’ll share some of the recipes inside at the end of the post.

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Matzo Crunch/Crack

April 3, 2009

Ever since my mom found this recipe in Epicurious years ago, we’ve been making it by the ton.   It’s official name is Matzo Crunch, but it’s nickname, Matzo Crack comes from it’s highly addictive qualities, likening it to drugs.  My non-Jewish friends are always jonsing for their fix, asking me “when are you making Matzo Crack?”  The recipe is super easy, and only calls for four ingredients.  When I have them on hand, I like to add some chopped almonds after spreading the chocolate, but it’s just as tasty without.


Matzo Crack
Source: Marcy Goldman (Epicurious)

4-6 unsalted matzohs
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter or unsalted Passover margarine
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup coarsely chopped chocolate chips or semi-sweet chocolate

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a large (or two smaller) cookie sheet completely with foil. Cover the bottom of the sheet with baking parchment — on top of the foil. This is very important since the mixture becomes sticky during baking.

Line the bottom of the cookie sheet evenly with the matzohs, cutting extra pieces, as required, to fit any spaces.

In a 3-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the butter or margarine and the brown sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil (about 2 to 4 minutes). Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and pour over the matzoh, covering completely.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 350°. Bake for 15 minutes, checking every few minutes to make sure the mixture is not burning (if it seems to be browning too quickly, remove the pan from the oven, lower the heat to 325°, and replace the pan).

Remove from the oven and sprinkle immediately with the chopped chocolate or chips. Let stand for 5 minutes, then spread the melted chocolate over the matzoh. While still warm, break into squares or odd shapes. Chill, still in the pan, in the freezer until set.