pecan pancakes and high class mimosas

I am EXTREMELY picky about my pancakes.  I like them fluffy, slightly sweet, and with pancakes and real grade B maple syrup.  I do not like them dense, undercooked, with “pancake” syrup (whatever the hell that is), or with fruit.

Because of these proclivities, I rarely ever make pancakes, because I get so disappointed when they don’t turn out right.  Better to have them at Tex and Shirley’s, the Old Pancake House, or one of my grandfathers (both of whom mastered the art of pancakes and set me up with a pancake perfection complex as a small child.)

I woke up Sunday morning craving pancakes.  Sundays, as I’ve mentioned, are usually spent at the bar at Vinoteca with ADM.  Unfortunately, she and I have been there so much we’ve eaten everything on the brunch menu several thousand times over.  So we’re boycotting until they change up a little.  Anyway, she called and asked about brunch plans, and we decided I would make pancakes, and she would supply maple syrup, OJ, the paper, and a bottle of champagne.

I should stop here to point out that:

1) the bottle of champagne she brought over was  probably a little to high falutin’ for mimosas, but that’s how we roll

2) the previous Sunday at brunch, one of ADM’s friends showed up with a tupperware full of spiced nuts (go ahead, get the jokes out now) for each of us.

She came over and the pancakes commenced.  I’m sure it doesn’t amaze anyone to know that the winning recipe came from…Cook’s Illustrated!  I’ve reproduced it below (shhh, don’t tell them) along with a recipe for spiced pecans.  Our friend’s is a family recipe, so the one below is one my grandfather tried out on us over Christmas.  The pancakes were fluffy and amazing, and cooked in no time in my nonstick skillet.  I’m glad they turned out well, because the cinnamon rolls from the day before were an unmitigated disaster.

Pancakes

(from Cook’s Illustrated)

Note: be sure not to let the batter sit for more than an hour before using.  In fact, use immediately if at all possible

1 cup all purpose flour (I used White Lily, the jewel of the south)

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup milk

1 large egg, separated

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup spiced pecans

1. Mix first 4 ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix milk and buttermilk in a small bowl and whisk in egg white.  Combine butter and egg yolk (stir quickly if the butter is warm, I melted in the microwave and mixed in the same bowl) and add mixture to milks and egg white.  Dump into dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Heat non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  When a drop of water “confidently sizzles” (actual phrasing from recipe) in skillet, pour batter in 1/4 cup at a time.  Wait for the edgest to brown and the middle to bubble (2 min) and flip.  Cook 1-2 minutes on other side and serve with lots of butter and maple syrup (Grade B only please)

Sweet and Spicy pecans
From Parade, by Dorie Greenspan (via my grandfather)

1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 egg white
2 cups pecan halves

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and spray a nonstick baking sheet with cooking spray. Mix the sugar and spices together in a small bowl. Beat the egg white lightly with a fork in a larger bowl; toss in the pecans and stir to coat. Sprinkle with the spice mix and coat pecans evenly. Using your fingers, one by one lift the pecans out of the bowl and transfer to a baking sheet, separating them as best you can. Discard any leftover sugar egg mix.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes. Then transfer to another baking sheet, breaking pecans apart as necessary; let cool completely. Kept covered in a dry place, pecans will stay fresh for 5 days.

everybody’s waiting for the man with the bag…of booze

I never understood the phrase “drown your sorrows.” It sounds like something a sad, morose person does by themselves at a seedy bar in low light.

I am a social drinker. Don’t get me wrong, I will come home a drink a bottle of wine with dinner. But that same bottle just tastes better with company. Drinking is a lot like smoking, I think- there are a few dedicated souls who will do it no matter what, but for many, it’s about camaraderie. So I don’t drown my sorrows. I prefer to be a darkly humorous cynic of a drunk in bad times, and a happy and gregarious one in better times. I am also a social drinker because around Christmas, the general public (and occasionally my family) force me to seek refuge in cocktails to make it through.

Moving on to the point of this post- holiday booze recommendations. I like cheap plonk. There, I said it. Franzia, Boone’s farm, Andre, bathtub Tenley vodka- I’ve had it all. That being said, if ever there were a time of year to go all out, this is it. Festivus, Christmas, Hanukah, whatever- the last half of December is made for champagne and gold stilettos, fitted silk dresses and dangly earrings, elbow length gloves and purple belted coats.

Or, maybe that’s just me.

Here’s what I find myself drinking this time of year:

Paringa Sparkling Shiraz: little on the sweet side, but I love it anyway. Available at the Whole Foods on 14th and P.

Moet White Star or Taittinger Brut: Classic. Taittinger makes me feel like I’m in one of their old posters. As for the White Star, I drank it on my birthday, I will drink it at my nonexistent wedding, and I will request that people drink it at my funeral.

1+1=3 Cava: Cheap, bubbly, dry and delicious.

Zardetto Prosecco: Even cheaper, available EVERYWHERE, and delicious in morning cocktails. Speaking of which…

Pointsetta: I hate mimosas, because I don’t like fresh orange juice. So I have them with cranberry instead. I also skip on the GM, because I developed an aversion to it working in a restaurant.

Yellowtail Shiraz: in this recipe for cranberry mulled wine. Chuck everything in a CrockPot and let it simmer. Trust me, buy the 1.5 L magnum and make a double batch.

Sam Adams Winter Lager: readily available almost everywhere. I hate the Boston Lager, but I love the Sam Seasonals.

Maudite and La Chouffe: not exactly seasonal, but I find myself drinking them more than normal

Lindemans Lambic Framboise: Because every year, my little sister insists on drinking far too much, with disastrous hilarious results.

Hangar One Kaffir Lime vodka: because gimlets are appropriate year round.

Anything from the Gibson: if you haven’t been, go. Now. (Just make sure you’re not there when I want to go, so I can have a table.)

catching up on Top Chef

I am usually a fairly religious Top Chef watcher (and Real Housewives, but don’t tell anyone that).  For various reasons though, I’ve missed the last two weeks, so I’m settling in right now to watch the last two episodes, plus tonight’s.  Also, I might make it over to endless simmer if they’re liveblogging again.

Also, what are your feelings about dinner during Top Chef?  It always makes me want to make something really elaborate or really simple.  Tonight I’m going simple- pasta with parmesan, lots of pepper, and butter.

And a bottle of champagne my uncle gave me for my birthday 🙂

Cosmos Club

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Had dinner last night with VT, his mom and some of his family. At the Cosmos Club.

I love the Cosmos Club because it reminds me of when Lou and I go to the country club back home- I am the only black person there not serving food, and everyone except for the people I’m with looks really confused.

VT had red lentil soup, filet mignon (med rare), and mixed berries for dessert. I had a cranberry and walnut salad and “New Orleans Grilled Mahi-Mahi” with “southern style risotto with beans.” In case you were wondering, “southern style risotto with beans” is Cosmos-speak for red beans and rice. At any rate, it was delicious. My vodka gimlet was not so great, however.

Other dishes around the table included a cold poached lobster salad, complete with the lobster’s head and tail perched on the plate, sauteed cod, and key lime pie.

Good night, but walking home, I realized I should listen to ADM and wear tights.

(BTW, I know you’re all waiting for updates from the party and thanksgiving.   Still working on it.)

happy repeal day!

I am off today and doing laundry/running errands for the party tomorrow and heading out to the DC Craft Bartenders’ Guild Repeal Day Party later tonight.

I went to The Gibson last night. It was great! Lovely vibe, although they are really strict about the seating, they’re so nice you don’t notice. The cocktails are beautifully presented (lots of setting lemon and orange peels on fire and something involving a blowtorch and cinnamon). I hope Tiffany brings back the Bolshevik. Mmmm, beet vodka!

In the meantime, I have to run to Eastern Market to pick up some flowers for the party, and was considering stopping by Good Stuff Eatery while I’m there. Went to check out the menu online, and found this.

Annoying. I have to download a PDF to figure out you’re updating the menu? (Sorry I made you do the same, couldn’t figure out how to embed.)

General Tso to the rescue!

Yesterday, I left work promptly at five in search of a new pair of jeans. For whatever reason, it is all but impossible for me to find jeans. Bring on your Seven for All Mankind, your Paper Denim and Cloth. Rock and republic, Blue Cult, Levi’s….doesn’t matter. Seems that my ass will defeat them all. Usually when this happens, I get pissed and end up buying shoes. That didn’t work either yesterday. So I found myself in one of my happy places, buying clothes for M&S.

I mention all of this because by the time my shopping debacle was over, I was a little grumpy. Fortunately, between my laziness and VT’s couch, the perfect remedy was at hand- Chinese food , crappy white wine, and baseball!

What?

Yup. Baseball. We’ll get to that. Chinese food first.

There are no pictures, as you might have noticed, because VT and I (mostly me) inhaled our food. Mr Chen’s is my favorite Chinese place in the entire city, aside from the place in Chinatown that serves beer after hours (for obvious reasons). It’s a holdover from my AU days, when I had Chinese food at least once a week. We usually ordered from some place called Taiwan Cafe, I think. It was decent, but…Mr. Chen’s was a revelation! And it probably extended my lifespan by about 6 years, thanks to the generally healthy and oftentimes organic ingredients.

Our order? General Tso’s Chicken, Lemon Chicken, and a double order of vegetarian spring rolls (mmmmmm.)

As for the baseball, I think my conversion into a slightly-more-than-casual fan is complete. It just feels weird not to have some sort of sports obsession. I mean, am I supposed to be twiddling my thumbs for the next five months? Can’t deal. Our entire meal, I peppered VT with questions:

“I know what ERA stands for, but what does it mean?”
“What about RBI?”
“Why is RBI such a biased stat?”
“Why does Big Papi spit on his gloves?”
“Why do you need a starter, a reliever, and a closer?”
“How many times can you switch pitchers?”
“Who the hell is THAT?”

And on and on.

Check back. I’m also in the process of selecting an English Premier League team. It’s looking good for the Spurs.

you say vino, i say teca

Note: I wrote this back at the end of February, and have been holding onto it for some reason. Since Tom wrote about Vinoteca today, I figured I’d go ahead and throw it up:

I had been wanting to do a round up of the three new-ish wine bars in my ‘hood- Vinoteca, Veritas, and Cork.

So much for that. I went to Cork opening night, haven’t been back since, and didn’t really sample enough for a definitive conclusion. Plus, I was sitting next to the architect, who was so rude to my friends that the whole ordeal (the place was PACKED) left a bad taste in my mouth.

Vinoteca, however, is awesome. For starters, it’s next door to Solly’s, my favorite place on U street to knock back PBR cans and end my night out (just before hitting Ben’s Chili Bowl). I made a reservation there a few weeks ago, myself, my mom, OtherFemaleHousemate, and her mom.

The space was dark and the tables a little crowded, but not enough that it became a problem. We had a lovely table in the front and immediately commenced to the eating of pork-y platter of deliciously cured meats- in this case, a charcuterie with Rosette De Lyon, Sopressatta, duck Proscuitto, and Lomo, capped off with a bottle of Chilean Carmenère (2004 Alcance de Vina Calina). Clearly, since hedonism of the meat and red wine variety was the order of the day, we also had some lamb and feta sliders with the reddest tomatoes I’ve ever seen in February. As you may or may not know, I hate raw tomatoes, but I was completely transfixed by these.


Moving on to the main course, we had another bottle of the same wine, plus a grilled kalamari salad (marinated in olive oil and lemon, with mesclun and pine nuts), sweet potato ravioli, rockfish with lentils, and a roasted rack of lamb with roasted potatoes and red peppers that left my mother with the most satisfied look I have ever seen on her face, except for possibly when I graduated from college.

Sadly, i don’t remember what we had for dessert, only that we devoured it. I looked through my notes (yes, I am a dork, I take notes) and I didn’t write down anything


Sure was good though. I think the left was some sort of cake, and the right was the first bread pudding I’ve ever enjoyed. I think it was the caramel sauce….or maybe all the wine. (Photographic evidence confirms that I substituted my usual cappuccino with dessert for a glass of Prosecco. Oops.)

Either way, now I feel bad. Vinoteca is a slightly classier place than Solly’s and walking past Solly’s to go in sort of makes me feel like I’m cheating.

Good thing I can use those lamb sliders to get over it…

weekend wrap up, Al Crostino

How did I spend my first slightly spring-y weekend? Glad you asked…

Friday, between the hours of 8:30 and 3:30, I had a drink at PS7 (Tiffany has homemade ginger rum working behind the bar…can’t wait to see what that gets turned into,) made an appearance at a birthday dinner at Clyde’s/Lucky Strike, then met up with Lala and went to Proof (too crowded to stay,) made a new friend at Indebleu (most fun I’ve had there, by far- who knew it doesn’t always suck! the Space (amazing, it is my new favorite place-Order the Ginger Peach Surreal Vodka with ginger ale or the Grape with soda) and ended up at the Black Cat (I was WAY overdressed for it.) And finally, in honor of the ’68 riots (and yes, this thought actually went through my head at about 3:00am) I went to Ben’s Chili Bowl for fries, a chili cheeseburger and a milkshake. All and all, we had a grand old time- it was one of the best nights out I’ve had this year.

Saturday, I waited in line for 20 minutes at Market Lunch for a crabcake, only to realize I didn’t have enough cash for one. Oops. Then VT and I checked out the new Nationals park. It’s beautiful- we’re headed to a game next Sunday, and I’m stoked. Also, the line for Ben’s was absurdly long. And I was hit on my one of the 12 year olds working the Mayorga kiosk. Then I spent five hours at Momo’s on U Street, watching basketball and sulking over the remains of my bracket. Roy Williams, you suck, and you owe me $300.

After an EXTREMELY frustrating Sunday, I found myself at home, wishing for a big bowl of pasta, and trying to explain to OtherFemaleHousemate (who is denser than my last Sticky Toffee Pudding) why I did not appreciate Trogdor, our basement housemate, (who has a propensity for destroying things that belong to me, which OFH seems to think is acceptable because he thought they belonged to her) messing with Maggie.

Maggie is my mannequin. Yes I have a mannequin. She used to live in the attic of Chief Ike’s. That is all you need to know.

At any rate, in lieu of slapping her (for the last three months, this has been my default reaction pretty much any time she opens her mouth,) I hustled out of the house in search of food. Going off ADM’s recommendation, I found myself at Al Crostino, the sister restaurant to Al Tiramisu on P Street.

My last experience at Al Tiramisu was lovely, until the check came. I ordered a special, which as it turns out, was twice as pricey as anything else. Oops.

As I mentioned, in light of the crappy weather and crappy day yesterday, I was really in the mood for a giant bowl of pasta and cheese. Boy, did Al Crostino deliver. For $14.90, I got a huge bowl of penne dressed with a rich, creamy sauce of sun dried tomatoes and goat cheese, garnished with parmesan and a perfect basil leaf. ADM joined me, and as it turns out, is something of a regular. That led to us being plied with wine, tiramisu, creme caramel, and cappuccinos.

It was EXACTLY what I needed. I’m abandoning Saint Ex and adopting Al Crostino as my new local.

This week? I’m hoping for a shot at Adam‘s Tuesday Cocktail Sessions at Bar Pilar.

I got two turntables and a microphone

VT and I went to Beck last night. The last Monday of every month, you can go in, drink 2 beers, and get a free glass. Last time I went, it was Kasteel night (you might remember the Kasteel Rouge from Saint-Ex or the pierogi incident).

Last night was Delirium Tremens night. I feel like immediately after turning 21, you must immediately demonstrate your intense knowledge of artisanal beer (and your ever burning desire to get obliterated) by drinking DT. As every beer aficionado, from frat boy to Bill Catron, knows, Delirium is 8.5% abv.

For once in my life, I was early, so I had a Bacchus (another Flemish red ale, like the Kasteel Rouge, but not as sweet- little more sour cherry flavor.) and waited. There are several beers that are available on draft exclusively at Beck, which is one of the reasons I wanted to try the Bacchus. Kasteel Blonde is another.

VT arrived, and we split an order of frites, which come with curry mayonnaise (my new favorite condiment), tomato mayo (Gross- it was so sweet, VT thought it was strawberry or something) and regular mayo.

Afterwards, we met Shmee and went to an Indian/Pakistani place across the street for dinner, Mayur Kabob House.

Not a fan.

I ordered a lamb seekh kebab, which somehow turned into a chicken seekh kebab. And it tasted like crap. Perhaps it would have been better with my missing order of raita. Shmee, who is a veg, ordered Paneer Makhni and Alu Tikki, neither of which were to her liking. That being said, I think her standards are slightly higher than mine. It would be like me heading to Georgia Brown’s to try out their southern food (as a side note, Georgia Brown’s sucks. If you can’t make biscuits, you DO NOT qualify as a proper Southern resturant. End of story.) VT seemed to be the only one satisfied with his food (and the bits of ours he was kind enough to dispose of,) ordering Chapli Kabab lamb.

In Mayur’s defense, both mine and VT’s orders came with naan, basmati rice, dal, a decent veg curry, and a potato curry (I think) The rice was great, the naan decent, and the curries okay. And it was cheap. That being said, I think I’ll stick to Naan and Beyond.