Matchbox on the Hill

In case you can’t tell, I’ve been heavy into the catch-up posting this week.  This one’s from the Sunday before inauguration:

So Inauguration Weekend.  I jokingly told someone that every black person in DC was in my neighborhood.  As the weekend wore on, I realized it was pretty much true.  At any rate, my lovely friend Jen happened to miraculously be in town from London for a wedding, so Ace (Jen’s former roommate) and I decided to do what the three of us do best- Eat.  Ace and Jen scooped me up downtown (where I was buying boots!) and we headed off to the not-quite-as-new-now Matchbox on the Hill.

Let it never be said that brunch shouldn’t have appetizers.

We started with the cinnamon rolls- pillowy, delicious, and far better than the disastrous ones I attempted a few weeks ago.  Plus there were six of them, which worked out perfectly.

matchbox-cinnamon-rolls1

Then we moved on to actual food- spicy meatball pizza (it may or may not be impossible for me to order anything else at Matchbox), stuffed French toast, and cast iron chorizo and eggs.

matchbox-breakfast

I’ve never been disappointed by Matchbox (they have PBR tallboys!), but this breakfast was exceptional.  But I’m probably just saying that because I love spicy meatball pizza.

Doughnut Bread Pudding

I like Paula Deen. I am Southern, she is one of my people. My grandmother does not cook like Ina Garten or Giada or even Alton. She cooks like Paula. I like butter and lard and fried things and mayonnaise and cheese, and I will make no apologies for this.

With that declaration in mind, I present you with this:

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Doughnut. Bread. Pudding.

Allow me to fill in the back story. My job kind of sucks, and in an attempt to at least pretend like I enjoy it, I bring in doughnuts from Krispy Kreme. It is impossible to be in a bad mood around all that gently deep fried doughy goodness. Last Friday, I bought a dozen glazed and a dozen assorted. I still had the assorted dozen left when I left the office Friday, so I took them home to deal with later.

Sunday rolled around, and I had ten very stale doughnuts sitting on the kitchen table. So I turned to Paula. Her recipe is here. I has to adapt it for what I had on hand, and also because canned fruit cocktail is vile and disgusting. Here is the recipe, more or less:

One dozen stale doughnuts
3/4 cup toasted pecans
One can condensed milk
2 eggs
1/2-3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2-3/4 cup milk
Spices, as desired (see note below)

Roughly chop doughnuts and pecans, place in a large bowl. Whisk half the can of condensed milk, regular milk (start with 1/2 cup of each, add more if needed), buttermilk and eggs. Pour over doughnut mixture and stir to coat. Mixture should be wet, but not gloopy. If needed, add more milk. Pour into a 9×9 baking dish and bake at 350 for 40-55 minutes, or until golden brown and crunchy on top.

In the meantime, on a small pot, heat other half of condensed milk until caramel colored. Thin with milk if needed. Salt to taste. Serve over bread pudding.

Finished product:

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Note: my doughnuts included four pumpkin cake, two chocolate cake, three glazed and one chocolate iced glazed. Thanks to the pumpkin, I only needed a little cinnamon and chili powder. Depending on your doughnut composition, you might want to adjust.

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.

We now return to your regularly scheduled snark

Good thing I took that little mini-break to Baltimore. Because my life turned absolutely nutty afterwards. Family stuff, work stuff, roommate stuff…I think it’s sorted itself out for the most part.

Unfortunately it has left me with several half-formed blog entries and no more space on the memory card in my camera. And a (possibly) fractured foot (again)- but that’s a story for later.

Let’s start with the pirates, shall we?
Ah, there we go.

The pirate/pyrate/privateer/whatever invasion of Fell’s Point was kind of a wash. Low on the actual pirate fighting, high on vast expanses of untoned white flesh in pseudo-bondage Dungeons and Dragons gear. Ick.
Lou and I managed to have a fun time though, because we will get down anytime, anywhere. Friday night kicked off with a reunion at the train station, followed by much debate over proper attire, and culminated with a pirate-themed beer tasting with the Charm City Muggers. Btw, stay away from the Piraat Ale. It’s delightfully tasty and packs quite the wallop, clocking in at something like 10.5% ABV. After much merry-making, crab dip eating, and placing of stuffed animals upon heads for funny pictures, we decamped to Bartenders for delicious pizza and Miller Lite. Perfect.

As a result of the previous nights activities, it took us a while to get moving. So, at about 2:00, Lou and I found ourselves (seriously, I’m not sure how we pulled together to get there, we just did) at the Blue Moon Cafe (soon to be featured on an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives).


Sitting not far from the water on Aliceanna Street, Blue Moon Cafe sort of reminds me of Practical Magic, with a little bit of that movie with Bette Midler and SJP as witches thrown in.



The table was also decorated with the two things I always want to see on my brunch table (aside from coffee and/or a mimosa):


This is a “bitch biscuit.” When you are bitchy-hungry and in dire need of something before your food is ready, you can be the proud recipient of a “bitch biscuit.” How can you not love this place?

I opted for pancakes and bacon with a massive hashbrown,

while Lou went with an omelette and fruit, thus making her brunch “healthy.”


We really wanted a cinnamon roll, but it didn’t pan out, pardon the pun.

After brunch, we went down to the water for the “invasion,” where we overheard the following:

Girl talking to friend: “Remember all those weird people I told you about that like to dress up like pirates? THEY’RE HERE!”

Right.

Our afternoon (read: drinking) continued on, leading to this:

Along with us playing on this:

And ending up (after $1.25 PBR drafts) here, where we sat in the booth where part of Syriana was filmed:

I would like to say we were equally interesting on Sunday, but we spend the day in pajamas on the couch, watching Top Chef.

Oh wait, we did get up to make a run to Rita’s.

brunch, burgers, and exploding manhole covers.

Here’s what’s going on in my world today…
– Irony: Friend comes over because hot water in friend’s apartment goes out. Five minutes before friend arrives, my power goes out. Added bonus: someone’s car was torched in the process. The power was STILL off when I left this morning.
Proof that March Madness should be a national holiday.
Gina won the Best Martini competition last night. Shame on you for not being there, OrderedChaos was. More on that later today.
Playboy’s 10 best burgers. Compare with GQ’s 20 best list. I hope to eat all of these before I die. Of a heart attack. With bacon.
– Courtesy of the New Yorker, the history of the “everything” bagel, my personal favorite in bagel sandwich choices.

Speaking of burgers, Ace and I had Sunday brunch at Annie’s this past Sunday. We were originally going to go for doughnuts, but on the walk to Krispy Kreme, Ace pointed out that he needed some bacon.

Disaster ensued.


Maybe not disaster. But we both left feeling a little lightheaded. 3/4 lb bacon cheeseburger with home fries will do that to you I suppose. (Please note the giant tub of mayo on the side of my plate.)

Especially when combined with a big, crappy margarita and lots of coffee. Oops.

Side note: Merriam-Webster Word of the Day yesterday was “wooden.” As in, made of wood.

Really? That’s the best you have to offer?