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A simple sip for the holidays, or everyday. By Anna Spiegel

The classic summery Pimm’s Cup gets a wintery makeover for the holidays. Photograph by Anna Spiegel.

We love a refreshing Pimm’s Cup on warm afternoons, but it’s harder to imagine sipping the citrusy cocktail fireside. That is, until we sampled Adam Bernbach’s cold-weather version at his 14th Street cocktail den, 2 Birds 1 Stone, beneath Doi Moi. Gone are the cucumber slices and ginger ale float that typically accent the classic drink, replaced by more wintery flavors like cinnamon-infused Pimm’s (a type of British liqueur), spicy ginger beer, and a small dose of gin for added warmth.

Note that you’ll have to start one day ahead to infuse the Pimm’s with cinnamon, but like the classic cup, the rest is easy (and easy drinking).

Winter Pimm’s Cup

Makes one cocktail

Ingredients

1 oz. Cinnamon-infused Pimm’s (see recipe below)
1 oz. Ford’s gin, or the more common Beefeater if it’s not available
4 oz. Spicy ginger beer, such as Blenheim brand
A mint sprig and lemon wheel to garnish

For the cinnamon-infused Pimm’s

3 Cinnamon sticks
1 Liter Pimm’s liqueur

Toast the cinnamon in a dry pan over medium heat for a few minutes, until the sticks become aromatic.

Break up the sticks, and soak them overnight in the Pimm’s. Remove the cinnamon.

Make the cocktail

Build the drink over ice in a Collins glass: add the Pimm’s and gin, and then top with the ginger beer. Give the drink a quick stir, and garnish with the mint sprig and lemon wheel.

Posted at 10:51 AM/ET, 12/13/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Chef Barry Koslow melds Jewish tradition with Thanksgiving flavors. By Anna Spiegel

A Hanukkah latke with Thanksgiving flavors from chef Barry Koslow. Photograph courtesy of DGS Delicatessen.

The first night of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving only coincide once every 70,000-odd years, so it’s definitely an occasion worth noting. We asked DGS Delicatessen chef Barry Koslow to concoct a Thanksgivukkah recipe, bringing together flavors from both traditions. The result: sweet potato latkes topped with a savory cranberry condiment, a perfect appetizer or side for your holiday table.

Latkes are simple, recipe-wise, but the trick is keeping them crisp. Make sure you squeeze as much moisture from the potatoes and onions as possible, and pan-fry them in clarified butter, canola oil, or even duck fat for a crackly crust. The DGS team recommends underseasoning the mixture to start, frying up a small test bite, and adjusting to taste. The cranberry mostarda to finish the dish is an easy, chutney-like accent that can be made a week in advance. Latkes aside, you may have just found your new cranberry sauce.

Sweet Potato Latkes With Cranberry Mostarda

Serves 4 as a side dish

For the cranberry mostarda:

½ cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
½ cup diced apple
½ cup dried apricots
¼ cup mustard seeds
¼ teaspoon mustard powder
½ cup water
Pinch of salt
1 cup fresh cranberries

Combine all ingredients except for the cranberries in a small sauce pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

Simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the mustard seeds start to plump up.

Pull the pot off the heat and add the cranberries, gently stirring. Be careful not to pop them.

Pour the mixture into a bowl or jar and chill thoroughly before serving. The mostarda can be kept in the fridge for up to a week.

For the latkes:

1 Idaho potato
1 medium sweet potato
½ medium white onion
2 egg yolks
2 small sage leaves, minced
½ cup clarified butter, canola oil, or duck fat (if you’re going decadent)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Using the largest holes of a box grater, grate the sweet potato, Idaho potato, and onion into a mixing bowl.

Squeeze as much water from the mixture as possible and place mixture in a separate bowl. Discard the water.

Add the egg yolks, sage, salt, and pepper to the bowl. Mix all the ingredients until incorporated.

Place a nonstick pan on medium heat and add the clarified butter, oil, or fat.

Form the potato mixture into baseball-size spheres, and gently place in the butter. Flatten them with a spatula into a pancake shape, so they’re about 1⁄8 inch thick.

Brown the latkes for approximately 5 minutes per side. Remove from pan and put on a paper towel to sop up any extra grease.

Finish the latkes for 10 minutes in the oven on a cookie sheet.

Posted at 02:00 PM/ET, 11/20/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Pastry chef Susan Wallace shares one of her favorite fall desserts. By Anna Spiegel
Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Looking for an easy way to spruce up classic pumpkin pie? This recipe from BlackSalt pastry chef Susan Wallace is both impressive and simple—you don’t even need to make a crust from scratch. Simply fill a store-bought shell with spiced pumpkin purée, and top with buttery oatmeal streusel for crunch. (Bonus: It looks pretty, too.)

Pumpkin Streusel Pie

Makes one 9-inch pie (serves 6 to 8)

For the oatmeal streusel:
⅔ cup all-purpose flour
⅔ cup quick oats
⅓ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, chilled, cut into ½-inch cubes and chilled

For the pie and filling:
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell (Wallace recommends Pillsbury Pet-Ritz deep-dish)
2 eggs, separated
15 ounces canned pumpkin purée (Wallace likes Libby’s brand)
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk, preferably Eagle Brand
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt

Prepare the streusel:

In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt.

Work in butter by hand, until butter pieces are pea-size. The mixture should be crumbly. Chill 15 minutes.

Pre-bake the pie shell:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of pie shell and fill with pie weights, beans, or rice to weigh down shell. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove pie weights, beans, or rice.

Finish the pie:

In medium mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolks, pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt.

In separate bowl on mixer, whip egg whites until stiff. By hand, whisk the whites into pumpkin mixture. Pour the filling into pre-baked pie shell. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until almost set on top (the pie will be dry but shiny about 1 inch around the center).

Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Sprinkle streusel on top, covering pie. Return to the oven and continue baking for 20 to 25 minutes, until topping is golden brown.

Remove from the oven and cool 30 minutes. Chill at least 3 hours or overnight. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.

Posted at 10:15 AM/ET, 11/18/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Hearty but elegant and perfect for fall, this is a great dish for holiday entertaining. By Jessica Voelker

Gorgeous, healthy, and delicious: This is the perfect fall salad to start off a dinner party. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

As a food writer, I get the chance to sample a lot of salads. It’s always good to have vinegar-dressed greens on the table when you’re tasting a lot of different—and often heavy—dishes. At a recent meal at J&G Steakhouse, a friend suggested we share this butternut squash starter as a healthy way to begin a meal of many meats. To our surprise, it was our favorite item that evening—with bright acidity from two vinaigrettes bringing out the sweet earthiness of the squash, measured dollops of goat cheese adding a touch of richness, pumpkin seeds lending crunch, and frisée and watercress offsetting the heft of the orange vegetable.

The best news: As the recipe below reveals, the uniquely delicious flavors come from ingenious ingredient combinations rather than time-consuming or challenging techniques.

Watch as it steals the show at your next fall dinner party.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Salad, Pumpkin Seed Vinaigrette

Serves 4

For the squash:

1 small butternut squash
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Black pepper
1 small dried red chili, ground
1½ teaspoons coriander seed, crushed

To the rest of the recipe....

Posted at 11:59 AM/ET, 10/21/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Take advantage of peak peach season with these sweet pastries. By Anna Spiegel

Photograph courtesy of NoPa Kitchen + Bar.

If you’ve been to the farmers market lately, you know peach season has hit full stride. Take advantage of the sweet, ripe fruits with a hand pie recipe from NoPa Kitchen + Bar pastry chef Jemil Gadea.

Don’t be intimidated by the recipe’s multiple steps—they yield various rewards. Macerating the peaches makes an abundance of filling, which you can use to top ice cream, mix into smoothies, or even incorporate into a savory dish (peaches and spice-rubbed pork loin comes to mind). The liquid that’s drained from the fruit mixture before you make the pies is also a tasty side product; treat it like peach simple syrup to use in iced tea or cocktails, or reduce it with some fresh raspberries for sauce. Gadea is partial to the stone fruits from Black Rock Orchard, which sets up stalls at local farmers markets like the Penn Quarter FreshFarm Market on Thursday and Dupont on Sunday.

Gadea’s number-one tip for recreating NoPa’s dessert: Don’t overstuff the pies. Filling them beyond capacity will make them leak in the fryer and disintegrate. Serve them with vanilla ice cream for a classic summer treat.

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Posted at 03:08 PM/ET, 08/27/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
A fiery recipe for your summer repertoire. By Anna Spiegel
Chef Jim Jeffords of Evening Star Cafe and his “throne” hot sauce. Photographs courtesy of Neighborhood Restaurant Group,

Even in the summer heat, there’s nothing like a splash of hot sauce to perk up eggs or barbecue. Instead of reaching for the Tabasco, try this simple recipe from Evening Star Cafe chef Jim Jeffords.

The Georgia-bred toque grows his own peppers on the restaurant’s rooftop garden, including fresnos, datils—which are native to his home state—and cayennes. But no need to grow your own: The formula Jeffords uses is a base, and can accommodate a variety of common fresh peppers, such as milder red fresnos, earthy serranos, and fiery Scotch bonnets. Depending on your heat tolerance, he recommends a 3-2-1-part ratio for the chilies listed above. Mixed with garlic and white vinegar, this is destined to become a go-to condiment that matches the season’s temperatures.

Jim’s Special Throne Sauce

Makes one bottle

4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1½ cups white vinegar, such as Heinz
About 1½ cups mixed fresh peppers, such as red fresno, serrano, and Scotch bonnet, all available at Whole Foods and seasonally at the farmers market (see above for ratios)
1½ tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste

Using gloves, rinse all the peppers thoroughly. Remove the stems and chop into about ¾-inch pieces.

Heat a sauté or cast-iron pan over high heat. Coat it with olive oil. When you see “white smoke” and the pan is very hot, add the peppers. Season them with salt. Let cook for 4 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Once they are slightly charred, cover the peppers with white vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil, then immediately turn off the heat. Remove from the stove and let cool.

Once cool, place the peppers and vinegar mixture in an airtight container such as a Mason jar or plastic container. Make sure the peppers are covered with vinegar; it may be necessary to add more. Store the peppers at room temperature for one week.

Once the mixture has aged, purée in a blender until smooth. Pass the hot sauce through a sieve or fine strainer.

Store liquid hot sauce in refrigerator for up to two months.

Posted at 11:15 AM/ET, 07/25/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Virgin or boozy, this summer quencher is perfect for your barbecue. By Anna Spiegel

It’s super simple to re-create Taqueria Nacional’s summertime cooler at home. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

“Making an agua fresca can be a really simple affair, especially when you have high-quality fruit,” says Ann Cashion, co-owner of Taqueria Nacional. (She also co-owns and cooks at Capitol Hill seafood favorite Johnny’s Half Shell). So when mixing up drinks for your Fourth of July barbecue, skip the dyed red, white, and blue drinks and go with something naturally festive and fully refreshing: strawberry agua fresca, like the one you’ll find at the newly opened 14th Street taco spot.

At the restaurant, Cashion uses locally grown strawberries for the drink. Since strawberry season is nearing its end, she suggests adding fresh blueberries or raspberries or subbing out the strawberries altogether. If you opt for commercially grown strawberries, Cashion suggests adding more sugar for sweetness, though don’t overdo it—aim for one cup at most.

Another perk of this recipe: You can whip up a pitcher in advance for your party—just keep it chilled—and serve it with booze on the side for a mixed-age crowd. Just add one and a half ounces of your favorite light rum or tequila to your glass and stir for a more potent drink.

Strawberry Agua Fresca

Makes one pitcher

6 pints of ripe strawberries (preferably locally grown), washed, and stems removed
¼ cup sugar, or more to taste
1 cup filtered water, or more to achieve desired consistency
Optional: A bottle of your favorite light rum or tequila

In a blender, purée the strawberries with some sugar and 1 cup of water. Check for sweetness and add more sugar if desired.

Transfer the purée into a larger container and stir in more water until you achieve the consistency and concentration that you want. 

Strain the mixture into a pitcher to remove some of the seeds and chill until ready to serve. 

Posted at 11:30 AM/ET, 07/03/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
From a killer cobbler to Honey Pig’s Korean barbecue, these recipes are destined to become warm-weather favorites. By Jessica Voelker
A great cobbler recipe will serve you all spring and summer long. Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

From a culinary standpoint, this time of year rules. Great produce floods the market, patios become a second—and far superior—dining room, and invitations to backyard barbecues start showing up in your inbox. To get you inspired, we’ve collected 20 excellent recipes for spring and summer fare, all of it courtesy of Washington restaurants and shops. There are fancy popsicles from Pleasant Pops, amazing grilled chicken from Estadio—even instructions on how to properly booze up a watermelon. It’s all in the service of making this your tastiest spring and summer ever, so go forth and make something wonderful.

Posted at 09:30 AM/ET, 05/07/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Sapore owner Renee Shields Farr shares a favorite warm-weather dish. By Jessica Voelker
Bright pasta primavera will outshine typical potluck dishes. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

May is here, and the weather has finally improved. We’re looking forward to getting into some spring cooking, starting with this colorful pasta primavera from Renee Shields Farr, owner of the Sapore Oil & Vinegar shop in Eastern Market. Made with rainbow-striped bow-tie pasta, it’s a pretty dish to bring to a potluck picnic.

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Posted at 03:05 PM/ET, 05/02/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Wondering what to do with all your extra ingredients? Serve them up in a simple, delicious pie. By Anna Spiegel
Pot pie: A delicious way to use up those Thanksgiving leftovers. Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

Seeing as you can order a “Thanksgiving sandwich” at local eateries year-round, consider swapping out the usual stack of leftovers between slices of bread for a dish that’s nearly as simple and far more indulgent: a creamy pot pie that uses leftover veggies and turkey alike. We first heard about this dish from chef Matthew Miller while previewing the newly opened Trademark in Alexandria, and couldn’t resist asking for the recipe.

“It’s as easy as taking yesterday’s dinner, putting it in a pan, and putting pastry on top,” says Miller of the pot pie. The British-born toque suggests using leftover sweet potato and green beans in addition to shredded turkey and gravy, though you can substitute any Thanksgiving vegetables you see fit. And if you’ve managed to sop up all your giblet sauce the day before, don’t worry; just stir in  cup of flour after you’ve sautéed the leeks, garlic, and celery, and then slowly stir in 1¾ cups turkey broth.

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Posted at 11:30 AM/ET, 11/20/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()