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Everything you need to know about those curly stalks that show up at your local farmers market—or in your CSA haul. By Nelson Billington
'Tis the season for scapes. Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

On a recent morning at the Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market, garlic scapes filled a wooden crate from Twin Springs Fruit Farm. Don’t know them? They’re the long, flowerless stalks that twist and curl from a bulb of garlic. Farmers often remove the scapes early on in the growing cycle, since leaving them intact stints the plant's growth. But scapes have an appeal all their own, with a garlicky bite that’s toned down by a sweet aftertaste. Here's what you need to know:

Growing season: June.

Where to find them:

The Farm at Our House - Crystal City (Tuesday) and Silver Spring (Saturday).

Twin Springs Fruit Farm - Dupont Circle (Sunday), Bethesda (Sunday), and Mosaic (Sunday).

Three Springs Fruit Farm - Silver Spring (Saturday) and Columbia Heights (Wednesday and Saturday).

Full Cellar Farm - CityCenterDC (Tuesday) and H St. NE (Saturday).

Waterpenny Farm - Takoma Park (Sunday) and Arlington (Saturday).

Garner's Produce - Penn Quarter (Thursday).

Bigg Rigg's Farm - White House (Thursday) and Crystal City (Tuesday).

What to do with scapes:

Roast them!

Equinox chef/owner Todd Gray suggests placing the scapes in a hot pan with olive oil and pan-roasting them for 2 minutes, or until golden brown. Add ½ teaspoon of minced garlic, ½ cup of peeled, seeded, diced tomatoes, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 3 minutes, then finish with ½ teaspoon of fresh oregano. Serve with grilled country bread.

Sautée them!

Chef Matt Hill of Liberty Tavern loves the texture of the scapes. He advises blanching them and shocking them before sautéeing in a mixture of grapeseed and olive oils. They work nicely as a side to softshell crabs.

Pickle them!

At Mediterranean restaurant Iron Gate, chef Anthony Chittum pickles scapes with plenty of dill. In a large pot, combine the following ingredients and bring them to a boil: 3 garlic cloves, ½ teaspoon cracked black peppercorns, 1½ teaspoons pickling salt, ¾ cup white wine vinegar, ¼ cup champagne vinegar, 1 cup water, and ¼ cup sugar. Once the salt and sugar are dissolved, pour the mixture into a large bowl or container and place it in an ice bath. Slice 1 pound of scapes into 4-inch sticks and steam them for 2 minutes so they are still very sturdy, but slightly cooked. Arrange them as tightly as possible into sterilized mason jars. Mix ¼ cup of roughly chopped dill with the cooled pickling liquid and pour over the scapes so they are completely submerged. Put the lids on the jars and store in the refrigerator for at least 2 days before using.

Posted at 02:01 PM/ET, 06/24/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Make the dishes you crave at home.
Make the G by Mike Isabella sandwich copycat at home. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Yes, the grub at the following restaurants is inexpensive, but what about those days when all you want is a Bayou Bakery "Dat-O-Lantern" cookie? Or when you're having trouble justifying a roadtrip to Annapolis for a lobster roll?

We've been there, and that's why we decided to round up some of our favorite recipes from restaurants featured on our annual cheap eats list.

Read More

Posted at 04:00 PM/ET, 06/16/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
The Graffiato chef creates a fresh riff on the Jersey Shore favorite. By Anna Spiegel
Mike Isabella's garlicky, zesty scallops casino. Photograph courtesy of Graffiato.

We’re big clams casino fans—who doesn’t love shellfish, butter, and garlic?—so chef Mike Isabella’s riff on the traditional beachy recipe gave us immediate hunger pangs. Fresh butter-basted scallops get a kick from spicy capicola ham and chilies, and are topped with a garlicky breadcrumbs. The creation is part of Isabella's Jersey Shore menu at Graffiato, which plays to his Garden State roots. The special lineup is available at the restaurant through Sunday, but this is the kind of dish you can make all summer long.

Diver Scallops Casino

Serves 2

Ingredients

6 medium diver scallops (available at Whole Foods or at local fishmongers)

1 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided (½ cup for cooking capicola, and the remaining ½ cup for cooking scallops)

1 cup garlic bread crumbs (see recipe below)

8 tablespoons butter

½ pound capicola, diced small

2 to 3 Calabrian chilies packed in oil, thinly sliced (or substitute ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes)

¼ cup Italian parsley, chopped

Zest of 1 lemon

Salt, to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Using a ½ cup of olive oil, sauté the capicola until crispy on the outside but still tender on the inside, less than 10 minutes. Set aside on paper towels.

Heat ½ cup olive oil in a second large skillet over medium heat. Season the scallops with salt and pepper, and sear for about 6 minutes on one side. Add 4 tablespoons of butter to the pan and baste the scallops for 30 seconds.

Remove the scallops and place in an oven-safe baking dish with the seared side facing up. Add the remaining butter, and sprinkle generously with capicola. Top with garlic breadcrumbs and bake for 2 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly.

Garnish the baking pan with chiles, chopped parsley, and lemon zest. Serve immediately.

Garlic Bread Crumbs

Makes approximately 1 cup

Ingredients

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

½ teaspoon sea salt

Directions

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter and olive oil in the pan. Add the breadcrumbs and stir constantly for 2 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and sea salt, and stir until the mixture is golden brown.

Use the extra topping for pasta dishes, casseroles, or any dish that needs a garlicky crunch.

Posted at 11:29 AM/ET, 06/11/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Need a last-minute cookout (or cocktail) recipe? Here are some of our warm-weather favorites. By Ann Limpert
Two all-beef patties, special sauce...you know the drill. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

The Burger Americain from Le Diplomate

Two skinny patties plus American cheese and special sauce equals one of the best burgers in the city.

Hup Hup Orange Crush from Pop's Sea Bar

Charred and fresh oranges go into this sunny-day cocktail, which tastes a lot more innocent than it actually is.

Corn with manchego and aioli from Estadio

'Tis the season for one of our all-time favorite dishes, a mix of sweet corn, rich aioli, salty cheese, and lime.

Pimiento cheese from Gypsy Soul

Hot sauce and piquillo peppers rev up this addictive cheddar dip.

Watermelon-and-feta salad from Ananda

This Indian restaurant puts out a refreshing starter that’s equal parts sweet, spicy, and salty. It's pretty in the picture, but you can go rustic, too, and just chop the fruit.

Caju caipirinha from Tico

This riff on a caipirinha—our favorite cocktail at Tico—is made with the juice of cashew apples (don’t worry, it’s easy to find).

Connecticut-style lobster roll from Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls

Buttery, buttery lobster on a buttery, buttery hot-dog bun.

Marinated-mozzarella-and-tomato salad from Duke’s Grocery

A fresh take on the usual caprese.

Bacon-wrapped dates from Jaleo

The ultimate salty-sweet party food.

Pina colada from Bourbon Steak

“This is not what they served you on your beach vacation,” says bartender Duane Sylvestre.

Posted at 01:37 PM/ET, 05/22/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Bourbon, butter, and a brown-sugar rub? Yes, please. By Ann Limpert
A beacon of grilling-season hope.

Union Market’s Test Kitchen series—a lineup of free demos from stalls like the District Fishwife and DC Dosa—happens every Wednesday, from 6 to 8 PM, tonight through April 8th. On March 25th, BBQ Joint chef/owner Andrew Evans will show off his stuff, including these smoked, brown-sugar-rubbed wings.

Grilling season might seem far, far away on a dreary day like today, but at least this recipe gives us all something to look forward to.

Applewood-Smoked Chicken Wings with a Bourbon Glaze and Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Makes two dozen

12 chicken wings, tips removed and split in two parts (should have 24 pieces)

½ cup BBQ seasoning rub, divided (see recipe below)

cup bourbon

¼ cup unsalted butter

3 celery stalks, sliced into thin 3-inch strips

Ranch dressing, for dipping (see recipe below)

1 cup applewood chips

Small disposable aluminum pan

Lump charcoal

Build a lump charcoal fire on one half of your grill. Fill the aluminum pan of the way with water, and place it next to the charcoal—the bottom of your grill should be divided by lit charcoal and water pan. Let the charcoal burn for 20 minutes, then close the lid. You want a 275 degree cooking temperature.

Meanwhile toss the wings with ¼ cup of the rub. Lay them on the grill grate over the water bath. Add the applewood chips to the coals and close the lid. Maintain the 275 degree temperature by adjusting the valves of grill (more air equals hotter fire). After 45 minutes, lift lid and check the wings’ temperature with a meat thermometer. You want the wings to reach 175 degrees (if they’re not there yet, close the lid and check the temperature every 15 minutes).

In the meantime, reduce the bourbon by ½ in a small pot. Whisk in the butter and set aside. When the wings are done, toss them in a bowl with the bourbon butter then sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of rub, and toss again until they are well coated.

Serve with ranch dressing and celery sticks.

Barbecue Rub

cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon celery salt

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon garlic powder

Place all the spices in a food processor and pulse to combine. Sift through a medium strainer and store in an air tight container.

Ranch Dressing

1 clove garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup mayonnaise

½ cup sour cream

¼ cup flat-leafed parsley, minced

2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced

1 tablespoon fresh chives, minced

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon white vinegar

¼ teaspoon paprika

teaspoon cayenne pepper

Dash hot sauce, like Tabasco

½ cup buttermilk

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine, preferably the night before. Season to taste.

Posted at 02:25 PM/ET, 03/04/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
We found the post-work snack of our dreams—and snagged the recipe. By Ann Limpert
Buffalo wings, meet burger. Photograph by Anna Spiegel.

At Mike Isabella’s 14th Street sandwich shop, I’m so hooked on the goat sub that it’s rare that I branch out and try something new. That, I realized on a visit last week, is a shame—Isabella’s rotation of sandwiches designed by guest chefs contains a few knockouts of its own. There’s Jonah Kim’s Kim-fil-A, anchored by a fried chicken patty that tastes eerily (and wonderfully) similar to what you’ll get at a Chick-fil-A drive-thru—but also loaded with tangy fermented-chili slaw, bacon, and that long-forgotten cheese, Muenster. Even better is a new addition to the lineup from Carla Hall, the sunny cohost of The Chew who just announced plans to bring a Nashville hot chicken restaurant to New York, and eventually, DC.

Her Buffalo-wing-inspired Happy Hour Burger is made up of a thick chicken patty that, unlike pretty much every other chicken patty I’ve had, is far more juicy than rubbery. It’s set on a soft Lyon Bakery potato roll, slathered with spicy mayo (Frank’s hot sauce gives it the kick), and piled with crunchy celery-and-blue-cheese slaw. Basically, it’s exactly what you’d hope for as a happy hour snack. Or for lunch. Or dinner.

It’s currently on the menu at G through the end of October. If you can't make it there in time, though, we've got Hall's recipe.


Carla Hall’s Happy Hour Burger

Serves 4

Make the spicy mayonnaise:

¾ cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon hot sauce (preferably Frank’s)

2 teaspoons honey

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, hot sauce, honey, and cayenne until smooth. Refrigerate until needed.


Make the celery/blue-cheese slaw:

4 celery ribs, thinly sliced at an angle

½ cup very thinly sliced red onion

½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon lemon zest

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

teaspoon black pepper

¼ cup crumbled blue cheese

In a large bowl, combine the celery, onions, and parsley. Add the vinegar, oil, lemon zest, salt, and pepper and toss well. Gently toss in the blue cheese.


Make the burgers:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 teaspoon olive oil, plus more for frying

cup minced yellow onion

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons hot sauce (preferably Frank’s)

½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves

½ teaspoon crushed red chili flakes

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1¼ pounds coarsely ground chicken or turkey breast meat

4 brioche or potato buns, toasted if desired


In a small skillet set over medium-high heat, heat the butter and oil. When the butter is almost melted, add the onion and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes, then stir in the garlic. When the onion is golden and tender, stir in the hot sauce, thyme, chili flakes, and pepper. Transfer to a large bowl and cool to room temperature.

Combine the chicken with the cooled onions using slightly damp hands. You want it well mixed, but you don’t want to squeeze it and make it tough. Form the mixture into four burgers ½-inch larger in diameter than the buns. Use your thumb to dimple the center of each patty.

Coat a large nonstick skillet with oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the burgers and cook until browned, about 3 minutes, then carefully flip them. Cook until the other side is browned and the meat cooked through, about 3 minutes longer. The burger will feel firm and the juices will run clear.

Slather the spicy mayo on the buns. Divide the burgers among the bun bottoms and top with the slaw. Sandwich with the bun tops and serve immediately.

Posted at 11:15 AM/ET, 10/15/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Celebrate this dubious yet delicious holiday by trying these at home. By Tanya Pai
We'll take any excuse to bake homemade cookies. Image via Shutterstock.

As someone who writes occasionally for a food blog, I’m all about celebrating the various delicious forms that edible things can take—but even I have to admit the “National Insert-Blank-Here Day” trend can get pretty ridiculous. And yet, when the blank in question is homemade cookies, who am I to argue? In honor of this oh-so-dubious holiday, I combed through the Best Bites archives for a few great recipes you can try at home, including one for Halloween-perfect homemade Oreos and even (gasp) a healthy version. Happy baking! 

Homemade Oreos

Bayou Bakery chef David Guas’s “Dat-o-Lanterns” give you the taste of Oreo cookies without the weird chemicals. Not quite ready for Halloween? Just skip the orange food coloring for classic white filling.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

All-star pastry chef Tom Wellings (now at Fiola Mare), is behind these divine chocolate chip cookies that use two kinds of chocolate for “extra gooey texture,” plus a sprinkle of sea salt for balance. If you make these, please invite me over.

Sugar Cookies

Sometimes all you want is a simple, perfect sugar cookie—and Blue Duck Tavern delivers.

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread might be more commonly associated with Christmas, but Northside Social’s chocolate gingerbread cookies are good year-round. These will please chocoholics and spice fiends alike (so bake extra). Get the recipe. 

Coconut-Sesame Cookies

Even if you’re trying to cut down on sweets, you don’t have to give up dessert entirely. Try Well+Being’s recipe, which use whole-wheat flour and nutritious ingredients for a healthy treat that still tastes decadent. 

Posted at 12:02 PM/ET, 10/01/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Summer salads, boozy melons, and the best of the grill. By Anna Spiegel
Marinated mozzarella and tomato salad makes an addictive alternative to caprese. Photograph by Anna Spiegel.

Whether you're at the beach or on a staycation, Labor Day weekend is one of the best times to cook. The tomatoes are sweet, the berries ripe, the grill well-seasoned, and you'll find plenty of friends ready to drink and eat away the last days of August. 

Here are ten of our favorite summertime recipes, including dishes from hot new restaurants, old standbys, and top food trucks. 

Marinated mozzarella and local tomato salad from Duke's Grocery

We're addicted to this twist on the caprese. Buffalo mozzarella is marinated in a bright, citrusy blend of herbs and chilies that's also used to dress the salad. You'll never go back to balsamic again. 


Molokai Mule cocktails from Bar Charley 

These deceptively potent tiki cocktails are simple to make and even easier to drink. Garnish them with little umbrellas and fruit for a beachy look.


The Burger Américain from Le Diplomate

Sure, these patties are griddled instead of grilled, but you can always tweak the cooking style if you're set on live flames. Just don't miss the American cheese, pickles, and "special sauce."


Gazpacho from the Pepe Food Truck

One of the best gazpachos in Washington can be found aboard José Andrés’s food truck. The silky soup gets its kick from sherry vinegar and its richness from quality Spanish olive oil.


Fried chicken tacos from Tico 

Tacos? Good. Fried chicken? Gooood. Combine the two and you have the ultimate crowd-pleaser. Fennel slaw and spicy buttermilk dressing make for tasty toppings. 


Vodka-infused watermelon from Bourbon Steak

Channel your inner college kid and prepare to get tipsy off of this booze-infused melon. The main difference between now and the frat party days: quality vodka such as Belvedere—this is from a Four Seasons restaurant, after all. 


Avocado bruschetta from Cork 

An oldie but a great-y. This vegetarian/vegan appetizer requires little effort, but scores big in the flavor department. 


Spice-grilled chicken with yogurt and herbed slaw from Estadio

Consider chef Haidar Karoum's dish perfect party food: Marinated chicken thighs can feed a crowd without breaking the bank, and most of the components can be made ahead. More important, it's delicious. 


Lamb burgers from Brandon's Little Truck

Skip the beef and try these juicy, rich patties kicked up with garlic, fresh mint, and cilantro. Feta takes the place of cheddar, and a topping of spinach, fennel, and more herbs brightens the burger. 


Berry cobbler from Red Truck Bakery

Farm stands are overflowing with blueberries and blackberries, so it's prime time to whip up this divine cobbler. Serve vanilla ice cream alongside for the perfect summer dessert. 

Posted at 12:56 PM/ET, 08/26/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
A fresh take on caprese from Duke’s Grocery. By Anna Spiegel
Duke's Grocery serves a vibrant riff on tomato-mozzarella salad. Photograph by Anna Spiegel.

It’s rare that I eat in a restaurant and e-mail the chef immediately after for a recipe, but that’s exactly what happened after feasting on the marinated buffalo mozzarella and local tomato salad at Duke’s Grocery.

You’ll find variations on this caprese-like salad throughout the city, all summer long. Too often they’re bland, made with lackluster tomatoes, stiff mozzarella, watery balsamic, or all of the above. Chef Alex McCoy’s version is the opposite. You’ll only see it on the daily changing chalkboard menu if sweet local tomatoes are available; McCoy gets his from Potomac Farm Market. The creamy mozzarella di bufala is top-quality, and burrata makes a nice substitute if you’re really feeling decadent.

What makes the dish, besides the essential ingredients, is the toasted fennel, spicy chili, and fresh herb vinaigrette. The mixture acts both as a marinade for the cheese and the salad dressing.

The result: a vibrant take on the summertime staple.


Marinated Mozzarella and Local Tomato Salad From Duke’s Grocery
Serves 4 to 5


Ingredients:
1 tablespoon whole fennel seeds
½ cup coarsely chopped herbs, such as chives, cilantro, Italian parsley, spring onion, and/or oregano
1½ tablespoons chopped birds eye chili, Thai chili, or serrano chili
8 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
¾ cup really nice, fruity olive oil
Zest and juice of three lemons
Salt and pepper to taste
4 balls of burrata or mozzarella di buffalo (try to find mozzarella from Campania)
4 or 5 local tomatoes
Optional: chervil, to garnish


Assembly:

Set a dry pan on medium high heat. Add the whole fennel seeds, tossing them and constantly moving the pan while they toast. You’ll know they’re ready when you smell the wonderful anise fragrance the seeds start to release. Remove them from the pan, let cool, and then crush them coarsely with the bottom of a heavy pan or a bowl.

In a glass bowl, mix together the chopped herbs, fennel seeds, chili, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, garlic, salt, and pepper. Let sit for about 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, tear the cheese balls in half with your hands and toss them in the bowl with the herb vinaigrette. Let sit for another 20 to 30 minutes to absorb all of the delicious flavors and spices.

Slice your tomato. Don’t be modest. We want big, thick, juicy slices of tomato. Do this a few minutes before plating, so the tomato won’t dry out. Fan your tomatoes out on a plate or serving piece, and lightly season with salt and pepper.

Remove the cheese balls from the vinaigrette and lay them over your tomato, ripping the cheese apart a bit more as you spread it out.

Spoon some of the delicious herb vinaigrette over the cheese and tomato, making sure not to inundate the fruit with too much oil.

Garnish with chervil, a touch more salt and pepper (or more hot chili), and chow down!

Posted at 02:51 PM/ET, 07/17/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Get ready for tiki time. By Anna Spiegel

Nick Nazdin’s Molokai Mule blends fresh juice, rum, and orgeat syrup for a refreshing tiki cocktail. Photograph courtesy of Bar Charley.

Summer drinking weather is upon us, and we’re always looking for new recipes when it’s time to whip up a refreshing beverage. We asked Bar Charley cocktail master Nick Nazdin to share one of his favorite tiki cocktails: the Molokai Mule, which originated at the Kon-Tiki restaurant in Hawaii in the 1960s.

“It’s a much more citrus-heavy drink than most other tiki cocktails, which I really enjoy,” says Nazdin. “Most tiki drinks have people well on their way to the end of their night after one or two.”

The party-friendly formula is a tasty balance of fresh orange and lime juice, brandy, and plenty of rum. The only exotic ingredient you’ll see is orgeat, an almond-flavored syrup you can buy at specialty liquor stores such as Ace Beverage or online (Nazdin likes Fee Brothers). If you’d rather leave mixing to the experts, head to Bar Charley for Trader Nick’s Tiki Sundays, where you’ll find Nazdin concocting five different tiki cocktails. 

Molokai Mule

Makes 1 drink 

2 ounces orange juice
1 ounce lime juice
1 ounce orgeat syrup
1 ounce brandy
1 ounce silver rum
1 ounce dark rum
A heavy dash of Angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, shake, and strain over ice. 

Posted at 11:19 AM/ET, 05/29/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()