Move over, chocolate bunnies: We have a new favorite springtime treat. Cork chef Kristin Hutter debuted “drunken Peeps” last year, a house-made version of the classic marshmallow bird spiked with liqueur. Needless to say, the small dose of booze made these little chicks even more irresistible. We asked her for the current recipe, which adds limoncello to the mix.
Don’t be too intimidated by making homemade marshmallow—you just have to have a little patience for stickiness (and a candy thermometer). If playing mother hen to a gaggle of liquored-up Peeps sounds too difficult, Cork Market plans to sell the lemony confections and a Chambord-raspberry version through the weekend.
Drunken Peeps With Limoncello
Makes 20 Peeps
5 teaspoons powdered gelatin (usually 2 envelopes)
¼ cup limoncello
¼ cup water
5 ounces light corn syrup
1½ cups sugar
1⁄8 teaspoon kosher salt
Colored sugar to coat each Peep
A stand or hand mixer
4 to 5 ounces cornstarch
4 to 5 ounces powdered sugar
Dark frosting for making the Peeps’ eyes
Make the marshmallow:
Add gelatin and limoncello to a standing mixer, or if using a hand mixer, a large bowl. Allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Stir to blend.
In small pot, add the water, corn syrup, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook until a thermometer registers 240 degrees.
Slowly pour the sugar mixture into the standing mixer or bowl with the gelatin. Whip with the whisk attachment on medium/high until the mixture is thick and stiff peaks form. Cool to room temperature.
Shape the Peeps (two methods)
Add the marshmallow mixture to a pastry bag fitted with large round tip.
Pipe peep figure onto lightly greased aluminum foil. Sprinkle immediately with your choice of colored sugar and let dry, about 2 to 3 hours. Dot each with frosting eyes if desired.
Pour marshmallow from mixer onto a half-sheet cookie tray that’s dusted with a mixture of half cornstarch and half powdered sugar.
Smooth the marshmallow with a spatula and dust the top with same cornstarch/powdered sugar mixture. Allow to rest 10 to 12 hours, covered at room temperature.
Cut into desired shapes. Dip them quickly in water or wipe them with a damp cloth in water, then dust them with colored sugar.
We at the Best Bites Blog like our glasses half full, especially if they’re half full of a gingery winter Pimm’s cup. (Okay, we’d be happier with a summer Pimm’s cup, but we’ll take what we can get.) If there’s one upside to snow in late March, it’s the opportunity to hunker down at home and whip up your favorite cold-weather dishes and drinks one more time. We’ve compiled a collection of our eight of our favorites from the (never-ending) season, plus a few staples.
We love barkeep Adam Bernbach’s subterranean 14th Street cocktail den. The space is cozy on a snowy day, but we like the idea of mixing up this gingery riff on the classic Pimm’s cup at home even better.
Recipes don’t often cause a scene, but as soon as we posted one for this decadent breakfast sandwich, the phone lines at Seasonal Pantry were clogged with requests. (O’Brien was even nice enough to serve it as a one-day special.) Cut down the marinade time to fry up the spicy chicken tonight.
It’s tough to pick a favorite from G’s menu, but this hearty lamb chili has been our go-to order on cold days. This isn’t your average stew, with plenty of chilies, bacon, and beer in the braise and a topping of harissa yogurt and Sriracha chickpeas.
What chefs feed their staff for family meal says a lot about how the restaurant operates, so we weren’t surprised that the Source’s team runs on delicious dishes such as Scott Drewno’s Thai curry. You don’t need a master’s degree in Asian cookery for this simple comfort dish.
“Thanksgivukkah” is long past, but we still love frying up chef Barry Koslow’s crispy sweet potato latkes. The sweet-tart fruit topping is guaranteed to brighten up a snowy day.
No roundup of winter comfort foods would be complete without Vidalia’s macaroni and cheese. But be warned: The perfectly creamy dish inspires frequent cravings.
Each of chef Jeff Black’s eight restaurants offers this dish, so you know it has to be good. If you’re feeling bogged down from rich winter meals, these garlicky mussels are a wonderful comfort-food compromise.
8) Chocolate chip cookies from Tom Wellings
Wellings has changed jobs since we requested this recipe years ago; he currently makes craveable desserts for Fabio Trabocchi’s restaurants, including the new Fiola Mare. Luckily we can still whip up these chewy rounds, dusted with a little sea salt for kick.
There are breakfast sandwiches, and then there are breakfast sandwiches you crave at all hours. Seasonal Pantry chef Dan O’Brien’s riff on Tennessee hot chicken is one of those. The crispy bird gets double heat from a Sriracha-buttermilk brine and a spiced coating, and it’s piled onto brioche with caramelized onions, cheese, sweet pickles, and a runny egg.
Hot Hot Chicken Breakfast Loaf
1. Marinate the chicken:
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce
1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 skin-on boneless chicken thighs
In a large bowl, mix the buttermilk, vinegar, peppers, garlic, Sriracha, and salt. Toss the chicken in the marinade and refrigerate 8 to 12 hours.
2. Fry the chicken:
4 cups rendered pork fat or vegetable oil
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
3 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
In a cast-iron pan, heat the oil or fat to between 375 and 400 degrees. Meanwhile, mix the flour, salt, black pepper, cayenne, and chili powder in a bowl. Remove the chicken from the marinade and dredge each piece in the flour mixture until well coated. When the oil is hot, place the chicken thighs in the pan and submerge them in the oil. Cook 18 minutes until golden brown. (If the chicken looks like it’s darkening quickly, lower the heat.)
3. Caramelize the onions:
8 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup maple syrup
Melt the butter in a sauté pan over low heat. Raise the heat to medium and sauté the onions 15 to 20 minutes, stirring continuously, until they begin to color. Add the salt and cook until the onions are golden brown, 8 to 15 minutes more. Remove from the heat and stir in the maple syrup.
4. Assemble the loaf:
4-6 ounces blue cheese
¼ cup mayonnaise or crème fraîche
8 tablespoons butter, softened
1 loaf brioche, cut in half crosswise
8 sweet pickle chips (O’Brien likes Gordy’s)
Whip the cheese with the mayonnaise or crème fraîche until smooth. Butter the cut sides of the brioche loaf, then broil in the oven until golden brown. Take the upper half of the loaf and spread its underside with the cheese mixture. Set aside. Arrange the onion on the toasted surface of the bottom half of the loaf. Top with the chicken, then the pickles. Cook the eggs until they’re sunny side up and slide one onto each piece of chicken. Top with the other half of the loaf, slice into four pieces, and serve immediately.
This article appears in the March 2014 issue of Washingtonian.
The tail end of winter is tough for cooking. Lingering cold demands comfort food, but we’re feeling bogged down after all those bowls of chili and mac and cheese. A perfect compromise: this spicy fish curry from Rasika toque Vikram Sunderam. The robust flavors prove filling, but fresh fish makes for a lighter meal. The reader who requested the recipe referred to it as “transcendent.”
“The curry, oh goodness, the curry,” writes the reader after sampling it as a Restaurant Week special. “I wanted to drink it, I wanted to bathe in it, I wanted to be it. Such amazing depth and strength—the bright acid of tomatoes, a hint of chili and cumin—while managing to not overwhelm the fish. . . . If you could see about getting a recipe, I would be forever in your debt.”
Hard to argue with that! Note that you’ll need fresh or previously frozen curry leaves for the recipe, which can be found at Indian grocery stores, such as Ginger & Spice Market in Alexandria.
Kerala Fish Curry
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup chopped Spanish onion
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
3 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
1 cup water
1½ cups chopped plum tomatoes
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 sprig fresh curry leaves, available at Indian groceries
30 ounces coconut milk
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
4 skinless filets of grouper or halibut, about two pounds
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
Cut the grouper filets into smaller pieces (about 2 ounces each) and set aside.
Set a small pan over medium heat and dry-roast the spices for about 2 to 3 minutes, until aromatic. Grind the toasted spices in a coffee grinder. (Powdered spices may be substituted, but don’t roast them.)
Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and sauté until golden brown.
Blend the ginger and garlic with the cup of water, and add the paste to the onions. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes over medium heat, until the raw flavor is gone.
Add the chopped tomatoes along with the turmeric powder and cook until the tomatoes are softened, about 6 to 8 minutes.
Add the curry leaves along with the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Lower the curry to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add the roasted or powdered spices, and then the fish. Cook until the fish is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
Season with salt and garnish with cilantro.
Serve with steamed basmati rice.
If there’s one upside to this never-ending winter, it’s digging into warming comfort dishes such as Mike Isabella’s lamb chili. We’ve been addicted since Isabella concocted the recipe for G at the beginning of the season. The restaurant version draws from the whole-animal approach at the adjoining Kapnos, incorporating lamb offal. This home-cook-friendly version simply uses ground lamb but is no less unusual, with the addition of wild rice, chickpeas, and a spicy yogurt-harissa garnish.
G by Mike Isabella’s Lamb Chili
Serves 4 to 6
Prep time: 30 to 40 minutes
Cook time: 50 to 60 minutes
For the chili:
4 slices thick-cut bacon, ¼-inch dice
1 cup Anaheim or poblano peppers, small dice, seeds and stems removed
1 cup celery, small dice
1 cup yellow onion, small dice
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 pound ground lamb
½ cup beer, preferably DC Brau pale ale
1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon cracked white pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground aleppo pepper, or if you can’t find it, an extra ½ teaspoon of cayenne
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon celery seed
¼ teaspoon ground mace or allspice
¾ cup wild rice (uncooked)
¾ cup canned chickpeas, rinsed under hot running water
1 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons harissa paste (available at Whole Foods)
2 tablespoons crushed Sriracha chickpeas (found in Asian markets)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 chunk of Kefalograviera or pecorino Romano cheese
In a large heavy bottom pot over medium heat, sauté bacon. After about 4 minutes, when it’s halfway cooked, add peppers, celery, onion, and garlic. Stir to coat with bacon fat. Sauté for an additional 3 to 4 minutes or until bacon is fully cooked and onions are translucent.
Add ground lamb to pot and stir to combine. Once meat is browned, add the beer. Scrape to deglaze the bottom of pot to release any brown bits. Add crushed tomatoes, salt, and all the spices. Stir to combine.
Bring the chili to a slight boil, cover with a lid, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 50 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
While the chili is simmering, cook rice according to package directions. Also combine yogurt and harissa paste; cover and refrigerate until later use.
Once chili is finished simmering, add cooked rice and chickpeas. Stir to combine, and simmer for an additional 5 minutes, until thick.
Serve in individual bowls and garnish with crushed Sriracha chickpeas, scallions, freshly grated Kefalograviera cheese, and harrissa yogurt.
Bean dip is one of those party staples that’s often purchased premade but is so much better when you start from scratch. Bidwell chef/owner John Mooney started making his version more than ten years ago, inspired by Mexican frijoles borrachos, or drunken beans. Dried pintos are stewed with beer, tomatoes, and chipotle and made into a creamy purée, which he tops with quick-marinated tomatoes and goat cheese.
The dip and chopping can be done in advance; just add the oil and vinegar to the tomatoes right before serving. Meat fans can sauté fresh chorizo and crumble it on top along with the goat cheese for a version like the one you’ll find at Mooney’s Union Market restaurant. Either way, this formula will get you to swear off the jarred stuff for good.
Drunken Bean Dip
Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer
½ medium white onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup dried pinto beans
1 can ale, such as Pork Slap pale ale
1 pint vegetable stock (or substitute water)
1 teaspoon canned chipotle in adobo pepper
2 whole canned tomatoes
¼ bunch cilantro
Marinated tomato topping
1 whole shallot, thinly sliced
20 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
10 cilantro sprigs
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces goat cheese
2 flatbreads, warm flour tortillas, or corn chips
Salt and pepper to taste
Make the bean dip:
1) Set a large sauce pot over low heat and add enough oil to coat the bottom. Add the onions and garlic and sweat them until translucent.
2) Add beans, beer, stock, chipotle, and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer for 1½ hours, or until beans are soft enough to purée.
3) Remove pot from heat. Add ¼ bunch of cilantro and purée in a blender until smooth. Season with salt and reserve. The bean mixture can be made up to three days in advance.
Make the tomato topping:
In a small mixing bowl add shallots, cherry tomatoes, and cilantro leaves with sherry and extra-virgin olive oil. Season mixture with salt and pepper.
Place bean dip in a warm cast-iron skillet and sprinkle with dollops of goat cheese. Top with marinated tomatoes. Serve with points of flatbread, warm flour tortillas, or corn chips.
One of the rules to making any festive gathering less stressful is preparing a dish in advance. Brunch is trickier; many egg dishes and morning sweets tend to be a la minute operations. Thankfully chef Sebastien Archambault was willing to share his popular twist on French toast from Blue Duck Tavern’s menu, no last-minute frying involved.
You’ll need to start two days in advance so that the bread and croissants can sit overnight in crème anglaise (a light vanilla custard), and then chill overnight after baking to fully set. The fruit compote can be made up to a week before. Once your guests arrive, all the legwork is done: just rewarm the French toast and sweet pear-apple mixture, and pour yourself the first mimosa.
Pear and Apple French Toast
Ingredients for the French toast
14 egg yolks
¼ lb sugar
1 pint heavy cream
1 pint milk
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (use seeds only)
½ lb country bread
3 oz plain croissants
Ingredients for the pear and apple garnish
½ lb pears, diced
½ lb apples, diced
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
Salt, to taste
Assemble the French toast
Whisk the first six ingredients in a mixing bowl and set aside.
Cut the country bread into 1-inch slices. Leave the croissants whole. Place both the bread and croissants into a large plastic container with a lid. Pour cream mixture over the baked items and stir to coat. Make sure all bread is submerged. Cover and let soak in the refrigerator overnight.
Bake the toast
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
Cook in a greased 9-by-13-inch cake pan for two hours. Make sure the center of the bread pudding is set before removing from the oven. There should be no liquid flow when pressed lightly near the center.
Place the cake pan on the counter. Top with a sheet pan or cookie tray and press the toast for one hour. Remove the tray, and let the toast it chill in the fridge overnight.
Make the pear and apple garnish
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, melt the sugar to dark caramel over a medium flame. When the sugar is completely melted, add all remaining ingredients. Do not stir.
When the sugar loosens up, stir and cook until the apples start to look glassy, about eight minutes (the sugar will seize up because you are adding cold ingredients, but it will loosen and melt).
Remove from heat and let the mixture cool down to room temperature. Place the mixture (including the juices) in a quart container and store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. This can be made up to a week in advance.
Preheat the oven to 350 degree F.
Cut the toast in the middle lengthwise, and then slice into 1-inch pieces. Warm in the oven until heated through.
Meanwhile, re-warm the compote in a sauce pan over medium heat (if the fruit has absorbed all the liquid, add a little apple sauce or apple juice). Top the French toast with the fruit garnish, plus whipped cream and maple syrup if desired.
Roasting a whole holiday goose sounds daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. The fatty nature of the bird means you’re in less danger of drying it out like its Thanksgiving cousin, and the rich meat doesn’t call for as many accoutrements. Red Apron Butcher meat master Nate Anda walked us through his straightforward method, and offered tips for cooking a perfectly crisp-skinned, moist meat honker (the size in mind is six to eight pounds). At a loss for where to find one? Call your local butcher, or pre-order one online from Anda.
Keep the surface tight.
Anda sets the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and then positions the 6 to 8-pound bird so that the skin stays firm and uniform as the fat renders. This will help the outer layer crisp and give it an attractive, even texture. To do it: Trim the excess fat around the cavity, pulling chunks off with your hands, and fold the wing tips under the goose. At the other end, fold the neck flap under the goose and secure it with a skewer or tooth pick.
Prick the skin so that the fat renders.
Geese are particularly fatty birds. While this makes them rich and delicious, you’ll want the excess to render (i.e. melt off) during roasting so it doesn’t overwhelm the meat. Before cooking, prick—don’t slice or jab—the skin with a sharp knife or roasting fork at a 25 to 30 degree angle. This will help the rendering process, which will yield about two cups. Anda recommends removing the liquid fat from the pan every 30 minutes to avoid frying the goose. Make sure to save it in a glass container for later use; it’s even tastier than duck fat, and can be used to fry potatoes, saute vegetables, or as a butter substitute.
Flavor the bird.
Just because it’s not (technically) safe to cook your stuffing in the cavity doesn’t mean you should forgo the area entirely. Anda seasons the center liberally with salt and pepper and fills it with a fennel bulb, red onion, and garlic bulb (all halved), plus sprigs of rosemary, thyme, and oregano. He then squeezes a whole lemon into the space for a citrusy kick, adds the rind in with the rest, and ties the legs together with butcher’s twine. You won’t eat the “stuffing,” but it’ll add flavor throughout the bird.
Reduce the heat.
After an hour of cooking at 400 degrees—which achieves a nice, crisp skin—turn the temperature down to 325 degrees for the next 1.5 to 2 hours so you can thoroughly cook the meat. You’ll want to pay attention to the color of the goose (ideally golden brown at the end), and temperature, which you can gauge by sticking a meat thermometer between the leg and breast, not touching the bone. The bird is done when it reads 180 degrees F.
Let it rest.
Cutting into your perfectly roasted goose too quickly will release the tasty juices. Let it rest on a cutting board for at least 20 minutes before carving. Anda likes to serve it with a simple gravy made from the pan drippings or fruit compote, plus a side of Brussels sprouts.
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
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.
“I’ve cooked probably 3,000 turkeys in my life, and every one has always been spot-on for this recipe,” says Cathal Armstrong, chef/owner of Restaurant Eve.
He learned the method from his father, and a version of the failproof recipe will appear in My Irish Table, Armstrong’s first cookbook, debuting in spring 2014.
While there are many ways to tackle a turkey, Armstrong swears by his: The bacon-wrapped bird first steams in the oven, ensuring moist meat, and is then roasted at a higher temperature to crisp the skin. Health departments don’t recommend stuffing the turkey, but as chef says, “if you decide to be risky like your grandmother,” make sure you take the weight of the stuffing (about a pound here) into account for the cooking time.
Thanksgiving Turkey and Stuffing
Serves 8 to 10
For the turkey:
1 (15-pound) turkey, such as those from Fields of Athenry Farm (available at Society Fair)
1 package pork bacon
1 roll aluminum foil
1 pint chicken stock
For the stuffing:
1 pint chicken broth
½ pound diced bacon
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 large Idaho potato, diced
4 cups sourdough bread, diced
4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
For the pan gravy:
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 quarts chicken stock
Make the stuffing and turkey:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl, thoroughly combine the ingredients for the stuffing. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Rinse the turkey cavity and pat it dry. Fill the turkey cavity with the stuffing. Tie the legs together tightly. Cover the neck cavity with foil to ensure the skin doesn’t burn and the stuffing stays moist.
Place the turkey on a baking rack set inside a baking sheet, or place turkey on a traditional turkey baking pan with a raised rack.
Cover the breast of the turkey with strips of bacon, followed by a layer of foil to cover this area only.
Pour 1 pint of chicken stock into the baking sheet or pan. Place in the oven.
Cook the turkey for 15 minutes per pound, plus 15 minutes to begin (about 4 hours total for a 15-pound turkey). One hour from finish cooking time, remove the foil from the stuffing section and the breast section, along with the bacon. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. If you want to test the doneness of the bird with a meat thermometer, the target temperature is 165 degrees.
Make the pan gravy:
Once the bird has been removed from the oven, add a small amount of chicken broth to the pan drippings. With a whisk, get the drippings and the liquid moving around.
In a separate bowl make a roux, mixing the flour and butter together.
Set a saucepan over medium heat and add the roux, followed by the chicken stock and pan drippings. Gradually add more chicken stock, stirring, to adjust for consistency (it should be the texture of a light soup). Bring the mixture to a boil until it thickens to a brown gravy. Once it has a thick consistency, remove from the heat and pass it through a fine strainer.