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Archive for April, 2009

I’ll never forget the first (and last) time I made biscotti.  I was a budding young bakestress of 16, eager to whip up some of those exotic-looking cookies I’d seen at the new Starbucks in my town.  I slaved all afternoon, digging out the anise seeds from the pantry depths and laboriously stirring the thick dough, toasting almonds, baking, slicing, and baking again.

They were a disaster: dense, rock-hard, anise-heavy, floury, and altogether not very good.  At first, I thought it was me, but the store-bought variety were equally disappointing.  What exactly about this stuff was supposed to be appealing?

I’d given up on enjoying toasted treats with my tea until recently.  My colleague Elena brought in sukhariki, or “Russian Biscotti.”  I didn’t expect much, but hey, I’d skipped breakfast and couldn’t afford to be picky. 

Russian biscotti

What a revelation!  Light and crisp, the sukhariki were closer to super-toasted raisin bread than their doughy Italian cousins.  Elena explained that the name simply means “dried bread” in Russian, but these were something special.  Thin-sliced and toasted to an appealing dark amber, studded with raisins, and dusted with sugar, sukhariki were the perfect crunchy complement to breakfast tea. (more…)

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crispy bacon

You could chase away a hangover (temporarily) with the “hair of the dog that bit ya,” but some scientists (apparently not cardiologists) suggest another remedy.  The Daily Telegraph reports that a bacon sandwich is just the right elixer to boost amino acids, speed up metabolism, and whet your queasy appetite.  (more…)

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Pasta with Clam Sauce from Coastal Living

Credit: Jean Allsop

I’ve been trolling the internet for low-cholesterol recipes and recently discovered that clams are heart-healthy, especially if you’re not restricting your sodium.  The following is a quick recipe that hits the spot when you don’t have $20 to drop on a restaurant dish.  It could be improved with a splash of white wine and fresh clams, but is still delicious in this shortcut preparation.  Plus, it’s a refreshingly cheap break from the jarred red sauce routine.

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Ben & Jerry's cowThat’s right—today, April 21, is free cone day at Ben & Jerry’s.

“Around the world, Scoop Shops are opening their doors from noon to 8:00 pm, to serve up a free scoop of your favorite flavor.”

Stop by for your share of Chunky Monkey or Cherry Garcia.

Credit: Ben & Jerry’s

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A D.C.-based friend of mine sent in this shot of dish he recently enjoyed.  Any guesses on what it is and where it was served?

mystery-dessert

Thanks, CK!

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polish

My lovely cell-phone “action” shot from the Polish Embassy last year.

For a few weeks every spring, the embassies in Washington, D.C. open their doors and invite visitors to sample the music, dance, crafts, and food native to their countries.  Yours truly has attended Passport D.C. twice and always enjoys the quickie tour around the world.  One of the constant highlights of the festival is the cuisine, which (I think) conveys as much about the history, geography, and values of a place as its wikipage.  Besides, when else can you justify consuming baklava, pilau, and rum punch on the same day?

To cut to the chase: here’s a handy cheat sheet for eating your way through Passport D.C,  which will be held on Saturday, May 2, from 10 am-4 pm.  For more information, check out the official website.

Sample Australian eats to the sounds of the didgeridoo.

Bangladesh’s cultural heritage and vibrant people will be on display through dance, film, music, literature, and cuisine.

Enjoy delicious local food and learn to prepare it! (more…)

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fennel sausage pasta

I’ll be the first to admit: this is not the most photogenic dish to ever appear on Culinspiration. But although it’s not much to look at, this sauce is so good it had me pestering my friends Rachel and Julius for the recipe for weeks. Weeks! I couldn’t get the perfect melding of flavors out of my head: the caramelized shallot and fennel, the tender sausage, the kiss of tomato. I—who thought I didn’t like fennel!—was obsessed. And my pleading, borderline harassing e-mails requesting the recipe weren’t getting much response. Sheesh…you’d think they have a life or something.

Frankly, I was getting a little desperate. For pasta sauce.

Finally, I invited myself over we all sat down for dinner again, and I grilled my friends. Triumph! I got the recipe and am happy to share it with you. This is a brilliant dish to serve company— just a few ingredients, minimally prepped, which can simmer away while you uncork a bottle of wine. Just be prepared for the plaintive recipe requests from admirers later. 😉

fresh sage

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