Archive for the ‘Foodstuff’ Category

Years ago (more than I care to admit), I was an exchange student in Vienna, Austria. It was there I had my first kiss, my first martini, and my first taste of Liptauer. It’s hard to say which of these made the biggest impression on me. Needless to say, I spent many a balmy night in the Heuriger (wine gardens), drinking the season’s new wine and noshing on German rye thickly slathered with a creamy, salty spread laced with mustard, paprika, and garlic.

Try Liptauer with a soft pretzel or three, and soon you’ll be singing the praises of the Austro-Hungarian empire (at least culinarily).

Swept up in Austria

This spread balances the tangy bite of pickles and capers with lots of creamy goodness. It is excellent on everything from crudités to crackers. Serve it at your next holiday party and brace yourself to explain—repeatedly—what the heck makes it so addictive. It’s that good. You might as well make a triple batch, as I did.  Just think of it as exotic pimento cheese ;).


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sexy nigella lawsonJust say yes.  (Image via The Sydney Morning Herald)

Nigella Lawson argues for thoughtful self-indulgence on NPR (audio track).

Per the domestic goddess: “If you can wallow in the pleasure of every single mouthful, then you’re doing something good…”

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For most of August and September, Germany was awash in adorable Italian prune plums, known to Brits as “damsons” and to Germans as Zwetschke (or Zwetschge, depending).  Don’t you just want to pinch their chubby cheeks?

damson italian prune plums

Roughly half to two-thirds the size of regular red plums, these purple beaut’s were selling for 1.99/kilo (2.2 lbs.) at the height of summer.  And the bakeries in Berlin were going wild with plum Kuchen, plum tarts, plum pockets, and plum strudel.  Not to be outdone, I bought a kilo of my own and began scheming.

An admittedly novice baker (and by “novice” I mean: stubborn, refuses to measure things properly, substitutes ingredients at will), I didn’t get much further than my old standby—plum cake.  This cake never fails me, and it looks much more impressive than it has any right to.  Ina Garten calls this “Plum Cake Tatin”; I call it perfect.  (And by “perfect” I mean:  despite my best efforts, I never manage to burn it, cause it to fall, or leave half of it clinging to the pan.  Oh, and it tastes terrific, too.)

plum upside down cake


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Surprise! I’ve changed continents. Here’s hoping you’ll enjoy my dispatches from my new home, Berlin—where every trip to the grocery store is an adventure, the produce is fresh and cheap, and the cashiers are surly but move at the speed of light.

Like so many others, today’s recipe started with one irresistible seasonal ingredient:

chanterelle mushroom

It’s mushroom season in Germany, and these beauties (chanterelles, or Pfifferlinge) have been cropping up all over menus in Berlin.

I stumbled upon a brimming basketful in the market this week and began plotting ways to highlight their deliciousness.


In a nod to my new surroundings, I settled on German cutlet (Schnitzel) marinated in tangy lemon juice, gently pan-fried, and swathed in a creamy mushroom-herb sauce.

turkey schnitzel

This dish is a fantastic study in contrasts: the crisp coating against the sultry sauce; the bright lemon against the rich, mellow mushrooms.  In short, delicious.  Guten Appetit! (more…)

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Photo via Only Eat…

Washingtonian’s Best Bites blog has the story on an awesome D.C. dining concept: FREE.

That’s right:

“Instead of a bill, diners receive a note explaining that their meal is a gift from a previous patron. The only request: Leave what you will to cover the next person’s meal.” (more…)

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sprinkle donut

Photo via Talk with the Preacher

Today is National Donut Day! Admittedly, I’ve never been a huge fan (except for Entenmann’s cake and Boston Creme donuts). But if you like the confections, today’s your day. You can get a free donut at many of the national chains.

Washingtonian Magazine has all the details.

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You know those nights when you stumble home after a long day’s work, wearily open the fridge, and nearly cry from exhaustion and lack of inspiration? The nights you’d call for takeout, but feel embarassed because the person taking orders can recognize your voice? Those cereal-for-dinner nights?


I’ve had a few of those lately.  My husband and I pulled off our DIY wedding a couple weeks ago and have been slowly recovering.  Mostly by refusing to do much of anything aside from gorge ourselves on wedding cake (more on that later).  Apologies for the blogging hiatus.

I’m not entirely back up to speed, but tonight I dipped a toe back in the cooking water with a one-pot dish that was on the table in under 40 minutes.  It’s amazing how a few fresh ingredients can transform ho hum packaged rice mix into a savory, delicious meal. The results are worth the little bit of effort.  No claims as to the authenticity of this jambalaya, but it sure beats General Tso’s when you’re worn out.



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