Wednesday, June 8, 2011


I am very excited for this post, why you may ask, well I am curring my own bacon. As shocked as many may be right now, knowing that I was a vegetarian for 14 years, and wondering where this idea came from. Well, there are two inspiration here. One, it was bacon that turned me over to the dark side. Two, for my birthday this year my very dear friend Helene (knowing my bacon obsession) got me this cookbook, "I Love Bacon." I was thumbing through the recipes and found it had recipes to home cure your own bacon. Needless to say I was pretty excited to try this,being a bacon enthusiast.

I decide to go with the classic cure bacon recipe for my first time around. First thing I had to do was find a butcher, I went with "Lets Meat On The Avenue" in Del Ray, VA. I pre-ordered 2lbs of pork belly two days before I was suppose to pick it up and could not wait to get it. I was also excited to check out this place after reading that they had farm fresh eggs, Amish butter, yogurt and milk among many other creamery options.

When I went to pick up the pork belly on Friday afternoon, I did not get the 2lbs I asked for, but 3 1/2lbs. YIKES!!! That is a lot of bacon. I also walked out with a dozen fresh eggs and a 1/2lb of butter.

This next part was more difficult that I would like to admit, but I feel I should pass this along for those of you who may feel inclined to cure your own meat. Hear it is, you cannot buy curring salt in any specialty spice store or specialty grocery store in the DC metro area. Which for me was a problem, since i had 3 1/2lbs of pork belly in my fridge. So, I being the resourceful girl that I am and hoping to meet a cute chef, I called a local restaurant (Resturaunt 3, in Clarendon) that I frequent, and also cures their own bacon and asked to speak to the chef. To my delight they had curring salt and were going to give me some. I picked it up first thing Saturday morning, the restaurant was not even opened yet. But I was able to find someone outside that let me in. Brian the chef was at the bar enjoying a morning cocktail when I walked it (in case some of you were wondering he was not as I was hoping for in a cute chef) but he was very nice. To my surprise I got to go back into the kitchen, it was bustling with the other chefs prepping for the days customers. Brian gave me a nice size container of the hot pink curring salt and told me if I ever needed more to let him know. When I tried to give him money he said, "Please, you are making your own bacon."

With that I was on my way back home to mix up the spices and start the currring process.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Birthday Celebration

Tonight I am hosting a dinner party for seven people including myself. This being the most ambitious food endeavor I am a little nervous. The occasion, my friend Jonathon's Birthday, I won't disclose how old he his, to save him from embarrassment. :)

The menu:
Wedge Salad with Goddess Dressing
Pan Seared Pork Loin with a Peach, Onion, a White Wine Reduction
Roasted Garlic Potatoes
Green Beans
Cup Cake Surprise

Four Herb Green  Goddess Dressing
(from Cooking Light magazine)
1 cup plain fat free Greek yogurt
1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
3 canned anchovy fillets
1 garlic cove, minced
2/3 cup fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup fresh tarragon leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup fresh chervil leaves (optional)

Place first seven ingredients in a blender or food processor; process until smooth. Add parsley and remaining ingredients; process until herbs are minced.

Skillet Pork Chops Saute with Peaches
(from Cooking Light magazine)
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 (4 ounce) center-cut boneless pork loin chops, trimmed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons thinly sliced shallots
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 peaches, each cut into 8 wedges
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
2  teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons butter

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Sprinkle chops evenly with salt and pepper. Add chops to pan; cook for 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chops from pan and keep warm. Add shallots, thyme, and peaches to pan; cook for 2 minutes. Stir in wine, scrapping pan to loosen browned bits; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1/3 cup (about 2 minutes). Stir in broth and honey; bring to boil. Cook until reduced to 1/3 cup (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in butter. Spoon sauce over chops.

Trisha an excellent baker made the dessert for tonight's celebration. 

Mini OREO Surprise Cupcakes 


1 pkg. (2-layer size) chocolate cake mix
1 pkg.  (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1 egg
2 Tbsp.  sugar
48 Mini OREO Bite Size Cookies
1-1/2 cups  thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping
Heat oven to 350°F.

Prepare cake batter as directed on package. Mix cream cheese, egg and sugar until well blended.

Spoon half the cake batter into 24 paper-lined muffin cups. Top each with about 1-1/2 tsp. cream cheese mixture and 1 cookie; cover with remaining cake batter.

Bake 19 to 22 min. or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool 5 min.; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

Frost with COOL WHIP. Top with remaining cookies.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

New Orleans: NOLA

After meeting up with my cousin Jeff and friends on Bourbon street , we grabbed dinner with his friend Higor at NOLA, which is one of Emeril Lagassse’s restaurants. We sparred no expense tonight with two bottles of wine, four appetizers, and two desserts, everything was amazing. For the appetizers:
Miss Hay’s Stuffed Chicken Wings with Homemade Hoisin Dipping Sauce

Louisiana Blue Crab Cake with Corn Coulis, Frisée and Tomato-Bacon Jam

Emeril’s Barbecued Gulf Shrimp with Rosemary Biscuit

Prince Edward Island Black Mussels in a Garlic-Chardonnay Broth with Focaccia Bread

I don’t think that we ate a bad thing, with every bite all I could say was yum or hmmm. I was lost for words with this meal. For dinner, I order the Garlic Crusted Drum, cooked in a wood burning oven with Brabant potatoes, Crimini mushrooms, bacon and sauce Beurre Rouge. The fish was so buttery and the sauce was creamy and tart and so good I order extra on the side. I honestly could have died happy after eating here. The service was impeccable from the servers swooping in a rhythmic manner to place our entrees down simultaneously to the greeting when we walked in. Dessert was a gooey treat, warm Ooey Gooey Cake with layers of moist chocolate cake, marshmallows and toasted coconut served with coffee ice cream. We ordered two of these one with the coffee ice cream and one with vanilla ice cream and a banana liquor.  I have to say I am not one for chain restaurants but have to give this place a high recommendation.

New Orleans: Mr. B's Bistro

I had worked up an appetite after walking around the city, getting lost in the architecture and bright culture. I stopped by Mr. B’s Bistro, for a light lunch. After perusing the menu I settled on Mr. B's luncheon salad, which was a delightful combination of baby greens, spiced pecans and grape tomatoes tossed in a herb vinaigrette to start. And for my main coarse, seafood gumbo, which had lump crabmeat, gulf shrimp and okra. For my drink selection I tried the Blood Orange Margarita and the signature Bloody Mary.  Since I decided to go with a lighter lunch, I had to get a dessert. And to my delight they had bread pudding on the menu. I liked it, but not as much as the one that we got at Marigny Brasserie. 

New Orleans: Café Du Monde

Ok, this was number one on my list and took me until Saturday to get here, but what can a busy gal do, too much food to eat and not enough time in the day to do it. I got here around 10:00am and there was a line about a half a block long. Don’t be turned away by the line it moved pretty quickly and what you experience is well worth the wait. There is a take out line if you are in a hurry, but trust me when I say that you want to experience these pieces of heavens sitting down. Café du Monde is a staple in the New Orleans area for their beignet. And are always open!!! I grabbed a table near the entrance of this open air space. And waited patiently for the server to stop by, I placed an ordered one (which is three beignets) and water. I do not recommend getting just water to drink; you defiantly need to wash them down with milk or the frozen Café Au Lait. When my order arrived I was not sure if I ordered beignets or a plate full of powdered sugar. I could not wait to dive into these fried doughnuts. My first bite was a tantalizing treat and I must have had a blissful expression on my face, because the guy next to me asked if this was my first time.
I highly recommend this place if you are ever in New Orleans.