Archive | December, 2011

My Gratitude

31 Dec

As I write I’m looking out plane window.  High above the clouds looking over the water, and honestly feeling a bit nostalgic.  I think most people start the reflect on the past year around New Years Eve, and I’m no different.

 

2011 was a particularly difficult year for me, and at the same time, very important.  I always knew I had a passion for cooking, baking, and eating, but I didn’t realize my passion for writing until my first Imperfectly Delicious post on January 10, 2011.

 

I am beyond grateful for all of my family and friends who staunchly supported my hobby ( read addiction).  I’m thankful for all of the new friends and opportunities that have come my way as a result of my incessant need to document everything through photos and in print.  Most of all, I’m excited about the future and can’t wait for my 2012 culinary adventures!

 

My top resolution (read the only one I’ll probably keep) is to expand and enhance this blog over the next year.

 

Thanks to all who read, comment, and join me at mealtime.  That’s the end of my Oscar’s speech.  I’m starving, when do we eat?

 

 

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Siroc Restaurant Review

28 Dec

In the last few years the DC area transitioned from a place with a few restaurant gems to a vibrant restaurant scene.  World-renowned chefs opened up dazzling new hot spots, and local celebrities like José Andrés, expanded their culinary empires.  And don’t forget about all of our remarkable food trucks!

We have shining examples of every type of cuisine with the exception of Italian food.  I heard Mario Batali is in search of the perfect DC location for his new restaurant venture, but until then, I’m still in search of my favorite Italian place in and around the city.  I know many people feel like cooking Italian food is simple, and therefore not worth spending their money on for date night.  I recently fell in love with making pasta, and I wholeheartedly disagree.  Italian food at it’s best is simple, fresh and has vibrant flavors.

So far my best bet for delicious Italian food has been Siroc Restaurant. I’ve been four times, and had consistently delightful Italian-inspired food.  I went recently with a few friends and here’s a look at my meal.

Appetizer:  Burrata Mozzarella with Roasted Peppers, Capers, Garlic, Anchovy, and Arrugola Puree

The plate was beautiful and the appetizer was very good.  I love burrata and think this is a close second to the best in the city.  The roasted peppers added a sweetness and the capers and anchovies gave me the touch of salt I needed.  All in all, a great dish.

Entrée:  Potato Gnocchi with Venison Ragu, Rosemary, Wild Mushrooms, Nutmeg and Cream

In the picture this entrée looks like it’s to die for.  In person the dish was definitely to die for.  The gnocchi were the perfect light little sponges to absorb the welcoming venison raguAbsolutely perfect for such a cold day.  I can safely say, I was the envy of the table when my meal arrived. 

As usual, I can never turn down dessert.  My friend Megan (yes another one) suggested we order it in truth because she was not entirely satisfied with her dinner.

Dessert:  Warm Almond Cake with Blueberry topping and a Cinnamon Zabaglione Sauce

Again, another gorgeous and simple presentation.  I loved the blueberry and cinnamon creme.  My almond cake was a bit dry, but still very good.  I’ve ordered this same dessert in the past at Siroc and had a better cake. 

My overall rating for Siroc was a solid B+ on the entire meal.  As I previously mentioned, I’ve been to the restaurant several times, and have every intention of returning.  For starters, I would highly recommend their Potato Torte with onions and thyme and also the Burrata.  For the main course I would certainly order the Gnocchi with Venison Ragu, the Black Pepper Taglialtelle with Scallops, the Butternut Squash Cappellacci and one of my other favorites, the Eggplant layered with Lamb Shank.  All of these dishes are wonderful and you can see that Siroc excels where pasta is concerned.  I’m still trying to figure out the dessert option, but plan to try out the Trio of House-made Ice Creams next time.

Try out Siroc the next time you have an irresistible urge for pasta!

A Very McG Christmas

26 Dec

A belated Happy Holidays to you!  I hope everyone got to rest up and enjoy some quality time with family and food.  I’ve been out of commission the last week with nasty cold but hope to be back in the kitchen cooking up trouble (er recipes) this week!

In the meantime, I thought I’d share a brief slide show of my family’s celebration.  My mother, the consummate entertainer and hostess, spent most of the holiday in the kitchen or cleaning the kitchen after preparing large meals.  Nobody does the holidays like her!  We were all thankful for her contributions, which were not only beautiful, but also scrumptious.  My father makes a sublime egg nog, and just about any other drink you can think of in his man cave.  My sister was the perfect sous chef as I sat on the sidelines with tissues and copious amounts of Day & Nightquil.  The three of them combined brought me the perfect holiday.

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Brabo Tasting Room

21 Dec

It is me, or has this entire month blown past us?  I feel like I’ve spent the last few weeks hopping from one event or holiday party to the next.  It’s been fun, but also means that I haven’t spent any quality time in my kitchen experimenting.  Miss you immersion blender, mwah.

Instead, I’ve been eating out…a lot!   One of my new favorite places is the Brabo Tasting Room in Old Town, Alexandria.  Robert Wiedmaier’s Tasting Room is cozy, casual, and as charming as all of the lights in Old Town.  I’m not usually a fan of walk-in seating only, but somehow it’s different when you feel like your walking into a friend’s living room.

All of the dishes at the Tasting Room are really fresh and very reasonably priced.  My friend and I decided we could try more things on the menu if we split a bunch of dishes.  A girl after my own heart!  We each started with a bubbling bowl of the Five Onion Soup.  The inviting soup had bold beefy flavor and included cooked onions and fried onions for texture.  I loved the buttery Gruyère cheese and crisp croutons.  Way to start the meal on the right note!

Next up was the bright Roasted Butternut Squash Wood Fired Tart.  This was basically a flatbread that featured seasonal roasted squash, blue cheese, bacon, arugula and sage pesto.  All of the flavors worked beautifully together and I loved the idea of using the sage to make a fallish pesto. 

If you’ve ever been to another one of Robert Wiedmaier’s restaurants like Marcels or Brasserie Beck, you know I had no choice but to order the mussels for our third course.  We selected the Chorizo and Fennel Mussels, and as usual, these did not disappoint.  They were cooked perfectly and I had to request extra bread to dip in the tasty broth

I shouldn’t have had any room for dessert.  Frankly, I almost didn’t, but then our waiter mentioned their seasonal Pumpkin and Chocolate Cheesecake That smart man forced my hand!  I just wasn’t in a position to say no after he described it.  The cheesecake was light and airy.  I loved the chewy nut crust and of course the winning combo of pumpkin and chocolate. 

My overall rating is an A for the Brabo Tasting Room.  I recommend you add this to your list of restaurants to try in 2012.  Oh and let me know if you need a dining companion to join you.  Happy to split a few dishes :). 

My Food Adventures in Charming Charleston!

15 Dec

I recently returned from a delish and outrageous three-day girls weekend in glorious Charleston, South CarolinaThe trip was to celebrate the birthday of my best friend.  I can honestly say my abs are still sore from all of the laughs with my girls, and I’m having a very difficult time adjusting to meals sans-grits.  Tragic, I know.  Life in the North can be so hard.

I’m including photographic proof of my ability to consume insane amounts of they city’s sumptuous food.   Feast your eyes on my photos below documenting our weekend of excess!

Friday night at Jack’s Cosmic Dogs:  Cosmic Dog with Blue Cheese Slaw and Sweet Potato Mustard

Saturday Brunch at Lost Dog Cafe in Folly Beach:  Biscuits with Sausage Gravy and Cheese Grits

Saturday Snack:  Birthday Pastries and Cannolis from Luigi’s in Connecticut and Chai Break from Bake House

Saturday Dinner at 82Queen:  Shared Fried Green Tomatoes with Pimento Cheese, She-Crab Soup, Duck Confit with Asparagus Risotto

Sunday Brunch at Triangle:  Crab Cake Benedict with Cheese Grits and Fruit

Had your fill?  Not me!  Loved every last bite and sip, including countless mimosas, mixed drinks and beers.  I’m counting down the days until our return trip to Charleston!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

2 Dec

Today my sweet tooth won out, sigh.  I’ve been eating healthy all week to recover from my  turkey bender last week.  I was cleaning my kitchen and putting away my groceries, when I noticed a lonely little can of pumpkin left in my cabinet.  Actually, a bag of mini chocolate chips hit me in the head when I opened my cabinet as I attempted to restock my olive oil, and I then spotted the pumpkinI took the not so subtle hint that I deserved a reward and whipped up this Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread (adapted from Alton Brown)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 and 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 15 oz can of pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • 1/2  cup mini semi-sweet baking chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Whisk the flour, cinnamon, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.

In a separate bowl, mix the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla. Combine both mixtures, and add the pumpkin. Once combined, add the chocolate chips to the batter, and stir. 

Pour batter into a non stick 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan.  If your pan is not non stick coat it with butter and flour.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 mins.  At this point a knife inserted into the middle of the loaf should come out clean.  Cool for 15 minutes if you can wait, and turn out onto a cooling rack.

You could also turn this recipe into adorable muffins.  Prepare the same batter and bake in muffin tins for 30 mins at 325 degrees.

So have a slice!  You know you earned it ;).