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BGR: Burger Time

17 Sep

Let’s talk burgers. Normally I don’t eat a lot of red meat but every once in awhile I get a ‘got-to-have-it-now’ cheeseburger craving.  A stop whatever you are doing and find burger type of craving. DC is undoubtedly a burger town  so it’s not a hard craving to satisfy. There is a good burger around every corner here. But if I am going to play favorites, and I do, there is one burger spot that for this diner rises to the top of the heap and that is BGR, The Burger Joint.

The ever expanding list of locations are order at the counter spots with a sort of old school rock and roll theme. The menu features specialty burgers galore: turkey, tuna, veggie, Cuban themed, sliders for sharing etc. The Wellington packs a flavor punch with caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, roasted garlic and blue cheese. It is very filling, very sloppy and very tasty. The Greek, featuring ground lamb, fresh mint, taztziki and feta is one of my favorites, almost refreshing (if a burger could ever fall into that category… probably not).

My go to however is the original The Burger. They get the classic right at  BGR, char grilled outside, juicy inside, buttery brioche bun, mojo sauce (it tastes good, whatever it is). I top mine with cheddar and apple wood smoked bacon , because if you’re going to have a burger you might as well go all out right? So Good.

THE Burger

Then there are the fries. BGR has three varieties: gold, orange and green standards, thick cut classic potato fries, a skinnier sweet potato version and grilled asparagus (to balance out that bacon cheese burger). They’re all good and if I am with a larger group I like to order all three for sharing purposes.

Room left? There are onion rings, handspun shakes with fun seasonal flavors like Guinness and pumpkin pie, and floats. And the best part? There are now four locations with more to come throughout the metro area so the next time you get that must-have-burger-now feeling, BGR is never very far away.

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Ezme

24 Aug

My first impressions walking into Ezme, the new Turkish restaurant and wine bar in Dupont circle are that I love the space… and that I wish it was Fall. While I love restaurants of all shapes, sizes and cuisines my favorite spaces are cozy, European style restaurants. Small spaces with little tables and low lighting. They seem to draw you into your meal and those you share it with. Ezme on the main floor of a Dupont townhouse fits this bill perfectly with its exposed brick walls lined with wine bottles, Turkish art and closely clustered seating. It is like the restaurant equivalent of a hug, (which is why I think it will be perfect in the Fall when the blistering heat of DC in August has faded and cozy will be so much more inviting).

Kebab!

To start we ordered the summer red wine flight with wines hailing from: California, France and Australia (where is Turkey?), and two appetizers: the mucver and sigara boregi. The former being little zucchini pancakes in tomato and yogurt sauces. I found the pancakes themselves to be rather bland and tasteless. The sauces however turned out to be a great accompaniment for the sigara, cigar shaped crispy pastry filled with warm feta, parsley and dill which were delicious (though how could flaky pastry filled with melted cheese ever really be a bad thing).

Next up the karsik kebab, a combination platter featuring: shish kebab, chicken kebab, meatballs, chicken meatballs, rack of lamb and doner kebab. The highlights in this plethora of meat were undoubtedly the lamb and beef meatballs, grilled and so juicy I would have been more than happy with a big plate of just them, and then the rack of lamb which was perfectly cooked and served with a lovely port wine sauce. The doner kebab served over white rice however was a disappointing study on dry meets dry and the mashed potatoes served with the lamb were so thin they tasted like the instant variety. There were however certainly more hits than misses, and when this relatively new spot works out a few kinks I think it will be a great go-to spot for date nights or catching up with friends over red wine and kebab.

Battle Sweet Potato Coffee: Judgement Day

21 Jul

As the winner of last week’s Frozen Dessert Foodie Fight I was asked to judge this week’s battle, Sweet Potato Coffee. Everything looked so tasty in this battle it was hard to pick a winner and runner up. In the end I went with some seriously scrumptious looking Cinnamon Rolls from Indoorgarder_er with HippieChic’s Stuffed Pork Loin as my runner up. In the end result HippieChic’s pork dish took the cake with those cinnamon rolls as the runner up. Yum….

White Chocolate Semifreddo with Salted Caramel and Fresh Peaches

13 Jul

This week Pickles and Kumquats is participating in our second Foodie Fight, an online culinary battle (for fame not fortune). The theme of this week’s battle? Frozen Dessert! Enjoy and head on over to Foodie Fights to VOTE!

Drizzle, Drizzle!

Temperatures in the District recently have been in the triple digits. It is hot, humid and pretty unbearable… perfect for ice cream, sorbets and popsicles (oh my)! For this battle I decided to make a semifreddo. Italian for ‘half cold’, a semifreddo is a frozen treat  made from folding whipped cream with a custard or ice cream. The result is a rich dessert with a mousse-like texture. I went with a white chocolate semifreddo with salted caramel, almonds and fresh peaches… yum!

First up, Salted Caramel Sauce…

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Stir sugar and water in a small sauce pan over med-low heat until the sugar crystals are completely dissolved. Next increase the heat to bring your syrup to a boil for ten minutes or until the syrup turns amber in color. Turn heat to low and add your heavy cream, stir until fully incorporated. Remove from the heat and stir in your butter and salt.

Next in a small frying pan toast 1/2 cup slivered almonds (two to three minutes). Coat the almonds with two tablespoons of your salted caramel sauce and chill the rest until ready to serve.

Toasty Nuts

For the semifreddo…

6 ounces fine-quality white chocolate, chopped
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream

3-4 fresh peaches

Frist line a loaf pan with two layers plastic wrap, allowing extra for overhang, and chill the pan in the freezer. While your pan gets chilly, bring a small sauce pan with an inch or so of water to a simmer. Place a heat-proof bowl on top and melt your chocolate, stirring as it melts. Remove the chocolate from the heat and replace with a metal bowl. Combine the eggs and sugar over the heat and whisk or beat until the mixture is pale, thick and fluffy, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from the heat and beat in your melted chocolate and vanilla.

Ready for Freezing

In a separate bowl beat your cream until it holds stiff peaks and then fold into your egg mixture until fully combined. Fold in your caramel coated almonds, pour the mixture into your cold loaf pan and cover with plastic wrap.

Freeze your semifreddo for 8 hours or overnight.

When fully frozen unmold your semifreddo on to a platter. Heat your salted caramel sauce on the stove or in the microwave. Rinse and slice your peaches. Finally serve the semifreddo in thick (thicker the better!) slices, drizzled with warm salted caramel and fresh peach slices. (Recipes adapted from Bon Appetite and Gourmet respectively).

Slice It

And the results…

Taste Sensation

So very tasty! One taster described is as ‘an explosion of flavors’, the texture is indeed frozen mousse-like and tastes like a cross between ice cream and pastry cream. Thick, very rich, cold and delicious. The almonds lend a little crunch, the caramel a sweet salty bite and the peaches the fresh taste of summer. A perfect treat that impresses on hot summer night, plus you can make it ahead… yes and please!

Like what you see? Go to Foodie Fights and VOTE!

Izakaya by Puck: The Source

11 Jun

The Source, Wolfgang Puck’s Pan-Asian fine dining experience in the Newseum, has been on my list of places to try since it opened. I had yet to venture there until a few weeks ago as their prices points are a wee bit high (well I would assume so anyway… their website doesn’t list prices and if you have to ask…). Recently however the restaurant has debuted an Izakaya style menu. In Japan Izakayas are essentially bars that offer food as well, usually for reasonable prices. The concept takes over the Source lounge daily from 4:00 to 6:00pm, when you can choose any three items off the menu for $20.10 including a few sake and beer selections.

Tuna Cones

My lovely  dining companion and I we both half starved and decided to order three small plates each and drinks separately. My cocktail tasted like drinking a liquid cucumber, ideal on a hot day, and packed quite the punch. We both ordered the spicy tuna tartar, one of the restaurants signature dishes. It is served ice cream cone style, piled into a slightly sweet miso sesame cone, and does not disappoint. Keeping with the theme I ordered the spicy tuna roll, with was topped with tiny dollops of chipotle aioli, lending just the right amounts of creaminess and smoky spice. For my final dish I had ordered chili squid, which emerged over a huge bed of pan fried noodles accompanied by pork belly all coated in a delicious sweet and spicy sauce. That dish was a meal in itself.

All of that for $20.10? That’s a deal far too good to pass up.

Battle Shallot & Apricot: Judgment Day

26 May

As last week’s winner in Battle strawberry Wonton Wrapper P&K was asked to judge this week’s Foodie Fight, Battle Shallot Apricot. For those of you that missed it, Foodie Fights is an online Iron Chef type competition. P&K won last week with Ceviche with Strawberry Salsa and Wonton Chips. 

All the entries in this week’s battle looked great but in the end I went with Jazzman831’s Savory Smoked Chicken Tart with Shallots and Apricots. A herb crust, smokey chicken, goat cheese layer and caramelized shallots and apricots… how do you beat that? Apparently you make a ‘Shallicot’ feast which is just what this week’s winner Brake for Bread did, with my pick Jazzman coming in second.

Great job everyone! Can’t wait for next week’s Burger Battle!

You can check out Foodie Fights here.

Lemony Mushroom Risotto

8 Apr

This winter I have been having a love affair with risotto. Creamy and rich and so very tasty. You can season it with about anything and it will taste good.  In the past I had always breezed right by risotto recipes, dismissing them as too time consuming or assuming that they were chock-a-block full for cream and butter. Then on a whim one snowed in evening I decided to give it a go and made a simply marvelous new discovery… risotto is easy! From start to finish the whole thing took about thirty minutes and contrary to popular belief used no cream or milk and only a smidgeon of butter. I was hooked. On top of that risotto is a crowd pleaser that routinely makes an impression. Can’t go wrong with that.

Full discloser here: risotto does require a babysitter. You will be stirring it the basically the whole time it simmers away, soaking up all that vino, chicken stock and whatever other tasty tidbits you toss in there. But it’s not that hard. You won’t get carpal tunnel or anything of that sort. Just grab a wooden spoon, a glass of wine and dinner will be ready (and delicious) in no time. I promise.

Here is a version I made at a recent early spring BBQ and very much enjoyed.

Even at home at a BBQ.

Lemony Mushroom Risotto
from Gourmet 2001

2 2/3 cups boiling-hot water
1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 lb small cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons Arborio rice (8 oz)
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Pour 2/3 cup hot water over porcini in a heatproof cup and let stand until softened, about 10 minutes. Lift porcini out of water, squeezing excess liquid back into cup, and rinse well to remove any grit. Coarsely chop porcini. Pour soaking liquid through a paper-towel-lined sieve into a glass measure and reserve.

Meanwhile, bring broth and remaining 2 cups hot water to a simmer. Keep at a bare simmer, covered.

Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté cremini, stirring, until browned, about 7 minutes. Add porcini and reserved soaking liquid to skillet and boil, stirring, 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Cook onion in 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add wine and simmer, stirring constantly, until absorbed.

Stir in 1/2 cup simmering broth mixture and cook at a strong simmer, stirring frequently, until broth is absorbed. Continue simmering and adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently and letting each addition become absorbed before adding the next, until rice is tender but still al dente and creamy (it should be the consistency of a thick soup), 18 minutes. (There will be leftover broth.)

Stir in zest, mushrooms, remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, parmesan, parsley, and pepper to taste. (If necessary, thin risotto with some of remaining broth.) Serve immediately.