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Posted by on Oct 13, 2015 | 0 comments

Pickled Cocktails for Captain Gregory’s Speakeasy

Pickled Cocktails for Captain Gregory’s Speakeasy

When Rob Krupicka, the owner of  Captain Gregory’s (the new speakeasy behind Sugar Shack), reached out to us for advice on in-house pickling, things like “grapes, and hot, sweet, curry-flavored items” for cocktails and condiments, we jumped at the chance to help. Together with Shelu Patel, who runs the Alexandria Food Swap and co-chairs Slow Food DC, we held an evening workshop right in the speakeasy for Rob’s staff. Shelu and I looked through some pickling resources, like the Joy of Pickling, and pondered a few ideas, which Shelu turned into custom recipes just for Captain Gregory’s — spiced pickled carrots with garam masala, pickled pearl onions, and pickled chai grapes. Pickling is the process of preserving food by soaking it in a vinegar-based brine (or a salt-based brine for fermentation). Pickling also brings out tantalizing flavors — a cocktail onion that you pickle yourself is much more crisp, fresh, and piquant than any store-bought version — with no additives or preservatives. We prepped some of the ingredients in my kitchen before the lesson....

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Posted by on Oct 6, 2015 | 0 comments

Lessons in Wild Fermentation

Lessons in Wild Fermentation

We welcome guest contributor Miruna Stanica today to talk about the wild world of fermentation. Miruna lives here in Del Ray and we know her as a member of the Del Ray Yarn Bombers and a regular reader of the blog. I was thrilled to learn from fermentation guru, Sandor Katz, a charismatic personality and author of the comprehensive reference book The Art of Fermentation. Katz’s lecture at the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello last month demystified what exactly happens when we preserve foods via fermentation, and his easygoing approach to the process gave me confidence to experiment when I came home. Katz told us about so many foods we eat that are the products of fermentation – vegetables, dairy, bread, alcohol, vinegar, meat, and fish (lutefisk, gefilte fish, fish sauce), soy, coffee/cacao beans (which are soaked in water for a brief fermentation after they are harvested), and kombucha. Besides the practical reasons of preservation and nutriment enhancement, fermentation creates strong (and delicious!) flavors and smells: Think of the...

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Posted by on Aug 4, 2015 | 0 comments

Pickling a Summer Crop of Sour Cherries

Pickling a Summer Crop of Sour Cherries

My friend Stephanie surprised me with 5 pounds of sour cherries she and her husband picked in the Shenandoah, so I decided to pickle some of them for our summer food swap. I honestly didn’t even know it was possible to pickle cherries, but you can – I read that they’re delicious served alongside charcuterie, cheese, roast vegetables, or with pork, turkey, or venison. Of all the various methods and recipes online, I doubled this Russian Pickled Cherry recipe, which is adapted from The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich. You can make them with sweet cherries too. The recipe doubled: 8 cups of cherries 4 cups of raw apple cider vinegar 2 cups of sugar 2 1/3 cup of water 4 cardamon pods, crushed with a knife to open the pod 1 cinnamon stick 16 scrapes of a whole nutmeg with a grater 4 whole allspice berries I had been storing the cherries in the freezer, so I started by thawing them a bit. I had a choice...

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Posted by on Jul 24, 2015 | 6 comments

DIY Kids: Easy Yeast Bread

DIY Kids: Easy Yeast Bread

My 7-year-old daughter, Nadja, is attending Steve & Kate’s camp this summer, where bread making is one of the activities kids can do anytime they want. Nadja has come home almost every day with a loaf of yeast bread she’s made all by herself. The best part is that she’s learned a technique she can do easily at home. With the camp coordinator’s permission, I stopped into the “breadmaking studio” to document their ingenious teaching method. The first thing you see in the studio is a big poster of the different loaf styles the kids can choose from. They use a plastic bag that lists the instructions on the outside in easy to understand images and text. The plastic bag is key to making this work well for kids – they mix all ingredients in the bag to make uniform loaves each time, which also means less mess for the camp counselors. Ingredients for one small loaf at a time: 1/2 teaspoon of yeast 1/2 teaspoon of salt 1 cup of...

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Posted by on Jun 3, 2015 | 3 comments

Perfecting the Home-Cooked Burger

Perfecting the Home-Cooked Burger

One of the skills I’ve always wanted to master is cooking a perfectly pink medium/medium-rare burger. Most of the time when I’ve cooked burgers, I’ve just crossed my fingers hoping the inside is pink and juicy. But I wanted to take out the guesswork and get it right each and every time. The answer: the smash-style burger. I’ve seen a lot of websites and blogs about this technique — this article from the NY Times and this blog post from Smitten Kitchen get you through the nitty gritty. For my burgers I used ground beef from the Del Ray Farmers Market (Smith Meadows). Toppings included tomatoes and sauteed onions from the farmers market, crisp lettuce from a friend’s garden, and cheese and buns from the Monroe Ave. Giant. I gathered and prepared the toppings before starting the burgers as the cooking process will go quickly. The key to making the burgers, I learned, is to not shape them into patties. Instead, I formed four rough mounds from the pound...

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