Monday, September 26, 2011

State Fair 2011 Part One

The DC state fair was scheduled for Aug 27. It was cancelled due to a hurricane blowing through town, I have to say good for me because I was out of town and would have missed the fair and a chance to win  the all elusive blue ribbon.
Things are falling into place for me, the fair is now on Oct 1 and I think I have a winning pie crust.  I found a recipe  for salted caramel sauce online adapted from Americas Test Kitchen for my apple pie.
My plan of attack is to make my 3 pies and cupcake in stages.  First I'll make the pie crust Wednesday before the contest and then on Friday I assemble and bake the pies and the cupcakes so they'll be fresh for the fair.
The first batch of salted caramel sauce cooked too fast so it was a "little" burned, so I started again. I mean really, how hard could it be to boil sugar until a it reaches 350 degrees, stir in cream  and after it boils up to a spitting and popping monstrosity add some butter and sea salt, now that doesn't sound hard at all? WRONG, on my first attempt it cooked too fast and it burned and got a little smokey (still good though). So I saved it in a jar who knows I could still use it, maybe. For the second batch  I cooked on a lower temperature and cooked a little longer and it didn't burn (yay for me). So, that's the batch I'll use for my pie. Let's hope the rest of the baking will go better without the burning incidents in each process.
Sugar starting to color and reach temperature

Add the butter and salt

Both batches which is the burned one?

A taste test!
So, the countdown to glory begins.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Key lime curd becomes a pie

Key limes

The juice of all those limes

Lime curd with the butter mixed in

Vodka enriched pie crust waiting to be rolled out

Finished key lime pie
I had some key limes that had been in my fridge for some time and I needed to use them before they went bad. So, I dedcided to make Key Lime Curd. I love lemon cured so why not make it out of limes. I made the curd from a recipe from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The Original Classics.
      This was also a good time for me to work on my pie crust.  I had planed on working on my pie crusts for the DC State Fair so this pie was really and an excuse to experiment with a new pie crust recipe from Cooks Illustrated November  2007 issue. The secrect ingredient--  vodka, kinda strange but this is America's Test Kitchen. Let them do the testing, follow their recipe and wha la, a perfect pie crust. (You don't taste or have any of the effects of alcohol). So thanks to them I now have a pie crust that I feel can stand up to the State Fair. Stay tuned for that blog.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 The aftermath

Memorial at Ground Zero a year later

Memorial at Ground Zero one year later

Ground Zero one year later

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sights of New Orleans

During my long weekend in New Orleans I ate a lot of great food and walked through the French Quarter. New Orleans is a charming southern city, with an identity all its own. Just the food alone is worth the trip. The gulf seafood is some of the best I have ever eaten from raw oysters, fried oyster, gumbo, bingets to PO'boys. A week later I am still thinking about the food.
On my last night in town I decided to stroll down Bourbon Street. Drinks are cheap, plentiful and big ass (their words not mine), you can walk down the street with a drink which amazed me, I still can't get over that. Bourbon street is sticky and the smell reminds of the Paris subway. Which isn't really a bad smell but it's not a good smell either.  Its just a smell/stink/odor, lets just say it's not good.  Now I understand why there was a naked man outside my hotel room in need of a robe and to be let back into his hotel room.  Considering the big ass cheap drinks and the oh so welcoming "Gentlemen's clubs I'm surprised there was only one naked guy.   As the sun comes up the street sweepers come out to sweep up the trash and wash down the streets. Every day is a day to start anew.
Jackson Square

Oyster PO"boy from Deanie's

Cafe du Monde waiting for the crowds

The French Market

The Italian Grocery

Iron work and plants

Art work at Jackson Square

Window at the Apothacary

Iron horse

THE Debris sandwich at Mothers

More plants and iron work

Hotel Montelone

Hurricane from the Carasol bar

Signage on Bourbon Street



Neon and Voodoo

More Voodoo on Bourbon Street

Prirates and Voodoo

Krazy Korner

More neon on Bourbon Street

Lobby of Hotel Monteleone in the heart of the French Quarter
I have to say the people are polite, easy to talk to and want to you show you the best of what the city has to offer. I can't wait to go back.

Friday, September 2, 2011

NOLA a city of gumbo and charm

Bar crawl Arnaud's for the French 75
Old Absinthe House's Ramos Gin Fizz

The bar at Irvin Mayfield we were there for the Pear Flower Martini
New Orleans, it conjours up images of drunkenness, voodoo, mystery and food. Last weekend I was fortunate to attend the International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) sponsored by in New Orleans. I must confess I have never been to NOLA so it was a great opportunity to discover a new city and discover new foods. The conference brought in some amazing speakers. I met some amazing people and bloggers from all over the US and Canada. The seminars ranged from photography, food science, food and culture, sustainability,  recipe writing and more.

 I witnessed the hearty debate between gumbo with and without tomatoes, I learned the difference between Cajun and creole cooking. The organizers brought in some of the best restaurants to cater the event and we were certainly not disappointed. We were certainly well fed during the conference.
Menu from Saturday's dinner
Friday started the great food feast with some samples of Fried pork cheek balls accompanied by tomato jam and black eyed pea puree from La Petite Grocery,  chocolate covered hazelnut macaron pops from Sucre, some other samples were from Ste. Marie, Langenstein's and Sylvain. After a brief afternoon rest there was a bar crawl with the designers of the Nosh app.
Saturday's food feast started with fresh "dirty" gulf oysters and shrimp from Royal House Oyster House, an oyster Po' boy with spinach artichoke spread with lemon Thai aioli from the award winning Pierre Maspero's, turkey and alligator sausage gumbo from Parkway Bakery, crab bisque from Red Fish Grill, shrimp and grits from Riverfront Restaurant all washed down with Abita beer.  I'm sure I missed a few, sorry about that but the allure of the oysters was just too great. 
The perfect  ending was the formal dinner service from John Besh. I was too busy eating to take any good pictures.
Opening remarks at IFBC NOLA 2011

Fried pork cheek, tomato jam, black eye pea puree

Quite a full plate po'boys, bowls full of NOLA goodness

Staff of the Royal House Oyster House

"Dirty" Gulf Oysters

PO' Boy 

OK, more oysters

Poppy Tooker speaking on sustainability

Cooking demo with Chef John Folse

The conference ended on Sunday at lunch time so that gave me plenty of time to find more great food before I had to fly back home on Monday. I'll tell you about the naked man in another post.