Upper Georgetown has the most beautiful houses in DC.  It’s a wonder I didn’t get in an accident driving through on Saturday afternoon, as I was certainly more focused on the facades of the homes and their manicured bushes, rather than the road.  Though I won’t be spending the rest of my life in DC, if I were planning on it, I’d want to live in one of those homes.  Preferably a brick one painted white or light yellow, with big windows, and pink rose bushes out front.

I wasn’t just passing through the area to gaze at the houses (though I’d totally be one to do that), I was on my way to Black Salt Fish Market.  After hearing multiple rave reviews about their seafood, I’ve been wanting to visit their store for months. I finally got a chance to this weekend.  They have a beautiful spread of fresh seafood, and an interesting selection of specialty food items.  I picked up some PEI mussels, and a few other tantalizing goodies from their shop. Black Salt is not just a fish market though, they have a full restaurant in the back.  Based on how good my mussels were, I’ll definitely be returning soon to have a meal in their restaurant.

To cook the mussels I followed the Contessa’s Mussels in White Wine Recipe.  Though it’s traditional, I find nothing beats the white wine, butter, and herbs combo when it comes to steaming mussels.  And quite frankly, for me, making mussels is less about the seafood, and more about the broth- and soaking up all that broth with a crusty baguette. Paired with a simple salad, these guys for an especially homey Sunday meal.

Two hour delays are the answer to bread making.  We had one today.  And while I would have much preferred a closing, the extra morning hours gave me just enough time to not only enjoy my coffee at home, but whip up the dough for homemade english muffins.  Then while I was at work, my dough got to hang out and rise, and do all that stuff it’s supposed to do.

My decison to make english muffins mirrored my thought process for making marshmallows, in that it’s a food I never considered making from scratch.  I was very curious to try them at home.  Thankfully, unlike marshmallows, english muffins are much easier to make in your own kitchen.  They require very few ingredients and minimal prep time, yet still produce an impressive baked good.  I chose to make whole wheat muffins, but you can make traditional ones by using only all purpose flour.  While I like that these muffins are good for me, I do miss the fluffiness of the traditional kind.  I’ll definitely be making a batch of those in the near future.

Whole Wheat English Muffins adapted from allrecipes.com

Makes 10-12 muffins

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1/4 cup melted shortening
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Warm the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Mix in the sugar, stirring until dissolved. Let cool until lukewarm. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the milk, yeast mixture, shortening and 3 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Add salt and rest of flour, or enough to make a soft dough. Knead. Place in greased bowl, cover, and let rise for roughly 2 hours (or longer if you have to go to work all day).
  3. Punch down. Roll out to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut rounds with biscuit cutter, drinking glass, or empty tuna can. Sprinkle waxed paper with cornmeal and set the rounds on this to rise. Dust tops of muffins with cornmeal also. Cover and let rise 1/2 hour.
  4. Heat greased griddle. Cook muffins on griddle about 10 minutes on each side on medium heat. Keep baked muffins in a warm oven until all have been cooked. Allow to cool and place in plastic bags for storage. To use, split and toast.

This past weekend, I was pulling open the curtains in our bedroom, and realized one of the panels was stuck to the window.  It was actually frozen to the window.  What?? How?? Where was the water coming from? I proceeded to feel around the window, only to discover the entire ledge at the bottom of the window was encased in ice.  The truly crazy part of this whole situation is the fact that our apartment building was built in 2007, and this is the kind of insulation we get?

So yeah, it’s definitely cold.  But I really shouldn’t complain, as my mother informed me yesterday morning that it was  -10 degrees in NY,  so this 25 degree weather we’re getting in DC is quite balmy in comparison.  I don’t mind the weather too much, it just leads me to spend most of my time holed up in my apartment.. being rather antisocial.  So instead of getting out I’m staying in, lighting candles, jacking up the heat, and making soup- chowder to be exact.  This was a first for me, and quite a success.  Brandon deemed it to be one of his favorite dishes I ever made.  I can’t take all the credit though, it’s a Ina dish of course.  But I did make a few small tweaks which I think add great flavor to this chowder, I strongly urge you to incorporate them.

East Hampton Clam Chowder from Barefoot Contessa Family Style

Serves 6-8

I followed Ina’s recipe to a T, but made the following additions:

  • Begin the soup by sauteeing 2 slices of diced thick cut bacon for 5 minutes, until slightly crispy.  Then add in the onions and 1 T butter.  Due to the bacon fat, I omitted 3 T of butter.
  • To finish the soup, add in 5 dashes of Tobasco and 2 T of Worcestershire sauce
  • Serve with a sprinkling of parsley, adds great color and freshness

Lamb is one of may favorite proteins.  I tend to like it best in Greek dishes, where the preparation often involves the flavors of lemon, thyme, oregano, and olive oil. My affinity for lamb may have something to do with the fact that Greek food, overall, is one of my favorite cuisines.  My family spent 10 days in Greece when I was 15, and even 10 years later, I can still vividly recall the meals we ate. This past weekend I made lamb burgers for the first time.  I kept the ingredients in the burger simple, so as not to take away from the natural flavor of the meat.  Lamb has incredible flavor on its own, so when cooked (whatever the form) you never want to bury it with too many additional flavors.

I created a yogurt feta sauce to top the burgers.  A yogurt sauce is really the only appropriate condiment for lamb burgers, and shouldn’t be eaten without.  Ketchup definitely does not serve as a substitute!

Grilled Lamb Burgers with Feta Yogurt Sauce

adapted from Gourmet Today

Serves 4

1 1/4 lbs ground lamb

1 tsp ground cumin

2 garlic cloves minced

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2 T chopped flat leaf parsley

zest of 1/2 a lemon

4 whole wheat buns or pitas

1 cup greek yogurt (no less than 2% fat content)

1 T lemon juice

3 T grated english cucumber, squeezed out with paper towel

1 small garlic cloves, grated

1/4 cup crumbled greek feta

1/4 tsp salt

Combine the last 6 ingredients together to create the yogurt sauce, cover, and place in the fridge until ready to serve (this can be made several hours ahead, the longer the ingredients sit, the better.)

Combine the first 7 ingredients together, being sure not to overmix.  Form into four 1 inch thick patties and set aside.  Meanwhile coat a heavy sauce pan generously with olive oil, and heat over medium high heat for 5 minutes.  Place the patties in the pan and cook covered for 4 minutes.  After 4 minutes flip the burgers and cook for 3-4 minutes on the other side, until they’re not too soft in the center, but still have a slight give.  Place cooked burgers on a plate, cover, and set aside to rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, ligthly toast your buns.  Place a patty on the bottom bun, and slather the top bun with yogurt sauce.  Enjoy immediately.

(Photo Credits: I have photos of my burgers, but sadly they are stuck inside my Mac which is sick at the moment.  For this post, photo credits go to myrecipes and Closet Cooking.)

My dear chocolate peanut butter chip cookies*, you are my favorite thing to photograph.  You are positively glowing against the back drop of my couch side table.  You stack up so nicely! Makes me want another one of you right now. This week has been unusually exhausting, and you’ve provided much needed support.  You’re always there, patiently sitting in a tupperware container on my counter, waiting for me to nibble on you when I get home from work.  I’ll most definitely be making you again!

*I followed this recipe to make these cookies, and used a combo of peanut butter and chocolate chips since that’s what I had on hand.  The unique thing about this recipe is the use of bread floor and the melting (rather than creaming) of the butter.  These tweaks make for a slightly denser, but still moist and chewy cookie. I’ll definitely be experimenting with my flour proportions in the future to perfect my cookie texture.