A Funny Thing Happened on My Way Back from San Francisco

It hasn’t been unnoticed, I’m sure, that the leader of the Free Foodies has been somewhat absent of late. There’s an excuse for that.

I was out in California having a grand ol’ time eating my way up the PCH when I got a phone call offering me a big girl job. It would give me money, training, benefits… It all sounded amazing. And it was. But it was also a major change.

I now work above a Nandos and around the corner from 8407 Kitchen Bar. I haven’t been starving but I also haven’t had much time to write as much as I would like. So I’m dedicating the month of January to catching up on unpublished menus, reviews, and a glimpse into what kind of adventures a real paycheck can help you afford. I’ve been traveling across the country meeting my fellow foodies and checking out some of the scenes as well as learning a lot more about my other passion: spreadsheets.

While I backdate and get everything in order here’s something I’ve discovered at the Panera on the opposite corner from my office that you can make at home and munch on while patiently awaiting my reports. And if you don’t have the time to slow roast your own tomatoes I suggest you at least try one of these in the morning. It makes the day go much better.

Mediterranean Egg-White Sandwich (Copycat Recipe from Foodtastic Mom)

Mediterranean Egg-White Sandwich (Copycat Recipe from Foodtastic Mom)

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Ice Cream Week: The Scoop (“Honey Roasted Fig Ice Cream”)

Honey Roasted Fig Ice Cream

“Honey Roasted Fig Ice Cream” from Deliceux

This is the official announcement that I am finally the owner of my very own ice cream maker. If you remember, last summer I intended to buy one and just… well I didn’t. And I still haven’t. Here’s the scoop (and no I’m not above a few puns every once in a while).

I was down having lunch in the ol’ English department with a beloved professor (who is, funny enough, the only professor in the department that I never actually took a class from) last week and we got to talking about making stuff yourself. Root beer is the one I’m planning to try next. I’m pretty sure I actually have all the equipment and ingredients at home so more on that adventure later. But I mentioned that I had been planning to get an ice cream maker but had just never made it far enough in the process where I actually owned one. And so, in the midst of all this, he jumped on the office computer and on Friday afternoon when I returned from running errands with my dear maman there is was… Under the big box of reading books I had ordered for all the professors teaching for my program next year, there it was…

First thing I did was a quick read through of the instructions and all that care and keeping stuff then into the freezer it went until Saturday when I made up a very simple vanilla bean custard with whole milk, eggs-yolks, a little sugar, and a whole vanilla bean. There was no room in the fridge to chill the custard so into an ice bath it went and as soon as it was cool enough. Wwhhhhhiirrrrrrrrrrrthunkwhirrrrrrrrrthunkwhrrrrrr…. Yeah there was a drip in the freezer or something weird and this line of ice dribbled down the inside of the barrel and made this bad thunking sound so that had to be fixed before continuing. Then it was scraped (carefully, because grabbing a frozen metal barrel with your bare hands is almost never ever a good idea) into a container and put back in the freezer while company filtered into the living room for a viewing of “The Hobbit” which I had bought my mummy for Mother’s Day. She had to work while we were watching the movie but she was at least in the room with us and somewhat interacting.

We had our ice cream (which was still rather soft but like I cared. I mean I had just made ice cream at home in my brand new ice cream maker) with brownies and a few leftover mini apple pies I had made on Friday. And as soon as I had managed to clean out the machinery without there being a frozen residue on it I popped it back in the freezer (which is impressively not too full for me to do that) and on Sunday I made an overly ginger-y “Rose & Candied Ginger” “Gelato” with just milk that had been attemptedly cooked down a little. I’m not actually sure how that process works but I don’t think I did it quite right. The product turned out just fine, though, if not too spicy from me using about a 1/2 cup of ginger to make an extract and then candying the remaining bits and adding them in.

But the weather is getting warmer, not that this has ever been a factor in my ice cream/frozen treat consumption, and so I’m declaring this the first (of many) Ice Cream Week in the Foodie Nation!

We start off with the above ice cream from Delicieux: “Honey Roasted Fig Ice Cream” and will continue with a new recipe that I find to try every day this week.

Project Pasta

Caprese Ravioli with Roasted Tomato Pesto

“Caprese Ravioli with Roasted Tomato Pesto Sauce” from Proud Italian Cook

I have finally located the pasta machine and I’m ready to give making my own pasta a try. My dad likes to point out that no matter what I’m doing with it I must be wrong because I’m not making Asian noodles. But he’s off in Asia eating his Asian noodles so he won’t be around to comment. I’d like to try the recipe above (or whatever is similar based on what I have in the fridge) but it doesn’t use a homemade pasta so I’m going to use the recipe from this recipe (with a quick click through a translator):

Gli originali tortelli di zucca mantovani per Halloween

From Cook & the City

The poor text translation aside (although the recipe itself is fairly decipherable), I like the “How To” photos with the cute little eggs and the pile of flour. It’s just pretty.

French Toast Heaven Has Been Found!

Founding Farmers - Rockville

Founding Farmers – Rockville: Also known fondly as, that place where the food is amazing and yes we can definitely go back there. (Follow link to restaurant website)

Ranting about good food is just a built in part of my nature at this point. And I’m sure I’ve ranted about Founding Farmers before because I’ve been there several times and taken people there from out of town because, well, it’s impressive and I like making sure that visitors to DC remember it fondly, especially as a foodie capitol (which it most definitely is in my book).

Also, I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before that my parents aren’t big fans of going out to eat. Why? Because they are sure to tell me every time I go out that they think it’s a waste. Although, usually it’s my dad saying that and my mom wonders out loud why she doesn’t ever get to go out somewhere nice… And I feel bad sometimes because they don’t do stuff like that mostly because they’re busy paying for our house and (yes we only have one) car. Oh, and have I mentioned that my little brother is rather expensive on the upkeep costs? He’s still young enough that being supported is acceptable but still. Children are expensive.

But with my dad gone and my mom pulling all-nighters to get this work done for Yemen she hasn’t been in much of a mood to cook so if we’re at home I’ve been doing it or we’ve been eating up leftovers. And on Sunday we had to do a bit of driving to get my brother to a competition and my mom decided that we would be eating out that day. So we arranged to stop at Founding Farmers at their Rockville location (near my Gma’s house) on the way back home.

Can I hear a “Best Idea EVER!”, please? I had, as of Sunday, never actually made it to any Founding Farmers (or sister restaurants) before  for brunch. I had tried twice before but due to some flooding–or inclement weather or some such nonsense out of their control–they had always ended up closing and so no brunch for me. Until Sunday…

Having been to their DC restaurant several times before I new the majority of the regular menu and was glad that one of the few times I’d managed to get a parent to one of my favorite restaurants that they had a really good vegetarian selection. We also had another friend with us for the weekend who happened to be vegetarian as well so that worked out nicely. And I don’t eat a lot of meat and if I do rarely for brunch because I like waffles and stuff and meat and waffles is a line I’m not really ready to cross and I doubt I ever will. Eggs, sure. But that’s about it. My brother on the other hand, has completely gone off the deep end and embraced his caveman roots and does eat rather a lot more meat than the rest of us.

We started with the basics, their lovely bread with various dips and “smears” and fried green tomatoes (because those are one of the key arguments I had used to get my mom to go there in the first place. If you think I like fried green tomatoes… Guess who taught me to like them…? Actually it was my Gpa but it’s my mom’s dad and it’s all flows down the generations nicely like that).

I’m not going to go into all sorts of details about what everyone ordered because that would be annoying. I am, however, going to discuss what I ordered because I’ve become hyper aware that I’ve just been eating sub-par french toast for an incredibly long time and now I feel the need to right this wrong.

I ordered this:

Stuffed New Orleans Style French Toast

Vanilla Pastry Cream

  • Original – 8
  • Lillian’s Blueberry Compote- 10 {<– with this}
  • Bananas Foster – 10

and I’m pretty sure I will never again be able to eat regular plain french toast ever again. For those of you who don’t know, vanilla pastry cream is very similar to what they fill eclairs with. In fact I think it is what they fill eclairs with in theory but this was even better. It was very similar to a homemade custard with vanilla bean (as opposed to that smooth gelatin-y stuff you find in a Boston Cream doughnut).

Now, I know I won’t be able to properly recreate this without some serious time and effort and possible some kitchen equipment that I don’t yet own. But progress is still possible. For instance I just looked up a compote recipe and this is the only one with a decent pictures. It is on pancakes which makes me sad because… well they are pancakes, but not sad enough to prevent me from sharing.

Blueberry Pancakes with Blueberry Compote

“Blueberry Pancakes with Blueberry Compote” from KitchenDaily

And here’s a video for making a pastry cream that I think looks about right: Pastry Cream Recipe from Joy the Baker.

So we’re working towards something similar at least. Now to figure out how to make the bread (which is really more like fluffy cake) into the  right shape and get the cream inside…. That will take more work but I’m sure a combination in the right quantities and some creative eating can get me close enough to say that I’m on the right track.

 

Breakfast Is Relative (National Eggs Benedict Day)

California Eggs Benedict

“California Eggs Benedict” from The Curvy Carrot

It’s gotten to the point where everything is relative. Morality, time, and even meals. Need a  burger for breakfast? Then you need a burger for breakfast! Need waffles for dinner? Then you NEED waffles for dinner! And after finding out that today is National Eggs Benedict Day and I only have one proper meal time left for the day can only mean one thing…. Breakfast for DINNER!!!

Join me, Foodie Nation! Tonight is Breakfast for Dinner night. And oh will we ever own it.

No Plants Were Harmed

Eggs Baked in Roasted Tomato Sauce

“Eggs Baked in Roasted Tomato Sauce” from Food & Wine

I’ve seen recipes like this, or similar to this, around several times not and I’m interested. Very interested. It would never happen for an actual breakfast because I’m just way to lazy in the mornings to do anything the recipe call for. Brunch, however, I could probably manage. Brunch times run until 2:00-2:30 in my book. Plenty of time to sleep in, have coffee, watch TV, and then actually turn my brain on enough not to catch my PJ’s on fire while putting tomatoes in an oven. Last time I tried to work on my seedlings while tired I actually just picked up a small clay pot and flung it across the the counter. Why? I don’t know! One minute I’m humming to myself and the next… crack! Also, dirt EVERYWHERE. It’s like my reflexes and muscles were like… Teehee! She’s so no awake we can do whatever the heck we want!

[No actual plants were harmed in the making of the story in this blog.]