May 30, 2011 § Leave a comment
Since everyone was home for the holiday weekend, Wayne’s parents decided to take us on an impromptu trip to the Poconos so that Wayne and his dad could go golfing while Wayne’s mom and sister and I went shopping at the outlets.
It is fun visiting Wayne’s parents because his parents love taking us to their favorite Asian restaurants. So much yummy food! His mom always makes a mental note to bring Wayne’s sister and us back if she finds a good restaurant.
I combined celebrating Memorial Day and being in New Jersey with a patriotic doughnut from Dunkin’ Donuts (I really don’t understand why my obsession with Dunkin’ Donuts pops up only when I’m in New Jersey.)
May 26, 2011 § 1 Comment
I get the feeling that whoever popularized the phrase, “easy as pie” either was only talking about the second half of the pie making process wherein peeled fruit, sugar, and a bit of butter can easily be haphazardly tossed into a pie shell, covered with a pie crust that magically appeared from the piecrust-making fairies, and thrown into the oven at 350F or 375F for around an hour, or that person was using the phrase as a marketing ploy for pre-made pie crusts, in which case, he was a genius and a liar. Or maybe he was just talking about key lime pies where all anyone needs to do to create the crust is pulverize ginger snaps and mix with melted butter. Either way, hand-making the pie crust is not “easy as pie”, even with a stand mixer and a food processor. The rolling out the dough process makes me nervous. The usage of lard and butter frightens me—where do I even get lard these days? I’ve read in so many food blogs that a good rule of thumb is that only when you feel like dying do you know you’re making a good pie crust; that tidbit of knowledge causes me to quiver in a corner of my kitchen with my rolled up pre-made pie dough as weapon.
While I like making my cakes, cupcakes, and cheesecakes from scratch, I have absolutely no qualms with having a little help from the supermarket when it comes to fruit pies. The fruits are pre-cut and frozen; the pie crust has the perfect zig-zag edge and frozen; and the pie dough is ready to be rolled out and cut into strips then covered with an egg wash. I’m cheating, I know. And it kind of makes me feel like a rebel. Ooh. I like that.
In my defense, this way actually brings truth to “easy as pie”. And it doesn’t make me cry and want to die just to get a decent pie.
Since we’re visiting Wayne’s parents this Memorial Day weekend, I wanted to bake them something. I know his parents love my peach pie, but I decided to go throw in some additional summery fruits, strawberries and mango– I’m convinced ripe mango is nature’s creamy jell-o–, along with the peaches since this weekend marks the beginning of summer. I used this peach recipe as a guideline for measurements, but I didn’t follow it very strictly and threw in substitutions based on my mood. Here’s the recipe I ended up with by the time I put the pie in the oven:
1 lb of fruit (thawed, please)
1/3 cup of all-purpose flour (I threw in a little more to help prevent the pie from being runny from the extra water in the frozen fruit)
1 cup of brown sugar
1/2 tbsp of cinnamon (Okay, I’m just lying here about the measurement. I shook the bottle until I liked the pattern that came out. I’ll say around 8 shakes? Maybe 10?)
1/4 cup (I guesstimated here, might have been less) of butter that has been set out on the counter for 20 minutes
1 deep-dish pie crust (probably in pie tin)
1 pre-made rolled pie dough
1. Set oven at 350F.
2. Cut the butter in to small pieces. Pour in the sugar and flour. Sprinkle the cinnamon. Mix with two forks until crumbly.
3. Line the bottom of the pie with half of the fruit. Cover the fruit with half of the butter-flour-sugar-cinnamon mixture. Then line the rest of the fruit on to the pie and cover with the butter-flour-sugar-cinnamon mixture.
4. Roll out the pie dough and cut into strips about an inch to an inch and a half (I was bad at eye-balling it; the strips came out diagonal after a while).
5. Weave the stripes on top of the pie in a criss-cross fashion to create a lattice top.
6. Break the egg into a small bowl and mix it with a pastry brush to prepare the egg wash. Brush the egg wash onto the lattice top.
7. Bake the pie for an hour, or until crust is golden.
8. After the hour is done, turn off the oven and leave the pie in the oven for an hour, or overnight. This will help the juices in the pie thicken and prevent runny-ness.
May 25, 2011 § Leave a comment
I love China Wok.
For the record, this restaurant shouldn’t exist. I love this restaurant so much, and I am in complete shock that this restaurant exists in my little corporate town. My little corporate town is a blackhole for good food. Sure, there’s a Maggianos and a Morton’s, but before Wayne and I found this place, the only Chinese option was Panda Express, or PF Chang’s if we felt like paying more for the same Americanized Chinese food offered at Panda Express. I call my no-name of a town “corporate” because surrounding my little suburban cluster of apartment and condo complexes are mountains of tall buildings with big names. The supermarket was built only three years ago, and it’s half the size of a regular one. My little corporate town does not even exist on map by the name that the town it calls itself. But then again, we call our little corporate town after our mall, so maybe that should say something. We have three Louis Vuittons within walking distance of each other but we don’t have a name to put on our mailing addresses. I feel like we’re borrowing the names of our surrounding towns to identify our location.
We don’t really have a name, but we have amazing Peking duck.
I love the Peking duck at China Wok. Sometimes the chef comes out to cut the duck at our table. Other times, when he’s on vacation or it is his night off, the duck is cut into slices in the back and then brought out. The skin is very crispy. The duck meat is succulent and juicy. And the pancakes are made by hand, in house, which is a huge deal considering that Wayne and I paid more for duck that was served with warm tortillas at Mark’s Duck House– unfortunately, that place is only 15 minutes away; if only we knew better. What blows my mind is that the Peking duck is only $28 at China Wok, which is $10 less than Peking Gourment Inn, the supposed best place for duck in Northern Virginia where Wayne and I waited two hours for a table, even with reservation, and I felt underwhelmed with the duck. Mark’s Duck House, the place that served tortillas instead of the traditional pancakes, charges $32, AND the duck meat was dry.
I know the duck is good when I walk out of the restaurant feeling completely full but still craving duck and trying to plot how to convince Wayne to come back with me the next day.
8395 Leesburg Pike
Vienna, VA 22182
May 23, 2011 § Leave a comment
Since Mitch was visiting, we decided to visit a burger place, Good Stuff Eatery, for Saturday lunch. That decision was an odd one since Mitch prefers Asian food and a burger is as American as a person can get with food. But I felt that I lucked out because I love a good burger that is greasy with the juices dripping down my hand to my arm, cheesy, with strips of bacon and a couple of crispy onion rings thrown in for good measure. Sure, I’ll add in the leaf of lettuce, a slice of tomato, and maybe some freshly cut onions accidentally end up squashed in between, but those are really just for decoration. I want my burger to taste juicy and delicious and a little bit like sin, because if I’m going to be indulgent, that burger shouldn’t taste any where close to lackluster.
Located on Capitol Hill and popularized by word of mouth and the connection to “Top Chef”, Good Stuff Eatery was small and crowded. There were tables and seats located outside for outdoor eating and people watching, but since we were a relatively large group of six, we weren’t able to find seats outside. We were able to find seats on the second floor which overlooked the line of people placing orders at the cash register. I ordered the Colletti’s Smokehouse which includes applewood bacon, sharp cheddar, fried onion rings, and Chipotle barbecue sauce while Wayne ordered the Spike’s Sunnyside which includes applewood bacon, cheese, a fried, runny egg, and Good Stuff sauce. We also ordered the Handcut fries that was seasoned with sea salt, which I thought paled in comparison to the Village fries because the addition of rosemary and thyme add more flavor and fragrance. I did love the large variety of dipping sauces that were provided through self-serve pumps, with some examples being Old Bay mayo, Sriracha mayo, Chipotle barbecue sauce. And then there is ketchup for the nostalgic.
While we were waiting, two of Wayne’s friends bought shakes and I was able to try the Toasted Marshmallow shake, which tasted like the essence of the s’more without the unnecessary graham crackers because the grainy-ness of the crumbs would have ruined the super creamy sweet goodness. I was tempted to buy one for myself but was worried that I wouldn’t be able to finish it along with my burger. Luckily, the shake was a little too sweet and too creamy for Wayne’s friend who was completely full after eating his burger and fries so I was able to finish the rest of the shake. Yes, I am a greedy, greedy girl.
When our food finally came out, I was starving and made a grab for the first wrapped burger that looked like it contained bacon– oh bacon, you are crucial to me; what is a burger without you? The burger is smaller than the typical burger served at bars and other burger restaurants but I personally prefer the smaller size. The beef patty was tasty and the burger was all-around delicious and incredibly messy. It was an interesting modge podge of textures because the bacon was chewy, the lettuce and tomato were fresh and crisp, and to tie the textures together was the creamy egg with the broken runny yolk.
I had stolen my boyfriend’s burger. And it was delicious. And, to be honest, I didn’t feel all that guilty because that burger was divine. Okay, I felt a little guilty so I gave him back his burger. Not that he was complaining that much because by the time we realized we were eating the wrong burgers, we were both about half way done. The only thing that tipped us off was that I kept complaining how messy the burger was and why was it dripping yellow? Stuck eating my own Colletti’s Smokehouse burger, I realized that regardless of how much I love fried onion rings, there was no comparison to the creaminess of the egg that really tied Wayne’s Spike’s Sunnyside burger together into a solid, tasty burger. Mine felt lacking in comparison even though it was a really good burger as well; I just wanted more egg. I would have loved my Colletti’s Smokehouse if I hadn’t eaten Wayne’s Spike’s Sunnyside first.
Good Stuff Eatery
303 Pennsylvania Ave SE
(between S 3rd St & S 4th St)
Washington, DC 20003
May 22, 2011 § Leave a comment
He is Wayne’s best friend from college. They met through mutual friends during Freshman year, and he became the older brother Wayne never knew he would need during college. The sweetest thing is seeing just how much he loves Wayne as a brother. One of my favorite stories that Wayne told me about them was that after the final break up between Wayne and his girlfriend of two and a half years and first love, Mitch would always make an effort to hang out and drink with Wayne, just the two of them, without his girlfriend, on a weekly basis as a way to provide support and check in with Wayne. Mitch took care of Wayne during one of his hardest emotional times. Because of that I have to respect and be grateful for him.
He currently lives in New York City, studying to be a rockstar in life at Columbia. He came down to visit Wayne and the other CMU alumni in the area and stayed with us for the weekend. Since he lives in the sensory-overloading, always moving-moving-moving, beautiful chaos that is New York City, I think our slow, suburban life provided a restful and relaxing, refreshing short break.
May 19, 2011 § Leave a comment
Wayne and I bought our tickets to LA last week. I am beyond excited to return to see my beautiful former roommates, eat some In-n-out, and
finally feel warm (whoops, forgot we’re visiting during LA’s June gloom; I’m at a complete lost as to how to dress for mid-60’s weather because I consider that “freezing”).
Oh, LA, I love you so much because of your shameless ridiculousness, and especially because it is not even in a fashionable, creative way like NYC’s. Even your dogs like ridin’ dirty.