Tag Archives: Dupont Farmer’s Market

Mama’s Eggplant Parmigana

28 Jul

Never underestimate the wisdom of your mother, including her thoughts on summertime vegetables. Recently I reluctantly helped make eggplant parmesan with my mom for a family dinner. Why reluctantly? Because I hate eggplant.

At Dupont Farmer's market. 3 weeks ago this scene would have disgusted me

I have always found eggplant stringy, mushy and tasteless…until I tried my mom’s recipe. It was crisp, flavorful and meaty. I can’t believe I have been missing out on the joy of eggplant parmesan for all these years!

As my sister mentioned (the Spector clan loves to chime in on this topic) the key to good eggplant is that it has to be in season. The same goes for tomatoes or any other produce that reaches its peak in the summer and then poses as its  former self in grocery aisles all year long. Proper produce procedure is in my blood – my family recently had a spirited debate on our listserve about the official start to peach season. My dad prevailed – mid to late July.

After my eyeopening experience with my mom’s eggplant parmesan, I decided to try and recreate the magic for myself.  I came upon the most beautiful eggplant at the Dupont farmer’s market, grabbed some canned tomatoes, breadcrumbs, mozzarella and basil and dove right in.

Eggplant varietals

Cut into thick slices

Coat eggplant in egg, then breadcrumbs

After you coat all the eggplant, create a single layer in a baking dish and cook at 350 for 10 minutes. Then remove the eggplant from the oven, flip them over and put them back in the oven to cook for another 10 minutes. Once the eggplant is tender (test with a fork) remove from oven and cover with good canned tomatoes (I used Muir Glen but I also love San Marzano).

Top with mozzarella, basil and salt and pepper to taste. Back in the oven until the cheese gets nice and gooey

Dig in!

The recipe could not have been easier or more scrumptious. It is the perfect summertime meal and a great way to go meatless without having to deprive yourself of flavor or texture. Now I know to use in season eggplant and never doubt my mama again.

Thanks mom!

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Capital Bikeshare Staycation

25 May

I have recently become a biker and I am obsessed. No I don’t ride a ten-speed. I have no idea what a fixed gear is. I don’t even have a lock because I share my bike with 5,000 people and it is constantly “stolen”. I am a Capital Bikeshare member, and I am addicted.

Bikes docked at a station

Capital Bikeshare is relatively new to the district, although similar systems are thriving in Paris and London. You can become a yearly or monthly member, or temporarily rent bikes for 1 day or 5 days. The system is simple – you take out a bike at a station, and return it to any other station across the city. The first 30 minutes are free after that there are incremental costs over time.

The best part of Capital Bikeshare is that there are docks all over the city and it is so easy to hop on and off and pop into a restaurant, meet a friend for drinks, or go for a scenic ride through Rock Creek Park.

Station map of all the bike docks. Click the map to see real time updates on number of bikes and docks available at each station.

Capital Bikeshare is a fantastic way to explore the city and take a little mini-vacation in your own backyard. Here is a suggested weekend itinerary for DC residents, or for tourists seeking sites and activities while crusin on bikes.

Saturday

Morning – Bike over to Eastern Market – station is at 7th and Pennsylvania SE. Have brunch at Ted’s Bulletin if you can stand the wait and are craving homemade poptarts. If not, make a reservation ahead of time at Belga Cafe and get the green eggs. After brunch, walk over to Eastern Market and check out the crafts and antiques and various stalls across the street, make sure to check out the mirrors from Olde Goode Things.

Afternoon – From Eastern Market, walk on over to Capitol Hill and pick up a bike at 3rd and D SE. Bike past the Capitol, Library of Congress and down the National Mall towards Dupont Circle. Cut through Pennsylvania Ave at 15th street so you can bike past the White House. Wave to Barack and Michelle if you are skilled enough to bike one-handed (I’m getting there).

Dock your bike at the Dupont Circle station at Massachusetts Ave and Dupont Circle. Browse the shops in Dupont and pick up a late lunch at Sweetgreen and some reading material at Books-A-Million and relax in the park. You’ll need to rest up for more biking!

Evening – Bike over to the station at 14th and R NW and grab a table at Standard beer garden. Enjoy a delicious beer or maybe a soft pretzel with house mustard, but don’t fill up too much because dinner is just around the corner (literally). Head over to Estadio for delicious tapas and refreshing cocktails. I strongly recommend the shrimp, roasted mushrooms, spicy kale and the house signature drink the Porron. For late night festivities, walk over to Cafe St. Ex, Patty Boom Boom or U Street Music Hall

Sunday

Morning – Back at Dupont Circle, grab a croissant and some fresh fruit at the Dupont Farmer’s Market. If you need a little more than that after last night’s festivities, grab an empanada or go all out and have brunch at Cafe Dupont. With your energy restored hop on a bike and head towards H street NE. This is going to be the longest haul yet but if you pedal fast you can make it in 30 minutes and avoid extra charges.

Afternoon – Dock your bike at 13th and H NE and walk over to H Street Country Club for some mini golf and other games. After you are finished playing putt-putt, grab a beer at Biergarten Haus and take in the outdoor space. Sober up before your next ride and grab some mussels at Granville Moore’s which also has a great beer selection but make sure you don’t go overboard or you could go over the handle bars on the ride back.

Evening – Walk on over to Dangerously Delicious Pies and get a to-go order of keylime pie, trust me. Then head back to the H Street station and bike towards Gallery Place for a Sunday night movie. Dock your bike at 7th and F and from there either go mainstream at the Regal or indie at E Street Cinema. Make sure you sneak your pie in for a mid-flick snack.

Final Destination

Obviously my bike tour is heavily focused on food and drink, but you are burning so many calories who cares how many beers you drink or slices of pie you consume (4)!

I hope that this itinerary inspires you to hop on a bike and experience DC in a fun and unique way. Don’t forget to follow road signs and ride safe!

Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream aka Heaven on a Spoon

14 Jun

I received a  Cuisinart ice cream maker for my birthday and was very excited to test it out. For my first recipe I wanted to choose something pure and decadent and decided to pop on over to David Lebovitz’s blog and see what he had to offer. I chose the Salted Butter Caramel recipe since it combined my two favorite food groups, butter and salt. David is the ice cream king, and after testing only one of his recipes I have already added his best selling book, The Perfect Scoop, to my amazon cart.

Rather than heading to my life partner, Trader Joe’s, for the ingredients, I decided to go see my mistress, Dupont Farmer’s market and get some real upmarket supplies.  After making this simple recipe I urge anyone making ice cream to splurge on the ingredients. Even though it was well over 90 degrees at 10am, I trekked (3 whole blocks!) to Dupont Circle and bought farm fresh eggs and whole milk, the basis for my ice cream. Everything else I had in my pantry and I imagine most people do as well. The woman at the dairy booth was a big Lebovitz fan and was excited for me to make the ice cream, as were others in line. Random farmer’s market people, it was a success!!

The recipe is two steps, the first involves making the salted caramel praline, the second is making the ice cream. You can make the praline ahead of time but both parts definitely need your full attention since burning sugar is involved.

The recipe adapted from David Lebovitz. All photos are David Lebovitz:

Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream
One generous quart (liter)

For the caramel praline (mix-in)

½ cup sugar
¾ teaspoon sea salt (I am addicted to salt and used more, but then again my tastebuds have been killed by years of sodium abuse)
For the ice cream custard:

2 cups whole milk, divided
1½ cups sugar
4 tablespoons  salted butter
scant ½ teaspoon sea salt (again, I doubled this amount based on my own tastes)
1 cups heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract (I read on another blog that faux vanilla contains an antifreeze ingredient, so its best to use the real stuff when making ice cream)
1. To make the caramel praline, spread the ½ cup  of sugar in an even layer in a medium-sized, unlined heavy duty saucepan: I use a 6 quart/liter pan. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Heat the sugar over moderate heat until the edges begin to melt. Use a heatproof utensil to gently stir the liquefied sugar from the bottom and edges towards the center, stirring, until all the sugar is dissolved. (Or most of it—there may be some lumps, which will melt later.)

sugarcaramelizing.jpg

Continue to cook stirring infrequently until the caramel starts smoking and begins to smell like it’s just about to burn. It won’t take long.
3. Without hesitation, sprinkle in the ¾ teaspoon salt without stirring (don’t even pause to scratch your nose), then pour the caramel onto the prepared baking sheet and spread it around into a thin layer. Set aside to harden and cool.
4. To make the ice cream, make an ice bath by filling a large bowl about a third full with ice cubes and adding a cup or so of water so they’re floating. Nest a smaller metal bowl (at least 2 quarts/liters) over the ice, pour 1 cup of the milk into the inner bowl, and rest a mesh strainer on top of it.
5. Spread 1½ cups sugar in the saucepan in an even layer. Cook over moderate heat, until caramelized, using the same method described in Step #2.
6. Once caramelized, remove from heat and stir in the butter and salt, until butter is melted, then gradually whisk in the cream, stirring as you go.

buttercaramel.jpg

The caramel may harden and seize, but return it to the heat and continue to stir over low heat until any hard caramel is melted (Don’t panic, this happened to me, just trust the chemistry of the heat breaking up the sugar, and keep stirring!) Stir in 1 cup  of the milk.
7. Whisk the yolks in a small bowl and gradually pour some of the warm caramel mixture over the yolks, stirring constantly. Pour the warmed yolks back into the saucepan and cook the custard using a heatproof utensil, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir) until the mixture thickens.
8. Pour the custard through the strainer into the milk set over the ice bath, add the vanilla, then stir frequently until the mixture is cooled down. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled (About 4-8 hours).
9. Once the mixture is thoroughly chilled, freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (In the case of the cuisinart, it takes about 30 minutes to reach ice cream consistency. If you are like me and keep pausing the machine to dip a spoon in to taste, then slightly longer.)
10. While the ice cream is churning, crumble the hardened caramel praline into very little bits, and add to the mixture.

11. Put the ice cream into a tupperware and into the freezer to let it firm up a bit.

After waiting for 10 minutes, I opened the freezer and dipped my spoon in the tupperware. Honestly it is the best ice cream I have ever had (and I have tried them all), it is so rich and delicious a few spoonfuls is all you need to feel satisfied. Totally worth all the time and effort (and highfalutin eggs and milk). Can’t wait to make my next flavor, any suggestions?

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