I’ve moved!

28 Feb

Friends, I apologize for practically abandoning this blog in the past couple of months – I shifted gears to focus on getting my new one designed and up and running. And now it is! I still write about food, but I’m now focusing on other topics, like design, style, and inspiration. It’s a bit of a departure from food blogging, but I’m happier to be able to write about a range of interests.

So check out the new blog: A Whisk & A Mile. I hope you enjoy. :)

Making some changes…

12 Sep

I just realized that I never actually published a post I wrote weeks ago about this, so I’m writing this now…

Obviously I haven’t been posting. At all. In like 2 months. There’s a reason for that! I’m trying to switch over to wordpress.org and I want more control over the look and feel of my blog so I’m going through all the necessary motions (signing up for hosting, reading tutorials and a book on wordpress.org). I didn’t want to be posting while I’m trying to make changes.

Also I haven’t been posting here because I’m retiring this blog. Ha – I say that as if I’ve written for 20 years or something. I’m actually changing the name and widening my focus a little. I will continue to write and photograph food and recipes and my cooking adventures. But there are other things in my life that I really would love to blog about, like running and design. So I will. :) Also, I hadn’t been happy with the name “The Novice Nosher” for awhile, and I felt like it limited the topics I could write about. So there will be a name change, a new design, and a wider range of topics. I hope these changes don’t come across too drastically. And I definitely hope that you guys will continue to read what I have to say and show.

So…as soon as my new blog is ready, I will post the link here and also have this set up to re-direct to the new site. I really appreciate your patience and I apologize again for suddenly going blog-MIA without explanation.

Thanks for reading. :)

Love,

Lisa

The Celebratory Cake

20 Jul
“Ate” – pronounced “ah-tay,” basically means “older sister” in Tagalog. While I don’t actually have an older sister by blood, I do have amazing ladies in my life whom I call “ate.” I’ve known one of them, Liz, since college. I joined the Filipino Student Association, where everyone is paired with an older “brother” and “sister” (we were a lot like a sorority or fraternity). Many people end up unofficially “adopting” younger members whom they get along really well with, which is what happened with Liz and I. I’m happy to say, even years out of college, we’re still really great friends. I still call her Ate Liz.
Ate Liz was here for both work and play during the 4th of July weekend (yes I realize this post is a long time coming). She told me about this cake and since I was craving dessert after dinner with friends on the Sunday night she was here, she offered to show me how to make it. It’s not a complicated recipe at all, unless you decide to make the cake portion from scratch. Either way, the biggest thing you’ll need for this is patience. It’ll be awhile until you can dig in, as it requires quite a bit of refrigeration. But once it’s ready, it’s so worth it – it’s creamy, sweet but not cloying, and those toffee pieces add to the caramel flavor with a bit of crunch.
Apparently Liz only makes this cake when she’s celebrating something, thus the nickname “Celebratory Cake”. She said a friend of hers back in Orlando would be jealous to find out she was making the cake for me, without any big, celebratory intention. Though it was Independence Day weekend, there was a different occasion for making the cake. We ate it while watching movies and cracking inside jokes and reminiscing about college days. Isn’t rare quality time with old friends – “sisters” really – a reason to celebrate?
Liz’s Chocolate Tres Leches – a.k.a. The Celebratory Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 boxed cake mix, like devil’s food or chocolate OR a chocolate cake made from scratch
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 jar caramel topping (the kind you put on ice cream)
  • 1 tub of cold whipped topping (i.e. Cool Whip)
  • 1 bag of toffee pieces (i.e. Heath Bar toffee)
Directions (hopefully I remembered this all correctly…)
If you’re using a boxed mix, make the cake according to package directions. Otherwise make a chocolate-based cake using your own recipe. While the cake is baking, empty the contents of the evaporated milk can into a large bowl. Pour the entire jar of caramel into the bowl and mix thoroughly with the milk.
When the cake is finished baking, remove from the oven and using a knife, make slits into the cake. Pour the bowl of the evaporated milk-caramel mixture over the entire cake, allowing the liquid to seep into the slits so the cake can soak up the liquid. Stick the cake into the refrigerator and let it cool completely. This may take a few hours so if you’re in a hurry, you could stick it in the freezer for maybe 30 minutes or so. I wouldn’t keep it in long because I don’t know how the liquid would react in the freezer. Refrigerating it is best.
Once cooled, remove the cake and completely “frost” the top with the whipped topping/Cool Whip. Sprinkle toffee pieces throughout the top. You can enjoy this now or chilled further in the refrigerator. This tastes best when it’s cold and the cake has been completely soaked with the caramel milk.

Do you have a go-to recipe for when you’re celebrating something?

RestoFest

18 Jul

I’m a city girl at heart, but sometimes, I actually like being in the suburbs. It’s the lifestyle I grew up in when I lived in Orlando, and though I have my reasons for leaving Florida, I often miss that more relaxed, family-friendly vibe. So it worked out well that I, along with The Boyfriend and a handful of my crew (yes, “Team DMV”) made plans to drive out to Reston Town Center, 35 minutes away from DC.

We attended the Cadillac Culinary Challenge that I had mentioned on Friday, and it turns out they needed 1 more judge, so I agreed to do so. The other two judges were the duo behind That’s What She Fed, Chuck and Megan, and it was great meeting them, especially as fellow food bloggers.

I have to say, not that it was on TV or that this was any sort of major event, but being a judge was pretty cool – I’ve never had to be a judge for anything before! And to be judging chefs like Chris Clime and Geoffrey Zakarian (who is a judge himself on cooking shows, talk about pressure), that was definitely cool.

Clime made jumbo lump crab cakes with sweet corn chow-chow and Zakarian made cold crab gazpacho, and while both were excellent. The crab cakes were wonderfully meaty and spicy mayo was a nice condiment to accompany the sweet crab. But I had voted for the gazpacho, mostly because it was a little unusual and inventive – sweet, cold, made with almonds and no cream at all, and topped with a grape half.

After the event, we stuck around the town center and pretty much restaurant-hopped for drinks and food. How often are we all out in the suburbs just hanging out? Never. (We usually meet in DC or if we’re outside DC it’s at someone’s apartment. Or Annandale for Korean food). So we figured we’d take advantage of what the area has to offer, jumping from Uncle Julio’s for drinks and chips and salsa and guac to American Tap Roomfor more drinks (although I just had water), then PassionFish for food. A few of us split The Big Daddy: a tower of seafood, including lobster, crab, clams, shrimp, and oysters. Boyfriend snapped this photo of his ceviche (love that there’s popcorn on top!):

The guys split off to continue drinking at Clyde’s, but the girls did a little shopping and dessert-hunting. I picked up an angel food cake-cheesecake concoction at Edibles Incredible and attacked half of it while watching Harry Potter in 3D later that night. So unfortunately, there’s no photo, but trust me when I say Edibles Incredible has awesome desserts.

Seriously, I didn’t expect the ‘burbs to be that fun. We all plan to make a trip to Reston a yearly event, aptly dubbed “RestoFest.” Sometimes it’s nice to just to get away from the city scene in DC and go somewhere to shop, drink, dine and watch a movie, all within a less-than-1-mile radius. And with free garage parking – you definitely don’t experience that in DC!

What’s going down this weekend

15 Jul

It looks to be a busy weekend ahead with a lot of food-related events going on in the DC area. This is probably a good thing, considering I have no internet or TV at home right now (I’m switching from Comcast to Verizon and Direct TV). I’m supposed to have internet at home by now but there’s an issue with the connection and have been on the phone with tech support at least once a day this week. Ugh. Of course I didn’t realize how much I rely on having internet access until I’ve had to live without it.

So I’ll be jumping around from place to place, participating in some fun events, and probably eating a lot. That last part kind of makes me forget that I’ll be cut off from the online world for a little while! If you’re in the DC-Maryland-Virginia area, check out these happenings:

Saturday

Celebrity Chef Geoffrey Zakarian and PassionFish’s Chef Christopher Clime will be engaging in a friendly, themed, cooking battle for the Cadillac Culinary ChallengeAttendees can sit and watch the battle and sample the chefs’ creations, as well as test drive new Cadillacs.

The event is actually going on around the US, but will be in the DC area at Reston Town Center (11900 Market St. Reston Town Center, Reston, VA 20190) on both Saturday, July 16th and Sunday the 17th. You can catch the cooking challenges at 11a.m., 2p.m. and 4p.m. on both days. I’ve been asked to attend, so I’ll definitely be there! And expect to see a post on it next week. :)

You can register for the event here: http://www.cadillacchallenge.com/

Sunday

Markets! Who doesn’t love markets. There are actually 2 going on this Sunday, first is the DC State Fair Bake Sale, being held to help raise money to contribute toward making the fair an awesome one.

Expect a lot of great baked goods, especially from local food bloggers. I unfortunately have no time to bake this weekend, but I’ve made a plan to swing by and pick up some goodies and contribute monetarily. The sale is at Zorba’s Cafe in Dupont Circle, from 8am to 11am.

The second market going on this Sunday is DC’s Grey Market. It’s basically an “underground” market that is giving local food producers who don’t yet have the capital to open a store or pay farmer’s market fees a chance to sell their products. I attended the first one awhile back and though cramped in part of a restaurant space, there were a lot of great foods and food products being sold. So I’m looking forward to seeing an even larger lineup of small businesses selling all kinds of delicious things. It’s only $2 to get in, and it’s located at the Liberty North Market space, at 5th and I St., NW, from 1pm to 5pm.

Again, if you’re in the area, check out the Culinary Challenge or get some baked goods and other foods at the markets. And hope everyone (in the area or not) has a great weekend!

When the brown bag just doesn’t cut it

13 Jul

I have a love/hate relationship with food trucks. I love them, really, because of all the delicious food that comes out of them. But I hate that they make my sad leftovers and wimpy sandwiches just that – sad and wimpy. I’d rather have a fresh deep dish pizza made by some dudes in a truck for $8 than a homemade egg salad sandwich.

I don’t actually eat lunch from food trucks all that often, maybe once a week. I start to feel guilty if I’ve eaten out for lunch more than that, because I know it’s healthier to eat something you’ve prepared yourself as often as possible. Plus, it can get expensive to pay for lunch often. But on those days when I have enough cash on hand and I really can’t ignore that hankering for something different, Lindsey (a.k.a. The Internationally-Minded American) and I will take a long lunch break to walk, get some fresh air, and break up the monotony of bagged lunches and leftovers.

We’re suckers for the macaroni and cheese from CapMac, but here are some highlights from recent lunchtime ventures:

Dangerously Delicious Pies: The pie shop originally from Baltimore with a DC location has it’s own truck, much to my sheer happiness because I loooove their Baltimore Bomb pie. It’s made with Berger cookies, which I’ve never actually eaten outside of this pie but are probably the thing that makes it awesome. Oh and their SMOG (Steak, Mushroom, Onion and Gruyere) is rich and hearty and tastes like a feast on a crust.

BasilThyme: This truck is one of the newer ones that has recently started running around here in DC. They churn out freshly-made pastas like the meat lasagna above. It tasted pretty darn authentic and home-made, which is a feat considering they don’t use dried pastas and uh, it comes out of a truck and not a standing kitchen.

PORC Mobile: The Purveyors of Rolling Cuisine specialize in BBQ dishes like pork sandwiches and sausages, but what I find pretty inventive about this truck is that they try to cater to the vegetarians out there. I tried their veggie bar-b-que dish one day, just to see if they could pull it off, and I was pleasantly surprised. It had that bar-b-que tanginess with some spiciness but there were other flavors that gave it a more exotic twist (unfortunately, I couldn’t actually discern what those flavors were). It had black and red beans with peppers and onions, on top of a bed of couscous and served with a side of coleslaw (which I’m happy to say wasn’t drenched in mayo).

There are always new trucks popping up here in DC, so I’m looking forward to trying even more new dishes for lunch. AND, the next Truckeroo, DC’s monthly food truck gathering, is this Friday. You know where I’ll be that evening…

Any food trucks rolling around in your ‘hood? If not, what would you want to be served from a truck?

 

 

 

Sweet inspiration

11 Jul

Can I be totally honest with you guys? My desire to undertake new and/or daunting recipes in the kitchen has been small lately. I don’t know if it’s lack of time, or lack of energy when I do have the time, or something else, but I’ve only been willing to stick to recipes I know or things that I know won’t take more than 45 minutes to make.

My motivation has been coming in random spurts, however. It usually happens when my sister and I (we live together), end up having a surplus of some random ingredient, or something is sitting in the fridge or cupboard that threatens to expire soon. You know me and how I hate to waste anything. I’ll either eat it someway or another.

But what about 1 random ingredient, that isn’t very appetizing to eat alone but is perfectly useful not to throw away? When our mom was visiting, she stocked up on croissants at the Dupont Farmer’s Market on Sundays, but left us way too many of them when she went back to Orlando. We ended up with 1 plain croissant after all the almond and chocolate ones were finished. I’m not much of a plain croissant kind of gal, though, and by the time I realized it had been sitting in a tupperware on our counter for awhile, it was going stale.

But when I think of stale bread, I think of bread pudding. And while one croissant certainly isn’t enough for regular-sized pudding, it is plenty for at least a single serving. I found a great recipe as a starting off point and then tweaked some of the cooking process, knowing how a regular bread pudding is made. I exchanged and added some choice ingredients as well. After I had popped them in the oven, I actually waited nervously for about 30 minutes, checking the puddings after 20 minutes, every 5 minutes or so, for doneness. I dreaded having to throw away cups of inedible goo that could very possibly result. But I pulled the little puddings out, let them cool for a bit, and then took a bite out of one.

Success! The bread pudding was creamy, but had a nice, crisp crust on top, and the melted chocolate and peanut butter tasted wonderful with the buttery croissant. I felt completely satisfied but not too full after having just one, it was the perfect size.

I know I need to find my motivation more than just randomly, but at least I know that finding it brings good results!

Single- Serving Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding (makes 2)

  • 1 croissant (slightly stale works best)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (could use soy or regular milk if desired)
  • 1/8 cup white sugar (basically 1/2 of the 1/4 cup)
  • dark chocolate chips
  • about 1-2 tablespoons peanut butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. (My oven seems to be hotter than most, plus I converted the Celsius temperature to Fahrenheit from the original recipe). Slice the croissant in half and spread peanut butter on the insides of both halves. Rip or cut the halves into smaller (about 1-inch) pieces. Place 1 layer of the pieces on the bottom of 2 ramekins or oven-safe jars. Add a few chocolate chips, then place another layer of croissant pieces. Add more chocolate chips to your liking, tucking them in whatever space available.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg, milk and sugar. Carefully pour the mixture into both ramekins, filling close to the top. At this point, you can put these in the fridge and allow the the mixture to soak the bread for 30 minutes to an hour. But I’m impatient so I went ahead to the next step.

Place the ramekins in a small baking dish (I used a glass pie dish). Pull the middle wire shelf from the oven out and place the dish on it, and then fill the dish with hot water, until it reaches about half way up the ramekins. Push the shelf in and bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, although it may take a little more time (for me, it took closer to 30 minutes). To check for doneness, pull the shelf out and shake the dish to see if the pudding jiggles a little, or you can pierce one with a knife or toothpick. If it comes out clean (unless you poke a chocolate chip), it’s ready.

Let cool for 5 minutes and enjoy!

 

What do you do when you’re running low in motivation or inspiration?

Brunchin’ it. Part two.

8 Jul

There are two places that I’ve continuously heard from Washingtonians that are recommended as the top brunch spots in DC: Blue Duck Tavern and Tabard Inn. There are other excellent brunch spots in town (i.e. Birch & Barley), but for some reason, those two are like brunch institutions. I have yet to try BDT, but it remains in the back of my head for when I plan my next brunch outing.

Saturday brunch at Tabard Inn was half of a date that The Bf had planned for June – we’ve started this tradition of taking each other out on dates once a month, and we switch the planning responsibilities each month. I did May, Boyfriend tackled June. (Seeing “Midnight in Paris” was the other half the Saturday before). We had been slacking in the date department, so I initiated this plan in May. Hopefully, when we’re making a little bit more money, we can turn it into a bi-monthly or even weekly thing. :)

The “inn” part of Tabard Inn is incredibly quaint and nostalgic – when we arrived and waited in the seating area next to the lobby, I felt like I should be wearing a flapper dress and smoking with a long cigarette holder. The restaurant keeps up with the old-timey feel, with an atmosphere a cross between a Parisian cafe and a Southern restaurant in the ’50s.

My first suggestion if you decide to eat brunch at Tabard Inn: get the doughnuts. They’re soft and deceptively light. I probably could have eaten three but The Bf and I kept it at two each. They come with this lovely whipped cream that has a twinge of vanilla and is perfect to dip (or double-dip) the doughnut in.

I had the poached egg as my entree, which comes with cheese grits, fried oysters, pork belly and a bernaise sauce. If we hadn’t ordered doughnuts, I probably would’ve cleaned my plate, but alas my stomach can only expand so large. It’s a decadent dish, with each component being a bit richer than the next. The creamy grits had a strong cheese flavor (cheddar, maybe?) that I enjoyed, and the creaminess blended well with the crispiness of the oysters. The pork belly was salty and thick, a little tough though. I would take a little piece of each part to make one insanely flavorful bite.

Now that I’ve been to two restaurants that make their own signature doughnuts, I think it’s time that someone seriously considers opening up a doughnut shop. No, the one Krispy Kreme in Dupont Circle does not count (although I do love those doughnuts). If NYC can have a place like Doughnut Plant and San Francisco gets Dynamo Donuts, why can’t DC have it’s own shop selling only signature fried rings of sweet goodness? I think you can tell at this point that specialty doughnuts are slowly becoming my new obsession.

We got the skills to work the grills.

6 Jul

Until about now, my July 4th weekend was pretty non-stop, going from one food-centered event to another, spanning across Maryland, DC and Virginia. I was lucky enough to have the 5th off as well, which I pretty much spent recovering from the weekend, doing laundry, burning off my holiday gut with a run, and eating foods other than grilled meat. I think I’m good on steak and ribs for awhile.

To recap, on Saturday, a good chunk of my friends, Team DMV, met to reap the benefits of a grilling lesson. We came, they grilled, we conquered (the food).

Mmm…Ribs smothered in sauce, just the way I like ‘em.

Men, by the way, are funny. All the guys met before the designated meeting time of 6pm, and had already started grilling together at 4. They were often crowded around the meat or the grill or the kitchen. It’s almost like a rite of passage for men. There are certain things all guys must eventually check off on their man cards, and learning how to grill and cook a good steak or whatever hunk of meat is on hand is apparently one of them.

The Bf is already ticked off that box on his man card, having made this steak recipe before – it’s marinated in some spicy, succulent sauce that includes brown sugar and chiles before it’s grilled – it’s really delicious. I’m not much of a steak person at all but I will never turn a piece of these down. (I’ll try and snag this recipe from him sometime soon).

We did manage to diversify our spread with plenty of fruit, potato salad and deviled eggs. I love deviled eggs, by the way. I had to keep telling myself that I have to share with others and that I won’t keep friends if I eat half that plate.

Also, you can’t have a pre-July 4th grillout without some fireworks. In the apartment complex parking lot. Classy!


Of course, once you bring fireworks into the picture, we become a bunch of overgrown children and start “battling” with our sparklers, pretending they’re wands. Yes, I definitely shouted out “Expecto Patronum!” while brandishing mine (not when I took this picture, of course). Yes, I am 27 years old. No, I am not mature.

I spent most of Sunday museum-hopping with my wonderful friend Liz, who was in town for work first and stayed for some play. I don’t have any photos from the museums, but if you’re ever in DC, definitely visit the Holocaust museum – it’s very moving and the exhibits are fascinating, especially one on Nazi propaganda. The Crime and Punishment Museum (which unfortunately is one you have to pay for), is also really interesting, especially for those of you who are fans of crime shows like Law & Order, NCIS, etc.

We still had a ton of meat left to grill from Saturday, plus leftovers from the meat we did cook, so we gathered again on Monday to cook some more, play some basketball or tennis, hang out by the pool and just chat the day away. Oh and sweat. It’s damn hot here in DC right now.

 This time around, we did grill some vegetables – eggplant and zucchini, specifically – and they turned around absolutely delicious. Just sprinkle sliced veggies with salt and pepper and whatever herbs and seasonings you have on hand, and stick them straight on the grill. Call me crazy, but I might prefer this to grilled meat.

Sometimes, at the end of a hot day, the only thing that sounds satisfying is a slice of sweet watermelon. I used to hate watermelon, but for whatever reason, I love it now. I gotta say, next to grilled vegetables, it’s probably one of my favorite foods of the summer.

How was your July 4th holiday?

What’s your favorite summer food?

Brunchin’ it

1 Jul

Happy Friday! And Happy Canada Day to my Canadian friends, eh? 

Everyone’s stoked for the weekend. Those who aren’t going off to somewhere else for the holiday and sticking around here in the grand ol’ nations capitol probably have plans for grilling, barbeque-ing, drinking, fireworks-watching…or all of the above, which is what I have to look forward to. I consider myself super lucky this weekend because the higher-ups decided to close the office for the 5th as well. Which means 4 DAY WEEKEND. Yeeehawww.

I am definitely looking forward to spending time with my local homies, or my crew, or as we call ourselves, “Team DMV”. We all live in different parts of DC, Maryland and Virginia, thus DMV. Our group consists of twenty-somethings from around the US, including Washington State, California, Kansas, Arizona…but a huge chunk of us are ex-Florida residents. Somehow all of the young adults in Florida decided to move to DC after graduation. Or so it seems. I have a lot of Orlando/UF/Floridian friends here, which I’m super grateful for because it made moving here and making friends way easier than what I know most people experience.

Anyways, some of Team DMV and I visited Birch and Barley in Logan Circle for brunch recently and I’ve been meaning to write about it, because it was quite wonderful. The only negative to our experience was that we had to wait 30 minutes for our table, despite having a reservation (there was another party lingering beforehand at the table they were giving us). The folks at B&B were very accommodating, however, and offered us free flatbreads and doughnuts when we finally got to sit at our table. I was kind of surprised, actually. I really don’t remember the last time I experienced service like that when I had to wait for a reserved table. (That’s kind of sad, isn’t it?)

The food itself was phenomenal. We were treated to a chicken souvlaki flatbread, a buffalo chicken flatbread, and 2 plates of donuts: toffee bacon, lemon-poppy seed and a small donut hole glazed in bittersweet chocolate. Both flatbreads were full of flavor; I really liked how the buffalo chicken reminded me of chicken wings and celery with ranch. The chicken souvlaki had a great Mediterranean flavor to it with the hummus and tzatziki.

 

The toffee bacon donut was just as decadent as it’s name sounds, especially as it was still warm from the kitchen: a little sticky, but thick, sweet and salty and probably the best donut I’ve had so far on this cost of the U.S. I loved the lightness of the lemon-poppy seed, which had a good balance of both flavors. I enjoyed my tiny half of the chocolate-dipped donut hole. I mean, it’s fried dough dipped in chocolate. You know that’s always good. :P

I had the huevos rancheros as my main, which was presented in a sort of deconstructed way, with a pepper jack cheese and avocado omelet, pupusas, and poblano sausage, with a side of sour cream. Taking a little bit of everything at once onto the fork and eating that as a whole bite created that typical huevos rancheros taste, but even everything separate was delicious.

I tried a little bit of almost everyone else’s dishes (some of us had the same ones), and everything was equally rich and bold and filling. In terms of portion sizes, you certainly get your money’s worth here (I had a huge food baby belly after).

Ahh-mazing chicken and waffles, which I almost got. The chicken, by the way, must have been seasoned with crack, it was so delicious. (And no, that’s not crack sprinkled on top, that’s powdered sugar).

“Dinosaur Ed wants chicken and waffles, rawr!” I wonder if Jen ever realized he was making this face. Ed’s fried egg sandwich, by the way, was the most gut-busting sandwich I’ve ever tasted, because it had both fried egg AND pork belly on a thick pretzel roll. Yes, I’ll take that heart attack with a side of hash browns, please.

I hope my friends don’t kick me out of the crew for including our group photos. I love these guys, and besides, we make a good looking bunch of young’uns:

Already looking forward to the next Adventures of Team DMV this weekend…

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