Saturday, February 27, 2010

Food for your Soul

Speaking of food and eating... I have been thinking a lot recently about what really feeds my soul.  Here is my short list menu for inspiration:
  1. Coffee, cocktails or meals with certain friends leave me rejuvinated--- Check!
  2. Magazines, blogs, books (cooking, design, business) create new knowledge--- Check!
  3. Museums, Music and Making Food make me feel creative--- Check!
Good news Chaos fans... my goal is to do something each day that leaves me inspired and cooking is top on that list (please sing refrain--- more chicken, less chaos).

Today I came home to this email from a friend who has the ingredients to fall into all three of my menu items.  The meal sounds AMAZING and it was nice to hear that it was inspired by me. 

Sooo I didn't tell you about my menu yesterday... It was good.
Appetizer/snack of crispy baked chickpeas with ceyanne-chili seasoning.
Mesclun greens with cannelini beans, shredded carrots, green onion, feta cheese and a cumin-spiced balsamic vinigrette.
Sautee of Chicken, Asparagus, Snow peas and Green Onions with a Garlic-Ginger-Coconut Milk sauce (secret ingredient vanilla)...
It was Stacey inspired!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Q&A about a Friday lunch out

Did I eat a burger for lunch?
Yes I did.

Seriously? A burger? One with Meat?
Yes. I did. I will not lie.

Was it from the BRG?
Why yes. Yes, it was.

The one across the street from your office that you pretend is not there?
Yes. That one. The one that has the amazing Greek Burger I dream of but rarely speak of.

Did it have cheese?
Yes, damn it.  It did. It was amazing. Oiey Gooey. Couldn't get enough.

Did I eat the entire burger?
Yes. Yes, I cannot lie. I ate the ENTIRE burger. Bun and all. (Bun prepared with butter)

But I had them hold the sweet potato fries, right?
No.  I got them. I savored over half of them. There, I told you.

Was it good?
Yes. It was amazing. Worth every calorie. Worthy of the Bobby Flay Throwdown.

Am I feeling guilty?
Yes. Yes I am. Couldn't feel more guilty unless I was Catholic. Conversation with healthier, more fit, slightly guilty conscious would have and should have stopped me.

Unfortunately the smarter, more health conscious Stacey is on vacation... at a spa... eating seaweed and kale... and dreaming of a juicy, cheese filled, carb loaded burger. Sometimes you just have to give in.

*the guilt led me to look up nutritional value of this said meal and it is never a good sign when the restaurant does not include it on the website. Just saying... Just saying.

**image is not representative of exact burger I consumed (from Best Bites Blog).  My burger was without bacon and disappeared WAY TOO FAST for flash.  Visit the Washingtonian Best Bites for more details on BGR, The Burger Joint. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Monkey See, Monkey Do.

Children are sponges.  They mimic the people around them.  It's natural.  What I am realizing is that this is not an action that changes much as an adult.  We easily take on the traits of others around us.  People adopt your phrases, your style and even sponge off your attitude. For me, I mimic other's recipes (who am I kidding, your shoes influence me, too!)

In this case of monkey-see, monkey-do there was Monkey Bread... a recipe that took me back to 1982 in the kitchen with my sister as we created this addictive treat.

Monkey Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze

Smitten Kitchen
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, who does not use a cream cheese glaze, but should

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) unsalted butter, divided (2 tablespoons softened, 2 tablespoons melted)

1 cup milk, warm (around 110 degrees)
1/3 cup water, warm (also around 110 degrees)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 package or 2 1/4 teaspoons rapid rise, instant or bread machine yeast
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
2 teaspoons table salt

(Can also cheat with store bought biscuit dough as a said Tina Price did circa 1982.)
Brown Sugar Coating
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick or 4 ounces), mleted

Cream Cheese Glaze
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons powdered sugar, plus extra if needed
2 tablespoons milk, plus extra if needed
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Get oven and pan ready: Adjust oven rack to medium-low position and heat oven to 200°F. When oven reaches 200, turn it off. Butter Bundt pan with 2 tablespoons softened butter. Set aside.

Make dough: In large measuring cup, mix together milk, water, melted butter, sugar, and yeast.

To proceed with a stand mixer, mix flour and salt in standing mixer fitted with dough hook. Turn machine to low and slowly add milk mixture. After dough comes together, increase speed to medium and mix until dough is shiny and smooth, 6 to 7 minutes. (The dough should be sticky but if it is too wet to come together into anything cohesive, add an additional 2 tablespoons flour.) Turn dough onto lightly floured counter and knead briefly to form smooth, round ball.

To proceed by hand, mix flour and salt in large bowl. Make well in flour, then add milk mixture to well. Using wooden spoon, stir until dough becomes shaggy and is difficult to stir. Turn out onto lightly floured work surface and begin to knead, incorporating shaggy scraps back into dough. Knead until dough is smooth and satiny, about 10 minutes. Shape into taut ball and proceed as directed.

Coat large bowl with nonstick cooking spray or a tablespoon of neutral oil. Place dough in bowl and coat surface of dough with more cooking spray or oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in warm oven until dough doubles in size, 50 to 60 minutes.

Make brown sugar coating: Place melted butter in one bowl. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in a second one.

Form the bread: Flip dough out onto floured surface and gently pat into an 8-inch square. Using a bench scraper or knife, cut dough into 64 pieces. I found it helpful to immediately separate them from the rest of the “grid” or they quickly reformed a big doughy square in 64 parts.

Roll each piece of dough into ball. Working one at a time, dip balls in melted butter, allowing excess butter to drip back into bowl. (I found a fork to be helpful for this process.) Roll in brown sugar mixture, then layer balls in Bundt pan, staggering seams (something I didn’t do, but should have) where dough balls meet as you build layers.

Cover Bundt pan tightly with plastic wrap and place in turned-off oven until dough balls are puffy and have risen 1 to 2 inches from top of pan, 50 to 70 minutes.

Bake bread: Remove pan from oven and heat oven to 350°F. Unwrap pan and bake until top is deep brown and caramel might begin to bubble around edges, 30 to 35 minutes. (The reason for the “might” is that CI says that it should, but mine did not bubble, leading me to bake mine for an extra 5 to 10 minutes, during which it still did not bubble but go the dark crust you see in the photos. Next time, I’d take it out sooner.) Cool in pan for 5 minutes (no longer, or you’ll have trouble getting it out) then turn out on platter and allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

Make glaze: Beat cream cheese with powdered sugar until smooth and light. Add milk and vanilla and this is where you can kick me because I completely forgot I was a food blogger for a minute there and know I added a touch more milk and sugar but did not write down how much. I have some nerve! Just taste and adjust — you’re looking for something that tastes equally tangy and sweet, and texturally thin enough to drape over the bread but thick enough that it will not just roll off completely.

Drizzle the glaze over warm monkey bread, letting it run over top and sides of bread. Serve warm.

The Monkey Bread we created in the 80's on Stultz Road was a little less gourmet--- bisquit dough and no cream cheese but it sure was delicious. 

Every decade I bring this back... once for a birthday party with highschool friend Beth Shopshire and then again for a class.  I used this recipe for a demonstration speech, circa 1996 in a public speaking class.  The night before I created a finished version using a stove at the apartment of my roommate's boyfriend (I lived in dorm and did not have a stove).  I went to pick it up before class and there was a big chunk eaten from it.  I do not remember how I improvised and adapted the speech but I do remember that I was successfully awarded an A.  Even then I knew how to make the truth sparkle. 

Now that it is 2010 and the monkey has seen... this monkey must again do.  Happy baking. 

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Proof was in the Sanity

Every so often a gal needs a night of relaxation, ranting and red. Red wine, that is.  This week was one of them.

Between 7:00 a.m. Monday and 7 p.m. Tuesday it felt like a week had gone by and I finally reached a point of sanity at Proof, circa 7:01 p.m.  Located in Penn Quarter, this well decorated, well educated and well stocked establishment helped me feel myself again.

Larger than 14th St's Cork but more intimate that Enology, I found Proof to be my goldilocks of wine bars and I promise the sanity component had nothing to do with it. 

Glasses of wine at Proof come in 2 oz tastes, 6 oz, or 8.5 oz for a regular glass. Since we are two ladies that know what we want, G and I ordered a bottle of dry, spicy Rhone and gabbed away. While waiting on a third friend, we snacked on Rosemary Honey nuts that made me nostalgic for my store that I closed a year ago this week and the Nutty Gal mixes we used to sell.  When K came in we ordered more wine and a Mediterranean flat bread that was AMAZING.  I know what you are thinking... everyone does flatbreads but this was a salad that happened to be on top of bread.  Garlic Chickpea puree, Smoked Eggplant, Pickled Radish and Kalamata Olives... it was quite tasty.  We also shared the Olive Oil Roasted Brussel Sprouts that were repeatable.  Food great, check.  Wine great, check.  Emotions much better, check. But overall, it was the atmosphere that will bring me back.  Beautiful decor that was beautifully laid out to create intimate nooks without seeming crowded, this wine bar understands big picture!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Deviant Behavior?

No, just kale chips. 

My boss was a little curious when she saw the green remains of my Kale Chips in a zip lock bag on my desk.  I had to explain this was my more health contentious response to crispy, savory mid-day cravings.  I had to laugh when I realized what it resembled, especially since Stacey 2010 has a new calm reaction to stress and deadlines... with my previous type A chaotic attitude and the sprinkly green remains, I must look a little suspicious.  

Super easy, yummy and nutricious... these are a favorite new snack:

Parmesan Kale Chips
You need:  
Sea Salt

Preheat oven to about 375.  Tear kale in bite size pieces on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with about 2 tsp of olive oilSprinkle with Parmesan and a sprinkle of kosher salt. Bake for about 15 minutes, until edges are brown and kale is crispy when moved in pan.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Normally I am partial to a red head...

or a dark haired man... BUT, I am in LOVE with this blondie. 

Killer Blondies

(from thekitchn blog)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, plus butter for pan

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup dark brown muscovado sugar (find at Whole Foods or other gourmet store)

2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon instant coffee dissolved in 1/2 teaspoon brandy

1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons toffee chips

1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans

3/4 cup butter

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup mixed white and chocolate chips

1/2 cup pecans

1 teaspoon kosher salt or fleur de sel

Butter and line a 9 by 9 by 2-inch baking pan with parchment paper, allowing a 2-inch overhang. Butter the lining too.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan; add both sugars and whisk until combined and sugar is melted, about 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and let cool slightly. Whisk in the eggs, vanilla and coffee/brandy mixture until combined. Add the flour and whisk until just incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips, toffee chips and almonds.

Refrigerate mixture 12 hours or overnight. When ready to bake, bring batter to room temperature and preheat oven to 350°F. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan.

Bake for 24 to 27 minutes or until the top cracks slightly and is firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the center comes out with moist pieces clinging to it.

In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together 3/4 cup butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar, stirring constantly until bubbly. Once it starts bubbling cook and stir for 1 minute.

 Scatter the 1/2 cup of chocolate and white chips and pecans over warm blondies.

 Pour the butter and sugar mixture evenly over nuts and chocolate in pan. Make sure not to get too close to the edges of the pan or it will burn to the sides.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ginger from the Ginger...

For the first time the other day I was referred to as a Ginger.  I don't know, I think I liked it.

Reflecting on my new nickname and the Chinese New Year I decided to cook with this zesty root... and alot of it.

Tonight at Chaos on K, I created what might be my best chicken dish ever (yes, chicken again).  There was little chaos but a lot of good tunes, a variety of flavors and later surprise company that made for one tasty evening.

Ginger's Chicken
1 lb Chicken Breast, cubed
5 inches ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups shitake mushrooms
2 cups edamame, shelled
3 scallions, chopped
Juice of one lime
5 tablespoons of honey
5 tablespoons soy sauce

Saute chicken with half the garlic and ginger until brown.  Add remaining garlic and ginger, soy sauce, honey, lime juice and vegatables.  Simmer for 15 minutes on low.  Serve with or without rice. 

For the Tunes
Merry Happy- Kate Nash
Spies- Coldplay (Live)
Everywhere- Vampire Weekend
Gray or Blue- Jay May
Weight of Lies- Avett Brothers
I Turn My Camera On- Spoon
Mango Tree- Angus and Julia Stone
The Funeral- Band of Horses
Me and Her- DMB
Sort of- Ingrid Michealson (Live)

For the Company
Add a good friend, old or new, that shows up and makes your night.  Just make sure he or she loves your food, appreciates your music and most importantly makes you laugh! 

Friday, February 12, 2010

Price's Polenta

Lastweek at an Old Town restaurant I made a decision that left me a little unsettled. 

It all centered around my entree choice and a said Gouda Polenta.  In the moment, at the table sitting there with a person ordering a salad I made the decision that I could not order such a heavy, non-colorful, rich dish as a main course.  I have regretted it since the moment beet salad escaped my lips. 

It is all I can think about--  the cream, the Gouda, the warm comfort of this dish. 

Now, do not get me wrong, the beet salad was AMAZING but Creamy Gouda Polenta is a savory food lovers Creme Brulee.  Today I settled this issue and made my savory dream come true .

I re-created the said Creamy Gouda Polenta at Chaos on K.  I am not sure if this will hold up to Rustico but it did the trick for me. 

Price's Polenta
(Altered from Emeril Laggasi's Creamy Polenta)


1 cup cold water

1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 cups chicken broth or water
1 cup greek yogurt
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup grated smoked creamy Gouda

In a small bowl, combine cold water and cornmeal. Let stand 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine chicken broth, garlic, salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil. Gradually whisk in cornmeal mixture and reduce heat to low. Cook 20 minutes, stirring frequently with a wire whisk, until mixture is thick and creamy. Stir in greek yogurt, smoked Gouda and simmer until cheese melts, stirring constantly.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Excuse me, but Is that an onion growing in your kitchen?

Yes, my friends, it is. 
This gal has a certified garden growing in her microscopic kitchen on K.  Organic at that.

This is what happens when you buy organic produce and do not cook enough.  I think it has artistic possibilities so I have displayed the spring bulb beside the winter berries I snatched from the tree outside.  What will happen if I let it grow?  Will it produce more onions? Without dirt?  I am my father's daughter, rumor has it he grew rocks once.

Time will only tell my friends.  But no worries... I am sure with lack of cooking I will keep you up-to-date. A gal has to have something food related to speak of!

Stay tuned for the agrarious adventures of a said Ms. Farmer Price...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

WARNING- This is a tale of a SAD, SAD, SNOWY city

The stores were barren, even lastnight...
Food bloggers were twittering about no flour left in the district.

This is my neighborhood... not a soul in sight.
TV urges us to stay in...  The streets feel like the day after on a bad Sci-Fi movie.
Will we ever be able to leave again?  Will it be Spring? Will we be the same?
Please, please make it end.   

xoxo, sdp
stir-crazy and stir-frying (with not a lot of food but a lot of creativity) on K

Monday, February 8, 2010

General Chaos... or Chicken (Who is Tso Anyway?)

... I think I had a flash back to circa 1993 when I was writing this entry.  Was there a video game called General Chaos?  Seriously... it all circles back to the chaos. 

Tonight I decided to make my own version of General Tso's chicken.  Yes, that is right folks, Chicken.  Actually Chicken.  Little Chaos.  Read it.  Believe it.  Spread it.

Craving the wonderful goodness from PF Changs I opted for a healthier version prepared at Chaos on K.  (Plus, no PF Changs anywhere close by).

 General Tso's Chicken(adapted from Emeril Laggase's recipe)
1 large egg white
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons dry sherry
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 teaspoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons EVOO
12 dry red chile peppers
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup roughly chopped lightly toasted cashews

Head of broccoli chopped

In a bowl, whisk together the egg white, 2 tablespoons of the cornstarch, 2 tablespoons of the wine, and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for up to 2 hours. (This tested my patience... I only did one hour and it tasted JUST FINE).

To make the sauce, in another bowl, whisk remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of the chicken stock until smooth. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons chicken stock, 1 tablespoon wine, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, the vinegar, and honey and whisk to combine. Set aside until ready to finish the dish.

Saute chicken in oil until golden brown and cooked through, about 2 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels. Add the chile peppers and stir-fry. Add the garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and 1/2 cup green onions. Stir-fry until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the chicken stock sauce, broccolli and bring to a boil, and cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

Served sans rice with Mat Kearney in the background... I am eating comfort foods in the comforts of K dreaming of a time without snow. 

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Boxes and Babushkas

I am not sure why this is but people always want to put me in a box (please see my thoughts on boxes) and get challenged when they can't. Seriously, aren't we all this complex?  I guess not.

I was creating a snack like dinner with a friend and with a confused look he said, "I don't know... I just thought you would cook something fancier."  The other day a colleague said, "Sometimes I am surprised at what comes out of your mouth... you look like such as fashionista but you are really intelligient."  Guess what folks, I am all those things! 

Last week I was described as a Russian Babushka doll: a set of hollow wooden figures, each of which splits in half to contain the next smallest figure, down to the smallest.  The outside doll being fashion girl, followed by intellegient girl, followed by confident girl, then funny girl and finally the sensitive/shy girl.  Since this was the funniest description I had heard since 1984, I was in tears.  It is true.  I think people probably get most confused by dolls one and two and then finally when they discover five they are stumped.

My reflection of all this self-reflection lead me right back to the kitchen to the Onion Theory.  Once upon a time in 1996, Betty Kennan taught us the Onion theory in an interpersonal communication course.  We are a collective of many layers that can only be peeled one at a time.  When you finally get to the last layer you know that you have the complete trust of the individual. 

So, in food terms, no matter how you peel me, slice me, saulte me I make your dish a some-what spicy, certainly more interesting and a little more delicious.

You can not put me in a box, friends, but maybe you can put me in a babushka.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Snow Survival for Snowpacalyse 2010

Will it happen?  Will it come?  Well the people in the grocery store seem to think so.  They are calling it EPIC, PARALYZING and CRIPPLING.  Seems like the focus is on the district...

 I stopped at Whole Foods at 7 a.m. to beat the crowd and stood in line for 30 minutes. 
 There is no milk,  little bread and NO BANANAS. While others are gathering batteries and the like, here's what I have put together for my time indoors: 

SSS Kit (Stacey Snow Survival Kit )

available online soon
Hank Moody and the first 2 seasons of Californiacation
The Ad Guys in Season 1 of Mad Men
Red Wine
Greek Yogurt
Hazelnut Gelato
Amy's Organic BBQ Chicken Pizza
Two copies of Newsweek
One Women's Health
One Cooking Light
And one great mixed CD sent RI style... 

Rumor has it that there are two snow ball fights in the city on Saturday (see Twitter and Facebook) so I am getting my throwing skills in check.  

I am ready folks... are you? 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Chaos and Coconut

So I must admit that since I have started working with my new client, Hello Cupcake, my dreams have been sugar coated... covered in Coconut Frosting.  I am IN LOVE with the Triple Coconut Cupcake in a way that only lyrical dance could show.  It is coconut cake, coconut icing with toasted coconut on top.  Seriously, it is heavenly.

This month, until February 15th when you go online to : you can get a free cupcake (even the coconut one) if you give a pick-up story.  I know, clever, right? 

Clever, coconuty and even a little chaotic... just like we like it!