Friday, March 18, 2011

Blackberry frosting

Two coworkers on my team had birthdays this week so I made a cake, another teammate bought cards, another teammate bought balloons, etc. This time I made a french vanilla cake (same as Karen's birthday cake in Dec) and I made a new frosting.
I wanted strawberry frosting but the strawberries didn't look great at Harris Teeter on Tuesday. I went for the blackberries and just subbed them into Cooking Agents' strawberry frosting recipe. I found my frosting to be too wet to hold up to piping. I tried a few different swirls and tips on wax paper but the shape wasn't holding. I did have a lot of frosting leftover. I must make some cupcakes to use it up!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

No. 68 Project

My husband and I went to our No. 68 Project dinner on Sunday night! The chef was Justin Bittner and the mixologist was Justin Noel. We don't have photos of every single food and drink course, but we took quite a few photos.

The night's theme An unexpected relationship will become permanent.

There was a rosemary infused drink at the beginning of the evening that was paired with a tuna tartar appetizer. I don't eat seafood so I'm not sure of the taste. Everyone around me grabbed up several of the tuna and seemed happy to accept more.

I loved the first drink. I actually ended up drinking two :) good start!

We moved upstairs to the seated portion of the evening.

The first upstairs course was a chicken liver mousse with black truffles, on buttered brioche, with a little fresh salad on the side. I'm not a huge fan of liver mousse but I did eat a little bit on both of my pieces of brioche. The big plus of the dish was it came with two fancy salts on the side. Salty liver mousse was better

Next course was a prawn with asparagus and hollandaise sauce.
I ate the asparagus and hollandaise part of the meal and gave my prawn away to my husband

The drink paired with this course had coconut flavoring and I believe it also had a liquor that was bacon fat washed. I sipped this a bit but didn't finish the drink. It was rich.

The next course was a lobster and scallop dish. There were peas, green beans, bacon, onion and a cream sauce infused with lobster also on the plate. I tried the veg and bacon and tried to avoid the cream sauce.

The drink with this course had pineapple juice in it. I really enjoyed this cocktail and finished it off. I finished it off so quickly we had to take a photo of the girl next to me's drink (Kristan)

Wooohooo next course was pork tenderloin, with gravy, and a potato/celery root gratin. Did I mention my husband recently bought celery root to make french fries? When we ate with Carla Hall one of her recipes included celery root so we stopped at the grocery store and bought one. Hey we are trendy! I of course could eat this course and did. I also stole some of my husbands :)

The drink had ginger beer. I couldn't do much more than a sip or two of it. See how it's brown like a root beer? It also had sage. We were given the recipes for the drinks but I don't have the menu in front of me. There were actually like 6 ingredients in each drink. Some seemed labor intensive.

Cheese course! Gorgonzola cheese, with wildflower honey, and strawberries. I don't even like honey but this was good.

The drink was fiery and awesome. I drank all of mine and Kristan offered me hers. I didn't finish the second one though. I was getting full. This drink had strawberry and serrano chili infused vodka among other things. I liked that it was pink. I'm a sucker for pink drinks.

Here is the drink side by side with the last one. The food and drink timing was off by the end of the evening. We'd get the food, start diving in, and then we'd remind ourselves the drinks were coming and to save some food for the drink pairing.

Hello chocolate dessert! Vanilla cream on the plate, a sprinkling a pistachios. YUM. We had a giant spoon for eating this and it seemed really out of proportion.

The last drink was across the table. I didn't really try to drink this one. It had something called creole bitters in it. It was also very creamy and the garnish on the toothpick is the bacon. Remember the drink with the fat washed bacon? Here is the bacon part. You have to cook the bacon to make the fat to infuse the liquor.

and 4 hours later dinner was over and we all had to roll out of there. Too bad we all had to work the next day. I would have had seconds on all my favorite drinks

Here is Justin

and all of his bottles

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Pop Up Restaurant

My husband and I have tickets to a pop up restaurant experience
for tomorrow night.

The chef, Justin Bittner
I love his quote for his last meal :) that's the type of food I want to eat.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


This recipe comes from Elly Says Opa!

Pastitsio is a Greek version of lasagna and it is delicious.

1 lb. bucatini pasta (I used ziti)
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/4 cup grated myzithra cheese (I used a soft goat cheese)
1 batch Greek meatsauce (recipe follows)
1 batch bechamel sauce (recipe follows)
1/4 cup kefalotyri cheese (I used a hard goat cheese)

Start by making the meatsauce. It needs to simmer for an hour

Greek Meatsauce
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs. ground beef (I used 2 pounds ground lamb)
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
5 or 6 whole cloves (make sure you count how many you use so you can fish them out later)
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley, or about 1.5T dried
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper

In a large heavy bottomed pan, heat your olive oil. Add the onions and saute until tender. Add the beef cooking until browned. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for a minute or two before adding the water, cinnamon stick, cloves, parsley, bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer, partially covered, for an hour, stirring occasionally.

Towards the end of the hour begin boiling the water for the pasta.

Cook the pasta until al dente in a large pot of lightly salted water. Drain, and then mix well with the beaten egg, butter, and the soft goat cheese.

While my pasta water was boiling I started the bechamel sauce

6 Tbsp. butter
2/3 cup flour
1 qt. milk (at room temp)
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (I didn't find whole nutmeg so I used ground nutmeg)
3/4 cup hard goat cheese, shredded
2 eggs
1 egg yolk

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Stir in the flour and make a roux, cooking for a few minutes until golden brown. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly with a whisk to combine well and avoid lumps. Bring the mixture up to just barely a boil. Continue cooking (and stirring) until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Add the nutmeg and season to taste with salt and pepper. Take the saucepan off the heat, continue stirring, and add in the cheese, eggs, and egg yolk.

Preheat the oven to 375.

Lightly grease your baking dish, and pour half the pasta mixture into the pan. Layer the entire meatsauce mixture over that, followed by the remaining pasta. Finally, pour the bechamel sauce over the noodles, and spread the mixture evenly.

Bake for about 45 minutes, until golden brown on top and bubbly. Let it sit for about 15 minutes or so before slicing into it.