Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes

Yesterday was IHOP free pancake day: an amazing day of the year. I haven't eaten at an IHOP in ages, but given that it was my day off, I thought pancakes still sounded like a fabulous idea.

These pancakes are extremely light and fluffy. They taste like the ones you would get at a place like IHOP, and they go perfectly with real maple syrup. Best of all, the ratios are equal numbers of everything, and are therefore super super easy to remember.


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk (maybe a little more to the right consistency)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1 Tbsp sugar (I always add just a little bit more butter and sugar)
  1. Mix together all dry ingredients
  2. Add egg, butter and buttermilk, mixing gently. Don't remove all the lumps
  3. Cook pancakes on heated pan. Flip when bubbles form on one side and stay (just like normal pancake instructions)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Phuoc Loc - A Restaurant Review

Phuoc Loc Bakery and Deli
6785 Wilson Blvd Suite 38 (in Eden Center)
Falls Church VA, 22044
(703) 854-1750

I know this looks like a typical boba drink you could find at Quickly or Sweethearts or any old regular boba shop. I've been to my fair share of those places all through college. Quickly was my late night stop for a 99 cent boba and french fries/jalapeno poppers/squid balls/other unhealthy yet delicious foods. I won't say it was good, but it was cheap and fast. It was what I always thought of as "typical boba"

This, my friends, is not typical boba.

Every time I've gone to Phuoc Loc, it has been neither cheap nor fast. At $3.68 for a boba, it's more than most places charge, but I would be absolutely pay this price and more for the drinks at this particular shop.

The tapioca balls are the right texture, but the best part of the drink is the fact that every drink is made with fresh fruit. Most of these shops can be so fast because they use powdered drink mix. But it takes a long time to make these drinks if you're scooping out fresh mango or coconut and juicing sugar cane for these drinks.

The picture is of their lychee drink, but after trying so many of the menu items, my favorite is the coconut. It's thick, refreshing and delicious. I won't get boba anywhere else.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Lemon Caper Quinoa Patties

Quinoa has been one of my favorite foods since my college days at Berkeley. I lived with quite a few vegetarians/vegans in a cooperative house and had to get used to cooking all sorts of things I'd never cooked before. Quinoa was by far my favorite discovery. It's full of protein and fiber. It's gluten free, and it's one of the best ancient grains. It takes on whatever flavors you impart into it, and it creates a very filling side or main dish.

I could spend an entire post extolling the virtues of quinoa, but for now I'll give you one of my favorite quinoa main dish recipes. I love capers, so I added some extra. You can reduce the amount if it suits you.

Quinoa Patties (makes 8)

  • 1 ⅓ cups cooked quinoa
  • splash soy sauce
  • 1 ½ Tbsp capers
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 egg
  • ½ chopped onion
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 3 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • pinch of allspice
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • olive oil for frying

  1. Cook quinoa with a splash of soy sauce in the water. You’ll have 1 serving of leftovers if you do ¾ cup quinoa with 1 ½ cup water. Bring water to a boil, add rinsed quinoa and simmer covered until liquid is absorbed.
  2. While quinoa is cooking, mix together all other ingredients except olive oil.
  3. Form quinoa into patties and fry until crispy on both sides. Serve with a small dollop of greek yogurt and chives if desired.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mustard Fennel Pork Tenderloin

This pork is one of the fastest, easiest recipes to make for a group gathering. It's a hit with a crowd and makes the best sandwiches the following day. You can't ask for anything better for either a weekend or a weeknight meal. 

Mustard Pork Loin

  • 2 1 lb pork tenderloins
  • 2 apples
  • 2 parsnips
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh rosemary
  • ¼ cup stone ground or whole grain mustard

  1. Generously coat pork with salt, pepper, fresh rosemary and the green sprigs from the fennel bulbs. Place in refrigerator at least 4 hours or up to overnight to let flavors permeate.
  2. Remove pork from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature.
  3. Slice apples, fennel and parsnips into even sized pieces. Coat in olive oil and place in roasting pan. Roast for 10 minutes at 325 degrees.
  4. While vegetables are roasting, hard sear pork in skillet until brown on all sides. Deglaze with red wine for a quick pan sauce if desired. Remove pork from pan and place on the root vegetables. Rub the top of each pork loin with half the mustard. Add more if desired for a stronger flavor.
  5. Place pan in the oven and cook pork for half an hour at 325 or until internal temperature registers 140-145 degrees.
  6. Remove pork from oven and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Portugese Sweet Bread (Pao Doce)

When I was much younger, I remember getting sweet bread three times per year. My grandmother and aunt would make large batches at Easter, Christmas and Mardi Gras, before the start of lent and our requisite fasting. By large batches, I mean 10 loaves at a time to eat on the big feast days and send to other family members. It has a lot of eggs and butter, making it similar to panettone but not as sweet. It's got a nice kick from the spices and it is a great snack at all times of the day. Most of all, you can make this any time of year, not just on holidays. It's too good to relegate to just those days.

This recipe is pretty difficult to do without a stand mixer. The batter will be sticky and loose, almost like cake batter. I've scaled down the recipe to make only 2 loaves, which seems like a much more reasonable amount for any regular occasion. 

This post has been submitted to Yeastspotting

Azores Sweet Bread

Ingredients (2 loaves)
  • 1 ⅔ lbs AP flour
  • 1 pack dry yeast
  • 10 eggs
  • 2 sticks butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon extract
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg

  1. Dissolve yeast with 1 tsp sugar and 3 Tbsp of warm water for 10 minutes until frothy.
  2. Whisk together egg, sugar, spices and lemon. Slowly add melted butter
  3. Add yeast and flour. Mix and knead for 15 minutes.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and blankets and let rise for 4 hours.
  5. Divide dough into greased loaf pans and let rise for 4 more hours. Make sure not to fill the pans more than halfway, to allow enough space to proof and finish in the oven.
  6. Bake at 300 for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 285 and continue baking another 25 minutes or until a tester is clean.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Lemon Coolers: a homemade, discontinued girlscout cookie

Several years ago, the Girl Scouts had a cookie called a Lemon Cooler. They were marketed as a low fat cookie from about 2000-2006 when they were discontinued/retired. Even though they were low fat, they were sweet and refreshing. It was a vanilla cookie with just a hint of tart. They were perfect when you didn't want chocolate, and you could eat 5 cookies for the caloric equivalent of 2 samoas. 

Those cookies seem to have come back for the 100th anniversary, now dubbed with the name "Savannah Smiles" (which means, of course, that there is a stripper somewhere with the unfortunate name of Thin Mint or Tagalong). But I will always call these delicious cookies lemon coolers. 

It might almost be girlscout cookie season, but in the off times when you long for those delicious cookies, you can always make this recipe or a recipe for homemade Samoas to hold you over from one year to the next. 

Lemon Coolers

  • ½ cup butter
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon extract or zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup - 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 Tbsp corn starch
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup milk
  • additional confectioners sugar for rolling

  1. Cream together butter and sugar. Mix in vanilla, lemon and milk
  2. Add starch, flour, salt and baking powder and mix until combined
  3. Roll into a log and freeze at least one hour
  4. Slice into circles and then half moons if desired.
  5. Bake 12 minutes at 350 degrees.
  6. After cookies are cool, roll in powdered sugar

Friday, February 10, 2012

Homemade Samoas

It's been a while since I've been to this website. Life has been so crazy that I haven't had time to update as much as I would like. Worse, I haven't had time to cook as much as I would like.  But I knew I needed to share a couple more recipes with my few loyal readers.

I realized the other day that it was almost Girlscout cookie season. I made these a couple months ago but haven't had the time to update this blog with a post. I used a 70% dark chocolate instead of regular semi sweet. It cuts the sweetness of the caramel a little bit, and you only need the smallest amount of chocolate on the bottom of the cookie to give a fantastic richness.

It's easy to find plenty of recipes for these same cookies anywhere on the internet, but that does not diminish my appreciation for them, nor my need to share.



  • ½ cup butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • ⅛ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ t salt
  • ¼ t vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp milk
  • 1 ½ cup toasted coconut
  • 7 oz soft caramels
  • pinch salt
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 4 oz chocolate

  1. Cream together butter and sugar. Add flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla and 1 Tbsp milk to form cookie dough
  2. Wrap cookies and chill for 1 hour. Roll out to ¼ inch thickness and cut rings from the cookies
  3. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes. Let cool completely before putting chocolate and caramel on them
  4. Melt caramels with milk and mix in toasted coconut
  5. Melt chocolate. Dip the bottoms and drizzle over the tops.

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