Oy vey. Oy vey.
I like matzo. As flavorless and dry as it is, I enjoy matzo pizza, matzo PB&J, and mazto balls. I really enjoy matzo balls. Their soft, spongy insides are endearing and they induce a sense of nostalgia (even though I’m not the slightest bit Jewish).
The matzo balls in the campus soup, however, were not soft or spongy. They were dense, dry, and mealy. The balls were cold and the centers were not cooked through. I didn’t understand complaints about matzo bowl soup. I thought Jewish kids were being whiny. Today, I learned that good matzo ball soup might be the exception.
Jewish students and mazto lovers (yes, we exist!), do not despair. The soup isn’t the only matzo option. Paws & Go sells matzo and I wrote a post (last Passover) about what you can do with it.
I was rummaging through my freezer, looking for anything to do something with, when I stumbled upon a bag of frozen mango chunks. My first thought: “mango jam!” My second thought: “you’re dumb.” Jam is all about preserving fantastically fresh fruit that is bursting with flavor. Frozen fruit isn’t jam-able.
But I did it anyway. I rarely listen to my second thoughts. Generally, my second thought is right and me and my first thought just end up looking as stupid as my second thought said we would (I just ignored my second thought that said: “don’t write that sentence, you sound like a crazy person).
This time, however, me and my first thought triumphed. The mango jam was delicious despite being made with frozen mango. So throw your second thought that says: “don’t listen to Fooducated, it won’t be good” out the window and please do try this super simple recipe.
- 1 pound frozen mango chunks
- 1/2 cup of white sugar
- 1/4 cup of lemon juice
- Throw everything in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Stir often until the sugar dissolves.
- Once the mango is soft enough (about 15 minutes), smush it.
- Bring the smushed mango mixture to a boil and let it boil until it thickens (about another 15 minutes).
- Let it cool.
Lit candles rested in small piles of shell-studded sand at the center of each intimate table. Paintings of beaches hung on the walls and water trickled down the small waterfall in the corner. Everything about Lulu, Chef Colby Walloch’s pop-up in Studio 40, was calming.
Given the chance to create a sneak peek into his dream restaurant, Chef Walloch chose to go with the type food he started his career cooking: casual seafood fare from the Pacific Northwest (Chef Walloch grew up in Portland). He named the spot after his two-year-old daughter, who’s his “number one sous chef at home.”
The atmosphere at Lulu matched Chef Walloch’s personality: quiet but confident. He clearly wasn’t going to serve sous vide foie gras or deconstructed champaign infused caviar (whatever that would be), only clean, well-executed interpretations of classic dishes.
The meal began with a crab shell filled with the juices that emerge when you cook a crab.
The juice tasted more like crab than any crab I’ve ever eaten. It was fresh but decadent and super salty (in a good way). “This tastes like the beach,” Nate said joyously. It reminded me of the summer nights I’ve spent on Cape Cod, happily licking the fresh shellfish drippings off of my fingers. I’ll take dipping my bread in crab juice over olive oil any day.
The first course was a small square of pork belly coated in BBQ sauce with cheddar grits. It seemed like a deviation from the Pacific Northwest concept but Chef Walloch explained that the dish, like the rest of his menu, was “rooted within home.” The BBQ sauce stems from his time working for a southern family. The grits came from the Tillamook Creamery, a creamy on a river near Chef Walloch’s childhood home.
The grits were wonderfully creamy and slightly sharp. The cream did a good job of mitigating the sweet and spicy BBQ sauce. I was most impressed by the texture of the pork belly. I’ve had really dry fat-free pork belly and really jiggly fat-filled pork belly. Chef Walloch rendered the fat perfectly, deftly avoiding both of those results. The crispy outside of his pork belly gave away to a tender inside.
The next course was a mixed local greens salad served alongside a piece of steelhead that was sitting on a bed of roasted mushrooms.
Thin slices of pickled radishes added acid to the peppery local greens and strong blue cheese. The steelhead – which is a species of trout that lives in the Pacific Ocean – was covered in an acidic pesto-esque sauce. Charred, earthy mushrooms grounded the light flavors in the buttery fish and the sauce.
Chef Walloch followed it with my favorite course of the night: chowder.
Chef Walloch’s Portland take on New England Clam Chowder was the night’s superstar because (a) it was delicious and (b) replacing the crab with fried oysters coated in a cornbread breading was an imaginative but understated twist.
A deep bacon-created smokiness ran through the cream. On its own, the cream soup was a bit too salty for me. But with the oysters, the saltiness was replaced with wonderfulness. The breading added crunchiness, which is a texture that soups don’t often include.
The next course was a heaping pile of Dungeness crab legs covered in a chili garlic sauce. Here’s an action shot of Chef Patrick McElroy helping Chef Walloch plate:
When my plate arrived, I stared at it, wondering where to start. “There’s no elegant way to eat this,” Chef Walloch warned. I rolled up my sleeves, grabbed the crab leg openers, and started cracking away.
I’ve never had spicy crab before. The combination of chili, garlic, lime, and cilantro added Asian flare. Actually getting through the shell was a challenge but we were rewarded with bites of succulent, tender crabmeat.
The meal ended with chocolate cake that Chef Walloch added as a “nod back to the first dessert” he ever cooked in a restaurant. It was 1987 and the pastry chef didn’t show up so Chef Walloch was forced to learn on the spot. And learn he did. I don’t love chocolate (I know… it’s a sin) but I loved Chef Walloch’s chocolate cake.
When I cut into it, warm chocolate oozed out and into the salted caramel sauce and thick whipped cream. Every bite was decadent beyond belief. The salty sweetness from the caramel cut through the rich, bitter chocolate. Yes. Yes is all I can say.
Lulu was clearly a true manifestation of Chef Walloch’s dream concept; its understated elegance could only stem from genuine passion.
As I was leaving, my friend Ish said: “it’s not fair, you get to go to all of them.” Ish, you’re right. It’s not fair and I hope that never changes. I get to eat delicious food while watching talented chefs like Walloch do what they love to do.
You can experience some of the magic too. If you’d like to attend a WU Restaurant dinner, “like” Dining Services on Facebook and join the event when they raffle off tickets for the next one. The dinners only cost $12.95. $12.95 for a five course meal is unheard of.
The very talented students over at Kuumba have posted a beautiful video about this night. Check it out:
Kuumba TV is a student group that creates short documentaries about creativity on our campus.
Stop bullying brussel sprouts. Sure, they’re green. And yes, sometimes they smell like farts. But they’re just small little nuggetlets trying to make it in the big produce world.
I’m willing to bet my friendship with JP that if you make this recipe, brussel sprouts will quickly become one of your favorite vegetables.
On Friday night, I made some new friends and they gave me a ton a smoked pork jowl (it wasn’t as sketchy as it sounds). On Saturday, while walking around Soulard Market, I spotted beautiful, perfect brussel sprouts at one of the stands. I suddenly remembered reading a recipe for penne with brussel sprouts and pancetta in the Times. Dinner was born.
I did make a few adjustments to the recipe. I bailed on the Serrano chile, rosemary, and lemon. Whoever designed the kitchen in my dorm considered counter space a luxury and decided that Wash U is luxurious enough. I have to cut everything on top of the microwave. So I try to cook with very few ingredients.
The Times article called for pancetta but I used the jowl and I think that’s the way to go. If you can’t track down smoked jowl, go with thick slices of bacon. Pancetta won’t add smokiness and it’s the smokiness that takes the bitter brussel sprouts, hot red pepper flakes, and sweet garlic to a whole other level.
This pasta turned out so well that I’m already looking forward to eating leftovers tomorrow.
- 1 pound of brussel sprouts, thinly sliced
- 1 pound of smoked pork jowl or bacon
- 1 pound of penne
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
- 1/2 tablespoon of red pepper flakes
- 3/4 cups of grated parmesan or Gruyere
- Salt and pepper
- Cook the penne until it’s just barely al dente (about one minute less than it says on the box).
- In a deep pan, over high heat, sear the jowl until it starts to crisp up.
- Drain most of the fat from the pan.
- Add the olive oil, garlic, brussel sprouts, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Saute for about 4 minutes while stirring frequently.
- Add the penne to the pan, top it with the cheese, and mix until the cheese melts and everything is well incorporated.
- Serve and enjoy!
Whenever I eat Chobani, I feel particularly cultured.* “I am so sophisticated,” I think: “snacking on a lowfat, healthy, Mediterranean product.”
Turns out, Chobani is an American company based in New York. Turns out, Windcrest Dairy in Treton, Illinois makes better Greek yogurt than Chobani.
The Bizenberger and Eickmeyer families have raising cows and selling dairy products on their farms in Illinois for over 100 years. They teamed up to establish Windcrest Dairy and have now started turning their milk into yogurt.
“Greek” yogurt actually has very little to do with Greece itself. What we call “Greek” yogurt is made by straining the product to remove the whey. Doing so removes a lot of the fat and creates a texture that falls somewhere in between regular yogurt and cottage cheese.
Apparently, “Greek Style Yogurt” is made by adding a thickening agent to regular yogurt.
Windcrest Dairy’s container does say “Greek Style Yogurt” but the texture of the yogurt is chunkier, like traditional Greek yogurt. They also capture the richness and the tanginess of strained yogurt and their product is lowfat.
I don’t know if Windcrest uses a thickening agent or just defines “Greek Style Yogurt” differently (I suspect it’s the latter) but I do know that their containers are filled with deliciousness.
At first, the thin layer of liquid sitting on top of the yogurt turned me off. However, according to Campus Executive Chef John Griffiths, the liquid exists because Windcrest allows the yogurt to settle while already in the container to assure maximum freshness.
I mixed the layer of liquid in and took a bite. The experience was a little too chunky for me. Chobani is smooth. I mixed it a lot more and made sure to bring some of the blueberry up from the bottom.
The result: absolute yumminess. The blueberry added the right amount of sweetness and the mixing took out most of the chunks. Windcrest yogurt is about 100x more intense than Chobani’s yogurt in terms of both flavor and richness.
It might be a little too much for some people. But please do give it a try! And then tell me what you think:
*No pun intended. Actually, pun totally intended.
This is Fooducated’s very first guest post and it’s written by Brendan Ziebarth, architecture student by day, food lover by always.
Being friends with Fooducated’s mastermind, Jolijt Tamanaha has its perks. As the de facto ambassador from students to their excellencies Bon Appetit and Dining Services, Ms. Fooducated gets the inside scoop.
Since I won the chance to escort Ms. Fooducated to the Rogue Chefs’ secret dinner back in December, she and I cemented our friendship with an unshakeable passion for really, really good food.
Sometimes even an ambassador needs a night off. When Jolijt offered me the chance to be a guest writer on Fooducated, I jumped at the chance. I knew that whatever event she needed me to cover would be fantastic, but I wasn’t quite ready for this.
At six o’clock I nervously approached the door to Studio 40, next to the WUrld Fusion station in BD and waited anxiously for the thirteen other guests to arrive. We were the lucky fourteen students who would get to try the second in a series of pop up restaurants hosted by WashU’s chefs. A delightfully chipper woman scolded me as I tried to peek through the window. When the door finally swung open, I was awestruck. We had been magically transported from St. Louis, Missouri, to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The tables were only inches off the ground, surrounded by burlap cushions handmade out of Kaldi’s coffee bean bags by Lorni, director of the Village Dining Hall. Colorful fabrics covered the tables and hung from the walls of our teleportation device. Beaded vases filled the corners, and a series of photographs offered views like windows out onto the rugged landscape and rich history of Ethiopia. While much of the region was predominantly influenced by Islamic cultures, Ethiopia had the additional influence of Jews and Coptic Christians. This blending of cultures and flavors created a varied and unique cuisine, of which, despite the lengthy menu in front of me, we would only sample a small portion.
Chef Hayes had chosen a selection of some of the most iconic dishes of Ethiopian cuisine; it was clear that this dinner was as much the chef’s exploration as it was an attempt to introduce WU students to something new.
The name of the pop up restaurant, BerBere, comes from name of a spice mixture unique to Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisines. It’s a mixture of 38 different spices and herbs, including chilies, garlic, ginger, basil, fenugreek, and a bunch of stuff I’ve never heard of.
The first items arrived while we took a quick tour of the South 40 kitchen. There were no utensils – we would be eating with our fingers in the traditional manner of Ethiopia.
The Dabo Kolo weren’t hard to pick up. These little balls of fried dough didn’t seem exotic in concept, but they had a complex flavor, which I learned was the berbere spice mixture.
They were so pop-able that I had to restrain myself so I wouldn’t fill up on the dense bread. I took a sip of my Fruit Punch to wash it down.
I have suspicions about how “authentic” the drink was, but I didn’t care after one sip. The punch was a huge hit, and Chef Hayes revealed the recipe:
- white grape juice
- pineapple juice
- cherry juice
- orange juice
- raspberry juice
- club soda
- and ice cubes that were actually the juice itself, frozen.
Add a little somethin-somethin and you’ll be the hero of your next get together.
Scattered around the table were four bowls of toppings to complement our meal and cool our mouths after a spicy bite. The fresh cheese and yogurt sauce would have been disastrous to pick up with my fingers, but I braved the Tomato-Cucumber Relish and Honey-Spiced Papaya Chutney in order to sample their “pure” flavor.
The Tomato-Cucumber Relish had a little bite from some chopped onion and tang from some white vinegar, but I thought it could use some salt and pepper.
The Honey-Spiced Papaya Chutney was a completely different story.
Chef Hayes had decided to make the dish after he had used the seeds from the papaya to tenderize the goat. Again, maybe not “authentic” but I praise Hayes’ ingenuity; he combined the papaya with some traditional Ethiopian flavors to create a killer new combination. The papaya was a great texture, somewhere between crunchy and squishy. The honey lit up the tip of my tongue with happy sweetness while the spice mix (more berbere?) grew to a dull burn in the back of my mouth like chipotle powder. This was clearly one of the stars of the night, and the main meal hadn’t even arrived yet.
The first course was Sambossas, two beef and two lentil.
I really enjoyed both fillings. The pine nuts with the beef were a great combination, and the lentil had a nice spice mix. The crust was delicious. It was flaky and buttery. My only critique was that I would have liked a little more filling to crust ratio. The mint and bright yogurt sauce on the plate offered counterpoints to the heaviness of meat and fried crust.
Our meal arrived on a tin plate with a layer of injera bread and portions of each dish distributed across the top. To prepare for our meal, Chef Hayes started yesterday by butchering a whole goat and starting the yeast dough for our injera.
Injera is the staple of Ethiopian cuisine – it is the plate and the utensil. Not a drop of the saucy dishes are wasted with injera to mop it up. Because of how crucial injera is, it is often the mark of a quality Ethiopian restaurant. For me, a good injera is a little like a good crumpet – tangy from the yeast and pockmarked with large holes on one side and weirdly spongy.
With the arrival of the injera, I finally got to try the Ethiopian Iab. This homemade cheese was a lot like cottage cheese. The Yogurt Sauce was also quite yummy, especially the chopped mint mixed in. I thought if anything it could have been a little runnier, maybe from some olive oil whipped in.
Next I tried the Tikil Gomen – cabbage and potatoes. This dish has never been a favorite of mine at Ethiopia restaurants, and tonight wasn’t much different. It always seems to be a side dish that rounds out the meal but doesn’t offer much flavor. However, the potatoes were a notably good al dente texture. I thought the Ye-abesha Gomen – collard greens – were similar. They tasted mostly like the julienned and limp peppers cooked in with them.
In any case I loaded up the toppings in different combinations to see what would brighten up the vegetables. I found a good mix between the collards and the yogurt sauce. Earlier I applauded Chef Hayes’ ingenuity for the fruit punch and papaya topping. I think the vegetables might have suffered from being too traditional.
The Spiced Chickpeas were, on the other hand, a delight. Loaded up with carrots and peas, they hid a sneaking heat that blossomed into a full-mouth smolder. They were also great with a dollop of the cheese curds to soothe the numb tongue.
The Doro Wat – a chicken stew served with a hard-boiled egg – was good. It is one of the most common Ethiopian dishes served in America. Often I have had this dish with a bone-in drumstick. I somewhat missed the large chunks of chicken that one pulls off the bone. The sauce was heavy on the tomato paste with a mild and somewhat sneaking heat. However the egg was perfectly hard-boiled with no grey layer around the yolk. The yolk itself was not chalky at all.
The Roasted Goat was a surprise. It sat on my plate in big chunks, threatening to leave me flossing for hours. In spite of my fears, not a single bit of goat was remotely stringy; Chef Hayes had worked his papaya-magic and created an incredible tender and edible dish! But the biggest surprise to me was the flavor. This was no mutton. This mellow fellow was my favorite dish of the night, winning my heart with a sumptuously rich, even marrow-like flavor. Given the option, I would have eaten three times as much and skipped dessert.
Except nobody would have wanted to miss dessert. It was so good that we called for second and third helpings in to go containers.
Chef Hayes had whipped up his own honey flavored ice cream. Next to it were bananas, said to be in ginger syrup, though the ginger wasn’t potent. The flavor that shone through was the honey itself. Not merely sweet, this honey had a lovely floral aroma. I bit into the tiny chunk of comb sitting atop my ice cream, and a shot of ecstasy flooded my body.
Last but certainly not least was a tiny cup of coffee, prepared Bloom-style, from Ethiopian beans. It’s notes of vanilla complemented the dessert beautifully, and, though it was strong, it was not bitter at all.
I had seconds of coffee as well.
With a full belly and eyes twinkling in awe, I stumbled out of Studio 40 with my handmade burlap floor cushion under my arm. I hail from the Washington, DC, area, which has one of the largest concentrations of Ethiopians and Eritreans outside of their countries – one neighborhood is even called Little Ethiopia. I have tried Ethiopian food multiple times and WU impressed me. The goat was certainly the best I’ve ever had.
But what impressed me even more was the fact that our chefs and Dining services staffs care so much. They definitely care about the students eating well every day. But they also care about making each meal an experience. Every dish goes through countless taste tests and continuous revisions. Even if they can’t always deck out the room with fabrics, vases, and hand stitched cushions, they strive to make each bite of food transport you to a place, whether Ethiopia, India, Italy, or home. I’m sincerely moved by the passion I witnessed at BerBere, and I was reminded how lucky I am. Keep up the great work! Until next time, betam ahmesuganalew, dehna hun!
A note from Jolijt: Oh my god… I am drooling and dying of jealousy. I hope you enjoyed Brendan’s excellent post as much as I did! Click here to read the post about the first WU Restaurant. I will be at the next WU Restaurant dinner (sorry Brendan) and you can be there too! Just like Dining Services on Facebook and keep your eyes out for when they launch the event page.
Restaurants that use the word “modern” scare me. Why fix tradition if it’s not broken? Mexican food is definitely not broken.
Mexican decor on the other hand… don’t get me wrong, I love sombreros. I love restaurants made with beautiful Mexican tiles and rustic colors. But a lot of Mexican spots look like the Fiesta section of Party City exploded into their dining room. Mexican decor is sometimes broken.
Milagro does avoid that fate. Sections of the ceiling are covered in intricate Aztec-esque symbols and Milagro’s lights are beautiful 3D stars. It’s not wonderfully elegant but it is welcoming.
We ordered the Pollo de Mole Poblano.
The chayote squash was a refreshing substitute for classic beans. I love beans but the chayote added a pleasant brightness to every bite. The chicken was perfectly moist. The mole poblano sauce was…. okay.
I don’t consider myself a Mexican food expert. Actually, I don’t consider myself an expert in anything really. But I have eaten excellent, authentic mole and Milagro’s mole poblano doesn’t come close. I think Milagro’s was screwed from the get go. Mole poblano is made by Mexican grandmothers who slave over hot stoves for hours. Mole poblano shouldn’t be modernized.
The fundamental bitterness and depth added by the chocolate was completely missing. It tasted more like a complex tomato sauce than true mole poblano.
But no worries. The Enchiladas “Divorciadas” saved the night.
The beans were packed with smoky bacon goodness (a.k.a.: the way I want everything I eat to be). The darker enchilada was stuffed with pork, covered in a tomatillo sauce, and topped with pickled onions. It was a solidly good enchilada. The pork was a bit dry but the tart sweetness of the sauce made up for it.
Nothing made up for the chicken enchilada. It was too good. The spicy and totally amazing chile ancho and guajillo sauce rocked my taste buds while the Mexican crema calmed everything down.
I don’t know what made it “modern” but I do know that the dish was delish.
It’s that time of the semester. The work is starting to pile on and the coldness of winter is losing its appeal. You’re apt to find yourself writing about the logic of casual order and wondering why you decided to major in PoliSci even though the word “variable” scares you and then thinking about how everyone on the internet is being mean to Beyonce and why can’t a girl just get away with taking an unflattering picture every now and then????
When all of your doubts start to creep to the surface and the monotony of winter threatens to monotonize your soul, turn to food.
The notion of emotionally relying on food sounds incredibly unhealthy. I mean, isn’t stress eating and depression eating and eating in general the reason why the people on the Biggest Loser all need to be the biggest loser?
Perhaps so but the reality is that food is deeply tied to emotion. Good food can make you happy. Bad food can make you unhappy. Roasted vegetables remind me of cozy holiday evenings. They bring me back to a time of year in which I don’t mind that it’s cold because it’s an excuse to cuddle by the fire.
The roasted potatoes were a bit dry and bland but a sprinkle of salt brought them to life. I could taste the herbs and enjoy the crunch provided by the blistered skin. The squash was so soft that it reminded me of puree It wasn’t doused with butter or sugar so the slightly sweet flavor of the squash came though wonderfully.
Eating comforting foods when you’re actually hungry is, in my opinion, a healthy way to tie food to how you feel.
Best Dinner Location: Ibby’s
Best Lunch Location: Holmes Lounge
Again, not much of a surprise. Holmes is one of the most beautiful spots on campus. Lunch can’t get much better than wraps packed with succulent carvery meat. Holmes took 43% of the vote. The DUC came in second with 27%.
Bear’s Den only garnered 7% of the vote but I caution readers against dismissing it as a lunch spot. Bear’s Den has ample seating and some great chef-inspired sandwiches.
Best Carvery Meat At Holmes: Lemon Pepper Turkey Breast
The lemon pepper turkey breast garnered 28% of the vote, beating my personal favorite, the Herb Roasted Leg of Lamb by 4%!
Best DUC Station: The Wash U Wok
The Wok creamed the competition, taking 46% of the vote. No other station came close. Clearly, students love their Asian daily specials and street food.
Best Bear’s Den Station: World Fusion
Wash U is home to a pretty cultured student group. It’s no wonder 42% of us love the World Fusion station the most.
Best Student Run Restaurant: Green Bean
Green Bean won “Best Student Run Restaurant” by 75%. “Green Bean is the only one! What are you doing voting for this option?” won a measly 25%.
Best Campus Cookie: The J.E.M. Cookie
Best Loop Restaurant: Snarf’s, Fitz’s, Ranoush
We are dramatically divided when it comes to best restaurant on the Loop. Snarf’s, Fitz’s, and Ranoush all took 19% of the vote. I’ve put up a picture of Snarf’s because, in my opinion, you cannot beat their delicious sandwiches.
Best Unofficial WUSTL Bar: Three Kings
Thanks for voting everyone!
Oh… that’s right… because you’re not crazy. WUSTL senior Sarah Haselkorn is. In between her lacrosse practice and systems engineering homework, she runs Green Bean, a fast-casual restaurant that serves made-to-order salads and wraps in the Central West End. I’m not kidding. She started the restaurant in November of 2011.
“I’ve never slept in here but I’ve been here for 20 hours straight,” she admitted with a laugh.
Crazy. “My main job is to be the manager [by] putting out fires every day. Engineering has taught me a lot about problem solving management,” she explained when I asked what salad has to do with math and machines and all those other Engineering thingys.
“I never thought I would end up in the restaurant industry,” she continued: “this was just my first idea. Now I’ve fallen in love with the industry.” Well the industry is lucky to have Sarah and Green Bean because their salads are delicious.
The mustard vinaigrette dressing on my Cobb-Out was on point. Its slightly acidic, slightly sweet, slightly sharp flavor balanced out the rich avocado and hard-boiled egg. The char on the grilled chicken cubes added depth while the blue cheese added the right amount of salty sharpness. But my favorite element was, by far, the hazelnuts. I’ve never had hazelnuts in a cobb salad but they were a great subtle addition. The hazelnut nuttiness made the salad even more robust.
“I get to come in here every day and watch you eat food that I made,” Sarah said, her voice brimming with passion for a notion so simple and yet so satisfying.
Seriously though, do go. The salads are fresh, vibrant, and well composed. Go for the deliciousness. Oh and also go to show support for a crazy student who is doing something that’s crazy cool. Her drive and determination capture Wash U at our finest.
I’d eat a whole caboodle of oodles of noodles before I’d eat strudel. Or most things really. I am a noodle lover.*
I made a huge mistake yesterday. I rashly choose a salami sandwich even though there were oodles of noodles around the corner. Luckily, Ish, a friend and fellow WashU New Yorker, brought BD’s new noodle bar to my attention.
You get to choose from a Noodle Bowl or a Vegetarian Noodle Bowl. If you’re into meat, you get to choose between smoked chicken and BBQ pork. Whichever you choose gets placed in a bowl with noodles, half of a hard boiled egg, scallions, bok choy, a vegetable that I don’t recognize, and mushrooms and then topped with a ladle of pork broth. I added a sprinkle of togarashi (a Japanese pepper blend).
Yum. The smoked chicken, bitter greens, and salty porky broth were a great combination. The mushrooms were meh (a little chewy and flavorless) but the hard boiled egg was great. It added richness and creaminess to the bowl.
The broth was a little too salty for me to slurp (which is what my Okinawan grandfather taught me to do). But otherwise, I loved every minute of my lunch.
Nothing warms up a 28 degree day like a bowl of noodle soup.
*And I rarely like strudel.
Every year, from age 9 to 13, I had a sleepover birthday party. We’d eat pizza, drink soda, gobble down some ice cream cake, cram even more sugar into our mouths, and then go down into my basement, promising to go to sleep before midnight. 2 movies, 3 games of truth or dare, and 1 screaming episode later, it’d be 4 am and we’d be everything except asleep. Those were the days.
Now, I’d never stay up until 4. By 8:30 pm, I’m ready to be tucked in for a long, peaceful night of slumber. Truth or dare, fart-joke-induced giggling, screaming, and ice cream cake can all stay far away from me.
The only sleepover element I still love are the above waffles. Around 8 am (how did we function!?!), we’d climb back up the stairs. My mom would welcome us with stacks of waffles, powdered sugar, and cinnamon sautéed apples.*
The waffles were simple Bisquick-mix waffles (which were delicious and made by my sister, Kats this morning). The apples required a bit more work (which is why they usually only make an appearance on birthdays). Here’s the recipe:
- 3 apples peeled and cut into irregular, small-ish cubes (red delicious if you like the sweet life, granny smiths if you’re in the mood for tang)
- 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 tablespoon butter
- Melt butter in sauté pan over medium-high heat.
- Add apples
- Stir to coat in butter
- Add brown sugar and cinnamon
- Saute for 8-ish minutes or until the apples brown slightly.
- Sprinkle onto waffles. Enjoy!
*”What time did you fall asleep?” she’d ask. “Midnight,” we’d lie like the good little children we were.
For much of my childhood, I was willing to kill for French bread. My parents only bought whole wheat or potato bread. I watched with envy while my friend Zoe gobbled up sandwiches made with fluffy bright-white bread slices. I didn’t like the funkiness (in more-mature-people-talk: complexity) of my not-Wonder-Bread breads. Wonder Bread embodied pure perfection.
Except not really. Secretly, I knew that Wonder Bread sticks to the roof of your mouth and also tastes weird (secretly because I obviously took a bite of Zoe’s lunch after the envy became insurmountable). French bread, on the other hand, was perfect, pure, fluffy, and not funky at all.
So I gobbled it up whenever I could and when I started baking bread, French bread was a big thing for me.
I love the French Bread recipe on Epicurious. It’s one of the best ones I’ve tried so far. The only adjustment I make is in technique. Every 5 minutes, for the first 15 minutes, I open the oven, throw a glass of water onto the floor of the oven, and shut it quickly. The burst of steam crisps up the crust more than the pan of water the recipe calls for (although, I leave that in there as well).
And, now that I love funkiness, I sometimes add toppings (like rosemary and sea salt!). Or, when I’m in an especially funky mood, I replace 1/3 of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour.
Semester three of my college career: conquered. I am done! And no one is around to celebrate with me. The campus is a gray, desolate wasteland populated only by the few stragglers unfortunate enough to be scheduled for a final even later than mine.
Desperate to add a dash of jubilance to the moment, I rushed into Cherry Tree for a celebratory pastry. Everyone knows that nothing says “YES NO MORE FINALS AND IT’S ALMOST CHRISTMAS” like an eggnog cupcake.
Even if that cupcake is kind dry and tastes mostly like vanilla (where’s the nutmeg?). Even if the frosting is also boring.
Nothing will ruin my moment of relief. Not even the impending snow storm that might delay my flight.
Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Have a wonderful time with your wonderful families.
(Why am I saying goodbye? I’ll be posting from NY!)
I was feeling patient (a.k.a. avoiding studying) so I headed for the hearth (where dishes are often delicious but take 12-15 minutes).
My decision came easily. The word “taquito” is too adorable to ignore.
After being roasted, the tortilla crisped up beautifully and the filling melted into a smooth, warm cream. The walnuts were barely present. In fact, the taquito really only tasted like sweetened Philadelphia cream cheese. It was far too sweet for me.
Yes, they warned me with the word “sweet” in the name. Yes, they also included the words “cream cheese” in the name. Yes, the sign basically told me I wasn’t going to like it. Yes, I ignored that. Yes, that was my fault.
The newest item at the Wok station in the DUC is an Asian take on Aranci di Riso, a classic Italian dish. The DUC’s ball is filled with fried rice instead of the classic risotto and topped with sriracha mayo instead of tomato sauce.
I loved the crispiness of the outside. The fried breadcrumbs formed a delightfully crunchy shell that, once broken open, revealed creamy, soft rice.
The rice itself tasted vaguely like soy sauce and mostly like parmesan cheese (or some other nutty cheese). I do wish the soy had come through a bit more. Parmesan is wonderful but I expected the flavors to be more Asian inspired. Even the sriracha mayo left me wanting more. More spiciness and more Asia.
The menu did read “Kimchi Fried Rice Ball.” Had there actually been kimchi in or on top of the ball, I doubt I’d have the same complaint. Kimchi, which is Korean pickled cabbage, would add the kick and the flavor that the balls lacked on their own.
People get territorial when it comes to Thanksgiving. Mix family tensions and dry-turkey nerves with “maybe I can cook something this year?” and you’ve got an explosion. Moms and Aunts and Grandpas (threw in this example to avoid being incredibly sexist) tend to want to do Thanksgiving the way they’ve done Thanksgiving.
A change in venue or mash potato recipe (is adding a little garlic such a big deal???) demands hours of discussions about whether or not Aunt Patty will throw a fit and if cousin David really has to bring his weird girlfriend who smells like pepperoni and who is it that keeps giving Grandma so much wine every year??
Fooducated readers, taking back Thanksgiving is going to have to be a slow process. But eventually we will succeed. We will end the canned cranberry sauce. We will subjugate the green bean casserole. And we will, you hear me: WE WILL eliminate the saliva sucking dryness of the turkey.
In the meantime, I suggest you start slowly with one of the below recipes. They’re side dishes and desserts. Nothing so typical that you’ll be making “the dish Aunt Marjorie has made every year since before you were born” but nothing so unique that you’ll be making “one of those fancy shmancy organic dishes that the kids these days think are cool and hip.”
Bittman’s Butternut Squash Soup is quite delicious but I double the amount of garlic, onion, and bacon. I also only use Granny Smith Apples because without the tang they provide the soup is incredibly sweet.
Not to brag but the recipe I’ve posted here for Pear-Walnut Salad is also quite great for Thanksgiving. It will probably be the only meat and starch free portion of your plate.
This recipe for Sauteed Brocolini with Garlic is also on point. It’s difficult to screw up and, like the salad, will provide recluse from the meal’s heaviness.
My last side recommendation is my favorite one: roasted brussel sprouts. Why do I love it? Because it’s a convertor. People who hate brussel sprouts will love yours. Now, that might be a little too much change for Thanksgiving day. But if you’ve tested the waters and think your family is up to the challenge, make them roasted brussel spouts. Just preheat your oven to 400 degrees, clean the sprouts and cut them in half, place them cut-side down on a baking sheet, sprinkle them with olive oil, salt and pepper, and throw them in the oven for 25 minutes. When you pull them out, squeeze some lemon juice and sprinkle a little bit of parmesan over them.
Yes, this is the Apple-Cranberry Crisp I was making when I set off the fire alarm. But that wasn’t the recipe’s fault. Add some cinnamon and a little bit of nutmeg in with the cranberries and apples. Also, use 2 cups of Granny Smith apples (to kill some of the sweetness) and 2 cups of a sweeter apple like Braeburn.
Or, if you want to end the night on a lighter note, make Alton Brown’s Angel Food Cake. I always use lemon juice and almond extract instead of orange extract but the rest of the recipe is great.
So there you have it, 6 dishes that will all put you one step closer to a Thanksgiving coup detat.
By the way, skip to 2:57 in the video above, she sings into a Turkey drumstick…
If you’re looking for a foolproof way to impress your family over Thanksgiving break, this jam is it. Just throw everything in a saucepan and let it cook over low heat for 2 hours while you frolic in fall’s fallen foliage. Then, on the morning of the big day, whip it out alongside some warm, crunchy toast and scream: “BAM I MADE JAM!”
They’ll immediately forget all about your disappointing midterm grades and the fact that you came home at God knows what hour the night before.
Figgin Excellent Jam
This recipe is basically the Fig Sesame Jam from Epiciurious but with a lot less sugar and no zest.
- 1/4 cup of sugar
- 24 fresh figs, cut off the ends and cut them into fourths
- 3/4 cup of water
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 1/4 cup of sesame seeds
- Dissolve the sugar into the water over medium heat.
- Turn the heat down to low.
- Add the figs, lemon juice and sugar and let it sit over low heat, uncovered, for 2 hours.
- Stir in the sesame seeds.
- Throw it all in a tupperware. It’ll stay good in the fridge for a few days. (unless you’re a jam expert and know how to jar jam. If that’s the case: you do your thang.)
What’s better than starting your day with seasonally appropriate pancakes? Starting your day off with seasonally appropriate pancakes that don’t require a lot of effort. You can even make the topping the day before.
Sure, these are slightly more complicated than your standard Bisquick pancakes but they’re also more delicious. The tang from the Granny Smith apples and the buttermilk balance out the sweetness of the maple syrup you’re bound to pour on top. Meanwhile, the pecans and oats make the dish more wholesome and add crunch.
- 2 cups of Bisquick mix
- 2/3 cup of buttermilk
- 1/3 cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 2 Granny Smith apples
- 1/2 tablespoon of ground cloves
- 1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon
- 1 cup of old-fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1/3 cup of canola or sunflower oil
- 1/3 cup of brown sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350
- In a bowl, toss together oats, pecans, and brown sugar. Add the oil and mix well.
- Spread out on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
- Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, core and peel the apples.
- Slice the apples into circles about 1/2-inch thick.
- Mix together the Bisquick mix, buttermilk, milk, eggs, ground cloves, and cinnamon.
- Place the apple slices (one slice for each pancakes) on a buttered sauté pan over medium heat.
- After about 3 minutes, flip the apple slices over. They should be slightly browned.
- Top each apple slice with a generous amount of pancake batter.
- Once the batter bubbles and the edges cook a bit, flip the pancakes. Be patient because the apple slows down the cooking so don’t flip them until the cooked side is a nice golden brown.
- Cook the pancake until the other side is just as golden brown.
- Top with granola, maple syrup, and enjoy.