The Foodie Files

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Roasted Tomato and Sherry Soup

I really like the food network -- and I'll admit it -- I like Rachel Ray. During that brief time period between when I get home and when I start working, she is what's on, so I have to appreciate her. I don't mind that she's perky, though I don't buy that her recipes are really doable in thirty minutes (but I have to admit, in the few times I've made them I've wished that I could beat the clock.) I actually haven't tried too many of her recipes yet, but I picked up the August/September issue of her magazine and enjoyed reading it (much more so than this month's issue, which didn't seem nearly as interesting.)

To celebrate the end of summer I decided to make her Roasted Tomato and Sherry Soup. Now, this is a non-thirty-minute meal (who knew she made those?) as roasting the tomatoes alone took 1-hour. Yet, 1 hour after putting some regular, split tomatoes in the oven according to her instructions I got these beauties:

My God-- I did hardly anything to them and they were so attractive and smelled amazing. Rachel says you could just sprinkle them with coarse salt and eat them as an antipasto, and I have to say I was tempted. But, I pressed on:

Here is the final product, served with a Curried Chicken Salad wrap that I will try to blog about in the near future. I found 3/4 cup of sherry to be way too much for this. The soup tasted like sherry, which is okay, but not when it's made with beautiful, roasted tomatoes like these babies. So I kept cooking it until most of the sherry taste was cooked out. Then, it really became something special. Very deep, fresh tomato flavors. Mine was probably a bit thicker due to all the extra cooking, but that was fine.

Overall, this recipe was very easy to make with other dinner/dessert componants, as you can work on it, let it cook, then go back. If you make this soup, add only a little sherry and keep tasting it until you think it's right.

Roasted Tomatoes

Roasted Tomato and Sherry Soup

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sugar High Friday - Surprise Inside

Oooh, my first sugar high friday! It's so fun! Check out the announcement/roundup here.

This month's theme is "surprise inside" so I immediately thought of this new recipe from the September issue of Martha Stewart Living. The surprise, of course, is a small (or large) hunk of chocolate in the center of a vanilla cupcake. If the cake were chocolate it would almost be a molten lava cake, which would be anything but surprising, but since it's vanilla it's a bit more unusual. The cake itself came out very moist and light, with little sugar crystals on top. In fact, it almost has a little bit of an angel/devil combo going on here--fluffy, light exterior and dark middle of indulgence. Stop me if I'm going to far with the metaphor here.

Yet another surprise about this recipe is that it is a one-bowl recipe, which means that since all the ingredients are mixed in the same bowl, it is quite uncomplicated to make and clean-up is a cinch. Plus, the chocolate center eliminates the need for icing. The only change I made worth noting is that I substituted semisweet chocolate chunks for bittersweet. This is probably a safe bet, since the chocolate is going in pure and not everyone likes eating bittersweet straight. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Black's Bar and Kitchen

I recently returned to the new Black’s Bar and Kitchen in Bethesda- if you can even call it returning. The place was entirely redone, with a stylish interior and that wasn’t so hip as in “this place looks too hip for Bethesda.” A glowing red sign announces its arrival, and a lighted pool of water makes the outside seating something special. I am typically a fan of Black’s restaurants, and the old BB and K in Bethesda was probably my least favorite, so I was excited to see what they had done with it.

Due to their new menu with an abundance of small plates and starters, I was able to taste a wide variety of things. The goat cheese tartlet small plate was a disappointment – an oversized chunk of goat cheese was placed inside/on top of a phyllo cup. The small beets on top made for a few tasty bites, but when those ran out the rest was quite bland. Corn cakes with green tomato jam tasted like, well, pancakes and regular jam. However, I did become addicted to the mini biscuits in the bread basket.

Soup has long been a strong point at Black’s, and this trip was no different. Both the daily soup, white bean and sausage, and the tomato gazpacho with crab, had appeal. However, the gazpacho had a food-trend accompaniment of celery sorbet, which sounded interesting by tasted less like sorbet than celery flavored ice. A crab cake appetizer did not seem to interest my dining companion. Halibut with vegetables and a carrot vanilla sauce tasted how you would expect it would—not phenomenal, but it seemed somewhat healthy, which I can appreciate.

Which brings me to dessert, something in which I do not appreciate healthy over phenomenal. Luckily, that isn’t what I found here. Typically the Black’s desserts are quite good but are very sugary and gigantic in size (quite seriously, it once took me an entire week to eat a tiramisu I had taken home from Blacksalt, which consisted of huge tiramisu, cookies, truffles, and brittle.) In true Black’s fashion, these desserts were huge and sweet. The chocolate composition consisted of a chocolate panna cotta, flourless cake, and an ice cream sandwich. The panna cotta had a nice cookie crust and was a good first bite, but its chocolate flavor soon fell flat in comparison to the other items. Flourless chocolate cake was your typical good flourless chocolate cake. The best part of the dessert was the chocolate cookies (did I detect espresso?) that made up the ice cream sandwich. Blueberry strudel was fine but huge—two pieces of strudel with a mound of corn ice cream on a caramelized half-peach. It was big. The strudel was fine, but the ice cream didn’t taste very much like sweet corn to me. This is probably a good thing for the less adventurous eater but I was a little disappointed.
So there you have it. I would say that I still prefer Blacksalt and Black Market to this one, but it’s a pretty good restaurant in Bethesda and that’s a rarity. Check it out if you want to see what they are up to.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


I recently sent off a cookie care package to a few friends and turned to the blogs to find out which cookies could withstand the travel. I decided to make this recipe from Cooking with the Headhunter. Schiklosch are one of Sarah's family recipes that received a good review from her cookie swap partner, She Bakes and She Cooks. The cookies have a buttery crust that is similar to shortbread and are topped with nuts, cinnamon, and cloves. I cut back on the sugar a little in mine, allowing the cloves to bring a cool savory edge to the flavor.

Mine did not come out quite as neat as the ones that CWTH sent out, possibly due to the fact that my cookie dough did not bake up against the rim of the pan. I was unable to keep the delicious topping on top of the cookies, and various family members swooped in and ate up any topping that had been fallen off, resulting in a few leftover bases. I decided to wrap every cookie I sent individually in order to preserve freshness, and the wrapping also kept the topping on top, so all's well that ends well.

I do not know exactly how they turned out at the other end of the line, but warm out of the oven they were terrific, unusual, and as The Baker who Cookes said – addicting.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sagaponack Corn Pudding

This recipe comes from the Barefoot Contessa TV show. I didn't actually see this episode (I just take a lot of foodnetwork recipes off the internet based on how they sound) so I don't know what it looked like on TV or what Ina Garten was going for. This pudding was tasty- I really liked the texture of the onions and the flavor of the basil-- but all in all it was a little on the bland side. I would be tempted to add some cayenne pepper or a stronger cheese into the mix. I would add some more basil to it as well. I'm lovin that basil.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Orient Express Chocolate Torte

The Orient Express Chocolate Torte. Also known as the cake that restored my faith in Maida Heatter. I've had mixed success with her recipes in the past (overpowering almond flavor in brownies and dry cakes, but also wonderful whipped cream frosting and chocolate chip cookies.)

The texture of the cake is what makes it special. The bottom is nutty and almost crustlike, with the chocolate as more of an accent flavor. The buttercream topping is silky and smooth. I think the buttercream is a little less stiff than most, but I was pleased to see that the recipe called for a very reasonable 3/4 stick of butter. Not bad for a frosting that uses that sinful ingredient in it's name. Anyways, one bite combines the two and magic occures.

Maida Says: "This was served on the Orient Express during its heyday when it was renowned for luxurious food and service. It is a wonderfully not-too-sweet flourless sponge cake made with ground almonds and ground chocolate that give it a speckled tweed-like appearence and a light, dry, crunchy texture-- enhanced by a smooth, rich, chocolate buttercream filling and icing. It may be frozen iced."

I am not going to post the recipe yet because I am not sure what the rules are for posting published material. Till then, it can be found on page 53 of Maida Haetter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Ok, let's give this a shot. Welcome!

Greetings, and welcome to The Foodie Files. Please bear with me as I start this out, as I don't really understand this site yet. I am not exactly sure what I am going to say yet either, I guess I have to find my "blogger voice." :)

Basically, I have become a big fan of baking/food blogs, so I am going to feature a lot of recipes in addition to files on the DC restaurant scene, with which I am currently obsessed. I have been baking for a few years now, but I have hardly ever cooked, so you can watch me attempt to become aquainted with the "real-food-you're-allowed-to-eat-for-dinner" end of the edible spectrum.

But not today with the whole real food thing. I want to kick us off with a sweet recipe I made earlier this summer, Polly's Perfect Blueberry Pie.

Beautiful, isn't it? And tasty too. It had a very good flavor, though since the blueberries were quite sweet, a 3/4 cup of sugar really wasn't neccessary (it should proabably be cut to under 1/2 cup.) The recipe says to mix all of the ingredients for the crust within the baking pan, which was quite an easy method. The crust is also used for the crumble topping.

Was this a perfect pie? Well no, not exactly. The filling was very liquidy and runny, and it was impossible to actually cut slices of the pie. Therefore, it was actually served as "blueberry cobbler" and scooped out of the pan. The bottom crust hardly saw any action. Ahh well. A thumbs up for flavor and appearence, a thumbs down for form. But it made a delightful cobbler.