• 23Apr

    Gluten-free baking in past years can be compared to trying to mix highly combustible materials. It has required such an accomplished hand utilizing a precise mix of ingredients to achieve an edible, tasty result. It therefore has been viewed as a completely intimidating task that many would rather steer clear from. However, with new products coming on the market each day, gluten-free baking might finally be more approachable for the amateur.

    I recently attended a gluten-free baking class hosted by Delight editor Vanessa Maltin Weisbrod. This particular event was sponsored by the Children’s National Hospital to raise awareness for their Celiac Disease Program and was kindly hosted at Wildfire Restaurant in Tyson’s. As usual, the food was fantastic and was accompanied with a surplus of great information. I would definitely consider the night a huge success.

    I have to say there is no one who is better informed about gluten-free cooking, baking or products than Vanessa. My head was spinning by the end of the evening, but I left feeling like I could conquer the world in my kitchen going forward. She provided us with slide after slide explaining the components of gluten-free flour blends and why certain flours are better for different kinds of baking rather than others. She also gave us tips on different substitute fats you could use to add moisture to your baked goods. My main takeaway is it is crucial to educate yourself about your ingredients and their consistencies and what other alterations you might need to make to a recipe to compensate.

    For instance, I learned that coconut flour is a great flour to use for baked goods, but you may need to use less sugar and add additional liquid for best results. I also learned the benefits of sorghum flour and how it has a smoother texture perfect for use while making pancakes and flatbreads as well as baked goods with a more bread-like consistency.

    Tapioca flour is apparently great as an additive for binding in gluten-free baking and works well to create crisp crusts and as a thickener for sauces. It has a sweet and starchy taste and is best combined with other flours like quinoa and brown rice flour. You should again use less sugar to compensate for the sweetness already present in the tapioca flour.

    As for the all-purpose baking flours on the market, I learned that is really crucial to read the listing of flours included. For instance, some blends are higher in starchy flours like brown rice and tapioca. Others are a blend of high proteins like millet, chickpea and amaranth. You need to be mindful of these blends when you purchase because they will have an effect on the baked good you are creating. The best blends should have a decent balance of both the higher starch and high protein flours to keep your baked good moist. You also want to make sure it has either guar or xanthan gum included as a binder.

    Overall, knowledge really is power. Gluten-free baking can be fun and rewarding once you become more comfortable. Instead of an intimidating challenge, I’ll now view it as an experiment to learn. For further information about the class I attended or future opportunities to attend yourself, feel free to contact me at Joyana [-at-] glutenfreenova [-dot-] com.


    Wildfire on Urbanspoon

  • 23Mar

    Norwegian Ambassador’s Executive Chef, Mr. Sindre Risvoll!

    We were in attendance at a recent Norwegian seafood reception at the temporary residence of the Norwegian Ambassador. The event was created in cooperation with the Norwegian Seafood Council. In attendance were members of the Norwegian seafood industry and their clients (including a Fairfax based Asian supermarket with a great seafood department). (Asia is a huge market for Norwegian seafood.)

    The reception featured phenomenally fresh and delicious Norwegian seafood in Asian preparations. It even was talking to a fisherman whose boat probably caught the mackerel I was eating at the time.

    We were happy to finally try Nøgne ø‘s Sake, since we tried their wonderful beers at a previous Norwegian event a few years ago.


  • 15Aug

    CSA box production line. The ones with kale on top are complete.

    Groupon has  a certificate (which they are almost out of so move quickly) that lets you get a produce box from Nall’s (Friday or Saturday) for $12 ($22 value). I just picked up this week’s box, which includes peaches, nectarines, 2 bunches of kale, mushrooms, 4 large green bell peppers, 3 huge peaches, 3 small nectarines, 2 ears of corn and a canary melon. They handled my mushroom allergy by making a box up for my separately and substituting a teeny loaf of bread.

    I will say that 4 big green bell peppers is a lot of green peppers for me–a variety of pepper colors would have been nicer. I have no intention of making stuffed peppers, so some of them may go bad before I can eat them in salads or put some in this or that dish.

    I also bought strawberries, yellow summer squash, a large yellow tomato, and a bottle of Runningbyrd Summer Rain local artisinal sweet tea. I buy a watermelon there weekly, and they have a good variety of them.

    Nall’s has 2 weeks left of the weekly summer CSA program before the fall program begins.


  • 10Aug

    DC Food Blogger Happy Hour Wednesday was hosted by Wendy Brannen of USApples and myself at Roofers Union in Adams Morgan (in the former space of The Reef). We sampled a variety of Executive Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley‘s delicious apple themed dishes and a great cocktail Bartender Frank Mills created. Frank named the cocktail “How Do You Like Dem Apples” and provided us with the below recipe (for an individual cocktail):


    Roofers Union on Urbanspoon

  • 17Jul

    USApples has a weekly selfie (with an apple) contest. Two weeks ago, a photo of a guy in a cubicle with an apple on his head won a Dizzy Pig‘s gift pack. My picture of a pirana attacking me while I was eating an apple won last week, so today I was happy to find a box of Brooks Tropical‘s fruit at my door. In the box was a lime, SlimCado, dragon fruit, and red papaya.

    Next week’s prize is a Tajin seasoning gift pack. Having tried Tajin’s seasonings, I recommend entering the contest.

    Tajin Seasoning Gift Packs
    Tajin Seasoning Gift Packs

    Weekly deadlines are the next five Sundays. The contest rules are here.

    Sunday, July 20, 2014

    Sunday, July 27, 2014

    Sunday, August 3, 2014

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    – See more at: http://www.usappleblog.org/apple-summer-selfie-photo-contest-rules/#sthash.JnQ7IKN0.dpuf


    Sunday, July 20, 2014

    Sunday, July 27, 2014

    Sunday, August 3, 2014

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    – See more at: http://www.usappleblog.org/apple-summer-selfie-photo-contest-rules/#sthash.JnQ7IKN0.dpuf

    Sunday, July 20, 2014

    Sunday, July 27, 2014

    Sunday, August 3, 2014

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    – See more at: http://www.usappleblog.org/apple-summer-selfie-photo-contest-rules/#sthash.JnQ7IKN0.dpuf

    Sunday, July 20, 2014

    Sunday, July 27, 2014

    Sunday, August 3, 2014

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    – See more at: http://www.usappleblog.org/apple-summer-selfie-photo-contest-rules/#sthash.JnQ7IKN0.dpuf

  • 12Jun

    Please vote for my two recipes in the “V Culinary Challenge.” Mine are the Vidalia Onion Cobbler and Vidalia Onions & Colby Jack Fried Empanadas. Both of these recipes came out delicious, so I entered two dishes. You need to “like” the Vidalia page in order to vote for anything. Then select “Vote Now,” scroll down, and vote for both of them. Thanks!

    The recipes are below: Read the rest of this entry »

  • 07Nov

    Here’s a burger.

    What can be better than having great tasting, hormone free, locally raised beef delivered to your door? In a society that now focuses on the importance of eating organic and knowing where your food comes from, the Firelands Cattle Company comes to the rescue. We were lucky enough to be given a box of Firelands’ products to review.

    The Firelands Cattle Company began with the intention of bringing the Kobe style raising practices to the heartlands of America. Their business practices center on the motto that they are involved in every step of the customer experience ranging from the rearing, production, packaging, and delivery to each customers’ doorstep. Therefore, you as the consumer can know EXACTLY where your food comes from and can rest assured that there is a stamp of approval guaranteeing that each cow is hormone free and given an all-natural feed consisting of corn, oats, and grains. The result? Some of the greatest tasting red meat in the world. Go to their website for a full scientific explanation of what makes the kobe style the best.


    Beef Chilli.

    Each order is vacuum sealed and freezer packed to arrive completely fresh and ready for consumption at your door step. They offer hamburger patties, sirloins, rib-eyes, T-bones, ground beef and more. I was fortunate enough to try the hamburgers, ground beef and a sirloin myself. The steak was so tender it literally melted in my mouth. And both the hamburger patties and ground beef were packed with delicious flavor. The hamburger was plump with delicious moist juices and the ground beef made the best chili I’ve had this year.

    You can order Firelands’ beef yourself and see why American Kobe Beef is the way to go for freshness and flavor.

    -JPM (Joyana)

    Editor’s Note (JAY): I tried the burgers, and they were excellent grilled (and topped with my own home-made Chimichurri). :)

    Disclosure: From time to time, we are given free items, meals, or entry to events.

  • 29Oct

    This is what was supposed to be in the produce box, but they ran out of some items so made substitutions. It would be nice if this list was representative of what they actually gave me in the box.

    I recently added an ad/coupon for Relay Foods (a grocery pickup/delivery service) to the right side of DCFüd so that our readers can save $30 off of $50 on their first order. Relay Foods has many good quality products including those from local businesses and farms. I decided to try the grocery delivery service, and write this review about my experience with Relay Foods. I ordered $50 in groceries (total before adding the discount code).

    The Groceries:

    • Local Bounty Share Produce Box. Between the day of the order and the delivery, they changed the box to Fall produce. They should have sent me an email, so that I knew I’d get different produce than I’d ordered. The box did have good quality items, but some of the items in the Fall box were out of stock, so they replaced them with other items. Instead of 2 Asian pears, I received 1 pear but there was also 2 bell peppers instead of one. Instead of butternut squash,  received a small yellow summer squash. Instead of potatoes I received extra sweet potatoes.The greens in the box were organic mustard greens (that were actually from California while everything else seems to be local). The pear has a sticker identifying it as this Stemlit product (and organic); the pear was quite good.
    • Artisan Cuts‘ Freebird Whole Chicken from Artisan Cuts. Their description of the chicken: “These humanely raised chickens are grown in Amish Country, by experienced family farmers, who follow strict animal welfare standards. The chickens are free-roaming in well-ventilated, spacious barns, which offer more room than those of factory-raised birds. The chickens are vegetarian fed sun ripened corn and soybeans, and are never treated with antibiotics.” The chicken was very flavorful and obviously high quality; I will definitely purchase one in a future order.
    • Artisan Cuts’ Plainville Farms Ground Turkey – Fresh, 1 lb. I messed up the ground turkey meatballs by forgetting to add the beaten egg. They taste great, but are heavy and their texture is off, so can’t really judge the ingredient.
    • Family Ties & Pies‘ Mixed Berry Pistachio Scones, two Scones (frozen). I enjoyed the scones, and may try different varieties next time.
    • Mimi’s Whole Grain Cinnamon Rolls, Honey Whole Wheat, 6-8 Pack, 20 oz. These are very good when warmed up.
    • Mission Home Bakeshop‘s Homemade Honey Oatmeal Bread, 16 oz. This had great flavor and texture when used to make French toast.
    • Bombolini Pasta‘s Spinach Fettuccine, 16 oz. It arrived half frozen, but it should not have been frozen at all. When I cooked it, the pasta stuck together (because it is not packaged in one layer so it can be frozen), was gummy, and inedible. I let Relay Foods know about the inedible pasta, and they apologized, removed the item from my bill, and gave me a $5 credit to be used on a future item.

    Other good products Relay Foods Carries:

    Virginia Vinegar Works. I’ve only tried the Heritage Blend Red (which is a good local product) but I noticed that they have the 500 ml White Heritage Blend and Chardonnay varieties on sale for $7.20 (instead of $12) right now.

    Holy Grael Sorbet. My favorite of Holy Grael sorbet is the Blackberry Lime.

    Cavanna Pasta. I am a fan of their Artichoke-Pesto Cannelloni and Spinach-Egg Taglierni.

    Moorenko’s Ice Cream. I have written about this company previously, and Relay Foods carry one of my favorites, the Honey Lavender.

    Soupergirl. We wrote about this soup company in 2009.

    Pickup and Delivery:

    Relay Foods has a map of their pickup spots. You can also get your order delivered (for a fee) or signup for monthly delivery service (for a larger fee).

    Customer Service:

    Relay Foods’ customer service by email and phone is excellent. When I noticed that the ground turkey I ordered was listed in my confirmation message as frozen instead of fresh, I called Relay Foods to change the item. The representative said they were out of fresh ground turkey, told me how to edit my cart, and told me to check the site in the next few days to see if it was back in stock. I let her know that I’d remove the frozen item and that they could email me if they have the fresh version in the next few days. The representative agreed and stated that she would call their butcher. I got an email the next day saying the item is back in stock, and added it back to my order. Customer Service (as mentioned earlier) also handled the issue with the spinach pasta in a positive way.

    The delivery person was running a half hour late (there was a 2 hour range), a customer service person called me at the end of my time range to let me know. When the delivery person (who was very nice) gave me the box (and I checked it out), there was a whole chicken I didn’t order. She told me I could keep it for free.

    So, yes, there were a few glitches here and there, but it is a new business. I will definitely order from Relay Foods again.


  • 04Oct

    Tomatos afterGrowing up in Virginia, with its beautifully changing seasons and abundance of local produce, I have developed certain food craving patterns. Tomatoes are at the top of my seasonal cravings list. For most of fall and all of winter, I dream of perfectly ripe tomatoes just picked and still warm from the sun. As soon as the last frost thaws, I can’t wait to get my hands dirty and plant some. And every spring, without fail, I develop amnesia and decide that it’s a great idea to plant way too many tomato plants. My crazy, tomato-deprived side says, “Why plant just one??!” and my logical side falls for it every time.

    Roasted tomatoes finished productSo, at some point during the summer I have tomatoes of all different shapes and sizes coming out of my ears. While I would never consider this a problem, it is certainly a situation that needs to be dealt with. I do the obvious and toss them in salads, add them to sandwiches (BLTs anyone?), throw them into various pasta dishes, and frequently make my son’s favorite: Caprese salad. But I also try to come up with new, creative recipes of my own. I made a fantastic rustic tomato soup a few summers ago… of course I’ve made marinara sauce and fresh salsa… but my favorite creation came to me this summer when, after a few days of being ignored, my roma and cherry tomato plants were bursting with ripe fruit. I stood staring at my tomato-covered counter top, waiting for inspiration to strike… and boy did it. I’m still patting myself on the back.

    CrostiniWith sun-dried tomatoes in mind, I created something even better. I thought about calling them “oven dried” but they aren’t dry at all. So, I settled on “slow roasted” and never looked back.

    Now, obviously I used fresh summertime tomatoes, but this would be a great way to transform the less than desirable supermarket tomatoes we are forced to buy in the fall and winter—something I am definitely planning on doing, and I hope you will too.

    Slow Roasted Tomatoes


    • Lots of smaller tomatoes such as roma, cherry, or grape, halved-about 8 cups (they shrink after roasting)
    • 1/4 cup Olive oil
    • salt and pepper
    • pinch or two of red pepper flakes to taste
    • fresh herbs, oregano and thyme are my favorites
    • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and very thinly sliced

    To prepare: 

    Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

    Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Toss gently to coat the tomatoes and spread the entire mixture evenly on a large rimmed baking sheet(s). You want an even layer with no overlapping.

    Roast for 2-6 hours, gently tossing occasionally (or just shake and rotate the pan). The time is broad, I know, but it depends on the juiciness and size of your tomatoes and your oven. The tomatoes will shrink and their juices will dry slightly. Don’t take them too far; you want them to still have some juiciness. This really needs to be judged by eye, so just check on them occasionally.

    Enjoy straight from the oven, or transfer, along with all juices and herbs, to a mason jar or other storage container, cover with more olive oil and store in refrigerator.

    Note-The olive oil will harden upon refrigeration. Allow refrigerated tomatoes to sit at room temperature for 30-40 minutes before using.

    Serving suggestion (and THE reason to make these tomatoes…)

    Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Crostini 


    • Baguette, or any good bread, sliced 1/4 inch thick on an angle
    • Oven roasted tomatoes
    • Fresh goat cheese
    • Fresh basil

    To prepare:

    Drizzle or brush bread slices lightly with olive oil, and either toast in a 350 degree oven 10-15 minutes, or gently toast in a grill pan or skillet until lightly golden on both sides, but still tender in the middle. Transfer to a platter and smear with a tablespoon or two of goat cheese, top with oven roasted tomatoes, and sprinkle with fresh chopped basil. Enjoy!


  • 19Aug

    I’m on a protein kick – I’ve been going for over 100g/day which, unless you’re willing to suffer masses of artificially-flavored shakes and supplements, can be a challenge. I also avoid processed foods, so I have learned to be pretty handy with shrimp and quinoa. This is one of my favorites.

    Gambas!You’ll need:

    • About 20 shrimp
    • 3 cloves of garlic, diced.
    • A mix of about 2.5 tablespoons of fresh ground black pepper with about 1/2 tablespoon salt. Grind in a few sichuan peppercorns too for a nice extra somethin’-somethin’.
    • 1/4 cup lemon juice
    • Olive Oil
    • Quinoa

    I use frozen cleaned shrimp because I’m lazy. Fresh would make this even more awesome.

    So, get your quinoa cooking as you do. While that cooks, saute your garlic in olive oil. Toss in the shrimp (at room temperature), and stir in about half of the pepper/salt mix. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the shrimp are almost done. At that point, stir in the rest of the salt and pepper.

    When the shrimp are fully cooked, remove them to your serving dish and deglaze the pan with some more oil and the lemon juice. When it’s reduced halfway, and you’ve got all the good charred pepper and garlic crust re-emulsified into a sauce, pour that directly over the shrimp and quinoa. A parsley garnish is a nice touch if you’re feeling fancy.

    And here’s your dinner – bloody good, pretty quick, and full of protein!


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