Entries from May 26th, 2010

Sweet Potato Fries and a Spicy Tomato-Garlic Aioli



Summer is upon us, Washington.  The day is clocking in at 90 degrees, and I may or may not have sweat my face off on my ten-minute walk to the metro stop this morning.  And then, I checked into the Department, to find out that we would be having a fire drill, and needed to go back outside to locate our emergency meeting spot.  On the way past the hideous Soviet-style fountain next to our main entrance, I had the temptation of jumping in.  But I had work to do.  Oh well.  For setting government labor standards, my office should really work on better ventilation.

Since moving to a region that experiences seasons (e.g., not southern California), I have found myself constantly wondering how I will handle the second winter of my life.  With normal, not humid, weather, I rediscovered comfort and happiness — I now realize how miserable I really was amidst all the snowstorms and heavy coats, as fashionably attractive as they are.  Was I depressed?  I don’t believe so.  But saying goodbye to beautiful summer weather like this seems unbearable.

On that note, have I mentioned how much more I enjoy serving dinner on my balcony?  Sans mosquitoes, of course.  Note to self: purchase citronella candles and itch relief.  Last night, I served an amazing chicken penne dish with a very garlic-y, spicy chili tomato sauce.  It’s nice having someone to go home with after work (Rachel), and a neighbor to meet you there for dinner (Silje).  We convene at my house, play good music, chat, and I boss them around in the kitchen.  For a snack, we made this dish — unfortunately, it took longer than the pasta itself, but there were leftovers that I was able to photograph in the morning, when daylight permitted.  Needless to say, they made a nice savory dessert to the main course.



for the fries:

2 to 3 medium-sized sweet potatoes, cut into fries
~ 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Garlic salt (or minced garlic and salt)
Black pepper

for the aioli:

1/3 to 1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 to 4 tablespoons of your favorite tomato sauce (I used a roasted garlic tomato sauce from Whole Foods)
1 to 2 teaspoons red chili flakes
Ground mustard
2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced


I like to give the tomato sauce a day or so to steep with the chili flakes, so perhaps make this ahead of time.  Otherwise, no big deal.  So first, combine the tomato sauce and the chili flakes.  After letting it steep, go ahead and stir in the remaining ingredients to taste.  That is so important — you should always taste as you go. And add spices in gradually; once they’re in, they don’t come out.

Peel your sweet potatoes and then chop them into french fry shapes — I prefer thinner, shoe-stringy type french fries, especially since these will be baked and not actually fried.  Heat your oven to 375 degrees as you cut the potatoes.  Then, toss the fries in olive oil, garlic salt, and black pepper.  Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper, and then lay out the fries.  I like making them even and aligned, which isn’t surprising if you know me.  Sprinkle with paprika and cumin and then bake for about 25 minutes, until the edges of the fries are browning.  Then flip them over, and bake for another 20 minutes.

Imperfect Oreos



Writer’s Block.  Enjoy the photos and recipe =)

WHAT YOU NEED (recipe derived from the decorated cookie):

for the cookie dough:
1 cup (2 sticks) softened, unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract        
2 cups flour
1/2 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

for the filling:
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
2 – 3 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 – 2 tablespoons milk
sprinkles to decorate!


Cream the butter and the sugar by combining in a large bowl and beating with an electric mixer for a minute or two.  Add in the egg and vanilla extract.  In a separate bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients and stir until evenly mixed.  Slowly add the dry ingredients, and continue mixing until the dough is formed.

Roll cookies as thin as you possibly can — I stick the rolled dough in a freezer for a few minutes before cutting, which makes the dough easier to work with.  Bake your cookies for about 10 minutes.

For the butter cream, simply combine all ingredients and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy.  Place about 1 teaspoon of frosting between each pair of cookies, and roll in sprinkles for cuteness.

Almond Flavored Ice Cream



After much fluctuation, it seems that the warm weather is here to stay — I’m writing this on my balcony, after wasting my beautiful Saturday in bed, sadly, under the weather.  Nothing beats having a south-facing balcony in a Dupont row house.  This balcony serves as the background for most of my food photography, has hosted many candle-lit dinners amongst Reagan National flight patterns, and served as the same balcony I sat on when I first met Kristen at the open house when I moved to Washington.  Aside from my bed (where I spent most of my day), the balcony really is my favorite part of this old house.

Some of my favorite DC memories take place on this balcony — for example, a thunderstorm dinner with friends, or eating almond-flavored ice cream with Rachel at 3 A.M. (last night).  The ice cream making came as a surprise to me.  After one day of lunch break perusing on ebay and Amazon for an inexpensive ice cream machine, I painfully convinced myself not to buy anything — so I left work that day and met up with Dave for sangria and tapas.  Afterwards, I met his mother at her beautiful house in the U Street area, discovering another foodie at heart.  I mentioned my pining for an ice cream machine and the pain I went through in convincing myself to spend money elsewhere… and then she pulled her unopened Krups ice cream machine out of a closet (literally) and let me borrow it.  Needless to say, this almond ice cream can be attributed to her.  It’s nice having a fellow foodie to leave with confectionary creations.  Anyway, this ice cream hasn’t lasted more than a day or two in my house — Kristen and Silje have told me that this ice cream flavor trumps all other flavors.  I plan on making some home made ice cream sandwiches with it, so you will all see those photos soon enough!


1/4 cup almond flour
2 cups milk (I used skim)
3/4 cup heavy or whipping cream (Obviously canceling out the skim milk.  Oh well!)
3 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons almond extract


Toss the almond flour in your food processor and grind down to a paste — it took me about 5-7 minutes.  Then, heat the milk and cream in a saucepan, adding the almond paste.  Bring to a boil, then immediately remove from heat.  Set aside.  In a separate bowl, combine the egg yolks, sugar, and almond extract.  Stir with a whisk until even, then add to the saucepan — you mix them separately, in this case, to avoid the eggs cooking in the almond-cream solution (learn from my mistakes).  Heat on low for about five minutes, stirring constantly.

Cool the mixture, then use in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.  I had ice cream in about 30 minutes :)


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